Downtown, vines of white light are creeping cheerfully up our trees, chasing off the rust and golden leaves in stop action animation: one day they’re six feet up the trunk and twisting into the lower branches, the next, as you’re waiting for the commuter train, you notice they’ve crept up another foot, atropical artificial vines cheerfully thriving in crispening weather. You whistle goodbye willingly to the leaves, who had their time. You’re ready for twinkling trees and hot cocoa. You, and the homeless guy asking for change.

A tangle of lights (or luminous eyes) blink ferociously in an eloquently coded rail against illiteracy. You blink back. Ferociously. The lights snarl. You snarl. You know they’re wrong, or not right, you know this in your gut. You try to make your case to friends, not for the defense, but for clarity. Your small, limited supply of words fall golden on the ground and, in the rain, turn to cornflakes. Your tree stripped to a bare trunk and twigs, you thrash about trying to expose the major flaws, the short circuits, the damage done. Your lack of literacy confounds your purpose. You and the other writer, two howler monkeys chasing each other around a denuded festival tree, each with beautiful fur, tangled in the lights. The homeless guy finds leftover kettlecorn in a bin and settles down to watch.