Sunday, January 28, 2007

Recent google searches that lead some people to here

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the universe poem

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I have poems on Dusie and Quietly at Alice Blue. Even if you've read them you should read them probably.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


We're in Aaron's Lexus. Aaron's driving and Erik's sitting next to him pushing buttons on the radio and changing the radio-stations. I'm lying in back with my head against the window. The seats are brown leather and very slick. It has begun, slowly, to snow, and the cars around us move carefully along the road and the people in the cars around us look very concentrated and angry and one man with a red moustache moves his lips aggressively and stares at me in a challenging way so I look away and stare down at my lap.

I think, 'How old is Aaron? He seems very old.' "How old is Aaron?" I say.


"This is a nice-ass car," Erik says. "I'll have a car like this sometime. Did it cost a lot?"

I watch Aaron's hand as it shifts the cars gears. Thin blond hairs line its knuckles. "Do you feel old all the time?" I ask. "Does it hurt when you wake up? When you wake up, do you roll out of bed and feel sore and tired all the time?" I think about these questions. "Do you think all the time or do you stop thinking when you're old?"

"I don't know," Aaron says with a rough voice. Aaron is very intent on the road. His little clear eyes are focused and hard and I want suddenly to poke Aaron's eyes and test the hardness of Aaron's eyes, to rub Aaron's pupils with my fingertip.

"I love cars," Erik says. "I could make cars. I should be a car designer. I could design this car."

"I'll be old soon, but so what?" I say. "It probably doesn't matter."

"I put the rims on her car, tell Aaron how I put the rims on your car, and the stereo, I did the stereo." Erik moves around in his seat. "Tell him about the woofers," Erik says. Erik touches the dashboard and the window and the windshield and the seat. "I can design," Erik says.

Aaron says, "I have life insurance from my employer. I never thought I'd have life insurance, but now I have insurance for everything. Car insurance seems kind of useless. But you have to have insurance. Anything could happen is what insurance agents want you to think, and it could, anything could happen, like smashing a person, a pedestrian, with your car, or getting robbed, like home-invasion. I worry about home-invasion sometimes. I saw it on the news, and these guys just smash you and take your stuff, like televisions and computers, and these home-invaders just want to sell your stuff for heroin or crack or methamphetamines, is what the television said."

"Stuff," I say.

Erik watches out the window. "I used to make model cars."

"Anyone could be a home-invader the news says. Home-invaders look like anyone else but they want more stuff than anyone else, I guess."

I say, "I could be a home-invader."

In my imagination home-invaders are very hairy with goatees, hard brown hair, and dirty Levis. Home-invaders have dragon tattoos and heart tattoos and naked-mermaid-giving-head tattoos, maybe. I think, 'Mermaids,' then, 'Invaders.'

"Where are we going," asks Aaron.

Erik says, "Don't know."

I think about driving, about my mother driving, about the backseat and Anastasia and Merna and the seatbelts and crisscrossing the seatbelts and the knees, the exposed knees in the summer, bumping together, and the wind from the window-crack and the very warm very yellow sunlight through the window and the relaxing just-before with sleepy eyes and deep body-yawns in the late afternoon. I was ten-years-old when we drove through the Rockies to Montana. My mother drove the rusty mini-van. My father slept quietly in the front-passenger-seat. Merna read to me and Anastasia from teen magazines, about manicures and dating and hair-styling tips and how to be beautiful girls. I let my head flop to the side and sat very still and made my eyes flutter then close and stopped my breathing and waited for my sisters to shake me.

Anastasia said, "Don't."

Merna said, "She's dead." Merna pushed me.

I didn't react, but remained as still as possible while allowing Merna's pushes to move me.

"She's dead," Merna said. "Anastasia, you killed her."

"Stop," said Anastasia.

Later we stopped at a gas-station and I hid behind the very backseat, beneath our backpacks and tents and travel gear. I made myself very still and quiet and relaxed and spent my time smelling the things under which I had buried myself, which smelled like mold and mildew and dirt. I thought, 'This is probably what death smells like.' I thought, 'Nobody will ever find me.' When the mini-van had been moving for an hour, I un-hid myself and climbed over the middle-backseat in between Merna and Anastasia and took a long nap.

"Stop here," I say. It's an AM/PM.

"We don't need gas," Aaron says.

"Stop here," I say. "I need to go to the bathroom and I don't want to go on your dead-leather seat. It's probably disrespectful or something."

"I could get a soda," Erik says. "I could get some Twinkies."


Inside the AM/PM, there are many rows with neatly stacked snacks and medicines and magazines. Near the cash-register there are hotdogs and sausages slowly turning on long metal rollers beneath a heat lamp. The cashier is very young with a shaved head and a very narrow chin. The young cashier stares at me when I walk in and I stare back at the young cashier, and, at the same time, I am conscious of Aaron and Erik behind me. Aaron's holding the door open and Erik's moving toward the Twinkies, his fingers twitching in a typing motion.

I say to the young cashier, "Where's your restroom?"

"Over there." The young cashier moves his large brown eyes toward a little dark hallway off the corner of the store, next to the beer cooler.

I move to the restroom. I lock the door. The restroom's dirty. There are tiny hairs in the sink. The mirror is scratched. One scratch says, 'I love tampons,' and another says, 'Eat monkeys bitch.' I sit on the toilet in a peculiar way, holding my body inches above the seat. I think, 'Home-invasion.' I think, 'I don't understand anything.' I think for a while about monkeys and tampons. When I'm done, I scratch a message into the mirror with my knife. I scratch, 'Birthday-invasion.' I don't know what this means but it makes me feel very energetic and wide. I feel like I'll have to walk side-ways through doors, like I'll walk very straight through narrow hallways and smash elderly men into walls and ignore the little grunts of pain and the little angry glares and just walk very straight until, finally, I must stop.

I'm in the narrow hallway. Erik's at the register with money. Aaron's reading People magazine near the door. I watch the back of the young cashier's head. I move down the store's aisles and reach with my hand and grab snacks and medicines and anything nearby and carefully place the snacks and medicines and nearby items in the waistband of my skirt and in my shirt and everywhere I can think. When I move, I make small crackling noises but I ignore the noises. I move behind Erik, and breathe on Erik's neck. Erik is still paying the young cashier and the young cashier is staring at the counter. The young cashier's bald head has many tiny black hairs pushing out of its skin like little burnt sticks.

I say, "Have you ever been robbed?"

Aaron starts to laugh.

"Have you ever been robbed with a knife?" I say. "I bet people come in with knives all the time and point them at you and say something like, 'I'm taking the Twinkies. Close your eyes or I'll stab your face.' That's what I'd say, I think, if I wanted free Twinkies. I mean look at Erik, ready to pay for his Twinkies, but he could just pull out a knife and suddenly stab you in the face, or throw gasoline on your head and light the gasoline with my lighter, you know."

Erik looks at me sideways and says, "My name is Todd."

"No," the cashier says

"No what?"

"No, I've never been robbed or stabbed or anything. People are mostly nice in the store."

I push Erik away from me. I say, "Put your hands up bitch, this is a robbery." I pull out my knife.

Aaron is laughing. Aaron grabs my arm and pulls my arm. "Let's go," Aaron says.

"She's kidding," Erik says. "Don't worry, we'll take her home. She's drunk. Whole bottle of vodka in the last hour. She's small, but an amazing drinker."

"I'm going to stab him in the face! Punk-bitch."

"We're sorry," Erik says.

"Don't call the police," says Aaron.

Together Aaron and Erik pull me from the store. I wave my knife. I want to scare the young cashier. I want the young cashier to be full of fear, in pain with fear, to wonder whenever a girl walks into the store if this is the day he will be stabbed in the face.

As Aaron drives out of the parking lot and merges onto the highway, I begin to pull snacks and medicines and other items from my waistband and shirt and other places. "I got all this stuff in my clothes," I say. "Want some stuff? It's good stuff" I open a Snickers bar. "Why did you stop me? I had a plan," I say.

"Don't be ridiculous," Erik says.

"Stop being crazy," Aaron says.

"I'm not crazy. I only wanted to scare him a little. I wanted to say something. Don't you want to say something ever?" I slide down onto the floor. "I'm hiding," I say. "You can't see me."

"You're totally immature," Aaron says.

I don't respond.

Outside the window the trees are tall and shadowy. 'I could climb the trees,' I think. 'I could climb the trees with special spiked climbing-boots and live in the trees and depend on little pigeons to bring me food. I could steal little pigeon-eggs from nearby pigeon-nests and make my own person-nest and live warm and alone.'

"I wanted to say something," I say. "It's my birthday and I wanted to say something beautiful and paralyzing to the little cashier so he'd remember me forever and think of me sometimes and feel this great paralyzing fear and then later dream of little girls with knives and gasoline. Now he's just a bored little boy behind a cash-register forever."

Erik looks out the window and sighs very loudly and moves his fingers and touches the window with his fingers and leans his head against the window.

"Stealing only hurts poor people. Costs increase. It's immature. You talk a lot about doing stuff but you don't do stuff, you just steal and annoy people and make them feel weird. If you were a man, you wouldn't get away with it."

"Oh yeah?"

"You're a little girl who gets off on pissing off people. Shit. Probably people are always nice to you cause of your tits. Whatever."

Erik doesn't say anything. Erik's eyes are closed and his breathing is very even.

"You don't know anything," I say.

"I know no one takes you seriously like this. I can't believe anything you say. Don't even know your name. You'd probably just lie anyway."

"I thought we had a deal. I thought you were taking me to Lisbon."

Aaron watches the road. It is late afternoon. Traffic has become thicker and the cars moves slowly, heavily forward, like little robot-glaciers.

"Take the next right," I say.


"Please. You'd probably just think I'm lying anyway."

Aaron turns right. The road curves gently and slopes down among large gray houses and thick brown trees.

"Turn right again," I say. "There."

Aaron turns again. The road curves gently and slopes down among large gray houses and thick brown trees. Each house looks like the same house with little green lawns and large two-car garages and red-brick facades, and the road curves and slopes in precisely the same way as before, with the same angles and grades. Some houses have lights and people, inside and outside, and some houses are dark and empty. I hum through my nose and move around in my seat. "Here," I say to Aaron. "It is."

Aaron glances at me, then at Erik. Erik is sleeping noisily against the window. Aaron says, "I'm sorry about what I said. I shouldn't have said what I said."

I make a complacently happy face.

"Where are we going?"

"Home-invasion," I say.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


"I had two sisters but I killed Anastasia by accident. We were swimming in the pond, my parents took us to this shack in the woods and there was a pond there and the pond was very dark but at the same time very reflecting and, anyway, Anastasia and Merna, that's my other sister, were swimming in the pond and it was cold, because it was winter, and, Merna's the oldest, I'm the middle, and we were racing from one end of the pond to the other end of the pond, and we were all naked, I was fourteen, and suddenly I'm very tall and I'm swimming and I'm winning the race and I'm watching the edge of the pond and the dirt and the dirty little rocks and I'm swimming very fast and my arms feel long and Merna's calling me a bitch and I stop. I'm at the edge. Merna's very wild and angry and Anastasia is in front of me and I grab a rock and smash her eye and smash her other eye and grab her hair and hold her under the dirty pond-water for a long time. It was an accident, I think. Merna was very angry and I was afraid of many things and I smashed her with a rock and held her under the pond-water."

"You're lying," Aaron says. "I don't believe it".

