lost in the 4rest

Hello out there!

First, apologies. It’s been a long while since any new postings here on short4orm. I promise I’m not jumping this niche little ship I’ve carved out for myself (and you, traveller!). I will return soon; there’s so much more I want to unearth along this uncharted literary trail.

In fact, I’ve been busy cobbling together a collection of 52 short4orms posted over the first year of the blog in commemoration of more to come. Behold!

lost in the 4rest final cover 2
Pretty snazzy, right?

LOST IN THE 4REST collects the short4orms I’m most proud of and feel represent my genre-hopping, experimental, non-Western endeavor here on WordPress the fullest. There’s no new content for dedicated readers who have stuck with me and my sporadic updates (you know who you are), but the pieces enclosed have all been lovingly edited, thoughtfully organized, and painstakingly formatted for your reading pleasure. I even included an introduction (Gasp!) and was able to design the cover (Oh public domain wonders!).

I’ve had a tremendous, maddening time picking, polishing, and publishing this slim little volume. Right now it’s available on Amazon for less than a buck, but I want to send readers of this blog a free PDF or Kindle file until the end of the summer (August 31st)! If you’d like a copy, please leave a comment on this post and then message me via my contact page with whichever format best suits you.

I can’t thank my readers enough. I really hope you’ll enjoy this little collection. Please stick with me for another year of short4orm–I promise it will be interesting.

And hey, if you want to help a guy start to promote his first indie publication (a Lulu physical copy is in the works, too), feel free to post an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. It really helps out.

And, as always, I’d love to hear what you think of the book here on the site, too 🙂

Have a lovely rest of your day!

 

Best,

Garrett Ray Harriman

87.

He squats at the end of a rain spout, the little boy aged 9 or 10, holding steady a blue plastic bucket. It’s early in the morning, and the storm awoke him before the rest of the house, and he’s decided to do what Daddy used to do, only Daddy’s bucket was metal and held more water, and Daddy took it with him, but all the same he tries this morning as the sky cries itself anew. “Jesus Christ,” hisses Mr. Three-Piece Suit, loud enough for the entire continental Breakfast Club to hear, scraping the blackened Belgian brick out of the hotel’s goddamned waffle iron. He is all smiles–three times he fills his bucket, three!–until the cloudburst melts into tomorrow and his mother coughs and coughs.

grh

86.

Rain clouds converged above the empty garden. The remains of a scarecrow’s stake wagged limply in the breeze, throwing its fragile shadow over parched crowns of soil. He’d caught the lizard on the sidewalk two evenings past, and already its tail, severed to give the slip, had begun to regrow. A tough hand of wind plucked the stake from the garden’s center, the shallow hole it left behind soon plugged by muddy water.

grh

85.

“Never mind — just, never mind. Jesus, I’m not having this conversation!” A wet mass of legs and auburn fur slides onto the forest floor; the mother deer takes a breath. “If you ever bring this up again, I swear to God I’ll leave you.”

grh

84.

Squad car, stake out. Suspect tailed for twenty blocks, alleged to sell dope to middleschoolers in Roosevelt Park; no hand-offs reported. The widow’s walk funnels the screams of the sea to her ears, her salt-bitten eyes, the fog-layered horizon withholding her husband’s vessel’s masts. Beyond these bubbles of wait pops the world, children roughhouse, oceans tide men home.

grh

83.

Sunlight stains the boat deck. The fishermen towel themselves dry, circling the twitchless corpse of a swordfish, patting themselves on their backs, cursing in jubilation. The general sees his imminent defeat writ across the valley, the day-bright hills saturated in blood and bodies and smoke too thick for hope to navigate. “Let’s pose for a picture!” prompts the captain; his vessel rocks a little harder.

grh

82.

