in the morning
the sky is colored by a lead pencil.
I stand on the porch
reading Kafka. last week it was Hamsun.
I read the same books over and over
there is a well-worn maze tread behind me.
the definition of insanity is naturally
doing the same thing
over and over.
standing there in torn pajama pants
and a white hanes t-shirt
barefoot with the book held up
when a battered green pick-up truck rolls past.
two workers slouch inside
with cigarettes shoved in their faces.
both stare at me there in rumpled sleep attire.
I acknowledge them with a little wave.
they do nothing
just look at me with cigarettes burning
as the dented green truck grumbles
down the street.
they turn the corner and are gone.
I am suddenly self-conscious.
maybe it has
something to do with Kafka.
or the fact I am not
a good fit in this small town
or for that matter
twelve years younger
than him. he had no idea why
he was going out
with an eighteen year old girl.
he liked the way sunlight played
on her naked body
as she went from bed to bathroom.
now she told him
she didn’t want to see him anymore.
she said she was in love with her cousin
and had signed up for the reserve.
he didn’t take it well. he went down the icy road
at seventy miles per hour
screaming angry incrimination
about betrayal and lesbianism when
he hit a patch of black ice
and the car
spun around and around
out of control
and headed for a ditch. things like this
usually unfold in slow motion. this gave him enough
time to think and examine regret.
he never found a wife
or had children. the coffin would be
the discount white cross
prayer antique model
with a white velvet interior
and a french fold design. she wouldn’t
make it to the
my wife’s brother
rips a page from a mead notebook
and with a blue pen
begins playing hangman. it’s a silly word game
we all played as kids. this makes me think
of the time one boyhood friend nearly
hung another friend
from my father’s basketball hoop.
he took a clothesline from the garage and made
a real neat noose with a jack ketch knot.
he told the other kid
you rustled some cattle like in them old cowboy movies
and they came to hang you.
he said with a crooked smile.
he threw the rope over the basketball hoop
then up-ended a garbage can
and said get up there like it’s the gallows.
like in the movies. and the
other kid who was pushed around
a lot by his older brother
climbed up on the up-ended garbage can
and slipped the noose around his neck
as told. the hangman kid then kicked the can
out from under
and my other friend was then pitching
back and forth like a terrible pendulum
his face going red
a silent scream unable to reach his mouth
and then the basketball hoop bent down
and his feet were on the ground. that hangman
neighbor kid was a crazy son of a bitch. a few years later
he overdosed on downers. I think about
this as my brother in law smiles. guess what this
word is he says
drawing another part on the hanged man.
guess the word and I say
KURT NIMMO born in Detroit, Michigan. In the late '70s, he co-edited the successful literary magazine, The Smudge. In the '80s, he edited Planet Detroit. Kurt has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes for fiction, and two of his books were selected as "modern classics" by the Wormwood Review. He lives in Texas with his wife and two cats.