We're in my apartment. Aaron has sprawled his pudgy oversized body on my sofa. He is leaning very backward and resting his head on the back of the sofa and his arms are very long and his arms cover the top of the sofa and his very large very thin hands grasp the corners of the sofa. I am pacing in front of him. I moved my coffee table into the kitchen and now I am pacing in front of Aaron and it is very dark and almost like night outside my windows but it's hardly noon and the day seems all at once useless and boring.

"Merna is so lovely," I say. "You should see a picture of Merna, a picture from before the disfigurement."

"The disfigurement?"

"My mother stabbed her in the face and cut off her nose. My mother said she was 'correcting her mistakes.' That was ten years ago."


"Let's talk about something else," I say. "Let's talk about global terrorism, or fashion design, maybe. Do you like fashion? Do you think I'm fashionable?"

Aaron slowly removes his arms from the couch and rolls them carefully toward his body. The arms touch Aaron's chest and slide smoothly toward his lap and stop on his lap and the arms rest on his lap painfully, and the hands and the fingers on the arms move like small insects towards Aaron's knees, where they become taut and solid, where they become fixed points on a three-dimensional grid.

'I am moving,' I think, 'I am not moving.'

"I feel a little crazy today," I say. "Am I fashionable? I don't know."

"You are fashionable enough," Aaron says.

"I kind of want to be a terrorist," I say. "I think terrorists are terribly fashionable."


"I don't know. Maybe it's just fashionable to hate terrorists or something," I say. "I'm a liar. I don't want to be a terrorist. I want to steal everything all at once and take everything someplace safe and bury everything. That's what I really want."

"You shouldn't talk like that."

"I talk how I want. That's part of the deal."

I move to the refrigerator and I stop. The refrigerator has many magnets and beneath the many magnets are drawings drawn by Erik and the drawings drawn by Erik whose name is really Todd are all crayony and round and with breasts and little inflated penises and balloons and kittens and these drawings are arranged on the refrigerator door in an aggressive way and I am frightened at the organization of it and I can't open the refrigerator door and I can't even for a moment look away from the drawings and the refrigerator door. 'Erik has drawn these pictures for me,' I think.

"What is it?" says Aaron from the living room.

"Nothing," I answer.

There is a click and the front door is opening.

It is Erik.

Erik seems much taller and much thinner than before. His little clear eyes focus and refocus around the apartment. "I'm home," he says. "Who's this?"

Aaron slowly stands.

There is a sound like crinkling paper but louder and more agitated and Aaron is on his feet and Aaron's arms are long bulky triangles and Erik stands in front of him, his chin a pointy little knot in his face. I stand between them. It makes me laugh, standing between them. 'I'm the middle,' I think. I laugh.

"I'm Aaron," Aaron says.

"I'm Todd," Erik says.

"I'm Todd," I say, and I laugh some more.

Aaron and Erik watch me, their faces expressionless. Aaron and Erik's little eyes are clear and Aaron and Erik watch me together or simultaneously and their little clear expressionless eyes move only to blink and I blink and we are all blinking and it is painful to see their little clear eyes and to see their little clear breaths and to blink and see them and blink and see them again. I want suddenly to be alone and to sit on my sofa and maybe read or watch television or listen to NPR and to think about Lisbon and kittens but it's just useless desire and boring desire and I think about my refrigerator and the crayony Erik drawings and about Aarons narrow hands and narrow face and Erik's brown mess of hair and the dirty pond-water and about how I could at any time hold Erik and Aaron underneath the dirty pond-water. Two nights ago I couldn't sleep and I left my bed and sat on the sofa and I imagined little clear eyes watching me and I read a book and a magazine and I couldn't sleep and the book, the magazine, even the dark out the window was only painful and tiring, so I sat very still and stopped everything I had the power to stop. It's like that now, maybe. I think, 'It's like that now.' But I don't mean it because nothing is like anything or everything is like anything and there's hardly a difference anyway.

"We should sit at the dining room table," I say.

"We don't have a dining room," Erik says.

"Here," I say.

I point. We sit. It's cold but I'm too tired to turn on the heat.

At the dining room table we almost form an equilateral triangle. "Erik," I say. "Could you move to the left, maybe three inches?" Erik moves. Centered and equidistant from each of us is a People magazine with Kevin Costner on the cover and Kevin Costner's hair is thin and lanky and he is smiling but in a suspicious way, as though he knows someone is photographing him and he doesn't want to be photographed, and he is holding in his little hairy hand a white plastic bag. 'What is in the white plastic bag,' I think, but there is no answer in the headlines. Aaron and Erik look around and Aaron shrugs a little and looks at the ceiling and Erik taps the table. "It's my birthday," I say. "We should commit a terrorist act."

Aaron chuckles.

"What's in the white plastic bag?" I ask.

Erik's little forehead wrinkles a little and Erik leans back in his chair and there is a low creak. "I quit my job today," Erik says. "I don't work for Wal-Mart anymore. I liked the job, you know, but I straightened everything that could be straightened and there was nothing left to straighten or organize so I told my boss that I was a waste of money. I've organized everything now. I reached the pinnacle or something."

"I wish I could stab something," I say.

Aaron turns the People magazine over. "I can't stand it," Aaron says. "Kevin Costner was staring at me."

"We should go to the shopping mall. We could have a portrait made of us and then steal many things."

Erik turns to Aaron. "Have you ever been to Wal-Mart?" Erik asks. "I organized fucking everything."

We're at the mall.

"Seriously Aaron," Erik says. "Are you trying to fuck my girlfriend?"

"I don't 'fuck', I make love."

"It's all fucking," I say.

"She has nice tits, doesn't she?" Aaron says. "Nice tits when she's petulant."

Erik agrees.

