Monthly Archives: December 2010

You’re not Reading This now

                                    “What we do in our dreams we also do when we are awake:

                                     we invent and fabricate the person with whom we associate-

                                     and immediately forget we have done so.”


We sleepwalk through the night

stepping in and out of the future like it’s presently the past

waking feeling cheated of what never was.

A third of our life


haunted by dreams

hunted by reality.

Dreaming we never dream we have the capacity

to turn around and chase the monsters back into their shadows

the alarm clock kills 


come crash landing into reality

with no black box to record the final seconds before impact

just drool on the pillow

and the airplane trails fade in morning clouds

back to yesterday is the same as the day

before  yesterday is the same as any day

before yesterday

today was yesterday tomorrow.

And you’re not reading this now

when you tell me about it tomorrow.

I knew you’d tell me you didn’t understand.

Art Imitates Art

Art loved to write. He loved words. There were certain words like, ‘aesthetic’ and ‘breath’ and even, ‘the’ that he loved more than any one he’d ever met. He loved having the power to control words and to give birth or kill whatever happened on the page. Art was a control freak with no friends.

Art lived for his writing and his writing lived for him. He could create stories about brave heroes slaying dragons, saving entire villages. He would write these stories alone on his bed in his tiny apartment, papers propped up on his knees. Art wrote his days and nights away, lost in worlds only he discovered. He had no intention to share anything, especially his writing. No one would understand and if they did, they’d hate it. He knew it. He wrote simply to indulge himself. He mocked the label, ‘self indulgent.’

“Of course I’m self indulgent, you idiots! You sadists all want your artists to suffer! I’m not suffering for any of you!” Art shouted at the chair. The chair kept its opinions to itself.  “And if I’m so self indulgent, why do I hate everything I do!” He threw his favorite quill pen at the wall, shattering it. “I’m in a rut! These are the same tired words over and over, only in different order! I suck cause I’m stuck!”

Art looked at the black ink stain the slain pen had left on the wall like blood splatter. It resembled the shape of Africa.

“I will go to Africa and rejuvenate my imagination!” he proclaimed to his fridge. His fridge hummed approval. He packed his bags, loaded with pens and paper, and booked a flight to Kenya.

He smiled the smile of a thousand secrets, when writing, ‘writer’ next to the word, ‘profession’ on the immigration card. It was the first time he’d been in print outside his own apartment.

Not knowing what to do, he hopped into the first taxi he saw, and told the driver, “Take me to your favorite place in Kenya!” Exhausted from the twenty hour flight, he immediately fell asleep. He awoke in a strange bed, in a strange room, surrounded by strange children who were yelling at each other to be quiet so the strange man can sleep. The taxi driver walked into the room, smiling and asked how Art had slept.

“How long’ve I been sleeping?”

The driver looked at his watch, scratched his nose and answered, “Two and a half days.”

Art shot up in bed. “My God! The fare!”

The driver, Ojami, laughed, waving him off. “Meter’s off, meter’s off. Sit, sit, would you like something to eat?”

Art was starving. “No, I should go.”

“No, no, sit, I will bring food. Stay, stay as long as you wish. No rush,” Ojami smiled. His children circled him in silence, slightly afraid, and equally in awe of this strange white man chewing on the sheet of their father’s bed.

Art was hungriest most of all to get writing. “No, thanks. I’ve gotta get going. I’ve got things to do!” Though he had no idea of what to do, or where to go. He got out of bed, fingered through his bag, seeing nothing was missing, hoisted it over his shoulder and walked to the door.

“My eldest son will be home soon from safari. I’m sure he’ll have many intersting stories to tell.”

“Don’t have time. Thank you. Gotta go see Africa. I came all this way, gotta get out and see Africa.” And he left, closing the door. An hour later the son, Mitjuju, came home to tell his spellbound family the story of discovering a root that could cure all cuts and bruises with a single touch, only to have it taken from him, along with his left leg by a tribe of pygmy cannibals, a tribe he’d only managed to escape after his Justin Bieber ring tone frightened the entire tribe literally to death. It was all just a tale, of course, both Mitjuju’s legs were accounted for on his person, but it was still a hell of a great story.

The mention of safari inspired Art to go on one of his own. He rented a guide named Tsbootoo. He told Tsbootoo, “Show me a lion! I want to shoot a lion like Hemingway!”

