Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
All you had to ask in town was if they found the lost girl and the curious devoured the details up to that moment. In the country beyond the meager small town lights is a place called Willow Manor. A recluse writer lives there. Don't go looking for it on any ancient map. The Poet set out leftovers wrapped in wax on the bottom step of the back wooden porch, and the girl would come in the nighttime and scurry silently away. That's one detail I let loose. There's one flash photo of the girl's lair the writer took in low light out beyond. I viewed it under a lamp one evening a month later as the two of us sat close in her library.
It was Sunday on a cold October day. I got her on the phone. She remembered me right away. I had restored the arch gate at the side arbor and she was pleased. So she talked to me a little. I asked about the lost girl, and she'd only tell me about the food left out. She was silent at first when I asked if I could come and see for myself. I detected a sigh in the bad signal between our phones. Then she said ok, but was adamant that the girl not be coaxed from her burrow. I promised, and she replied with a relieved sigh.
I parked my car out on the road about 100 yards from the Manor. Stealthily I walked through the gate and began my search, winding my way along a browning pebble path past the settling brook, crossing over the rotted bridge. It creaked mightily. I may ask her if I can restore the crumbling timber. I'd love to.
It was getting dark. I wanted to avoid using my torch, but I gave in. Mosquitoes bee-lined out of the poplars and certainly found me. They were furious and I just called the search off after a couple hours. I returned to cross the bridge. The girl was standing there half-way across blocking my retreat. She was so little, but looked to be in her twenties. Her hair was cut short by what appeared to be an uneven frantic hand. And her eyes were dark in the refracting light of my torch. She did not blink. She followed my hand as I reached into my pocket.
"You like pumpkin seeds"? I asked brokenly.
She held out both hands with pouting full lips. I told her my name but she had two cheek fulls of seed and didn't seem to hear.
"All gone", I said, and promised to bring more if she wanted. At that moment we both saw the light beam of a second torch closing in. It was coming from the Manor. The beam danced side to side, the October wind rising, making the tree branches moan in an arthritic hopelessness. The girl was frightened and hid behind me, clutching both my arms as though they were branches of a last resort to save her from going under.
"Who goes there"? I cried. My echo in the woods was not expected and I shivered.
"It is I", a woman responded. It was the poet. She was carrying a heavy coat folded over her arm.
"Put this on. You there", she ordered breathlessly to the girl. "It's going to be alright. And you", she said, looking at me,"the police just towed your car".
The girl released her grip. I hugged the poet.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
on the set
Director: Let's try it again, Chuck. And get it right. It's twenty-five thousand dollars per take. Got it?
Charlton: Damn you!
Director: Yeah. Whatever. Here it is again. Explosion. You turn and see projectile sailing towards you. Your muscles are tense, and you're sweating. [pleading] And you're mad. It comes into focus through the haze and comes spinning to stop. Then your maddening take. Not just another day on the set.
Charlton: But it isn't Lady Liberty.
Director: I know, Chuck. Just do it, ok?....Camera?...Action!
The eardrum tearing crack of an explosion from the horizon. A massive tin can, the shape of a human face made from what appears to be a gigantic unlabeled soup can from today's crew lunch hurtles over Union Depot, sharp edges spinning and glimmering in dawn's last light, rolling and rolling, union-wage extras screaming and fleeing out of the camera's eye, finally banging to a quiet stop on a final resting place of paved brick.
Director: [a whispered yell] Now, Chuck, Damn you.
Charlton: [drops to all fours close by torn tin monument, notices for first time it resembles the human face, eyes closed as if dead. Chuck can feel the bean and cornbread high-noon special served on styrofoam plates gurgling in his midsection. He looks skyward and hesitantly shakes his fist and hauntingly screams] Damn you to hell!
Saturday, July 18, 2015
no one like you
You, Tatyana, say the sound of the setting Sun is wondrous, and I ask you, Does it sound like bacon sizzling. I've never heard, You only stop once, turn, and I see you're laughing. You're not ready for eternity to end just yet, I know, I can see you walking with purpose, long strides like a giraffe, swift as an impala, distant white clouds under a cobalt sky. You want to see it up close, slowing to gawk like a long-neck at a train derailment, don't you? Yes, I am slow to write, deadline is near, I drop pad and pencil in the barren grass by the railroad and accompany you to the end of the world.
photo by Bruno Dayan
Monday, July 13, 2015
nine lives on
Monday, June 22, 2015
Elizabeth could turn it off. Smiles never just melted slowly. And now as they lounged at the pool she wasn't smiling.
"Must you go?"
"Yes". Richard said it quietly, repeating what she dreaded. Separation. Boredom at this dump. Divorce. Death. Reunion. "It is but two days work, My Love", he answered in a Shakespearean voice echoing the hollowness of an empty theater. "Besides", in his fetching Welsh now, "I read poetry, they get it down on tape, I stuff my wallet, and new jewelry for you".
He looked at her hard. "No, it's magnificent. It's Dylan Thomas. Not silly".
She turned away. He brushed his left palm on her back, keeping the right with cigarette far away. She shuddered. Children were playing and screaming in the distance, bodies hitting cold water in one splash after another. The faint sound of a little girl crying followed. Richard could not find her in the glare.
"I'll return. Soon. I will", he promised. She did not move. She said nothing at first. Then she moved onto her back, the cement of pool's edge cooler, and quoted softly, "'We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood'. No, that was not silly".
