Tag Archives: dogs

War, a very short story

illustration war very short story cats and dogs illustration war very short story cat and dog backwards

The woman thought of God a hundred times a day. A thousand. An infinite number of times. Consciousness on the quantum level. And each day, she grew unhappier. More discouraged. Bleaker. Uglier. Sadder. More uncertain. In the trenches. Wanting to know for sure, and be done with it. The big picture… could anyone see it… could anyone imagine it… could she, or anyone she knew, ever have a clue to its subject… its matter. Most people seem strong until something goes wrong. Could time really heal?

Her belly grew heavy and cold, a dizzying pit of endless space. Would she ever be able to see it through to the end? Where was the end? When was it reasonable to stop trying. When was it the right time to stop trying… too hard. Where were people when you needed them. Bullets never did any body any good. The first human-killing weapons led to more, and more deadly, machinery for war… cannons and tanks and bombers. Land mines. Napalm. Nukes. Propaganda. Poison. Secrecy. It all boiled down into the same rotten thing, in the end.

Terror. The dog barked and barked and yelped and whined and barked some more. He was single-minded; his existence that moment was all about the cat, the cat behind the sofa. She refused to be ruled by terror. She growled and hissed back. She sat just outside his reach and baited him. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it backfired. Sometimes the dog came so close to her, his mouth closed in on the long, silky fluff of her tail. He bore a complex pattern of red scratches on his black and white snout. The man wanted the cat gone in the morning. What if he insisted? The man, or the cat? She preferred the cat tonight. No telling about tomorrow.

 

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Giant Redwoods, a poem

illustration muir woods 2

Giant Redwoods

(Statements in italics taken from Ethics, by Baruch de Spinoza)

Look farther and farther toward thin blue sky, until the green feathery tops of the trees are like the northern pole on some dream planet.  Put the anger back in its bottle. These trees are generous.  Hatred can never be good.

Your carsickness from the ride up the mountain begins to fade, leaving behind a breathless, weepy echo not unlike your first religious fervor.  Hatred is increased through return of hatred, but may be destroyed by love.

When have you not been afraid?  The random can be scrutinized for meaning, the puzzle solved, when surveyed long & carefully enough.  Anything may be accidentally the cause of either hope or fear.

These trees have plenty of time.  As a child, you stared at Jesus’ sad face for hours, wishing you could marry him  — wondering what it was that made him love you.  Could you sacrifice yourself for the sins of the world, if it was that simple & necessary? Cathedrals turn us small and vulnerable again, for reasons both blessed & cursed.  Devotion is love towards an object which astonishes us.

Vague, starry eyes like yours feel at home here; the air is weighty, burdensome & solemn. You’ve loved trees before; this is different.  These trees have plenty of time – more time than you.  If we love a thing which is like ourselves, we endeavor as much as possible to make it love us in return.

Your nerves are suddenly frozen, by the unaccustomed richness of perfect light.  Your guide is tall & slender, hesitant to speak.  Her mother has the tattooed forearm of a Polish Jew of a certain age.  The knowledge of good and evil is nothing but an idea of joy or sorrow.  Sorrow is [a hu]man’s passage from a greater to a less perfection.

These trees have plenty of time.  She touches your wrist, and for a moment, you, too, want to grow taller, leaving the surface of the earth behind forever.  Shyly, she picks up a tiny pinecone, smaller than a toy.  You both laugh when she tells you this is their seed.  Joy is [a hu]man’s passage from a less to a greater perfection.

These trees have plenty of time.  And all around, their wise, fallen, hollow bodies litter the ground like the bones of saints.  Childlike, you understand a wish to die here, never to leave this hush.  They’re only trees – your neck bent back as far as it will go; only trees, yet wondering if the giants can hear your thoughts.  Love is joy, with the accompanying idea of an external cause.  Love and desire may be excessive.  When the mind imagines its own weakness, it necessarily sorrows.

Is there anything we have less power over than our own tongues?  These trees have plenty of time, growing wise as the Buddha, in their silence.

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She Hates Numbers

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my tete a tete with officer charles owens, a nonfiction note

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“What can I do for you, officer?”

“Why are you so hostile?”

He asked for my license and registration and proof of insurance, which I gave him. He walked back to his vehicle and did whatever police officers do, I suppose run my driver’s license number to make sure I wasn’t wanted for some crime or something. And to make sure the vehicle wasn’t stolen, I suppose. And to make sure I had insurance, because that was something else he could have given me a ticket for. I do give Ofc. Owens points for being thorough. Just not any points for being correct.

“I’m giving you a ticket for careless driving.”

“How was my driving careless?”

“I heard your tires squeal.”

“But the road is wet, it has been misting for at least the past hour, maybe two.”

“The road is perfectly dry.” The mist swirled around his head as he spoke those words. I thought to myself, doesn’t he notice it?

“Is this the best use of your valuable law enforcement time? Giving a woman driving home alone at one a.m. in a white Toyota minivan a ticket because you heard her tires squeal on the damp pavement?”

“I smell beer on your breath.”

