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Joni Mitchell- Blue


A brown painting took up an entire wall in my grandmother’s art gallery where I worked while I was in college. I’d gone up and down those stairs hundreds of times and never noticed it. I knew it was there with the rote awareness that lunch was at one o’clock and that my grandmother loved me.

One day after the same lunch, the same grandmother, different art but the same artists overly concerned with inches, I gasped, mid-step up where it hung over the turn of staircase while I carried down a plate of crusts and the crumby rules of a cookie. (Pepperidge Farm, white chocolate macadamia nut—just one—-my grandmother instructed, be able to touch your toes at sixty-five, she said. Every day make sure you can reach down to your toes.)

The canvas was a singular shade of brown splattered with gold and black, a whip of red infected the top left quadrant, but the red so swallowed up by brown exhausted itself: hunger accusing satisfaction of its murder.

The painter’s name was Jim Bird and is titled “Blue.” I loved it before I knew its name, but even more once I understood its identity: a spot of blue had been inexplicably dropped in the midst of a grim, shapeless landscape. All this available space, and there it had landed. Delicate yolk caught mid-shiver in an airless cosmos. At once an accident and the entire point—an atheist shaking a scientific fist at a nun who serenely nods across the shared puddle of their improbability. The painting never sold, but I remember its price: $8,000—which seemed like part of the art—tipped up infinity symbol trailed by a wake of nothingness.


I am over a series of tiny islands in between Puerto Rico and the southern tip of Florida. I can see the color of the sea change as it shallows and erupts into outright land, the sand notion of a nose and tail whilst cinched in the middle. These islands are a retired person’s slender hole from tee to green. I nudge my boyfriend out of his crossword puzzle and ask, “what do you call it, in golf, the space of land between when you hit the ball and the goal?”

“A hole,” he says, not looking up.

“No,” I say, “I mean the whole thing. What do you call those things numbered one through eighteen on a course? Pars, or whatever.”

“A hole,” he says a little louder. His blue rimmed glasses drop from his forehead to his nearsighted eyes and he looks at me as though this should make sense: an entire landscape from the whack of the ball to where it sinks, an intricately navigated journey named for its hollow goal.


You told me it was an orange tree, but the fruit was so small and timidly green, it had to be lime. But then that tree made a perfect orange which ripened right over the chair where you sat every night and ate dinner and drank Spanish wine until it was time for a Rusky—White Russians you prepared in tall plastic Quik Trip cups—which we sipped as we stumbled upstairs to the bedroom—then sex, cigarette-butt flicking contest out the window, and then back into bed where you’d put your left ear on my belly and listen to the ocean and I’d write notes on your back with my fingertips and you’d guess every letter until you had a whole sentence to recite to me and when you got it right, I’d poke a period with my finger. I never felt you move, but in the morning your back would be turned toward me and I’d fall back asleep reading the sentences I’d written between your freckles.

The next morning the ice had melted a shameful foam atop our Ruskies. The sun rose over Camelback Mountain and hissed through the break in the curtains which quieted when your silhouette leaned over in a collared shirt, kissed smoke on my lips. After you’d leave, I’d dump the milk in the bathroom sink and wipe the wet rings they left on the bedside tables. Then I’d go hunt for our cigarette butts on the patio, turn the garden hose to drip into the base of the orange tree and arrange your chair to sit just under the bending limb where an orange hovered mid-air like a grenade. Your own private sun.

It was my idea that it would fall on your head, but you agreed to it. Every night, we waited for it to drop. “It’s going to happen tonight. I can feel it.”

You said, “Oh Holly, maybe then I’ll get a clue.” That’s when I stretched my legs across your lap, and that’s when I knew.


You called me one afternoon, six months after I’d moved back home, and solemnly informed me that you’d found it that morning. Unwitnessed and alone, the orange had fallen, thumped once on the tile and rolled over on its side. The aloe plant was slowly growing out its blue spines in the dark. The cat who’d chewed it into bleeding nubs had come back with me. The sun rose early between the hip and the shoulder of Camelback Mountain, and you woke due to a slim break between the curtains. On the bedside table, a wet ring warped the wood .

