Mark Cunningham

American Robin

"Total noise deprived of internal difference equals silence." Yet if you hold a sphere, every particle of whose surface is slightly higher or lower than every other particle, your hands feel a completely smooth surface. The earth's poles shift toward the sun, away from the sun; the earth rolls, turns; at no time is all of it awake or asleep at the same time. We need a little flaw, a little flatness, so the world will continue until tomorrow. We need a little flaw, a little flatness, so the world will continue until tomorrow.


The Matchbox car I'd never seen before, the only one of its type Woolworth's had, the one I'd just paid allowance money for: I dropped it and Mike Crane stepped on it and crunched the left rear wheel. I sprinted the three blocks home, puffing and sniffling. When I tried to show Claire how to open a CD case, she scoffed, pried it, and sent the disk frisbeeing to skid music-side down. A friend told me that he keeps two copies of important books, one to read, one for backup. I wish he hadn't: now I can't read the first copy, either. I don't want to be an intentional collector, no Shirley Temple spoons or Star War figures still in cardboard and plastic. These days, I'd like a crippled Matchbox, a scuffed Mozart piano concerto. Maybe next year I could add a Collected Works of Lorine Neidecker with a bent page. My poverty: not one cigarette scorch leopard-spots my couch. I don't have a couch. I just have chairs.

Pine Grosbeak

Robert's postcard (a Renoir, no less), stated, "I'm having a burger and a Killian's Red." Killian's? And the club sandwich was the one to get. When I met Sam for dinner, I hoped she wasn't wearing her brown-tinted glasses and silk scarves, as if she were a Riviera heiress and fifty pounds lighter. Yet these moments seemed enjoyable for them. So I've almost brought myself to tell my more hard-core friends that Mazzy Star's So Tonight I Might See remains one of my favorite albums ("another story, another lie, that's life"). White nostril hairs? Now when someone's eyes shift—cocaine? Kleenex dust?—hope perks up. Love? I'd like something more concrete. I want you to be embarrassed for me. Neither of us will have to worry about feeling embarrassed for ourselves: someone else is taking care of that. Then I can relax a bit and have a good time, too.

Western Willet

Further evidence that my body is fine, but my spirit is nearsighted: some nights the beating of my pulse in my ear against the pillow keeps me awake.



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