Dog: Gone

A man told me once that there’s more nuclear waste roaming the highways than there is in underground storage. He said they can’t keep it in one spot for too long. (I did not ask who “they” were.) I merely nodded at this possible lie. I found the story too romantic to want to challenge it.

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The Naïfs

I asked her death angel, whom I could barely see that day, why. Why the savagery. She had been, on balance, a good person. Selfish at times, deceptive even. But on balance, I mean. The indistinct angel might have shrugged, I couldn’t be sure.

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The Great Plains

The fence won’t be a deterrent for Liam; even with his skateboard, he’s a climber, and he’s not one to fear consequence or retribution. He has grown up in a trailer with his dad and his sister, the trailer park a tiny communal netherworld separated from the Kansas college town’s outer ring of student housing by a block of untapped woods that will soon be purchased and plowed and built on. For now, big fighting dogs roam unchallenged.

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Coffee Table

HEMNES, named after the Norwegian word for “home,” left with your husband when you asked him to move out. All through the days and weeks that followed, you pushed remnant furniture across hardwood floors, liberated desks and armchairs from parallels, and right angles, arranged rooms for friends who didn’t yet exist.

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Casual America

She’s started refusing furs. She turns up her nose at mink. She will not wear weasel. She won’t allow me the coonskin cap, either. It’s all about collegiate dress, she tells me, and one doesn’t wear furs to lecture.

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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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