The Strangest Science

"Why are you getting dressed?" she asks him. It's pitifully obvious that she's concerned about him backing out of the deal and leaving before morning. Her promise of sunrise coming through the window at the head of her bed wasn't enticing. To him it was a threat.

"I'm not," he gruffly replies, throat hoarse from exhaustion, too many cigarettes and a loud second climax. "I'm only putting my shorts on." He knows his answer won't suffice. He knows a lot more than he lets on, but doesn't let it stop him.

As predicted, his explanation doesn't satisfy her as well as various parts of his body did. They were both naked a minute ago while they laid waste to the sanctity of her bedroom. What changed? She pulls the top sheet over the dark form of her exposed body. A swimmer once; he can tell from the shoulders, arms, hips. It's got to be the fifth one he's landed. The type must gravitate toward him. There were a few state champs in the mix. One broke the other's record, but he never had the heart to tell either. It was strange seeing both of their names on the wall at the high school pool when he worked that summer renovation job. Irony's never lost on the observant.

"But I'm naked. And what if in the middle of the night we want to..." but he doesn't let her finish.

"But what if in the middle of the night someone busts the door down," he jokes. "Have you ever seen a man with no clothes on win a fight? It's unlikely." There's a guy in his union who took a drunken sucker-punch in the back of the head while using a urinal at a bar. As soon as his face bounced off the tile he spun around and swung at his assailant, his arm not the only appendage flailing about in the dim light of the men's room. Who won the fight was never part of the story, but it was enough to make him put the bottle down for good. For better. For best. Looking at the towering, lanky whisp of a man you'd never guess he was a barroom brawler. It's the ones who don't look the part you've got to worry about. It's the innocent girls who curl the most toes behind the blinds. This broad doesn't have any. The neighbors must watch with popcorn. He feels bold enough to ask her. There's nothing to lose anymore. He's gained the highest prize twice over. A dismissal would come as a blessing.

"There's an old ex-convict who lives across the street. He told me he saw that I was cutting people's hair and asked if I'd do his. When he realized how bad it sounded that he'd been looking through my windows he tried to back-track, but it only made it worse."

"So did you cut his hair?"

"Yeah. And he came back to tighten the bolts on my table and chairs afterward since he noticed they were wobbly."

It seems the perfect introduction to an episode of a syndicated detective show. Creep befriends attractive young neighbor. Strumpet disappears. Investigators beat around the obvious bush for the course of an hour minus five commercials. Mystery is finally solved. Justice system fails again through legal loophole regarding collection of evidence. The world is still a dangerous place. Dinner was digested more pleasantly somehow, though. The set is turned off, the alarm clock is set. America goes to bed with a million less brain cells.

"I hope the camera doesn't really put on ten pounds," he says as he waves out the window at the building facing her apartment. She coughs out an accidental laugh and slaps his hand playfully. It almost feels like they know each other for a fleeting moment. The illusion dissipates as fast as it came.

She rolls one leg over him at a time and gets up to use the bathroom. The elastic waistband of his boxers occupy his thumbs as he lays there uncomfortably. It's a relief that she didn't question it further. Forget about kindness. Kill them with laughter, even at your expense. The truth is that he can't feel safe if unclothed in that vulnerable state. There had only been two he could sleep next to naked. He's unsure which was the bigger mistake, trusting them or letting them go.

A familiar chorus plays in the living room where the internet radio was left on for ambience and remains for unwanted nostalgia. "But the truth is I miss you," condemns him in that nasally British croon which spat out four albums, three of which were decent. He can't take the torture, throws the covers off to go nix the noise. When he returns from his silencing trip to the living room he hears the taboo sound of water falling into water through the thin bathroom door and wonders how much of him is leaving her body. All of it, he hopes. There's no room for attachment in a hermit's crusade. It was a pleasant change of scenery, but if home is where the heart is then he lives in another's hands.

