Friday, September 18, 2009

The Majority of Words with Preantepenultimate Stress Have No Rhyme.

  1. The chickens in the back yard, pecking beneath his bedroom window at pebbles and insects call to one another and wake him.
  2. Lemon juice finds the cut in his thumb and burns, a soft tide of pain accented here and then there by a dash of fire up the nerves.
  3. The car’s thermostat dial clicks as he turns it to defrost.
  4. He smells lilac bushes in a dream and wakes with a start, the sheets tangled about his ankles, a slight sweat on his bare chest.
  5. The counter blurs and muddies as the onion he’s cutting gets to him.
  6. The sun stands high as he tans on the dock, the dull whine of each passing boat followed by the gentle rocking of its wake on the wooden pylons.
  7. The wine bottles rattle as he tosses them in the recycling bin, protesting their disrespectful discharge now that their task is finished.
  8. He checks the mail and finds six notices from the bank, informing him of his overdrafts from last week.
  9. He cuts himself while doing the dishes, the good knife, the Christmas gift from his roommate’s sister, finding the soft meat of his palm.
  10. His shoes creak, leather sounding against leather, and he steps more lightly, embarrassed by the sounds.
  11. Running his tongue along his teeth, he pauses on the molar he cracked opening a bottle of beer.
  12. He seals the envelope, the adhesive tasting of civic offices, long lines, and impatience.
  13. The cards clatter as he shuffles them, folding them into order and he bends them in a bridge, a move his grandmother taught him.
  14. The wind worries his scarf, a hand pulling gently on his left shoulder.
  15. He takes the film off the frozen lasagna, the heat rolling out from the oven and coaxing a ring of sweat from the base of his hairline.
  16. He brushes his hand across his thigh, dusting his jeans with the orange powder of the Cheetohs.
  17. His phone lights up as he types on the keypad -- the harsh blue casting across his face and contrasting with the dark of the bar.
  18. He catches the scent of the grass his neighbor is cutting, the smell intermingled with dirt and gasoline.
  19. As the girl next to him at the bar talks on the phone, he thinks of the synonyms for the words she’s using, pausing to sip his drink while she listens to her friend.
  20. He organizes the book case in alphabetical order first from a to z and then the reverse.
  21. The doorknob to his apartment comes off in his hand as he turns it.
  22. His fingertips are raw, worn red and tender from the edge of the concrete pool -- from his pulling himself up and over to lay on the gray and the grit and dry with the heat of the sun.
  23. He passes the stack of past-due library books as he leaves, the pile tilting against the wall, a mountain of dimes, growing slowly.
  24. He hands his passport to the doorman and flushes warm, pointing to his date of birth as the doorman’s eyes flash to the I.D. picture and then up to take in his face.
  25. He picks off the snails in the window box each morning, not wanting to salt them, to watch the slow withering of their forms.
  26. The marshmallow burns the roof of his mouth as he pulls it off the stick, the acrid char of the just-flaming sugar bursting bitter against the sweet.
  27. The tea kettle hums a low chord and he turns, picks it up with a dish towel, fills two mugs, tea bags floating just below the surface of the water.
  28. He pops the top of the San Pellegrino, setting it on the counter and tosses the cap into the stein next to the register.
  29. The sounds waves reach him, soft and golden, washing past him in a gentle rush.
  30. He glances at the number on his vibrating phone, it has followed him across four phones, finding a home each time amidst the list of numbers despite his better judgment.
  31. He places more spinach than he thinks necessary for the dish in the pan, knowing it will wilt down further than he expects.
  32. The subway heads down the tunnel, the soft rush of the wind racing ahead and stopping to sting his lips, chapped with the chill of November.
  33. He halves the blueberry muffin, buttering the top and setting the bottom aside for someone else.
  34. He bends down to tie his shoe and remembers his childhood friend, the one that got the tennis shoes he wanted, the ones that pumped up, and how he had burned to own them.
  35. The lights of the city spread out in patterns foreign to his own and he understands that it is these new patterns he is drawn to and not necessarily the location.
  36. His flask flashes as he turns in the corner of the bar to refill his plastic cup with whiskey.
  37. He drops his notebook and it falls open, the loose leaf papers, carrying their various meanings, catch the morning breeze and set out down the sidewalk in paths of their own choosing.
  38. The girl sleeping next to him on the plane breathes gently through her mouth and he thinks how much he hates mouth breathers.
  39. The smell of his aftershave catches him between thought processes, grabbing him and grounding his mind in the concrete upon which he is walking.
  40. His shins ache as he skates around the rink, a dull roar radiating out across the nerves of his lower back.
  41. The faces of the triplet children at the table next to him catch his attention and he watches as they radiate through a kaleidoscope of expressions.
  42. The sailboats move about in the bay and he watches as their wakes cut insignificant paths in front of the slower barges.
  43. He feels the pollen settle in his respiratory system as he steps out the front door, a gentle yellow carpet laying itself along the soft tissue of his throat.
  44. He counts the customer’s change from the register.
  45. The egg cracks unevenly as he taps it against the side of the bowl, several small pieces of shell crawling down the side to the batter.
