"Senecio" was published by Dali's Lovechild in 2016. Dali's Lovechild is currently in hiatus but hopefully their publishers will bring it back, because it fills a need for literary surrealism. "Senecio" is inspired by the Paul Klee painting of the same name. "Claire de Lune" was playing on a replay loop in my head while writing it.
No one told me who you were. But bee's tongues
spilled tales in Badajoz. Clues were left on scraps
torn from the corners of Madrid newspapers. And
they all knew your light globe face, your melting
amarilla voice, crossed rightward-shifting eyes.
Mouth like a puzzle, before there were puzzles.
Your stalk neck seemed odd to some. Others
hinted that it was the only way. The right way.
I ate ragweed, blew on puffballs, chased parachutes
zig-zag at dusk beside the riverbank until I couldn’t run.
Anymore. I sobbed your name then—old man—
but I know. Know you are a green green girl.
Girl like a candle, flit and gone.
I asked the garden tiger once. He named you
friend of painted ladies and for that, I crushed him.
Still, I scribble tunes in cinnabar and chlorophyll.
I strum them soft along the Leveche from Murcia
to Asturias. And I will know your blossom. Someday.
"Near Acquaintance" was first published in After the Pause, October 2015.
I have a druid. First saw him standing next to the carousel at the indoor mall out on 53rd. A fog statue. Taller than me and thin, like a shaggy sliver. Children walked right in and out of him to get to the white unicorn, trumpeting elephant or the open carriage pulled by Disneyesque swans. He smiled at one little blond girl in red. She stumbled slightly. Spilled Orange Julius on him. Through him.
I knew he was a druid because he looked like the model in the Les Celts! exhibition at the Petit Palais. Last day of vacation, summer after graduation. I still have the guidebook. There’s a picture of some Celtic priest on page nine. So I was sure. Druid, the real deal. A study in gray. Ashen robe with peaked hood / silver hair / pewter beard / cloud eyes that bored. Right. Through me. When he looked my way.
I shivered. Turned and gazed down "Avenue B." Past the food court, toward Sears. Looked back, he was gone. I walked over where he'd stood. Orange gloop on the floor. One pewter clasp. Stuck it in my pocket.
Luck turned soon after. Met soul mate (but we didn’t use the term much- too jinxy). Won high profile murder case, then two. Promoted to junior partner. Lung lesion came back benign; quit smoking anyway. Sold tech stock just before the big bust.
Time motored on. I didn’t think much about Celts or druids the next twenty odd years. Then I saw him again. At our daughter’s wedding, by the punch bowl. He glared straight at me through a clutch of bridesmaids and groomsmen. When I worked my way across the ballroom, two photo poses and three sloppy hugs later, he was gone. A tiny staghorn brooch lay beside the punch bowl. Ancient. Put it in my pocket. Things started going south not long after. Our youngest son got caught dealing meth, three years to go. Daughter miscarried twice. I was passed over for senior partner. Fire took our summer cabin-- vandal teens with candles and our liquor, playing séance. Wife split with personal trainer.
Lately I’m growing a beard. Not too long though. Company policy. Been studying Gaelic too. Ask myself why. Why druids? I’m English German Welsh Norman French Native American whatever. Never been to Stonehenge. Never sacrificed anyone, though that hotshot Harvard grad who just joined the firm seems a likely prospect. He’s already eyeing my office. Doctor said, vacation. Made my reservations.I know I’ll see my druid one more time. It’ll be next week. Paris…Tuilleries…dusk. When everything shrinks to a charcoal demi-monde the statues look like twilit trees and the granite heart of the city skips a long beat. It’s all planned out. He’ll finally speak to me. Tell me what to do to get on track. What to pray, which barrows to search, that sort of thing. Funny, I call him “my druid.” But nobody else can see him. Did I mention that?