“God dammit!” she hisses, plucking the charcoal-black-up-until-thirty-seconds-ago piece of bread from the toaster. Around the corner, her father hacks and wheezes in the living room armchair, his aged morning chorus a time bomb for the rest of her day; she ignores the knife’s shaking in her hand, slathering butter and jam across another inoperably burnt five-grain face. Meanwhile the old man’s foot itches, has not stopped itching for five years, smothers his mind in nothing but bone-deep, insufferable itch — the foot, like hunger itself, lacking. They eat at the coffee table, their crunch-chew-crunch a screaming voice between them.

grh

81.

A herd of giraffes breakfasts along the savanna. Its many tongues undulate like pink, graceful snakes through the canopies of pale green trees, coiling around leaves, the occasional berry. She receives a D minus on her biology report, cringes at the thought of her father’s reaction, then vows then and there to save up the next three summers’ worth of part-time money to fund a big game, one-woman Safari of Revenge. Thunderheads stalk the grasslands from the west; the animals lope about nervously, the inevitable storm fiercely alive in their hearts.

grh

 

 

 

80.

“Steer the rowboat thusly, were the drums of the Roman fleet upon us — there’s a sharp lad! But here again, that look about you. I’m certain you’ve grown tired of my praises — and firmly certain you share my leanings, though you speak not — but it’s a damnable shame how the world so derides you Ferrymen. I’ve nary touched an oar for a flicker of my life, yet even a tenderfoot such as myself can sense the power of a rower; so hasten onward, dear captain, for the Gods’ abysmal abode!”

grh

79.

“Oh I’m fine, I’m fine.” The universes of frustration, pain, and unrequited dreams behind those words were infinite, but she said them anyway, each syllable a stubborn closet door keeping the ironing board of truth from springing free. Along the parched African soil, regiments of dung beetles rolled their Sisyphean shit balls, aimlessly, all-consumingly, the succoring shade of marula trees brief and incomplete. “Anyway,” she pressed on, “what’s happening with you?”

grh

 

78.

“She has been born Markless, Your Majesty. Her skin is whole and clear.” The night’s winds tore the trees of their winter coats, and the Axemen set to task stiffly, gritting fang against the numbness in their loins, the maddening fire of missing digits. The howling, freezing hills sung a dirge of silver moonlight; beside the royal hearth was the princess cooed to sleep.

grh

77.

She loved exploring sea caves as a child. Within them she learned the wind’s many voices, the maternal softness of perspiring hollows, and how life can flourish inside pools no deeper than buckets. In the house poised on the cliffs above lived another girl, born deformed and blind and deaf. Unmet, they kept their seclusions to themselves; the ocean bored its mass into the naked coastal wall.

grh

76.

Another endless drive-thru line. No date, no radio. A meteor the size of a humpback whale skims Earth’s orbit, recalculates its interest, then deflects to a more appetizing corner of void. “Dammit, I said no pickles,” growls the driver, chucking this newest burger out the window.

grh

75.

A hush coats the apartment after the parrot speaks. Two whole floors have gathered to bear witness to its final thoughts, words to be forever enshrined upon the building’s throw pillows and the lips of its latchkey kids. See the gypsy girl laugh at the man’s muted pleas to return his voice, her promise of their transmutation, their power, to be lost on the wings of an unseen bird, brief and meaningless as the wind. The cockatoo’s coda — “Alas, that here ends my story of silence” — survives its Internet upload, infects the world’s many screens, then nothing.

grh

74.

“Remember no thing for its own sake, but for the ghost of a future self incomprehensible in this moment. Speak no thing for its own sake, but for the ears and well-being of a child long forgotten.” The rain-starved hills welcomed his car, its steely purr and pinpoint turns, as a kind of quenching liquid, some rambling flow of life on the run. The radio show ended, the DJ’s prophetic words another snowdrift of white noise piling in space,  until the driver pulled over, kicked open, threw keys, walked off.

grh

73.

