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Letters of Transit

Letters of Transit

Theodore Worozbyt
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 72
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    Letters of Transit
    Book Description:

    Letters of Transit is a passport to the space between: prose and poetry, reverie and memory, death and fecundity. Its invitation is a journey without destination, a ramble, a thrill ride, an openended ticket. But it maps an uncanny territory, populated with ominous doctors, proctors, theorists, forgers and game show hosts, whose agendas seem no less threatening than the intrusions of red spitting monkeys, biting spiders, monster hornets, unseen shrieking creatures. One ranges through its pages with an electric sense of visiting places impossibly recognizable—the dream realm of a collective unconscious. Its attractions are part freak show, part museum, part mausoleum. Theodore Worozbyt brings a rich and intricate vision to a world both gorgeous and grotesque, where one must suspect every detail of being a crucial clue.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-178-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. I. Scar Letters

    • The Center
      (pp. 3-3)

      I returned to the Center prematurely. Naturally experiments had progressed in my absence. Under a silver leaf the size of an elephant’s ear something fleshy was rotting so I twisted it from the hairy cord. An as yet unnamed breed of spider had written three silver stars into the rosemary’s churning stillness before it carried its gold and black stripes away. Six stainless steel cages shone like rain lifting upward or stents where pulp balloons might ripen a watered sun. I went down the path of rounded stones. Hordes of the unseen, whispering and trilling in the brilliantly engineered grasses,...

    • Gnosis
      (pp. 4-4)

      Turns out the radiologist didn’t know thing one about radios. I stood there in my stocking feet and waited for the music to begin again. Being generally good with small motors I would mow and mow the lawn stoically with a white hand towel draped around my neck. I was stimulated by the reports of the optical scienteers.Because of the particular reflective and refractive qualities inherent in the molecular structure of the chlorophyll molecule, the wavelength perceived by the human eye as green is in fact repulsed by grass. Thus grass is all other colors. Impossible, impossible! was the...

    • Salamander
      (pp. 5-5)

      If not for the rock the salamander wouldn’t twitch in the rain. The red twin doors stuck on one side, the one nobody used. An insect has left me with months of agues, a lump of greenish brown under my hip skin. The liquid on the keys is sticky. I knew ghosts who smell like turtles and put the erasure of the sun in a shoebox. If you walk before dawn in the grass by the river you will die. Make no mistake. The grackles knew. I grew corn, Silver Queen, sweet on the tongue as bees. My tulips bloomed...

    • Mercury
      (pp. 6-6)

      After a while nine planets dropped out of the book and the book went to Germany on a boat. Civilizations crawled across the floor from the glow in the wall with iron spears and pointed hats until the king threw a jar of ice water deep into my gagging pillows and the star exploded: click. In panels in the morning paper women got dragged by the hair and they were true. Abby was verso as were hints about blood and soda. Andy Capp was drunk. Dear Science consisted of smells boiled from tubes, collections and marks. I kept it in...

    • Vagaries
      (pp. 7-7)

      The doctor’s watch I hadn’t won showed up in my black box. It was square and dully metallic green, like the carapace a beetle has shed. She wanted a baby, she said, and I was moved to tears and mentioned while we hugged that we should meet back here at 2:30 because the party was large and we might get lost. On the radio was, as always, news of the war. The loyalists were taking a beating, but expected to resurge in a fierceness born of nationalistic determinism. I remained skeptical but proud of the god which had made such...

    • Revision
      (pp. 8-8)

      Grammar is my name and accidence is my heart. Don’t remind me of the soft fragrant telephone ringing in the back room. My head itches, I smell peaches, here comes a Rhino with a hole in his breeches. My Collected Works are a round mirror punched out in the center. I pull wire hairs from my face one by one. Someone has left a radio on the porch playing Pink Floyd and someone has stolen my paint-spattered stepladder. The news comes in from the east. Fifty dead and billions left living. The security advice has changed with the advisor. Regrettably...