Tsbootoo drove into the heart of the jungle, passing by nature rich with life, flora, animals, rivers, none of which were seen by Art, as he had his head buried in his notebook writing a story about a writer writing about a writer on safari.

They made camp at dusk, Tsbootoo happily chattering away about the history of his country, his adventures as a guide, including a heartbreaking story of how his brother had been trampled while rescuing his son from a crash of rhinoceroses. Art tuned it all out, concentrating on the title of his next poem. He was stuck on, ‘Soft Mellons’, a title that made him blush. He feared his creative juices had run dry. He fell asleep beside the fire and dreamt of his empty apartment back home.

The next morning, Tsbootoo awoke Art, motioning for him to keep quiet.

“A lion, a lion,” Tsbootoo whispered.

 Art shook his head. “Not now. Get it to come back later.” Art closed his eyes and tried to fall back asleep. He found sleeping impossible due to the screams of the guide being eaten by the lion. Art opened his eyes, saw the terror he thought he’d been dreaming. He ran to the jeep. The doors were locked. The keys were in Tsbootoo’s pocket, which were now safely in the lion’s stomach.

Art climbed to the roof of the jeep and watched in awe as the lion chewed his guide to shreds. Never had he been so inspired and literally ached to transcribe the sanguinary sight into poetry.

When the lion had finished with the guide, it circled the jeep like a shark, blood dripping from its fur. Eventually it grew bored with the game and trotted off into the grass. Art scrambled down from the jeep and dug into his bag for pen and paper. Pocketing them and nothing else, he ventured into the grass, in the opposite direction of the lion, in hopes of finding the road that would lead back to civilization. He had no idea which way that could be, seeing as he had seen nothing but his notebook the entire ride in.

Weeks later his badly decomposed body was found, his eyes were missing, plucked out by vultures. The vultures, having no taste for poetry, had left behind an unfinished verse, found in Art’s remaining pocket.

                                                       A Poem In Celebration of the Food Chain.

 They say the pen is mightier than the sword,

but have you ever tried to slay a lion with a felt-tipped sword?

And what was I thinking trying to shoot a lion without a gun or camera?

And art, the life-blood of any culture, as essential as the aquaducts,

but, good God, you can’t drink ink, trust me, I just tried.

And after three days in the jungle, you’d eat a Picasso.

I wish I’d been more interested in the culinary arts than the arts arts.

Cooking steak tastes better, more fulfilling than writing, ‘cooking steak.’

I hope I’m as fulfilling for the next lion that comes along.

These words would eventually reach his older brother’s hands. His brother, after reading, could only sigh, “He never did know the damn difference between poetry and prose.”


Lifted Off a Cocktail Napkin at 10,000 Feet

Coming out of the clouds, about to touch down and taste land after a seven hour fast of sky, when the plane takes right off again, never touching tarmac, flying us back up to puffy clouds, too puffy to land on. And now we’re circling Madrid and my heart is racing my fear in a dead heat.

And the pilot tells us that the landing gear wasn’t “ready” and we’re circling now. Oh, and we’re told to “stay calm” in both English and Spanish.

I was calm till I was told to stay calm. I’ve never heard a pilot say that, or, anyone say that unless there was a genuine need to panic. So, all I can do is scribble on the back of this napkin, wishing I was more drunk, writing myself in this same scenario, so, I know it’s fiction, even when I know it’s not.

And looking around the cabin of the plane, I see people filling out their immigration cards, though, we’re not getting any lower, we’re just up here circling, and they’re not flying anyone up here to work on the landing gear. And I want another big fat wet drink and just for this split second I see how ridiculous it all is, all these cards and pillows and conversations about seeing girlfriends after months apart, and and and none of it is as important as landing gear. This is all we are. Circling the earth, praying for a soft landing.

And now we’re being told we’re giving it another go. Here we go, landing gear or bust. Everything we are, save our souls, is riding on good mechanics.


I don’t want to give away the ending so soon, but we just set down and no one clapped, or even blinked. We’re all trying to prove that we’re above the fear of flying. I’m not, writing through this was all I could do from unlocking my seatbelt and running up and down the aisles screaming of the dangers of unions and badly made landing gears. I never, till right this second, had thought or cared that if the plane had crashed, this napkin probably wouldn’t have made it. It didn’t concern me that the words wouldn’t have made it out alive, I just had to write. I’m glad I lived to tell the tale, though, more for the survival of me than this confession of sheer terror at 10,000 feet.