I never thought to ask you if you ate it. Nor did I imagine that you’d picked it up and tossed it in the bin where I’d thrown out the pink wig, the blindfold, a pair of unlocked handcuffs. The false incarnations with which we had seduced each other mated with rubbish into brown slush. What I did ask about was the hummingbird who lived in the orange tree but had disappeared when the landscaper pruned it. The hummingbird moved away, its home severed, and I’d missed it terribly. I’d named it Jim Bird, after the painter. You hadn’t seen Jim, you reported, but the branches had grown out.

“They’ll come prune it soon.”
“Why is it called pruning, no matter what fruit it is?” I asked.
A cork pulled from the throat of bottle of wine.
“What grape? Rioja or a Malbec?”
Our phone dates were the length of a bottle of wine, sometimes two. We always poured the next glass at the same time, and we’d devolve into the vacant promise that we’d never love anyone again as we loved each other. You’d admit that you had checked what Delta wanted for a one way ticket from here to back to there. “What do we do?” I’d ask. I had you almost where I wanted you, standing at one of those plotted intersections in Phoenix, the crossroad between the price and its cost. Wild aloe, dehydrated plan.

“Holly, I know I need to catch up,” you said, pouring a glass.
Everything had 8,000 meanings, infinity turning up its nose at a wake of nothing.


Across the continent, three hours in the future and exactly one thousand, eight hundred fifty two miles away, I rested on my heels in a chair where I poured my own glass and held the shell of you up to my ear. Has it gotten dark there yet? I asked. Not quite, you said. Well, when it does, you will see the moon is almost full. A curve of it is missing like someone took a bite.

You mentioned that it had briefly rained.

“You love it when the rain starts.”
“And I hate when it stops.” 

This is the real name of Jim Bird’s painting, “Blue,” but no one should speak it.

The satisfaction of art is nonverbal. Once you see it, it’s gone; a brief snap of the tongue revolts and notifies the back teeth to crush into extinction the memory of having craved. Hunger as funeral for the meal.

The satisfaction of love is when someone else speaks your native language and chooses to name the whole world made of brown for the tiny puddle of you.

Josh Ritter- Change of Time


Letter to Four Year Old Holly From Forty Year Old Holly: 
You will never forget the smell of  lightning bugs in Hellman’s mayonnaise jars with holes poked in the tin tops so they could breathe, a stick and a few blades of grass arranged like garnish, for their comfort. But you will stop reaching for them, making your palms a cup, pouring them gently into their new home so you could watch them blink until they surprised you by dying. Their bellies don’t stop lighting up when they die. It’s worse. The glow preservers but weakens. They stop blinking. You learn that whatever it is that keeps them alive darkens last.

You will inherit your mother’s legs. They are long, but you will be a terrible soccer player. You will also not become a ballerina. I’m sorry about that. But in the kitchen, you will use the handle of the oven to plie while inside something bakes for someone you love who will later break your heart.

The chicken pox won’t be nearly as terrifying as you thought. Just itchy. You will love gameshows for a whole week.

When you are ten you will write a love poem to Charlie Holloway and your teacher will read it to the entire class and make an announcement that you are all too young to love anyone like that. On the other hand, by ten you will have written that poem using “roses are red and violets are blue” and only you knew that you were being ironic. Only you. You will keep many secrets to yourself. You will turn them into better poems and you will hope that you have obscured yourself just enough to become widely read, but revealed something private to the only person who rhymes with blue.

On your first date, you will see a movie called Hairspray. You will forget that you have an open box of cinnamon candy in your lap, and they will spill everywhere when you stand up. This embarrassment is almost as unbearable as the fourth grade love poem. So, you will pack up all of your stuffed animals in boxes and move them out of your room. Of course, then you will move them back in, and apologize to each of them individually. You know you will have to pack them up again someday. Their soft souls have ripened to cotton stuffing. But not yet, holly. They’re still glowing.

At thirteen, you will make a big mistake that involves a hair permanent, blue eye shadow, and a naive understanding of the length of you uniform skirt. But you will roll your skirt until someone can hem it. You will take an iron to your hair and straighten yourself out. I wish I could tell you that you asserted yourself and didn’t care what everyone thought, but you did. Don’t worry. Later, this self-consciousness will evolve into compassion. You still owe an apology to at least three old friends who didn’t care about your awkward appearance for dropping them in favor of gaining popularity.  At least that many people owe you apologies for bullying you in to it.