The town priest closes his bible, then signals assent to the hangman. The rope delivers its promise firmly: a clean drop, no writhing or drooling, no death throes for the crowd assembled. In a faraway field of honeysuckle, a young girl and her mother collect flowers in a basket, severing each head from its hale, green stem. It’s a beautiful day for it, the picking, though somehow the wind feels lost.

grh

72.

Silent, statuesque, the heron bides its time along the early morning floodplain. Each lift of its sturdy legs thrums silver ripples through the cattails, alerting only the most sensitive fish to its precise, calculating presence. Across the marsh, the young surgeon cramps and sweats above his patient, the robotic arm assisting him an edifice of inhuman composure, assured and benevolent and uncomfortably, even vitally, alive. The heron lunges and misses, lunges and misses, before pausing, its eyes dead-firm, its beak slitting the water’s surface, the writhing fish consumed.

grh

 

71.

The cow rises with the dawn and begins to chomp the grass. Her child rises soon after, gamboling and eating in equal measure; a single activity. The commuter train flashes by the field, its rooms alive with ringing phones, glowing screens, professional insomniacs. The cows feast all day; the train passes twice.

grh

 

 

70.

The café stayed open, always. That was the rule — a rule forged in medias res World War II, kept alive by the taciturn nostalgia of many an ex-pat author’s internationally canonized ennui. The hunter skins the hide off a young doe; the process takes cold, cold hours, a supple hand, and tools with edges sharp as survival itself. He’ll write out of this life someday, inventing conversations and trysts for characters to have in coffeehouses far away, reciting aloud, “It’s the beans, not the bloodshed, dear girl, that won the fight.”

grh

69.

“Don’t spend your life waiting for the light to shine.” “Why not, Dad?” “Because the darkness has lessons it can teach us, and your brothers and your sisters have been lashed by the light’s silver tongue, and have all gone.” “Don’t blame the light, Dad, you always blame the light…”

grh

 

68.

And so the mountain village was spared the rage of the avalanche. The elders of the village convened at the frozen, mile-wide base of snow curled high above their homes to plant prayer flags and bowls of incense. “But that’s not how life is,” his grandmother said, slamming the book closed, “because there will always be another avalanche.” He remembers her this way — white and pale, stubborn and suspicious of nature’s capacity for grace — whenever summiting a new peak.

grh

 

67.

The little boy fell into the lion pit. It took fourteen personnel two-and-a-half hours to bait and sedate the pride before they could extract the unconscious child and fly him to the hospital. His mother calls on the anniversary of the fall, asking him how things are, and he recites in even tones how he rarely notices the scars, how he remembers nothing, which is the truth. He hears her own scars pulsate her voice, their breath inside her breath, before his daughter grabs the phone, telling Grandma about her field trip to the zoo.

grh

66.

I’ve been busy. So busy. Yesterday, a bird ricocheted off my office window, breaking its neck (presumably), then fell the twenty stories necessary to stain the ground (again, presumably — I didn’t leave my work to check). My office mate, Tom, just reminded me this room lacks a window.

grh

65.

Winter months saw the train pass through town in a bedlam of whistles and spilled inkwells of smoke. Children, starved not least for entertainment, took to standing parallel to the station tracks, their game over whenever the weakest lunged among them coughed through the locomotive’s asphyxiating soot. “Over here!” shouted the lad who found them first: boot tracks zigzagging away from the depot, alone, preserved in the train’s dim snow, not a stride indented through the powder. That long season, that juggernaut train, continued, its every flight beside the shanties claiming yet another boy.

grh

64.

Her opus was nearly complete. At intervals, her fingers muddled, scurried, and pounded out their final marathon of pages. Sitting as she was, her caffeinated form J-hooked over her desk, it was impossible to see the night sky, to notice how each exhausted, now frequent peck of the backspace key snuffed another star out of existence. “Worth it, all worth it,” her demons dirged, to the horror and chagrin of eyes everywhere.

grh

63.

