Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Nine

an angel’s wing is probably this: it will transform a skunk’s weapon into a gift of love. Let’s back up a moment. Remember Abraham Lincoln? One day while walking in the forest the young Abe came upon an angel who had fallen from a tree onto a skunk. The angel was insensible, but Abe could see the skunk was conscious and desperate. The golden heap had dropped upon the woodland creature’s brilliant tail, and its forepaws scrabbled now at the loose scurf, panicked squeals alternating with frantic grunts, as it failed to gain the purchase it needed to pull itself

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Eight

at the tips rise to the ceiling, the big white wings rippling away below, taking up much of the room. Then with a light toss of the head the dog brings the wings down and they scoop up the air that had been waiting to be moved. The congressmember and the youth hit the floor. The black bailiff in gold chain crouches behind the scimitar’s broad blade. The injured bailiff licks his own blood from the porcelain shard, gets hair on his tongue. The first wave of skunk odor hits all of them at once. What you don’t know about

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Seven

That would be what a conductor does. Not a train conductor, because when you punch a ticket you’re using a small grasping motion with an even-less-dramatic-than-blunt-nosed-scissors hole punch in your hand. Not a copper wire, for, although a copper wire is a good conductor, it can be charged with thousands of electrons and pretty much remain inert. The conductor before the symphony orchestra. That guy. A slim white baton in one hand, reaching with both arms into the music to raise it, to lower it, to rush it forth, to pull it back. Like that. The wings. The long feathers

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Six

known and loved throughout the world, in pool rooms, and among the cognoscenti. The dog dips its head, fitting its muzzle into a loop at its chest. One tug unfurls the angel wings, which are far larger than one might have supposed seeing them tucked against the dog’s back. Once the wings are raised, seemingly ready to lift the dog into a sky full of noon and floss, the dog need merely nod, a gesture gentle and assured, and the wings beat. Beat. Perhaps that is the wrong word, as it suggests a mindless pounding away at the air. Conduct.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Five

a teetering stack of colored blocks. A brown dog trussed up in a set of fluffy angel wings staggers in behind the congressmember. The dog, clearly, is as drunk as a skunk, which fact need hardly be contested as a skunk carrying a bottle of whiskey takes two steps into the room, raises a foot to take another step, loses its balance and quicksteps backward, which exit is punctuated by the thump of the bottle striking the skunk’s head as the head hits the floor and the meandering into the room of the essence for which skunk is so well

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Four

goes, “Whatever for? Whatever for?” A second bailiff enters. She is wearing a toga as a turban and, like the first bailiff, is largely naked. Her main accoutrement is a fine gold chain which, every few inches, has been glued to her skin so that the chain hangs in scallops around her body, creating from a distance a perception of scales. When she sees her colleague bleeding she draws a sharp breath and yanks from the coat rack a scimitar gleaming with fury and one prominent nick. “Give ‘im what for! Give ‘im what for!” the purple crow croaks from

Friday, September 24, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Three

(one especially sharp piece wet with his blood), glares at the congressmember and his young friend. “And what would you say you are?” The congressmember directs this haughty query at the bailiff who is naked except for a row of peacock plumes which make a colorful and swaying crest down the center of his back. The congressmember adjusts his Groucho goggles, the black caterpillar of a moustache rippling in his huffs. A purple crow, having been released from the prison of the vase by its shatter, toddles groggily across the lime green and apple green malachite tiles, croaking as it

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-Two

toga and singing alive alive O! A bailiff enters wearing a hat. The hat falls from his head. He stoops to pick it up. While the bailiff stoops a shot rings out, the bullet shattering a vase on a mantle just behind where the bailiff’s head had been. Ow! cries the bailiff as a substantial chunk of vase bounces off his skull. A congressmember enters through the door open at the opposite side of the room. He is bearing a pistol. “Just like that your honor,” the youth says at his side. The bailiff, shards of porcelain in his hand

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty-One

a fire hydrant, while the nearest house, having long burned to see the hydrant spew, listens to the internal combustion engine with a wistful wall. Somebody needs to count higher. A version of the bill was settled in committee then reverberated throughout the halls of Congress with rubber-ball-like boings. Sincerity leaps. We who have stood the test of time sit down as midnight approaches. We raise a toast to legs, strong, steady legs. A nuance was left on the road. Falls compel us to succumb to the treble compare. What you watch consists of what you sacrifice toward wearing a

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Forty

a long time! Emily considers the prospect of being a kid for a long time. It’s like a prison sentence, isn’t it? “Schools look just like prisons.” When Emily said that Ti Ti passed her a plate of cake and ice cream and said, “I am going to be Jesus when I grow up.” Emily said something through a mouth full of cake and ice cream. Ti Ti turned on the make-up mirror and began experimenting with mascara. Strudel poked her wet black nose out from under the bed and licked Emily’s bare ankle. A newspaper truck idles next to

