Sunday, December 29, 2013

We walked along the Promenade and watched Manhattan, aswarm with helicopters. Jackie kept running away to hide from her cousin, behind a concrete wall. I worried that she would keep hiding there after no one looked for her. It was heartbreaking to turn the corner and see her in the shadows, a little crouched, waiting, ready to wait forever maybe.

On the platform later on, in a rush, we weren’t sure where this train was going. We needed downtown. Sara asked a couple times as I straddled the threshold. No answer. The train had the ordinary number of passengers, arrayed in clusters here and there. One was sleeping. Another, a woman, stared at us blankly. The doors were convulsing. We had to decide. We entered.

“Where is this train going?” I asked harshly. Angrily. As though it even mattered now.

“Downtown,” she replied calmly.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

There’s a yawning entrance to the basement stairs in the sidewalk outside Dizzy’s Diner, a few steps away from the twenty-five-cent rocking dinosaur. Positioned just so every parent well yelp with anguish as their toddler scampers up, teetering as she breathlessly contemplates the spotted yellow toy.

I examined it today. The space from the opening to the first step is too great, as though the sidewalk were once a foot lower. You see a wall of what, limestone? Concrete? Whatever the fuck the inside of a New York City street is made of. You see it along the steps on either side, vaguely striated, like every year had made another layer.

The metal doors, those corrugated iron doors that cover all these stairs, that bow a little every time you walk on them when they’re closed, making you wonder whether you’re about to lose your life—they’re always open at Dizzy’s nowadays. Like the guys can’t be bothered to shut it when they’re done. I walked to the edge and peered down. Nothing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

In the crowd around Rockefeller Center I kept imagining someone would get irate and snap at us, and give me justification to respond in kind. No one did. Everyone was patient and civil. Someone tapped me on the elbow as I walked away from the tree, staring idiotically at my screen. Who? What?! I asked inside my mind. It was a lovely lady pointing out that my sunglasses had fallen on the ground a few paces away. I thanked her profusely. Another lady picked them up and handed them to me. We live in a better world than I imagine.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


the few remaining vehicles of the

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eerie day at work. It was slow; it seemed maybe I'd cross paths with no one, just shuffle to the coffee machine, the men's room, my desk, and back around again until it was time to dress back up for the frigid cold and go.

Then a copywriter appeared with a question, and I had to react like another human being. I tried hard to say sensible things, all the while scrutinizing her face for indications of bewilderment. But she played along.

Friday, December 13, 2013


only in bits and pieces.


Unlike the Americans, China

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The M train, the shorter train, the train not to take. The train not taken. The front of it stopped right before me at Bleecker Street. The weird rubber ropes across its nose swinging to and fro. Like a living, breathing beast. All metal and heavy. All there. And then it was gone.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Last Saturday I lay on the couch as Jackie watched Curious George beside me. I wanted sleep. Invited it. I closed my eyes. Suddenly I was jolted awake—what was it? Not a sound or any event outside of me, I realized. What had awoken me with such a start was the actual moment of passage into sleep itself.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


"I rest my case."

Monday, December 02, 2013


as for their own complicated

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


admitting it for the

Monday, November 25, 2013


We're in the same building as some United Nation commission, or maybe two; I get on the elevator and there are elegantly dressed people from all the corners of the globe, speaking their prim English as a second language, some wearing vaguely tribal clothes, carrying briefcases, badges hanging from their belts or necks.

This morning a slender black man with a mustache stepped on after me, then a dark-haired white man just as the doors began to close.

"Good weekend?" the first man asked. Obligatorially. Tediously.


"Good weekend?"

"Oh! Oh yeah. Yeah. Better than today."


"Yeah," he went on, sighing. "Russians."


"You know how they—"

"Yeah. Yeah."

"They want things, you know."


"Everything has to be just—" Here he made a little gesture with his finger, drawing an imaginary line. He rolled his eyes.

"I know! I know." A knowing shake of the head.

"Yeah, so. Russians."

Just then the doors opened for me on the 16th floor.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


He was right. They turned on us.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We were all trying to get on the train after work. A short, older woman, a little crazy looking, stood beside me in the throng. Neither of us made it.

"Fuck it!" she growled as she turned away.

I gave her a look, a little double take, like: Come on. It's just a fucking train.

