Match: The Book—

Everybody has done online dating, but nobody has done online dating the way Egbert Starr has done online dating.

Match

Take a peek inside! It’s all there in the book:

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Coming out soon.

Francis E. Dunbolt

yellow leaves stone wall 2

I hadn’t a dime to my name. I hadn’t a penny to yours. I had a reindeer hoof from Pakistan. And a pirate patch from Tangier. The equals sign in the equation was always quite lopsided. There never was any equivalent to things being the same or domestic animals for sure. Walks under rainbows, snowshoes in spring, piles of needles unswept in the fall, I’m sure the cycle of time had abjured the little summering trespasses we sometimes had made crossing lakes, oceans, and a reservoir or two. Never was I an indifferent mathematician. I had held piles of sand in both hands, either one. Watching the grains fall slipping through my fingers was almost always one of my greatest pleasures. Now the Arctic is gone. Now the Sahara. Now the borrowed light of the moon is surrendered back to the sun. Now the great optative is strongly in place. And I fear the sudden death stroke of the aorist will come down and behead us both. Let us not speak a word further then. The great coronal plasma ejaculation is fast upon the Earth, and I wish I had been camping contigo in a thin, collapsible tent in the outback of Australia, where in the morning we’d have blinked away wavering glances of the aurora.

After the Owl & Pussycat Swam Away

mystic clouds and mountaintop

He knew that when he had enjoyed her last, her company, the whole thing had been fatalistic. She’d dined on sautéed scapes, and he on venison sausage. “We are in the middle of somewhere and somewhere else,” she had said, while he poked a slice of meat with four metal tines held backwards, and said nothing in reply, and waited.

Two years’ time had gone by, and his turned-in toes again met her red boots on the edge of the sidewalk. She was pregnant now and uttered, “There is the moment when short term passes into long term memory, and that point is the making of nostalgia.” And though he could have quoted easily a favorite stanza by Emily Dickinson, he did not.

Once, all night, he’d spoken to a Swiss girl, maybe it was 1967, or maybe 1988, who knows, it is all the same, and never touched her, not even her elbow, where, if you stroke a woman’s forearm, he by another was later in 2066 informed, all women therein fall in love. That night’s memory also became awash in conjugating sixteen tenses in Arabic, and reciting all their principle parts.

There seem to be in this world elfin historians, and others as miserable as soot. It is as common as the dirt between the variegated eyes that make up the rainbowed arc of the peacock’s wide-spread feathers, as ordinary and as confusing and as spectacular as that.

He walks without beauty for it, somewhere afar in a land even east of Nod. It is a desert where nobody goes, not even Urthona, even the dead. It is past all Being of being, beyond and before Memory and Time itself, where perhaps there might ramble a few stray hairs, some blades of grass, and a handful of nibblish goats.

 

Broken Love Vessel Detective

soviet building

It was queer when he had doubled back that her front door was ajar. And it was just as queer that her back door was open. He’d noticed earlier in the day, when he was moving out his last belongings, that the back door’s screen he’d put in had been swapped out for the glass. And he had thought to himself that it must have taken a man, or at least a man’s strength, to have done that. But, after all, she wasn’t weak, and really, she was quite capable. Anyway, he had thought that this might be the last moment ever to make up—to make what had gone down the tubes work out.

He had had a thought some months prior that the two of them ought to quit all this nonsense, she with her very lovely and very expensive diamond engagement ring, and he with his unvoiced uncertainty over the whole marriage thing. After all, he knew he loved her, and she loved him. And the error, the mistake was to keep putting it off, their marriage, somewhere beyond the offing even, into the unforeseeable future.

This putting off and putting off until the putting off that wasn’t even talked about, wasn’t even mentioned, created tiny little cracks in their vessel, the one that had contained all their love. And one day, any vessel, no matter how large and no matter how strong, once it has too many ripples in it, once it has too many cracks, it will crack into pieces. And if that should ever occur, all the love that two people have been pouring in—even though some of it was always trickling away—will be completely lost.

