1) Shoes

I put on enormous shoes and walk aimlessly. The streets are empty. After a time, there is something in the distance. It’s an old man on a mule, passing in exactly the other direction. He stops and hands me a telescope. He doesn’t speak, but nods at me, and moves on.

I continue. Banalities join me. A few stick to my clothes. I hold one in my palm until it flits away. I am briefly content. I climb towers of memory. A silent truck runs me over—I hadn’t seen it coming—but I am saved by my shoes. They are indestructible. Sometimes, I hide in them.

I stop for Chinese dumplings. I myself am boiled in the oil of impatience, sautéed in the pan of anger. As I continue, a wind lifts my hat, and it flies backward. I turn and chase it, but it travels around the world, and appears behind me, landing motionless at my feet. I turn and pick it up.

My shoes agree it has been a long day.

 

2) Advice by Nibs

Nibs says leverage and weight distribution are important in matters of love. Be wary of organisms in standing water. In general, more nudity. Play no games with drunkards, they are sure to win. Get plenty of vitamins. Sniff the hot steam of pleasure, it is fleeting. It is best to indicate a full moon with the index finger of the right hand, but the sun and the stars and any crescent moon should be indicated with an open palm gesture of the left. Start a collection. In general, more group bathing. It may be useful to send your loved ones messages from your afterlife, while you still have time. Tell them you love them. In general, more bare breasts. Nibs approves. He abounds with understanding.

 

3) Not Enough Death

There’s not enough death. Not enough blood. Guts. Blue-purpley brains. Quivering spleens and pulsating livers. We want to point at them and look up close. We want to see monkeys set on fire, hurled by catapults, streaking across the sky. We want people split in half from crown to crotch, each half hopping off in a different direction, only to be run over by a tank. We want the onrushing ambulances to be swallowed by earthquakes and Godzillas. Not enough death.

 

4) TV Commercial Actor

Let’s begin. Stand up straight. Wear this rocket-powered jet pack. Now, do a dance. Dance! We’ll lead you over here by the hand. We’ll lead you over there by the hand. Wait for the cue. Now, bark like a dog. Bark! We hope you remember what we tell you. Stand over here. We’re going to paint your body a garish color. Smile. Now scream. Now cry. Stand over there. Pull down your pants. Now. Sing a song. Any song. Sing! Remember what we told you. Wear this blue bear costume. Now, tell us what makes life worth living. Tell us how you feel. Stand on your head. Tell us again. Now raise your arms. Pretend to die. Die! Here’s your check.

 

5) Those Terrible People

Those terrible people. They’ve eaten all our food. It’s gone. They left rinds everywhere. They’ve burned down the outhouse. Oh, the stench. Look at the charred rubble. They’ve killed Tippy the Poodle. My God. My God. Poor Tippy. He’s dead. Look at all the blood. They stole our cow and rode her up and down the street. Look at her, she’s exhausted. They beat us with ping pong paddles. It stings. It’s a violation of our rights.

 

6) To the Man Underneath Me

From the folded space and the curved darkness between us, I hear a vain, empty language. The language of the unwitting. The language of slavers and paid assassins. I lift the seams and peer through the folds. Somewhere, I see an unpeopled desert. I see a pack of dogs that has lost their alpha male. I see the deaf and the morbidly obese. I see your meaty hands and your dull jowls. I see your ordinary-man’s hair and your horrid folds of skin. Here we both stand stark naked with fury. I at you and you at your telephone.

 

7) Car Alarm

Nocturnal hen-song of distress. Call of the kidnapped. Without Doppler effect. Lonely automobile. Wolf-cry of the ineffectual. God bless us. Protect our motor vehicles. Let’s set it to an accompaniment. There it goes again.

 

8) Romantic Power-Walk Rendezvous

Begin alone. Deep breath. Elbows akimbo. Knees marching. Knees flying. Big ass. Destination: love. Sweatpants. Passing passers-by passing. March. Spin. Elbows pumping, love-bellows. Asphalt and traffic. Now I see you: We will meet in the middle. Hair fluttering. Fat thighs. The anticipation: it is delicious. Rubbery flesh. So familiar. So knowable. I will hold it and fondle worlds in it. Track suit. Roll into my arms. A love-demon tangle of flying elbows and knees. Don’t mind the others, don’t mind the passers-by on the street. Let’s get it on right here.

 

9) Agoraphobia

I am a sweaty, sweaty man. I fade into hollows. Thunderous noises and dogs. Whistles and sirens. The perfection of folly, just as they have sought it. Gestures and demands and complaints. Holidays and anthems. The iron and the ice. The crawling ants nest, the million pupae. The greenish ache of my bones. Drooling, sweating. The sun illuminates the far side of an opaque sheet. The moon casts the world in black and white.

 

10) Back to Nature

The trees teem with small lizards and howler monkeys. The birds flit and gorge on grubs and berries. I sit and contemplate. The naked dryads appear, beckoning and eating fruit. Now the sea turtles and the herons join us. Three-toed sloths and elephants. All are welcome, here in Nature. I sit naked in a babbling stream, the bare-breasted naiad appears and offers to trim my long, long hair with her sensual scissors. I refuse, with a gentle gesture of my hand.

It is good to be here. Rabbits and chipmunks multiply before my very eyes. I wonder at the world and its miracles. Now the god Pan is here. He sits and tells me a story: This story. We compare our beards. The forest nymphs titter with delight. They turn into butterflies and flutter away. Huge bears stand and wave and go running off on their hind legs. I am thoughtful under the thoughtful leaves.

 

11) Salamander

Black and black drapery, and white and pale and black in the hot sun. Innocent curl. A seashell containing a salamander’s heart. Born of an amphibious egg cluster. Your hind legs about her neck, your amphibian’s thighs around her neck. At home in the acrid black in the sun, in the damp black, innocent curl. Concrete block, alive and dead in the past, unlovable, unlikeable clammy-skinned amphibian. Submerged, without qualm, unwashed, unsunned, at home between innocent curls, pond bubbles and egg clusters, unalive, undead, a salamander’s weak lungs and palpitating heart.

 

12) Mr. Phipps Explodes

Mr. Phipps was aging and kept to himself. Our neighbor, familiar and well-known to us, he often sat on a bench in the park and watched the children and the animals. A man who valued consistency above all else. He had many opinions, but few means of expression. He did not look well upon the playful shouting of children. Nor the uncleanliness of animals, though he never gave much complaint.

And then one day, a flash of dull light, a loud pop as if from a large balloon, delayed by some measure of the speed of sound across the broad spaces of the park, a spray of matter, and a gust of foul, thick smoke.

That was the last we saw of him.

 

13) Paco and Lola

Paco is my cab driver this morning. He claims he was once a small parrot. “I desire to return to the enchanted emerald islands of my youth,” he says. But he says it in Spanish, so I do not understand. “I left behind my mistress, Lola, the only woman who ever loved me. She talked too much, but it was only a small fault.” He stares away at the horizon, presumably in the direction of his homeland.

I ask him won’t he please keep his eyes on the road. But I say it in English, so he doesn’t understand. He seems to have forgotten that I am here.

Paco stops the cab on the sand near the sea and gets out. He enters the ocean and begins to swim. Hours later, standing on the sand next to the empty cab I can still see him swimming into the horizon, his head above the waves.

 

Photo by PereslavlFoto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons