the stone cutter

       Sister Somna was waiting for him at the gate. Even though agitated, she said nothing, never did, and flapped her hands for him to follow her to the stables. Jones leaned out of his stall with his ears laid back and lip curling at the sight of the man. Any man.  A black, cross-eyed goat sat on its haunches, leaning against the stall door. It hissed at him. Then, from all corners of the yard, Coupe and the little nun were ambushed by a large flock of chickens demanding to be fed. The quarry had delivered the stone that morning. The driver was a superstitious lout and couldn't stop gawking at the black nuns robed in white. It astonished him that the black coffee of their skin didn't seep into the stark white wraps they favored. His father had told him that Catholics were devil worshipers in disguise and he had once been a policeman, so there. The goat clinched it for him. He hastily rolled and shoved the blocks of marble down the wooded ramp that was padded in layers of b


  There is little to know. It’s dark and I’m thirsty. It’s quiet. A soft, steady wind coming and going from  different points of my compass. I’m floating on my back in water as warm as the air. It moves like the sea,  lifting me closer to stars I don’t recognize. Lowering me down like it’s a living, breathing thing I’m inside of.  Pain comes with those fake stars, stays too long, and wears out its welcome. If I think about place, position,  or perspective, I get dizzy-sick, so I try not to think ‘there’ or ‘where’. At least pain is an anchor. There’s touch and smell. Kind, caring strangers peck at me, busy but gentle, all sharp with antiseptic over sweat. A woman who smelled like fresh dirt and green things held her hands to my face and bargained with strange gods. Another touched my hands, my hair over and over. She smelled like a party. I’m washed, dried, stabbed, dressed, undressed, stabbed. Repeat and again. Then he comes, holds my hand. A life force, a dragon. Steel, flesh, and fi

Magical Realism

 I've had the devil's own time figuring out how to market Prophets Tango and to whom. When I was filling out the categories offered by KDP, the reflex, without a lot of options, was Paranormal Romance. I've given readers a pretty comprehensive synopsis to keep away the people who went to that category looking for vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, and other deviant shit like Tentacle Romances and Sex with Dinosaurs.  Yeah, I'm judging. That is some fucked up stuff and they should look into therapy.  Anyway, those who have read the entire serial know that something else is going on. I just wasn't sure what to call it. I had heard the term "magical realism" before and the only context I had was "One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which I read years ago and liked.  Now, add to that "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie, "The House of Spirits" by Isabel Allende, and "Beloved" by Tomi Morrison. So


  Starting at dawn to beat the heat got them to lunch by ten-thirty. They lounged on the crude temporary front steps, ate sandwiches from paper sacks, drank Gatorade or beer, and smoked. Gabe tipped his head back, looked up the front of the still-skeletal structure, and asked, “How are you with heights?” Jack shrugged. “Spent half my life on rooftops. Why?” Gabe looked skyward again. “Good, ‘cause way up there on the third level, this layout has a row of clerestory windows. If Ray had his way, we’d be working off ladders, but I’m gonna break his balls to rent some scaffolding.”  He pronounced it ‘clear story’ and Jack was thrown. He knew what they were, but just last night he heard it pronounced clair-RES-tory by a guy he’d stabbed and thrown off a moving train. “What did you call them?” Gabe repeated, “clerestories. Big, fixed-pane fuckers. Heavy as shit. Expensive.” Jack dragged his tongue along the new sharp edge on his lateral incisor. “Just another day at the office. Clear stories

Jack gets a medal.

  Jack knew little of his mother and less than nothing about his father. The dark green sweater with the name tag “Bridget” could have been borrowed. Or stolen. The rest of her clothing, a shapeless house dress, and worn-out Keds, were shabby. She was probably Catholic, given where she was when Jack’s birth overtook her. Sister Agatha would describe her to him just once. Once was all Jack would need. “Tell me about my mother.” Sister Agatha sat across from Jack at the chipped, enamel-topped table in the convent kitchen. Jack, perched on the step stool in his pajamas, was eye to eye with her over a glass of milk and a peanut butter jelly sandwich she’d slapped together for him. He was just seven; the so-called Age of Reason, with an appetite that had no off switch. He was the worst student with the best grades in Holy Spirit's third grade. Ag taught reading and writing and she knew Jack’s apparent brilliance was some kind of trick he was playing on all of them, but it was played

writers rituals

                      She was not accustomed to driving in commuter traffic which made her a menace. While everyone else was rolling on autopilot, she had a death grip on the wheel and was riding the brake, hanging back from the car in front of her. Being stoned did not help the situation. It was cold and the car's heater was mocking her, blowing cold air in her face, or was that the AC? The controls made no sense.  He was slouched down in the passenger seat, ankle crossed over a knee, foot keeping time with the music from the cassette player, oblivious of her jitters.   Traffic slowed to a crawl then stopped, and she started groping in the depths of her bag. “What are you looking for?” “Lip gloss. My lips are chapped.” “C’mere. He put his hand around the back of her neck, pulled her toward him like he was adjusting a lampshade, and planted a firm kiss on her mouth.  “There. You got the last of it.” His mouth, and now hers, were slicked with something faintly greasy and medicinal.

Pillow Talk

  The phone rang four times before I was able to grope the handset out of the cradle. Groggy and hoarse, a muffled “Lo?” was as much as I could offer, my head still on the pillow.   “Is Kitty there?”   I heard the door of a phonebooth screech a few inches and thud shut. I needed to hear his voice again. Immediately. “Who did you want?”   “Kitty. I don't know her last name. We met at the Hi-Lo the other night.”   “Hmmm. The Hi-Lo, huh? She gave you my number?”   “914-232-5646?” He was off by one. Close. So close. The acoustics of the phonebooth was intimate. His voice was like melted butter and dark syrup swirled together. Salty, sweet, smoothly overwhelming.   “No. No kitty here. Just me.”   I yawned. If I could purr, I would have.   “So what number is this?”   “And why would I give you my number if you weren't looking for me in the first place? I snuggled deeper into the warmth of my nest. “Hmmn?”   “Solid point but can I have some slack cause I’m gla