"Fuck you!" she said.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


farther afield, Colleen

Friday, November 15, 2013


"In Germany I am not that tall," Johanna said.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


affectionately on the chin

Friday, November 08, 2013

Strange scenes in the subway. In a corridor at Bryant Park, a large black woman, with the bearing of a weightlifter, selling plastic knickknacks. On the other side, farther down: a beggar mother in rags, nursing. The vendor was working over her mark, a short, Hispanic man. “You want yo-yo? You want yo-yo? You want yo-yo?” she taunted, illustrating with brusque tosses of the toy. “You wanna jacka lan’ern?”

The baby spat out its mother’s nipple and cried. There it was: big, brown, glistening in the sick, fluorescent light.

A few days later I got on the 7 after work, found a corner seat where I hoped to rest my head against the glass. A woman walked up and politely asked if she could have the inside seat. Sure, I said. Of course. She sat down, turned away, and promptly began to sob. She’d sniffle and snort sometimes, like criers do—making funny sounds in the midst of grief. Then she’d start again. Finally around Broadway-Lafayette she stopped.


I won't blame Nick. I don't blame Nick.


and also, where available, rescue equipment

Friday, October 25, 2013


populations as a proxy to assess

Friday, October 18, 2013


Tana was horrified by how callous he sounded

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tell Me You Love Him

(A two-act play.)


Linda: A woman in her mid-forties. She once was a beauty but her body is marked by the ravages of childbearing and years of frustration—professional, sexual, perhaps also spiritual.
Roger: Linda’s husband, also in his mid-forties. Roger is tall, portly and carries himself with a slightly self-important air.





The bedroom of Linda and Roger’s suburban, split-level ranch. A suitcase is open on the bed. Linda is furiously rummaging through her closet and dresser for essentials, which she hurls into the maw of the suitcase. Roger follows her pitifully, trying to calm her down, trying to appeal to her in some way.

Linda: I’m going to destroy you.

Roger: How can you… Jesus. Linda.

Linda: I swear to God I’m going to get a lawyer and fucking destroy you, Roger.

Roger [imploringly]: Linda, Linda, Linda! Sweetheart. Linda.

Linda: Mark. My. Words.

Roger: Sweetie, sweetheart. Don’t.

Linda: I’m taking the house. I’m taking the other house. I’m taking the kids.

[Roger shakes his head in sorrow and frustration.]

Linda: I want the American Express. I want the Diners Club. I am going to take everything and destroy you. I hate you.

Roger: Stop. Please. Quiet. Stop.

[Linda pauses outside the closet, a loosely folded dress in her arms, and looks at Roger. A trace of a smile crosses her mouth.]

Linda: I always thought you were a faggot. [She turns around again and continues gathering clothes.]

Roger: Linda!

Linda: I should know.

Roger [angry now, gesticulating]: Just because I’m not the one who’s out there cheating on you! Fucking! Fucking other men!

Linda [as she bends down to pick up some shoes, not even bothering to turn to him]: You’d like to fuck another man.

Roger: Fuck you! What the fuck is wrong with you?

Linda: Faggot. I’m leaving you. [In a sing-songy voice] At. Once.

Roger: Linda. Linda, Linda!

Linda: I swear I will destroy you and leave you broke. And sad.

Roger: What did I do to you for Christ’s sake?!

Linda: If you have to ask me a question like that after all these years, well—

Roger: Yeah! That’s a fucking perfectly reasonable quest—

Linda [in a sighing tone]: Then I don’t know. Then I don’t know what to tell you, Roger.

Roger: Tell me something!

Linda: What do you want me to tell you.

Roger: Why!

Linda: Why what, Roger?

Roger: Why are you leaving? Honey?

Linda: You know why.

Roger: I should be the one to leave!

Linda: Then fucking leave.

Roger [enumerating with his fingers]: You fuck Sam Barnes. You fuck Kyle Gray. You fuck Aaron Wyatt! Aaron Wyatt!

Linda: So what?

Roger [shouting, breathless]: A man I play tennis with!

[Linda stares at Roger for few moments. She almost flashes a look of pity, but just as soon her face hardens again.]

Linda: You will never, ever, get it, Roger.

Roger: Get what?!

[Linda shrugs and continues packing.]

Roger [defiantly]: I could have fucked some women!

Linda [chuckling, bitterly sarcastically]: Right!

Roger: I could have fucked women! I could have fucked students!

Linda: Well you should’ve fucked ‘em then.

Roger [imploringly]: What the hell kind of thing to say is that? To say to your husband.

Linda: Not for long.

Roger: Not for long!

Linda: I'm going to divorce you, Roger.

Roger: Sweetie.

Linda: I'm going to divorce you within an inch of your life.

Roger: Honey. I don't want to fuck my students.

