I learned quickly that everyone rides on the sidewalks, not in the street, as I began maneuvering a bicycle around Osaka, Japan.
I’d made the choice after months of miserably humid, hot summer nights negotiating territory on subways and buses where I found myself crammed in with other sardines soaked in oil.
The senses are fully engaged.
The tickle of sweat beading just under one’s nostrils. The din of intersecting, compartmentalized conversations. The unwanted, microscopic details of skin, of hair and clothing and teeth, all too evident in suffocating up-close-and-personal proximity. …
It was an unfamiliar number. Chicago.
I’m curious by nature and I have friends who live there so I picked up. And, you know, it was the beginning of the lockdown, and I was eager for any type of contact, frankly. A nervous voice was on the other end, a male voice. It sounded familiar and yet I couldn’t place it.
“Hey. It’s John. Um, John Steinfeldt?” he said it like a question, as if he wasn’t quite sure himself who he was. Then it hit me.
My college boyfriend? I hadn’t spoken to him in years, in fact the…
I knew I’d made a mistake.
Never in a million years would I have gotten into a car with two men I didn’t know if I’d been home in California. But then, who conducts a job interview that way?
I’d been in Osaka, Japan for two months by then and wandered the streets by myself often. Maybe it was something I’d read before I’d arrived, how safe everything was, no crime in the cities of Japan, a respectful coexistence. Or maybe it just felt that way because everyone was so polite and gentle. I had witnessed nothing that resembled Oakland…
You could say I wasn’t ready for it and that’s why I took it so hard.
I didn’t see it coming. It was premature, unexpected and way before its time. Is it the same if it wasn’t a person? Do things die suddenly like people do in a tragic car accident? Or slowly like your grandmother who no longer remembers your name? I grieved a long time over the loss and they say you never really get over that kind of thing. …
We can’t ignore the sky
and the words it speaks to us
flames tear through the night
unable to be contained
from so many miles so far away
we smell the terror and the blight
in our own throat
no longer remote
someone else’s problem
for another day
The glare of emptiness
like a blank canvas waiting
desperately for color
stares back at us in agonizing despair
an affliction of hot friction absent of conviction
it is not a fiction
but will you still deny?
can you still ignore?
the warning signs
of days of neglect
If you want to know me, then you need to know who my parents were. I mean, that’s really the only way. People like to say, “You’re just like your mother,” but I’m not, I’m really more like my dad or at least just as much him as her. I look like her. People like to say that a lot, too.
I am my father’s daughter.
Athletic. Disciplined. Fun seeking and sociable. He loved people and learning everything about them. He treated everyone with kindness, no matter who they were; a clerk at a store, a stranger on the subway…
Lena was raised on violin lessons and minimal parental supervision. We called her Diva because we never learned her name until the day she was moving out. For three years, she lived above us and we never had any contact with her, other than to hear her perfectly executing an etude on her violin in superb fashion. Or singing along in angelic soprano to an opera recording. Sometimes, it would feel as though the heavens above had opened up to invite us upward in the purest transcendence.
May we introduce? Today, we are Alex, though some days we are Alexandria…
awaiting the thaw
Isolation. You think you know what it is by now. But have you been to Antarctica?
You’ve likely come as close to that frozen mass of barren continent as you would ever want to, enduring a year of lockdowns and losses, stone cold separations from other humans, predictable routines. Even as things begin to return to normal — hah, whatever that means — we have an embedded experience of isolation in our bloodstreams. We’re living in our own private Antarctica, if you will. But Andrew?
Well, Andrew actually had a lifelong dream of going to Antarctica for…
He likes to take photographs of
Likes to contemplate who walked in them
Why they left them behind
He likes to take pictures of
To me it’s just junk
That he calls art
Things whole or ripped apart
Pieces of clothing
An old TV
Piles of things unidentifiable there
That once meant something to someone
A baggie full of puzzle pieces
A car deep in the arroyo how did it get here
I walk on not interested
As he stops
To frame it just right
Considering the light
Wrapped up in…
I used to get into so much trouble as a teen. My mom had her work cut out for her, I tell ya. And I was the youngest of seven so you’d think she’d have had it all figured out by the time she got to me. But, no I wasn’t anything like my sisters, they were all proper and stuff. I was more like my brothers. Curious and mischievous and into everything all the time.
When I was thirteen and in the seventh grade at a rough and tumble middle school, I fell in with the wrong crowd, I…