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#1
Crawling Under the Skin of the Sky

Four thousand six hundred and sixty three starlings gather together,
preparing in unison in the gloomy dusk to retire for the night.
They twist and turn and traverse the heavens
with unheard of grace and celerity.
They dip, dodge and dive
across the graying sky,
slip, slither and slide,
their lithe form gliding through the scanty clouds.
There is never a collision,
never a mishap, never a quarrel
as four thousand six hundred and sixty three starlings crisscross the sky,
and wings beating in perfect conjunction like one singular heart create a surreal woosh.

Four thousand six hundred and sixty three people have died
because we all read the same book and interpret it differently.
We blow each other’s heads off because the voices in ours tell us to,
and we all continue to follow the advice of the same damn self-help book.
Every thirteen minutes, someone dies in a car collision.
A small bump into a stranger on the sidewalk can turn into a shouting match,
and in a little country to the south there is white hot anarchy brewing.
All over a little green plant.

I wish I was a fucking bird.


"Let it go. If it really loves you....."

I saw her one Sunday morning
at the local park.
She was swollen and green
like that one unripe tomato
that you always see at the grocery store,
and say
"I'll give it a chance"
and you hope that it will ripen as fast as tomatoely possible.
She was the roundest thing I had seen in a while.
The biggest, brightest balloon in the bunch,
and I had to have her.
She looked so blissful up there,
floating just above the rest of the balloons.
I dug in my pocket for some change,
and could barely contain myself
when taking her out of the Balloon Mans hand.
I would love her better than he ever could.
And for a while, we were happy,
Just her and me.
Just the two of us.
I could never let her out of my sight,
out of my tender grasp.
If I let up, she would try to escape.
Try to float up to the heavens.
Eventually my tender grasp
transformed
into a vigilant vice,
and I intended to never let her go.
For awhile, she drove me crazy.
I wasn't old enough to drive yet,
so I was generally content
with walking her everywhere,
never looking down.
As she was at first mine,
I became hers.
She owned me now.
It occurred to me one day
the old adage,
"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it's yours."
I would test this theory.
See if I was really hers.
So the next Sunday morning,
ever carefully,
infinitely slowly,
I let her go.

And she floated
up, up
and up
and got smaller
and smaller
until the
deep
blue
sky couldn't
contain her reach.

I might have been sinking.
I might have stepped in quick sand,
and she might have been waiting for me.
Maybe I was the one who should have come back.
Probably not.
So now
I spend my Sunday mornings at the grocery store.
Throwing unripe tomatoes at little old ladies.



The Surest Footing is Flat on Your Back

"One pill, two pill, three pill, four.
Five pill, six pill, seven pill, floor."


A faint breeze from a silently spinning ceiling fan
delicately brushes her dry, bloodshot eyes open.
She is suddenly aware that
she is completely unaware of her surroundings.
The TV babbles a familiarly incoherent language
only five feet away, but the sounds wash over her ears
as if transmitted from a distant planet.
An attempt to stand up fails,
and the carpet feels like so many needles
brushing against her swollen, puffy face.
Second time's the charm,
as she manages to right herself
on feet she's not sure she even possesses anymore.
One foot in front of the other.
Left, right, left, right,
Left, left?
She's on the ground now, but she's still falling,
still cringing at the feel of pills rattling in her stomach.
Like little individual grenades, they
tick tick tick
inside her as she continues to fall.
Down.
Down.
Down.
Still laying down.
An attempt to move proves futile,
as the
tick, tick, tick
keeps her rooted in place.
Tick.
Tick.
Tick.
A flash of red, and then white.
Pure, overpowering white.


Grenade pins fall out of her limp, now lukewarm hands and get lost in the forest of needles on the carpet.