Thursday May 31, 2012 § Leave a comment
The metal of the car door is hot to the touch. Behind them, across the car park, the windows of her office building sparkle in the sun like a shattered mirror and he feels himself perspire in the silver, leonine heat. She stays resolutely in the car. Window down, feet on the dashboard, she takes a long slug of her energy drink, feeling in her trouser pocket for something.
– Jesus, she says.
– What now?
– Nothing. I thought I’d forgotten it. But I haven’t.
– Forgotten what?
– I said I got it.
He wants to lean with his arms across the roof of the car, tired even of holding his own body straight, but doesn’t. The metal would scald. He can see her in the wing-mirror. She is wearing thin black pumps, and he’d forgotten she has a tattoo above the bone in her right ankle, all wrinkled and bunched up now where she pivots on her heel shifting her weight in the passenger seat.
Somewhere above in the milky heat haze a helicopter traverses, soundlessly pirouetting on an unseen thermal.
Later, at the vacant crossroad, the lights blink red, illegible against the dust, and the lattice of shadows cast by the high overhead cables are feint on the tarmac. The engine labours in the heat. The radio plays pop songs, volume turned right down.
That night, they meet for drinks with friends just as the evening is on the turn, and the heat wanes, and that night it is cold outside of the blankets, and the sky is still light even until very late.
Wednesday May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
It is cold when we come to leave, a little after six am. The windscreen of the hire-car is edged with condensation, and a flyer, advertising Deano’s Chicken is tucked under the wiper. Instinctively I look for the person who may have left it but the street is empty.
– I’ll drive.
– You sure, I say.
I take the opportunity to get some rest. On the backseat I stretch out, doze in and out of consciousness. The last time I wake, is to a streak of hot sun across my face, magnified by the glass.
We are a few hours outside Phoenix. Denis turns off into a truck stop where there is a diner, an Audi concession, a tyre yard. A tall totem-pole of a sign hangs over the lot, casting a shadow like a squat spider over the parked cars. The lot is already running a brisk trade for a Sunday afternoon. My neck hurts as I gingerly raise myself up to the window, and we stare out the driver’s side window at the concrete diner.
– You like wings? says Denis finally.
– I like wings.
He smiles for the first time in days.
Inside the hostess walks us up to a booth on the mezzanine. The cavernous, windowless space is loud. Rock music is blaring from gigantic speakers ringing the room. It feels more like an enormous pillbox than a restaurant, or a warehouse. Subsumed in a kind of darkness, it reminds me of places my father used to take me when I was a kid.
– You want a beer?
I resist. Denis has a beer.
When we are done eating he lights a cigarette, reclines against the spoiled leather upholstery.
– I have to make some calls.
– Always with the fucking phone, he says.
Outside the sun is still zeroed at twelve o’clock, even though it is nearly three now. A perpetual state of high-noon. As I listen to the ringing tone I stare back at the sun from the half-shadow offered by the entrance canopy. Blank heat snaps against me and I can feel it burning my skin.
– Hello, its me.
A heavy East Coast accent answers, New York.
– About fucking time, he says.
– You want me to hang up? I will fucking hang up on you.
– No you won’t.
– No, I won’t.
– No, you won’t. What took you so long?
– I called yesterday, but nobody answered.
– No, I had things to do yesterday. Things, they don’t stop because you’re not here.
– Is that supposed to be reassuring?
– Is it? Is it reassuring?
– It isn’t.
– No, it isn’t. It ain’t supposed to be, neither.
– Do you have the guy’s number?
– Now he’s in a hurry.
– I told you, I called yesterday.
– Ok, ok. Get over it already. You ready for this?
– Yeah, go ahead.
Leaning against the thick concrete exterior, cold in the shade, I write down the number on a napkin.
– Call him when you’re in Phoenix.
Back inside a group of old boys have set up at the bar in the pit of the diner. They sit high up on bar stools, sharing wisecracks, Stetsons resting on the countertop, downing glasses of Rye. A slender young woman, a girl, barely out of her teens slaloms through them, in a pink halter-neck and boots. The big screens have come on, noiselessly showing football. The Cardinals are at Kansas.
– I ordered another round.
– I said I didn’t want one.
– Then don’t drink it, he says dragging my bottle towards him. I order water.
– Did you check the crackers sitting at the bar? he says, lighting another cigarette. Hey, he shouts. They can’t hear him. Your trailer on fire or something?
– What is your problem?
– I would have thought it was perfectly obvious what my problem is.
– You’re an asshole.
– What are you, Cardinal fan or something?
The hostess brings the check.
Wednesday May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
We drive all day, and park up at a gas station to rest. Then we drive all night and most of the next day. In the afternoon we reach Carson City, crossing the city limits with the rest of the rush-hour traffic. The sun has dimmed, and the day is draped in muggy shadow. We check in to a motel in an anonymous district. A block west the freeway thunders across an overpass and to the east an abandoned lot, overrun with nettles and weeds.
Denis sleeps. Kicking off his shoes he lies face down on the mattress, an arm hanging down to the floor where his fingers lightly clasp the grip of his revolver.
