UNDERGROUND VOICES: PROSE - 10/2012

SHANE CASHMAN

These Days

are hard to explain. We start late with the same cigarette in the non-smoking room.

So far all I can remember are all the things Iíve tried to forget.

You appreciate me with this ashtray I stole from the maid while she was making the neighbors bed, and without gloves.

You woke to the cafeteria gunfire on the evening news and the Dixie Alley towns removed from the map in cyclone debris, as the weatherman Vanna Whites his green screen.

A smile in the rain segues to the on-sight-reporter as she channels us through her cameraÖ her cameraman praying it was porn that heís been paid to film; you can tell because heís cast her in his soft lens. Or maybe itís just fog coming off the freeway exodus.

We catch part of a sunset, you say it looks like an evil bruise spreading into the sky, and it makes me want to love you again. These days in the motel room I watch the news anchors invent sincerity every night, same as you, reading to me from their catalog of horrors and I do my best not to melt in the ash of the volcano that they say is erupting somewhere ancient in the world.

Yesterday the public couldnít solve the plume that shot into space over L.A. and blamed Scientology and North Korea and secret CIA affairs. I blame you because these days youíre alien enough.

Televised late night mega-churches pretend like god isnít an immigrant as you lean your head in to silhouette against the TV and mock-philosophize the hotline prose of the priestess, like a queen who has lost her head to the sloth of her riches, and you say to me in your best hung-over-zombie-monotone how it feels like youíre going warped speed but itís really pieces of screen flashing around you, your pixilated halo, your thought bubble full of teeth whitener, sedans and football, lawyers with toll free numbers, and youíre just part of it all these days.

Meanwhile, life stalls without us out there to thrive in it.

Everything happens with commercial break bookends.

These days this room has turned us into collections of each otherís fingerprints.

We screw loud because weíve paid for it, sex with cleaning service, in the infinite feed of reruns, urgent on us like police lights.

We take turns losing hours looking for ourselves, panning for answers in our reflections at the bottom of complimentary cups.

Shadows of strangers pace beneath the vacancy sign outside and I donít know how in the age of the Computer anyone can look as alone as they do.

They study sidewalk broadcasts Ė the dťjŗ vu of todayís catastrophes.

Pop culture democracy and Bible belt twisters inspire in you a sort of beauty pageant stump speech that you think will fix the world occurring in the anvil of our motel Magnavox.

You kiss goodnight as though Iíll be dead by morning.

The way the news is these days itís hard to believe otherwise, and you ask again what it is I need to feel complete; hoping tonight Iíll mention you or reference your dreams, or be a hero on tomorrowís TV.


Shane Cashman is a 2011 graduate of the Master of Arts in Creative Writing program at Manhattanville College. While at Manhattanville he served as poetry editor for their literary journal, *Inkwell*. He has been published in the Chronogram and the Submission and continues to do freelance writing for various magazines and newspapers. His journalism focuses mostly on historical travel destinations. He has contributed his column *Backyard Landmarks* with online travel sites such as WorldWinder.com. Currently, he is writing his first novel, *A Good Day For Vultures*. Shane is also a competitive stone skipper and dreams of reaching the world record of most skips.







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