The woman has walked this path circling the reservoir many times. She stays in a simple but sturdy cabin near the base of the mountain when she’s up from the city. Today feels like autumn, and when she pulled into the parking lot off the highway, there were only two other cars: a green sedan and a white truck. To get to the head of the path, she had to hike uphill for a mile and a half. The dirt
I am writing about a man. When I check in on him, he is standing under an old-timey sign that reads LIQUOR. I wonder if he should wear his hair long, and then suddenly he does. He wears a suit and has a dimpled cheek.
He goes to the desert and strums his guitar among the cacti. The Joshua trees uproot themselves, march over to him, and circle him in a funny walk. Stars whiz through the night. He
I am in a state of disappearance, back inside Ohio. I drove all night. The car stalled before I could ram it through the perimeter fence. The Great Lakes have been cordoned off. The last of the world’s drinkable water. I cannot see it through the dark, but I can smell it: fishgut, bleach, and exhaust. I have honeycomb welts from pressing against the perimeter fence, a bruise on my arm swirling
The Mark IV sits behind and just to the right of the Lodge Pin Hotel. I’m in the parking lot between the two, swaying a step to the right and then a step to the left. It’s nice the way alcohol’s been working on me faster since I went back to drinking a few weeks ago. I used to buy a thirty pack of beer a day. Within a month, my tongue went yellow and had a layer of yeast buildup about a half
Four friends and co-workers, Jenny, Elissa, Mira, and Fran, are supposed to attend an important conference, which takes place in a town roughly a three-hour driving distance from where they live. To save on gas money, they naturally decide to ride together. The route they must take is made up primarily of one long stretch of highway. At 5:00 AM, they pile into an old, mustard-colored station wagon
Eddie sat down first. He had his legs straight out and his elbows down. He lowered the rest of his body and felt the moisture from the grass through the back of his shirt. A box of cigarettes was passed around. I didn’t take one. Voices approached and we couldn’t tell who it was until they reached the atmosphere of light our collected phone screens produced. We opened our circle for the newcomers
A young father returns from the yard. He has planted two new pepper bushes, to replace the ones wasted by floodwaters. His spade unearthed a bone, a dirty thing that resembled a knuckle. With his living bones, he handles the tiny exhumation, inspects it, wonders briefly about it, throws it in the trash. He muses, privately, about his own jawbone—where will it be after he can no longer say, this
I yearn for a scrap of good news
Like the city longs for tulips
To finally raise their magnificent faces to the sun,
Shining and twirling like beauty queens
With blinding, conceited smiles.
They know how much we need them.
They can see the detritus cluttering
Our city sidewalks and our lives.
They know March teases us
With its cruel, whipping winds
While we eagerly wait for tulips to bloom.
The Bastard and the Bishop
Most of the city is underground—that’s how cold it is here, great galleries, complex, reinforced earthen walls, apartments tiered four levels down, sometimes five—the underground river bisecting the city, lit blue or yellow or green to denote neighborhoods, help drunken passengers ferrying the river find their way home. The buildings that do rise from the surface
We shared DNA on a vegetable pork roll in the Metropolitan museum café. I washed it down with two Prelief. He inquired what was up with the pills. I didn’t bother to explain; he doesn’t have empathy for the sick. I’d seen a violet bump toe in a display case of mummies. It seemed odd and happenstance. I imagined fanciful stories—perhaps the curate had forgotten it in his rush. Perhaps he
Tired from shopping at the mall, my purse getting heavy, I took a rest on a new sofa near the up escalator. A woman engaged with her smartphone sat at the other end, speaking loud enough that I couldn’t ignore her side of the conversation. She and her husband had been taken to dinner by a man who’d spent the evening asking about them but saying little about himself. They had “an inkling”
His first Volkswagen was very beachy, its paint job faded blue almost to white, the interior stripped to bones. We had sex in the middle of the night in the fallow lot between ranch houses. I was always underneath on the weedy ground. I dated a physicist who smoked marijuana to trudge through weeks of programming about subatomic particles. There is no alternative medicine. There are only
So you ask, “How could anyone so drop-dead gorgeous be afraid of mirrors?”
I was like, I’m only seventeen and my face is a minefield of pimples (well, maybe only one big one) and my cheeks are this sucky red, almost like a rash. All I could think of was this girl named Rose, who all the boys called “Rosacea,” and who Alex Youngblood said had lip herpes from going down on guys.
I was telling
On the way home from the pharmacy, we drive through the shadow of the legendary college football stadium. Our son twists in his car seat for a better view of the massive bronze statues of players—glorious, muscular, helmetless young men, running or throwing. It’s just past five in the evening, late November, a few days after a big home loss, another season’s championship hopes dashed.