52|250's Third Quarter Review

Week #28 – The postcard

Vienna postcard|Coffee mug coaster by Cecelia Ronald
You are Here by Martin Brick 

Kyle Morton, D.D.S., sorts through his postcards, the ones sent as reminders of upcoming appointments. There are cartoon smiles, kittens, and beach scenes. Usually his receptionist takes care of this, but he wants to be sure that Karen Blau, wife, mother of two, part-time florist, gets the proper card. She’s always been nervous. When she first came to him it’d been seven years without dental work. Her mouth was a mess. Dr. Morton spoke just above a whisper: “we can fix this.”

When she receives the card, a New England autumn, she interprets it as their destination, and wears a tight but tasteful wool sweater. She’s fidgeting with her wedding band when he enters the room, but his voice defuses the nerves. He places his hand on her shoulder (never does for other patients). Asks about the kids.

She hates the novocaine the most. It takes an unreasonable amount of time. The needle’s in for a full minute. Why? Her eyes are closed and Dr. Morton notices the tensed muscles. He places his hand on her knee, maybe a little higher, but nothing blatant. He asks, “I love apple picking in the fall, don’t you?”

She can’t answer of course, the needle in her jaw, but she thinks of the postcard, a B&B, the smell of woodsmoke, all those clichés. The muscles on the working-side of her face produce a lopsided smile. Reaching for the drill, he pauses to examine his hands. People dread those hands, but not Karen.

Postcards by Stephen Hastings-King 

After my father died, I went to his house for the first and only time. It was a network of trails through sprung organizations. Illness had pulverized his collections. Everything was covered in dust.

When I knew him, he collected and cataloged. He kept their organizations in his memory. He knew where everything was. Later, he filled notebooks with networks of colors and numbers and lists. Then time and age turned his maps into fragments.

I thought that his books would lead me to the boxes that contained the remaining fragments of my childhood. I wanted to find them.

When I arrived, my siblings lined up along the porch and stared at me. There seemed more of them than I remembered.

I thought someone would know the system. But they were just overwhelmed.

The notebooks had disappeared.

By myself, I wandered through room after room past shelves of cardboard boxes. Each was marked with a color and number, each a wayward postcard not addressed to me. Arbitrarily, I opened a box. It was full of taxidermy animals and moths. Another contained bottles of evaporated perfume; a third dozens of identical wooden rectangles.

I gave up.

When I was leaving I asked if there would be an auction. One of my siblings said there would be. I said: If you find my childhood, call me. She said she would. She never called.

Wish You Were Here! by Christian Bell 

Enjoy Indiana!

Flat lands, flowing wheat, blue sky. The only souvenir we got were these postcards, free rest stop goods. We went to Indianapolis. They stole our team, Dad kept saying. He would’ve cried seeing the Colts logos if he weren’t seething with anger.

Wish You Were Here!

Clear sky, foamy surf, untouched beach. An obnoxious relative, likely drunk, is bragging about how the sand burns your soles, how laidback each day is, how margaritas magically appear before you wherever you are. Meanwhile, here, it’s -34 degrees and snowing eighteen inches per hour. Mom says, nope, don’t wish we there, striking this relative’s name from the Christmas list.

Crow Native American

Faded black-and-white photo of somber Native American male. His hair braided, his eyes penetrating time. Doesn’t this guy look mean, the sender wrote in blue cursive. What do you think, dipshit? He probably blamed the photographer for the slaughter of his people, the end of their lifestyle, his relatives succumbing to drink. Man, now I’m talking like my father.

The Last Postcard

Solid black. The last postcard, kept in a secret place in the postal system, ready to be sent to the person who breaks the system. It’s your fault, the postmaster general will write, it’s you that’s ruined everything. Because of Seinfeld, the postmaster general must be Wilford Brimley. I’m comfortable with that. Postal apocalypse—it’s the right thing to do, and the tasty way to do it. Dad, though, would want Clint Eastwood.

Postcards, the Attic Cabinet by Sam Rasnake 

To Duchamp
There are no tapestries here,
no weaving, no nights spent
undoing empires worth saving

We are glass & tubes & gears
that grind the wheels that turn
under a metal veil streaming

as if a single life – forgotten or
remembered – could be forged
in a blast of sand and steel

– New York, 1913


Ssshhh – Don’t tell anyone. I’m outside the hotel room
where Chet Baker died. What made him think he could fly?
I bribed the bellboy to let me in to see the window.
My fingers against the cool glass – the city, a cluster
of lights waiting for dawn, and suddenly I feel wings –
I swear – opening from both my shoulders.
See you soon. Maybe –

– 1994

To Buson

One crow walks the roof of a blue Mustang, speaks
to the sky, to nothing, speaks to hear his own voice
when it falls against gravel – Surely this winter,
from its wild and lonely places, will cover the hard
world in a breath, a shadow, in a moving on the wind.
He must know something, then hops down, disappears –

– 2006


– for Edmund Kohler

The dust is everything. All times between
living and the dead blur to nothing, to one
foot in front of the other, to a slice of raw
potato, and water that hints at tea.

You should see this place. Dark hallways
with wrecked doors, empty stairwells where
music is silence. A broken city – Piles of
rubble here and here and here. So many.

– 1947

Argonaut by Guy Yasko 

The closing door chokes off the roar of the party. Interesting. He tries it again. Same effect. He can see his breath in the bedroom. He pulls his sleeves down and considers crawling under the pile of coats on the bed.

— Drunk, drunker than i thought. Boots where are my boots?

He sits on the bed and tries to remember. His eyes spin upward to the bookshelf. A code: The gift triste-tropiques suicide distinction homo academicus the postcard. His coat sleeve beckons from the pile and triggers memories of his boots.

Out on the street, hands thrust deep into pocket and collar turned up against the wind, he announces:

— Dilettantes. Derrida for dilettantes.

The judgment promises to echo off the brick, but dies in the cold. There is only the crunch of cinders under boots.

Back to Wk #27 – Lost in translation
Forward to Wk #29 – The palm of your hand

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Week #29 – The palm of your hand « thirtynine

  2. Pingback: “Postcards, the Attic Cabinet” included in thirtynine quarterly… « sam of the ten thousand things

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