the short bald middle aged teacher has his favorite books of the year on his shelve.
some of the books are authors he knows well. they sell each others’ books. they sleep with each others’ partners. he has on a white wool sweater. it is wool and heavy. i need it.
they sent him to me. we are not on the same intellectual standing. he calls himself a conceptual poet. i don’t understand his writings. they had me read five of his books.
it made me nauseous. i wanted to teach literature in a nothing town
somewhere in the midwest. i wanted an uncomplicated life. it never happened for me. i had an interview. the department head didn’t care for me.
the conceptual poet took off his pants. he has huge balls and a small penis.
please put your pants back on, i said. what is your name?
you know my name, he said.
i want to hear you say it, i said. folks mispronounce my name. i say my name incorrectly so they can say it. you’re a canadian.
i’m from vancouver, he said.
ah yes the photographer jeff is from there, i said.
jeff?,he said. what is his last name.
i can’t remember, i said. i have a mental block with last names. my father is a very difficult and stubborn man. he can’t admit when he is wrong. you have this look like you smell a dead animal.
my name is foster, foster said.
how are you foster, i said. i’m paulus. i was named after the nazi general. i have been reading your writing. it is very nice to look at how you make forms with letters and punctuation. i have this woman friend when she sees me she seems socially affected but it is me who is affected having been hours alone and not having seen anyone for days. when was it you last saw a friend. it has been awhile. it says in my notes that you saw a tall skinny black man last month.
charles, foster said. his name is charles. he’s my partner.
how long have you known each other, i said. how well does he know you? does he know about what happened? do you remember what happened?
i was doing garden work foster said. they said that i shouldn’t eat what i grow. the water wasn’t the same. it didn’t taste like water. i can’t tell you what it tasted like. it tasted like a skin disease. i got eczema on my left elbow.
the poet conceptualist has blue marks on his neck and under his armpits. he said his body odor has changed. he doesn’t smell like himself. he likened the smell to a regime change. i asked him to put his shirt back on after i took photos of the marks with my iphone.