So he had doubled back. He meant to repair their love, the cracks in the vessel that were large now and from her side of it, at any rate, all the love there was gushing out already. He had wanted to tell her that where he had been short on strength before, even though he was quite mighty, he could himself be a bigger and a stronger container, and that, even though he had wounded her by turning away, he had come back, stronger and more capable than ever. And he had wanted to tell her that he could contain their love forever, and that the vessel they held would last them their whole lives. And before she had sealed away all hope for this, while her voice was still soft when she spoke to him, he wanted to tell her, and plan on their being married together when they had returned to the rocky coast of Maine next summer for their fifth time, and by this she would know for sure with all certainty that he would love her forever and never leave her. This is what he had learned about his truest feelings when, woefully, he had turned away two months before from her to think and feel it all, all alone by himself.

Before she had come downstairs, while he had rapped on the glass door, and opened it just enough to call her name, he heard her voice upstairs, which seemed to have a comfortable and easygoing song to it, a voice he had known. But when she descended she screamed and screamed a bloody kind of murder, “No! No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Leave me alone!” She ran from her house and ran into her car, screaming and screaming so loud the entire block and all the families living on it must have certainly heard. (Though through the shingles of her home the neighbors must have heard her raging sobbing suicidal cries for years already, however muffled they had been by plaster and brick.) But he paid the embarrassment of neighbors no mind. He begged her on his knees, repeatedly, “Please! Please! Please!” until another man directly behind him told him he had called the police.

This silly ploy meant nothing to the man, for her fiancé, or her ex-fiancé, by a handful of weeks, hadn’t done a thing worth police notice. That “the police were on their way” was like a line that someone who learns how to live by TV would say to someone about life. But lo, she ran into a parked BMW parked along the street side in front of her house. No, the man behind him, he wasn’t a concerned neighbor. A short, bald-headed, tight-shirted man with good upper body muscle declined to identify himself, and he ventured to give the ex-fiancé some calm enough mano a mano advice, though the ex-fiancé was thinking that he’d heard this same type once before in xXx or, as they say, “Triple X,” as it were, but surely this was no Zander Cage and no Vin Diesel. And the woman and her latest noble and protective hero, the grand part that he himself had once played, they drove off together in $85,000 of fine German automobile.

It blew to pieces their lost engagement. And all the flowers he had sent her that afternoon, she’d thrown three dozen roses into the trash. That is very sad. All that beauty gone to waste. Even the flowers he’d picked for her from his garden, too. Even sadder. They were all there. It was all very sad. Finally, he had understood her. “I want to die! I want to die! I want to die!”—he had heard this screaming, crying voice from her for years, a cry so shrill and harsh and loud the words themselves would scratch their way through ten silent pages of paper. And he had wished to save her from herself. But nobody ever does, so heads up, hermano, ‘cause I was there for years with that feeling, bro. And you, you know that, silly boy! Yes, all her strange messages she had sent him of late, why, none of these had sounded like her at all: “I understand your intent,” or “Leave it alone,” or “I cannot go back there.” These strange new flattened locutions that had never once before over their years together come out of her mouth, or were ever delivered from the tapping of her fingertips, they all meant the same exact thing.

It would appear that for some time now, she had been deceiving him (just, as he had remembered, she’d likewise deceived him over a man in her madness when they had first met), or was double-crossing him, or’d dropped him like a hot potato without a clue, or was palming him off with all sorts of obfuscatory lines about how very badly he had “hurt her” and how she “didn’t trust” him anymore as soon as he himself had said—mirroring her own fraught line which she had threatened him with again and again for a good eight months since New Year’s (against which he protested and pleaded she did not do)—“Let’s take a break.” And that was why, he understood, feeling sunken beneath his own broken shadow, that for her there was nothing to “work out” with him, as he begged her on the floor in her garage on his knees. She was off to six o’clock dinner with some shaved-headed toughie with a flashy car and the wrong sort of accent for a rich person who’d threatened to have him arrested over a spat between two cracked lovers that was about as much his business as saving a little piece of yellowed wax falling out of a stranger’s ear.

Bird Glass Man Leave-taking

bluestone steps

By the time he was done moving it all, there was nothing left. He had removed every trace of him that ever was. Everything had been picked up and carried out of his little work space where, quite thoroughly, she had, prior to his arrival, collected every item of his that he had ever brought to her house. His blow torch, his gloves, his mask, his tank—the main tools of his trade where for years already he had blown dozens and dozens of flying glass birds—these had already been there awaiting him, downstairs in the grotto.

