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QUIET LIGHTNING IS

:
a literary nonprofit with a handful of ongoing projects,
including a monthly, submission-based reading series
featuring all forms of writing without introductions or
author banter—of which sparkle + blink is a verbatim
transcript. Since December 2009 we’ve presented 1,100
readings by 800 authors in 110 shows and 90 books,
selected by 50 people through a blind selection process
and performed in 70 venues, appearing everywhere
from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and
national landmarks.

The shows are also filmed and loaded online—in text
and video—and rebroadcast on public access television.

There are only two rules to submit:
1. you have to commit to the date to submit
2. you only get up to 8 minutes

quietlightning.org/submission-details

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info + updates + video of every reading
sparkle + blink 91
© 2017 Quiet Lightning

cover © Julia Barzizza
book design by j. brandon loberg
set in Absara

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without permission from individual authors.

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Your support is crucial and appreciated.

quietlightning.org
su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g
CONTENTS
curated by
Evan Karp
featured artist
Julia Barzizza

RUTH CROSSMAN An Election Year 1

ANDREA MEJRI Black. All I See is Black.
Black in Movement 5

SEAN TAYLOR Matches 9

NICOLETTE
DASKALAKIS Manic Pixie Dream Girl Sex Robot 13
A Eulogy for My Twin-sized
Mattress with the Flowers On It 16

CASSANDRA DALLETT Jails Have ATM Machines Now 19

D.S. BLACK On the Corner 23

ELISE HUNTER Regulars 29

RUTH CROSSMAN Tom Petty 31

JENNIFER LEWIS Teledating 36

CASSANDRA DALLETT Time Being 41

D.S. BLACK We Are The Dog 43
G IS SPONSOR
ET LIGHTNIN ED B
QU I Y
QUIET LIGHTNING
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet
Lightning is to foster a community based on literary
expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL
produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on
the first Monday of every month, of which these books
(sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts.

Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the QL board is currently:

Evan Karp executive director
Chris Cole managing director
Josey Rose Duncan public relations
Lisa Church outreach
Meghan Thornton treasurer
Kelsey Schimmelman secretary
Laura Cerón Melo art director
Christine No production

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in
helping—on any level—please send us a line:

e v an @ qui et light nin g . o rg
RRRRRRRRRRR
RR
A N E L E C TI O N Y E A R

First the guy from Motorhead dies. On New Year’s Eve
the billboards on the venues say RIP Lemmy, and the
metal heads hold wakes and mock funeral services in
his honor. I’m not a metal head or anything but it sets
a tone. If anyone was supposed to be invincible, it was
Lemmy from Motorhead.

It’s March when we find out Prince has gone too.
Everyone says it happened too soon, but the weather
is beautiful and we dress ourselves in purple and dance
at Lake Merritt. They say these things always happen
in threes, but no one thinks about it until Bowie dies.

In November we watch the pundits crying on tv and
realize that Florida wants to kill us all. We wake up
with a nausea that is worse than the worst hangover
ever and see the writing stenciled on the walls. The
plaza downtown smells like weed and broken glass and
there are choppers whirring over head every night for
the next week, until we start to worry this is what opd
wanted all along and that maybe there is about to be
some kind of fucked up military coup or something
like what happened in Turkey. But there isn’t.

1
Bartenders sleep late and rake their tips in dolefully.
Public school teachers come in with circles under eyes
and new lesson plans about hope and social justice
scribbled on the backs of envelopes. People self-
medicate more than usual. Stephen Hawking tells us
that the planet is actually doomed anyways, that we
have about 1000 years left tops before the sun burns
out, and somehow that feels like a relief.

Then as soon as November is over there is a fire at a
warehouse. People we love, people who write music
and make art and dance like wild children, now they
are dead too. They die falling out of windows or
holding each other close or running for the exits. It’s
different than Lemmy, or Prince, or Bowie because we
know them. We know their favorite foods and their
pets’ names and we slept with them or we lived with
them or played music with them and even if we didn’t
we are one step removed, everyone knows someone
who was there and not like you know-someone-
who-knows-someone-who’s famous like you know
someone who won’t leave the house anymore, like you
know someone who had to talk to a parent and explain
what happened, even though no one can. It makes the
national news, because this is an Important Story
about the State of Life in Our Changing Cities. We
all go back to Lake Merritt for a wake where there are
a million people trying to take pictures with camera
phones and the mayor making a speech.

