Interested souls, on the verge of exposition, aped their idols, burying whatever forlorn self-understanding they might otherwise have mustered, and in diners all across the county, men and women stared glumly at the morning from behind a cup of coffee. O souls, O coffee, mud is thy brethren and to his bachelor pad we must forsooth return. Despair, despair, but not to effulgence. In which act am I most engendered? the salesman demands, weary from the nightdrive. To what end do I culminate in feelings? asks the waitress of the till. I Am Yet an Unsprung Kernel, sing the widowers in their barbershop quartet. Applause: so-so.

It’s not a very good life. Women die on snowmobiles and horses of yearning’s brief and lusterless yolk. Men eat soup. Only fear surprises, like a reliable cactus on which one sits for portraiture. Insert emojis, sigh. If I had been an astronaut, confides the salesman to his lover one fine imagined evening, I would have killed myself with moon rocks. Down here it lacks panache. Our doom the common shelter of Socrates, society and pie, of coffee, pie and rain.

Gas pumps and beyond them fields where last year a healthy crop of corn did grow. This gnarly mosaic, he grumbles, gesturing with empty cup. This was not my mis-en-scéne.

CUTTER WOOD received his MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. His work has appeared in such publications as Harper’s magazine and The L Magazine. His first book is forthcoming in Spring 2018 from Algonquin Books. He lives in New York with his wife and dog.