Archive for September, 2009
Sweet summer brings my feet to white sand
The thick mask of soon melted cream covers my bareness.
Intense fumes of salty sweat, smeared with peanut butter
begin to take over the air.
Red Hot stinging begins to pierce and poke.
My now juicy peach fuzz skin blushes reds and pinks
as it’s peeled away with the bronze sand.
Soothing Banana Boat soaks into my inflamed back
My skin breathes for moisture
Late noon hits
Coating my body like a warm flannel blanket
freshly applied on a tired twin bed
Feelings of belonging
Raw Toes, beat red cheeks
Late noon strikes like a poisonous snake
Victim to the heat I escape to the nearest umbrella
Relieved, I am shaded
covered, out of reach from my predator
lemonade soothes as water soaks and relieves.
Do not ask
the lion tamer
to swing that cat
from the trapeze.
He would not
catch paws with hardy
hands, flip and twirl,
so high above.
Do not ask to
have them stacked in
with laced necks lifting
Don’t ask to see all at once,
parts and wholes.
Three rings set
on the circus floor
the circling tent
a spiral spun globe.
What can we know?
A circumference locks in
Piled to the brim,
infinite points to count.
What can we know?
A settled place,
golden rings wound in
the posy of
the next, the next, the next,
one such final hoop
engulfed in flames
with heat untamed.
And behind, the cracking whip
cheerful screams from children in
“Please come quickly,” she calls from
frown full of diamonds and dust.
I find her
balanced before the
mirror, exploring her scalp with a
She’s like some kind of
magician – my sister, in autumn -
pulling my heart from a hat.
A comb parts and she brings my hand into the
warm, thin brown.
“Can you see it?” she asks,
guiding me to the spot, size of a
quarter, cool as an egg.
“It’s nothing,” I say,
the sink stained
Mom’s hair dye- the
faucet dripping like a
“What do you mean nothing?” she asks,
Her walnut eyes, fixed and firm-
Her fingers on mine, quick and small-
still searching and straining,
she’s sawing me in half.
Outside it’s almost dark,
though I swear it’s still early.
She shakes my hand away, and
a dead branch at my side.
Eyes on her, stomach full of
she rakes strands across
Sick like a tree-stump,
Suddenly I see her as a baby-
head bald and
pure as a pinecone,
beautiful and strange.
Now her forest face is still-
Somehow I hear a bird
A barrette bites through,
and all is
roots beneath the earth.
It’s clear those treehouse eyes
could crack, so-
I say again,
aware of my own hair,
tickling my neck.
I have just decided that it will be a pretty good idea for me to write a book. The reasons this is a pretty good idea for me to do are as follows:
1. People who write books are very rich.
2. I have things to say, some of which are literary in nature.
3. I don’t have a lot of money at the moment.
I realize now that when inspiration raps suggestively on your door with her brass and mahogany walking stick, you not only have to invite her in, but you have to offer her a comfy spot on your polarbearskin rug and a huge mug of vintage red vino. You have to cozy up next to her. You have to turn on the charm. Later, as the night progresses, if you can convince Inspiration it’s not the worst idea ever, you make the switch to forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor. If all goes well, before you know it, you are licking granules of salt off each other’s moist genitalia and gulping down amber shots of tequila together, crawling across the hallway through a curtain of beads to the hide-a-bed in your spare bedroom where you proceed to do it doggy-style twelve times over, until your penis is raw and throbbing and almost falling off and her vagina has been rubbed totally smooth and flat like a stone on the beach. Afterwards, you make sure to give her an old sweatshirt and some clean boxers to sleep in so she’s comfortable. You leave a glass of water and two Aspirins on the nightstand. You give her money for a cab in the morning, but not too much money, because too much money could possibly make Inspiration feel like a ho. Then, when she’s gone, you relax and let out the fart that you’ve been painfully holding in for over nine hours and you smoke an old wooden pipe packed with hashish and drink some rare exotic coffee from Botswana and know full well that you have gotten exactly what it is that you needed to get at this particular juncture in your life—which, I don’t care who you are, is a nice and fulfilling way to feel.
