Lighter


I left a lighter in the side pocket of one of my favorite pairs of pants. Now, which lighter and which pair of pants? I don’t know. There are dozens of possibilities, and I haven’t cleaned my room for three weeks. For all I know, I won’t be able to find what I’m looking for until I’ve dug my way down to the bottom of my dirty laundry pile, launching said pile’s contents all across the room as I search. Even then, it’s not guaranteed that I’ll be thorough enough in searching to say with confidence that I’ve exhausted my options once the full pile of clothes has been torn up. I could have missed a pocket in a pair of pants while rifling through, facilitating another pursuit and forcing the question: do I really need to smoke that cigarette right now anyway? I could be spending this time cleaning my room once and for all (at least the one time for at least another three weeks). Oh, forget it. It’s time for a much-needed nap.

Basking


“Dutiful tin cups push us all into the water hazard that houses several above-average octopi who hide until disrupted by our splashing.” You lapse back into languagelessness after you’ve come up with a decent sentence regarding the state of the universe. Since you’ve now done your job for the day, you can sit expressionless in the corner, wondering why words are so difficult to come by all of a sudden.

“Talk? Me? Why do I need to open my trap? Is it required of me as a human being to jabber on about my situation, even if I don’t fully grasp what my condition is? Are people content to fill the silence with their voices, even if what they’re saying doesn’t mean anything? That seems like an exercise in futility to me. Oh crap, I’ve just filled up this once-golden silence with my whining, haven’t I? Well, at least nobody’s here to judge me based on my word vomit.”

An iguana has been basking in the sun this whole time. It would happily remind the human that a witness has been present from the start, but it just wouldn’t feel right to fill up this glorious new silence with more superfluous language. It continues to bask in silence.

Cliché to Nobody


“Method leads to madness,” uncle Pritchard told me one afternoon while I was struggling to write a single sentence that even remotely inspired me. He’d caught me staring into space while hovering over my notebook, pen at the ready (mind, not so much). He took it as his mission to get me going, so he proceeded to spout a number of phrases that were cliché to nobody but him. “Never break out the driver when a two iron will do. Sugar doesn’t melt, it gets better. All animals wind up orphans if everything goes to plan.” He continued on for what felt like hours, though it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes. I eventually said “screw this” and ordered us a pizza, no worthwhile words inked.

Magic Mink


I’ve always said to myself that he’d make a fine coat if worn during the autumn months, draped across my shoulders. He would also make a fine blanket around that time of year, depending on the form he wants to take. He tends to surprise me with his various interpretations of shape. I just worry that he may avoid making contact with me, he’s usually on his own and wary of my advances. Even saying hello can be considered a violation of personal space. You know how the old phrase goes: the more magical you are, the more you wish folks would just leave you alone.

Grove


I left a seed
(a kernel of truth)
behind in the busted old car
that’s been put out to pasture
near a grove of lemon trees.

It won’t be long now
before it finds a place
to sprout and make
that hollowed-out corpse
of an automobile
relevant again,
at least to the bees.

Logged Out


Good for you, coming out of that coma so soon. We’re glad to have you back! Now, you’ve been out of commission since three Fridays ago. Do you want to be updated about that time, or are you the type who wants to find out about the past fortnight and change on your own? How about some friendship updates– you can’t find those on the internet so readily, because we now prefer not to use social media as a whole. It’s been lovely so far. We’re nine days removed from when we decided as a group to cease all digital interactions in favor of real ones, as a tribute to you, actually. We logged out of the virtual rat race just like you, buddy.

Over Under


A fellow put on
an undershirt
under an overshirt
under an overcoat,
as he saw it would be
overcast all day.

Whether or not
he went overboard
or undersold his need
for more garments
is yet to be seen,
but his overall
choice of attire
seems fitting.

Slithering


Slithering down the steps of a cathedral like an uncouth serpent between the twelfth and the fifteenth of the month really takes a lot out of a person, especially when coupled with a lack of muffins (or even the basic implements for making those unhealthy breakfast treats). A half-hour of slithering up and down steps, cathedral or otherwise, is all it takes for exhaustion to kick in. Anyone who’s gone that far understands the amount of caloric intake necessary to fuel movement so close to the ground, and more experienced slitherers often have a bag of trail mix on their person for such excursions.

Unaware


A stoic German Shepherd
surveys its land,
unaware that its ancestors
once had actual sheep
to lead around.

It has an unquenchable
need for organization,
which it unleashes
on the people in its life
as often as possible

(especially the little ones
who would rather
run around aimlessly,
completely devoid of guidance).

