Kent Kosack

Like Brando in the Opening Scene of Last Tango in Paris


I’m shuffling along except this isn’t the City of Light, it’s the Sack—yes, the same Hackensack ack ack ack ack ack that Billy Joel refused to move to and Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor threatened to destroy—shuffling and fighting off an early October chill and a general sense of futility while trying to figure out why Daniela—after we spent ten years as a couple chugging along the tracks of our 20s towards the prescribed destination of adulthood, joint bank accounts, cohabitation and all the rest, we were a well-oiled machine until we weren’t—gave me the sack but it’s garbage night so as I pass my neighbors’ trash I stop rehashing old arguments and attempt to forget my ex, her moving up forcing me to move out, and wonder about these other people with their other lives, how they do it, especially the owners of four old brown overflowing Sears cans from the 60s—hard plastic relics, I tell myself, steeped in populist nostalgia, (Daniela, just because you can afford to move doesn’t mean I can afford to move and frankly neither of us can afford the city) of a time when America produced things rather than just consumed them—and I examine their house, a dilapidated ranch clothed in mildewing vinyl siding as if the sun hasn’t reached it in decades—don’t waste your missile, Lex—its mossy asphalt shingles peeling off the roof like necrotic flesh and I think of Daniela’s flesh, yes, flesh, not only her grapefruit-and-gardenia-perfume-scented skin but the meat of her, the way our bodies lay beside each other, aged beside each other, fattened and sagged together, my acned back, her stubbly calves, both of us, the idea of us and its messy actuality, tired and ramshackle as this ranch, and I cease shuffling (and I don’t want kids because I don’t like kids but also the cost and the environment and your parents can fuck right off) and lean over the cans, rifle through the trash, much of it unbagged, a mix of specific yet commonplace items starting their journey to the compactor—though of course that journey began the minute they leapt off the assembly line and the moment our cords were cut—to the mass grave of a landfill and my fat fingers, swollen from hanging at my side after hours of shuffling, fumble around (yes I love you, Daniela, of course, but maybe we mean different things by the word or were acculturated to different understandings of what love is, different, I mean, but not necessarily incompatible, I didn’t say that): a half-melted Gumby doll, the green skin of its bendable limbs charred and blistered; framed black and white photos of dead strangers posing in front of European monuments (you travel not because you want to see new places but because you’re sick of looking at this one and the principal resident you see: me); hunks of particle board reverting to powder; rolls of undeveloped film from a forgotten vacation; two cans of puce paint or calamine lotion purchased in bulk; and one little leather notebook whose every page is covered in a machinist’s precise sketches: blue ink drawings done with a fine, steady line depicting a gallery of gears, lovingly exact, fresh-feeling as if they’ve just been drawn, and I leaf through the notebook (and anyhow love isn’t a word like you think, it’s a feeling, a way of being, not a currency you exchange or a cudgel you use to exact a promise or advance an agenda)trying to absorb its precision and purpose, put my face (Daniela, maybe you’re right, maybe I’m self-absorbed but if you love me, you love my self, so aren’t our feelings mutual?) to the open page, admire the smell of multi-purpose oil losing its fight against the potent amalgamated stench of trash, admire this little world bound, preserved, (Daniela Daniela Daniela) once important yet discarded—the garbage, me, us, this world—and I tear the last page, rend the meticulous gears (Daniela) “Daniela” I say (Daniela), tear and tear and tear and the sound is resonant “Daniela” a tear opening inside me “Daniela” a heart attack ack ack ack ack ack “Daniela” in the form of a voice, me cursing you, calling you, needing you, losing you, “Daaaaaaaaaaan” as shrill and final as a missile dropping “yaaaaaaaaalllll” a keening intensifying into a crescendo “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah” via the Doppler Effect of denial becoming despair.

Kent Kosack is a writer based in Pittsburgh. His work has been published in Bruiser, minor literature[s], L’Esprit, 3:AM Magazine, and elsewhere. See more at:

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