Image for post
Image for post
(artwork by Sarah Tell)

Alice says to me, Alice goes, “Our neighbor cornered me again.” She fiddles with the zipper on her sweater. “This time it was in the laundry room.”

And we both know whom she means. There are about 15 other occupants in this building, but when we say, “our neighbor,” it is tacit that we’re referring to this one guy. He’s a real yapper. A conspiracy-theory true believer. And he doesn’t take nonverbal cues for exiting a conversation.

Alice, she goes, “I kept trying to squirm my way out of there, and he kept taking his mask off.”

I make a sound like, “Arumph,” and do a whistling thing with my mouth. “He’s not right in his mind.” …

Image for post
Image for post
(Ernst Haas)

The mornings (on how many will I deduce?)


-ly) rather fondly

the cat dashing at rest on the counter

fingerprint-blotched panes of floury sky

cut to crumbles with fog’s lackadaisical drift

fragile (heat-chilled pirouetting amok) to the gusty phrase

we slice our better fractions into toasted jagged fifths

likely settled (or do we say, “I am leaving now, dear…”?) just enough

to stand sitting’s abiding oath

(brought lengthwise to this)

a scattering of errands between us

in hold (magnets to move) on the surface (each-to-each on the fridge)

to release after lasts and before firsts

become whimpering and jaded to a (adagio here, please) lackluster…

an excerpt from an interview with Charlie Kaufman

Image for post
Image for post
(Artwork by Sarah Tell)

INTERVIEWER- So, you know, I just want to get some of that real Charlie-Kaufman feeling here, to start out with.


INTERVIEWER- Oh, you know. Like I want to get inside your head. What is Charlie Kaufman’s process? How does he approach a subject? How does he make all these intersecting lines connect into a whole? What’s his morning routine like?

CHARLIE KAUFMAN- Bagels and coffee.

INTERVIEWER- Oh. Nice. That’s great! Yeah. Basically, just stuff like that. The internecine struggle of the well-to-do, famous, and revered writer and his craft.

CHARLIE KAUFMAN- God. Internecine?

INTERVIEWER- I’m adlibbing.

CHARLIE KAUFMAN- We all are. Really, when you think about it. That’s our life, the way he interact with…

Image for post
Image for post

Marianne Webster was sitting cross-legged on a low-back armchair, anxiously, if not eagerly, awaiting her first MDMA dose of the day. She had on a periwinkle-and-maroon polka-dot cotton-twill face mask with string-tie ear straps. It was a tight fit, and smooshed her nose, making it feel as if she were breathing through dried blood at times, but she rather relished such simple acts of suffering, so much so that she often purposefully partook in things that would make her life more difficult. It hampered her guilt and resuscitated her passion. Her glasses fogged with each breath.

She had a healthy fear of fire alarms and believed all things that happened to her, no matter how promising, would eventually turn to shit. Her favorite color was drab. …

Express Yourself

We were bad. That was the point.

The band onstage. The bassist is almost naked; the drummer is shirtless & wearing a balaclava, raising his sticks in the air.
The band onstage. The bassist is almost naked; the drummer is shirtless & wearing a balaclava, raising his sticks in the air.
Shitty, circa 1996. Photo courtesy of Davy Carren

I was in a band called Shitty. It all started at the Huntington Beach Library in Orange County, California — I’d guess around late 1995 or early ’96. I’d grabbed the mic between bands one night, claiming I was going to read a poem to all the emo kids in the audience. Of course, they were very excited to hear a lugubrious poem that would give them a chance to cry. Instead, they got me dashing off a sarcastic bit of dry humor about having consensual sex with a cow in a field. The last line was something like, “And then I left. The cow was alone again, yet satisfied.” There was a great amount of shock and horror and even some literal jaw-dropping after I’d finished. The drummer for the band going on next hit his cymbal. …

A Photo-essay of San Francisco Neon Signs

Image for post
Image for post
(San Francisco, Market Street and Mason, 1952)

