5.02 / February 2010

Fill in the Blank

The _____ is already cool when you pull in
to the parking lot. A woman in a white
SUV drifts towards it, cutting across
spaces, eyes drawn like magnets. As soon
as you see the source, you jerk
into park, jump out and grab the thing, the soft
death, its dog smell reminiscent of cigar
smoke, hanging over the side of a beat-up piss-
yellow Toyota truck with, somehow, recent sale
information from a dealership in the window.
But they are reliable, Toyotas. You lift
and cradle the lolling head, ugly snout,
fur brown as old carpet, loosen
the rope, yes frayed, coarse rope cinched
around its neck, the other end leading
to the bed. The whole thing like a scene
of rural life written by someone who’s never
ventured below New York. Aah, but do they
have to. You are holding ______ in your arms,
and you will devote years filling in that blank.
The woman speeds off, SUV still white,
hands clean. There is a puddle on the asphalt
that flashes Rorschach. You stand
in the parking lot of a movie theater. Storm
clouds gather. A _____ in your arms we will call
dog until we find the name, still tied
so you can’t carry it somewhere away from
the puddle, the white SUV. You are alone.
Men will come with paper and something to cut
the rope. You will watch the movie and think
how bad it is for something to die over. A sheriff
will go, seat to seat, theater to theater to find
the truck’s owner. But it’s no one in your theater.
Later, driving by the darkening parking lot,
you will notice the headlights still on
in the deserted truck. It is something.

My Constant Wife and Our Theoretical Children

forever concern me with questions about proper
crib construction, color schemes, compression
of my space consumption. Once, I was a room, then
two rooms and a bathroom, now a room again;
soon, I’ll be a corner, a shelf, a worried presence.

I must learn economy of spirit. I must consume. Slight ease
supercedes all other concerns. My theoretical children
require constant immersion in entertainment. A stable,
growing income is a priority. Ennui is not a color scheme.

Catalogs can be recycled if you find the time. Relationships
with theoretical parents must be cultivated. Don’t speak
to them of real concerns, only trivialities, brand comparisons,
sports; they are not friends. Adults don’t have friends.

There is emptiness in your life, trust me. It must be filled.
The petty, useless thing you fear you are must teach
a life to govern itself. You’ve read things; recall them.
Turn inward; there’s nothing outside but danger,
and people who don’t know how to drive.

5.02 / February 2010