anxiety · favorites · mental health · the road

Glitch, pt. 1

Within minutes of turning on to 85N, and only an hour shy of Scottsdale, I see my first saguaros, cactusgalleryhankes04-56a71b853df78cf772925914white flowers peaking their green and fleshy scales; and I see two hell-bent roadrunners pound the dirt with near-invisible legs. I also watch as a jostling hay-truck explodes a tumbleweed with its grill.

Apparently I’m in Arizona.

I was actually welcomed to AZ a number of miles back courtesy of a buckshot greeting sign just outside of Yuma, this right before the Border Patrol agents with their nausea-green cars and loose-leashed dogs quickly unwelcomed me at the checkpoint.

The left-hand turn out of Gila Bend, north toward the 10 junction, provides better welcome. That’s when the landscape takes on a more Arizonan trope, the kind of landscape you’d find properly and agreeably silhouetted on a license plate; the stuff of gas-station postcards. There’s iconic cacti, the craggy and nearer horizons. Yellow-banded Gila Monsters, you imagine, looking to hitch rides in convertible jalopies through the blown-out countryside.

The 8W-85N convergence is where you leave the desert floor and its blankness. It’s where, too, you retreat from the Yuma silo painted with ‘0 sea level’ markersbeet_8610 (and where, too—despite claims to the contrary—the elevation is actually fifty-two feet). By turning left and north, you veer toward the saguaros and the Pre-Cambrian rocks that rim the deserts.

Camelback Mountain couching Scottsdale is made of the same ragged basalt that outskirts Imperial County. It’s of similar geography to the compressed-fault tombstones signaling Vegas; similar, even, to Antarctica, which though covered in ice, bares the same jagged geographical teeth—in bluish regale, but still remarkably parallel in desolation.

It’s lonely out here. The roadrunners must either be running away or toward something.

The mirrored patches ahead of me on the horizon look like some form of black ice, but it’s a trick of the heat. Arizona’s hot, especially for April. The dashboard thermometer flirts with three digits and I should’ve gotten my vehicle tuned prior to leaving San Diego. The idea of breaking down in the desert is a formidable worry especially with the white road fading into white horizon. It’s a long drive and only sometimes does the chaparral turn a different shade of brown. There is a sense of endlessness.

‘Welcome to Arizona.’ This is certainly not my favored state and, I’m arriving in an equally and altogether unfavorable mode, anxious and alone in the car. I’m just trying to make it to Phoenix on time, goddamn the desert in between.phx



My final destination is the Iris Award ceremony—the Oscar gala of bloggers—and though I’ve nominations I’m really proud of in my back pocket, there’s the insufferable Mojave to cross.

In Greek mythology, Iris is the errand-running messenger of the gods and a minor deity. She’s Hera’s handmaiden, classically symbolized by the rainbow. irisIf you make a slip of the tongue, though, say ‘Isis’ instead of ‘Iris’—well—that’s an Egyptian goddess. Her mother’s name is Nut.

Nut, nutters.

Iris is the daughter of the sky and the sea as mythology goes. This makes the rainbow appropriate symbol if you choose to consider rainbows, which I don’t this deep into an unpleasant drive. Currently everything is white and colorless; rainbows or oceans out here in the desert should be something out of the question. There is, however, the strange fact of the Salton Sea, the one that’s presently drying and dying, precipitating its own salts south of the 10.

(Take Exit 131. It’s about fifty miles north of the dunes).

The Salton Sea pre-dates Palm Springs as a destination. Both have been advertised as paradisiacal oases in the desert. Why we need parentheses of desolation to isolate and qualify paradise, I don’t know. Maybe paradise is made so only by fact of contrast.salton3

Could also be that you can get Eden-rivaling dates in both Palm Springs and the Salton borderlands, fruits worthy of the first Garden.

Either way, to get away from it all you have to literally get away from it all, in which case there are desert islands, or—as proxy—actual deserts. Water’s only a factor sometimes. Remember that Antarctica is a desert, which, if melted, could quench a considerable thirst. Melting the Mojave wouldn’t result in as much: you’d be left with a great and unnavigable sheet of glass, sand in your mouth and grit in your teeth. Still, paradise exists out here in the parch, unbelievable as it sounds.

