Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Larger than life



Some moments are larger than life, bigger than the space allotted to hold them.  Some moments give more than they take, leaving behind a sense of emptiness, for the next moment is bound to disappoint. 

But those sparkling moments, ripe and full and rich, hold all of eternity in their grasp.

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The pine trees lining the driveway murmured amongst themselves, the inconsiderate bastards.  Don’t they know it’s rude to exclude people from a conversation?  I need to know what they are saying.  They might be plotting an ambush on my car during the next storm, hosting a flock of insolent birds with digestive troubles, creeping under the driveway with their roots, preparing to burst forth and tear the pavement into pebbles. 

That’s alright.  I have a lot of patience.  And a chainsaw.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Opus 27, No. 1

The sound of the Nocturne hung in the room, coloring the very air with its sadness.  Kelly sat motionless at the piano bench, frozen in the last moment of the music, unwilling to let go of it.  The echo filled her ears, her lungs, her fingertips and she ached to bring it back.

Evan finished his sherry and rose from his chair.  “I don’t suppose there’s any cake left?”

A light creak issued from the piano bench as Kelly turned slowly toward the open window.  Having tried discussion, Kelly was hoping that the music could convey the pain that her words had failed to impart.  But all he wanted was cake.

With appalling certainty,  Kelly realized that while she had thought people were listening to her words or her music, they were usually just waiting their turn to talk.

Evan left the room in search of dessert, and found the room empty when he returned. 

Screams floated through the open window.  Evan wandered over to see what new calamity was taking place on the street below his 15th floor condo.  Kelly’s twisted body lay on the pavement, surrounded by horrified onlookers. 

Evan’s first thought was “Damn it, Kelly!  Why didn’t you say something?”


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A choice

One and one half miles.  Hardly makes one an elite athlete, but a long enough walk to get the blood pumping, work out the kinks in the back from sitting all day.  The route was the same every day, the familiarity beginning to breed contempt.

I came to the first intersection, where I always made a left turn, and stopped.  Staring off to the right I felt a pull – a queer physical feeling, as if my heart were attached to a string that was being pulled in the opposite  direction of the way I intended to go.  I stood still – pondering, hoping, yearning.  Wondering if it could possibly make a difference, if somehow turning the other direction could change my life, give it direction and meaning.  Could it feed the hungry, house the homeless?  Could it find homes for the stray cats, conquer my heartburn, make my cantankerous mother apologize?

God damn Frost – generations will stand at that divergence and wonder, certain that whichever path they choose will be the wrong one.  His mother apparently never told him the adage about jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I turned around.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, August 19, 2011


All at once it was clear – this year had been the intermezzo.  Julie thought that this year had been the beginning of a new road, a new life, a way of being.  She had embraced it, as she believed she should.  But it had not hugged back. 

The relief was palpable as Julie now realized that this year had only been the short entertainment between acts to distract her from set and costume changes.  This year – with its upheaval and strain, triumphs and trauma – had not been the new scene, but the diversion while larger forces were at work.  

There was a thread that ran unbroken from earliest remembrances to the present.  The feeling of being cut loose, unmoored and drifting for many months had been an illusion. 

Now to sit back and watch it unfold, for after all, “the play’s the thing.”


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mummy says…

The curtains shivered gently in the breeze.  Sally sat on the stool, staring out the second floor window, as she had done every day since her mother died.  Not a word, not a caress, not a look had she given a single human since that day.  Trays of food left on the table by her side were toyed with, nibbled at, shoved aside.

Twice her nanny had tried to take the china baby doll from the sideboard.  Twice she had quickly returned it, the hair on the back of her neck standing up, electricity flickering through her body.  Sally had named the doll Lolly.  The nanny was certain that Lolly was had something to do with the difficulty her ward was having coping with her grief. 

Then came the morning the nanny entered Sally’s room to find the curtains billowing, and the doll gone.  Sally sat on the stool, facing the door as the nanny entered, blood on her hands and chin, staining the front of her pretty nightdress.

“Mummy says things will be better now that Lolly is gone.”  Sally’s eyes were wide, intense, staring.  “Mummy said Lolly wasn’t nice to me, so she had to be done away with. You’ll be nice to me, won’t you Nanny?”  A grin spread slowly over her face, showing a small tuft of doll hair caught in her teeth.


Technorati Tags: ,,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August morn

The light has changed.

The seasons develop an identity crisis before releasing their hold on the year.  It is mid-August, but the golden slant of the morning light hints at late September.  The sun is no longer breaking through the trees and onto my face to serve as alarm clock.  Crickets sing as they did in June, but now their song is a sad one, an elegy for the fullness of summer.

It is mid-August, I can’t relinquish the summer yet.  But the light has changed.


Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, August 15, 2011

The critic

Waiter!  Garcon!  Waiter!  Yes, yes, come here please.

