“Do you wanna know what I think?” she offered. “I think that you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Presents are wrapped with ribbons askew. The corners of the boxes have too much paper smushed and frantically taped along the edges.

“I never said I was good at this but they’re wrapped, aren’t they?”

Lyla laughed out loud and said, “I suppose they are,” in an amused sort of way. She tucked her chuckle back in her throat and walks out of the room, nearly tripping over a large cylinder of cellophane. The plastic wrap, sheen, but loud and crinkly. See-through, opaque with mild distortion.

“Have you wrapped the basket for the baby yet?”

“No,” Laura responded in a gruff, annoyed tone.

“Well,” Lyla waits and considers what she’s about to offer, just in case. “Why don’t I help you?”

Laura tosses her a skeptical look. “You’ve been teasing me all day about this and now you’re playing Mother Teresa? I may be a lost cause, but I don’t need charity.”

“No, no! I want to help. I have nothing better to do anyway. Look,”

Lyla grabbed the tube and the basket at the foot of the bed. Arranging the baby items in some QVC display fashion she must’ve learned in some godforsaken, stereotypical high school elective geared toward domestication, Laura thought; Lyla suddenly created a piece of art out of tissue paper and ribbon, filling the basket with blue booties, binkies, and bottles. In the back, she added little books and in the front she arranged the toys so that all could be seen. Then she fearlessly released the cellophane from it’s containment and rolling out a ginormous piece, centered the basket on top of it, smack dab in the middle. Once Lyla was satisfied, and with an all-knowing smile, she used scissors to cut and grabbed both ends.


Strike it and light it up. Something melodramatic to be said under foggy floor lights of blues and purples. Nighttime colors with spirits dressed in black. You cannot see their faces. A dancer runs upstage, lit by spotlight. It follows. She looks like a luminescent goth saint. Her face, albino white with clown makeup but it’s not funny. She strikes a pose, her face the fulcrum of the obtuse angle she makes with her arms. The music pauses as she looks upward, skyward, heavenword. Heaven bound and glorybe. With her eyes slowly closing, her lilac eyeshadow shows itself like a hidden trapdoor of a secret made to bear and share with you. The runway is a stage is a runway is a walk way is a highway is the milky way is broadway. Some fixed point for free or with no expenses paid, that we gaze at and/or hope to stride down someday. To strike our pose for our 15 seconds of fame. Rejuvenated Andy Warhol on speed and acid, never dead or dying. Cryogenic Walt Disney meets the Futurama Richard Nixon jarred head. If he was still around he’d have so much to say. Warhol and Postman engaged in debate. Now, that’s a holodeck program I would watch. Little drools of fantasy eek out of my brain and run down the sides of my face like Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye. Makes me think of the Oil of Violets Danny Devito uses in Matilda. Remember when she switches its contents with bleach? Such a classic movie. Verbatim remembered dialogue. Ballerina slippers tied to a bunny rabbit’s feet. That was definitely some cartoon character I remember in either decoration of illustrated book I remember reading as a kid. I cannot place her though. I’m not quite sure where she came from. Rinsed mouthwash inside out to spit in the sink and run the water to wash it down. I glance in the mirror with teeth bared and I pose. It feels good and fresh and clean. Shotgun wedding in a cardboard church. I remember the friends whose families could afford small playhouses in the yard. How new and fresh they felt. How it felt so nice to fit inside. New Jersey backyard spring and summer. A chocolate labrador.


A brisk walk through a morbid museum; A sanctuary of things lost, love shatters hearts on the floor broken and besides themselves, fretting in a grey mist of constant tears and sorrow. There is a quickening of heartbeats and thumping internally, blood boiling and pounding like rabbit’s foot against a particularly percussive forest floor. Sweet tea in an aluminum can promises empty dreams of 90s nostalgia, because in a way sugar is a drug, complete with a tolerance and the mere fact that nothing will ever taste as good as the first time you tried it. It is then we are lead out Plato’s cave, awakened. But we can only come out once. There are many other caves, all of which we can come out to awareness and understanding, but only once will be that one true time. I am imagining a vast desert, ominous and empty, all with caves like huts across the barren wasteland. And what looks odd to us from this panning longshot is unbeknownst and ignorant to the dwellers inside. They are none the wiser and they remain in complacent darkness, accepting that yes, this is life and this is fine.

On a cool fall day I can walk as briskly as I want down local town park path without running the risk of profusely sweating. The fall is the time where I can most be myself. Where I’m not critically self-conscious to no end. I try to not get desensitized to the leaves changing, their beautiful colors waving as they die, sleep once more to withstand winter. Where in winter wind whips on all sides; It is chilling and frigid and frightening. The smell of the cool air, however, is incredible intoxicating and cannot be replicated on any holodeck or VR or candle. That smell of snow. A mild smokiness pervades in my memory, perhaps of something in Bloomfield having lit their fireplace to make even the most frozen outside occasions seem cozy.