 Time to stuff this napkin in my pocket and let this feeling fade like airplane trails into sunset.

Thin Ice

‘Oh, shit, here she comes.’

It was too late to cross to the safety of the other side of the street. She’d been spotted. A wave, yes, she most definitely had been spotted.

‘Shit. Oh no, don’t hurry your pace to catch- she fell. Shit that looked painful.’

Emma ran to Susan who lay writhing on the sidewalk.

“You alright, Susan?”

“My knee…” Susan was fighting back tears and losing.

“Here, get up from the ice, you’ll freeze.” Emma offered her mittened paw, which Susan grasped with her naked hand, painted pale purple by the slap it took to the ice. She groaned in misery as she tried to take to her feet. Instead, she slipped again, toppling Emma on to her. Emma’s boney elbow jabbed Susan smartly on the side of her skull.

“Ow!” Susan cried.


“No, no, my fault. My fault.”

Both women pulled themselves off the ice on their own, gingerly.

“Sorry, I’m no good to you,” Emma said to Susan, as she rose to her feet, wincing.

“Forget it, it was my fault. I’m sorry I pulled you down on me.”

“I’m sorry about the elbow to the head.”

“Would you stop apologizing? It’s not your fault. Anyway, I’ll live.” Susan offered a little laugh as to prove it true.  “Where you going?”

“Nowhere. Home.”

“Wanna grab some cocoa? You in any rush?”

Her only rush was to get as far away from this woman as fast as possible. But, this would arouse suspicion. “No,” Emma answered without enthusiasm.

“Great! How bout cocoa?”

‘Cocoa. She even calls it, ‘cocoa’. She must be the only student in the country to invite another for a hot cocoa. Everyone else is drinking coffee or beer.’

Emma had no choice but to accept Susan’s offer. “Sure, cocoa,” she resigned.

“Great!” Susan slipped her arm around Emma, lasping them together, and began walking them towards the closest Tim Horton’s. Susan felt the other woman’s body tense. She could feel Emma’s back become hard, her spine taut. “I spent a summer in Korea. This is how all the women walk there. Neat, huh? So much more personal. Everyone’s so stuffy here, don’t you think?” Emma grunted noncommitedly. She preffered stuffy walking. 

‘A summer in Korea. Big deal.’ Emma scoffed silently. ‘Now I suppose you think you’re Korean, or an expert in the culture. That’s why you walk like this, to slip it into conversation that you’ve been to Asia. Big deal. I fucked your boyfriend last night, how’s that grab ya?’ As soon as the thought crept out from the dark recesses of her subconscious, it burnt her conscience.

They sat at a counter looking out the front window at the grey and white limestone campus. Even the white was grey, everything was grey this scaldingly cold December day. The sky, the snow, the library across the street, the sidewalk, even the students’ faces, carved by the cheerless wind. The Doom of the Christmas Exam Judgement Days hung over every head. The seriousness of these upcoming tests chiseled into their limestone faces.

Emma sipped her black coffee. It tasted especially acidic since Susan had treated. Emma focussed her eyes forward, pretending to take special interest in the swayings of the icy branches. Beside her, Susan licked the whipcream off her hot chocolate. She swallowed and spoke: “What are you doing for Christmas? Any special plans?”

Emma shrugged, looking straight ahead. “Same as every year since the divorce. Go home, see my Dad Christmas Eve, and my Mom Christmas Day.

“Your parents are divorced? Oh, sorry, I didn’t know.”

Another shrug from Emma. “Aren’t everybody’s?” Susan dipped back into her drink. Emma supposed it was her turn to ask. “What are you doing for Christmas? You going home?”

“I’d like to, but, I can’t afford it. Too far.”

“Oh, right. You’re from Vancouver, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. I haven’t been home for Christmas in four years, since coming to school here.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yeah, it’s been pretty shitty, but, this year’s going to be great. Steve’s parents have invited me to their place, so, that’ll be nice. I love his family. It’ll be great to wake up Christmas morning surrounded by people I actually love. Last year I spent Christmas with my cat. My cat’s great, but, it’ll be nice to have people.”

“Do all your housemates go home?”

“Yeah. Just me and Kitten.” Susan laughed then sipped her hot chocolate.

“That must’ve sucked. Sorry.”

Now it was Susan’s turn to shrug. “Yeah, it did.”

