I Have a Box by Joe Kapitan

April 9, 2012 Comments Off on I Have a Box by Joe Kapitan

I have a box.

I have a box that smells like surrender. My box that smells like surrender tries to shield me from the worst mornings of the world. I have a box that goes limp with humidity and years, and its corners weep when we’re stuck with each other on rainy days.

I have many friends without boxes. Boxes to them are coffins, to be filled with lead ingots, filled with rusted years. They say the rain on their heads does not bother them. Their foreheads burn in summer. They live in transit between moments because it is all they know. They know nothing of saving. They have nothing to gather their moments in anyway. No box.

My box can hold memories because it holds nothing else, nothing small and precious, the only thing it ever wanted. Here is a memory: I woke one morning and saw a tiny egg in the corner of my box. I stared in wonder. I covered it with dry leaves that the winter wind left me. My box was happy. I tried to be. I considered the egg. Eggshells are walls for things that want no part of being walled. I thought about a thing that would not want to be contained, and what it would think of my box, and what it would want from me. Things from eggs are things that grow and things that want. I left my box, and let the rain strike me for a while. When I returned, the egg was gone, and my box’s corners wet.

Here is another memory: many people gathered, and a preacher is giving us our motto, the one we recite on silent Sundays, the one about times of better and worse, and it comforts me, reminds me that if the better ever comes, I have someone else to witness it, and the worse, when it happens, is of little concern because, for now, I am not alone. I have you. I tell you this, and I say I’m sorry about the egg, and I watch your corners weep.

© 2012 Joe Kapitan

Joe Kapitan wanders northern Ohio. He works often, writes sometimes, is published occasionally in places like elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, Emprise Review and Annalemma.

Afternoon Recess, Rendered in Birds by Joe Kapitan

September 15, 2011 Comments Off on Afternoon Recess, Rendered in Birds by Joe Kapitan

Sparrows in puddles, kicking water. Laughing, lobbing music at each other like manic wind chimes.

Peacock leans against the monkey bars, preening into a compact. Why has no one told her she has dark roots?

Vulture spirals in place, genetically drawn to the wavelengths of wind chimes.

Some Sparrows crowd the one with the Oreos, scattering wrapper and crumbs.

Peacock checks her cell phone for messages.

Vulture lifts his scope. He can almost make out the ingredients on the wrapper.

Sparrows swing, or dig in the sandbox. One bullies, another cries in pain, some feathers have been lost in the process. Soft, downy, intimate ones.

Peacock wishes he would call her. Or at least text. At least that.

Vulture sips a Red Bull and waits. Vulture has perfected waiting.

The bullied Sparrow hides himself in the tire stacks to avoid his attacker, who wanders off to join a kickball game already in progress.

Peacock decides that if he does call again, she’ll put out next time, just like her best friend does, the one with the busier cell phone.

Vulture’s maroon Chevy Cavalier is parked exactly five hundred and one feet away from the Sparrows. That distance is legally significant.

There goes the bell that calls the Sparrows, but one, back to their cage. They are altogether dirty and loud, ill-positioned for quiet time.

Peacock follows the Sparrows, thanking a god it’s Friday. She resents them. They are filthy and carefree, which reminds her of Kevin, who reminds her of college, which reminds her of those wings she forgot back at the sorority house.

Vulture, in contrast, never forgets anything. He can describe to you the plumage of the one that’s still hiding in the tires. Vulture eases the car seat back and rehearses the lines he uses on wounded Sparrows.

© 2011 Joe Kapitan

Joe Kapitan wanders northern Ohio. He works often, writes sometimes, is published occasionally in places like elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, Emprise Review and Annalemma.