It starts raining. It rains through the end of December

2
and into January and February. There is an inauguration,
more rioting and through it all the rain keeps coming.
Through sit ins and airport shut downs, clothing
give aways and City Council meetings, people quit
smoking or give up Google news for Lent, fight with
their relatives, start phone banking, until suddenly
there are small wild plants growing in the parking lots.

And when the spring comes, finally, it’s like it’s never
happened before.

Like we can’t even believe the world would still do
that.

Ru t h Crossman 3
AAAAAAAAA
AAA
BLACK
. A L L I SE E IS B L A C K .
B L A C K IN M O VE M E NT

Black. All I see is black. Black in movement
A great sound of flapping
A group of ravens fly up into the sky above me
The sky darkening
I’m in the woods
I pull at the lapel of my black overcoat
My black boots step over grass, twigs, leaves
I stop next to a tree, stand parallel with it
Scan the sky
A falcon is circling a tree
I move over the hill, closer
Twigs breaking underfoot
The falcon circles
I feel pulled forward
Coming into a grove
A strange silence, then
I hear breathing
The falcon circles above
A strange tree
Pulsing
Breathing
Rope is around the tree
Rings of it, running up the tree

5
I pull at a piece of it, around and around
Unraveling, unbinding
Breathing inside the tree
I hurry, pulling the rope undone
My hands a flurry
The rows of rope off, the bark is splitting
I hear breathing
The falcon above, waiting
My hands pull at the bark
Pulling off layers of thin, paper-like bark
Unraveling, unbinding
The tree pulses
I see something inside
My hands hurry, pulling
Layers of bark flying
I glimpse a woman’s face, eyes closed
The falcon watches
My fingers dig into the bark, pulling
Pulsing
Breathing
A woman’s form emerges
Around her, thick plaits of red brown hair
I reach out, pull loose a cord of it
Pull another and another
Unraveling, unbinding
The thick plaits loosened
The body free
Deep breath
Sweep of eyelashes
Eyes open
The falcon cries out

6
Wings swoop down
The woman’s form steps out of the tree
Arm rises
The falcon lands as if on a branch
Black eyes, black beak turn to me
I look to the eyes
Black. All I see is black. Black in movement.

Andre a Me jri 7
SSSSSSS
SSSS

MATCHES

He felt at best like an empty showroom after
undressing for the third time that morning. Every
morning, as a ritual, he would grab a fresh matchbook
from his nightstand after getting dressed and for
every regret, every mistake, and every indecision he lit
a match. If he ran out of matches by the end of his
bartending shift that night he was not allowed a shift-
ending cigarette.

As an atheist with a firm belief of secular self-
regulation this was one of the pillars of his personality
that he raised high the day his fourth and favorite
stepfather died.

He lived above a Laundromat and the heat to his vents
above was rerouted directly from the dryers below so
the landlord could cut corners on the heating bills.
This left his loft smelling of an amalgamation of dryer
sheets, a small luxury of comfort that his nose has
since fallen deaf to due to years of over saturation.

This morning however, three matches into his book
the smell of sulfur while standing pants-less has left
him feeling like an empty showroom, and a little
nausea.
9
“I’m on the way, of course, I’m not going to miss this, I
wouldn’t miss it for anything,” he hung up the phone
on his sister and stared once again into his closet.

How does one dress for an online door delivery pajama
app launch party? Too casual and they won’t think
you’re taking your new brother-in-law’s investment
seriously, too formal and everybody is in their pajamas,
I’ll look like an idiot.
….

“I sleep naked,” were the first words out of his mouth
when he was introduced to his brother-in-law. His
sister had introduced them with, this is Peter, we’re
seeing each other, and he’s going to try to sell you
pajamas.

“I sleep naked,” he said.

As the only atheist in the family his sober attempts at
straying from use of the word believe as hyperbole in
mediocre situations sometimes faltered.

“Oh come on, are you really going to tell me you don’t
believe in pajamas?” His future brother in law replied.

“Sorry Peter, I believe in a lot of things, just not god
and pajamas.”

That was when he knew four whiskeys at Thanksgiving
were one too many.

10
….

This was his chance, to make it up to his sister and to
Peter. Not long after the fourth match struck did it all
hit him. An advance on his patience had come in. The
smell of sulfur and dryer sheets had reminded him of
the smell of White Out, a bottle of which he found in
the second drawer of his desk. Rooting around in the
back of his closet he found an old black sweatshirt he
hadn’t thought about for years.

