“Of course I’ve been in the woods before.”
Lucia glanced around the visitor center to reassure herself that she looked just like everyone else there, then glared back across the counter at the skeptical park ranger. Until encountering him, she’d felt impervious in her new acquisitions: stiff hiking boots with heavy Vibram soles; cargo pants of a slippery, fast-drying fabric that made soft whispering noises as she walked; a rain jacket with a thin fleece lining. In preparation for her excursion, she’d also bought a 20-ounce sleeping bag that would bob atop an unwieldy pack, itself stuffed with a tiny tent – two-and-a-half pounds – a couple of changes of socks and underwear, and foil packets of freeze-dried dinners, their desiccated contents so devoid of texture and smell as to be guaranteed not to attract bears.
Adam Rex understands children. As both a writer and illustrator of children’s books, his work captures the imaginative world children love to inhabit. His characters are heroic kids in cowboy boots who face the world fearlessly, taking on aliens and rambunctious zoo animals. His characters also include a lumbering, strangely human Frankenstein and assorted other monsters who somehow don’t seem so scary in the pages of his books.
Cop held in killing of mute with rake
How was I to know the suspect could not hear me
shout, “Drop your weapon to the ground!”
as he continued to muster the dead leaves
which had accumulated since August?
Vincent understood them: the way they yield
their darkling faces
to the sun,
aflame for its arcing shimmer dance
Every day I carry my arms and legs
in a sling suspended from my teeth.
There’s a physicist who sits in
a corner of the bar I frequent, and
After he hit our last halfie onto the roof of Perlstein’s Glass, Frankie Wnek stepped over the broomstick we used for a bat and shimmied up a drainpipe to get it. Frankie was my age, fourteen. Since I was pitching and gave up the home run, I was supposed to go, but when he said don’t worry about it, I wasn’t going to argue. Who knew when that pipe was going to snap away from the wall? Who knew that two older kids named Chickenhead and Toot were already up there, just for the hell of it, waiting to take turns punching whoever came up, then grab his ankles and swing him back and forth over the ledge?
Of all the indiscreet behaviors
that colored my college years,
my deep drags of yellow highlighter
those zebra stripes I painted across textbook pages
may be my most peculiar disgrace.
Sticky heat clouds the windows.
He carries the kettle-boiled water,
a rag round his knuckles
to swallow steam.
On the screen, a pair of giant breasts rubbed against another pair of giant breasts, each the size of a patio table if you walked right up to them. And a person could have walked right up to them, too, without bothering practically anyone, since only one seat was filled down below. Frank watched the scene from the projection booth: the four breasts mixing it up together, and the man down in the seat, angling for just the right time to jerk off and leave. There, Frank said to himself, is a traditionalist. The man had left home and come all the way here for the show.
He doesn’t know about her tattoos until they sleep together. After they finish, his eyes adjust enough to the darkness so that he can make out the black ink on her back and stomach. There are three: small, medium, large. The level of grayness and fading indicate that the smallest one was first and the largest one was last. He can’t see that much detail. She prepares homemade mushroom ravioli for dinner. A girl who matches her shoes and her purse, she doesn’t look like the kind who would have tattoos. He tries to decipher their meanings and authors: Maimonides, Cummings, Shakespeare.