Monday, September 6, 2010

Recollection - a poem

I think her dog was brown.

I only saw it once, though, in a black and white

photograph – small and round,

with Batman ears, streaming away from focus

like background radiation,

an afterthought.

She was the foreground, focused finally,

framed by the light

of the Sarasotan sun, a singer at fifteen,

still afraid of thunderstorms that always seem

to come around midnight, her sour stomach,

and father’s drunken screaming.

We made plans to meet in Daytona, once,

but never did. Such was the nature

of our promises.

And now, these days, she blows her kisses

from softer images,

exhaling like fresh air beyond all the pedestals

and structures supporting her. She looks off,

to the left in space somewhere, toward something,

beyond and outward,

over the powder blue horizons, to an infinity

of other dogs greater than anything

I can conjure.

A Hastings Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand - a Thumby

When I took a position at a law firm here in Joplin (no people, I’m not a lawyer…yet), I considered just quitting my job at Hastings outright. After all, the job at the law firm was going to pay me enough money that I would be able to pay my bills and actually have something left over, and I was going to have the opportunity to actually enjoy my weekends without having to worry about work. Why would I want to continue at Hastings? Eventually, I began to think about the things I would miss – me dry humping Addison Langford from behind while saying “meow” in a monotone robot voice while Jason Hight, dry humping him from the front, says the same thing in unison and Cathi Willet spits a beverage out her nose when she sees the spectacle; getting to talk with Emily Jones about cosmic phenomena and sociological paradoxes while we try to imagine what Cesar Milan’s face would look like on the dogs he’s always holding; debating whether the Jem’Hadar and Species 8472 could win in a war against the Hirogen and the Borg (this is Star Trek talk for all you non-squares out there). And that’s just my interaction with employees. I haven’t even mentioned the customers, like the ones who talk about dropping cats out of airplanes to test the myth that they always land on their feet, or the ones who bring in overexposed photographs and swear the strange colors are actually angels, or the ones who claim they had to be sprayed with a compound comprised mainly of ground up radish in order to evade the North Koreans. I failed to see, unless the attorneys were all Muppets, how the law firm could offer this level of mayhem. So I decided to stay, and after what took place at Hastings this past Saturday, I’m glad I did.

A fat man in an electric wheelchair, who I will refer to as Wheelchair Dude throughout this blog, tootled up to the guest service desk, and asked if we could make an announcement. Apparently, he parked his van one of those wide van access handicapped parking spaces, and someone else with a handicapped placard decided to double park in the same spot. When the person did this they actually blocked the side of his van and made it impossible for him to get access to his wheelchair lift. The man was stranded and pissed off (and he had every right to be), so we did what he asked of us, and we were more than happy to do this: “Would the owner of the white Pontiac that’s parked in the handicapped spot please come move your car? You’re blocking someone in.” So we wait fifteen to twenty minutes. Nothing. No one comes up. Wheelchair dude is still there, and he is still pissed off. We make another announcement. Fifteen to twenty minutes later there is still no one. Wheelchair Dude looks like he is about to come apart at the seams. I can see the steam building in his head like a tea kettle about to go off. We made one final announcement: “The owner of the white Pontiac parked in the handicapped spot needs to come and move their car or have it be towed at their own expense. So we wait another fifteen to twenty minutes, and we also call the two next to us so they can make announcements too. About twenty minutes goes by and no one shows up. So we call the cops and ask them to either send a tow or come out to resolve the situation somehow. The cops tell us they would be there soon. So Wheelchair Dude goes outside in the heat, pissed off and ready to explode, and waits for the cops.

In between the time we made the call to the police and the time they actually got there, this little old lady, who I will refer to as Ethel Mae, leaves Petsmart and starts to get in the white Pontiac. When Wheelchair Dude sees Ethel Mae start to get into her car, he hones in and bolts out there in his chair and starts giving her all the hell he can muster. He starts yelling at her, asking her if she is crazy, telling her he’s been here for hours.

Ethel Mae got out her placard and showed it to him and said, “Well, I have a placard, so I can park here.”

“Yeah, I’ve got a placard too…it’s called my fucking wheelchair,” Wheelchair Dude responded.

He pointed out that the spot was actually one space for people in wheelchairs who have a lift. Ethel Mae claimed she didn’t know it was one spot. “Are you kidding me? It says “van access” in big white letters on the ground. Can you not read that?”

Now, I’m going to pull away for a second and tell you what is happening inside Hastings while this is transpiring outside. Nearly all the employees are up front watching this take place, and a good chunk of the customers are too. And this brewing situation has caused a clear cut division between employees and customers. Some of us were for the old woman, claiming that while she may have been mistaken, the guy had no right to be a dick to her. The rest of us, me included, were for the guy. We argued that he probably had to deal with this crap all the time, and I also explained having personal knowledge of the motivations of the elderly, that I felt in my heart of hearts the woman was not only aware that the handicapped spot was one space, but that she parked there maliciously, that she probably came to the Hastings complex that day to get cat food for her cats, saw that all the handicapped spots were taken, and got pissed off and decided to park in that one anyway because she was entitled to it. I cheered for the man as he yelled at her, “Yeah, you tell that woman! She shouldn’t be there! You go, brother!”

While we had out debates inside, the atmosphere outside only got more volatile. Wheelchair Dude told Ethel Mae that the cops had been called, and they were on their way. Ethel Mae said she wasn’t going to stick around. Sensing her impending departure, Wheelchair Dude decided to take a stand and planted his crippled ass in front of Ethel Mae’s car, blocking her in. The only way she could get out was to run him over (or back out…which she could’ve done too but probably didn’t realize). And so it came to be, that last Saturday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. a cripple stand-off was initiated in the Hastings parking lot. My store manager tried to go out and plead with both people. Ethel Mae still maintained her ignorance. Wheelchair Dude said ignorance to the law didn’t excuse you from breaking it. The two sides were stalemated. Who would win? Who would reign supreme? Soon the police arrived to answer these questions for everyone.

