Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The boy, beautiful boy, drew their attention as he lounged on a box in the oily passage.
They glanced at him. Eyes suspicious, telling brains and meditronics they should stop and challenge him. But his silky black carelessness, his rare slimnity, turned their distrustings into little mouth curls. Too few boys postured like that anymore. Too little beauty floated un-besmirched in the uber-oiliness. Molecular heaviness choked everything. The everything, everywhere, not slimnity.
Oh, he loved playing them. With his legs just so. With his neck just so. His illegal mutterer under an armpit transmitted just below their detectors. The pulsings dazzled their meditronics just enough to make them blink slowly like that. To lull them into cozy thinking, even when they were trained not to wander loosely in the brain.
His didn't finger the test device he carried. He didn't toss it around in his palm, daring them to see, although he was that confident. What would the High Operatives do with him once he grew into a full man? When his malicious ballets were not so young and ele-gorgeous? Look how easily he infiltrated. How these women and men both thought about touchings rather than security and sniffing. Let them watch him work back at the Black House monitors. No one could doubt his worth. They probably lip-smacked now with eagerness to see their tasty new weaponry about to be deployed and proven.
The boy marked his target entering the hall, ending his playness.
The MojoMajor with his entourage.
They neared, and the boy knew that the MojoMajor would not be so blinky-eyed with his slimnity. That man's brain wanderings were long put into starvation.
So the boy's hand flashed out the cube. He breathed on it with his breath, and it registered agency and awoke.
With a mind-flit here, and a swoop command there, the device flew and slapped onto the ceiling. Ballet indeed.
The cube activated. No delay.
Oh yes. What a rainbow rain.
Very ele-gorgeous indeed.
As were their twenty millisecond screams.
Monday, September 27, 2010
was that you I heard
by the curled crisps of corn
where fires would not catch
or was it always me
under the tree
sleepy from school
and the long day
with not much more than night
waiting by orange lamplight
you can crunch the corn
with black peppery eyes
scurrying mouse feet in the dark
my matches are dry
and the whiskey half empty
you might dare to talk to me
once you forget
that you only planned to listen
Friday, September 24, 2010
they found a prophesy
written in lichen
on an under-sided stone
it read with words like stillness
and how you only have to stand
to find yourself home
but I will not suffer the motionless
no lichen will scratch on me
so I whipped that stone into water
and skipped it twice before it fell
may it find a rank bottom
in a do-nothing hell
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
(Morning in a quaint, Victorian hotel. A sleepy, tree-lined town.)
"Excuse me. I'm sorry. Excuse me."
"Yes? Mr. Sinclair?"
"Yes. Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you, but I have kind of a strange question. A little urgent, though. A little bit important."
"What is that little window right there?"
"Yes. That little window. Down there."
"I'm not sure I understand."
"That window! Over on that wall by the floor!"
"Oh. Yes. People sometimes ask about that."
"Do they? Yes, well, I suppose they do. Obviously. I mean it's obvious, right? A weird window like that? Anyone would ask. Anyone would be curious."
"Are you alright, Mr. Sinclair?"
"Yes. Fine. Yes."
"Can I get you something to drink? You seem very flushed."
"I'm not flushed."
"Actually, you are."
"Why would someone put a window so close to the floor? It doesn't make any sense!"
"Is something upsetting you?"
"You seem rather upset."
"Well I asked you a question!"
"YES! WHAT IS THAT WINDOW?!?"
"Well, I don't know what to say. It's rather strange, if that's what you mean."
"It's so close to the floor."
"I mean, it doesn't go to the outside, right? I don't see any daylight. And that's an inside wall, not an outside one."
"I should get you something to drink. And a seat. Would you like to have a seat, Mr. Sinclair?"
"What would a window like that be for? It doesn't make any sense!"
"You don't have to raise your voice, Mr. Sinclair."
"I just want you to calm down."
"You keep looking at the window, Mr. Sinclair. Constantly. It may be better if you didn't."
"Look at me! Yes, over here. Look at me."
(Turning reluctantly. Glancing back.)
"That's better, isn't it? Take a deep breath, Mr. Sinclair. What would you like to drink?"
"I don't understand."
"I know. Your drink?"
"A Coke. I guess."
"I'll get you some tea. Jasmine tea. The fragrance is wonderful for getting your mind off things."
"Okay. Alright. Okay."
"Yes. Sit down. Rest for a moment. There's a lovely magazine on the table there. It's about scientific discoveries. Would you mind picking it up?"
(After a distracted delay.) "Why?"
"There's a wonderful article about superconductors. Or the future of space travel, if you prefer."
"You read that?"
"Keeps an old woman's mind young, if you will. I'm going to get your tea. It would be better if you concentrated on the magazine."
