20180111

Karen Greenbaum-Maya



Getting the Shot




Man of My Dreams

Can you believe George Clooney and his new book of poetry? Not only did he get paid a billion dollars for his tequila company—not only is he a compelling actor—not only is he the man I don’t know whom I most need to see naked—but he can really write. Introspective, fresh imagery, intriguing language. And so vulnerable. Who knew he was an introvert?

I want to go buy his book. Judith is ready before I am. I can’t find my pants. When I do, they are covered in cat hair. Judith has her pants. She has also published another full-length collection and George recognizes her. Judith? You came to my signing? I’m so honored! Let’s swap books! I give up on my pants. I rummage through brown paper wrappers for a copy of George’s book. Have they all sold? I saw hundreds a few minutes ago. No, there is the last copy of I’m Just Like You, Only Cooler. George gives me a tender smile. We’re more alike than you might think, he murmurs. My eyes spring wide, my words slam shut. I can only sputter and stammer. Shut up, Judith hisses, take the damned compliment.



Ramp Convergence




Kafka’s Cat

Kafka’s cat sits square on Kafka’s paper. Kafka has to use a decoy pile, can write only on a small area off to one side. Kafka will never know that Becket would write in French because he felt too facile, too eloquent in English. Kafka would have snickered. His cat is sufficient impediment. But look at her! How could he push her away? The angle of her head, the curve of her paw when she bats at his pen as he traces and retraces a sentence, trying to squeeze out the last drop of meaning. Pointless but absorbing. She tires of his predictable target, butts her head into his fingers pursed hard around the pen. She is an imperious little cat, white except for a little black toothbrush under her nose and one black ear and black patch above one eye. All four paws are black, shiny and shapely like gloves, like boots. Extraordinary, how much fur a cat can shed. His father turns out to be allergic to cats, so she must stay in Kafka’s room. A cat is the last thing a tubercular needs, but he thinks of his father and refuses to give her up. His mother laughs at how the cat cannot stand his sisters. Every time he pets her, drifts of white fur come up in his hand. The family calls his room the Furred Reich. Kafka has been unable to come up with a suitable cat name. Ilse? he murmurs, Eva, Adé, Adelfina? No, not yet.



Disney Hall swoop




Very Personally Yours—or—Everything Sucks

Congratulations! You’ve risen from the dead! Everyone has questions about becoming a vampire, so don’t be embarrassed. We hope this pamphlet will help you as you begin this new cycle.

When I found this pamphlet under the wilting flowers, I thought it was some kind of joke. They don’t tell you what you really need to know, any more than those Kotex booklets from the 1960s told a girl what to expect. Those pamphlets made a girl think that her flow would be blue, that she’d have to learn to play tennis, that she’d become slim and dainty. Nothing about the mood swings, or what would happen to your clothing. Same for us new creatures of the night.

You will have risen at night, waking up in a coffin. You’ve clawed your way out and up through six feet of dirt. It’s a special time. No wonder you’re hungry!

Lucky for you, you’ve just been to a funeral. You’ll be well-dressed, so important for putting people off-guard before you jump them and tear into their arteries with your fangs. Don’t worry about that part. It will feel like the right thing to do, and you’ll know how. But no one tells you where to get one of those cool leather coats that swirl and flap like wings, the coats that never get in the way of fighting. Forget the high-collared satin capes. That’s what your grand-sire wore.

You may wonder about your social life. Some vampires like to go it alone, all brooding Romantic, but most prefer to nest. A good way to meet others is to share your kill.

I’ll tell you one thing about your social life: it’s all after dark, baby. The louder and cheesier the club, the better for hunting. You will literally smell their desperation to hook up. It’s a win-win.

Enjoy your new existence. You’ve got super-strength and mad martial arts skills. What’s more, you’re virtually immortal!

About that ‘immortal’: you won’t age, but that doesn’t mean ‘invulnerable.’ You didn’t have to read the pamphlet to know about wooden stakes, or beheadings. What about the lifestyle? No tanning, no driving up the coast with the top down, no dancing in front of the fireplace. If you were vegan, that’s gone too. You’ll know what you want, but you still might feel squeamish about blood from a cup, even an IV bag with a straw. No one’s ever figured out how to talk us through that part. On the other hand, you can eat and drink anything else you want—death-by-chocolate cake, double-double cheeseburgers animal-style, fettuccine Alfredo. If you want. There isn’t really much point, is all. But go ahead and smoke. It can’t hurt you now, right? You can’t breathe but you can blow impressive dragon plumes out your nostrils. Just don’t ask me where the air comes from.

Just because you’re a vampire doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, a whole new world is waiting—for you!

Yes they are. Waiting for you, I mean. A good thing you can fight and kick like—well, like a demon. Also, you carry no weight on your feet. No reflection, no weight. It’s that simple. When you have no soul, your soles never wear out. It’s catchy in English, kinda pointless otherwise.




Karen Greenbaum-Maya, retired clinical psychologist, German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and occasional photographer, no longer lives for Art but still thinks about it a lot. She knows many words. She is beset and could use some gorm. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song and Eggs Satori. Aldrich Press publishes her new book-length collection, The Book of Knots and their Untying. She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. For links to work on-line, go to: www.cloudslikemountains.blogspot.com/.
 
 
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