Unanswered Prayer

Unanswered Prayer

When i was a boy Mother insisted I attend Church each Sunday, though she never once stepped through the door. 

I occupied a pew beside my sisters, and thought about baseball, rocks, golf, fishing, and just about anything else but our Lord and Savior. 

One fine morn there was a special feature—a woman came from afar to play glorious music on her harp for all to hear. 

Wait a minute, I thought. Harp is a light Irish beer, and I'd much rather have a cold glass 
of it right now than her and that danged harp.

No Chance Encounter, This

No Chance Encounter, This

The hall seethed.
Movement.
Noise,
Teenagers herded
between classes.

He stepped in front of me,
an adult out of place,
white shirt and tie.

Like me, he had two eyes,
but one,
rigid,
stared sightless
over my shoulder.

His good eye,
working for two,
eyed mine.

He minced no words.
“I hear you can write.”

He might as well
have accused
me of breathing.

We all had been taught
The ancient symbols of
the alphabet—

the letters,
their shape,
their sounds,
the possible combinations.

We’d learned together—
 
See Jane run.
See Spot jump.
See Bob climb.

Ten years had passed
in the turning of a page—

Nouns. Verbs. Adjectives. 
Sentences. Paragraphs.
 
We all could write.

I’d told no one
I treasured the books.
 
Only Mother knew.
 
She’d confiscated
the flashlight
more than once.

“My name is O’Sammon,” he said.
“I teach the journalism elective.”
“I’d like you to sign up.”
“I think you’ll be good at it.”
 
He’d singled me out of the herd.
 
Someone had ratted me out.
 
I did.
I was.
 
A one-eyed teacher made all the difference.
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Unmerited Finery

Unmerited Finery

She said, "Open wide."
I did.
She said, "Close down."
I did.

Even though I'm barely
the commoner,

more so 
peasant or serf,

she treated me
as Royalty,

placing a crown on
an exhausted molar.

"Thank you," I said,
and hurried home to

Buckinghorse Palace

lest

I be found out.

A Modest Request

A Modest Request

When I grow old and weary,
legs all atremble,
unable to walk far,

and my garden—

oh, the delightful colors,
the delicate shapes,
the delicious scents—

when my garden 

is too far to see,

then please,

if you will,

please bring my garden

to me.
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Bits and Pieces

Bits and Pieces

What do you do for a living? she asked.
Not the most common of greetings.
She sipped gin.

I write.
Your lipstick is one octave too red, he thought.
He hesitated.

And what is it, you write of?
Memories, observations.
Bits and pieces of my life.

She coaxed him along.
Does the writer have a name?
A nearby kitchen belched food prep noises.

Khyber. Spelled the same as the pass.
He remembered Rick Nelson at a garden party.
Took a swig of cold beer.

She brought him back.
What pass would that be?
Music and laughter sidled by.

My father was a mountaineer.
Khyber Pass slices through mountains in Pakistan.
One of the most dangerous places on earth.

Her lips went flat, scooped up a rivulet of alcohol.
Have you written anything I might have read?
Bits and pieces of your life perhaps?

I've not been published, he admitted.
It's a slow process.
He handed his empty bottle to a passing waiter.

The waiter paused. Care for another?
Indeed, Khyber said.
Indeed, she mimicked, handing over her glass.

Is it so difficult to be published? she asked.
She shifted her eyes downward, as if calculating.
Her eyelashes cast long shadows.

For me it seems to be.
It helps if you're famous. I'm not. Obscure actually.
He drank, filling his mouth with cold beer.

She rested her fingertips on his bare wrist.
Are you connected to the bride or the groom?
Her neckline drew his gaze. Tantalized.

He smiled, revealing a boyish grin.
The bride is my step-sister.
Dad died in an avalanche. Mom remarried.

Her eyes challenged him.
She was my college roommate. A long time ago.
My name is Ann. Spell it anyway you like, Khyber.
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