You will start drinking vodka. You will wear Doc Martens and smoke Marlboros and dye your hair black. Your English teacher will be concerned. You let him read the short stories you don’t tell anyone else you write everyday when you get home from school instead of doing homework. You will disappoint your father deeply for getting a C in history. He will learn to sigh when you start to fail math.

Everyone will think you’re a lot of fun at parties, but comment on how you don’t really inhale your cigarettes. You will inhale cigarettes furiously.

Your first love has no idea who you are. But, listen, he will eventually show up and sing Pearl Jam songs in your bedroom. The next time you see him he will walk up to you and ruffle your hair and say, “hey, kid.” One year later, he will come on stage with your high school choir as an alumni and free his hands to applaud by putting the program in his mouth and he will drop it like a leaf—your name is printed on it—to the ground. You will lift it as you walk offstage and save the paper where his teeth marks are imprinted and keep it in a box forever. When you are seventeen, he will put a gun in the same mouth that kissed yours and pull the trigger.

You will spend six years of your life with his best friend who will lie to you so many times that you think you are the lie. So you write fiction, and you win a prize. You read it at a gallery for an audience. Afterward, your friends will take you to celebrate. You will trip over the amp in front of the performing musician and fall on your face.

You will marry a musician who drinks too much and falls on his face. Then you will swear off musicians. You will move to Arizona to live with a man you’ve fallen in love with. You will begin 59 stories about him and only reach fourteen before he sends you back home. You will swear off stories.

You will unswear off musicians and spend seven years with a member of your favorite band, the one who changed your life so much your response was to decorate your walls with their posters, scribble into a journal, and consider yourself, for the first time, yourself. You will travel all over the world with him. You will love him so much you will forget who he is and who he was, taped on your walls. You will forget yourself. Your outside world will be so outrageous you will think you don’t need notebooks. You will stop scribbling.

You will have really good friends. Two of them live so close you know when they sleep because their home goes dark while you’re outside writing with a beer and a candle and an ashtray. You’re trying to quit. I wish I could tell you that you are going to get old. I wish I could have you run through the ABCs and have you stop at yoga. Skip the vodka. Cheer for the lungs who wouldn’t inhale. But, here we are. I look at you, and you couldn’t see me. It occurred to you that you would grow up, and you looked forward to it.  Everything you were afraid of, you counted on me to prepare you for. No one told you or me that nothing changes. You don’t grow up. You just get taller.

You will love and need your parents as desperately at forty as you do now. Your little brother will remember you back when the television remote control was proof that you are just an asshole who loves the Smurfs. He will also remember the names of your stuffed animals, and things no one but us will ever believe happened like the time Doggie Butter turned into birds, how we tested our psychic skills by trying to guess a number between 1-1000 and only remember the times we got it right. You will look for proof of you everywhere and find it all behind you. Your mother will keep singing her mantra, “your mommy always loves you.” You will understand now when Dad said, “I will always catch you if you fall” not to test him by jumping off a wall and skinning your knees on concrete. They will prove this. They will prove this so many times you won’t begin to know how to thank them except to rearrange the ABCs in such an order that they might be proud.

You won’t be happy, and that’s the only thing I’d never tell you, because you wouldn’t understand. You will disappoint yourself with tiny choices that will have lifelong consequences. If I told you, you’d never have worn that crown or that smile, so proud to make it four whole years. You wouldn’t make it to forty and still be wild. I could never explain that you were going to fail at who you meant to be, and that this would be something magnificent. Your penmanship isn’t going to improve much, but oh, the things you will scribble.

Eighty year old Holly, if she makes it, will have some things to say to forty year old Holly. I expect her to love every wrinkle scribbled on her face. To accept death. To say with more gumption than I can muster now things about love and loss which are too late to apply, but just in time for all of us to laugh about together. I can’t imagine her anymore than you could have possibly imagined about me when you were four. But I promise you that I understand something, a little more now about what you used to know: it was wrong, what you did to those fireflies, but how else would we ever know our secrets glow long after we suffocate them.  How could I tell you what time will do to you, how your whole life will be a love letter, and that it will be read in front the entire class, but only you will inhale the breaths from the poked holes in the top of a jar and that everything you add to it: the heartbreak and the mistakes and the triumphs, are just garnish. For your comfort. So that you, in between blinks, believe you’re home. And so it glows.

