ROBB TODD

There's some info about me here, but what I really want to tell you is that someone actually let me have a book. Crazy, right? My first collection is on sale. You can even enjoy a Kindle edition.

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    THE MORNING BEFORE THE EVE OF THE NEXT DAY

    A woman sitting on the steps of a church says, “Spare something for food?” Most of her teeth are missing.

    "Here, do you want some food?" A man holds out a bag. She looks away from the bag and says, "No thank you, I don’t eat that." She chants her mantra to other passersby: "Spare something for food?"

    "Homeless people operate on a bad business model," a man in a suit says as he walks by. "Go back and get an MBA, dummy!"

    She asks the next person who passes and the next and she asks people who are not even there.

    Sidewalk Christmas trees are discounted today depending on how rich the salesperson thinks the customer is. Tomorrow the trees will be mulch. A good business model.

    A blind man in the subway holds up a crumpled bill and yells, “How much is this? How much is this?” Nobody answers. “How much is this?” A woman says, “Twenty.” The blind man says, “How much is this? How much!” “Twenty!” “Huh?” “Twenty!” “How much?” “Twenty!” “Huh?” “Twenty!”

    A musician on the train plays a pan flute made of PVC pipe and a small guitar called a charango at the same time. A guy in a wheel chair gives him a dollar. Lots of people do. The musician steps off the train. Another musician with a bigger guitar steps on and plays and sings in another language.

    The conductor announces: “This is One-Two-Fifth Street. Please watch your step when leaving the train and have a safe and wonderful Christmas.”

    A guy wearing expensive headphones and an elf hat blows a snot rocket onto the floor.

    TRAYVON MARTIN

    Full confidence in the ‘Merican justice system. Never set a guilty man free/innocent man to prison. 100% accuracy on the death penalty.

    A walk through Washington Square Park on the first nice day of spring in New York City. The park was busy. People were sitting and eating and walking and talking and feeding animals and kids, and cleaning up after animals and kids, and dancing and playing music and stretching out on the grass. Somewhere and for some reason: bagpipes. At the end of the audio, a few guys have a conversation about women while a grand piano plays in the background and some change hits the bucket. Then birds chirp. 

    MY NAME IN CHALK

    It was better when we were stealing from them, these things that linger on our skin. Instead, just twisting caps and pulling corks.

    He duct-taped huge wine glasses to her hands and said, “I’m rich so can I be slightly racist? It smells like the bathroom of an Indian restaurant in there.”

    "No," she said. "You talk so much shit you have halitosis."

    She wore silk and denim and leather. He filled the glasses with red to the rim. He wore sneakers and a smirk.

    "This’ll make you tough," he said.

    She said, “I don’t wanna be tough. I wanna be rich.”

    Everyone else’s hands were taped to 40-ounce malt liquors but she probably has never drank from a bottle and has probably never said “ornery.” I clinked the bottoms of my bottles together and glugged.

    He set a sombrero on her hairstyle and said, “You can’t untape until you drink both. Let me know if you need to go to the bathroom and I can help you out.” More smirk. He flicked her pearls.

    In the bathroom, dark brown algae bloomed on the toilet bowl under the water line. Toothpaste splatter painted the sink faucet. Bent Q-tips littered the floor. A basket was filled with watches. A poster on the wall said REAL COMEDIANS DON’T LIP SYNC next to chalk scribbles and graffiti.

    Dubiety is a hobby. Also this: Look wherever needed to verify if people from the past are still people—that they were not made up. But if found, know it is a plot to trick you into thinking they still exist. If they are dead, they never existed. And run, cut your throat.

    This tohubohu, swamped with fanfaronade, was no place for taking pictures of shadows with a flash.

    "You look nice. You look clean," a person I am not sure exists said to me.

    My confused-and-want-to-understand face is the same as my angry-and-might-punch-your-face face.

    "Are you still with that bitch?" she said.

    "She’s not a bitch," I said and she said, "Yeah," as quick as she could.

    My hands were taped so I could not stick a finger-gun under my chin and pull the invisible trigger.

    "Have you been in that bathroom?" she said. "I mean, really."

    She smelled like spaghetti sauce and asked me what “yolo” means and I did not have an answer but I bet she knows what fanfaronade and tohubohu mean.

