A year of pandemic. Texas freeze. I sit naked on the floor with a naked
woman. We face an open refrigerator. The fridge light is the only light
in the dark. The fridge hums. We stare at the oranges from Florida, the
tomatoes from Mexico, the beef steaks from West Texas and the milk from
the dairy one county away. We stare at the food crammed in its interior
like a Renaissance still life. The magnificent sight stuns us. The woman
intones the word refrigerator. The word resonates like worship.
The power hums because we share the circuit with a hospital three blocks
away. Across the street, people freeze in houses without power for days.
Two blocks away, a bus sits stalled, full of hungry boys who crossed the
border. Old men with guns roam a nearby cemetery. An old woman who
watched her house burn finds a photo of her dead husband in the debris.
A robin falls, frozen. A mile away, where the city swallows farmland,
man weeps. The well water tested positive for arsenic.
We believe we care. We try to feel the horror about us. We should
fucking sob but we sit naked at the fridge. Trillions of bacteria teem
in our gut, make hormones, and cause us to gorge on honey ham and
I drink direct from the orange juice carton while she bites into a
cucumber. We consume despite an abandoned septic tank outside under dirt
and ice that holds forgotten decades of piss and shit. We masticate as
the homeless shiver in a contraband shelter by the zoo where an elephant
suffers from a disease not native to its habitat. We gorge despite the
young woman dying in agony in the emergency room three blocks away. Down
the hall from her, ventilators hum like refrigerators. Air pumps fill
and empty COVID-blighted lungs.
Our guts full, hormones in our body shift. They cause us to fuck again
in the light of the refrigerator. Our bodies gleam with the strange
light of an Edward Hopper. Pandemic, freeze, misery, death: we resonate
with food and fucks in our dark fable as though travel-worn wise men
worship us in a dark stable.
You raise an eyebrow at me?
Do you think I’m a capuchin monkey or a baboon?
You don’t know your own bloody history. Verner Von Braun worked with
Hitler, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Walt Disney.
You stupid ape. You squeeze that yellow four-legged rain slicker on that
poor King Charles Cavalier spaniel. Your fellow people freeze and starve
and die in the streets. Yet, you see meaning in a poor dog in a
Well. I’ll clue you. A capuchin raises its eyebrow to be friendly. A
baboon perceives a raised eyebrow as a threat. Yep. You should have
considered. I’m more like a baboon.
See that red heinie? Funny till you see my doglike muzzle and feel my
razor sharp canines puncture your skull. My daily rage must gorge.
You raise an eyebrow at me? You stupid ape. Cronos ate his children.
Even Goya understood that. Darkness is not your friend, despite what
Paul Simon says. Your heaven is just another siren song.
You threaten me with death. What is the only defense against death? You
say life but you do death. How do you prevent your own death? You think
more weapons but death comes.
Knock knock knock. You can’t get rid of death because, death.
You grasp at more life with your umwelten of Junior League, Chamber of
Commerce, and Cathedrals.
I’ll feed you into the hollow hunger of my snaking intestines and shit
your absurd remains in some remote jungle.
You stupid ape.
J. Alan Nelson has a magic dog named Jeep. He also has stories and poetry published or forthcoming in numerous journals including New York Quarterly, Acumen, Pampelmousse, Main Street Rag, Texas Observer, California Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Adirondack Review, Red Cedar Review, Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, The Stand and many others. He played the lead in the viral video “Does This Cake Make Me Look Gay?” and the verbose “Silent Al” in the Emmy-winning SXSWestworld.” IMDB link: http://m.imdb.com/name/nm6394406/