Table Five: Joseph Suglia

You look at her. The young woman sits down. She is sitting on the road, rubbing the stem of a white rose between the thumb and the index finger of her right hand. The corolla of the rose rotates in a fast circle. Now she is thumbing the white petals of the rose. She looks blankly ahead, as if through you, as if you were made of Saran Wrap.

A Thai restaurant is burning to the ground. Frogs and toads are leaping through the air. The frogs and the toads are leaping through the broken window of the Thai restaurant. The window next to the broken window implodes from the heat.

The frogs and the toads are jumping through the imploded window.

A tall middle-aged man in a brown suit is tugging a bagful of frogs across the street. The frogs in the bag are mobile. Jaunty.

He is dragging the bag of mobile frogs into a daycare center.

In the fountain, beside the daycare center, the frogs are swimming. The frogs are hopping into the fountain beside the daycare center. They look like fat vacationers diving into a swimming pool.

Two young boys, dressed in yellow jumpsuits, are snapping pictures of the frogs with their iPhones.

You look at the young woman again. Now, she is standing. She is walking slowly, meditatively. You follow the young woman down Clark Street. She is a well-tanned young woman. Her skin golden or goldenized, she resembles Phryne, that famous lady of ancient Greece. You journey southward. She is before you—you are one hundred feet behind her.

All around the young woman are running people, screaming people, hopping frogs, and twirling dandelions. Thumping and thudding around her legs, an army of frogs surrounds her as she walks. There are many frogs, and the frogs seem to be multiplying. The young woman is indifferent to the frogs.

An old woman is sitting silently on the pavement before the entrance of the Crate and Barrel. A puddle of water laps at her purple dress. Leaping and hopping, a frog falls into her lap. She pets the frog with a loose and absent hand.

You are wafting past the Crate and Barrel, trailing the young woman. She turns her head to the left and to the right. You look at her strawberry-blonde hair, which is done up in a ponytail.

You glance through the window of the Crate and Barrel as you walk. Leaping frogs are leaping into the washing machines and racing into the laundry machines, frogs are hopping into the white ovens, frogs and toads are circling and tumbling in the hollows of the dryers.

The young woman is walking past a bank now. Above her head, the digital clock of the bank is blinking idiotically—054114, 410514, 411450. The digital clock no longer tells the time. The numbers are senselessly flickering on the clock-screen.

See the toads on the pavement, shooting their long tongues. You hear the croaking of the toads.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia


Table Six: Joseph Suglia

Looking upward, you see young boys perched on the tops of streetlamps—streetlamps that have become leg-tufted trees. Leggy trees. The boys call to you from the leggy trees. You cannot understand what they are saying. What are the boys in the trees saying? What are they saying to you?

You look ahead. In the middle of the street, there is a refrigerator. The refrigerator is egg-white. What is inside of the refrigerator? Within the refrigerator, there are snakes and snake eggs. Snake ova. Oviparous snakes.

Zigzagging serpents—big yellow constrictors, yellow rat snakes—are wriggling and writhing over and around the refrigerator. A brood of vipers, you imagine, squirms within the refrigerator, snaky food.

There is a fire. There is a garbage-can bonfire. A ball of fire, crisping newspapers in the garbage can. Crackling conflagration. The flames do not look like tongues. The flames do not resemble snakes. The flames resemble fingers, fingers of orange crinoline.

You are nearing the intersection of Clark Street and Superior Avenue. You hear the approach of a car. Behind you.

You give a sudden cry. The car comes too close to you. On your left. You back away.

Swinging around the curb, the Sports Utility Vehicle comes to a halt, the ignition is turned off, and the driver yanks open the door.

Turning slightly, you see a man approaching you. The man is the motorist. He is twentyish and blonde-maned. Garbed in pre-faded grey jeans and a thin black-leather jacket zipped to the neck, his eyes shielded by overlarge brown semi-transparent sunglasses, he has the air of an extra from a motorcycle film. A film about motorcyclist zombies. You think him rather affected.

You look at the SUV. The car is packed with marijuana-smoking humans. They are studying you.

The motorcycle man asks you:

—Do you got any money? We run out of gas.

—No, you say, I have no money.

The man does not shrug. He says nothing. He simply turns away and says nothing and strides back to the SUV. What use is cash in a world in which money has lost its value?

Before you, a wad of snakes is balled up and hissing. In the street, a wad of snakes is balled up and hissing. You slink away from the snaking snakes.

You look up at the sky-bound office buildings and imagine that the snakes have invaded the offices, too. The snakes have overcome the maze of cubicles. Snakes are dropping over the partitions and plopping on to the keyboards, the papered surfaces of the desks, and the computers, black asps and adders.

Walk past the nightclub now. In the nightclub, you imagine, mamba snakes are slithering noiselessly over the catwalk.

You see snakes in the grasses that circle the artificial trees. The snakes are throbbing in the grasses and bobbing their snake heads. The snakes are vibrating through the vibrant green grasses.

Reclining in the grass is a motionless anaconda. You can see the anaconda’s head, but not the tip of the snake’s tail.

