So the doctor lied, get over it. Stop whining, blaming. It’s YOUR body that’s killing you, nobody else’s fault.
Maybe he’s imperfect, this doctor, gave you the wrong drug, didn’t get you into a clinical trial, could have found something if he’d looked harder or at all. Big deal. Everybody’s imperfect.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Do you have a medical degree, eight years of residency? Then don’t second guess. Do as you are told and hope for the best.
You don’t pay half your salary for insurance, due to people who won’t accept responsibility. People like you.
Think you can do better? Good luck, but your time is limited. Better hope they take your insurance. They won’t.
I’m only looking out for you here, ignoring your disloyalty because I like you.
You’re one of my best customers. And I know you’re confused, don’t realize what you are saying.
Now stop fretting, take your medicine, do as I say. Be a mensch and die before six. I have a dinner.
You are unseemly.
There is no room for unseemly things in my world.
You do not exist in my world.
You exist in this world.
It is not my world, and is unseemly.
My world must be seemly.
If you were to enter my world it would become unseemly.
I must remove you from the unseemly world.
Then my world will remain seemly.
There is a hidden art, newest of the new, hippest of the hip. There are no places you can see it, no artists who can make it or, if made, none who can keep it. Found art is so passe. The new thing is Lost art, and my collection is vast.
I see a world of broken dreams, mangled forms they failed to take, gadflies on a soul not mine, insouciant songs, dabbled in colors they never knew.
This unmoving maelstrom no seed of hope can hope to pierce. Fly elsewhere perfidious pollen, seek not to sully this confection with the grating melody of youth.
Why do I inveigh against a cast too great, an everchanging litany of misnamed misdeeds, clever devices of artless authors, unoriginal not ineffective.
The parade is distant touching me, but not upon me. Disgust alone breeds no tears, a quiescent enigma.
Why must I watch, moved unmoving, a relic of morality, another’s hysteric, sounding the hours til morn in somber peals of silence.
There are four warnings which must be given to any man, that he may pass through this life unscathed.
What? How would I know what they are. Do I look unscathed? Are you saying my father was smarter than me, possessed this critical wisdom but neglected to pass it on? That’s insulting; I probably should scathe you.
When eating a tangerine, there may still be seeds, but they are small and can only break your teeth if you too are small. That is the reason you should decide to be big.
I’ll admit it, I don’t like your face. I may rearrange it. Do you think my dad is a pervert, the type of freak who puts his hands on little kids’ heads, teaches them things?
If you fall backward, you won’t see where you land. It is not likely that the person in whose arms you end up is the person for you. Best to fall forward and know whom you are falling for. Breaking your nose is a small price.
Do you always go around insulting the people who hate you? There are so many of us, where do you find the time. My dad was one. He hated you. He told me so. He said I should hurt you if ever I can.
We all want a child who is like us, so it is best to have yourself as a child. There is no law which prevents this, so if it does not happen that must be your fault.
You look like a no-can-do kind of guy, the sort who picks fights with people by not picking fights with them. Well, I’m itching for a can-do fight with a no-can-do sort.
If you are called upon to perform a blind taste test, it is best to lie. One or the other will be insulted, and you never should insult a large corporation. They are bigger than you and hate losing. Instead say that you love them both equally and unconditionally and have no taste.
Why would my dad tell you these things, but not me? He loved me, nurtured me, ate my brothers. Why would he do that but not tell me how to live my life? Why would I tell my dad these things instead of me. You’d think you already would know better and have told me them first.
There is something not right about the house. It is too tall or too thin or the walls are at improbable angles.
Nothing seems as it should, and nobody who enters is ever seen leaving.
You can hear them go in, then a cry, some clattering, a groan. Silence.
The neighbors say the house always was there. Some say the Germans built it, some the English.
You never can tell whether people really vanished. Maybe they left by an attic, or a basement.
Perhaps there is a back door and they rejoined the crowd in front, pretending dismay at their own disappearance.
I believe each of us will enter the house one day. It is possible that some of us already have, but do not remember.
I was mistaken, that is not a crowd in front. It is a queue, and I am next.
Tick Tock says the clock. Tock Tick say the sick.
Turn back your hands, they beg in vain. They are digging your graves, it laughs insane.
We’ll smash your dial, they threaten meekly. I have another, it chortles obscenely.
Tick Tock says the clock. Nobody hears or speaks.
Does the silent man have nothing to say or is he tired of speaking truth to the wind?
It is puzzling there are so many, each shouting fragmented thought. Is it unthinkable to think?
Countless shadows cross, merge into impossible and obscene shapes. Where does one begin and the other end, how does one find oneself in such a mess?
Shadows once stood apart, sentinels of solitude and the undemarcated loss of time.
