more from marathon, ny

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pacific highway

in California we stopped at a small alcove

on the highway where a pool was made from

the incoming ocean by blocking it with large

boulders. we swim. Lois turns the light on.

it is a lighted pool.

 

a woman shows up with a clipboard to

ask us about the water quality and the whole

pacific pool experience.

 

i told her it was brackish and you

wouldn’t want to get any in your mouth.

that was the long and short of it.

suck it up

someone calls her a big dyke and she has to

suck it up because she is in the all-male

zone of giant coffeepots and giant filters

that go with them.

(at the prison, the riot rages on. i

hide under a table against the wall. the

guard doesn’t see me).

assassin

she stole the drugs and for that reason he

is coming for her: a grizzled man with a thatch

of thick black hair.

i find her at a frozen pond ringed by trees.

i crunch along the edge. she has many

braids and is crying. “i’m sorry,” i say, “i didn’t mean

to find your hiding place. but he is coming.”

i am trying to run but my body won’t

work across lambent fields of beauty.

i end up in a pink-tiled retro bathroom.

his head pops through the window.

“okay,” i say, “just do it fast. Please,” i beg,”

don’t make it hurt. please!”

he takes a small caliber handgun from his

pocket and shoots himself in the head.

i stare, open-mouthed. it doesn’t take

because the bullets are small. he crawls over

to me and shoots himself again.

he dies in my arms.

i ride a bike away from the crime scene

on a cracked road that suddenly plunges straight

down into dark wooded depths.

back on the line

fleeing my parents’ house

the dog attacking me and i am pulling

the trigger pulling the trigger into its

open mouth and the gun won’t shoot

“pull back. do it from a distance,” the man says.

i do.

the tiny bullets burrow into its brain

and it looks at me, stunned and sad.

i run.

at British Lenore’s the sliding glass doors.

i go in. she’s in the shower. she must be tired

of seeing me but she hides it well.

(how to tell her all that has happened, never mind

my ruined school career?)

i guess i am back on the line.

the little girl yelling to her family from the

suspended boardwalk until she disappears into their

restaurant. sun pounding.

fog enshrouds the town as we go

in the car to our jobs. the one man their leader

tolerates me, thank God.

the jalopy rolls along.

“put the potstickers in the microwave,” someone tells me.

they are not mine but she is allowing me

to eat them. we cooks have a ritual meal every evening

before going out on the line.