Mark Leidner


Charismatic Ambulance Driver


It’s WWII.

I’m a charismatic ambulance driver.

You make me French toast

and when you set the plate down

you kiss my neck

and I just stare and stare at you.

We’re tilling a field in Poland

when the clouds break open

and we throw down the reins of our plows

and make love in the wind and the mud

while the mules, mute, look on.

You are about to take a spacewalk

and I stop you in the airlock

by shouting your name

and as you spin around to face me

your hair splays out in the absence of gravity.

Not without this, I say

handing you your helmet.

It’s Texas and you’ve tricked me

into attending a bake sale.

We’re out in the desert, resting

in the shade a small cliff is creating

and you gently pat my stomach

and ask me if I am gay.

We’re driving through Atlanta

and it is the end of the world

and you point out the window

and I follow the pale curl of your arm

and the line extending from your finger to the moon

and the moon is full

and on fire.

You’re panicking

because you can’t remember the meaning

of nonchalant, but I’m massaging

your neck, whispering,

It’s what you are.

You catch the flu but you refuse

to blow your nose because you’re scared

of looking sick. I finally get you to blow it

by offering you $5, and when you do

the most beautiful music comes out.

I call you sport

and you get a funny look in your eye

and say, Don’t call me that.

You split our bread into two parts,

the crust and the center,

and you give me the crust.

I finally say, I’m leaving you!

All you ever gave me were the wretched crusts!

and you look up at me,

tears brimming in your eyes, and say,

But the crust was always my favorite part.

We are trying to purchase a car

and you are heavy with child

and we are test-driving a small coupe

and I take a corner too fast, and your water breaks

and you tap me on the shoulder and say,

My water just broke. And I say, Is it okay

to drive this car to the hospital?

It’s not ours yet, you know.

We end up getting a different coupe.

You ruined that one.



What's Cool


Probably nine tenths of people mistakenly believe they are cool. They probably believe themselves to be part of some sort of cool movement. They think that what they think is cool really is cool, but I’ve got news for them. It’s not. It’s incredibly lame. And what’s lamer than somebody thinking they’re cool when they’re not? Not only is that thing that they think is cool lame, but that in itself, thinking you’re cool when you’re lame, is lame. It’s the lamest thing of all. The irony is, I imagine the lamest person in the world thinks he is not only cool, but is the coolest, believing himself to be the very essence of cool. And for a moment, the irony of that is cool, how he thinks he is so cool, yet is so lame. Not for long though. Even now, that irony is already becoming lame. Wait a moment. Now, it is fully lame. So that anyone still thinking that was cool, by this point, even though they were very cool at the beginning for thinking it, and the first person to think it was, briefly, the coolest of all – now they are all very lame, and if the first person is still holding onto the coolness of that (and you know he is) then he’s the one who time has made the biggest fool of, because his luck or skill at being the first to think something that was briefly cool to be cool has bought him nothing but the shackles – shackles in the form of an overpowering urge to hold onto something long after its coolness has been spent, earning him the dubious distinction “lamest of all.” What he doesn’t realize is what’s cool changes. It’s a moment to moment, day to day sort of thing. And only the people who realize this are cool. However, as soon as that is said, what’s truly cool becomes permanent again, so that only those people, the people who have believed in the permanence of coolness all along, are in the end redeemed. Soon, however, even that will change. It has already. Now, those and only those who believed what was originally cool is still cool, but not really, and are willing to change themselves, altering their entire belief structures to keep pace with what’s cool as it changes, are finally, and all alone, completely cool.