pages The Names of Things

by Michael Peck

Published in Issue No. 186 ~ November, 2012


Pulpaddler was upset about the lack of rain and about all the names of things in his world that he couldn’t name.

Also: about the children’s severed voices coming in from the street, and the severed street coming in through the children’s voices.

Everything had a name. So what was the problem?

Pulpadddler was the problem. He and his son, Boggs, the painter.

“What’s this chair doing here?” Pulpaddler asked the chair.

All those names he was seeing: Chair, window, door, lack of rain, baseboard, Pulpaddler himself.

“I don’t know what it’s doing here,” Pulpaddler replied.

Sitting in the chair of spilling foam and gentle, gentle leather.

“He started weeping again,” Pulpaddler said.

With the canvass in his hands he started weeping again.

Pulpaddler Asleep in Chair.

The phone ring had been flinging itself into his ears all day.

He and his son Boggs, the painter, rented the studio apartment from a woman who was everybody’s ex-wife. Except Boggs now, now was disappeared. His carefully manicured plants on a little side table: Philodendron Monstera, Ficus Robusta, Bromoliads. The names of Roman idiot-poets.

(The phone stopped ringing.)

Then the phone started ringing.

Still upset, Pulpaddler couldn’t recollect an hour he had not been upset.

And the children’s voices came in through the billowed masts of the red curtain.

Pulpaddler yelled out the window while closing the window on their abrupt new quiet. Those unnamed, nameless and named children of someone, somewhere.


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Michael Peck's fiction, essays and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in The Believer, Juked, Los Angeles Review of Books, Identity Theory and others. He is a sometime book critic for the Missoula Independent, and now lives in Portland, OR. The Last Orchard in America, his first novel, is being serialized at The 2nd Hand.