For years he had been perfecting the making of ornamental glass birds, wings and plumage of every color. That is what he did. And if a man can have a genius for one thing, and one thing alone, he had it for that, even if today such pretty objects of beauty are close to superfluous. At any rate, she had instructed him, per his request after their separation, to pick up his belongings before her return home from work in the afternoon.

Down there in his workspace, in a little corner room off to the northwest end of the basement, she had filled it neatly with all his belongings. Brown shopping bags were filled with clothes. Boots and shoes were placed in another. Books and musical wind-up toys were packed in boxes. All the little trial glass pieces he had made and given her, which once she had beheld as her own private and personal collection, were returned. Pretty little lame birds, you were so hard to see!

Before he closed the metal hatch doors that led down from the outside into the dark space that had been his own, where he had once thrived, he decorated her home with roses from floor to floor. He left her two notes: one on the kitchen table, and one on her bed. Dozens of red roses (and some white) lined the hallways, and traveled in pairs up the staircase. Two red blossoms lay crossed on her bed, beneath which he had slipped a little love note.

He told her that she was wrapped so tightly around his heart, he would do anything he could to be with her again, even though not a dot of him was left in his lover’s home. She knew he felt smashed and could do nothing to help him now. He flew off, little glass man, to the forest alone.

Parcheesi Picture Postcard

cactus mountains

She played a game of Parcheesi by a certain set of rules that were her rules but not all of them. And beside the swimming pool, he played with her for years. One day, after he had proposed his taking a little swim, she promptly then decided to fold the board game up. As he had come back dripping and looking for his towel, he was surprised to see their time for playing had been declared over. She wept and told him about the rules he hadn’t played by, and he was loath to say, “My dearest love, but these are not all the rules the game is, in fact, played by.” He could hear that in her mind she was making up her heart. He could see she was creating for herself a Parcheesi picture. He dried himself off completely and refused to disagree. Who was he to decide another’s rules? He was nobody to rule that. And, besides, it would have done no good; it would have neither advanced nor prolonged their poolside game. Still, he was quite disconsolate. Parcheesi, with its little, brightly colored wooden pawns whose tips felt just a little too small for his hands, and the same went for the dice, was certainly his favorite. The sound of luck tumbling in the knocking cardboard shakers was something he would always remember. Swimming laps now back and forth will help forgetfulness.

The Moon Will Break Your Heart

moonpath over water

Everyone loves a sunset. The ribbons of lavender, peach, orange, and purple in the eyes. It could be off the coast of Costa Rica. It could be seen across the Promenade of Brooklyn Heights. It could be remembered caught along a little, pleasant street in Hammam-Lif. It could have been St. Petersberg, Tallinn, Brno, New Delhi, or Kalamazoo. It doesn’t matter where, or from what mountaintop we have seen them. Over chemical wastelands or the most poetic climes of England, sunsets are beautiful. They restore the daylong soul and bring the tiring body a welcome touch of sightful peace. As for the moon, the moon, I’m afraid, is full of heartbreak. Its borrowed rays scatter across the darkened water like frightened fish. The fuller the face the deeper the woe. In the middle of night, like the saddest dream I ever dreamt, I wandered out upon an empty golf course one time to see the shining full moon myself. I was with a lovely young lady who did not love me an inch back. But to have been with her there this once, stranded in the middle of those acres of softly groomed grass, I could only imagine that—were we seen from afar standing so close in the sweet radiant vacancy of Earth by that all-seeing midnight moon herself—she would have exclaimed, “Look! A human treasure to behold!”

Carrier Pigeons Fly Back

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Once before I had had a lover. And I used to send her notes by the only carrier pigeons left alive on Earth. And she used to write me notes back herself, flown across the river dividing us. At times my language had been haughty and grim. Mostly, however, it was pleasant and nimble and full of grace. For I am mostly pleasant, nimble, and full of grace. The river over which these precious birds once flew was fast-flowing and dangerous, especially during the storms of late summer. To this end, I flew her a note that said, “Let us write each other no more, lest our meaning drown.” And by this I meant that until the whitecaps and the tall waves upon the raging river abated, we should cease our correspondence. This last missive of mine, I learned, once the river was calm and smooth again, was understood quite differently by her. The bird whose note from her I read delivered this: she took me and my meaning quite abruptly and altogether harshly. In short, her note revealed she pictured me to be a hard and dark and embittered man. For some time after this, the pigeons flew across the river back and forth. All our meaning, whatever it had been, was completely wasted now. The last carrier pigeon alive has drowned. My final note I’ve got, I’m rolling that back and forth between my fingertips now. As there is no way ever to send it, to ever get across my sorrow and my love for her, my words are just as soon drawn upon the blowing sands of Arabia as one whose name is writ upon water.