By the time she gets done removing her contacts he's already snoring on his stomach, the way he's slept since infancy. His underwear seems higher than when she left the room. It's too dark for her to notice that he's drooling on the pillow. She dozes off shortly afterward, their backs just barely touching. It's the most that one can ask for when compromised with a stranger.

He'll be gone before her alarm clock goes off at 8 a.m. That sunrise won't get the chance to sting his weary eyes. He knows himself too well to risk that. He's working on knowing the world. Their bodies differ in size and shape, but mostly feel the same; their minds are occupied with the wrong questions, let alone answers; their hearts leave much to be desired even though, unlike their lips, they're in the right places. Still, the search fills the days that work used to dictate. It's a tiring job that he reluctantly accepts.


Found and Bound Thermopylae

"Open up or we're breeching the door!" yelled the SWAT cop in Leonard's hallway. There were probably five or six more behind him. It seemed like a shallow threat. All threats were shallow in one way or another if Leonard stopped and thought about it. He didn't like to think about it. It made his head hurt worse than it already did. The voices made so many threats that Leonard had to tune them out somehow. He preferred using classical music, it allowed him to write without bias.

"We'll give you to the count of ten," barked the team leader again. It was hard to respect a man who needed a half-dozen heavily armed thugs standing behind him in order to have the nerve to give orders. Leonard yawned, lit what he figured would be his last cigarette. Funny, he thought, this is the first time I've smoked inside this apartment. It was also not a count of ten, but a countdown from that ominous number. Maybe the commander had read the manual wrong, or at least that part of the script. Leonard took a deep drag and exhaled through his nostrils. He'd never done that before either.

"Don't make us do this, sir," pleaded the adrenaline fueled policeman. Leonard could hear the fear in his voice. He recalled what that quavering tone had sounded like. "We don't want to have to neutralize any threats. Ten..." They must've read up on him, known what he was capable of doing if cornered by the wrong pack of wolves. Leonard was a dog, but they fought just as hard when desperate. He choked on the smoke in his lungs. "Neutralizing threats" was another great euphemism to come from modern-day warfare, much like "engaging targets". Leonard had dabbled in both when called upon to do so. In the flash of a shotgun shell primer he'd be reduced to a target, a sheet of paper, something thin and easy to perforate. He hated what politicians had done with the language he'd loved so dearly. He hated a lot of things and people, but somehow the members of the uniformed hit squad sent to neutralize the threat in Apartment 11 weren't among them. They were only doing their jobs. Leonard missed regular work and admired an ambitious career man.

"Nine, eight, seven," came almost on top of each other. The safeties of various firearms clicked off in the dim light of the tenement corridor. Leonard could hear them through the drywall. It reminded him of flashbulbs going off during a photoshoot of yore. There would be no pictures taken at this crime scene. The right folks would see to that. It was, after all, an election year. Messes of that nature hurt men at the polls. Enough men had hurt due to Leonard's decisions. Well, mostly women in the civilian world, he thought to himself. That list of poor girls grew exponentially. He'd find himself inside one of them eventually. It was easier to stick to sins committed on American soil, though the atrocities were there on both sides of the drink; the atrocities and the victims. He pictured a few of the local variety and wondered if they'd be surprised or not when they heard the news of his demise. He figured they wouldn't. Like most dogs, Leonard was shamelessly predictable.

"Six" and "Five" were more reasonably spaced. A firmness returned to the mouthpiece's timbre, perhaps from the weight of the steel in his hands that he suddenly knew he'd be using. Leonard remembered the feeling too well. Men are born killers and fall into the role quite easily. It's an instinct that can't be bred out of the gene pool. He'd witnessed it overseas. It was appalling how vicious his brethren could be. Those women he'd wronged were replaced in his mind's eye by men he fought and bled next to in the name of a nation that didn't understand. Ramirez was an animal. Slaughtered anything that prayed to the east three times a day without mercy whenever there were no superior eyes watching. Leonard remembered when Rammy took his bullet. Mysteriously, though not written in the official report, it had come from behind him. No one in their platoon asked anything. Leonard was decorated for the skirmish and transferred out to a support position. It was one of the last breaks Uncle Sam would give him. It was one of the few favors he'd incurred after twenty. Sometimes the gods smiled down on the hopeless. Most times it rained holy urine.

