ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amelie Frank
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Tao Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Sondra L. Scott
   Ken Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Mark Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Robert D. Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Mark Krewatch
November 2004
   

 

Panes

    When my landlord knocked Sunday at nine to install storm windows, I’d been rolling in bed for hours, trying to fairly distribute a hangover. The pain of it would pulse at one side of my skull, then I’d turn over to let it seep to the other, half-dozing in a damp sweat and thinking of cold chowder dripping through an hourglass. As I rose, it all seemed to make a viscous slide toward my stomach.

    “R.K.,” he shouted, “you up?”

    It had been weeks since we’d spoken; I’d forgotten what day he was coming. He continued to call my name as I threw on jeans and a T-shirt, and though the door of my tiny back apartment was only ten feet from the bedroom, I couldn’t raise the air in my lungs to shout back. My mouth tasted of stale mucus, and while he tried the knob, I spat in the bathroom sink and ate a finger of toothpaste. I shuffled through the tiny living area and around the half wall that separated the kitchenette and put the kettle on for tea, figuring that was about all that would stay down. I stepped back to open the door just as he began filing through his keys.

    “Sorry, Allen,” I said. “I was in the bathroom.”

    The apartment opened to an outdoor landing just four feet above the building's pebbled cement backyard, and there Allen stood, wiry with electric hairs sprouting from
every pore except for where he was bald on top. They were the kind of hairs that had worked hard to make it out, so that while he was a well-mannered man who trimmed his long beard evenly and combed his monk’s fringe with care, he still looked wild. A paint-spattered stepladder leaned at the bottom of the short staircase behind him, and at his side was a long wooden toolbox, overflowing with tools and aluminum cans of nails and screws. The scent of oxidizing metal floated in on the fall air, weaving through the radiator heat.

    Allen lived alone, just two blocks down the street. He’d been an associate professor of anthropology over at the college for a number of years, during which time he’d acquired three apartment buildings off-campus in Brey. After he missed tenure, instead of moving to a new school, he stayed put. He taught one introductory class as an adjunct faculty member, and beyond that he supported himself with his rental income and thought about applying for grants. He said he made out okay.

    In late August, when I arrived in town two nights ahead of my furniture, he insisted on lending me a foam-sleeping mat so I wouldn’t need to pay for a motel. Though saving motel money was good, the mat was no more than a half-inch thick and two feet wide with one corner torn off, and it wasn’t much different than sleeping on the carpet. But I told him how comfortable it was, and he’d liked me ever since. In the first weeks we spoke several times. Running errands to set up the apartment, I’d pass him out trimming his lawn with a motorless push mower, and he’d wave me down to chat and offer advice on where to get a city parking decal or where the closest laundry was. But when the days got shorter, I rarely encountered him. Through October we talked just once, by phone, to arrange a date for the storm windows.

    “How are you settling in by now?” he said.

    “All right,” I said, blinking as veins twitched in my temples. “Thanks.”

    My apartment’s windows looked out on nothing but the brick side of the next building and a small bit of sky above, and given the cramped space, even my minimal furnishings – a desk, bookcase and armoire – mostly blocked them anyway. What the windows didn’t provide in terms of a view, though, they made up for in draftiness. The building was three-quarters of a century old, and the wooden runners were so worn that the sashes rattled in even a light breeze.

    “We’ll need to clear this stuff out of the way,” said Allen, surveying the furniture.

    My brain felt swollen, as if cerebrum were pushing out my ears, and I reeled at the thought of any heavy lifting. I had expected Allen would just take the ladder out in the alley, climb up, and screw on the storm windows from outside while I occasionally waved or offered him something hot to drink.

    “They don’t go on the outside?” I said.

    “I need you to get up close on the inside too, so you can help hold them in place,” he said. “Two-man job’s always better.”

    We slid the desk away from the first window, and I found myself incapable of looking down without becoming faint. I hadn’t really drunk so much the evening before, but I hadn’t eaten enough to soak it up. I had ordered a steak, medium, at the bar around the corner, but it came overcooked, and the noise my knife and fork made as I sawed my way through it became more than I could bear after a few bites. I don’t mind eating alone, but I don’t need my utensils reminding me or anybody else in my proximity about it, so I pushed away my plate and instead worked at my stout, which went down smooth and silent for the rest of the night.

