“thirty days after,” “Pivot,” and “Sour”
the time for grieving ends
grief does not
so I unfurl what is no longer and smooth out the
my soul loosens and leans in to the unwanted hereafter
the before murmurs just beyond my hearing
my heart skips in a dissonant rhythm
comfort strikes a truce with disquiet
“Traveling with Natalie,” “Subjunctive Mood,” and “We Walked Three Miles in Snow”
Propped on three pillows, another
under my knees, I am following
Natalie Goldberg as she travels
to Japan and France, sits zazen
with her students, through walking
meditation, writing longhand
in a café, always in a spiral notebook
with a pen that lets me write fast...
“Windsong: Solo Flute,” “The Dig,” and “Sudden Gasp”
The flutes of those
not just in,
Even accidental noise
blown by untrained lips
echoes the haunting, ethereal
whistle of wind
through limbs and grass, crops and structures.
“Inverse Blankets,” “Bloat Textures,” and “Grope Commerce”
barrier the solitude
cold air :: we are aware
that skin is unsuitable ::
we are a perfection :: the mass
of an ego returns
#DIV/0! :: and we understand
we are not portioned ::
“By Saturday,” “Aqualung,” and “Tumble and Fall”
something settles. Next week’s
oatmeal eases into simmer,
the wide slow mouths of the first
few bubbles no longer startle
and pop as the surface smooths,
heaves with the humility
of normal mornings. It’s a chore—
the boil, filtering through
what I know, what is new.
“Partly Because of Your Love for Yogurt,” “Half Dark,” and “You asked if we would always be friends”
it was the way you stood in the dark kitchen long after
the oven had already cooled, slurping
just out of date yogurt but also because the first
time we talked, you listened, swaying me gently
in constant commas shifting slightly
(while everyone else played poker for crisps)...
“A humble little diddy about creation and all that came after” and “Answer the question”
My new thing is to look up the final scores
of baseball games before I decide whether
or not to watch the highlights because
who wants to follow a game you know
your team is going to lose anyway.
This is not a statement about my age; it’s not
even about having the luxury to piss away all
the idle time I have left. It’s about recognizing...
I do not want Azúcar to die. The ambulance backs into the yard behind the three-story apartment building in East New York. It’s night. The swirling blue and red lights pound my eyeballs. NYPD officers march around the backyard with bright flashlights. Broken glass and trash appear and disappear under the searching beams. The swirling lights make me dizzy. I do not want Azúcar to die.
Nita Walsh’s parents had promised her a weekend trip to the Pocono Mountains for her seventeenth birthday. Her parents were normally super thrifty, but just this once, she’d been able to convince them to splurge. Less than two hours after they’d left home in Piscataway, New Jersey, and headed west, a storm battered the roof of their dilapidated station wagon. The wipers beat a furious rhythm against the pelting rain as it poured down the windows in transparent sheets.
Where The Errand Leads
Lost in the rhythm of slow hoe strokes and Hail Marys, the boy works and prays in the barren apple field alone at dusk. He’s humming the chaplet, sacred as a church hymn, even a motet. It’s cooling some, a welcome change after feeling he’d die from the throbbing mountain heat. And other maladies suffered in a motel and other places. Still, blunt wind sways adust pines on the horizon veiling the last light.
Hello Darkness, My Ole Friend
Kamal Singh Deo was born into an aristocratic family but had lost the bulk of his inheritance gambling in the seedy poker dens behind New Market in Calcutta. His day began with Jhontu, his butler, cooking a lavish breakfast consisting of an Irish coffee, a freshly squeezed orange juice, a masala omelette, two slices of buttered sourdough and oodles of crispy bacon. After breakfast, Kamal would take a long, hot bath and dress in one of his many hand-tailored Brooks Brothers suits. He would then set off to work in an off-white, vintage Mercedes Benz and looked much like a British sahib whilst smoking tobacco from a wooden pipe sitting in the back seat of the chauffeur-driven car.
Two Sides of a Card
A black, speeding phaeton overtook them. Four black stallions raced down the Ringstrasse, their black plumes billowing like smoke. The driver held his hat as he passed the promenade where whispers filled the space in his aftermath. “Cousin, who is that?” “Why Mary, that is the Crown Prince himself.” “He drives his own carriage?” “Always,” said Frederic, peering down at the laced hand of Mary.
On the 15th of August, 2040, with the summary order papers issued by the Cemetery Reclamation and Transformation Committee, and two empty tin coffee containers stuffed in his backpack (two, because the directions had not indicated what type or size container to bring for the ashes), forty-two-year-old Greg Sawicki approached the corner of Clark and Irving Park and the entrance to Graceland Cemetery, final resting place of some of Chicago’s most famous politicians, mob bosses, architects, painters and writers.
Long Short Story
A Week and A Day
Charlie was scared, all right. More frightened than they could ever remember being. The razor-shaved hairs on the back of Charlie’s neck stood straight out as the deafening scream of terror rent through the darkness once again. What the hell could make this horrendous noise that tore at their flesh and flipped the heart into a mass of quivering gel? This, they decided, had to be stopped. “Aiyeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!” Charlie’s eardrums reverberated in their head. Their blood ran cold, and Charlie wanted to scream back in response.
The Language of Birds
Renata stares at the electric knifefish and eel exhibit at the New Orleans Aquarium. She thinks that if she knew there would be passion in heaven and that heaven existed, the whole thing would be easier to bear. Marital dissatisfaction, she suspects, is one of the great underlying reasons for belief in an afterlife. She grips four-year-old Noah’s hand so he can’t wander away again. Noah is quick and curious, like she was as a child, and because he is like her, she already hurts for him.
"Good morning, Dinah, It’s Wednesday", I greet myself aloud daily. Gad has greeted me every morning since we got married and moved in together fifty-two years ago. The alarm clock would go off at six forty, and Gad would snooze it, and still asleep, would say: Good morning, Dinahdin. Then he would rearrange his pillows, put a hand on my hip and go back to sleep. Since he passed away, I started saying this to myself.
My Supposed Amish Life
I stood like a marble statue, reverential and composed when that Amish horse and buggy came within inches of me. The driver, passengers, and even the horse glided past me unfazed, as if floating on air. Now, moments later, and alone on this rural road, there’s an even greater serenity in me. My mood mirrors the tranquil violet-blue sky darkening overhead.
Life in the Liminal
I’m on my back. Lazing between sleep and awake, dream and reality. It’s morning’s blurry edge, so comforter reaches cheeks, just below closed eyes. Right leg stretches uncovered, cool in our hotel room’s conditioned air. Left side warmed by wife’s breathing body. Florida’s proud light spills into the room, so behind shut lids, it’s not dark. It’s red.
It was almost six in the evening as he stared out of the large bay window of his sons' 34th-floor suite in Essex House. Central Park sprawled beneath him.
As the sun set on the park, it too was setting on the penultimate day of their Christmas sojourn in Manhattan. The trees turned copper under the fading sun.