down by the canal

A fence encompasses a field of gravel and a few insidious weed-tree sprouts. It’s two-thirds of a block, and used to be solid with warehouses. They tore them down and wrapped the lot in its fence and then nothing happened at all.

I’m in front of the fence with my camera, trying to get the light just right, when a man walks up and says, “Can I ask you something?” He’s got a clipboard, I’m wary, but it’s an airy sunny day, the kind of day that makes it hard to say no.

“Ok, sure.”

He points to the sprawl of the lot. “What do you see here?”

Now I’m smiling. There’s a joke and he hasn’t gotten it yet. “I see something funny,” I tell him.

He pulls his chin back a little into his neck, waits for further information.

So I point to the small metal sign that someone has pinned to the fence. It says, “KEEP OFF THE GRASS.”

He looks and after a quick beat he’s laughing and laughing, doubled over into one raised knee. It would not be imprecise to say that he sounds like the devil is tickling his ribs.

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5 Responses to “down by the canal”


  1. 1 Benedict Molefe June 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    This man, for some reason he scares me a little. I’m glad your back.

  2. 2 Tulletilsynet June 10, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Always makes me miss New York.

  3. 3 Mark Reep July 11, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Catching up on your blog. The fireman you may not see again, the woman whose absence makes you realize you’re late. So good. All best.

  4. 5 Mark Reep July 31, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Hello again,

    I’m editing a new lit & arts zine called Ramshackle Review; hope you may consider submitting at some point. Subs page here if you’re interested:

    http://ramshacklereview.blogspot.com/p/submissions_25.html

    Thanks, and all best.

    Mark Reep


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