Return to a Watery Life

Remember that day you caught the sun? When you crested the first of the waves my heart fell as the sleek seal’s head disappeared under the swell and did not return. On land I had no idea of the secret harbored inside you, the birthright of Neptune, Poseidon, fish-gods both.


Slope of sun across streaked red sky, the trajectory traced in letters too large for the eye to comprehend. The time you stared through the pinhole at the sun, seared a memory to take beneath the water. Lighthouses cast steady beams, wide and near, the rocks beneath were where we met. Somehow the pelt didn’t suit you, and that desire to land on shore became too much.


Crushed sand dollars decorated your hair the first time we danced at the foot of the lighthouse all those years ago. Turn and turn again, the quitting sun splashing fire across the sky, we moved in anti-clockwise circles, the land, the sea, the land again. Every now and again the sun would catch the shimmer of trapped quartz in your hair, blinding flash, terrifying premonition of a return to a watery life. On the edge of the rocks the seals collected in pairs, saltskinned and apart, no bitter irony in their eyes.

Stormcloudsdropwisdomonearthsday’s Childe

The sound. A bubbling over, as if millions of child-blown bubbles are popping all at once, small ones running here and there to explode them. Triptaptriptrap. The loneliest time of night is 3am and the lit moon slanting in the dusted-over window. Dog shifts; a snort, a rumble of dissatisfaction.

Across the world my mother wakes from unremembered dreams. Everything she does these days is without memory.

“Thank you” and “Thank you,” the chorus of voices. Scoliosis. Backs bearing weight today will be irredeemably arched like the bow of a harp some thirty years from now. Then it will be me unable to bear witness to the unfolding day and the small events that make up life in a small place.

There are times I keep good company in my writing life. Between the pages of a journal. Sandwiched between stories of apocalypse and flight. These days the words are petulant; not wanting to emerge from the dark. Meditation might open roadways to progress. Not enough hours in the day.






Death on the never never. Bass baritone spine tingling chill of the Irish Sea. Walls sheathed in snow like frosted cake on the dining room table at Christmas. The decorations of childhood are now no more. The sled. I remember the sled, and Santa urging the reindeer onwards, the back packed with parcels and bows.

A glass bead sits on the desk. The future reflected in its glow can’t quite make me understand. A list of sorts. Payment for services rendered. Boxes without packing slips. Meetings to discuss trivial things. Worry too much about checking off standards and measures, and not enough about impassioning the young students who want to be thralled.





A slow falling rain. The gauge ticks steadily to three. The downcast eyes of a stained glass Jesus. Before my time. Giant clips constrain the pages of disappointed manuscripts. Energy and effort are lacking. The writing must wait. There’s not enough time in the given day for all to be addressed.

Meat dried on a prairie. The lone coyote at the far end of the box canyon waits for the dim light of night. Men on horseback click tongues and move through the grey slush. Acres. Thousands. Widgets create wealth. A line item on an agenda goes unseen. The pastel painted card askew on the desk is a reminder of what’s left to accomplish.

Every falling drop is hungrily absorbed by the dried earth as it flexes its girth and welcomes renewal.

Sometimes I wake in the night and stare at the beams and their painted weight. Dreams remain forgotten. A hint here of what makes one anxious, a taste there of what engenders fear. A grave holds five coffins. There’s plenty of room for more beneath the frost-rimed surface. Don’t fool yourself to the ache of impermanence.


Halfpastdecembersday’s Childe

  • Complete messes on desk: 2
  • Christmas cards on desk: 4
  • Books in mail today: 1
  • Train journeys this week: 2
  • Broken pieces of wooden antlers on desk: 2
  • Pages written this week: 3
  • Phones confiscated today: 3
  • Property tax bills paid: 1
  • Books to read on shelf: 6


Cityofangelsnight’s Childe

  • Druid’s Theatre plays seen: 1
  • Vegan bhan mi’s eaten: 1
  • Homeless encampments seen: 10+
  • Post-play conversations with audience members: 1
  • Cups of Complan: 0
  • Kimberley biscuits eaten: 0
  • Pages written: 0
  • AAA Batteries on desk: 8
  • Bins of fruit picked: 6
  • Pages left to read in book: 120


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


Sundaysadsday’s Childe

(things to do when you are feeling the Sunday Blues)

  • Write prose poems
  • Count the coyotes in the distance
  • Draw the anchor from the seabed
  • Take photos of plants in evening light
  • Arrange the books on the shelf by color
  • Practice writing with a fountain pen
  • Make deep footprints in the sand
  • Rewrite the often repeated words in earlier drafts
  • Count the change in your pocket and buy coffee or chai
  • Plant seeds in a hanging planter
  • Look up at the night sky
  • Make a small mound of owl bones in the clearing

2016-02-27 17.28.28-2


Queen’s Ferry Press Reading at Book Soup, Los Angeles

I’m reading at Book Soup tomorrow evening for Queen’s Ferry Press’ Best Small Fictions of 2015 Anthology. On the roster are fellow West Coast writers, Lauren Becker, Yennie Cheung, and Chris Terry. Hope to see some familiar faces in the audience…

BSF Cover_print

Launch Day!

Today is the official launch day for the Queen’s Ferry Press’s anthology, Best Small Fictions 2015. I’m so excited to be included in the fifty-five stories, chosen by editor, Robert Olen Butler. The story I wrote, “The Third Time My Father Tried to Kill Me,” was published originally by Mojave River Review. The anthology is stuffed to the gills with work from sensational fiction writers such as Stuart Dybek, Ron Carlson,and Bobbie Ann Mason, to name but a few. Two of my favorite stories are Naomi Telushkin’s “Object,” and Jeff Streeby’s “El Paso: July.” All of the writers would be grateful if you’d consider buying a copy on launch day to help propel the anthology to the higher reaches of the Amazon and Barnes & Noble rankings. You can purchase a copy a the following places:


Barnes & Noble

Queen’s Ferry Press

Powell’s Books

BSF Cover_print

I am so grateful to the editing team of Tara Masih, Kathy Fish, Robert Shapard, Claudia Smith, Michelle Elvy, Claire MacQueen, and Guest Editor, Robert Olen Butler, and if you buy a copy and bump into me I’ll happily sign it for you.

Andnowtheendhascomesday’s Childe

Days left in school year: 4

Manuscripts to work on: 3

Live submissions: 11

Rejections this week: 3

In-progress subs: 4

Books to review: 2

Copies of Blood a Cold Blue on hand: 8

Messy desks: 2

Headphones on desk: 1

Broken sand dollars: 1

IEP meetings this week: 4

Cash in pocket: $0

(Stringing racquets for Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton, some years ago)