Saturday, December 27, 2008
1. almost worthless; trifling
2. of no worth; contemptible, despicable
Poultry. Cold, damp, goose-pimpled. Layered with a thin, slimy membrane of skin. She runs her fingers over it, feels its slight give with her slight pressure. Readying herself for what she knows she has to do, that as a child she told herself she would never do. Like cooking raw hamburger meat. She could never be in the kitchen as a girl when her mother was making tacos, as the pink flesh turned to brown, sizzling in the pan, withering away in its own juices. The smell so awful and thick, it permeated everything.
Now she stands at the kitchen sink, staring down at a featherless bird with its head and feet cut off, trying to muck up the courage to actually hold the thing in her hands and push globs of stuffing into its hollowed center with her bony, shaking fingers.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Just out of the shower, she wipes the condensation from the glass, leaving globlets of water in trails. She wipes her palm against the towel draped taut across her hip, then, reaching back up, she uses the tip of her pointer finger to dab away the bubbles she's created. Leaning in closely, she stares into her own eyes, judging their green-ness, the depth of her pupils, looking for what others might see in them. Moving her glance upwards, she follows the curve of her eyebrows, up and around to the height of her cheekbones, down to the width of her mouth. She perceives the hint of a frown. She forces her mouth into a plump pout, a grimace, a toothy smile. In each pose, her fingertips trace the lines and divets and changes that her face makes. Once again she is drawn to her eyes, and she delicately brushes the feathery points of her lashes. In the corners, on either side of the bridge of her nose, she presses into the soft tissue there, where beneath she imagines her tear ducts lie.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
"Hey, did I ever tell you that joke with the tomatoes and the ketchup?"
"Isn't that the one when the father tomato tells the baby tomato to 'catch up'?"
"Oh, so you've heard it before."
"Yeah, I've heard it before."
We continue to shuffle along the sidewalk, me just ahead a little. Sam a little ways back, stepping in my shadow. This is new and I can't figure out where it's come from. It's a bit unsettling, if you want to know. Sometimes I try to walk a bit faster, but Sam's got long legs. I can never lose him.
"Hey, how about the knock-knock joke about oranges?"
"The one where you keep repeating 'orange you glad' until you get to bananas?"
"I hate that one."
"Yeah...I could see that."
I step on any fallen leaves that I come upon. They are just starting to fall. I even go out of my way to crunch them, which is strange. It used to be that I would pick them up, collect them. Just the new ones, the first ones. And I'd bring them home and put them in the basket on the table in the kitchen. Mom would dump them once they got old and crinkly, but for a while she'd let me put and keep them there. Mom let us do most things. She was always good like that. As long as what we did didn't hurt anybody, she didn't mind.
It's funny how things change.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
worn out; tired, weary
The bell above the door still jingling from the last departing customer. The tables still filled with the debris of leftovers: ketchup-ed plates, crumb-smeared faux-leather booth seats, froth-crusted milkshake glasses, chewed red-striped straws criss-crossed over one another, depleted peeled-back plastic cream containers lying on their sides and gaping. Dropped silverware still lying on the floor. Tips, crumbled dollars, half-resting in puddles of soda and coffee spills, the green of the paper slowly turning to the same dull colored brown of the floor. Boot scrapes and chair digs accentuate the old linoleum. A mop only sweeps away the tiny stones and mud trails, but leaves behind everything else: another day's worth of aging.
The people behind the counter move slowly, only mildly surveying what is left to be done. Someone pours the remains of the pots of joe down the drains, after first leaving a few mug-fulls for anyone who may be wanting. Sponges and rags are dragged across surfaces, sliding a layer of soapy water across the flat faces and tops. Bottles of condiments are refilled from buckets of the same kept in the back beneath the wells of sinks in the kitchen, where now the things which need cleaning are brought to soak. No one bothers to scrape off the remains of meals into the garbage pails, and so the pieces of food float to the top and bob, bob, bob.
