A cold air’s breath on new year’s night is doubly possessive and, as such, not without perplexity. The same could be—and is presently being—said about time and age and love because I’ve “reached”(?) an age when love means time less in quantitativeness than in presence, and yet I continue to choose the language of personifications […]

Memory and imagination are one in the same for storymaking but sight depends. Did you know that birds see ultraviolet light? Something about a fourth cone. There’s science and there’s knowledge and there’s utility but then there’s how things seem when we’re only looking at the surface, now and past, the ocean’s always deeper. The […]

Bellow writing in the ‘60s about the well of literary estrangement running dry. Saul, that is. That was then—what of now? Well, now, is there any room for it at all? Everyone and no one is estranged. Every group, every clique, every niche of every corner has a brandable identity sewn on like logos on […]

One thing is to be, another is to see, just the way I wish you’d see me. One too many phrases like that and they found themselves confused, adrift, and said my positions lacked grounding, something concrete, which in my head rendered cartoonishly into weighted feet sinking to the bottom of the Neva because, naturally, […]

I was tired. All we have is this moment, and, at times, I was sick of more or less mechanically asserting the liberating quality of this fact, each time proffering it as something new, fresh, vivid, like a sad small town huckster, which I suppose was due to the default sense of that fact’s terrifyingness […]

Yes, all those things are lovely, but it’s boring when all is said and done at the end of the day eventually in the final analysis after all—indecision can be a like standing in the middle of field of lilacs and sometimes we simply say too much. Speaking of lilacs and sometimes, I don’t do […]

Another time—yes, there was another time, but only one other time, and that not really—I saw her acting out some obscurely tragic final scene, rushing from room to room in a space not entirely unlike that flat but cross-sectioned like a stage, lamenting and gesticulating. The melodrama, the motion, the volume—oh the things I’d say […]

Had to stop reading a (the?) biography of Clarice Lispector because, no matter how much I love her art and story, the formulaically-placed quotes and source material and objectifying lack of authorial voice gave me indigestion. Perhaps I’m academic-intolerant. So, out of some odd desperation, I started reading Njal’s Saga and got about sixty pages […]

Resist, resist, resist—what about the virtues of just going along? By “virtues” I mean “benefits;” there’s no time for virtue. Maybe I’ve taken it all too literally. The books I’ve read and the stories I’ve admired and the philosophies to which I’ve been drawn—so many have resistance at their core, or so I’ve felt. Maybe […]

It’s hard to say it matters so I keep typing and breathing anyway but isn’t that tragic and sad and literary, a blood-tipped quill stuck to a dangling hand that would be better off waving goodbye to hopes of doing anything other than deleting (keeping) vague rejection notices including those two recent gems from journals […]

I have four windows open around me this morning, a sigh on every side—everything I am is a commingling of question and answer. How to live. Life’s worthiness is a matter of constant consternation. Oh, to see where it might lead, unambiguously. These would-be pundit people and their long-winded self-flattery through the ostensible virtue of […]

The perfect autumn day—by evening, when my toes are cold despite socks and slippers, I might not be so fond. So goes the erosion of goodwill. It’s fifty Fahrenheit degrees and sunny, gusting, and the trees are spreading color everywhere—rain is on the way, though, and the temperature is dropping. It’s fine to not be […]

A person can be internally consistent and absurd at the same time, like a comedy skit. Our imagined summaries make us lifelike, or so I heard on television. Don’t mind me, I’m just looking for permission, filled with suppositions about self-preservation through simple perseverance and tricky transposition mixed in blender-wise with kind attentions to the […]

Tears in the morning at the slightest provocation—the inconveniences of sensitivity, the troubles of necessity, and the opportunities to oppose it. The rain falls or it doesn’t, and coarse tabloid judgments are hurled at everything in between. I grow weary of trying to be definitive so I set the glass on the windowsill and avert […]

The ground outside was littered with crab apples the day I found a dead dove in the grass behind the house—is their tartness merely a feature of our gustatory perception or is it absolute? This is the kind of thing. I can fight it or sit it out or I can reason and wait, again, […]

Sometimes I’m alive. Look at the sky. Feel the breeze. Read Cervantes. Write a poem. Love/lose someone. Have hope/despair. Good morning/night. Enjoy a meal. Ponder existence. Learn a new word. Paint a dream. Hold your breath. Ride a car. Drive the train. Run. Be here. Get somewhere and make it strange. It’ll be hard to […]

