Hotel Charlie

On the first full blazing-blue sky day of spring you stop by her office at the university’s Humanities Center, where, as well as teaching writing at the local community college in the neighboring town—where you also teach—she works as a secretary. The Humanities Center, its red brick exterior fringed with ivy, you call Hotel Charlie, a holdover from the phonetic alphabet you use when talking on the radio during your

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Iron

He’s here because Lily asked him to come. Just as he goes to the plays, the recitals, the “holiday” pageants that are really Christmas shows with one or two Hanukah songs, the gymnastics “meets” where kid do “routines” which consist of rolling around on the mats for a few minutes and then lining up for photographs which are available for purchase at twenty bucks a print. He has three or four of them, plus the ones he gets at

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Alongside the Pool

Based on the movement of stars and planets in the galactic realm, the Hindu priest had set their mother’s death anniversary for tomorrow at the Livermore temple just east of San Francisco. The three sisters were all spending the weekend at Tej’s house. The last time the siblings had been together, they’d watched their mother dissolving under white sheets and morphine infusions.

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Moving Parts

A week and a half ago, this place had been a hub, a veritable mart of commerce, a rainbow soap bubble of bargain-hunting consumers. Now in the post-Christmas void of aisle after desolate aisle, out of whatever ambience the house sound system was chasing—old hit parade stuff, “one toke over the line, Sweet Jesus,” or “Proud Mary keep on turning, churning, burning”—one of those, I could hear him coming before I ever saw him.

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Pastoral

I sit drinking coffee at the kitchen table looking out the back window over the pasture, all the way to the fence where our land ends. I see our sycamore tree is starting to bloom and block out part of the neighbor’s junk pile. I look over the pasture, scanning from the big cedar in the middle, standing in front of a bigger pin oak, to the left—past the run-in, fenced paddock and honeysuckle, back over to

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ENTL, THE BIRL

If you understand who and what I am, it may bring you closer to believing in your heart that everyone, including you, dances up and down a scale of chromosomes that determine gender preference. On one end is Shirley Temple with ringlets; on the other is Rocky Balboa boxing. In the middle, Prince. I’m a girl with a fierce heart who wants no surgery or hormones to be a man. With all the mishegoss swirling around about who goes in what bathrooms—forget about it.

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Fluke

She stood at the edge of the path, watching the field. She tried to stay out of the way of walkers and joggers. She was conscious about that now. She didn’t care what she looked like, but she didn’t want to be in the way.

She still didn’t care about a lot of things that had used to seem important. Apparently she would again one day. That’s what people in the group said. It was hard to believe. Right now, she felt this would be the rest of her life. Numb.

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Existential Futility

Guys like Bernie Fuller who are intellectuals like baseball a lot more than other sports. Bernie says it’s the poet’s game. He says that you can find whole sections of books like the Baseball Encyclopedia full of witty things that baseball people, and not just Yogi, have said. Not so with football or basketball. Not so at all. He says many great writers have written stories about baseball but hardly any about football or basketball.

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