According to Some Religions


Who even answers
to the grand hierarchy
these days anyway?
There’s no logical conclusion
to be made regarding those toadstools
and where they rank
on the totem pole of natural phenomena,
they simply exist
for a purpose that’s unknown
to all but one (according to some religions).

Robber


Whittling away the time, a robber thinks to himself, “Well, it’s now or never, and I don’t like the likes of never.” He gets into a crouch, just ready to pounce on his unsuspecting victim. Then he waits (and waits and waits) until the waiting just becomes too much to bear and he relaxes his muscles (they were starting to atrophy). Just then, a pigeon flits by, brought over by the half-eaten bagel lying on the sidewalk. “WHAAT. Oh Jeez, a pigeon. I freak out too easily.” The robber doesn’t seem to understand that no people will pass this way any time soon, as this is a particularly desolate part of town. All the waiting will make him hungry, so he packed himself a lunch. No self-respecting robber these days would go to work on an empty stomach, that’s just irresponsible.

Engage


I recently had a diabolical plan
to deflect all arguments waged at me
with terse and witty comebacks,
but nobody would engage with me.

I looked up and down for someone
with whom to pick a fight, but
everybody was either listening to headphones,
transfixed on their phone,
or exhibiting a combination of the two.

The only person I found who wanted to talk
was a homeless fellow who kept going on
about how the KKK was behind 9/11.
That really took the wind out of my sails.

Lagging Behind


This tree doesn’t know what it’s doing. All the other trees around it already have their leaves; this one is seriously lagging behind. Maybe if I talk soothingly to it, I can help facilitate leaf growth. I’ll come back here soon with some friends and a picnic basket, play some Vivaldi, engage in stimulating conversation and occasionally hug its trunk with loving care, cooing sweet nothings into the knothole that could easily be interpreted as an ear.

Blimp


A blimp (we’ll call it Harold) holds steady at 2,000 feet, the people within its underside capturing aerial video of a baseball game. Harold is so used to this kind of gig that it often takes its mind off the mundane goings-on. Right now it’s wondering if it can learn to play the sax, or, more accurately, if a sax can be made to accommodate the average blimp. Harold surmises, as usual, that no human will pick up on its desire to be a jazz musician. Harold has once again reached the conclusion that blimps and people simply operate on different wavelengths.

Yapping


A little dog is yapping after its owner decided to leave it alone on this coffee shop’s patio, irritating all the people outside and even some of us indoors (that yapping is quite loud and obnoxious). This situation has led us patrons to wonder about the sanctity of the dog-owner relationship, and how many times such a bond is tested throughout the course of an average day.

Oh thank God, she’s back. Now we only have to worry about our own problems once again, at least until something else (a crying baby, a coffee spill, a delivery guy struggling to simultaneously open the door and hold onto his parcels) distracts us.

Croissant


“Is there any chance I can get butter on the side?”

“This croissant is already loaded with butter.”

“Yes, but that butter only went into the composition of the croissant. I need surface butter that I can bite into, you understand.”

“I’m sorry, but we don’t have pads of butter available.”

“You could have just said that when I first asked, instead of insinuating that I don’t know how much butter goes into baking a croissant.”

“I’m sorry, I’ve been having a bad day.”

“Not to worry, I’ve decided that I don’t want butter with my croissant after all.”

“Hooray!”

“Was that a sarcastic hooray?”

“Maybe. Sorry.”

Light Conversation


Consider a squadron of like-minded pencil pushers coming together for what appears to be a normal business lunch. No dice, compadre. They’re really meeting so they can compare shoe sizes (a way of establishing pecking order). Performance in the workplace aside, these guys need a system for gauging who is inherently superior, and, therefore, who shall be judged inferior.

——

The women of the group (of whom there are two) choose to opt out of this amateurish measuring contest in favor of light conversation. “Do you think we’ll ever be able to travel faster than the speed of light?”

“What’s faster than light?”

“I’ve heard that intentions travel much faster than light, like when a child is injured and a mother instantly feels sympathy pain, even if the two of them are miles apart.”

“So the first experiments will involve mothers and children, got it.”

“Yeah, and we somehow have to conduct the tests without harming any of them.”


“What, so if there’s a movie loosely adapted from it, they can say ‘no women, children or animals were harmed in the making of this film’? Okay, I can see it.”

——

The men have decided that Carl is alpha, and Jacob is omega. All the rest of them feel somewhat secure, as they haven’t been singled out. Next time they have a business lunch, they’ll have to find a new variable to rank dominance (like the number of credit cards they own or how many TVs they have in their homes).

Just Like Bacon


Don’t be greedy once you’ve tasted a bit of success (even if that success tasted just like bacon). You can’t force a reproduction of such greatness on a whim, or you’ll disrupt the natural order of things. If success visits you for even a second, consider yourself luckier than a pig avoiding the slaughter and becoming the farmer’s house pet, like the plot to so many movies we know and love (well, at least one).