When was the last time I just watched rain fall without feeling the need to be understood on others’ terms? In youth I learned to notice and, like you, I learned silence from the talkative, flipping back and forth between metaphors and delusion leaving snowdrifts of sawdust in my head because nothing is traceless. Nothing […]

It’s far too early in the evening to say here accept this and good morning, let’s be hopefully oblivious to whatever may lie ahead, maybe, maybe no, not by night. What you do is for yourself, so no worries, though, maybe. We’re all in our heads anyway, curators of our own realities—or so I’ve heard […]

Sometimes you write a nice, strange note to a nice, strange some kind of acquaintance and it falls flat, or seems to, right through down into the cracks between fiction and restraint, you know? Perhaps not, thinking better to go breathless in the old style flatly color-esque like those white blue red and gold plastic […]

Wednesday at 8pm on the back of a plain white business card, the address below. 4256 N Ravenswood, the ominous Brothers Grimm-ness of which is not lost on me though any sense of numerology very much quite most certainly is. That’s today’s first certainly is, and it’s after 7:00. The next two are that the […]

I feel something when my eyes see that I don’t want talking to shatter. Always desiring, but desiring desire, wanting inner access, past the gate, but only for the simple strange something sake of getting in, never really wanting to stay, hedging to the vague side of the street to scramble any alterities of signal […]

What are these people doing? How do they have that many clicks in them each day. They just stare at their screens, furrowed, and scroll scroll scroll, click click fucking click. I’m losing my eyesight. The floor is carpeted and the carpet is a combination of thickly woven browns, dutiful and lifeless. A volley of […]

For the child, time stretches out immeasurably in all directions, and it’s as if nothing more is needed than unencompassed possibility. A little blonde girl walking down the sidewalk with her father makes eye contact with me as I sit myself down in the couch by the window in the deepening sunset evening to read. […]

The bass was drowning out the highs, the saxophonist’s mic didn’t work, and for a minute the acoustic-electric guitar was silent till the sound man straightened that out and the performerman in a getup he said made him look like the hypothetical offspring of Johnny Cash and Elton John played his song. The outfit, he […]

You can’t even think straight. Cleanly, that is. It’s straight enough, but so coarse and asperous I must put it in the shell of another—hence this “you” and its rhetorical undressing. You, tell me something funny. Ok, well, earlier there was pure despondence, that utter undesire for the substances of your life as you stood […]

I am the monster lurking on the hillside, chased by something even more terrible. I am watching myself be the terrified monster. I am the mirror that sees clearly but refuses the truth. I am the shadow behind thin curtains at night, lenient light from an unseen source playing on the softly undulating folds, imagining […]

An old man approached me at the gym as I was catching my breath between sets on the leg press. As I pulled the tiny speaker from my left ear to give him precisely half of my attention, I more than half expected to hear something about the amount of weight I had on the […]

The patio overlooked my fantasy but we sat inside and had overcooked fish. Clinking glasses of white wine: Here’s to hoping you’d be someone you’re not, she said—or was that me? I’m trying to be more definitive but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t notice a silhouette in the upstairs window of the […]

Suppose life is just one big missed connection and post an awkward public notice to the young man inside. I saw you walking down the uneven sidewalk on Tuesday night with your head hung low and hands in your pockets, exhibiting all the telltale signs of dejection and I wanted to offer something vaguely inspiring […]

And then there were those open spaces of my youth, stretched out between memory and oblivion like a birthmark. The mitochondrial spaces of summer, lush with hazy green vitality releasing isoprene that like magic mixing beauty and pain braided here and there to make the hills blue when you looked like we all did through […]

You were pretty like a leopard or a fox and probably just as sharp though you walked with that dead-leg swish like one was longer or heavier than the other and I doubted your ability to chase even if you wanted to, keeping it sullen like your name had old-world ties to shoemakers and carts. […]

In a dream I dreamed some few maybe several dreams ago—they’re hard to count, hard, sometimes, to notice—I missed the city. From within it. Or above and through it, rather, soaring or perched, perhaps, perhaps parallaxed, in a sense—what’s the word for seeing through another’s eyes—in any event, above and through it I was and […]