Perfume Genius- Too Bright

Someone has figured out what happens when you build a room with mirrors on the ceiling, the walls, and the floor and nothing else in it. The room is pitch black. Someone else stuck a light in that same room and the mirror reflected the light forever, like a hallway Einstein might have dreamt. When this physicist turned off the light, it appeared to go out and then out and then out on and on forever, just like what happens after we die. Somewhere out there, the light still has an attosecond, another has a picosecond, another has a millisecond, and so on. Just like what happens when we live.

When you put an object in that room, it is stuck like a portrait: cattle lowing at another dawn, the shrill wince of a silver bowl devoted to fruit, the cello-shaped woman whose back must hold her entire history. Still lives. Just like how we commit our memories, leaving them behind while we shine on.

Until now, the last post on Seamstress for the Band was about looking for something that may not exist and never finding it. In case this is the last post, I wanted to leave you finding something, even if it’s the same thing, again and again and again. A room filled with music bouncing off the walls, the shadows and angles of two women trying to write outside the box, a chair for you here, and the light left on.

Perfume Genius – Too Bright

posted by holly.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being the light.

Bob Schneider- Changing Your Mind




The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization recommends when collecting evidence of his existence: “one should photograph each footprint individually. Place something common next to it, like a soda bottle or a pack of cigarettes to indicate size and dimension. Do your best to preserve the integrity of the scene. Try to photograph the prints in sequence, as they walked from where they were, to where they went.”

As with any myth or hoax, there will always be people who hunt for proof of its reality, swallowed as it may be in drifts of snow, or doctored by technology to suggest a thing far more important to any of us than the truth: what was, what could have been, the necessity of its lingering possibility.

Call us scientists. Call us seekers and fools. We’ll assert the existence of the Abominable Snowman by the glacier of ice melting like a crisis in the center of a puddle of water, the weight of Sasquatch sunk in the dirty depth of his footprint. He was here, but he melted. He was here, but he walked away. You just missed him.

But you emptied your pockets of their contents and scattered them around his print to prove how small they are. How close you were to him. You planted your soda bottle and your pack of cigarettes as proof of habits you’d quit, and you Photoshopped your own footsteps not hesitating toward the puddle. Your wish to remain theoretical is as apparent as the documentation of your attempts to be found and just as easily dismissed as a hoax. It’s better this way. To almost-exist is to be forgotten just enough to remain desired.

This way, you are frozen mid-step like a woman in a stained glass window affixed in a church wall. A sea snake licks at your bare feet which are pruned and blue. Your smile disappears into your right cheek, teeth coppery as flattened pennies on the curve of a railroad track through Missouri. This way, that red dress floats on the surface of the water, fluid around your neck and Elizabethan. This way, your head stays above water and the black hair slicked like seaweed around your face comes alive underwater in flocks like interrupted birds and shields your body. No one ever sees your nudity but someone out there claims to have proof, and he finds you everywhere.


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posted by holly.

Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling- The Water


Sinking has its own treasures, as you might imagine, if you don’t already know, and I hope you don’t. A boat sunk shimmers only because anything would under the pursuit of algae. Inside that ship blue dishes and yellow chairs still invite guests to dinner and serve only vegetables: moss and promises. It lies so still that life congregates around it and has a blue meeting about this object that seems unafraid of them, presents no signs of danger, and whose slow bubbles refute their religion which doesn’t believe in air, and then becomes their church. Long-nosed fish dart in and out the hole that sunk the whole thing, that hello-echo that opened a whole ear.  A claw from the sand reaches toward it, a better shell, and when it falls apart the crab learns to have faith in sideways. An eel slips freely inside its sockets. A predator discovers the home of all the creatures whose life depended on finding one. Over it, the ocean shrugs.

It is your fault that you can love someone only as long as the lifespan of her myth. It is mine that I can only love while I remain one. Whatever I was, my wings or scales or lungs have decayed and become a thing for divers: old plans frozen in time for slick people wearing masks and breathing from tanks who discover how much air matters. Think of every creature which doesn’t exist and how much they relied on air in order for no one to believe in them. That is how slim a sip I get.

