Breadcrumb #479


August in southern Illinois & we are drunk
    on everything but worry.  The tin boat we rented rocks
        under our recreation. Plastic wine glasses & gasoline

from the engine casting a rainbow across the man-made
    lake.  Boredom or something more brought us here
        to float on cotton candy inner tubes, a plastic unicorn

with a dumb cartoon eye toddles under my naked thighs,
    flank up to the fleshy sun. Look at how we are not animals -
        our teeth gnashing in fits of laughter,

my two hands crumbling a bag of potato chips.
    What we have evolved to: our lips puckering
        around a neon candy, our sunglasses skewing

the world darker.  & these two rocky bluffs,
    jutting out like an underbite, are a sharp surprise
        in between parched farmland.

When we arrived, a small printed plaque told us
    that the rocks were formed from glaciers.
        Water dripping for billions of years

just to bounce our base music back to us.
    Our small bluetooth speaker humming
        atop nylon & fiberglass.

& the state paid for this sulphur-dry earth
    to be dredged & filled with muddy water.
        Shadows of fish here & there

dumped weekly by Park Rangers just so
    twice-divorced fisherman can reel them in,
        pretending a kind of wildness.

& the birds chirp so loudly
    we think it is the ding ding
        ding of our phones.

& they find us
    large turkey vultures whooping
        down from the cliffs,

& we are blissed,  motionless, a beer bottle
    tipping in a limp wrist– our text messages
        whimpering out now & again

as these birds circles our plump bodies- waiting,
    waiting. They think we are dead,
        or that we may die very soon.

• • •

Breadcrumb #369


"you were not meant to thrive here.”
she told me, as she put out her cigarette.
                         her teeth are piling in the corner,
                         they’re yellowed and brown
                         with nicotine.

               my baby teeth are piling by the stove,
               a reminder of why she is here.

we eat spaghetti for the fifth time this week,
we sweat. we burn.
                       one hundred degree oklahoma heat,
the air conditioner stopped running two summers ago.

I am panting on the sidewalk,
outside the crumbling house.

          in the spring time, whirling winds take the chosen away
          far from                                    here,
          yet in the summer we all burn under the scorching light.

• • •

Breadcrumb #3

Bob Raymonda

A kite floats along the horizon for an indeterminate period of time as they ascend the carved stairway at the foot of the mountain. Droves of people crowd the path, stopping every five steps to take the same two blurred cell phone photographs. The mountain is a tourist trap at this time of year, so they backpedal and choose instead to sit in the grass surrounding the parking lot to people watch.  

     The kite, which seems to have been suspended at the same vantage point for hours, is an unremarkable maroon with a small tail flailing in the wind. Despite its lack of flair, it soars far above its contenders — which are laborious creations built to be more visually striking than practical.

     Two mothers struggling with their adolescent daughter’s impatience lose control over their own inferior box kite. It crashes unceremoniously into a large elm, sporting its early November orange leaves. The first mother stops just at the foot of the tree and tugs too hard to wrestle the thing free and instead allows the string to snap, abandoning it on its perch. The second kneels down so she’s eye level with their daughter and attempts to comfort her and fails. The child’s cries are piercing, but there’s a chaotic temporary passion to them that makes them intriguing.

     He stares at them, amused by their predicament, and she pinches his thigh, laughing. “We’re too far away for you to hear them.”

     He looks back sheepishly. “How can you always tell when I’m eavesdropping?”

    She rolls her eyes and points to the first kite. It’s higher than before, and for a moment blocks out the sun, creating a brief diagonal eclipse. The sky is a brilliant burnt orange as the sun starts its descent, but this small piece of paper and string holds her attention more than anything else has before it. She runs her fingers through his hair, and for a moment, they’re quiet.

The sky is a brilliant burnt orange as the sun starts its descent, but this small piece of paper and string holds her attention more than anything else has before it.

