Here are some of my recent shorts, short shorts, musings and poetry. Enjoy!
They came early that year and we caught them
in peanut butter jars
because my aunt Laura said peanut butter was essential for luminosity
and we believed her
Only we could catch them
Only we were fast enough
to chase down the light of midsummer
and return it to the grownups as proof of magic
"Keep them until midnight and then let them go," our mothers said
or they'll lose their light
or you'll get warts
one or the other
Instead we poked holes in the top for air
spooned in enough peanut butter to last until dawn
and placed them on our night stands
where they eventually escaped
Sticky and hyped up on Skippy
dancing and unafraid
squeezing out their last bits of enormous light
into our tiny world
WE ARE THE NIGHT RUNNERS
There is a dog I run with at night. He isn't mine. He’s the dog of my elderly neighbor, Sara. He sleeps in her front yard with no leash or chain. No fence. He prefers the stars and evening air to the worn rug beside the wood stove. Like me he longs for the open road....
It’s May and I’m in love. I’m in love with Leonard Russo who has thick curly blond hair and big blue eyes and gives me cigar boxes full of jewelry every day after school. And I’m in love with Victor Panchenko, who asked me for the last skate at the fourth grade roller skating party and leaves bouquets of wildflowers on my desk. I’m in love with them both, but I don’t think this is allowed. I'm pretty sure you should only have one love at a time and I’m just about to choose between them, when I unexpectedly fall in love with the boy next door. An Irishman, named Finn Bailey...
THE GREEN MAN
No one believed in him. He was the stuff of fairy tales and old Abenaki lore. A fable most likely invented by our parents, to keep us out of the Hollow and away from the Loring...
I grew up in the suburbs of Upstate New York in a pretty white house in the middle of a long winding road called Bayview Drive. At the very top of Bayview was an abandoned lot where contractors had left their building scraps; cabinet doors, sheetrock, and plumbing pipes. Over the years, the neighbors contributed their own odd assortment of things like vacuum cleaners, hamster cages, toasters and birdfeeders. We called it the meadow. Every year the meadow got bigger and wider and higher. ...
Do goldfish have hearts? I believe they do.
Tiny golden hearts full of secrets
full of passion and abandon and the stories of rivers.
Whispers of night and rain showers and things we’ll never understand.
And if Goldfish have hearts, then do they weep?
Do they grieve?
Do they long for those who swam away and never came back?
Who chased after nets and silver lures and the promise of home?
And if Goldfish weep, then are their tears made of salt water or something finer?
Something truer like dreams and visions and milkweed wishes.
Moonlight and echoes and winter wind.
And if one were brave enough and quick enough to catch the tear of a goldfish
a princess say, or a frog or one close to the edge
would it save them or would it slip from their fingers?
something so rare and precious and not of this world.
Why is it always darkest before the dawn?
Why do crickets sing loudest before the frost?
Why do I care about things that pass too quickly?
I want instead to be like the girl in my dream last night
the one with red hair and jam on her face.
Barefoot with freckles.
The one who took my hand and ran with me wild through the mud
and danced in the sea grass.
The one who whispered stories in my ear
even singing one out loud so I wouldn’t forget.
What if I left behind questions of light and dark
and the business of crickets for whispers and dancing?
Then would the dark fellows still try to tell me about the dawn?
Or would they take my hand and show me where the dragonflies live?
THE WIDE WORLD
I have always envied leaplings
those born on the 29th of the cold and sunny month of February.
Exempt from the annual markings of time.
Less muss and fuss and cake baking and card writing
and crepe paper hanging and being reminded that years are passing.
The less of all that the better I tell my neighbor’ s dog, Humphrey.
He’s the only one I can talk to like that.
He doesn’t take offense when I say I don’t believe what the wide world believes.
Like counting years and four leaf clovers.
He just wants the sound of the rain,
the feel of the wind,
the chocolate off my chin,
his nose deep in my armpit.
That’s how you really know a person. Humphrey reminds me.
Smell them. Lick them. Drink them in.
Follow their scent through the underbrush
to a rabbit burrow, a fox’s den.
Sit up late howling at the moon.
Fall asleep in each other’s arms.
My uncle owns a house on the banks of the Hoosatonic.
A small cape with lead glass windows and a cherry door.
Each spring when the river rises, he fears the cape will lose its grip
and float away.
End up in Paugussett, which is the worst thing he can think of.
One evening during the heavy rains of late April
He calls me.
Will I go check the house? he asks
Will I stay there?
He's always been good to me, the uncle,
so I pack a bag and drive north, not sure what I'll find.
A frog in the sink.
A coyote in the yard.
Cracks in the foundation.
When I arrive, the house is still there
safe and sound
no cracks that I can see
but the weathervane is spinning
and the river is beginning to swell
At midnight it breaches its banks
crosses the road
and pours into the yard
The little house shivers and begins to loosen
By dawn, I cannot hold it back.
I open the cherry door and let the river in
It comes bearing branches and silt
and the name I was meant to be.
The name I'd heard once before I was born.
Before the uncle named me Bobby
and the cousins called me Squid.
Blessed it whispered.
And the river picked me up
and the house let go.
Why don’t I remember the first years of my life?
Why are they a grey and dreamy slate?
Slippery and elusive like the perch I caught last week
jumping from my hands back into the depths.
Why don't I remember? I ask my mother.
She hardly remembers herself
But for my sake she tries
You crawled early. Sat up early. Walked early.
Didn't speak until you were almost two.
Such a quiet thing. Some days we hardly knew you were there.
She gives what she can
But I want more.
More than crawling and walking and speaking.
I want to know when the world first opened.
When the curtain parted
And in what order?
Was it blue before magenta?
Sweet before bitter?
Sun before rain?
Was it the sound of the wind before the song of the mourning dove?
If I could be a quiet thing again
Slow to speak and hardly here.
If I could lay long enough and still enough at the edge of the water
do you think it would all come back to me?
The first butterfly
first crack of thunder
All the firsts that flew past my mind and settled directly in my heart.