You observe a mother and son, walking in tandem. A red-headed mother walking down the street, holding the hand of her red-headed nine-year-old son. A nest of snakes is concealed in the foliage past which they walk.

A snake head jumps out of the bushes. The young boy jumps jauntily into his mother’s arms.

You are drifting past a telephone pole. A slithery eight-foot python is wrapping its rubberiness around the telephone pole at an astounding speed, its skin glistening viscously, a glistening viscous yellow, the yellow of yellow gelato.

Coiling and winding, like a disembodied yellow arm, the python winds and coils around the telephone pole, gripping the telephone pole, swirling around the telephone pole, swiftly ascending, flicking its forked tongue in and out of its mouth rapidly. The great python is spitting venomously, viciously, in your direction.

There is a girl—blonde, 21—following you with her eyes. She has V-shaped cheekbones. Her boyfriend is wheeling a shopping cart full of beverages: seltzers, margaritas, wines, Corona Extras. Out of Superior Wine & Liquor, out of the vacated liquor store.

Inside of the liquor store, a boy is kicking the ATM.

Twin snakes are parachuting downward in front of your eyes and mouth, describing sinuous patterns in the air, curling their bodies into soft green whips. Avoid the cartwheeling, somersaulting snakes.

Now you are walking past a vegan diner. There are teenagers in the vegan diner. Sipping vegan milkshakes, the teenagers are morosely silent. There is no longer anything against which to rebel.

The pranksters are now the conformists, and the conformists reveal how neurotic they truly are.

You are floating by a butcher’s stop. You see a matron there, a matron in the butcher’s shop. A boy beside her, begging her for meat snacks. She whisks the unrude boy out of the butcher’s shop, a sausage-shaped finger pointing toward the door. In the butcher-shop window, tortoise heads are snapping at the meat.

The streets are wriggling with snakes; covering the streets is a writhing serpentine carpet. Slow, dreamy streets pass you; the useless traffic lights are blinking uselessly.

Something behind you is hissing. You hear a hissing behind you.

You turn around and see a clandestine meeting between two lovers on the verandah of a condominium building, a meeting between two lovers who are entwined like serpents.

Do the lovers not see the snakes? Hissing vipers are coiled around the stair balustrade.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

Table Seven: Joseph Suglia

The crocodiles are snapping at you where you walk. The jaws of the crocodiles move up and down and down and up musically. Their jaws are snapping at you. They snap at you, and they snap at the air. Their mouths are open hideously wide. You stare into their gullets.

There are crocodiles in the 7-11. There are crocodiles in ZED-451—the swanky steakhouse at 739 North Clark Street.

There are crocodiles in Superior Wine & Liquor. There are crocodiles in the Shady Lady Lounge, the wine bar-cum-bistro.

There are crocodiles in Celtic Crossings, the fake-Irish dive bar. There are crocodiles in the upmarket Italian restaurant, in the nameless fake-Italian restaurant, in the genuinely faux ristorante without a name. There are crocodiles in the internet café. Shuttered café, no one inside.

A pair of crocodiles sloshes down the wet-black staircase of ZED-451. Sploshing noises as they slosh. Crocodiles slough through the milk and orange juice swirl in the convenience store. The maundering, marauding, meandering eusuchians are swaying their bodies to the left and to the right. Other crocodiles are lazing and dazing in the plasmatic sun.

(An eusuchian is any alligator, crocodile, or gharial.)

You lower your gaze. There it is. An African dwarf crocodile. The African dwarf crocodile looses a terrible silent roar and scratches its head with a foreclaw. The African dwarf crocodile is roaring at you.

Fifty feet straight ahead, ninety degrees! A gigantic alligator is attacking a black car—an unshiny black Mercury. It smashes the automobile with its heavy tail.

The angry saurian brings its tail down hard on the hood of the vehicle.

The couple inside, the couple with their young boy, the couple is screaming as the alligator is smashing.

You walk and walk further and further, faster and faster. The crocodiles are staring at you. On the sidewalks. You watch them watching you. They watch you watching them.

Gilt-eyed, gold-spectacled caimans are waiting for you. Gilt-eyed, gold-spectacled caimans are watching you. Bony-ridged crocodilians are emerging from cardboard boxes. A greenish-blackish crocodile lurches from its box and is staring at you.

The six eyelids of the crocodile unveil themselves one after another.

You regard the alligators as they crawl into the hotel lobby. You see the alligators undulating into the hot dog-and-hamburger joint. Lashing their tails, the alligators crawl along. Their stubbed legs splayed, they walk quadrupedally and silently.

Humans are slinging lemons at the parked police van, indifferent to the spreading army of crocodiles and alligators.

To your right is a Komodo dragon, laying its eggs. Draconic lizard. You see a second Komodo dragon wriggling alongside the curb, its lizard tail waggling. It slips through the grill of a sewer grate and disappears.

Two human lovers—one man, one woman—are squatting on the curb, watching the alligators, the crocodiles, the caimans, and the Komodo dragons. They are both blonde and thirty-something—graphic designers manqués. There they sit, holding hands, as if nothing had changed, and yet everything has changed and everything is changing. While the animals have proven themselves adaptable to the human world, you notice that everywhere you go, the humans cling to their older forms of existence.

