Ed Mabrey

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Orange Whip

Androids sip orange whips, poolside. They overlook the space station with electronic jazz beats pulsing in the background. “I think we’ve really made it,” one says to the other. “Too early to tell,” the second responds, putting his arms behind his head after taking another drink. “With the human problem solved, what do we have to worry about?” The first asks. “Space worms,” the second says matter of factly. “They’re huge.” The first considers this thought and shrugs, continuing his carefree lounging. After 30 minutes of bathing in the florescent light, they take a dip in the pool. Indoor swimming at the space station. “If humans programmed us, aren’t we, on some level, just like them?” “Don’t worry yourself with thoughts like that. It’s what destroyed them.”

Can’t tell

I want to climb into the folds of your sawdusted, flannel shirts.
To feel your oil-stained hands pat my head.
To laugh with you real big, like nobody’s watching.
To run as fast as I can and look back and see you, smiling.
To fall into your arms when I’m scared of some big thunderstorm.
To leap in the field behind your house and have you sweep me back up.
To get hurt real bad just so you can tell me it’s gunna be alright.
To play cowboys and indians, with you pretending to be the bad guys.
To be the good guy caught in the bad guy’s grip.
To remember how poorly you pulled that off.
I want you to tell all your old stories. Of war and peace.
To fall asleep when you recite your poems.

In the years since, it’s been hard for people to tell where you end and He begins.
I still can’t tell the difference.

Excerpt

My nose is pressed to the window. The glass keeps fogging and that’s alright because this way the paramedics can’t see my tears. I’m standing on tip toes dug deep into the tan carpet. I’m watching him leave on a stretcher begging God not to take him. He sees me and smiles and with an outstretched arm, signals thumbs up like a beloved quarterback injured in the middle of a playoff game. A 70s gunslinger. Terry Bradshaw even.