rewriting landscape.


Cindy Emch

Moments in America


1. " a women in her bathrobe walking the dog - by god there's still a little bit of america left. now i can die happy. next time wear curlers" said to me by a nice old irish guy wearing lots of green who had spent the night in stern grove while i was walking the dog the friday morning after thanksgiving post moving the car for street cleaning.

2. while waiting for the bathroom at a taqueria before my writing group, a man with a muddy smile leaves the women’s room. I walk into the room and bump the door against a young woman - maybe 20 hiding behind the door - she is pale with red cheeks and short black hair. her smile is muddy too - her eyes are sharp focused scared "sorry sorry sorry" she says. I am checking the voicemail on my cell phone. I nod at her also apologizing and walk back out - waiting for her to be done. i assume she is shooting up. something about how she was scrubbing her arms. the small sores she has that are accented by her tank top and the sight of so much bare skin in the winter. when she leaves, she is still all apologies. i like her rough and tumble black leather belt. i go into the bathroom and see water splashed around, signs that she was washing herself. there is a sad pink condom sitting on top of the trash like a flower. i hope that security doesn't harass her when she leaves.

3. the drugs wore off and i was itching in my seat. nothing was comfortable. i chewed my nails bloody to distract from the pain that i couldn't control. change it. make it mine. the pain on the top and end of my fingers. i make it. it's mine. when i take deep breaths the bones in my back pop - a small explosion of breath in skin in muscle releasing.

4. Two Every Eight Hours

A trade with no tools / I am laying heat on these bones / While they sweat / Like bloated floodwater paperbacks / Words sliding off my skin / Squeezed out by soft tissue / And distended joints / Bones and muscles breaking / Harder than a heart knows how

I am a writer betrayed / By arms that shake too much / To hold a pencil / By pain that transcribes daggers on my back / Spine collapsing under the weight / Of the nail bed resting on my shoulder / 1600mg of Motrin / And too much whiskey later / My face is a stone mask / I try to work.


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