Wind moves along my sides as I determinedly stride across to my destination. The faster I go, the breezier it feels. An untied shoe lace could be a catastrophic event, but I am undeterred. I am careful until I’m not. And when I’m not, I will hang my head with the shame of Catholic guilt and internally punish myself with a miserable dialogue before I become insensitive and desensitized to it. It’s something hard to break out of old cycles that are seemingly made of teflon and thick plastic. Like I’m helpless in a hamster wheel of my own creation.


Styrofoam decoy sits on a window sill half-gnawed by Fido. The colorful ovular decoration now his dispersals of white teeth mark indentations, interrupting the purple and green stripe aesthetic of what used to be a festive egg for Easter, bought at the 99 cents store, on sale no less. There are crumbs in the toaster oven that sit at the bottom forgotten. They have gone through many lifetimes of heating and cooling. Maybe one day they will be thrown out and given a proper burial and funeral procession to the garbage dump. This little micro-happenings happen all around us all the time. It would just be insane to think about it all the time. So as two eggs crack and sizzle in the pan on the stove at breakfast hour, the mind becomes excited and stimulated at the prospect of not only breakfast, but breakfast soon. Your mind on drugs surely tastes delicious with a little salt and pepper. Television pleas that may or may not have worked. It’s all a bit of a shot in the dark. Cloaked and insidious temptations. Egg yolks make many delicious treats like custard and tiramisu. Egg whites are good for marzipan recipes and merengues. It’s funny to me how all these things are factual. Who were these trailblazing kitchen chemists experimenting? Also, why are Easter egg hunts a thing? What community planner thought that one up? The things I looked forward to as a kid sure seem stupid now. I guess it’s something to do for young minds that need distraction and joy, something to look forward to as a prelude to a sugar rush. Chickens lay the eggs, the bunny is glorified, and Jesus is the Lamb of God. Guess this life is just one big farm that got lost in translation. Eggs can be used for evil as well as good. Like pelting someone’s car with them and ruining their paint job. These concepts seem so foreign to me now. What seemed acceptable teenage revenge is now – mindboggling of how much time and effort it wastes. There are so many other, better things to do in life. Like wakeboarding and snorkeling and a whole bunch of other summer water sports. Kerosene will always be combustable, but it just be used to light lanterns in a novel that takes place in 1801 and that’s okay. Skyscraper meltdown from nuclear heat, the boil and bubbling as the translucent egg white goes from clear to formative.


Cucumber rinds on the floor. The rhythmic sound of the peeler moving like a metronome to the 78, scratchy record of a Mozart Concerto. Perfect time is kept. A workout for the hands and wrist. Three movements. And when the peeler stops, the chopping starts; The slicing: Thin for the sandwiches, thick for the crudite. Vegetables that retain water; Or is this a fruit? It does have seeds. I never quite go looking for cucumbers, unless they’re pickles. I don’t much care for the taste. It’s light, I suppose refreshing; I know it’s good for me. But … there are so many other vegetables I’d prefer. Like carrots. If you take yourself out of reality for a moment, it actually is wild to think about the concept of fruits, vegetables, produce, plants; Like, you put a seed in the ground and water it and stuff grows from it that you can eat? Human engineering. Planet Earth Concepts. Facts that we take for granted. An overdue library book.

I once made zucchini bread. Well, I’ve probably made it more than once in my lifetime, but this one particular time I was making it, I was shredding the zucchini and thinking to myself how much paler and watery it was than usual. And that’s when I realized, I wasn’t shredding zucchini at all, but I had actually accidentally grabbed the cucumbers, similar in shape as they are. Little accidents, mishaps in the kitchen, make for conversational storytelling. I thankfully hadn’t gotten very far, and I don’t think the cucumber went to waste. Somebody ate it, maybe on salad or something. I don’t remember.

I don’t have patience to sit still for an hour with cucumber slices over my eyes. Does that even work? Is that like, a spa gimmick? It’s a lewk. But does it have functionality? Maybe I just don’t like my eyes shut unless I’m sleeping or meditating. Maybe I don’t like having to make sure they’re not going to fall off, or wonder what will happen if they do and I’m alone in the chair listening to a waterfall talk to a harp. Overactive mind. Electricity buzzing like a thousand distant bees. Florescence turned on in an empty office space. That deafening hum of elongated light bulbs. Tubes filled with energy. A man in a white dress shirt staring into empty space.