You read the obituaries every day not only for the affirmation that you are not listed among them The key five words there are not only for the affirmation, particularly upon hearing the gentle man you liked, that you valued as a friend and craftsman is gone, but you didn’t say goodbye, that you thought “better him than me,” that you hated that thought, that you hated yourself for thinking it, that nonetheless you are glad it wasn’t you, was someone else just not him, just not someone you knew. You weren’t in the obituaries today and when you are gone, you won’t be here to read it anyway, and you won’t think “better him than me,” and you promise you will forgive those that think it.
It is all to often debated what sets humans apart the other species, and that will not be agreed any time soon (which a cynic would note is one such thing itself).
Freud would claim it is only our ego, our sense of self, which may explain why people are so capable of being self- ish, and I suspect he was certain he was wholly correct but I would give him only partial credit.
It is far simpler than that: record your voice, record a Sandhill crane and play them back and I assure you that you will say you sound nothing like what the recorder heard while the crane will nervously look all around for his unseen kin.
It is the wet season when the rains wash the village carrying off the detritus of poverty. On the adobe wall of the ancient town hall some villagers say a face appeared one morning. To some it was the face of Christ to others that of an old man a former mayor, perhaps, to most of the tourists from the nearby resort no more than random discoloration of the aging plaster that clung to the beams by the force of will. They arrived by bus and rusting pick ups, bowed to the wall and reached out gingerly like children touching the flame of a candle. To the mason it was a job that would feed his family for another week.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3 July 2019, Pg. 40
They hide in corners, and you think you can see them, but you cannot be certain for they are vague and could be no more than wishes, but belief is sufficient. As you grow older, the number of corners grow and a universe of but eight corners is now itself tucked in a corner of memory. One corner hides the face of the man who adopted me, watched for two years, before departing suddenly, and the only item I have is his diploma rolled up in a tube where my own accomplishments are rolled. In another corner the day I met the man I now call father is so deeply buried only his present, increasingly absent aging face is all I can see. Memories are elusive, appearing and disappearing without warning day by day the oldest evanesce and that corner is filled by another memory grown vague.
God, it was a long night, unending needs unsated, brought to the edge man is a cruel beast, half master as pleading supplicant, half slave much the child, begging, wanting as if food or thought would give man humanity, elevated above needs, existing outside, independent a God, ruler of illusion and fantasy.
First Appeared in Aura Literary Arts Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1996.
He’s mostly bald and generally something of a grouch. When he enters a room, the key is to nod in recognition but not in invitation. You know, regardless of the topic at hand, he will have something to say and it, no matter how you perfume it, will nevertheless have that air of negativity he has so ably mastered. So many others, and especially you, have perfected the art of deflected avoidance, at least until that moment you come face-to-face with him in your morning mirror.