I have loved you with the certainty of the freight on an unsinkable ship and with the blinking eye on the other end of the periscope on the lookout for icebergs. I have loved you also with the absurdity of chandeliers dangling over underwater tables. I have loved you amphibiously, with the legs of evolution and the scales of preservation. I alternated between those two things, and my heart became a beached shack set up for tourists who are hungry or want a souvenir just down from yours which offers the same fluorescent t-shirts. We advertise with competing banners flown in the wake of small planes off the coast toward those well-oiled people who either haven’t yet been burned or who think they can swim. I promise a free hermit crab with purchase. You offer a string of dissonant wind chimes made from their shells, and we make them choose a religion.


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Graham Nash- Sleep Song


At night, I banter with the zebra who has lost its bones and uses my bedroom ceiling to maintain its stripes through the blinds. The glass of water I’ve arranged in case I get thirsty sits in front of the digital clock, and I never drink from it; it has been poisoned like holy water by electric blue fingers: the smug tadpole tails of sevens, the top box of an eight, three resolving its psychic complex of being half of the eight like the twin of a stillborn. The zeros fill the cup and light up the room. I change my shape too. I am a ball. Then, I am a starfish who loves her space. I am a long smooth flute imagining which holes would make what sounds if some shadow were to come through the blinds and close them.

I still have things left to tell you, so I tell the whole room. Do you worry that death is black like sleep without dreaming, and still we are blind the whole time we are alive? Did you know that our bones will be called fossils one day? My foot has twenty-six fossils, for example. That foot sleeps. I think of our fossils when I’m not asleep, when I’m digging us back up, when I’m burying us, when I’m breathing into the mouth of the space that used to be between us and begging it to cough up the ocean.

I tell a story about us that never ends. We are protected by a red rope and a sign that says, “do not touch.” We are glued together. No one believes we really existed, but they marvel at the certainty imposed by our spines. Someone who has volunteered her time explains that we were discovered on the ceiling and it took a long time to put us together. “They had stripes,” she will tell a hive of pupils who have eyes that see in the dark. They imagine us having stripes. They dream we walked, that our bones didn’t need glue and stayed together by their own wet magic. These simple, stupid creatures were once awake and now with hollow sockets, they stare into each other. Skulls, the volunteer volunteers, referring to our time. Somewhere in water, you swim toward me in the shape of a three. I light up, half an eight.


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posted by holly.

James Blake- A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover)


If I was looking for proof of us, our fingerprints would be on nothing. If they marked the skin of a tomato, we’d have cut it up and reduced it to juice for a sauce. If they were once on the window on the twelfth floor of that hotel room, housekeeping would have wiped them, and anyway it would have been only my palms splayed there. Your hands would have been on the square bones of my hips, those open windows. If they were on wine glasses we abandoned for each other, you’d have rinsed that evidence by morning while I cooked your peculiar eggs, a skill I learned quickly in order to demonstrate a case one wants to make but would prefer to keep circumstantial. If my fingerprints were on your body, you’d wash them even if I were in the same bath. Our crime is the absence of clues.

If we were looking for proof of us, we wouldn’t find a hair, though mine fall everywhere, stopping up your drains and dropping on your floors the thin map lines of a terrain that has a history of many names. I wipe them away best as I can, you know, so after I’m gone, I can meet you again without having just been seen in the sink.

If I were looking for footprints, I’d find none except where a certain pair of shoes has pocked your hardwoods all the way to the fireplace where I crouched to get warm, all the way to the piano where I plunked out the same three half-songs swearing I can finish if only I had the sheet music, all the way to that yellow chair  I imagined was a wild horse who would buck me off for leaning too far back, the chair I pretend I discovered and tamed, but eventually came to respect the rules of its balance. Then there are the places we can merely speculate I removed my shoes to confess: I’m staying.