    • Clasp
      (pp. 9-9)

      The deep diver clasped my arm as I rose through the clouds and turned to the composition of the article that would soon establish my reputation as some sort of thinker. In hours I would be home again among the glow of sea dwellers and the legs of monstrous wines. What went wrong first was my ordering of the north terminal into Plan B. That changed everything and I never recovered. I pried the taps from my boots. The timepiece on my arm (freckled white) was a Florentine dog and like every forgotten heart brought up from the silt of...

    • Forger
      (pp. 10-10)

      While the forger applied signatures to bootleg Balthus canvases I took notes for the biography I planned to write. Back then I planned a lot of books. Why Balthus, I asked him.Two kinds of greed lie extant in this world, he said. Money and sex?Nope, death and nostalgia. He swept his hand backward to the stack of canvases along the shadows of the wall. Wyeth, Remington, Benton. All with rather brassy and cartoonish signatures in the lower left hand corners, as if he’d cast them in melted crayon. All of them hastily painted on canvases picked up at...

    • Motive
      (pp. 11-11)

      Some small, forgettable creature, a rodent or a bird, is screeching in metallic pain just beyond my window. I stand, the sound ceases. My body grows heavy. I go outside and peer among the broken terra cotta pots and extension ladders that I hide in the bee-thickened bush beside the sill. When I close the door behind me the sound recommences, a shrilling agony. I sit down and plant my bare feet on the Iranian rug. The hideous note fills every corner. I look at my wrist like a doctor taking the pulse of a ghost, the watch keeping nearly...

    • River
      (pp. 12-12)

      As I walk, the circular road begins a downward grade. The black dog beside me quickens his step and I begin to remark unnatural metallic shapes rising from the grassy woods—arcs with radial spines, as if giant wheels had been buried in the ground and the rain and wind had worked to expose their hidden constructions. The silence in this dry heat is like my sweat, clammy and appalling. Then a dim rushing sound penetrates my ears, as though insect swarms were hissing en masse through the sky. But there are no insects. There is only the road, the...

    • Open
      (pp. 13-13)

      When I open the red feeder I find a pair of barber’s scissors. I put away the ladder and give myself a quick haircut. Mites scramble invisibly into my ears. In the trees figs swell and crackle, shedding brown syrup on the thrushes’ wings. There is no excuse for my tears. When the delivery truck comes I am choosing between chameleons. Two men climb out wearing hoods against the dark clouds of wasps and flies. I see their articles of lading are covered with familiar markings but not words as they begin to carry many boxes inside. I say I...

    • India
      (pp. 14-14)

      Who knew the mother sauces would become water? That you could see fat flecks in the blood like snow in a crow’s eye? That the nautical clock would magnify under glass and grow greener than Argentina? I replaced the small letter I never sent to India with a jar of crystallized honey one autumn when the grapes bore. I clarified it in abain marie. I need the same surgeon who put my crushed feet back together, his bags of golden plasma. I suppose burlap is fair material for the sacking of lucid sleep. What was concentrated is now thin....

    • Three
      (pp. 15-15)

      It is after midnight, and I am so hungry I will chew anything without a face. I keep three empty drawers in my kitchen. One for the shadows of future knives. One for the caul of brandy-colored light that wraps the squeals of the dying. The last I reserve for secretive notes of affection. I rub my cracked hands with ghee and swallow gulp by gulp a rope of boiled linen to pull from the other side. I tie my butcher’s apron on and slip out the back to tap speckled eggs in the trees, scoop golden fat from the...

    • Goodbye
      (pp. 16-16)

      I never wanted to live a long time, he offers, as they mark the dotted lines. His chest is shaved and dyed orange as an Easter duckling’s. It waddles past Thumbelina zinnias toward the plastic pool. The nurse seems depressed, or at least pensive. They still sell painted turtles, don’t they? she asks. He knows what they smell like, but doesn’t answer. Instead: Did you know that coconut milk isn’t what’s inside the coconut? She loves him for a moment. He is a straw. His knuckle itches, a no see um in the socket, and how many times has the...

    • Painter
      (pp. 17-17)

      When he closes the red door brilliantly the white wolf howls on his chain. The black one blinks topaz eyes, one ear miscocked in a delicate elegant feminine angle, as if the blue and vermiculite striped skinks she lunges to were a music of wind in the mountain mint and the hop-toad’s invisible heart. Far, O long away, Japanese monster hornets are scalding some heroic nonbody unto death as he trades his lovely old woman’s rainbow for one final agony, one posed and poisoned dream of a ladder erected in the field. It is a beautiful death for all of...

    • Vellum
      (pp. 18-18)

      A messenger collects the bundle of replies and is dismissed. The examination continues unabated. Dusk enters through the grates. I am seated at a small wooden table before a varnished map of the Eastern theater and a lamp shaped like the planet Saturn. The questions are the same as I have seen a hundred times. Ropes for binding lie scattered like tapeworms on the floor.It is not yet a matter of devices, the proctor explains evenly. Smiling, wan, yellowed in the smoky light, he folds his hands on the burgundy leather melded to his rosewood desk. He gestures with...

    • Cesium
      (pp. 19-19)

      The dogs are running under the open moon, a deathly joy in their nearly silent sweep across the grass, along the edges of the field, where pines lift against the clouds. The hour lays a platinum bar, like a hand across a forehead, over the measured dark. Ladybugs sleep in clusters and the vines climb colorblind through muscles flying in the slowed dew. If you do not know how to find me, this is where you will find me, the microscope in my outstretched hand. Worms become sphinxes, and if only it were a matter of jewels, of oiling the...

    • Loving
      (pp. 20-20)

      When I wake from a long and dreamless sleep my limbs are stuck to the green sheets. The bedclothes come off like a bandage and I gaze down the length of my body to see that my nerves and vessels have risen through my skin and formed a caul containing me in the merest web of filaments and glossy tubes. I rise, leaving an imprint of myself in flecks and tatters of flesh on the bed. I stand before the long mirror, naked, watching the work of my blood through the veins and arteries. I am so thirsty. When I...

    • Literature
      (pp. 21-21)

      I planted a garden of colossal vegetables, those three-to-a-pack seeds you order from the back pages of the catalogues. Win, place, show. I wanted a ribbon, the cordon to indicate my time spent watching and tending mattered. It did and it didn’t. What I got was a shadow carved across my face in the shape of a pumpkin. I didn’t have a forklift and I couldn’t, after checking, afford to rent one. I wasn’t sure anyway that when I lifted it it wouldn’t shatter. Anything that heavy. Wouldn’t it be yellow and rotted underneath? I would sit beside it with...

    • Familiar
      (pp. 22-22)

      The game show host interrupts her answers and explains the terms of sudden death.The files are shredded and locked into a cabinet for disposal. The consolation is a one way ticket back to an afternoon with Cavity Sam and Mystery Date. The nurse is frightened. Bitten by an insect she went legally blind. Her buzzer won’t function so her questions are already too late. Her teeth, small and numerous, publish the final language of disappointed seraphs,the ones who died in our care. His syndicate grinning won’t stop.Are you the kind who will tenderize my grip as I...

    • Permutations
      (pp. 23-23)

      The watchmaker lived in the caboose of a stationary train. He invented fresh ciphers for the Vietnamese and then just as quickly returned to the bench where his tools lay shining in chiseled troughs. On Wednesday he was fabricating mechanical replacement parts needed for the war effort. Being synchronous was key. There was a deadline but then a tin-flavored violin smashed against his arm and rainbow worms flowed like thought from his pupils. His jaws clacked. His heart burped a bloodmark. A crock of cabbage gurgled underground in the minister’s garden. All I did was climb out of the ditch,...

    • Recovery
      (pp. 24-24)

      When the doctor comes into recovery to tell me I will never see again the remote control is still in my hand. What a relief! Now comes the spiritus mundi to vernissage sensation and loose the gazelles crouched like crap-shooters in my skull. I am so weary of that pus-bright bulldozer piling autumn’s scarlet and golden mud into the corners of my heart. Of tall lustrous women and the museums of their smiles. The blue and purple agitations of oceanic vision. And especially Picasso. To sit in the Adirondack chair, feeling the cold gas reach my nose just before a...