Wobble


Flawed as it is, I can’t get rid of this picture frame. Sure, I could just go out and get a new one for a reasonable price (praise the free market economy), but this one was free with my subscription to TV Escort magazine, an upstanding publication. It will take more than a little warping for me to give up on this frame. Sure, it wobbles when I stand it on a table, but isn’t that endearing? Who among us hasn’t wobbled from time to time? This frame and I are meant to coexist, no matter how much that wobbling ticks me off (Oh for Christ’s sake, just sit there like the inanimate object you are!).

Frolic


Scrambled tidings of somewhat tepid joy waft across town, starting from the chocolate factory, that place people associate with frolicking (where free samples fall from the rafters). That may have been true some time ago, but the magic has faded. Now you’d be lucky to frolic for more than a few seconds before realizing you’re the only one in the place who wants to celebrate being there. It’s sterile and devoid of decor, with more boring steel surfaces than you’ve ever seen in your life.

(John Everyman)


If the everyman
(John Everyman)
had a chance
to ring up a rhino,

he’d jump to toss
his neon disc
at the very late musicians,

somehow spitting out
his clunky rhythm
in charming four-quarter time

and lulling passing onlookers
with his feats
of determination.

To No Avail


Dear Holden,

I haven’t heard from you in a long time, so I felt writing you a letter would be appropriate. In this age of instant communication, I’ve noticed that you’ve gone dormant. It’s as though you’ve fallen off the face of the earth. I get it, I have times where I just want to curl into a ball and let my responsibilities melt away. Practically every day I have a moment or two like that, but I can’t act on such a desire without losing my footing.

I don’t know if you can consistently manage to sidestep life’s persistent nagging by using your hands-off method. Are you able to shut it all out like a professional athlete? Do you just not need social interaction on a regular basis? Your lifestyle intrigues and alarms me at the same time.

Have you ever thought about taking on a pupil, someone with whom to share your worldview? If you’re even remotely interested in that kind of arrangement, I’d be an eager student. You wouldn’t even need to do any teaching, per se. I’d be content just to co-exist with you on a somewhat routine basis, to soak up the lack of urgency that you embody.

Since I’ve already tried to contact you by phone, email, Facebook and LinkedIn to no avail, I send off this letter as a way of showing that I can use old school methods of communication to be a friend. I know that you’ve always prided yourself on your penmanship, and I’m sure you know that I would just love to get a hand-written letter from you. There’s nothing you can’t tell me, buddy. Write me back, okay? I want you think about my proposition.

Warmest wishes,

Gabriella

Full Creative License


Dear Lex,

I trust this letter finds you well. Let me just cut to the chase. I don’t know what to do about these fencers in my backyard. They showed up three days ago and they’ve returned each day since. I’m looking at them from my kitchen window right now, and my blood is boiling. Nowhere on my property does it say “Fencers Welcome”. I’ve tried to shoo them away, doing everything short of calling the cops (yelling at them, throwing rocks, threatening their families, etc.). You know that I don’t want to drag the authorities into this if I don’t absolutely need to.

Look, these fencers aren’t exactly wreaking havoc (aside from wearing down my lawn with their lunging), I’m more concerned with the principle of the thing. How would they like it if I decided to practice my golf game on their lawn without being invited?

I know you have methods for getting rid of unwanted pests, so I feel compelled to ask you for a favor. Before you object, just remember who pulled the strings to get your dog into the best obedience school in the state. I don’t care how you do it, I just want those fencers never to appear on my property again. You have full creative license on this one. I’ll even sweeten the deal. If you take care of this nuisance, I’ll buy you dinner at that new gastropub downtown. I know how much you like hipster food.

Love,

Edna

Too Many Oxen


Dearest Mr. Farthington,

I write to you because I have too many oxen these days, and I am unable to sell them off. The market has really taken a turn on livestock sales, and I can’t keep taking care of all of them without slowly pawning off my more valuable possessions (a headshot signed by Mickey Mantle, a baseball signed by Mickey Rooney, a gold-plated casserole dish, to name a few).

Soon it will come to pass that I need to sell off a portion of my land just to get by, so I have no choice but to put a number of my oxen up for adoption. They’re very well-mannered, and can do some serious heavy lifting. They’re not used to being treated as beasts of burden, as I’ve spoiled them a fair bit. If you know anybody with a pasture and a loving home who may be looking for oxen, please let them know that my animals will make great companions who don’t need much entertaining other than the occasional puppet show.

Thank you for your kind consideration–

Sincerely,

Jedediah Buckton