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The Art of Marriage
The Conquest of Space
by Tim Millas

yeah a frigging wonderment how some people have this ability to take four times their share of the sidewalk    like they say about bugs - ants - no that's weight, their size carrying stuff in exponential proportion of    point is some people: always manage to gobble up more than their rightful portion    like the ass in front of me
                                                                                                      small ass actually, he's pretty small all over    maybe 5'7", 130 33 pounds (and better you get to gym today)    not big shoulders, that hand holding the phone like a kid's    another wonderment for you, some hands stay kid-size and others explode and you can't predict, nope found that out with my own son last week    almost called him exson    buy a baseball glove to show how sensitive in touch a dad you are, since only such would know how much son loves to play right?    except glove is too small your kid's hand which last week swear you could disappear inside your own hand    now it's bigger than yours, fingers so long look like they need trimming, and Neddy says "I can't wear this Dad" and She "Edward you can just exchange it, stop it" so it's Edward now, guess that makes him even more of an exson and me more exdad
                                                                                                                     anyway the jerk actually keeps a pretty straight line    noticed he was front of me around 70th, cross from Asia House    walk on Park like I own it I once did    condo that is, but    now best I can do is "77th off Park"    way off    still like it most expansive avenue in New York, a waterway feels like two channels: with the island threading between yet    now I own nothing but view of his winking butt it does wink even through his raincoat points of emphasis as he talks    yet, can't say he literally weaves back and forth   I just can't get past him   not that I'm in such huge hurry for work just tired being behind him    being his behind
                                                          not only me!    one lady steps into gutter, almost trips a pothole to get around    big burly guy could probably walk right over him: nevertheless compelled to detour so wide I swear the guy bashed his right shoulder into prewar stone    and others after weaving back and forth themselves, waiting watching for an opening: just shake their heads finally cross to east side of Park    how's he do? dead center of side walk    on his phone using an earpiece one hand holds phone waist level, left hand holds a compact brief case, soft skin leather and both hands arms swing straight out while talking, expanding him    no weave or bob but his head's this tricky twitch left right as if about to go that way, makes you hesitate lose your moment    and still doesn't explain it    like a planet with defined orbit and moons magnetic he repels you    defines your orbit too
                                                                                  should be thinking about my 9:30    setting my orbit sending out my waves in advance there'll be three more big egos orbiting conference B, real danger worlds will collide in our company's smallest meeting room   so another wonderment: I already know what's going to happen   course been there before    this life and my previous    Banta like the head of the UN and Begasse factually needling me and this new Jimmy Spinelli - how I hate adults call themselves Jimmy or Bobby or Johnny - he'll be smooth and brisk and friendly and at decisive moment say "you know what's missing here? A ____"   A strategy A focus A budget A timeline A vision A mission you name it doesn't matter, this is how guys like Jimmy rise and rise make themselves look good at your expense    and whatever my response I look defensive and unfocused without vision unable to see forest for trees, every cliché my flaw his virtue    I know what's going to happen    when Banta sat me down two days ago, stressed how Jimmy and I will: totally: share: responsibility: and no decision can be made unless the two of us agree, I knew surely    because more people assure you've got something, the more certain be you they're taking it
                                                                                                                        Lizbeth (no e please) "get there early! Have your points ready, you know more about it than any of them…set the tone, put this guy in his place from the start, with facts, don't roll over for him" - bored irritated voice eyes on morning show like so simple she's moved on before even starts speaking   my second wife (always I think her in sequence) what most irritates her is the very introduction of an issue    talk triumph, promotion raise she'll look listen glisten in fascination    later of course, she can't quote a thing    but let me raise an issue, rock the boat, so to speak, ruffle the well-ordered plumage of our lives that pisses her off far off more than -