I felt bad for this cop. When he arrived Wheelchair Dude immediately started waving his hands around and saying very specific things, pointing at Ethel Mae, pointing at the ground. We were all inside at this point and couldn’t hear what he was saying. The cop listened and nodded to the Wheelchair Dude’s account. Then the cop talked to Ethel Mae. She sat in her car, looking disheveled, maintaining her air of ignorance (what a clever little con artist). The officer nodded and wrote down her account. After listening to both sides, the cop went to his squad car and just sat. For a long time he stayed in squad car. I don’t know what the man was doing, if he was laughing, or crying, or trying to sort out the complexities in his head, or if he was having the same debate that was raging inside Hastings. Who knows? It was long enough, however, that all of us had to go back and actually start doing work again. I went back to my section and did some work and went back up to check on things. After all, I was invested in this story. I wanted to see it reach its conclusion. They were all still there, so I went back to my section. About five minutes later I went back up. Nothing was happening still. I did this for about twenty minutes when finally I went back up just in time to see the Ethel Mae and the cop drive off in the cars. I asked one guy who’d been up there the whole time, “Dude, what just happened?”

“The cop gave her a ticket.”

I was ecstatic. My guy had won! Wheelchair Dude 1 – Ethel Mae 0! Thanks for playing, grandma…maybe you’ll think twice about being sneaky and malicious! I started doing a little victory dance, and the guy I worked with was also happy (he’d been on my side). We looked outside as a victorious wheelchair dude began a process he’d wanted to do two hours ago, to use his lift and go home. How sweet this trip home would be…how sweet indeed! Then something unbelievable happened.

Wheelchair Dude stood up. Wheelchair Dude opened the sliding door and unfolded a little ramp. Wheel Chair Dude maneuvered his chair into the van. Wheelchair Dude shut the sliding door. And Wheelchair Dude walked around the side of his car to the driver’s side door, got in his van, and drove off, completely unassisted, not hobbled by disability at all. Wheelchair Dude could FUCKING WALK the whole time. There is no reason this man had to let the scene unfold the way it did. He could’ve just backed his van out, put his chair up, and went home. There’s no reason he had to wait for two hours and go through what he went through with the cops. The man was a fucking fraud, a fat man in a wheelchair who just wanted to be a dick and prove a point. I felt betrayed, like the Music Man had come to my city and talked me into believing in a crippled man who wasn’t actually handicapped. I cheered for this man. I lobbied for this man. I, and the rest of his supporters, had been duped. Ashamed, I went to the back office to tell my boss what I’d just found out.

“Cathi, you’re never going to believe this.”


“Wheelchair Dude…”

“What about him?”

“He can walk.”


“I just witnessed it with my own eyes…he can fucking walk.”

Cathi was just as shocked as me. We couldn’t believe it. We cursed his name. Then Cathi had a novel idea. “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to call that cop back and tell him about this.”

So she did. She called the police officer that had mediated the standoff in our parking lot, and told him that Wheelchair Dude wasn’t really handicapped at all, and there’s no reason the situation should have escalated to the point it did. She asked if Ethel Mae’s ticket could be canceled in some way because we all felt really bad that she had to get a ticket (despite the fact that she was technically wrong).

“You don’t have to worry about that,” said the cop. “It was a fake ticket anyway.”

(I’ll pause to let you laugh)

Apparently, when the cop arrived Wheelchair Dude started yelling immediately that he wanted to make a citizen’s arrest (What is this fucking Mayberry? Is Otis making moonshine in a still?) and press charges against Ethel Mae. After hearing both sides of the story, the cop told Wheelchair Dude that he refused to give this woman a ticket despite the fact that she was wrong mainly because of his attitude, but also because the situation had already gone well beyond the realm of ridiculous. Both parties were present, no one was hurt, everyone just needed to get in their cars and go home. Wheelchair Dude was having none of that. He wanted justice, so the cop said, “If you really want to make a citizen’s arrest, sign right there,” and he held out the ticket and let Wheelchair Dude sign the ticket in the place where the cop usually signs it. Then he told Wheelchair Dude he’d fill in the rest, and he apparently just filled it in with “not real violation…no need to bring to station…please go home,” and handed it to Ethel Mae. She looked at it, chuckled sarcastically, and then they got in their cars and left, leaving Wheelchair Dude alone and you know the rest.

This isn’t my usually Thumby because there really isn’t a rant connected to this one, but this guy is clearly getting a Thumby from me. You can’t just instigate a nearly two hour long standoff in a parking lot with an old woman over a dispute about a handicapped space, divide an entire store against one another, get the cops involved, turn out not to be handicapped at all, and expect to not get a Thumby from me. So Wheelchair Dude, shame on you. You had my support, you had my loyalty, now you just have two very disappointed thumbs up from me to you.

Food Blog Part II: My Father Don Gipson

My Father

To explain my father's approach to cooking I'm going to have to let my geek out for a little bit. In Dungeons and Dragons there are two primary classes of spell casters – sorcerers and wizards. Sorcerers are innate spell casters. They are able to conjure the forces of the arcane because they understand the relationship between those forces and the forces of nature. They don't learn magic, study magic, or debate magic. They just do magic, and that is enough for them. Wizards are more academic. They have schools and devote their lives to not only the practice of magic, but also to the study and preservation of magic. Magic to them is governed by complex laws and theories and the more devoted you are to a magical education the better you will be at it. They pour over old tomes, execute the greatest precision when brewing potions, and utilize great amounts of time to prepare spells before they cast them. With this analogy it isn't hard to see where I'm going.

When it comes to cooking, my mother is very much a sorceress. She uses her intuition and senses to prepare things. She rarely follows a recipe. She measures things in "bitsy bitsy's," "glugs," and "squirts." She waits until "the juices run clear" before her steaks are done. She is anything but academic when it comes to the kitchen. My father, however, was the polar opposite. He was a wizard in the kitchen in the truest sense. In fact, he had a creed that typified an academic mindset when it came to cooking, a creed he dedicated himself to – "If you can read you can cook." He poured over cookbooks like the old wizard engrossed in a huge book. He measured everything exactly. Everything was always pre-chopped, pre-poured, pre-everythinged before the oven or stove was even lit. He was the epitome of cooking wizardry, and for him, somehow, it worked marvelously.