UNITY in yellow letters on the back of a black hoodie, our differences bring us together. The kid at the table next to ours was head-down on his phone but the message on his sweatshirt said Ellison. In our true health lies division: that’s Hyde Park to me, and we talked not of politics but […]

It’s 8:00 in the morning on the first Saturday that feels like summer. Winter is gone but spring never really came around, apparently having other places to be, much like my sense of humor. The sun will continue to rise higher and higher in a sky I can see only as blue-white dappling through the […]

You’re a marvelous being, he says to her, eyes squinting for a better view behind the smudgy rose-colored lenses of his spectacles, common sense folded neatly on the white linen tablecloth beside the sweating half-empty/full water carafe as he reclines in a slight wicker chair on a warm, impressionistic day outside the café he’s only […]

Have you ever fallen for someone at the sound of their voice? No, he said. But I’ve created it. Sometimes you need something, so that’s what you do. It’s not always good, mind you, maybe not even often. Be excited, though—that’s why thoughts end up meaning so much. Enlightenment is not just caring whether what […]

I came to Chicago in 2007, the year of the Virginia Tech shooting. I’d been there, and when I got here—to the University—people asked me about it, what it was like. I didn’t become friends with those people, but the city and I got along just fine. Hyde Park and I got along just fine, […]

It’s not going to look big but it is if you make it. Tomorrow would be better if it wasn’t like today. I’d be better if I saw dissatisfaction as synonymous with unawareness, or so I try. The things we say. My sister and I have unacknowledged but obvious dreams of being other than we […]

It’s the keeping in that makes my heart palpitate because it’s not telling the truth and then I’m in a hospital bed being nothing but honest about the white in my beard. Football (or fútbol) or baseball (or fútbol). Boxers or briefs. Scotch or whiskey (or wine or beer). Blondes or brunettes or both or […]

It was a week of work, my first in over two months. Funny how you can tell what kind of day you’ll have in the first ten minutes of wakefulness. Is sensitivity something we learn? It’s hard to emulate the idiomatic and constitutional, but easy to hide behind it. Thoughts of authenticity the other night […]

Filling page after page with half-thoughts is both an affront to writing and essential to the practice of it. It takes time to cook up something good, and sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. What spooks me is a certain flatness, apathy, lethargy, whereby the impulse to pursue an idea or sensation or line […]

I woke up and my face was bruised and a front tooth broken half off and I couldn’t recall a thing. Then it came the way fear does that I’d just seen a man I knew get fired without ceremony or ostensible circumstance and all I’d done was walk along beside him down the anywhere […]

As an act of living, everything I write is a little record of feeling alive, no matter the struggle or syntax, but there’s something vital about you and I wonder in my less presumptive junctures if it’s always and where it comes from. With me, though, it’s always the same, taking what presents because I […]

Last night was the last night in that apartment I’d tell people was down by the Stadium and the Convention Center when they asked “where do you live” because the Stadium and Convention Center are landmarks and most people wouldn’t know the cross streets anyway. Now comes relief, and I don’t mind saying that. New […]

Here’s an idea: Write the story of this move we’re making to a completely different neighborhood, different part of the city that’s technically not even part of the city where city people go to be out of the city but still close to it because that’s a natural progression and a better way to raise […]

Between us, I suppose did all the feeling. The inherent disobedience of singing our contrapuntal song above outside around the din was to me in my youth like tying dreams to kings and great things, though knowing better than to presuppose any manner of nobility coursing through our line of magnetic men of middling, modest […]

So I got the job. At first I was mad, as if some principle had been violated, as if I’d been slighted, as if it was an offense or an affront or a dis. Then I was sad, as if I’d been uprooted, or would have to uproot, leaving the home I finally made for […]

Not enough, not enough, not enough, not enough. Never enough. Work-life balance. Work-life integration. That’s all well and good but. What about. You should. Why? No reason, really. It’s just what “what we do,” just how “the world works.” The Path People have always seemed odd to me, even misled. I’m talking about the ones […]

I was sick. Sometimes I think it’s too bad I don’t really write poetry. This may or may not be one of those times. Sometimes I think it’s too bad I find such pleasure in simple ambiguity. It’s like finding freedom in the lost and found. True to irregularity, the cruelest joke to play. The […]

I step out of the office and into the hall for an hors d’oeurve taste of corridor’d freedom, industrial-carpeted and fluorescent, tans and grays and whitishes with a texture at once abrasive and numbing, unsatisfying like a tease of a snack on a toothpick that’s been sitting out too long but is better than no […]

Make it sound. Sounding is being, and he must be other than some slight linguistic variation of me. He’s from there but not from there. He’s a late arrival and they get him. They came of age together. They welcomed him in despite his streaks of otherness, streaks they ascribe to personality more than birthplace. […]

Yesterday was a long day and that thing I wrote was not. It—the thing—was written several days ago, mostly, so all I did was stare at it for ten minutes to see if it would change, then posted it because it didn’t. It felt darker and more negative than I did—I mean it felt like […]

At the Mexican place around the corner and the neighboring table’s food arrives and the cute stupid young couple can’t take their eyes off their phones. They haven’t spoken to each other at all, and I suddenly realize I want to do something rash, something risky and dangerous, like pull off a heist or murder […]

I reach the steel staircase of the train station without realizing I’d left my spot on the bridge and I head up with renewed consciousness, step by step, my hand on the cold railing, my breath puffing out before me in plumes, and I insert my ticket, push through the turnstile, and meander out onto […]

But I write how I write and say what I say the way(s) I want to say it. Too many fucks, though, perhaps. You think? Perhaps I should clean it up some. Perhaps. Did you know a cop was shot and killed downtown last week? A commander, in fact, right on fucking the sidewalk by […]

STOP WRITING SO MUCH ABOUT WRITING. It says that in my notebook and it has a point. Who wants to read writing about writing? Writers, and people who want to be. I am both of those kinds of people, so it does make some sense that I’d write what I’d like to read. But what […]

M is the editor of no magazines (print or online) and does not hold an academic post at Any University. He used to live in Columbus, OH, where he drove a navy blue Buick Electra which was assembled before the Berlin Wall was dismantled and was not his first car but his second, and greatly […]

Rather than finding reasons to dismiss, keep finding ways to contribute. Don’t pull away and judge from a self-made haven of dissatisfaction and personal ire. Instead, remember to see these people as people, as simple, regular, ordinary people, no side-taking. That was my note to self a few days ago. Then, Friday, I woke up […]

It’s sleeping with security, knowing it could leave in the height of the night and never ever call again but at least you had it once and can tell the tale. It’s what we’ve always done—attack and release, accept and dismiss, and miss out. It’s what’s real. It’s living a Raymond Carver story, actual and […]

As a prosaic poetics would posit, B would not have happened without A (with A being negative in the realm of outcomes and occurrences and B being positive). We tell ourselves these stories all the time. But it’s not a matter of one singularity leading to another. It’s multiplicity, with a single person in the […]

I don’t want to hear any more about “fast-paced, high-energy environments.” These job descriptions make the experience sound like being locked in a bucks booth and forced to grab frantically at all the fleeting, flying, maddeningly fluttering cash. Maybe I don’t want your damn cash (I do, at least some of it, but not at […]

Work for a man with no sense of past. Another thought about time last night but I can’t recall. It was a good thought, in another register, not my usual. Anymore, these only come in dreams. Short prose-poetry cuts in and speaks a demanding Dostoevskian poetics of opening. At least as much is revealed through […]

You were in a dream I had last night, in your town, holding the Nouvelle Anthologie Francaise open before you, base of spine on table and probably only pretending to read. A disjunction between flux and stasis and I appeared missing, saying you are life, its disastrous, bewitching persistence, full and despite. You listened, smiled, […]

The Midwest isn’t as charming as many of its inhabitants seem to believe. It’s insular and folksy and nativistic. It’s welcoming to newcomers, so long as they’re willing to incorporate themselves under a mutual disdain for/dependence upon the weather and a vital middleness in nearly all its forms. Placement, outlook, class-identification, cuisine. It looks in, […]

Dream one. At a crowded beach on a warm, sunny day, big puffy white clouds in the sky that eventually overtook the sun, leaving its warmth behind but dimming the glare and gleam. With a few people, trying to decide if we should wait for the sun to return or be on our way. Cars […]

In my first full week of unemployment since, I don’t know, maybe 2010, I applied for roughly 7,000 jobs and realized I should start titling these little dailies. That’s about it. If any of you out there want my résumé, you can’t havé it. Unless, of course, you’d like to cut it up into a […]

Well, I suppose this is the gist of it. Some stuff on weekdays and other stuff on the weekends. And audiences. People who read my weekday stuff may choose to also read my other stuff. Or vice versa. It’s the versa I enjoy, though a little vice can too be nice. The problem with writing […]

The reading list is getting longer and stranger. By “the” I mean “my.” How about a list? Everyone likes lists: The Idiot, Fyodor Known and Strange Things, Teju Cole South of the Border, West of the Sun, Murakami The Complete Fairy Tales, Grimm The Great Enigma, Tomas Tranströmer The Captive Mind, Miłosz Guermantes Way (for […]

It’s good to take a vacation. On a vacation, writing might happen. But I was just away. When you’re away, so is writing. I could blame California, because that’s where I was a few weeks ago. Los Angeles, specifically. I hadn’t been there in years, and never before spent time in downtown LA. I was there […]

Till it all falls away and nothing’s left but a great teeming swarm of perceiving subjects treading holy water somewhere out there between the infinite and the madness in us all, our immortal content. That’s a beginning, he hopes, nodding to nothing, sitting on a city sidewalk bench in a city full of sidewalks and […]

Around two o’clock in the afternoon on a bright and chilly Chicago Thursday, a man in a black wool overcoat, scarf, and leather gloves walks into my bookstore and begins to browse without so much as a hint of acknowledgement that another human being is present. So I, sitting behind the cluttered, lifeworn counter on […]

When the universe says jump, you a) hesitate, b) stumble, c) stand still and wait for it to tell you why, or d) fucking jump. My friend and I were abruptly fired from jobs we disliked with different companies at the same time on the same day. Yesterday, around 10:30 a.m., to be precise. We […]

Since it’s the last day of the current month and we’re on the topic of great ideas on Sunday mornings, let’s flash back to the last day of the previous month. On the morning of Sunday, December 31, 2017 I had a thought as I listened to a Paris Review podcast in bed: I should do podcasts. […]

Today is Tuesday but the other day it was Sunday, and morning. I woke up and said “let’s have some Irish Whisky,” but I spelled it -ey in my head and she didn’t notice. It was about taking back some kind of control. The whiskey, I mean. Like a little ante meridian drunkenness would really […]

This is the first quarter or so of a story I more or less finally finished the other day. It’s mainly about judgment and projections, I think. Of course she’s sweet about it, handing mister plump and dumpy the grey newsboy cap he’d dropped a moment ago from the upper level of the train car […]

My dad was sick and we were trying to get the house ready and a cow got stuck in a tree and we thought we might have to put it down before it died up there and our only help was a young man like a young woman with whom I once worked who couldn’t […]

Maybe one day we’ll meet and neither of us will know what to say for no reason other than. It’ll sound like the weaponization of awkwardness, imagined future meeting imagined present, imagining all those incomplete sentences and overanalyzed gestures, till I go and spoil it with answers (I imagine) because I love to believe and […]

Tomorrow is my birthday. My birthday is tomorrow. Either way, I’ll be older than I am today, just like today I’m older than I was yesterday. They call this logic, yes? Or rhetoric. I haven’t learned much over the years, least of all to worry too much about counting them. There was a time when… […]

A fellow called Chris Knapp in The Paris Review, not me. Maybe I should tweet about it, so we both get some attention. And there again’s that jealousy. But it’s really not, not for talent, at least. No, only for its rewarded absence. In that offense does the injustice lie. This Knapp fellow’s talent isn’t […]

Not long ago I read that prize-pony book by Junot Díaz and found myself feeling a whole heritage I don’t remember and couldn’t possibly, a language of life not my own and yet so infinitely recognizable that I’m using it now as a long way of saying you showed us what kindness and hope and […]

Commiserations in the negative, the mutuality of dissatisfaction and disgust, even anger, if delicate senses of wished-for dignity found offense to take. Storybook characters thinking themselves descended of Caulfield, but to what end? Conclusions are such a funny preoccupation of youth, dawn obsessed with dusk.

Maxine Groffsky talks too much and I hear too little from any of you, but the kettle’s on. In my head one time we made a career of it like Jean-Paul & Simone and everyone had weathervane opinions on the winds of influence but I still only knew either of us like I know her: […]

Let’s perform this procedure and run these tests and hopefully then be done with this. Oh yes, and your heart can go on beating. That’s what the cardiologist said in a dream I had in August, not in real life, but it was nevertheless a relief, albeit late. Camus, in real life, said “You will […]

Made choices not from equilibrium, as sometimes thought, but from crests or troughs. Just a ship at sea. I can’t get over how primitive I feel in even acknowledging that, how human, how dare I. Is it always this way, though, so reactive? I sometimes get sea sick and think it should be spelled -ee […]

Had an idea. I’d play on what “better” means. Mix it up with the categorical imperative of the should, a played-out life theme of troubling externality, but tied to illness—of mind, of heart, the usual. Weary of weariness, that sort of illness, I thought, anxious my abstractions would never get me out of the gate, […]

Nothing is indefectible. The car is clean and it’s raining. I love you but I’m not the only one who has. These are hard things for idealists. Living in a way that’s built up around preconditions for that verysame way of living. Inflexibility as though by right of having chosen “this” path, presuming singularities left […]

Thunderstorms again, and with each flash I count the miles between soul and spirit, closing fast, thinking of what if and what to say. Between you and me, I miss it. How’s that for a start. A start, but will a last act follow before it’s curtains, you ask? Yes, certainly, without a doubt, though […]

The ground again, yesterday, it’s still there, or was, and it’s still hard with these pauses to tell where one step begins and the last one ends, so might as well admit I’m still somewhere on it, the ground, that is, though proud this time (for once?), not so much held down as simply looking, […]

Those two over there, yeah, the table in the corner right there. Before you got here he said: “Are you more of a wine girl or, uh, martinis? I’m not much of a wine guy but I’d maybe go for a pinot grigio.” The waitress has come by their table three times already. Oh, no, […]

The past is nothing to run from or fear. Wholeness, they say, and I think about it. Nothing back there to fly from in fright, nothing apart, nothing to meet with shame or trepidation or run from like a monster threat in knowing silent lurking hot pursuit down a long dark corridor around the corner of […]

This is what Oscar says, and it’ll be in the book. I sometimes wonder if the people in my life exist—if I bring them in—so as to afford me objects from which to hang my arguments and perceptions and narratives. To hang entertainments, really, and to stand around me as mirrors as I try, vainly, […]

Part 4 of 4. It’s finally over. If you want, here’s the rest: part 1, part 2, and, of course, part 3. I don’t much like how this ends but so it goes. He has written a note and left it on the table. The window, now closed and locked, is doing its time-weary best […]

Part 3 of 4. Read part 1 and/or part 2. Or just tell your friends you did. She sits at the small square table by the half-open window, now in his chair, trying to feel his angle, again wearing the white sun dress but now with gray wool leggings below and a crimson cardigan unbuttoned […]

I worked in a suburban office compound building replete with floors and elevators and front deskmen and cube farms and conference rooms and soullessness and on our floor there was a bathroom and in that bathroom there were stalls and in one of those stalls was a chipped floor tile.

Part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here. Or else. She sits in her chair at the same small square table by the same open window, a sultry, hazy sky beyond, air like bath water in both hue and temperature and stillness, air soaked up by the same hills and trees, same curtains, same oxalis, same […]

From chaos and conflict to harmony. See chaos and know the underlying harmony. Connect with it. The path, the way, they say. Maybe it starts with that bad story I wrote a few years ago about a sidewalk encounter, the one I once upon a time shared with my long lost friend in Mexico who […]

This is the first of a four-part storyish kind of thing. Trying something a little new here—well, the story’s old, or the idea for it anyway, but I’m sharing it anew. It is morning, spring, and he sits by the open window at the small, square table covered in a light linen tablecloth with trim […]

This is the story of Francisco—pejoratively called Frankie, unbeknownst to him—the middle-aged, denim-jacketed, long-haired pseudo-revolutionary Executive Director of a small NGO singing songs and playing guitar with his little makeshift band of false rebels, primary among them the incomparable minion Sonya de la Torre on tambourine, the pride and joy princess fresh out of community […]