cincinnati

by Alexander Chisum


karen thinks about her ashtray’s snuffed cigarettes. the one she’s currently smoking.
the ones unsmoked in her glovebox.

she’s driving with the red lights blaring. thru the intersection. she thinks about killing
time. how 9:59 a.m. murders

9:58 a.m. and how the red seconds flock to the park bench of a spent afternoon. or lie
crushed in the ashtray days of, oh

february. 1981. having (since it’s now ten o’clock. wednesday. years later) been murdered.
and so accumulating.

a murdered murder of crows, she thinks. and smiles. smokes. she coughs and coughdrops.
she coffees. as a girl she killed

a lame crow with her father’s hammer. because of the places she’s lived. it was
either in reno. los angeles. or tuscaloosa.

it couldn’t have been cincinnati because she’s never visited cincinnati.

but thinking it sends her there now.

doesn’t it. she thinks with the hammer she could have murdered a whole murder of crows.

which causes karen to laugh.
not at killing but at killing the act of killing. which is a silly thought actually.

the phrase “murder murder” maybe something

more for anti-war and anti-abortion activists. karen is also anti- but not
in the same active way.

after all, she smokes. she murders the crow. she decides in this instant i’d like to quit
smoking
. that much is inarguable.

what karen can’t decide (she knows it was a wednesday. morning. february. 1981)

is whether the crow died at 9:58 a.m.
or some other time. and if the crow died at 9:58 a.m. where within 9:58 a.m. did the crow die

exactly? what concerns karen is the inexactitude.

moments both of- and not of-the-clock. moments she seems to have experienced without
inhabiting. cincinnati. someplace

she’s never been. wherever murder is a time or place to gather or commit or become.

she feels reverent somehow. reassured

she’s part of something. she also feels, at this moment, instantaneous. as the crow flies.
which is what it’s like perhaps

to be an ambulance driver. nearing 10:01 a.m. ashing a breathtaking cigarette.



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