Never truthfully considering himself a true artist of
any sort he will tell you the White Out dried up so
quickly that morning due to his heavy breath upon
it. While he painted the tailored white lines that
compose the outline of a tuxedo onto his raggy black
sweatshirt, he smiled and thought about the definition
of compromise and considered agnosticism.

Se an Tay lor 11
N NNNNNNNNNNNN
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14
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Ni cole t t e Daska la ki s 15
A EULOGY FOR MY TWIN-SIZED
MATTRESS WITH THE FLOWERS ON IT

We stand here today on a sidewalk in East
Hollywood, surrounded by numerous cigarette
butts, an empty Taco Bell soda cup, and half a
dining room chair
to say goodbye.

Goodbye to a friend

who let my five year old, sugar-high self jump up and
down on her body

who magically blended my first period blood into one
of her pink rose petals

who looked away when I learned to touch myself

who didn’t judge me when I did it again

who drove all the way to Los Angeles with me

who followed me up every flight of new apartment
stairs without complaint

16
who sometimes pretended she was a couch
to distract me from the fact I was too broke to own
an actual couch

who sang a squeaky chorus of springs when I brought
a boy home

who sang just as loudly when I brought a girl

who held me every night I was alone

who collected my tears, my late night prayers, dead
skin cells, sleepless nights, restful nights, every
night.

Mattress, if you are listening, please know the new-
fangled piece of foam I ordered off the internet,
the one that arrived in a box and somehow
expanded to mattress size, will never hold a place
in my heart like you did.

May you rest in bulky waste pickup peace, knowing
you lived a long, full life.

Amen.

Ni cole t t e Daska la ki s 17
CC CCCCCCCCCC
C CC CC
JAILS HAVE ATM
MACHINES NOW

Plastic cards buy commissary and phone time.
For an extra three dollars
you can add a personal message
Don’t worry about us we’ll be fine
or We love and miss you
Happy Birthday
After we slide our credit cards
a woman behind us struggles
to shove in her few wrinkly dollar bills.

On the block the kids stay out all night
lining the stairs with hundreds of flaming prayer candles,
spray the walls for Poodie from two six,
Implore him in death to shine on.
Each night they bring
the biggest red heart balloons
the kind sold for valentines and high school graduations.
They fill the street with beating heart cars
double parked and spilling liquor in his memory.

When the phone rings you press five as fast as you can.
So as not to lose a precious moment of his voice.
You accept that he can only speak to you

19
on a police recording.
There are options, more money for more minutes.
You can buy them so he can’t call anyone but you.
You pay for time with no idea what words will fill it.
How many ways can you say love or absent.
You describe reaching for his side of the bed
using his chap stick because it’s the last thing
to touch the softness of his lips.
Lips you fell on and into in a bar,
lips you woke to, like a life raft at sea.
Behind security glass cracked and dry,
they are an un-kissed desert.

You roll his chap stick on the thirst of your lips
until you reach the empty plastic.
You run your hands between your thighs
where he buried his face at night,
feel nothing but exhaustion.

Down the street the kids are rapping,
dressed up, passing blunts
blowing smoke at the unfair sky.
You place candles in your windows, burn sage
you mourn with them.
You have suffered a kind of death also.

In the morning, you pour two cups of coffee
empty his into the garden out back.
The dogs are bored with your sadness
refuse belly rubs even when offered
you look the dog straight in the eye

20
share the disappointment of your own hand
because indeed, it is not his.

You internet search the things you can and can’t send
him
these companies have made phone apps to send your
money to jails.
These enterprises who make the packages you send
your beloved,
the same who offer to send your college student
modified food products
You tell them all the ways to recreate crackers, ramen,
and chips.
to pretend it is sustenance when in fact it is currency.
The first time you saw your son’s college dorm it
struck you
the same companies build prison cells,
prisoners build the beds and desks in both,
to house your child, your man, perhaps yourself, one
day.

Outside at the memorial they are barbecuing tonight.
you put chicken in the oven
can’t light charcoal without your grill man.
You tell yourself you must live,
you tell yourself to write,
wait his call, wait and wait, lose weight,
memorize the number that has replaced his name,
find his white dress shirt bought for the courtroom
limp in the dryer,
walk his letters to the mail box,

Cassandra Da lle t t 21
tell yourself you are living
a brain connected to a body,
a hand to put money in the machine.
A heart commodified
a special message
Don’t worry about us we’ll be fine

22
DDDDDDDDDD

O N THE C O R NE R

(looking back, looking forward
in homage to the stalwart street poets
of the Collaborative Arts Insurgency)

