I watched baselines established by others until filled with heebie-jeebie, succubus jitterbug cut up in the boy’s bunkie nocturne. The boy being safe when he is here, and otherwise there’s faith and good intention and after this a protocol of ties that bind specific regions, maybe activators, maybe 11bp per helical turn, thrown to wayside. This is me pretending to get something, perhaps heuristic, in the spirit of metaphorical tenor shrugging bemused if not impatient with the onus thrown it by a vehicle. There was a blast of light, truncate blur of a little car with a boat strapped to its top. Where else would the boat be, a non-rhetorical question. Indexically speaking, I’m a bind, in a; a tied, fit to be. Do his hands shake at the lab, are we talking pipette, Erlenmeyer, do jackals lurch or merely laugh. There were grackles in the trees knowing better than to alight. They watched, I envied their complacency which seemed at least less absolutely damaging. I froze shut like the rest of the county. There were snow days, no roads, no cars, just oatmeal and gutters clunking romantically into old ice. They’d be replaced. You will feel this, the frozen said, and mighty. You will brook, because you’re asked, to be indefinite: a fingertip marking where we sink the nail, my finger stayed like its own awful work of art. The finger, jitterbugging. We’re delirious over care to the point where it barely enters conversation, klatsch of hours, thesis statements, wall-eye incredulity that an essay might purport, as I wonder further about purporting. It doesn’t. I argued none of this. When we skyped games, it wasn’t meant in lieu. When with wingfeathers of scratchpad I erroneously guessed the conservatory with a candlestick, this wasn’t meant as compensation. Someone died, we knew the way, stuck academically in a manilla folder at the center of a board I only saw from screen. We wondered how and where, like sparklers keeping us from why and when. Let’s try Monopoly, let’s get my neighborhood near yours, St. Charles or cheaper, let’s build hotels as needed, thimble and yacht making their staccato rounds. Let’s pass go, circumventing the German nanny, let’s avoid nannies altogether. Indexically, I’m together, we are in this. Or we were, or we need new modes of custodial affection. The bunkie with his cuddly is and isn’t aware of teeming. Alas dare say he is. I’m asked to be aware and unaware for different reasons, blistered into trusting what is done. My doing nothing, knuckle, makes me jitter. I’m neither clamp nor need for, and all the same wish if not more direction than address. Dear Sir, this involves you in ways, alas, foreclosing involvement. This was a difficult choice. Thank you for your interest. Dear Sir, this involves you as we see fit. We shall stay in touch, fitfully. Dear Sir, SOS SOS, if there were less pernicious forms of bottle we’d stick the message in it. Dear Sir, Abide abide, we take your being there for granted in ways you’ve earned, congratulations, our best wishes for your having fallen into the negligible in your offering so many radii. Sincerely yours, and spilling out, sincerely, yours, best wishes. Best regard.
In Advance of Larger Numbers
Juno and her sisters return from a dessert case to report Java Java, Atomic Cookie, and in casing I goes blank in no particular order. What swoons back first is novelty tees from the bygone, Shop till I drop, etc. as though ruminating cakes, still standing, itself proof of shopping in the wrong places. Trickle down, sweet Jesus, trickle. Someone who loves me tricklingly spurs thought of lacking conditions, as one speaks in terms of rugged territory, barometers, who, quoth our candidate, sends gifts were not bomb scares inside. As though fear were multinational, nativist, going nowhere, stamps from the same country after another, not Yemen, what the visa said. Or was there no gift from outset, gift of the mind, cleared, as they say, in advance of warning, the usual being cards we shake for checks, like security in reverse. Newflash, card clears Yemen station, ditto hormonal pigeons only barely flying across dubious and differently bitchy borders of the Americas, hot flash holding checks in beak through gelid and fast foreclosing forward of Canadian season. Explosion of feather estrogen, dollars squawking. The feathers, bedraggled workforce, possibility in non-condition that Yemen precluded some from sending bombs, now, bomb-wise, they’re so sneaky. They’d find it and what’s the point of that especially when what otherwise we call device already’s here, meaning gift blowing in advance of whistles. What say you, worming all too humans, eyeing Atomic Cookies like they were desirable things. The pigeons, in moony return, note cardboard outfits, will work for booze, will work regardless, just married, responds in kind, Cookie, like pigeons knew Dickinson, the ways in which just married could be further analyzed, like the back of a tin can car, if I had one, could be read like a lyric suffering. Less recent, than only barely, forgive me, I just did this so what nearly. There was an earlier final occasion which in Dickinson means I’d died already and still were here to tell, involving fishpie. Cod, mackerel, scrod, mermaid, algae, killer