Certainly, there are those of you out there who know precisely what I’m talking about, and you, no doubt, will be the precious few who understand my passionate intent, then, to write my book in manner that renders it an enduring piece of art. The reasons I have decided that my book will endure are as follows:
1. The best books, as far as I can tell, have always withstood the test of time.
2. The longer a book is around, the more money it will make.
3. I don’t have a lot of money at the moment.
As a point of clarification, it should be known that by “enduring piece of art” I, of course simply mean, “a book that will continue to be read many eons from now in a future when literature is consumed via high-tech holograms rather than typewritten pages.” Clearly, in order to appeal so universally—across cultures and generations and advances in holographic paper—this book must be about Life, encapsulating all of the intricacies and complexities that life has to offer. Everyone should be able to easily relate to this subject matter, because everyone is, after all, alive.
You’re probably asking yourself, what makes me so special that I should be able to write a whole book? What gives me the right to fill up so many pages with words and then number the pages sequentially and commission some semi-known name in the world of oil painting to come up with an awesome cover idea? And the answer, quite honestly, is I have every right to do such a thing. For I have recognized inspiration. I have paid attention to the soft rapping at my front door. And in this way I am infinitely more special than the next guy. We who put pencil to paper have already separated ourselves from the rest, if only because we have taken that first step. Watch for us, and join us if you wish. We are the ones in the expensive clothes, with the Mexican alcohol on our lips, and the spicy smell of sex lingering victoriously about our pubes.
 Obviously, this excludes ghosts or the undead, both of whom I am, in all honesty, not overly concerned with for a couple of reasons:
1. Because they could still probably relate to the book, assuming that they were – at one time or another – alive.
2. Because, as common sense would dictate, ghosts do not use actual currency, but rather gold coins they have pilfered from pirate ships, and therefore would not even be able to purchase said book when it would eventually hit stores in early 2027.
The residue of a day’s labor
will have no slumbering wash tonight.
The clock routines are left like
crusting sauce on a plate in the sink.
Creature comforts like unconsciousness-
I resist them,
Diligently switching the biorhythmic radio knob
from classic to new wave,
I turn a dry eye from dreamland.
Often what was given is not enough.
I claim more hours for the present.
Like a Cortez or a Desoto, I rename moments
I’ve discovered with monikers in my own tongue.
I use signifiers I can understand.
In sleep we exhibit child-like faith
that the sun will rise.
Awake, I hold vigil for the loss of light.
Dear Aaron Drake,
Hello and Good Day Dear Friend, Beloved in Christ, Prospective Employee
Longest time. How are you today?
Calvary greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope all is well together with your family, if so glory be to God almighty. I hope this mail meets you in a perfect condition.
We have never meet before – neither in person nor by correspondence, but I believe that it takes just one day to meet or know someone either physically or through correspondence. I have not considered this medium to be the best manner to have approached you on this issue being that the internet has been greatly abused over the recent years and is very unsecured for informations of vital importance. I have decided to take the chance seeing that no other means could have been faster and more efficient than the E-mail.
The temptation to ignore it as frivolous could come into your mind; but please consider it a divine wish and accept it with a deep sense of humility. I have to say that I have no intentions of causing you any pains so I decided to contact you through this medium. I sincerely ask for forgiveness for I know this may seem like a complete intrusion to your privacy but right about now this is my best option of communication.
For security reasons I can’t disclose my full identity to you until I am sure of your cooperation.
You might be wondering why am I communicating with you. Believe it or not it is simply because you and my late client have the same surname. I got your contact through my personal search and though this is coincidental, I strongly believe you could help me in the task which is the distribution of my late clients funds. You were revealed as being quite astute in private entrepreneurship, and one has no doubt in your ability to handle a financial business transaction and I want to accept as true that you will be very honest, unswerving and capable of assisting in this business venture. It gave me the greatest joy, that you are the one I have been looking for.
I am using this opportunity to thank you for your great effort to our unfinished transfer of fund to your house address due to one reason or the other best known to you. Be informed that I was later successfull in transferring the fund out though your assistance and cooperations of a new partner from Japan and from Paraguay. Presently i’m in Paraguay for investment projects with my own share of total sum. Meanwhile, I didn’t forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring this funds despite that it failed us some how. Understand that the fault is not from me. I had no choice than to do what is lawful and just in the sight of God for eternal life and in the sight of man for witness of God & His Mercies and glory upon my life. It is by the grace of God that I received Christ, having known the truth.
