Passing Sentence

John Elizabeth Stintzi

On my drive home I saw a young man in a long, wavy blue wig, toiling up a short incline on a bicycle, putting down his foot to stop beside the traffic, the wig blue-bright like sky, its hair long like a breath—not mine—and he toiling like daylight pushing against ever inching night, toiling like a drive home on a short beautiful day, like a drive home on a day when you see a young man in a bright blue wig, wavy like a hurricane's surge, blue like the high sun's short wavelengths, young like a flower resisting his bud, young like a song and a dry lip, long, long like the midsummer days, months gone, long like the leg, the leg putting down its foot like you'd put down a gun at a bigger gun's point, a foot like a gun with no more bullets, a leg like a bicycle's geometry, like a hypotenuse of momentum met by a stopping, beside the traffic, a stopping like a stone in a weakening river too heavy to continue, or like a heart—someone else's heart—a stopping like someone else's breath at the sight of him, toiling, young, a man, a man like a lone beast in an impatient repose, or a mirror with a wig, a wig like a helmet protecting the man from himself, his wig like a song pushing against the lip in a car, driving past, down the short incline that the bicycle is toiling against, the incline like the last lump of coal in the last coal engine, the incline short like the amplitude difference between good and gone, short like the foot that comes down for the stopping, beside the traffic, the traffic being like a limp, like a train of ants going back and forth from the food, the fuel, the coal, the incline on my drive home like a weight being lifted then dropped on my chest when the vision arrives: the young man, the blue wig, the toiling, the thought of him paralysed in his pause in my rear-view mirror, the thought of him stopped in a forever moment, where the night is inching at an impossibly slow rate, where his foot descends at five-million frames a second replaying at thirty, of the young man—the boy, really—with his blue wig in the cold wind and Halloween night approaching, of course, like a promise you don't want to keep because you don't want the heat of its holding to fade, like how riding up a short incline on a bicycle is a promise, a promise that if you can break through the image, the pause, the stopping, and climb the incline—the hill, really—there is the promise of the return, the ride down along the same line I myself drove by, today, on my way home—where I didn't want to get to—when I would have rather stayed paused there, across a lane from him, legging my foot out of my car door, tilting my head to invert his incline, to let him lift his foot and glide down, a moving rest, down like the distance between here and there, me and him, down, down, and I, a paused thing and like a present indicative—but of what?

The Spectacle of Citrus

John Elizabeth Stintzi

There's an old man walking down the street in a tweed two-piece suit, tie-less and bearing in his fist a large citrus fruit. I say: it's a tangerine, well ripe, soft. You say: it's a cantaloupe that looks small from the distance. The Dog says: Bring me my kibble. The baby drools on in her cage.

When we were young (do you remember?) long walks down grocery store aisles, you licking each of the loose tomatoes and I putting vines of grapes down my shorts? Do you remember dining beneath the tables in the baked-good section, giggling and on the watch for my mother's rhino legs? Do you remember how well those soup-cans rolled? Do you remember when the manager chased us all through the store after discovering us cryogenic, blocking the fish sticks, and I tossed back at him a carton of molasses which he stepped on, bursting it? Do you remember that moment when the world stopped and we waited for the black ooze to suck him in like a tar pit? Do you recall the heat of his hands on our collars?
Do you remember the fury of my mother and the insincerity of my apologies? Do you remember buying Groucho glasses to hide our identity and never making it past the cashier? Do you remember making love on the roof for the very first time and letting our words be preserved as if in the molasses of our hearts, in fear of the stars overhearing us and swooping down to cross us?

Do you think the baby will do these things when she outgrows her cage? Will she, one day—faced with the spectacle of citrus—recall our escapades in grocery markets as if she'd been there? Will the dog never tire of talking about kibble? Will I, one day—jilted of the warmth of your heartsong—take a walk in the autumn down suburban streets bearing citrus and mumble to passersby anecdotes concerning the peculiar collection of packets in a citrus fruit, which don't hold anything but each other until the last—the micropop—wets an old, lonely piece of throatland?