Linda: Not the female ones maybe.

Roger [livid]: I don’t want to fuck my students!

Linda: Don't flatter yourself, Roger. They don't want your tired, old cock. They don't want that inside of them.

Roger: Jesus, Linda.

Linda: Trust me.

Roger [still hot]: Sharon Lindstrom flirts with me in my office. I could FUCK her!

Linda [with a derisive guffaw]: Oh Miss New Hampshire? Miss New Hampshire runner up, 1969? In your dreams, mister!

Roger: I don't even want to fuck her!

Linda: No shit, Sherlock.

Roger [trembling with rage]: Stop it, Linda. Drop it. Stop it.

Linda [insouciantly]: Roger, I have long suspected that you're a homosexual. Those are the facts.

Roger [trying hard to compose himself]: If I were, how could I love you so much?

Linda: Beats the hell out of me.

Roger [screaming]: What’s the matter with you?! What happened to you?!

[Linda has her back to Roger and gives no reaction whatsoever. Roger paces, puts his hands on his hips and off them again, trying to calm down.]

Roger: I'm going to marry Susan Perotti.

Linda [matter-of-factly, surprisingly unsarcastic this time]: Roger, honestly. I talk to Susan. She's my friend.

Roger: I'm going to fuck her and I'm going to marry her!

[There is a pause, almost as though Linda did not hear Roger.]

Linda: Whatever floats your boat.

Roger: I could!

Linda: No you couldn't. You can't. And you won't.

Roger [suddenly grabbing Linda’s arm]: Do you love him?!

Linda [trying to jerk away]: Let go of me!

Roger: Do you LOVE HIM?!

Linda: What do you think?!

Roger: Do you LOVE him?

[Linda closes her eyes. Her body deflates slightly. She seems like she’s on the verge of either tears or laughter.]

Linda: I'm very fond of him.

[Roger lets go of her arm and turns away.]

Roger: Do you love me?

Linda: I'll do you one better: I hate you.

Roger: Come on. Come on now. That's not true.

Linda: Suit yourself.

Roger: Do you love me?

Linda: I fucking hate you.

[A few seconds pass. Linda finishes packing and zips up her suitcase.]

Roger: Tell me you love him.

Linda [softly]: I need to get to the airport.

Roger: Tell me you love him.

Linda: I'm very fond of him. I need to get to the airport.

Roger: Tell me you love him.

Linda: Roger, stop being a baby. I need to get to the airport.

Roger: We're not going anywhere until you tell me you love him.

Linda [with pointed perfunctoriness]: I love him. Let's go.

[Linda walks out the bedroom door. Roger waits for a second, appearing a bit helpless, then picks up her suitcase and follows her.]




Same as Act 1.

[Roger and Linda reenter the bedroom. Roger places the suitcase back on the bed, where it was before. Linda proceeds to unpack as Roger sits on the edge of the bed and slowly takes off his shoes and socks. About a minute passes.]

Linda: You hungry?

Roger: No. Yeah. A little bit, yeah.

Linda: Lemme unpack and I can fry us some eggs.

Roger [lying back on the bed wearily]: Sure. Great. Thank you, sweetheart. That'd be great.

[Another minute or so passes as Linda finishes unpacking. When she’s done she places her suitcase on the floor by the wall and sits on the edge of the bed to remove her shoes.]

Roger [slightly nervously]: You gonna put away your suitcase?

Linda [placing one hand up to Roger in a “pushing back” gesture]: I’ll put it away tomorrow, honey.

Roger [with slightly exaggerated deference]: OK! OK, OK, OK.

[A few seconds pass.]

Linda: Carson's on.

Roger: What?

Linda: Carson's on?

Roger: Oh sure. Yeah.

[Roger takes the remote control from his bedside table and turns on the TV. The opening theme of the “Tonight Show” can be heard. Roger stares dully at the screen.]

Linda: OK. Eggs. Toast?

Roger: Yeah sweetie. That's great.

Linda: Jam on one piece or jam on both pieces?

Roger: Jam on one piece.

Linda: OK—

Roger: No, jam on both pieces.

Linda: OK. Raspberry or peach?

Roger [after a beat]: Peach.

Linda: OK.

[Linda turns toward the door and begins to move away when Roger stops her, putting his hand on her arm.]

Roger: Kiss?

[Roger and Linda kiss lightly, dispassionately. Linda exits. Roger looks back toward the TV as Johnny Carson continues his monologue. A few seconds pass with Roger watching the show, apparently absorbed by it.]