“Nicole Runs Her Fingers Through Her Hair,” “Medusa’s Revenge” and “As I Watch at the Last Dinner of the Year”
Like a willow
branch that must rise
with the evening
wind, she raises her hand
and runs her fingers
through her hair.
“Scars,” “Crossing the San Andreas Fault Zone” and “Old Souls Singing in the Chiricahuas”
Traces—faint or bold, visible, or not—left by scalpel, scandal, scurrilous tongues, the scalding steam from a cast-iron kettle, the scolding tones in a mother's voice, the screams of a child scared straight.
“Olive,” “Dishwasher” and “Orange”
Who was the first to try
an olive ripe from the tree,
the paltry flesh over stony seed
so bitter it must be poison?
Who learned the magic
to make it succulent?
“Fish,” “Paper” and “Unsteady”
What are these fragile little lightning dreams?
The apparitions of million ideas?
Universal clues disguised as flashing silver fins?
Fine-boned and slick,
fish swim through dark-eyed waters.
“A Pair of Sneakers from Far Away,” “Asking the Mid-Autumn Moon Out on a Date” and “Two Chestnut Trees”
Like the sky that shines
because of dawn,
because of a pair of sneakers
wrapped in a package
sent from longing.
They have flown
across several oceans.
“Cancer,” “Where It Starts” and “Anatomy of Disaster”
The life lived in the body
Was the blood, warm in the veins.
White halos of icy breath,
Frost caught in the sportsground lights.
How you ran and played hard for the team.
A west-blowing wind moved over the grassland, billowing Henry’s pants and shirt wildly about him and tousling his hair so that it whipped violently onto his face. He did not shake the hair from his eyes. His attention, instead, was focused completely on his hands held out before him, on the fingers that twitched ever so slightly as if they were keeping time to some melody that he could not hear but could only feel.
Now It’s Come to Distances
Jen and I became a couple in 1988 during my third year teaching in Juneau, Alaska. She was living in a big rented house out on Auke Bay with a handful of other people, one of whom was a good friend of mine who’d been on the same coed soccer team with her. It was so long ago now, I don’t remember exactly how she and I first became romantic together.
The Birth of the Banshee
I’ve always loved cemeteries, but my parents said I was tempting fate. Every time I cut through the graveyard to walk home from school, my mom would be waiting on the porch, hand covering her mouth as if she had held her breath since the bell rang. She somehow always knew the days I took the shortcut. Her pale face beckoned me inside quickly, lest a spirit should have followed me.
Hands grab and thrust me midair. At first, I flail, trying to gain traction, but realize its futile, her grip convincing. The overhead florescent is glaring. I don’t recognize this room. A dusty ceiling fan hums an awkward buzz, stacks of paperwork and torn Amazon boxes clutter the desk. They pace, shuffling towers of sweaters, pillows, and shoes. The jingle of a dog collar tests my concentration. Sugar?
I put down the book. Once I saw where it was going, I couldn’t continue to follow the words to their inevitable conclusion. That’s new. I used to make a fetish of finishing every book I started. The writing was fine. Closing the book had nothing to do with the writing, just the story. It’s about a woman older than young, younger than old, who has been done wrong by the world.
Ashley moved to New Mexico because her mother’s relentless grief was driving her mad. It’d been six months since Dad died, and she couldn’t brush her teeth in the morning without hearing Mom’s moans drift down their lifeless hallways like a specter cursed to haunt her every waking breath. She tried to hide Dad’s pictures in the attic, but she saw his waxy corpse in every tear that slipped off Mom’s hollow cheeks.
“This is just in, cows on strike! Hi, I am Reggie Stone with KPLM news. I am at Farmer Dale Robin’s fenced-in pasture, where we are seeing cows on strike. They’ve refused to give milk for two days now. Dale, what is going on? Why are your cows on strike?” Reggie moved the mic from him to Dale.
Long Short Story
Joanna Gentry hadn’t been inside the building in over a decade, though throughout the first year following Patrick’s murder, she went to the parking lot daily. Coleman’s employees came by her Camry during those early months and stopped to speak, awkward conversations avoiding the mention of what had happened or even her presence there at all. Soon enough, they only waved.
Willie's new to Rome. In town with his companion Anne, an artist with a one-year residency at the Crest Foundation, they have an apartmentino on the second floor of a giant villa that fifty others live in with them. It's a neighborhood southwest of the Vatican with good markets and restaurants, a big park he jogs in and an old-world Italian bar down the hill in Trastevere...
Signs of Amelia
Great whooping sounds, a furious rattling, and a pounding like thunder spread through the lab. Brad felt the concrete building vibrate under him. The chimpanzees were banging and smashing on the steel slats of their cages, using their hands and feet. He dropped the bolt cutters he had used on the loading dock door and pushed into the sound. He had to find Amelia before someone found him.
Seed of Doubt
It was late afternoon, with the room temperature well over ninety degrees, before Prominence County Sheriff Eli Martin was called to the stand and sworn in to testify for the prosecution against Gerald Hartley. Hartley faced charges of vehicular manslaughter, but so much time had passed since his arrest, there was little public interest in the trial. Most people assumed Hartley was guilty as charged.
Someone yanked the watch cap off Hector’s head, and it took him a moment until his eyes adjusted to the light. His lids felt droopy, and his brain fogged in. With his head slumped down, he looked to his left, tried to orient himself and saw the jean clad legs of one of Tino’s cousins. He glanced right and saw Julio sitting next to him.
A Run Home
It is important that you know that I am a very sensitive person. So much so I have worked really hard to not be. I have found it too difficult to feel all the world's problems on top of my own. I have worked to build walls so as not to feel it all.
New York City had never seen such dreadful weather. The rain poured on Sunday with such ferocity as to relieve wavering worshippers from attending services, for it suggested that the heavenly deity would rather that they stay at home. No sooner had night fallen, however, than a bitter cold set in, first freezing the remnants of the day’s precipitation upon the streets, then turning the rain into heavy snow.
Men Will Be Men
We haven’t spoken in years, but I almost always remember George’s birthday. The first day of summer. This year, it landed on Father’s Day. Without a message attached, he texted me a photograph of his family. Not the one that raised him when he and I were growing up. This is of him, his wife and three kids.