On the corner
by stairs to the station
teeth gnash at the fecal-implanted
grouch of an escalator

past the line of blue-tipped go-bikes
mushrooming rentals another tale-spinning
gig sales associates getting woke
better now than never
enough vision zero rising up
sinking down in the glittering foil
self-severing epiretinal membrane
that is late capitalism

we gather by a low wall
topped
with metal bars
Thursday nights
all right for lighting
words in a chalk circle

23
a speaker’s corner as welcoming
to cracked-out street dwellers
as to the bearded bangled
waist-chained
poets and string strummers

What else is there to say but
no pasarán? let’s linger enough to
loiter

If we’re going to have decency
can we agree no parasitic talking yam
no Cheeto Poutine no Adolf Twitler
no hammered memesicle false flag-
waving bully schlong in the face of
we the people wee and large

that grotesque November some
obviously not enough
spoke to the American need
on condition hubris
a skewed equation
electors to states
sealed our fate paving the way
to the present tension

On the other side of this plaza a bank
with fabled past now automated
tellers tell all to the nervous nellie
in charge of security who
’cause a drunk Irish kid was clobbered

24
20 years ago in the parking lot
his only sin being to loose a yellow stream
in full view of 16th St.
cost him his life

—far from the President’s suite where
in recent times Moscow believes in American
tears indeed a bed debauched under his golden arches
kompromat of a jaundiced if not syphilitic plutocracy

now if you need beer or BART
money and it’s after hours
you may be SOL
as far as those SOB
banksters are concerned

robot bankers’ hours
save you
from your own excesses
when you should be home
under covers screen chilling
acid net-flux

thanks to the best and brightest
coca-colonists other neocolonial
cold warriors guaranteed
we have no justice no peace dividend

Kennedy died —for what is anyone’s guess
Johnson squandered what Great Society
might have been

D.S. Bla ck 25
ushering in endless war on peace
Nixon’s treason and dirty tricksters
Reagan the teflon-smiling shill
more treason—there he goes again
too many Bushes and Clintons
and not even Obama is off the hook
keys please to the economy
not a single banker indicted
while ramping up remote control
turnkey hit squads

a whole new wrecking crew
due to Mango Mussolini
working overtime to
take away what few gains
were made since a civil war
focused rage on slavery
forced
to rebrand itself
in false emancipation

that hate never died that sense
those on top
feed and bleed the rest of us
color coded for convenience
our trance is all too apparent
soaking in innocent blood
fodder for a greed insatiable

The machine is capital
we made it to corner a market

26
or break it
before we have nothing left to
lose or be thankful for

no sevens to slay the sixes
should they get uppity
forgetting their station in
the grand scheme of things

Who here fears
no evil ten four
to one madam I’m Adam 12
car 54—where you at no 5-o?

420 for tune
ately 86’d
as always
4-2 it us
et tu Brute?
crying a lot
those goldilocked fools of
’49

no crime of importance
the drought is passed
own your tears like numbers
even the awesome-ist
won’t come to our rescue

therefore I ask
I plead just as

D.S. Bla ck 27
they ice pick
you again a chip off me old
bloc
what the fucking
Hell

tongue twist atwitter
to dream in pieces of ate

both eyes fixed
a mend in the road
one big hail Maybe

28
EEEEEEEE
EEEE

RE GULARS

During the adult swim at dusk on most Thursdays, I
disrupt a flirtation in the medium-slow lane. Not
because I want to, but because she and him choose to
flirt at the wall at the shallow end, and I need to turn
around on that wall.

She always wears sparkly earrings that poke out of
the bottom of her swim cap, and he has a tattoo of an
ocelot on his shoulder. They are both middle aged and
they wear scuffed wedding rings. All of us are freckled,
because we are regulars at the pool.

It starts out innocuous enough. He asks, how was your
weekend. I flip around with a splash, swim to the deep
end, and back. When I return and my ears are briefly
above water, I hear her say, I spiked the coffee at the
kids’ soccer tournament. She does a little shimmy, and
the water ripples as I swim away. I hear him laugh
richly, even underwater, at the other end.

I sense that when things get too real, the eye contact
too long or the jokes too saucy, they charge down
the swim lane after each other in frenzied butterfly
strokes and freestyle. At these times, I find it best to

29
veer towards the plastic divider lane, so they can pass.
After several laps of this, again they rest with their
backs against the shallow wall, panting. That was good,
he says. Yes indeed, she says.

Afterwards, in the tile and concrete locker room, she
takes a very long shower and closes her eyes. Then she
takes off her sparkly earrings and puts them in her
swim bag.