That good old neon, it just wraps itself in the night, holds steady, if not sincere, in the crust and decay of the city’s interior cavity, and almost seems to bemoan its current state, lost in the showy boring tide of more modern lighting schemes. Neon signage, long out of fashion, bucks no trends, as these relics reside in odd corners and among tiled shadows poking out from and hanging onto the sides of buildings or bound by tree branches — some decrepit and wiry and scabbed with scaly rust like a barnacled prow; some still jaunty and robust, well, if not for a few lost letters or unlit bulbs here and there. These neon signs stay hidden in plain sight somehow, as you’ve got to try and notice them for their splendid bodies to be revealed. It’s as if the city’s grown over them through the years, yet they stay tucked away, once harbingers of another era’s rise, now the crusty remains of its fall. …

Image for post
Image for post
(atrwork by Sarah Tell)

The screen said: “Your Zoom Work Meeting Has Started.”

Kaitlynn said, “They’re killing black people. It’s making me cry. I can’t handle it. I’m so upset!” as she sipped her elderberry Kettle One cocktail and adjusted her flower-print Marchesa Notte V-Neck Embroidered High-Low Dress with her ass just on the edge of a dusty mint accent armchair. “I’ve just got to…do something.”

All Zoom meeting-goers concurred from their layered array of windows on the laptop’s screen. Michelle was tearing up, and Charmie’s voice was failing her, and there was all-around slight sobbing and wiping of noses. Then Charmie piped up: “These mofos on my Instagram feed. I’m calling anyone out who posts racist shit. I don’t care if I lose followers. …

Image for post
Image for post
(Artwork by Sarah Tell)

Harvey and Leslie went up to the roof. It was a hot, windy day, and they thought it would be nice to be up there by themselves, lie back in lawn chairs, drink chilled champagne from a water bottle, and read.

The stairs were heavy with a musty attic aroma. Harvey carried his lawn chair in a large duffel bag over his shoulder as he made his way up. He saw the place where a door should be at the top of the stairs. There wasn’t a door there. There was just a blast of rectangular sunlight from the door frame, which blinded him when he saw it. …

Image for post
Image for post
(Photo, davy carren)

Hardly under the table

The kind of thoughts I’ve got

Understandably slipshod if not a bit tacky

The distant mining song of trains grumbles low

To the cat stretched to noodles in a ladle of sunlight

Or some stray lettuce edged between tiles

My expression’s tarnished and worn like sugared marble on a tombstone

Anointed with some testy blathering

Hypersensitive to the smell of your touch

Longing for the taste of the way you move

Whisk me away

Why don’t you

Oar that damn dinghy over here

While I’ve still got some fight carved into me

Rough stuff doughy up the…

Image for post
Image for post
(Photo by davy carren)

I was going around with my birth certificate in my breast pocket, and the sky was the color of used charcoal. Test the water with a tooth, and there are cheetahs in the bath, again, while we wears swimsuits to the chapel. Messed up, with the kids, you know how they wear their hair in the rafters. After that, we had a whole marble-shooting contest in the foyer. You missed it. The barest of essentials, that. King Creole on the TV and Sinatra down the hall, still. Made a cover out of makeup mistakes and called it a morning. Best, they keep spreading on the worst of it. And by midday the air stinks like basement plants. And by treble the cleft goes to the guy who bags your groceries. A potato pie for your trunk of pancakes. We’ve got wars to not fight and cheaters to lose. Ways to never feel. Differentials to march to. A markup in the price of dissections. A confiscated geranium. A show that you just can’t quite place to win. Then there’s that required smirk of driving unsafe for any conditions, and she asks, “Does murder make you sleepy?” in the throes of a passing phase. A stupor never settled on with that look that goes wild without the eyes, a time capsule left buried, and then there’s that bustle of moving on that gets stuck in the scratchy screams. Blessed to be cursed. Adjacent to torment, there are instincts that just seem to burn better, foreboding a photo finish that gets clipped at just the wrong instant. Warier for the wear. The collision’s happening, whether dipshits like me scrap their loneliness for a recalcitrant moment that keeps stalling and berating the competition. A price point for mercy that just never seems to hit. …


Davy Carren

The only writer who matters

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store