I would like you to read this email with understanding and get back to me if you are interested to work with me which you will be paid for.
We might have the answer.
We are currently looking for representatives who can help us establish a medium of getting to our customers in Europe and America/Canada as well as making payments through you as our payment officer.
There is a company out here known as Exchange Mobile Tele Co (EXMT). This one as you can see is climbing, but by just looking at it I can tell it’s gonna explode. I am contacting you for guidelines for investment in your country, this however is not mandatory nor will I in any manner compel you to honour against your will.
We had a huge sum of $11.000.000USD (Eleven Million United States Dollars) which we intend to invest in your country as your Country being as economic conducive for investment and the people as transparent and trust-worthy to engage in business. But I want to inform you that I have successfully transferred the fund to my bank account. Due to your effort, sincerity, courage and trustworthiness you showed at the course of the transaction I want to compensate you and show my gratitude to you with the sum of $400,000.00 United State Of America Dollars.
As you read this, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday.
Let me start by introducing myself to you. My name is SALAM JAFER, a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E. I have previously held the post of Chief Finacier Officer of the STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, a 23 year’s old female, director of foreign operations of my Bank, the daughter of Late Sherrif Kindimbu from Weste Africa Nigeria, legal practitioner with Ben Koh & Associates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Executive Director and General Manager of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd., 34 years old, Attorney Gen. THE TRUST BANK GHANA LIMITED, GHANA ACCRA BRANCH (TTB), an halfcast, married to Late John Williams from England, a transfer supervisor operations in investment section in Bank of China Ltd., and the Secretariat of the BOCHK Charitable Foundation 13/F. Bank of China Tower, 1 Garden Road, Hong Kong and most recently, the daughter of Mr. Kazim Doe a highly reputable business man (A Major Cocoa Exporter) who passed away last year July 1, 2006 in Paris during one of his business trips, though his death was linked or rather suspected to have been master minded by an uncle of ours who travelled with him at that time. But only God knows the truth!
My mother died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days when I was only 3 years old after giving birth to my younger brother (Sizwe).
Before her death I got born-again and dedicated to Christ. Since her death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is strongly against. I am now a new christian convert, suffering from long time cancer problem.
I have been diagnosed with prostate and esophageal Cancer that was discovered very late due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about a few WEEKS to live according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it.
I am a dying woman who have decided to donate what I have to you. I am 59 years old and I was diagnosed for cancer about 2 years ago, immediately after the death of my husband, who had left me everything he worked for.
Before the death of my husband,he told me on his sick bed that he deposited some money with the United Bank for Africa plc(UBA) in Nigeria, the sum of Fifteen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars (Usd$15.5M). Actually he was a close ally to the late brutal military president that looted the government treasury to his fill. This is the reason why I have chosen to do it and want you to be my partner to realize my aim.
He told me that Nigerian Government will not allow me to make this claim since I am a citizen of Nigeria My husband told me that I can only get the fund claimed through the help of a foreigner like you, and that was exactly what happened. I made up my mind to travel abroad to leave the rest of my life and continue to do the work of God as a missionary. I called my late husband lawyer to find out if the fund is still in contact in that bank, to enable me raise some money to continue my mission, to my greatest surprise it was still in contact.
And he also confided in me the last time he was at my office that no one except me knew of his deposit in my bank. So, Thirty million ($30,000,000.00) United State Dollars is still lying in my bank and no one will ever come forward to claim it.
My bank now expects a next-of-kin to claim the funds as the beneficiary. Efforts have been made by to get in touch with the Late Wellstone Paul David family or relative but to no avail.
All you have to do is to act as the nextofkin of the dead man and we can claim it(19mUSDollars).
Against this backdrop, my suggestion to you is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand as the next of kin to General Mohammed Jassim AlI so that you will be able to receive his funds. I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful. Another option is to arrange for someone else, a foreigner to act as the next of kin of the late man so that he will claim the money.
I am writing this from my laptop computer in my hospital bed where I wait for my time to come. I pray that God uses you to support and assist me with good heart. From all indications, my condition is serious and according to my late husband doctor it is quite obvious that I may not survive the sickness. As a christian, I beleived God and I know that I will not die, I will leave to declare the glory of God.