    As we moved the desk, I breathed only through my nose, doubting the potency of the toothpaste. Allen said nothing but kept his head turned away until we got the piece clear, then stepped back to open the window. He was accustomed to trouble with his arts district tenants. He said they tended to leave behind ash-stained carpets and two months’ unpaid rent, maybe penciled murals on the walls. But me he had promised storm windows right off, as soon as I told him I was in news and sometimes wrote at home. The winds off the Elizabeth cut in hard during the winter, he said, and a draft wouldn’t do. A thinking man’s craft required consistent temperature.

    The kettle blew, and I shuffled back to the kitchenette, my shoulders up at my ears. I spat in the sink twice more before I turned off the burner.

    “Want any?”

    “I had coffee with the paper.” He brought in the toolbox and set it on the carpet under the windowsill. “If you don’t mind, hand me the tools from in here so I don’t have to keep running up and down the ladder.”

    He went out and carried the ladder down the alley while I poured the hot water and steeped my tea bag with my eyes to the ceiling, feeling prickly heat roll up my neck and through my head. When he shouted to me, he was already holding the first metal storm window in place against the outside wood casement, testing the size. It was double-hung to match the main window, but its frame was rusted. So were its guillotine-like sashes, and the broad single panes they held were slightly smoky. He’d stripped the thing from another building, from someone else’s apartment, but it was intact, and it fit.

    “R.K. The drill. Pass it through. The bit’s already in.”

    I tried to lower myself to the toolbox in a squat, so that I wouldn’t have to bend over, but tipped backward and fell on my tail. The floor had some spring in it, and the tools jumped in the box. Off the top rolled the drill, heavy, the manual sort that spins by winding a handled gear on the side, like with an eggbeater. It smelled of oil. Sitting there on the floor, I thought of egg yolks frying, squinted, and handed it up to where Allen now leaned through the window, looking down to see if I was still conscious.

    “Looks like you’ve found the Cantina all right,” he said.

    “I stop in once in a while.”

    The drill required two hands, so that he could only hold the storm frame in place by pushing his side against it. He had the panes fully open and locked at their highest catches, so the frame, top-heavy with the weight of the glass, kept wanting to topple over on him. I managed to get back on my feet. I reached up and out, leaving a slight crook in my arms to hook under the sashes of the raised panes, and with my hands I felt high up along each of the side rails for an outside grip. When I got one, I leaned back with all my weight, my toes against the baseboard, and closed my eyes.

    “I see some nice-looking girls go in there,” Allen said. For a man of small build, he had a resonant baritone voice.

    “I’m kind of keeping to myself so far.”

    “That’s the way,” he said. “A good journalist knows. Ease in.”

    He moved his drill from corner to corner. The bit ground against the sides of the screw holes in the frame, then bucked and squealed into the weathered casement. All the sashes shuddered in their runners at once, so that metal, wood and glass all clattered directly at my ears.

    “There’s this grad student who grades papers for me who you might like,” he said, speaking loudly over the racket. “How old are you again?”

    “Thirty-two.”

    “She’s twenty-one, but she’s earthy. Blonde too. She’d keep you straight.”

    I didn’t like the idea of needing to be introduced to anyone by my landlord. I had been married once and managed it all by myself. Yet the vision of a large-boned girl, handsome with long yellow hair, swam and glowed beneath my eyelids. She had just the hint of a second chin, cherubic and unsure whether it was coming or going, and I imagined tucking my head beneath it and bobbing in her embrace.

    There I remained until the vibration from Allen’s vigorous winding shook one of the storm panes loose from its catch, and it fell. Its bottom rail dragged a rust thorn down the inside of my forearm, and then trapped my wrist against the sill. I didn’t look, but instead concentrated on a bubble of nausea that slid into my chest. Allen tucked the drill under his arm and re-opened the sash to the lowest catch, high enough I could slip my hand out, but low enough the pane wouldn’t fall far a second time.

    “That might be a keeper,” he said, looking at my forearm. Most of the pane was between us now and he sounded far away. “Had your tetanus?”

    “I think.”

    I leaned the side of my forehead against the coolness of the glass and raised the arm to eye-level. The cut was deep, but the blood barely pooled. Only pinheads of red rose along its length. As I stared, the bubble of nausea slipped the rest of the way up, bursting with a guttural staccato pop. I coughed and tried to excuse myself, but Allen cut me off.

    “Did I tell you how the corner got torn off that mat I lent you?”

    He slid his own forearm under the sash and inside. I looked down as best as I could. He flexed it a couple times so that the knot of muscle at the elbow went in and out. You couldn’t normally tell because of all the hair, but there was a good scar there, thick and ragged.