"Four. We've only got three left," stated the voice of authority too obviously to be feared. The black gloves were tightening around pistol grips and shotun pumps. There may have also been a few mild erections. Those were the guys you avoided at the bar.

"I've got fifteen," Leonard whispered through the butt of his cigarette as he racked the slide of his Glock, not sure if he'd be able to use it this way. After the ninety-day debriefing that the government mandated before sending him home he swore to never raise a barrel to a two-legged creature again. Three months' time to reprogram an assassin. It seemed the most optimistic estimate going. He'd fought, and in many days died, for his country. What could they begrudge him now other than a closet's worth of broken hearts? The cigarette was barely halfway done, but Leonard smashed it out on the coffee table in front of him. He set the Glock down next to his right thigh. A warrior decided when to fight. A dog was forced into action. Leonard would go out like the former. The sound of Axl Rose begging his mother to bury his pistols in the ground rang in his aching skull. As expected in any stressful situation Leonard laughed at the irony. He wrote once, long ago, that he wouldn't mind dying if the right song was playing. Caution should've been taken in the wish-making process. Prophecies, it seemed anymore, were as self-fulfilling as masturbation.

"Three, two," but One was interrupted by distant shouts from a bullhorn down the stairwell.

"Fall back!" cried an officer with a tinge of terror in his throat. "Wrong coordinates." He meant to say "Wrong building" or "Wrong apartment" or "Wrong anything-else-more-appropriate", but in the new age of law enforcement things were strangely paramilitary. Coordinates, especially wrong ones in Leonard's mind, only existed in places with hard-to-pronounce names depicted by satellite maps.

A cacophony of radio activity filled the building as what sounded like dozens of feet marched down the steps. Amateurs, Leonard thought as he dropped the magazine from his pistol and popped the round out of the chamber, catching the brass-cased bullet in mid-air with a swipe of his left hand. He never heard them turn their safeties back on before leaving. There was always something wrong with the world and the scenes played out in it. This frustrated him to no end. Why couldn't he call a few of the shots outside of his third-floor apartment?

Leonard walked across the room and opened a window to let the smoke out into the crisp November air. It was no time to start living slovenly. There were crucial matters at hand. She was waiting for him in the bedroom. She'd almost missed her shot at immortality. Leonard wouldn't deny her that. He'd fought too hard to come home and wouldn't disappoint.


Conductor, There Must Be Some Mistake

They ride the same train
and don't even know it.
It's almost a sin to smirk at that fact.
Those bodies I've been in
share seats and rub elbows
while bouncing along
eyes fixed on the Hudson.

I wonder if one's held the door
for the other like some trite
video for a song long forgotten.
Then it dawns on me
that the doors are automatic.
My fantasy's deflated.
I go back to swirling ice cubes.
This is what happens when rush
and cocktail hours collide.


