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Category archive for: Rick Bursky

All the Boredoms in the World

I forget if young girls still sleep

with their boredom beneath their pillows

until a boy says, I love you.

My mother planted her boredom

in a garden but never said what grew.

There’s a pattern developing here.

No one is allowed

in the basement of sleep

but an old nun sits at the door

and sells postcards with a colorful,

but badly lit, photograph of it.

There are times when boredom is a hand

over a flame until the smell of burning flesh.

For miles that night, silverfish, dead, floating

at the surface, a piece of the moon on each.

I drove past people looking up at the roof of a bank,

arms motionless at their sides,

a staggering scene of languor.

It’s always a warm afternoon

when things like this happen,

a man on a roof preparing to jump.

from I’m No Longer Troubled by the Extravagance Find it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

My Uncanny Resemblance to a Young Sean Connery

Walking out of a Thai restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica I was hit on the head with a wine bottle. It was night. At the instant of impact, a Santa Monica policewoman was leaving the See’s Candies across the street. I didn’t see the man who attacked me. The policewoman did. I didn’t feel the bottle against my skull, opened my eyes an hour later in the emergency room. In the parking lot behind the restaurant my attacker put his hands behind his head and allowed himself to be handcuffed rather than test the discipline of the policewoman’s finger on the trigger of her black Beretta. Doctors shined small beams of light into my eyes. Bursts of color. I slipped back to sleep. This was fourteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My attacker, an unemployed Russian immigrant, claimed to be a one-time KGB agent, who believed early James Bond movies were documentaries. He decided on the attack when he saw me eating shrimp Pad Thai and talking with Alexis about the New York Review of Books. She was in the restroom when I was struck, held my hand in the ambulance as it carried me through the night. After killing an infamous enemy agent my attacker would return to Russia and find work with one of the many ex-KGB officers running a security company. This was real life, not a movie. The bottle didn’t break. I spent three days in the hospital. After thirteen months in the Los Angeles County Jail my attacker was deported to Russia. I was upset to learn that the crime he was deported for was stealing the wine bottle and not what he did with it.

from I’m No Longer Troubled by the Extravagance Find it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

We Were Similar in That Way

It was windy in the snow globe.

Our windowpanes rattled.

Snow piled at the door.

We held hands and sat cross-legged on the floor.

We didn’t know when the storm would pass.

Take whatever you want, she said.

I said the same. And neither of us took a thing.

After we let go of each other

I couldn’t decide what to do with my hands.

She decided to run sobbing from the house,

into the swirling snow.

That was the last time I saw her.

Yes, we were once that small.

from I’m No Longer Troubled by the Extravagance Find it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.