I have been touched by God to donate from what I have inherited from my late husband to the you for the good work of God, rather than allow my relatives to use my husband hard earned funds ungodly. Please pray, that the good Lord forgive me my sins. I have asked God to forgive me and I believe he has because He is a merciful God. I will be going in for an operation tomorrow morning.
I have Paid the fee for your Cheque Draft but the manager of Eko Bank Benin told me that before the check will get to you that it will expire.
I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few weeks to live. It is my last wish to see this money distributed to charity organizations anywhere in the World. Because relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness, I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them. Please, Please, I beg you in the name of God to help me Stand-In as the benefIcIary and collect the Funds from the Bank. I want a person that is God-fearing who will use this money to fund churches, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is maintained.
At the moment I cannot take any telephone calls right now due to the fact that my relatives are around me and my health status. I have adjusted my WILL and my lawyer is aware I have changed my will you and he will arrange the transfer of the funds from my account to you.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is my comforter.
I decided to WILL/donate the sum of $5,500,000 (five million five hundred thousand dollars) to you for the good work of the Lord, and also to help the motherless and less privilege and also for the assistance of the widows according to (JAMES 1:27).
I have notify Mr.Sammie Alexander where I deposited my money to issue you international certified bank draft cashable at your bank.
This would mean that the proceeds of the said funds would be released to you. Once the funds have been transferred to your nominated bank account we shall then share in the ratio of 70% for me, 30% for you. After the release of the funds to you,we shall then share it mutual,which will be 70% to me and 30% to you. You will keep 85% for him and 15% for your self for helping. It has been agreed that you will be compensated with 30% of the remitted funds, while I keep 60% as my share and 10% is bee n set aside for both local and international expenses that might be incurred in actualizing this transaction.
Presently, all the Documents concerning the FUND are with me, now that my sickness has gone to this stage, I am scared and I want the fund to be used for the work of God all over the world. I have prayed and told God to direct me to an honest christian who will receive this fund and utilise it together with me and for things that will glorify the name of God. After my prayers, I decided to contacted you alone my beloved in Christ.
I wish you all the best and may the good Lord bless you abundantly, and please use the funds well and always extend the good work to others. Contact my lawyer Bill Graham with this specified email (email@example.com ) and tell him that I have WILLED ($5,500,000.00) to you and I have also notified him that I am WILLING that amount to you for a specific and good work. I know I don t know you but I have been directed to do this. Please I will like you to accept this token with good faith as this is from the bottom of my heart.
However, if this business proposition offends your moral ethics, do accept my sincere apology.If on the contrary you wish to achieve this goal with me, kindly get back to me with your interest immediately for further details.
My dear friend I will like you to contact the Mr.Sammie Alexander for the collection of this international certified bank draft. So I told him to cash $850,000.00 all the necessary arrangement of delivering the $850,000.00 in cash was made with GLOBAL MAX COURIER COMPANY.
Thanks and God bless.
I want you to know that I have had everything planned out so that we shall come out successful. I have an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Col. Hosam Hassan, all that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names, Contact phone and fax numbers and Address so that the attorney can commence his job. After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also fill in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and of probate in your favour for the move of the funds to an account that will be provided by you.
There is no risk involved at all in this matter, as we are going to adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents. Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion in all matters concerning this issue.
I will use my position and influence to effect legal approvals and onward transfer into your account. Indicate your interest by sending by my email firstname.lastname@example.org
I have contacted an attorney who will prepare the legal documents that will back you up as the next of kin to General Mohammed Jassim Ali, all what is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names, private phone number and Address so that the attorney can commence his job. After you have been made the next of kin, the attorney will also fill in for claims on your behalf and secure the necessary approval and letter of probate in your favor for the transfer of the funds to an account that will be provided by you with my guidance.There is no risk involved at all in the matter as we are going adopt a legalized method and the attorney will prepare all the necessary documents.
So that he will submit it to the courier company where I directed him for the check to be sent to your designated address without any delay. Please do let me know immediately if you receive it so that we can share the joy after all the sufferness at that time ok.
In the moment, Am very busy here because of the investment projects which I and the new partner are having at hand, finally, remember that I have forwarded instruction to the secretary on your behalf to instruct the courier company to send the check to you as soon as you send your details information without delay, so feel free to get in touch with Mr SMIT MOOR he will inform courier to send the check immediately to you without any delay as I instructed him to do.
