Thursday, August 28, 2008


remembering that night.
September's coming soon,
I'm pining for the moon.

--R.E.M., Nightswimming


Bodies swollen by August's moon,
we sliced the surface glimmer

Me reaching for your hand,
you pulling deeper


"Nightswimming" has long been my favorite R.E.M. song. I think the lyrics, and the video, succeed in creating a genuinely naked, hopeful moment, even while mourning its passing. The nostalgia cuts deep in this one, but summer isn't over yet. Better take the plunge.

And on that note...

Any good skinny-dipping stories to share ? :)

I'm not particular. Day, or night, will do.

What do you remember?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Little Girls

Any minute now.

He had slipped her the note after class. 3:15, bottom of hill. I’ll walk you home. But the line of school buses had already fumed away. The hands of her watch scissored to 3:23 as she eyed the safety mirror across the street.

Shit, shit, fuck, fuck

From the low wall, she peeked over the top of her book. More cars leaked by. But nothing materialized in the dead space behind her.


Two juniors whose names escaped her passed by, squealing. Their hollow dance repulsed her. She was reading Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Sort of.

Girls. Stupid, little girls.

She stuffed her nose deeper into the book's pages, and glued her knees together. Becoming a sophomore had suited her. It was like being the middle kid in a family. Invisible. But she could still watch, and record the universe crunching around her.


3:25 . . . 3:26.


The weight of the day, all that effort spent not caring, embraced her body like a lead apron. Behind her lids, the round eye of the mirror squiggled into stardust. Her thoughts retreated into familiar landscapes. Pastel fantasies.

Jaw slackening, she permitted the book to drop an inch.

“Bonjour, Meredith.”


Her eyes flapped open. Staggering to her feet, she caught the dark reflection painted in the mirror.

Meredith turned and tossed her hair.

“Bonjour, Monsieur Binegar.”

If only she could do something about that shake in her voice.

It totally ruined her pronunciation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008



I love you.

All this way, the shit I’ve seen, and that’s all I got. I love you.

I thought escape, escape! But distance just makes the heart sing louder. Until it’s a god-damn carousel in my ears, spinning me to sleep at night.

I want to touch you, consume you, make your body bend to mine. These roads are so weary, Mara.

I belong to you (I love you).

That’s all I am.

So please, baby. Please.

Sing me home.

Well there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

--Jeff Buckley, performing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

[Photos of Ohio's Smallest Church, near Belpre]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Behind The Glass

Rose Marple, 71, had not stepped out of her house since a broken October morning in 1966.

"And why should I? I have everything I need right here."

Fresh flowers—ordered from Miriam’s Grotto at 8:00 a.m., prompt—arrived daily, so that her guests could divine, with a glance at her parlor window, the nature of its mistress’s mood.

Sunflowers reflected a generosity of spirit. A niece, or grand-niece, materialized after months of neglect. She’d brought saltwater taffy, Aunt Rose’s favorite. Sprawled on the pink chaise, the girl shed tears for the brutishness of men…and an empty purse.

Daisies implied wistfulness for girlish days. Georgiana lugged over the photo album and dusted off the LP’s. The two sisters drank their Earl Grey tea, listening to Ella Fitzgerald croon, “Prelude to a Kiss.”

Snapdragons forbade visitors of any kind. Solicitors failing to notice this warning were to be pitied. Miss Marple’s silky tongue could sprout thorns.

But orchids? Such an exotic, sensual flower. A little too other for the Oaksville crowd. And certainly for Rose Marple, behind the glass of 233 Alice Street.

Georgiana rode her curiosity through Rose’s front door. In the parlor she discovered her sister, wearing a stiff cream dress, and matching bolero jacket. A faded Samsonite suitcase leaned against her leg.

Georgiana could not immediately locate her tongue.

“Hello, Jo, dear. The cab should be here soon. Help me with this suitcase, will you?”

Old starlight from her milky blue eyes bounced across the room. Unveiling a dust dance around the corner curio with Mother's china entombed inside.

