Bamboo and rain drum the time I was a child and my mother was mapping the neighborhood dynasty with her sister Corrine. For years they plotted to overthrow the geriatric mindset of their mother who kneaded Judaism into me and my sister’s Play-Doh.
I learned the weaponry of words on the playground through cruel polish jokes jabbing at my dead yet vaguely lecturing grandfather who came from the old country to die in an American factory. Cancer made in America gave ghost grandpa an aura of asbestos.
It’s like on 911 when those brave souls trapped on Mount Doom decided it’s better to drown in air then be burned by evil prayers so they inched up to nothingness with the pen of Hemingway charismatically pointing to the good beyond any scripture or sword.
My wife chats at the glass table by our window under a sickle cell moon and mourns her friend’s faded love. I don’t speak Chinese yet I understand the mood of her dialect as if it were a sentient being reacting like the lonesome rain feels when the sun repeatedly blooms beyond its reach.
Phonetics slice the world’s buffet into finger sandwiches even though for thousands of years the lopsided sea drunkenly dreamed in different kingdoms and calendars. But as I lay listening to my wife transcribe her friend’s ancient sorrow I can only feel the history that is perversely our own.
Garth Pavell’s writing most recently appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Main Street Rag and Mudfish. He works for an international animal welfare nonprofit in New York City.
When he had finished writing, and crossing out
and standing and rewriting, and looking
out his window, and feeling the sun
I stood and watched you sleeping, had
stood there watching for nearly five minutes in
the shadow of the
hallway for nearly five minutes of circus
time before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death
If I could, I’d use
my recently purchased cell phone
to call the pay phone outside
the community swimming pool
in Fairview Park, Normal, Illinois,
that summer when I was eleven,
and the country 200.
It was the night we were told we couldn’t pretend we were Catholic.
The priest turned only toward you and said, “It’s between you and God.”
And you cried.
I dream of her,
childish and illogical,
straight hair and tiger-eyes.
My punk-rock gothic-pixie little sister fourteen fresh faced
We listened to The Cure during art class Made bongs and pipes
out of ceramic You taught me how to kiss people who could
never love me
Supermassive Black Hole swallowed your cackle-low
Cosmos whisper pretty Come here darling and you come
I hope I never forget that pack of middle-schoolers
at the playground near my house, how they acted
like middle-schoolers, shouting their conversations
across the neighborhood as if showing off new sneakers,
the boys doing mean things to the girls,
the girls saying mean things about each other.
head, right arm
behind the back, fingers
curled around the left arm’s inner
We all live on the Hudson, America’s only true river. It’s
a driveway, a landing strip, and a dead end. The Hudson is not the only river
to become a school, but it is the only one once beheld by the likes of George
Washington, Melville, and Sir Winston Churchill.