There is a woman walking in one of our great American shopping malls with a tote bag around her shoulder. She is unsuspecting and seems to be in a hurry with a determined and certain destination. Her high heels click and clack on the tile floor, passing the food court and the fountain; This shrine of capitalist paradise where everything is clean and nothing hurts. She is on a mission to return a pair of shoes. When she opened the box upon delivery at home, there were two shoes alright, but two different sizes. One too big and one too small. And although this Goldilocks and the Three Bears humor is not lost on her, really, she harrumphed at the inconvenience of it all, angrily closing the lid on the box of two beautiful, but mismatched shoes, mellow pink heels, glossy with lace trimmings. So furious was she that justice be done as soon as possible, she put the box in a tote bag, immediately got in her car, almost forgetting to turn off the stove, and drove to the nearest retail location for them to right the wrong. No patience had she for the USPS, or any delivery service. And no immediate need did she have for these shoes, but alas, a glowing bolt of unfulfillment had wrenched itself, impaling her brain and body, and she would not be able to melt or dismantle it, this rod of dissatisfaction, until the mistake was fixed.

Passing the food court, she resisted many temptations: Fresh baked cinnamon pretzels, coffee and french fries and Chinese food and pizza. Combined with the air conditioning, all these smells wafting around made her want to break down and cry. But no. She would not succumb to these Christ Desert temptations. Her restrictive diet would not allow it. And she was nothing without her thin physique, bordering on the problematic. She quickened her pace and found the store in the distance. Entering the shop, she rudely dismissed the greeter who said “Hello” and was she “looking for anything in particular?” With cold shoulder and pout, she headed straight for the register planting herself in a deceptively short line. Deceptive, because the woman at the front was demanding to see the manager on the issue of expired coupons and a sale that no longer existed. Eyes rolling, heart pounding –


Limestone gets smashed and crushed down to make cement. Chain-gang prison sentence. The men wipe the sweat from their brow, working in rhythm. It’s all you can do but not look too far ahead when you have a life-sentence. And even though these men have been condemned, I do still believe there to be song in their hearts, which is why they sing, and hit the rocks like they mean it. It is a meditative flow state out of necessity. Because they would go crazy otherwise. And who’s to say they haven’t already gone? Each man winces as the sledgehammer comes down, as the pick-ax falls. They think back to when they were young children and how they never thought they’d end up here in this moment. And in this chain-gang collective unconscious every downward stroke becomes a thought they destroy: Child’s birthday’s missed, romantic relationships in tatters, their own fateful mistakes that got them here – whether their own fault or the fault of an unjust criminal justice system. Key word being system. Was it the cop who profiled them? Was it the jury who profiled them? Was it the lawyer who has seen too many disastrous cases, or perhaps fearful of ruining his record that urges these men to take plea deals, profiling them, anticipating the profiling of them? And so these men destroy these thoughts as they smash the limestone, hoping to never hear from them again. But they will. In sleepless nights of adrenaline sickness, during sick nights of adrenaline dreams, where they are running – from what they don’t know – and then wake up in pools of cool sweat to then notice bars or dappled moonbeams peeking through corrugated windows, disappointed they have awoken because for a moment, that unknown moment, there was a taste of what it was like to be free. There is an unspoken vow to willingly destroy one’s body in this process. To hit even though you can’t feel your hands, to pummel these rocks to dust even though your muscles are crying out, even though quitting sounds like a long cool drink in the hot sun. There is a war of wills between these men and the guards. And these men must never waver. The guards do look on, loosely fingering the bottom lip of the triggers of the guns in their holster, waiting for any sudden moves. Glancing at their brethren in watchtowers above.


Dual or triple pronged electrical surge. Two Ben Franklin lightning bolts come flashing down from the sky cracking and crackling with Zeus-like determination and vengeance. It is an outlet for this metaphysical energy. Slapstick comedy routine, but Nature as its star. It is very avant-garde and abstract and I don’t expect you to understand it unless if you’ve read a little Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. Obsessed with the spelling. Obsessed with the corrections. Little things I cannot let go, though I know I’m supposed to. Categorical horrific melody in the Barrow bathroom. Like like carnival music to get murdered by in some cutting room floor Goosebumps novel that didn’t quite make the cut. Is R.L. Stine alive today? I recall childhood when Goosebumps, Nancy Drew, and the Boxcar Children were the taste of the day. It was like those books mattered and nothing else. This was pre-Harry Potter for sure. I devoured these books. Loved them like nothing else mattered. There was another book series too, similar to the vein of Goosebumps but I can’t remember the series. I do remember a clown and a cake and it looks absolutely horrifying. Animorphs were also quite strange. And then Little House on the Prairie was just an Americana vacation. Outlets for my childhood energy. Reading must be practiced to enhance comprehension and the act of reading itself. Shuttered windows on some nice Montclair home. They are white-washed and nice and compliment the brick face front of the house. There are flowers growing in the garden. And this house is simply too much to be real for me. There are dozens like it. Outlets for marriage and parenting and the requirements of being a person. Call up the Bastards on Main Street and demand the fulfillment of your rights. The telephone are ringing off the hook now. Old rotary phones, black and blaring. Toys on the floor that have not been picked up. Mistaken otter with his whiskers trembling, dives into the water and makes a run for it. His silky sheen fades out in the aqua distance. Stranger to so many. Hot sticky humidity where your clothes just cling to you. Sacred Starbucks chalice, replacing churches in the real estate game. My controller’s broken for this one. I am –