“But Rose! What on earth?”

Her sister gave a short laugh. “Oh, well. Got to start living sometime.”

Georgiana sank into the parlor’s chaise. “But why now?”

“Since Linus’s death, I’ve been a bit silly. No, I know. Trust me.” Rose adjusted the fingers of her lace gloves. “It started that I couldn’t go out. Physically, I mean. My feet were on ice. And then it became that I shouldn’t. Like I was betraying him in the act of living. I was going to be more of a widow than any old wife, you see. I could marry him that way..."

She winced at the sunlight streaming through the window.

“And then the fear took hold.”

Georgiana’s eyes absorbed the stale, shabby room. As if it were the first time.

“And now?” she asked.

Rose turned to her. “Now--”

The cab driver. Honking twice.

“Miriam delivered orchids today, instead of Black-Eyed Susans. Imagine that.” Rose shook her head and smiled. “Clever girl.”

Striding past Georgiana into the foyer, Rose swung open the door. Confronting the blue haze of Indian Summer.

Filling her lungs, she sighed.

“I could swear I smell lilac. Can’t you?”

Georgiana could. In a way. Must have been the power of suggestion.

"After you."

The orchids' petals shivered as the door clicked behind them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Her feet hung over the blanket’s edge. The grass tickled her ankles.

“Are these clouds even real?” she said.

He claimed her waist with his hand.

“For as long as we’re looking at them,” he said.

“What happens when we’re not?”

“So long, clouds.”

She laced her leg between his thighs, pooling their sweat. Their heat.

“Our clouds,” she said, filling her nose with the sharpness of his skin. Sunspots flared across her vision. Toes cramped, digging into the damp earth.

“We should build a summer home up there.”


“Call it Brigadoon.”

Her chin rubbed his shoulder, while her hand slipped below his waist. Searching. Coaxing.


“Will we have to wait a hundred years between our summer days?” she asked.


“Brigadoon . . .”

“Sorry. I’m a little distracted. Again.”

She smiled. “I love it when you can’t think.”

"I know."

Sliding on top of him, she pressed his arms into the ground. Fingernails dividing the taut tendons, muscles. He could slip away, flip her over. But he didn’t.


So she moved faster. Loving those hunter’s eyes. Matching their reach. The sun pounded her back. So bright, so bright. She ached to melt. Center out.

“That cow over there. Is watching,” he said.

“Quit pretending. You care.”

“I think he’s—Jesus—judging me.”

“Shut. Up.”

“Our cloud. Would be. Softer.”

“But I like. Hard.”

She placed a hand over his mouth, watching his eyes smear over. Showing him what soft was.

He seized her hips. Rolled her over.

Proving her deep.

The clouds blew by.

They didn't care.

Monday, August 11, 2008


The blood dried a little darker than the toenail polish. But a girl can’t run in heels.

Stupid thing. Ugly thing. You—oughtta—thank—me.

A paralyzed field steamed on her left. A dark slush of trees blurred to her right. She kept to the tracks. The splinters and gashes on her feet chewed. Like something almost alive.

We call this—a pity fuck. See?

The hem of her prom dress was torn, dirty. Two nights ago, sewing needle in mouth, Mother had said she looked like an angel.

She had twirled and twirled, the words a white dove in her heart.

You best—not tell. Who’d believe—afatpieceashit—like Stammering St-st-Stover?

Spit, spit.

There was no going home last night. Home. The word a foul lie.

Mother would have smelled her breath, noted the rips, and known. Demanded to see the stiff, soiled panties. Not red now, but rusted. Like something used up. Slimming underpants, Mother had called them in the department store. Her lips a pink scar.

No, she would--never--go back. Just keep running, running. Until that stink-eye in the sky sank, and last night's moon defrosted.

You know—I’d find ya--right? Just—gotta—follow that—fat-girl—stench. Smells like—like—spoiled—

He came on meat.

