Momentary Inertia




not fifty seconds before or twenty-six after
but right when the big finger hits
sharp on the twelve and little on the six
that’s when he opens his eyes
and starts the morning mechanics
stretch yawn piss dress
teeth out of their jar back in his head
bed made—corners hospital sharp

Then he’s out the door by half past seven
down to the diner
his spot at the end waiting wide-open
Pam already pouring his morning Jo
No sugar
No cream
No frivolities

the cook yells Morning Mr. Jack!
from the back
where he’s already started
his eggs over-easy
yolks unbroken
wheat toast—no butter

Pam slides his newspaper over
with silverware and a wink
the other regulars roll by
one Jack how’ve you been? after another
with no time to wait for answers
breakfast has begun

there’s no familiar faces
in the obituaries today
never any causes of death although he can’t help but look
only long lists of those left behind

by the time he’s read to the bottom
It’s already ten past ten
time to walk down
to the smoke shop
where he passes the afternoon
with pipes and poker
same old players
same old jokes about buzzards circling
when he takes too long to make a move
but he still laughs every time

by then it’s almost one
nearly time for his nap
but first a tuna sandwich at the deli
rye bread—toasted
extra pickle
chips—original not flavored

when he gets home
he sleeps like a stone
until the phone rings
and machine answers
his daughter again
asking if he thinks
it’s finally time to move
out of his house
into hers

but now it’s time for dinner
a can of too many noodles
and not enough chicken soup
that still holds the faint taste of tin

he eats in front of the telly
where he watches the news unfold
then comes the story of a hundred sharks
washed up on shore with their fins sliced off
a fresh-faced reporter with wind whipping her hair
stands by their rudderless bodies
tells him of fish that must
always stay swimming
their anatomy streamlined for constant motion
to keep them in that critical state
where water turns into air
she speaks sober into the black eye of the camera
and when they stop so does their heart
it’s harder for them to stay still than to swim
they drowned before they ever reached the shore

it’s eight o’clock
he washes the dishes
puts the single spoon back in its slot
the cup and bowl go back on the shelf
teeth brushed then back in their jar

but when it’s time to undress
instead he sits on the edge of his bed
and stares at his shoes
instead of taking them off
he leaves them on
lies down and turns off the lamp

a car passes outside
casting triangles of light
that glide across the walls
around the room
slicing through the dark end of the day
like fins through deep water


















3 thoughts on “Momentary Inertia

  1. EXCELLENT writing, Heidi. This is gritty stuff, the kind I love to indulge in and write, when I can – the kind many don’t take an interest in; too real, too abrupt.

    This: “… when they stop so does their heart
    it’s harder for them to stay still than to swim
    they drowned before they ever reached the shore …”

    Besides the horrific finning of sharks and the horror of the human race in continuing to find such torture a ‘delicacy,’ the metaphor is clear. And likely why I keep this 64 (almost) year-old body moving during the daylight hours. Born in the year of the Water Snake, I believe I understand.

    Love ❤ ❤ ❤


    1. Thank you so much Bela. I was experimenting with a different style, trying to match the constant motion of his routine.

      You look amazing BTW. I would have never guessed your age. Thanks again for your thoughtful response. It is much appreciated. You are right, many prefer more soft lyrical things. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s called ‘denial’ – haha! Whatevs. I (underlined) love it. Thanks, sweet – blessed with a strong constitution kept that way by two daughters who are acupuncturists/herbalists and my own acu on this island. That and biweekly deep tissue and good clean living and well, li’dat. As they say 😉 xoxo


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