Sunday, February 23, 2014


I touched his cold forehead with the back of my un-gloved hand. No doubt about it, he was gone. One last entry in a shaky hand, and then resting his head upon the journal once more. At first, after moving to the window for better light, I thought it was cryptic code, but then I saw it was just a seventeen syllable poem which we happily shared in correspondence occasionally.
It read:
Truths long ridiculed
battled haunting suspicions
make no bones, the end
I buried him in the field beyond the moss bungalow under tall grass. Carefully gathering his journals documenting a long arduous work, I wrapped them tightly in clear plastic, stored them snug in my back pack, and went home to my study, hiding them behind the bookcase. I had a restless night, debating whether I should present the archive of the great man to the university, doubters all. Before sunrise, I dressed quickly, drank some three day old coffee, and walked in a light blinding mist over to my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, of 221B Baker Street. He swung open the door before I knocked and pulled me inside by the arm. He was pale, and clearly without sleep, a robe over his clothes. We lit cigarettes, but did not speak at first as we settled into chairs facing one another. He rubbed his hands, and starred at the ceiling, chuckling.
"Pray tell, Dear Friend, why did you do such a horrifyingly sloppy job of burying the good professor"?
I got up and went to the window and peered out into the sheer blackness, knowing he would be a step ahead of me. I was silent.
"Was it his acromegaly?"
"Yes, I suppose...I...I...guess". I turned to Holmes. "He was in the last horrible stage, you know. I did not want..", I started.
"You wanted him to be remembered by his work. It is a noble cause," he said, soothingly.
"Go home. I will explain all to the constable".
"Thank you, Mr. Holmes".
"Nevermind, stay, I'll ring Mrs. Hudson for some eggs and a fresh decanter of java"!

art: Poet's Sleep,1989
by Chang Houg Ahn

Friday, February 21, 2014

the apartment

There was this girl, a writer, always wore blue jeans, white top, men's suspenders. Walking distance from my place, corner of 53rd and Sycamore. You know the place, right? - There's a bike sign, second floor up. I'd visit occasionally, we'd talk awhile, formalities of a bucket listing, and I'd sorta pantomime an outline of a short vignette, her bright magpie eyes unblinking. I'd knew I hit a good idea when she exhaled through her nose. She'd smile, and say something pithy like, 'change that third act by using an "or" instead of an "and"'. And she'd have a burst of energy, snap one suspender with a thumb, sit and type at least two pages, me silent looking out the window, a slow methodical foot fall from above.

Sullivan upstairs. Did you ever meet him? Walked with two canes, talked slow. God of children. I called him that because damaged children breathlessly stepped their flimsy-spoke bikes up the wooden stairs, knocked on his door, and entered into that marvelous apartment full of spare bike parts in glass jars and frame skeletons hanging from the walls, and he'd whistle through his nose a patience and solve any dilemma. The truing of bike spokes with a small metal circular tool he could hide in his hand and reappear out of a child's ear like a magic trick. Their mouths aghast, eyes wide in wonder, this wonderful man hardening their tires and sending them out to the street, balanced, no more wobble, life wonderful.

The writer and I visited Sullivan from time to time. Small talk, shared silent laughs as we finished each others lines, eventually a parable about lives unbalanced, only mended with a good truing. The secret of life, the writer leaning forward, attentive and nodding. He showed us once - flip the bike, just continue to spin the tire, slowly now, a little at a time with a short tightening or counterclockwise touch of the spoke nut. He'd nose whistle over the writer's left shoulder when it was her turn. 'That's good, you know now', he assured her. She would hug him and he would look away, feigning embarrassment.

She called late, must've been three in the morning, weeping. 'Sullivan is dead. He fell. Please come, Phil'. I pulled on a sweater and started to run, thinking all the way it was a dream, not quite sure why I was running. The coroner was just leaving, joking with a cop, at the bottom step. He was smiling and I wanted to punch him. Who exactly do they call when a coroner is dead? I recalled that out loud to the writer two weeks later in the cool basement of the main library, where she could secretly smoke and write after she had packed her one suitcase and carried away the typewriter in a back pack, staying with me now, two apartments left unfurnished instead of one.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

campfire concerto

How I'll always think of her
gazebo beyond the hidden willow
Orion the hunter above, warming campfire embers
the pale blue-eyed lass of birchwood meadow
pure heart, playing an old piano
tossing her wild mane, the dance of 88
tumbling breathless, blushing

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