we’re sitting

on the porch

on opposite sides of a table that

at least in my memory

has been


so both of us can see the beach.


He’s shuffling papers,

my month’s worth of writings.

I’m waiting for him to speak.

He winces.

Long weird pause.


“Well,” he says,

“when you applied we thought you’d be our star,

but I don’t know what the hell to say about this pile of…”


and, bless his heart, he pauses again


“What the hell were you thinking when you wrote this crap?

We both know you’re better than this.”


And this time the pause is mine. 


“Well,” I say sorta tentatively,

“I guess I was trying to do what you said.”

“What I said?”

he says without so much as a beat for breath

and then he waits.

“You said,” I say, “that we should spend the month

throwing out everything we already knew

and do our best to write

in ways that were new

at least to us.

And so I did.”


Another pause,

this one punctuated by my papers

sliding across the table in my direction

just before he says,

“Yeah, well I’m so sorry you wasted your month here.

Nice try.

You can go.”


I gather up my writings

and, standing, turn toward the beach 

just in time to see a submarine surface.

I turn back to look at him

and he says,

“It’s no big deal.

We see them surface here a lot.

Sometimes people write about them.

You take care, now.”