While my father didn't cook the wide array of dishes my mother cooked, he did do some things very well, and there are a few things that stand out in my mind. Like I stated before, my father was one of three people in my family who excelled at biscuits and sausage gravy. His gravy was a little darker than my mother's and he didn't skimp on the amount of black pepper he put in the finished product. They were different than my mother's in a lot of respects, but still very good. He made a pork loin with a red wine sauce that would, in his words, make you "wanna slap your mama." And on Christmas 1997 (I think) he made a bid for best standing rib roast of all time. At 5:00 a.m. that morning he began the process of slow cooking a standing rib roast weighing in at somewhere between ten and twelve pounds(seven sections altogether). He cooked it on a low temperature for seven hours. At noon we arrived at his house where he had a feast of mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, salad, gravy, hot rolls, and of course, the roast itself. When he took the behemoth out ofthe oven it looked like the slab of ribs the waitress brings Fred Flintstone at the end of every episode, so big it weighs his car down and causes it to fall to one side. We each (seven of us) got a section of roast, and the meat was so much that it filled nearly our whole plate. I cannot recall much beyond this, only that for the next hour we all said nothing except for the occasional, "Oh fuck that is good" or "Holy shit!" When we finished, every member of my family and myself were laying on the floor. Those who lacked the foresight to wear sweat pants had their top buttons undone so their bellies could unfurl. We were all moaning and panting, suffering from what my sister would later coin as "the meat sweats." All of us would come to recall this time as the Meat Orgy of 1997, and it would live in the annals of our memories even to this day. But even this, even this Meat Orgy is not the thing, if given the chance, I would want my father to cook for me again. There is yet one more thing my father understood better than slow cooking a standing rib roast – eggs.

My father was a genius with eggs, masterfully cooking them in all the various styles. As good as they all were, there is one thing above all I think I would rather him cook for meat this point than anything else – an omelet. For him omelets were all about science. He had a special omelet pan, he knew exactly the right speed to stir the eggs, the correct way to lift the eggs so the uncooked part rolled under, the right time to add the cheese, and his omelet wrist flick was ballet. With some hot sauce and bacon, my father's cheese omelet is easily one thing from growing up I crave even today. This may be a strange choice given his prowess with rib roast, but truth be told, my oldest sister makes an excellent standing rib roast in her own right, and that's something I can get whenever I want. My mother makes an excellent baked salmon. And as I've previously stated, there are several biscuit and sausage gravy aficionados in my family. Nobody makes an omelet like my dad did, not my mother (who cheats and uses those omelet plans that smash the egg and cheese together), not my sisters, and certainly not me (I really suck at omelet making). For me this was the clear choice.

Food Blog Part I: My Mother Lindy Gipson

My Mother

My mother is the best cook I have ever known. It's true, most of us would probably adopt this view of our mothers or our mother figures, but I think she might be one of the best cooks in the world regardless of my bias. When I was ten she began cooking the Wednesday Night Fellowship meals for the First Baptist Church. At first the Baptists were skeptical of my mother. The woman that cooked the meals before her was an institution at the church, and my mother had some very bigshoes to fill. My mother, without batting an eye, silenced even her staunchest critics. The quality of her meals caused a surge inWednesday Night Fellowship attendance. And when she stopped cooking the meals a little over a year later, the Baptists were disheartened, and Wednesday Night Fellowship attendance dwindled back to pre-mom figures. To this day I still have Baptists from those days come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed my mother's cooking. My mother also catered privately for people who requested her services, and she cooked briefly for a Carthage bistro whose patrons still maintain she was the best cook that little restaurant ever had.

Any time anyone comes up to me and goes on and on about how good my mother is at cooking I just nod my head and agree. They are preaching to the choir. After all, I grew up on her cooking, and I know better than anyone the level of quality she brings to a meal. If I had to choose which of her strengths is the greatest in the kitchen, my choice would probably surprise you: her ability to constantly ignore the rules of cooking and let her intuition guide her. With my mother there are no recipes, no quantities of things, no durations or timers used to tell us when things are done. For her there is taste, sight, smell, and extra sensory perception. She uses the first three faculties to tell her when a dish needs more of an ingredient, and the last faculty to tell her when something is done. My sister calls her the Food Whisperer because it seems like the food just tells her when it's done. I maintain she just cooks with her senses and has faith in them. She can also use these faculties to prepare variations on old dishes or to create entirely new ones out of her imagination. Many of you would see this as a potential weakness, but trust me when I say that in her hands this talent is the basis for everything she is able to do.

Choosing one food from my mother's entire arsenal of food was one of two immensely difficult decisions I had to make during this exercise. My mother is one of those rare breeds of cook who can do both simple home style dishes and complex cosmopolitan dishes and do them extremely well. All of her strong home style dishes revolve around gravy (and in fact gravy alone was almost my choice for this exercise). Her ham and gravy is one of my favorite things on this planet. Her pork chops and gravy spurred one of the great debates in my family when she tried to prepare them in a way other than fried with gravy. My father calmly ate the resulting dish, told her it was delicious, but then famously added, "Don't fuck up my pork chops again." This created a decades–long debate on whether you should cook pork chops any other way but fried. She is one of three people in my family who excel at making biscuits and sausage gravy (my father and oldest sister being the other), and hers are my favorite because she crumbles pieces of fried bacon on the top. And these are just the homestyle dishes! Her strongest more cosmopolitan dishes are hard to beat too: seafood, artichokes, and linguini in a balsamic and olive oil sauce, grilled lamb chops in a lemon mint marinade,Thai influenced pork with basmati rice. And all these are just the tops of the lists, narrowly beating out the dozens of other things she cooks better than anyone else. You can see why my decision was so hard. I had to think about my choice for awhile, but eventually I came to a clear one, one that is solid, one I stand by above all others, she does better than anyone else – steak.

I told you my sister calls mother the Food Whisperer, well in the same spirit I often refer to my mother as the Steak Whisperer. My mom just knows how to cook a steak. She has this ability to take even the crappiest cut of beef, throw it in a cast iron or flat griddle (as God intended) and fry that hunk of meat until it is cooked perfectly. She understands it. She gets it. And she has tried on numerous occasions to impart her wisdom on me. She maintains the secret to cooking a perfect steak has nothing to do with the cut (though too much gristle in a steak is hard to overcome), or the time you cook the meat on each side. Rather, the secret is in the juices. You have to cook it unti l"the juices run clear." Like I said, she has tried to show me what this means many times, but the concept always eludes me. I recently talked with my oldest sister about this subject and she explained that she thought cooking a steak "until the juices run clear" was just what our mother said to hide the real reason she cooks such a damn good steak.

"And what reason would that be," I asked my sister.

"It talks to her and tells her when it's done, and she doesn't want us to think she's insane," she replied.

She was joking, of course (I think), but I don't think this idea is far from the truth. I think it all goes back to my mother's greatest strength, her intuition. I don't think the steak literally tells her when it's done, but I do think my mother has an innate sense of knowing when it's done. At any rate, whatever the reason is, if I had to choose one thing to eat that my mother cooked it would most certainly be steak.

