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Dan Wriggins

News From Heaven

A long-defunct satellite plummeted to earth and crashed

in the sand pit behind Jack’s property. I was rubbernecking

from the sofa, the hum of a pork chop still echoing in my ears,

when I heard Jack pull on his jeans and rush outside. As long

as I had known him, Jack exuded a lethargic stonerismo

which I came to admire and even depend on after years

of initial bewilderment. But there he was, brow glistening,

eyes sparkling, hauling sheets of sooty aluminum

from the sand pit to his shed with incredible urgency.

More space trash was falling: bent solar arrays

shattering on impact, propulsion tanks making small craters

in the sand. I hollered at Jack to come inside, but Jack kept

running around the pit, arms outstretched, head cocked back

like an outfielder, angling to catch every piece of falling debris.

“Jack,” I shouted, “you have so much to live for, think of Max

and the crew! Think of the unreleased Xbox games!”

No reaction, just manic zeal for the raining metal. “Jack,

think of me. I need you. You’re my buffer. You’re my planet

returning, or whatever! What terror could I face

without you?” By now, the shower was over. Jack finished up

and came inside. His eyes returned to familiar dull hazel. Oh,

to have no faith and be proven wrong.

My Previous Neck

Before we go any further, I consider it my duty to disclose

information regarding the matter of my previous neck.

Prior to my current unit, I had another, seriously distinct

specimen. It was rugged and purposeful, never straying

into the field of “meaty.” It adapted miraculously to any

and all collar styles. Rumor holds that its sublime curvature

inspired an enclave of prestigious civil engineers

to revitalize several midwestern cities. My scarf slipped

once at a Market Street bus stop, and Bruce Willis howled

with jealousy from his limousine. The sharp gasps

and enraptured stares at the Mini Mart soon turned

from annoyance to hindrance, and after weeks of

deliberation, I had my neck replaced with a replica

of average appearance. I can assure you that I have never

regretted my decision. I go about my day with no children

pointing, no wolf whistles from community adam’s apple

fetishists, no predatory offers from so-called ascot model

scouts. Still, there are moments, when I’m walking home

from the corner store or the bus stop, looking up at

the hollow skulls of clouds, when I miss the security,

the strength, the tingly comfort of my specialness

which blurred, temporarily, the otherwise alarmingly

legible receipts of a pitiful lifetime.

Stephen’s Boat

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young

were hanging out on Stephen’s boat in the spring of 2022.

“So, what have you guys been up to?” said Stephen. “I just

got back from a long trip,” said Neil. “Cool, man,” said

Graham, “where to?” “I’m not sure,” said Neil.

“Cool,” said Graham. “I remember a few things. Someone

handed me a rose, but I couldn’t see who it was.

And they were wearing gloves,” said Neil. “That’s wild,”

said David. “And then I remember an eagle and a dove.

They were both crying,” said Neil. “Hold on, man,”

said Graham, frowning, “are you messing with us?”

“No, man, I’m not messing with you. The eagle and

the dove were there, together and crying,” said Neil.

“Man, aren’t those lines from ‘Love the One You’re With,’”

Graham said, turning to Stephen, “that’s from ‘Love the One

You’re With,’ right?” “Yeah,” said Stephen, “except the eagle

flies with the dove, it doesn’t cry.” “Wait, really?” said

David, “I always sang ‘cries.’” “It’s ‘flies,’” said Graham.

“Yeah, It’s ‘flies,’” said Stephen. “Man, I always thought

it was ‘cries,’” said Neil. “No, it’s ‘flies.’ Love must carry

on, and so forth,” said Stephen. “Either way, man, I saw

these birds crying,” said Neil. “Why do you think they were

crying?” asked David. “I don’t get it,” said Graham, “they had

each other. Isn’t that the point of the song?” “I told you,

man, this isn’t about the song,” said Neil, ashing

his cigarette over the side, his voice beginning to wobble.

Along the River

I came back not too late from the bar

by a path I sometimes take which runs south

along the river, still grinning over a joke

of Gilad's, when my wife informed me that a demon

had followed me home. “What are you talking

about?” I said, frowning and peering back

across the mudroom. “A demon,” she said,

“he’s here. He must’ve followed you home.”

I didn’t see anyone, mortal or infernal, but she

often notices what passes me by, and I had put

back a few rum and cokes, so I was creeped out.

“What should we do?” I asked. “What can we do?

It’s bedtime.” So my wife made up the guest

bed, we brushed our teeth and went to sleep.

I came down the next morning to find her

lost in thought, leaning against the counter. “Is he

still here?” I asked. “His name is Bringer of Balance,”

my wife said, “we chatted last night.” “Oh,” I said,

“what about?” “All kinds of things,” my wife said,

“he was so comforting, like he really knew me.

He wanted me to pick up my cello again. He told me

age comes on strong, and that my dad only talks

the way he does because he’s afraid, of death, but also

of his mind closing up before death,

and he confirmed mosquitoes are from hell.” “Sound’s

more like an angel name than a demon name.”

I said. “He’s a demon.” my wife said, turning on

the garbage disposal.

Dan Wriggins is a poet and songwriter. He records and tours with the band Friendship. He lives in Philadelphia with his dog, Roy.