    • Canvas
      (pp. 25-26)

      In Kingdom Come, by underwater fountains where our beautiful dead kiss the fragrances of sleep, I skin a spring lamb in the windless dew. I bleach every treasure map in a bottle I toss among feathering repressions of the sea. A long journey of forgetfulness rounds the horn and a painter coils on my prow. I was a thief, and so I am a thief. Beside a potbelly of burning embers I drape the black cloaca of champagne photographs around my frozen shoulders. I pour myself out into the swelling canvas. The sun blisters my lips and heaves silver light...

  4. II. Impossible Objects

    • Auditorium
      (pp. 29-29)

      The theorists were scheduled to meet in the auditorium. Some were early, to secure the best seats. Some were late, and made an entrance. The ones who were on time regarded their papers quietly. All agreed the topic had been decided upon. It was a question of great importance to the outcome of the conflict in the East. The moderator had been chosen carefully, by a panel of experts in the field. The lighting seemed dim. This had not been expected. It was a problem to be dealt with first. It was necessary to have the proper light by which...

    • Portrait
      (pp. 30-30)

      Years passed before she suggested to me—in a letter—that she possessed a photograph I had come to believe was lost. It was a portrait of myself, an infant scowling, a Churchill on my grandfather’s knee. He was a young man then, younger than I am now, and between his teeth he clenches a pipe. His socks are lighter than his suit, a sumptuary fashion of the time, a nattiness of which I approve. I think that they were colored “Bird’s Egg.” In the snapshot he has the moustache I recall so well, a thin line drawn across the...

    • Mimesis
      (pp. 31-31)

      A hundred copies of the examination lie on my desk. The answers are: a regular beating, a textiled figure, flowers and purple, weak then strong, slash and cup, what I step with, what we danced to, a room with a closing door, a straightened red wiggler, the ways in which one proffers a thing to a crowd, a transfer of identity in a dialectical motion, because he was adopting the power of Greek, Latin, and French, and the attempt to mimic reality. Animals perish, like a postcard from Michel Deguy, but do not die. Today the season changes, and the...

    • Funny
      (pp. 32-32)

      Desire, she said, is a funny thing. The more you have of it the less you want it. I was enmeshed in a delicate hermeneutical adventure. What is the difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami, a simple matter of distance? Suddenly I remembered that most of the universe is composed of invisible material. Some particles disappear before they exist. It is very possible that memory is vestigial, useless, an appendix of aromas, tomato leaves in some childhood garden. I grew nauseated. I thought of her lungs heaving with blood under nerve-ridden bones, the imprimatur of artery throbbing in...

    • Home
      (pp. 33-33)

      When they came home from Europe they met me at the airport where I was returning from Disneyland. My favorites were the electric cars on tracks that I could speed up by pushing the pedal and the straw-roofed shop where I bought a human skull the size of an apple. I received presents: a Tissot watch, a leather peace symbol necklace, a hunting knife with a handle crafted from the foot of a deer. I already owned a hatchet. It was always night when we arrived. There were no streetlights on the road where we lived and the house rested...

    • Species
      (pp. 34-34)

      The teacher wore a white laboratory coat and a solid gold razor blade on a lengthy chain and tried to pick up xy samples with his moustache. The worms were pickled, not the frogs. His science club was small, and drams of dandelion wine were rumored to be served there. I used drugs. Marianne on the first day asked me to be her partner and we hissed a loop of wire, zigged our stylus with a flourish across the agar, making letters in the dishes. Her freckles laughed, duplicated in the gel.

      Outside, carcasses lie strewn in patterns: mergansers, Norway...

    • Shoes
      (pp. 35-35)

      The ice cream truck pretends by moving slowly not to scream. The girls in sunglasses cover their ears. What with the cost of gas, you’d think, one of the boys is saying. I, from the years of painting, can’t flex my arm, the tendons are thickening. The figure inside, as close as I am, still is a shadowy flash, back bending over the freezer chest, lifting and closing and handing. Only the names are listed, not the prices. You know what they are. On the easements, in the lots I cross diagonally, I have noticed a profusion of shoes, odd...

