Here in the boggy penis of America, the only thing stronger than the Sun is the hammer that flattened everything out back in the days of dinosaurs. There's nothing to stop a person from seeing the sun set across the tabletop of sawgrass, slowly carrying the city away into the sea below a cloudy sky of salmon, turquoise, and lavender, swirling off across the Gulf, draining away with another day.

Nothing, that is, except for cookie cutter developments of stucco houses giving rise to vast oceans of red Spanish tile, and except for the muzzle fire of gangs doing the bidding of cocaine dealers, and except for the person's own blindness as they turn away from the western sky and focus on the things they want to be more pertinent. Themselves, for instance.

Here, though, we had a balcony twelve stories above the ground, the tallest point in its microsecond of latitude, with a view of the west that seemed to go all the way to the end of the world, on the other side of the sawgrass, where people would only venture to take advantage of homestead exemptions. And that sun, I wanted to imagine, was the same sun rising against the wall of Osaka Castle, giving someone else a new day as it took away mine.

When the sun went down and the stars flickered on, the ocean would become gray and void, the sand of the shore damp and cool, and the only light would be dim amber overflow from ancient streetlights, creeping in between the bare walls of condominium towers, and lending the wet sand a faint silvery glimmer. With no sun, no caws of snowbirds, no muffled Canadian French and Long Island English, the only sound from the ocean would be a distant roar. If I didn't know better, I might have chalked it up to the airplanes circling away overhead, lining up to take a thousand people home when I was already as close as I would ever get.

There was one night when the stars were strong, and a creative mind could see the lights of Bimini shining away for the boaters to follow home, but the only lights I could see were the hazard lights on the building tops and those incessant little strokes of glitter running away from me up the shore, as the foam of a thousand Bahamian liquors rushed up with the tide. Beyond the public beach, she was sitting on a Lilliputian dune, arms folded against the breeze from the water.

And when we met in the middle, our bodies clicking together like Lego bricks, curve A into curve B, my hands dusted the wet sand from her jeans as our noses faced off and our lips made fire.

The sun has set across the world a thousand times since then, and the sands of the shore have wilted away to a tiny bar, nearly buried by the high tide. They say it's because of new buildings, because the wind carries the sands away little by little, draining the earth below the towers we constructed. Each time I return, the shore is lonelier beyond the veil of night, swallowed more and more by an ocean that can't hold back.

Yet the waters run warm and salty now, as though the sea were merely filled with tears, splashing against the lip of the beach. So now, I lay back against the tide, watching the stars of a million forgotten nights, and the ocean holds me until I say goodnight, crossing the wet sand and falling back into my ordinary world.


Grass grows at its own pace, coming back each year from the tan dormancy where it dreamed of a life without earthworms. The worms haunt the Zoysia even though the grass knows they are good for it. They're like sex without love. They're like property taxes for a homeowner. They're like a bloated defense department budget's raison d'être.

Cliff is mowing the grass down the hill on the right. Jamie is trimming her rose bushes up on the left. Somewhere off stage you can hear the sound of a cement mixer pouring a new driveway in that area that was just woods last year. The sounds of all of man's machinery drift upward into the sky and become mixed with the spin of the planet. Somewhere out there it all morphs into a low hum which sums us up in an understandable way to the trained Ear.

The kids age one year at a time. This is this year; it is not the year they cut their first tooth and it is also not the year they lie down with that final fatigue. This is the year they graduate from high school and get ready for college in one house. In another house, it is the year they go through a horrible divorce. Someone said that the unstable boy down the street stabbed his mom and she's still letting him live there. It's the year for worrying about that decision. But it's only one year in a line and the folks in the neighborhood cherish the succession. They get down on their knees every day and pray for boredom. Just let the brown mat become green again.

Somewhere there are fanatics with suitcase nuclear devices. These madmen hate the folks on my street even though the people around me harbor no ill will toward any man. These madmen hate us in a visceral and evangelical way that not even the Nazis or the Japanese hated us earlier in the last Century. Most of the folks where I live believe that one man arrived long ago to cleanse their souls of hate. The ones who don't believe this would not be worth a damn in a good knife fight. Regardless, it's unlikely that I'd have much time to do any productive recruiting. It's true we're soft. We're just a little bit bored but we've embraced the boredom as a false idol of hope that nothing really, really bad will happen on our grid. We cherish our boredom as much as our enemies cherish death.

When the sun goes down each day and the motion sensing lights begin to work on every movement outside each household, how many of those beams catch any dishonest aspect? Is it one in a million? The rays protrude for exactly seven minutes until the next time, and it could be a possum or it could be nothing or it could be that one time that a large piece of shrapnel falls from the explosion at Cliff's house from whence the blast emanated.

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