Is the shadow of a shadow truth? Perhaps it casts an object or is bound to some profane idempotence.
It may be that the shadows of shadows are other than things. Or perhaps they are not meant to be seen, the penumbra of things better forgotten, or things which never were. The absence of absence is not presence.
It is telling that a shadow has no bound, in maturity its potency without measure. No form contains such potential, this only shadow can achieve.
Even as it fades, a haze of dissolution, shadow mocks us. I am infinite for a moment, it laughs, but you … you will be for many moments, small and weak. Do you not envy me?
The shadow is haughty, but not grasping. It is wiser than we. One could easily confound parent with progeny. Foolish father, it says, will you never grow down?
It may seem that shadow is the little that passes through us, lessened by what we take, tasted and discarded. How very wrong.
It is defined by the light we did not block, what we could not consume, all the being and essence we could not comprehend. This is no small thing. How much greater than us shadow must be.
The light burns twice as bright, the unlight unburns even stronger. There is a difference between eternity and a heartbeat, man and his gods, however equal they may seem in the moment.
Light mesmerizes and charms, shadow dances at its behest. Only when the light fades, do we see that all the world is made of shadow, that shadow broke off the smallest piece of itself to give us some light.
There was a bitter old woman who scowled at me in passing.
What cause do you have to be bitter? I asked her. It seems unfair to be bitter without a cause.
Do I now need a reason to be bitter? Who are you to demand this of me?
It is wrong to scowl at passerby, I insisted. I know this because I am a passerby and you scowled at me.
A child presumes to lecture me, she laughed. That is why I am bitter.
I smiled. You are laughing, so you must not be so bitter after all.
No, I am twice as bitter now because you made a bitter old woman laugh.
When you are at home in the ordinary chaos of things coming and going, it is easy to ignore a fly. This can be a mistake.
There are flies, and there are flies. Pay close attention to the shape of the wings, the striations, the abdominal patina. These may be the give-away, the sign that this fly, out of billions, is a killer. It is the anathema, the 1943 copper penny, the brown recluse.
This does not mean it necessarily will go out of its way to kill you. It may be busy or lazy or simply not in the mood. It may bide its time until your child is asleep or it may decide you altogether unworthy of the effort. Then again, it may not.
You won’t know you are dead until some time has passed. This fly looks almost identical to any other and seems innocuous. Perhaps if you hadn’t shooed it or tried to swat it or made eye contact or failed to offer it a lucrative compensation package it simply would have gone away. But it did not, and the fault probably is yours.
Of course, you may not have recognized the fly, thought it ordinary, harmless. That is no excuse. If anything, it is insulting.
There are 230 visual characteristics that can be used to identify a fly. Killer and ordinary flies differ in only one of these, and nobody is sure which. Even the most renowned expert has little chance of telling. But perhaps you can do better, since you care, since you’re the one who will die.
There’s no certainty, only statistics. Find a way to bend these in your favor and perhaps you will live another day. Avoid the fly, run from it. Sometimes ignoring it can help; if there is no such thing it cannot hurt you.
Why should there be this fly? It has no right to exist, to threaten you and your child! But it does, and if you encounter it perhaps you can seduce it, persuade it to find somebody else – somebody less important, somebody less you (or your child). This rarely works, or perhaps you are that somebody else.
The sad truth remains: the fly is out there, unrelenting, buzzing, waiting. You must accept that it will kill you. If it is indeed a killer. Does it want your death or just some sugar?
Once the fly has bitten you, you will die. The fatality rate is 100%. Sometimes it is quick and painless, other times it can last for decades, culminating in one of many lingering, debilitating conditions. The symptoms are indistinguishable from ordinary illness, it is probably best not to bother with a doctor.
Save your money for a quality tomb. Finding a good place to spend eternity is difficult. Do you think there is room left in heaven or hell? Real estate is in high demand, you’ll likely end up stuck in your grave. Be certain it’s a nice one. Most important, make sure there are no holes, or a fly may get in.
This is a memorial poem for my friend and mentor, Diana Festa. It appears in the 2011 edition of Mobius (only available in print).
Diana hosted a poetry group that I and a number of friends attended. Her encouragement, guidance, and cooking all were unsurpassed. In a world filled with selfishness, she was a rare island of kindness. Unfortunately she recently passed away, leaving the world a poorer place.
This is a poem of mine that was published in Caveat Lector.
Back in 2007, I started an Ezine with a few fellow writers. But then the literary powers that be realized the awesome potential of my poetry (a phrase very rarely heard) and decided to put an end to this. They forced me to return to wall street and earn lots of money. However, we put out one issue and I think it has some excellent stories in it.
Among the writers is published author Naturi Thomas. I must mention that the cover design is my own, lest you think it acquired at great expense from a seasoned professional.
My own contributions are also directly accessible: