There’s nothing quite like the Chinese educational system, where by the very same formulas that are drilled in the students’ heads day in and day out, concrete “this-is-the-answer” studying is added and multiplied to compose a single adolescent’s entire life. I’d walk the hallways of Beijing Number 80 High School marveling at the head in front of me. It was always craned over a book, rich with
Each night this necklace cools
till its fever smells from silk
covers the dirt with buttons
and sleeves helping you reach
for a stone small enough to swallow
though it’s her mouth that’s lifted
that stakes everything on a single rock
for shoreline –just like that! a tiny pill
taken with water and you find yourself
Standing, hunched, in his bedroom, he would plan to pack the bare essentials—one pair each of underwear and socks, one t-shirt for each day, one pair of jeans, a collared shirt—but would end up frustrated, confused.
Which underwear, for example, looked best on him? Which fit in such a way, or were made from such materials, that caused his genitals to sweat the least? And which, of these, might
Gavin, a middle school history teacher, stood in line at the supermarket, ducking his head, trying to go unnoticed. Though he only had a few items, he hated the self-check machines, afraid he’d make a mistake or the price wouldn’t ring up right. Some of the employees were his former students: conversations like scripts from bad commercials he couldn’t suffer through again. So he waited in the express
Gently, Dr. Sukimoto suggests it is time for Sharon to get her affairs in order. Dr. Sukimoto is her favorite oncologist. The flaps of hair on either side of his face remind her of the soft ears of a beagle. When he says these words, Sharon, whose dissertation chair a dozen years ago complained she had an undisciplined mind, has an errant thought. She imagines not a will, but a daisy chain of names.
A country grows, waters its deserts, raises its children, cultivates trees, constructs cities, opens schools, equips hospitals, defends its borders, builds skyscrapers, programs its computers, fights a necessary war, accepts immigrants, starts businesses, names its restaurants bistro or gourmet, goes to another war and then another. This is when minions work for their masters, dogs bite every stranger,
Pull the weeds, I hear my landlady say. She likes to give strict instructions to her man, so much so that I’ve been inspecting him from my kitchen window to see if I can figure out if he is a submissive. He is no hunk but there seems to be something about their relationship that implies this. To explain, I live below the pair of them, and they have a habit of swarming all over the vast garden that
I never see her anymore, but I remember what she said. We were near the end of our second date, standing at a crosswalk. On our first date, we’d been on our best behavior, so I’d postponed any conclusions. We’d both been divorced for over a year. According to Jill, the friend who got us together, she’d given up praying soon after her divorce. Early in the first date she told me
Faces round a fire call back spinning wheels, pull up that throbbing glow, the hiss of dripping sulphur on a grade of crush run gravel.
Fourth of July and they thought it’d be a kick to stick pieces of busted lumber to the back of my bicycle, duct-taped road flares branching off by the baker’s dozen, all of them gathered behind me as I placed my foot on the pedal, striking black tips with
I don’t remember how old I was. I think it was the summer between fifth and sixth grades. I don’t remember Tony going to Erwine Middle School, although there was a boy there with dark hair and a big nose who carried a briefcase to class and reminded me of Tony. Mostly, I remember Tony because of his sister, Angel. She was the girl my brothers got caught playing doctor with. I’d caught them
I took myself to the outdoor shopping center when the urges got really bad. The unwelcoming way they made you slide your car into a spot was just the beginning. Women wearing pastel polo shirts handed out samplers that scorched my heart. Men with ex-military tattoos stopped at kiosks to touch such meaningless things. Children with sneakers that cost as much as my monthly student loan payment
The macabre scene looked like a Halloween prank to the toll taker. Then she saw the blood. – St. Petersburg Times, 2005
Manny is crossing 34th Street, making a list of things to pay for—flowers, music, dress, food, church—when Ernie’s car hits him, and his body smashes into the windshield, his head and shoulders bursting through the passenger side.
Ernie thinks Manny fell from the sky,
I received The World’s Biggest Piece of Shit Award in 1990. My name was written on the award in fancy calligraphy. In front of the whole class, Mrs. Kerris, our English teacher, handed me the award. She wasn’t worried about getting fired, as she was retiring anyway. Her thing was she was pissed that I got stoned before her classes. I mean, she was teaching us important stuff about the happy
Theo sat in the tiny dining room next to the kitchen, trying to concentrate on a book he wanted to read for a long time now. In lieu of a dining set, there was a burgundy recliner and a small round table that once sat in the breakfast nook. His twenty-six year old daughter, Magda, had dragged the large dining room table into the kitchen because of the great light from the bay windows. He heard her
It was their own damn fault for daytime drinking. You don’t wave wads of cash around in front of a woman who can’t afford to buy the drug that keeps her alive and not expect her to grab it as fast as she can.
The first couple she stole from was so nice. Ali and Amina from Kazakhstan. Marnie would never forget them. They were inexperienced travelers, very confused about US dollars. Marnie relaxed