Justice

Sam sat down, wishing she could disappear. Sighing, she tightened her scarf around her neck, a force of habit, and decided that Tony’s funeral was perhaps the one place where she couldn’t avoid talking to people—playing the grieving wife, on the other hand, would be more appreciable.

She saw the guests approaching, beginning with Mrs Gonzales, their sixty-five year old neighbor who hosted barbeques every Sunday; Emmett Hanson, Tony’s roommate in college and lastly, Greg Jackson, his partner at the NYPD. She still remembered the day when Tony had, for the first time in three years, allowed an outsider into their home. Greg, sweet Greg, as a symbol of gratitude, had brought a set of cutlery, somehow, having noticed the fact that Sam loved to cook. The set had included six plates and bowls, a ladle, several spoons and a knife and was heavily decorated with intricate oriental patterns, carrying a green colour.

Approaching the coffin, Greg glanced back at Sam, his eyes holding an emotion that didn’t quite border on sympathy for a grieving wife.

Instinctively, Sam tightened her scarf as Greg took a seat behind her. The priest began his sermon by stating how nice of a young man Tony was and what a shame it was that he lost his life—in the most brutal way—a swift cut to his neck; he stood no chance. Continue reading “Justice”

Crazy about you

(The following is an excerpt from a longer work.)

Children who grew up on military bases are called Army brats. Asylum brats were those few of us who grew up on the grounds of state insane asylums where our parents, who worked there, had housing provided by the state. We weren’t shoved from base to base, state to state, country to country, so we couldn’t claim we didn’t put down roots. Instead, we were buffeted between the bizarre personalities among whom we lived, if we chose to know the lives of those mostly benign inmates — excuse me, patients — from whose lunacy our parents earned their livings.

My sister, Sally, ignored them. Not me. I got into trouble early in my life by making the acquaintance of so many of those twisted souls. My mother almost had had a heart attack when I wandered away at the age of four and showed up back at her door holding the hand of a huge man who wasn’t insane, just retarded. He had had the good sense to bring me home before I had gone too far away. For his good deed he was screamed at by my mother, who called the campus police, who hauled him away, tears streaming down his big, uncomprehending face. Continue reading “Crazy about you”

How to serve your fellow man

The virus had the entire community quarantined for so long, relationships were strained, to say the least. Couples married for 50 years and more were finding out that they didn’t get along so well now, or hadn’t gotten along well for quite some time.

With all activities canceled, staying home became a prison; all-be-it, a comfortable one. —The TV was working, cell phones were working, and yard work was always in need of attention. Thank God for the computer and the internet. In time, food became a problem. The monotony of eating the same foods, in the same surroundings, with the same person, 24/7, began to take its toll.

After months, when the virus had run its course, it became clear what had been happening behind closed doors—Those who emerged into the new day, had gained an exorbitant amount of weight. Their mates, however, did not emerge fat or thin. In fact, they didn’t emerge at all.

The pre-virus, town population of 6,000 had shrunk to approximately 3,000 inhabitants. These fewer, but fatter, people were a glaring testimony to what had happened. The survivors pooled their culinary knowledge, and put together an anthology entitled: “How to Serve Your Fellow Man”.

 

 

By Don Lubov

 

Word of the day: Gallivantriloquism

gallivantriloquism\portmanteau of gallivant and ventriloquist\noun

  1. The habit or state of wandering from one virtual or imaginary place to another by means of mediated travel anecdotes or experiences of others, without actual contact with the geographies in question.*

 

I suppose being there is two times the fun. Or five times. Even ten. But when it comes to travel, nowadays cyberspace is bringing the mountains, the glaciers, the deserts, the tourist attractions, and detailed street views of the world’s largest metropolises to us. Very few places are untouched by it. Very few that can’t be seen and read about by typing a few terms in the Google search bar. The virtual tour of Iceland I recently made on my iMac to prepare for an actual trip there was so informative, the amount of information available to access so comprehensive, it was exhaustive. Scrolling through the sites, I couldn’t help recalling my first trips abroad with out-of-date guidebooks and handwritten recommendations from friends, and friends of friends, and then touching down onto an amazing land and getting around it just fine. Now Iceland is a small, sparsely populated landmass between Greenland and Norway. Continue reading “Word of the day: Gallivantriloquism”

Time

(thank you to Rickie Lee Jones)

 

isn’t linear.  A convoluting helix, its

taffy twists swirl:  a tornado’s central

nucleus.  There is stillness within

movement & DNA reeling into

all of our lives…

 

What’s that rappin’at your window,

pullin’ at your shirt tails,

sittin’ in your closet?

 

Open jars, sift through envelopes,

stretch forth, an antennae—–

 

Pulses tunnel chasms. Resigned rings well

as they were meant to:  moments, sea spray,

falling here, falling there…

 

Time breaks gravity, suspends destiny,

& flies on out.