She tripped, and crashed, elbow crunching. But she couldn’t feel, couldn’t feel. Nothing except that stabbing flame. Down there. Like the devil’s itch. Couldn't outrun it. Hugging the hot stones, she opened her mouth for the sobs that wouldn’t come, and retched.

A train whistle called. Two--short--bursts. She rolled on her side.

Laying her cheek on the rail, she grew still. Like one of them caterpillars in the tree up there, done with its cocoon. She almost laughed to think.

Again, the train sang. Closer now. Blasting through the dead space between her ears.

Didn’t mean to be so rough, Josie. It was the vodka, y’know.

She'd always thought train whistles had the loneliest call in the world. But now she realized they sounded a promise. Of destinations.

For those willing to hear.

You wanna go out again? Some place nice next time?

Her cheek received the secret vibrations. She smiled.

So we're straight? Remember, Stover—you never said “no.”

Well, no. She hadn’t been able. Still couldn’t.

The engine curled into view.

Black thunder.

No stopping now. Her teeth chattered. So much power, bearing down on her. Coming for her. She closed her eyes. Willed herself away. White dove, white dove . . .

You wanted it. All you said was--


Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Sarah, Grade 4

Indulge me, please. It's my birthday.

A time for looking back. And feeding the future.

So here's a window into my past. I wrote this little gem when I was ten. Try not to laugh (or yawn).

Once upon a time there was a girl named Shannon. She lived in a very big palace, but was not happy, because she could not marry the one boy she loved, Dusty. One day she sighed and said to herself, "I want to marry Dusty soooo much. I wish father would let me. Mother might let me, but father's opinion counts the most." Then, Shannon suddenly got a terrific idea that she would run a way! She grabbed a suitcase, and then packed in a hurry. She sneacked quietly down the stairs and ran out of the palace.

I know. Dusty. Soooo lame.

Names aside, I was happy to discover this fragment while rifling through old papers yesterday. Maybe this is overstating it, but it represents some kind of continuum to me, some kind of song from my youth that still reverberates today. So rare.

I never had that writing fever in my blood from an early age. I didn't spin wild tales for my friends (and yes, plot is still a weakness). I couldn't even keep a diary for more than a week without growing bored. My imagination grew mossy and fertile in books, yes. But I never thought I'd be writing them.

And yet here is a short piece I took the trouble to type, on my own. Not for school. Not for my parents. But simply because I wanted to tell a story.

And even if that story is slight and generic, I can recognize my present self in its lines. Maybe you can, too. There's something strangely grounding and comforting about that. So much about that girl in the photo is unrecognizable to me now. But there are these cobwebs connecting us.

As for what happened to Shannon and Dusty...who knows? Life is an open road. And I never want to reach The End.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ferris Wheel

They circled through the smoldering afternoon. Her cheeks were flushed, but not from the sun.

“Keifer! When you gonna kiss her already?”

They looked, again, at his friends in the car behind.

“Idiots,” he mumbled, turning back around.

She answered the apology in his voice with a forgiving glance. But neither could hold the heat from the other’s eyes. Her stomach dropped as they crested the orbit’s peak.

She looked away.

“You want some?” he asked, offering her the cotton candy.

Her tongue had somehow jammed. She nodded and ripped off a pink handful. The spun sugar tasted like one of those clouds, sweetened by summer's gold.

Dissolving, dissolving . . .

She liked the large, capable hand resting on his thigh. She wondered how it might sit upon her shoulder. Tucking her chin aside, she licked her sticky fingers.

The wheel slowed, and stopped. Ready to unload.

She covered her mouth, swallowing a small cry. All that distance covered, and they hadn’t really gotten anywhere. Their bodies still belonged to separate planets. Down there, in the harsh glare of his friends' spotlight, contact would be impossible. And yet the hands of this ferris clock spun faster than time.

Their car eased into the top spot, and rocked them like two babes in the night. She caught her breath. The horizon opened up a safe harbor to anchor their gazes.

His knee slid over to find hers.

The long line beneath her eyes swam. She leaned into him.

Hoping, hoping, hoping to never again touch ground.