Food Blog - Introduction

Recently I've been writing a lot about my family, and to get into the spirit I've been doing little exercises to loosen my mind and let the flood of memories come in. One area I've concentrated on is food. I love food. I love to cook it. I love to eat it. I love to write about it. In my family there is nothing more important than food. It is what links all of the best and worst memories of my life together. When I graduated college, one of the greatest times of my life, my mother catered a party for me and the food was spectacular. When I was the sickest I've ever been in my life, six years old with Leukemia, I would routinely call my mother at 3:00a.m. requesting a meal of black eyed peas and Spahgetti-O's because that's all that tasted good to me. All the great times, all the sorrow, everything can be reduced down to a meal if I think about it hard enough.

One afternoon I did an exercise. I posed a question to myself – The earth is about to blink out of existence. Before the end, I get to have all the great cooks of my family (dead or alive) cook me one more thing. What would I have them cook? This exercise hits deeper than the traditional "What's your favorite food" question because it makes you not only consider everyone in your family who has any skill in the kitchen, but also what is the one thing out of everything they cook that you'd want, and if you're family is anything like mine that's a hard thing to do. You have to calculate, narrow, and delve deep into your memory to remember all the times you felt happy when you ate something. I also began to realize that often what I thought would be my first choice would usually take second chair to something simpler and basic. In essence, it was the perfect road to let all sorts of memory come back into being, and it had exactly the desired effect I'd been searching for.

When I finished I realized that all the foods I'd chosen were biased to my own preferences, that they may not be the preferences of mysisters, or my mother, or anyone else in my family. I wanted to hear their side of it to. And when I thought about what their responses might be, I thought of all the people I know that have people in their lives that can cook, and all the things they might love, and I wanted to hear what they had to say too. Quickly, this was becoming more than a mere memory exercise. It was becoming a living composition. I'm pleased to tell youthat I have made all the choices, and have decided to post them in parts:

Part I – My Mother Lindy Gipson

Part II – My Father Don Gipson

Part III – My Grandmother Anita "Mamo" Longan

Part IV – My Grandfather Fred "Papa" Longan

Part V – My Oldest Sister Beth Schmidt

Part VI – My Middle Sister Becky Hopper

Part VII – My Grandmother LaVera Gipson

There will be a Part VIII for my brother Donovan Edwards, but it will be some time coming. The man can cook, but I haven't eaten enough of his food yet to decide on a favorite.

As I post these, I invite anyone reading them to share their own memories of food in their families, or to try this exercise for themselves.

I hope you enjoy.

Arms Length - lyrics

"His glass moves.
He doesn't hear your words, but he sees you."
I narrate these scenes I seem to spin through.
I drink again to drive away these blues,
to dream about a beach
where I keep you at arms length.

She's gone.
She leaves with the reasons why I'm wrong,
the grocery list that's greater getting long,
the booze that smokes and circles around the song
she always loved to teach.
I'll keep her at arms length.

They're here.
They tell me that the want to make it so clear,
regale me with the greatest of their fears.
I love them more than the total of my tears,
but I'm out of reach.
I'll keep them at arms length.

I can't stand
this life I've carried through the gritty sand,
the piss, the shit, these squandered rubber bands,
the expectations coursing through my hands,
bruises through the breach.
I'll keep them at arms length.

"He thinks
about the ice cubes floating in his drink,
the blood he just coughed up in the sink,
the day he won't know how to blink,
sheets that smell like bleach.
He keeps it at arms length."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ben Folds in November - a poem

This moisture coalesces on the windshield
to form something that resembles
a fingerprint in the sledge-slide movement.

This could be four, now, about a car
staggering down a highway like a drunk poet
in 15th Century Persia.

Inside, everything is cleaned and polished,
no lunch sack mountains, crevasses,
or canyons to connect us, just a long,
lone place to jump from.

I chuckle and recall the last time I was here,
my sore tooth and harsh opinion toward Anime,
the old woman miles away, and dying.
It's my feet tonight, though, a pair of bad shoes,
and impatience to be at the end of this distance.

It seems I still keep the same crooked frame,
a series of disembodied voices unvoiding
this present darkness like the stunted dials
barely defining her face,
an existence that falls back to being
from the brink of fading.

She's worried and asks me to slow down.
I do, this rain as fierce as ever.

We'll all be there, soon, after blistering the wrecks
down our lost streets, to watch Ben Folds
make bad words seem like watercolors.
Men will sell pizza out of their trunks afterward,
leaving us hungry enough,
but not sold.

Popping Corky's Bubble - old blog

I seem to remember this episode of Life Goes On where Corky, the mentally challenged "old soul" of the show, is granted the right to go to high school with "normal kids." He got himself clean, combed his hair, put on what had to be a fresh set of clothes. He walked with an heir of confidence, and possibly for the first time in his life he was the proudest and happiest he'd ever been. Equally proud and happy, his parents decided to give Corky a gift - a very nice, very expensive binder that he could put his various school assignments in. All smiles and elation, Corky took his new binder, his sense of self worth, and his pride and trotted off to school. His day was almost eventless. The kids at the high school were, more or less, accepting of him, and Corky didn't think there was much to the whole high school thing. When the day ended, Corky was crossing the school yard on his way home when some bully kids confronted him. They didn't like the way he talked. They were opposed to the way he looked. They didn't really think he should be there with "normal people." They decided they best course of action would be to grab Corky's new binder, destroy the contents, and throw it on the ground, laughing at how they'd taught that retarded kid to think twice before being retarded. Corky went home, sad and distraught, and his parents wrapped up the episode by telling him that not everyone was going to accept him, and that the world wasn't always a good place to be. This softened the blow for a multitude of life lessons Corky would learn throughout the show's tenure. In a sense, the bubble Corky had lived in his whole life had been breeched, and now he could become a more well-rounded person. I never was bullied like this as a child, but sometimes I wonder if I should have been.


Recently at Hastings an older couple came in looking for some obscure country CD. I tried my best to find the CD for them, but it was so obscure that it probably never made it to CD in the first place. They might have been able to find it on the internet, but judging their age, I figured the only thing they knew about the internet was that it was "a place where the kids went to do things." They smiled and were very grateful for my help. I got ready to leave them in the country section and return to my work when the old man said, "You don't remember us, do you?"

