1. 1

    The architecture of windows

    The windowpanes became blackened,
    edges of the frame, crystallized sea glass. 
    I couldn’t stop looking 

    at the filthy angles, but I couldn’t stop seeing
     the way her arms collided,

    akimbo as she fell, I couldn’t help her
    from drowning in all the soot, I wasn’t me
    my hands already graying.

    “It was gray all around us” Holly chants beside me,
    then we weren’t talking anymore.

    There were so many flakes of ashes falling
    from the clouds that day,

    the air thick with burning  oaks and cedars
    along  the Florida-Georgia line, bonfire havens.
    The wind carries it to me, and Holly

    is drowning, soot clogging black eyes and ears and
    then I’m not trying anymore.

    There is salted rain, but no resolution
    I couldn’t find rags to wash her ragged
    bones away.

  2. 27

    The Architecture of Dustpans

    I couldn’t stop

    looking, stop

    in the soot,
    I wasn’t me

    it was gray
    all around us

    we weren’t holding hands
    nothing stopped

    Holly was drowning
    soot clogging

    eyes and ears
    we weren’t holding

    on anymore
    there was rain
    no resolution

    no rags
    to wash rags

  3. 4513
  4. 9462
  5. 1

    Coffee and Pie

    She walks through the open doors: long arms akimbo, blue eyes so round, and unusually watery and red. These eyes are already telling me how this “catching up” over pie and coffee is going to go.
                 Holly and I give each other big smiles, and the hug we share doesn’t involve the usual manic clinging people associate with two girls seeing each other after a period of time. There is no high-pitched screaming and running and clucking like turkeys. Her arms are long soft ribbons around me, with the essence of a dead fish. I pat her shoulder blades and we part.
                We make it to a table and the catching up begins, which is a lot of her talking, and a lot of me keeping my mouth to myself. An Air-Pot of coffee is placed on our table, along with strawberry rhubarb pie. I pour, sip the depths of the earth while I listen to her confirm everything I had thought about her, about us:
                “I’ve been day drinking all day at the pool,” the red eyes explained. Do you ever felt like you have a friendship where living is a competition? Where upstaging is the name of the game?

    “I like your necklace,” she says to me.
                I hold it out, the little crystals and flicker in the diner light, “I got it when we were hiking in North Carolina. They were selling them at the top of the mountain.”
                She responds, “I got so high and went to the pirate museum, got this ring,” she flashes a plastic jolly roger ring. Wasn’t there a popular phrase recently, cool story, bro? Is there a “cool story, bro-ette?” I pour another cup of coffee from the pot and gulp the words back.

     “I’m gonna apply again to be a Disney cruise-member. I think they didn’t accept me because my attendance history during my Disney internship. But whatever, I’ll apply like seven more times and hopefully by then they’ll know I’m serious and pick me.” I stop listening, and focus solely on the thick, graying mug nestled between my palms. The rich, brown liquid lolls slowly in the container. I think of coffee’s facets the acidity, the depth, the body. Holly is a French roast, full-bodied and abrasive, smoky, stands alone.
                “You should go to $6 pitchers tonight, I usually go but I lost my license when I was out in Maryland before coming back here to school for the semester, and the bouncer I know isn’t working, so I can’t go.”
                “Beer? No, thanks.” Holly doesn’t seem to remember or care that I hate beer, that the only bar I’ll ever be sitting at is an espresso bar. It’s apparent. She is a blend from Africa, I, a blend from South America—we are not of the same earthy glow at all. The light curls of steam rising from her cup hold up drinking stories like trophies. As if nothing in life could ever be complete without being drunk or high. As if this is all the world has to be prideful of.

     “Oh, you’re only here for two days? I’m going to Orlando tomorrow… Or Tampa… dang.”
                “Tampa?” I ask, making my first move to keep the conversation going, to get her to talk more about him.
                “That’s where Will lives now.” Will. A boy she met after I had graduated and had never heard her speak of until now. Even though we were good friends in college, when she left for her internship with Disney World, we communicated less and less. After I graduated and moved, a texting conversation once every couple of months seemed good enough. Distance is a tool that can be used to isolate. But although she never speaks to me about Will, I know all about him.  I know he’s a pool hall hustler and a piece of shit. I know he’s pushed her before.
                But I also know Holly. I’ve sat with her hundreds of times, giving her all the gems of advice that my brain can produce from life experience and hardships, because when it comes to live and love, I’m a master of disasters. I should have been telling my advice to a wall—at least I know my words aren’t ever going to get through it, there’s no hope for a wall. 