At the end, when all that can be done is done, one by one the night shifters jingle the bell with the door as they leave, pulling keychains from pockets, and walk softly to their automobiles. They bring the smell of the place with them in their skin and in their clothes and in their hair. At home they unbotton and slip out of their uniforms. They comb and pluck and brush. They shower, shampoo, and scrub themselves, and after rinsing, they repeat.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
1. exaltedly happy; blissful
2. blessing or making exceedingly happy
A warm breeze on a fall afternoon
inciting the excited whispering of the leaves
which color the trees
A single circular patch of lush green
in a field of crab grass and tiny stones,
the perfect place to sit and be
Waking up to flannel sheets
warm feet against warm feet
a yawn and a sigh, a smile
Egg nog in a breakfast blend
let it linger on the tongue a bit
lap it up but slowly
A kitten sitting on a windowsill
the blue and sunlight coming through
so you must sit and watch it too.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
1. proceeding smoothly and regularly
2. disposed to follow, especially slavishly
"You follow her around like a puppy dog," they say. With a growl. A sneer on their faces. Like I sicken them. And I don't know what to say in response, so I don't say anything. I hardly ever say anything at all. Ever. Only to her. I don't have any other friends. Which is fine by me. And even with her I don't have to say much. Or if I do, it's a script we've gone through so many times before that I barely even have to think what comes next. With other people though, it's different. It's gotten to the point where I've developed an almost imperceptible stutter when I talk to someone that isn't her. I can tell that others are beginning to notice it. Even in classes, I try not to raise my hand to answer questions too often, but just enough as to not raise suspicion or draw unwanted attention to myself. But of course, that's all I tend to do. Attract attention. And not the good kind either. It's all whispers and stares and glares.
I'd like to say it's because they're all jealous of me, but I know that's not it. And I couldn't care less what they think of me. I'm just tired of the remarks, the looks, the assumptions. They assume I'm just like them. I mean, honestly, at the root of it all, they must assume I am just like them, and therefore believe that they can judge me by the same standards by which they judge themselves. But that's where they've got it all wrong. I'm nothing like them. Nothing.
That's why I prefer her company to anyone else's. She knows I'm not just the same as her. I'm not special. She's special, but I'm not. She's amazing, and I'm lucky that she lets me walk with her to school and back to our street again at the end of the day. Lucky that she lets me sit with her in the cafeteria and share the contents of her lunch box most times when I've got nothing. That she invites me to her house after school to do homework and never asks when I'm going to go home. That she let's me in when I climb up to her window on the really bad nights, and stay in her room until I calm down. Lets me crawl into her bed with her when I'm afraid to go back, because I know it won't be over yet.
And in my bones I know that if I could, I would follow her forever, because she lets me cry and holds me when I shake so bad from sobbing.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
corresponding in position, proportion, structure, value, or other property
No, that's not right. She must be thinking of "homogenized". Homogenized milk. And that absolutely does not make sense with this question. God, how she hated these damn tests. And these stupid analogies. Who honestly thinks these things prove, or disprove, intelligence?
Hemoglobin? Blood? Does that sound right?
What was she even doing here? It was feeling like a waste of time. She hadn't even studied, for godsake! (Wasn't that obvious?) She'd almost forgotten about the thing all together. If not for her sister's phone call, she would probably have missed it, without a second thought. It was her sister's idea in the first place, wasn't it? But do you think she, her sister, would pay for it? No. Of course not. It was good for her to spend the money on such things, she said. Focus on the future. Show some responsibility. Take a step in the right direction. Well, what the hell? What was she stepping towards?
And what the hell does "homologous" mean??
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
the art of speaking or reading clearly in public, including gestures, pronunciation, and tones
They were going to let him say something before they flipped the switch.
Most guys he talked to before their Long Walk said it didn't much matter to them. What was saying something profound going to do for them? Where they were going, it wasn't no stage. There wasn't going to be no acceptance speech. There would be no award handed out, unless perhaps you were thinking of the people there to watch the proceedings, the...festivities.
No, most men he talked to advised him to simply enjoy his last meal, say a prayer to the Guy-in-Charge, and try not to think of anything. Remembering the past, loved ones, happier days, would only aggravate the situation, they told him. It was best to remain numb, pretend as if he were already dead.
But none of it helped. How does one march calmly to one's death?
Imagine a deer, standing stiffly, staring down the barrel of a gun as the trigger is pulled, simply waiting for the bullet to pierce him. Imagine a man standing with his arms and legs spread wide in the path of a train, its headlights illuminating his body, creating a bulls-eye of light in the darkness, not stopping, but instead, speeding up. Imagine a crowd of people watching, eagerly awaiting for what they have come to see.