"I'll be back in a moment. You'll be okay."
(He pages through the articles, but the words won't stick. He turns to stare at the little window.)
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
"Turn over here. This way. I have your tea. Lovely fragrance, no?"
"You seem very preoccupied, Mr. Sinclair. And tired. You didn't sleep well, did you?"
"What is that window? Can you tell me?"
"You must stop dwelling on it."
"I can't! I don't even remember if I noticed it when I came in yesterday. I probably didn't. But somehow it's been on my mind. Up in my room. When I was trying to sleep. When I stood in the shower and washed my hair. I don't think I really understood what I was thinking about all this time until I came down here just now and saw it."
"It happens. Sometimes. I'm sorry."
"This. Right now. What's happening to you."
"Why can't I get that window out of my head?"
"I don't know."
"Part of me wants to break it. I could just kick it in! I could do it so easily."
"Mr. Sinclair, listen to me! You have to go. You have leave right this instant and never come back here again."
"Who would put a window there, anyway? Who would use it?"
"It's there. That's all that matters."
"It doesn't make any sense!"
"It doesn't have to make sense."
"Who would even look through such a window?"
(Realizing.) "A child! A child would look through that window!"
"You are going to leave, Mr. Sinclair. I'm serious. If you come back, I will call the police. I will have you arrested."
"Children love that window."
"You're not listening, Mr. Sinclair."
"But they can't see through, can they?"
"Mr. Sinclair, you must listen to what I'm saying!"
"They come through there, don't they? In that little room that's been covered up? The dead children come through there. From all around. Right through that one room."
"Pack your things. Walk up the stairs and pack your things."
"But they like the window. They like the crystal and cut glass. They stand and stare and don't bleed into the other rooms and hallways."
"Think of home, Mr. Sinclair. Think of work and all things waiting for you to come back and take care of."
"They stare until they get bored and drift away through the ceiling. I can see their invisible mist as they rise up through the trees."
"Wait. Where are you going, Mr. Sinclair?"
"Mists, slipping away."
"So many little eyes on that window. So many blank faces with smooth, unspoiled skin."
"If only I could just--"
"DON'T PUT YOUR FINGERS ON THE GLASS!"
(Question: When you look back at the picture of the window now, do you feel differently than when you first saw it?)
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Last Sunday, the newest Iron Chef threw it down and vanquished his challenger. (Eat it, sucka!) He is Jose Garces, a Philadelphia chef who has built himself a mini-empire. We met him a few years ago (pre-empire) when he was catering an event at our law firm.
My family was especially glued to Jose's debut, because his first restaurant, Amada is an absolute favorite of all of us. How rare is that? Dad, mom, and both daughters agree. But it is more than the cuisine. There is something in the air there. It's bustling, upscale, sophisticated, friendly, intimate, and just exotic enough. I always feel like it's a cool little refuge. A slice of an alternate universe just through the door on Chestnut Street.
The food, which might seem kind of simple at first, turns out to be surprisingly spectacular. It's a tapas restaurant, which recreates the Spanish style of dining on multiple, small portions. That's the other major draw. Tapas style is like the twelve days of Christmas! You don't have to put all your eggs in one basket by choosing a single entree. You can sample 12 different things and get peppered with them as the evening progresses. It keeps the energy and excitement of the experience pumping.
So, cheer for our Iron Chef! And if you happen to come by Philadelphia, we just might have to take you. You can see (and taste) the pixie dust for yourself.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
"You don't have to tell me this, you know. Really."
"So I went there the next summer. Not quite a year after. The forest was so green. The air smelled so rich. There were birds flitting around in the treetops. But I don't know what kind they were. A pretty spot. I can't deny that."
"Are you okay?"
"He liked to go there. I guess I understand why. But he never talked about it. What he was doing there. I always thought it was an escape. To recharge, you know? To unwind. Meditate. He talked so little about things. I thought he had his own way of dealing with things bothering him. He had his own way for a lot of things."
"I wish they found him sooner. He had to have considered that, didn't he? It was almost as if he didn't want to be found. There's animals up there. Insects. They were pretty hard on him. I only saw one of the pictures the police took. And only for one second. I still can't get it out of my head. I know once you're dead, it doesn't matter. But still."
"So I was standing there thinking about what he did, and I saw this little purple flower growing on the exact same spot. Weird, you know? Like it was marking the place where he pulled the trigger. And I thought about how he was part of that flower. Part of his nutrients, for lack of better term. And those animals who couldn't help but scavenge from him. It's their nature. He was in their bones, running around again."
"I think he would have liked that."
"But who am I to complain, really? People have a right to live. Or not. I'm not the one who gets to decide. But do you know what does stick with me? How so many things can never, never be undone. I think about that a lot. We don't realize it the way we should. We think things will smooth out, go back, get better, just fix themselves again. But they don't. What's done is done."
