Michael Snediker


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.