Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Guilty Fruit

The walls are white between the bright crimson spattering of juices. On the floor, pooling over the tired nude linoleum along the floor boards, the juices are partially dried around the edges to create a stain. Here and there the seeds of the guilty fruit lay like red tear drops the size of baby’s teeth. They are on the ground, spread sparingly from one wall to the next as carefully distributed as stars throughout the universe, giving each other a wide berth and only occasionally meeting in groups of three or five.
On the dirty white seat cushions they sparkle like delicate jewels and on the table the white inner membranes of the fruit are strewn over the plaid table cloth among paper towels. The red and pink and speckled outer skins are there too, keeping their disgorged inside company.
On the tile countertops all parts of the fruit that bring death to the world lie scattered and the juice runs in tiny rivers over the grout. A butcher's knife lays gleaming on the cutting board, also sullied with sticky sweet nectar, adding to the unsettling aura of gore that permeates the room.
The red liquid splattered on the walls, pooling on the floor, running in rivers over the countertops, is highlighted by the stark whiteness of the cabinetry, tiles, and unsullied portions of wall. White and red fight for control of the atmosphere and both loose sway at the stainless steel sink crowded with soaking pots and baking sheets. The sink is an explosion of soiled steel nestled in the greater explosion of red and white, like the pink nipple and aureole at the tip of a pale breast, or like the pollen laden burst at the center of a flower.
There is an odor particular to dirty drains and stainless steel sinks which mingles with that of burnt remnants absorbing water on the surfaces of cookie sheets, and of course, the musky smell of that fruit. It is difficult to smell the juices over the unique and strong odor of the membranes and peel, their smell is unlike the smell of other fruits.
On the counter, nearly hidden by ruffles of crumpled paper towels lies a wedge of the fruit possessing all of the parts; tough red skin, white membranes holding and hiding their treasure, and a multiplicity of ruby hued seeds. The pattern calls to mind the nests of wasps while the color, especially the juice, begs to be confused with blood.
A white bodied lamp holding a pear shaped light bulb without the modesty of a lamp shade bathes the scene with a butter cream light. It is aided by a light mounted on the ceiling where multiple bulbs are occluded beneath a dome of etched glass. The pattern of the etchings is a precise array of concentric rings textured with ribs or diamonds in an alternating pattern.
Light glows in the shape of a shamrock on the glossy white paint of the ceiling surrounding the light fixture. No red here, only white and crystal and butter cream playing peacefully together above the mayhem. The jealous red is stealing its way up the walls in the form of those bright splatters, but it never quite reaches into that last bastion of pale solidarity.
The stovetop and oven, like the sink, are engaged in their own game unconcerned with the struggles of white and red. They enjoy the geometric austerity of square doors and round burners dressed in black and white like nuns. Underneath this happy pair a seed or two of the messy fruit lays sequestered, enjoying the solitude and anonymity of darkness where their crimson stain is stripped of significance.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lake In The Jungle

The lake lay just under the earthy banks pierced by roots which dipped their tips into the cool green water. It was long and narrow, making it easy to rest hidden among the trees on one shore to spy on the bank of the next. Tigers of a brilliant orange camouflaged with black stripes did just this, spying on brown skinned men who watched them from the opposite bank.
Floating near the surface of the lake, mid sized alligators let their green bumps and ridges break through the glassy green water like tiny islands, now and then yawning to expose the pink insides of their cavernous mouths with lake weed caught on pointed white teeth. Where the bank provided a beach rather than dropping abruptly from jungle to water, the wily reptiles lay in the dark moist sand pretending to sleep, sometimes with mouths open so that daring little birds could venture inside to pick out the lake weed and worms and leaches that made their own micro dimensional jungle around the white teeth.
The larger jungle which held tigers, and men, and alligators, and tiny birds that could travel between macro and micro worlds, was possessed of the sort of trees whose arms and roots twisted and intertwined so that it was difficult to discern where one tree ended and the other began. They wore streamers of dark green moss the way Spanish ladies wear lacy shawls over their arms and shoulders, and sometimes vines dared to wind themselves around the pale trunks and branches.
Lines of ants employed these thick juicy tethers as highways and marched throughout the canopy and back down to the earth on them, stopping now and again to attack some other insect in mass or to sample the nectar held in the yellow blossoms that interrupted the vines' straight lines like Diners made cheery by a waitress named Doris along an abandoned interstate. They knew the jungle and the lake's perimeter from a vastly different perspective than either the men with their long black hair and dark round eyes or the tigers who went about silently on padded feet or even the alligators and little birds.
The men, the tigers, and the alligators had to be wary of one another, whereas the ants were rarely considered by anyone but the vines and trees whose flesh they tickled incessantly. The men would dive into the lake for a moment now and then, shaking the water from their long hair after bursting back up from the lake's verdant depths. There was an awkward symmetry to the lake's patrons; alligators preferring the sunny bank and men therefore preferring the shady side.
Fish were universally threatened, swimming pink and silver, and green and even striped in the lake's depths. Now and then a school would shimmer just under the surface looking like a trove of jewels before meeting their fate. One third swam into strange pink and white caverns, never to return to the wide open waters, another third became tangled in nets fashioned from retired vines and the other third managed to collect together far from peril and preserve the future of their species.
The lake banks were mostly quiet, disturbed by the occasional growl of a tiger or the laughter of a man or a splash as an alligator rose or descended from the lake's surface. Tiny birds made tiny noises and tigers sniffed through the moist lake smells to make out the odor of edible flesh. The men checked their nets and watched the tigers prowl the opposite bank. They smelled like the lake themselves, with only the tiniest hint of salty sweat betraying them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I stand in a dimly lit room alive with the sound of gentle murmuring from a few dozen men. They are all dressed in a similar way. Dark shirts and jeans, black shoes and thin dark jackets. They all have dark, dirty hair that has been styled by the salt-drenched wind, left wild and crusted with the taste of tears.
The room is crowded, already filled beyond the capacity of the short walls and uneven floor and more men enter every few minutes having paid the entry fee at the door. They enter through an open doorway off to one side of the room, a man stands just outside the doorway collecting money in a wide coffee can.
Beyond the doorway the night is dark. A wide, flat parking lot sits empty, the black tar and white lines of demarcation are illuminated by a lone double-bulbed lamp that towers thirty feet in the air. The lot looks forlorn in the yellow light, missing cars, people and trash.
The small single-storied room packed with men is attached to a larger structure, having been built at the same time decades before. Through the wide rectangular window facing the parking lot, I can see the larger structure since the entire building is shaped like an L. The surface of the larger structure is covered in corrugated metal, though the small room where I stand seems like an afterthought, a janitor’s closet that has been forgotten, appropriated by a handful of young men in the dark night. The windows of the larger building are dark and I know that we are the only ones here.
I look around and realize I am the only woman in the tightly packed room. There are young men sitting on the floor, others leaning against the wall in silent pensiveness. Others have merged into small huddles talking quietly, filling the air with a gentle murmur of anticipation.
While most of the men sit or stand, there are five among the dozens that move, setting up their musical equipment against one of the walls. At their feet are several amps, half a dozen microphone stands and a crate of miscellaneous cords. There are other hard black cases on the worn blue rug waiting to be opened, waiting for electricity and skilled hands that know all the right knobs and switches to make them come alive.
I look at the various men leaning against one of the walls and see a familiar face. Pale white skin and a long dark beard, his eyes look around the crowd observing it all in interested delight. I know that in this crowded space, among this many men, there will not be any place for me to hide.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Auto Shop