If I had studied your case more diligently, I’d have known that the solution was the mystery, which is not the same as erasing a chalk outline the trapezoid shape of someone who clearly fell but insists she landed on her feet. If I’d not been so concerned with the accusation, I’d have left my fingerprints all over everything and hidden my hands. I’d have clogged your drains until the bath was as deep and unfathomable as the ocean. I’d have burned your eggs, unobservant of your customs, so that you would doubt my allegiance. I’d leave a trail of lipstick and hairpins like bread crumbs but I’d not wish for you to follow me. I’d expect you to keep them sealed and stored in case I came back and you could offer evidence that I left. Then I would pour them out as proof that I didn’t.


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The Low Anthem- Oh My God Charlie Darwin


I dislike people as a general rule. People are things ahead of you in line, stealing the cab you hailed, shoving past you, inflicting their neuroses upon you like black magic. I think most people dislike other people. It’s why we misuse car horns, our elbows and wear sunglasses in the shade. It’s also why people consider New York City to be the greatest city in the world. Everyone is bothered, and everyone suspects that they are bothering everyone else. There is a peace about that understanding, as there is in any understanding. Keep moving or be moved.

Sometimes when in a crowd I pretend I love everyone. I take in a deep breath and exhale like it’s a good spell. It hurts really bad like sunburn, or like not having skin at all. I played this game Friday night. Oh, it was a crowded and loud swirling soup of the worst chaos.  While I was still pretending that I loved everyone, the bartender pointed at me; I nodded over to the guy next to me and said, “he was here first.” Turns out, we were drinking the same potion. We knocked our plastic cups together. For that second, our only second, he was a member of my tribe. He offered a familiar gesture that acknowledged that I’m reasonable concerning the notion of fair.  I looked down from the balcony where the people had been shoving each other to see the stage.  If they were ever shoving–a hypothesis I now recant–they were now engaging in an act of using allotted space cooperatively in response to a shared stimulus. They were dancing.

Afterward, out on the street, a girl put her hands on the cab we had hailed. Her tribe got in a street fight with our tribe, and she shoved me. Then a civil war broke out in my tribe. Too much potion.

The next morning the sun was too bright, and I needed to walk. I couldn’t even think about my game. People were mass. There is a place in Union Square that I imagine belongs to me. I hated a slow man shuffling into the intersection while talking quietly into his wrist. I made up a mean story about him, a spaceship, and inadequate mental health care. Once he was out of my way, I saw that he was comforting  a green bird perched on his arm. Still, people were things buying young trees in pots and bottles of fresh cider, local honey and wine. People had short dogs that I almost stepped on. People were holding hands and taking up too much horizontal space. People were rising up on me like they were on escalators while I was trying to get down. Keep moving or be moved, I thought.

Eight hare krishna monks had folded their bodies on a blanket and were chanting with drums and tingshas.  A man wearing blue jeans and a saxophone stood by them and played jazz along with their hare ramas. They were from very different tribes, but there was only space for one noise. Imagine it, if you can, a sad sax working with happy monks, the discipline of monks cheering along the renegade of jazz. I stopped moving. I took off my sunglasses so I could hear them better. I needed a moment so desperately that I almost mistook reality for desire. I almost made up bad stories about cults and upside down hats meant for heads but beg for dollars instead. I almost forgot about pretend-love because nothing will make you feel so alone as letting yourself believe for a minute that you aren’t, and it hurts like sunburn–getting that close (or whatever word is so opposite to distance that space isn’t even implied) to light (or whatever word is so opposite to existence that you or I don’t even apply.) People captured the moment with cellphone cameras. Their hands raised up in the air like submarine periscopes so their future eyes could spy on the event without the threat of  having actually been there–the far left jazz player blowing at the ground to the monk at the right with the bells and his smile directed at the sky. Their whole human span, a crowd raised up their machines.  I just got really badly sunburned, and I wasn’t even trying to love everyone.

The slow man and the green bird strolled by like familiar aliens. The bird had a white ribbon tied from her foot to his finger.  She opened her wingspan full length but she didn’t try to fly anywhere.


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From the album, Oh My God Charlie Darwin: Oh My God Charlie Darwin - The Low Anthem


posted by holly.

John Prine- Hello in There


There is a woman who never had pets or children but she owns three brooms. Each broom serves a purpose. One solves the leaves in the fall and the pollen in the spring. One solves the grains of rice and the kitchen crumbs. And one keeps everything else out, things try to follow her in on her shoe soles and bits of wrapping she’s picked off the mouthwash, the dish soap, the juice–those proofs that no one else has touched the content of things.