He was smiling. And blushing that was undetectable. Lighting a cigarette for her he quoted,
'I see the summer children in their mothers
Split up the brawned womb's weathers,
Divide the night and day with fairy thumbs;
There in the deep with quartered shades
Of sun and moon they paint their dams
As sunlight paints the shelling of their heads.'
She let out a long breath. They both watched the smoke rise and dissipate into the blue sky.
Under Milk Wood and I See The Boys Of Summer, by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Thursday, June 18, 2015
"Hey man, you got my stuff"? He was calling from the world's last phone booth, balanced at the edge of cliff at the end of the universe.
The man was eating supper with his family. He was still in grey suit and grey tie as he picked up the receiver in the dark hallway. His teeth were clinched, lips like a ventriloquist. "I told you NEVer to call me at home".
"Hey, man". Pebbles from a rock slide above rattled his cage. He looked up nervously.
"I told you I'd take care of your...stuff". It was in a yelling whisper brushing across the telephone.
"Hey, man. When"?
He was startled that he could almost smell the weed. It was only a stringy piece of lettuce and thousand island dressing caught between teeth. "Do you always have to start every sentence with 'Hey, Man'"?
"Hey, man". He was hiccuping his laugh like a nineteen fifties B movie dope fiend actor in tinted glasses. The phone booth teetered. He cursed under his breath. "Hey, man, you got it made, big time writer dude".
"Made? You don't know what it's like. I'm under pressure".
"I got a deadline, Hey Man, you'll never know. It's Mag 274 for crying out loud"! He heard more hiccuping and the line cut out and back in again.
"Yeah, well, man, I'm under a dead line too, man. Just write a poem about...about. Hell, about an oyster with no passion, man".
He looked over his shoulder as his wife called him back to the table. His hand was sweating. "That's good", he said to the man in the phone booth. His voice was calm, more conversational. "Oysters and passion. I think I can do something with that". He heard a crackling over the telephone. "You stay put. I'll come. I'll bring your stuff".
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
war is over
War is over. So they say. It seems we can still hear planes overhead at night. Or my ears are ringing. You know nighttime is when they buried the dead in this 'theater'. At dark so they couldn't be spotted. The ground is rock and the graves were shallow.
But that's over now here as our engineer unit has relocated down in Belgrade, reconstruction full speed ahead. It's dirty. And blue danube waltzing water is at a trickle. I long for a long long hot shower of home. And your beef-steak and gravy. We ride packed transit with the locals. I had a babushka woman stuffed so close to me her teeth were up against my shirt button. And she looked up peeking, no fear or suspicion, never taking her watery pale-blue eyes away from mine. Should I've asked her to dance? Oh! Speaking of showers - you gotta see this funny photo Charlie took of me when we were smashed. (There's no water, but the distillers are at full steam ahead.) We chased these kids away from a shattered dry bird bath in the town square and commandeered it. They scatter easy when you clap your hands. Just like little birds. I miss little morning sparrows that gathered at the sill beyond your kitchen sink. Do they come still? I can't remember why we chased those kids away.
Friday, June 5, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
old treasures haiku
Monday, May 18, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015
Sunday, May 3, 2015
the second thousand years
"Oh for the love of Mike, what the hell is he doing in there"? He pounded on the bathroom door again, harder and more towards the middle. "'He's in the Powder Room,' you said".
"Ok. But can you blame him"?, she retorted in a screeching high-pitch.
"Yes. I can blame him", he replied softly and stiffly.
"But he hasn't gone in at least a thousand years"!
"Well, I'm a little buzzed myself", she answered clutching her head with both hands. He looked at her sideways and noticed for the first time she was gray with a coating of dust.
"Petrified bric-a-brac. Carved clay", he continued sweating profusely, "Chiseled quarry slab.."
"I know", she cried, "he hasn't got any clothes".
He wedged his mouth close to the door jam and spoke kindly, a bit shaky:
"Please. We'll give you clothes. Sir? Your Emperorship"?
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
the train ride
The whistle of a train afar is an instrument of loneliness. Attempting to recreate its song with a harmonica is close, but you only succeed in another lonely waterlogged cowboy lament. Just as miserable is the whine of a droning loud-mouthed salesman in your compartment coach reeling off his statistical life story.
The Writer loves the thought of the railroad under his feet. It reminds him of his youth, the memory of the train line running by just a stones throw across the pasture of the family farm. The Heartland rails of his dreams. And the best scenario where the lines upon his sketchbook wander best.
"But what could I do? The girdle is on its way to oblivion"! the loud-mouth asks in a brief unanswerable question to suck in more air.
"I don't care", the Writer answers under his breath, lowering his hat over his eyebrows.
"Well there's no need to be rude. Did you hear what I said? What are you writing there anyway"?
The Writer stops and peers out the window. It is raining now, and he's thinking of the past, the butternut grove, the weeping willows. He smiles and is lonely for Tess, and the last time he held her softly up to the final call for all aboard.
"I say there"!
He raises his hat revealing magpie black eyes and looks into the eyes of the man.
"Have you heard of Vladimir Nabokov?" he asks, without raising his voice. "I didn't think so. He once said the writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them. If you promise me to remain quiet, I will not chase you and heave rocks at you".