                                                                                              he's something else!   here I should reach conference B by 9:15, start my meeting a little earlier than the others, yet still wondering if that makes sense being early, ten minutes late maybe proclaims more power? the geek is already having his meeting right on the street!    conference call, and he's been leading it, and now he's wrapping it up    "OK guys, let's stick to the agenda….You have a point, Elsa, but the human resources issues are not within our purview on this project….Now let's review next steps and who does what to whom…"    review really means he tells everybody what to do but socratically so he's asking, you're yessing    then brisk almost prissy "great meeting, thank you" and one guy he asks to stay on line - poor sap gets to hear the twit's real assessment of the call    likelihoods of anyone doing what they're supposed to    "Nick will be late…Raj will bury us under paper and produce nothing…Harriet won't communicate but will execute perfectly…Elsa: I don't know what her game is but I'm not going to let her fuck this up or undermine me - us - I want you to start documenting her mistakes, that won't be hard - once we've accumulated enough I'll do a review and get her canned or at least transferred off….Right, my love to Julie"
                                                                                                                         stops for a light I draw closer behind him and now actually not so small more like 5'9" maybe    modest height and modest weight, 155?, and his build looks built but too, modest in proportion    not sure since it's October raincoat day without rain   the hair: modest length modest part modest veins of gray infusing brown (serves him well probably dealing with bitter older colleagues - served me well till mine turned and I turned bitter and older) ah but a blank spot, gaping and spreading, full view at top of his head back, he's given in to temptation lets remaining grow too thick and long, touch the collar    I pull almost alongside him and everything else modest    black shoes Florsheim blue suit Brooks Brothers or knockoff see through his slatecoat London Fog tie red but not Barney's bloody - rimless glasses, those more expensive    must have numbers phone programmed, out of nowhere he's saying "Hi sweetie hi little pumpkin…ready for school?...oh you wrote another poem, read it to me"    his voice is OK though annoyingly repeats back each line of the poem to correct her pronunciations but voice not sickly sweet or high pitched or look-at-me affected    and switch from business brisk to pure love but not schizopathic    modest again, not unlike my conversation with now daughter Embeth (what kind of name is that? my second wife is a nut) when she bounces my lap    now: totally determined to get away from the priss pass him second light changes -
             but that instant though we're standing pretty close something jostles splits us for a second a shadow over me I jerk aside my god now they're crashing planes on Park another symbol of capitalist wealth: but no    just another human cutting between us and crossing the street ahead    just another guy en route to work but weird on three counts: hair no more than eighth of inch all over yet somehow dyed platinum no, that doesn't count as weird anymore - but the box carried, wears it on his head, it's size and shape of one of those pizza box warmers or maybe it's a portfolio anyway: settled perfectly on his head, like he was brought up Barbados or something, and he strides along no wobbles at all splitting every one in his path    he wears a black raincoat and black shoes like the jerk (and me) but other weird thing: platinum chain extending from earlobe across his cheek and fastened at the other end to a hole pierced upper corner of his upper lip    maybe works at Borders 57th isn't it? cross the street    or maybe a hip boutique   hell, he could be head of IT graphic design someplace    but I feel a twinge above my lip, way my ab flinches when I see someone get kicked in a movie in the crotch: how could you let them cut you like that   punch a hole in it earlobe one thing but your lip
                                                               well,    my face lift technically speaking they sliced both left and right outer margins of my jaw    pull skin back, flap it till it was smooth as a sheet    true I had to do that, and the shoe polish on my head too: that more than resume and abundant social skills got me second wife and now job    still, one hole punched above your lip, versus scalpel down both sides of your face    plus the eyes and turkey neck
                                              which keeps me standing on the curb too long and gives the twit his chance: to react faster does shooting out in front so I'm sucking ass again    other than quick glance he gives no attention to box head    besides the guy jarred his earpiece, and when he tries putting it back keeps falling out, and once in place it's just not working    finally puts the phone to his ear says "Babybug, you still there? no Daddy's fine…phone trouble…can I speak to Mom moms? ...tankoo…."   Mom-moms gets on, another tone shift, still affectionate but practical, and sexy bits sound funny through his priss    "you guys should be leaving soon, oh you're not dressed yet? wait tell me what bra you have on…lace?…color?… mmmm…anyway, just wanted you to call Becker about the mortgage remember on the drive out, and don't forget to stop off at the school for the applications…"   huge dog dump suddenly and though he manages to sidestep outer edge of left shoe does slice through    not happy about that, puts a weird trailing into left foot motion he's trying like to scrape the shit without actually stopping    yesterday morning when I walked CP and he dumped    usual tree-shrouded spot    I pick up then realize from the petrified feel even through triple-folded paper towels that I've just picked up some other dog's shit that's been sitting there and,    swear I hiccuped felt bile rising up my throat had to step back for a sec    then with supreme effort: pick up my dog's shit too and three steps to the trash barrel    human walnut in a nutshell, eh?   every day I pick up shit, and fine because it's my dog's shit    I study it hell, make sure it's well-formed and not bloody or weird colored or containing any foreign objects give my second wife a report and we discuss    but handle another dog's shit and