    • Ted
      (pp. 36-36)

      Top end drop. Turgid evangelical depravity. Topos evading description. Tank evacuation deployment. Typical enzyme depletion. Tracing electronic Democritus. Topiary Epsom deposits. Tippled every day. To end doom. To evince documents. Toward excavating dulcimers. Twin ebullient doctors. Two ebony dots. Today, everyday, doughboys. Total eviscerated dead. Tongue epitomes deprived. Taped exemplars dangling. Tools externally damaged. Tangential ecclesiastical deadbeats. Tall educated demon. Terrible eye, delight. Tricks especially dampened. Twice explicated detonation. The extra dactyl. Torn ecumenical door. Trampled emptiness daughter. Tiny editorial decisions. Twisted engine deposits. Torrid endstopped dragsters. Tarantula eventualities deceived. Typical evil doer. Tulip eventide display. Tiptop edelweiss disaster. Tones,...

    • Anagram
      (pp. 37-37)

      Whose heart is a red sea risen past towers of salt and forgetting. Whose eyes are almonds robbers pursing gold from pharaohs’ tombs ignored. Whose breath is an apple broken on my teeth, juicing my throat with wordless sweetness. Whose brain is a soft spread of light in the nameless dark and a bare tree. Whose dew claw curls vestigial and sharply tiny as a soul. Who stands by the peeling door. Who watches, and who knows how lonely he is, waiting for his charges to return? Who rolls in thickened putrescence to smell the joy of becoming invisible. Who...

    • Walk
      (pp. 38-38)

      They reported his lack of expression as the reason. The reason for the sentence. They spoke to the cameras as a panel. They sat at a table. One shrugged. One had frightening dyed hair and smiled directly at the lens. One said the unborn child hit her hardest. There were cheers outside, off camera. I imagined bobbing signs as I scooped at my grapefruit. The dead woman’s smile was infectious, her skin lustrous and olive. No one outside was interviewed. The following are the lessons I have not learned. The movies are real. The promised meetings will not occur on...

    • Garum
      (pp. 39-39)

      The first editions fell onto my head like so many Roman garum pots. I perched cross-legged on the knotty pillow and watched a coil of something dark and spectral shimmer from my hands and flow away. Outside it was raining but the glass door led only further into rooms more lighted like oysters and the dog of my heart slipped past the margins of the meadow. Nothing, it seemed, would wash away the red grit I drew in the shaving mirror. Now, some nights in the hours (when no one is watching) before sleep, I long for such innocent crusts....

    • Profession
      (pp. 40-40)

      I hadn’t meant to disappear but every time I watch my hands they grow thinner, veins bulging over cartilage; my feet are bruised deep inside their clockwork bones and I can’t stop sneezing no matter how many times I stare at the sun. My hip hurts. I puke. Yet I walk ten miles plucking a classical guitar and then stick my finger up my nose. Soon my new objects will slip down into their familiar postures of caramelized boredom and I will remember why I am not ecstatic here in this carefully ornamented cocoon, even though my drinks are nearly...

    • Sorry
      (pp. 41-41)

      So what if I am ugly now? Oh well to love. A brand new bicycle gloams green by the punching bag and no one, I repeat no one, rides far into the long summer afternoon. Perfect food was ours for a time, but the beautiful woman who was a wind sailing across the picture I pretended was the sky was lost as dust last night, or I was in my seeing, and no map could bring what’s tumbled smooth as Fordite back from the place where you painted a blue portrait of yourself screaming, hung it here and there for...

    • Thanks
      (pp. 42-42)

      Thank you for spitting like a red monkey on my feet. If excruciation is not a noun then George Curme is an obsolescent preposition. I glanced at my companion but she was an empty chair. Between the lush appetizers and the chopsticks I fell headfirst into a party of strangers when my hip separated from itself. Tonight I photographed the armadillo’s foot and sent off for a pentameter of bayous. I did the same with the original piece of my dead sole. I’ve meant to do things for a smile, but this evening was a round blue. There is little...