“What did you do all day?”

“Felt sorry for myself, mostly. I had big plans to cook a nice dinner, not turkey, you can’t find a turkey just for one person. I was going to cook chicken, and stuffing and all that, but ended up just ordering pizza. Pathetic, huh?”

“There’s a pizza place open on Christmas?”

“Apparently. Jim’s Pizza was open. When the guy came to the door it made me feel worse. I felt worse for him, having to drive around delivering other people’s pizzas on Christmas. I invited him in, but he said he had to go make more deliveries. Guess there’s a lot of people eating pizza on Christmas.”


“Yeah. But, this year’ll be fun. I can’t wait, actually. Steve says his family has a whole bunch of traditions they do every year, just like my family, which’ll be nice to be a part of. Every year my Mom, Dad and I hang our stockings above the fire place on Christmas Eve, then have eggnog. I hate eggnog, but, I drink a cup every year cause tradition. Then, Dad plays some Christmas songs on the guitar and we all sing. Pretty cheesy-”


“But, fun. I really miss it. yeah.” Susan cleared her throat, smiled softly, then drank her cocoa. Her eyes moistened; Emma didn’t think she could take it if she started to cry. Susan cleared her throat again, then asked: “How about your family? Do you have any special traditions you do every year?”

“Not really. Not any more. We had a whole bunch before the divorce, but now, no one’s in the mood.” This last sentence came out much more confessional than she had wanted.

“That’s really sad. Sorry. When did your parents get divorced?”

“Ah, four years ago, right before I started here. They actually told me the night before I came, like, as I was finishing packing, if you can believe it.”


“Yeah, nice going away present, huh? I almost didn’t come.”

“I bet.”

“I woke up the next day, just… and I went down for breakfast and I saw my Mom and Dad in the kitchen and they were, like, totally ignoring each other and like, throwing all their attention on me, like, talking to each other through me and treating me like a delicate flower and I just couldn’t stand it. Even then I could see that that was how it was going to be from then on and I started screaming right in the middle of the kitchen: ‘Take me to school! Take me to school now!’ Like at the top of my lungs.” (Now she laughed at the memory.) “It really scared them. My Mom was going to drive me in the early afternoon, cause she had to work, but they knew they owed me big time, so she called in sick and we left ten minutes later.” Another laugh followed by another sip of coffee. Her coffee was almost gone. She had been using her coffee as the hourglass to this conversation. When the coffee was gone, she would be, too.

“I’m really sorry, that must have been really shitty for you. I can’t imagine how you got through that first year after that. Hmm.”

Emma hated that Susan’s sympathy sounded sincere. She wanted to hate her, it would make her actions from the night before easier to swallow. She started to choke as she spotted Steve in line at the cash register.

“You ok?” Susan asked, placing a hand upon her shoulder. Emma continued coughing, hoping to distract attention away from Steve onto her. Maybe Steve would see them before being seen by Susan and slip out quietly.

“I’ll get you some water,” Susan rose from the stool, turned and squealed, delighted. “Steve!”

‘Shit. Shit. Shitty shit shit.’ Emma looked over to see Steve’s expression switch from pleasant surprise to pale horror, mirroring her own reflection.

Susan was too busy being happy to sense the drop in both their barometers. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. “I didn’t think I’d see you today! I figured you were studying all day.”

“Study break.” He looked at Emma in disbelief. She looked away. It made her feel spiritually bankrupt to see them together. Steve sat at the far end of the counter from Emma. Susan sat between them.

“How’s studying going? Accounting tomorrow, isn’t it?”


“You ready?”


“You’ll do great.” She caressed his cheek. “He always worries and he always aces everything,” Susan said, gushing with pride.

Emma faked a smile. Steve bowed his head, blushing. They sat in silence. Emma gulped the last mouthful of coffee. It gave her heartburn. She stood.

“Well, bye.”

“You’re going?” Susan asked, obviously disappointed. Emma didn’t look at Steve, but, she could have killed him.

“Hey guys!” Emma turned. Brian Samaguchi stood holding a large coffee to go. She feared where this could lead, so she tried to hasten her exit.

“Hey, Brian. Gotta go, excuse-”

“Wait, how you feeling from last night?” His gaze shifted from Emma to Steve, then back to Emma. Susan followed his eyes, her brow furled with consternation. “Were you as wrecked as I was? Shit, that was crazy.” Emma felt the bottom drop out of her stomach. She wanted to run, but her feet were frozen to the floor. Steve was suffering far far worse. Susan was afraid that she would soon suffer.