Gulls Flying over PelicansUsed to be that thousands of birds—four hundred varieties—visited the Salton Sea during the annual Pacific migration: pelicans and arctic geese, terns and stilt-legged cranes. There were also the Hollywood birds with their as-conspicuous gams, their feather boas, and millimenary plumage. They’d arrive with lecherous and Bryll-creemed escorts at their wing, gleaming hair-do’s fast flattening in the sun. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sonny Bono, the Marx Brothers.

Rock Hudson did a photo-shoot waterskiing the Sea with George Nader. They never co-starred together onscreen, just on Salton waters. Hudson, instead, did a turn with James Dean on the set of ‘Giant’. Dean died soon thereafter in a car crash 28 miles east of Paso Robles, a place near as desolate as its Salton cousin far off to the south.

The fields near Paso Robles and south of Fresno are harrowed and fallow, much like the Imperial Valley outskirts that, similarly, haven’t received much of the Colorado River’s water over the years. The Salton Sea is actually an accident of the Colorado, the River’s aqueducts having overflowed to create the fantastic puddle way back in 1905. Astoundingly the Sea rests just 200 feet above Death Valley’s greatest depths and currently receives only a slight fill from the polluted waters of the American River. Through nature’s mechanics, the Sea’s artificiality has slowly become apparent, precipitated salts and algae blooms winnowing fish stocks over time into just junk proteins: catfish, carp, and tilapia that now garbage the turgid


Man—the Salton Sea used to be so happening. Now it’s nearly dead.

Patio umbrellas are long folded, and meanwhile the bioaccumulation of selenium in the Sea’s fish stock has left a shoreline of limpid birds with botulism. Poor birds. The sun is a constant and evaporative thing.

I drive over New Wash just past the dunes, and there’s a change in the guard railing, a change, too, in the color of the road: the asphalt turns from black to white. The New Wash is just cracked earth and chaparral when I blow by at an 85 mph clip.

2-600x435When James Dean died, it was because his Porsche violently slammed into a roadside guard railing, also at 85 mph. Alec Guinness—future and sage Obi-Wan—warned James that he’d certainly die in his ‘sinister’ vehicle a week before Jimmy actually did. Dean crashed avoiding an oncoming Ford Tudor, while purportedly muttering: ‘That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.” Famous last words, and tidy fulfillment of Obi-Wan’s prophesy. Dean’s chassis was found face down in a gully, James’ neck broken twice over. He was declared dead before the ambulance could make it to Paso Robles.

Coincidentally, they sell date shakes on Route 466 just past the marker where Donald Turnupseed’s Ford Tudor nearly met James Dean’s Spyder. There’s a fifteen-foot cardboard poster—Jimmy in his red leather jacket—featured at a gas station just half-mile shy of the crash site. It’s that spooky Salton Sea vibe all over again: the ghosts of Hollywood past, the fact of Eden-worthy dates in the oases.

I think these things at 85 mph when leaving Salton in the rearview, the peril of the road and its left-behind ghosts, James Dean and his broken body, his internal injuries. I think: we all suffer from internal injuries; it’s just that James Dean died from them.

turnupseedTurnupseed, meanwhile, survived the crash. His Ford Tudor just wound up facing the wrong way in the westbound lane. How about that—the road spares itself some lucky trespassers. You should see where all this happened, where James met his fate that night and where Turnupseed walked away unscathed. It’s a really really forgettable place.


There’s a change of guard-railing when passing over New Wash, and the sudden appearance of thin grasses. There’s supposed to be overflow from the Salton Sink here too, but the tributary veins that bleed the Salton Sea are dried up. Chamise blooms in the arroyos, which means it’s existed in the wash for at least seven years without having once been drowned. chamise022Chamise, after all, takes seven calendar cycles to mature before it becomes dusty, musty, and white-flowered—seven years to muster just one blossom; meanwhile, the chamise I drive past is on full display.

The fact of the New Wash has me curious if there’s an Old Wash. I also wonder what constitutes a gulch versus a wash, if an arroyo is the same thing. The air conditioner hums as I ponder, providing the minor miracle of cold air as the temperature guage on the dash clicks past ninety. Dressed in a light shirt and rolled up jeans, I even consider being cold. I look down to see my hand is trembling. Goddammit. I turn down the AC, but, as my hand continues its St. Vitus dance, I suspect this will do nothing to stop the mounting shakes. Not the tremors. Please, goddammit, any other day. I’d rather this not be more difficult a drive than it already is. Just get me to Phoenix.

