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JJ Hutton Aug 2020
The morning, good; the morning, relentless—she tip-toes
out the front door in her ex-husband's brown patent leather shoes.
Outside. Walking again. On her own two feet but not in her own
two shoes. It's a Monday. It's an autumn. It's a neighborhood
with tricycles strewn in front lawns, with spent confetti in the
gutters, with Japanese trees, with Greek columns, with the reliable
sound of the working class commute in the distance. The shoes, four sizes too big, nearly slip as she half saunters, half staggers on
her way to the bakery on Bellevue. She's hungry for predetermined conversation, an exchange between a patron and a cashier. There's a young boy playing with a water hose. He waves enthusiastically. She matches it with a wave of her own as she passes by. The boy turns away, runs toward his home. She feels self-conscious and there's something in the pocket of her ex-husbands linen suit jacket, a bottle of cologne.

The door chimes as she walks into the bakery. The cashier says good morning before looking at her. The cashier's eyes quickly scan her and dart away. She's a child in her ex-husbands clothes. She orders a coffee. She asks for a Splenda packet. "I like my coffee like I like my women," she says. "Hot and artificially sweet." Pity laugh. Nervous laugh, maybe. It's not even her joke. He tells her the price. She hands him the money. Thank you. No, thank you.

She sits alone by a window. She's an alien doing normal people things. She's tired and whatever spark got her out the door may not get her home. A man seated at the table behind her sneezes once, twice, three times.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I think I'm allergic to your perfume."

"Me too," she says.
JJ Hutton Aug 2020
I've been watching the ants.
It's August and I sleep in the afternoons.
I'm single. I haven't showered in two days.
The smoke from the incense drifts.
I **** it down like a good myth.
And the ants are there, on my desk,
scurrying back to their homes
with a few bread crumbs in tow.
I talk to myself after lunch.
"Let me show you to your bed."
And I bury my head in the comforter
and the ants are feasting
and outside there's a pandemic
going on
and I read about a man with
a one-point-five million-dollar hospital bill
and I heard they've been sending
direct deposits to the dead
and something crawls along my leg
and how did nag champa become
the default incense
and I'm single and my heart is
curdled and my mom calls
to ask if I've found anyone to make it whole
but I tell her I better grab a
few winks--it is the late afternoon--
but before I go, how about an update?
My dad fought cancer last
winter and we didn't really
talk about it
and I kept thinking of the
word leisure
and everything got empty
and a little bit terrible
and a leisure suit is nothing, nothing
to be proud of,
and they gave my dad a numbered
chip and they let him ring a bell
and he said a few words
and I wanted to be there,
really there, you know?
But I knew it'd just be
a moment until the sun
got stranded on its way
to set, and I'd see my shadow
and burrow into this bed
with a nag champa halo
and a few mumbled words
to commemorate day 153 of quarantine.
JJ Hutton Jan 2020
You just sit there, right there, and watch.
I'll collect the debris, out of sight, out of
Mind your manners when I give you a piece of my
Mind scattered, adrift, wanting. You just want somebody to
Love yourself, above all things love
Yourself, get yourself a self-help book. You can't help
Yourself, in miss-matched socks, keeping regular office
Hours go by and the data won't enter itself. Nobody's
Perfect the ritual, the treadmill at lunch, the dry shampoo
Tears in the breakroom sink and loose lips sink
Ships anywhere in two business days, a total modern
Marvel at how a network television show can still make you
Cry freedom and throw half a brick through the
Window to your soul; in this moment, a penny for your
Thoughts shattered, amiss, stunting. You just need somebody to
Love me, above all things love me.
JJ Hutton Sep 2019
On our way home
rain along passenger windowpane
after party still stirring me, blurring me
our flesh melds leather
rolling stop gasoline haze
and your finger is in my mouth
adore you a dumb animal for you
over the railroad tracks
and you're vibrating,
I'm transforming, the steering
wheel spinning need you
supine and suggestive smoking
my vices,
the only things I'd give my
vices up are my vices
the sun can wait
the sun can obscure
dwell indulge imprison
JJ Hutton Aug 2019
Karin, in my t-shirt, standing
eternal in the doorframe,
saddle-stitching the smell
of juniper with the gentle
caress of her damp hair,
plucked white, shaved clean
and there's music, it's a Saturday,
there's a wind careening through
the pines, a steady rain picking
at the windowsill, and I want
to hold time, to dissipate its march,
to let the love between us linger,
to indulge the soft pang of desire
indefinitely, to eek out of my borders,
to blend, to float above my body,
above Karin, to see it all with such
clarity, to return to form, to bend,
to worship, to stay, to stay in this
small room, to stay in this twin bed,
tangled, poor, blissed out, cherished,
JJ Hutton Aug 2019
You pose him, your child, with the dog, the puppy,
the one your wife insisted you buy for him, your child,
your only son. You stand back. Your wife counts down
from three. Your child smiles in such an unnatural way
like he learned to do it from an instructional manual.
Something about this unnerves you. The posing. The
stilted smile. You made this child, your only son, and
he's five feet removed from you and his face is unnatural,
a caricature of joy. The puppy barks once. It echoes in the small
living room, and you can't help but think of this photo
as a marker, another tangible step closer to your own death.
You reframe. You say this is a moment. This is something to
cherish. This is something to look back on. Your wife says
good boy and scratches the puppy behind the ears.
She kisses your child, your only son, on the forehead.
But, of course, one day this dog will die. With any luck, you, your wife, and your only son will live to see this day and this moment
will reemerge and your wife will say he was a good boy and your
son will say he was so small and you'll feel this same dread -- the posing, the stilted smile -- you'll feel it all fresh. How many tiny tragedies can a man anticipate? How many tiny tragedies
can a man endure?
JJ Hutton May 2019
And if you won't go down,
can I at least get you in my down line?
Let me appoint. Fast food crown.
The children are sleeping. Uncork the wine.
Slide a ******* under the gouda.
Glasgow smile and Instagram this opportunity.
I could recite the medication, but I shouldn't.
You want to watch something? Ever seen Community?
There's an art to being 30 and single.
There's cream for every wrinkle.
There's a sin in need of a kindle.
There's, for everything, a fee--it's simple.
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