When we walked in here the sun was still in the sky, but now it has fallen, or maybe retreated behind the roof above us, the smoke and sand, too.¬†And you at my side with your arm outstretched, your longest finger tip an inch away from my pinkie, but with this board on me I’ll never move to reach.

When they told us the sky would fall, I didn’t believe it. Photographs lie, maybe, the meteorites made bigger by perspective. Did they hear my doubt? Come crashing from above into our barn, one meteorite, making what we do from here a lot easier.

If I had believed in this tragedy, it might have brought us together. Arms clasped around each other in fear, tension becoming huddled fear. What is infidelity at the site of cosmic annihilation? Nothing, nothing, a slip of the phallus just, in this larger scale, barely. Her and I being the same, when you put it that way (which you might have anyway). The roof’s wood has splintered into my side, and it hurts enough to make me feel forgiving.

But for you, something different. Heavy weighing on you, the meteorite itself. When you told me about her, you kept your lips straight, your eyes like a teacher’s educating me. This is how men work, this is how your life will be, and I couldn’t help but stay calm. Only small tears found their way down my cheek, and only my stomach rebelled, contracting and opening, tides of acidic protest; scraping myself against stone. Slow, reserved, accepting. Ready to enter, with you, the voided partnership we might tread from now. No tenderness, but sparse utility.

When I was ten I imagined dying for the first time. Mom told me Grandma was gone, would never come back. Died, a word I’d heard but never understood. Grandma had pressed so hard against herself she’d simply stopped being, like a marshmallow squeezed flat between your palms. And as all of her being collapsed into one point, an explosion of good. Memories and triumphs, we all have them, I think, exploding into fragments for the benefit of the living. But my death is just a collapse without a spring, and I can’t see anything beyond my pinkie anymore.

Black fading.



The Punisher’s been sweeping lately.

I don’t know his real name, but we call him that because he’s always pacing, hard fist grinding into open palm, huffing to himself. He always wears an unlabeled black basketball jersey with sagging black sweatpants, though sometimes when its sticky he goes shirtless. From the iron-railed porch where he perches two yards above the sidewalk, he see everything in his neighborhood, bright and dim. In neighborhoods like this, you’ll find blocks with both a safe end and a rough one. The Punisher is just barely on the bad side, his dismal house looking like the cheery development a few yards away sucked all of the life out of his place.

People come in pairs to visit him. They park across the street, look nervously at each other, and one usually asks if the other is sure they have the right place. The Punisher’s business is the kind you don’t advertise with a sign outside your front door.

Every day this week, I’ve seen him sweeping the sidewalks of his street. There are no leaves to be pushed away; They haven’t even fallen yet. But you can hear his broom’s straws rasping against concrete from a block away, amplified by a row of homes that are all brick wall and tarred yards.

I’ve created a character known for his elaborate and beautiful smoking glassware. As his story takes place in Somerville, I thought I’d compare his work to the glass flowers at Harvard’s Natural History Museum. Some visual inspiration:
2008-03-22 03-23 Boston 176 Cambridge, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Glass Flowers of Leopold & Rudolph Blaschka
Glass Flowers: Matilija Poppy
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Glass Flowers: Ficus Carica (Fig Tree!)

Of course, I also wanted to study actual smoke architects.

Eric Doeringer stood out.

Untitled (Purple)

Mixed Media, 36 x 18 x 18″, 2002.

“Untitled (Purple) is both a gravity bong and illuminated fountain. When the user pulls up on the bowl, water drains out of the top of the fountain, sucking air (or smoke if the bowl is lit) into a large chamber. When the bowl is lowered, water begins to fill the chamber again, forcing the smoke out through the mouthpiece at the bottom of the fountain.”