The mall is flat and long and gray. I think, 'People move together and apart and each person, whether together or apart, is probably the same person and a completely unique person at the same time.' I slide into Nordstrom and Aaron and Erik follow. I imagine people coming apart into many simple pieces. I think, 'That's stupid.' A woman who looks like a school-teacher says, "Welcome to Nordstrom's." I look at the perfume counter and away from the school-teacher woman's face and on the perfume counter are many bottles of perfume and behind the many bottles of perfume are two young women wearing very articulate make-up and I look carefully at them and I think, 'What kind of make-up is very articulate make-up?' and I feel as though I've entered the wrong store and that these young women know that I've entered the wrong store and that they will soon escort me outside with their slim fingers gripping my shoulders, one hand on each shoulder, and their perfectly lip-sticked lips pursed into little ironic frowns. There is the sound everywhere of people talking. There is a piano and a man plays the piano and the man playing the piano is wearing a black tuxedo and white gloves. 'No,' I think, 'his hands are just very white.' Aaron and Erik are moving very slowly behind me and I'm moving very slowly and above us the long fluorescent light tubes are moving very slowly, slowly with the vibration electricity and slowly with the movement of air, maybe.

"The hands are just white," I say.

"What?" says Erik.

"I don't know what I'm saying. I feel like doing something terrible."

Aaron moves close to me and touches my shoulder and leans his face close to my face and breathes warmly on my neck. "It's not possible to do anything terrible. There is no such thing as terrible," Aaron says.

"She's just moody," says Erik. "She just wants attention. She is bored, bored and wants attention."

"I could kill you and you couldn't stop me from killing you," I say to Erik. "I could kill anyone and it would be easy." I move behind a rack of dresses and remove my knife from my purse and slash the dresses. "I can kill these dresses if I want."

"Stop that," Aaron says. Aaron's head moves around and his eyes watch for people.

I continue to slash dresses.

"Just leave her alone," says Erik.

"I can't."

"She'll stop eventually. She's circumspect, I think. She does this all the time. Once we got kicked out of Hot Topic for the same thing. She told the manager the clothes looked sad."

I slash the dresses and cut tiny pieces from the dresses and put the tiny dresses pieces into my pockets. I thrust my knife through the dresses and rip the dresses. I squat on the floor and slash the carpet and stab the carpet and the carpet is very thick and full and brown and I pull up triangular carpet flaps and cut them loose and put tiny carpet triangles into my pockets with the dresses pieces.

"Let's go," says Erik.


"I don't want to get caught."

Aaron shrugs.

"Who cares if we get caught?" I say. I toss a dress onto the floor. "There, I covered it."

Aaron starts to laugh.

I place my knife inside my purse. Aaron and Erik are watching me so I watch Aaron and Erik and my eyes and their eyes are sort of motionless in the way that eyes can be motionless and still move suddenly. I open my mouth and breathe deeply and lean back slightly and open my mouth until I can't open my mouth any more and I push the air from my lungs violently and form the air into a sound and say the sound until my throat hurts and say the sound so that Aaron and Erik are shocked and shush me and hold their arms rigidly in a useless way and I move past them and I run and push the air from my lungs and say the sound until I'm outside where it is cold and cloudy. Then I stop and laugh and wait for Aaron and Erik to find me. I touch the dresses pieces in my pockets and the dresses pieces are very soft and warm. Erik and Aaron are moving toward me with their hands in their pockets and Aaron is ahead of Erik and is very wide so that Erik almost disappears behind him. I touch my cell-phone and the dresses pieces and the leather of my purse the tiny triangles of carpet and I move these things together and let them touch each other until Aaron and Erik stand next to me, then I say something.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I walk along the sidewalk next to the highway. My car is at McDonald's. I think, 'McDonald's can have my stupid car for its stupid parking lot and it can be a stupid decoration for the stupid parking lot and the stupid grid, grid, grid.' I think, 'Everything in the world is like graph-paper.' The road next to the sidewalk has six lanes, three going north and three going south, and in each of the six lanes are hundreds of gray sedans with identical headlights and antennas and each of these sedans moves in its own vector, some wobbling along a kind of axis and others zooming very straight and even the speeds are very different and it is tremendous and quick and scary how each of these sedans can move so separately in the same direction and it makes me think that a person would have to be insane to drive with so many people around and so many sedans and so many lanes.

I move around a tree. There are many trees planted along the sidewalk and they are fir trees and trees you usually see in movies about skiing or that take place on mountains but they are everywhere here and here is not a mountain. I hug my arms to myself to make myself warm but it is windy and cloudy and I continue to shiver and walk and I look over my shoulder and there is a fat man in a puffy black rain-parka and he is very fat with blond hair and he walks very swiftly which is surprising because of how fat he is but he sees me looking and slows down.

I continue to walk.

I look over my shoulder and the very fat man is walking swiftly toward me and he sees me looking and he slows down and whistles and looks at the cars. He is very close to me now. Maybe ten feet away. I can hear his whistling.

I turn around. I say, "What the fuck do you want?"

The fat man looks at me with a wide mouth and funny big eyes that are like little black rocks in his head, and the eyes even seem to move like little black rocks.

The fat man says, "Me?"

I feel very distracted and I look at the clouds which are more like one cloud and back at the fat man and fat man has somehow moved closer to me and I think, 'I'm just paranoid, probably I'm just paranoid, maybe.' The fat man is next to me. He is very fat but his head is very small and his face is not even a little chubby.

"Do you remember me?" the fat man says.

"No." But maybe I do. I think, 'Who is this man?'

The fat man's thin and small face is lined with very thin very blond hair. The hair is smooth and almost invisible.

"I'm just paranoid," I say aloud.

"What was that?"


"Want to get some coffee?" the fat man asks.

The fat man licks his lower lip very slowly. His tongue is very small and quick and he only uses the tip of it to lick his lower lip and it is a little strange how slowly his tongue seems to move when the tongue is very small and quick and pink. I stare with little eyes at the fat man's tongue and feel as though the fat man's tongue is staring back at me, but only slightly, and with a kind of aggression.

