The Brush



“You’re so beautiful.” And the brush was good. 

When the brush was tiny, a comb with sharp teeth, he snagged against thick tangles in the morning. Large women with curls like a slinky proved the comb was not strong enough to fit. He pulled and he clawed, but he ripped at the root. He snarled until the women all screamed.

He was a small plastic comb that looked sharp, but was flimsy. With too much stress, the comb would snap, so he hid in the hair of many. Maybe she’ll forget about me, the comb started to hope as he buried himself further toward her scalp. 

The further he tried to disappear, the harder the women yanked. Stuck and clingy, he had nowhere to go. He bared his teeth again. 

“This is useless!” One woman shouted early before dawn. Her hair, heavy and wet, was too much for the comb to handle. With one jerk of her bangled wrist, the snarls of teeth and hair broke free. The comb was no longer. The mornings were bad.

In its place, several days later, the comb morphed into its softness. He had bristles like horse hair. His body was a spoon. No longer were there hard edged teeth and the small compact frame of something rigid. Instead, he embraced the shine that all women want. And there was evening, and there was morning. And it was good. 

The Pain Reliever


The Pain Reliever:  Expectation vs. Reality


Will relieve pain. All pain.

Heartbreak from immature brat who found someone better. Bruised pride from begging brother for other half of rent money. Soreness from best friend who ‘forgot’ to lend me moving truck. Twisted arm from agreeing to live with other friend in roach infested apartment. Throbbing headache from hearing her complain about vintage Beastie Boys CDs that are not played too loudly. Burned by the desire we share every Tuesday in the laundry room. Burned because she’s friends with the brat who found someone better. A pain in the neck from explaining she’s not really a brat. Stiffed on the rent money when she, too, moves out.


Limber enough to move on.


The Prayer Flag



I have a confession to make. I heard everything you were saying that night on the porch. In the alley. On the beach.

I hear them all. All the time. I hear them even when you’re fine.

Somebody wants a boyfriend for the 8th grade dinner dance. Someone wants a raise. I know the man who cheated on his wife and I know his remorseful ways.

I heard the child in the bathroom stall, pleading the school would fall down

and I heard the teacher in the other room, wishing they’d all drown.

I have to pick wisely, I keep telling you all. At the right time for the right cause, I answer the right call.

Like the woman in the hospital who really might have died

or when a man was almost jailed because of someone else’s lie.

But I have to tell you everything because without it I won’t make sense.

I lost my ears in a city park. The world became too tense.


The Cap



Put a lid on it.

Everybody says it. Someone’s popping off at the mouth and all of the sudden, it’s my problem. It’s up to me to find the solution because God knows nothing else will stop this catastrophe from bubbling over. The problem with this theory, of course, is that the explosion still happens.

Nobody ever really chooses the bottle. They think it will give them something to do – make them feel like they have a purpose, or that it doesn’t matter if they don’t. Either way, it’s a second solution when the first is out of reach.

I met this bottle in a wood paneled convenient store that was made to look like a country store. By that, I mean they had the wood shelving and weird stamp books, but they also had stuff like Mineral Water for $4.39 a bottle. It’s a place where rich people can spend money to feel poor. Although the mineral water bottle seemed exotic enough in the moment, they’re all the same.

“Where are you going?” It was like the thing would never leave me alone. No matter where I went, it followed. “Don’t go to lunch without me!” The pleas were incessant.

I wanted freedom. I could go anywhere just as long as I could find a pair of pants loose enough to sneak into.

This apparently was not an option. “You can’t leave me.” I was halfway out of the kitchen when I heard it.

“I have to go. I can’t sit around all day and do nothing.”

“You can’t leave me!” It was the same thing over and over and over again.

“I’m really sorry. You’ll find another,” I said. “I promise.”

But as soon as I rolled on, a terrible avalanche of fizz built up against the bottle. The sound of carbonated thunder roared down the counter and through the house.

“Jesus.” Even as I said it, I knew I’d never be heard.

It was too late. A million tiny bubbles packed their way against the glass, threatening to break everything solid. Its pop and fizz hissed and the whirlwind of water that once seemed magically alive was now an angry force I hardly recognized.

I looked longingly for the door, but it was too far away. It wasn’t my problem. It wasn’t my idea. “Just contain yourself,” I said.


Three weeks later, I saw the bottle again. I was in a little cafe staring hopelessly into a bottle of wine, when I happened to glance over to the table next to me. Elegantly poised and completely at home, the bottle was capped by another.



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The Office Plant


Missed Connection

To: Plastic Mini Plant

Location: The Office


You: Firmly planted on the windowsill. Smooth as a Las Vegas card shark on a Tuesday afternoon.

