Mike Good's recent poetry and book reviews can be found in or are forthcoming
at The Adroit Journal, december, The Carolina Quarterly, Denver Quarterly, Five
Points, Forklift, OH, The Georgia Review, Pleiades, Rattle, Salamander, Spillway,
Sugar House Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. The recipient of an emerging
writer scholarship from The Sun, Mike holds an M.F.A. from Hollins University and
is the managing editor of Autumn House Press. He lives in Pittsburgh (USA).
Outside my door I was dismayed to find a large man in my parking space. Well it wasn't my parking space, exactly, but it was so cold outside, and it was in front of my house, so I liked to think the space was mine. Forced to park around the corner, I felt as though I did not belong and perhaps I don't. Not necessarily. I owe a great amount of money on the house. An inconceivable sum. The man on the other hand appeared massive, immovable. His car vile. His beard unkempt. Eyes like disappointment. I called to him from the doorway. Asked him to leave. Needless to say, he did not comply. Simply stood there, blinking into his ear buds. I realized then, what he was—a big name—welcomed into the great halls. The sort of man that caused people to make dinner plans. He would be given whatever I felt entitled to have. He was a sentence that could be read in any order. He would park wherever he pleased, meters be damned, great name stretching from bumper to bumper, from green light to green light. I would soon come to depend on his presence like a familiar tree on a corner, like the one on Negley and Hampton that makes the big white flowers in spring, whose medusa branches twist around one another like broken arms. I wanted it so badly, it burned my throat, my eyes, my chest. As he fed on thick winter air, I slumped about the corners, on the uneven sidewalk, a canvas Trader Joe bag in tow, body sinking beneath the weight of it.
I am trying to find my way in the world. I just put one sentence in front of the other. I see where it goes. I am trying to find my way out of the aquarium. I put one fin to the left of my right fin. I see where it goes. I am trying to solve a great mystery. That the mystery still remains must be what makes it great. I am trying to figure out the meaning of this place. There are lewd depictions of animals everywhere. There are lewd depictions of animals everywhere. Once I find my way across the world, I am going to show everybody the way out of it. Everybody already knows the way out of it, I am told. You can just leave, I am told. Stay a while. I'm here, I am told. We are going out together to cross the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The sun is so bright and sky is so blue it hurts to look at anything besides our phones. I am trying to find my way into a movie theater with good prices and proper temperature control, leg rests, and a large cup for my sippy straw. I am trying to find my way to the bathroom. You look like a good person to ask. You look like someone who might know their way around this place. You say it is by the aquarium? It feels like I just left the tank, but my need is urgent. I am heading your way.
Hey, you're in great shape she says, and I am uncertain whether the robins outside are clapping, laughing, or trying to escape, whether to say this or to flap my hands as if a leviathan flashing in sand. I tell her I have always loved the homely nature of the rhombus and long have I aspired to take the form of a quadrilateral. But you know, you really shouldn't gawk. There was a hawk in the window of the church tower just then and it seemed to be enjoying the architecture. All around there were vacancies boasting free Wi-Fi, or perhaps where Wi-Fi used to be. I began to look up, but she pulled me down on my side. I lay there perfectly flat becoming perfectly at peace with the world. In fact, I could almost see her candy-striped underwear peeking through her shorts. But I could not move. I had become two-dimensionally thin. I had become a great shape. Then she tied a string where my arms used to be and knotted twigs where my spine used to be, found some twine in the trunk of her Honda Civic, and thus bound, she lifted me up. She started to run—it was March 5, 2013—this is when I began to fly.
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