“You went out last night?” Susan asked, unable to hide her condemnation.

“Ah, just for a beer.”

“Just one? Really? Shit man, when I saw you, you were slurring like crazy.” Brian was entirely insensitive to the cat he had just let out of the bag. The cat was a panther and it was rabid. He fed it more scraps. “You both were, falling all over each other on the dance floor, you two were hilarious,” (to Susan) “you should’ve seen them… where were you? Why didn’t you come out?”

“I wasn’t invited.” Steve reached for her hand. Susan pulled away, folding her hands in her lap, clearing her throat.

“Oh.” Now even Brian could sense that something was wrong. “Ah, well, I’ve gotta get back to the books, I can hear them calling: Brian! Brian!” he said, trying to be funny. He was the only one who laughed. “Anyway, see you guys later.”

“Bye.” Susan spoke for them all.

“I gotta go, too,” Emma spoke up after Brain had left.

“Ok. Bye bye.” Susan flashed a toothless smile, eyes full of fangs.

“See you later.” Emma was slow to leave, because she felt questions were forthcoming. They were being saved for Steve. Emma had taken a step when she heard Susan say something in Korean.


Emma turned back to her. “Huh?”

Ship-pal-nom. That’s Korean for goodbye.”

Ship-pal-nom? Pretty.”

Emma pushed the door open, repeating the Korean words over and over, trying to commit them to memory, so she could later find out what Susan had really said.


She looked it up on line. After a bit of editing and guess work, she found the meaning on an English-Korean website. 

Emma turned off the computer, wishing she’d never tried to help Susan up from the ice.

Attracting Penguins

“Close the door, you’re attracting penguins.”

Her words woke him up. After a 24 hour shift at the hospital, he was sleeping on his feet. He awoke to find himself holding the freezer door open staring at a rack of ice cream. He turned his head and saw her. Laurna Ward. Laurna. And she was wearing a red and green 7-11 uniform. Even her name-tag agreed: Laurna.

“The penguins are flocking, close the door before there’s a stampede.”

“Oh, sorry.” He closed the door.

‘Christ, look at her. Ten years have not been kind to high school beauty. Her face, her hair, even her voice is rotten with smoke and nicotine.  And check out those hips.’

Her hips were the size of her elephantine desire for chocolate. Chad could see the face of beauty drowning in waves of fat. But, nothing could erase her history of being the catch of the class of  ’99. Open the yearbook from that year and you’ll see: “Most Charming: Laurna Ward.” And, “Most Likely to Succeed: Laurna Ward.” Obviously the yearbook is no oracle.

He had to have her. History was a much too powerful force raging through his veins, making him hungry for her, hungry for his youth. He had tried once in high school to ask her on a date, but, a crippling case of teenage inadequacy had choked the words in his throat, cursing him to stand before her locker, fumbling with his jacket’s zipper, while she quickly grew tired of his awkward presence, excusing herself, leaving him wishing he was dead.

Now, here, Fate proved a friend. Life had picked up for the man since highschool. He had finished medical school to get hired on with one of the best hospitals in the state. His Mercedes parked outside proved his worth to the hospital and to the entire medical profession. A failure with girls in highschool, a success with women since passing med school.

‘How could this rolly-polly smoke-soaked little 7-11 clerk refuse such a skilled surgeon? If only I could take my scalpel and cut the decade of waste from her blubbery face.’

“Laurna.” He breathed.

“Yes?” No recognition from Laurna.

“We went to Northern together.”

“Northern highschool?”

“I- we- we had History together.”

“We have history? We went out? Who-”

“No, had History. History class. We took History together. I sat behind you, Chad Wong? Mr. Robert’s class. I sat beside you at that pep rally you wore that funny condom shirt, remember? “Jiffy Condoms: Just Poking Fun.” Remember?”

“I remember the shirt, but, I don’t remember you. Sorry.”

“Chad Wong, remember? We had a few classes together, also, tenth grade Science. Ms. Goo’s class? We dissected a fertile pig together once. I cut out the tongue to take home, remember? You laughed and called me crazy?”

“Sorry, no, I remember the pig, but, you… I, you’d think I’d remember the tongue.”