“Well, I did have one with dinner, about four hours ago, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. I suppose that’s it. Would you like to perform a field sobriety test?”

“No.”

“Would you like to do a breathalyzer?”

“I’d have to call the van. Do you want me to call the van?”

“Sure, let’s have a party! No, that’s okay, you don’t have to call the van.”

Further discussion, about the ramifications of the ticket, etc., how to contest it, etc.

“Oh, you have a dog? What’s his name?”

“Justice.”

“Can I meet him?”

“No.”

“Can I take your photograph?”

“Yes.” I did so. It wasn’t the greatest, as his eyes were closed, but under the circumstances I did not think it wise to ask to take another. Ofc. Owens was clearly having a bad night.

When I first saw Officer Charles Owens, he was sitting inside his police vehicle, parked in the Lloyd Clarke’s parking lot, apparently conferring with another officer in another police vehicle. They were both inside their vehicles, each with the driver’s window rolled down, the vehicles thus facing in opposite directions. I am not certain, but the other officer may have been a female, as it seems I remember seeing a ponytail.

When Ofc. Owens first noticed me, I was turning left on to 13th Street from 16th Avenue. I had been hauling heavy vanloads of farm equipment earlier in the day, from Gainesville to Micanopy, and now my van was empty, and much lighter. After all the farm transportation, I had taken a friend to dinner and then dropped him off at his home and stood in his carport talking with him for half an hour or so, and the entire time I watched mist coming down.

I was very tired, and traveling by myself, back to an empty house, a situation I had not found myself in, in decades. Due to the mist, when I pressed on the accelerator, the wet road caused a slight squeal from my tires. I did not veer from my carefully steered path, I did not speed, nor was there any other car in the intersection, or even anywhere near the intersection. At that hour on a Wednesday, the roads were practically empty.

Officer Owens’ car was the one pointed with its nose facing south, the direction in which I was traveling, so he immediately pulled out of the parking lot and followed me, his lights flashing. I pulled over as soon as I realized it was me he was following, and turned right, on to 10th Avenue.

I was then two blocks or so from home. I rolled down the window of my car after he approached my vehicle, and asked him, in what I thought was my nicest and most cooperative voice, what I could do for him. I was exhausted and getting divorced in two days, but I did my best to be polite.

The first thing he said to me was why was I so “hostile.” I told him I wasn’t feeling hostile in the slightest, but that I was very, very tired and just wanted to get home, and being a female driving across town, alone at 1 a.m., was not something I enjoyed. I was, however, annoyed, because I thought his stopping me was entirely unnecessary and a waste of valuable taxpayer resources.

I started to tell Ofc. Owens a couple of pertinent facts that might have affected his decision-making processes, such as the fact that I was being divorced in two days, by my husband of ten years, after almost dying from a brain tumor the previous April, a tumor which had been wrapped around my optic nerve and the major aorta in my brain and had been in that site for between 17 to 34 years, and had made me feel horrible for at least the prior 5 years. I was getting divorced, as far as I could tell, because my husband preferred me half-dead and didn’t like the fact that I was not in that state anymore, and actually wanted him to get off the couch once in a while.

“I don’t want to hear any of your personal information,” he said as soon as I said my first word on those topics. I complied, and did not insist to be heard.

I live at the corner of 8th Avenue and 15th Street, and I am well aware of the driving skills usually displayed on 13th Street. Careless driving is not what I do. I am an excellent driver, and the only accident on my record was one in which my then-teenaged daughter’s car was parked in the driveway of my home, and a drunken college student plowed into it, and into the tree next to the driveway, and sped off with such haste that the smell of burning rubber could be smelt for hours afterwards.

The insurance company told me that even though my car was unoccupied and parked, I was being charged with an at fault accident because the vehicle was in my name. I was told there was nothing I could do about it. I live in an extremely loud, noisy and “party” neighborhood, which I nonetheless love and tolerate because I like to be in the middle of town. Needless to say, I know the value of the police force and respect what they do highly. However, Ofc. Owens made a bad call. It happens. Everyone makes mistakes. One was made here. I was not driving carelessly. End of story.

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knitting with dog hair, a poem

Knitting with Dog Hair

Image

 A novice at spinning, I pump

with feet cramping in the arches,

toes splayed within stained

suede sandals, wisps of fur

 

tearing off, floating through air

made hot, heavy, hard to breathe;

the spindle twitters under my hand

like a dangerous bird; my nose itches

 

inside; I remember your skin

as I saw it long ago, covered

with a curled, golden down

fine enough to make a baby’s

 

first blanket.  I took this

hobby up as cheap therapy;

combing the dog, rubbing his pink

belly in reward, watching his

 

grateful ears rise, then fall…

Soon I will complete my first

garment — draped gracefully

over the shoulders, gathered

 

at the waist, droopy bell sleeves

in the madrigal fashion.  I shall

strut clothed this way, down your

street, to knock at your door —

 

wanting more, I know, than you

could ever give.  Smart, witty,

you are never at a loss for words,

except when faced with my designs.

 

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