"Are you sure you don't remember me?" the fat man asks. "Coffee," he says. "Coffee is good. We could get coffee, like espresso or something. I know a place that has a lot of different kinds of coffee. I'd even pay for the coffee if you came to get coffee with me and we could talk for a while about old times and stuff. You still drive your little Honda, right? You see we're old friends and we should talk over coffee at this coffee place I know. I have some information. You probably want to know the information. And it's cold out here and the coffee place is very warm inside and there are comfortable chairs and warm lights and warm coffee."

"Do you know my boyfriend or something?"

"I don't think so."

"It's my birthday today," I say. "Today, I'm twenty-seven."


"I’m going to Lisbon," I say. "It's my birthday present. I'm going to Lisbon tomorrow."

"Lisbon must be beautiful this time of year."

I feel a sudden panic in my legs. 'Why did I say Lisbon?' I think.

"We should get coffee," I say. "How do I know you?"

The coffee place is warm. It has many corduroy sofas and dark chandeliers with soft light-bulbs that hang at different levels and project long and bulbous shadows around my feet. I move my feet between the shadows and sip my coffee which is very bitter. The fat man tells me his name is Aaron. Aaron is in the bathroom and I am sitting on a corduroy couch and sipping bitter coffee and moving my feet between the long and bulbous shadows and though the coffee shop is almost empty, I feel as though I am being watched and as though these watchers are silently judging me. I hear the words, "Her clothes are not at all stylish," and "Her cheeks are very large and her forehead seems to sort of protrude, doesn't it?" but when I look around the coffee shop I don't see anyone, not even the barista. I think, 'I'm thinking things too much.'

Aaron returns. He removes his black and puffy rain-parka and carefully lays it on the arm of the corduroy sofa. Aaron groans as he sinks down into the couch. "So," Aaron says.

My cell-phone ring-tone plays a song.

It's my boyfriend.

"I'm sorry," I say. I open my cell-phone. "Yes?"

"What are you doing right now?" my boyfriend asks.

"Right now?"

Aaron shrugs and Aaron looks out the window and Aaron crosses his arms and Aaron sighs. Aaron has very narrow shoulders and I can see them move slowly underneath his sweater.

"I want you to come home. I want you to come home and strip naked and lay on the couch and think about me and I want you to—"

"Aren't you at work Erik?"

"I want you to touch yourself."

I wonder if Aaron can hear this. I feel very ashamed and turn my head down and look at my shoes between the long shadows and I whisper to my boyfriend, "I have to go now."

"And I want—"

I turn off my cell-phone and look at my feet and put my cell-phone away and think about touching myself and look at Aaron and say in a quiet voice, "I'm very sorry about that."

Aaron says, "It's nothing. Don't think about it. Think about Lisbon maybe."


"Lisbon, in Portugal. Your birthday present."


I look at my hands and my fingernails and compare my fingernails and wonder why each of my fingernails is not exactly the same. Aaron is also looking at my fingernails and he is smiling widely and his very narrow face is sort of slack and tired.

"You said you had 'information,'" I say.

I feel as though I have lost something in saying this, and Aaron is moving closer and his face is no longer tired but narrow and broad and wide and smiling and he has many teeth and each of his teeth gives off the impression of smiling and there are many gaps between his teeth and I look at the gaps and I look away from the gaps and the gaps between Aaron's teeth are very straight and parallel. I touch the edge of the tabletop and run my finger along the edge of the table top and my finger feels the edge of the tabletop and I am feeling my finger feel the edge of the tabletop.

"Information," Aaron says. "Opportunity perhaps. I don't know."

"I am going to Lisbon," I say. "You don't think I'm going to Lisbon but I'm going to Lisbon."

"Of course. Don't worry about that. Let me show you something."

Aaron reaches into this pocket with his wide and chubby hand and then removes it, his hand closed around something. Aaron turns his hand over and slowly opens his hand and in his hand is a tiny green ball of money and he tosses the green ball of money on the table and the green ball of money bounces and rolls toward me.

"That is yours," Aaron says.


"You're hired." Aaron leans back and the couch slides a couple of inches. "You can be my assistant, you know, and assist me with things."

"What kind of things?"

Aaron smiles his wide smile and turns his hand in a upward twirling gesture. "Everyone needs money," he says. "I could take you to Lisbon, if you wanted, I could take to Lisbon to the beach and you could walk with me on the beach near the water and we could be naked on the beach and lay around in the sand and let the sand get on our bodies, in Lisbon. It would be very beautiful. Everyone needs a little money, you know. An arrangement."

Outside the window a boy and a girl are walking slowly and looking inside the café window.

"You are very pretty," Aaron says.

"Have you ever decapitated a kitten?" I ask.

"Why do you say that?"

"I want to stab a kitten in the face sometimes, you know, with a kitchen knife. I would stab the kitten and decapitate the kitten and throw the little kitten-head out the window, or maybe I would save the kitten-head and dry the kitten-head and make a decoration from the dry little kitten-head for my mantel if I had a mantel."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm tired," I say. "I'm tired of kittens and things like that. Let's rob the café. I have knife. We'll rob the café and kill the barista and take the tip jar. I want the tip jar."

"Sshh," Aaron says. Aaron looks wildly around the café. "Don't say things like that aloud."

"I can say whatever I want. I'm your assistant, right. It's the arrangement. I say whatever I want."

Aaron grunts and leans back and smiles a tired smile.

My cell-phone ring-tone plays a little song.

"I'm sorry," I say.

It's my boyfriend.

I turn on my cell-phone. "What?" I say.

My boyfriend says, "I'm sorry about before. You're just so hot. I want you naked and me naked."

"I'm busy right now," I say. "I'm having coffee with Aaron. We're talking about kittens."

I turn off my cell-phone.

"Let's rob an AM/PM," I say. "I want a soda."

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I don't know what to do.