I know a lot of people whose name I've never took the time to learn. I know even more people who I've never met (that is to say they know of me for various reasons but I've never formally met them). This was a man I couldn't for the life of me ever remember meeting, so I answered him. "I'm afraid I don't."

"We're John Tupper's parents," he said. I tried to recall the name John Tupper because it was familiar to me, and I couldn't figure out where I knew it from. So I took a few minutes to think and then it dawned on me, and now you're going to find out something I did when I was a wee little kid.

When I was ten years old, the Joplin Little League, at the backing, request, and planning of John Tupper, create a branch of the Little League called Challenger. Basically it was a baseball team for kids that had mental of physical limitations. I heard about it on the radio and told my dad that I was interested in joining up. I was too small and too weak to play baseball with kids my age, so I thoughy Challenger would be cool. For some reason I had this notion that we would actually be playing some baseball - catching, hitting, scoring runs, figuring stats, the works. In reality, Challenger was an entire league where most of the kids were so far gone mentally that they probably didn't even realize where they were. Some of them couldn't even hit the baseball off the tee, let alone in the air. Most of the couldn't catch, and nearly all of them thought that throwing a baseball to first base meant you had to hurl it twenty feet over their head. There were no outs. Everyone got to have a turn hitting. And, they didn't keep score. All of these things disappointed me a little bit. I wanted to have some real competition. But still, it was nice to put on a number, hit a ball, and run the bases.

Now, because I could hit the ball in the air, and because I could catch a ball that was thrown to me in a rational manner, and because I could articulate my words into a cohesive thought, I sort of became the face of the Challenger League that first year. All the newspapers, news channels, and fund raising groups flocked to me to ask me all kinds of different questions -

Who's your favorite baseball player?

- Ozzie Smith

What's your favorite thing about playing

- Defense

Do you collect baseball cards?

- Yeah. Topps. Upper Deck. Donruss.

What made you join Challenger?

- I always wanted to play baseball on a team.

In a way I liked the attention. People recognized me from Challenger, and I felt as though I was somewhat of a celebrity. I played for a few more years after that, but after my sixth grade year I decided not to do it anymore. To this day people still come up to me and talk to me about when I played baseball as a kid. For the most part I am gracious for their acknowledgments, but truthfully there are times when I wish I had never played Challenger. The you are no different than anyone attitude they inflated in me was good at the time, but I don't think it's done me much good. If anything, having people, like these old people, come up to me is just a reminder that despite my better efforts I am different than everyone else. I'm not trying to put Challenger down or anything. For a lot of those kids it was probably a dose of just what they needed, and most of them probably still live in their blissful little bubbles. But for me, it was probably the wrong way to go.


The other night I was trying to pinpoint when exactly it was that I realized I was different than everyone else, and ironically the events that did it coincides with my last year of Challenger.

It was the a few weeks before summer vacation my sixth grade year. We were having the all grades school track meet at Columbian, and for the first time in my young life I actually had to compete against someone. In the previous years I competed against myself. I ran the 50 yard dash on my own. I ran the 100 yard dash on my own. I competed in the softball throw on my own. As a result, I have a whole shoebox full of blue ribbons that are proof that at times I really am better than myself. However, in 1993 Columbian Elementary got a new student, one whose special needs exceeded my own, a young autistic kid named John, and for the first time I had to compete against someone else.

Now, I was never bullied as a child in school, and by all rights I probably should've been. I looked different. I talked different. I thought different. I was as different as you could possibly get, and yet the kids of my school shielded me with so much confidence that when I looked in the mirror I didn't see the smallest kid in the class, or the slowest runner, I saw someone who could do just as much as the classes' best athlete. So no one made fune of me, and as a result, Columbian really had no handicapped kid to make fun of. Enter John. John was as weird as you could possibly get. He couldn't keep his assignments straight. He skipped and played by himself on the playground, and when he needed to tell you something he held his finger to his eye and rocked back and forth, so that he was constantly swinging back and forth through your visual field. Once I remember he tried to play kickball with us, and he barely kicked the ball two inches, and even with the rest of the boys taking it easy on him, he managed to get out because he ran clear past first base, down the hill, into the area of the playground where the second graders play (a distance of about 300 yards).

So, whe I heard I was going to race John I thought I had an easy victory. I figured he would probably hear the whistle and run completely out of the track meet lanes, thus getting himself disqualified and giving me an easy victory. I was pumped because finally I was going to show all my friends and all the hot girls of my sixth grade class that at some things I was really athletically superior. So the day of the race John and I line up, and we get ready, we get set, and the whistle is blown. I start to run, and I suddenly feel this whoosh of air to my left, and then I see what looked like flames shooting up from the ground, and I look ahead to see this fading blur of autistic kid skipping (not running) by me at Warp 10. I thought it was a fluke. He can't possibly hold that speed during the 100 yard dash. Funny thing is, he did, and with even more expediency. In essence, the kid who rocked all day and talked to bugs handed me my ass. But I wasn't totally embarrassed. I knew we still had one event to go.

If I was going to prove what was left of my superiority I was going to have to do it in the softball throw. So we get up there and John goes first. He gets in poisition for his first throw and chucks it with tremendous force. The only problem is that he didn't get his release point quite right and he hurled it over his head for negative yards.

"That counts!" I yelled.

John poised himself for the second throw, and again he got his release point wrong except this time he released it to the side and nearly took out some people sitting a few rows back along the sideline.

"That counts again!" I screamed.

Then I got up there and took my first toss. Just to be an ass because he'd beaten me by skipping, I rolled the first throw along the ground. I think it went about three inches. I did the same thing again and rolled it about five inches. I think I won the blue ribbon with probably the most pathetic score ever measured in the softball throw. I didn't care though. I wanted to win at something.

What John showed me was that when it came down to it I was way different than everyone else. He was the worst athlete in the school and I couldn't run faster than him, so really, that meant I was the worst athlete in the school. This revelation would set the tone for a multitude to come.


Every time Corky got laughed at in that episode I never really knew how to feel. On one hand I felt bad because it wasn't his fault he was mentall retarded. On the other hand, those boys made a valid point...he did look different...he did sound different...and if I'd been one of them I may well have laughed along with them. The thing is those kids laughing at Corky actually helped Corky in the end. He got a job, moved out, had a lasting relationship with someone, and had more to show for his life than I could dream of at this point in mine. Ultimately I know that I am different than everyone else. I hear it every time some attractive girl tells me I have an old soul or someone gives me a courtesy laugh for an off the wall joke. Sometimes I know it's a good thing and I celebrate my individuality. Sometimes I know it's a bad thing and I dream about being more homogeneous. In the end, though, I guess I wish someone would just kick my ass and laugh at me a little more, beat me in a race by skipping, and pop this bubble abruptly instead of slowly letting the air out of it so that I still have time to savor the moments inside.