30
RRRRRRRRRRR
RR

T O M P ET T Y

The people with good taste in my feed are posting
crying faces and NO and WHAT THE FUCK.
I check Google News and get all of the gory details:
a heart attack, found unresponsive on the bathroom
floor, lingering in the hospital. Tom Petty is dead.

I am in Mission Thrift on Valencia Street. It’s the
first Monday of the month, which means that
everything is marked down ridiculously low. I came
in because I was looking for a mail holder. I really
think a mail holder will help me organize my life a
little better, and I have found the perfect one for only
twenty five cents and am standing in line waiting
to buy it when I realize what albums they’re playing.
There is a line of fellow shoppers stretching all the
way to the back of the store, and I wonder if this is a
good decision, if I can stand in line for the next ten
to fifteen minutes and think about all the songs I
like that he wrote knowing that just now, just right
now, just like an hour ago, doctors tried to make him
breathe again and failed.

The thing is, Tom Petty dying is not even the worst
thing to happen today. This morning, some guy

31
in Las Vegas opened fire on a country music festival
and killed like fifty people. The Guardian says it is
the worst mass shooting yet in our country. Maybe
that was the last straw for him—like Leonard Cohen
going out the day after the election. Maybe he was
like the rest of us, reading his news updates on the
can and, when he heard about it, the shock of it all
hit him a bit too hard at the wrong time.

Free Falling comes on. There are so many songs I
like that he wrote, but I always kind of took them
for granted. I never had some big revelation, some
Rolling Stone obituary worthy moment when I dis-
covered his genius or something. I’m just a mid-80s
baby who heard something sweet on harmonica
and latched onto the lyrics on an album my dad
liked, where a man with a low husky voice was
singing about something sad. Just a hippie girl who
remembers people sitting around backyard fire pits
and fumbling chords on acoustic guitars until the
arrangements got stuck in my head.

I hear that line about how all the bad boys are
standing in the shadows and the good girls are home
with broken hearts. I think about a friend of mine
who once told me that that was his favorite line ever,
and how it kind of surprised me because until right
then I didn’t even know that he liked Tom Petty. I’ve
been meaning to text him. I want to say RIP, frownie
face, but we both have so many friends who have died.
He might take it the wrong way. So instead I just ask

32
him how it’s going.
I’ve been better. How are you? He says
Same I say blue heart emoji

Tom says he is going to free fall out into nothing.
I’m gonna leave this world for a while he sings, and he
strums from E to A to D again and again and I’m
not crying. I’m not standing in a thrift store at 2 pm
crying because of the lyrics to a fucking country
song. It’s just a piece of dust in my eye, that’s all, it’s
just the smoke from that asshole standing outside
taking his cigarette break that’s why I’m tearing up
right now I just really would like to be outside of the
store is all. It’s finally my turn in line and I give the
lady exact change, for once, and walk outside.

Sucks about Tom Petty. I text my friend. He looks like
maybe he is typing for a long time, then thinking
better of it, then trying again. Yeah he says.

Ru t h Crossman 33
JJJJJJJJJJJ
JJJ

TELEDATING

He bought the new iPhone X as an early Christmas
present for himself. I’m brushing my teeth with his
toothbrush and listening to him talk about all the
hours of research that led him to purchase the X over
the 8 Plus.

“The telephoto lens has optical image stabilization.” He
says over the running water.

“What’s so great about telephoto lens anyway? Can you
really see a difference?”

“Of course you can!” He replies. “It brings things closer,
puts the background out of focus.”

I spit into the sink, wipe my mouth on his roommate’s
towel, and stand in the doorway in his black t-shirt.

“That makes sense… telepathic, telephone, telephoto…
the Greek root must mean ‘far away from something.’
Does anyone say telephone anymore? Seriously, when
was the last time you’ve heard it? It’s just phone or
cell now. Isn’t it interesting how words evolve?”

35
“The images look sharper on the X.” He replies, cupping
it in his hand and flicking through the photos and
pausing to watch one of the videos he had made of
Ocean Beach. I sit next to him on the futon and reach
my arms under his T-shirt to take off my bra.

“Look at the screen, its edge-to-edge, top-to-bottom.
It’s so curvy. It’s beautiful.”

“Not really,” I say, crossing my unshaved legs, wishing
I would have shaved my legs. Maybe he would be
looking at my legs if I shaved them? Probably not.
“What’s that bump in the center of the screen?”

“It’s The Notch.”

“It looks odd,” I say. “Unnecessary. Not pretty at all.”