I'm at a stoplight. A moment ago, the light turned green. I sat very still. I sat very still until the light turned red. I watched the digital clock in my dashboard until the light turned red. Now there are many cars behind me. I can see the steam rising from the hoods of the many cars and the many cars are all the same gray color and all the same model sedan and the many cars seem to line up to the horizon when I look in my rear-view mirror. I think, 'I wish all the people in all the cars would die, but if all those people die it would cause a major traffic jam, so I actually wish that all of those people would disintegrate with their cars and the road would be very ashy and dark.'

The light turns green.

I drive.

I drive my little Honda into McDonald's parking lot and park in the McDonald's parking lot and turn off my little Honda. The McDonald's parking lot is rectangular and wide and many rectangular slots have been painted by someone and the McDonald's parking lot is surrounded on all sides by rounded curbs. I think, 'It is a grid, a grid, a grid.'

I enter the McDonald's.

"Welcome to McDonald's," the McDonald's boy says. The McDonald's boy is thin and lanky and has many little pimples on his face and braces and he seems about to scratch at any moment but he doesn't scratch so I only imagine him scratching.

There is no other person inside the McDonald's.

"Where is everyone?" I ask. "Don't you need cooks or whatever? What about the drive-through? Who is operating the drive-through?"

"Robots," the McDonald's boy says. "It's totally automated." The McDonald's boy stares at me with little green eyes. "I'm lying," he says. "Everyone's taking a break. I'll probably be fine. I've never run the store by myself, but I'll be okay."

"You'll be okay," I say. "Do you like animals?" I look at the McDonald's boy's little green eyes. I think, 'Why did I say that?' I want desperately to ask the boy why I said that. I say, "Why did I say that?"

"I don't know."

"Wait, which question were you answering?"

The McDonald's boy leans against the counter. "Both questions," he says. "I was answering both questions at the same time. I think that animals are nice and I like animals or at least to see animals on television and I have a cat and a goldfish and I like the cat and the goldfish but if my goldfish or my cat was electrocuted to death I wouldn't be really sad or anything. Animals are probably like anything else, at least, you know, I wouldn't be sad if I broke my television or whatever. I'd probably just get a new television or a new goldfish."

I touch the McDonald's boy's hand and move my finger along his hand to his wrist. The hand and wrist are very hairy but the hair is smooth and soft. "You have soft hair," I say.



"Do you want a hamburger or something? You could have a value meal. I like value meals. There's a value meal with fish. There are value meals with chicken nuggets and chicken patties. With hamburgers. We have a lot of value meals. There are pictures up there." The McDonald's boy points at the back-lighted menu-board.

I sit on the floor, cross-legged. The tiles are very cold. I lean against a thick metal railing. I consider the menu.

"What are you doing?"

"I don't know."

The McDonald's boy moves his little green eyes around and the little green eyes focus on me and move around and focus on the ceiling. He begins to wipe the counters in a circular motion with a rag he pulls from his back pocket. The circles expand and contract and the rag is very damp and thin and the McDonald' boy's hands are moving the rag delicately and I think, 'He moves the rag so delicately it is beautiful, beautiful and I want to move the rag like that and hold the rag in my hand and move the rag in circles.' I think, 'I want I want.'

"I once threw a kitten at a window," I say. "It bounced around."

"Oh, okay. That's cool."

The McDonald's boy fixes his hair. He takes his hat off and combs his hair with his long fingers and his long fingers move slowly through his hair and his hair springs up in a sudden way and his hair is very black and shiny and it springs blackly and the light from the ceiling lights his hair and all of this hair and light and everything overwhelm me and I lean back against the railing until I can feel only the railing on my back and I breathe very deeply and I look at the floor and I hope the McDonald's boy has put his hat back on his very narrow head and covered his black and shiny hair.

"You don't understand," I say. "I'm like a serial killer. It starts with kittens." I look at the McDonald's boy's little green eyes and the little green eyes look back at me. I say, "It starts with kittens and then it's everything and you think about strangling all the time and, like right now, I'm imagining stabbing you in the neck. It is funny and strange, maybe, but I can see the knife in your neck and the blood moving around the counter and maybe your co-workers rushing around you and pulling the knife out, but it's too late and you're lying on the floor and your little green eyes are wide open and moving around and somebody's using your little rag to wipe up your blood in little circles and your long fingers are reaching for the rag but they can't reach the rag. Can't you see? This is how it is. It starts with kittens."


"I'll take some chicken nuggets," I say.

The boy brings the nuggets. They are in a little cardboard box with little air-holes as though the little chicken nuggets were still alive and needed to breathe or something, but they're not breathing and they're not kittens and I'm not something or other.

I think, 'I don't know.'

"You can have those for free," the boy says. "No one will say anything."

"I probably wouldn't stab you," I say.


I try to say something else but I can't say something else so I stand up and take the chicken nuggets in the little chicken nugget box with air-holes and move toward the McDonald's door with its square glass panels and stenciled logos and the chicken nugget box is very warm in my hand and door is very cool in my hand and I stand and think for a while about these feelings.

I say, "I'd probably take you home and make you dinner and help you with your homework or something."

I walk outside.

There are many clouds. It's afternoon and it's dark and there are many clouds and probably it's going to rain in a while and the cars will move slowly and there will be a loud hissing everywhere and it will be pleasant like television static and other things like that.

I hear my cell-phone ring-tone and pull my cell-phone from my pocket and turn on my cell-phone and say, "Hello."

It's my sister.

I don't know what to say to my sister. I think, 'It starts with kittens.'

My sister says, "Happy birthday." And my sister says, "Where are you? Are you going to Mom's house? What?"

I don't say anything and I don't even breathe because I'm afraid my sister will hear me and if my sister hears me my sister will expect me to talk and I can't talk to my sister in front of the McDonald's with chicken nuggets in my hand.

I hang up my cell-phone.

