Joiarib Morales/Unsplash

The old man’s face is a rubbery hamburger bun. The young salesman in the Buick car lot downtown can smell pickles on the old man’s breath.

“Have McDonald’s for lunch?” he asks in a brusque yet solicitous tone.

He believes that old men respect boldness. He wishes he could run back into the office and get his paper cup full of Coke. He wants to show commonality, solidarity.

“Hmmph,” the old man grunts. “I’m sick of McDonald’s.”

Painfully, the old man cranes his head. …

Writers suffer from acute nostalgia. This is because we are sensitive to form and thus to changes in form and thus to the passage of time. Even minute changes can drive us insane. Knowingly or not, we constantly write our way toward home, toward that ideal state that first enchanted us. Whether or not we can get there is a question that has fueled some of the world’s greatest literature. The novelist Thomas Wolfe, for instance, believed there was no going back home once innocence was lost. …

“The flag of America stands in the grass with looming sunnset on 4th of July” by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

This American second
with unimportant numbness
in my head, stars winking out
there in the empty black space,
our sun shining only for
us, trusted, if only for
this moment fading away,
other planets so barren
and poisonous, and other
countries barren and pointless,
the seas swell all scowling,
the sky listens, unamused,

a starred flag wrestles the wind
in famous New York City,
a rich man in finery
enters the lobby of a
cable news station he owns,
a poor man across the street
writes a check for a TV
which he knows he can’t afford,

a housewife in…

“The azure Moraine Lake reflecting nearby mountains during sunset” by garrett parker on Unsplash

Let the cyber dogs have me
as we depart for the land
of milk and honey

the land real in time
rich with analogy
likeness between all things
codeless secretless
where our minds will roar
to the edge of language
and strike the root of fear.

The TSA agents swear the root of fear is love. I tell them over Starbucks it’s really distrust that makes us afraid, for we can trust without love and still be hurt so badly. Every loveless day is an act of trust, and I’m terrified as they search me with gloves. Which philosophies won’t…

Traffic signs in Lima, Peru

Speak plainly
to that dizzy need for assertion
in this flower-decked church
on the edge of the Pacific
in the city of Pizarro’s tomb.

Okay, my wife lost her father.
Lima smells like a landfill: seagull
shit and trash, busted brick
streets thick as tacks in your mouth.
I’ve never seen so much rubble.

Okay, this is the developing world.
This is your species surviving.
You are no better or worse than them.
Their parts are your parts, particles
ringing, wild-strewn…

She touches the coffin lightly. “Papa,” she whispers, and I want to hide, I want to die, seeing love’s…

Michael Scott Neuffer

Author, musician, editor. Twitter @scottneuffer @sneuffermusic @trampset

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