1. AM/PM is a slideshow of offstage moments.
2. AM/PM is sweetly sick and madly stark.
3. AM/PM is so many cells to break.
4. AM/PM is a fuzzy nectared bumblebee dusting pollen off.
5. AM/PM is a silent slipping between sheets.
6. AM/PM has hands on its time.
It was still dark, but Terrence’s eyes adjusted enough that he could sense the movement of his hand before his face. “Charles,” he said. “I believe we are in a small box.
“Indeed,” Charles said, from the darkness. Terrence judged him to be about five feet away, but when he reached his arm out, he touched Charles’s knee, which startled them both. The knee was cold and hairy. Charles’s knee made Terrence more nervous than the existence of the small box.
He leaned back and startled again when he touched the soft walls of the box. The thick velvet felt deep enough to sink his fingers into, but he didn’t want to know what was down there and instead let his hand rest on the surface.
Terrence considered the letter he would write to his girlfriend when he was free. He thought fondly of the time they ate cotton candy and she vomited. (AM:30)
7. AM/PM is wondering what the violet stain is underneath a friend’s nose and mouthing to your wife, “What the hell is that,” and she writes down rosacea, and later asking, “What is rosacea?” mispronouncing it, and hearing her say, “roh-ZAY-sha” waiting for it to sink in like downspout drops into dry dirt.
8. AM/PM is carrying moldy corrugated cardboard boxes up three flights and unpacking the dusty books without anyone to help.
9. AM/PM is telling your husband of course you don’t think of someone else when he’s on top of you when even then you’re thinking of the beefy cashier whose fingers grazed your palm when he handed you your change.
10. AM/PM believes in grace when everything points to the contrary.
11. AM/PM is telling somebody you feel sad about an artist who died recently and they say, “I’d probably like them since most of the stuff I like to look at was made by dead people.”
12. AM/PM is learning that the butterfly’s powdery iridescence on your fingertips are scales and it needs them to fly.
Andrew’s problem with women was that he was analytical and they were always, always emotional. Women made fun of him for measuring out salt and spices when he cooked. Even the ones who never cooked would criticize him, leaning against the doorway of the kitchen as if they knew they shouldn’t trespass but teasing him anyway. At the movies they smacked him with popcorn buckets for commenting on an incongruous detail while they were building the stamina to cry. None of it made sense to Andrew. He was very loving, and concerned, and simply knew where to place sadness and fear and anger, so that it could be accessed with great efficiency when needed.
“It’s just you and me, house,” Andrew said.
The house was not so sure. (A.M. 34)
13. AM/PM is seeing a young man with tattooed arrows radiating from his eyes and wondering what he was going to think when he looked at himself thirty years later.
14. AM/PM is bristling at every sound because the scrit scrit of pencil sharpeners, the crackle of crumpled up looseleaf, the bell’s tinny insistence, the chair legs’ industrial scrape had shaven away any kind of self-control you had before you started to teach.
15. AM/PM jettisons any extra ballast.
16. AM/PM is wondering whether the feeling felt was crimped or cramped.
17. AM/PM likes John Mayer but loves David Ryan Harris.
18. AM/PM is a murder weapon and a suicide note.
19. AM/PM is a man, a hole, and a cover.
And may the women hold their brave faces to the sun as the men become afflicted with a terrible pestilence, and may their flesh rain upon the heads of the chosen people. May their hair clog the sewers of the streets, and their broken bodies tumble into the sea! May their useless fury fail to stir the tapestries in the temple, and may the LORD find solace in their swift destruction! (49:PM)
20. AM/PM is after the fun and games when someone lost an eye.
21. AM/PM is learning leopards have rosettes not spots.
22. AM/PM breathes in with every dig of his thumbs.
23. AM/PM is a biblical affliction.
24. AM/PM is a kit filled with dissecting pins, dissection needles, dropping pipette, iris scissors, probe with angled tip, rigid metal ruler, scalpel blades, scalpel handle, surgical scissors, and tissue forceps inside it.
Olivia dreams that her body becomes pliable enough that she can stretch very thin and cover most of the rooms of the house. Her body is so thin that the bones are clearly visible, and the veins stretch, and the blood has more distance to travel and as a result, the edges of her body are very cold. Reginald opens the front door, removes his shoes, and takes only one step before recoiling in horror at the chilly mass that is Olivia’s body, stretched and waiting. In her dreams, she controls every aspect of her life. (43:PM)
