• Blue Money
The men from my father’s shop come over to play cards, big men with small names and tattooed forearms. Eagles etched in blue ink that match the dye from the shop where they work, the dye that works its way through the skin of fingers smudged machinist blue, a blue I could never find in my box of crayons...
• Blue Ford Truck
Fenders round, some rust; manual transmission; gearbox on the steering wheel; ashtray filled with smoked-down Camels — how ashamed I was that Friday night when you picked me up at the high school dance in your new used truck, and my friends and I climbed onto the hard metal bed, and you drove us home.
• Blue Hands Black Coffee
IMy father’s hands were blue from the molds he made in the machine shop where he worked. My father’s hands were strong. My father’s hands struck out, sometimes; sometimes they repaired what was broken around the house. Usually his hands held cans of beer or shots of Jack Daniels or cups of strong coffee.
• The Tap Dancing Birthday Cake
Tonight I'm doing my second gig as The Tap Dancing Birthday Cake. It’s a step above jumping out of a cake. This new job came with the new house, new schools and new car pool. It came with the “start over.” The job is in Marin County, where people have the money to pay for a singing, or in this case, a tap-dancing greeting card...
I’m fourteen and the idea of working is a ray of happiness. I’m hovering on the edge of a rite of passage. Mom is going to jail. I’m moving to Uncle Phil’s. Natalie’s back from college to—hah—keep an eye on me. The future is nebulous as all fuck, but hey, I’m gonna be paid.
• Stayfree Carefree
2007. I watched my supervisor writhe on the cold warehouse floor, screaming in pain. Nothing I could do. Everyone was watching and standing still. Making Christmas wreaths.
I decided I was done with warehouse work.
• 15,000 Keystrokes
I asked myself why I had never bothered suggesting he apply for work and the answer was obvious. He had unwound the scarf from around his neck and opened his too-large coat. I took in his outdated brown suit (probably a relic from his father who passed away years ago) and shirt that looked like it had been washed in tea, a button missing at the collar; and the tie—a wide red-and-black striped affair—held in place with what appeared to be a Masonic tie clip.
• Out to the Air Above
Virgil handed Wayne a shovel and they began popping the shingles loose. I picked a spot and did the same, the nails squeaking beneath my shovel. The asphalt broke loose from the shingles when we jammed the shovels underneath and pried them loose. They skittered down the roof and tumbled off of the edge. Shove. Pop. Step. Shove. Pop. Step. The work was monotonous but meditative, rhythmic. We worked quietly, no small talk. The shovel grew heavier and my hands began to burn. Shove. Pop. Step.
• The Pirate
It is the fish, stupid.
The fish that come into the rich
Tan waters of our shore, bathing in hollow
Sunlight, gathering the shallow sea’s life...
... you are there with your compadres
dancing out an incredible ballet
of hot plates and crushed ice
until you go home
where your husband says
you smell like quesadillas ...
Download a pdf of the entire chapbook HERE.