A man is walking by. He is very old and has long gray hair and a beard. The man has a green coat with many pockets that seem all at once useful and yet I think, 'What would a person use all of those pockets for?' It's a lovely coat and I want so much to have a coat just like it with many pockets and I would even think for a while and fill all the pockets and make the pockets very utilitarian and useful and nice. I hold out my chicken nuggets in their little chicken nugget box with air-holes. "Take them," I say to the very old man.

The very old man looks at me in a small way and I hold the chicken nuggets closer to him and he looks at the chicken nuggets in the same small way and his eyes become very round and tired.

"Don't worry," I say, "they're dead." I look at the very old man and his round and tired eyes. "They won't hurt anyone," I say.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I am twenty-seven years old today. This is very important. It is an important day. I told my boyfriend. I vacuumed my apartment. I cleaned the dishes. I filed away the papers I had left in a pile to be filed away. I opened all the shades on all the windows in my apartment and turned off my television and said to the television, "I will never turn you on again." I then apologized to the television. I said to the television, "I'm sorry, I will watch you sometime when I feel nostalgic, but I can't watch you so much anymore because I am twenty-seven years old and it is time to become an adult and adults listen to the radio to things like NPR so I'm going to listen to NPR a lot and feel kind of intellectual and kind of Liberal or maybe Progressive, I'm not totally sure which yet but…" The television didn't answer and I was saddened by the television's silence, but also a little relieved. Now I'm lying on my couch and there is sun outside and the sunlight from the sun is in my apartment and I can see little bits of dust moving around and interacting with other bits of dust in the sunlight and it feels kind of warm and comfortable even though it is December.

I think, 'I want to be naked on my couch in the sun but I can't because my neighbors would see me and call the police or masturbate or say terrible things to my other neighbors or ignore me and hate me and think I'm ugly.' I roll over. My cell-phone is on the table and I pick my cell-phone and begin a text-message. I type, 'There are twenty-seven tangents in the tangent room.' I send this to my boyfriend.

I compose another text-message. I type, 'There are twenty-seven tangerines in the tangerine room.' I send this to my boyfriend.

I decide to call my sister. I don't know what to say to my sister. I haven't talked to my sister for eight years. It has been sad, or maybe it was sad for two years, and then it became embarrassing for six years and now it is sad again and I think I should call her because it will be like television maybe, like on the Maury Povich talk-show, with the super-emotional reunion and crying and soft gray sofas and other things like sappy music and soft camera filters and angry monologues. I don't know how to talk to her. I was at her house. This was eight years ago, or maybe eight and a half years ago. I said to my sister, "Your kitten is so pretty I could just pull his eyes out and roll them around on the kitchen floor."

My sister laughed quietly. She said, "He is cute."

My sister's kitten was a little black ball, all puffy and round, and he used his roundness to roll around the kitchen floor.

"I love your kitten," I said. I reached for the kitten, grabbed the kitten by his scruff, and stroked the kitten in my arms. The kitten purred.

My sister began unloading her dishwasher. My sister's plates were so white and clean and perfect with the tiniest bubbles of water huddling together away from her dry rag and my sister was merciless as she carefully wiped every part of every plate and obliterated each tiny and perfect bubble and then slowly set each plate in its proper stack in the cupboard next to the refrigerator. I hated her. I hated her and her plates and her bubble-obliterating rag and her stupid silly kitten. I couldn't tell you why. The plates were lovely and she was lovely and I was lovely and it seemed peaceful and quiet and I could even, at that moment, I think, imagine lovely days of lovely waiting, in the kitchen, drying dishes and playing with kittens and cats, then cats and kittens. I don't know. My sister finished drying the plates. I held the kitten in one hand. My sister sat across from me and stared at my hands and played with her hair and began to braid her hair. I held the kitten carefully in one hand. Outside, the sky was a little gray puff. The sky seemed very nearby and very large. I held the kitten and cocked the kitten and flung the kitten at the window and the kitten moved slowly towards the window and the window anticipated the impact and I think I could hear the window gasp and I gasped and my sister gasped and the kitten hit the window and there was a loud sound that I can't really describe but was both wonderful and terrible and the kitten bounced and moved slowly toward the sink.

I think I have torn my quadriceps.

I stand up. I walk around my apartment. I test my quadriceps. I stretch my quadriceps. I pull my jeans off and carefully look at my quadriceps, and massage my quadriceps gently with my hands.

"It's okay," I say to my quadriceps. "I'm sorry," I say to my quadriceps. I imagine my quadriceps as a healthy muscle and I imagine my blood cells moving toward my quadriceps carrying vital healing chemicals that will mend the tear in my quadriceps and make my quadriceps happy and healthy.

I open my cell-phone address book and select my boyfriend's name and call my boyfriend. My boyfriend's name is Todd.

"Hi Erik," I say into my cell-phone. Sometimes I call Todd Erik.

"My name's not Erik," my boyfriend says.

"I'm sorry Erik."

"My name is Todd," my boyfriend says.

"I know that," I say. "It's my birthday, and I tore my quadriceps," I say. "What are we going to do?" I ask. "Are you going to take me to the bank and rob the bank and take me away to Mexico so we can escape the authorities and live luxuriously in the desert with five servants and a horse and an orange grove?"

Erik doesn't say anything.

"Are you going to take me to the airport and hijack an airplane and take me to the south Pacific or something, where we can lay secretly on the beach and make quiet cell-phone calls to our families and live alone in a hut?"

Erik says, "I have to work. I'll call you later, maybe" He turns off his cell-phone.

I select a long skirt and a blouse from my closet. I iron my skirt and blouse. I put on my ironed skirt and blouse. I put my iron away.

I drive my little Honda to Wal-Mart. I park my Honda. I walk inside.

Erik works at Wal-Mart.

"Where's Erik?" I say to the cashier.

"Huh?" the cashier answers.

"Erik is the current Wal-Mart regional exploitation manager. He's in charge of destroying unions from the inside."


