Notebooks stood in a rack, straight and tightly shut beside a ruckus of birthday cards. Their colors drew my eye as I went past. I am overly susceptible to colors, even though so much of the world seems best in black and white. The first notebook had a pale blue cover, . . . Read more
On or about 12 April 1888, a gaunt Scottish man, recovering from a “sharp attack” of tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, in rural New York state, wrote to his favorite American author, then resident in Connecticut. “I shall be from Thursday next for about a week in the St. Stephen’s Hotel, . . . Read more
A bird’s pancreas looks very much like ours does, slim along the intestine. Nearly every creature with a backbone has a pancreas, lungfish and lamprey eels and ray-finned fishes being notable exceptions. In mammals, the organ is always small, shown in anatomical drawings peeping from behind the stomach or duodenum of the lion, . . . Read more
I am perfectly fine here: ice-choked,
thin as an eyelash. The bootprints on
my headboard are getting darker.
The chimney: clogged with fish eyes
and sea glass. Somewhere my enemies
are singing to the food on their plates.
As a boy watching movies with my father, . . .
Summer camp. The Connecticut hills. Cumulous oaks and maples surround the glassy surface of the lake. At a distance the water looks black. Beneath my small hands, paddling forward, cupping down and pulling back, it sparkles, mica specks drifting in the sunlit water. Transparent minnows scatter below me. I can see clear to the bottom: gold and tawny sand, . . . Read more
He absolutely killed me: ravished.
Their mother loved idioms, coaxed life back into the dead slang of generations past; cool beans, groovy daddy-o, and douche bag all had a place at the table, the breakfast table where she often discussed termite tracks along with her nightly rendezvous. . . . Read more
My cultural legacy has revealed itself to me in unexpected ways. As a child of immigrants who came from a community of once-immigrants, I picked up some family mythologies via after-dinner stories, and some traditions through our special occasion activities. Being Saiyed meant being more than Indian and Muslim, not only descended from Persian missionaries to the subcontinent, . . . Read more
I first knew Coleman Barks in 1970 when I took his class on writers of American realism at the University of Georgia. We read Flaubert and Turgenev in that class because Coleman believed you couldn’t understand the American realists without the French and Russian authors as examples. Students thought of him as a nonconformist, . . . Read more
The story is almost always the same. Every six months or so, I make the trip from Tucson back to my old neighborhood in New York and discover yet another childhood landmark gone. Some landlord or other has forced a beloved store out of business, the rent raised a thousand percent, . . . Read more
It’s where black cats tend to live longer
than their allotted nines, and we avoid
cracks in the sidewalk to ward off whatever
might happen in the whatever places
of our minds. And on certain Fridays
when the thirteenth comes around, . . .