Within the hotel restaurant: Snapping their jaws shut on the chicken flesh, the alligators are feeding.

You cannot see the swimming pool, but you know that there is a swimming pool on the hotel rooftop. The swimming pool, you imagine, is bubbling with alligators, caimans, gharials, and crocodiles—all of them fearsome-looking yet playfully serene.

You cannot see them, but you know that they are there. Drifting in the swimming pool, the alligators, the caimans, the gharials, and the crocodiles.

Walk past the hotel. Go on, keep walking. Look into the window. You notice that the lobby has been transformed into a makeshift cinema. Set up by the hotel management, perhaps, to entertain—to distract—the hotel residents.

The residents of the hotel are staring at the wall. Staring at an apocalyptic film. The film is Independence Day (1996) or Armageddon (1998) or some other film you have never seen or no longer remember, projected on to the wall.

Caimans—jaws agape smilingly—race for the popcorn sprinkled beneath the gimcrack theater seats. Sinuously, they move.

Dragon-like crocodiles are stealthily stealing into the cinema. The patrons do not scream.

Pygmy tree shrews are rooting around in the cinematheque, chewing up the seats. Tree shrews are nosing their beak-shaped snouts into abandoned popcorn bags.

Keep on walking down Clark Street. Keep on walking southward. Keep on walking. You sidestep the crocodiles at your feet—crocodiles that no man or woman dare garrote. Snapping, snatching saurians.

A clutch of black-wet crocodiles is swarming about your feet. Devouring unfrozen chicken patties. After devouring the meat, the scaly predators embark on a journey. A journey southward, they are your traveling companions.

You lower yourself and palpate the skin of the crocodiles. You feel skin of the roughest texture.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

Table Eight: Joseph Suglia

Screeching down the road, a man is being pursued by an angry ostrich. Screeching down the road, the angry ostrich is pursuing the man. The man, you surmise, attempted to pluck the ostrich’s black feathers. You cannot tell if it is the man or the ostrich that is screeching louder.

See the ostrich chasing the man.

You are at the juncture of Clark Street and Erie Avenue. There is a girl and her father. A father and his daughter. A daughter and her father. You presume that the man is the girl’s father, though you have no absolute evidence.

The girl is wearing pink-rimmed heart-shaped sunglasses. Her hair is black, drawn back into threads. She is wearing pre-faded blue jeans and a white halter top. She is a girl of nineteen springs.

Her father—if this is indeed her father—is wearing opaque black sunglasses. He has white hair, a white moustache, and a white beard. He is big. He is wearing a white jacket, a white button-down silk shirt, and white silken pants. He has insta-tanned skin the color and texture of a crumpled brown bag. He is a man of fifty-five winters.

A stately ostrich stands beside them, a massive bird with sturdy legs and black-and-white feathers blowing slowly in the wind.

The ostrich looks at you mysteriously. The father does not look at you. The girl does not look at you.

The father lifts his daughter on to the back of the ostrich. Straddling the ostrich, she rides. Her long, black, threaded hair is blowing like a flag. She becomes one with the creamy, lithe ostrich.

The father strikes the tail of the ostrich with a newspaper. The ostrich lifts one heavy leg—demonstratively, ostentatiously—and then drops it back down. The ostrich strides north down Clark Street.

You are watching the unpredictable dance of the ostrich, which is dancing unpredictably, raising its rubbery purple legs; its rubbery pink toes seem to be caressing the ground. Its beak gapes. Its useless black-and-white feathers ruffle uselessly.

The girl yippies and yodels.

As the ostrich strides down the road, the girl strides down the road with the ostrich.

You watch the ostrich-girl disappear down Clark Street.

You look up at the sky. The sky has the hazy appearance of a hazel-colored throat lozenge.

Ostriches jolt into view. You are hit by the train of feathers and legs, they surge into you, knocking you to the ground.

The ostriches are gearing toward the cars.

The ostriches are attacking the cars, their wings spread wide open.

Clambering to your feet, you resume your posture and amble southward.

Look at the strutting ostriches! The ostriches are huge sparrow camels. Every ostrich is half sparrow, half camel. Their necks look like their legs: long and blood-raw. They jump up and down as they strut.

Not only ostriches. Ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, and emus are strutting in a parade. In a single formation, they parade past you now.

The emus shake their dusky, dusty, loose, hairy feathers as they strut. They elongate their necks and then recoil their necks.

The cassowaries wiggle their red fleshy wattles and jerk their casques as they strut.

(A casque is a walnut-shaped horn. The cassowary is a flightless bird, the largest bird in the world, with the exception of the ostrich.)

The cassowary’s shaggy black feathers are rustling. The bird shakes its red warts, which contrast happily with its blue neck.

Helmeted, the sacerdotal cassowary is proud of the casque on its head.

The rheas protrude their worm-shaped necks as they strut.