“Oh.” Insecurity he hadn’t felt since high school came rushing back to his cheeks, spine, feet, brain. Every success, every dollar earned, every life and limb saved upon his operating table meant nothing. “Ah, well, good seing you, anyway,” he mumbled, rushing out of the store, zipping up his leather jacket, forgetting the ice cream he had promised his wife to bring home.

The Drop

“What- what’s happening? Where? How? Holy-”

“It’s time,” a voice softer than the cloud whispered.

“Time for-” he dropped. “Ahhhhhhhhh! OH MY GOD! Help me! Ahhhhhhhh!”

The drop dropped, wet within its own skin, surrounded by billions of its brethren. Most were screaming themselves stupid, too. The ground was still too far to see, but, the drop felt it there, beneath him and gaining fast. It hurt to scream, but, the drop couldn’t think of anything better to do. He knew he wouldn’t survive the fall, and felt cheated that as soon as it had been given consciousness and existence, it was set swirling into this helpless freefall towards an imminent splash. There was no way to renegotiate a better deal in life. There was only now; the fall and the ground he could sense, but, still not see. The drop thought it would be a good idea to scream louder.

“Hey! Shut up, wouldya? You’re raining on my fall!” A drop, falling in a hammock yelled over at him.

“Why are you so relaxed? We’re falling to our deaths here!”

“Are we dead yet? Come on, enjoy it! This is great!” The drop in the hammock let out a hearty, “yahooo!” and fell past the frightened drop, who was wishing he was having that much fun, too.

‘That sure looks more enjoyable than screaming my watery lungs out like the rest of these idiots. hmm…’

He laid back, tucking his arms behind his head and enjoyed the ride till he splashed into the collected blood of his fallen brethren in a thirsty field of corn.

A Buddhist Christmas

I’m spending this Christmas Eve in a Buddhist temple in Malaysia. I figure it’s the closest I can come to the tradition of going to church with my Dad. Dad and I only go to church Christmas Eve. We go to sing Christmas songs. Now, here it is, sunset Christmas Eve, I’m backpacking with the weight of homesickness on my back, and I feel like reliving holiday traditions alone in Malaysia. The temple will fill in for the church, memory will fill in for my family, and silence will fill in for Christmas carols. Buddhists pray very silently. Occasionally some monk bangs a gong off in the distance, but, for the most part, Buddhist temples are silent places. I’m singing Silent Night in my head, watching these quiet Buddhists worship by burning paper shoes, paper televisions, wrapped presents, leaving delicious looking food at altars, all in faith that they will transcend this world and reach their dead relatives. I can understand the need for shoes, even in the afterlife, but, does the family burning the t.v. in front of me really think they pick up HBO in the heaven? Who am I to judge? Heaven probably has cable.

….                                                  Signs Inside a Buddhist Temple:                                         ….

                                The temple authorities request people to pray to their ancestors earlier 

                                to avoid traffic jams on all souls day.

….                                                                                                                                                    ….

                                Please be informed that no meat is allowed to be taken into this

                                temple, only vegetarian food is allowed to be used for praying.

                                Authorities from the temple have the right to take away food

                                without notice if found not obeying the rules. Thank you. 

….                                                                                                                                                    ….

                                 If you have any difficulties in any of the rules written, 

                                 please refer to our authorities concerned. We shall be

                                 very glad if visitors could support us with any ideas to 

                                 ensure the rules. Thank you. 

….                                                                                                                                                    ….

                                 Please do not place fresh flowers near any window

                                 to avoid flowers from falling down. Do not place

                                 the job-sticks in the building. Strictly attention

                                 to all Catholics, please be informed that praying with white

                                 candles is not allowed. Thank you.

….                                                                                                                                                    ….

When There’s Nothing More to Write


“You’re too quick.”

“You see her, you can call her. Mine.”

“Take her.” Jeffery leaned back on the bench and lit a cigarette. The approaching woman meant nothing to him, let William have her. She looked like a dullard anyhow. Will called to her:

“Excuse me, miss, excuse me.”

A middle aged woman stopped, clutching her handbag to her chest. “Yes?”

“What is your dream?”

“Pardon?” (Polite, so many say, “what?” or, “huh?” or even, “fuck you.”)

“What is your dream?”

“I… why do you want to know?” She shifted weight from left pant leg to right pant leg, still clutching her purse.

“Call it curiosity,” Will smiled, channeling the Chesire Cat. The woman smirked in return.

