“Death. It’s going around.” —a medical resident, three a.m., over oily coffee
—To surpass yourself.
—To see a flattened human being. An eleven-year-old boy caught between a delivery truck and a Walgreen’s.
—To jaywalk through your hours like a careless man.
—To metaphor. To compare unlike things. For example, the soul and blue flashing lights.
—Listen. Stop. This isn’t going to be a positive outcome.
—A woman lost three days in the Rocky Mountain winter, and survived. All she had was a king-sized Snickers bar. They wanted to make a commercial, but something happened.
—She ate three trays of Jell-O and mushy chicken. Then fell into a swoon, a sleep of 48 straight hours. The older nurses rolled their eyes; whispered, “Crystal...”
—Hospital food smells exactly like illness.
—Two days later the woman was arrested downtown on a street corner. Naked, yelling holy things.
—Snickers decided against the commercial.
—Unclothed could be a theme here.
—Holy could be a theme here. How we preach to ourselves. How we trust in words.
—I’m not going to lie to you. We don’t do that.
—We slice off clothing. We shave heads. We stick you kindly. A good nurse means human. A good nurse will throw a towel over exposed genitalia. Will buy for you a magazine. Will maybe listen.
—Immanence in shades of blue.
—Blue as device. Most ER rooms are eggshell white, with a large tile floor sloping to a metal drain.
—I think about that drain.
—Surgical dressings are blue. Footies are blue. Scrubs are blue, except when beige. Several types of wet-to-dry kits. Several types of hypodermic glisten. The sky in Denver. Big-ass sky. The giant dumpster out back where we smoke and huddle.
—A naked man leaps from the stands and runs after the Colorado Rockies right fielder. He’s tackled hard, and committed (in all its meanings) to the psych ward.
—Radio stations; interviewers sneak into the stairwells.
—I consider those who ridicule the mentally ill to be bastards.
—I am a bastard, in a way. My father left me. Does that belong here?
—Not belonging could be a theme.
—They call this juxtaposition.
—Sometimes I made out with a young lab technician behind the dumpster.
—Not sure why.
—The energy. The hot thrum. The way death will make you want to attempt life.
—Or maybe I control nothing.
—I have stories about motorcycles.
—About gangs and gunfire and retribution and can you believe one kid shows up at the ER to finish the job?
—Now you know why we have our own police station.
—But why a McDonald’s?
—About contradictions. Or contraindications (not the same term).
—About last words.
—I have a story about the time before I left.
—A church group from Louisiana. They visited the Breckinridge slopes a day after skiing season. The lifts still open, to ferry tourists to the gift shop. The kids removed the seats from the lift and made their own sleds.
—Over an edge. Not a metaphor. An edge. Three of them.
—Their bodies a different story entirely.
—There’s a gas station right across the street. Go get a beer, drink it, and get your ass back to work.
—What I remember are the ones above, the children in the seats, legs dangling.
—Watching it all unfold.
—Pain could be a theme.
—I want to call someone.
—I want to kiss someone until my mind collapses.
—I want to create here, understand?
—You go tell his mother. It’s your turn.
—Look at the size of this sky!
—The way it differs from suffering.
—And does not.