The smell of oil and tires linger, though a breeze moves through a wide open roll-up door that faces a moderately busy street. Every so often the multiple swooshing sounds of moving cars outside enter the quiet chamber of the auto shop, interacting with the occasional bursts of mechanical drilling that come from the heart of the garage. There is the occasional clatter of metal hitting metal, or a drill, or the sporadic chorus of ringing phones.
The space is long and narrow and goes deep into the two-story building. The front of the shop is evident to the outside world simply by the open roll-up door and the sign above it that reads in handwritten red paint: “Mas Auto Shop.”
There is a continuous low hum coming from the back of the shop, from someplace far behind the roll-up door and office and waiting area by the front. The sound comes from something mechanical, some machine in a state of waiting, charging for use.
Fifteen feet from the roll-up door is a walled-in office with glass windows on two sides that open into the garage. Inside the space is illuminated by yellow overhead lights. There are two long wooden desks piled with paperwork. There are two computers on each desk, miscellaneous office equipment: pencils, staplers, ballpoint pens, notepads, a calculator. A girl, hidden behind the counter in front of the desks, is talking. She speaks with an Asian dialect, she talks very quickly.
On the outside of the office wall, just above the window, facing the opening of the roll-up door, is a big square blue sign with the Chevron emblem in the center, below the emblem in bold white letters is the word ‘Lubricants.’ Next to that large sign is a collage of other smaller signs. There are signs for the shop’s promotions and specials. “Lamp Station Prices” with hand-written in prices, ‘Smog Check’ signs with the type of inspection and the hand-printed prices beside them, and on the corner of the wall, a big STOP sign, below it is written: ‘Stop here please.’
On one side of the rollup door is a rack of new tires, a small wind chime hangs from a metal bar on the rack. On the other side of the open door is a small space for waiting. A row of decorative bookshelves three feet tall delineates the space between work and rest. The black bookcases are divided into a checkerboard of cube-like shelves, some with open backs and others with cardboard backs. On top of the bookcases are four equally spaced plants in white and blue ceramic pots. Towards one side, there are two variegated climbing ivy plants, and then two other small palms with alternating stripes of green and white.
Within the waiting area are a variety of seats. Against the wall of the shop that faces the street is a black exercise bike. A few feet from it is a gray and slightly stained rug with two loveseats and a wooden bench that face each other. The cream leather loveseat sofa faces the wood and wrought iron bench. Perpendicular to the cream leather loveseat is a worn light brown loveseat. It is plush and the fabric on the headrests is slightly darker than the rest of the fabric, indicating that many people have rested their heads against it.
In the center of the carpet, between all three loveseats, is a large round coffee table. There are piles of newspapers, a week’s worth of news. Almost all of them are in an Asian script, though there is one local newspaper in English, pictures of a neighborhood fire grace its cover. A pile of magazines with only their spines showing sit buried below the piled-up newspapers. An abandoned white paper coffee cup and an empty folded white paper bag which once housed a pastry sit on one end of the coffee table. Across from the coffee cup, on the other edge of the table, is a wide jade plant in a terra cotta pot. A terra-cotta looking plastic tray rests below the pot. A small stuffed Hello Kitty face hangs from a thin string from one of the jade plant’s thin branches.
Between the two plush love seats is a small end table. The wood is worn and the varnish is nearly stripped along the top, though the legs are still shiny. On its surface is a large jade, its leaves are smaller and lighter than the plant on the circular coffee table.
The phone rings and is quickly answered, then again, the space is made alive by the tinkling of the chimes.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


The sky was perfectly blue and warm, its color matching the bright rectangular pool below a cloudless sky.

The pool was alive with bright blue waters, rippling and bouncing off blue painted cement that had begun to fade and looked like the skin of an old person, splotched and uneven in color. There were speckles of pale blue, spots of cream and white, though the overall image was that of bright blue.

On the cement ground beside the pool sat a deep mesh net on the end of a long metal pole. The net was lined with a few inches of soggy leaves and small dead bugs that had been filtered out of the pool. It sat now silently in a stain of water, a shallow puddle that marked its journey.

The long rectangular pool lapped just a few feet to the right of the white painted house. Closest to one length of the waters were the French doors and side windows of a teenage boy’s room. The shades were drawn oven the door, as were the tiny shades specially made for the two five inch windows on each side of the double doors.

The other long length of the pool was edged with a four-foot high stucco wall. Behind the wall was a wide sloping landscaped hillside covered in lavender and large bushes that were every color of green and yellow. Bees moved purposefully between lavender flowers, staying close to their nectar and never veering away from the boundary of plants to human domain. At the top of the hill were large pine and birch trees and barely visible beyond them was the geometric roof of the neighboring house.

There was a girl floating in the pool. Her lower half was covered in a small orange, yellow and green narrow Brazilian bikini bottom. Her pale white breasts were covered in a shiny black bra. She was in the pool, in the center of a hot pink inner tube made of clear plastic that was opaque enough to look through and see the light filled waters below.

