Tenderness

I have a friend who is nagged by this memory of a very indecent Garfield comic strip. He says it is actually quite sexy, but incredibly perverse, and not just because it involves an anthropomorphic cat and meatloaf.

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Incision

There is a museum of feathers
in that wisdom tooth: this is the real
reason your dentist is taking it out.
The insects of his anxious fingers
pry apart sprays of raw tissue,
bare pink stalactites of your mouth.

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Gloria

Gloria watches him intently, her perfect first child.

More swimmers arrive and go to the raft. Her son swims away from them and joins her on the shore.

“I knew you would come in when other people arrived. I know how you are,” she says. “You have always been a loner.”

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Thirteen Stages of Grief

Blacking Out

I remember not realizing I was only wearing underwear and a T-shirt until I caught one of the responding police officers checking out my ass. White granny-panties with pink polka dots and a man’s neon green tank top with Kennebunk Maine written across the chest. We went there every Fourth of July. I’d bought the shirt only a month earlier. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear it again.

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Valentine Springs

Shortly after her first period, Valentine begins finding traps around her house. At first they are small—snares made of shoelace that snake along the hallway, glue traps in her bedroom closet—and sporadic. In no time, though, she’s finding larger traps: nets that span the length of her driveway, fishing lures cast from panel vans, muscle cars, matte-black Mustangs measled with Bondo. 

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Hurt

He snaps off the radio and goes after the man, asking himself what kind of person would be contemptuous of another man’s tears—whipping himself towards righteousness, he thinks his rage is not with the man in particular but a condemnation of a prevalent attitude toward vulnerability: that our feelings are excremental, involuntary, a mere accident of our relationship with the world, motivating but unwilled, thus in some essential way not our own; an avalanche coming down upon the self.

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Touching

Across the desert, marines are touching themselves. This is happening. One is slouched against the rear wall of a guard post at the north-facing perimeter of a forward operating base unbuttoning his trousers to air out his barrel, to clear out his bore before his partner returns.

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