“labyrinthia,” “laestrygonia,” and “ogygia”
when i was a child,
momma told me:
sticks and stones
may break my bones
will never hurt me.
“Clauses,” “Complements,” and “Moods”
The subordinate clause clattered to the asphalt:
Because I didn’t want to be a house flower.
He fluttered his fingers like a hitchhiker. He hoped
to thumb a ride from a dependent clause,
“Hineini” and “Lover Found/Lost (Renée)”
i am neither the seed
nor the fruit –
me in the in
between love and
where i hide,
“when the barn owl hoots no more,” “no trace,” and “again”
when the night’s
dark eyes won’t lift their lids
won’t cheer the day awake
lose their breath
forget their flow
“Grief,” “Clouds in the Sky,” and “Recalculating”
A month after our daughter was born,
we planted a white dogwood. I didn’t know
the legend of the crucifixion wood.
I just liked the symmetry
of the four-petaled flowers, plump white crosses
with bright green pistils in the middle.
“dep sesh,” “sadhu,” and “Missus Oxygen Kisses Mister Dynamite’s Heart”
loci of suffering’s
my measly attempt
to lower stress level
a crying need warns
me off phantasmagoric
Out of Sorts
“Where will it end?” Oliver says. “That’s what I’d like to know.”
In the decade Heather and family have lived next door to Oliver, he’s never missed a chance to take soundings of her beliefs. Heather gets the feeling he uses discussions to test her, each one a personal assessment that might help him decide the final value of her character.
Red Chair Diary
—I was homeless once.
Whether or not you choose to believe me, I once occupied a special place in a posh mansion situated in the western part of the city or what might be called the wealthiest part of the city. The property was surrounded by a low rock wall covered in ivy and bordered with pink rhododendrons and fragrant gardenias...
The Wrong Road
He came to my office at 10 a.m. on January 30, two weeks to the day after the shooting. He made his appointment without referral, and I couldn’t help but assume he had chosen me because we happened to have the same name.
At 9:55, having answered emails for two hours and polished off my second cup of coffee...
First, you don’t know the politics. Boundaries are hazy. Clusters of desks, all kinds of work getting done. Nobody knows how much use or annoyance you’ll be. I had no plan, no schedule. I had fields to interrogate, with dry-throated alarm at how the Next Page links jumped up in tens. The data, my domain.
"Again?” Monica asked with a smile. A smile Mark knew wouldn’t be there in a few days. Not after she found out. There’d be no more smiles for him, not from bartenders or waitresses or family or friends. Just scowls and vitriol.
Long Short Story
Not If, When
I first met Caleb Allen at the twenty-four-hour Kroger where he stocked shelves third shift. He was only twenty-one and had failed out of college the year before because he found it beneath him and told me “the services rendered were not worth the costs incurred.” I was an insomniac, and near nightly went to Kroger at three in the morning to meander among the concentrated fruit juices and cans of condensed soup, under fluorescent lights that tricked me into believing I should be awake anyway. I often found Caleb on his knees, deftly tugging items to the front of the shelf, face-forward, while he sang old blues songs and occasionally broke into bursts of air trumpet. He was the only living thing in a dead place.
Autobiography of a Bomb: Chapter Nineteen
July 16. Five o’clock in the morning. Teller is a groggy, irritable man. They are twenty miles away from the tower where the gadget has finally been hoisted into place with the plutonium core nestled inside the wired aluminum sphere. There is no hint of sun yet in the sky. He wants to get this over with.
Death & Love
I was ten. My mother was in bed, rags over her head, buried among blankets. She’d been sweating for days, could barely turn her head without vomiting. I cleaned the ceramic dish we used as a bedpan. It wasn’t just her; everyone was sick.
Ten years ago, we’d relocated. I was just an infant. Neighboring warlords were having a dispute, and the Legion was called in to make peace.
Accept All Changes
A few of Natasha Boginya’s friends started a regular tradition of dining on Monday nights at a fine restaurant in Greenwich Village. Here was a New York besotted with heavy linens, Italian marble, the generous pour. Truffled potatoes. Sautéed spinach. Roasted meats. A larder full of bottles. The light fixtures hung low, bemused.
The place was an old stalwart of Tzarist times that smiled from behind a display of unwavering conquest and success.
That old-time feel of can in hand loosens tongues as much as the contents do—our first beer and really our first chance to kick back since the two-day drive from Kabul last month. This is September 1971, Farah province on the border with Iran. Keynote honors go to the eldest: your humble servant. Sitting on the landing outside Werner’s room, I begin by saying Afghanistan was a big mistake.
At twenty-three, I packed my car with an air mattress and bedding, a pot and pan, a few dishes, knives, forks and spoons, two small lamps, all the clothes I could fit into a large suitcase, a new pair of hiking boots, and my black lab mix. My sister and brother-in-law pulled their coats tight against the brisk March wind while I finished loading Ziggy. We hugged goodbye in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City IHOP, Kim wiping away tears and Bill smiling warmly. “Good luck,” he said as I closed the driver’s side door.
An apartment dweller for forty years, I learned to navigate labyrinth hallways, steep staircases balancing bags of groceries, elevator caverns without eye contact. Every door the same, spread out like beads on a necklace, never a precious gem to hold. Then, I bought a townhouse.