“It is now, and in this world, that we must live.” The little inscription fell out of the crescent-shaped cookie when she broke it in half. Her squad mates scoffed at it, trampled the box, thumped her head, and ordered her to pick up the pace; too soon would the raiders return to camp, too soon would the dust storms descend. She clipped the fortune under her helmet, her mind hungry for weeks — what other voices lay hidden, trapped, inside their stolen rations? 

grh

62.

For the first time, Libby didn’t write her name in the visitor’s log by the trailhead. She wasn’t rebellious — had even known the friend of a friend who was saved thanks to the simple action of recording his name — but that afternoon, so sunny and warm, Libby wanted only to ascend to the lake in anonymity. Her hike ended without tragedy, and the lake shone pristine, but one by one, the people she’d known since childhood ignored her, forgot her, until her face and her name evaporated from their hearts. She returned to the lake many times over; each visit it grew larger, its liquid voice deeper, rippled by the fingers of unwritten winds.

grh

61.

Car for sale. Minor dings and scratches, new snow tires for season. Left side mirror shows past, right side the future, 5 years either way. Accepting immediate cash offer — discrete location preferred.

grh

60.

She rescued a rabbit from an overflooded culvert one day on her walk home from school. After its wounds healed and strength returned, the little creature no longer tolerated her advances of comfort, and spent its waking hours cowering in the far corners of its cage. “You can’t force fear away, lovely,” her grandma advised, “nor love to grow, but don’t think for a minute they can’t wear the same face.” The night she let the rabbit free, it hopped to the end of the lawn, its ears draped and quivering along its back, its progress slow, hesitant, retreating ever farther from her heart.

grh

59.

The Happiness Machine will run on happiness — that goes without saying. It will tour the world with its creator, and bring joy to a million suffering souls, and remind a million others that their heaviest problems are graciously, inconsequentially toothless. Half a decade on and the Happiness Machine joins the echelons of a la mode pocket gadgets depreciating in spiritual value by the quarter. Every so often, the magazines and newscasters will titillate us with rumors of a Sadness Machine, but the evidence always surfaces as a hoax, and you watch our smiling faces shrivel and dry and crack from the dream of it, don’t you, the sodding grinning git you’ve become.

grh

58.

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! “Happy Birthday’s” a misnomer, actually — speaking technically, your creation involved no reproductive processes, and the genetic committee helming the parent project unanimously signed an NDA attesting to the utter preposterousness of your very existence, so, uh…jeez, sorry there, buddy. Cake’s in the fridge, help yourself.

grh

57.

It was her third straight day in the tattoo parlor chair. She’d commissioned the artist with a back-long mural of fighting dragons, a fifty color masterwork, and thus far, to her unfailing surprise, she’d felt not a needle. Half the world away, her twin sister writhed in bed, stricken with bruises and bleeding, incapacitated for most of the week, praying hard. Had the sisters ever met, the equation would be clear: Numbness and pain must never equally divide.

grh

56.

The mice had bred to uncountable numbers, compelling the town’s farmers to raid their local hardware store and purchase every last model of mousetrap. Barns and pantries for miles stood cocked and loaded to crack the scourge’s collective spine, and the men and their wives slept soundly. But none more soundly than the store owner’s son; slighted too long for dreams of apprenticing a magician, he’d swapped the mousetraps for gag shop models, his cunning heart warmed by the train ticket stitched inside his coveralls. Grain silos rang empty that season, and the store owner boarded up shop, scurrying from the dark magic his son had left behind.

gr

54.

The tree on the hill was always dying. From spring to spring it endured autumn’s curse; old leaves puckered and fell, new leaves unfolded on naked limbs, gilded and rusty-veined. The house it eventually embodied was ever in disrepair, and a procession of frustrated owners impotently combated its sagging frame and withered windows. From the ashes of the abandoned hovel now grows a golden forest, a site of holy pilgrimage for lovers of Mischief and Death.

grh

53.

