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 began his trek up the mountain early in the morning to allow time for the ascent and return. He’d planned this carefully, and proceeded slowly so as not to be put off his goal. He smiled as he passed through a low hanging cloud layer, erasing the ground from which he set off on his journey. He plodded on, seeing the summit growing ever, if slowly, closer. He finally reached his goal at the summit, sat and smiled broadly. He had made it. He gazed down, feeling as though he had at last achieved flight. He was one with the sky. A sudden shadow passed over him. He looked up at the eagle circling, mocking him, as if saying this is flight, you poor earthbound creature.
Perhaps it is waiting for the moon to draw our attention, but the moon is periodically irascible, as tonight, and has chosen to abandon Mars to the stellar firmament.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
I wander into the dark in search of the peace that only night affords, but the horizon is war and disquiet and I stumble and repeatedly fall, and the ground holds me denying me the sky.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
The plants that have reached for the sun, and borne fruit for months now shrink and wither under his unrepentant eye, and I know a cold foreboding wind will still blow and I will mourn the passing of summer, the season on peace.
Mars has risen in the western sky and Jupiter watches jealously.
First Published in Cerasus Magazine (UK), Issue 3, 2021
The clouds build slowly, turning the sky from blue to ever darkening shades of gray. He hopes it will rain, rain heavily, as the ground is parched, the wetland a bog, and the birds have moved on in search of water. He watches the build up, the clouds accreting, and he waits for the first drop of water. The clouds begin to dissipate, the sun peeks through widening gaps, and the sky is soon blue again. And in the distance he thinks he hears a voice whispering “you know mother nature is a cranky old broad, right?”
As a young child, I always imagined myself a bird, poised to take wing the next time my parents told me I couldn’t do what I wanted, to swoop around, out of their grasp, until it was time for lunch or dinner.
Years later my dream was to be a pilot, Air Force not Navy, I might get seasick and that isn’t a sight even I would want to see, until I read Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” and the ground seemed a safer place.
Once in the business world, I thought about some day retiring young and seeing the world on the cheap, Asia, Africa, Oceana, and that lasted until the second time I had to fly to Japan with fourteen hours in a coach class middle seat on a Boeing 747 when my backyard suddenly became the future of my dreams.
As I stare out the window and watch the snow slowly build on the limbs of the now barren crab apple, painting it with a whiteness that bears heavily, giving the smaller branches a better view of the ground in which their fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the tree continues to watch me, if its vision is clouded by the snowy blanket in which it wraps itself this day, and if it does, what must it think of someone so sedentary when it, bearing its winter burden can still dance gently in the morning wind.
It was lying there, on the ground, waiting to be noticed, unsure of why everyone walked by, some glancing, most lost in thought. It hadn’t been there long, but certainly long enough to be seen, of that it was certain, yet there it lay staring crimson at the sun overhead, and even the one passing cloud seemed to ignore it as it meandered by. It wanted to shout out, to demand attention, but it knew that wouldn’t change anything. And so it lay there, waiting, frustrated, until a sudden breeze lifted it up and a small child shouted to his mother, “Mommy, look at the pretty red leaf.”