                                                                                                    pretty gross?    that's nothing to some of the, shit forgive me, flies your brain as you lock step with the rest of the raincoats on Park to midtown    "but to do that - " "impose your values on somebody else - " "it's just so - "   these two pass me slow down as approach the obstacle they're having a conversation, serious    she a bit older, he's younger, she blonde he black (no eggplant bluish purple) under each eye she has a shadowy makeup wrinkle just like Embeth's real one    her heels like the heels the girl wore in the porno video I rented two weeks ago when Lizbeth and Emby visited Granpa on the island - the heels she resolutely kept on: even as shed everything else even in the triple-fuck when she must've had her legs spread wide and high for 20 minutes straight: or like Lizbeth's heels Emby tottered on then bounced on my lap wonder if the good father gets that fleeting surge from Babybug I got when Emby bounced and laughed hair flying perfect skin I banish that right away: anyway so I'm thinking these two sleep together since all women secretly want black and all eggplants prefer blondes and she's at best an aging slut or maybe high-priced whore, and he's pimp a gigolo, partner in threesomes, drug addict though he carries my briefcase (no - nicer like the obstacle's) and now I'm think gigolos are all salarymen me too, that we report to women so much now male female we all have to serve somebody    like I haven't prostituted to stay employed, smiling laughing yesyes silence and what Lizbeth didn't fake it a few times along the road to snagging    me what a catch, but she wasn't getting younger and wanted married like they all do, is why all women whores in some compartment of their heart so there you have it, we're all whores or gigolos or would be perverts all doing what we have to do for money safety security just one big bucket brigade of degradation passing along and sloshing our hands on that bucket of dirty water that paradoxically gets fuller the farther it goes
                      where the hell are we? (oh we now I've been behind too long) OK now the Regency and I: am optimistic my spirits lift, loft    hotel bar I went to after the fantastic interview    all of 23 and knew I had a job knew it would be the best company for my lift-off knew the girl waiting turn in the lobby would get hired too knew from our five sentences we were twins, destined    melt flesh transmigrate souls    except none of it happened absolutely: and always I get that same gleam off Regency window, idiot's delight like heroin shot straight into my head    feel so sweaty like a broken fever open my raincoat, he
                                  still on with wife now they're talking about preprivateschool options for the babybug    and the great choir church has in whateverminster, now I get it he's moving THE GREAT MOVE to the green part of Jersey doing the whole thing, the taking leave of the New York small spaces and high prices, he she doing it for the sake of the child education socialization safety puke    hope he moves into town where a bunch died in the twin towers on their daily commute that's a lucky place    and another kid bunning the oven I'll bet    doing just what I did (mine Westchester, the house) what a gazillion done pure clone yet to his credit and my chagrin still he sounds modest, sincere    the really infuriating thing that he really means it or thinks he does    maybe he's got the ultimate fakeout going: himself and I who can still fake some people some time but can't myself, I: really: hate him
                                                            thank God for ChristChurch (opposed to AntiChristChurch?) Borders on the left and soon Mercedes and Amex Travel coming up this side    the end is near light at the end of the tunnel of the oncoming train but thank God I'll be turning off at 50th cause I could waste so much time and this morning's meeting's vile adrenaline on the poor fool    who's now winding up with wife number one finalizing plans for romantic getaway spa for "no reason…because I love you and you're sexier than ever" (pregnant hog) "and we need to remind us both of that, and you deserve it"    God I hate the man that's younger than me still doesn't have to dye his hair still has enough to show you he's losing it    still the only blade he's put to his face is the daily shave   still in the elevator up up, in his brilliant career (ie first job but nothing to him is first or even just a job it's the whole egg the eternal inevitable) I hate that he's in first career first marriage first kid with his first next kid on the way nowhere near vicinity of failure heartache boredom divorce and oblythious to possibility that next fork will take him there   what happened to black'n'blonde? must have got past him now why the hell can't…?    he shifts his head left I take a giant step right    yes    no    extends phone to make sure he got a signal fresh for next call my chin almost slams his spotless back of hand    I noticed one on mine the other day    my first liver spot melanoma maybe    I pull up somehow in time with a wheeze of frustration still he hears nothing sees nothing notices nothing, so entranced with his song of himself
