Gene is to my right fiddling around with his cane.
Ursula — or “Ullyses Kingfisher” as I like to call her, is smoking a pipe. (We’ve never met.)
Ms Butler is sitting way down at the end.
I realize that they are dead and this is a dream.
But I seize the moment.
I can now ask them the one question I’ve wondered about for years.
He raises an unruly eyebrow at me, his handlebar droops, unimpressed.
“When you were alive who did you think was the best writer in the world?”
Gene full-faces me and raises the other…
The Band that could have been the greatest in the world. In another time.
I know: It sounds like that Beatle’s movie, “Yesterday.”
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.
This is how I remember it.
When we started playing together all the bands were crap. They sounded like Grandpa’s Beer Hall. They dressed like waiters at an Ice Cream Parlor. They had names like “Sarsaparilla” and ‘The Copper tone Four.” And they all featured tubas.
We were from Detroit. We hated tubas. And the best music on the radio was Motown. Those were our idols. But they never played it south of Ohio…
“US government lists fictional nation Wakanda as trade partner”
BBC News, 12/19/19
Mr. President, last item for the day.
Hurry up, I got a T time.
It’s about Wakanda.
Not a person.
Wait. I know this. Prime Minister somebody of somewhere.
Now, see. This is what we’re afraid of.
Relax. I got through the shithole thing. I told you we would. Shithole trumps Missile alert. Porn Star Trumps shithole, When will you guys learn to trust me?
Sir, this could be important. I need you to focus.
I need a Diet Coke and a chocolate donut.
Sure there have been days
when the words were rote
tossed off like a smile to a stranger
Possibly some days
the sentiment was less than unqualified
(Distraction and habit can
deplete words however sweetly intended)
But I can safely say the words
have never been a lie or a weapon
nor have they been repeated in proximity
to another human with whom I shared
the same lane
So no betrayal No prevarication No
Sarcasm (that truly spoiling excretion)
Which leaves I suppose
the dangerous realm of sincerity
the banishment of cool irony
the helpful but redundant “You Are Here”
So aliens look like tomatoes.
They land in the Super Bowl
at half time
terrifying the crowd.
They are gunned down by security forces.
They try again.
They land near the pyramids.
The Egyptian Air Force bombs them.
They try again.
They land on the moon. Nobody notices.
They try again.
They land in Iowa near the primary.
One democratic candidate meets them and they explode covering him with red juice.
This sinks his campaign for reasons ineffable.
Finally one of them lands on top of
and asks for a translator: specifically
a schoolteacher from Detroit, Michigan.
Three strangers meet before Christmas — a short story that appeared in the collection “Other Voices, Other Doors.”
I pass this on from a friend of mine who told me about it last night.
You’ll have to guess which is my friend. I shall remain nameless.
They called me long distance, and, not having heard from them in a great many years, I accepted the charges. I love hearing from old friends, especially this time of year.
A woman had just finished her shopping and her station wagon was full of presents when she realized she was running on empty…
I wrote this sequence when the economy crashed in 2008. I was newly married & happy; I had just discovered the genius poet Ono No Komachi. Eventually I lost everything but my wife & my sense of humor. I could not find a job for 19 months. Detroit was not a going concern.
— Patrick O’Leary
“It is possible to claim that Japanese poetry is purer, more essentially poetic. certainly it is less distracted by non-poetic considerations.” — Kenneth Rexroth, introduction to ONE HUNDRED POEMS FROM THE JAPANESE, New Directions, 1955
It snowed again.
How Gene Wolfe’s “The Book of The Long Sun” saved the bookstore.
I was told to expect a man in the evening — just before closing. I was made to understand that he would be the only one who could save my bookstore — a labor of love which I had adopted when my father (the original proprietor) began to forget my name. He had died after a sharp decline in twelve months, and I, who had dreams, plans, adventures to pursue, found my true self postponed as I tried my best to balance his books, brighten his inventory and…
Harvey McMillan never asked to be the most-hated man in America. It was very unfair. Harvey was known to be a tenacious, straight-shooting, church-going, thrifty and extremely wealthy man. He was proud to be the King of Mexican Fast Food. His father had bought out the brand when Harvey was just a teen. And he had taken over when dad had his third heart attack while honeymooning with his third wife. He had expanded and nearly quintupled the original 30 restaurants.
The Whacking Piñata was his passion. And Harvey, as all his employees knew, was a stickler for details.
When I was a little boy and didn’t know nothing
I was a real cry baby.
I cried when mamma wouldn’t give me a cherry popsicle.
I cried when my favorite cartoon was over.
And I cried when Grandma and Gramps had to go home.
I cried, as my Gramps used to say, “at the drop of a hat.”
When I was little and didn’t know nothing I went to kindergarten
and after a week or two I got to visit my very best friend Juan Rodriguez.
He showed me his toys. He showed me how to make a taco.
SF novelist, poet, songwriter, photographer, liberal, gamer, retired.