25. AM/PM is as symbol as it seams.
26. AM/PM is a ruse to put you off the scent.
27. AM/PM is a masterful display of lighter-than-air craft.
28. AM/PM is tomorrow answers no such thing.
29. AM/PM constellated wonders
30. AM/PM is a cresty wave.
31. AM/PM can’t help yearning.
32. AM/PM will stretch and stretch you.
Frances needed a man she could sink her life into. The perfect man, she observed, would like her but not really enjoy her friends, and the feeling would be mutual. She and her perfect man would eventually stop going to their friends for advice. They would eventually see each other only, and one morning, they would wake up to find that they had fused together, just slightly, at the upper thigh. The fusion would not be uncomfortable, and would allow for some level of privacy for each. the days of uncertainty, and annoyance, and misunderstanding, would not be entirely over, but whenever such feelings arose, Frances or her perfect man would simply reach to their thigh area and gently pluck the shared skin like a harp string. (AM:68)
33. AM/PM lifts the anchor.
34. AM/PM is a waking nightmare about a cracked devil in a sleeping church.
35. AM/PM is a tailored afternoon of sharpened memory.
36. AM/PM is painful philosophy within tempting music.
37. AM/PM is tempting philosophy within painful music.
38. AM/PM is the muffled argument that provokes the librarian.
39. AM/PM needs an immediate listener.
40. AM/PM. is a multi-chambered mollusk shell.
41. AM/PM‘s every command is my wish.
42. AM/PM doesn’t care as long as you’ll stay.
43. AM/PM is a wind-up key for thinking outside of your box.
Are you growing mistrustful of others? Do you suspect your wife does not actually have cancer? Is every trip to the mailbox and exercise in loathing and remorse? Are your coworkers having trouble finding anything interesting to say when they talk about you behind your back? Do you deeply despise people who possess many of the same opinions and motives as your own? (AM:72)
44. AM/PM rises up from the flashes.
45. AM/PM accuses you of taking the woman’s side all the time and then apologizes because it was not true.
46. AM/PM is finding a dead and dried out songbird on a driveway and using a plastic cup to scoop it up, carrying the thing to your home, and pouring it into a plastic bag to bury in the backyard when you return late evening.
47. AM/PM is not finding your way out of a sick relationship, or staying out of a sick relationship, but finding and staying in a healthy relationship.
48. AM/PM is learning that Om is the sound the universe makes, is infinity, or something like that, and not feeling peace in the knowing.
49. AM/PM is what angels might be thinking.
50. AM/PM drives you to wreck and bluing.
51. AM/PM is an eyesight puzzle.
52. AM/PM is a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on leafy greens.
53. AM/PM cries and displays affection in public.
54. AM/PM is forever under the weather.
55 AM/PM does not send emoticons.
Olivia sees a butter knife on the banister atop the stairs. She fantasizes wildly about the ways in which it might plunge into the ones she loves.
The butter knife makes the entire room feel dangerous. An intruder might not have any desire to stab her until he reached the top of the stairs and felt the butter knife under his hand. Olivia cannot go on until she collects the butter knife and puts it in the sink, where it belongs. (AM:76)
56. AM/PM threatens to press a pillow against your face while you sleep and watch until your arms and legs stop flailing like a dancing marionette.
57. AM/PM is what demons might tinker with.
58. AM/PM is reminiscent of a proverb that says “even in laughter the heart is sorrowful.”
59. AM/PM is the whiff of evergreen as she talks right past you.
60. AM/PM debunks myths like the one that says that hair and nails grow after death.
61. AM/PM creates myths like one that says swallowing an ice cube a day will create immunity to seasonal affective disorder.
“They’re gold flakes,” Wallace said, reaching to touch them on his back. “Genuine.”
Tess held her hand against the textured gold on Wallace’s tattoo. She drew her fingers back. “Are not,” she said.
“Indeed they are. The artist was fantastic. He literally fused the metal to my skin, and I have to get it retouched every five years.”
The gold leaf made a pattern of fish scales across his spine.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
“You’re beautiful,” he said, turning his head halfway.
“Not as beautiful as a gold flake.”
He considered it. “Maybe not. It was a very special process.”
“Must have been,” Tess said. She felt sure she would die alone. (79:PM)
62. AM/PM is a do-it-yourself kit to protect imagination.
63. AM/PM is tragic realism.
64. AM/PM is an upper room experience.
65. AM/PM is seeing a woman covered in spots and pointing her out to your husband and he says, “Nice tattoo,” and you say, “No, she’s a cheetah taking human form,” and he says, “You and your wild imagination,” and you say, “Yes—wild.”
66. AM/PM mumbled some stuff.
67. AM/PM is squeezing its eyes together to help them along.
68. AM/PM is screaming in your face about something you didn’t see.
69. AM/PM is rain, wind, and sun duking it out for rule of the day.
70. AM/PM is where the world is dead to you.
71. AM/PM overhears conversations and unravels.
72. AM/PM is always touching something it shouldn’t.
They were in love! Carla wore her hair up and Andrew saw everything as a sign. They spent an entire afternoon sitting side by side in a coffee shop, taking more meaning than necessary from the world around them. A man wearing boxing gloves walked down the sidewalk in front of them and they took that to mean they would be together forever. (AM:111)