Lovely Broken Flowers And Grass

lovely broken flowers and grasswildflowers 2

When you looked back at the whole thing, the whole thing was kind of funny—clown-like funny. Borges funny. A cartographer’s map taking over all the world and everything in it funny and becoming the world funny. That kind. Now, to begin with, because there still are these things—‘beginnings’—he had been in the Emergency Ward of the hospital having suffered an injury to his groin. He had lain there moaning and groaning with his hands cupped over his groin, which is funny in its own right. At least funny to readers though not perhaps, or not outwardly so, to hospital staff. Not until later on when they were smoking their cigarettes at the corner of the hospital grounds right next to the “out of bounds” NO SMOKING line that had been painted there, and which was pretty much ignored except to stamp out smoked cigarettes with the heels directly on it or with the twisting sideways back and forth of shoes’ toes there funny when they could talk about it freely then. And she, well, there was nothing funny about her at all. She had been burned badly in a car wreck and her survival itself was said to be a miracle. “The fact that she even survived,” a resident intern had said, “is a miracle.” So: the man with the pulled groin, who was an amateur pole-vaulter and whose ambitions were to become a professional, to someday join the Olympics, had suffered an injury; and the woman she was a victim of a car wreck, an event over which she could have had no real control.

I will skip entirely the middle, the meeting at the hospital, and the long drawn out affair of their recuperation and the salubrious intentions, especially those which the man had for the woman during their live-in relationship. Not that hers were any less, or well-meaning. Simply that the severity of her injuries required greater care and greater attention. Soon afterwards, after their meeting, the man, albeit with a limp, was practicing again. He leapt higher and higher. He was determined to become a World Professional. And the woman, whose injuries hindered some of her ability to talk as easily as she might, supported his efforts to all conceivable ends, even pouring into the man’s ambitions and aspirations her own resources. And the man, he was no less kind, laying upon the woman poultices and rubbing her flesh with lotions and bathing her body in oils and smearing on unguents that would make her better, however much he withstood, as much as it was possible, her howls of pain, and her near constant bouts of recurring anguish.

“I am completely behind you,” the woman told the man as he successfully flopped over the horizontal bar and cleared a height of over five meters onto a thickly cushioned mat, which she herself had bought for him, as he crashed into her little green backyard. He was deeply appreciative of her, and felt great love for her, however partially disfigured her own crash had still left her. He vowed truthfully that he would stay with her forever. “I will never leave you,” he told her with his heart.

I will skip, too, the end of this somewhat clownish little tale of this now tattered and neglected world, only to relate that they both adequately recovered. The man he was lost track of at some point, and some contend he is teaching competitive pole-vaulting at several of a number of nationwide high school gyms. The woman is again pretty and healthy and only upon closer inspection can one detect that in her past there had ever been what newspapers reporting on the scene at the time had written about for several days in their columns as a ‘tragic accident.’ I can’t really say that everything was fair between them but can maintain with an upper lip that doesn’t quiver that nothing they did was wrong.

Blue Bottle Collection

blue bottles in windows

He wasn’t available for her, she told him. Not enough. And now, when she needed him, he wasn’t there for her. For his part, he told her, he had been. But then, he said, there was a time when I used to show up and the back door was locked and you didn’t even come downstairs to greet me. And still, he insisted, I showed up, even after that awful commute on I-84, he added. But that was long ago, anyway. It didn’t matter now. Now she was so tired, so exhausted, and everything he said to her, even if there was truth to it, she couldn’t possibly be just the sum of her pathologies, her illnesses, no, nobody could be just that. Could they?

A friend from Algeria Skyped him and said to him that he was at the time of his life when he should be enjoying it. It shouldn’t be a hassle anymore. And as much as that made him bristle, and even a bit angry with his friend, who knows, maybe he was right. But what exactly does that mean “at the time of his life when”? Is there some specific cut-off, say, at age twenty-seven, or thirty-nine, or forty-four, or sixty-three? His friend from Algeria was really only telling him politely that he was wasting his time. He stopped talking about her when they Skyped.