Month: January 2016

The Slope of a Line

So many mistakes. The heaviest of them rests on Rattle’s thighs and flattens its palms atop his chest. The rush of the freeway nearby surges through his veins. He once raged down Route 23 at criminal speeds. He was sinewy and strong then, steering the straight line. Rattle is hooked up to tubes and beeping machines in a room with a moaning roommate and the non-stop noise of a flat-screen. He lives compartmentally: rest and forced interactions with dry-eyed, over-sanitized nurses who serve him spongy, beige foods. He waits. All of the nurses look tired except one—an over-attentive young man who calls himself Sandy, whose nametag says Sanderson, who is currently knocking on the door as he opens it. “Hello, gentlemen,” he says. His eyes lock on Rattle. “Lovely morning today, absolutely lovely. Would you like me to open the blinds?” Rattle doesn’t answer. The roommate grunts, turning over as much as possible to face the wall. For all his moaning, this roommate will be fine. He had gallbladder surgery and will be released in a day or two. For all his moaning, he is not the one in this room who will soon die. His family visits daily. Sometimes the kid or wife throws Rattle a casual smile that he absorbs like sunlight. Sandy eases open the blinds, pausing briefly in case of protest, but Rattle welcomes the...

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Significance of Planetary Flatus and two other poems

Significance of Planetary Flatus Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Evidence that methane emitted by the single-celled Methanoscarcina caused the largest mass extinction on Earth. It is called The Great Dying. 250 million years ago (only seconds in Earth’s long day) 90 percent of all species perished. It’s blamed on gas. Eon’s amnesia hides certainty, yet experts say our verdant Earth was broiled and poisoned by these likely suspects: 1. Methane clathrate, known as “fire ice” (hat tip to Robert Frost). 2. Massive volcanic eruptions. 3. Asteroids slamming into shale deposits, instigating a sudden Permian-Triassic fracking. Now, research...

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The Familiar

He’d put his two hours in, hard labour, perspired, moaned, and swayed, but when he went to his desk for his reading glasses, so he could read the paper, they were nowhere to be found, even though he looked everywhere three times (they were in his shirt pocket – Alina would have found them); frustrated, he took his beige windbreaker and driving cap and went for a walk. It was Saturday late morning and the sun was shining. Negotiating the ascent to Castle Park, he bethought himself he should get a dog – he seemed the only pedestrian not...

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Three Poems for Lit Break

Centipede If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos. —E. O. Wilson   I met its acquaintance lifting boxes, thick with dust, that hadn’t been moved for years, for the purposes of readying the books   for a donation and a sale. Its size puzzled me: the exaggerated length of it, its many legs looking more like hair   than the paired pins that support it, segment to segment; waddling more as does a...

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Coyote Creates Man

The bell above the door jangled when the couple entered the gift shop, the man and the woman blinking against the sudden absence of sunlight. Their eyes were slow to adjust to the peaceful dimness, pupils slowly dilating until the shadowy blobs mutated into discernible shapes: a shelf of history books and guides, a spinning rack with glossy postcards, the teenaged clerk slouching behind the counter with his dark eyes dancing sleek across the pages of a comic book. “Phew,” said Walt. “It’s hot in here. Would it kill them to turn on the air conditioning? Some of us...

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