This is what he thinks about the night before. He has asked for a pen and a pad of paper. He has eaten his steak dinner, tasted his last fudge sundae, even indulged in a single cigarette. Now he fidgets with the pen, scribbles down these sharp images, startled by his own dark thoughts. But on a night like this, could they be any other hue?
He wants to say something. Say something. Something.
He wants to say he didn't do it.
But he wonders, if in the end, it really even matters.
Monday, December 8, 2008
1. a burial place; tomb
The room is large and filled with pews, lines upon lines of them, angled towards the center, where the walkway lies, a velvet worn carpet, leading the way towards the pulpit, which is carved out of wood, accented with gold, filled with spirals, but also crosses, and at the top, a space, where the anointed orator stands and speaks.
The room is high with tall and narrow windows of stained glass, each masterfully cut to portray the stages of a life of a man believed to be so great that the building that holds this room was built for him. Each window more intricate than the next, the scenes becoming more violent than the last, until one shows Death, and then the remarkable rejection of It.
The room is long and the columns, archways, and lines of the floor do nothing but make it appear even longer, larger, more like a great hall than a room for worship. All is ornate and powerful. Grand and humble. Worn and resilient. Fearful and awesome.
The size of it dominates everything. Despite its height and empty spaces of waiting, it weighs heavy. It holds silence like a tomb. A step taken is an echo made. A breath is a wind. To perch on a pew is to creak and set the whole place to cracking like bones.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
sentinel \SEN-tuhn-uhl\, verb:
1. to stand guard and watch
The owl keeps watch.
He is grateful for the way his head spins round. He finds it ironic, or rather, sympathetic, that his neck works just the way he wants it to.
Being wise is second nature to him. He believes that he knows it all, and therefore he does. No one questions him. From the day he was hatched, all he has wanted to do is watch from above. Never taking part of the activity.
What for? he thinks. Truly he has no desire to join in with the festivities of daily life. All the fuss and worry, he's glad he knows better. It's better to sit and watch. That's how one learns things. Not all this "doing" hogwash. No, no, if you just watch, one learns what one needs to. Yes, yes, he is quite pleased, quite pleased with how he spends his days, perched atop his favorite tree. All the others looking up to him. Flying to him for advice. All of them, he's sure, comfortable with his authority.
Friday, December 5, 2008
making a loud outcry; clamorous; noisy
If a snake could scream, what would it sound like?
Or can it scream, and we just can't hear it? What if its slithering were its voice. Its scales so tender that moving across the earth sears them with pain. But they cannot stop moving. And so they go slow. Horribly slow. So slow we call it a slither. But it's just their way of easing the torture, just a bit. To them, each movement like gliding through fire. Grass just as bad as pebbles, or blacktop. The blades slicing and cutting, slipping between their patterned skin, leaving tiny rivulets of splitting ache that last for days.
Perhaps only the sun heals their wounds. So that is where we find them, trying to catch some respite. They hiss and snap at us for interrupting, but wouldn't you? You who when rudely awakened by a pail full of water in the middle of an afternoon nap will yelp and leap in protest, swatting wildly at your assailants? Can you not understand, then, the unfortunate fate of the poor reptile at your feet, as you move to stomp at it?
And their screaming? Perhaps we should be thankful they have no voice. Imagine the sound they would make. A field filled with the noise of different stages of agony, all of them writhing and wriggling, aching for the pain to stop.
Some say they manifest the devil, but perhaps there is another way to see them. Perhaps instead they embody the devil's punishment. Inescapable, inexpressible: they hold within their bellies the fires of Hell.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
a valued, novel object; an object valued as a curiosity, often a collectible
She'd always wanted something of her father's. Just a token. Proof that she had actually had one. More proof than pictures. Pictures that nobody looked at anymore. None around the house. None in her pocket or purse. She used to have an old slide with his face in the forefront, but she'd misplaced it somewhere. She tries not to think of it. It's shameful. How could she lose such a thing? She's sure someone more responsible, more respectable, would have considered it sacred, perhaps even built a shrine for it, figured out a way to put it in a locket and keep it round their neck. Not her though. She couldn't even tell you where the thing was anymore.
There are places though. Places she goes, drives by, stumbles upon, that make her think of him. Where memories tease her at the perimeter of her memory, his face like a mirage. She never remembers anything substantial about him, only visions that seem like daydreams. None of it ever seems real.