Playing - old blog

I've had an eventful past, and I like to write about when I was a kid. This is one of my favorite "When I Was a Kid" blogs. This is "Playing" from March13th, 2007.


A few blogs ago I wrote about my method of playing with action figures. Recently, I was in my garage, and I stumbled across the box of action figures I used to play with. I was never too picky when it came to playing with these guys. I had a hodge podge of G.I. Joes, Super Friends, Ghostbusters, and He-Man figures, and all of them would get mixed up, the good guys teaming up to fight the bad guys, G.I. Joes forging an alliance with Superman and Batman, Cobra merging with Lex Luthor and the Council of Doom to rule the known universe. Every night in my bedroom countless wars were fought to determine the very nature of existence. I was not your typical kid playing out your typical action figure scenarios. It wasn't just about good guys and bad guys meeting on a battlefield to settle a mutual score. My stories integrated politics into the leadership structure of each side. Torture and mass destruction was practiced without mercy by the bad guys to assert their dominance. The good guys knew the meaning of mercy, kindness, and personal sacrifice. My stories even included deep relationships - deep seeded friendships, family dynamics in the face of war, even romance and love.

Politics, especially on the side of evil, played a huge role in my story lines. One of the main reason evil was always trumped by good was because the bad guys couldn't keep their shit straight. Early on Cobra Commander would be overthrown by a more qualified and liked leader. He would be taken prisoner and made to service the new harder-lined regime. This knew commander would be just the man to forge the alliance with the Council of Doom, but his harsh discipline would cause widescale defection. Cobra Commander would always escape to service the side of good, followed by Stormshadow, and Brainiac. With these three pieces the good guys were unstoppable in bringing down the side of evil. Politics weren't as important with the good guys, but they still had their place. The leadership was always assumed, and never questioned. Superman was the supreme leader, and his authority was never questioned. The problem came in the few instances where Lex Luthor's experimental Kryptonite gun was successfully used against the Man of Steel, and he ended up dying. The order of succession meant Batman would lead the good guys, but there were always those who felt Batman wasn't the right man for the job. As long as Superman was in control, the good guys had a huge advantage, but if you removed him then there was no telling who would win.

I killed Superman a few times, yes I did. Men frequently died in my stories. It was war, after all. If defeating the opponent meant losing your life then you lost it. No one was excluded from this truth. Funerals took place after every war. The casket was always this little wooden bank I got from a roadside gift store. It looked like a small treasure chest, and was the perfect size for a superhero's final resting place. Someone always spoke, giving some moving eulogy about the person they were, and the sacrifice they'd made. One of my favorite characters to kill off was Batman. I liked the drama this caused for Robin, as he had to face a life without his friend and mentor. He would grow old, as you might expect, eventually assuming the role of Batman, and training someone else to be Robin. He wouldn't be as good a Batman as the original, but he would put his own stamp on the role.

My characters always had deep relationships with each other. Batman and Superman were always best friends (even though this is contrary to their comicn book relationship) and each would seek each other's guidance when advice was needed. Several of the G.I. Joes were actually brothers serving with each other to fight the menace that threatened the universe. And Robin would always fall in love with Wonder Woman. I chose Robin to court Wonder Woman because Superman was always too concerned with duty, Batman wasn't interested in love, and Robin was young and had the boyish good looks. Robin and Wonder Woman's relationship was more than just a title. It was real, going beyond a kiss and hug here and there, and even breaching the lip of sexual experience. Well, as sexual as a ten year old could make it out to be. These were, after all, the days before I really understood the intricate curves and folds of a woman's form and function, the rigidity of my own anatomy, the motions and chemistry of it all.

It was in these ways that I poured reality into my stories with my action figures. In a way I was trying to role play my own life experience through these toys. When some young G.I. Joe threw himself on a bomb it was me yearning to show that kind of sacrifice. I'd be scarred, yes, but at least my scars would mean something. When I thought about death, always trying to explore the depths and mysteries of it, I killed off Super Friends. When Robin and Wonder Woman made love, or said meaningful loving words to each other, they were the words and things I yearned to do with the girls I'd see in everyday life. I breathed my own life through them.

There is a scene from the film Clash of the Titans where the gods have a model of the world where the play with clay representations of mortals. I sometimes wonder if this situation is an actuality, if I, myself, am controlled in the same way by some unseen hand, an extension of someone else's ideal vision, bended and contorted around five points of articulation. If so, would they throw me in the path of some stray bullet? Will they let me touch Wonder Woman? Is my destiny so totally fused in their hands? I may never know...but just the same, and more than anything, I hope their imagination creates stories deeper than mine.

This Present Meal - old blog

I write a lot about love because I'm not very good at it. I've had girlfriends, but none of them took. This is one of my favorite posts I ever wrote about an ex, and so I present it now for you. From January 5th, 2007, this is "This Present Meal."


Right now I'm sitting in the Thai restaurant on the corner of 7th and Florida. It's a little after 12:00 p.m.. The lunch hour traffic is sliding back and forth like beads on an abacus. They obviously have some place to be. I like the food here. The flavors of ginger and curry are always enough to satisfy my palette. The decor is lovely - asian influences, golds and blues, flowers and elephants. It's probably not even close to any of the decor in Bangkok, but I like the illusion anyway. Today I'm not here because I crave a bowl of thom kha gai, though on dreary days like today this coconut milk soup fills the void in me like nothing else. No, the sights and smells of Thai cooking is not what draws me here today. I'm here because I had a dream.

I know I've told this story before. Most of you who read what I write have been regailed by this tale, and even some of you were there to witness the aftermath. I don't care. I'm telling it again. I was dumped in this restaurant. A few feet away from me, in one of the booths, someone I loved very much told me she didn't love me, that I deserved better, gave me a whole laundry list of excuses that boiled down to one overwhelming truth - she found a guy who was stronger, better looking, and could treat her like shit way better than I ever could. She said all of this before our food came to the table. It was my first time eating Thai food, and I didn't get to take one bite. The rest of the night past like you would probably expect. She cried and left. I threw my leftovers at an alley cat then got in my car to drink with my friends.