“Is this what you do? Sit on a bench all day, stop women and ask them what’s their dream?” She released a breath that was half laugh, half grunt.

“Does that offend you?”

“It’s just a little weird.” She lowered the purse from her chest, letting it hang still by her right side.

“Define, ‘weird’.”

“You. Have fun.” The woman walked away briskly, not looking back, leaving the two old men laughing uproarously, patting each other on the backs.

“Great! Great! How did you know?”

“She was wearing the same running shoes as an old houskeeper of mine, and she was a character.”

“Good eye!”

Will winked, flipping open his pocket sized note pad to record the incident before it could grow old. Jeffery sat, chewing his nails, wishing he’d called her. He would have loved to have had that moment, but the rules were very clear: one moment for one writer, only. And he who calls it, owns its rights. Jeffery knew there were an infinite amount of untapped moments, big and small that all added up to the same thing. Collect enough of them in a notebook and you can map out the universe, all its highways and back alleyways and pitstops. Both Will and Jeffery agreed that no writer as of yet has completed drawing this map, though, they were confident it could be done. It would take at least two lifetimes, so they thought it best to work together. Once mapped, people could go down the road of life without ever having an accident, unless, of course, they wanted to.

“Mine!” Will piped up.

“You’re calling too early. I can’t see as far as you.”

“Your bum eyes are your problem. I see him, mine.”

“Alright, take him, just give me a chance next time, your eyes are better.”

“Just be faster on the draw. Excuse me, young man, excuse me!” 

A man in his early twenties stopped, eyeing the two old men on the bench suspiciously. “Yes?”

“If I were to tell you millions are starving to death in North Korea, North Korea, of course being an official enemy in a war that is still on, what would you say?”


“What would you say if I told you Christopher Columbus should have stayed home?”

“What do you mean? Christopher Columbus?”

“Would you agree that the natives and the nature of North America were all doing better before he came over?”

The man looked to Will for more. The old man let him dangle. The young man looked to Jeffery who was still smoking, speaking only in smoke. The man looked back and forth between the old writers, scratching his chin compulsively. Finally he came out with, “You don’t think Columbus was a hero?” 

“I’m more interested in what you think.”


‘Like children,’ Will would later write, ‘they always want to know why.’

“Call it the same curiosity Columbus had on the way over.”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you believe curiosity killed the cat?”

“Which cat? What cat? What are you talking about? Is Columbus the cat? Are we Columbus?”

“Do you have a cat?” Will was like a cat playing with string now.

“Yes,” The man wanted to leave, but, he didn’t know how to cleanly conclude the conversation. He had been raised to respect his elders. Will sensed this and took advantage of it.

“Why did you get a cat?”

“It was given to me by my brother.” The man was hypnotised by Will.

“Birthday present?”

“He moved into an apartment with his girlfriend and she’s allergic, so, he asked me to look after it.”

“That was nice of you. Does your brother come visit you more now since you have his cat?

“No, it’s my cat now.”

“Ah, yes, your cat. You own it.”

“Yes, it’s mine.”

“Do you think you can really own another living thing?”

“A cat, sure, a person, no.” The young man wished he could stop answering the old man’s questions.

“What’s the cat’s name?”


“Pretty name. Your brother give her that name?”

“I did, and he’s a he.”

“You changed the cat’s name to Petals? Isn’t that confusing to the cat?”

“Cats don’t know their names. Names don’t mean anything to a cat.”

“But, they do to you. Why’d you change the name?”

“My brother called it a stupid name; Whiskers, it’s stupid and obvious, like my brother.”

Will agreed with him and thought perhaps the man had more depth than he’d originally given him credit. People were forever making you change their opinions of them, it was really quite annoying. “So, why’d you call it, Petals?”

The young man looked at his watch. “Sorry, I gotta run. It was nice talking to you.” The man hurried off before he could be asked another question.

William put his right index finger to his lip and sighed. “I had him there for a while. I feel I was one question away from unlocking a deep truth.”

 Jeffery sighed in agreement. “Yes, something personal about the name.”

“Petals. Funny name for a cat.”

“Hmm.” Jeffery hmmed. Jeffery was a notorious hmmer. Jeffery looked down to see his shoe laces were undone. He bent down to tie them while Will flipped open his notebook to transcribe the dialogue. He broke off from his writing to catch a glimpse of a young woman in a blue dress, he thought to be his definition of elegance and beautiful. Jeffery, still bent over tying his laces had only caught the sight of orange heels beneath the hem of a blue dress. He thought the owner of the footwear, tacky, and nothing more, never knowing how she’d inspired Will to wonder how many stars had faded from the sky before man was ever born.

