And Then He Just Wonders

In his former life, his wife

used to tell him that he didn’t know her

at all. He knew enough to

know that was a line she used regularly

when she wanted to hurt him

a little, usually during an argument, but

sometimes it came out of the

blue. In those times, he didn’t know if it

were her way of asking for

understanding, making a declarative state-

ment of her desire ever and

always to be thought of as unique and not

ordinary as she was often

given to say or just making a terse statement

of judgment also intended,

in those, out-of-the-blue cases, to hurt him a

little more deeply. He knew she was

an introvert and he was an extrovert, so, ob-

viously, she was onto

something; but not at all? Actually, he had

a hunch he knew her better

than she ever wanted him to and it was that,

which she protested. How

much do we ever know another, the cliché

asks. He and his sister are

genetically about 99% the same. They are

extroverts and when he

thinks about it, he, grudgingly, concedes that

they are a lot alike, but

still, he wonders how much he knows her in

the inner folds of her thoughts,

feelings, fears, hopes, habits, habits leaning

toward addictions but always

just stopping short and then he wonders about

himself and then he just wonders.

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A Sculptor of Steel

He ekes out a living

in Northern

Michigan

for himself and

his three, young kids

with hands taught

by his blue collar,

welder turned artist

father

of the same

name.

He took that

training and cuts,

torch-

es and fabricates

inverted

windchimes –

tall leaves and cat

tails from along

the lake, where

he fishes so

much

that it could have

had his family

name,

blowing in

the wind

and singing

“Steel

is the Real Deal,”

a phrase that

rhymes

with his last

name,

while he hopes for

some modest, artistic

fame

he takes

the kids fishing at

the lake that one

day might bear the

family

name.

 

The Esteemed Dr. Tuck

The young, wet-behind-the-ears, newly ordained

campus minister, with his master’s under his arm

so neatly tucked

 

sat with faculty in the lounge and a member of the

religion department proclaimed dismissively in front

of all in tone amok

 

that no one with less than a Ph.D. could ever minister

to him. Later that summer, that good professor who’s

last name was Tuck

 

was scheduled to preach at a church in town. No one

caught the typo until they started handing out the bulletins.

The “T” for Tuck

 

inadvertently, perhaps “Freudantly” became an “F,” and

the esteemed Dr. Tuck became just another

f….,

 

had his karmic comeuppance, fled from the pulpit,

ran to the bathroom, knelt before the throne and promptly

up-chucked.

The State of Communication Today

A man was about to drive out of a convenience store

parking lot when he saw the truck driver emerge from

 

his cab across the street and look both ways waiting

for the opportunity to dash across and deliver a pack-

 

age. The man needed to turn left and it would be into

the driver’s path and so he shouted, “I’ll wait till you get

 

across before I go.” The driver, reaching the other side,

looked back at the man as he drove left onto the road

 

and shouted, “What did you say to me?” in a confront-

ational, belligerent way. The man repeated what he said

 

and the driver turning on his heels, simply said, “Oh.”

Is It an Uzi, Daddy?

“Is it an Uzi, Daddy?” asked

the nine-year-old.

“No, Darlin’, it’s just a really big lolli-

pop,

lollipop, ooh, lolli, lolli, lolli,

lollipop,

pop, pop…POP,”

he sang handing her the WMD,

and the instructor

just popped into eternity

as she held the trigger down

and the little girl will see blood

popping from

lollipops for as long as she lives,

assuming she gets help and

lives on for a while,

though doubtfully, or

maybe just until the NRA

bleeds out and

gives up the ghost, but we all know,

mercifully,

Jesus will return before then.

Why Do We Continue To Get Those Shows?

“So, why do we continue to get those shows?” my wife asked. Most of the shows that won the coveted award were comedies and romances and a very few, very violent shows and they were mostly black humor parody. So why do we continue to get them – the violent ones, the shoot ‘em ups, blood splattered, dismembered, burned up body parts laid out on slabs in the morgue, ones that throw blood and guts and brain matter all over our great room? Where is the subtle Miss Marple when you need her with a murder stage left, off camera or Hercule Poirot’s perfect perfectionism and little gray cells in finding the culprit without the gory details out there for everybody and God to see? The good rabbi of family systems theory was right when he told us long ago at the conference to go back to our rooms and watch the evening news. He said it was geared to scare the be-Jesus or the be-Moses out of us to keep us coming back and watching, all for the rating’s war later in the year. Can’t deal with the real, rapid, reality of what is going on in the world (Obama’s rapidly graying hair aside), we get our fix and have vicarious reality and horror intended to scare our pants off, hopefully after we vacate our bowels and wipe with one of those new, soft, moist, flushable wipes (advertised on T.V. by a nice looking woman who sits at a table and tells her table mate that he should finish off the job with one of them presumably because they get the bum really clean and I couldn’t help picturing her really clean bum) because we were scared shitless as intended, all the while, so the media could make a buck or two or three or a gazillion.

Half a World Away

His gorgeous wife

slipped while skiing

a green slope,

bumped the back

of her head

on somewhat

compacted snow

and died.

Two years later

he started appearing

in super violent,

super hero

movies where

he kills all

the bad guys

and saves the

day in a way

he couldn’t save

his wife who

only bumped

her head while

he was on

the set of

a romantic

comedy

half a world

away.

 

An Awkward Moment

A seventy-year-old author handed a copy of his book

as a gift to a seventy-year-old buddy.

The friend saw the photo on the back cover and joked

that the woman in the photo was

aging better than the author who stood beside her in the photo.

The author said that the woman was

his daughter, and in that instant, the author wondered if his buddy

thought that was his late wife.

The two men stood in the infinity of awkward silence and then joked

their way out of the never-to-be-

spoken-of moment. Later, the author wondered if his friend had lapsed

into fleeting forgetfulness and

saw the woman who definitely would look better than the author, if

only because she stopped aging at forty-nine.

John

John had more natural athletic talent than

any three particularly good athletes combined.

 

When he dove in and sprinted in free style

across the pool it seemed he barely touched

 

the water flying low and dipping in hands

and feet when necessary for leverage and

 

torque and all that aside, he was a really

courteous kid, too. His emaciated father

 

and mostly apologetic mother sat in the

bleachers for every event of every meet,

 

dad keeping score and mom seemingly

thinking of something for which she

 

should be embarrassed and sorry. He

graduated as an All-American many

 

times, and years later his alcoholic father

and apologetic mother died and long

 

after being seen surfing in Lake Michigan

and looking really buff, he drank himself

 

silly and descended to the bottom of the

pool bottle in hand directly into hospice

 

care and died at the young and tender

age of forty-three from cancer, brought

 

on by the bottle, which he carried with him

right through the door of hospice house,

 

which mercifully let him keep the bottle,

which he hugged close to his once powerful chest.

 

They Walked Along the Grassy Hill

They walked with their Chocolate Lab

along the top of the grassy hill along-

side the channel leading to Lake Mich-

igan on a summer’s Sunday afternoon.

 

They observed people sitting on

lawn chairs and on blankets watching

the boats coming and going. He saw

Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon

 

on the Island of La Grande Jatte and,

for some reason, started to hum quietly

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition,

a triumphant piece testifying to the in-

 

dominability of the human spirit, not unlike

Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man,

as they sat at a picnic table with a fellow

from California and one from Tennessee

 

who worked temporarily for the same

company in the area and who had spent

the God-awful winter of 2013-14 right there.

He handed his Chocolate Lab a small piece

 

of the Pronto Pub, a hotdog on a stick cover-

ed with a razor-thin coating of flour. The

fellows excused themselves to go find their

boss and the Chocolate Lab begged for more.