"We've been here for centuries and not once has a planet come in."
Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series
Need to Know
14: The Double Issue
13: Free Form
12: The Necessary Ear
11: The Necessary Eye
Issue 10: Out on a Limb
Issue 9: The Missing Body
Issue 8: The Lily
Issue 7: Passages
Issue 6: No More Tears
Proper nouns are legible in any light and like to stay near their
cages. They're the saunterers and the preeners, the
peacocks who walk up to you and unfurl their fan of feathers
hello. To see a shy one, position yourself between two trees;
eventually it'll get whisked into a sentence and will have to
come out from the shadows. We stock the park with packs of verbs
and ands, so the odds are in your favor. Lessons in tracking are
given every hour on the hour. You'll learn to go unnoticed
behind a lamppost so you can get a glimpse of a squabble—COAT's
flapping shadow tussling with WEARING because it wants to be the
verb. The comma is the timid creature (ankle-height, cringing)
you'll spot when you pause to look at the map, the dash is the
sprinter in a thin coat of rain. Take a left for indirect
object, for conjunctions, straight ahead. Officially, the
exotics are extinct, but you've heard about watchers in the
cities training their binoculars on ledges half-hidden by air
conditioners, scanning the gutters for pairs of bright eyes.
They know the ruses unsanctioned words use. They roll in the
dirt to hide their vivid feathers. According to the tabloids,
CHOCOLATING made it half way across the country, hopping from
schoolyard to schoolyard in a convincing coat of mud, and last
week VERYING was spotted hiding in the wake of a ferry. One
watcher got a picture before the authorities harpooned it. In
the photograph the water is bluer than blue.
Where they've punched holes in the roof,
twenty tubes of sunlight slide through.
Rattatatat. The paparazzi clatter
up the ladder and now their eyes
are shooting sight-lines past you,
through you. They're in the "about" section
watching the dreams below. You're here
because you've seen things, because you see things:
red ground behind your eyelids,
panoramas pulsing beneath each shoe.
Waitressing in the Room With a Thousand Moons
Is difficult at best. The moons desperately want to circle
something, so when a dish comes out, they dive-bomb it, bump
into each other and a dusting of moon-rock falls into the food.
We call that Parmesan. They know the plate won't be a planet.
We've been here for centuries and not once has a planet come in.
I guess they do it just-in-case. Having lived most of their
lives too close to everything, their sense of perspective is
poor. A plate of dumplings can start to look like a solar
system. Lately the moons seem to be losing hope. They're just
going through the motions and their waning is way more
convincing than their waxing. They no longer swarm around each
swirl of steam. A red smear signals Ketchup, not Mars. The food
is not very good, but people keep coming. Some come with nets to
sieve the sky for the tiniest butterfly-sized moons. Security is
good, though—no moon has ever been smuggled out. And most of the
diners look up the whole time, which makes it easy to get their
attention when we recite the specials. We, the waitstaff, are
waiting for the day when we come into the restaurant and find
the moons circling another moon. Below them, we endlessly orbit
the tables. Our leader has left us too.