james grinwis



It was as if the industrial-strength, self-actualization item was genetically equipped
with binocular vision to scorch through the proverbial truth of our souls. It was meant
to discern flaws of humanity, their illusive shapes. “Kelly,” it might register one
morning, “yeah, seems real nice, but really...” Nobody messed with the item. It had to be
that way. Something had to do the job: take Stu, he’d just wounded his 30th girlfriend,
and Lila, she’d just insulted her 95th innocent pedestrian. Where does one fit in this
quiet imbroglio... Looking hard and back can be terrifying. A seriously beautiful thing
or a seriously deadening one. You will understand when you fall under the rainy
headlights of this item’s scanning device. “Am I really so bad?” you will ask the gray
evening and the answer arrowing back will always be “yes.” I should have this impulse, to
check me. I poked around the field of paper clips and found an unusually shaped
paperclip,  whose material worth seemed not of this earth.


Rain on brick. Sideroom sex. Glowing pigweed. Rorschach animal, roasting oblivion, tangy
bits. One for the camel one for the shrew. Blank item. Heavy blankness. Fisher nodding in
tripe. Fragrant maw. Deep stroke bird girl. Salad girl devouring raw bar. Twisting the
paperclip of beyond. Stubby hubby. Rubbed by pests all day. Breakfast tart. Spark tree.
Odd noise of the tired things. Your noise. Mine.


In terms of up and down the market item. Picture of smiling chocolatier. Three trombones
leaning against diaper changing station. A paralyzed mood snuck into the compound where
starfish were fried. Another space where molds were being injected with Technicolor dyes.
It was August. Steam stretched out of the paragraphs in the typography manual, forced its
way under the lids of the tired fenugreek merchants and the editors of espionage novels,
and condensed beautifully in the magnificent cleavages of the mezzo sopranos, busy
strolling furtively through the stacks of reptile terrariums. As the afternoon stretched
like a dead squid strewn across greasy linoleum, the messengers began blowing through
their rams horns, summoning the extinguishers from their lairs.


I have turned to the finished item on the desk and admired its tightness. I have adjusted
the straps on the ceiling and turned the spigot in the converter for the spray to wash
down onto the pods of developing items. Small sailboat mechanisms coated the floor and
the improvement manuals were turned to their chapters on Jung. Still, the insulin
research held thickly about the room like a slow mold, and the cavortings of the
squirrelly inoculation assistants above me seemed a bit disjointed. Where was I going
with my life? Where was the lair of good language? The snap of meandering imagery outside the porthole kept their secrets close and offered no glimpse of their treasures.


There is a small mammoth nibbling on cedar chips near the cedar chipping facility, which
faces the west from its perch in the rush mountains, and a fish sauce odor courses
through the breeze in search of good fishes to adorn and make savory. An inkling of a
moan. Windows cracking open all by themselves, shadows pausing to watch them shut and
when they do,   tremendous inflammations of the ear. There, in the physician’s basement,
a ceramic jar on a tripod of springs with oscillating mood recognition lenses that click:
‘what is one to do, what is one to make of the moon which we never see and pours out
light only when we sleep.’


The crumble list. When the friend starts punching. When the spouse goes off to play games
and does not come home until days after your work is done. When you begin drifting off at
points of pressure during the day. The dog is  happy to see you.  The news bulletins
shriek, trapped inside you. When your level of esteem shrinks to a prune-sized scrap.
When you are a tiny mirage. A tiny mirage inside a monstrous one. An insignificant item
with the tiny mirage stuck inside. I am amorphous. When the day is a prehistoric lizard
snapping the thunder into shafts of ore. When the lizard sprouts tufts of feathers and
squaks around a foamy pool. When sadness is no longer a lizard but a wasp whose stingers
are all ripped out. When the tympanogram is off the scale and falling.  Suprasegmental.
Egocentric. When you’re hanging from a lampost by a thin thread. When a throat rimmed
with prickly vines opens up its glottal stop.

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james grinwis' work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bird Dog, Quarterly West, and Mississippi Review. 




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