“I just changed my wallpaper to black so it doesn’t
disrupt the symmetry.”

I lean closer to him, my arm pressing against his arm.

“The X feels different, it’s the perfect weight. It just
feels good in my hand.”

I fall back on the pillow and slide my legs under the
blanket. I gaze at the tiny Charlie Brown tree and
handful of ornaments that I brought over. It looks
unbearably sad. I wonder if I will ever have my own
apartment where I can put a tree in the living room

36
with a fireplace where I can burn my own goddamn
Duraflame. I wonder if I will ever date anyone who has
their own apartment or if I will move in with someone
just so we can get our own place. On cue, I hear the
front gate scrape open, then high-heeled boots up the
stairs, then the key in the lock, then the boots in the
hallway. He sighs into his phone as I jump up to turn
on the space heater for some white noise and warmth.
It’s freezing in his room.

I lie on my belly and rest my hands on my chin and say,
“Show me how face recognition works.”

He gazes into the smooth glass. He appears so open. So
interested. Is it his own reflection? Or the fact that he
feels seen? The device scans his face and magically his
color-coded-apps popup on the home screen. Then he
re-locks it with his thumb and shines it at me. I look
into it like he did. Eyes open. Small smile. But it only
bounces at me. I swear it made one of those X-sounds
like on Family Feud. Access denied. Five-fingers-to-
the-face. I am really starting to hate this thing.

I’m still on my belly and I lift my legs like I’m on the
beach. He flips the phone over and runs his finger
across its smooth back. The living room lights turn
on, we can see through the sheet he had hung over
the double doors. The apartment is technically a one-
bedroom. We are sleeping in the dining room and his
roommate is in the living room. Stranger Things blares
through the walls.

Je nni f e r Le wi s 37
“Telescreens!” I exclaim.

“Shhh!” He points to the double-doors.

“She knows that we’re in here. You’re allowed to have
people over. Anyway, don’t you remember telescreens
from 1984?”

“Never read it,” he says.

“Really?” I try not to sound too disappointed. “Their
televisions are security cameras except for at night. I
don’t think it had night vision or something.”

“This camera has infrared technology.”

“So it even works in the dark! So creepy.”

He puts his finger to his lips. His roommate has
rent control and she only pays $600 a month. He’s
practically invisible when he’s here for fear that if he
gets kicked out, he would have to leave San Francisco.
So he walks on his toes, holds his bladder until she’s
out of the shower, uses only one square of counter in
the kitchen, eats in his room with his own fork, knife,
and bowl.

I reach my hand across his chest and skim my fingers
underneath his waistband. He just shakes his head. I
roll my eyes.

38
“We can be quiet,” I say.

“No, it’s weird,” he whispers.

“She won’t hear us.”

“I just can’t when she’s sitting right there.”

He picks up his perfect weight phone and it cherishes
his face. I roll over and get my Rose Gold 7 and admire
its white border. I hug my fingers around its thick
edges and pull it close to my face until everything
around me blurs out of focus.

Je nni f e r Le wi s 39
CCCCCCC
C CCCC CC
CC C
TIM E BEI N G

He marks the weeks 
with peanut butter sandwiches.
I mark the weeks 
with the watering can, 
green and slender 
by the sink.
I water the plants every week’s end. 
Weeks stack up fast 
though the days 
stretch infinitely. 
I’m a lone hamster in my cage. 
But how can I speak of being caged
when he spends 22 hours a day in a cell 
sometimes more. 
Four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches 
served in a cardboard box,
before the first of many 
or the last of eight
peanut butter sandwiches 
he is sentenced to.
How many 
green watering cans, 
garbage bins pushed to the curb, 
street cleaning car moves, electric bills paid,

41
care packages sent,
How many 
jail house workouts, and spreads, 
lock downs, and visits through glass, 
tearful collect calls 
I miss you the saddest of songs.
How many 
until I feel the skin of his hand with my own,
lay my head on the drumbeat of his chest,
How many 
till I simply
learn to breathe 
again.

42
DDDDDDDDDD

W E ARE THE D O G

Can no longer recall where I first
heard this
maybe it is a commonplace
something to remember in a time
everything we hold dear
is in question

We are the dog
not the tail of the dog
which is not to cast shade
on dogs or their tails

could just as easily be cats
for I am more of a cat person
truth be told
it is just…their wagging tales are not
as apropos for the purposes of
this discussion

*ruff**ruff* or should I write
bow wow rather than
*mao!*

where was I?

43
- january 1, 2018 -