The only other thing in the water with her was the fleshy plastic mouth of a pool pump that sucked on the cement edges of the submerged floor. It was attached to a long white plastic hose that was connected like an umbilical cord to one vertical wall of the pool.

She held onto the float with her arms while her feet propelled her across the length of the pool. She was breathing heavily while she moved her legs in an amphibian way, drawing her touching soles together and towards her crotch, then pushing them apart and out, and then, completing the circle, drawing them in once again.

Amidst her laps, she would look occasionally to the French doors covered in shades. There was just a foot of non-covered window at the very bottom of the door and she would look towards it, searching for eyes.

The water was a perfect balance of warmth and refreshing coolness. It lapped across the edges of the pool and spilled over onto the cement floor of the walkways surrounding it. Long streaks of it continued past the black metal gate several feet from the end of the pool. The gate stretched from the pale stucco wall edging the lavender and ended beside the wall of the house, very close to the kitchen door that led to the patio.

Beyond the metal gate was the formal patio area with a floor of red bricks that had been heated by the sun. As water from the pool spilled over the edges and past the metal gate, it met the hot red bricks and some of it turned immediately into steam.

The formal patio was cluttered with various pieces of outdoor furniture. A wrought iron circular table and six matching chairs sat close to the metal fence, as did a small circular fire pit and two chairs made out of metal and gray plastic fabric.

Across the fifteen feet of red bricks, on the edge, by the grass, were two chairs and matching ottomans that were made of espresso colored rattan and padded with thick beige pillows. Perpendicular to them, against the white wall of the house, was a long sofa made of the same style and covered with the same beige pillows.

The girl drifted in the pool. There was only the sound of the lapping water. She made lazy laps and protected her sensitive lips from the sun whenever she turned towards it.

Monday, August 09, 2010


On the edge of a worn asphalt driveway, embedded in the graying tar substance that was new and fresh decades before, is a large sign atop a wide cream-white metal post. The sign sits thirty feet above the parking lot that is littered with crumbling pebbles of asphalt.
The sign is unlike most, neither a rectangle or square, neither circle or oval. It is at least four feet across and three feet high and it is a blend of many shapes. Its right side is curved like a circle, though it extends down into a point both above and below. The left side is a mix of curve and point as well. The interior space is painted in a creamy white. The edging around the sign is painted pale pink as is the vertical script lettering in the center which reads, ‘Shaw’s Plaza.’ The shape and style and lettering of the sign speaks of a by-gone era of architecture, but the sign and post itself are in good form without any signs of rust or wear besides a general fading of color.
Below the sign is a another smaller rectangular white sign that is painted and has black lettering that is a little to the left of center. It says, ‘Sweet Memories Confectionery.’ The letters are spelled with the kind of temporary plastic letters used in movie theater marquees, though the letters themselves look static and slightly worn and small compared to the painted sign above.
The parking lot itself is large and mostly bare without any distinguishing lines to delineate individual parking spots. A single blue minivan is parked. It’s side door is open and a Latin man with tan skin sits on the floor of the van, his feet finding comfort on the asphalt driveway. Two children hover around him with half-eaten ice cream cones in their sticky hands.
Across the parking lot from the sign and the minivan is a building whose front is made of plate glass windows and whose wooden sides take turns between blue, white and pink. The edges of the building are lined with light bulbs in precise intervals, looking like permanent, over-sized Christmas lights. The bulbs line the thin, flat roof and they line the vertical edge where two walls meet. Some of the bulbs are gray, some are missing, but most remain in place, perhaps waiting for darkness.
The building faces the street and sidewalk, looking at the world through glass windows. From the street in front, it is hard to see inside the store because of the flat roof that extends over the building and to the edge of the sidewalk. The extended flat roof provides the thick shade for the patio, which sits between the sidewalk and the actual entrance to the shop which at least fifteen feet from the sidewalk.
There are 6 circular white metal tables on the cement patio. Four hard plastic chairs are clustered around each table, each chair being either pink, blue or white. The legs for each chair are not singular metal legs, but instead are wide metal triangles. Two metal triangles emerge from the bottom of each seat, they extend at an 35 degree angle and the base of the triangle rests along the patio floor. The tables are unoccupied and covered with the shade of the thick flat roof above.
Beyond the plate glass windows is a fully stocked candy shop. Bins of liquorice, peppermint and strawberry taffy sit in individual wooden baskets. By the long counter beside the register is a glass case full of fudge in different forms, some white, some marbled, some mixed with nuts or topped with toffee. The simple glass shelves that line the walls facing the street are crowded with bags of jelly candies in every imaginable shape and color. There are green beans, blue sharks, pink bears, rainbow colored ropes, orange smiles, and purple worms.
Towards the side of the shop is a glass wall facing the parking lot. There are several more circular white metal table on that bright end of the shop. Surrounding each table are four white metal chairs with red vinyl seats.
The smell of sugar escapes from the open glass door and into the front patio, as does the loud metal music coming from a radio behind the counter. A man’s gravelly voice bellows, ‘search aaaannnd seek and destroooyyyyyyy!”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Dark Road

A long journey on a dark road. Over my shoulder is the strap of a small cloth sack, holding cranberries and almonds. My chest is covered in a blue wool coat that reaches towards my feet and wrists. It is a long road, curving over the earth like a serpent, winding past deserts and over mountains and into valleys. It is a long road, a long journey and it continues with another step. One tiny step on the gravelly road mixed with dirt and dust. The earth crunches beneath my weight, each step grinding rock to sand. Night has fallen and the sky is metallic silver and black. There are no individual clouds, they have merged together, forming a giant blanket of moisture, a thick sheen of other-worldly color and implication.

I look to the sky, searching for something; for a shape in the heavens, a word to appear in the silvery darkness. I squint, my chin raised, looking, looking.

The journey is long, walked step by step, each one as important as the next, for the future can come only after the present has been walked. They are tiny little steps on an earthen road with nebulous edges that fade into fields of grass. The path is either forgotten and clear as the night time sky. The past is mine alone. Mine in this valley below a metallic sky. These little pointed black leather shoes carry me onwards, my only protection from the sleeping jagged pebbles.

It is a long journey on a dark road. The sky is metallic silver and black and a raven flies overhead. His wings are spread wide and full, adding another shadow of dark to the sky. He swoops in alone, circling the valley in wide circles, soaring on a cold wind that comes from a forgotten dead sun.

