Groucho was left in the middle of cranking out one-liners when Olive Oyl ramshackled in with a few quarts to go in her vocabulary. Something? Sure. Something always left. “Why not right?” “Right.” “Who is?” And then he goes, “You!” with all the self-seeking capacity of a loosed nonvenomous eastern hognose. “Right away, that’s when,” is all Olive can puff out as she sneaks into a fold-up chair and thinks about inhaling a long, luxurious drag of cigarette smoke. Groucho snarls. He does his thing. He chews on his cigar and twitches his eyebrows right along with his smirky mouth, which goes all ape-shit on him, in times like these. Even Ms. Oyl gets stressed over the timing of these things. Even she, never a keeper’s keeper, gets to kneeling for things to get better, in these times, times like this one, here. “I want deeper…deeper moments!” Groucho doesn’t always shout such stuff, but now he does. And Olive’s within shouting distance, of course, so she frumps up her black shirt while she sits in an awkward rock-leaning pose and gets less cozy. “Sir. Mix me a drink.” “I fashion you’ve already had six today.” “Take or give.” “Very not well?” “Not very.” So, there they are. Were. Or happened to be, just for a spell. ‘There were harbingers in the weeds of (this is, now, Mr. Marx in his thoughts) of us, once, dear. But (his head, rounded another corner) I’m forgiving in what I’ll let on to myself about injuring this here ego, you see? Me? I am not Django Reinhardt or some celebrity T.S. Eliot impersonator. My brother Chico. He’ll tell you. He’s forever and always got something to not say.’ Olive lets blurt a short laugh. “Ha!” “You’re a snorty shuffler sort of character, aren’t you?” “Am I, I am, at that.” “Minus-sized in body but not in mind. You’re really alright, doll. Upright!” …
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.” …
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…
INTERVIEWER- So, you know, I just want to get some of that real Charlie-Kaufman feeling here, to start out with.
CHARLIE KAUFMAN- Like…what…?
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…
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. …
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. …
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. …
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. …
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. …
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…