Tinsel

A short-short is a story that contains fewer than 500 words.

My short-short, “TINSEL” appeared in Citron Review in 2011.

Tinsel

We shouldn’t be surprised. Not really. It was there in all the old photos. You can see it.   The hollow core. Sure, the lips are stretched into a smile while she was mugging for daddy’s camera, happy balloons surrounding the chair, one fork hovering above a frosted cake, but there, at the corner of her mouth, where the cheek and grin meet, it’s perfectly visible. Not in the early shots, of course. But a dozen chocolate icings later, you can see it, if you look.

What do you mean you never looked? Or do you mean you look and turn away? Because you can’t bear it?   Or are you just taken in by the Anne Hathaway dresses, all velvety and sweet? We never had those. Sure, she was spoiled, but that doesn’t change anything.

We both know that things were easier by the time she came along. I mean financially easier. Papa working at the bank, his own secretary, Momma with that little fur she kept in a vault at Beidermeyer’s, and her hair set each week at that beauty parlor down town. They could afford a new baby by then. And Momma and Papa loved her to pieces. Momma said she was a gift. A late season baby.

I have to say that I was crazy about her from the minute Momma brought her home, dusty with talcum powder, before they knew that talc was bad for babies. Her neck smelled sweet like corn. “This is my new sister,” I told my high school friends. You were already in college. Wagging tongues thought she might have been yours. Or mine. I was sixteen, virginal and unpopular, but you had that gorgeous red hair. People thought you were wild.

Sometimes I wonder why Jarvis Maple picked her. Of all of us. Why her?   If we look at all three of us objectively, it’s clear that you were the prettiest. She was second. And I was third. That’s all there is to it. But he picked her. He had been around all through our childhoods, right? There’s that photo of you, maybe three years old, sitting on his lap. And then another one of me, at the same age. He’s wearing a three-piece suit, a crisp white shirt. My chubby arm is resting on his cuff.   Remember the Easter candy he would bring, sometimes those decorated eggs with a hole cut out, little bunny scenes on the inside? He was there for every holiday. We called him Uncle, but he was no blood relation. Never married. He was one of the bank officers. Vice-President or something. Papa always said he owed his job, and so much more, to Mr. Maple.

So you think it’s because she was docile? That’s ridiculous. How can you say that? She was as spunky as either of us. Maybe more so. You’ve forgotten now, what she was like before. You’ve forgotten how she could stamp her foot. Or refuse to wear hair ribbons to church. She must have been six or seven. We were both out of the house by then. But I remember seeing her connive for a later bedtime, or argue for adopting another cat. I must have been home for Christmas, and I remember thinking that no one was ever going to push her around.

Sometimes I think about Jarvis Maple. It’s a good thing he’s dead. Because I would like to personally scorch his scrotum with a cigarette lighter. Or make julienne slices out of his dick with a kitchen knife.

Don’t tell me not to say things like that, for god’s sake. I’ll say whatever I goddamn feel like.

No, I don’t feel better. How can I feel better? Take a picture of her now, goddamnit. You’ll see.

What do you mean, calm down?   Ever since it all came spilling out, I can’t get it out of my mind. That goddamn Uncle. All the goddamn so-called uncles, everywhere. I start thinking about it, and that’s when I want to reach for a large, sharp instrument. The kind you might use to shuck oysters. But then I realize that Jarvis Maple is already dead. Heart attack a few years back. All the bank people at the funeral. Papa in a black suit, praying, probably, for Mr. Maple’s eternal rest.

Neither he nor Momma ever knew what happened. All those trips to the circus, the state fair. Our little sister in her Anne Hathaway dress. That goddamn son of a bitch.

So we’re the only ones who know. And we don’t really know.

I saw her the other day. She’s bat shit crazy. She’s breathing and living, but her eyes are dead. And she used to smell like talcum and sweet corn. And there were balloons and glitter and tinsel and sparkly things, and those little Easter eggs. Remember?

I was delighted to be published in Room Magazine, a Canadian publication with a great reputation. “Garbled” appear in their issue on sibling relationships in 2011

http://www.roommagazine.com/issues/siblings

Garbled

She tries to forgive the sister

who slapped her by omission

when the others were invited up

that long hot weekend

flies buzzing over the potato salad

the badminton net sagging

everyone sitting on the old webbed garden chairs

or squeezed together on the garden glider

chewing the family fat, succulent as pork,

while she was left behind like a child’s sock

under the bed.

She tries to forgive but instead

swallows her pain,

sucks on it for years

like a hard candy

and finally lets it lodge in her throat

so whenever she speaks

her voice sounds bumpy

and bruised and no one

can really understand

much of what she says

I love New Haven….it’s an amazing city. Historic, cultural, sometimes gritty, filled with talented people. This is my winning ode to my adopted town. “This Haven” appeared in the New Haven Review

thThis Haven

Back when the river was lush with oyster,

long before the Hector rounded the point,

the first tribes understood the sanctity of promise.

Through season and tide, through harvest and flood,

who knows how many oaths have been sworn or shattered

between the red rocks of this land?

Think of the Sachem giving his nod,

scratching his mark on the line next to Eaton’s,

expecting that strangers would honor their word.

Think of a colony anchored at the Meeting House,

planting its hopes on nine new squares,

trusting that the Maker would always provide.

Here, to this haven, dredged deep by courage,

came scholar and merchant, mutineer and protector.

Here, to this sanctuary, carved rich by immigrant,

came artisan and craftsman, inventor and muse.

In time, the fame of the village rippled beyond harbor.

In time, a city grew, mosaic-shaped and celebrated.

Who knows, tomorrow, what promises will be seeded

in this still new shelter

where each generation’s covenant lies entwined with the next,

broken and frayed, perfected and whole?

Continue reading I love New Haven….it’s an amazing city. Historic, cultural, sometimes gritty, filled with talented people. This is my winning ode to my adopted town. “This Haven” appeared in the New Haven Review

This poem is for sensitive men everywhere. Gendered Chrysalis appeared in Calliope, the official magazine of the Mensa association in Winter, 2010.

Winter 2011- Issue 130http://calliopeontheweb.orgHPIM0078

Gendered Chrysalis

Long before he understood much, he sensed

that when he slid out from the dark folds

of his mother’s body,

weewee unfurling like a flag,

everyone saluted his boyness.

Long before he understood much, he feared

fists and headlocks, the lunging towards his solar plexus,

all the noisy dares that defined the bullies on the playground.

Long before he understood much, he saw

that the tough ones followed siren songs into manhood,

speeding cars, war drums, drunken brawls,

the whole fire truck of adolescence

too loud for comfort.

Long before he understood much, he knew

he belonged

to those who were constantly listening,

ready to take in the fragile mewing of a small

cat under the porch, ready to marvel at the harmonics

of rain on the galvanized roof.

Long before he understood much, he reveled

in the gentle flute, the piano without pedals.

His first love was a short, gentle

sonata, tender, and never forgotten.

His second was a woman with a voice

clear as water.

Trusting his instincts, confiding

only in softer souls,

he grew into a man blessed with

perfect pitch and quiet hobbies,

still a man.

The perfect gift for anybody with a grandmother…..or who is a grandmother. ” Dear Nana” Edited by RoMcbyn Gee, available on Amazon etc. etc. My contribution is entitled “Loose Seams”.

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