Surrounding me on all sides are steep barren mountains. They surround the valley like the edges of a high bowl. I walk slowly, taking little steps with my leather shoes. A raven flies overhead, ringing a bell. The sound moves through me, riding my veins like a thousand tiny ships.

It is a long journey on a dark road. The sky is metallic silver and black and a raven flies overhead, ringing a bell. The blanket of clouds begins to pulse, responding to the waves of sound. A wind begins to sweep over the mountain sides and my body shudders in the wind. I am the blend of mountain, of wind, of cloud, of blood; held together by the bell, its sound running through me like dark angels flying into the metallic night.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coffee Shop

He held a steaming white paper cup of hot black coffee in his hands. He held the disposable cup with both hands, cradling it with reverence, taking slow, long sips of the bitter dark liquid. He sipped slowly, tasting the soil where it had grown, his tongue finding remnants from the sweat of campesinos and hot sun and blue skies dotted with light passing clouds. The cup was nestled between his long fingers and wide palms, held steady without its plastic lid so the steam was free to rise for a brief journey. It shot up from the coffee in swirled blasts of continuous vapor, rising, leaping and curling, twisting in on itself for more than half a foot until it drifted and dispersed, transforming itself.
He sat in a short padded leather armchair, the contemporary conservative style of the type that could be found in lawyer’s offices. Its lines were smooth and inoffensive, its simple shape inviting. It had huge overstuffed armrests, providing the place for the man’s elbows to rest while his hands held onto the coffee; steam jumping from the cup, creating ethereal patterns over his face, steaming him with warmth.
His back was facing a large plate glass window that faced a narrow cement patio with a few wrought iron tables and chairs. A few fabric covered umbrellas rattled in the breeze. Just behind him, the window was painted with a semi-opaque image of blue ice cubes falling into a plastic cup that had been painted with a pale white color. The light from the window behind him almost made a silhouette of his shape, though there was light coming from the interior of the coffee shop that gently filled in the dark corners.
The man’s face was old and weathered by time and age. The skin around the edges of his mouth sagged, though he held onto his manly dignity, holding it firmly with both hands, gripping it with his long fingers and wide palms. His eyes were covered in wide dark sunglasses, disguising the places his eyes wandered, though the tilt of his head gave a small indication when he watched a tall blond nurse walk through the front glass door. The skin on his hands and face were pink and though his hair had thinned and turned the color of pure snow, he still had enough to part on the right side and comb over towards the left.
His slender legs were crossed at the ankles and covered in pale blue jeans. Feet hugged in black socks were tucked into brown leather shoes. He wore a pale blue sweater and a white collared shirt that just peaked out over the high neckline of his sweater. There was a belly paunch that was round and full, covered completely in pale blue wool. He checked his watch every so often, keeping both hands on the cup, but turning his wrist up towards his eyes.
Jazz, infused with horns and the low grumbling of a large black man, filled the room with its melody. Steamers from the espresso machine hissed, bringing cold milk into frothy bubbles of foam. There were several circular wooden tables and chairs scattered through the room. Solitary people stared into the glowing screen of their laptops. Next to the man with the sunglasses, a mother sat staring into her illuminated Blackberry while her baby slept in a stroller beside her. Throughout the room, everyone was engaged, enthralled with their own electronics, it was just the old man that sat, holding his coffee with both wide palms, watching as people walked through the door towards the counter and then eventually left out the same door with a drink in their hands.
Old time jazz and blues flowed from the speakers, and the man sat, holding the steaming cup with no lid, holding it with his long weathered fingers and wide, capable palms.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


There is a building, the only building on a barren earth that is covered in long-forgotten yellowed plains and dried up grassy hillsides. The building is a tall rectangle that reaches for the clouds, but finds itself stuck ten stories high. It is simple and made of brick, with several windows on each floor. It is lacking any embellishment on the outside surface, there are simply old red bricks that have gotten more brown with each kiss of the sun. It is a simple rectangle reaching upward, pure right angles that flaunt function over form.

Within, the structure is stuffed with people and furniture. The ecstatic energy inside is frantic and crowded, like a third-world bazaar or market. Each floor is crowded with old wooden hand-crafted furniture from Russia. There are decorative couches with broad armrests made of wood and padded fabric. Embroidered cross-stitched pillows sit on every chair, coughing up floral patterns. Crocheted doilies rest on top of hand-carved armoires and dressers, protecting the delicate, shiny surfaces from plastic flower stuffed vases and old picture frames.

Rugs of many sizes cover the floors; tiny rugs big enough for a pair of feet in front of grand one-person chairs; large monumental weavings that sit below a set of three couches. Rugs of all shapes and earth-toned hues.
Struggling for breathing space among all the furniture are the throngs of people, all of them moving in the same direction. The one set of stairs wrapping the length of the building from the first floor to the tenth is overwrought with a mad panic. Men and women jump over the stagnant pieces of furniture to find a bit of footing on the stairs. Small children are left to fend for themselves as people clamor to the top.

Visible beyond the sparse windows are the series of hillsides on all sides of the building. The sky above is blue, yet a thin layer of white brushes everything in its soft stroke, muting out the sun just slightly. The hills are soft mounds of yellowed grass that continue towards the horizon like a monumental mountain range, continuing on and on past the line of sight. Coming over the crests of the dead grassy hills are men and women on horseback.

Most of the mounted riders are holding long poles with thin triangular ribbons attached to the tops of each pole. The ribbons flutter in the breeze like thunder, stretching a hundred feet behind each mounted rider. The men on horseback are dressed like Mongolians, wearing thick leather pants and jackets that are lined with pale brown fur. Their features are wide and their skin is like burnt copper. Their feet are covered in leather boots that reach their knees and they kick horse bellies with their boot heels, urging them on shouting “haw!” Between the sweaty horse breasts are more women on foot. They climb and conquer the hillsides in bare feet, running towards the building holding their square flags high above them. The cries and hoots of the invaders compete with the fluttering of the ribbons and flags and a chorus fills the valley.

