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.

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