But my question is:
1- Since we have not met in person, can we completely trust you?
2- Can you honestly help us as your own children?
3- What lucrative business in your country do you suggest we invest on?
Please you are advice to furnish me with your personal information.
3. Marital Status:
8. Country Of Residence:
9. Telephone Number (Country Code) – (Area Code) – Phone Number):
10. Office Number (Country Code) – (Area Code) – Phone Number):
11. Cell Number: (Country Code) – (Cell Phone Number):
12. Fax Number:
14. A COPY OF YOUR PICTURE
And finally after that I shall provide you with more details of this operation.
Please endeavor to observe utmost discretion and confidentiality in this matter until the task is accomplished as I don t want anything that will Jeopardize my last wish.
And also I will be contacting with you by email as I don t want my relation or anybody to know because they are always around me.
PLEASE REPLY ME TO MY PRIVATE EMAIL
Awaiting your urgent reply via my email address:
Thank you immensely for your considerations and hope to hear from you soon. Your earliest response will be highly appreciated as that would enable us to start something immediately.
Respectfully Submitted, God be with you. Kind and Best Regards, Yours Faithfully, Thank you and may God Bless you and your family. With God all things are possible.
Your Sister in Christ,
MR. SALAM JAFER
Taken from email messages collected between April 2007 and September 2009. Sections culled represent common themes and formal structures found in a majority of the messages.
We never thought we’d live to see the day where an innocuous literary magazine gets a piece of hate mail, but today we have been proved wrong. (We may be being a tad hyperbolic using the word “hate,” but it sounds better than “rudely inquisitive.”)
With all due respect, why would a writer write for no pay? Would you work free to get “experience”? Good luck with your project. Maybe you’ll find a good writer who does pro bono work.
-Xavier P. Timberwood*
You just wrote that for free.
While getting paid to write is delightful, we feel that there is more to it than money. The point of our site is to encourage storytelling and promote general goodness at a time when things seem bleak.
With all due respect, if you have no interest in participating in our project we’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t take time out of your day to email us your groundless negativity.
Have a great weekend.
Not groundless negtivity [sic], just curiosity.
It took only about 30 seconds out of my day.
But despite your counter-attack attitude, I really do wish you luck. The more journalism the better.
Have a good weekend,
-Xavier P. Timberwood
We are somewhat regretful in engaging in such jejune behavior, but couldn’t help ourselves. We even felt bad after his (disingenuous after-thought of an) email back to us. But really? A literary magazine?
*Names have been changed
“Oh, it was a gift from my brother, originally; definitely quite a gift, but he’s quite a brother;” spoken in a well-tempered, subdued tone with what was almost a laugh. “He’s an art dealer, works mostly in Italy. It’s been in storage, we just don’t have a good spot on the wall for it.”
“But it’s a Frenhofer? It’s real?”
”Yeah: very life-like; no one else could get the kind of shadows or the feeling of distance that he could. This is a later piece too, one of the last he finished. It’s a shame he ended up killing himself.”
”I don’t understand, you’re only asking five dollars?”
”Yeah, that’s it.”
”Yes, but five? This is obviously a fake, there’s no other reason you would do this.”
”Yeah, yeah,” I paused to think about this. Actually, I had already considered this problem: people thinking it would be a fake–but I couldn’t come up with any clever or charming way to sell people on the point. Could I at least look like I had thought about it, genuinely, rather than thinking about it only to try to think my way past them? Maybe the sound of defeat in my voice would work. “There’s no way I can get you to believe me, is there? But I suppose I could just charge you more.”
He seemed to get the joke, but chose to ignore it. “God . . . cheap art: that’s so privileged. I’m actually feeling sick.” He looked up as he put his hands on his waist, and had a look of disgust that was so emotionally chiseled and perfect that I was momentarily distracted.
”Forget it.” He started to walk away and mumbled something that sounded like “bourgeois faggot” underneath his breath. That seemed a little too unbelievable for me, so I ignored it. The day was heating up, pushing down with sweat and light, evaporating the dew from my lawn, bleaching out the sheet I had put under my old C.D.s, trade paperbacks, and other things that were making my house feel cluttered. I hated having garage sales, but these things looked so cheap in my house that they almost seemed to be acting rude; out they went.