whale, all masticated into a dunny paste done up in store-bought freezer flaking. How I smashed my nose off mattering in the moment less than nose was missing, and the fish pie, gleamingly insipid, was not, wouldn’t compensate, on top of which were catches, silvering, watching with eyes the size of Spain, as I fell into the creamy quicksand, each hand for help misprisioned as act of aggression. I wasn’t Yemen, my nose was missing, stitches up the wazoo insisting, like a phonebook lawyer, this gives me days of grace. Commemorative editions. Atomic fish pie, between you and the pigeons, it’s time to ban occasion, or keep me from them. They don’t go good, pigeons only barely smacking window, beak-gift dropped some blocks down another alley. Is she the one who falls asleep in a plate of rigatoni, is she the tale from which I’m learning, trickle, sweet Alfredo Jesus down. And Juno just this moment, as she’s got my number, Finnish eyes on sweets, chucks apples, pomegranates, whatever, in my direction, eat too much and what’s worse feel nothing, like fruit were roofies, the chill and letting go, even as, from Yemen come report that eating keeps me here. Tug my toga and call it off, tug it, spammy chariot cracking earth surface just as further freezing, like gas passed from gods, dragging me yonder of yonders. Needs more togas here. Needs send for supplies, more cardboard for pleading outfits. Sharpie pens. Will work. Willing to be eaten if spit somewhere up less full of down. Anorak was my dirty word. From this heckish North I ruled a sceptre balancing boxwine the color of grass. You can see Yemen from my house. You can send anything, and the pigeon, Jesus, only always nearly delivers. And the piano I bought just to fuck with the future’s movers.
We’d assembled for the wrong reason, thinking it was New Year’s Eve. Burns and I were at a bar in somewhere’s farthest reaches, assembling tables filched from the Orient Express, tassle and exotic sadness, each surface not knowing how to speak to the paneled walls against which they were being propped. Burns brought familiars, a ponderously insatiable cat and a baby moose, antlers sprouting only hypothetically, a dachshund with moose-like potential, our giving mooseness benefit of the doubt in advance of antlering if only because the cat was freaky, the concavities of its liquid eyes like turquoise periscopes warning of a hiss lasting longer than dream. We couldn’t wake from the hiss, it aspirated in response to everything, our flirting with the mooselet, our assembly of the tables in advance of the band. At some point earlier the mother and father of Burns were present, or in the manner of archives, extant, responsible for the fact of tables, manner of acquisition remaining unclear. And the band rehearsed as we toyed with fringe, barely worth our listening beyond Christina Ricci, alone in a booth, lip-glossed like nearly frozen ice. I said something to Christina which led unexpectedly to her hand on my thigh, I wasn’t comfortable with this and likewise unsure how to navigate the discomfort, but the bar took care of it, Christina Ricci becoming my first true love, perm of a third-grade schoolgirl straightened in her descent into a nearly early middle-aged domestic, she was there, blondly, this amalgam of tiny fame and nostalgic residue, to support the band’s guitarist, it never struck me as odd, the band’s lacking a name, and the guitarist was beautiful, shaking his fulvous shag in ways my neck could barely watch, like golden rollercoasting, made eyes with this third-grade amorous driftwood, as though to suggest she had more reason to be there than I, arranging tables. And barely had I liked Burns, only once, but neither then nor now enough justifying the night, with fans fast arriving, filling tables that once filled trains. An orchestrator, enough for credibility costumed in a bar’s sartorial sloven, offered pills, a palm of licorice-looking pellets, and I thought if anything could suture the sadness of wrong occasion and place and company, it would be this, whatever they delivered, but the pills were misunderstood, were plugs for ears, for noisiness of the band, still rehearsing mutely in the gloaming. And still unclear: whether I plugged my ears or ate the plugs, deluded and hopeful. And unclear: sitting in the Orient Express of an undisclosed upstate, whether I heard anything that commemorated this accidental calendar. In part because the moose was too adorable not to woo, lurching in anticipation of what it was becoming. And the cat, a turquoise rage, aspirated like a one-man band, offended by air, prepared to take everything and nothing in single fang. We knew plugs, why we wished them pills, but didn’t understand the Orient connection, a need for tassles, for being there at all, if need at any moment had been relevant. Burns, in the end, grooved to tunes, like this were necessary, like there were no need to rue being where we were. We presumed a gelid turbulence shattering windows, wished not to be there, to know where elsewhere we might wish. And all things being equal, wished the moose would follow, foundling infant possibility solving the ancient problem of all dressed up and not know where the going.