deep thoughts with dave vargas

the friendly halfrican hipster (not half rican like yours truly, but part black) who lives below me texted me this evening. offered to give me some chili that he and his lovely ladyfriend made in exchange for a cigarette. i, unashamed of being the building's charity case, agreed to said arrangement. met him out front for a smoke, shot the shit about how ludicrous the fairer sex is, gave him one for the road, and took my little tupperware of chili upstairs to my fortress. he texted me ten minutes later asking how it was; the chili, not the bachelor cave. being that i hadn't eaten it yet but wanted to be polite i said it was amazing and thanked him again. (white lies are ok sometimes.) my creative side went a little overboard by adding that the beer i selected for the late-night mini-meal complemented it quite nicely and my palate was overjoyed. (it's the embellishing that gets you in trouble.) the conversation should've ended there, but it didn't. he went on to inform me that turkey meat was used in the making of the chili. at this point i felt misled, even though i'd fibbed as well. in hindsight, i should've responded by frantically saying i'm deathly allergic to poultry, then flopped around on my floor until it sounded like i was about to crash through his ceiling. after laying motionless for awhile he'd probably come upstairs and bang on my door to see if i was alive or not. i'd just laugh and they there on the faux hardwood floor until the conversation which he'd inevitably be having with his charming better half began mentioning key words like 'paramedics', '911', 'manslaughter', and 'alibi'. then i'd yank my door open really abruptly and shout 'just kidding!' i think this would be hilarious, and no i haven't been drinking. but hey, here he is, texting me yet again tonight to inform me that the bartender i'd sign my worldly possessions over to for a shot at marital bliss is currently slinging drinks from behind the oak at the dive next door. my heart says yes, but my wallet says no. it's a quiet night for me, perhaps interspersed with some hypothetical practical jokes at the expense of friendly neighbors. yes, clearly i need help, though if you actually read all this you may be worse off than i am. my condolences.


Jilling Off Linguistically

It doesn't take much faked goading
for him to recite his latest line.
I wait for the rest of it
that doesn't come.
Time freezes as I try to control my face.
I can't. Never could. Bad liar. Better friend.
My mouth is part of it, which
in turn controls my fingers
that so often get me whacked.
"This is why Bukowski didn't roll
with other writers," I think to myself.
It's like watching the home video
of some self-absorbed whiner's abortion.

("Hypocrite," they're thinking now.
At least I only hang my trash out there.
They can choose to rubber-neck
or drive by.)

His plaintive countenance begs for validation.
My guts churn, but not due to the whiskey.
"It's very raw," I say with conviction. Raw
as in undercooked, incomplete, not ready
to breathe air in the open, critical world yet.
"I like it," and this time I mean the cocktail
swimming in my stomach that enhances my
poor acting skills. Most have some strengths.
We all have our weaknesses. The luckiest slobs
mask the one with the other.
I just keep on drinking and try not to hurt
feelings. At some point during the night
he'll buy me a round. It's too early to
burn bridges. I'm not even seeing double yet
and the hounds don't look like wives.

The ice clinks against my glass
as I pray that no more gems are spewed.
My muzzle has a shelf life.
The truth shall set them free
of any delusions of grandeur.
Stay out of the ring if you can't take the hits.
You do this 'cause you have to
or you don't do it all.
Make the old man proud
for once in your life
like you'll never get the chance to again.

Give a man enough rope and he'll hang himself.
Give him enough words and he'll do the same.
And time?
What do you know of time
other than how to waste it?



Some were standing
others crouched
but the sentiment
stayed the same:
the awkward mix
of fascination
and trauma
associated with
those first glints of death.

The animal, whatever it was:
cat, squirrel, puppy without tags--
laid motionless under
a makeshift paper blanket.
"Here, use this. Don't touch it,"
I could almost hear a parent saying.
The headlights of a van
brought the breath of the young crowd
into view, the cold December night
as good as any for a living thing to die.

When the traffic light turned green
it took a beep from behind me
to bring my focus to the road.
There were far more valuable things
being learned on that sidewalk
than in any classroom or tavern
that those kids would ever enter.

I let my foot off the brake
and scanned the faces of the boys
on the outskirts of the mob.
They were smoking. They were sophomores.
They had sworn they knew it all.
Been there. Done that.
Have the scars and poems to prove it.

Tomorrow, when the blood stains
on the concrete silently remain
the passers by will wonder
what transpired on that sidewalk.
The answer, though they won't know
it, is growth.


