jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


Long after we have gotten up each day, I make the bed. After showers, the brushing of teeth, dressing, the eating of breakfast, I go upstairs, pull the sheets up, fold them back, ready them. When I slide my hands under the pillows to straighten them, they are still warm.

I keep running an image through my head. I went out to get a cheap burrito at lunchtime. At the edge of the Tenderloin, there are a lot of places to get cheap food, but I am only crossing the street. Waiting for the light, I can hear him before I see him, mostly lying on the sidewalk, partially leaning against the wall of the diner. He is howling a broken toothed duet with a passing streeter--Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze. By the time I step out of the taqueria with my lunch he has fallen silent. A bundle of worn grimy clothes, one arm thrown up over his face. At the end of that arm is his hand, thick and red from the chill with spalling chelated nails, waving ever so slightly, like a lobster's claw at the bottom of a restaurant tank.

The burrito was good. Only one piece of gristle so tough I had to spit it out.


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