Representative Character

I cut the orange in two 
  and the two parties 
are not equal. I watch 
  the driveway, study 
irregularities in market 
  fluctuation, the bird
humming at the feeder. 
  It’s colder than yesterday. 
Very dark. I’ve been here 
  now two years and 
haven’t received a letter.    
  One hour of sleep 
before midnight is worth   
  three in August. Do you 
know what I mean? 
  Women in particular 
responded once to my  
  advances. I’ve been 
researching Buddhism 
  on my phone for twenty 
minutes. They say one 
  thing exists in every 
hidden thing. Soon I will   
  replace myself with 
the sound of a prayer 
  bell application. Cigarettes 
drag time. I get news 
  alerts: first the harbinger 
of the storm, followed 
  by an icon of the sun 
covered in raindrops, 
  then nothing to look 
forward to. Another 
  coffee without milk.
There’s no hurry. 
  In a few hours a sprinkler
system automatically 
  operates. Someday 
somewhere I believe 
  someone will depend 
on my presence 
  at a recital or, more likely, 
their ride home. I wish 
  there were more time 
to go back to school, 
  read the classics, clean 
the pool. The doctor will 
  arrive soon to walk me 
around the bend up in
  the road, pause at colonial 
gravesites. I could care. 
  Gradually these fields broaden, 
brown, and we walk back. 

More by Brett Fletcher Lauer

Sports History

I understand what
a jump shot is,
certain mechanics

of the body, hand
positions, elbow
alignment, follow

through. Enough
player names to
mention around

the imaginary water-
cooler if I found
myself there. A body

at rest still needs
to hydrate. I cried
watching Bird

and Magic in that
documentary and
own a small collection

of expensive high-top
sneakers in various
colorways—used

exclusively to walk
my pets or to the
coffee shop for

an almond croissant.
Fresh to death. On
my mantle, four second

place trophies from
intramural wrestling
all before fifth grade.

Pitter patter sprawl.
I can’t remember
swimming. I mean,

I can’t swim. I can’t
drive. Sometimes
I miss a high five,

the pat on the ass.
I swung and missed
at tee-ball, golf. Traded

cards for the love
of the potential investment.
George Brett, I’ll always

love your name.
I appreciate highlights,
trick plays as much as

the next: The Statue
of Liberty, Flea Flickers,
The Changing Light

at Sandover. I was
born in the suburbs
of the city of brotherly

bullies, poor sports,
famous boo-ers and
stadium court houses.

I was the only boy
cut from my seventh
grade soccer team.

It’s in my blood to lose
at all games, even Uno,
especially Monopoly,

and when I do, I spit
into my palm or refuse
to shake hands.

An Accounting

In this room, hours pass, a slight
corruption of each previous
allotted time block—and probably
confirm failure and humiliation,
which though not ideal, I accept
as historically accurate. I’m sick
of lifestyle music, the thing between
awe and detachment which Hazlitt
defines as adrift. I clear my throat
remind myself, doors are locked,
the ashtray half-full. Unless otherwise
noted, light falls from the television—
accompanies night, any available
other-worldly knowledge. What else?
I’m unhappy even at the edge of rivers,
conversations regarding weather,
any manner of appointment. All comfort
requires another voice. Ditto delusion.
For instance, these shadows imposed
from trees bent by wind and other forms
of predictive behavior, may or may
not contain consciousness. I’m still
working it out. A glass of water grows
warm. I have done terrible and middle
class things for money. This is not
necessarily an acceptable conversation.
Things are good. The serotonin
reuptake inhibitor fades another winter.
If there are things we need, there are
things we need less. I face the mirror
to say it again with feeling. Understand
this is me applying myself.