    “Years back I was coming in from camping off-trail in the Blue Ridge, right around Natural Bridge. Ever been there?”

    “No.”

    “Well, at the range’s foot I got turned and ended up in one of those car-camp sites about dusk. I’d been carrying a full pack all day and had at least a couple more miles to get back to my truck, so I paid for a spot.”

    “Sure,” I said.

    “They’re loud, those places. The night air carries about everything. I could hear teeth being brushed a dozen pop-up trailers away. And the posted rules say no dogs, but I could hear people sneaking them out to the woods to do their business.”

    I kept my forehead against the window. The bass tones of his voice vibrated through the glass and across my skin. I watched the dots along the cut blur and melt into one another, unsure if blood was really filling the wound or my vision was only doubling. More bubbles, larger now, squeezed up my esophagus. I held my mouth closed and tried to swallow them back down.

    “Hand me the Phillips head and the screws.”

    I squatted again, keeping the hand of the cut arm on the sill to hold my balance. With the other I handed him the first screwdriver and can I felt for.

    “Screws,” he said. “One more over.” I lowered the can and stiffly bowed my head to see I’d given him tacking nails. I ran my fingers down the box and felt for the next can, then stood to help him hold the frame in place again, gripping the bottom edge of the lowered sash with both hands while he climbed the ladder and put a hip against the middle.

    “I was so beat, nothing was going to keep me up. I didn’t pitch my tent. I figured it was warm enough to sleep under the stars and rolled out my pad and sleeping bag. Didn’t even have the energy to heat up my canned stew. So I leaned my head back against my pack and started eating it cold, but I was out before I got halfway through.”

    The screws were a tight bore for the holes he had drilled in the wood, and they groaned quarter twist by quarter twist. He turned the screwdriver with both hands, rocking up with one shoulder and down with the other. The first place where I put my forehead on the pane got too hot, so I slid it over a few inches to a fresh section, but that heated up too, so I just started sweeping back and forth in an arc. The rhythm of the sway did little to help the churn of my midsection, but my brow stayed cool.

    “I had a dream that the camp site had a barber shop, a clapboard cabin with leather barber chairs and steaming tin basins of water and hot towels,” said Allen. “Two barbers had me tilted back, trying to convince me to shave. I could feel the warmth of lather at the top of my neck, and I was too comfortable to stop them. Then I felt a nick and woke up with a dog right on top of me, nosing under my beard.”

    He came two steps back down the ladder so that his face was right in front of mine. I stopped in mid-arc, and he lifted his beard with the back of his hand for emphasis, so that it flattened and spread against the pane. I could see a stray fleck of toast nested in the tuft. I breathed heavy to fog up the glass and block him from view.

    “I don’t know what kind of dog it was,” he went on, “half-lab-half-pit, maybe. Anyway, I jumped and it went right for me. I managed to roll over and pull the pad over me, but it ripped that corner off six inches from my nose, and then I stiff-armed it, but it clamped on me good, right below the elbow. I had to jam all three knuckles of the pointer finger on my free hand up its rear to make it let go.”

    I burped up a mouthful of lukewarm tea, and bile wafted into my upper sinuses.

    Allen had the frame mostly secured now, and I stepped away, turning and pretending to sip as I let the tea fall back in my cup. If a mad dog were gnawing its way up to my neck, I wondered, would I reach for its anus? I turned back, eyes watering.

    “How did you decide on that?”

    He paused over the last screw, his shoulders in mid-rock, as if he’d never considered the question, then shrugged and went on with the work.

    “It would make me let go,” he said. “When I collected myself, all I could smell was stew. I’d spilled it all down my front when I nodded off. The dog was still hungry and growling, but kept a distance. Nobody claimed it, but somebody went for the ranger, and he collared it.”

    I looked back at his scar. His forearm was so sinewy that even without the hair it wouldn’t have stood out. It probably used to look worse.

    “How bad was the bite?”

    “Not as bad as it bled, I guess my pulse was up. The ranger tried to take me to the hospital, but I just wanted to get to my truck. He had butterfly bandages in his First Aid kit, and they don’t close it as tight as stitches, but they close it. I’ve got some at home if you want.”

    A gust of wind blew through the short opening below the sash and chilled my waist where my shirt hung loose. My head still pounded, though more hollow now. I raised my cut to look at it again. Only a few thin red rivulets had begun to creep from it and across the fair skin.

    “I’ve got Band-Aids,” I said. I felt my neck to make sure I had a pulse.