     He surveys the rest of the park at the foot of the mountain, searching for the pilot of this magnificent beast. He sees a runner trip over a rock and right himself in seconds flat, and he sees one of the mothers pick up her comforted daughter and heft her onto the other’s shoulders, but no more kite fliers. The maroon outlaw has outlasted its casual competitors. They’ve either lost control like the two mothers, or given up on catching the wind for more than a few fitful bursts and migrated to the small country store a few hundred yards away. They're now perusing cheaply made sweaters sold for fifty times their worth, and sampling fruit preserves touting local labels and foreign ingredients.

     “Hey,” he says, trying to steal her attention from the kite for at least a second, “who do you think is flying it?”

     She looks around in the same sweeping manner as he did before her. Seeing the same lack of pilot puts a smile on her face. “I bet they’re a world-renowned kite flier.”

     He raises his eyebrows.

     “And that to show their face anywhere would mean they’d have to sign autographs and answer questions.”

     She puts her head in his lap and closes her eyes for one moment. He stares into her eyelashes and plays along. “So they hide at the edge of the woods in a public park and fly the least noticeable kite they can find.”

     “But it’s special,” she coos, starting to fall asleep.

     “Because it’s the very first kite they ever flew with their mother,” he whispers, tracing letters into her shoulder blade. The sky’s burnt orange is penetrated by dusk. Most of the tourists are leaving, but they make no move to return to their own car. The kite is barely visible, but still there. “And she taught them how to fly from their house in the clouds.”

     “Who do you think they are?”


     “Or an astronaut.”

     They fall asleep and don’t wake up until the grass is covered with early-morning dew. The kite is nowhere to be seen.

• • •

Breadcrumb #2

Bob Raymonda

The late August evening air was 10 degrees colder with windchill, but that didn’t bother Marcus or Teddy. The two sat at the top of an old Ferris wheel, suspended for a moment as Clyde let on another couple. There was a small space between the two of them, but their hands hung at their sides and their pinkies grazed ever so slightly. Marcus felt electrified. He hadn’t been this close to Teddy since they were standing in line to get their photo IDs taken at the beginning of the summer.

     The sky was burnt orange as the sun set over the carnival. Teddy stared out into nothing and let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t think I can do it, Marcus.”

     Marcus pulled back his hand and dug his too-long fingernails into his palm. He glared at the back of Teddy’s caramel neck and wondered what it would be like to kiss it. “Do what?”

     Teddy turned to face Marcus and caught his glare. The Ferris wheel started with a creak. “You know what.”

     The ride was in full swing now after Clyde let on the last of their other co-workers. It was the end-of-summer party, and the park was already closed for the year. Teddy would be going home to Atlanta, and Marcus would stick around here and go back to working nights at his mother’s diner. It seemed unfair.

     They both wore the red-and-white pinstripe T-shirts of a games employee. They’d spent the whole summer in stalls across from each other, competing to see who could wrangle in the most customers over the bullhorn. Teddy always won, but that didn’t stop Marcus from goading him on, claiming he was the inferior.  

     “I don’t know what you mean,” Marcus lied.

     Teddy grabbed Marcus’ hand and pleaded for him to look into his eyes. “She’d know. She always knows.”

     Teddy’s mother was a Christian, and she had no patience for what she called his “affliction." She’d caught him with another boy at the end of the summer last year. He never told Marcus about it, but all the park employees knew. She had the boy fired, telling their boss that he had been harassing Teddy for weeks, even though that was far from the truth. Word spread fast — stay away from the boy with the shy brown eyes.

Word spread fast — stay away from the boy with the shy brown eyes.

     The ride sped up as Clyde depressed the lever further than he normally allowed it to go. Any other day of the year and he’d be fired for this, but at the end-of-the-year party, anything goes. Marcus slid closer to Teddy by the sheer force of gravity. Their thighs tensed up and Marcus could feel all the blood rushing from his head to other, more urgent vestiges of himself. He grabbed Teddy’s face and kissed him hard on his unseasonably chapped lips. He didn’t care if he never saw the boy again, or if he lost his job because of it. And in that moment, as the sun set and summer ended, he thought that maybe the Ferris wheel would never stop spinning. And that would be a good thing, because he was exactly where he wanted to be.

• • •