“That’s the last time I saw the prick. I tell ya, watching that man climb the gallows steps, you’da sworn Brother Jesus was in the crowd, nodding some sad approval — did my heart good. ‘Course none of us was expecting the traitor’s wings to break his chains, and none of us knew how fast he could hoof it till we hauled after him down the main drag, but he was too high, goddammit, too Kingdom-close to shoot down. Funny thing about it — what I ‘member most, anyways — was the prick left his hangman’s bag on, flyin’ blind, but straight, all the way up.”

grh

52.

Her pupil’s fingers played the piano like they were discovering new lands — prodigious leaps over entire valleys of sound no ordinary child should have ventured. “Wonderful, Edgar,” she praised, touching his shoulder, “you’re on perfection’s edge!” She let his music carry her to the world outside the studio, to the masses, virulent with deaf-rendering parasites, patrolling the soundless streets, barricaded from the conservatory and its denizens. Edgar played on, numb to the beauty abounding from his performance; the last Listener, his teacher, wept against the bolted window.  

grh

51.

She set the cake on the counter to cool, double-checking that she had everything the frosting recipe called for. For hours she adorned her creation with the sugary attention her imagination desired — it was more than the customer asked for, much more, but she knew he’d be thrilled beyond measure. Even now he remembers that cake, his last birthday treat before the planet ate itself alive. His mind often wanders from the squalor and meagerness around him to her artistry, its taste, the legacy of the world sweetly dancing on his tongue.

grh

#. Milestones and Sunshine

Thank you to everyone who has found and shared short4orm up to its 50th post!

I started this site with no greater goal than to tinker with a compelling poetical form for my own satisfaction and maybe swap ideas with other writers. I never expected an audience, let alone to find and interact with so many talented and dedicated authors. It’s humbling and exciting to hear your feedback — and discover your own work — day after day.

Again, thank you. Here’s to 50+ more short4orms and a growing writerly fellowship.

sunshine-blogger-award

To my surprise, I’ve recently been nominated by Nick at Fifty Words Daily for a Sunshine Blogger Award. It seems like a great way to break the WordPress ice and open up beyond the precision and unpredictability of my posts. Thanks Nick! Please keep writing amazing things.

Essentially, the nominator asks 11 questions of his or her nominees. Nominees answer said questions, then choose 5 of their own nominees for the award (nominator excluded) and create 11 new questions to ask. Simple, fun, perpetual community-building.

I’ve answered Nick’s Sunshine questions below and selected 5 wonderful writers I’m dying to learn more about. Hopefully you guys will participate, but hakuna matata and c’est la vie if otherwise. You’ll never lose a reader in me.

***

1. What is your favorite food?

I’m going to cheat a little here (can I do that out the gate?) and say pastries. Of any variety, preferably hot. To get specific, Danishes and cinnamon rolls have made my heart a battlefield for years, and the tide of that particular siege is ever-shifting. War is hell.

2. What is your favorite time of day?

That hour or so right after dawn. I like watching silhouettes of things slowly bleed their colors alive. It’s one of those forbidden-fruity times I see more often than I used to, but still have scant moments to truly appreciate.

3. What makes you angry?

Anger is an emotion I generally try to avoid, so much so that I forget how essential it can be. Whenever I see or hear about people being completely ignored, however, I go from placid to pissed very quickly. No one should be made to feel like a ghost.

4. What is your favorite book?  (You can have three if one is too restrictive.)

This is a HUGE, intimidating question, so I’ve divided it into 3 sub-categories:

Most Influential Childhood Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry — cemented my love for weird, slipstream, interstitial fiction.

Favorite Non-Fiction Book: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard — a gorgeous meditation on nature and existence; this book is a gift.

Favorite Book at the Moment: Fifth Business by Roberson Davies — a bizarre, challenging, non-standard romp full of big ideas and memorable characters.

