God sits at his easel, brush in hand and thinks about the butterfly alighting on the oak. This man would rather paint the nightmare of hell, but he has been cast out and his memory has grown dim. He remembers being a small child amused by the worm peering from soil in a fresh rain and how when he split it, both halves would slither away in opposite directions. Now he rocks in the chair and watches night fall and shatter on the winter ground.
First Appeared in Medicinal Purposes: A Literary Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, Spring 1997.
He was a writer. That is what he told people who asked what he did. Although he said it was what, no who he was. He said he wanted to be the sort of person that Stalin feared, a man of ideas, maybe someday, in an Alexieian world, charged with a crime of holding an audience hostage with the idea of a gun. But he knew somewhere along the way, the weapon would have to be fired. That was Chekov’s rule and he was one to obey the great writers.
In the early morning, before I open the blinds, before the sun approaches rising, I imagine the chill enveloping everything outside, October slipping quickly toward November, to the possibility of rolling snake eyes, to snow.
Winter always came that way, unannounced, and at least by me, unwelcomed, the last of the crimson, flame orange and ochre leaves dragged to the earth and buried ignominiously.
But I know when I do open the blinds, even while the sun is still in its celestial witness protection, I will see the shadow of the palm trees and know that here we measure winter on a wholly different scale.
An elk stands at the edge of a placid mountain lake and sees only the clouds of an approaching winter. A black bear leans over the mirrored surface of the lake and sees only the fish that will soon be his repast. The young man draped in saffron robes looks calmly into the water and sees a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors. I look carefully into the water looking for an answer to a question always lurking out of reach and see only my ever thinning hair.
FirstAppeared in Green’s Magazine (Canada), Vol. 29, No.1, Autumn 2000.
Stevie and I were probably eight sitting on the front stoop of our flat, he the only one in third grade smaller than me. There was no snow to be seen, none in the sky, none on the frozen and still patchy lawn, just the wind of an always cold December day. Christmas is coming, I said aren’t you excited, with all the gifts. Stevie smiled, they’re always great but maybe this year I’ll finally meet Santa. I laughed, lacking the heart to shatter an infantile dream. Do you buy into the sled and reindeer thing, or does he come more by way of magic. Of course it’s the sled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some pretty good jet engines. And you think he comes down the chimney I asked. We don’t have one, you know that so he must use a back window, the one where I broke the lock last summer when we were spies. He looked momentarily sad, you don’t have anything like Santa, although you get lots of neat gifts, just not all at once. At least eight, most years more but you’re right we have no Santa, but we have something even better. Better how, what could be better? Each year at Passover, Elijah comes in during our Seder I don’t see him but we have to open the door for him during dinner. Does he bring you anything? He’s not like that, he just comes all old and bearded, and before you can even see him he’s gone again, probably next door at the Goldstein’s or maybe with Larry Finkel, though his mom can’t cook very well. So what’s he do, this Elijah? Not much, I admitted, but he does have a drinking problem.
First Published in Friends & Friendship Vol. 1, The Poet, 2021
In the heart of winter, then, which seemed unending I would stare out at the maples barren branches piled in ever tottering snow and dream of palm trees and a warm ocean breeze.
In heart of winter now, such as it is, all I see are endless palms and many Southern Live Oaks, their branches piled under a heavy burden of sagging Spanish Moss and I dream of the simple beauty of the maple leaf shifting from its deep green to its endless shades of autumn beauty.