I’m downstairs.
She’s upstairs, where I left my phone.

Through the floorboards, I hear her say,

I go up.
The TV is on. The wheel is spinning.

The middle contestant has long,
curly brown hair. It resemblers hers.

Her uncle called her mom.
Told her to put on the Wheel.

‘She looks like you when you were younger,’
he tells his sister.

My wife’s mom called, told her to put on the Wheel.
She said, ‘She looks more like you.’

There are similarities for sure, but
the contestant’s mannerisms are off.

We watch a few rounds…

M picked me up from work. She brought a picnic dinner but we had to wait to eat it. Her friends were meeting us. First here. Then we were driving to their new place in Vernonia in two cars. But they weren’t there yet and M hadn’t heard from them.

So we walked around the warehouse. I showed her things. She saw someone she knew and talked to him for a bit before we circled back to the car. Her phone rang. Her friends were close by. …

The zipper on my sleeping bag is stuck but it’s not my sleeping bag and it’s not stuck. I seem to be establishing an unreliable narrator.

From the top of the closet, I retrieve this sleeping bag that was left with me by mistake, and, pretty darn quick, I examine the zipper.

Said zipper was misaligned—I hate that I used said. It was caught on a strip of material parallel to the zipper of the sleeping bag that I borrowed and never returned.

The very person who is good at zippers that get stuck is the same person that goes…

Up ahead is a man on the sidewalk. He’s checking the bushes with a flashlight. I approach with my dog on a leash and at a close distance.

Irish Setter, he says.

No way, I say, she’s a mutt.

He flashes a clipboard and says he’s trying to get out the vote.

My five-year-old pup jumps.

Not to worry, he says, dogs love me. All dogs. I was a mailman until the accident.

He doesn’t get into it and I don’t ask what kind of accident. I want him to get out the vote.

What are you campaigning for? …

We stop in Alpine, Arizona
to switch drivers,
get a bite to eat,
and so I can pee.

In Flagstaff,
we see S
and a very pregnant O.
E has a lot to say about
bugs, dinosaurs.
He counts up, skipping
digits and plays a few
chords for us on the piano.
We eat pizza, cupcakes,
eggs and strawberries.
S makes me coffee
but won’t touch the stuff —
his stomach’s acting up.

The farmer introduces us to his goats.
Two have the same mother
and two have the same father.
He tells us their names, they all begin with A.
I forget them…

Little boy with a helmet at a playground on his bike
Little boy with a helmet at a playground on his bike

The boy on a bike is looking at me from a distance. He has a little helmet on because he’s a little cautious. I turn and walk out of site, around the big pavilion between us. Then I see his dad.

Dad looks at me then up the hill to the boy. Ready, Set, Go! He says, encouragingly. I keep my eyes trained on the scene. I’m anticipating what will happen next.

The boy comes quick, pedaling hard toward Dad. He turns right before him onto the basketball court. I turn away and hear laughing, HAAHAHAHAHAA. Dad loves this.

I follow my head home. It’s cold and I’m by myself. The first line of a short story could be, “Do you think you would’ve been a good dad?”

We share mealtimes: breakfasts, dinners, desserts for sure. Saturdays and Sundays are days we eat together. Burritos, baseball and the BBC, baby. The world walks by our window. We take evening walks. Around the block, we talk and don’t talk at all.

We fall asleep side by side, and get up sometimes at the same time. Daily, this happens until it doesn’t. You planned and took a trip without me. Which is good. I’m fine. I can make food. Some things will turn out wonderful, but I won’t be able to re-create them.

I play-all episodes of a DVD I…

I woke up before you and got up after you to make us oatmeal while you were in the shower and got dressed. Then I went on a trip to see my parents. We were apart for a week and a day before I returned. It’s awkward, the same as when you left…we’re stuck… in a rut, you said. Some things have to change. So you gave up oatmeal. And now I don’t make us breakfast.

I’m sorry that I didn’t text you sorry for pocket-dialing you. I figured you knew who and why and what was happening. I’ll talk to you later and maybe mention it. But maybe not. Maybe we’ll never speak of the missed connection that was between you and my fumbling fingers.

I’m at Reynolds Optical replacing my glasses when I start thinking about why I need glasses in the first place. A long time ago I was hit in the eye with a stick. Now, I’m remembering about what happened, about who struck me, where he is, and if he remembers me.

In the summer of 1989, on the first full day of Camp Chimney Spring I hiked into the woods with a group of boys I befriended at breakfast. We wandered along a road and explored down a ravine. One of us started throwing pinecones. The next thing: sides were…

Inept poet

New Mexican Portlander

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