    I take a last sip of my mug before we get up to say our goodbyes, noting how it only takes a minute for the coffee to go from hot to cold. Just as the coffee cools, so do friendships. We walk outside; say it’s been good catching up. But it’s a lie. And as she drives away, the miles take us farther and farther apart again. This time, I will let it stretch us out, let her do her own thing, since she will anyway.
                This time, I know there’s no hope for Holly, she’s a concrete wall. I don’t say you shouldn’t trust a man who says he’s faithful and betrays your body and personal space. I don’t say trying out for Disney cruises instead of educator positions is a waste of time and money. Instead, I see her as she’s falling, like a leaf flittering down to the ground you notice out of the corner of your eye. When you look down you see a weightless white moth, wings stretched out in perfect symmetry with gray designs matching its concrete grave. You want to pick it up, but you just look at it, knowing it’s too late. It’s dead and there’s nothing that can change this fact.

  6. 2



    One minute I’m sitting on the veranda, in my favorite rocking chair, watching the rather large wasp try again and again to go through the screen instead of using the door it probably came in through, the screen on that door has never been attached correctly, wasps and water beetles find the way in so easily, the next minute, Emily has collapsed. Well, first, Emily is falling backward, a warped piece of plywood, restricted, without arms to catch itself, it’s falling flat to the ground, and that’s what Emily is doing, eyes and mouth wide, voice saying nothing, then she’s lying flat on the veranda, looking up into the cosmos, seeing things none of us are seeing. It’s haunting how things got this way, five girls, none of them bring Emily to reality. She doesn’t recognize worried looks, dangling hair, her own mixing with pollen and dirt blown in by westerly Florida winds.  “Can you sit up?” Sit? Up? No.  I find Holly, and she’s at her phone, debating to call the police. There’s primitive fear in her eyes. Wasn’t it her idea to give Emily what she wanted? I feel vanished. No one is calling the police to this house. They say it doesn’t take more than five minutes to get back to ground. Once the sizzling and the face-numbing have stopped, it’s like being dropped back into the here and now. Only after these points on the map have been established does the world find you again.

  7. 3


    It seems we have lost our thin lining called
    conviction, New Mexico’s calling
    like a doodle bird and O, my love,
    we all wave our hands goodbye
    shadows form in the narrow streets.

    Dry eyes staring at canvas, desert skies hang high above,
    her strokes are articulated, her hand
    flapping like a finch caught in its shadow:
    the plan was to kill two birds with one thing
    and strike them down within three seconds
    one, two, three…
    What can’t one do with a well-developed smile?

  8. 8


    Enough, we cannot realize,
    cannot conquer
    the four things
    that are never satisfied
    in His world.
    We are just starstuff,
    we are barren children,
    glittering eyes
    scraping at light from
    thousands of years,
    left-over destruction.
    We are Tantalus,
    sad blue planet ever-thirsting.
    We cannot stop stars
    from falling into their graves.
    The fire burning down our cities,
    consuming our hearts,
    will never say “enough”

  9. 3

    Ode to S-72 Mothership

    Wandering ground crew members follow
    Christmas lights: white, yellow, blue.
    A neon sign radiates through
    night toward address S. Seventy-two:

    The Mothership Connection Flight Hub
    where all are welcome and all come
    to indulge and groove, oh,
    the wooden turntable keeps chanting
    such hypnotizing melodies.

    Wanderers laugh here, echoes
    reverberate into space, a response spreading
    throughout the melancholy world beyond the hub,
    puffs from mellow mouths,
    hopeful little cotton buds
    sent up to join the sky crew, to
    mix with the vibrations of stars
    in constant cosmic flight.

  10. 2

    There’s more than corn in Indiana

    staring at the small mansion

    hear the one-year-old ghost
    calling with winter wind

    like the wind that blew his candle out
    young eyes jittering failing heart

    diagnosed with darkness and curling smoke.

    As I turn I face the Beeson cemetery,
    haunted squares, twelve limestone tombs

    I can’t peek into the mausoleum Lady Beeson crawled
    every night grief-stricken  corrupted  dementedly

    demanding a carbide gas plant
    keeping an ever-present burning

    so darkness can’t take her baby
    a second time

    until eyes fall from tiny child head.
    I can’t see mother buried with her baby,

    their infinite expressions of degenerates, of shock.

300ish days of writing.... For O'Hara!* "Now I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern"--O'Hara. Follow me! I'm an Editor/Co-Founder of a creative arts magazine. Submit to PaperfingerArts@yahoo.com AND check out each digital issue at issuu.com/Paperfinger ! <3
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