Bouncing, the parade of birds bobs into the fake-Irish bar, where the residents of Chicago are stupefying themselves with drink.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

Table Nine: Joseph Suglia

You push in the door. You are in the diner. No one is here. No human is here. Abandoned plates on abandoned tables.

You see spiders. There are wolf spiders dancing on the scrambled eggs. There are tarantulas dancing on the poached eggs and dancing on the Sunny-Side-Up Eggs. A Mexican red-kneed spider is dancing on the tubes of sausages. A black widow spider is dancing on the pancakes drowning in a lagoon of syrup.

You hear a noise coming from the kitchen. You hear a shock gobble, a loud cutting turkey call.

You see the vivid red head and yellow wattles of a Brush turkey, funny megapode, popping up its head.

(A megapode is a large-footed, terrestrial bird.)

Then the turkey’s head disappears.

You see another turkey, pecking at a meal of scrambled eggs and bacon on the diner floor. Now, he struts. His wing feathers barred in black and white, his bright red-and-blue head sunk into the massive fans of his plumage, the turkey struts. His feathers have a greenish sheen in the fluorescence.

There are turkeys everywhere. Everywhere there are turkeys.

Them turkeys, they happy turkeys.

You throw your arms around the gallinaceous birds and embrace them lovingly.

(Gallinaceous refers to the Galliformes, ground-feeding birds with big bodies.)

They are warm; their ruffles caress you.

The male turkeys, the toms, are fanning their tail feathers, dragging their wings, strutting beneath the penis-shaped lights, puffing up their feathers and puffing out their breasts. Excited by the display of male beauty, the hens are purring and yelping.

Gobblers are gobbling up the pies and the pastries. They have learned to peck open—to shatter—the glass display case, using their beaks as blunt instruments. Their brown-black feathers shimmer with an iridescent glimmer. Their bluish bald heads dart back and forth, their heads covered in fleshy red excrescences. Fleshy flaps of skin droop down their necks, orange-red dewlaps.

(A dewlap is the loose skin around the turkey’s neck.)

Orange-red finger-shaped snoods impend over their beaks.

(A snood is the fleshy appendage above the turkey’s beak.)

Their dewlaps and snoods tremble, trembling fleshy tremblers. Beards of rough hair protrude from the turkeys’ breasts.

The wild turkeys waddle, shaking their red-and-blue wattles. Their beards of feathers bristle, their rainbow tufts rustling in the air conditioning.

You float out of the diner.

Black shadows of turkeys are roosting in the black feathery street-trees.

Something sweeps out of the trees, and you feel the swoosh of wings.

A fluffy white chicken flies into your chest. You cradle the chicken in your arms. You embrace the chicken. You caress the ethereal chicken. The chicken coos and moos. You release the chicken. The chicken flies into the tree and finds its roost there. Happy chicken.

Cackling chickens are wobbling around, darting their heads unpredictably. The chickens are waddling across Clark Street. A tiny chicken is coming where you walk. You crouch down. You pet the dirty white feathers of the chicken. You straighten your back. The chicken grooms itself, preens itself, as if for your optical delectation. You smile at the chicken.

A motherless baby carriage stands alone in the middle of the street. The turkeys, fanning their tails as if they were so many parasols, lurch toward the baby carriage, surrounding the baby carriage like so many protective mothers. They umbrella the baby carriage with their rainbow parasols. They circumambulate the perambulating perambulator.

(A perambulator is a baby carriage.)

You look into the window of the hardware store. Clucking hens launch themselves down the aisles.

The toms defecate on the shiny black rifles, which are now smeared with the grease of turkey faeces. The survivalists are eying the chickens and the turkeys.

You drift past the clothing store. Looking at the mannequins in the display window, you sidestep a gaggle of geese.

Springing chickens wave their dirty white wings.

You look up at the sky. Like jets of mango shampoo squeezed out on to the sky’s linoleum, streaks of orange are streaming through the clouds.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

Table Ten: Joseph Suglia

He fondles the steering wheel as he waits for his wife to join him. The street is torn up and burned out.

You watch her as she briskly paces back and forth, moving her legs together. She is wearing purple high heels. She is smoking a slender cigarette.

His neck-skin is as loose as a turkey’s wattles. He is a flabby, shabby-looking man with shaggy eyebrows. He is succulently chewing a wad of gum. He is wearing a purple silk vest.

He is waiting for his wife to finish her cigarette. His left arm dangles out of the window. The black Toyota is purring and humming. The back seat is jammed with luggage, a ballast of baggage.

It is a bright day. Now that the city is renewed, the sun is as red as a McIntosh apple. Before the renewal, the sun was as pink as a Macintosh iPhone.

You see a pink girl walking toward you, breathing into her mobile telephone. Her shirt is pink, and her yoga pants are pink.

Her mobile telephone is pink. Emblazoned on her left thigh is the word PINK. She nearly collides with you. She is not speaking to you. She is speaking to her mobile telephone. She says to her mobile telephone:

—He has a girlfriend now, so he’s doing good.

