Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I saw a dead pigeon in the Metro stairwell this morning.
It had flown into the plate-glass wall.
It was lying there in its own crime scene, or I mean suicide scene, or I mean accident scene.
Probably accident scene. I mean, it was a bird. They don’t have desires or motivations, other than to eat and sleep and shit and breed. And to protect what they breed. They don't suffer from existential crises. They don't struggle beneath the weight of their perceived failures.
Its head lay in a small berry stain of its own blood.
As soon as I saw it I knew I would write about it.
How can you not, once you’ve taken a second to imagine what it was like –
to see that blue (or white or gray or black) sky that’s your home, and fly to it like always,
but to smack instead into your own ignoble death?
As soon as I saw it I knew I would make it about me.
How could I not, once I’d taken a second to imagine what it felt like –
the illusion of open air, the crash, the confusion, the blood,
the iridescent corpse passed by hundreds of morning commuters?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


H. Pellikka
There was this kid in our neighborhood. He was a strange kid. He had pointy ears and wore shoes that curled up at the toes. Turns out, he was an elf. That was what he told us. He was regular-kid-sized, though. Not tiny like the Keebler elves who make the fudge grahams. Not tall like the elegant race of ethereal beings in "The Lord of the Rings." Nope, he just looked like a kid, except for those ears and those shoes.

He had a cool elf toy. I wanted that elf toy. It was a kaleidoscope, only you could see into other dimensions. He told us so. He never let any of us look through it. He claimed the toy was forged in elf-fire back in his elven homeland, but I saw where it said "Made in China" on it. I don't know if all elves are liars or if only he is. He's the only elf I've ever known. Still, I believed him about the other dimensions. I don't know why. I still had a lot of growing up to do, I guess.

One time he left that cool elf toy of his on the playground. His mom said, "Raymond, time for dinner!" Oh yeah, the elf-kid's name was Raymond. His mom wasn't an elf. Raymond explained that by saying he was adopted, of course.

Raymond scrambled off the swing set and ran toward his house. In his haste, he left behind the kaleidoscope. I held my breath and waited to make sure he didn't remember and come back for it. Nope, he went right on into the house and closed the door and had spaghetti, or meatloaf, or mac 'n' cheese, or whatever moms feed their adopted elf kids.

So I went over to the kaleidoscope, slowly, as if it were a sacred relic. I gulped, as if something monumental were about to happen, because it was -- I was about to look into another dimension! I wondered what sort of marvels I would see.

I picked it up with trembling hands. I closed one eye. I lifted the toy up to my eye that was open. I peered inside. But I saw no glittering rainbow waterfalls, no galloping unicorns, no castles made out of stars. I just saw handwritten words. They said, "Give me back my elf toy, you jerk."

But I didn't give it back, even though it was no visual portal to another realm. I’m not even sure that you could ever see anything cool in there, not even like what you see through a regular kaleidoscope. Maybe it always only had that defensive message in it, like maybe he knew that someday somebody would find it or try to steal it.

Sometimes I feel the urge to look in there again, just to see if maybe the message has changed, perhaps through some kind of elf miracle. It never does, and I feel bad every time. He was just a kid who wanted something that other kids wanted. But I'll never give it back. That window has closed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I came to the party with two hearts drawn on my face, one right-side-up and one upside-down. It was supposed to look like the Queen of Hearts on a playing card. The party had an Alice in Wonderland theme. It was a joint bachelor and bachelorette party for two friends who are getting married.

I was there with my fiancĂ©. I tried not to think about how there were no fewer than four guys at the party with whom I had, at one time or another, and to varying degrees, been intimate. I mostly avoided the other three. That’s not my life now that I’m engaged. 

We arrived on the late side, as the city-lit sky that lives above DC's suburbs was showing its two or three stars. There was a small stage set up in the back yard. Burlesque dancers, male and female, were going to perform. Everyone was gathered around the pool.

--Earlier in the night I had drunk half a bottle of sweet-tea-flavored vodka in my room with the door closed. I took sips and made webcam photos of me in my white wig. I told some people that I would stop doing that, drinking to zap my shyness before a party or another social event, but I keep on doing it. I don’t believe that I will ever stop. The other half is still in my closet. I know I'll need it again.--

The burlesque dancers were stuck in traffic so we all stood around. Some people sat on the diving board. Some of them were still in clothes and not swimsuits. 

My fiancĂ© doesn’t drink. He stood sturdy by the edge of the pool, away from most of the crowd, and faced the stage. I stood by him some, but kept faking like I was falling into the pool. I would fall in with a big splash and get water up my nose that I pretended didn’t sting. “Whoa, here I go again!” It kept being funny to me because I was drunk.

The pool was empty so I stayed in it. I felt like it was my aquamarine stage.

I floated on my back. I looked up at the sky and focused on this one star. My ears were under the surface for so long that I thought they might pop. I didn’t want to ever get out. I could hear nothing, and I was alone, except for this one star.