Friday, June 18, 2010


A young woman stands in a dim hallway. She is on the seventh floor of an old apartment building built with a communist aesthetic. The building is tall, narrow and long. She stands in the hallway, a long corridor lit only by a few small windows on each side of the buildings’ length, beside the stairs. A pale light seeps in and bits of dust travel in its rays.

The young woman is slender and pale, her shoulders revealing the pointed bones just below the skin. Over her slender frame is a red 1920s flapper dress. The fit is baggy, hiding all of her curves, though its low neckline begins to hint at her pointed breasts. The hemline reaches to her knees, where several inches of gold trim sway with each movement of her body. The dress has signs of wear and the seams along the sides have begun to loosen. A thin stretched out spaghetti strap keeps sliding off her bony pale shoulder, exposing the black strap of her bra. The girl’s hair is short, cut just below her ears, it is a messy head of wavy hair. Her cropped bangs hide the shy pale skin of her forehead.

Balanced in the palm of her left hand is a large plastic serving tray. The tray is long, wide, and oval, its shape providing the flooring for several dishes displayed on white porcelain plates. Each plate holds a different type of egg. Sunny side up, poached, boiled, soft boiled, she holds them all on the tray, attempting every now and then to replace the red strap of her dress to her shoulder with her right hand. It slides off quickly and when it does, she lets it be.

She stands in front of apartment #4 with the tray of eggs. Not far from her, in the doorway of a different apartment a few doors down, an older white man in a white tank top and a protruding pot belly stands silently. His large shape and broad shoulders almost block the entire doorway, covering everything behind the threshold. Without any words, with just a cold, indifferent stare, he watches the waiting girl.

The girl looks down at the worn dark carpet in the hallway, then back to the door of apartment #4. There is a small square glass window two-thirds of the way up the wooden door. She peers in, sneaking a glance at four young blond men putting on their military coats. The uniforms are maroon, decorative coats with metal buttons and bits of embroidery along the shoulders. She peeks into their space, then returns her gaze back to the worn carpet at her feet.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Edge Of The Mountain

A young woman is standing in a small room drenched in soft blue light. It is the kind of light that can only be created without bulbs and switches. It is light that streams in from the single tall and narrow window that hugs the corner edge of one wall. The walls are bare, white when illuminated, but now, in the dimness, they are a pale gray-blue. The floor is covered by dark blue carpet. It is a covering without plushness or comfort, carpet that is just one step above the hardness of stone.

Foam blue yoga mats are laid out on the floor, four of them lined up vertically to one wall, another four across from them against the other cool wall. In the room are several young men in white linen pants that are held up with red rope. Baggy white T-shirts cover their muscular chests. The men look like copies of each other, each having short dark brown hair and olive skin. Each with a solid stare of brown eyes and covered with thick, bulging muscles.

The young woman looks out the room’s only window. The view outside is of wilderness. The sky is blue, though the sun has fallen behind a mountain peak, on its way to the other side of the world. A few meters beyond the window, a grassy clearing has turned yellow and limp, the long stalks of grass laying down like a mass suicide. On the edge of the clearing, a thick forest begins. Tall green pines stand tall and vertical, covering the mountain behind them in a dense green blanket. The gaps between the thick trunks are dark, nearly black, with hardly any light making it through the thick canopy to the forest floor.

Wandering around the clearing are a cluster of at least twenty bears. They swirl around each other, moaning and roaring, sniffing the air. They walk slowly, maintaining the dense cluster though there is plenty of room in the clearing. There are two types of bears, each in equal number. Half have dark chocolate fur, the others have light tan fur with a golden sheen. The bears mingle, sniffing the air and each other, walking slowly and deliberately around the area, stopping every few feet to look around, roar and huff or raise their nose into the air.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


The air is hot and dry and hurts the skin with each step. I’m covered in a long black robe, my head covered from the sun by a white scarf that billows behind me in the breeze. Bursts of hot wind blow dust into the air, creating dirt devils that swirl and twist violently until they run their course, dying without a trace.

The sky above is clear blue, not a single cloud lingers. The landscape is totally flat, no mountains, no trees, just pale sand that has turned hard enough to walk on without strain.

I walk between rows of tents, on a surface of bleached sand only few degrees shy of white. The road is well traveled, covered in sand ground to fine dust and millions of footprints from those who’ve walked before.

On either side of the four foot wide street are tents made of burlap and dark canvas. The fabric is sun bleached and worn, covered in dust and pale dirt. The structures are square and feel permanent, though they lack formal foundation and could be taken apart in minutes. The roof of each tent is flat and sinks inward, creating an inverted dome in the space within. Canvas walls are tied to metal poles creating the 3 dimensional square. The doors are long rectangular pieces of fabric that can be pulled to one side, creating a triangular entranceway.

On the long street of tents, nearly a third of the tents have their soft doorways pulled to the side. Within those open doorways, close to the street, I see tables of fruit and metal wares. There are woolen carpets and tea in jars and baskets full of buttons and cloth. I can see just the things closest to the door, beyond that are just shadows, darkness that begs the eyes to look. Most of the canvas doors are down and tied, leaving their treasures and secrets hidden from the bright sun. The street of merchants is long, stretching into the horizon and then out of sight. One after the other, they stand without a gap between their walls.

The street is deserted, and I can hear the soft padded sound of my footsteps and those of my companion, also covered in flowing dark fabric.

The smell of thick, pungent coffee and burnt sugar wafts on the breeze every now and then, sometimes mingling with the smell of cigarette smoke. Every so often I hear the thick rumbling laughter of an old man.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mountain Path

The path is cut in the foliage, a brown band of dry compact soil that stands out clearly in some places only to taper off and disappear completely in others. Around the bend, behind a cluster of boulders, or dipping down a shelf beside tree roots that dangle out of the cliff face like long splintered fangs, it twists and evaporates and re-emerges with the same disregard for logic displayed by a photon fired through a screen with two slits. In the silver moonlight, it assumes a lackluster roll, out shone by the pale boulders that seem to bubble up from the darkness of the earth like matte pearls. A fine gauze of mist slowly chases its own tail around the trunks of deeply grooved and twisting trees and the lazy lumps and ridges of the mountainside, content to swallow the path here and spit it out there along its way. The moonlight’s reach is stunted and muted by the mist’s slippery moist hide. In the patches where it hangs thickest like the swollen length of an albino anaconda squeezing a live hippo into extinction, the moon’s soft glow is entirely denied admittance. In these places where the light fails to penetrate, the darkness steals around unhindered, like a purple stain oozing over rocks and soil and ragged tufts of bracken. It has a life of its own, wriggling beyond the moon’s impertinent gaze. The dark green of the undergrowth is blackened and forms amorphous conglomerations that bear resemblance to sinister animals crouched over their quarry. Real beasts play their dire games amid these imposters, hiding beneath the bony branches and brittle leaves. The waxen flash of a rabbit darting from one lump of foliage to the next punctuates the slow slinking of a scrawny coyote who would be invisible except for the sheen of his eyes. A startled faun streaks over the path and bounds away, again and again, imitating the delirious loop of a skipping record.
The fresh scent of juniper hangs in the air after it has been wetted under the mists crawling belly, along with that of sage, and something faintly evocative of licorice. The musky odor of dirt is also detectable after it has been excited by such a close encounter with this moist serpentine body of vapor.
The steep cliff side drops away completely into an abyss of shaggy greenery in some places and offers the path an opportunity to continue its discordant adventures along narrow slopes. The trees here and there reach their bare riveted arms skyward and seem to hold their clusters of greenery like wispy clouds or steaming platters proffered to the sky. Rather than reaching tall and lean they seem to be stretching horizontally as though they were trying to catch their balance along the rolling slopes and keep their platters from slipping away. In these endeavors they stand apart from one another, each aware of the others’ awkward situation and the need for space, each so absorbed with their own dilemma of equilibrium that they disdain to join the crowd.
Up above them the distant round moon watches their slow negotiations with the earth’s gravity. Her dark dimples and lines form the outline of the hare, betraying her personal sympathies in regard to the desperate games of the furry creatures scrambling around among the exposed tree roots and stark boulders. The path, inspired by the moon’s attention for exhibitionism, spreads wide in the high flat places so that she can get a good look at its perfect nakedness while the mist jealously keeps its secrets and conducts its private swirling search for its self, hungrily squeezing off little quadrants of earth and engendering darkness in the process.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Artificial Ocean

Water surrounds me. I am chest deep in a place that is neither a pool, nor the great wide ocean. It is something in between. Wild, gently rippling water encased in cement walls far away, so far as to give the illusion of “nature,” though I sense some calculated design. The water’s surface is mostly flat, rippling like an almost-still lake, it’s water line punctuated only by several dozen people and sparse tall boulders that sprout from the floor of sand. On my face is a plastic snorkel mask, in my mouth is the breathing tube connecting me to the world of mammals.
My face stays below the water’s surface and I survey the world below. The water is almost clear, each handful is clear as glass, but all added together, contained as it is, it has a tinge of blue. I feel the warmth of the sun overhead, a strong yellow sun that seems so close I could grab it. The blue sky weighs on my shoulders like a roof, like something firm and heavy stands just a few feet away, peering over me like a mother’s watchful eye. It is oppressive and near, and I keep my head below the surface, shying away from its presence.
With a full breath in my lungs, I move slowly through the water, moving my arms and legs gently, as slowly as possible, trying my best not to disturb the water and the layer of soft white sand by my feet. As I paddle and move my arms through the liquid, I look down at the wide-faced flowers growing on corkscrew stems from the white sand floor. The flowers are round, the size of large dinner platters with deep centers and three protruding yellow stamens. The petals look like silk in the water, so thin and soft and shimmering slightly. Most of them are a fire engine red, but sprinkled among the thicket are bright yellow blooms.
I move slowly through the water, careful not to disrupt the sandy floor, very aware of my space in the world. Close by are other people in bathing suits. I can hear them squealing in delight as they splash in the water, swimming as though they haven’t seen the white ocean floor or the red and yellow flowers. Their movements create water ripples and send white sand storms below the surface. I wait patiently and watch as the sand floats back to the bottom, calm once again. I watch the flowers until I hear another shriek and another flurry of sand clouds my vision.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The double glass doors sit closed on the front left corner of the building, they face a deserted sidewalk and a few tall pines. On the left wall, just beyond the door, is a long piece of rectangular black fabric hanging from the place where wall and ceiling meet. The fabric is four feet wide and hangs without a wrinkle, attempting to cover the dirty white walls underneath. The left wall is over fifty feet long and besides the one piece of fabric, it is streaked with light brown fingerprints, tiny dots of paint and grease that shine at certain angles. Like the pock-marked traces from a gopher, the walls are covered with black holes from nails used long ago. Surrounding them like tiny moons are the smaller pin pricks from plastic push pins. The ceiling above towers in a plain of darkness, without lamps or dangling bulbs. It is just the long rows of track lights that shine on each wall, pointing to them like spotlights on 2 dimensional actors.
On the back wall, just beside the right corner, is another long rectangular piece of black fabric. It is slightly wrinkled and has accumulated dust at the hem. To the left of it, tacked to a dirty wall, are a series of paper plates that have been taped together, forming a row three feet long. On the center circle of each white plate are colorful drawings in children’s colors: bright green, yellow and red, all etched in long thick strokes with crayons and colored pencil.
The centermost paper plate holds the image of an abstract woman. She sits on the ground, reclining back slightly, the weight of her torso supported by her arms and hands. Her large legs and thick thighs are spread, revealing her femininity in bright color. In black block letters, on the right side of her head, is the word: “PUSSY.”
Besides the fabric, the paper plates are the only things on the long, dirty walls. Along the right side of the room, there is a huge wall of black velvet curtains that hang from the ceiling, cutting the room in two. There is the gentle murmuring of voices coming from just beyond the curtain. A female’s voice punctuates the murmur, using the words: “oil”, “naked”, and “clothes.” The deep bass of a man responds, using the words: “trust” and “issues.”