San Diego to Phoenix is actually, should actually, be  incredibly easy. By GPS account you take exactly three turns over the span of near-four hundred miles before arriving at Camelback’s base. phxsanRegardless of uncomplication, there’s still the steep and plummeting spiral toward the desert floor, then the white hot spaces with white skies in between: perils of the 8. There are also the stretches of bleached asphalt–too long–before any welcome distance markers. It makes me nervous to say the least. Too many miles of road separate nothing from nothing. Might seem romantic to some, these wide open spaces, but I’m not enamored with anything less than a green freeway sign remarking, ‘You are here.’ sealevel

I hate the Imperial Valley despite the occasional ibis that happens in the occasional field, or the spectacularly white dunes that occur briefly on the way to Yuma. A trailer park outside El Centro proclaims ‘Shangri-La!’ and, glitching, I all too handily call its bluff.









death · favorites · neighborhood · people · university

Erased (redux)


There’s a lessening in volume come morning, the decrescendo of cricket wings, a change in birdsong. When the mockingbirds finally quiet their clamor, and the doves in turn murmur apologies, Andy throws a cord of wood into the local barbecue joint’s smoker.

 The smoker sits like a galvanized submarine at the end of Thorn St., a black matte thing, cylindrical, and neatly welded. It belches smoke before the neighbors can crack their windows and notice the shift in perfume, else—if windows have already been open to the night air—the smoke acts as a pre-dawn and somehow undetected something. It’s just part of the morning, like the first pour-overs of coffee, or the rustle of corvids, which sound like sheeted plastic when grubbing for palm nuts in the fronds162-palm-crows-on-palm-c2a9swamistream

 Scent may remain the furthest sense away from our notice, yet it’s the best to conjure memory. It’ll be impossible to forget this time and place though the smell of mesquite is presently unobserved in its ubiquity.

 That sense of smoke. It’s just the sunrise rising, and part of everything else dissipative in the morning: the steam off a cup of coffee; the new clouds, which the night made old; the water heating the brass fixtures, the brass heating the shower.

 Morning erases itself without notice.

“I have this idea,” Chris suddenly says. We’re in our shared apartment, east of the university.

“What now?” I respond drolly, still nursing a coffee from an afternoon lunch with our sculpture professor, Italo.

It should be noted Christopher’s now dead. Italo, too. In different ways, dead.

Italo, though—he has a sculpture down at the local Thai place, which still stands years after his passing, a monkeywood and metal affair. Scanga-Meta_VI-SaxophoneItalo had the clever idea of soldering chain-link into a frozen-upright position, so that it never collapses into coils on the floor. Cunning immortality, if you think about it.

“I hope it involves actually finishing one of those ready-mades you were supposed to’ve done last Wednesday.”

I flip through a back issue of Art in America.

“Then again,” I reconsider, “A ‘ready-made last Wednesday’ is hardly a ready-made.”

“I’m just exploring the media,” Chris smirks.

Chris is maybe 5’7”, short of average and with forever-sleepy eyes that seem sleepy as affect. Always the thrift store cardigan, the threadbare canvas shoes, and unkempt hair. He is unpolished to perfect blemish, insouciant and under-eye bruisy.

“Ex-plore the media,” Chris says, his best imitation of Italo’s heavy Calabrian accent. “Why yoo rush?”

Chris stands on the balcony overlooking a view of nothing much, boxwood hedgerows and a climbing jasmine with autumn-extinguished blossoms still clinging to the vine like paper.

“Man, I love Italo,” Chris says, a wreath of cigarette smoke settling over his head like an effete crown. “He’s full of shit.”

Italo’s infinity chain down at the Thai joint stands frozen next to a five-foot pillar of a statue, a human figure with limbs still congealed in media, arms frozen to hips like an alabaster chessman. The whole thing’s done up in tempera, Italo’s preferred paint.

“Tempera,” Italo announced over coffee today, gesturing with his half-gnawed bagel. “It is stupid.” You could never tell what Italo meant by ‘stupid’, whether disparaging or not. “You know the Acropolis was not always white? Used to be a whore, acropolis color2done up in color thousands of years ago. All this garish egg paint. It’s only white now,” he said dangling a demitasse from his left pinky.

Italo would use fresco recipes to slapdash whatever sculpture he could unfinish, knowing that tempera was bound to fade. By contrast, museum-piece Rembrandts, the deep dank Rembrandts, are still wet beneath six inches of oil redux.