Poland is for Lovers

He spins the globe
in his living room
and she stops it with her finger.
She guesses wrong at the continent.
He asks her to name them. She can't.
Calls Africa part of South America.
China and Asia are separate.
Still can't come up with all seven
let alone point them out.
That's when he knows it's over
in more ways than he'd like
to acknowledge. "Some people
major in geography," he snides
"but that seems so cut and dry."
It doesn't sink in that he's
trying to make her feel better
for her lack of fourth-grade
social studies skills.
She'll never know that he thrives
on what's gray, uncut, and wet:
that blurry interface where
discernment reigns supreme.
It's only a matter of time now.
The sacrifice sharpens the daggers.

"Are you on...?" he tries to ask
but is blatantly cut off mid-sentence.
"Don't do it," she responds
putting an oddly playful inflection
on the second word.
It shocks him how many their age
don't bother anymore, and don't
even say so unless asked. Maybe
they're looking to start something, too.
Maybe they're just as lonely.

She lifts the back of her thigh
up with her left hand
granting further access.
Deeper is better in their eyes
unless it's a matter of substance.
He knows what he must do.
He does it.
Both of their minds are elsewhere
by the time it's said and done, only he's
not the one waking up in five hours.

Their farewell in the doorway
may be their last encounter.
"You can stay," he lies
for good measure.
"I have to let my dogs out,"
she graciously declines
following it up with
"But thanks, it was worth it."
When he hears her hit the stairwell
he turns the three locks of his door.
There's something rude about
not waiting until they're out of earshot.
"Worth it," he regurgitates
like last night's bad salami.
None of them can speak of value.
It's a stab in love's cruel dark.

"A dog" one called him recently
but he fancies himself a traveler.
There are many places he'll never see
and many more he wishes he hadn't.
The globe stares from the bookshelf.
It was better when covered in dust.



Crack a porter near
the window, hear a she-cat
get it good.
That tom's got it made
down there in the alley.
When he's done
he's really done.
Make her scream
and make her leave.

Some boyfriend
in the hallway
hums a Christmas carol
more loudly than can
be stomached.
The suds choke
past Adam's Apple
like medicinal black tar.
Those cats don't bring wine.
They don't want to save
any wounded birds, either--
maybe eat them, if anything
and be done with the matter.
"Not tonight, Romeo,"
she expertly plays her rebuttal.
It's healthy to lose so
dare I say
once in a great blue moon.

A thick hot Bloody Mary
flung your boy back in the game.
That pending divorce called up again
asked if things had changed
though, of course, they hadn't:
still two retired whores.
The mattress left the brick
while we got lost in the lie.
A room that had been frigid
was suddenly a sauna.
"Some beds are too big,"
is argued. "Endless springs forever
with no edge in arm's reach."
She disagrees and croons a tune
unlike that hipster's yuletide hymn.
It took some yawns to drop the hint
that the doorknob needed polish.
Another drink was in order
but didn't make it to the tab.

There's mercy in the dance
if you stick to all twelve steps.
This ain't the song of a coal miner's wife.
It's more like the life
after party.


Impressment and 1812

There are men who drive vans
two of them, to be exact
who've turned their heads
from traffic to tell me
I can't go back.
"There are worse things
than being lonely,"
the blue collar sages promise.
I even trust the one
who hasn't given me
a company shirt yet.
Maybe I trust him more.
He lets me wear my own name.

Her change of address
confirmation form was delivered
by my sadistic postman last week.
I tossed it without
the argument
my daylight half
wanted to have.
There is freedom
in an emptier mailbox.
It'll give him less reason
to crumple every envelope
before stuffing it in there.
I don't know what took her
so long to make the alteration
but then perhaps I do
and the nocturnal me
can't blame her:

The Battle of New Orleans
was fought weeks after
the treaty was signed in France.


A Trip to the Mall to Remind Me of Why I Don't Make Them

There couldn't've been
a deeper puddle for me
to step in anywhere in
that miserable parking lot
other than the miniature lake
which greeted my feet like
an unwelcome mat
upon stepping out of my truck.
I lit up a menthol and made
my squishy-soled way to
the northernmost entrance
figuring that heat rises
in Hell as well and I should
get it over with promptly.