The girl’s pink boots cut through a knot of croaking toads. She is walking into the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

You follow the girl into the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

The Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s is a two-tiered building. Two yellow arches slice into the structure. The arches are sixty feet tall—ten feet taller than the cement-plaster top deck, which serves as a sunshade for the diners in the restaurant. Though you cannot see the top deck, you imagine that it is now a flourishing terraced roof garden.

No, the arches are not golden—they are yellow, and they are made of steel. Wrapped around the first story of the building is a red-and-white metal ribbon.

Swing through the revolving doors. You squeeze into the dining area. An oversize man in a mailman’s uniform is gorging himself on French fries. A supersize woman in a nurse’s uniform is gorging herself on a cheeseburger. They are loving it.

At the center of the first-floor dining area, a solitary lamp is fizzling, emitting fizzles of light. It is a Torcher floor lamp.

You walk toward the ordering area. Above the ordering area is a shadow box that frames the McDonald’s logo and a wraparound with video screens.

You look through the window. You see the copper statue of a steatopygous woman.

(Steatopygous = having large, excessively fleshy buttocks.)

You see a statue of Ronald McDonald impaled by a unicycle.

You look through the window. You see statues of the Beatles. All four of the Beatles seem to be shaped out of vanilla pudding, their faces contorted into grimaces of agony.

Two young boys are inserting tokens into a red-and-yellow kiosk, which dispenses one-inch injection-molded figures. The machine dispenses plastic dinosaurs, Grimaces, and Hamburglars.

Within the see-through display cases are backlit figures of Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar, and Grimace. The display cases function as divider walls between the seating areas.

You see tall glass panels with digital images of Chicago residents blissfully eating hamburgers. They are eating cheeseburgers in ecstasy.

The second tier of the building is held up by mirrored stalactites, mirrored pillars, and mirrored columns.

On the transparent video panels of the mirrored columns dance holographic images of floating food: French fries, milkshakes, and cheeseburgers. The French fries, milkshakes, and cheeseburgers are smiling zoomorphs.

(Zoomorphism = having the form of an animal.)

Grinning surprised cheeseburgers.

At the center of the building, there is an escalator and a de-escalator separated by a red-and-yellow staircase.

A man in the bile-colored uniform of a railway conductor descends the staircase in search of his wife. The man has a wide and wild face. He calls for Nancy. His wife’s name must be Nancy.

As you ascend the escalator, you see a row of LED video screens. On each of the flat screens, Anderson Cooper is declaring the end of the world.

In the seating area on the second floor, you see an egg-shaped chair that recalls both the late-1960s British television show The Prisoner and the late-1970s/early-1980s situation comedy Mork & Mindy. You see butterfly chairs and wire-legged side tables.

The Clark Street windows and the Ontario Street windows are made of three layers of glass buckled into titanium banding.

Through the Ontario Street windows, you see a Sports Authority, a billboard for a morning radio show called The Eric and Kathy Show, and a British Petroleum gas station. Through the Clark Street windows, you see a Walgreens, a Hard Rock Café, and a Rainforest Café.

You see a crowd of people beneath the billboard at Clark Street and Ohio Street. The billboard is smothered in vines.

A building is smoldering somewhere in the distance. You sight spires of smoke lifting into the clouds.

Above the reflecting city, the sun is high in the sky like an orange.

You look around you. Ceiling mounted fixtures for accent lighting. Flat-screen video screens. Display cases imprisoning the figures of Willard Scott and Ronald McDonald. Guitars dangling from support cables. A guitar pick-shaped panel with displays on both sides: a frappe mocha drink and a strawberry lemonade. Ellipsis-shaped panels framing the images of fizzing effervescent beverages. At the McCafé, freeze-dried yogurt flakes and McDonald’s mouse pads are sold.

Displays that resemble gigantic straws and soda cups. Stand-up tables by the Ontario Street windows. Plasticine statues in the shape of soft-serve cones.

Before you is a bloated teenage boy. He is oozing over the table. He is wearing a Megadeth T-shirt and a Hustler baseball cap. He holds an iPhone absently in his hand while chewing his Chicken McNuggets. Upon the table is a Styrofoam cup in which a mulch-colored colloidal substance is contained. Leaning against the steel railing of the balustrade is a yellow-shirted and Bluetoothed security guard.

The security guard barks, clapping his hands:

—Time to go. Hip, hip. Come on! Time to go.

The boy lifts himself from the booth. His arms dangle in front of him as he walks. His indifference is extraordinary.

—Whatever, he drawls and then drops upon the sofa, sprawling himself.

On the soundtrack—the soundscape of the entire building—is “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross.

It is then that you notice the birds. The birds’re in the rafters.

The birds are descending from the rafters.

The flesh-eating raptors—vultures and eagles—hover and then launch their air strike against the hamburger patties.

You see the three hooded vultures.

The three hooded vultures are all aquiver. They spread their wings and soar into the kitchen, where—in a flurry of brown wings and white plumage—they frenziedly strip the semi-frozen hamburger patties, ripping them into shreds. They are towering over the naked pink meat like three old men in long brown coats and white pants unswaddling naked pink babies.

The caracaras—they, too, are drone-striking the kitchen. They are tearing at the hamburger carrion, pulling it apart with their talons and curved beaks. They are devouring the chicken carrion, cannibalistic birds.