“I order all these monkey-men statues from a warehouse in Tibet. I say, ‘Give me all of them, give me all the monkey-men.’ I love them, my little soldiers,” he scratched his temples, the seemingly only well-groomed part of him. “Let the monkey-men turn white again, after I’m done painting them. Then people will think I’m genius.”

“You think he’s genius?” Chris asks, drawing the last of his cigarette with pursed lips. “Italo, I mean.” Chris extinguishes his smoke against the railing, letting the cinder drift to the downstairs patio. He exhales blue, then waves off his own question. “Probably.Joseph_Beuys_ff_I_like_America_and_America_likes_me_kidsofdada_article_grande

I flip a page in Art in America where another Beuys retrospective is featured on page 43. Something to do with a coyote and a walking stick.

“He’s got tenure. You’re a ways off. You tell me.”


“Here, here,” Italo said to me and Chris, “I love these cranberry bagels. Have some. You are my protégés. We share coffee.” We sat in a grove beneath old-growth eucalyptus with its paper-thin bark and creaking limbs.

Italo wagged a finger and spoke quietly, “The Parthenon is a beautiful thing because it became beautiful by accident.”

“So make things ugly first, on purpose,” he chewed his half-bagel and thrice shook his finger. “Make ugly things.”

“Why I use tempera,” he says again, “It is the best disappearing ink.“

Chris hooked half a bagel toward himself and chewed laconically. He looked bemused, else bored to death in his chair.

It was a year later when Chris disappeared in Czechoslovakia, when ten pairs of Levis could still afford you decent digs, and when Prague was advertised as the city of spires and bridges. All these cantilevered anddusk-skyline-of-prague-czech-republic beveled constructions, romantic in their concrete and wire defiance of physics. The city was a leaden gray exercise in suspension.

“Hello from Praha,” Chris would at some point write to me, a postcard done up in dumb paint with scrawl on the back. He had an upcoming art show. “In beautiful Czech Krimsky R—-“. The R— word was illegible, cut off by an airmail stamp. Chris was cut off, too–dead before the postcard arrived Par Avion.

Chris was found face down in a bar, supposedly having slipped on ice outside the absint establishment, which placed a half-pour in front of him as subterfuge before the coroners could collect him. The bruises, though, were obvious on the soft of his neck, two heady whacks to the brain stem, which loosened up the passport from his back pocket and left Chris without any ID. He was shelved for three weeks as John Doe in the morgue before his parents began their Transatlantic search.

“I feel…,” he said before the blue set in beneath his eyes cyanotically discoloring his cheeks. He was 23, which I suppose is as viable, die-able age as any.

“So this idea,” Chris says, leaning against the porch railing. “Well, this thought…” Chris has a vague manner about him always, a loosely drawn curtain neither open nor closed. He doesn’t ever seem solidified in any tense, and won’t be until he later becomes preterite.

“These vans that go by,” and he gestures past the boxwoods toward the University, “They have ‘Information Destruction’ printed on their sides.”Vehicle-Graphics-Lettering-Vans-01 Chris half-heaves himself over the railing, anchored by his elbows. He lands back on the concrete in soft sneakers.

“What if they actually vacuumed up everything?”

“What do you mean? They’re just paid to get rid of all the university files and shit. All the tests and whatever else from the regents’ office. You sound high.” I look up at Chris with mock-concern. “Are you high again, Chris? And why are you not sharing?”

“No, no. Think of it like this. Wherever the vans drive, everything just disappears.”

Chris scoots a geranium pot from one side of the porch to the other with a scraping sound and does the same railing trick, just backwards this time.

“Like, gone,” feet landing on the ground again, “And you could drive one of these vans and get rid of stuff, just erase everything.”

I examine Chris’s face. “Yep. You’re totally high.”

He twirls against the railing. “They’d play ice-cream chimes. Minor key. And, <shwoop>, no more dog-walkers. No more cars. Complete takeaway of information.”

I pause, then nod approvingly. “It does sound delightfully sinister.” Chris lights another cigarette and resumes staring into the not much at all.

