He’s got gray hair.

I visited him at a men’s rehabilitation center and all the while I imagined him living a normal life. I imagined him taking out the trash, laughing to Adam Sandler movies, stringing necklaces, writing with a new UniBall. Cashing a crappy paycheck. I imagined him feeling satisfied. I imagined him feeling loved.

I drove away thinking about him saying, “You should spend the night!”. He said, “If I ever get to a point in my life where you will let me watch Iris by myself, that’s what I’ll consider completely rehabilitated.” I told him he is the most interesting person I know so it’d be great for him to not shoot up and overdose when he gets out.

My coffee hit the pavement.

It wasn’t very good coffee, but those beans grew for so long I gave them a chance. I breathed in the coffee until my eyes hurt and then I threw that coffee on the sidewalk, spelling


and eventually I opened the cup and flung the rest out, mostly on myself, ignoring the people who were probably on a date as they tried to squeeze by me, wishing I was godzilla, wishing I could do some real damage.

Dear Mr. Varkentine,

I love your name.

Thank you for your letter. Some days, I feel as though I am a character in someone’s Great Unfinished Novel. In between those days, I feel like an asshole for imagining myself so important.

I hope you eventually complete your compendium of words,


Back Room Tenants

In January, I wondered if our felines should occupy the back room, the room where relationships go to deteriorate. By mid-April, they vacated the house and now occupy a room with their guinea pig, Jude. I told them it could only be a temporary arrangement, as we will be moving soon. And when we move, they’ll have more than a room. They’ll have half the house!

As for their relationship, it seems to be repaired. All those nights having no choice but to sleep together has given them no choice but to sleep together! Judini wheeks, plays with Beez. Tangerine gets windows all to herself. They get brushed at night. They get pet, but mostly pet each other. They’ve stopped hissing, punching each other in the faces. They like each other again!

However, they aren’t paying rent, which is really getting to me.

And they won’t file for food stamps.

And they have no jobs.

So there’s that.

The worst

part for me, after I’ve distanced myself from a human, is the flash of their giant fucking smile in my head, days, months, years after they are gone.

I’m addicted to giant smiles.

In apes, smiles are an indicator of fear or stress. Sometimes I smile when I am afraid or stressed out or want to scream or hammer holes into my wood floor. But mostly I smile when I feel nice inside, the smile creeps from my mouth and I cannot stop it. Humans mostly smile for this reason. And I tend to love humans with giant teeth or giant mouths.

Thinking about giant smiles when I know I will never again feel the modesty of a giant smile from some people with incredible giant smiles makes me feel a tug in my eyebrows, a tingling in the corner of my eyes, a quiver in my throat.

I haven’t seen my dad’s giant smile in years.
My brother’s giant smile since he was a child.
My aunt’s giant smile since I was a child.

I mostly see Christina’s giant smile when she’s talking to her family members on the phone. I love her so much, but it’s been a really fucking rough going for a great deal of our relationship and I mostly see a look of determination on her face. The last time I saw her giant fucking smile was probably last Halloween when she was trying to hold a monocle in her eye cave. We did too much taking care of other people too soon.

It’s not too often I feel my own giant smile. The one that makes my jaw hurt afterwards.

Two evenings ago.

The last words I spoke to my sister before hanging up the phone.

"Saggy jellyfish."

Thank the universe I have her giant smile. Too bad I can only feel it traveling across magical phone lines.

Your writing about Albuquerque was so poetic, I love it!

George Spiggott, I love Albuquerque!