18 January 2008...5:02 pm

Stay Out Super Late Tonight Picking Apples Making Pies

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Paper or Plastic?
by Ariel Kouvaras

There is a grocery just a block from the UQAM dormitories. It is called Provigo. Often, I walk there over ice patches and snow mounds and breathe a cold air that burns throat and lung. I loath supermarkets in a way that makes me want to have sex with them and then leave before they wake up in the morning.

The Faint_Sex Is Personal.mp3

The low cadence of the florescent lights tickling the back of my ears lull me safely into the placid place that occurs just before a person flatlines. My steps are light as they shuffle over beige limpid aluminum flooring, and my eyes glossy with a starchy cataract search for cabbage, potatoes, organic Jell-O; aisles of desire and solitary men each with their own unappeasable appetites file pass me. I’m not alone here, but in my gut I can feel the strawberry frosting’s brevity.


My red and gray cart has: sour cream, carrot soup in a cardboard container (similar to the kind that I used to buy in Paris), six pork chops, dark chocolate cake mix, vanilla icing, two Idaho potatoes, and six brown eggs. Each of these items, which facilitate my whole existence, are on a newsreel displayed over 42nd St. These shy provisions flush with embarrassment in front of the other shoppers.


I make my way to the register. The register is the gateway between Eden and reality. I am the third one in line. The guy in front of me has chops that make him look like an emaciated Ron Jeremy and is buying three things, one of which being leeks. His eyes shift and my stomach stretches above my head as I plunge. I want to reach for his hand so that we may plummet together, but he is closer to the ground than I am. The woman whose avocados are being passed through the red light fondles her credit card in anticipation of her next consecrating act.

The Faint_Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat.mp3

There is a beep-beep-beep-swoosh as the cashier’s arm pivots back and forth, and then the horrid brussel sprouts get more caught than a politician who has been seen in a bathroom stall with his foot a little bit too far beyond the acceptable limit. PRICE CHECK!

Ok, we are back on course, falling.

Tu payes avec une carte bleue ?


The customer, the brown haired woman who is just a few meager inches taller than me in stature, fits the credit card perfectly between the two vagina lips of the machine and swipes! Nothing. Nothingness for thirty seconds.

Ça ne marche pas, the cashier alerts the fragile woman to the malfunction of technology. Systems down! Systems fucking down!


The cashier turns to pseudo-Ron and says, tu payes en liquide?


There is really nothing arousing in his voice. In fact, it is the voice of someone who drinks milk and likes it.

Viens en premier parce que le distributeur ne marche pas.

He is eager to finish his descent. He pays quickly in cash and moves beyond the sliding doors. Now, I am just behind the brown haired girl. Her eyes look as if they are starting to moisten around the edges dampening the badly applied gray eyeliner. I want to take her in my arms and whisper, don’t cry, don’t cry, there is more to life than supermarkets.

The Faint_Birth.mp3

With every passing second new clients take to the queue behind us, their stares of malice gut her until her opprobrious innards are exposed. She is no longer a woman, but trout. I am feasting on denial to oppress my feisty impatience, but I am ready now to hit reality feet first without cracking my spine, and she is the only encumbrance in the path of my destiny.


Je peux payer avec une autre carte, she offers a plea for the cashier to weigh.

Non, ce n’est pas ta carte. C’est le distributeur.

The cashier has denied her, and she is back to shifting from one leg to the other. Her nerves rush to the hair follicles so that each strand stands straight. Everybody is trying to guard the food in their carts. We are all too close for comfort, and we might start pillaging ice cream, bread, or beer from our neighbor–it has happened before.


And then suddenly, there is an inkling of life fertilized inside me, and I take her in my arms and kiss her passionately and say, we are all a little bit uncertain sometimes.

The Faint_Ballad Of Paralyzed Citizen_(Medicine).mp3

Ariel Kouvaras has decided that poetry is an excuse for bad writing and is thus a fiction writer and essayist living in New Jersey.

Buy more of The Faint here!

The photographs are mainly from a Moroccan celebration of Eid al-Kebir, but they are also from Williamsburg, and Chinatown, and somewhere deep in the Adirondacks. Isn’t it pretty to guess? –ERR.

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