Malibu Bay Breeze can fuck right off. What are we, 12? I reject these teenage notions because they are embarrassing admissions and hangers-on of total and utter immaturity. Figuring out a new way, figuring out a new path. Wind whips my face as I curse this drink. It feels nice and I will have a beer instead, probably. These days I’d much rather have anything that refined sweetness. No, that is not what life is about nor was it ever about. And I don’t know the right answer. A hermit crab gets blow off course in its search for a new shell. Hurricane season during home shopping. Call the realtor. I want to quench and melt my uptight bullshit and replace with more breezy nature. Why can’t I be more carefree? Stuck in the mud with a stick, hardening clay around my bottom and ankles, so I’ll be stuck here. Call the museum. Put a trash bag over me and transport me elsewhere. I won’t even talk, but stay stock still.

Invisible wind careless to who it heals are harms. Arbitrary wind, in all directions, making my hair stand up. Hot soup gets cold by the breeze from my mouth. Blowing on the spoon, craving salt. To hike and stand at the precipice, finally free until the car comes ’round. Mild salsa donut harboring victim Lemon Yellow Black Kerouac. What can do to be more like Jawbreaker? More like Blake? How do I stand on the shoulders of giants? How can I approach and climb up and perhaps understand greatness from their height? I am tired and need of coffee and carb. I feel as though I am giving up, but I know I must not seeing it as given up. I am recontextualizing myself and my routine. But goddamn it if I don’t feel depressed about it. Like I lost, like some Loser Year. Cheap Trick and Pinhead Gunpowder. Was I ever who I said I was? Almost seems like someone else’s life, someone else’s memories. Why do I have to be such an Android about it? (Another great Green Day song.) I don’t feel righteous, I feel tired. Unmade bed crying out to be fixed. Early OCD habits. Rethinking the entire system and structure, like I’m wont to do, like I have done. Marmalade messes on kitchen counters, baby bathwater squishing tomatoes, dirty face and chastisement. I am going to rocket launch out of this chair and hopefully say something better and different tomorrow. Maybe these words do not call to me so I am pushing all that I can.


A marching band triumphantly plays moving down the street. Crowds of people cheer and wave American flags. There is the smell of soda, popcorn, and soft pretzels. Kids cry out in excitement and joy. Red, white, and blue floats make their way behind the band with town officials and contest winners waving blindly out, big smiles so that their cheeks hurt. There’s the colorguard with their flags, baton twirlers in their wake dressed in Olympic Gymnast Barbie (from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics) patriotic leotards. She sets a high bar they do not meet. Italian Ice melts in the summer sun, orb of burning butter that comes up every morning, betraying us on overcast days; Sets every night even though some nights are pancakes and slices of toast are left unbuttered. Loneliness of life, loneliness of the night. After awhile the crowd grows bored, but there is still so much parade left to go. The stack of signup sheets was profound, and now that town must honor their promise. Elderly folks sit in lawn chairs, relieved and glad that they have brought them. They were thick sunglasses and look simultaneously tired and amazed. One old woman has brought her camera, and she is gladly snapping pictures of the event, hoping to develop the photos and send them to her granddaughter in Tuscaloosa. State lines divide family hearts. Love sometimes is a one way street. The mayor stands up in the back of a convertible finally, signaling the end of the march. Uncle Sam with his face painted in the colors of the flag, dances a ho-down on stilts, twirling his tall top hat and scaring more than one child. What is this Frankenstein of dreams? How are they supposed to know? Glitter and confetti rain down from last minute budget cuts purchased canons it makes for a nice show, but a bitch of a cleanup. As the crowd disperses, BBQs are to be had, swimming pool time. Beers will be drunk and couples will get a little too high-strung at each other preparing for the event like the President is coming to dinner. Mass crowds walk away from the scene, some get in their cars. There are teenagers spinning on bicycles, talking over their shoulder to their following friend. The ride with one hand on the handlebars, sipping a soda, perhaps not realizing that in this glass cage, in this snowglobe that simple act and action is what’s granted here.