She seemed older but then again not. It was something about her mouth and her confidence that projected maturity — the expression of her lips, maybe? She sat with a slight slouch, but then again there was elegance.

Clearly you can tell that she was foreign: she spoke in her native tongue with an older woman across the table who appeared to be her mother. But outside of that, she had a relaxed boldness that American girls just don’t seem to have.

Cold-weather gathering

She had a cocktail in a plastic cup, and I remember her nose was a sort of red.

She wore a blue denim jacket at her house party and didn’t care.

The one thing I remember about her was her curls. I remember their frizziness, like if you washed a doll’s hair and just left it as is.

Her apartment floors had old linoleum, and the rooms were low-lit and looked comfortable. Everyone seemed to be happy.

She had an interest in me, and we both liked the Beatles’ White Album. We had discussed it at the student union. Continue reading “Cold-weather gathering”

Out on the town

How’s this for the first line of a short story?

“They couldn’t avoid being slobs at the restaurant table during their first date.”

I mean, anything can happen after that. Just anything. But I like it ’cause right off the bat it’s a predicament.

We could make these two people horny as fuck. And you know where it would go from there. Someone passes the ketchup, and then one thing leads to another. Mayhem. Half-cooked hamburger meat and everything else. Pickles. Soda. Hot sauce, for crying out loud.

Or perhaps they are guests at a wedding where lobster is being served. Assuming it’s a woman and a man, the woman would have to wrangle with the shell to exhume the meat, which may or may not look appealing to the male. Maybe the woman’s hands might look too masculine, or maybe she has really short nails, and the fact that she is digging into something moist and fleshy makes them look all the worse. And the guy — maybe he can’t bust open the shell. Or he gets stabbed by a claw and makes a big deal over it. Walks around in a huff looking for the first-aid kit and such. Yells at the waiter. The woman’s father shaking his head disapprovingly. Nobody getting any that night.


they had a long conversation over coffee at the coffee place. Uninterrupted eye contact. She was leaning toward him, hunched over the table. He was leaning back in his chair — reclining almost, wearing pricey sweats, footies and Nike SBs. She was in a dishy black dress and pumps, had big eyelashes on. She had long hair, nearly down to her butt, but she still managed to make a bun on top of her head, as in ancient Rome like a patrician. A participant of taxpayer-supported orgies. The guy, meanwhile, looked delighted. His nose was long and sharp. He had a maniacal smile. He showed her a photo on his cellphone. She laughed, mouth wide, in a deriding way.  She was playing with her hair. He was gesturing, attempting to look sincere. She concurred. Leaned in toward him and laughed. She went to pee and then came back and nursed the last of her water. His macchiato was now just a puddle of foam and ice. They stared at each other, wordless. She tapped her upper lip with the tip of her finger, smirking at him, playing at suspicion.

The mushroom lady

The mushroom lady is afoot after a winter-long downtime. She has the air of someone who worked in retail or perhaps an administrative office in a grade school. In her Old Navy shorts and button-down shirt and her hair done like Margaret Thatcher, she prowls the grounds of the apartment complex for sprouts of fungi. Then she sits on the ground and tears away tufts of the lawn like a kid in a sandbox.
Did her line of work have her yanking out hair of her own?
Or maybe she suffered a broken heart?
A widow, sometimes she uses
her two small dogs as a ruse
to go digging for mushrooms
more than once a day, the
yield stashed in a plastic
bag in lieu of poop,
which she allows
the dogs to do,
but she does
not bother

Woman in black

A husky nun I saw while buying some lunch:
  • Ashen hair in the style of Pontius Pilate.
  • Scowling, looking like she was there to settle a score.
  • Necklace draped over her large bosom like a tassel.
  • Its silver cross pendant outside her blouse.
  • As if she expected to encounter vampires during the day’s travels

His place at the table

He smelled of deli smock — an amalgam of lunch meat, pork and musty dairy. Small brown puddles on the lid of his McDonald’s coffee cup shook precariously when he set it down inches from my elbow. He had thick-rimmed glasses on, and his eyes were hunkered down somewhere distant beneath his frontal bone. He made a humming sound when I spoke — a nervous tick? — and even in repose, his nose wheezed like a dog’s old chew toy.

eyelashes fit for marlene

She held her Chablis and sipped over her double Ds during her solo lunch at the Vietnamese bistro, placing onto the rim of her glass her two lips plumped with Restylane then fluttering a set of eyelashes worthy of the iconic Marlene, who, coincidental to our little rhyming scheme, had her film debut in 1930. Continue reading “eyelashes fit for marlene”

like gingerbread

Your fingers smell like gingerbread
Did you know that?
Which makes me suspicious because you don’t bake
And you are graying prematurely on your head
Which puzzles me, you being in your 20s
Your father, meanwhile, who is my boss, or was, is like jelly
or a wet washcloth on his leather chair on the porch
His hair is covered in fresh-fallen snow in upstate New York
I did not expect to see him like this Continue reading “like gingerbread”