                                                                         just one that sees his as more than just a life, a living embodiment, walking moral blueprint, both real and right    organic    enchanted    blessed    worthy of news coverage the stuff of legend yet true as blue    the real getting of wisdom: is such qualities the vilest, expose the bearer for his smugness    you have to be if you insist on sincerity you can't be sincere in a world where we all murder by omission all living off distant miseries all fine with oppression long as it takes place out of ear'n'eye shot    my wife (always my wife, not ex or first or then) now She was sincere    a sincere fool sincere bitch a sincere bore who sincerely embraced the sham of marriage-family,    and yeah sincerely horrified when my little personality flaws of atheism and pornography and alcoholism depression and - worst of worst - corporate redundancy exposed    now Lizbeth the carbon copy, She-clone but like a clone something is missing, she doesn't believe the bullshit anymore than I do    willing to pretend with me that at 54 (tells her friends 49) I have black hair no wrinkles: willing not to ask me what movies I rent on the sly or what clubs I toss a quick one back at on my way home or I really give a shit Emby goes to both temple and church so she can make an informed choice: willing to watch me drink vodka out of a Great Bear bottle not a word long as    I act the act don't protest her impending need to have her green house leave NYC I won't I guess I will
                                                                                    "you've got to ask yourself: do we really have nothing in common? You've got to remind yourself of all the good times and all the trials you've helped each other through? You've got to think of the face Larry of your beautiful son"    so now tone is modest concern, counsel some friend of his, closer to what I've already lived through, the samaritan has turned his collar backward to keep friend on God's path no mentioning God of course, that might get tricky, specially since this friend is probably Catholic and he's, my bet is Presbyterian pinch of Born-Again - how dare he presume to savior guy and marriage when the decent thing is save the guy from his marriage    again I try to pass him    only some powerpuffgirl is trying to, do the same   bumps me aside with a jesus and keeps going but the impact makes her gigantic black shoulder bag swing not off but out enough to brush his phone flies out of his hand   
                                                                            now me, I'd stop first determine what just happened then snarl (if they're not big enough to clock me) at whoever responsible    but the preacher (deep down a faggot I just know it) is so concerned about friend Larry    and his phone    he doesn't even pause but accelerates, actually trots ahead to retrieve phone before anyone steps on snatches it (and still he's ahead of me) and tries to talk into it "Larry? Can you hear me, can you now?"    and once realizes connection is severed and or phone damaged still he doesn't stop: or look back at me: or just shake his head and stop talking finally and robot to work like the rest of us, no: with my own eyes I see him put dead phone into a pocket and from briefcase take out another phone hit speed dial find Larry again, who probably just letting himself hope the hyena got hit by a car or falling scaffold or terrorist mercy   and now must torture talk again about mending his shattered marriage    I am: so astonished so livid that through the tip of my eye I see sign for 50th Street and St. Patrick spire but I don't turn but stay on Park even though I'll have to get coffee someplace not usual and already at risk of going into conference B with my coat on    I will pass this guy if it kills me    once I pass and break wind in his face maybe say something pithy you faggot: I can pass the bucket satisfied to Banta Spinelli for their turn