It’s morning, the mesquite burns correctly without the snapping of sap. Andy works the barbecue pit smoker in the near distance, stoking the flames and releasing occasional fireflies of cinder into the air. smoke-17

Chris’s postcard is tucked into a book, so neatly shelved away, I forget where. The crickets are forever chirping because the house is situated over a crawlspace. It’s easy for them to seek shelter up through the pantry and into the warm corners behind the fridge. You get used to them, eventually, just like you get so used to the mockingbirds that you no longer notice when they become doves; or when the juncos start their flitting and antemeridial search for bugs to feed the cowbirds crowding their nests, the children that don’t resemble them but which the juncos take care of anyway.

Chris boiled water for tea twice daily in the kitchenette.

“Tea. You?”proust

“No, thanks.” I have my coffee.

Chris is still musing the Information Destruction vans.

“I suppose it could be sinister,” he smiles, “But why not have fun pretending?” He opens the cabinet to rummage for honey.

“Call it wishful thinking. That you have the power to erase.”

The cars sit monumental curbside, temporarily stopped. smoke-17The cars will sit for another hour, motionless, designed to look in motion even when not moving. It’s like a car can’t even be parked anymore, aerodynamic to the point of improbability. Soon there’ll be the morning commute, the coffee, the cell phones on point.

 Andy throws more logs into the fire to stir the air, his contribution and making of the morning. If the fire weren’t there, the morning would be incomplete. You’d notice the fire in its absence, the scent of the ante meridian all wrong. If Andy stopped, the morning would, too. If I stopped waking up, as Chris did, the world would cease.

“What the hell is that? Never noticed it,” I jut a chin Chris’ direction.

Hanging above the tea cannisters is a painting in unlikely color, something Chris has tacked to the inside of the cupboard. The woman depicted is ugly, else the painting is, and the fingers are prominent.woman

“You’re obviously not DeKooning, Friend,” I say, “Though it looks like you’re trying to murder the female form all the same. ‘The fuck is that piece?”

“Karen,” Chris says, stirring honey into his tea. “Her name ‘s Karen. She presides over the Darjeeling.”

“She’s goddamn ugly.”

Chris taps his nose and acrobats onto the counter with a brimming mug, barely a slosh.

“Sure,” he says, “But she’s got mighty fine fingers,” and he pats his crotch.

“Oh, shut up, you degenerate. That the girl you’re seeing? I’m sure she’s not flattered by your pedestrian use of paintbrush.”

I return to my magazine. Now Beuys is draped in a blanket and the coyote’s pissing on a stack of Wall Street Journals.beuys1

Chris dangles his legs over the bar, the tea a medicinal effluvia of wet twigs. He scratches his scuff.

“Knew her in Santa Cruz. She’s down here now. Thought things could maybe work out.”

He shakes his head. “Didn’t work out, but…” he trails off, touches his chin to his chest and rubs the back of his head. He moves his hand to cover one eye, then looks up to grin impishly, holds the tea cup at chin-level.

“Whatever,” he finishes. He inhales a laugh, which has him rock in his perch briefly. He ponders a sip, rubs the side of his nose.

“Whatever.” He shakes his head and draws from his cup. “Ready for Italo’s class tomorrow?”

Italo would always pace the classroom while we worked. On unexpected days, he’d replace his belt with a braided rope. Always the same corduroys though, with wide waling and three colors of brown flecking the pants, cuffs ragged at the bottom. He invariably wore burnt marshmallow loafers, like some Calabrian Bilbo Baggins.


His off-campus studio was set up in an abandoned water tower, a galvanized cylinder where you could walk literal circles around your work. It was junked up with monkey-men and chains and salvage-yard finds.

“That is DOPEY,” he’d berate a student occasionally. “You’re not dopey. Why do you make dopey?”

Like when I first came to New York. I thought: why does everyone in America like yellow so much? Yellow is the worst color, so dopey, but all these cars. Yellow. Why?”

He’d slap Chris upside the head.


Chris would grin, and duck accordingly.

“Just exploring the media, Prof,” he’d say as excuse, squishing clay into another unrecognizable mess.

“They were taxis! I thought everyone just liked yellow cars. You people. But I like your UPS trucks, you know. UPS brown: THAT is a fantastic color. Should all taxis be like that.”

I look up at Chris, flinging Art in America onto the coffee table. “Yeah—I finished up my ready-mades. Still have that wire sculpture left to do.”

smoke-17Crickets chirp in chorus with the ceiling fan,  a thrumming of regular noise, which by its constancy, fakes a rise and fall in pitch, white noise pretending grey. The fan pulses, less helicopter than suggested; it’s the consistent buzzing of a streetlamp, the drone of a heater pushing air through the vents. The fan swings on its swivel.