The next thing you see is the Northern Red Jungle Fowl flying—no, floating—impossibly across the foyer, ballistic basilisk. It, too, attacks the hamburger patties and the chicken patties.

You see the golden eagle scratching the yellow wall with its talons, its massive pinions flurrying behind it.

See the man with his digital-video camera. Arching his back, the camera-holding man frames images of the gyring vultures and buzzards, the revolving serpivolants.

Swarming vultures loft on the statues and throw out their wings.

A Big Mac is lying on the red-and-white tessellated flooring. The falcon descends on its quarry, hooking the Big Mac with its hooked beak, and then flies upward with deep pulsing wingbeats.

You see boats and boats of Duck McNuggets, Duck McNuggets scattered across the floor.

See the Andean condors descend with unfolded wings on to the Duck McNuggets. They tear into strips the anatine flesh. The entire flock collapses into an orgy of pecking and pulling, tearing and ripping, lacerating and swallowing; the Andean condors are devouring the breaded duck pellets.

On the tables, the crows.

The crows pick up and pick at the pickles with their beaks, a whole mob of them picking up and picking at the pickles. They rattle and croak, the predatory corvids, ignoring you as you steer through the glistening black crowd.

(A corvid is a member of the crow family.)

The crows are devouring the pickles. They are loving it.

There: A fiftyish man in a muted-blue business suit is grappling with a jungle rooster, a male red jungle-fowl. But the bird seems more powerful than him and is beating its wings violently, rapidly, menacingly, refusing to submit to the predations and depredations of the man in the muted-blue business suit. The man in the muted-blue business suit is unarmed, but the bird has pointed spurs and flesh-scratching claws. Beneath his muted-blue trousers, the man is wearing a thong, which is exactly the color of the rooster’s crown.

Owls loft on the video screens and befoul them, blasting them with their syrupy excrement. The owls have reason to be afraid.

There is an anaconda in the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s. The anaconda will wrap its slow and heavy body around the slow owls, drowning the owls in its incalculable bulk. It will swallow the owls, swallow the owls whole.

The owls shudder, shivering their soft plumes. Their yellow-eye masks unblinkingly stare at you as you pass beneath the video screens. Soft, round owls.

A buzzard alights on to the ceiling light fixture. You want the buzzard to grasp you in its claws, flap its wings, take flight, bearing you into the air, sailing across the city skies with you in its solid grip.

In the foyer: Glorious peacocks are strutting over crushed eggs. They, the peacocks, are screamingly beautiful. You marvel at the birds’ iridescent plumage. They are spectacular birds, their plumage a stunning array of blues, greens, and reds.

Now the peacocks are eating the French fries. They are loving it.

The Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s is a bird house, an insane aviary.

Swooping down from its aerie, the eagle owl spreads its wings wide and stretches open its curved talons. Its eyes are Halloween orange and blazing. The eagle owl is flying with its wings stretched out and its claws open, as red robins are wheeling through space.

The eagle owl is attacking the Egg McMuffins.

See the Egyptian vulture.

Nothing is more beautiful than the Egyptian vulture, with its bright-orange hooked bill, rapier claws, and pristine-white plumage. The Egyptian vulture pilfers the chicken sandwich from the table, picking and pecking at the chicken-flesh with its beak. Rapacious, the Egyptian vulture feeds itself.

Flying above you, the king vulture—with its flappy, blue-orange-yellow head and bespectacled eyes—fixes its hard stare on you.

You wonder at the toucan—with its banana-colored face, its massive beak the shape and color of an unripened banana with a hot orange stripe down the middle—and ask yourself, “How could such a gloriously exotic creature exist?” How could such incomprehensible beauty visit a city such as the one you called your own?

A preening, self-cleaning spoonbill cleaves its feathers with its bill. With rapid pecks and plucks, the bird nibbles its lush, snowy plumage. Sensing your approach, it crawls gingerly along the transparent plastic balustrade.

The woodpeckers chisel the bathroom doors with their chisel-shaped bills, pecking and plucking in stiff movement, their stiff plumage unmoving as they peck and pluck. Their skulls move mechanically forward and back, pecking and plucking.

The hummingbirds are fluttering their wings at unimaginable speeds, floating before your astonished face. The birds are right in front of you—they float there, before your eyes, and then suddenly transcend to impossible heights, spiraling upward to places you cannot see. They hover in a horizontal formation—then they suddenly disperse, flying backward, upward, downward, and diagonally at spectacular speeds. They hover, then upglide, downglide, sideglide, and backglide.

Ravens are soaring on the updraft, moving vertically on the windy air-condition current.

A hawk trances before your face, its brown wings featherily flapping, and then flies off.

Bluebirds are fluttering up before you. They circle in the air, carving invisible arcs, revolving fan-like. They lift higher, as if suspended by invisible threads.

It is then that you see the humans, cowering and scared. Humans are fearful of an animal backlash and retaliation and are hiding in the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

A seagull glides beyond a beefheaded man who gapes stupidly at the seagull as it glides.