That was a long time ago...over five years, and I've had a lot of time to think about her, about us, about the right and wrong turns of it all. Ultimately I decided that a relationship with her would've been suicide. She and I were from such different worlds. She liked to party. I liked to read. Our worlds would have screeched like cars colliding head on. It was very hard, but I moved on and got over her. Her face, her voice, everything about her faded away to where she was no more than an afterthought in my mind. Then all of sudden she turned up in a dream.

I know I've talked about this dream before, but again, I don't care. I'm going to talk about it again. Sparky, Paul, Wofford, and Brittany were with me in a restaurant. It could've been Denny's. It could've been IHOP. Really, it doesn't matter...people were eating. From across the room I saw her walk in with another guy. My friends all see her too, and they immediately start saying things - "Look at that bitch," "Who in the hell does she think she is," "What a whore." - but she doesn't see any of us, and I just sit quietly and watch her. She and this guy seem to be having a good time. They talk. They laugh. They relish the moment like fine brandy, sipping it a little bit at a time. At some point she gets up to use the restroom and leaves the table. At that time the guy gets up, without a word or a second thought, and drives away, leaving her in the restaurant alone. My friends and I watch this from a distance, and instantly we feel bad for her. We watch her come back to the table. He isn't there. She smiles at first, thinking it's a joke. She sits down and looks around. She thinks maybe he went to the bathroom too. Within seconds we watch her demeanor change from joy to sadness, as she slowly realizes what has happened. In my dream the voices fade into a nearly silent rumble, the movement of reality crawls to a slide, and I get up and walk over to her. She looks up at me with tears in her eyes expecting me to say something like - "Poetic justice," or "Serves you right. - and I would've been well within my rights to do so...but I didn't. I simply knelt down beside her, took her hand, and said, "I am so sorry."

The dream ended there, but it shook me for weeks. After not thinking about this girl for so long, years in fact, why did I have this dream that was so emotional and realistic? Did I still have unresolved feelings for her? I decided to eat at the Thai food restaurant to stew on these questions. In a strange twist of fate, I would have my opportunity to ask her, as she and I ended up on the phone together at Hastings. She asked me if I wanted to get together for a game a pool (an old tradition of ours), and I agreed. I thought this might be destiny, that having the dream and getting back in touch with her was all connected in some way. Turns out I was wrong. Even though life had been bad for her in the years after out parting, even though she had loved and lost, even though she had crashed and burned, she was still the same person, with the same hang ups, and any direction we took together would end badly. I decided to end the affair before it had a chance to start.

But this dream isn't what brought me back to the Thai restaurant today. The dream I had last night, however, is. Yes, she leaked her way into my dreams once again. This time she was in it for the duration. It was old times again, and we held hands the same way we had so many times before - threading the fingers, tracing the contours of each others fingers, caressing each others palms - and it was real. I felt her fingers touching my hand like a whisper, and all at once I was content with the world. I even woke up in a good mood before I realized who exactly I was dreaming about. So, I decided to come here today, to eat my soup, and to soul search once again, recollecting on a past that I know isn't possible now.

Who is this girl? How does she leak into my thoughts even when I don't think about her? When we were together I drew her a picture that I know is still on her wall, and I used to fantasize that she would sit at night and look at the picture and cry because she realized the mistake she made. But I got beyond that. I realized that the picture just blended into all the stuff on her wall, becoming one component in a mosaic tribute to her narcissism, a collection of nothing but things. The bottom line is that I don't think about this girl anymore, but I guess there's a part of me that still does, and I just want to know why that part keeps going back to her?

I'm almost finished eating. Once again I ordered too much and didn't quite finish my meal. It was delicious though. As I wait for the ticket, I wonder how I'm going to wrap this thing up. I don't want to go for the sappy cliche' ending that I'm thinking, but in a way this whole post has been one big cliche', and as a writer I can't resist it sometimes. People, there's one thing about love I've come to realize - love is not a mountain to climb, or an ocean to cross, or even a star to reach toward. No, love is a plate of food, a meal we need to finish. I didn't finish my meal that night with her, just as I didn't finish my meal today, as I sit here shoveling rice into my styrofoam box, but one day I'd like to.

Denny's One Night - an old Thumby

I've maintained a lot of blogs over the past few years. I started with a Yahoo360 blog, then MySpace, Facebook, and now here at Blogger. Throughout all those blogs I have kept one tradition going strong - the Thumby. Some of you are probably old readers. However, some of you might not know what the Thumby is all about. Basically, the Thumby is an award I give to someone or something that goes out of its way to annoy the living crap out of me. Picture someone giving the most sarcastic thumbs up you can possibly imagine in the form of an energetic rant...that's the Thumby. The following isn't my first Thumby, but it is my first good Thumby, and it happens to serve as a great introduction to the kind of person I am. Without further ado, I give you "Denny's Last Night - a Thumby" from May 20th, 2006.


I'm different. There's no getting around that. I look different. I sound different. I'm short. I'm skinny. I stick out in a crowd like a sore (dare I say?) thumb. Going through cancer is funny like that (and by funny I mean cruel). Anyway, I've dealt with people staring at me my whole life. It's nothing new really. The only thing is, when people are staring at me, or whispering about me when they think I can't hear, it's usually little kids. That's why the stares and comments don't bother me. Kids have to figure out what they don't understand, and they usually do this by being mean or poking fun. If I were a kid it would be no different. Ordinarily there is a parent there to tell them not to point and stare and explain to them that some people are different than others. Truthfully, I enjoy it when kids stare at me. It gives me an opportunity to freak them out by squawking like a bird, barking, or dancing like a maniac. The points and the stares have never really bothered me...not until recently.

Recently I have noticed it's not just kids anymore. Yes, now adults are getting into the game, and this is what bothers me. A few months ago (and you can read a more detailed account in the blog I referenced earlier), I was at Denny's minding my own business, and a family from what had to be Kentucky was sitting a few tables away. The two kids were pointing, staring, and laughing like kids do, and I didn't think much of it until the lady's meth-dealing boyfriend got in on the action. What appalled me about this scenario was that there was no correction from a parental unit. These kids were allowed to maintain the thought that it's okay to laugh at people who are different. I wrote my blog. I vented. I thought it was a closed issue. Turns out I was wrong.