       the problem: maybe cause he's been touched his head is jerking side to side worse than a hop-head pigeon's, while questing to savior Larry his voice is louder his gesticulations wider    and meanwhile even less opportunity to pass now, street's more crowded as we approach holy looming Met Life over-underpass, it really does seem like there's people all around me all around him    and even people in front of him: so his hogging of space isn't obvious anymore,    and yet each step it becomes more egregious    I make tentative moves and get nowhere and a bit disoriented cause suddenly I see that metal statue (stone?) of eternal salaryman    suit and tie and briefcase in hand, the other hand outstretched hailing taxi that never stops: wasn't this on east side of Park, 51st 52nd I could never stand it like someone's heavy-handed mockery of all    of me    might half be the reason I always stick to west Park    but there it is maybe the business owns it moved, right off the corner of 47th Street, and somehow from this perspective the frozen dark man his outstretch seems more futile, desperate    then a blast to my head I hear hellfire from long bearded guy who always stands on Park divider island also near 47th during rush hour    like Moses with two books in his hand instead of tablets and though roaring above the traffic I never actually make out a word he says, no: only words I hear are "Larry? Remember that's why you asked Rhea to dance and not her friend, God's hand sent you that way" so God!! pulling out all the stops "Larry? I want you to call me, do you hear? Call me the second you feel weak, or tempted, please, I'm your friend, let me help you through this" and one more time I try to break past him left, then right and of course he darts his head left right and no where for me to go and I know I'm have to give up and turn off here at 47th so here you are just do it get away from this guy,    he stops abruptly the curb even though: the light hasn't changed yet he stops for the DON'T WALK    manages to stop four other people from making it across even though there's time typical so as a parting gesture for spite I step on back of his foot
                                                                                                   except,    I don't just graze heel or ankle scratch a little shine off the back of his shoe    I slam down with all my strength like a cop stomping a perp's door, my motion is so quick crowd so thick nobody sees it even I don't see it and barely feel    but the force of it sends the freak staggering into the street down on one knee, even utters a cry not: pain so much, as astonishment    even louder than Moses on the island    and for a second doesn't stand but shifts his body around awkwardly, I'll bet I tore skin off his ankle or heel and he'll have a bruise maybe bleeding    but so what, hasn't even lost hold of his phone or briefcase! and he'd already hung up on Larry anyhow so it wasn't like I cut off the sermon    but he just stays there, weirdly crouched twisting around and I realize: he has finally noticed the rest of us and is determined to pin his outrage cast the glare of moral censure on the guilty party    our eyes don't meet but for the first time I see his face
                  he should have stood up and limped the yard back on curb and then cast his glare    instead sitting there, not far into the street, the far right lane which is usually blocked by double-parked cars anyway: nevertheless he does, does stay foolishly in the street, crouched half off balance and just so happens that this moment far right lane is clear and just so happens a cab makes a right off 48th Street onto Park and then floors it trying to beat the yellow through 47th    so basically this cab is too fast and doesn't see this guy crouching until last second too late anyway and hits him straight on and with such force as to send him in the air
                                                                                                                      from my vantage I don't really see the cab,    yellow flash against my left eye sort of like an extension of the mini panic attack I'm having so when the asshole goes up it almost seems intentional, like he has called God to levitate him over the cars of 47th and land him on the other side so can keep walking make another divinely motivated call: only when he comes down slams down headfirst sounding like bricks rather than flesh against the street right in the middle of traffic and cars are screeching slamming brakes and honking and a collective gasp belches from the people on all sides of me only then do I realize he's been hit       a moment, probably less than a second where he just lies there briefcase still clutched in one hand phone nowhere to be seen one leg folded under at a completely unnatural angle and again I see his face but once again: there really is no face, like my father no longer had a face the instant he was dead    then    people from both my right and left rush past    traffic suspended car doors fly he no longer visible what with the crowd upon him, and within one minute two I hear sirens far away then getting louder
                                                                        so I guess: it's two whole minutes I've stood here    guess I am stunned or maybe I've been thinking without realizing I was doing it    because it's all there scrolls past me again like a series of bullet points I might present in conference B:    it was really his own fault for lingering in the street like he did;    cab shouldn't have been speeding anyway;    at least 10 would-be Samaritans are helping him so there's really nothing for me to do;    and he's dead anyway, so there's really nothing for anyone to do:    I turn, make my way surprisingly easily through the rubber-neckers, and start speed-walking to the office    if I really push it pass on coffee I have the chance at least to hang up my coat before 9:30


All Poetry & Nothing ButClash of CivilizationsEC ChairFeatured PoetsForeign DeskGalleryStage
Hedonism: Theory & PracticeLetters & GlossolaliaArt of MarriageMoney TalkPets & BeastsZounds

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