    • Boat
      (pp. 43-43)

      The doctor said quite soothingly that I ought to quit. I pointed to the brown spit-diluted stains of blood on my sateen pillow and the doctor quit his mockings. Now you are a doctor’s dream, he said, it is time not to dream. Put your foot on something cold. What will become of me without a boat between these fingers, the poison on my tongue, the leaf curled in the red box? I turn my head. There is only the synthesis of sleep to remind me of bells in the grass, smooth underwater flying, the brilliant colors. A cool gassy...

    • Beans
      (pp. 44-44)

      I can’t cook beans now. On the blue couch I can’t tell whether I am dreaming. The president of teeth says it can’t possibly be a black family. He sweats in the sun. His speech is disassembly. I am frightened, I cannot stop leaking and heaving. Bruise me God; mark my fat with your inky hammer. Their skins turn out tough. The clock in the film says 2:23; it is a brand new clock but time is silent. I must make her some earrings before she loses any more weight to the malaise. The wicked witch is taking care of...

    • Michael Jackson Memory
      (pp. 45-45)

      Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The line drawing he steps into in profile. The rose crystal bell in the library book.Ghosts and More Ghosts. His bulbous nose, his triple chins, his Churchillian sang-froid as he proposes the murder of the sponsors.

      In my zinnias; beside the creek with the hung tire; down the rutted driveway where at the bottom I could see up the hill of The House only my silver balcony: I practiced hisGoud Eeevening. Goud eevening, I would say to the mailbox as I opened its red-flagged metal door.Goud eevening, I bellowed at my dogs as I...

    • Michael Jackson Memory
      (pp. 46-46)

      The dishes and pots lie stacked in the tub, petri dishes growing things. Blair, who playedThrilleralot, carried them there out of desperation. I have to be in my class in three hours, at eight. Uncle Varner, I will decide, tithes at the church of humanity. There are no gables on our house. Blair shot out a traffic light with a .44 Magnum and then lent me his rusty Nova. I’d slapped the Audi into a telephone pole. Twice. Drunk and hopped up on something, coffee probably, I wear white leather loafers. I really do. And no one...

    • Michael Jackson Memory
      (pp. 47-47)

      It was a summer day, and when I looked across the yard I witnessed the success of the vegetables before the beetles came. Mashed, the ones on the vines spewed French’s mustard.

      O it was a summer day when I looked across the yard, the lovely brown child beside me as I basted the pork on the grill. The ground sloped up from moss and eggplants to pink and red azaleas. She had a poster in her bedroom. Four, she could answer philosophical questions, but probably had no real idea who he was.

      Listen, it was a summer day and...

    • Keys
      (pp. 48-48)

      I buy my tomatoes and flour on credit and the kindly buxom blonde lady at the terminal announces how that fast that money went away, poof, and because I fall in love poorly with the least kindness I joke back and we smile in the way ugly people smile at each other, less in appraisal than in tender commiseration, though she, of course, is beautiful.

      Having gone now to the market two mornings in a row and made thick soup I feel somewhat like I used to, when I paid more attention to being hungry. These keys, rattling black in...

    • Spanish
      (pp. 49-49)

      Spanish, like those other languages I quickly found and lost a little more slowly, makes my teeth hurt and my tongue ache. Every day comes a messenger but no news. What, I am forced to wonder, does the festooned donkey filled with candies feel? The children move their shadows around his dangling belly. I wrote: I once lived here, where the walls were a yellow I cannot remember; I often ate there well, and Marisol has gone to the library to bake a loaf of the students. Listen, I was once the life of myself; once I was a poet...

    • Messenger
      (pp. 50-50)

      Someone wrote letters on my car with a key. I study them, as if silence might tell me something about quiet. Next week I take my scroll to several toothless auctioneers. I didn’t answer the door, I let my dog snort the jamb, I was afraid I might kill someone. Instead I bought a blanket. I have the propensity, which I hate, and a well-dressed snub-nosed gun. I handle a cigarette better than most men in the newer movies. I fly to a blue state, kiss the ground or asses. I drink champagne mojitas with bitters at This Night Café....

