(uh)nders and (ah)boves

jess goldman

photographs by Sonja katanic



Zadie bleaches his Folgers instant coffee

with Carnation condensed milk;

the beige mug looks filled with mug,

his Seltzer water sits off to the side.


Two slices of untoasted

Becel-spread Wonder Bread

compress in his

garbage truck mouth.


He looks down at his plate;

the white plate looks filled with plate.

He asks Rosa, his nurse, to fill his

plate with a little more Wonder.


But instead,

she wags a finger at him,

“Tsk, tsk, Eugene,”

and takes his plate to the sink.


More Wonder, he thinks,

I want more wonder. But Rosa

has replaced his plate with a rainbow

trapped in a pillbox.


His toasted face looks out the window,

and raisins,

at this Florida morning’s lack of

Tang and sun and Bubbie.




They are both high when they meet on the club’s smoking patio and begin

t(aw)lking. For hours they t(uh)ch and (key)ss and whisp(her) to one another in worship

to a l(uh)ve absent of cliché. Then, briefly, they lose each other on account of her need

for a toilet.

In the bathroom she takes a seemingly endless series of sh(it)s. Chemical drugs

have that effect on her – and maybe the act of l(uh)ving has become t(w)oo much. Her

need to sh(it) has moved from the physical into the em(oh)tional realm: she must expel,

must pel ex and exp el, in order to make room for l(uh)ve so she doesn’t t(hro)w up from

it. L(uh)ve, she thinks, is like food – it can fi(ee)ll you up – and she is full.

The sh(it)s are turning her stomach and morphing into gu and ilt. Ilt is guing at

her and gu is ilting her up. She (flee)aves the bathroom and sees him at the bar, buying a

bottle of water. He waves. She is terrified of him. Or rather what terrifies her is this

l(uh)ve causing her to lose her (its), the naked (uh) that has lost its consonants.

She is in (uh) with this complete stranger. She is without consonants.

This is how G(aw)d must feel: (terra)(if)(eyed). Scared (it)less by Her capacity to

(uh) complete strangers, always looking for a dark corner to cower in. But heaven has no

co(nsonants)rners, only clouds.

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