They have a youth that you think
should make you envious, poured
into clothing that would be
a second skin, if skin were silk
and polyester, patterned tights
hair ironed straight, colored highlights
and you still recall when this
what a fascinated you, when
you would have found it alluring.
You probe the corners of your memory
knowing the trigger is there, unable
to find it in the vague images of velvet,
flowing and draping, colors more vibrant
in the acid fog, knowing it would all
crash down too soon, that the cocktails they hold
should be cheap jug wine in plastic cups
to prolong the slow descent back
into the real world from which the blotter
paper and cactus provided a welcomed escape.


It was, simply, the strangest summer of his life. He didn’t go home between semesters, as he agreed he would when his parents agreed to pay for college. Their marriage was quickly unravelling and each frayed thread was a live wire that threatened to burn anyone it touched, and he needed none of that. Years later his siblings still bore the scars of getting too close. So he found a job in a diner just off campus, washing dishes, prepping for the cook when the assistant didn’t show up, or showed up too drunk to distinguish a skillet from a toaster. He rented a small room near campus, and he plumbed the mysteries of the universe with the aid of those special cacti and mushrooms. For that summer, the universe held infinite possibility.