73. AM/PM is searching through old selves.
74. AM/PM has a headache and wonders when he will stop talking trash.
75. AM/PM boosts the happiness quotient in your life.
76. AM/PM has good relationships with other persons.
77. AM/PM adapts maturely to life’s changes and crises.
78. AM/PM is the shiver lining everything.
79. AM/PM is out of service.
80. AM/PM takes notice of nothing and nothing escapes it.
Why does the rain make us feel so romantic and strange? Maybe it’s the fact that we are unnatural spectators of it, from inside our homes, and it is a reminder that we have the power to live our whole lives like this, if we choose. It’s not the smell of fertile ground kicked up by raindrops, or the slick leaves, or the way we must amplify our voices to be heard over this larger presence. It’s the power of the rooftop that makes us want to fuck under it. (AM:82)
81. AM/PM is a word horde like Beowulf or something.
82. AM/PM dishes the dirt while smoking cigarettes.
83. AM/PM gave me the eye.
84. AM/PM is in the park with you.
85. AM/PM is a body of language pushed away by the small world at large.
86. AM/PM had one, but the time ran out on it.
Olivia’s whole body shook, not like a leaf but like the tree itself, a deep kind of shudder that only happened at the hands of loggers. A tree feels its deepest movement in those final seconds. She once watched a program on television where a falling tree snapped at the trunk, creating a ten-foot-long catapult that tossed a logger fifty feet into the air. The called it kickback. (99:PM)
87. AM/PM doesn’t feel the connection we used to feel together.
88. AM/PM has sunken eyes and invents beguiling excuses.
89. AM/PM is an apricot’s tomb.
90. AM/PM is an accusing perfume.
91. AM/PM gives free rain.
92. AM/PM commits nightly idolatry.
93. AM/PM is wasting away from grievances.
94. AM/PM is sweat between sad breasts.
Frances’s pale skin felt stretched so thin that if she scratched her face or her arms, she would mangle herself. She imagined the skin would peel up underneath her fingers like lacquer from a table. Perhaps she wasn’t drinking enough water, she thought, perhaps she was sleeping too much again. When she slept, she had wonderful dreams. (103:PM)
95. AM/PM is a balmy olive.
96. AM/PM disappears like a stain.
97. AM/PM is a lip of physic foam.
98. AM/PM is unwillingly patient.
99. AM/PM is not going to have it.
100. AM/PM is tapping its canvas-sneakered foot to Megadeth at the library.
101. AM/PM is the junk inside you, the teeth you grind, the bear you cross.
Tess kept a secret: her left hand was turning into a claw. She felt the tendons tightening up in her forearm the week before, and had written it off as the onset of carpal tunnel but the tendons continued to tighten. The feeling spread to her hand, which began to curve like a scythe, the bones lengthening a little and then bending, almost imperceptibly, until her fingers hardened into one immobile point and her left hand was fully a claw.
Tess kept the secret, but compensated by repeating it to herself. She would lie in bed, curled around her left hand, holding it gently to her knees. My hand is a claw. My hand is a claw. (109:PM)
102. AM/PM is mad about being treated like some charity case.
103. AM/PM is meditative poetry on the unseemly.
104. AM/PM thinks outside of the boxing gloves.
105. AM/PM breaks the rules before it’s forced to follow them.
106. AM/PM is that man complaining that pictures fall from their nails on the wall every time you walk across your floor above him.
107. AM/PM is that acrid breather working next to you in the library.
108. AM/PM is a worm snapping around in a child’s fingers.
June woke up covered in seeds. They were small, toasted sesame seeds, thousands of them all over her body. She had never been covered in seeds before and it was a strange feeling, like a snake might feel in sand. There was no explanation, as far as she could see, for the sudden appearance of all the seeds. It was a comforting feeling, and June turned over three times in the slippery weightlessness before falling back asleep. (AM:110)
109. AM/PM is spiritedly speechless.
110. AM/PM wants to hear a story about a monster that eats a man and hides itself in the woods.
111. AM/PM is a cake made of soap and water.
112. AM/PM is a furtive clicking key.
113. AM/PM comes home with less judgment than it left with.
114. AM/PM has a stain in its mouth and cannot speak.
One day everyone stopped over-thinking. We started thinking just as much as we should, and not any more than necessary. There were no more misunderstandings whatsoever. Minor disagreements were forgotten, not turned into proof of larger things. Trivial errors of speech or judgment were just as important as items on the breakfast menu: one chose waffles and the other chose eggs and it was a god damn miracle. (AM:120)
115. AM/PM is whatever might have been before.
116. AM/PM is the salvation just after dark that day.
117. AM/PM is a deserted body.
118. AM/PM is a brazen head filled with books.
119. AM/PM lays in its birth.
120. AM/PM read “unfettered clock” when it said “unletter’d clerk.”
About the author:
John Madera is a writer living in New York City. His work has appeared in elimae, Bookslut, New Pages, The Quarterly Conversation, 3:AM Magazine, Word Riot, and forthcoming in The Diagram. You may find him at hitherandthithering waters (www.johnmadera.com) and editing The Chapbook Review (www.thechapbookreview.com).