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Year in, year out, she always chattered to fill a silence. She was just trying to be nice. She thought that if there was “company,” there should be conversation. Conversation with her was like a lot of contemporary poetry, which needs no referent, no point, no utility—it only needs a general register, to strike certain tones. She wanted light, perky, lively tonalities, without any clunky things like content. After all, the purpose was to make pleasantries to pass the time. While we stood in front of a movie theater at the corner of Atlantic and Main St., she noticed that I had mentally dismissed her once again, that I was staring off above her head and paying no attention as she rambled on, and I saw a flash of anger and hurt appear in her face, bitterness which she usually reserved entirely for her husband (who was, of course, summarily dismissive). I was taken aback by the fierce penetrating anger in her eyes, and my attention immediately snapped back to her.

I suppose more than once I intimidated a woman in the parking garage when her martyrdoms corduroyed my shoulders. I intimidated colleagues or coworkers that way, and I was happy to send them scurrying to the fields. Sometimes the city seems cowering in all the faces, boxes for people all day, other boxes at night. In 1942, they put grandma and the whole family in the horse stalls at Santa Anita for a month. I go about thinking that I am so free, I don’t even know. Once I casually opened the car door, and traffic tore it off and threw it in the street. That clatter and that racket vibrated through the sunshine and through my hand.

Accessorize your buddha:
1. beach umbrella & cooler
2. cell phone
3. shotgun
4. cap
5. porcelain commode ashtray
6. Marlboros & pistol lighter
7. motorcycle jacket
8. tats (yakuza)
9. Ray Bans
10. iPod

August 2010