"True. We can only do what we can do. But sometimes that's a lot."
"So all these things happen to us, and we limp along, the walking wounded, getting a little worse with each passing day. If you get to the end with just a couple of fractures and a case of arthritis, you're lucky as hell. I, on the other hand, probably have a leg blown off and a prosthetic arm by now."
"But no hikes to the forest, right?"
"Nope. I guess I don't mind hopping and flopping around for a while longer."
Monday, September 13, 2010
sometimes your breathing
chips an ice crystal sky
when footsteps jab glaciers
and fish forms swim by
drink a cup flowing
splash your troubles blind
your garments are dissolving
into the blue underside
(Photo: The sky over Chesapeake Bay on Sept. 11, 2010. Note the lone vapor trail from a jet cutting across the sky. It occurred to me later that it is a fitting reminder of lives lost nine years ago.)
Friday, September 10, 2010
I went into my chamber
All for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels
And for sure it was no wonder
But Jenny drew me charges
And she filled them up with water
And sent for Captain Farrell
To be ready for the slaughter
--Luke Kelly, Whiskey in the Jar (Traditional)
You lie on fabric as soft as clouds roped and pulled down to Earth. Not coarse and filthy. Not shared as often with your horse as your own ground-hardened bones.
Sun hovers in the tiny bubbles frozen in the window glass. The morning is the purest you can remember. Its rays tuck you into the pretty room she keeps in the inn. The highest chamber atop one long set of stairs.
Her fragrance is everywhere in the soft light. Her perfume glints on the tabletop, but it has poured into everything, not content for the dainty bottle. Imprisoned flowers bloom in the pillow under your head, in the fine linen curtains. Their mysteries dance on your skin where her body pressed.
You drowse, not ready to rise.
You nearly will yourself to dream again.
But the silence is clattered with metal and voices. First, far off like an unpleasant memory. Then closer. Gathering on the cobblestones below.
You leap and peer down at foot soldiers pounding on the door. They're flanked by their foul Captain. Soon that one set of stairs to your chamber will be blocked. You could jump, but two shattered legs would not bear your flight.
You grasp your pistol and cock the flint.
Maybe you'll fire. Or maybe you'll not.
You have no sword because the scabbard is hanging empty.
When the locked door breaks, you do pull the trigger. But then you understand. Your powder is muddied with water, and already the gun is clogged with rust.
Captain Farrell smiles as you're taken.
You feel hot winds on your face. Then winter-cold.
He smiles with what must be his own memories of Jenny's perfume.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
maybe I've never quite
I can stand and say
yes, I'm here
but then I'll walk
and the ground won't feel
so solid anymore
I could poke my finger
through that house
and that person's voice
could go away
perhaps I'm just a surveyor
putting down stakes
in organic lines
and musical curves
and you could live there
in what I build
because it will feel
as solid as stone
but if I poke
and reach for its walls
it might just
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
"You know, I never realized it before. Kind of cool, actually. The shape of these things is very metaphorical. Have you ever noticed that?"
"Yeah. I agree. It's the smoothness. The convex curves. Or it is concave? Yes, concave. It goes inward. Convex is when something bends outward. Convex lenses correct farsightedness, for example. They make the light rays focus closer. We're definitely dealing with concave here."
"Anyway, back to my point. When you turn on the water, it goes clockwise. See? Did you know that? It's because of the Earth's rotation. If we were in a bathroom in the Southern Hemisphere instead of here in the Northern, the water would swirl counterclockwise down the drain. Fascinating, isn't it? Hurricanes and typhoons are the same way. Clockwise here, counterclockwise down there."
"Are you alright there? Yeah? No? Anyway, the smooth marble is another thing. (Or the composite resin. Whatever sinks are made of these days.) See, the water is like time. Our lives. Whirling and whirling down the drain. The sides are too slick to climb back up. We're doomed to the pipes. Sometimes the water washing us down is clean. Sometimes it...."
"Um, isn't. Yikes."
"Well, you probably want time to whip down that drain pretty fast, don't you? Sorry man, but I did warn you about drinking the Vodka like that, didn't I? You can't drink so much so fast. Especially after a bunch of beers. Jesus! I, on the other hand, may be drunk, but I know when to stop."
"And thanks for projectile vomiting on me in the living room. That's a first. That's a rare treat."
"At least you're beyond embarrassment at this point. You're not exactly conscious."
"So just lay in the sink for a little while. But don't fall, okay? Don't bash your head on the toilet or something."
"I'll just leave you to your...."
"Oh, that's not good. All of sudden I feel kind of--"
"Oh crap, GET OUTTA THE WAY!"