Like pie. She remembers pie. They used to have pie together. His treat. Their secret extravagance. And her belly button. Her earlobes. His favorite parts of her to tickle, make his little girl laugh. And his smiles and laughter. But she doesn't remember much more. Can those even be considered memories?
Sometimes she wonders. Maybe she invented these things. After all, what does she know about having a father? She doesn't know what it's like. And when others say they are sorry for her loss, she doesn't know how to respond. Their sympathy is nice, she supposes, but really, isn't it quite unnecessary? Not having a father is all she's ever known. To her, a father is a novelty. A collectible. A curious thing.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
1. cowardly and mean
She would get her umbrella back.
That was just all there was to it. No hi-how-are-you. No give-my-love-to-your-mother. Don't be polite, Sarah. No tit-for-tats. That's just what he wants. That's what he likes. And she was through with doing things just trying to make him happy. For heaven's sake he practically attacked her with the thing, before running off with it. Flapped it haphazardly in her direction. Open and closed. Open and closed. Over and over again, like he was a penguin or something. His awkward way of trying to be funny. Well it wasn't funny. It was pouring rain outside and it was all landing on her head. She was drenched! Who bumps into other people and steals their umbrellas?! Honestly! Who does that?? Just him. Just this one. And somehow she'd been pegged the lucky girl to attract his attention. Now, there's clumsy and there's awkward and shy, and then there's him.
There's almost something sinister in his movements. Like he really had only wanted to get her soaked to the bone by the storm. Like that had been his only goal, his true desire. And not for the reasons that some other men may have wanted to see her clothes wet and clinging to her body, no. It's the shivers that he would get a kick out of. Seeing her shake and her lips get all blue. The cold raindrops dripping from her eyelashes. Her Converses making squooshing noises as she stepped forward, trying to grab the umbrella back from him. Not a chase though. A chase wouldn't have interested him. She knew this.
He probably would have just given her the damn thing back after not much more fuss, if that guy from her Calculus class hadn't called out to her. She knew if she just waited for him to have his fun, waited as he skipped and danced around her with the thing, held her breath as her fingertips grew colder, and didn't fight, didn't whimper, he'd grow tired of the game and make some quip about just-having-a-little-fun before handing it back to her, and skipping off.
But then her friend (what was his name?) from class had called out to her and interrupted the sequence. He paused. Missed a beat then, didn't he? Oh, how he must of looked to a stranger. She can only imagine how he appears to others. He must look like a fool. Or does she?
At that moment, he looked at her and cocked an eyebrow, a grimace, and then a grin flashed across his face, and then he was gone. Umbrella still in hand, he left her there. Cold. Wet. Wondering. He always leaves her wondering.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
bulwark \BUL-wurk; -wawrk\, noun, verb:
1. to defend or protect, serve as a bulwark; shelter
Bull work. Honest work. Pulling and gnawing at the earth with claws. Teeth nashing. Ribbons of strain revealed in an outstretched neck. Lips pulled back in a grimace. Showing all our teeths. Perhaps a tongue wags out, its pointed tip dotting the air...
I imagine a man gripping ropes in his fists, dragging something, a heavy load behind him, still yet beyond the horizon. I can't make out what it is. Bricks? Mortar? The man is tanned, almost to burning. His face is red, so red you can almost feel it burning. His whole body sends off waves of heat. That curvy air of expended energy surrounds him like an aura. Colorless. Impossible to grasp but still a part of the earth.
His hair is black, short and shiny. He makes me think of an imp. Perhaps he is pulling hell behind him, dragging it up from the depths. Turning the world inside out.
Monday, December 1, 2008
the action of bidding farewell; a farewell
This word doesn't sound like a goodbye. It sounds like something righteous and true. Full of promise. Gentlemanly. It's a stately noun. But a goodbye is not these things. It's cowardly. You make it seem nice, like a good thing, almost a gift giving, but it's a parlor trick. You call it a "farewell". Fair thee well.
Is that supposed to be a consolation? You wish me well? Did I ask for this? No one is making you go. Don't pretend that you are doing me any favors by your leaving. You say farewell only to make your self feel better. You leave for your own benefit, and you would prefer to not carry guilt with you. To that place.
That place you are going with your belongings and your charms and your wit and your money. You bid me farwell, but you take all that is well with you. Valediction. This word is as deceptive as your frame as it waves hello, only to say goodbye.