Outside the box

Outside the box, Jack is a weary drunk, a crashing bore. Earwigs menace him with their calipers. Outside the box, Joseph Cornell steps carefully into the legs of his corduroy pants & into a pair of penny loafers & into a car with (he always thinks) three doors too many. Outside the box at dawn I heard a gunshot & wondered briefly what prisoner had met his or her end — some black angus, probably, with a barcoded label stapled to his ear. Outside the box, we are accustomed to living without hope; the other vices are in any case a far throw more entertaining. A starling with a scrap of glitter is quite ready to turn its back on all Manhattan. Outside the box, the streetwalker from some big square state named for the Indians no longer believes in the box — you can’t pay her enough for that bullshit. Inside, outside, what’s the difference? Stenciled graffiti depicting gangsters with their heads tucked under their wings begin to crop up on lampposts and parking meters. The edge of the curb becomes a liminal zone; plastic shopping bags cartwheel into traffic & vanish. What’s for supper? Outside the box, one blurry still from a security camera leads the cops to a cluttered apartment & a thousand greasy iterations of the same spiral labyrinth. The suspect is a serial — albeit unconscious — printer of his own fingertips, if nothing else. The lieutenant says, I didn’t get this job by thinking inside the box. Someone with a white cloth unfolded in his lap like a minimal newspaper sinks a knife into his steak & smiles to see it blush. It’s medium-rare, this high-plains sunrise. It tastes like iron.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

6 Comments


  1. Great last two sentences.

    And this is fine: Outside the box, the streetwalker from some big square state named for the Indians no longer believes in the box . . .

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  2. Lots of sentences and imagery here that I love. (For some reason I am getting tired of the word imagery.)The starling with the scrap of glitter, the edge of the curb becoming a liminal zone, and yes, the streetwalker who no longer believes in the box. And a thousand greasy iterations of the same spiral labyrinth. This is one of my favorites.

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  3. Hey, thanks for all reactions! It seems as if almost every part of the poem was a hit with somebody, which is a good sign, I guess. I wrote the damn thing on little but coffee and andrenalin; today, when I’m plenty well-rested, I don’t feel inspired to write anything. Go figure.

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