•April 18, 2014 • Comments Off on Keller

The surface spread out before her a dark grainy oak. Its varnish worn, but still so smooth in some places it reflected like a mirror.  Sunlight glinting off the glass beyond her focus encouraged her to put her sunglasses back on. The seat beside her empty. The detritus of passengers past; those who’d found no purchase. She’d arrived at the magic third. The temperature perfectly balanced between chilled and that of her own body.  The place where the dwindling foam formed an oasis of clarity. The solution to all life’s problems, the source of all its question. It was here, in her hand. The froth that spanned the inside rim of the glass was everything. The entire universe, every atom; all the dust and gas that coalesced around a distant star. It was the next step and the footfall that came with it. The catch and the recovery. The essence of freedom and confinement alike. All the colors in their most intense, saturated beauty. And all the grays, blues and silvers of an overcast sky. She sat contemplating the enormity of something so grand it could only be encapsulated by something so small and so average. Just as quickly as she’d found herself there, the spell was broken.

“Can I get you another beer there hon?

She tipped her head back, consuming the profundity of the moment in one last gulp. With one small drip on her lip, and a slight upturn of her cheek, she was emphatic.
“Yes Ma’am!”

•May 24, 2011 • Comments Off on

From the inside, it looked like any other summer day. The sun came through the foliage, dappling the street. The cracks in the pavement were almost unreadable, the contrast so great. He could see green in every direction as he passed under the canopy. Thinking about it, the thick, close air was like soup. The aromas of all the components like puzzle pieces unsorted, melding together in strange combinations. Floral bits of lilac and honeysuckle mixed with rotting pine and the wry stench of gypsy moths.

He took a breath. The air like water flooding his lungs. The heat made his head swell. It was all-encompassing, inescapable. The symphony of insects: cicadas, katydids and the like was a soundtrack to hell. How could someplace so beautiful be so miserable? But then the chill washed over him. The relief, like a sigh, better than a cool drink of water. Air conditioning. Perhaps man’s greatest feat over nature. He could feel the sweaty salt crystallizing on his skin. It crackled as he touched his forehead and it flaked off the soft, downy hair on his arms into tiny granules.

As he returned to the present moment, he realized that all that separated him from this cadre of memories and his current reality was a wall of glass. His reality, a cool 66 degrees. The memory, much warmer. He sat contemplating the difference. The Catalpas and Maples passing by around him. They looked the same as the species he used to know. Here the elements were a much subtler version of themselves. Had his eyes misled him, or just his other senses?

Rush Hour, 5/16

•May 16, 2011 • Comments Off on Rush Hour, 5/16

I am sitting in front, a pair of seats to myself. I’m short, too small to reach the window sill; nor am I touching the floor.  There are just a few seats open nearby, but the car is not full. Passengers board all around me. They come in droves, groups of twos and threes, sometimes more. Each looks at me, contemplates the open seat next to me, but all move on. Passing me by seems to be second nature to them. They consider sitting with me for an immeasurably small duration. And then they pass me by. I might as well be a piece of gum on the sidewalk.  But I am not dirty, nor disheveled. A shiny new carabiner is clipped to my loop. It gleams like a smile with a gold tooth.

One stop goes by. And then another. And another. Finally, a man asks the passenger behind me “is that yours?” He glances dismissively in my direction. The passenger shakes his head no, goes back to his conversation. The man sits down in the seat across from me. The one next to me still open. Next stop a man gets on. He looks at me. Concern comes over him. He looks around and I can read the word “shit” on his lips, but he makes no sound. He steps back through the doorway and onto the platform.

At last a woman sits down next to me. She is beautiful, blonde and smells like cake! I think to myself, “I”m not a pariah after all.” Delight washes over me. And relief. Maybe she will take me home. She looks around and says uneasily to the passengers sitting across from her “someone must have lost this.” She opens a book. I long for her attention but she gives me none. But I am content to see the treetops go by. One stop comes. And then another. Finally, another woman says to my new friend “excuse me.” She picks me up, slings me over her shoulder. It is familiar and warm. I recognize her smell–a little smokey with a sweet smell of sweat. The way her jacket rubs against my straps; how I’ve missed this closeness. We step through the door and it closes behind us. We’re on our way.

Rush Hour, 5/12

•May 12, 2011 • Comments Off on Rush Hour, 5/12

The platform, full. No trains in sight. Across the street, a car pulls into the lot. It sputters to a stop. A brown, early 1990’s Cutlass, the door opens. The passenger steps out. An umbrella falls to the ground, rolls under the car. The woman makes a mad dash across the street. Her pants disheveled. Held on primarily by a large shoulder bag, a jacket, trails behind her. One sleeve drags on the ground. The bag flails, flopping against her as she lumbers onto the platform. Hair is stuck to her face,  a look of determination becomes her. Each footfall like a tiny earthquake, she makes her way through the crowd. She is hunched over, struggling with her belongings. Her gaze unmet. Her person seems beyond her faculties. Her posture, awkward and leaning, she dodges other pedestrians and benches alike.

She boards the train no one else saw coming.


•May 4, 2011 • Comments Off on

My momma used to meet her friend Annie outside the Bristol Y every mornin’ at 7:30.  They  didn’t open up til 8, but momma an’ Annie’d sit out there in the little garden and smoke Pall Malls until their aerobics class started. Sometimes, some of the other ladies would come by and join em. They’d all be out there hootin, hollerin, carryin on. It was momma’s favorite part of the day. She’d get to gossipin and she and Annie’d tell each other about all the things they heard from the other cashiers down at the Piggly Wiggly. It was really the only social time they had. Sept when they was at church. Mamma always said it wasn’t right to gossip when  you was at church. She said God was listenin. “God hears everything, specially when yous at church” she’d say.  It didn’t make too much sense to me. I guess the scope of God’s ears didn’t extend all the way to the YMCA.

Rush Hour, 4/28

•April 28, 2011 • Comments Off on Rush Hour, 4/28


He entered just as the doorway was starting to close. He took a moment to collect himself. He stood there, looking British and out of place. Like an Englishman at a Mumbai spice market. His pants, black. His shirt, black. Matching black socks and Derby. His overcoat a dark gray tweed, but his tie and cufflinks, both bright red.


He looked around assessing his options. Which empty seat to choose? He reluctantly chose the open pair by the window, setting his briefcase down gently in the seat next to him. His mouth turned down. His eyes squinted slightly. His pointy chin jutting out like a knob on a smooth panel. A look of disgust came over him.  The look one might have were they about to reach into a shit-filled toilet to retrieve the wedding ring they just dropped.


He took a breath. Relaxing into the front page of The Financial Times, the horror passed.