Married Love, July

c/o shadesshuttersblinds.com

Binnacle Ultrashort H.M.

Sticky warm, he left work at the crack of the last whip.

She stuck the paintbrush in the freezer in plastic like a lollipop for use tomorrow.

Wide flung doors and windows admitted a bit of cooling air. They stretched their paycheck on the rug for a picnic.

A little chicken, pasta salad, thank you. They talked about the news of job cuts and her long days. They each ate half a watermelon.

Out of the smoke of hills on fire, the full moon climbed the trellis emitting pure catlight.

During the night their stomachs talked like foghorns. In the morning, they met in the middle of the wiggle room before work.

There was still time to walk the dog.

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Hummingbird

pubbed here

I had to make it easier to whip out Wishes and show I was up to the next level. Up to the Miracle Corps light-before-the-end-of-the-tunnel standards. I don’t have to be another Jenny; just good enough to set up a trip to a waterfall with wheelchairs, or some other midsize Wish Fulfillment.
Jenny’s great, no doubt. Except for that one parent that one time. She can set up families of ten coming from eleven states arriving at twelve different times with thirteen different food allergies and all sleeping over with Mickey and Minnie in Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
What do I get? Look at this old folder:
“I want to go surfing.” What’s the big challenge? With a six-month window, I had to get a fourteen year old from Boulder to Huntington Beach.
Or: “I want to see snow.” In eight or nine months, a second-grader from Louisiana to the Rockies.
“I want to ride a bike.” Oh this was a good one…six or seven months, an eleven year old with no use of legs. Easy actually…hand cranks instead of pedals.
See what I mean? So basic.
So during my last review with my supervisor, Randy Lawson, I asked for tougher stuff. Some measurable way to prove that I was ready for five-wheelchairs-on-a-plane-change-at-O’Hare level logistics. What did I get from good old Mr. Lawson? Check this out:
“I want a hummingbird to kiss me”; 3 months.
Balboa Park, San Diego, Bird House. Ka-ching. Continue reading

Keeping Time

pubbed here

It was close to 9 A.M. when he hoisted his case and stepped outside. He felt late. The day had started badly. Green Bay was out of Super Bowl contention already. Shake it off. The street was filled with black grit and slush and snow lay like old manna on strips and patches of grass. Up the street, pitch and run. Sell. Tune in. Make it.
“Look, just bear with me a minute,” he told the short, shiny man wiping the snow from a parked car. “How many ways do you know to boil an egg? One. How many ways to chew it? One. You sleep, you wake up, you chew your eggs the same way every time. Do you want to just hang around till you die of old age?”
The little man was listening. He was buying, Diskus knew. Continue reading

A Little Help?

               pubbed here 

Hey, is anyone out there a chiropractor?

I think I’m going to need you to come over.  My shoulder is so bad I can’t even tuck in my shirt, anymore.  Well, I can, but it hurts like bulldozers and that scares me.  Don’t ask me to reach the Wheaties.  In fact, if I don’t get better soon, we’ll have to move everything down a notch:  the coffee cups, the Frosted Flakes, the juice glasses; you know.

And we don’t drive.

I started needing a doctor when the roof leaked.  Mid-morning, Wednesday, my mom was cleaning up the water from the leak in the kitchen, where what looks like a tiny orange freckle in the ceiling feeds the Great Lake, she calls it, right in front of the fridge.

She bent down to wipe it, when her feet started going out and she sat down hard, just missing one of the cats.  Momma’s built for town, you might say, so I thought somebody had thrown a boulder against the house.  When I found her I was on my way to yell at the neighbor kids again.  She was clutching her robe shut and missing a slipper, where four little toe robins were begging from a big hooky-beak momma toe.  Her eyes were still big with pain, while she accidentally did fat lady yoga.

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Bull Headed

If I squinted, the farm looked pretty much the same as it had when I left, 9 years ago, blinking back tears. The pond had shrunk; the bluegrass had grown longer and gone to seed.  The fence lay halfway down.

Frost bleached the roof, yet no smoke rose from the chimney of our farmhouse on the knoll.  The front field that the goats used to clear was now overgrown with larkspur, ragwort and blackberry.  No sign of livestock, chicken or ducks.  The horse barn was leaning at an odd angle, as though reeling from a strong wind.  Between the cow barn and the house, the dust seemed as untracked as the snow-powdered mountainsides of the Rockies I had just seen day before yesterday from the train.

I walked over to the corner of the cow barn.  The tall splints Pa and I had fashioned were still in place, still straight.

I remembered the young black bull, Napoleon, no higher than Pa’s shoulder, in a sudden burst charging at the big Hereford bull that was temporarily sharing his pen.  When the other bull leapt out of the way, Napoleon’s amazing forehead had cracked the eight-inch square post that formed the corner of the barn up to the hayloft; hence the splint.

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Dead Battery

pubbed here

He reached the parking lot with just enough time to punch in; to beat the clock.  His veteran ears had been listening to radio news about the Sarajevo trials.  The unpronounceable had committed the unimaginable against the unfamiliar.  “Here we go again,” he said.

“There have been countless genocides,” the newscaster said.  “The Hugenots, Beziers and Albigensians.  Tenochitlan.  Pequots.  Auschwitz and the Sicherheitsdienst.”

He reached for the off switch.  Work time.  “Viet Minh, Ngo Dinh Diem, My Lai.”  The announcer pronounced them perfectly.  These names went with his memories of friends:  ‘Frank,’ ‘Stace,’ ‘Tom,’ ‘Ryan.’

His hand dropped to the car seat.      “Lubyanka and Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky,” she said.  “Chmielnitzki.  Vijayanagara.  Khmer Rouge.  Khmer Noir.  Rwandi-Burundi.  Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith.  Kampuchea.  Quiripi-Unquachog.  Hissane Habre.”  He was pinned down.

Millions rolled into a hundred million.

The announcer explained:  “This countdown during Atrocity Awareness Week uses the Voice of America Pronunciation Guide,” she said.  The irony sparked against the fragment in his heart.

“The names are not so hard.  Tianahmen Square.  Deng Xiaoping.  Try repeating after me,” she said.

“DUH-ng SH-how PEENG.”

“Duhng show peeng,” he said.

“OH-marr HAS-san AL BAS-hir,” he said, after her.

“AWN SAN soo CHEE.”  Way too easy.

“RAHT-koh MLAHD-ihch,” they said.

“RAH-doh-van KAHR-ah-jeech.”  She had to break for a commercial.  He picked up where she left off.

“Tan Son Nhut.  Binh Long.  Quang Nai.  Hue Phu Bai.  An Phu.  Loc Minh. Nui Ba Den.  Bu Prang.  Dak Dahm. Quang Tri.”  Place names from his personal collection.

Soon, she was back,  “Trien Phong.  Dien Phuk.  Song Be.  Khe Sanh.  Cu Chi.”  And on.

They hadn’t completed the list when the battery, too, died.

He had to look for his hands, because he felt transparent.  Powerless.

Had it taken him fifty years to see that everyone was in on it, from their DNA on up?  A bus full of his accomplices rumbled by.  Though his boots were bloody and his eyes were scarred with horror, they each had kept a hand on his back:  Andy, Ellen, Ray, Pat.  Citizen perpetrators with less exotic names.  Everyone could turn on anyone.

In the silence of his car, he tried to make sense of that single syllable:  ‘Work.’