I walk out onto the balcony and into the hum of the traffic moving along the overpass. You are never far away from a freeway. I make some phone calls. I call New York, and get no answer. I phone LA and the phone is answered by a Latino voice, that doesn’t know any English. I presume this is the help. I ring off. Finally I call Miranda.
– Hello? She sounds groggy.
– It’s me. As I wait for her to come around I find myself grinding my teeth. It is a habit I seem to have picked up. While she is speaking I take a cigarette from the pack in my breast pocket, snapping open the lighter with one hand.
– Do you know what time it is here? It’s, like, five pm or something, she says.
– It’s the same here.
– Where are you?
– You know I’m not going to answer that.
I inhale deeply and there is a pause.
– You’re gonna be here soon then?
– Uh huh.
Somewhere below voices echo along one of the walkways but I can’t see where.
– Don’t be long, she says, more in hope than expectation.
– Tomorrow. Or the next day.
– The dog learned a new trick. You want to hear it?
There is a momentary shuffle as the handset is set down on a surface, and then picked up again. The dog barks.
– He’s not doing it now.
– We can’t bring the dog with us.
– My mother is going to have him.
– I said that.
I hang up. A light breeze washes over me. Several lights have come on in the apartment block opposite, white against the grey. I walk down the two flights of stairs to the street and then over a block to a Seven-Eleven. Denis is watching television when I return. He is hungry. We eat in silence in front of the television.
Wednesday May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
He lit another cigarette, waving away the match, dropping it into his half-empty coffee cup. His way of signalling that breakfast was over. Through the window traffic moved in lines along the freeway, the table criss-crossed by shadow.
– Everything in this town is small. The chair is small, the tables are small. The fucking bathroom is small. You shouldn’t be able to take a piss and wash your hands in the same footprint. That’s a rule.
As he smoked, I noticed that his other hand trembled slightly. Beside it, on the table cloth, an orange-juice stain.
– And the country so big…
– Exactly. Maybe the smallness is a reaction to it. Maybe they are intimidated. Maybe all this space keeps them small.
Silently the waiter, a middle-aged black man in a maroon waistcoat, clears away the dishes. When he has gone, Denis says:
– These people seem intimidated to you?
They don’t, not particularly. I shrug noncommittally and say nothing.
– I have to use the bathroom.
I sit for five minutes in the hire-car while he uses the bathroom. One by one I shake out the drinks bottles that are in the foot-well. The empty ones I throw out of the window. It is hot out here on the bleached forecourt and it’s not even ten am. I try the radio but all the stations are tuned to country. Looking out, the grass, where it exists along the fringes of the city, beside the parched boulevards, and between the denuded lines of the freeway, is blanched and dead. The only thing missing is vultures.
I see Denis walking over in the rear-view, cigarette still hanging from his bottom lip. Wordlessly he falls into the back seat. Under his arm he has with him a stack of newspapers, which he starts reading immediately.
Reversing across the empty lot, it takes nearly a minute to rejoin the freeway.
Saturday May 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
The inspiration for this poem is here: http://davidmcdade.tumblr.com/post/22723788401/sidewalk
you feel you could hear already
the drawl of the sunrise
a louche headwind
a licking of the lips
some small-gained agony
scrolls away, dissipates
like the sweat collected between the
the things that
and the things that don’t
aren’t much better
she canters; to
candid as the sun, &
heavy in the right places
(not in the heart)
of light on the carpet
canny, like a
exotic as a gazelle
then like the morning
a drop of the shoulder
of flesh, and she has lost
purple heart burns, on the sidewalk
while on the clapboard, the
acid light of sunrise
perpendicular to her
mind, which is on
Wednesday May 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
what can we intuit from this?
the water, clear as your head
carry the sun’s blond reflections,
sharp as eyes
perhaps this feeling then, is one
of feeling seen
here and now,
no longer rendered invisible
by our impossible thirst, quenched
instead by the river’s swollen distance
we walk the sinewy track
clutched at by our own moons
the grammar, and shape of silence
carried over on the tide
black mirrors made on the
wind’s furrowed surface, where
the land turns out, unseen
a place of increase
in slow music
if the noon is empty, it is not
for want of trying, loss
and its casual balance reminds
us we are tidal creatures
untutored, not lost
but gathered in repetition –
there is a nobility in the way
your eyes dart from the
in the way you broach the challenge
of your own resilience
the water table mounts
oceans begin under your feet
the limits of the sun’s promise
glass city, magnify the sun’s
electric, grey heart
(completed May 9, 2012)
Sunday May 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
at night, the land and the sky are indistinguishable –
but today also has been one of languor
(scarecrow lines of worry on your face, walking unsighted down
the garden path it is only face-to-face with the glass
that I see in fact that it is,
that is to say,
that you are, so
to speak, me)
Still, on a day still weighing heavy on the heart,
I have the way your small fists
shake the water
the way you are under
the sky, as
though it were
the most natural thing
& so shut the day
the heart’s clammy
doors are shut
you are home:
I miss you, even when I am with you.