Slippers

shoes

Flat feet as flat as slippers sitting not standing, following the floor. Edging around the purple velvet of soft shoes for soft people. Voices as quiet as doves.

If lavender had feelings it would feel like my shoes. Weak in the sole and strong in the body. Its issues are no more complicated than the gray sound of white noise. Echoing in between ears, it’s hushed like the ocean. An ocean of static thoughts. I can barely feel their sharper points edging around their themes. Situations. Dire elations. Concepts and provocative cornered conversations. Instead thoughts are soft and round, fuzzy with a calm knowledge that this could continue forever.

Flat feet as flat as slippers, saving not sharing, their voices seep into the carpet. Slippers don’t pronounce the thoughts they think in color. Instead they are darters and martyrs to their uncomplicated shape.

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The Guitar

 L anthony

Photo by L. Anthony and Lance Heard

Sweet swallowing eye lids of coal, why won’t you unstick? Switching memories for dreams, you take me on a ride where objects are particles of brain dust puffed up into imaginary ‘things.’ The kind that people don’t want to look at. An abandoned guitar. A torn out sheet of paper. A photograph too bright from exposure. What things are left burning from memory to sight? When will eye lids lift their vision to the light? I can’t tell what’s there when everything is white. A shine shifts in practice. 

The Tea Cup

tea cup

 With fall weather, the wind blew in a series of landscapers hungry for work during the recession. They roamed neighborhoods all over the country with various tools in hand, hoping for something to do. It was pouring outside and the leaves were glued to the street when I saw him through my kitchen window. He was an elderly black man who walked slowly up the sidewalk with his rake trailing behind him. His shirt was soaked, his pants were soaked and his hair was matted to his head. He looked like a drowned cat. I knew he was walking toward my apartment before he approached the stoop. He had begun his journey around the block, knocking door to door, earlier in the morning. I watched as he spoke briefly to whomever was home. He stood on their stoop for only a few minutes before he was turned away.

He knocked only once before I opened the door.

“Hello, ma’am,” He said. “I was wondering if you needed any yard work done. I just…” he looked up at the sky. Water dripped off orange and red leaves leaving a contagious splatter of gray outside my apartment. “I just started out this morning when the day was clear, but I guess it’s not so clear anymore.”

“Well I don’t know about yard work,” I said. “My landlord talks to someone about it, but if you give me your number I can certainly call him up and see if he needs someone.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “I don’t have a pen on me. Can I come in and use a pen and paper?”

“Sure,” I said opening the door. It was only for a minute and he was soaking wet. I walked back to the kitchen to find my notebook. The warm glow of my lamp lit up the wooden table and yellow floral curtains. A mason jar full of roses sat in the middle of the room. My notebook was not there. “What did I do with it?” I mumbled, going through each one of my cabinets.

The man stood hesitantly in my living room. A low seated love seat lounged just below the window and he looked at it curiously. Mud caked the fake wood floors. “I’m going to take off my shoes,” he said, lowering himself onto the love seat.

How long was he going to stay? I wondered.

I started to say you don’t have to but he had already sat down to untie his laces. I rushed through the living room, still in search of a pad. “I know it’s in here somewhere,” I said.

“Any piece of paper will do,” he said.

“Yes, yes,” I said grabbing an old receipt from the bottom of my purse. “Now I just need to find a pen.”

I hurried back into the kitchen to search the cabinets once again.

“Ma’am,” the man called out.

“Yes?”

“I hate to be a bother, but I’ve been walking around here for all day looking for work and I’m pretty worn out,” the man leaned against the back of the couch, his head resting on the window pane. “I noticed you got a coffee maker there on the table and I was just wondering… would it be okay if I had just a cup of coffee?”

“Well,” I said looking at the almost full pot of coffee. “Sure, let me just grab a cup. I know where those are.”

I reached inside the cabinet for a third time and pulled out a pink, melmac, tea cup. The only clean dish in the kitchen. “Gee – I’m really sorry about this,” I filled the tiny cup up to the brim. “I know this isn’t a very manly cup of coffee, but it’s the only cup I have that’s clean right now.”

The man took one look at the shiny, pink, tea cup with the dainty little handle and raised his eyebrows high up on his forehead. “That’s alright ma’am,” he took a gulp. I heard a hard swallow as he glanced around the room again. The living room looked like fall itself. Painted in muted yellows with orange furniture, it was autumn persevered all year round.

“I’ve just got to find a pen and we’ll be all set,” I hoped by the time I had found the pen he would be done with his coffee.

“Ma’am, you lived here long? You got some nice decorations around here.”

“Oh, not very long I guess,” I said. My purse. My purse had to have a pen in it. Why didn’t I look for a pen when I found that old receipt?

I walked back to the living room and started to rifle through the black leather Coach bag.

“You like art? Pretty lady like you, I bet you like a lot of pretty things. People always tell me to get some art in my house.” The man wandered over to a poster of Roy De Forest and stared, lost in the green jungle of time. “My place isn’t this fancy though.”

My purse was deep with trash. Lighters. Empty cigarette packs. More receipts. Loose dollar bills. Floss. I started to take all the items out, one by one. There had to be a pen in there somewhere.

