Welcome to Popular Ink's INDELIBLE KITCHEN.

Now get the hell out!

Really, we would love to have you stay but we would feel rude about that as we have left. As in gone, defunct, kaput. We aren't here anymore. Sometimes, when it's late and we are worried about dying, we do believe in reincarnation. So, maybe we will live again. We'll let you know if that happens.


A New One by Gentry Hoffman

"The Mating Patterns and Courtship Rituals of Local Campus Rock Doves (you might know them as pigeons)"


"Bobbin Threader By Nature"


"The State-Job-Space-Time


by Gentry Hoffman

I deftly walk the hallway, glancing at faces. They glance at me, sure, and smile reflexively. That's muscle syntax for "I am harmless." I wonder if the hair’s-width chronology of these encounters add up. I wonder if, added together, any of these nano-smiles I pass intuit where I came from, who I've been. Do they read a casual, physical confidence, or do they just see the reciprocating muscles contract to stretch the lips into an eighth-moon, concave-up geometry? Or, do they see harmless? I find this interesting.

These people I know. I see them day after fuckless day. I can tell you names. I can tell you three names: Rebeccah. Robert. The redhead...god, I forget her name. Met her once, not long ago at a show I never in a million would have thought she'd be at. This, after years of "meeting" her around here. That's how it's worked, it's the pattern of local space-time (my physics teacher would push me over an event horizon for breaking those two up). Around here at least.

For the past seven years I've worked for the state, and the patterns are obvious at this point. I've accepted them, which is probably the meat and potatoes paradox of the "state job" continuum. The patterns are thus:

  • You get a "better" job, meaning more pay, benefits, stability, structure and less happiness (also known as a "real job").
  • You learn your job, meet the locals, form inorganic work relationships and romantic ones with people you greatly don't identify with, and you violently resist becoming one of them without realizing it.
  • You master your job to the point of supreme boredom; meanwhile people come and go (see: Turnover) and you hope it's not the cool ones.
  • You begin to loathe your job. Meanwhile, you begin to procrastinate and the quality of your work beings to decline, while ironically your performance evaluations get better and better.
  • They consummate the soul-job transaction by consistently giving you marginal cost-of-living raises, and the random yet slightly larger ones for those great evaluations you've been getting recently.
  • You think to yourself often how you really need to get away from this place.
  • See bullets four and five above. Repeat. Reflect.
  • You become one of them without realizing it.

Ok, so we were at the part of the pattern of seeing people every day for years without meeting them. Right. And so then one day a meeting is facilitated by the gods of chance and random number theory. You meet, you exchange names and so you are now not just a smile. This is nice, this is personal. The pattern is strange: the flirty smiles were always there, but so was the plexiglass wall that always aligned at an angle perpendicular to the line between our smiles. Mathematically, two points in the plexiglass could be used to define our smiles, with a basis vectors at the origin of the tower where we both work. Why did we never speak before? How many smile lines were defined before finally our chance meeting? I find this interesting.

The emotional epaulet "desperate" is fastened by a passant to her right shoulder (looking at her, on my left). It's hard for me to keep from staring at it during our conversation. I can't decide if it's this, or the banality of it all that is disappointingly familiar, but I am not one to hide my stripes either (emotional bobbin threader by nature), and so this makes for an awkward conversation. Little meaningless collisions of nothing. It's like when a feather slams into a feather. As opposed to matter v. antimatter. I'm still waiting do discover the dark stuff. I find this interesting.

At lunch there are animals to deal with. I say "deal with" and not "look at" or "enjoy" because they are very familiar with our patterns. They are urban fauna. Street smart rock doves (you might know them as pigeons), they push and hustle and huckster their way around campus, jostling their way to scraps and bun seeds and the occasional errant french fry. The grackles are ubiquitous and nasty with their audacity. They will swoop/snatch/perch their way from meal to meal. The whole exercise reminds me of Oliver Twist.

Romantically, pigeons and students are inseparable to me at this point. Their mating patters share not only a cadence but a sweetness and a dirtiness. The male student/pigeon is tenacious from the instant of any signal recognition. They are on it, and they can't be stopped. They are young and energized and in it to win it. Little factories of hormones drive-chain the machinery and presto-bango, love! The posturing, the ruffling and preening, the puffing. These are the performance arts of hormone love. The courtship ritual is a dirty-feet street ballet. They workshop these courtships for future performances. They learn their blocking, beat. They learn their faces, beat. They practice their lines, scene.


Anonymous said...

yup. sound like work to me.

Anonymous said...

That's why all offices should be shut down. The corridors, the passings, the stupid work.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could make an actual story out of some of these people.

Anonymous said...

i like all the titles.
what if there were a poem entirely of titles?

Will Knott said...

there is a story behind them all. fleshing them out is my only passtime there. and i'm in total agreement w/all of your anonymousnesses