I pass by your window every day on my way to the library. I love your low maintenance style.   I feel like you could fit in at a Walmart as well as an upscale boutique. Nothing gets you down because you are straight up chill. Doesn’t matter if it’s spring or winter, you always light up my day.

Don’t listen to people who say you’re cold. Being sterile and clean is a good thing. You’re not like some kind of clingy fungus. You’re the most independent beauty I’ve ever seen.

I know people call you fake, but you are as real to me as my love for you.

– Always Phresh

The Ink


I opened up a book and the words fell out. It was cold and windy and from a storefront reflection, I could see the surprised look on my face. Inky fine print flew from the page. Jumbled. Tossed. It mixed together like salad.

I tried to gather them as fast as I could. Their shape, their letters, their voice was too slippery. Wet rubbery ink littered the streets with sayings. Their sentences bounced against the ears of pedestrians.

“Love I’m sorry lost stopwatch.” I tried to make sense of a stray sentence down the block, but the words had become tangled. Their letters were loose and their punctuation was damned. I squinted, but their meaning was lost.

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Dollars and Scents


Photograph by Jennifer Anable

The scent of old copper rinsed from a boiling pot steams heavy. I can smell the stale cheapness in and out of my jackets, jeans and hair. Like smoke tangled in hair spray there is a stickiness that feels trivial traveling with me. Every thought is a penny and means next to nothing.

How did these walls get here?

Why did I paint them red?

Why aren’t there more colors?

Only they aren’t nothing. They’re light in size and over-cooked by vision. Brownish orange cents line my purse until there are pounds worth of thought. There are too many to count. Pennies with purse lint. Pennies with gum. Pennies stuck to receipts of places I can’t remember.

I threw them into the pot of boiling water until I heard them hiss with a sparkling cleanliness. The warm metallic thoughts now stick to the bottom turning to a gold-like substance. Like butter they were almost edible, but eating a vision isn’t like swallowing money. There is no richness in old thoughts, just a rusty flavor that feels more expensive than I remember.

The Buildings


We used to be the tallest buildings in the city. Like the pack of true architecture that we belonged to, we stood together in a crowd. There were times when we wanted to look apart and there were buildings that were destined to stand apart. One of the dark buildings wore a pointed hat one day and soon after, his closest friends wore one too. A building just a block down started to wear a hat, but he looked terribly out of place trying to fit in with the three selected Best Buildings on the street. I stand next to them and I can feel their presence still looming over top of me. I am painted in white with hollow eyes and no curtains. When I look down, the street looks different now that the glass has taken over.

The glass started in the eighties, but once it appeared it never left. Giant structures made almost entirely of mirrors stood taller than we could ever hope to aspire to. They pushed the roads out and demanded that more people fill the streets. While I was never part of the hat wearing club, I had belonged to a part of the city that was elite in its own right. We ruled the popular streets and could watch as our citizens did their shopping. They bought from us what they needed and when they were finished, they settled in, making a home out of our personality and decorating us with their creature comforts.

Now those people have moved. No longer do the women in short trimmed skirts with matching blazers strut our streets in the early mornings. The business men with their brief cases and polished shoes have abandoned us. They have gone to the bigger structures. The glass castles in the sky have topped our hats farther than we could ever see.

“I wish you’d move over,” I said to the square building next to me.

“But then I’d be too close to The Hats,” the beige building said.

“They’re not so great anymore anyway. They can’t tell us where to lean,”

The beige building thought for a moment, daring to lean closer to the buildings with once so much prestige. “I can’t do it,” he finally said. “They will never move.”

The Coat


I wanted him to like me so I made sure I was the right type. With a designer label and a shade of darkness, I could fit anyone’s style.

I was bought at a thrift shop by a man who was too big. Although he wasn’t as young or as handsome as the man before him, he had a nice smile and strong hands. His arms were longer than mine and when he stepped inside me, he didn’t feel right. Instead, he was constantly rolling up my sleeves to hide my short comings and leaving me hung open so that he would not bulge against my buttons.

When people asked him where he found me, he would say ‘Brooks Brothers’ instead of Threads Unlimited and for awhile I took that as a compliment.  No one needed to know about my divorce from the previous man who had owned me once with pride only to drop me for something more trendy.

Our relationship was fraught with the need to fit in verses the need to fit. When he went to work, he promptly shoved me in the closet, not wanting people to know I didn’t size up. If I wasn’t waiting in a hallway somewhere, I was slouched in a chair, quietly wondering when he would come back.

Although we aren’t perfect, I know that this is just business. Come date night, I’m the first he will choose.