I believe I ordered the filet mignon.  Medium rare.  This is not filet mignon.  In fact, I am absolutely certain this is not even beef.  Or pork, or lamb or chicken or even cleverly disguised tofu.

Please take this back to the kitchen and tell the chef that he should not have quit his job at the prison, because I’m sure his fine cuisine was greatly appreciated there, but in a five star restaurant, this will never do.

The restaurant guide clearly stated that this establishment offered some of the finest cuisine in the city!  I must have satisfaction.  Waiter!  Where are you going?  Waiter?!


Very well, you leave me no choice.  I will alert the media.


Technorati Tags: ,,

Friday, August 12, 2011

And when she was good…

“There once was a girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good she was very, very good.  But when she was bad she was horrid.

There was a catchy little tune that went with that.  Abby’s father thought that was funny.  Abby always thought it was a horrible thing to be told, catchy tune or no.

Well, if one has a reputation of being ‘horrid’, even if only occasionally, one might as well give it some substance, right?  What a shame it would be to have such a reputation without any of the fun that comes with acquiring it.

Abby tossed the suitcase in the back seat of the BMW and tore out of the parking lot.  The 405 was lightly travelled at this time of night – she wouldn’t stand out, but she had room to maneuver. 

She spotted the police lights in her rearview mirror, changed lanes right in front of a car that looked much like hers, and exited almost immediately.  Six quick turns off of Wiltshire Boulevard and Abby found herself deep into a residential neighborhood.  She turned off her lights, cut the engine, and coasted into a driveway.  She ducked, invisible in the front seat as the cop car rolled past.  After counting to 100, she peeked over the seat, saw that the street was now empty and put the car in neutral, rolling out of the drive.  She started the engine and headed back the way she came.

Abby smiled as she imagined Rembrandt’s portrait of An Old Man in Military Costume, removed just that evening from the Getty Museum, screaming from inside the suitcase, banging on the inside of the bag, gasping for air. 

Yes, when she was bad she was horrid.

Technorati Tags: ,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can you?

Can you walk comfortably into a room
in which the only theme is diversity?
In which there is no agreement of politics,
religion, sexual orientation?

Can you carry on a conversation
in which the only theme is tolerance?
In which there is no judgment of parenting skills,
pastimes, choice of literature?

Can you empathize with others
when the only theme is anger?
In which there is no condemnation of dissidence,
frustration, blind rage?

Can you?

Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Recipe for disaster

Take a hugely complex and important issue.  Whittle away at it, cutting away all the things you don’t want to agree with, the things you don’t understand, the things that make you examine your own actions in an uncomfortable way.  Toss it into a pot with the similarly achieved opinions of coworkers, neighbors, friends.  Simmer very briefly and then serve cold to everyone you meet on Twitter and Facebook.

Wonder why it seems the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.


Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The dead tree

There is a dead tree by the neighbor’s house.  Too close for comfort, really.  With each strong Midwestern storm that blows through, the neighbors hope and pray that the tree stands, that this is not the storm that brings it down on their home.  The skeletal nature of it casts a long shadow, a seeping anxiety, and tempers their laughter.  They know it is not a matter of whether the tree comes down, but when.

The family lost a child last year.  A sweet little girl, with huge eyes and a ready smile.  She had been sick for years, leukemia stealing her away from them a little piece at a time, until finally there was no more to take. 

After the funeral, family and friends congregated at the neighbors’ home, the gathering presided over by the dead tree.  Branches clicked against one another in the chilly breeze, providing the percussion to the sighing of the dry grasses.  The overcast sky matched the mood of the mourners.  They seeped out of the gathering quietly, softly, wandering back to their warm and cheery homes with no dead trees in the yard.

Winter will come again and strip the rest of the trees bare.  The neighbor’s will watch and wonder if this is the year that an ice storm brings down the dead one.  Their friends will ask them again why they don’t have it cut down.  The neighbors will never be able to explain the love they have for that dead tree, that played such a beautiful dirge for their daughter.

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Shortcut

David took the shortcut through the woods on his way home from Terry’s house.  There were always things spied in the woods that he couldn’t explain when cutting through, so he nearly always avoided it after dusk.  Maybe it was his imagination, maybe not.  But tonight he was hurrying home because he knew he was in trouble.

David’s mother had warned him before he left that she would ground him if he didn’t get home in time for dinner tonight.  David and Terry were often having such a grand time playing baseball with the neighborhood kids that they lost all track of time.  When David realized that the reason he couldn’t see the pop fly was because the sun was going down, he took off through the woods hoping to minimize the damage.