Frankenstein, Laguna Beach, and Dusk by Joe Kapitan

June 6, 2011 Comments Off on Frankenstein, Laguna Beach, and Dusk by Joe Kapitan

I.
From the deserted guard stand, the setting sun is the bald head of an overweight suburbanite, red-faced from struggling, about to go under for the final time. Frankenstein drops his Ray-Bans down onto the tip of his nose so he can drink it in. Fuck you, he thinks out loud, to no-one and everyone, serves you right for going out so far, so stupid, like that kid of yours. Your lost boy, stumbling over sunbathers, crying like a pussy, and I go help him find your obese, sunburned ass in the crowd. Remember? And then you start with the “Get the hell away from him, freak”? I should know better by now. I should just sit back and watch, like this here. So relax, fat man, take a big mouthful. Go ahead. Serves you right.

II.
He stalks the upper reaches of the beach, between the dune ridge and the access road, scanning the parked cars for any sign of movement. When he finds one, away from the wash of the streetlights, he sits in the dune grass just below it, stitched forehead resting on the front bumper, and listens. The teenagers inside are going at it, all mouths and hands and clumsy pullings at stubborn undergarments, but it’s not about skin to him. In fact, it’s not a visual thing at all, it’s the sounds. Those sounds – to be so moist and vulnerable, to trust someone wrist-deep, a fistful of your entrails in their trembling fingers.

III.
Near the waterline lies the sandcastle that the tourist family made, and the stomped, gaping hole in its battlements courtesy of the local surfpunks. It’s a brutal, foolish assemblage of remnants – seashells, driftwood, empty soda cans. He lays on his back, his body in the opening, head right where the coppertoned children swarmed hours before. The evening tide finds the breach, and the cool surf spills into the keep, to neck-bolt-high, then retreats laden with sand, but the kiss of erosion is lost against his deadened nerves. Nearby, in shallow tidal pools, silvered fish writhe, gasping, pointless. Frankenstein imagines for a moment that the rising moon is the pale head of the fat drowned suburbanite, bent on revenge, ready to drag him down to the depths and dismantle his unholy frame part by putrid part, but he knows better, and the moment passes. Frankenstein is well aware that God hates him too much to ever let that happen.

© 2011 Joe Kapitan

Joe Kapitan wanders northern Ohio. He works often, writes sometimes, is published occasionally in places like elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, Emprise Review and Annalemma.

Blueprint for a Blind Date by Joe Kapitan

May 19, 2011 Comments Off on Blueprint for a Blind Date by Joe Kapitan

Find a worn Italian restaurant, from your parents’ era, a back-corner table where you can have a little privacy, and then bring It. The Silence. All you can muster, and watch what she does with it. She may try to crush the life out of it with tales of successful Manhattan designer-shoe-safaris, tragic social media accidents, lists of failings belonging to boyfriends past that veer perilously close to lists you’ve heard from girlfriends past. You’ll forget her easily. Or she could surprise you, with her own nothing. If so, you’ll stare at each other until the discomfort manifests as a ball of featureless meat on the table in front of you. Go ahead, pull off a piece and chew on it, friend, because if you have that second date, and then maybe a third, there’s bound to be many quiet moments coming, and you might as well know ahead of time what they’re going to taste like, so you can already be thinking white or red.

You know everyone will ask you tomorrow about Chemistry and Spark, so do this: leave the restaurant and head for a busy sidewalk, like the ones in the theater district. Grab a young woman, a stranger, and pull her into an alley with you both. Push the stranger up against a brick wall and make unilateral introductions with your hydraulic mouth and piston hands. Now freeze! Hands down. She’ll run. Let the stranger run – you need to concentrate. Who’s in your mind at that exact moment: the date, or the stranger? Listen up, this is crucial. If the stranger, the experiment is over. Cough up some excuse and go home the back way. If the date, tell her so. Tell her you’d very much like to see her again, and tell her she can be the stranger next time, if she wants.

© 2011 Joe Kapitan

Joe Kapitan wanders northern Ohio. He works often, writes sometimes, is published occasionally in places like elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, Emprise Review and Annalemma.

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