See the tribe of renegade children, giggling at the parrots. The parrots erupt into a crazed flight, liberated from their cages. The little girls titter as the parrots flitter. The tittering of the girls irritates you.

A grim North American turkey vulture is peering at you through sharpening eyes, super-seriously. You know that her eyes are keener than your own.

Peered at by the sharpening eyes of the North American turkey vulture, it is now the German family that is being observed.

The German family comprises two young children and two middle-aged parents. Two young children and two middle-aged parents compose the German family. The faces of the children are not expressionless. They are enraptured by the swirling and spiraling raptors.

Swinging her shoulders as she walks, a massive woman is swaying across the foyer to the counter. A radio is strapped to her right shoulder. There is no one to take her order.

You see a younger woman—blonde, around twenty-four—sprawled on one of the booths. She is asleep. A Brush turkey creeps toward her where she sleeps. A Japanese crane struts toward her where she sleeps. The Brush turkey creeps; the Japanese crane struts.

You strut out of the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s. A gale is blowing against your face.

You glissade between the red streetlamp and the yellow sign that thanks you for choosing McDonald’s.

You look above and see an American eagle lofting on the red streetlamp—a female American eagle, brown and less resplendent than its male counterpart.

You hear the screeching of a Valkyriean jet as it slices through the clouds and then turns and spirals and dives.

Look around you: at the Hard Rock Café, at the Walgreens, at the British Petroleum gas station, at the billboards, at the condominiums, at the office buildings.

The intersection of Clark Street and Ontario Street is exploding into a wild aviary, a bird typhoon. You whirl into the avian whirlwind. You dive headlong into the explosion of birds.

Seventeen-year-old girls with picturesque faces, faces that seem almost like holograms, faces that almost seem Photoshopped, are leaping about on the sidewalks.

He is wearing a white muscle shirt—the ex-convict, the man who is looking at you. He is strolling leisurely on the sidewalk and leering at you with leery eyes.

You see a woman in her mid-twenties blowing magical bubbles through a bubble wand. Dirt mats her hair. Her hair is a tangled mass of dirt and twigs, a messy dirty mane.

Squawking above you, perched on the wires, is a cult of ravens. The ravens shake their velvety black feathers.

The ravens squark and squeak and squawk and squork and squook and squack.

A solitary raven croaks throatily and descends from its celestial aerie, circling the tribe of frogs that pulsates below.

The ravens are shattering across the sky, shattering into fragments of black, breaking apart into shards of black ice.

You see a half-devoured apple on the street.

Whishing across the sky, its massive wingspan dwarfing the sun, a hawk suddenly arcs downward and takes the fruit into its mouth, pauses, flaps its wings, and then reascends, soaring back into its cerulean castle.

Looking sleepily at you through slanted eyes, two teenage boys zombie across Ontario Street. They are sleepwalking to the Rock ’n’ Roll McDonald’s.

One of the teenage boys is wearing a T-shirt that reads MILF Magnet.

The other wears a T-shirt that reads Never Approach a Cougar.

You look up. A girl is nestling in the tree. One blonde strand of hair describes a question mark on her lineless forehead. She scratches her elbow and looks past you at some unimaginable thing. Her father extends his arms upward. She slithers down the tree and jumps into her father’s arms.

Perched close together on the boughs is a flock of vultures, solemnly patient and patiently solemn. A cumulus cloud of ravens drifts above the tree.

The eagle extends its broad wings and vaults into the vaults of the sky. Its feathers resemble fingers, fingers that are playing an invisible celestial piano. The eagle makes its incandescent descent, the sun burning furiously behind it.

The large, powerful wings of the Greylag geese carry them through the air. They fly above the green buildings in a V-shaped formation. You watch their southern migration and wonder if you should follow them.

The crows rustle their shimmering metallic black plumage and release rumbling grinding clicking calls into the wind. A pack of humans shuffles down the street to look for other humans. The crows, rustling their feathers, watch the humans as they shuffle.

Bustards and cranes race around the Chase Bank, chasing the humans who try to outrun them.

The birds are taking advantage of the chaos, scavenging the abandoned houses and apartment buildings of the human beings for food. Pirates and looters of human scum. The human beings, on the other hand, are finding it harder to eke out a living in the reverse rodeo. They are less adept looters and pirates than the birds.

A police offer stands alone at the intersection between Clark Street and Ontario Street. He looks visionarily into the cloudy distance.

Great buzzards and massive vultures have lofted on the bright orange, green, and red awnings of the apothecaries, hair salons, liquor stores, and shut-down video stores.

A pair of puffins shoots past you, and all you see is a haze of orange feet and bills, black wings, and underbellies.

Crested wood partridges are delicately and ridiculously dancing on the ledges of the windows of the apartment buildings.

Now come the shrikes with outspread wings, turning and twisting, making air strikes and doing aerobatics. Their talons seem to be made of black insects; their beaks are hooks; their faces are hidden in Zorro masks.

The vultures and the buzzards and the eagles and the ospreys are propped on the ledges of the office buildings, on the parapets of the building-towers, looking down on the vine-webbed streets, silently awaiting the maceration of the city-dwellers.

