A stranger’s

face, bulwarked with

worry. The zebra

crossing is usually

busier. Its regulars,

limping and diabetic,

more boisterous.

The logos they wear

render me illiterate.

It must be the hour,

the silent metronome

of the red light

synchronized to the train

that sends the sleepwalkers

into a jog. Trance being

more anxious

than any daydream.

When we compare what

occurs to us to

a camera, we’re often

tightening exclusively

on the lens. Glassy

myth more literal

than human vision,

which operates

via inversion. The manufacture

of manufactured

goods we mastered,

letting dramaturgy’s

secrets be supplanted

by handbooks quickly

skimmable. So

a windshield is

not a window. Not

the panes

I cautiously (without

pronouncing) approached

following the call. This,

my pause, a ripple

emanating from the two

men striding briskly

below. Outpacing

them. Haste lifted

their jackets —

blazers — by their

tails. Their conversation,

gloved, shorn. Maybe

they had just visited

the plaque freshly

dedicated at an intersection

my position then

prevented me from

regarding. Transcribing

a murder ballad,

this commemoration

turns it atonal. Very

modern. Because I feel

a duty to say I have

acknowledged this anemic

acknowledgement made

in my name (the pseudonym

of us), I intersperse

my attention. I leave

my plans open,

calendar particulars.

TBD. Disclaimer: I never

hinted at more honorable

motives. I did and will

ascribe: an assumption

RSVPing for active

shooter drills.



Public Domain

the only word I caught

was “dollar”

the road noise the aggression

backwards masking

the tenor of the

man’s beseeching


I auditioned some ad-libs

a range of gesticulations in the moment

beyond muscle memory all meant

to confirm the absence

of cash on my person

the two quarters sitting in

my cupholder reserved for a purpose

don’t rate


Buddha palms shaking

their virtual penury

or maybe I clapped them

but mostly as prelude to pulling

them apart again

fleshy curtains opening on nothing


look askance this fragmentation

you should see for

the stratagem it is ditto

the parataxis in if not of

counting how many

letters “forbearance” and “deferral”

share like DNA


later a parking meter

threw up all over me

shirt and shoes

deficit of regimes cycled

out of circulation


I had been reading about

an old diner you could

enter only through an alley door

the screen a discoloration

the manganese of a reflection deforming

in a dead television tube the sour

almond that Oblomovs around

the converted Denny’s smoking section

more than a gate


the logic validating the impossibility

of my taking

your humanity away from

you also says without saying

as much that

I cannot give it back


I had been thinking about

the building where Rose

Elizabeth Slovacek Stivers wore

bluebonnets served hamburgers being torn

down and now this