So: when one decides past certain hours to go to SUBWAY (eatfresh) because, despite a decent serving earlier in the evening of asparagus vichyssoise, one might think on such occasions, I’ll feel a little less abject about the excursion if I travel with a nice accessory, for instance an envelope-sized Louis Vuitton satchel of dubious provenance, on whose veracity one has insisted on past occasions, although for unclear reasons not this particular night. Less junket than one is junk, raccooning down the street to where one’s students might well be gorging, shoulder-slung with an object Hawthorne likely would describe as a citizen of somewhere else. Oh Louis, strung between the Actual and the Imaginary, like something existing in a certain vesper, cobwebbed, or embroidered with the enthusiasm of an allegorical crazyperson shriving for someone else’s fuck-up; unlike the actual hunger, the imaginary or more accurately accurate sense that such an accessory changes only nugatorily the basic situation. And so, even more or less sober, and likely further sobered by the basic situation, as though overperformed seriousness in such places could lead to the other more glaring elements of the binge-before-sleep going unnoticed, as though the seriousness accompanied by the bag might not ineluctably lead to one’s seeming by others, employeees and otherwise, as further pathos, like Gustave Aschenbach bringing a little LV bag down to the beach, so: when one arrives at SUBWAY (eatfresh) one hopes, maybe like less fortunate persons in less felicitous lines, like for foodstamps, mostly for entire non-recognition that one exists, that one is a customer who will not return to a home, who doesn’t have a home, who, ontologically, is an appetite who at very least is less abject than those lining up at the McDonalds one passes, en route, one doesn’t expect blandishment beyond a sandwich, a sub, a hoagie, a hero. And so: when one shows up in such a place past midnight with the forced, shredding dignity of a heroine at the end of a Wharton novel, seeking mere invisibility, one isn’t in any way prepared, clutching a clutch, for comments on the bag. Let alone comments that seem to wish to turn the bag into some romantic shibboleth. THIS WASN’T THE IDEA. Dear reader, etc. I brought the bag for dignity, misthinking the extent to which such a bag might actually flag me as more than an appetite, or an appetite on the other side of a hygenic counter. A problem with such accessories being that one too often feels like an abject remainder accessorized with an abject remainder. Tho this gets ahead of one, when first, mostly, one is grateful that the SUBWAY (eatfresh) is empty except for oneself and the two workers. And so, when one of the workers, the one without acne, says to one upon arriving at the front of the non-line, the hygenic sandwich-making counter, I really like your bag, one of course is a little thrown off, especially as one is girded to seem formidable, and not needing to be there, as though one were meeting a lesser relative at an unfortunate train station, who me, no you must have me confused with one who comes here often. I’m waiting for someone. By which, abjectly, one means, one wants one’s sandwich, stat, so one can raccoon back to the house that isn’t a house, to a person who barely even was from outset of the excursion. If one had made the grand mistake of wearing a large puce hat, with plumes, from the age of Victoria, upon his remark, one would readjust the hat, as though the gesture would remind him of the larger Darwinian system from which one only temporarily has dropped, one’s factititous status returning one to anonymity, or at least to the Hawthornian—maybe one’s just being imagined, maybe actually he’s just imagining one’s being there, which would be another derelict form of Romance run amuck. One wears a scarlet letter for several reasons. One being hungry, one wants the sub and fast as possible, and here this truant worker, who may as well have risen in the observation, from behind the hygenic counter, in angel wings and a nefarious diaper, a quiver full of lots of something or other. And so one reassembles, the way a jello salad reassembles, molecular jiggles working enough in unison hopefully to give the impression of the jiggle never happening, and one says something minute in acknowledgement of the appreciation, even as one doesn’t know on which registers the acknowledgment matches the registers of commenting on the bag, which may well just be another non-sexualized materialist gluttony, but in the moment, in the splendid ides of humanism, seems more Cavafyian, even as one doesn’t know on which registers to respond. Yes, it’s a nice bag, or yes we have found each other like stray pathetic animals on opposite sides of a hygenic counter, and this is just the beginning of an unavoidable Proustian sequence, on the most important level, for the sake of one’s getting a sandwich. Or yes, it’s a nice bag, because it’s bolstering in the truculent epiphany of abjection to be interested in this unexpected affective spume. As though interest were the accessory with which one ought from beginning of such excursions have trundled, as though interest would have made one seem seriously invisible, even as proleptic interest in the moment seems not only implausible but more to the point, at least after the fact, to mark a certain unhingedness even more than the puce hat. To walk into a SUBWAY (eatfresh) at so nether an hour, prepared, no, anticipating, that something of interest would occur, as though one went one’s way, like