Chris ponders his tea, and points.

“Rauschenberg erased that DeKooning drawing, remember?”

I nod.

“Took one of DeKooning’s drawings and fucking erased it. Signed his own name in the corner.”dekooning

“Balls.” I again nod.

“Erased DeKooning,” he repeats. “Man, that is balls. Better than Duchamp’s urinal.

“My work is going nowhere, you know,” Chris continues, tapping a spoon on the counter. “Maybe I should just erase all of it, too. You can sign your name. I’ll go to Europe or something.” He tosses a spoon into the sink where it noisily lands face-down.

“Maybe Prague. I hear it’s happening.”

Chris died on a Praha street; in actuality he died in the bar, but his life escaped him on the street, that moment he crumpled and wondered, on hands and knees, what had hit him exactly—what was fastly deleting him. No blood, just a purpling contusion that surrounded his brain stem, making him less likely to breathe, more likely to sleep.

When you don’t what’s hit you, there’s nothing to struggle against. It’s the cheapest, least fulfilling manner out.

Chris sighs. “Karen—I really like her. But,” he shrugs, “Guess that ship has sailed.” He looks bothered for a second, then perks up.

“Wanna beer or something?”

“No—‘m good.”

Chris hit his head on the bar once, fell bodily, pulled himself up a second time and managed a drunkard’s posture with brow resting against crossed forearms, body slung over a stool. He turned his head to exhale, letting his right ear fall into the recess of his elbow.

The end of the bar was hinged, south of a football jersey stapled against the wall, number 38, red and black, the colors which shifted as Chris nestled deeper into his forearm.

Red. Purple.

The colors blurred as his vision faded, pupils dilating.

Please, back to red and black, please not purple, please, back to red, don’t. The number three, no eight, please don’t

“Buddy. BUDDY.” The bartender nudged Chris’ shoulder and Chris’ head slipped its hold, his nose falling bent against the bar. His mouth fell slack.

Purple and royal oblivion.

Chris was served an absinthe, on the house, while his cheeks turned a darker shade.


Italo was still lecturing the merits of tempera, but, seeing Chris’ gaze, Italo interrupted himself. “Here, here, here. Have some more bagel.”

Chris picked at the crumbs, dislodged a cranberry for inspection.

“Purple is dopey. Make nothing dopey. Purple is the worst color, hard to erase.”  He situated his demitasse next to a small plate.

“Whatever color–it must be erasable.” He crossed his arms. “There are colors you can’t forget; to be forgettable is the way to memory.” Chris sighed and pushed himself forward in his chair, bent at the waist, elbows on knees. He looked up.

“Do you ACTUALLY believe yourself, Italo?” Christopher asked, smiling, before flicking the cranberry to the floor.

Italo leaned back in his chair. “I remember all the taxis,” he laughed, “But also I don’t. You see?”taxis

Andy stokes the fire pit, and the embers match the orange sky. He rakes the coals to either side, watches them wither from black to white. There is the snap of mesquite releasing its hidden syrup and the brushing of the grill. There’s waiting for the fire to extinguish and the subsequent delivery of smoke, the smoke that eventually wafts past the porch and lingers in the gable as parcel to the morning. The mockingbirds have stopped; now the juncos, now the crows.

Karen told me that Chris was gone, years ago. I met her in line at the coffee shop, and it was an accidental conversation that led me to draw connection.

“You knew Christopher?”

“He was my roommate.” She looked down while worrying her hair with long and remarkable fingers. She bit her lip and readjusted her bookbag.

“We should sit.”

The eucalyptus creaked their sympathies while Karen delivered her postcard of regret over madeleines. Twice she offered condolences. Her fingers touching my shoulder.

“His parents were a wreck.”

“I imagine. Goddamn.”

“You ok?”



“Nothing.” I open my mouth to speak, but settle on breathing.

The smoke eventually rediscovers the coals, dies down to just an accordion wave of heat that radiates from the grill. I think about Chris–Fisher was his last name, that much I remember. I always have a hard time remembering his face, though. The crows pick through palm nuts as if imagining there’s food buried deep within, their feet losing traction on slippery fronds. Cars are stopped, there is the scent of tea; there is signal of a present tense, and the morning begins and begins and begins again. blue smoke