Experience Is a Comb Nature Gives Us When We Are Bald

God is not a mistake of man, man is a mistake of God, remember reading this before? I don’t, but, here I am writing it, telling me I must have picked it up somewhere. Sometimes I will write some thing that sounds so familiar, I know I am not its rightful owner. Other times, I just outright steal, like the title of this is a translation of a Chinese proverb. I’m not apologizing. How can I apologize for something I didn’t write?

God is not a mistake of man, man is a mistake of God, like, we invented time, time didn’t invent us, yet, we’re handcuffed by time since the inventions of the sundial and wristwatch. We have become slaves to our own inventions, none so insidious as the devotion to the clock. Tomorrow is only tomorrow if you look at it from today. Like, the stars are only above you if you have to look up.

How much time passed in the space between these paragraphs? For you, dear reader, I would think milliseconds. By my watch, an entire afternoon, but, who’s counting? We don’t count words in seconds, we count them in sentences, paragraphs and pages. This is 462 words long. 

Grammar, punctuation, teaching the eye to read from left to right, (unless you’re reading this is Arabic), imposing order so each word must have relation to the last word. Nothing is floating free, connecting words, connecting stars, designing pages of constellations. These rules dictate that meaning must be shaped to fit the lines of this page. How we like to clock time in straight lines, have its hands race around our wrists like tireless contestants in a never ending relay, clocking in at a lap a minute, every minute on the minute, rain or shine.

But I know better than to expect such consistency from time. I don’t care what the calendar says, summers were longer when I was a kid.

A moment of time or a piece of gold. Both can be lost, both can be bought and sold; worn as a ring around a finger or tree. Though time is here for now only and only one can buy  eternity. We trade one as currency, the other can be bought for a dime. Still, time is not money, money to time is the value of a photograph to the blind.

But, if time really was money, and we were given one bundle of it at birth, to spend freely, having to pay for every moment, counting seconds in pennies, with no hope of ever making more, I hope you got your money’s worth.

Let me sign off by ripping off the Chinese one more time:

     Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.

Escape Clause to the Marriage Contract

I’m 36 and never married. I was thinking maybe part of my fear of marriage is the marriage contract itself. I think it’s time to renegotiate. I was thinking that if we approached marriage like we do job interviews, we might just negotiate ourselves a little more happiness.


Sally: Please come in, Mr. Park. Have a seat. Now, you are applying for the position of Executive Vice Husband?

John: Yes, I am.

Sally: And these references are all ex-wives and girlfriends?

John: And my mother.

Sally: Tell me, why do you want this marriage?

John: I want to work in a mutually beneficial relationship and I saw your ad in Now magazine and this marriage sounded like a good fit.

Sally: What can you bring to this marriage?

John: Responsiblity. I’m very organized and punctual. I never forget a birthday or anniversary.

Sally: What would your last wives say about you?

John: They would say I’m a great problem solver, good at thinking outside the box. I know that there’s more to the marriage than just what’s inside the box.

Sally: So, why did you leave your last marriages?

John: All of my previous marriages were for limited contracts. When the contracts expired, neither party desired to renew.

Sally: But, the breakups were amicable?

John: Besides a very minor chainsaw attack by one of my ex-wives, all were amicable, yes.

Sally: Where do you see yourself in five years?

John: Happily married to you, fully committed to a successful codependence.

Sally: Ok, do you have any questions or me?

John: Yes, what are the hours?

Sally: Regular 24-7 hours, this is a full time marriage you’re applying for. We do offer two weeks off in the summer.

John: And the marriage offers incentives and promotion?

Sally: Yes, we like to promote in-house. If we like your work, you could move up to Chief Financial  Officer, where we give you a company credit card.

John: And how soon will I know if I get the marriage?

Sally: We’re still interviewing candidates. We should know in two weeks. Are you under deadline?

John: I’ve had other offers I’m considering.

Sally: So, what would you do if you don’t get this marriage?

John: I’m resourceful; I’m confident I can take my skills to another marriage.

Sally: Thank you for coming in today. I think we’ve got a good assessment of your credentials.

John: Nice meeting you.