from The Book of Goodbyes (2013)

SEMI SEMI DASH

The last time I saw Big Logos he was walking
to the Quantum Physics Store to buy magnets.
He told me his intentions. He was wearing

a jumpsuit with frayed cuffs. I thought the cuffs
got that way from him rubbing them against
his lips but he said they got that way

with age. We had two more blocks to walk.
"Once I do this, what are you going to do?"
he asked. "I wish you wouldn't do it," I said.

Big Logos bought the magnets and a crane
delivered them to his house. After he built
the 900-megahertz superconductor, I couldn't go

to his house anymore because I have all kinds
of metal in my body. I think if you love someone
you shouldn't do that, build something like that,

on purpose, right in front of them.

 


from The Colony (2010)


My second week at the Colony, Charles Darwin visited. He wore a top hat and his beard dragged the floor. A trail of sand followed him. He put the sound track from The Jazz Singer on the flat screen. I gave him a beer and joined him in the living room. He didn't say anything. I didn't want to stare, but he was Darwin and he was sitting in my blue chair. I sat on the ottoman in front of him and lit a cigarette. We sat there listening to Al Jolson.
     "You're ashing in my beer," he said.
     "You want one?" I slid the pack of Winstons over to him.
     "I shouldn't." He held out his hand. "I'm dying."
     "You've been dead." 
     "It takes a while." He motioned to his mouth. For a second I thought he wanted me to kiss him and I was leaning in for it. I could smell his breath.
     "Emma, give me a cigarette."
     "I'm not Emma."
     "For now."
     I placed the cigarette between his lips. "What are you doing here?"
     "I'm tired of walking the sand trap." He took a deep drag. "And you?"
     "Free room and money."
     "What's shaking in this town?"
     "It's whale season." I expected him to leap to his feet and bum-rush the ocean.
     "Aren't there any strip clubs?"
     "It's quiet."
     "There must be something."
     "A grocery store, a pharmacy, and a pub."
     "Bloody hell."
     "Tell me about it."
     "You better sport the red miniskirt."
     "Too cold."
     "You could lose your mind otherwise."
     "Thanks." We sat there face-to-face smoking my cigarettes. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. He was probably thinking of his glory days when he traveled by Beagle and measured beaks. He was probably thinking of all the salt in the world, all the salamanders, all the giant sloths. Or maybe he was just thinking of one species, one animal, he personally mapped and charted, on repeat. Emma, for example. Maybe he was not thinking at all, just listening to "Blue Skies" and liking his top hat.
     "We lost the paradise parrot," he said. "1927."