 

 

By Stephen Mead

 

Wealth inequality

For several days, Ray was crisscrossing Morocco with his young guide Ahmed.  However, he had noticed that staggering wealth inequality existed even in this small country, ruled by a rich king.  A computer engineer himself, Ahmed could not find a respectable job with a good salary.  Near the end, Ray arrived in Casablanca.  He wanted to locate the specific bar depicted in the iconic movie “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Catherine Hepburn.  Instead, he got dazzled by the Hassan II Mosque, the recent wonder of the city.  An architectural masterpiece, it was built by the current king to leave behind his legacy.   The place can accommodate a total of 100,000 worshipers during a prayer session.  Ray learned that the final cost was close to a half billion Euros.

Ray heard Ahmed murmuring, “Really, for whom our country shed its tears, when ordinary people lack food and basic healthcare?”

 

 

By Sankar Chatterjee

The ghosts of Iowa

In the land of Iowa, land of the corn,

a grandfather lived in Grinnell.

When he died, they all would mourn,

assuming his soul went to hell.

 

They buried him in the grave site,

assuming that their grandpa was dead.

But when the ghost returned in white,

from the old farmhouse they fled.

 

A scarecrow watched the haunted farm,

and not a crow would go anywhere near.

One day a traveling schoolmarm,

approached the farmhouse without fear.

 

Assuming the house abandoned to all,

the house would be her own downfall.

Around the farmhouse she started to snoop,

seeing all the chickens in the coop.

 

She thought she’d steal some chickens,

but she got scared like the Dickens.

From the grave came a ghostly hand,

protecting the farm in the evil land. Continue reading “The ghosts of Iowa”

The slopes of Mount Sopris

From the paddock of the barn, I stood watching the snowstorm furl and unfurl over the windward slopes of the Elk Mountains like the coarse cotton of a shroud.  Not yet seven in the morning, I’d already mucked out the barn and combed the hair on the half-dozen horses Kate and I kept.  Footed in the foul, fecal soil of the paddock, I drank my last cup of coffee that Kate had brewed and poured in the Stanley steel thermos I took with me as I began every morning.  Gathered at my feet was Clancy, the border collie that never left my side.  Restless already, he was pawing at my pant leg.  I gazed at the enfilade of clouds advancing towards the homestead my great-grandfather built by hand, south, by south-west, and roughly eighteen miles out of Carbondale.  The cirrus clouds were just started to skate over the summit of Mount Sopris, and soon after the blizzard blossomed over the slopes above timberline, they would descend scattering the herd to the lowest swales of the fence line of the ranch at the edge of the White River National Forest.  Before finishing the entire cup, though, I upturned the steel and dark grey, plastic cup and sprayed what little was left among the dirt and clumps of horse dung.  Having finished my coffee, I screwed the cup back on the Stanley steel thermos, setting it on one of the fence posts.  I strode into the barn to collect Pancho, my favorite horse, to ride the fence lines, to check on any strays or any other head that was in distress.  It was the rite of a rancher I’d performed ever since I finished high school in Carbondale. Continue reading “The slopes of Mount Sopris”

Tombstones and Toblerones

“Sylvie, where are you going?” My mother’s voice is impatient from the living room. I ignore her and leave. After Dad died, she became one of those earnestly sad people, and in our grief counseling group, I didn’t have the heart to tell everyone how her sorrow was fake, playacting for all of them. She got her comfort out of it. She never loved him the way spouses ought to—he was convenient. I didn’t want to leave him under wraps. I wanted Oliver Vaulter to be more than a pitiful epitaph over a grave that contained not a coffin, but an ocean blue urn, slightly cracked. I told our group who he was, of his burgundy winter coat, his brown eyes (a dominant trait, he would always tell me), his summery cookies and how he would say “Cripes!at all inconveniences, something he learned from his grandmother.

I am going to the grave of said Oliver Vaulter because if I don’t, no one will. It has been nearly two years now since he lost control of his car and slammed into a tree. Did you know that you’re more likely to hydroplane if you go over thirty-five miles per hour? The policeman said he was going forty. The speed limit was fifty.

I bike out of our driveway, ignoring the bite of the winter air. The people at the BQuik know me well. I come in, once a week, on a nearly-broken blue two-speed. I buy two Toblerones and then bike to Preston Memorial Cemetery. Though the theory is that one is for my dad, I always eat both of them. Continue reading “Tombstones and Toblerones”

The Mistress

(This is an excerpt from a longer work titled “Ithaca”)

So it began, their affair. An affair born out of a certain indolence on her part. He had been there, he had insisted, she had let him. He was otherwise not at all her type. The shape and texture of his nose and his unkempt hair annoyed her. He was seldom sober. He snored like a truck engine all night. But he would have been a good friend had they not slept together. He was the kind of boy she befriended easily, unpretentious, funny, politically engaged, open, and good-natured. She visited his art studio on Saturday nights. They would get drunk on table wine, smoke pot, and listen to his favourite jazz CDs. The liaison indulged her poetic and romanesque senses. She was a mythical sex goddess in a French film. She was complicated. She was free. She belonged to herself. She was a real adult at last! He could not hurt her.

Vincent was separated from the mother of his young sons.

— She’s a cold woman. I’ve been frustrated and bored for so long. Here you are, so invigorating, so exotic…

— Careful with that word… Remember how you found your wife exotic once.

— What went wrong with your marriage? Continue reading “The Mistress”