When the last drag left my lungs
I entered the portal and walked
all the way to the opposite end
in search of an album released
by a new band with some songs
that almost seemed palatable.
It wasn't there, and neither were
any of the other four records
I sought out in the racks.
The industry's planning on
phasing out tangible musical media
in the hopes of forcing online sales
and I'm its first victim
with my massive CD binders
that'll grow mold in the back seat.
The Loss Management Specialist
or Theft Prevention Technician
or Profit Retention Agent
or whatever the hell
they call security guards
in retail stores these days
looked me in the eyes
and bade me farewell
his sweaty buzzcut seeming less
imposing for a moment.
I didn't fall for the ruse
and stuffed my hands deeper
into the pockets of my sweatshirt
to make him wonder if he'd
done his job that time.

The next stop on my short list
was the chain where I buy
my boxers exclusively.
There's something about
the combination of their
fabric, stitching, array of selection
and perpetual sale price
that draw me to them.
A creature of habit;
who would've thought?
I found three pair
that suited my taste and
walked to the register.
There he was, in gunslinger
flick slow-motion, the tiny
Filipino who'd haunted
my dreams once or twice.
He was still sleeping with
one of the Great Ones
when we started seeing
each other years back.
It didn't take much to pry
her out of his Gollumesque
little clutches, but it still
bothered me knowing
where he'd been, and how.
She also had a habit of giving too
much detail. Maybe she wanted
to make me jealous by recounting
what they'd done in fits of blind
and meaningless passion while
I was still floundering on the fence.
There's no doubt now how I should've
played that out. Given fourth and long
today I'd go for the Hail Mary.
The Flip and I locked eyes briefly
as he headed toward the fitting room.
Something tells me he felt the heat in
my stare and was probably befuddled
as to its fuel. That's how it works
with these green-eyed monsters.
The latter one always despises the former.
I paid for my undies and let that dog lie.

Still seething from the sighting
I pounded the marble floor that
much harder en route to the exit
and safety of my pick-up. The mall
had filled itself with walking excrement
and women who'd never sleep with me.
Every step became a struggle. Window shoppers
tiptoed in my path, forcing me to weave.
The gauntlet had been laid out
for the defeated noontime shopper.
At one point behind me a flustered father
told his six-year-old son that he'd have to
walk the rest of the way, that he'd become
too heavy to carry, that he, essentially
was all on his own. It reminded me
of riding my dad's shoulders as a kid
his head between my knees, his hands
holding my ankles. I felt his long strides
in the form of gentle bounces that, though high
were somehow safer than the ground.
There was one time when we'd taken on
a walk too ambitious for our own good
that sticks out most in my mind.
The fireworks were over and most of
our quiet town was heading back
lawnchairs and blankets and coolers in hand.
I was young then, not up to his waist, and
my legs were so short that it took three
steps to keep up with one of his.
My flat feet were weary, my legs were
ablaze with lactic acid, and a desperate
whining fit was only a stone's throw away.
"Do you want me to carry you?" he asked
or maybe I requested it and am
revising history again; regardless, he lifted
me up and I rode home perched upon the shoulders
of a man who could do no wrong
in the eyes of a boy too young to question.
When did I get too hard to carry?

I searched my skull for the answer to that quandary
and before I had one I was at the glass doors.
A cigarette was out of the question. At the rate
things were going if I waited any longer
my truck might be stolen by the time
I got back to where it had been parked.
My wipers stopped squeaking
on the ride home. That, or I was too gone
to notice them. The rain, brother--
it's been here for years.


