Thomas Cook ~ Four Micro Essays


All night the shops on the 16th Street Promenade fill with neo­phyte prom­e­naders. The dogs curl up on the green sleep­ing bags of their own­ers, and I can’t find a pet store. My heart aches for the dogs while I go to buy King Crab. A thou­sand miles from every ocean, my mind is a wash.

One guest at the din­ner I know, hard­ly, and the oth­er is from a town in New Jersey. I ascent to his ori­gin, as though we are loca­tions, as we are tonight.

What’s next is good, good effort toward the unde­fined and mea­sured cup of cof­fee and accom­pa­ny­ing dessert.
Civilization can move on like this, indef­i­nite­ly, with high ceil­ings even in the lean years. We can go on like this. When we’re tired, some­one else will take our place.


The whole day draw­ing fronds like the good men, who could say what’s dan­gling? It could be the char­coal sketch of the lamp­post or puz­zling over how two such words could be pushed togeth­er: the mind is many things. I’m what the par­rot brings, home from school or home for lunch, depend­ing on the moth­er. Depending on my inven­tion, I could stay home all day, or I could leave all of my new pro­files blank.

I’m wait­ing for cake, the absolute best cake, the cake that lets me know I am tru­ly sit­ting down and relax­ing. Cake on couch and cake on the dress­er are dif­fer­ent occa­sions of the same man. I’m typ­i­cal­ly the same as I have been, the poet says, but then I notice a graph­ic on the back of a book and I have to ask myself if it has always been that way or why it appears fresh. Why it appears sharp­er, like when I real­ly let go spend­ing and see the edges of glass. There are reflec­tions on the edges that are less talked about than music because they are hard­er to see. It’s hard to see the rea­son for the com­mit­tee, but peo­ple are there, evi­dence of tak­ing oth­er peo­ple seriously.

I pre­fer to make a beach of the emp­ty room and put my feet up, but I am cer­tain about tigers. They have always been my favorite. I’ve nev­er under­stood how a lion could be bet­ter than a tiger. It could be that the pop­u­lar opin­ion or at least the nick­name is the result of series of small typo­graph­i­cal errors. That’s how I came at the menu, look­ing for con­nec­tions. The oth­er fam­i­ly’s board game looked ter­ri­ble. I rolled over and pressed the but­ton. It was vaca­tion and I was look­ing at the ceil­ing of the back­seat. It was time to eat a sand­wich. The rain came. My head pressed into a pil­low press­ing into the win­dow. There were almost zero dig­i­tal images of my head.



As the poet says, my peti­tion “plumps until night har­vest,” when what I’ve writ­ten comes home to roost among my neighbor’s blonde hens. I sniff at my neighbor’s fence, which is what anoth­er, much old­er poet in a yard not too far north of my bed does. I am sleep­ing, actu­al­ly, and the sum­mer wind is a bar­rel in my stom­ach, dream­ing of the pass­ing days in a warmer cli­mate that do not need me. The men don’t need me either. They don’t need me like an extra tuft, some­thing that could take oil and be good and musty.

I’ve been over­done and under­done, redesigned and under cov­er of night the last­ing impres­sion of the one lying next to me, what­ev­er she is dream­ing I am. Because I haven’t sunk my teeth into the soil, into the dirt enough to know its moth­er, I know that I am a novice now, the caper of the younger man I am becom­ing as the fruit is tan­gled and heady eyes sleep them­selves, press­ing, con­dens­ing mists the stones that sit behind the eyes.


It was all that I could do to keep from win­ning the prize. I called on my inner resources (found them) and then straight up dealt with the fact that my inner resources are too much for this world, at least too much for one stom­ach and throat com­bi­na­tion in this world, poten­tial­ly too much for the beau­ti­ful dic­tion of dis­tant third-per­son nar­ra­tion of chil­dren buy­ing can­dy at a gas sta­tion. Hence the “inner” part, I decid­ed, due to the mem­o­ry I can­not iden­ti­fy and so call it a thought.

As far as the prize, there were judges who wore wolf cos­tumes and I per­formed from the hull of a ship. There was clerk and handy­woman and Carmex for door prizes. No one could believe what I was doing with paper! Sheet after sheet like a ream of hol­i­day. The poet had said some­thing about hap­pi­ness and sad­ness, maybe it was fifty years ago, when one or maybe both of the words had a mean­ing dif­fer­ent from today’s mean­ing, and in any case it was at a uni­ver­si­ty, the thing we have come love and fear, so the entire thing was a par­o­dy that he believed was a satire. I had to sit down with him in a dense wood, a menagerie of crust­ed flower petals and grape­fruit pith, and talk about Honeywell. This has been the dif­fi­cult things about con­tests, I’ve found, is that there are times when peo­ple want to ruin you and when you don’t want to ruin them. And then it rains on wide boards of the ship deck and there isn’t a metaphor for out to sea, and that is part of what I get through, which was anoth­er impres­sive moment.

At the end is when I turned to song. It’s always a sur­prise move. I put my feet up like the day is over and count my nap­kins (over­es­ti­mat­ed, again), and I hear tin­ny sounds issu­ing from all the met­al cor­ners, a chair. I can see six­teen legit­i­mate cor­ners from my cur­rent van­tage, legit­i­mate­ly see them along with my mug and my shal­low glass. The hair on my calves, which my socks have been mat­ting all day, hurts, a sen­sa­tion I have come to asso­ciate with trans­for­ma­tion. Such as tap­ping a wall, gen­tly and in one place until an impres­sion is gath­ered lis­ten­ing to the change in pitch.


An Editor and Publisher of Tammy since 2009, Thomas Cook has pub­lished sev­er­al chap­books, and his work has recent­ly appeared or is forth­com­ing in Bennington Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Cincinnati Review, and Quarterly West, among oth­ers. He lives in Los Angeles.