Alex Cuff

Family, a Natural Wonder

We couldn’t agree on a location to dispose the body so we didn’t.

We’d committed a murder as a family.

We stuffed organs into Costco-sized jars of maraschino cherries.

Sensed humor where there was some.

Were haven and humanoid.

Wept collections of TNT.

We rewired circuits.

We failed before we thought to act.

Our failures came in large and manageable pieces.


I am digging up potatoes and find the mother

Like all mother spuds it’s rotten to the core

Like it I have to be sacrificed

So that others can live

This guy says he likes when I’m sexy

He calls me Simone instead of Alex

In my mother’s dining room

The blue-ribboned wallpaper

This guy pulls out his dick

Swings it toward my stomach

I know I’m in big trouble

If I pay the slightest attention

The wall-papered room is a small rocky cliff

A peninsula surrounded by water

Someone has set up a cocktail lounge on the sea floor

I dive down and mix a drink

I am drunk with the lions

Their manes are humiliating

I spend the next ten years searching for that rocky cliff

Waiting in line for a public bathroom

I remember the girl stored in tupperware

My call to keep her alive

I’m hanging off a dead man’s leg

His body attached to the crag of a mountain

A heavy wind bends us back like a lever

We snap and crash onto the rocks

The man’s body crumbles like dry mud

I spy a living man hiking up the hill

I ask him to save me from the crag

My mother accuses me of trading danger for sex

She is naked and wrapped in saran wrap

I’m kneeling on the ground

My head between the knees of this guy

His right hand between my legs

I’m informed that I will need to die by hanging

I stress about which pants to wear for the event

I’m acutely aware of the exposure of my body

The twisting and turning of the rope are in play

My mother hangs the windows with drapes

The room fills with smoke

My daughter asks me to change into a polka dot skirt

I visit the Jefferson branch of the library

I’m confused by her request

I study the past until I am learned and silent

When the house is demolished

I let others pick up the pieces

My daughter approaches

Okay okay I’m ready now

I stack two-by-fours

A man sends me to his friend’s private library

For a white tome titled HERE AND NOW

He explains the premise

A collection of logical fallacies

I’m prohibited from reading

He says I owe him dinner for his brilliance

We like our women the way they are

I butter both sides of a roll

I double up the body bag

I follow his logic and pick up the check

I think of all the hamsters who have died for no reason

I note the past tense when I speak

All my verbs are in the subjunctive

When autumn ends I settle on winter’s length

Nothing is slated to happen for years

Chairs from my hips and doors from my wrists

I walk through the house dislodging

I stand armed in the kitchen until morning

noun noun

I have all these text messages from my father of phrases he thinks are funny because they are two nouns acting as adjective noun like store coffee store coffee is coffee that isn’t brewed at home but at a store that you drink out of a cup with a lid and the milk and sugar are provided by the store some people call this to-go coffee

he equates store coffee with loose coffee I disagree and say that loose coffee is ground before it is brewed not at all store coffee loose coffee is coffee made at home it is home coffee he says quidquid whatever I say box tea tea in a box of individually wrapped tea bags I say I am coming home to see you he says what time is your return train

I search for the phrase nouns that acts as adjectives on the internet and hope for a grammarian term something proper but the internet only says that sometimes we use a noun to describe another noun in which case the first noun acts as an adjective like ticket office race horse tennis ball

I don’t always know what to make of noun on noun and sometimes just want a descriptive word to accompany the noun like the spotted egg or the hollowed horse though I understand why some are wary of description thinking that description is not knowing not necessarily in any real sense of knowing the behind-the-scenes knowledge anyway

and now and again when someone says it is what it is I lose faith that people will ever say what they mean he says I want to be a better father but I have no money he says don’t tell your mother about the DUI you know because of her nerves he says at least I never hit you sleep socks boat shoes chicken egg

grammarians might call this a compound noun the internet warns that a car accident is not an accident of the car he says people will ask why jackie didn’t come to uncle jay’s funeral I say tell them the truth she’s not doing well I say you two should finish the steps together he says we need to be on the same page try this she didn’t come to the funeral because she is working I say but she doesn’t have a job he says we have to return all our vehicles to the neutral zone by 5:30 he says

semper mihi hillae which I translate as I am a species all to myself but he says no semper mihi hillae means hot sausages are always mine I say that’s a strange thing to say to your daughter he says coffee snack dinner foil water boots

From an Aerial View the Family Unit is Made up of Individuals Corresponding to Their Environment

Once, in a car, I told my mom that I if I opened a hotel or motel, I would call it the Sunrise Hotel or motel. I think I had been considering the Brook Motel on Sunrise Highway and was thinking of how the South Asian Patel family who went to St. Joseph’s elementary school and lived in and owned the Brook Motel didn’t call it the Patel Motel, which would have rhymed. My mom felt bad that the Patels lived in the motel off of Sunrise Highway thinking it wasn’t a nice way to raise a family. Then she told me that a motel called Sunrise Motel sounded trashy. If I had had a white Persian cat as a child, I would have named it Snowball. When I was in middle school, I wasn’t allowed to watch Fatal Attraction, Dirty Dancing, or Three’s Company. I often drink too much wine on Thanksgiving and end up in arguments about race at the dinner table. My brother who is white like me thinks I’m calling him a racist when for example the prison industry comes up. My mother changes the subject by telling me that I should not be allowed to teach sex ed to my 9th grade students because I’m not a certified health teacher. My mom’s a nurse and before my 11th grade prom, while holding her hand to shield my eyes from a shower of aerosol hairspray, she reminded me to keep my legs closed. In 2008 she gave me a navy blue floor length robe for Christmas because a bathrobe is a respectable and practical garment to wear around the house after a shower, especially if you are a grown woman living with other adults, which I am. She once sent me a newspaper clipping about a woman who was caught with 37 cats in her Brooklyn apartment. The woman gave up the cats voluntarily and wasn’t charged with any crime. My mother has given me three blue robes since. This robe has a hood, is synthetic, and I like to smoke in it so much I’m surprised I haven’t set myself on fire.