Although the route was shorter than taking the road, it wasn’t a straight shot.  The path wound between the ancient trees and ran along a seasonal creek bed for a bit.  David ran as fast as he dared in the semi-dark, and tripped on something unseen just as he reached the creek bed.   He stayed perfectly still, listening, wondering at the sound that filled his ears.  It was water running.  But with the lack of rain this summer, the creek had been dry since May.  Slowly he rose up on his hands and knees and peered at the creek.  It was as dry as could be.  But the water sound seemed to be getting louder.  Certain that the sound was coming from behind him now, he ran at top speed toward his house - branches smacking him in the face, brambles grabbing his ankles, spooked owls screeching and fluttering off nearby tree limbs.

The search started shortly after.  His frantic parents looked everywhere, checked every house in the neighborhood, all the paths through the woods.  Near dawn the next morning they caught sight of a bright red object caught on an exposed tree root in the creek bed.  It was David’s baseball cap, and it was soaking wet.

Technorati Tags: ,

Friday, August 5, 2011

A day in the life

Slouched on the sofa in front of the video console, Josh managed to erase all conscious thought.  His mind and body became pure electric impulse and simultaneous action.  It was a thing of beauty.

Entire civilizations were saved, puzzles solved, outrageous slam dunks performed.  There was truly nothing Josh couldn’t do.  There would soon follow a reality TV show, an NBA MVP - hell, even a Nobel Prize was within his reach if he applied himself.

His life was destined to be chronicled by bards in the decades to come.   History textbooks would tout his accomplishments, parents would tell their children bedtime stories of his exploits. 

“Josh, are you still here?” his mother called from the garage where she had just pulled in after work.  “You’re already half an hour late for work!  Get your ass off the couch and get going, while you still have somewhere to go!”

Josh’s mind snapped to – a sinking feeling told him he’d once again lost himself in a parallel universe, where the only thing that mattered was reaction time and the speed with which you could press buttons.

“That bitch ruins everything” he muttered as he snatched the keys from the counter and headed off to work another dreadful shift at Jack in the Box.

Technorati Tags: ,

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The questions are so deep, and the answers are so personal…that is, if they exist at all.  Perhaps there aren’t any answers.  Only questions. 

Or maybe I’m just asking the wrong questions.

Or maybe you’ve lost the ability to answer them in a truthful, forthright way. 

Or maybe I’m asking the wrong people.

Fruitless years of searching for those answers has eroded my soul.  The edges are now like sandpaper, rough enough to rip a layer of skin from you if you get too close. 

Does that make it even less likely that I’ll get my answers?


Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The metaphor

“She cast the journal overboard, into the inky sea.”

“What a load of dog crap.  Why can’t anyone come up with a decent metaphor anymore?” Amy wondered as she perused the stack of short story submissions for the magazine.  Maybe it’s true what they said, there is nothing original under the sun.  Umberto Eco recognized that to be true, Shakespeare said so – hell, it’s even in the bible. 

“Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect something new.  How many possible word combinations do you suppose there are?” she muttered.

“Scolding your manuscripts again?”  Ed had entered the room soundlessly, startling Amy and sending her into a rage.

“For Christ’s sake, Ed!  Why do you keep sneaking up on me?”

“The fireworks are unmatched.”  Ed replied.

Be careful you don’t lose an eye.”

Ed grinned his shiteater grin.  Amy knew that meant he was feeling magnanimous because he was about to dump a project on her that he should really be taking care of himself.

“J. W.’s nephew has coughed up a hairball and I need you to edit it and make it printable.”

“Ed….” Amy paused, trying desperately to keep  her temper under control.

“I know, I know.  You aren’t a grade school tutor.  Just remember who signs your checks.”

“….and yours!  How do I get stuck with stuff?  Will you look at the stack of manuscripts I have to get through this afternoon?  Let me guess, you just got back from a three martini lunch?”

“Well, you’re a weepy drunk, my dear, so better me than you.  J. W. wants this in the next issue.”

Ed left the room as soundlessly as he came.  Amy scribbled on her notepad “and with that, the tribulation set out in search of other souls to badger.”

“Eh.  Dog crap.”

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


tar heart

Sometimes even the spattered tar on a city sidewalk has something to say.

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, August 1, 2011

The answer.

“This has to stop!  You can’t end violence with more violence. Every injustice, every innocent wronged, every insult piles up one upon another until the violence becomes all consuming.  There has to be a way to break that cycle.  You have to find it.”

Jerry’s eyes were glazed as he listened, swaying slightly, trying to wipe the blood from his hands.  She had always been such a little snot, a know-it-all.  She didn’t understand that none of this was a choice he’d made – he was simply the vehicle.  Who held the controls?  Who cares?  He only knew it wasn’t him. 

“Jerry, please.  You know I’m right.”

A hard edged glimmer returned to his eyes, his breathing quickened.   He felt rather than saw that his sister tensed, knowing she had said exactly the wrong thing.

Drawing himself up to his full height, he took a deep breath and stood motionless for a fraction of a second – the time it took his brain to communicate with his abdomen, pierced by the bullet.

“I’m sorry, Jerry.  I guess maybe violence is the answer.”


Technorati Tags: ,