“Sister,” “The Moment and “Play it Again”
You taught me how to say and spell my name
On an old wooden dresser at our farm house
You pointed to herbs in the garden, parsley and oregano
We put on old dresses and Dad's ties
“Paladin,” “Zeus” and “Cartography of Accident”
In the woods behind her house,
in a season where the world tilts most
from its ball of light,
upon her small part of Earth’s
rounded back —
naked oak branches covered in white:
“Somewhere,” “Evensong” and “Rattus Rattus”
Somewhere beyond the order of the sun
I would crouch sullen in the steppe wolf's lair,
Gather the darkness into bloodlit eyes,
Tune raw sinews to a pitch of rage,
Howl incessant fury to the sky.
“An Honest Assessment”
Evil whispers echo through the space behind my eyes
penetrating to the core, they absorb my last drops of youthful exuberance
“it’s safe here, no need for change”
“It’s October,” “Professin’” and “Fitting In”
and, just back from the Farmer’s Market, the last of the year, I’m wearing a summer sweatshirt the amber and aubergine of falling leaves. The cats mill expectantly, for what I know not.
Do your eyes discern my halo? The world at large seems blind.
Affluent obsess on phones, poor scramble to survive.
One group calculates its commerce, one simply stays alive.
“Facts & Wonder”
1. Saturdays in their kitchen,
my mother watering her cactus, my father
pulling out mozzarella and bread I have lost joy for.
The drowsy sadness on my father’s face whenever I didn’t want one.
Changing my mind was the gift. The day moved on sweeter.
My grandmother is in the hospital. Two weeks ago, on a Saturday, she lay down in the middle of the afternoon to take a nap. She was asleep for almost an hour, and when she awoke, she didn’t recognize her surroundings.
A Train Whistle Blows
Sitting on the edge of her bed, early evening sunlight stretching narrow shadows across the polished wooden floor, Mama whispers with her hands folded, “Dear God please, please let things go right. Please God, oh please.”
Blue Moon On Riverside
At fifteen years old, I was a pyromaniac. I would try to set my hair on fire with the fancy matches my mother collected from Manhattan’s finest bars: Lutèce, The Carlyle and The Plaza. I would steal them from a back drawer in the kitchen and my mother never noticed.
Birds at Night
We could hear the music, muted out here on the balcony, but lovely and soft, and we swayed slowly all alone, a quiet world with no one else in it to burst the dream that we had carefully weaved and convinced ourselves was reality.
A Portrait of Winter
I have always loved snow scenes. I am not talking about snow: I find snow to be brutally cold and harsh. Even snow’s whiteness reminds me not of purity but of a world devoid of color and nuance, a world that has had the life bleached out of it.
Things Left Behind on the Moon
I was ten, I didn’t want to change school. But my father died. It wasn’t important he left us with nothing. We had nothing before, his death made no difference. We moved from a flat in the town to a house in wretched country. A suburb, tethered meaninglessly five miles from anywhere. Overnight I lost my friends.
A Different Kind of Sameness
Do you need comfort? Is the world getting you down? Need company during the lockdown but don’t want the risk? Do you need a quick fix of unconditional love but don’t want the commitment? Then you need Kitten Balls, the latest from XCorp in artificial pets.
Long Short Story
When Littleman opened his eyes, he discovered that he was no longer on the couch in the living room as planned. He had meant to stay there all night with Uncle Marty, eating neon sour worms and watching samurai movies. He wanted to be in the front room when Mom got home and to hear when Uncle Marty got up. There was no point in trying to sleep.
Peter and the Fisherman
“Mom! Mom!” Danielle yelled from the bedroom all three children would share during the annual beach vacation. “Mom! Kyle and I were playing with my dolls and Peter threw them all over the floor! Make him stop. Now!”
Hearing her daughter yell for the fourth time in the last fifteen minutes, Maggie O’Brien left the unpacking and stomped into the bedroom.
I can’t recall if I’ve ever been down such a long, narrow road—if you can call it a road—before or since. The word rural just doesn’t seem to accurately describe the area. Think the middle of nowhere but then go behind the shed of middle of nowhere, down by a creek, into the woods, and get lost, and that’s where I ended up.
After giving up her once thick grey hair, all of her body fat, both breasts, and all of her savings to fight for her life, my mother, Penelope, died anyway. It’s been almost a year, and I’ve returned to grad school and Victorian literature, especially George Eliot, who once said, when writing a novel, to not hold anything back
When soft voices die…
Let me begin here.
I often thought, as a young man, how diﬀerent my life would have been had they not been killed, but since I have come to believe it was inevitable, I’m also convinced it happened at the best possible time. They died when I was three, a toddler, unknowing and oblivious, as if they had never been my parents or even existed.
Nursing Intuition: How to Trust your Gut, Save your Sanity and Survive your Nursing Career
It was the height of the pandemic; our visits to the emergency room had declined significantly, but the acuity had gone up as people had put off coming into the hospital unless they were really very ill. This was the case as someone rang the call bell in room four, and I was the only one available to answer it.
The Snitch: Javan
Some say that Rikers Island is the largest penal colony in the world, and that contention is difficult to confirm or refute. The New York City jail complex may hold more prisoners than the gulags of the Soviet Union, but perhaps less than the re-education camps of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody has tried to count all the bodies.
In Jim Crow Mississippi, 1947, Ford Hayes and a group of his white friends play softball with a group of Blacks, and when Ford befriends one of the Blacks, Jesse, the local police beat up Jesse. The beating awakens Ford’s conscience to the inequities of racial prejudice. Constance Companion is the story of Ford, Constance and Jesse, as they live through decades of change, always fighting for justice and each other.
Lost And Found
The decade of childhood - 1981
The little girl’s red hair looked like a splash of sunrise on the white pillowcase. She moved her head to the edge of the bed and then opened her hazel eyes that shone like two big pieces of amber that had just started to cool down.
Back in the seventies, J-Bee drove a cab in New York. Tips were in nickels and dimes. When he’d saved enough, he hitched across the country. He arrived in Berkeley in summertime, land of eucalyptus trees and soup kitchens where the sun sets backwards, over the vast, sleepy, amnesic Pacific.
Who Do You Trust?
The baja sauce zings my tastebuds with fire from the ancho chili peppers. The light, flaky sauteed mahi mahi and fresh guacamole with lime make for fish taco perfection. Digging my toes deeper into the sand, I take another bite – a Chronic Taco party in my mouth. Gary and I sit on the warm sand and watch the waves crash onto the beach.
The Other in Paris
Marianne paced as she walked around the space praying. It was a lull between the movements, so she took a moment to stretch her legs. Fourteen years ago and a month, she did not remember this being so hard.
“Mama!” Marianne ran back to her daughter’s side and squatted down next to her.