Up before the sun’s slipped its long black cloak,
driving before I’ve wiped the dreams from the
corners of my eyes. 8 East, winding towards
Janet’s, where the front door’s still locked, and the
smell of grinding beans has yet to powder
the static air trapped by faux-log walls. The
parking lot still empty when my brakes whine
my Taurus to a halt across the steep
street, and I tie my apron, take one last
breath of teeth tingling air, then exhale.
A Pale Purple
The phrase seemed safe
before I came upon you—
“You're on my mind”
because, really, what's always there?
I would see a person's name
and think of them. A photo—the same.
I wouldn't see a chipped plate
and imagine a face,
you know, because of that one time.
“You're on my mind”
flew from my mouth
fleetingly, if in any sense...
there was no omnipresence
implied or felt. There was no you
to steal the term from all others.
“You” is now always you.
Since you, things have changed.
Now, even the alphabet song
reminds me of loneliness
and the distance between I and U
makes me jealous of the sisters
V and W for their proximity.
Sometimes I coax my mind
away from thoughts of you.
But always, eventually,
some spilled salt, an origami swan,
a strong whiff of some scent
I'd never associated with you
until it wafted in so sweet
as I was pining for your presence
and now everything is lavender
and lavender and lavender.
Learning Binary in a Hospital Room
The walls are beige here.
Not the matte white we’d seen before.
No TVs this time.
Attached to her arms there are tubes,
or there are not. Mostly the first.
The blinds are closed
or open. Mostly the first.
There is a beeping.
Heart’s metallic metronome.
There is silence. There is beep.
There is beep. beep.
There will always be silences,
we’ve learned that,
pauses where the zero repeats
until the world looks like a screen door
to itself, which will open not with a click
but with the lack of one.
Why we can't hang out as much anymore
I can't say it's not you, because it is. You've changed.
The way you laugh, walk, breathe. Something (we know who)
has taught you the secrets of battling the gravity
that weighs on and takes hold of all of our shoulders.
I guess you could say it's me too. I'm grey with envy.
You hog the green like a goddamn jacaranda
about to burst into some impossible bloom.
What's happened to you? (We know who).
And you, usurper of time, it's hard to blame you.
Blame blame blame. I have my own stuff going on.
So it is me. I am busy, most of us are super-super busy
and you two have exploring to do.
So many universal constants to battle braced together.
Go on, we'll all be fine down here.
We'll learn to fly too, in years of watching you.
Zebulon Huset has been teaching a community creative writing
class here in San Diego since receiving his MFA from UW where he
was the coordinating editor of The Seattle Review. His writing
has recently appeared in The Southern Review, The New York
Quarterly, The North American Review, 5AM, Bayou, Cutthroat and
The Georgetown Review among others. He was once nominated for a
Pushcart Prize and once did not receive the honor. He also
produces a writing prompt/literary blog http://notebookingdaily.blogspot.com.