Take Your Own Advice, Descartes

There are many women
I've met already
whom I could've held
for a long time;
maybe not forever
since that's not realistic
and they always find the ogre
but for a fair share of birthdays
and an album of drunken walks home.
To love is a noble aspiration
and anything worth your blood
takes work. It's an effort to trust
another beautifully flawed
collection of cells. Anyone
who says that God's greatest gift
falls in your lap is a fool
who should be silenced
with a muzzle or a smack
or a crippling case of the clap.
Liquor's not free or He would've
made rivers of whiskey. Love
along the same lines, takes
a conscious effort.

But where does one draw
that holiest of lines?
How far are we to go
on our quests to find
the partners whose eyes
reflect our souls?
That's the rub
that faces us
and for an addict
or a hermit
or an only child
with daddy issues
it's exponentially harder.
There must be some retention
of clarity, focus, patience
but don't trouble yourself
with dignity. A lot of proud men
have died alone amongst
a pile of spent shells and with
a long list of regrets
most of them being
things they didn't do
for the sake of an image.
One wastes time with
too much fear of losing
that which can be stripped
by an opened closet door.
We've all got enough
skeletons to make
our closest friends cringe.

Be more concerned with
the person who knows
what you look like
when you're not
sucking it in, that your
worst morning breath
may kill some small insects
and that you never really got over
the time your best friend
stole your high school
sweetheart. They're out there;
hundreds of thousands, in fact.
The Law of Averages is on your side.
Keep treading. There's no rush.
If you get stuck late at work
I'll leave the light on for you.

Sorry For Being Here

A weak start's
like a bad kiss
but this one cannot
be avoided.

He texted at eight
called at ten
and when he didn't
hear back for two hours
knew that I was sleeping.
When I roused myself
and checked my phone
I considered waiting
for the sleep to leave
my throat, but there's
no fooling a guy
raised on the corners
where he threw dice
way back when.
"Mornin', Sunshine," he says
and I deserve it. "Are you available
tomorrow? I could use a hand."
The gentleman that he is
he acts like I'm not desperate.

"Yeah. Sure. If you need me
I'm there," I assure him
while standing in the kitchen
rubbing crust from my left eye.
I inspect the hanging fruit baskets
and pluck a few rotten
items to discard. I always
get to them too late
bruises and soft spots irreparable
or a skin hardened like armor.
"Great. See you tomorrow,"
he says in his Bronxese
that's come to be a blanket.
"Sounds good," I say as the pear
thuds against the bottom
of the trash can. The lime
follows too, never reaching
its intended cocktail.
If only I'd done the same.

I go to the bathroom
and brush my teeth.
There's a hair too long
to be mine in the sink.
I can't tell the color
to pinpoint the source.
There've been options lately.
I've been taking my victories
in small doses and my gin
with extra rocks.
I've been taking
it all on the chin
and it shows.

The mirror's unkind
as the pillows have been
to my hair. There's
no salvaging what's left
without a healthy splash of water.
I run the faucet and wait
for the warm molecules
to rise through the
copper piping.
Even on my days off
I'm haunted.
It's a hell of a way
to start the afternoon.

I'm sorry I had to share
it with you.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Today it came
freshly postmarked
and comically late:
The first card received
at my new apartment.
Thanksgiving may have strafed
on by like a Corsair, but my friendly
State Farm insurance agent
wanted to wish me a happy one
regardless, his laser-etched
John Hancock making it
all-the-more personal.
I guess I'll magnet it
to the fridge with that
political calendar I got
in the mail. It's good to
have friends in high places.
It's good to have friends
where you can keep an eye
on them, like across the room
on the Maytag door.

Speaking of doors
any knock on mine is usually
unexpected. I slide to the peephole
since creeping makes the boards creek.
Last week it happened
at my most paranoid moment
right after drowning my angels
in sleep. Who knew that the FedEx guy
banged with such authority? I thought
it was the end. I answered accordingly
aside from only donning shorts.
Luckily he didn't scope the hardware
behind the door. "Sorry it took awhile,"
I lied with a forced cough for effect
as I scribbled a fake signature
with my unoccupied left hand.
"I've been a bit sick lately,"
though maybe that wasn't fictitious.