It was good weather for May. People were lying in the park, wearing short-sleeved tops against all odds and calling it summer. You walk outside with a jacket out of habit and regret it twenty minutes later. You’ll sunbathe but you won’t wear sun cream because somehow it feels like the sun can’t hurt you. If you’re so inclined, you start thinking those romantic springtime thoughts, where you wonder what summer might be like and whether you will be happy because happiness seems a right when so many people are smiling in front of you.Read more.
That couldn’t be my father on the phone. Forty years had gone by without a single card or message from him, and for all I knew he was dead. No, my elderly neighbor was teasing me.
“Pete dear, I’ve got a client on the other line,” I said.
“Mary Edwina, please listen.”
I listened. Pete could not have known my horrid middle name.
“I’m Edward Keller. I’m your father.”
“Hold on,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”
It was Friday in Madrid. Hot. Humid. Noisy. The streets of the Centro were crowded with tourists foreign and domestic. By eleven A.M. it was almost impossible to move through the Prado for the crowds. Tour guides drilled pathways through the mobs with their colored pennants. Echoing off the marble walls and high ceilings, the din was as loud as the inside of a railway station at rush hour. The air dripped with garlic and stale breath.Read more.
From this distance, he’s not easy to see. Not with the naked eye. He’s old. I know that’s true. How old, I don’t know. He sits there on a beat-up couch on the porch, a big porch that wraps around part of the house and has screens on the sides to keep the bugs out. But it can’t do that too well if it’s just on the sides. I see him use his hand to swat away the eye gnats. They can be irritating late on a warm desert evening.Read more.
At times it seems that just when life seems to be going your way, every little thing you could possibly imagine goes wrong. Everything you take for granted comes into view. The simple mornings, the perfect nights, the sleepy smiles, the warm dinners, the last hug you gave someone, the last words you said to another becomes permanent, fossilized in their memory, trapped in the coffin we call a body.Read more.
Amanda, our hospice nurse, answered the door when I rang the doorbell, showed me where to leave my shoes and escorted me into the den, where I found Faiz’s mother, Haima, sitting on the floor. Haima apologized that the air conditioner was out again, for the second time in a week. Within minutes, my slacks and blouse stuck to my skin, and the air in the den felt heavy despite a frantic fan and the open window in the breakfast room.Read more.
When Rómulo and Julissa met at the Salsodromo, not knowing that was the moment when the past and the future were forever riven asunder, they both blatantly lied to each other, knowing there was nothing else to do. Each of them had an inadmissible secret. Rómulo could not tell Julissa he was a lieutenant in the Peruvian military. The Shining Path had “a thousand eyes and ears,” and if he disclosed he was a soldier, his life would be in mortal danger.Read more.
My students are working their way through The Rime of the Ancient Mariner when the superintendent’s voice crackles over the loudspeaker. “Excuse me teachers and students. We will now conduct a hard lockdown drill. Hard lockdown.” My class responds immediately, leaving their desks and joining me in the corner furthest from the room’s single entrance. Cody flicks the light switch off, and all sink to the floor.Read more.
Chase Richard Pitt–my first love–came back into my life at 3:57 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in October. Well, technically he walked into Paris Café, my modest thrift-store-decorated establishment, asking if he could get a bottle of water and a slice of quiche to go. I know the exact time because I close my café every day at four, and I was just heading toward the door.Read more.
This was not how Senator William Sharon had intended to spend his retirement. Having amassed his fortune, failed to obtain re-election, and outlived his wife, Sharon had dreamed of living off the interest, tossing aside the newspapers once he tired of politics, and paying for discreet liaisons who could be trusted to dispose of themselves once they were no longer needed. It had come as an unpleasant surprise that the tides of business were ever-changing and unpredictable…Read more.
“A workplace is like a family, a home,” Megan says aloud as she faces her computer. She is thinking about the eight hours that people spend together at work, which is more than the time they spend awake at home.
It makes sense. Some even say it’s like an arranged marriage. Like it or not, you have to work with people, unrelated to you, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year.
Megan has worked in the Rehab Department for almost thirty-eight years. That is a long time.
sneaky sniper, taking us out
more than a hundred types of ways.
A name change per each organ,
tissue, cell you invade…bronchus,
lung, prostate, colon, uterus…
From the shade you surface
are sad places, where the dead wait to be loved.
A teenager in the poetry section
sits on a red milk carton,
her black lipstick like an opera,
pulling one book down after another
in a frenzy of polite quiet.
A careless dictator, most days
I do not think of you
unless you protest, beating your fists
against the walls of my flesh
when I’ve danced you too hard
or damp February
clenches your teeth
into a knot of hot fury. Please
If only these walls could talk
What might goad their reluctant tongues?
Wondered more often
by those who would be betrayed or wounded by the
small talk or gloating of these walls
The song begins—
the first beat calls forth
an aroma of strawberry syrup
from your vape as its smoke
dances with the music, past my nose,
and out through the windows
of your 2012 red Toyota Camry.
Good riddance, alcohol.
Good riddance mary-jane.
Good riddance hashish and uppers and downers.
Good riddance Timothy Leary … we hardly knew ye.
Good riddance to
those bottles of quenching cold ice-cold cottonmouth-inducing beer & ale
and those steins of on-tap room-temp Guinness stout
— it’s good for you the billboard said and the billboard wouldn’t fib.
Henry Baker sat in his wheelchair outside the Caring Hearts assisted living facility in Mañana under the shade of a tree that he reckoned might be almost as old as him. Then again, maybe not. He was eighty-five and the home was built in the early 1950s, so unless the tree was already here, it may be only about seventy years old. He remembered when the building went up.Read more.
At twenty-three, Marion Jennings (née Gustavson) is too old to be homesick.
Or so her mother says during their once-a-month, long-distance chat.
“There’s no time for wallowing, Marion Louise. You have a husband and a new baby to care for,” she tells her. “Instead of crying about living in paradise, you should be attending to your husband’s career.”
This is not what Marion wants to hear.
A little time before I’d see my sweet wife Ellamae at death’s door, trapped in our burning house surrounded by leaping flames and black smoke, this bluesman they call Ol’ Boy walked into Joogee’s wielding a guitar. Joogee’s is a small juke joint way back in the woods. It’s just an old shack. Bullet holes here and there. Blood stains smeared across the floor. The smell of liquor oozing from the walls. You’d miss it if you didn’t know where to find it. But Joogee’s got the best damn blues in all of Mississippi.Read more.
The netherworld’s sordid secrets, disclosed,
brook no remorse for the dead nor regard for
those barely alive. Brutal eruptions
punctuate detention’s boredom. Nor does night’s
darkened cell ease despair. With 6000 not 3000
confined to have a cell is rare.
Romancing your looking glass reflection
northern lights pierce fractured windowpanes
frame my mirrors with supercharged
atoms displaying rhythmic finesse
each particle a proficient flamingo soloist
in step with a blinking star metronome
The jury found you guilty
in just an hour and fourteen minutes.
Long enough for bathroom breaks
and a single show of hands.
Your public defender
advised you to cop a plea,
but mom borrowed a suit and black shoes
and dressed you as an innocent man.
That swagger-daddy On the Red Line el
asks the auntie if she’s Spanish
she’s Italian he requests a sex act:
poor lady won’t muster insult or outrage
and we roll our eyes on her behalf.