Wednesday, May 30, 2012


My apologies for missing this past weekend; I was traveling. And this is what I saw.

You wouldn't think so, but places look so different from the sky.

When landing for a layover in Chicago yesterday, I was fascinated by the trees like tongues of fire sweeping across an otherwise barren landscape. Looking closer, you notice the tendrils of streams and branches of small rivers running through them. The cities are at the big junctures. Look close enough and you'll see their water source.

Above Seattle, there is just water. It looks like a water city, built on tiny outcroppings of land connected by bridges. Walk in any direction and you find it. The water glints like scales on a dragon until you get closer and start to see the ripples of movement. It goes from glossy green to gray-blue with white caps, all the magic lost to reality.

Vegas is a desert. Everyone knows the city is like a massive oasis in the middle of the driest of dry we are aware of. I always recall stepping out of the airport the first time I went there and feeling the pressure of the heat on my shoulders instead of the sticky humidity of home. When flying over, you see real mountains and dirt hills and ripples of where the wind has carved out the landscape. Suddenly, a line of buildings appears like an army over a hill, and the density doesn't stop until you've passed it over completely.

Tennessee is greener than you might think. Passing over you can barely see Nashville for the giant parks surrounding it. Whereas everywhere you see the circles and squares of crop land, here you see the tips of trees and fields, no particular order, left alone to their original shapes. Over the city, everything is identifiable. The stadium pops up first, giving reference to downtown, midtown, and campus areas. Most places, even home, it is difficult to find something familiar from the sky, but Nashville is simply laid out for you.

Baltimore is a port city. When flying into BWI, you have an ocean to your right the whole time. All of the places where ships made history by landing and claiming for their king, from above, are just parts of the great sea. I'm sure it must be the same on the west coast, but I wouldn't know. The Chesapeake Bay is just one of those arms of the sea, anchoring Maryland to it. If you know the geography, which I don't, you can see the Inner Harbor, the smaller bays, Ocean City. To me, they all look the same. I spend my time identifying cruise ships and fishing boats by their triangular wakes, wondering if anyone I know is out there. The land is built close to the water, tall buildings and townhouses, unafraid of storms and flooding (though perhaps they should be). If we came in by land, as we leave the city, you can see the circle of the beltway, connecting Baltimore and Washington like a bridge between two huge posts. If you glance to the west on a clear day, the river weaves between what we call mountains (those in the actual west would disagree). On an overcast day, it looks like a fog and hulking shadows, a mystery what lies beyond. Unless you know, which I do.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Birthing of an Alphabet

Her feeling thus was amorous;
His feeling merely beastial.
Thus their acts were cordial.

There remained a cosmic dissonance,
An interrupting electricity
That continued on, frenetic.

And on they grappled.
There would be no honor
If the victory was instant.

There were no jurors.
They required a kleptomaniac
To steal the moments, languid.

To be so monstrous.
To make the word “never”
Less ominous,
More porous.

To breed the lacking quality;
Reinstitute the racket;
To make them swear,
At their most terrified,
To be upstanding
and have some valor.

They were to keep the universe in whack
Until the day they were exes.
And on that day to warn us with a yowl
So we will know it is our zed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Connections Never Made

The whole family is parallel parked down the street in front of your house, crammed into the large kitchen, and eating snacks while mingling in the living room. But you are exhausted. You stare at the maps you create on your ceiling and listen to the murmurs as it gets dark and you drift in and out of a nap.

There is a sports car belonging to your uncle. There is arguing. A familiar voice. You drift in and to the window. Parting the shades you see two figures in the twilight. One your uncle standing by the redness of his convertible, and one could just be him. He has hit your uncle's car while attempting to fill a too-small space. Where did he get a car? And when did he get here? And why?

You greet him at the back door to the basement by the drain. The ping pong table sits behind you. Your cousin and your best friend stand behind it. His hair is shorter and he has filled out a bit. You hug him like you always have, remembering the last time you jumped into someone's arms. Three men and you. The little girls might be playing outside the game room, but here it is just you and the three boys. They greet one another.

You introduce them all. They have never met. You sit on the ping pong table. It has always been a gathering space. They all wonder which one of the others is your boyfriend. None has ever been, nor will ever be. They wander in and out of your consciousness.

You awake in a wholly different world. The three men in your dream haven't been in your life for years. The house with the sidewalk and the ping pong table are gone. Wondering where they all are right then. Letting them go. Turning towards the middle of the bed, you drift off holding the hand of the only man in your life. You dream of the past and what could have been.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Block

I walked the block. Right to the crosswalk. Right to TGI Friday’s. Right to the man who sells The Contributor. Right back towards the fountain. And right to the front door. I only wanted to see so I turned up the volume on my iPod.

There were students everywhere, crossing from the University to their apartment. Wearing back packs. Either blabbing on their cell phones or to their partner. Never walking quiet and alone. Perhaps texting.

Groups of sorority girls or fraternity boys cut through the parking lot with their cases of beer in high high heels and short dresses, laughing and swaying.

Waiting at the corner was a man in a suit. With a briefcase. He carefully waited for the light to change, for the walking man to appear. He took long strides to the parking garage behind Friday’s. Going home. Taking work home.

Those sitting at the bus stop held Arby’s cups and their fare cards. Some stand, some sit. Most are quiet, worn from a long day. They wear jeans and t-shirts, few with blue collared shirts and emblems. One man has a cane and stares at the ground. The bus arrives and they all file on to greet neighbors and people they ride with every day. The bus driver is always the same.

The man with his newspapers leans against the light pole, waiting for the light to fill his street side with cars. He smiles as he walks, limps a bit, says nothing. A few hands gesture him to their windows. He shakes their hands and takes their money. It is a good day. He gathers his satchel and winter coat from the brick wall and gets on the bus with the others.

The street by the church is silent, then raucous by the corner bar. Men and women sit out on the patio. It is mild and they are warmed by their beers and a winning game. I smell the cigarette smoke as I pass the front door.

I type in my code and hold the door for a guy with his groceries. Girls stand waiting for taxis. I enter the cool lobby. No mail. I avoid the elevator and climb the three flights tomy apartment. No one out on my floor tonight. I can hear music playing from the end of the hall and people on the deck. The windows are open.