    • Ant
      (pp. 51-51)

      Shaving keeps me company. So does the mirror. Sometimes I write letters long before they are mailed. You can’t “just write.” I heard through the crack in the window a father saying it’s 13:30 and discussing my English prospects. We call back across the slope of fallen trees the ones we love. They come, but too late, too late to stop their rush between two cars into the road. Suddenly I am a doctor with a bag of descriptions. Who bends over papers, who stoops at the curb, whose belly swallowed. Down at the end of the complex where the...

    • Ingredients
      (pp. 52-52)

      Where the knife ends and the wood begins, I can’t say. Someone keeps trying to call. I am missing the tang of cooking. I never used to carry money in my wallet, only folded in my watch pocket, like butter lettuce. The woman was suspicious when I brought the braided loaf to thank her for her finding and returning it. I came from a bus, maybe that was why, or I smelled like the café. I go outside, my dog pisses on bricks, I discover someone military has cut my lanky grass and buried the can of dried maggoty jays...

    • Errata
      (pp. 53-53)

      The quietest mistake has crawled through the boards. The professor unfolds the cabinet clasps; he lifts up by the tail into the oystery kitchen light a field mouse, gray as the cornerstone of a cathedral and covered with the tiny marks of its own feces.Look at what you have done. What is your alibi?I have no explanation and he is disgusted. He gestures with his free hand, making clear the discovery of my Popish plot: bakers dozens, perhaps hundreds, of similar furred corpses lie stacked in vertical rows where I store my pots and pans. I offer a...

      (pp. 54-54)

      Nine letters drew just behind our suicide door black Continental and I was safe in the tan back seat. Not quite, more a mirror. One of us said why is that written backwards on the front, and if it was her then she probably didn’t know, and who can blame her, certainly not me. Certainly I will never blame her for that particular question. Some other matter of a dog comes up now and then in my undisciplined thoughts but that was long ago and the exactitudes of the matter have grown vague. Death is a bone best chewed on...

    • Ossetra
      (pp. 55-55)

      It is not the dead who are ghastly. It is not only the deadened who wish. This way, that way, hair falling across hair; no way to know what scene will impinge itself immortally upon a mind, when that life begins to forget. The talcum of skin touching skin before the clinging sweat springs, that joinder lasts a long second. I think my tongue curls behind my teeth when I sleep, pressing flesh between the spaces. I taste strawberries and tires, and not the taste, and not the air, but something less between. Tsar Imperial Ossetra, are the words on...

    • Salvage
      (pp. 56-56)

      I was still trying to remember. Garlic minced or smashed. The smell of bread and hair. The music of slicing. Under the canvas tent, I browned some scrambled eggs in the backyard and gray light came in through the folds. The duck was missing. Worms have nine hearts, like cats have lives. I propped a dead jay in the crotch of a maple and shot him. I kissed my grandfather but his eyes were never blue before and he stared past me out the car window, smiling. I planted thorns in the hollow yellow rose. Nisbet Toole diagnosed my Reiter’s...

    • Days
      (pp. 57-57)

      I received a letter with no signature or return address. I responded quickly but my usual aplomb failed to please or even to communicate my simplest intentions or desires. My country, O my beloved, is under false or fraudulent impressions but I wrote and faxed the residual truth, returns, statements, etcetera ephemera. God Bless will be performed here, or so I just heard on the set. I am watchful but all I can hope for is the enemy to lose. Something about the voice above the tinny lone guitar sounds nearly authentic, an echo of songsters I imagined I heard...

    • Curb
      (pp. 58-58)

      He was in the middle of a street, the day was bright, he lay inert, though with a suggestion of motion, as if chewing his dew claw, or just under it, at the firm leathery knob of flesh that sometimes bothers him for reasons I don’t understand. I, I was at the curb, kneeling and looking to my left seeing him there, angled and far. I watched the car coming in our direction, the old big blue car, and I knew whose car it was, that lawn man with the loud voice I ignore every morning unsuccessfully. He yells at...

  5. Back Matter
    (pp. 59-62)