    “All right then,” he said, climbing down the ladder.

    I shuffled back to the kitchenette to rinse my mouth. There couldn’t have been anything more than a few sips of tea in my stomach, but I could feel it swell and drop as I bent to the faucet. Allen came back inside behind me to move the bookshelf for the next window.

    “I had this one student back then with a thing for me – Ph.D. candidate, serious girl. I asked her to go with me that weekend, but she had something come up at the last second.” His voice boomed through the apartment now. “I bet we’d have spent the night curled up in the tent. I sure wouldn’t have passed out with canned stew in my beard.”

    We dragged the shelf, the front edge of its base stuttering along the carpet along with my stomach. We got it clear, and I rested with my hands on my knees while he went back out and around to the new window.

    “You should meet this grader I’ve got,” he said. He only had the panes open a few inches, and he sounded far away again behind the glass.

    I closed my eyes again and looked for her, but the cloudiness between my ears began to crystallize into something more jagged, and I couldn’t find her.

    “Was the dog rabid?” I asked.

    “No,” he said. “But it had a thing called leptospiroris, and I ended up with jaundice and diarrhea for three weeks. Worst runs I’ve ever had.”

    A last wave of dampness lurched through me, and I stumbled for the sink, where I threw up short, drooling heaves of limpid fluid. It was as if all the cells in my body had been wringing out poison and sending it to my gut, and it finally had pooled there to red-alert critical mass. I wiped my mouth with the dishtowel as Allen raised the next rusted frame into place. This wasn’t even the last one.

    “I can’t do this now,” I said, softly panting.

    He rested the frame on the outside of the sill and looked up at the sky. It was a washed-out blue, strung with wisps of dirty white, as clear as it had been all month. “Today’s as good a day as we’ll get.” He put a fist to his mouth and blew on it. “That hangover will take half as long to run its course if you keep moving.”

    “I can’t,” I said. I could smell the oil and oxidization of the tools from across the room. “If you leave me the toolbox, I’ll get them in later today.”

    “No,” he said, lowering the storm frame and heading down the ladder a last time. “I’ve got other things I need them for.”

    I quickly splashed my face and patted it down with the dishtowel, and I met him at the door. “I’ll check in with you later then,” I said.

    “No need,” he said, retrieving the box. “Either we’ll get them in, or we won’t.” He stepped back out to the landing. The uninstalled storm frames now leaned against the railing at the bottom of the staircase; he wasn’t leaving them behind either. He blew on his fist once more and pulled the door shut.

    I swabbed my cut with wadded toilet paper and put a row of Band-Aids across it. I closed the second window, but left the first one open the few inches where he’d set it and crawled back into bed. The bedroom radiator would build a pile of heat, and then a thin slice of wind would shoot the gap under the open panes and cut the pile to pieces. I adjusted the blankets so I had just the right amount of me under them and just enough sticking out. With a pillow pressed across my eyes, again I tried to find the grader, but I fell into sleep fast and hard and dreamed only of floating in a black, warm breeze.

    I woke, hungry, as it was getting dark. In the bathroom, I peeled up one of the Band-Aids to see blood had soaked the bandage while I slept, and the cut had begun to fill in evenly with a wide scab. I called Allen but he didn’t pick up, so I left a message saying how sorry I was and we could finish the windows any time he said. I showered, brushed my teeth, dressed and then called him again, this time leaving a message that I was going to the Cantina to eat and catch the Sunday night game, and I’d buy him a beer if he stopped in.

    Outside the air was sharp enough for my wool overcoat, but not so bitter it required buttoning, and I only wrapped it shut to fend off the heaviest blows that sent leaves skating along the sidewalk. On Allen’s block, a car slowly passed me from behind, then parked up the street. In the dim orange glow of porch lights, the figure of a young woman got out and walked back in my direction. As I passed Allen’s house and we came closer, I could see she was small, fine, with short-cropped hair, bleached white. She wore a surplus Army jacket, with the top a bottle of wine sticking out from where she clutched the jacket closed at her throat.

    “Hey,” I said, soft from the back of my throat, as we crossed.

    She nodded, her jaws locked to the chill, only the gracious hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth. I went on another few yards, then looked back to see her turn up Allen’s walk. He came to the door, his monk’s fringe wetted down, and greeted her with a hug, which she accepted with her lips turned away but her cheek pressed to his beard. As she pulled the wine from her coat and he guided her in, I headed to my dinner, hoping for quiet utensils.

copyright 2004 Mark Krewatch