“Aha” I felt the tip of something sharp and slippery. It was as if the very point of his being was suddenly founded on the tip of something relevant. Pretty soon he would be gone. “I’ve got it.”

But as I turned around, the man was right behind me, taller than I had imagined. He stood just a couple feet away with his arm outstretched. He handed me the tiny, pink, Melmac tea cup, the handle fitting just inside his pinky. The cup was fully drained.

“Ma’am, do you think I could have another?”

 

  • A Word Of Substance is currently accepting submissions of photography. Your photograph must be of an object to be published on the blog. If interested, please submit your photograph and the name in which you’d like to have appear on the blog to: Alicealgood@gmail.com

 

The Book

mrs bridge

The book, Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell sat half over turned on Alice’s blue flannel comforter. It was her favorite book. Although she had read it several times before, every so often when she was feeling nostalgic, she would pick it up again only to be delighted by the friends sentences could make. The book was about a quiet desperation that a wife/mother felt during the fifties and sixties. Although the book had a limited vocabulary and was written in chapters no more than a page or two, it was still the most profound book she had ever read.

So when she went to a party one night and found herself talking to man in black dress pants and a button down shirt, she was pleasantly surprised that he should ask her what her favorite book was.

“I personally like Hemingway, myself,” He said with an air of sophistication. “I tried to get into Camus when I was in college, but just couldn’t bare The Stranger. One needs more than just existentialism.” Alice couldn’t help but notice his button down had the distinct logo of a horse and jockey riding across his chest.

Alice nodded her head. “Yes, certainly,” she said, trying to remember what Hemingway wrote. Her father had mentioned that Hemingway had written something about traveling, but where she couldn’t quite remember.

“I’m so glad you agree. The beatniks didn’t so much write as type. But someone’s already said that,” he chuckled.

Not knowing exactly what the man meant, she smiled and fumbled for her glass of water.

“So, if you don’t like the existentialists, what do you like to read?” His persistence suddenly irked her.

She thought of the memoirs she often read involving mostly women with hard childhoods and the clever ability to survive at all costs. Somehow this didn’t seem as literary as Hemingway. She thought of the books in high school that she was expected to read. Of Mice And Men was her favorite, but high school seemed like such a long time ago and she wondered if he would think her square for mentioning a required read. Then she thought of Mrs. Bridge.

Surely he wouldn’t know Evan S. Connell and in fact, his book was already out of print. Even if he did search the corners of Barnes and Noble, he still might not be able to find it. Perhaps she could seem more worldly with a look of surprise when he announced he did not know Evan Connell. Oh, really? You haven’t heard of him? She pictured herself touching the chain necklace just above her collarbone. An air of mystery would surround her.

But then again, what if he did know the book? What if he, or more likely a roommate or a friend of his, had read the book and he found even the mention of it boring. What could a piece of writing devoted to the simple tasks of staying at home possibly offer to this man?

“Well,” Alice finally said, fingering her chain necklace. “There’s so many, I’d have to get back to you on that. But yes, Hemingway is quite good. Have you been to Europe?”

Neon Light

light

The hum of light is so steady that it’s hard to hear the vibrations. You can only feel them. Ricocheting off every illuminated presence in the room; this place is electric. Hard white and fast, the blinking is that of a scared mouse. It’s as if it doesn’t want to miss a thing, yet it’s always dodging in between open and closed. If I stare hard enough, I can see the light shaking. Quaking. With it’s indecisiveness to stay in two places at once. Like all things that flicker, it can only hit so hard before it’s all shot to shard.

Broken pieces of vision stream throughout the store front window, creeping under doorways. Slide to slot, they dodge the shock. Of electricity that sparks up when there’s too much darting. It skitters past the sidewalk landing square on a red tiled floor. It sinks at last. Darkly frank with a mind that is now made up. It seeps into the color like the red of roses ripping. Seemlessly. Cut together until it fits perfectly.

The colors come alive. 

The Bird Cage

cage

The bird cage is elegant in its prison walls. With golden skinny bars, they stand appropriately distant from one another. As if by standing too close, they might melt together, barring any freedom that might be seen from inside. It’s the freedom seen from inside that turns deadly. If cages were walls then dreams would be thoughts and thoughts alone don’t pine for distance.

They are gold because they are beautiful. Rich in their perfection, they hang balanced between space. The kind of space that feels good initially, but turns all consuming. Attractive in its attachment, they hold firm to their values.

And what kind of values does a cage begin to have? When it is born, it is soft – its metal not fully formed. Molded into straight lines of force, it becomes rigid with age. Like fancy leather couches with matching dark blue ottomans, at first you feel comfortable. The soft approachability of something quietly waiting entices and when you sink deep into the furniture, you feel its arms wrapped around you. Its only when you stand up and realize that nothing is as comfortable, that you start to feel the pain of freedom. The air stings with emptiness and soon you are left facing the cage. This time from the outside – You beg to be let back in.

  • A Word Of Substance is currently accepting submissions of photography. Your photograph must be of an object to be published on the blog. If interested, please submit your photograph and the name in which you’d like to have appear on the blog to: Alicealgood@gmail.com