Dante, not because one felt pathetically hungry for food one otherwise, in exquisite but non-indignant acuity, one hardly categorically would imagine as such, but because the excursion might be INTERESTING, hence bringing along the bag. No, this seemed unreasonable. We were naked there, in his fawning over the bag—it WAS fawning, it was weird, and added to one’s own proleptic sense of disgrace (insofar as one can anticipate disgrace far more assiduously than one can track interest) in the way one ethnic seasoning disrupts seasonings from a different region. One might in such a case feel like a shevel of tarragon, and despite his Anglo-Saxon milky countenance, his observation about the bag was like a pinch of masala. So: one was vichysoisse, or the unsated memory of vichysoisse, to which after the fact has been added a festive sneeze of paprika. And one thinks, does one spoon it out, hysterically, as though every second of the paprika will breach the integrity of the soup, or does one, in the manner of such a night, stir it in, or more to the point, just watch it, like swamp guck, settle on top until it mingles of its own entropic accord. One’s light green surface breeched, as tho merely decorative, but consequences piling up, as though greenlighting more paprika, as though this was what the soup had always needed, and the employee, dairy adolescent, after some inevitable hemming and hawing, which surely took no more than seconds, asks what one wants. AS THO THIS UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES WERE AN UNLOADED QUESTION. My life had stood, Dickinson wrote, a loaded, gun, but never, I think, had Dickinson waited in such a congerie of irrelevant feelings for a sandwich the contents of which she hadn’t even yet committed. She wouldn’t have brought the bag, because she wouldn’t have had it, or is this wishful thinking. Were one Dickinson, would one have leftovers other than green soup, would one forego, all these questions like a failed circus of incompetent skeet shooting. What did one want, becoming poetic justice, another attempt at dignity. Hawthorne would have noted that the situation was allegorical from first blush, but at SUBWAY (eatfresh), the choice pretty much was between turkey or meatball. Was one a turkey or a meatball giving way to the idea that turkey was a healthy choice, as though this last volcanically low decision could erase all that led up to it, as though turkey would do the job of the hat, remind one of who was who, whereas meatball, of course, would commit one to all manner of grievous admissions. Least metaphorically, that at this late hour one might even be WANTING meatballs, and even this wasn’t metaphorical. Was there a non-metaphorical option? Is there a non-poetic way of ordering sandwiches under these conditions being, one assures, assiduously, forefront in one’s mind. And tuna only would have been ordered for its own sake, one wouldn’t have gone for tuna. Nor all the others. The Italian grinder, for obvious reasons. And so on such a night one would say, with the psychically unentrenched pewter chess move of a minor piece, a rook, Turkey, would ring like a bell, as much as anything, even as the ship was lost already to the extent that as one says such a word the employee’s young Canadian eyes still metonymically are glued to the bag. One knowing metonymy, especially in such moments when one most needs to remember what one remembers. Or does one say Turkey because this is not what he is wishing to hear, to be the stronger one, a sense of decorum, especially, with no one else in line, as an occasion for learning, as though were Saint Francis, and this lewd bird, across the counter, sent there for the sake of didacticism alone. Neither was learning. His hands, in gloves the size of plastic bags, as though a reminder that the situation called for prophylactic, and the rape of WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE ON THAT. One, at that point, keeps from weeping, for many reasons, as one says, shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber. One knows, huddling oneself as in the corner of a Siena fresco, not to say something like banana pepper. And then there’s the sauce. The dressing, whatever SUBWAY (eatfresh) sadistically, availingly denominates. And again, one looks at the low-calorie options, as though this likewise is didactic, even as it may well give signals IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, there being no form of acquittal of any sort, any sort. Is one a dirty girl who orders something chic and fatty, or is one saying one will keep off the pounds because one is THAT kind of girl, a viniagrette. Oh heart break, heart breaking for everything, for the universe and all that lurks beyond, one orders something along the lines of the latter, without recalling even what it is. One just wants this OVER WITH. And like a boulder dropped from his pelvis into one’s own, or near it, the employee says you know I have the wallet. One doesn’t know what to say, he thinks one’s bag is real, or doesn’t care, and like Dickinson on the verge of death in so many poems this one doesn’t know to what metaphor to turn, as critics suggest, sometimes, her poems just break off when they least understand themselves, you know I have the wallet, even as one is paying for this transaction, a twelve-inch turkey, he has the wallet, and one’s bag is ROMANCE, whatever one says at that point is up to you, whoever finds me holding nothing in hand but a sandwich, a bag over the other shoulder, a raccoon, Aeneas through the dungeon gate.