    She said, “This beer tastes like snakes.” She closed her eyes and covered her nose with the crook of an elbow, both bottles sloshing, nearly full. “I have to pee so bad. Can you untape me?”

    The room was crowded with polka dots and leopard print and fake gator and neon. Glass broke. So did wood and beats and false emotion. Blouses were stained and jewelry was lost and stolen and people with too much are the first to believe that everybody gets what they deserve.

    LOVE HEIST ACCOMPLICE

    Kittens are overrated. People forget that they become cats. The way people forget that the trash they throw on the ground does not pick itself up. The way people stand in doorways. Motherfuckers standing in doorways!

    A dude grabs the sliding subway door. He slips in when the door pops open. As it closes again another guy runs up. He drops a box cutter and it slides into the gap and disappears. He grabs the door and pushes his way through. He stands in the doorway. He yells at the other guy: “You coulda held the door for me, brah! You coulda held the door! Why you acting like I’m saying something wrong? I’m a thug, nigga! I’m the thug!”

    Does not matter what you do, you cannot overcome someone else’s else.

    The guy the thug yelled at walks to the other end of the train.

    "Why can’t you love a woman?" a man says to a man who says, "And you can?" The thug sneezes and the first man says, "I’m trying." The second man says, "Look, getting mad at a woman for acting crazy is like getting mad at water for acting wet."

    The subway is a test every day that you cannot pass. You forget the questions and the answers.

    A homeless lady picks her toes, her socks crumpled next to her feet. The aroma is strong. A not-homeless person sucks on fruit and spits pits or seeds onto the floor of the train. An older lady, maybe in her 50s. That is old, right? Wearing a hat. Big gold earrings. With a purse. Spitting pitseeds. On the floor.

    A young man in a baseball cap and red leather jacket steps onto the train and announces that he will recite a poem and please clap and give him money. He says he will also accept debit cards, food stamps, lottery tickets and, from the pretty ones, smiles and digits. The toe picking stops. The thug in the doorway folds his arms. The seedpits stop. The young man recites the poem.

    There is no end and no beginning to our conversation. This conversation has no start, no end, no finish, no beginning. Meow. And this is the sentence that keeps me forgotten: __________________________________.

    How are the days passing these days?

    THEY’DN’T’VE’D

    We all start out as swimmers. Hey hey hey hey hey hey hey why hey hey look: There are so many drinks in our future that my memory of what has not happened yet is already erased. Swimming in them, in the drink. Glug. Gluglug. 

    Swim when the sky is gray and snoring. Drink when she wants to be missed even though she is not gone. Her face is a puddle filled with rain drops and I am always happy to still be able to be astonished like when I made a vegetarian watch me eat a liverwurst sandwich. I drizzled a zagzig line of mustard teeth on it to make it look pretty at three in the morning. But how do we explain Venus fly traps? It is not right. I said mmmmmmm. This makes no sense. I have no conclusion. 

    The conclusions of the night are not as good as the questions. Do skunks really drink that much? Are clams really that happy? Are there many more ants in the world than humans? Yes. Not even close. Quadrillions of ants. And I bet they do not give a shit what we do.

    "I love it when you have conversations with yourself with me," she says and I say, "I love it when free-market capitalists complain about not getting what they deserve." 

    "Deserve" is an illusion. One of the acts of becoming an adult: Letting go of the illusions. And better still: Just letting go. It usually happens well past when one physically becomes an adult, especially when the illusionist has a history of abuse and is incredibly smart. An incredibly smart person constructs elaborate self-imprisonment and forgets that the door is not locked. 

    Let go and delight in drink. Glug. Take a swim in a river and let go. Glug. This is not love, this is affliction. Let us talk again soon and make more mantras. 

    COURTESY PROFESSIONALISM RESPECT

    A cop on a motorized trike blasted a weird siren and rolled onto the train with a “Scuse me big fella.” The guy next to me dug in his bag and pulled out a newspaper.

    I followed a herd of halting feet up the stairs and it was sunny and cool outside and I was breathing and thinking about breathing. 

    My duct-tape wallet was getting pretty frayed. I thought I would have to throw it away and get a new one but I finally realized … I could fix it with duct tape. 

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