Chase Mommy into the underground she’s tiny and can’t run very fast under the street it’s cool and dark and Mommy will take off her cape and the long black opera gloves she will not sing in this cave beneath the earth but she might tell stories if the hour gets late enough, she might confess to the unsolved crimes of the city or she might tell you where the bodies are buried all the little angels that never grew up they’re tiny too and they have the ability to foretell the future they wear tiny dresses with ribbons
I told him I refused to stay in another goddamn Howard Johnson’s, not one more night with fried clams for dinner, not one more dream glowing turquoise and orange but now they are closing, one of the last three Howard Johnson’s is closing and I think of my grandparents and how I’d ride in the back seat of their Buick unmindful of my grandfather’s porn collection in the trunk, watching the dull landscape go by. I would miss them once I was back home and wish to listen to the wheels hum again.
That girl loved to sing but she had some kind of sonic disorder that made her sound like whales in space whenever she opened her mouth. We all tried to be nice because it made her really happy to let those notes out of her mouth but it was hard to encourage because our ears would start to bleed and our foreheads to melt. She sounded like she was juggling chainsaws and it made us afraid. Still, we didn’t want to hurt her feelings so mostly we’d just sit and weep.
We weren’t sure we could get them all to get along, those birds of different feathers were used to mostly sticking to their own kind, but we thought it was worth a shot. We brought in the starlings and the magpies, the pigeons and the finches. We had big bags of seed as icebreakers and a spacious birdbath so they could hang. Norma thought there should be music, but we thought that was silly—birds are already musical, so she was voted down.
She told me I should wear my happy face but it was in the laundry. I had worn it the night of the eclipse and ended up spilling hot chocolate all over it. The engaged face had a big rip in it, and I’m about 900 years behind on my mending. The angry face was freshly laundered, but only because I bought three of them—identical—on sale last year. The morose face was another option, but it tends to make other people feel morose too.
My therapist suggested I stop making so many unconnected pictures. She wanted me to try to find a thread to link one image to the next. But I told her this was how I saw the world—flash, flash, flash—like boxcards that had come unglued and spilled over the tracks. The picture of the house did not belong with the picture of the beach or the one of the mountain. Monday had no bond with Tuesday, each day a distinct universe like teeth set loose from my head.
Terry Wolverton’s Sizzle & Chew appeared in Issue One. She is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, most recentlyWounded World: lyric essays about our spiritual disquiet. She is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles, and Affiliate Faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles.