Tree People

Rosa has five minutes left of lunch and one shoe off when she spots the older man in the window, phone to ear, hand pulling back the curtain. Definitely watching. Shit economy victim in a pressed shirt, the busy boredom. She makes the show of shaking out a pebble from her sandal, purple toenails for the cops. Criminals and transients – bums everywhere else but here – don't get pedicures. She sticks her bare foot back in the strip of parkway the whole while, and sucks and sucks and sucks.

Little Beat

You play the panyo. The pan-pee-an-yo. The piano. You pick out the notes with your tongue poking out of the corner of your mouth. Your fingers are chubby with baby fat. When you reach for a B, they slip. You miss the note.

We Are All at Risk

Some people live like this until they don't live anymore. And then their bodies are peeled from the ceiling and bundled into caskets. Charcoal-gray suits and church dresses lined with lead to hold them still. Weight created so they are compliant and present in death as they weren't in life. Sometimes during the service these methods fail and the body bumps up against the lid and wavers a little, a sideways fish tank fish rocking stiff and lifeless against the glass. 

The Possible Causes of Your Suffering

Your mother. Your father. Mostly your mother. The fish that was only supposed to live in salt water. The new goldfish that had baby goldfish and then ate them. Learning about cannibalism. Catholic school. The Bible. Shakespeare. The word “counterclockwise.”


We’re pitched headfirst into a lake in a car that isn’t ours and neither of us knows the first thing about survival. We barely know how to use the Bluetooth. So we panic.

My Noise Will Keep the Record

My home is a witch's lung or a giant’s heart. Puckered cracks of plaster snake up the walls from a half-­century-­old renovation. It palpitates from the constant drum the interstate highway just beyond a courtesy swamp once planted, then neglected, as a sort of apology for the highway. The swamp thrives, reclaims detritus for the realm of bio­organisms, while I am increasingly cybertronic.


You’ve just lost thirty pounds when you see him at the party. Sure, you’re still eighty-five pounds from your goal, but thirty is no joke and your hair and outfit are on point tonight; everything looking extra fly. It’s simply one of those days when your hair product cooperates and your curls fall tight, and your dress fits you curvier than you really are.

Personal Space

A cloud of talcum powder settles around me and the woman who touches my face studies the lost shape of my eyebrows. The woman who touches my face goes tsk tsk, you’ve waited too long. She can embarrass me a little because I need her. 

Salinger Kids

Do you think Wes Anderson has kids? The guy is asking this other guy sitting across the room. He's not asking you. He has hardly acknowledged your existence, even though you've been sitting next to him since the beginning of the party. Well, maybe that's not true. It can't be true. He must have at least nodded hello when you sat down.


It wasn't until our first exchange of words that I began to understand Luli. It happened in the girl’s locker room, before gym. We were alone. I hung up my school uniform and Luli slipped off hers, revealing across her chest the red fractal patterns of lightning. Thin scars alternating like geese feet.

We Live in the Furniture Store

We live in the furniture store. We order Chinese and pretend we cooked it in the Sylco Modern Kitchen Space. We eat it in the Shepherd and West Cozy Corner. Our drinks sit on the Recycled Wood Coasters, set of four. Mine has a fox. Yours has a manatee. Last week I found a pair of women’s underwear, not my own, in the Miss Magenta Vanity and Dresser Set.


I let myself into Albert’s building and walk up the narrow staircase to his fourth-floor apartment. I undo the padlock, slide open the metal door that covers his mail slot, and push the meat into the darkened apartment. The liver squelches and slaps against the floor. Albert groans from inside.


When I get older, I’m going to live alone. Not some little kid “no boys allowed” treehouse bullshit. Just alone. No boyfriend, no husband. Just me. I won’t need anyone.That’s my mom’s problem, that she needs this Jeff and all the others. It’s like she thinks she’ll stop being real if someone isn’t touching her.

When Peter Left the House

Peter left the house as I was slipping a screwdriver into the flaked hinge of an oyster, bracing myself against the corner between the stove and the wall. He yelled goodbye as the screen door slammed shut.

How to Date

Did you know that in some versions of Sleeping Beauty he rapes her awake? My date tells me this as if trying to truly understand me and spark some sort of interesting conversation on the nature of messed up fairy tale endings and the ways they may play out in contemporary expectations regarding romance, princes, and sleep. 

A Floater

A couple of guys at the home said she lured them to the cornfields at the edge of town spitting sugary promises between her few good teeth and sneaking peeks at their pleated bulges. Those same fogies would come back panting in the night, leaning hard on their walkers and crying wolf something about that witch bringing a rusty Fiestaware blade to their shriveled okra. I ain’t scared.

The Holes in the Backyard Are Not Where We Bury Our Dead Animals

There was no green life inside of me, no bud pushing upward from my belly into words that made sentences, no reply to shout to my mother who was calling me from the kitchen, no flowers to paint over the empty wall of day, no question to ask. The birds would lend me nothing. They hoarded their song inside of them, hanging mutely in the trees outside my window, their voices growing heavy in their plump, little bodies.

The Inventors

Finally we got the jetpack. “What took so long?” we shouted. “You senseless dolts! Is this the future or not?” We’d been shouting disparagingly at the inventors for years, long enough that it now came reflexively to us.