  46. He scatters the crumbs in the bottom of his paper bag under the table, watching as a few finches work up the courage to dart under and claim them.
  47. He stands at the balcony, leaning on his elbows, and thinks how the sidewalk looks like tetris from fourteen stories above.
  48. He peeks out the bottom right-hand corner of the living room window, sneaking a look at the person ringing the door bell.
  49. The eyes of the fresh-caught squid seem to follow him as he passes the fish stall at the market and thinks, “ubiquitous gaze.”
  50. The image of strawberries flashes in his mind as he passes wrestling while channel surfing.
  51. His mind drifts in math class, losing track of the stipulations to ensure his formula’s accuracy.
  52. The circuit board he just pulled out of his computer reminds him of a cityscape, people reduced to electrical impulses firing along copper wire.
  53. His oar cuts into the water, the canoe rocking gently with the shifting of his weight.
  54. He watches the moth on the screen door as he smokes on the front porch, debating whether a male or female name would be more appropriate for it.
  55. The book he picks up is dog-eared, the marked page telling the account of Schubert’s unfinished symphony.
  56. He sets several pieces of bacon in the cast iron skillet, the fat spitting as it hits the pan.
  57. The wind catches his umbrella, bending the metal spine against its design.
  58. He pierces the skin of the grape with the lateral and medial incisors, a dash of tart tannins followed by a swift cascade of sweet.
  59. He writes the word “flabbergasted,” and thinking it misspelled, scratches it out and tries rewriting it several times before returning to the original spelling.
  60. The juice from the orange, the bit that escaped has run down to his chin.
  61. He puts a pot of decaf coffee on, thinking how he once thought he’d never do this.
  62. He eyes his grandfather warily as he hands him a plate with a pimento cheese sandwich on it.
  63. The waitress stands over him, tapping her order pad with a pencil, as he deliberates whether he can eat lamb or not.
  64. He picks up his roommate’s pumice stone in the shower, and thinking of her, rubbing it against her foot - one hand bracing against the tub wall, sets it back and rinses his hands in the water.
  65. His reads the word “disidentification” in an essay and jots it on a margin in his notebook, meaning to use it in a poem.
  66. The tofurkey on his plate makes him think of pleather and how all the girls in eighth grade had black jackets made of the substitute skin.
  67. In his dream, he finds a manatee while snorkeling, several ribbons of red curling out from her back where she met with a motorboat.
  68. He fishes a pickled peach from the jar in the fridge.
  69. At his nephew’s insistence, he’s sat at the table scattered with legos, his hands feeling crude and clumsy as he attempts to wrangle form.
  70. He wipes down the stainless steel countertop, catching a glimpse of his reflection, blurred and distorted by the metal, his face a rough shape of pink marked by dark featureless shadows.
  71. He holds the banana to the side of his head, mimicking a telephone.
  72. He picks at the scab above his left eyebrow.
  73. He grabs an old woman’s shoulder, bracing himself against the lurch of the bus.
  74. The wind dies suddenly and his kite begins to drift down, the string going slack in his hands.
  75. The dollars she hands him are warm and damp, having been pulled from her bra strap.
  76. The tires turning in the gravel driveway make him think of the porcupines in Canada and the way they would gnaw at the rafters at night, hungry for the taste of the glue.
  77. He picks at the apple seed stuck between his two front teeth.
  78. He cringes as ice cream from the cone in his hand melts over his fingers.
  79. When it’s quiet, he can hear his sunburned shoulders crackle as he moves them.
  80. He watches the man’s jaw line move as he talks.
  81. He wakes with a start as the bookshelf next to his bed crashes into his dresser.
  82. He watches as his roommate embroiders a tiger, pulling the form out with each string.
  83. He pours the frosting over the petit fours.
  84. The fluorescent lights of the gas station bathroom play across his face.
  85. He quickly counts the bartender’s freckles as he orders.
  86. He picks up the tissue paper on Christmas morning, folding it and placing it in the gift wrap box in the closet.
  87. He buttons his cardigan
  88. He moves his queen to take his opponent’s rook, forcing check.
  89. He feels uncomfortable drinking out of the milk carton, his hands too large for the small box.
  90. He moves left on the bench as the girl across from him absent-mindedly blows smoke in his face.
  91. He weeds the garden, reaching between the hairy vines of the squash to reach the intrusive growth.
  92. He pulls a fudgesicle out of the freezer
  93. He swears as the train terminal rejects his swipe card.
  94. The sounds of the chicken house washes over him, a warbling stuttering choir.
  95. He tosses another log on the fire and watches the sparks rise in the currents of heat.
  96. He eats pancakes, dipping each bite in a pool of syrup on a separate plate.
  97. The coffee grinder drowns out the conversation behind him, but he nods his head from time to time to seem as if he’s listening.
  98. He twirls his fork, trying to break the string of cheese traveling back to the plate.
  99. He listens to the women talk of petunias, impatients, and other annuals, thinking how their regional sensibilities are foreign to him.
  100. The sun cuts in his windshield at a low angle, forcing him to squint.
  101. He opens the card from his family, noting that he does not recognize the return address.
  102. He cuts his finger on the page of the book, the red rising from the sliver.
  103. He throws a book across the room at the roach.
  104. The morning light wakes him and he pulls the other pillow over his head, thinking of a nest as he falls back asleep