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Discount Store

A large warehouse space is dimly lit. The overall space is submerged in a grayish hue, though sparse yellow bulbs hang from single black wires clinging to the ceiling every fifteen feet. They hang like the stars, thirty feet from the ground, their light flickering like distant voices from eons past. Gray comes from the high cinderblock walls without windows and the cement floor that breaths a cold, unrelenting truth.
The space is divided into thirty long aisles by twelve-foot tall metal shelves. They shelves are heavy and solid, built for industry and the test of time. Each shelving unit has ten individual shelves packed with old cans of vegetables and beans, fruit cocktail, and dusty sacks of rice and dried lentils. Thirty rows fill the warehouse space, each one thirty feet long.
The discount store is empty of people, though full of old dented goods that await use, to have just one more moment of life. A refrigerated section hums in the far left corner, it alone emitting bright white florescent light, like the opening of a tunnel to another plane of reality. The cold section is stocked with several varieties of packaged tofu, still within their expiration date. There are cartons of milk and large chunks of yellow cheese packaged in cellophane. The light radiates out a few dozen steps from the cold section, illuminating a few hand-made ceramic sinks that sit on the ground beside a tall metal shelf propped against the wall.
In the first aisle from the wall, a magical knife rests on the floor below the first shelf of the unit. It stands out like a giant phallus in the store of mass production, one of only two things made with human hands and careful attention. It is large and mostly flat, curved like a bow, with a long dragon-like head at one point. It is made of silvery-black clay and a small careful sigil is carved into the forehead of the creature. It sits without a speck of dust in the shadow of the tall shelves piled high with cans of black garbanzo beans and peas.
A lone worker stands in the front of the store, behind a row of elevated cash registers, like silent players on a stage. The young man stands ready for a store of empty customers. His black hair manages to shine in the dim yellow light, somehow coming alive despite the gray of the walls and floor and absence of fresh new life. His tan skin pops out of his thin, tight white t-shirt, a testament to sun and melanin and vigor. He is comfortable here in his place, a king in this square castle of old goods and their hidden treasures.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ruined City

I sit in the backseat of a car, the deep red plush fabric of the seats are dim in the night. A young woman is in the driver’s seat, her hands gripping tightly on the wheel. Her pale skin, her long light brown hair, they are colors and shapes that dance on the edges of my vision as I lean forward, looking into the night that casts everything in its dark cloak.
I am leaning forward, my body pushing on the firm restraint of a seatbelt, its promise of safety meaningless in the scene before me. Within the car, the pungent smell of adrenaline mixes with the noxious fumes of exhaust, sulfur and fear.
We are alone on this road. Alone in the stillness of this night. I stare through the spotted windshield to a scene of wreckage. My breathing is shallow, and though both car windows are closed, the cold night air finds the skin of my cheeks.
A freeway ramp climbs before us. A gentle incline rises and rises, then curves slightly to the left, headed towards the city that lies beyond the black bay. The two-lane ramp is pock-marked with the craters of dropped bombs, and the raised rings around the small mounds of asphalt continue to crumble. Around each crater are small chunks of tar, tiny pebbles, and fine black dust. The craters dot both lanes liberally, the remains of tiny bombs that fell here some time ago.
Beyond the ramp, rising from the dark city below that casts not one light, is a nearly destroyed building. The intact side still smooth and angular, a remnant of a no-nonsense style of architecture that focused on function and efficiency in a space that was densely populated. But half of the building is gone, a monstrous bite into the hard flesh of its structure. Spikes of rebar and electrical wire spill from the chunks of crumbling gray concrete. What’s left of it is at least twenty stories high, though it seems close to collapsing.
Despite its devastation, there are signs of life in the building, little yellow signals that speak silently into the night. Half a dozen windows in the intact section glow, sending out the message that there are still those that breathe in the forgotten mess.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Living Room

She lay on a soft couch, its velvety-plush cushions lovingly accepting her weight, like a firm cloud made of tan fabric. She stretched across its length, her arms at her sides, both of them heavy with the push of gravity. Her head rested on the padded arm of the sofa, the firmness of its end protected by a plush blood-red chenille pillow. The pillow held her like an open palm, and her head tilted slightly towards her left shoulder. Pale white afternoon light fell in through the curtain-less windows, coming through clear windows and filtered by a sky covered in thick layers of white clouds. Her eyes opened and closed on the brink of sleep, slowly closing to the darkness that was the shade of her eyelids, then opening to the soft light that filled the living room. The room was painted a faint shade of green, on the wall to the left of the couch were the framed drawings of a child, a cat, a vase of flowers. On the wall to her left was the giant flat-screened tv that nearly covered the wall. Its screen was black and three remotes sat on the narrow table just below it. Coming from the right of the couch, about twenty feet away, was the gentle sound of an acoustic steel guitar. It’s gentle slow-tempo plucking sung to her like a lullaby, pulling her like gossamer threads to another world. It came from the basement, where two computers hummed and scatters of papers littered the wooden floor. The simple notes bounced off of the chrome refrigerator and the long marble countertop of the kitchen which shared the same room as the couch. Towards her left, coming in an out of her consciousness, sprinkled in like a well orchestrated composition, were the sounds of two little boys, shrieking in the grass yard beyond the French doors of the living room. They came like high-pitched birds, exploding in sounds at rapid intervals. There were the demanding commands of one, the higher pitched response of the other. Every now and then was the sharp pop of a plastic gun. It rang against the glass windows and rattled the brass doorknob of the French door. Muted words mixed with soft notes and the gentle light, and her eyelids closed once again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The late afternoon sunlight is a deep yellow quickly turning into pale orange, like an egg yolk spilling across the sky. The landscape is a wide series of low hillsides that cover the land like soft round breasts in all directions. The earth is covered in dry soil that dances when touched, sending its dust up to speak. There are scattered patches of green grass in various stages of death, yellow and green mingling, and tall cactuses that reach with thorny arms to the missing clouds in the sky. Tumbleweeds roll across the hills every few minutes, each riding and rolling through another warm gust of wind that blows with abandon. Every animal that might live here is hidden. Rodents and insects keep to their burrows, birds remain in their nests, nothing moves on these hills but the grass.
The only sound breaking the silence of the land is the occasional light whistling of the wind and the rhythmic clomping of horse hooves. A pack of five brown horses trots in a tight cluster. Atop each is a cowgirl in a wide brimmed straw hat, golden skin and eyes that survey the horizon. Their hair is wild and curly and swarms like Medusa’s snakes in the wind. Their chests are covered in light cotton shirts with plaid patterns and their legs are protected by old blue jeans and leather chaps. Though they are young, all of them only a few years over thirty, the skin of their hands reveals the battle between elements, between wind and stone, and the lines around their eyes tell of their old tales. The women ride close together, just a few inches apart in a tight pack, horse ribs and cowgirl knees occasionally touching.
Just a few feet behind the women is another tight pack of horses moving at a gentle trot, but this is a group of four men and one young woman. Each is dressed casually in jeans and t-shirts and the men wear baseball hats. The man slightly in front of the pack holds a video camera to his right eye, he is quietly watching the women through his lens. On either side of him are the boom mic operators, each attempting to hold their long microphones a few feet above the cowgirls. Behind the camera man is the sound operator and beside him, the young female assistant who stares intently into a small screen, watching for any equipment that might enter the shot. They all trot slowly, moving through the glow of the afternoon, each with their particular role.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