It took about an hour before someone looked at the painting again. He parked his Range Rover right in front of my drive-way and came to the painting as if he had made an appointment with it. But that’s crazy: I’d never seen him before and the painting can’t make phone calls. He motioned towards me and started. He pointed, not at the painting, but right near it. He probably wasn’t pointing at my bushes, so I assumed he was asking about the painting.
”What is this?”
”It’s a Frenhofer”
”Frenhofer . . . I know that from something: Flaubert? Nah, maybe Balzac or Trollope or some other French dude.” He paused and seemed rather to watch the painting than look at it. The face of his chrome watch gleamed in the sun and he continued. “Those guys . . . those guys are such writers, such sonsabitches, such brutal ironists. I work in T.V., trying to bring some of that realist irony into the tube, myself.”
”Oh, you produce?”
”Nah, nah. Strictly creative. I’m a writer for that show ‘The Hills’. Actually, I don’t really write; I accentuate the finer points of the girls’ lives; it’s supposed to be a reality show but — So 21st century Balzacean. That Lauren Conrad, she’s a master satirista; ironically, she has no idea . . . maybe her and her roommate can make fun of him and call him ‘Ball Sack’ or something, ’cause I’d love to reference him in the show. I should just throw some novel or something in their apartment and maybe they’ll just bring it up on their own.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I decided to laugh. The heat was wearing me down.
”So. If you’re interested, it’s only five dollars. No frame though.”
“Yup. Cash only.”
“I don’t get it.”
“I don’t get it.”
“What don’t you get?”
“Five bucks? That’s a joke. Where’s the camera?”
“This is either ‘Candid Camera’ or you’re an asshole. Which is it?”
“Well, I certainly don’t feel like an asshole.”
“Well, then, fuck you, asshole.” I barely noticed how red his face had become before he was stomping away. Obviously, I must have been more rude than I imagined; but he had just gotten to his car when he was on his way back, almost skipping rather than stomping.
“Wait . . . so, is there a camera here?” He had some gleam of humiliated interest in his eyes.
“Well, no. Listen, I’m sorry for seeming a little rude, or oblique, or however it is that I’m coming off. But yes, the painting is unbelievably inexpensive. I’d rather it wasn’t in a collection or a museum, for however long that can last, so I’m looking for private buyers.”
“Well, I don’t get it; but I’ll be back. My friend is a collector, and I want to make sure it’s real before I buy it.”
“You know, you could just buy it. I’ll let you return it if it’s not what you’re looking for.” He seemed to consider this. But while he was thinking, he turned around and started walking to his car. “I’ll come by later,” and he left.
As I started packing up, one last interested, would-be customer came by.
“Hey honey, they have a Frenhofer replica over here.”
“How are you?”
“Great, it’s been a busy day.”
“How much for this? With the frame.”
“Nice. My wife’s sister really likes this guy.”
“Oh, a fan.” Easy sale. I was having trouble deciding whether to tell him or not. He was digging through his pocket for the money when I decided that it wouldn’t matter. “This is real, you know.”
“Well, life does feel a little dream-like these days.”
I laughed, but just a little. “I mean, it’s real.”
He stopped digging. “Sorry?”
“The painting, it’s actually a Frenhofer.”
“Oh, I know, it’s the Catherine Lescault.” He started digging again.
“I mean, he actually painted this one. This is legitimate.” He had the bill out, but he stopped and stared at the painting instead. He looked up at me with some kind of suspicion before looking back at the painting. I knew I had lost the sale.
“You’ve already sold me.” He thought I was bullshitting him; God knows why this would stop him from buying anything. He stayed motionless as I answered him.
“My brother’s an art dealer–this was a gift.”
“Wait . . . it is real . . .” He turned his head slightly and something in his eyes changed. “You know, at once, that sounds really exciting, and actually, unbelievable. But really, that’s just going to be a pain in the ass; I’d have to buy a nice frame and worry about something happening to it . . . I really like it though.” He almost seemed to hesitate here, “Maybe I’ll just go buy a knock-off or something.”
