Nickole Brown is a poet and fiction writer. She graduated from
the M.F.A. Program for Creative Writing at Vermont College and
is working on a collection of poetry with grant help from the
Kentucky Foundation for Women. She graduated summa cum
laude from University of Louisville in 1996, studied English
Literature at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union
Scholar, and was the editorial assistant for Hunter S. Thompson
in 1997. She was a freelance writer for Leo Magazine for six years.
Her poems, stories, and essays have most recently appeared in
Mammoth Books' Sudden Stories anthology, Poets & Writers, The
Writer's Chronicle, Kestrel Review, and The Courtland Review. She lives
in Louisville, Kentucky, where she works at Sarabande Books.
Postcard from Athens
Sister, the lamb is turning on one spit and his intestines on the other. Add tambourine, clarinet, and accordion, and you have Easter in Greece, the Acropolis winking between buildings, the shutters rotting off ancient hinges, the cheap heel of my left shoe honking with each slip on the marble sidewalk. Everywhere fat, dustbrown dogs sleeping. Everywhere the cackle of American tourists swinging blue plastic bags of souvenirs. Men on the corners, cocky in neatly pressed pants, circling. The shopkeeper's bad skin, her pock-blotch arm reaching for the red cash register.
Strange there's not more to say. I want the movie lights to dim, for the magic to begin, but this time there's nothing to separate this from that. The silver cord of my soul stuck fast as a corn. I try to marvel in simple differences an airport sign in Syriac letters, a hairdryer that looks more like a hand-held vacuum, and the silliest thing: a keycard that's necessary to get electricity in the hotel room. Insert it, and there's light. Pull it out, pure darkness. I wait for a shift, but my blood is unmoveable except for where it knows it has to move. Barely keeping me with pulse. The smell of char in my hair.
Postcard from Chicago
Sister, my memory is slipping. Perhaps aluminum in cans? No fish oil twice a day? No blueberries? And today, ChicagoNewYorkAthensMiami. Whatever. It's all the same running from the center, a violet spiral, all vertigo, my plane circling the yellow eye of a tornado. Incapable of rain.
Today a photo taken with my phone: a love-n-tokyo. Before your time, I know. Then a window of hats and the woman who asked me which one I liked best. Inside were three isles of chocolate, and a wine shop man who insisted that we chill the bottle first. Left and spent fifty at the drugstore, on nothing, really: Vitamin E, microbeads, SPF 15, something to keep me young. Night fell in a basement tiki bar with the Slovenian girl in a Polynesian dress; someone talks Japanese gore and I swallow, a second pill. Spumoni is served with a flat spoon and I think is it still a spoon when it can't scoop?
So what else matters now but you? I send you my passport, my international driver's license, my frequent flyer high miles card that wants and wants and wants.
Postcard from Vancouver
Lego-land city of cherry blossoms and blue. Mirrored skyscrapers reflecting the glide of seabirds until a surrender to dollhouse transparency at night. Boutique clean when you take a right, heroine gumstuck sidewalk sweat to the left.
What's worse, I'm sick, rash ready and blinking slow, halfhearted like one of those low-ceiling dry wall jobs, brand new beige-always carpet matting flat before the new smell of paint is gone. Fibers that melt under the foot, a thing that gives out without trying to be anything more than what it was born to be: economical, practical, meant to look good only long enough to get the lease signed.
On one side of the hotel, an Asian business man cleans the screen of his cell phone by rubbing it on his chest, starch white shirt kissing tiny blue light. On the other, a girl curls herself into an unsprung fern, a weeping tent of her knees and stretched sweatshirt. I saw the mosquito nose of a needle sip sweet from her veins. In the museum, I meet the poet who says it all: cocaine dissolved in the sugarwater meant for hummingbirds. She is thin, young, wears a red bandana. I walk in the rain, fight with an umbrella that keeps flipping itself into a tulip.
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