Saturday, November 28, 2020


Erwin McDonall Told Me This Tale

That he hasn't hit anyone since the fourth grade.  But towards the end of their marriage, he got so angry at his wife that he opened the hutch in the dining room, took out her grandmother's porcelain serving tray (the big one, the one you could put a turkey on), and smashed it to bits on the floor.

He had to do this, he said, to demonstrate to her how rotten he felt, in general.

The passionate moment passed, but these many years later the feeling of deepest regret still has not.


A Thought That Continually Haunts Me

Is that it is nearly finished, and therefore I need to put a bow around it.  But the very act of putting a bow around it causes it to ossify and later to collapse.  And the collapse carries with it an undermining of the meaning that has undergirded my life.

I can't find a way out of this conundrum.  I feel as if I am trying to box my way out of a wet paper bag.  Futility sets in.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


6 X 3

Eighteen of us strained at the capstan.  The ship slowly crept forward until the chain was straight vertical.  Or rather I should say 17.  Jacky O'Rourke, at my right hand, was a master shirker.  I could even see the veins rising on his left hand next to mine, but he wasn't really doing any work.

The ship seemed to bow its head a bit, but more than that was impossible, its displacement set in stone.  And then the chain snapped violently on the foredeck, and lashed poor Jacky in the throat.  He begged me for water, lying on his back, and then perished.

When we took to the capstan the mate had us already under tops'ls aback and the spanker, and we were under way in less than a full minute.  We left the starboard bower hooked under a boulder, and we left Jacky in President Roads, in 25 fathoms, weighed down with pieces of the anchor chain so that no one would have to watch the gulls circling over him.

Monday, November 16, 2020


In the wind there were voices that were muffled and conspiratorial.

Saturday, November 14, 2020


Thanksgiving 2020

The old vows really were the best, precisely because of their impossibility.  A public profession of ultimate faith with the seeds of betrayal already stirring within.

Sympathy and tenderness two fragile flowers, buried and trampled in the first snow of that harsh winter.

I dreamed of perennials, held in an outstretched hand.  Outstretched in the end to someone who could not be me.

Friday, November 13, 2020


It is Civil War times.  I am at a party, in uniform.  I am eager to court a young lady who is there.  There is a verbal dust-up with a rival for her affections.  I hide a dead scorpion in his book before I leave.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


In an election year, the original meaning of the word is forgotten; the metaphorical meaning has buried it.

This feels like the realization of my recurring childhood dream, the one in which we are racing through the Sumner Tunnel under Boston Harbor, with the tunnel collapsing behind us, and filthy seawater cresting and crashing just a few car lengths behind, matching the Buick's pace perfectly.   We will only survive if my father continues to grip the wheel, hell-bent and bug-eyed.