Bernard had planned for today to be the last day of his life. He stared out the window of his office on the 35th floor of the Maxwell building, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. If he peered through the telescope he kept near the window, he could see The Campanile of the University of California, Berkeley campus. It supposedly resembled St. Mark’s Campanile in Piazza San Marco in Venice. He didn’t see it that way. He saw it as an artifice, an historical pastiche derived from a tower in an ancient European city. As far as Bernard was concerned, it was a failure, same as him.
Antonius Block is back, vexed,
wishing only for more war,
more murder. It makes more sense.
One cannot gut the wind
much as one might want to.
It has been seventy-three years
& she must swallow night, now, like her caplets,
when daylight is a dearth inside her peeling stomach.
The days are nameless & dirtied, those
that secrete from her skin come nightfall —
that she feels dust her creases mauve
& defuse through turbid water —
her throat takes them back through steam
pasting moon crescents to the tiles.
You never liked me. I don’t know why. You always discouraged and demeaned me at every opportunity, and because of that I’ve never been open to improving the situation. We never confronted the problem, just put it on the back burner to simmer away for years.
Hunt & Peck Publishing
101 Avenue of Avenues
New York, NY 10001
September 8, 2015
2 Common Place
Crimea River, NJ 08080
Dear Ms. Turner,
Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, it does not meet our present requirements. We wish you luck with other publishers.
It’s noon, and Amelia and Herb are standing outside their favorite coffee shop on Cherry Street. A few months ago, they would have been inside, peering with excitement across a cloisonné tablecloth through a clear, glass vase at the refracted other—two more urban youth taking a quick break from achieving their wild, hybrid goals. Amelia would return to the office to find her co-worker, Tiffany, standing next to her desk chewing ice from a large tumbler and admiring her motivational posters.
But things have changed.
The longer I stay away from people
The less human I become
Wondering if there’s something
Wrong with me
Because I don’t miss
the frenetic motion of my old life.
Coming back from work that day, I had the obscure idea of playing with a thousand-sided dice.
“O-Oh, sorry, I’m busy over the weekends, kids are a handful. Maybe another time?”
“No, It’s fine. Another time then. Take care.”
A prolonged beep bounced around in my ear. After the call ended, I realized how small my contact list was. Falling back into the white sheets, I started at the ceiling. Rain trickled down the windows of the apartment, clicking with each touch. A dull ache ran through my arms and shoulders. Two tickets to a local amusement park sat slotted between my fingers. Using both seemed out of the question. A timid man stood inside the mall, advertising his tickets. It seemed that he wasn’t going to put them to use. Tangling with ticket reselling was never my thing, so the entire situation was more than dreamlike. I bought the tickets, of course, at less than market price. I was too delirious after work.
“Have you seen my wife?” says Mr. Blakeney, his hand coming down on the slate tile counter with a thump.
“Ah, hello, sir. We’ve been expecting you,” replies the neatly dressed concierge, his dark red uniform smartly pressed, metallic buttons glinting in the light from the old-fashioned brass desk lamp.
“My wife isn’t here?” says Mr. Blakeney.