They started seeping in slowly. None of us noticed. One or two, here or there. Easily explained.
The doorbell buzzed and opened to a dreadlocked orange vest at the bottom of the stairs.
“I need to read your meter”
He starts forward. He wants to cut through the house.
“I got a big dog in here.”
He doesn’t argue, just gives me a blank stare.
“Drive around through the alley.” I say, as he climbs in his truck.
He comes in the back gate. It took only a minute for the reading, nothing unusual. Except it was then that I saw them. The buzzing swarm. He shoos them away as he slips back out the gate. I follow them. Droning and crawling inside the porch beams. Squeezing in between the slats. Dark vibrations shuddering under the eaves. Hundreds or more. At dusk I creep and hit them hard with creamy white oil from a lethal black spray bottle. I sleep content till dawn. Then through the window over the coffeemaker they come. Bigger. Mad. Sickly. I spend more hours with the spray. Up on a ladder and down on crooked knees. I seal the holes with insulating tape and foam. But the carpenters are boring holes like cheese. I hear the tapping of their bodies against the tape. Louder. Harder. Inside desperate to get out, outside hell bent to get in. I hear them zipping, darting, honing. Sharpening. Meter man locked the back gate. Everything is moving. The house is alive and coated. A massive hive. The first sting starts the flood. I am puffy, soft and porous by the time I go down.
— Elizabeth McGuire
When anyone asks me,
I invoke the great-great-uncle
with the walrus moustache
who was lost among the wilds of New Guinea,
believed eaten by cannibals.
Sometimes I even recall a movie I once saw,
retelling it so dramatically,
hands waving, voice loud,
I’m all the characters at once.
If people wish to know who I am,
I divert them with fading photographs in albums,
books about Europe in the nineteen century,
a piece of music played the night before
an army went into battle.
Do they really want to know
the places where I scratch,
the baseball team I root for,
my favorite character in “Friends”
Dig up that great-great uncle if you will
but I prefer to remain buried.
Wait for that movie to be rerun on TV,
just not the one where my leading role
was reduced to a minor character.
I’m indifferent to the soliloquy,
prefer the conversation of others.
There’s so much that isn’t me
and that’s a great place to start.
In Cell Phone City
The woman driving the car is on her cell phone.
She’s in heavy traffic, at least all but her voice, and her ears.
Her hearing is well out of reach of the blistering horns.
the grinding engines, the guy beside her streaming
cuss words into the smoggy air.
And her tongue has no interest in making comment
on the world around her: the rear bumper of the
Nissan crawling a foot or so ahead, the lights
swaying above, as slow to change as Galapagos turtles.
“Yes, I’ll be there at eight. Mandy’s baby is due any
day now. Roger doesn’t want to make a commitment.”
Suddenly, her accelerator foot makes the wrong choice.
Her Toyota thumps into that unfortunate Nissan.
It’s 7.30 in the morning. The accident occurs on time.
The other driver is hovering over her car, waving his fist.
Could be his way of making a commitment.
— John Grey
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Sanskrit and the science fiction anthology, “Futuredaze” with work upcoming in Clackamas Literary Review, New Orphic Review and Nerve Cowboy.
I’m writing this from Jeff’s Lazy-boy sofa. The cracks in the brown leather makes it look like an artifact from Constantinople, untouched by human hands for thousands of years. It’s almost as if he sculpted a casing of his bum’s shape in an impulsive moment of creation, like dentists do when molding impressions for night guards. The absence his real bum feels, exquisite, in a way — kind of makes me want to jump up and down on it. But I’m not going to vacuum the petrified mango chips in the pull-out bed unit. I’m not.
There are days where all I do is wait for you. Your silence. Is that the answer? When I read your preface to “How to Share the Skies,” I imagined you floating between Triangulum Australe (my favorite constellation), calling from the space station with your lyrics in progress: ‘But I’m already here. Like a translucent leaf. Half lit by sun.’
Remember that poem I wrote in Ohio during the private coaching hour? ‘Flowers in Winter’? It’s like that. Not Jeff’s elliptical in the dining room. No. It’s what he calls the swear word. The word that is not okay to talk about in our house. S-Oo-U-L. This makes me feel like a kindergartener again, always trying to hide my incompetence. Like what Oprah said in the summer issue of her magazine about how carnations are bogus. “This I know for sure,” she wrote. “Living a lie is a dangerous thing, like the dentist who loves veterinary science and resents himself for it, while sealing the tooth of fifteen year old kid in khaki shorts and flip flops.” When I’m at my dentist, I think about eggshells in the garbage disposal. Slipping my hand inside. Running from the sink. Facet left on hot. Blood on the white IKEA rug.
Sometimes, I give this wheelchair bound homeless woman a quarter, hoping she will reveal herself as an angel, instantly leaping out of her chair in humble service. My life has left me, I will say. And she’ll tell me exactly how to call it home — what train to catch, the best luggage shop in town, which socks to buy. The blue. It’s more likely she’ll just ask for more money while ranting on about the Vietnam War or past lives. She believes pain is inherited from generation to generation and that she was born at the beginning of time as a single celled animal. I can’t distinguish if this woman’s story is worthy of an e-mail to Oprah or not. Or if this will move beyond your agent’s spam filter. There is nothing I know for sure.
— Gregory Josselyn