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
Every day I carry my arms and legs
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.
Around the corner he come all panting and wobble-eyed with his little sticks kicking out to the sides, and he slipped because the grass was wet. One of his Velcro shoes flew off and knocked into the siding. He got himself together, picked up his shoe, and bounced inside the house. Willard. I told Angela he’s over-sugared.
The older one, Brian, come sprinting across the yard. “Will!” he’s hollering. “Will!” He dropped his old bat as he flew past me, and the screen door slapped shut, and then everything was quiet again.
Like most writers, novelist Kelly Simmons admits to having some anxieties. But instead of letting them get the better of her, she has found a way to translate them into a haunting and compelling novel of tension and self-discovery. Standing Still, Simmons debut novel, describes the ordeal of journalist Claire Cooper, who suddenly finds that her anxieties have a real world focus. When an intruder breaks into her home and attempts to kidnap her sleeping daughter, Claire immediately offers herself instead. For the next several days, she will face the terror of living with her unknown captor, trying to uncover the reason for the crime and, perhaps most significantly, struggling to make sense of her own life, her anxieties, and her identity as a wife and a mother.
From where I am I can hear it all—
I hear the table aching, bemoaning
One day you may veer your van or perhaps
the spiffy family sedan off the 422 freeway
driving home by the back way, past the Corinthian
Yacht Club, where guests palmed their cognacs
when you and I stripped and dove underneath
the dock by the tackle and gift shop.