Saturday, September 12, 2009

i have drunk my weight in wine one thousand times

Your arms turned feathers, beta keratins
braided foreign and wrong. You took to sky
And became an ‘m’ in one thousand
Children’s drawings, one thousand hangings
On one thousand walls. One thousand bee stings.
I swear you were a finger width away
Last night as I checked the map. Mexico
Was periwinkle, stretching out below.

You have been lingering in my whiskey,
and I’ve stitched you in the cotton running out
Beneath the floorboards and I love the orange
silver of your shoulders. Leaves turn a shade
reminiscent of your collarbone.

If it came to blows, I would lay you out.

Heisenberg Changed our Lives in 1927 - A Prose Pantoum

My mother looks over and smiles. More than just teaching me how to sauté onions, she has taught me her sense of humor. I turn my head to look her full in the face and laugh. She looks beautiful in her sweatshirt with the sleeves pushed up, her hair in a sensible ponytail.

She teaches me the lessons she has accumulated in her life here, in front of the stove, with the light under the hood sticking in the wrinkles growing out from her eyes. She has veins of gold in her face when she smiles. I think she is more beautiful to me like this. I still have dreams of my mother to this day - we have not seen her in five years.

I see her face, gilt gliding across the lines as she tracks me down in my sleep and reviews what she taught me. Eugene Tarnow believed that dreams were ever-present stimulations of long-term memory. During waking life, an executive cognitive function interprets these stimulations and sorts them as memory. My mother is standing there at the stove, illuminated with the light over the range, under the hood.

“Mom, what the hell are you doing in my house?” I say, padding into the kitchen from my dark bedroom. “Fixing dinner, what does it look like, smartass.”
She looks like she’s swimming in the soft, yellow, light that catches her hair - the sides swept back to keep them out of the way.
“Are you actually here?”

“Does it matter? It smells like you burned dinner.”
“I guess . . . I don’t know. I just.”
“It took me forever to find where you live.”
I walk over to a suitcase on the table.

“What . . . Mom. What is this?”
“You’re gonna come cook with me”
Inside is a wooden spoon and the pan I burned onions in earlier - the silver surface stained the deepest back where the onions carbonized.
“Come on, let’s go.” She says, leaving to pool of light to walk towards the front door.

“You should put on some clothes, and start sleeping in pajamas.” She adds, turning around to look back at me, one hand on the doorknob.
“Oh, right,” I laugh quietly and creep back into the bedroom.
“Hurry up!” She shouts from the living room, and I hear her walk back into the kitchen.
I hear the hollow click of the range light as I push my feet into moccasins and head back to the kitchen.

“Ah, dreaming,” I say, walking out onto the dark linoleum
I turn the range light on and smudge a line through the grease splatters on the stove. I turn the light off with my greasy finger and walk back to my room, tracing a line down the wall - I crawl into bed and fall asleep with my shoes still on. My mother looks over and smiles.