In your mother’s dreams

brutal deep-freeze, heavy snowfall blanket, ice dams on roofs, melting drips through ceilings the hill resembled a resort ski condo development appropriate considering the city-operated slope on the other side of the expressway runs a single chair-lift I tour the surrounding woods on cross-country blades and observe bald eagles wintering along the Merrimack and recall the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, desert along the Yakima, views down over the Mississippi or Potomac or elsewhere in New England . spread your wings, then, in the thawing


A little idealism helps

Somehow, in starting from the finale of an earlier novel, my novel What’s Left would have to resolve a gap between the five siblings’ Greek ancestry and their interest in Tibetan Buddhism, along with the challenges of running a restaurant shortly after the loss of their parents. Their view of business is more radical and community-focused, for one thing.

Yes, they were young and idealistic, but would that be enough to get them through?

What would you hope to see change in your surrounding society? Or even your own life?

Looking at movies set in the subway

I’ve expressed my surprised there aren’t more stories set along the underground rails, and now I learn of one based on the eight fortified trains that were painted yellow like other MTA service trains as a disguise. The so-called money trains regularly picked up millions of dollars of toll fares in the wee hours every night in New York City.

Their existence was a well-kept secret that finally surfaced in a 1995 flick starring Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, and a young Jennifer Lopez. If only the movie had lived up to its promise. The film, though, was a bomb, snarled in Hollywood clichés and comical misteps. Maybe they should have played it as comedy rather than criminal action.

Meanwhile, the trains themselves have become history, in part due to the MTA’s switch to from cash and tokens to MetroCards issued at vending machines, typically using credit cards.

Well, it’s one more element that could have gone into my novel Subway Visions, maybe as a somewhat friendlier bank-on-wheels, back before we had ATM machines everywhere.

Can we really keep up with all this change, everywhere we turn?


When she phoned again

within some perspective, the past and future as an hour-and-a-half chat in part about her new love or lover, how could Squirrel not be pained trying to separate truth from layers of self-deception making him wonder if she’d ever seen him clearly as he was after all moving into other circles as one eligible male the single women had their eyes on yet what shock he realized later seeing how blinded he’d been, his heart solely on her, the news coming amid gossip of that “intimate little dinner that breaks things off” where he heard, fourth party from a third, “first, pour me something stiff” and salty as teardrops running for miles while most really do want nuts, no matter what they say


Here comes a string of prose poems

The gap between well-crafted prose, especially fiction, drama, or comedy, and the art of poetry has long tempted  and then eluded writers. The definition of poetry as “slow prose” further complicates the issue, I suppose, although some see that end of the spectrum as limp verse – many elements make poetry, after all, and can take a piece far from simple conversation or logical progression. Just because something is structured in broken lines doesn’t raise it to music.

Well, that does point to the appearance of rap as standing somewhere between poetry and fully developed music, rather than chanting or a rhythm section … and opera did emerge out of an attempt to recover the tonal nature of ancient Greek language.

So the possibilities of the genre of prose poems stand as a provocation, and the trials can fascinate. As a rule, I’ve found shorter is sweeter – around a hundred words, max, lest you start writing paragraphs and the piece at hand lose its energy.

This year the Red Barn will be presenting a prose poem each Saturday, drawing on a collection published in 2018 at Thistle Finch. I am grateful to the editors of the following journals for giving some of the prose poems their first airing: Bounce Is Bard, Crack the Spine, Jerseyworks, Ray’s Road Review, Red Coral, The Screech Owl, The Singularity Review, Souvenir Lit Journal, Subliminal Interiors, and The Vein.

Most of them arise from correspondence in my years before relocating to the New Hampshire seacoast and thus represent events now somewhere back in my foggy past. The persons they’re addressed to in these whirlwinds are abstractions, more than actual individuals. What I do know is that I could not create these works today, my outlook is so different.

I hope you enjoy them.

Jan as in January

and so having examined his cards she shot off fireworks from a waist-high bank of snowy night bottle rockets, the progression silence whoosh bang! in some bereavement overcome by momentary pyrotechnics in a furtive event, just once and it’s over who knows how she added fractions to appropriate repeated waves of painters, musicians, singers while he saved five years for some overcast studies prowling the night trajectories into hooting night forest only to detect he has zero bearing as a nightmare impostor posted KEEP OUT and call it quits, entering darkness Better luck next time

Hey, Figaro!

How is it the young Figaro, in “The Barber of Seville,” is so worldly-wise, especially in the ways of attracting women, while a few years later, in the “Marriage of Figaro,” he’s so confounded by the Count’s moves toward his own beloved? And, oh, yes – what happened to all that business savvy?

Well, it was a French theater comedy series originally. One obviously without a continuity editor.

I’ll give the author, Beaumarchais, some slack, since he was busy on many other fronts. And give him lots of credit for knowing how to cut satirically to the quick.

We make our own

Christmas cards seem to be a fading tradition. When I was growing up, my parents received several hundred and likely sent out a similar number. We do about two dozen, and that number’s shrinking. Here’s the design we mailed off last year, with a gold dust adhering to a rubber-stamped base. (Photo by Rachel Williams)