Nighttime Travelers: Los Angeles/Dublin and Back Again.

Ireland is cold. Freezing. Fog clasps the midlands in an embrace that chokes the breath in a man. Red berries tinged with white. The grave is the same; waiting. The old home town looks the same. Cafés, pubs, church, and the house our family called home, mid-century, post-war. Bananas and pineapples were unknown refugees on rich people’s tables.

A distillery peddling bitter whiskey to thirsty tourists. Rip-off merchants.

“Goodbye, Ireland, I’m off to Kilbeggan.” My father’s war cry.

My mother sits in the armchair, engulfed. A missing plate on the wall beside her. Careless caregiver knocked it off and shattered it to bits. She knows who I am. The same questions. On repeat.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

I answer each time as if it’s the first time of asking.

Receding. Hair white as a summer cloud. Collapsing in on herself.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

The house is empty of familiar furniture. Sent to auction. Give away for tuppence. 40% commission leaves little for her coffers. Simple needs these days. Hair done monthly. Cigarettes smuggled in by brothers.

Angelus bell at noon.

“The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”

“Heathens,” my father said. We didn’t know our prayers and it was her fault.

A kite hovering above the motorway.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

The cold gets into your bones.

Kiss her forehead.

Say goodbye.

“See you tomorrow.”

The plane leaves at 5:55am.

“Have you seen any of your old friends?”

Everything is the same. Nothing is the same. From her you sprung. Nothing needs to be said. Everything is understood. There are silences. Walking across the parking lot to the rental car, the sobs send seen breath onto winter air.

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Trench Thoughts

There is a penis carved into one of the desks in my classroom.

Three fluorescent bulbs are broken these past six months. Light from outside sneaks in a closed shutter. The metal flanges are like old-style ailerons on rickety planes. Perhaps once the bulbs are replaced we’ll be cleared for take-off.

A third runway is being built at Heathrow Airport. Nothing they can do will make that place less of a hell-on-earth than it already is today. The last time I was there, armed police walked around with machine guns and Alsatian dogs eyed travelers with suspicion.

We are told what we can and cannot do.

Superiority.

I breathe in and out. An unframed painting on the wall reminds me of the sea. Arms. Arms. The cold of the stethoscope on my back. Inhale. Exhale.

Ancient civilizations painted hunting scenes on cave walls.

Bison.

Deer.

Mounds of bones at the closed ends of box canyons.

The appearance of chin hairs is worrisome. All can be corrected.

We turn the page and read on. A fly buzzes its way from sweaty body to sweaty body.

Electrolysis.

One is a deep thinker who says little.

Another is curious about the world.

Another loves to read and writes astounding poetry.

The hummingbird flits from flower to flower on the lavender bush.

I am afraid to send my writing out into the world anymore.

Late nights. The dim glare of the screen lit by news of airstrikes in Syria. All else unsaid. There are words, letters, images carved in bone, the turn of the scrimshaw’s tool. How small would he have to write for the words to be invisible? Carved into granite. Bone shall grind to dust before rock.

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Ten or So Favorite Books

  • One Hundred Years of Solitude: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Mariette in Ecstasy: Ron Hanson
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things: Jon McGregor
  • The Shipping News: Annie Proulx
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Milan Kundera
  • Ulysses: James Joyce
  • I Sailed with Magellan: Stuart Dybek
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Carson McCullers
  • The Things they Carried: Tim O’Brien
  • The Master and Margarita: Mikhail Bulgakov
  • A Confederacy of Dunces: John Kennedy Toole
  • Middlemarch: George Eliot
  • The House on Mango Street: Sandra Cisneros

 

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Rockonchestsday’s Childe

Pages written this week: 30

Emotional breakdowns: 5+

Phone calls to Ireland: 1

Flights booked home: 1

Generosity by others: 2

Stories to edit: 0

Manuscripts to edit: 2-3

Desire to work on manuscripts: 0

Messiness of home desk on scale of 1-20: 18

Messiness of work table on scale of 1-20: 15

Books by Irish writers purchased: 1

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What I Did Instead of the Breadloaf Conference (I didn’t apply to)…

  • Picked 400 avocados
  • Wrote a micro fiction piece
  • Read Claire-Louise Bennett’s Pond
  • Met with fellow-teachers in academy on campus
  • Ate 35 gummi candies
  • Walked dog in the darkness
  • Drank Third Window Brewery’s “James Blond” Belgian blond beer
  • Cooked pork chops on the barbeque
  • Wrote daily pages
  • Took recycling to trash can
  • Made peach tea for wife
  • Watched 4-yr-old’s dance camp performance
  • Almost got run over by a careless motorist
  • Received recent issue of Thrice Magazine in the mail
  • Received check for $500 in mail
  • Drank 5 cups of coffee

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