Habit and Route




by Rob Rice



Broken man speaks to

His wife on the line

“I don’t blame her”

In response to her saying she’s not coming home anymore

Startled to hear it aloud


He almost notices his eyes are dry

from not having been blinking


Somewhat to her, somewhat to himself, somewhat to god and the accounting

This man has said before “that’s the most insulting thing anyone has ever said to me”

as he is a pretentious man


Although that stems from the fear


He feels like the sound an empty can makes when it’s flicked

But heard through the wrong end of a binocular

He see’s a kid on the sidewalk with his mom, telling him something about

the propriety of street crossing

And he realizes the kid is a lot like a chicken egg

still bound primarily by one edge of time


Babies must dream in such abstractions and with such potent simultaneity of confusion and comprehension

he thinks.


He lost that in his teenage years, an understanding of affective co-incidence


He grew up and delivered himself, returned

when he remembered it


The same thing when, noticing that, on their first night together sexually,

she did not have a flattened stomach, he congratulated himself on his maturity

Always sucking off the rotten yoke, hardened orange and just below the rind.


He impaled his knee in early life, on an icicle, and after it melted it reveled,

him briefly windowed:

a subcutaneous gurgling fat held up knee’s dry skin.


A busload passes and on it more diversity of intention than can be measured

but just fills any space easily like gas.


One man is foreign, so much taller and built for a whole different life,

a life with so much pain and so: so much joy

that at most the other passengers get depressed by the intensity of his and his kind’s celebration and music.


It’s an unpopular music now too, on the surface because it seems naïve

but really more likely because it’s a devastating thing to be reminded of the potential for joy.


His hands are long and so slender

pronounced at the knuckles like arthritis while he’s young.


Another on the bus likes to show off her boyfriend

pouts in his absence.


Some riders ride every day and so know the couple

and unanimously they dislike her

and unanimously they came to realize it one day when the boyfriend didn’t board.


She wears a hood those days

prominently more sweats and soft fabrics

like his absence is flu

we’re all coming down with.




Hey, just a brief message from us overseers, whoever we may be:

If it turns out that you like anything you see here, and know someone who might feel similarly, pass it on!

That would be so cool of you.

It seems like some people are already doing this, as with each new post, more and so likely new people are being reached.

That’s awesome.






by Rob Rice



Finding himself on his knee

For the first time

Communing drunk

With a looming stranger

Whose helper’s motive is likely vanity?


But it could have gone just as easily the other way

That dangerous edge

Of sudden starving


Could have found himself

Snapping like the outing twig in a stalking

A bone not his

Just as easily

He could have


A real random nothing of circumstance

Deciding the difference

Between supplication and sin


Refined crude cowardice

Them equal, inevitable products?

Or one in the other in the

Same translations of the same text

Inscriptions revealed

By a broad and blanket washing

Disinterred and still breathing predecessors

Overtly returned to the wheel


The release-need insists

And mode specificity fails to relate

Apology and attack

As long as exertion

Liberates some fluid like a lancing


There’s no more a man there than before or after

But at a glance a god residually a glint on him

It is in their nature to be back


He stands there in that robe, the poet of Life of Frank, and greets me incongruously, not with sleep but some more insipid vapidity in his eyes. He looks ceded, the author of Little Maggot Existence, with his dress pants and gaudy blue suede loafers on under that robe, that equally-coffee-and-wine-stained stolen Best Western Turkish mimic. I can’t really tell if he recognizes me, if he recognizes any of this, if he remembers the interview or even the magazine, the visionary of A Brief Introduction to Astrophysics, he looks decidedly not home standing there in his doorway.


But then he raises his sunken head to meet my gaze, the bard of Examples of Defense Mechanisms, leaking that vandal’s smile, his eye’s blue momentarily orange, the mastermind of Dangerous Arithmetic says, once again,


“Come in.”




By Jamie Thomson



Walk tall! they said I walked

tall I hit my head I only hit it once

yet now look at me walk It’s pathetic




I stood around contemplating the many uses

of a fish There were so many! Then a bell

in the other room rang It being the era of the bell

I obeyed I entered the room It was so empty!

I removed the socks from where they had been draped

upon my ears and stuffed them in my mouth I began

to hop from foot to foot The bell ring was good




A sinking boat is bad for the people onboard

but a fun little brief new thing for the fishies




An old man died They put the dust in the corner Then

the maid fell sick She lay in bed The dust in the corner

remained The dust in the corner remained once the children

grew up and long after the door had been shut the dust

in the corner remained Little changed but they didn’t mind

They were happy that way They hid all sorts of things

in the dust in the corner Years passed and the dust

only grew The dust is now a mound No it is a mountain

not a mound a mountain of dust in the middle of that room




The last train was leaving Hop on!

they yelled The last train is leaving!

Where’s it going? I asked

It is the last train! It is leaving!




The light is on I see

the man The light is off

I can’t see him but know

he’s there I never sleep




I leapt out of bed The assumption

is categorically false! I cried out It was

nothing It was the middle of the night

I must have thought the rat in the corner

was someone else A distant train

let off some steam just then Sounding

the weeping of many small things




I missed my home so much I built

a little version of my home

in my head It looks good!

I fixed all the gutters Then

I killed the neighbors I mean

left them out I wouldn’t ever kill anything

except in my head It’s allowed