"Like a parasite, kind of."


I look carefully at the cashier's blue vest. It is very crisp and clean and I want suddenly to touch the vest, to reach forward and run my finger along the vest, to unbutton the vest and remove the vest and wear the vest myself. I want suddenly to be this cashier and to wear a blue vest and push buttons for people and take money from people and return money to people. I think, 'People spending money must be the happiest people and people at Wal-Mart are spending money and saving money and people who spend money and save money must be the happiest of the happy people in the world.' The cashier's nametag says 'Julia'.

I say, "You must be very pretty Julia. People must look at you a lot and say to themselves 'Julia is very pretty' and then walk through Wal-Mart and buy things and look for Erik and then think about candy and soda sometimes."

"Hmm," Julia says. Julia turns away from me.

"Don't go," I say. "It's my birthday, and I tore my quadriceps but I'm strong and I'm going to get through."

"Get through," Julia says.

"Yes," I say. "I'm going to get through and I'm here and I want to buy things and to find Erik. Do you know Erik?"

"I have to work now."

"But I want to buy things," I say.

Julia moves slowly toward her cash register. Julia's arms are puffy and pale and Julia's arms move separately from her body and I love them and I want Julia's arms, I want to take Julia's arms and put them on my body and wear them like I am Julia and like Julia's arms are my arms.

I walk toward the toy section. I walk as though I'm wearing Julia's arms. I feel as though all of my parts move separately. I see Erik near the toys. Erik is tall and bright and his hair is a brown mess. Erik's eyes are clear and Erik's face is blank. Erik's hands move quickly and precisely and Erik arranges toys on shelves and then toys on poke-outs and Erik's eyes remain clear and Erik's face remains blank. I think, 'It is amazing how these fluorescent light-bulbs light everything evenly and how regular these fluorescent light-bulbs occur.' I think, 'Erik is Todd, Erik is Todd.'

Erik looks up.

"Erik," I say. "Fluorescent light-bulbs."

"Huh?" Erik says. "My name is Todd."

"Couldn't I just call you Erik, for a little while? Would that be so bad?"

"I don't know."

I met Erik while robbing an AM/PM. I was using a knife. I use a knife when I rob stores. I said to the clerk, "Give me your fucking money." I showed him my knife.

"Do you remember when I robbed that AM/PM you worked at?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I don't know," I say. "It's my birthday."

Erik continues to straighten the toys on the shelves and onto poke-outs and his hands move very evenly and cleanly and the toys seem very organized and controlled.

I think, 'There is a certain beauty in this kind of order.' I say to Erik, "This is very beautiful."

Erik moves down the aisle and straightens his blue vest and continues to organize toys on shelves and onto poke-outs. I pull a small G.I. Joe doll from the shelf. I say, "I'll remove this doll from its package."

"It's not a doll." Erik moves further down the aisle and continues to straighten.

"I'll do it."

I tear at the packaging. I pull the colorful cardboard away. I crinkle the plastic covering and remove the G.I. Joe doll. I love this G.I. Joe doll. The doll is very small and muscular and everything about the doll is green and its arms and legs can move smoothly and I can position these arms and legs in miniature life-like ways. I position the G.I. Joe doll in a diving motion and toss the doll in its diving motion at Erik and it moves through the air very missile-like and deadly and accurate and the doll strikes Erik in the shoulder and tumbles sideways to the floor. Erik moves further down the aisle and organizes.

I move terribly close to Erik. I taste Erik's air and it is sour and I breathe Erik's air until we share the same air, until the air is suffocating and warm.

"Go away," Erik says. "I'm working. I'm straightening the aisle. I have to straighten the aisle and then straighten the next aisle and then straighten the next aisle until I have straightened all of the aisles. I have to keep going. Can't you see that?" Erik gestures towards the many aisles in Wal-Mart. "These aisles are full of little messes and hidden messes and sometimes little people and graham crackers. I have to clean the aisles."

Erik moves away from me very slowly. The fluorescent light is very bright and clear and everything I see is lighted at the same level from every angle. There are no shadows. I push toys from the shelf onto the floor and all of the toys are evenly lighted and shadow-less. I move towards Erik but he is organizing very quickly and moving from aisle to aisle and the Wal-Mart is full of so many people and these people get in my way and each of these people looks like every other person and I become very confused.

I sit down.

I sit down near a shelf of DVDs.

Kevin Costner stares at me. He is very beautiful and perfect and holding a golf club. Kevin Costner is the opposite of me. He is calm and perfect and ready for any situation. On Kevin Costner's birthday, Kevin Costner would not go to Wal-Mart. Kevin Costner would drive his very expensive car to his very expensive swimming pool next to his very expensive house and swim with a family of dolphins, imported from Micronesia, and Kevin Costner would invite all of his Hollywood friends to swim with the dolphins and Hollywood producers would be there and Hollywood producers would film a documentary about Kevin Costner's birthday and Kevin Costner's swimming pool and swimming with dolphins and the documentary film would win much acclaim and many awards and Kevin Costner would smile and smile and smile.

I shove Kevin Costner in my skirt.

I stand and move carefully toward the front of Wal-Mart and I keep Kevin Costner safe inside my waistband. My arms and legs feel very tense and my arms and legs want to shake but I concentrate and hold them still. I look at Julia. I wave to Julia. Julia looks away from me and straightens her blue vest. Hundreds of people stand in line at Wal-Mart and wait to pay for their things and these thousands of people all look the same and these thousands of people all look at me. I shake more violently and feel Kevin Costner in my skirt and love Kevin Costner because Kevin Costner is not shaking at all. Kevin Costner is small and rectangular and organized into little digital bits. I think, 'I love I love I love I love I love…'

I move toward the door and feel a terrible feeling and move my legs quicker and I am outside and there is a beeping but I move to my little Honda and I sit in my little Honda and I drive my little Honda slowly away.