Table Thirty-Four: Joseph Suglia

You hear the noise of a vehicle. A white Buick cruises evenly over the flat street.

The white Buick coasts into the parking lot of a Walgreens.

The car brakes.

Out of the automobile clambers a heavy man. The heavy man is bald. He is dressed as if he were a financial accountant. He is holding a pair of pruning shears in his right hand. He clenches a basket in his left hand.

He waddles across the street to the shoe store. The shoe store is covered in vines. He opens the pruning shears. Like a gardener in a garden, the large man pries at the vines with the pair of pruning shears. The stubborn vines refuse to yield to his pruning shears.

From the vines are growing strange fruit. Eggplant-shaped, with shiny black skin. The accountant detaches the fruit from the vines. He fills his basket with the strange black fruit.

Now, he is waddling to the apple tree. The apple tree is growing before the Currency Exchange. He drops the basket and the pruning shears to the grassy, milky street. He breaks off a bough from the magically feathering apple tree. He throws the bough into the basket.

Then come the peach and apricot trees that are flourishing into the air.

Climbing up a ladder is a blonde woman of Eastern European descent. The accountant assesses her svelte, leonine physique as she climbs the ladder to the fourth floor of an apartment building and wiggles into an open window.

You make your way to the forest.

You glance at the tiger. Straight ahead of you.

The unblinking binocular orange eyes of the tiger are watching you. The unblinking binocular orange eyes of the tiger are following you as you enter the green passageway of the newly grown forest.

The tiger slinks closer, more closely now.

The snarler is one hundred feet before you. The tiger positions itself in front of you and studies you with non-indifference.

Glaring a thousand-mile stare, the tiger is fixing its gaze upon you.

The tiger is snarling and gnarling. You hear the chittering of the birds and the chattering of the monkeys.

The tiger freezes and stares its frozen stare, locking eyes with your looking eyes. Its eyes are the green of green Jell-O.

Staring as if it were attempting to mesmerize you, the tiger springs into a jolt.

It springs. The tiger rushes past you. The tiger is jockeying for the zebra and the antelope.

The tiger is moving its agile haunches as it advances on its quarry. Panting, vibrating as it pants, the tiger is coming.

Baring its yellowish fangs, the tiger leaps through the air and pounces upon the zebra.

You pass a Starbucks. Thick with cheetahs and jaguars, the Starbucks is their cage.

Surging down the street are leopards and panthers, running after their antelope prey. Cantering antelope are succeeded by the loping leopards and panthers, hungry for the former’s meat.

A lonesome puma, wandering and sad, is wandering through the Abercrombie & Fitch, a yellow polo shirt gripped in its canines.

See the puma walk. The puma’s gait is fluid and smooth.

The puma holds its head aloft, a swirl of red and green behind it, sprays of roses that are emanating from the ground.

The world of the leopards and panthers and pumas is slowly revealing itself to you, unclouding itself, presenting to you the fullness of its most intimate mysteries.

Skirting the perimeter of the street, you gaze at the wrestling lions. The lions are biting one another.

The lions unlock and quickly assemble into a pack.

A pride of cougars is hanging around in front of a 7-11. The cougars oscillate, waiting to pounce on the first human who will walk out of the convenience store.  The cougars are consuming courgettes.

Tigers surge into a hotel atrium, as pelicans soar above them.

Amid a swirl of leopards, a man turns. There is no escape for him. Wheeling around him is a pack of leopards.

Cat-obsessed girls are stroking the cats in the street, devotees of a felid religion.

A girl of twenty summers runs her fingers through the flaxen mane of a lion.

Two cat-obsessed girls are stroking the black-blotched hide of a cheetah.

You crouch down and join the girls. Peering at you with curiosity, the cheetah half-opens its mouth. You touch the cheetah, tracing the jigsaw of black and cream marks on its lush coat.

Your fingers plunge into the lush, deep fur of the cheetah.

The cheetah squats there, as if stuffed. Then, the cheetah moves. The cheetah arches its back and yawns, its ears swiveling like satellite dishes.

The girls are looking at you with annoyance. You stop stroking the hide of the cheetah.

Clouded leopards are lounging above, on the rooftops, staring at you, with their tails and forepaws dangling.

They see you rising to your feet. You resume your peregrinations through the city.

Adrift on the misty street, a lone wandering woman in a blue nightgown passes, zombie-like, a mother tiger licking her cubs.

A man in hiking gear—bald, blondly bearded, around thirty—marches proudly ahead of her.

Wildcats and pumas are bounding and bouncing across Clark Street. You see the whiskered wildcats and bouncy pumas rushing toward a mob of human beings.

The pumas are bothering the human beings, clenching the human heads in their jaws. But then the pumas grow bored and unfasten their jaws, releasing the human heads.

Above you, a spotted leopard is scaling an air duct, shaking its haunches meretriciously.

You see a black panther peering at you from behind a tattoo parlor. Lapping an invisible carcass with its flappy purple tongue, the panther is hungry.

You hear the terrible tearing sounds of a lion pride battening itself on a zebra, but you do not look.

After dining on the zebra flesh, the lions grow to three times their size.

Human families dismount from their trailers and gather to watch the birth of an elephant calf.

You see a lonely man. Crouching down. At the crossing of Clark and Superior. Is that man wearing a blue leotard? No, he is not wearing a blue leotard. He is wearing a blue Spandex unitard. A long-sleeved, to-the-wrists blue Spandex unitard and a Cubs baseball cap.

Shoehorned into the blue Spandex unitard, his fleshy body seems soft yet hard at the same time. It is a body of decrepit solidity.

The lonely man collects flowers, flowers that shove up from the pavement. This seems senseless in a world in which everything is flowering.

You stare at the street lamps and the telephone wires. A volcanic explosion of roses and orchids is twisting around the street lamps and the telephone wires.

In this Arcadian expanse, there is serenity—and yet it is a serenity that could be punctured at any moment by a lurch into unimaginable violence. At any moment, there could be a gobbling, a devouring that would perforate the silence.

The surface of the milk is spangled with motes of vanishing sunlight.

The windows of the tall apartment buildings catch the descending sunlight. They are studded with the decaying orange light.

You see a cloud of owls, ravens, vultures, and buzzards, raptors pirouetting in the sky. Above you circles a brown hawk endlessly.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


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