Jerome thinks he’ll come back as a rock. He says we’ve got the pyramid upside down—you start as a human, then work your way through the animals, the insects, the fish. There’s a million year period of amoeba, then you get to be a rock forever. He seems to think he can skip straight to rock if he doesn’t move around too much and always holds onto this arrowhead he found while wandering through the Badlands. Wendy doesn’t really believe in all this, but she says she’ll probably come back as an olm. Jerome thinks she’s talking about some sort of fairy tale creature like an elf or a nymph, but olms are real. Kind of like a salamander, but albino and underwater cave dwelling. They’ve got red flowery gills, can live for a century and don’t have to eat for years. Wendy thinks this is all about escapism, but Jerome thinks it’s about always being one step ahead. She asks him if it’s possible in a billion years a rock will fall into the Adriatic Sea and as it sinks past the mouth of a cave, an olm will slide by, barely brushing it with its red flowers. Jerome says this is possible, if they’re very still. Olms don’t have eyes, you know, Wendy says. Rocks don’t either, thinks Jerome.





The dog is thirsty. He reaches a clear stream, but the water goes right through him, or he through it. He walks to a tree on a mountain. The tree is his mother or father or a child he’s supposed to have, but the dog doesn’t know this. He walks towards the tree only because in his raw eyes it looks like a hand rising up out of the earth.

When the dog reaches the tree he realizes he’s been fooled into coming home to his family and himself, which is what made him thirsty in the first place. The tree is three dogs made of stone. He gnashes his teeth against them until one breaks off and he runs down the mountain again, dropping blood along the trail.

The dog is thirsty. He reaches a clear stream, but the water turns red in his mouth, or his mouth turns red in the water. He is following the trail of a lizard through the desert now. He hasn’t seen the lizard, but he hears it at night scraping over the piles of bones he sleeps in. In the mornings he wakes up and only sees a thin trail in the sand, so he keeps following it.

The dog is thirstier than before because there are no clear streams in the desert. He wonders if the lizard’s playing a game. Perhaps at night it feeds on the blood still dripping from his mouth. But he loves the lizard, in his own way.

The dog teaches himself a new language made of sand and one night he leaves a message for the lizard before he lies down in the bones. He asks the lizard to bring him a family made of water so he can drink them and carry them in his belly.

In the morning the dog finds a hundred trails leading in every direction. He cries because he knows it’s he who’s done this. He caused the lizard to explode in the night from trying so hard to make water from sand and bone.

The dog leaves the desert, following no trail. He reaches a red stream, but doesn’t stop. He reaches a tree on a mountain, but passes with his head low. He reaches a clear stream and walks into it. The water moves through him and he through it.

The dog wants to ask why there are no streams in this world he can drink from, and why his family is stone, and his mouth always bleeds, and the lizard he loved exploded in the night. But he knows not to ask questions.

Dogs are thirsty and he’s a dog.




You told me to count my footfalls and measure the distance and plan for the point where my step meets the ground, and I understand the field is empty without me, the field is empty without, and when I walk through the field I’m full of the field and the field is full of myself. Yet my movement startles the creatures who are startled by movement, the creatures are startled and they eat their own tails. How many lizards do I count when the lizard runs out of itself, out of itself, out of itself? The lizard is less, the lizard is more, a negative lizard plus a positive lizard must equal zero. It must equal zero! Zero lizards run out of themselves, out of themselves and into a cave and the cave is my mouth. A cave is a cave is a cave is a mouth? This is not what you told me. X must + Y must = Z. I’ve noticed the deer have trains in their eyes.




Dirty ice, finger bones, it’s winter and they’re digging a hole for me in the cold ground. Dead, but somehow I’m thinking of a long-legged black dog crossing snowfields. I’m thinking of this dog and how as he runs his eyelids start peeling back from his face and his tongue falls into his throat and then his pelt slides off his body. I can see this dog and his ribs glistening like moon slivers and his raw gel outside is starting to slush up and freeze and his teeth are clattering but he still runs. I want to tell him about this hole because he needs covering, he craves covering, but the snowfields keep spreading out around him, expanding, and I know he’s trying to reach the edge of the Earth’s curve, I know he knows if he stops he’ll freeze stiff into a slab of jerky and all the little white foxes will come out of their holes and fill their bellies with hard black dog. But I can’t tell him because he’s in my mind, which is dead and shouldn’t be thinking anything at all. Run dog, I dead mind scream, run!