the best of 52|250's fourth quarter

Week #41 – Coincidence

Week #41 – Coincidence

Panel 3.7 by Al McDermid
(coin)cidences by Dorothee Lang  
are tossed tangents
of chance,
flocks of relativity
touching the ground
right in front of
your feet
in the shape
of an invisible coin
pick it up and
live, nowor leave it

while you halt + read
live, now

while the heads
turn to tails

in this velo(city)
called our

which is
in German
and, in any mirror, turns to


She just happened by Darryl Price  
to be playing the hell out of
her guitar out of tune and wonky sounding
perfect for the blues at the same
time as this car was pulling out of
the driveway next door to the rosebushes
that only bloomed to one side. And the

telephone pole was sputtering uptop from being
pecked at by a huge black crow when
all of a sudden there was an
enormous pressure drop in the wind outside the
house and her cell rang twice but
no more than that. After which it remained
silent.As she finished her pleating the

rains came and the door banged open and
the porchswing was yanked from its chains
and rolled into the swingset like a jagged
pumpkin- mouthed scarecrow head. She giggled nervously,
the baby wailed and the lights went
out.I was just driving my car

off the bridge when she lit the last
candle and sat down and pressed her
breast into the baby’s face and hummed more
lyrics into its perfect ears. It all
cleared a few minutes later like the same
dream. I floated down the river looking
for a ladder. Or a tunnel to home.

Life, the Universe, and Henry Miller by Al McDermid 
At one point I had gotten it my head to move to Los Angeles and so picked up a copy of the LA Weekly, a magazine I had never before read. The cover story of this particular issue was about Henry Miller, in which Miller is quoted as saying, “If the floodgates of the psyche should open and destroy our society, what harm could there be in that?” I then knew I needed to read Miller, and wanted to do so at the moment, but I didn’t have any of his books. I could have gone to the bookstore, but that seemed, at that moment, like too much trouble. Besides, I had plans to meet some friends and was running late. I forget about Miller and head down the hill. Literature matters, but life matters more. Living it matters most of all. I later learned that Henry would have probably agreed.

There were two ways up the hill where I lived at the time, a straight steep shot, or a very long switch back. I seldom took the switch back, but that night I couldn’t face the climb. In front of one house along the way, stacked on top of the waiting garbage can, was a bundle of books, among them a ninety-five cent Black Cat edition of Tropic of Cancer.

It’s a simple process. I decide that I need to read Henry Miller and the universe provides Henry Miller.

Reasons by Helen Vitoria  
As if the universe was an assault. We end up at the same place, at the same time, in the same ghost town after four years. How fast those four years must have gone for you. You spend time laying out the odds, gambling on the interior of a cloud collapsing. I heard you became a magician. Your life must have been a hell of a tabletop trick. I heard you learned how to tuck people in the cuff of your sleeve, that your mouth became a bleeding martyrdom. My four years were different. I changed the seasons around, kept it winter year round. I would have sent you pictures, but I knew you could not bear it. I quit taking risks that did not involve lightening. I learned to study wings. There were feathery wings, translucent wings, wings in a graveyard, and iridescent wings that turned to dust in my hands. I later thought it was best to study magic tricks. You know, the inner workings of salvation. I learned how to wait.
A Fair Opportunity by Catherine Davis 
“Step on up! Get your CO-incidence Plan, OR: your FOR-tay’un MYS-ter-ies! A ONCE in a lifetime OP-portunity!”

Miranda’s friends had taken off: no bialys or bracelets here. But the silver-haired man, his musical voice, his conjuring hands – this electric air had captured Miranda.

“Invest in your OWN beliefs, LAY-dies and Gentle-MEN!”

Suddenly it’s her turn. The silver-haired man and his partner rush her: Birthday? Right-handed; left? Favorite color? Now, THE question.

“My mom says there are no coincidences.”

“And your dad says – nothing but.” Miranda frowns. “Lucky guess,” he shrugs.

“Still, I don’t know what ‘fortayun’ means!”

“Sure y’ do, hon, otherwise you wouldn’ta come. Your Fortean Mystery is exactly the opposite of coincidence, see? How much you got?” Man Two talks fast.

Coincidence: one quarter; Fortean: five bucks. Miranda shifts foot to foot.

Man One sighs. “Coincidence is cheap. Popular. Makes people comfortable. But you seem a young woman of… ? Ah, you get what you pay for. Then, Fortean is… complex.”

“No guarantees!” interrupts Two. “You got the opportunity to make life easy.”

Miranda studies the piggy-bank money cupped in her hands. “One of each?”

“Noooo,” they chime. “Gotta be one way or the other,” Two adds, arms folded.

She starts– but they shush: “Whisper into my ear,” says One.

Pocketing her money, they flourish a fancy certificate: gold seal and all.

“Keep it to yourself,” they say, rolling it up.

Miranda hurries through the crowd, past cotton-candy vapors, clutching her prize – eyes wild with worry and wonder.

Back to Wk #40 – The money’s all gone
Forward to Wk #42 – Under wraps