5. If you had to be an animal, what animal would you be?

Sign me up for lemur. They live in an exotic locale, gorge themselves on fruit, and run around like knights in a Monty Python movie. Plus they have prehensile tails, and I wouldn’t have to lose apposable thumb privileges!

6. What is your favorite season?

Fall for sure. Growing up in Colorado, it’s certainly the shortest season — winter’s the braggart in these parts — so there’s that supply-demand psychology to it. Really, though, it’s a simple affinity: I love wearing sweaters and the smell of dead leaves.

7. Why do you write? (This is optional because I would hate to answer it.)

Loaded questions, much? 😉 I’ll give it a shot. I write because it’s the clearest way I know to hear myself, to record who I am, and to discover what I care about. Every other method I’ve test driven has been a bucket drilled with holes.

8. Have you already broken a New Year’s Resolution?  If not, why not?

No resolutions this year, except perhaps just getting back to normal. The last third of 2015 can be expunged from the record, your honor.

9. What is your favorite (short) joke?

“Two peanuts walked home from a bar — one was a salted!”

10. If you didn’t live in your current country of abode, where would you most like to live?

I would love travelling, teaching, and/or otherwise existing in Japan. In the countryside, somewhere with easy train access.

11. Which languages can you speak?

A butchered 3-ish years of college level French, mostly forgotten high school Spanish, and a recent interest in, and slow accretion of, Japanese. I fully intend to make language learning a lifelong passion project. Also I know English.

***

My Sunshine Blogger Nominees:

kind-coffee-cup

Sarah’s poetry is seductive, confessional, and sublime. Her work deserves an enormous WordPress readership and never fails to move me.

Only Fragments

Elyssa’s project is dense and unique. She writes serial flash fiction following two rich, complex characters, and her writing voice sparkles.

Only 100 Words

Per her title, Sonya writes multi-genre flash fiction in 100 words or less. Her work is delightful, insightful, and seeded with surprises.

Little Wee Stories

Martin’s “Little Wee Stories” all brim with character and beautifully observed dialogue. His quality and consistency are a true flash inspiration.

haiku streak

Haiku is a bountifully rich poetical form, and David’s are some of the best on WordPress. His subjects and expertise always sharpen my perspective.

Questions for the Nominees:

  1. How would you describe your sense of humor?
  2. Who are your writer heroes?
  3. How do you define fear?
  4. How do you define courage?
  5. What was the first piece you wrote that moved you?
  6. What musical instrument would you be and why?
  7. What is your favorite dessert?
  8. Second-best use for books besides reading them? (doorstop, projectile, etc.)
  9. What do you do about procrastination?
  10. Favorite superhero that hasn’t been created yet?
  11. Question you wish I’d asked you?

take care,

grh

50.

Snow fell heavy on the old man’s walkway. He geared up in the same coat and boots his father wore all his life, resolving in his heart to shovel the path clear if it killed him. Years after his funeral, long since those gathered had expounded on his gentleness and legacy, in a fitting symbolic gesture a surviving grandchild snapped and burned the cursed shovel. The coat and boots were kept; their weight and warmth eased many winters.

grh

49.

“Lunch, Justin!” she called from the kitchen. With a practiced flip, she plattered a grilled cheese sandwich, filled a bowl of steaming tomato soup, and balanced her way to his bedroom door. She knocked and entered, looking past hundreds of identical, dirty dishes, oblivious to the rotting, hot-box stench, and puzzled today’s meal onto a corner of his vacant bed. She closed the door behind her, mumbling “That stubborn boy,” then returned to the kitchen and the food she wouldn’t eat.

grh

48.

After clearing a Minesweeper board, he left his desk to check on the print job. The machine’s little glass screen signaled a paper jam in overblown red warning lights, and he spent minutes of his finite existence forcing his fingers into its plastic crevices like some rock climber scrambling for a hand hold. Back in his office, his chair lay in a pile of mangled carnage, its faux-leather padding gashed and flapping beneath an AC vent. He sighed, knelt at the keyboard, typed DAYS WITHOUT CHAIR EATER ATTACK: 1, then shuffled back down the hallway.

grh

47.

