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Take Five (Finishing Line Press, 2020) with Richard Jackson, Barbara Carlson, Deborah Brown and Laura Baird

"As they contemplate the approaching end of human life on this planet, these five observant voices speak to us with quietly devastating power. This small book is really stunning."

 

-Joyce Johnson, author of Minor Characters and winner of National Book Critics Circle Award

Who Loves Our President?

 

The Chinese love our president. They love his yellow hair. They love

his height and width, and especially they love his voice. They love

how loud he talks and how he says whatever he wants whenever

he wants to say it. They love Melania, too, because she loves their zoo.

The Japanese, not so much. They think his hair is funny. They think his

voice is funny. They think he is too fat and he speaks without thinking.

They are reserving opinion on his wife. The Vietnamese are not saying

what they think of our president, or maybe they have no opinion.

The Filipinos and the North Koreans think whatever their dictators tell

them to think. New Yorkers hate him. That's what he hears from his

apartment. New York hates you. Go away. We hate you. All day, all night.

That's why he plays so much golf. Manhattan has no golf courses.

 

  

Coach for the Abyss

 

     I see life as a roadside inn where I have

     to stay until the coach for the abyss pulls up.

          -Fernando Pessoa

 

The coach stops every day, almost always with terrible news.

Jeffrey is dead. And Francoise has dementia. Some rogue

superpower might declare waron us or maybe we'll attack

them. Sometimes there's news we wantto hear: Kahlil isn't

getting deported. Willie passed his swim test.

 

I never get on that coach, no matter how tempting it looks,

all plush seats and clean windows. You can't imagine where it's

going to take you. I go for the scary subway or the filthy bus.

And I always climb out the window or sneak out the back.

Keep a low profile. Don't let them see you coming in or leaving.

 

 

Norman Bates' House on Museum Roof

      New York

     

 We know the setup– Janet Leigh in the motel shower, Tony Perkins upstairs in the mansion, with the skeletal remains of his mother dressed and seated in a rocking chair. But, in Psycho, it's the basement that brings on the real horror. It's always about the basement, always what's underneath us. But here, on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there's no basement below us. Downstairs is the museum's second floor with Van Gogh, Manet, Velasquesz clinging to the walls. Velasquez and Goya are just down the hallway, protecting us from evil and guiding us toward the Grand Staircase. But here, on the roof, there is only the façade of a red Gothic house. Something about it repels us but also draws us in. We fear it because we know it– an image Hitchcock has planted inside us. And, of course, we aren't alone on this roof. We share our fear with everyone else. We creep up to the house and laugh at ourselves as we look through the empty windows and into our mindless terror.