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Nine

for kids. And people think that’s reasonable! There’s always some category of person that’s disallowed equality, that it seems perfectly natural to discriminate against, any other way of organizing society so unthinkable bringing it up is a total joke. Everybody knows children can’t be allowed to make decisions for themselves, or decisions of any sort! Women! Blacks! Indians! They were denied their rights as autonomous persons because, everybody knew, they were as good as children! How ridiculous is that! I mean, isn’t that the most ridiculous part? There’s nobody who wasn’t a kid once. And for a long time! For

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Eight

roads run out, you can get on a boat or a plane or a helicopter or even an elephant or a camel and go on farther. There’s always somewhere else. But grown-ups won’t let kids just go wherever they want. No, it’s like when you get a certain height you’re given permission to poke into the business of everybody shorter than you. You could pretend you’re a midget, Ti Ti would say, Ti Ti who never let there not be a solution, no matter how ridiculous. I bet an old dwarf would rat you out, thought Emily. Freedom is not

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Hundred Thirty-Seven

you watch what they do and try to figure it out and no matter what some of it just stays dumb. Or boring. But you have to be so old in order to drive and Emily wants to drive because when you can drive you go where you want to go, not where somebody else thinks you ought to go. There are highways to everywhere, and if the road runs out, and it’s hard to imagine the roads ever running out because there’s always just another one you can turn onto which will take you someplace else, but if the

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Six

jab you in the mouth. Ti Ti says it makes your mouth red, like you’re bleeding. We could pretend we’re vampires, Emily says, letting some of the red red liquid drip out of the corner of her mouth. But right now, Emily is finishing off her surreptitious champagne, and wondering where they hid all that fun. It tastes nasty. She narrows her eyes at her mother and Polly. But she refills their glasses, while they both laugh laugh laugh about something stupid. Shoes or something. You’re going to end up a grown-up someday, and for a really long time, so

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Five

bottle was big. The bottle was slippery, and, even as it gave up glass after glass, it was heavy. Mother didn’t notice when Emily splashed some into her own waxy cup. She imagined how wonderful it would taste, the delights of every birthday party condensed into a water, all the cries of pleasure and giggles of joy injected as a gas into that water. It smelled kind of funny. Funny. Ha ha. With the liquid fun’s first touch to her tongue Emily’s mouth puckered. She was drinking punch, sweet red punch, she reminded herself. Nobody chokes on punch. Punch doesn’t

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Four

at Emily as she said this. I hope you choke, Emily thought at the time. This she does not remember. In fact, she remembers herself a most gracious host. Perhaps the champagne glass in front of “Aunt Lolly” repeatedly emptying, its scum of foam replaced by an amber swirl and the tiny bubbles rushing to get out of the liquid before it slipped past Lolly’s gleaming lips, distracted Emily from her less friendly thoughts. For she was the one who tipped the heavy green bottle to make sure Aunt Lolly (and her own mother) did not want for celebration. The

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Three

from a party that was supposed to be a surprise but the guest of honor flew to Europe on short notice and the party didn’t happen. So it was a disappointment party, that’s what Emily called it. A few of Mother’s friends came to commiserate. And ate half the cake. Mother made like they were doing her a big favor because there was no way she was going to let the girls eat that much cake. “Terrible! So much fat and sugar!” Mother’s best friend said, shoveling a second big piece into her maw. She had the audacity to wink

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-Two

anything, Emily remembers thinking. She remembers thinking this so fiercely she doesn’t remember what her mother said. She vaguely remembers Eula crying. Maybe she was crying about something else. Eula is the cryingest! Working the apple around in her mouth without spilling it, or choking on it, takes Emily’s concentration for a moment. She holds her hand up in case she has to push something back in. Two drops of juice and saliva slip from the corner of her mouth. She dabs at the escape with a red napkin. The napkin has party balloons on it and is left over

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty-One

asked. Emily pushes the rest of the apple slice into her mouth. It’s a little too big, and makes her cheeks bulge. When Emily was at Ti Ti’s house that morning the TV news interrupted Tom & Jerry with special alert news bulletins about the flash flood that ripped through the campground and the twenty or more people who were missing. One body had been found dead in a tree. So Emily wondered what Mother was going to say. Maybe if we had a television, you wouldn’t have to tell us everything like you’re the only one who can know

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Thirty

gives him ideas sometimes. Sometimes, though, it steals and feeds on them. A body’s gotta eat. Emily raises a slice of apple to her lips and sucks on it. She closes her eyes. Once she saw a tiny copper fish in the shallows of river. The fish nibbled on her ankle, which made her giggle. The next day, her mother said, a flash flood took out the campground where they’d pitched a tent. Emily nibbles the apple. Tiny flecks of white flesh on her tongue. She presses them against the roof of her mouth. “Did anybody get wet?” her sister

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Nine

fisher gnome, scoots, but there’s no place to scoot to. It quivers in its last shallow. Into the puddle the fisher gnome slides his hand, water pouring into a bowl in the middle of his hand. The little copper fish is heartened to see all that darkness suddenly available and rushes to hide his shiny body in it. The fisher gnome leans over his palm and breathes on the water, ripples dancing its surface. Then he snorts it all up. Just like that! This is how a fish came to be in the back of the fisher gnome’s mind. It

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Eight

In the back of the fisher gnome’s mind there’s a fish. Once the gnome came upon a puddle in which a tiny copper fish was circling. The puddle had been abandoned when a sudden flood almost as suddenly went back to bed, its dreams calling it. There were puddles left after the flood and the one in which the tiny copper fish was warming did not happen to be one of the bigger. The sun shaved the skin off the puddles with a blade so sharp the water didn’t notice. The tiny fish startled at the shadow cast by the

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

One Hundred Twenty-Seven

unnoticed, “I know. I know. Leper’s gone. Leper’s gone. Gone, leper, gone. I know, I know. One less. Count ‘em all up. And you get one less. I know I know. Why I know? Why why? I’ve got a reason. A reason reason. I know, you know. Do you know? Who but me knows the reason reason? Who who?” This went on rather longer than it ought to have, frankly, the counting leprechaun investigating an uncountable series of minor discomforts, the fisher gnome burbling on and on about some special knowledge, the Lazarusing leprechaun hung up by a power cord.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Six

his chin, picked his nose and nibbled the finger, pinched his lip on which a ragged nail caught and blood welled at the wound, scratched his ear with a knife, squatted and rubbed his lower back against a broken chair, spat a tooth, and yanked thirteen hairs from his left brow in a precise exercise of hunt down and root out, no one of the thirteen to be suffered, only surprising they had survived to now. The fisher gnome watched this set of behaviors with flared nostrils and a quivering lip, muttering softly, though not so softly as to go

Monday, September 06, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Five

gnome. He saw in them something distant and misshapen. He squinted. Yes, there was something in them that was coming soon. On its head a city fixed in place with silver screws housed a nation of refugees from a plague that had burned through mountains and avenues. The counting leprechaun yawned again, which gave the fisher gnome a good view of what of the leprechaun’s last meal lingered in the festering pockets of his gums. There was a new sound from the reviving body. It could have been, was it?, a whimper. The counting leprechaun tilted his head and rubbed

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Four

bank (leprechaun), and a gnawed shrub crossed with a toothless beaver stuffed in a thrift shop pillow case (gnome, natch), the leprechaun’s fingers can bend backwards at every joint. “I know what you’re counting for. There’s one missing, in there? There’s a leprechaun be gone, eh? There’s a leper abroad. Eh? I’m right, eh?” The fisher gnome’s self-satisfied chuckle was overdubbed by a whooping gasp and a violent blat of a fart. The dead leprechaun was not, it seemed, dead in the manner one expects of the dead. The counting leprechaun looked at last into the eyes of the fisher

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Three

floor, let’s shake some leaf, let’s let’s.” The body is silent but some drool falls from the mouth and the joints begin to quiver. The counting leprechaun yawns. Ah, wah wah, he says. He rubs his eyes which the yawn made water. “I know, I know,” says the fisher gnome standing right beside him. They are both small creatures, this gnome comes up to the counting leprechaun’s shoulder, the gnome’s nose is bigger both in length and width, neither would make you think of a child, more a cat mixed with a crow and rolled out on a clay river

Friday, September 03, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-Two

for feet for dancing. Head good. Especially you have pointy head like me, heh heh. Spin like a top. Like a top!” From the leprechaun into which life may or may not have been returning, a new sound, a groan, or a creak. Which becomes a snore-like snort. “I like the songs of trees. They need the wind so maybe it’s the wind that’s playing the trees like they big instruments. The creak like that. The long groan as the big limb swing, the wind taking they arm, the wind saying, let’s dance, you me, let’s take it to the

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty-One

that sidled into a whistle which rose and rose in pitch until stopping abruptly. “Fish good drummers too. Good singers, you know. If you know fish, not just eat but get to know, you know. Not all fish same, you know that. Silly to think else. All birds same? All four-footy beasts? Ha! And Ha! Crawdads not much into music. Except dancing. Crawdad like to dance, you know. Somebody else gotta set the tune? Maybe. They got rhythm in the head maybe, or the tail maybe. All those feet. Many feet. Better for dancing to have more feet, eh? Good

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Thousand: One Hundred Twenty

and the eyes bulged, staring, lightless. “Yep, yep,” said a voice behind the counting leprechaun. “Doing good so far.” A deep, reverberant moan from the hanging body. “I bet he could carry a tune,” the voice continued. “I have some sticks. You could knock on the empty noggin. Bone makes good drum. Notes, not just percussion. It’s the crystalline nature of the structure. There are probably bones lying around here, too. You lepers got not much covering you bones either. You could bang on him with that bony arm of your.” Another sound from the body, this one a hiss