A woman sits alone in a dim garage. The overhead florescent light attached to the ceiling and two tall floor lamps are all off. There is a row of frosted glass on the top of the garage door, and through this, the filtered light of a late afternoon finds her form and illuminates the room in a pale bluish hue that grows weak by the walls. She sits on an old wooden stool with three rungs, and her bare feet rest on the lowest one, curling slightly around the smooth bar. The stool has no back, and the woman sits up relatively straight, though her shoulders sag slightly around the straps of her thin tank-top. Below the stool is a rectangular maroon carpet that is frayed on all sides, but clean and bright in the center, a silent reminder of its old glory. Outside, on the sidewalk just beyond the boundary of the wooden garage door, worn and weathered from years of rain, are the clear sounds of passersby. The soft padded step of a man intent on his destination, the click clap of a woman’s heels. A man singing to himself, just a little louder than a whisper, the whistling of a car badly in need of a tune-up. The woman sits. The walls of the garage are covered in posters and framed paintings, but in the low light of the garage, they are barely visible. A long wood work bench sits along the wall shared with the garage door. It is clear but for a few glass jars of paintbrushes that sit close to the wall. The stems of each paintbrush are stained with paint: red, blue, not a single color is absent. Perpendicular to the garage door is a cherry wood desk, its design is slightly curved, a blend of art deco and turn-of-the century style. Each of the six drawers are embellished with delicate lined carvings that bend delicately to create the drawer’s handle. A few scattered papers lay on top of the desk, but behind them and towards the wall is a small metal box holding random papers and magazines. Beside it, a small ceramic cup holds three sharpened pencils, ready for use. The woman on the stool is just a few feet away from both desks. On the wall to her left are three black bookshelves. Each shelf is filled with books, outdated encyclopedias and years worth of magazines, there is not an inch for one more. Every shelf is dusted, each book spine completely clean. Behind the woman is a flight of red wooden stairs that lead to the apartment above the garage, they are also clean, but for a few stands of black hair have gathered on the bottom step. Below the sounds of the street outside is the gentle lull of the neighbor’s washing machine, it seeps in through the thin wall and acts like glue, gathering the scattered noises to build a singular song.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Pool

The room is long and nearly white, made from smooth marble that has been cleaned so often it now shines. The stone is complex, not one uniform shade, but with a tendency towards white with flecks of black and gray thrown in. Tiny cracks that look like capillaries and lighting run through the marble, journeying through stillness and stone. There is a dark rectangular doorway on each end of the room, without a door, it promises only blackness. The walls of the marble chamber are completely straight, designed and constructed with perfection. The floor is made from the same pale stone, exuding the same strength and silence as the towering walls. There is a stillness about the room, a hollowed space buried deep, far from noise and movement, quick lights and endless jabber. It is still and solid, lit only by a few large candles flickering from the iron candelabra high overhead.
Mirroring the rectangular shape of the room is a pool. It sits full of cool water in the center of the space, its shape beginning just ten feet from each of the four walls. Within the waters are large slate stepping stones, not quite resting on the bottom of the pool, but hovering halfway below the water’s edge. Thick green plants have grown up from the lowest point, their shiny green stems and thick leaves glisten in the mixture of water and candlelight, competing for space with the steppingstones and reaching forward, towards the surface.
A pale-skinned girl in a small red bikini walks gently from stone to stone. She steps slowly, her toes moving through easy walls of water, her toes finding the hardness of the waiting slate steppingstone as she moves. Her pointed nipples are covered with tiny triangles of bright red fabric, as is the crack of her round white ass. A thin film of water glistens on her like tiny jewels and she moves slowly, feeling each ripple of water move across her bare thighs, stepping carefully from stone to stone in the quiet pool. The gentle lapping of water is the only sound in the room and she looks down, her eyes moving past her pointed breasts and round stomach and towards her shape-shifting legs rippling below the water’s edge, her lower-half brushing past the thick-leafed greenery crawling slowly, endlessly towards the light.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


The water of the bay is dark blue with a deep undertone of green that emerges from the caverns below the surface in hints and whispers. Small gasps of green explode on the tips of little water ripples as they rise and fall second after second after second, small moments of watery life and death as it moves over the predominantly calm surface of the bay. There is no tanker or sailboat in sight, just the wide blueness of the bay as it stretches into the horizon.
To the northwest, the San Francisco skyline is ten miles in the distance and I can see the hazy purple silhouette of the tallest buildings as they rise from an obscure mist of pale fog at their base. Behind the buildings, rays of sunlight manage to stream in through hazy white cloud cover. Bright bursts of gold sunlight shines down in long streams of gleaming brightness, filling in the background of the city.
To my left, just a few hundred feet from me, is the long metal bridge that connects the land of San Francisco to the land east of the bay. The bridge is two stories, with eastbound traffic on the lower level and westbound on the top. There is never a break in the flow of cars and the rushing movement of motorized machines gurgles like a river in the distance.
The bridge is so close I could almost jump to it, but I am on another surface. I am on a wooden platform, suspended over the water of the bay by two ropes that hold me and the platform above the water’s surface. On each side of the platform, in the center, is a hole. A yellow fibrous rope has been strung through each of the holes and is held in place with a thick knot below the platform. The ropes rise and rise and are eventually covered by the white layer of clouds. I cannot see what they are attached to, I cannot see what holds me.
Because of my weight and the design of the structure with only two ropes, the platform has tilted to one side and I hold onto the yellow ropes as best as I can to keep from falling into the water. I alternate between looking at the water and looking for the source of the ropes in the clouds. The green and blue ripples of the water rise up and down, like the painted figures on a carousel.