Rain was rattling down like a steel security grate over a storefront. Faces disappeared off the street only to reappear nine months later on other bodies. At that point, I was sitting on a barstool watching with a kind of puzzled fascination CNN live stream the latest mass shooting. I could feel the tingle of green mold spreading along the inside of my skull. Something told me it wouldn’t be OK anymore to think out loud. The thought uppermost in my mind was, ridiculously enough, that “canine” can refer to a dog or a sharp tooth used for tearing and shredding.
A Midnight Dark and Dreary
I was dressed like a boulevardier, in a green velvet suit with a buttonhole rose, when I strolled back in time. It sounds complicated, but I managed it without picking locks or forging documents, without getting lost even once. That’s him, I thought, that’s Poe. I recognized his hydrocephalic forehead from caricatures in books and magazines. He was hard at work chiseling his name and a pair of dates on a tombstone. After everyone else had gone, he added a decorative touch, a carving of himself as a Buddha with 23 waving arms. What jobs society inflicts on its poets
Fathers and Sons
The text said my 95-year-old father, who lived far from me, in a facility in Ohio, had stopped shaving, showering, and changing his clothes. He just slept most of the day. My first reaction was, I wonder what he dreams. Alexandre Dumas, at the end of his life, dreamed he stood on the peak of a mountain made up of all the books he had written – The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, etc. Little by little, the mountain shifted, slithered, gave way beneath his feet, and he found himself standing on a pile of ash. The dream left him in tears. His son quietly held him after the only time he ever recounted it.
Giraffes on Horseback Salad
Salvador Dali made a movie, now lost, in which Groucho Marx gives a series of orders, each more absurd than the last, to his three brothers, who rush from one side of town to the other to fulfill them. Groucho sends the brothers to fetch a herd of goats, a dead ox, platinum blonde beauty queens, a sixty-foot-long bed, trombones with fair hair, and the eighteen smallest dwarfs in the city. After the brothers accomplish all that Groucho asked, the movie ends in the surrealistic style of Dali’s paintings of soft watches and lobster telephones: burning giraffes wearing gas masks stampede.
Ambrose Bierce Walks at Midnight
It had been forever since anyone had seen him. I asked where he had been, whether in Mexico riding with the army of Pancho Villa or on the lam from loan sharks and bad gambling debts. He wouldn’t answer, just tightened his grip on an overnight bag. I yanked the bag away. Inside I found a book of 55 poems, all of them about the death of the poet’s child, and a ski mask such as stickup men wear. He grinned. I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do next besides act like I was doing something.