The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2022

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NOV 2022 Issue



1. Your brother lives in my neighborhood. 2. You are left-handed. 3. You carry a blue briefcase.
4. Your grandfather collects insects.


Dear Mrs. Mike, I liked your poetry very much. None of my friends are interested in your work
so neither am I. I would like to publish one of your books but my financial advisers think you are
a poor investment. Everyone thinks you are a jerk. I think you are very intelligent and


“What doth it profit a man if he gains the whole world but don’t get no respect, no respect at all?
Are you kidding me?”
—Mark 8:36


I’ll never forget that evening. We were laying on a bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire while
we sipped brandy. When you kissed me I hearked tkhe sklary ykou tkold a kabout ykou tkold a


Friends, you’ve heard me speak before in praise of Barns for Nobles. Well I’m no longer with
that company. I’m here today to tell you about a new product I’m even more enthusiastic about
called Count Branula. It's a new cereal that tastes like bran. In fact I can’t even tell the difference.


One of those weird Lyrebirds that can mimic anything from a chainsaw to a car alarm began
singing like a tactical nuclear weapon. Observers say the move may signal an impending power
grab. So far, details are sketchy.


Probably the earliest salads were nothing more than some greens dumped in a bowl.


He came at me with a knife. Luckily, I Was a Teenage Serial Killer.


Many people hate to go to the grocery store. If you do too you might want to try using sourdough
starter to make your own bread. You’ll need 4 pounds. It doesn’t matter what brand of sourdough
starter you use. You’ll find many good ones to choose from at your local grocery store.


I was at Mom’s and I dropped this vase. I was upset cuz it was her favorite and there was no way
to replace it. I remembered I was playing a record when I dropped it. So I just played the record
backwards until the broken vase came together again on the floor and hopped up to my hands.


I dreamed that they freed Paul Manafort, but he didn’t want to go. A chainmail vest strained to cover his massive, chiseled pecs as he gazed down defiantly from the highest tier. “I OWN this prison!” he roared.

At this point I awoke, tanned and rested.


Hummingbirds are the deftest of flying acrobats and are capable of reaching speeds up to 35 mph
before exploding.


By the next day things had improved. My feet were still cut up from the razor clams but getting
better. So was my sunburn. And my shark bite.


For once maybe someone will call me “sir” without adding, “I’m going to have to ask you to


What could be simpler than the gift of a solid gold baby?


Not to be “that guy,” but sometimes it seems like ALL mine shafts are abandoned.


Yesterday I went for a walk. There was a paper bag on the sidewalk and inside it I found $13 and
a headless white dove. I thought it must be some kind of voodoo but since I was broke I used the
money to buy a fish taco. It was just dumb luck. Things are always going that way for me.


My mom sold my baseball card collection for $50 when I was away at college. It included a
1961 Topps Roger Maris card. I’m not bitter. I know she had good reasons for selling something
that was part of my one and only childhood. I love my mom. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for


Evel Knievel was warned he’d break his neck and on his first motorcycle jump he did. It healed
quickly and a week later he tried again. Again he broke his neck only this time it healed faster.
Soon Evel found he could break his neck in the morning and be ready to jump again that night.


My mother has the brain of a serial killer—she keeps it in a fancy gold box on the mantel of her


A tooth fairy so much as touches my kid and I'll blow his head off.


I was listening to that song Stardust the other day and it brought back a whole host of memories.
When we first met we played it all night and all next day. We vowed we would never tire of it
but then after dinner when I went to put it on you asked if we could hear something else.


When he came into that men’s store in Chicago… What’s the name of it? Chess King. How long
ago was that? 75 or 76 I can’t remember exactly. They shipped me over from China and I guess I
was on the racks at Chess King for only about 8 months before he came in looking for a shirt…


An artist fell in love with a bowl of fruit. One day an art patron bought all the artist’s paintings
and had them shown in a museum. The bowl of fruit appeared in Artforum. The artist and the
bowl of fruit bought a castle in Spain. They became farmers, read books and helped needy


I dreamed I was in Hell, eating a bowl of ice cream. Another demon asked me where I got the ice
cream. I just laughed and said, “Wouldn’t you like to know.”


Did you know that a mosquito in really bad storms can hang onto a raindrop and ride safely
toward the ground?


They can take down the World Trade Center. How come they can’t make an artificial sweetener
that tastes good?


A bear started chasing me. I climbed a tree. The bear climbed the tree after me. Doh! How could
I forget that bears can climb trees too? I got down and drove away in my car. The bear got into a
better, faster car and started driving after me.


His latest scent evokes the sensation of being underwater. First there is a clean green hit of
pistachio followed by the warmth of sandalwood and some smoky resinous notes that make me
feel as though I’ve just dunked my head in a filthy Texaco latrine and emerged refreshed and


Mike Topp

Mike Topp was born in Washington, D.C. and currently lives in New York City unless he has died or moved. Recent books include The Double Dream of Spring: A Peg Sluice Mystery with Sparrow and Born On A Train with Raymond Pettibon.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2022

All Issues