Last night, I was once again at Denny's. I went up there after work to chill with my friend Brittany and my friend Rachel. It was about 1:00 a.m., so about the time for the bar rush to come in. Rachel retreated to a corner of a booth across from us to maintain some quiet contemplation, listening to an iPod, writing in her notebook, and Brittany and I began to talk. During the course of our discussion I notice some more drunk Kentuckians a few tables away, and I overhear them talking about me and laughing. These are all adults, folks:

Kentucky McFucky - a skinny goatee having bastard who I can only assume is trying to get a used tire business of the ground.

Fatty McChinwobble - McFucky's fat hotdog buying girlfriend.

Dumbass McFucksguysinatruckstopbathroom II - blonde hair, trying to bring back the mullet, failing at all aspects of life.

Vaguey McDoesn'tdesrveaname - who really just kept to herself the whole time.

So, I start to pay attention to them, and I hear Kentucky McFucky say something to the extent, "Maybe we shouldn't. I mean he can't help the way," and then the tone got quiet and I couldn't hear anymore. Then Kentucky McFucky notices me looking and says, "Oh, don't pay no attention to them, man!" They all continue their laughter.

Brittany says, "What are you looking at?"

"These people over here are saying stuff about me," I reply.

Brittany turns to look at them, and about this time Rachel looks at us and asks what's going on. "These people are saying stuff about Ross."

Rachel takes off her earphones and says, "Let's stare at them then," and we all proceed to stare at them for about five minutes, intense staring, long uncomfortable staring. Then Rachel gets up and tells us, "I've gotta go to the bathroom."

When she gets up and walks away she says something to them in passing. I didn't hear what it was, but it made Kentucky McFucky yell "Fuck you! You can kiss my ass!" about 30 seconds later (My friend Brittany was flipping these people off as well). Seriously it was almost like watching a little kid do math, or in their case, a kind of Kentucky algebra. It wasn't until she got back that I found out what Rachel said. When she walked by she casually said to them, "Seriously you guys, loved you in Deliverance" (durr + hick = wait a second that's bad. Fuck you!). Yes, those ladies had my back, and for that I am very thankful. After Rachel's commentary of the social class these people live in, the comments ceased, but the stares didn't. Kentucky McFucky continued to stare at me.

What is it with people? I don't want to sound like a broken record, but how do people have so little tact? I mean, I picture these people sitting around their living room complaining how blacks and women have too many rights, and there is something to be said about Hitler's "Final Solution." This thought must've gone through their minds - "Hey, let's go out and pick on people who are different from us because it'll help is cope with the fact that we're inbred and like to fuck our livestock...durr...hick." Perhaps I'm being too hard on them. Maybe in Kentucky this a sound argument. Perhaps these people are philosophers in Kentucky, in league with the giants of Kentucky Philosophy like Rene Durr-cartes who stated - "I durr therefore I hick...or the Latin Durrigto ergo hick." Perhaps I expect too much of people, or perhaps Mark Twain was right when he said that when the Rapture comes he wants to be in Kentucky because everything there happens twenty years later.

Yes, Kentucky are the target of my and your fat sweaty cow of a woman and your cockgobbling friends. I am three times the human being you are. A composite of you and your drooling minion couldn't equal me. I hope when I'm well-known you're still around (because we all know you're going to attempt to market tire smoothies and will end up killing yourself in the process). I hope you see what I am going to become, and I hope when I get there, I find you in the street so I can hire someone to cotterize your anus. Okay, maybe that last rant is a little too Spanish Inquisition, but then again we all no that "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" (that's for all the Python fans out there). Actually McFucky, I take it all back. Continue with your life - you and your pork-porking mendicants. Continue with your drinking...your fun-making at the expense of others. In fact, drink four times as much as you normally do, and make fun of everyone who is different than you. That way if someone doesn't murder you for your comments your bleeding liver will. Mmmm...either scenario quells my hunger. Your agony is like bubble gum to me. And for now, basque in your glory. Today is your day. Accept thisThumby from my right hand and this bird from my left. I hope you go to Hell...or back to Kentucky...because there really is no difference.

Japanese Animation - a poem

The sign above the concession stand reads

“delicious hot dogs,” and like the onset of

sudden changes, he’ll see them –

plump ones, basting in their juices, their skins set to

shine with the light of all their commercials –

Perhaps these are the hot dogs of Hot Dog Alley.

Why always this theatre, he’ll ask himself.

Darkened, except for the screen’s random strobe,

pelting his face like soft hail, this is the hall he always

seems to find his way to, arriving every time

with these same people to sit, to watch, and to see

the insides of these unlikely venues of small worlds

and skewed relevancies.

It’s been said at one time this was a building used to sell

Plymouths. And even now, after the ends of all the

days since, the cars still remain, kept in the rank

summer heat of the garage out back.

They breathe the fumes of their fresh new paint jobs,

lying in their new, unaccustomed traditions,

these spectacles for pushing coffee on the young.

Inside however, the cool rubber air bounces off the

processed chicken salad they make here,

and a group gathers away in a corner, the epic rolls

of their laughter setting this place to echo.

They remember seventh grade humor – days of “doing

your mom,” nights of jumping off bridges,

full flexing the charge of such young power.

At a piano, one plunks some chords in an Ionian mode,

like a rapture of old yesterdays, and swears

he doesn’t know the little things that make it work,

just what’s good to the ear.

It’s in this pierce of elder sun, his music becomes the

soundtrack to the unfolding scene, as the rest of them

cling to the toys and trucks that dirtied their childhoods,

these reaffirmations of other realities, the building

contracts of cartoon revolutions, in a cartoon nature,

where the cartoon wizard’s cold holds the kingdom’s

sway, and the only resolution resolves in such spaces

as between parted lips.

A small white coupe pushes up a grain bitten highway,

and with it, the young man rides his smooth gradient

of age, watching, as the dark hills of Arkansas slowly

absorb the orange sky, the sweet trappings of an old song

spinning the night before dissolving like cotton candy,

his month long toothache almost enough to ruin it all.

Somewhere else, a walking castle rolls a twisted chaos

through green mountains of another world,

and it echoes the percussion of his companion’s silent

concern. She turns on the headlights.

Perhaps later he will recall their weight, comparing it

to the gravity of all the things he’s seen today,

an old woman’s pain from falling, distances,

like threads of religion that seem to spark the spine,

and he’ll pace the floor before it’s all over. But for now,

all he can do is continue this motion past Shakespeare Drive,

and think about nothing else but dancing lemons.