The wind picked up a tad, and if you couldn’t have heard it, you would think the painting, the entire object, began to animate; as if it was attempting to tantalize the would-be buyer into a purchase, shimmering in the sunlight as it moved, showing off its authentic aura.
“You’d rather buy a poster?” I laughed a little. “But that’ll probably cost more.”
“Sure. But it isn’t worth as much; it’s less to worry about.” As he walked away, he turned around to add, “It’s kinda funny: I probably would have bought it if you never said anything.” I nodded.
At that point, I decided it wasn’t worth telling people that the painting was real. But by that point, it was so late in the morning that the thrill of garage sale shopping looked about as big of a waste of time as it was. The warmth of the late morning sun had turned into an early afternoon heat, and the diffused quality of the light, which once offered such a soft and indistinct partitioning from the dreamworld to the day, was becoming too bright to be comfortable, over saturating the sensitive eyes of bargain hunters with yellows and whites beyond their wildest and most haunting daydreams. Aside from looking terrible in the stark daylight, the Frenhofer was probably getting ruined in this kind of light. I packed everything up from the lawn. Frenhofer had his chance this weekend but decided to get a sunburn instead of being sold at the kind of bargain price that you could only find in fiction. I laid him out behind the garbage cans to save myself the misery of finding him hidden amidst cardboard boxes and boogie boards years from now.
That night I went to work on my novel. I had a sudden spark of inspiration last summer while at the beach; I saw a plastic bag floating through the sea, dancing through the liquid as if it were full of life. My novel was about these non-degradable pieces of trash, and how micro-biological creatures would ban together and form colonies over the entire surface of trash like this; eventually, the colonies, forming a sort of massive micro-biological commune, would begin to move the trash through the effort of their collective will; they would actually use the trash as a vehicle, while simultaneously making it appear as if the trash were moving on its own. I really had no strong ideas about what this meant, but the chapter I was currently writing was about the media’s portrayal of an incident in which a child had suffocated when a bag had rolled onto his head. Although they had no clear evidence that this bag was in fact a bag on which one of these communes had been established, the story was still spun as an act of willful malevolence, which incited a nation-wide occasion of plastic burning–I had no idea where to go from there; I figured I could just keep rolling one idea into another until it felt right. But not that night. After the giant bonfire was beginning to cloud out the sun, I went to bed.
At around two o’clock, amidst dreams and the tangle of my wife’s long legs, I heard a car in the alley. Strange that anyone would be using the alley this late; stranger still was the sudden snapping sound as the car passed by the bedroom window. A hushed bundle of excited whispers followed and seemed to incite the engine, which started away twice as loud and twice as fast. I got out of bed, walked to my window and looked down to see the Frenhofer in two pieces.
A dash of cold from the air outside the window, was so fresh and chilling that i dreamed of domesticating it and keeping it inside. It was some chill which seemed as if it would never leave the back alley; not until this city was drowning in hot, burning trash; some ridiculous bonfire, where everyone would turn out what they had previously loved and burned it like garbage; wine would be spilling out of sweaty hands and grotesque smiles, and everyone would, I hope to god, at least feel good in that one stupid moment. I looked up into the night, and the unbelievable crept into shape before my eyes. “Goddamnit,” I was deeply bitter at this point. I swear I had no other name for what I was seeing: “A fucking UFO? Why is my life turning into some cheap science fiction cliché?”–that, with a tremble and a heart-shiver, I woke. It was a dream.
The morning light was back, just as warm and diffused as the previous day. I got some of the empty wine bottles from the kitchen and went to take them out back. When I turned the corner and looked at the garbage pales the painting wasn’t crushed; it wasn’t even there anymore.
There is a man that sits near the coast
He doesn’t care for the warmth today;
He sits to listen to what matters most
This coast is wide and is home with gray
He looks through his green bottle worn from the tide
With muscles and pictures that live inside
Nothing to lose, for the sea is full with hope
The mans eyes are hopeful for the sign with the tide
His daughter left him, her life was new
She started a new beginning before he was through
Her father told her he’d be waiting by the salty side
For when she would come to brighten his blue eyes
The days are heavy
The tide has nothing new to show,
But the man will wait until he sees his sign
The good ol’ days when she used to like to twirl in his arms
Daddy’s arms are getting old
He has a worry in his eye
This man that sits near the coast
He sits to listen to what matters most.