There is this woman who has never petted her dog because she hasn’t the need for a dog. Petting a dog opens the dog. She has never had a lover. The body preserves itself, but a dent to the heart, that aluminum can of cream of childhood soup, can cause paralysis.

She tries to take as few breaths as possible. Trees recklessly emit oxygen. They’re always taking the carbon dioxide we grant by snoring away. So she daren’t sigh over a thought as it is misuse, a steal for a nearby tree. She does not allow anything to make her gasp. Once she took a city walk that lead to an underpass where someone had graffitied that last line from an e e cummings poem: for life is not a paragraph and death i think is no parenthesis. She sneaked a little extra air. She always liked cummings; he seemed to understand that capital letters and punctuation were inefficient seals.  But she caught herself. It wasn’t a full gasp, just the hollow event that suggests a gasp before the claws grasp the rim of the can. She had vowed not to give her air, her ethics dictated that she also oughtn’t take too much of it (no matter how altered she was at the suggestion that she wasn’t suspended in the silk of parenthesis.)

One broom, the one that solves the leaves and the yellow dust, ushered the projectile masturbation of her neighbor’s oak right into the center of her yard and made it have sex. She didn’t notice it for two years: a frail fawn, knobby-kneed, trusting the partners both under the seal of grass and beyond the seal of blue sky which asserts that the earth its own thing and not star-struck. You’d expect, now knowing more of herself than she does but understanding her commitment, that she’d chop it down like an invading weed, but she didn’t. She watched it for a length of time if time could be measured in wide miles and not the ironed clock-pleats of minutes. She watched it for stretches. It reached as tall as the eye of a spiderweb outside the lower right window pane. She watched through the woven fly before and after it was devoured. The spider dismantled her structure, or perhaps it just disappeared on its own. After a burying snow and its depletion, the tree was as tall as the top pane of glass.  She also cooked soup and soaped her hair, rinsed the suds, mopped linoleum, left a check at Christmas for the postman, went to the bathroom, scratched a bite, called a plumber, deposited checks and bought noodles. In other words, she wasn’t watching the tree, or observing herself observing the tree or observing herself overlooking a web. But soon she had to crane her neck. Then she had to squint to see its tip. All this nonsense had accumulated around it, droppings and moltings and movings on of its own doing, so she swept it away at the base until its trunk was flush with the grass. She beat down the ivy crawling toward its throat, batted away a woodpecker attempting to break its seal.



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posted by holly.

Nick Drake- Things Behind the Sun


A man pushes a cart down the sidewalk lifting the back two wheels over the patch of broken cement where the rain and the wet leaves collect. That swamp is there no matter how long a drought has lasted, so he’s named it Swamp de Leon as it comes just before the intersection of Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon. In the south, Ponce and Swamp almost rhyme. He calls the cracks by their names as they stump the cart, “well, hello to you too, harry!” “That’s a mighty firm handshake you got there, emily.” “Horace, it seems your family has grown since last time I saw you.” And so forth.

There is a dead cat in the bed of the spruce trees that give privacy to a condominium complex. Her mouth gapes three teeth, the crooked keys of a last chord. Someone had tucked her in with a kitchen towel which meant someone was sorry.

It isn’t time for popsicles yet, but there is a festival half a mile up the road filled with people and outdoor music and sloshy plastic beer cups that will all end up flat like lily pads in Swamp de Leon. He pushes on toward the music and the matchstick people who are just a little too chilly to crave a popsicle, but just hungry enough for spring to buy one. Most currency isn’t in exchange for what a person wants right here and now anyway, but for something from the time and place they wish they were, the closest thing they can get to what they really wish. Otherwise, someone would smooth over the sidewalk so it didn’t feel so much like rolling wheels over the surface of the moon. Someone wouldn’t have blanketed the cat who has no need to stay warm. Otherwise, the man with the cart would have no customers paying for ice. Especially the children want ice just like they want their faces painted like cats and ladybugs and a balloon from another man who has pushed his cart from the other direction. He names the clouds along his way and then sells plots of air in the sky.


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posted by holly.