“Come closer, my darling; there’s but little time between us, and my voice is a fading star. Lean across these covers to take my hand and feel my breath about your ear, like before. Do you remember the hour you gave me this voice — your voice, darling — how for years I hardly used it for fear of poisoning your generosity? Your muteness at my expense…it breaks the whole of me, darling, maddens me, even now, not knowing what your voice might shout inside my throat!”

grh

46.

The wagon party formed a ring for the night. The men’s sons fed and watered the animals; the men’s daughters and wives stitched together clothes and a meal. Once more, the firelight flared its incantation through smokey lips and magma-hot tongues, showing the men everything absent from their lives — acres of unpeopled land, streams glutted with fish, gold and oil and precious stones beneath their boots. The wives and daughters and sons shivered, watching the men hunch again toward the unlit flames in the cold epicenter of the camp.

grh

45.

And the bird burst from its egg to be raised in the warmth and plumage of its mother’s breast. It grew rapidly, as big as the sun, until its mother could no longer shield it from its bright ambitions. Without a home, the bird left Earth to find a suitable nest among the stars, but the planets and the moons silently refused its company. It drifts in the darkness still, eager for a perch, unaware of the many worlds birthed and gathered by its heart.

grh

44.

A disarming thing happens when you listen to your own beating heart: You realize it functions on grace. It is no reliable or uniform thing — there are gaps and skips, it fumbles like a timid drummer at a halftime show, whole black seconds pass with no blood churning — and yet somehow its irregular, nervous nature keeps your thoughts in alignment, sets your arms and legs to task. The others never told me how feckless the human heart is — armed with such knowledge, I would have forgone the transplant entirely, having never surrendered my immortal essence for the sake of a single, fading child. And yet my choice shines darkest for this unholy doubt: If their very organs stutter and tremble at Life’s threshold, of what unobtainable peace have we robbed them?

grh

43.

The little girl finished her lunch and brought her plastic purple plate to the sink. She splashed soap around, rinsing her dish with an adorable little girl negligence, then racked it before tumbling back to her dolls on the floor. “She’s perfect,” the woman said, watching the demonstration behind a one-way mirror. “Tell the boys in production to start another twenty thousand.”

grh

42.

“Say it with me — ‘insatiable.’ Wonderful, isn’t it, when you find a word that sounds and feels like a full meal of meaning? Oh, but I’m frittering my breath: you’ve barely mastered learning to make a simulacrum of the Human oral cavity, let alone attained appreciation for their primitive tongues and jaws, the ways such flukes produce nuanced, scintillating utterances. Perhaps another invasion the poetry will find you, yes?”

grh

41.

They took the bottle rocket to the top of the hill, the child and the man. Their hearts leaped and howled at the marvel of the thought — their homemade fuselage harpooning the moon and stars, bursting the summer night to life. Fire ate the fuse to the brink of launch when the man charged across the grass, tackled the toy, and exploded in a carnival of jewels, each the size of the child’s front tooth. The jewels were heavier than the child anticipated, warmer, and it was hard to skip home with every pocket full.

grh

40.

I awoke from a nap to find Life beside the bed, beating my chest like a child on Christmas morning. This happy violence resurrected my cells, convinced me I’d somehow given birth to my own flesh and bone, and then Life’s nimble hands led the charge, and we were outside, walking and eating and taking forced-perspective photos of us licking cloud plumes like they were ice cream cones, melting for joy. Life went missing during our game of hide and seek, the little devil, so I plunged into my chest, where Life’s hand had bruised my heart, and I planted the feeling beside an overgrown rock wall ten minutes drive from my cottage. I’m not worried about Life: She knows the way back to me, and mornings here are bright and clear — clear enough to catch her footsteps before they fall. 

grh