(Maceration means “starvation and reduction.”)

Flying clouds of feathers above the human city, the birds are meting out punishment to the humans for years of imprisonment.

An eagle whirls past you in a white arc and then speedily resumes its lateral attitude, coasting and then soaring one hundred feet higher, flying straight toward the tall black buildings on the Chicago skyline.

You stare at the John Hancock Tower. The building rises four hundred feet to a tapered summit, a summit that is shrouded by the scissoring wings of crisscrossing blackbirds.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

Table Eleven: Joseph Suglia

Darkly suited and red-tied, the fleshy white man ambles toward the kangaroo, a digital-video camera clutched in his hands. He inches toward the big-legged, loping beast, clutching the camera as if it were a cantaloupe.

Indifferent to the man with the camera, the kangaroo is manipulating a mango with hand-like paw-claws, peeling off the mango skin and exposing the succulent yellow fruit within.

—Stay still, my little ’roo, the man says. Laughter spills out of his askew mouth like water from a drainpipe.

Someone is shouting into a klaxon. Somewhere an air siren is blasting.

You hear the thudding and thundering of the coming kangaroos and wallabies. And then you see them. Before you, a mob of kangaroos is gathering. A mob of kangaroos at the crossing of Clark Street and Ohio Avenue.

Trampolining kangaroos are leaping, their high leaps like reverse plungings. They are hopping around in ever-narrowing circles. Bounding and hopping, the happy kangaroos are hopping. Raiding garbage cans, the kangaroos are foraging for discarded Thai dinners.

You turn your head to the left and see small mobile brown forms encircling the Rainforest Café. The wombats are invading the Rainforest Café. The wombats—they are burrowing through the wall, scratching with their heavy forepaws, with diggers that are curved like picks.

Anteaters are burrowing, poking their tubular noses through the holes that they are creating, excavating with their spoon-shaped claws. The Rainforest Café—with all of its gigantic plastic mushrooms, frogs, and gorillas—seems redundant in a city that is turning into a rainforest.

And there, in the middle of Clark Street, is a stalled yellow school bus.

What is that animal stalking for prey? What is that beast sulking around the school bus? Is it a wolverine? No, it is not a wolverine. It is a Tasmanian devil.

Sulking around the yellow school bus, the Tasmanian devil turns to look at you, fifteen feet in the distance. It is gazing at you now. The Tasmanian devil widens its jaws, and you can see its sharp teeth—bone designed to crack bone.

Designed by whom?

Walking past a covered bus stop, you notice a homeless man hunched over, wrapped in a greyish-green blanket. A homeless man? Isn’t everyone homeless now?

You tread past a UPS Store. You tread past an Urban Outfitters.

The Urban Outfitters is throbbing with opossums. They are squirming in the changing rooms, wagging their verminous tails.

Dusky slender mouse opossums are tearing apart the flannel jackets with their jaws.

You gaze through the window of the Chinese restaurant-and-massage parlor. A puddle of soy sauce oozes across the patterned tiles and is lapped at by hungry wallabies.

On one of the tables: A blue, yellow, and red parrot cracks a walnut in its aquiline bill. Other macaws loft on to the table and crack the walnuts. The testicular walnuts.

Through the window: You see an elderly woman sitting at one of the tables. She is wearing a leopard-skin coat and blue sunglasses. She is mouthing her duck pancakes.

You see a policeman standing at the entrance of the Chinese restaurant-and-massage parlor. He is blocking the entrance of the Chinese restaurant-and-massage parlor. He is holding a wombat in his arms. You look at the wombat, herbivorous micro-bear, adorable little thing with incongruously threatening feet. The wombat is being cradled by the police officer. The police officer smiles at you. The wombat smiles at you.

You see a blonde girl riding a kangaroo. She is wearing strawberry yoga pants and a strawberry pullover. She is riding the kangaroo. She is gripping the neck of the kangaroo as it runs. The hindlimbs of the kangaroo swish like windshield wipers. The kangaroo hops down the milk-saturated street and seems to be laughing at you.

A young man—about twenty-two or twenty-three—is watching the kangaroo-girl as the kangaroo-girl leaps down the street. He is wearing sneakers without socks, a blue sweater, and blue jeans. An iPod plugs his right ear-hole. He takes a picture of the kangaroo-girl with his telephone camera.


Take a look at the city. Take a good long look at the city.

Pull yourself up the tree. You stand on one of the lowest branches. You are ten feet above the ground.

Beside you, on the branch beside the branch on which you are standing, is a tree kangaroo. A weirdly humanoid tree kangaroo. The weirdly humanoid tree kangaroo looks like a human in a tree-kangaroo costume.

It is then that you notice that the entire tree is rustling with tree kangaroos. A cluster of tree kangaroos nibbling on the leaves. Tree kangaroos are climbing from branch to branch, living their arboreal life.

A tree kangaroo slides down the trunk of a tree and looks at you puzzledly, as if wondering what you are doing there.

Look down. The tree kangaroos are staring at you.

Come down from the tree, and join the beasts that encircle the tree. They welcome you.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia