“Yes, this is Henry Chester. I didn’t know she had a portrait in a Glasgow art gallery. How do you know it’s my wife’s?” Henry, a slender man with thick, curly grey hair, paced his kitchen floor, phone in hand, concentrating on what the man on the other end was saying. “Let me look at the one I have,” he said, walking briskly into the living room.Read more.
There were some – not many – who refused to believe Presidente Gonzalo was dead after so many years of terrorism, after he had said that he was willing to see a million Peruvians be killed in order to see the triumph of his revolution. And it was not his followers who believed that, but those he had decimated, those whose parents and children had been killed at his orders.Read more.
It’s 10:13 pm and Dad needs the money by midnight. Nico hasn’t seen or heard from the guy in six years, and every day over those six years, he has imagined what it would be like to hear from his dad again. Funny how it hadn’t seemed real when it finally happened: the phone rang and some dread inside made him pick up. Then, Nico heard Dad’s voice, and it wasn’t 2001 anymore.Read more.
Things Are Different Now
Summer, 2002. Seventh grade is finally over. But here I am, sitting cross-legged in bed with the Hello Kitty 3-ring binder I carried against my chest that entire endless year, open to the section formerly known as “Social Studies.” Every morning, I make a neat grid with 10 perfectly square boxes, each square worth 100 calories, and that’s what I get for the day. It’s a good plan.Read more.
Fiends in Utero
To the Highest Third Angelic Choir
Chairman of the Executive Council for Spiritual Agencies on Earth
Hail Incandescent One!
As per the directive of the council, I continue with due diligence in relation to the issue of saving the Earth from the destructive capacity of the Paragon Human Animal, to activate not only the First and Lowest Angelic Choir most avidly to that purpose
Sparks of Hope
Mind discerns God’s glory in sublime dawn’s slanting sun. Stiff legs spring toward fleeting sight. Arrival evokes awe, till tears at fading light. Glass pane frames what I perceive, renews what I believe, what Hebrew Prophets fervently conceived, as Christ’s Sermon on the Mount decreed: God’s work on Earth is ours.Read more.
Making a Choice
For some of the third-year medical students, simply putting on the white coat could make them feel at least one foot taller. Who could blame them? After two years of medical school, the students’ heads were filled with textbooks of anatomy, pathology, chemistry, organic chemistry, genetics and microbiology; so naturally, they felt ready to tackle all human diseases in the real world.Read more.
I never knew your name. I don’t need to know it to remember, your wild heart branded my soul. The first time I saw you, my family and nine other souls working on the construction of a large water catchment project in Kenya were riding in an old armored van given to us by the British Army. We were crossing the Rift Valley on our way back from Nairobi, travelling toward the Aberdare Ranges where we lived.Read more.
All Roads Lead To Istanbul
In the early 1990s on a frosty winter’s weekend, I attended an international school job fair at Queen’s University. I had only been teaching in Canada for a few years, but there had been a freeze on salary for teachers in the Province of Ontario.Read more.
Dancing With Lightning
Banged up but still breathing, the exhausted vagabond kept his eyes jammed shut. Whatever twisted coordinates his loose feet had landed him on this time, he wasn’t ready to face. The excuse for a mattress he lay on had corrugated his back muscles into a wreck of knots. The air in the room was musty and unseasonably warm. He could feel the claustrophobic lean of all four walls without looking. As usual, well shy of paradise.Read more.
“Going to a Wedding,” “A Last Look,” and “At the Holocaust Museum”
We climb the steps of the synagogue when Annie asks, What is Jewish?
She is the child of a Jew, a son I raised to tell a story
with the fanfare of a performer on The Moth Radio Hour.
The Page of Fiction
At least working at the Middle Rapids Library ain’t so bad. It’s one of those fancy Carnegie libraries with brass chandeliers and porcelain tile work and stained-glass windows — all misplaced decadence for this rust-belt town. It’s pretty much a gothic castle complete with ghosts, labyrinthine hallways, black walnut paneled doors, dusty portraits of old, rich dead men no one wants to look at, and, most mysteriously of all, a turret housing the town’s large, defunct clock.Read more.
“A Stranger’s Peace” and “In the Moment”
The smell of sawdust I breathe in
As I work on the assembly line.
The monotonous, mechanized creation of orange crates
Gives my spirit peace – a stranger’s peace.
“Academy Cemetery,” “D. H. Lawrence Ranch,” “A Eucalyptus Grove, South of San Juan Batista on Highway 101”
And rolling grasslands
All wildflowers in the spring
Dotted with graves
Backed up to the foothills
Blue mountain peaks
Uplifted behind them.
“Eisenhower’s Highway, 1960,” “Pain,” and “Upon Finding the Birth Quilt My Great Grandma Made for Me in My Mothers Attic”
It changes names as it rushes east
– Toll Road, Turnpike, Thruway –
supernatural, this ribbon of concrete,
where our brand new Buick,
swept back with its fins,
can fly, leaving the flat lands behind.
“Interval 189,” “Étude 15,” and “A Disappearance”
it whispers its way through to me, the night,
in the dying light of day, the things done,
the slow dissolve of sense, the list of smiles
ticked one by one from memory, a frown
or inimical face, best forgotten:
“The Flight Attendant,” “The Librarian,” and “The Lighthouse Keeper”
Stay in your seats
and remain calm.
I am sure St. Bona of Pisa
said the same things afloat
when leading crusaders
to the Promised Land.
“Alone” and “The Night After I Stumbled Upon My Blood Owning Slaves”
I hear in jail they beat you
with soap in a sock so the bruises
don’t show. I ride South
on the Greyhound
to Bloody Sunday, Bull Connor,Read more.
“wakeup,” “Popular,” and “Landlocked Lament”
with a hodgepodge pile of stuff
to make a bouillabaisse or salad of leaves
build a mansion or lean-to shack
protect from elements and enemies
fashion a tiara or a sassy sash
so as not to scare the children
Sheriff H.W. Walsh bore a faraway look as he stood on the platform behind the gallows and waited for his unofficially adopted son, James Singleton, to die.
The whole scene was oddly dysfunctional, and eerie inefficiency and clumsiness hung about the whole affair like a latrine stench. As if anything that could go wrong had a malicious inclination to do so. The executioner tossed the thick hemp-threaded rope over the oak gallows beam creaking a few times in the wind above them.