The Apartment of Tragic Appliances
The Danby Designer is sort of a dishwasher. It has buttons. One has a blue hare pelted with rain, suggesting the speed with which such a rabbit, seeking shelter, might clean dishes. Friends, there are four hundred rabbits in Aztec myth known as the Centzon Totochtin, and they are led by Two-Rabbit, Ometochteli, and collectively they represent inebriation. Not the dregs of stemware but the dregs themselves. They wash drunkenly, slurred between ears, and when one pushes the blue rabbit button thinking speed, one is only asking for trouble, woozling around pickle jars, spoons, other Danby Designer denizens, slushpiling in the elsewhere alley of a spinning blade. Make it stop spinning, the rabbits keen, oh the spinning. Each morning, like a Berryman poem, I wake the glasses up, rub off the crud, like Johnny Appleseed polishing galas on his denim thigh, although with less the former’s pluck. These rabbits, hungover from outset, old as AZTECS, why make this an option for a dishwasher. Why add drunk to drunk, like giving a man gin to sober up. This my Danby. It is designer because it fits anywhere, because in the spirit of fashion models, it is smaller than any dishwasher humanly ought be. Were there activists against dishwashers, were younger dishwashers going to inordinate lengths to be so small, and were therefore parental controversy, I wouldn’t be surprised. If airbrushing led so obviously to ineptitude there would be less airbrushing. My Danby is a wreck, is stepping into a limo to partay, and lord the party isn’t pretty. Don’t push the button, as they say in political thrillers, just DON’T. To which PSAs would point to how badly the Danby washes. It doesn’t. It heats residue and reimagines cleanliness as art project, kiln of malfeasant innovations. Why put things in there at all, being a rhetorical question that the dishwasher, like one hand clapping, answers. Flopsy, mopsy. We head to the microwave, which was purchased BRAND NEW. The Sears-men were informative if not persuasive, we expected no more from the Sears-men, we wished facts, because reheating was in order. And NOT ONCE did they say, just a thought, NEVER EXPECT ANYTHING from this microwave for which already you have paid. Not only will it not heat, it will not turn its lazy, lazy Susan. Nothing. Like deciding on a new friend for the sake of his already being in a coma, that’s my microwave. Its own particular buttons—produce, poultry, et cetera- are pro forma, which one ought have guessed, walking the box from the palisade of patio furniture into the parking lot. These buttons could be pushed indefinitely (they were), and still—and how LUCKY finally to have an object of one’s button-pushing. Even as a lasagna lay undizzied and cold. Even as a potato, after some inner persuasion, might taste even better not heated up, because the microwave does no heating. In cahoots with the Danby, the microwave intimates that its uselessness is listless, that it’s listing, that somehow it’s sadder here than we. Dumb appliances, sneaky. I refuse to feel sadness for the appliances when there’s so much sadness elsewhere in the apartment, like the fridge, which was abandoned for five months, which means if it were a child it would have died, but it was a fridge, which means in its own language it feels resentful and betrayed. In its language, defrosting was the least of it. I emptied the icebox of frozen raspberries, frozen grapes, icecubes, a velcro icepack for my neck, a ceramic penguin meant to hold baking soda or powder, whichever was meant to be efficacious in the context of less tragic a freezer, though this had been my grandmother’s penguin, surely she had it filled with the right stuff, in some different less solitary family romance, surely there were children including my mom in full knowledge of the penguin, or maybe after my grandmother’s death the penguin arose as secret, if only all secrets were so adorable, if only the question simply were with what to fill it, because it was empty, had long been, and the awfulness involved its being removed from the freezer at all, as though a ceramic penguin would feel the new heat of an August kitchen in the manner of non-ceramic penguins, but all needed to be evacuated, per Dorothy Leo’s instructions, that the freezer be emptied and turned off, for the sake of the drip. And so the penguin sat for a dark night on the counter with melting berries, in hopes that the next morning the fridge itself would have less a puddle under the crisper drawers. But there it is, lachrymose, this puddle, through which some little Shalott might row, puddling, and I after four rolls of paper towels, the fridge keeps weeping. Oh to live in a space where all appliances are inconsolable, to live in an apartment that thinks it’s sadder than I. The toaster turns bread into dough, the Brita pours chlorine, the light bulbs adumbrate their own little corners, as though I might take these as cautionary, or maybe more gently, but no less consolingly, as company. There’s a magnet on the fridge for repair services, but he can only repair the surface issue, there are deep-lying issues in which the fridge and I commune. That something is melting. That something isn’t thawing. These are pressing. And in the apartment of tragic appliances, they’re all whispering something, what, what.