Table Twenty-Three: Joseph Suglia

You walk in the center of the street, on a carpet of hair. Voles and lemmings herd down the street on both sides. To your left and to your right: Human beings are walking, walking around nonplussed. Carrying backpacks and bags and looking hopelessly at the sky, they are walking. You are walking among them. The humans are burbling and babbling, making inhuman noises. You hear the caterwauling of a bobcat.

Springing and diving, gerbils are springing and diving where you walk, beautiful svelte gerbils with huge darkling eyes, thick furry tails, white underbellies, and hazel coats, beautiful svelte gerbils are springing and diving where you walk. Jumping mice, dormice, and hamsters are hopping and bouncing across the pavement and across the tar, down the sewers, they are hopping and bouncing.

Gophers and kangaroo rats are engineering their way into the apartment buildings and the condominiums. Some are already within, gnawing their way into the cupboards and refrigerators, gnawing their way into the pantries, engorging synthetic food.

The cavies and the gophers are burrowing tunnels beneath the condominiums and the apartment buildings.

The porcupines are climbing the exteriors of the condominiums and the apartment buildings. Their long spineless prehensile tails wrap themselves around the vines for support; their padded feet grip the building walls.

African Mole Rats are teething and tunneling, tunneling their way underneath the apartment buildings with their buck teeth. Insect-like, they will colonize the human dwellings.

A star-nosed mole, with its fleshy wriggling tentacles the hue of coral and giant white claws, lumbers along the street, its multi-tentacular nose unspooling, grasping for signals.

Ravenous shrews, screaming and twittering, their gnashing teeth making strange noises, emitting the sound of coins grating against coins, steal through the garbage that decorates the street. Voracious shrews, chewing up the discarded hamburger patties and potato chips, gorging themselves.

Zebra are chewing on paperbacks, and gerbils are nibbling on hardbacks in the bookstore.

Within the candy store, intelligent beasts sample the candies and ice creams, favoring the flavors. Through the window: You see a woman wearing a red scarf. As the capybaras scarf down the potato chips and frosted chocolate flakes, the bescarfed woman squeezes a hamster against her chest and kisses the hamster head. Her cheeks are dusky with violet. Her face looks clammy.

A young woman wearing a bright, bird-patterned kimono steps past you. She is thumbing her internet telephone.

She nearly collides with a thirtyish woman, brunette, in a flamingo-colored dress, who is wheeling a baby carriage while chattering to her mobile telephone.

The thirtyish woman is no longer wheeling the baby carriage. She pulls out an envelope from her back jeans pocket. She tears open the envelope with her fingers. Her hair hangs down her forehead, wisping over her eyes.

An elderly woman, an airport bag by her side, is sitting on a park bench by the side of the road. The woman is alone, winding yarn into a skein. The yarn is red. She will soon weave the yarn into a red sweater. She smiles with a shy slyness.

A taxi is spinning down the road and jolts to a stop before a convenience store. Out of the taxi clambers a shabbily dressed teenage boy with unkempt hair and black-framed glasses. His skin is flinty, as hard and obscure as flint. He removes his glasses and stares at the high-rise, twenty-seven stories of brown brick, as it ascends into the sky like a glacier. White clouds drift by. You are both at West Chestnut and Clark.

As cranes are whooping in the sky, the children open their mouths and point at the whitely feathered birds.

You see a butcher wearing a peppery mustache. He has no more meat to flay and slice.

His cheeks smoothly shaven, a man dressed as a corporate accountant is talking with his son and daughter. He is holding their hands.

A boy and a girl are posing for wedding photographs. The photographer has a white baseball cap propped on his head. He is garbed in a red Aeropostale shirt. A shirtless orange-skinned man is watching them from a distance of thirty-nine feet. He is bald and is wearing low-slung jeans.

Standing before the Best Western Hotel, a sunglassed chet strokes his girlfriend’s arms.

(A chet is a former frat boy.)

His arms are hairy. Her black hair is stretched back and bobbed. He looks at her through his panoramic sunglasses and grins.

A man in a yellow shirt that almost seems phosphorescent-yellow is jogging past you, carrying two shopping bags, one in each fist.

A tribe of muscle-shirted volleyball players makes useless gestures at the animals as it muscles into the Highball Lounge.

Beneath your feet, a half-drunk bottle of MD 20/20 Orange Jubilee is half-concealed in a crumpled brown paper bag. Across the street, a blind girl is playing the banjo.

A blue car slows down and stops in front of an apothecary. The driver’s door opens and then slams.

An old man is ruminating over his fallen groceries which are being eaten by animals the size of pool toys.

Sprawled over a foam-camping mattress are two ectomorphic youths—one male, one female, both blonde.

(Ectomorphic = having a lean, slender, angular body.)

They do not mind the mice and the gerbils that swarm over their bodies.

Knotting your shoelaces, you think of the journey ahead. You sail out into the street, the wind buffeting you.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


8 thoughts on “Table Twenty-Three: Joseph Suglia”

    1. Miranda, this is exactly the commentary for which I have been hoping. It is also the first time someone has written what you have written. If you write something like this on Amazon, when the book is finally released, I would be delighted to send you a free copy of the book.


      Liked by 2 people

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