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Letter Delivered As A Dream: Short Short Story

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Following is an excerpt from Love and Other Illusions, my recently published short story collection.  “Letter Delivered As A Dream” is a short-short, as they call them, so I’m giving my loyal blog readers the entire story. It was originally published in Hot & Bothered 3: Fiction on Lesbian Desire, ed. Karen X. Tulchinsky. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001. Love and Other Illusions can be purchased as a Kindle on Amazon.

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Letter Delivered As A Dream

Do you remember that summer when our biggest problem was ants?

We who were so well versed in the habits of the cockroach were astounded by the rapidity with which ants reproduced.  By mid-July it had become impossible to leave any kind of unpackaged foodstuffs anywhere. It became a religion with us:  our lives revolved around maintaining a crumbless kitchen.

We bought dozens of round red traps, nearly identical to the ones we used to capture roaches in the city.  The ant population diminished, but by no means disappeared.  I suggested my mother’s method of smoking them out of their holes; you remembered your fifth-grade ant-farm-in-a-fish-tank and wouldn’t let me do it.

ice cream coneIt rained a lot that summer, and no one had told us about muggy country air, from which you with your allergies suffered terribly.  We’d planned to go hiking and antique-hunting, but ended up playing Scrabble, venturing outside only in the cool moist evenings.  We held hands walking into the small village for Haagen-Dazs ice cream cones eaten on the walk home.

Meanwhile, the ants kept on coming, an army of ruthless marauders.  When I brushed one from your leg you confessed you liked the feel of them  tickling your skin.  And so I discovered another way to delight you: like an ant I crept lightly up your calf, past the hollow behind your knee, more lightly still up your thigh, until you pulled me into you.heartstitchesbroken

Ah, summer.  How old were we then?  How young?  What were we thinking when we rented that little cottage in the mountains, knowing so little of the country, anthills, each other?

By late August we’d given up on ant control; they traipsed freely through the mound of spilled sugar, or clustered around a cake crumb on the floor.  Our truce was such that when one got squished beneath the heel of my sneaker, you stunned me with authentic tears.

The morning after Labor Day we washed the linens, packed our unused tennis gear and retrieved odds and ends from beneath the bed.  What about the ants? I asked you; won’t the landlady be horrified if we leave them? Against your protests I bought a can of Raid, and while you waited in the car, I carried out a search and destroy mission.  When I emerged, you looked grim. I turned on the engine and we headed back to the city–me to Brooklyn, you to the Upper West Side. As expected, both apartments were overrun with cockroaches after a summer of neglect.  That night on the phone you admitted you had no qualms squirting and smashing the nasty little creatures, so much more repulsive than our industrious country ants.

Over the years I’ve developed an aversion toward killing ants.  But this morning I discovered one already dead in the sink, a victim of cockroach poison.  Hastily I flushed it down the drain, feeling a sudden sharp pain as I thought: where are you?



I’m always re-discovering and revising my poetry, then throwing them up on my blog and/or submitting them to poetry journals. Here are a few I was playing with today.


Prose Poem: Zen Dream

Scene 1. I’m flying thru the sky, very high, super conscious, seeing blue, only blue, incredible blue, against a backdrop of  white clouds, and I’m ecstatic, so ecstatic I’m crying—not only in the dream but for real, crying in ecstacy. I’m holding onto my breasts, one in each hand. Suddenly I land with a thud on a city street. Two men approach and I offer each of them a breast.

Scene 2. I’m sitting on a street corner with Larry, eating a slab of rare London broil. A voice says to me: “You were pulled down by sex.” Pause. Another voice says: “You were pulled down by eating meat.” Pause. Then comes a third voice to say with dry finality, “You were pulled down by gravity!”

(That was literally a dream I had some time in the 1980s. Every time I read it I laugh harder; I think it’s hilarious.)

Cascades WA

The River’s Revenge

In Mississippi so I hear
the mighty river’s raging
swelling up to crazy heights
gathering power as she goes.

Goin’ down to Louisiana –
Sorry but I can’t take you.

Tossing aside the houses in her path
little boxes all abandoned
by their weeping owners.
Evacuations. Loss. Disbelief.

Haven’t seen nothin’ like this since 1937

A traitor to my species
I’m rooting for the river:
you go, Miss Issippi!
Show them who’s in charge!

Did we think we could go on
in greedy arrogance forever?
Now we can’t ignore the force
of the river’s stunning roar–

Sorry, but you wrote the book.
I just went with the flow.

Chuck Berry

Hail Hail Rock & Roll

Two a.m. in the 7-ll
The kid behind the counter
wearing 3 pounds of silver
and 18 tin buttons.
I think to myself:

Ain’t nothin in the world
this kid and I agree on.

“Up in the mornin’ and out to school”
booms Chuck from the speakers.
I start twitchin’
and the kid cracks a smile
and we both say in unison:
Best song ever written!

A Piano in the Woods


The night before last I dreamt of a piano in the woods, and when I got up in the morning I learned there’d been a mysterious sighting in Harwich, Massachussetts—the cops there had found a piano in the woods. Naturally, I Googled it:

(CNN) — Was it a theft? A prank? A roundabout effort to bring some holiday cheer to the police? Authorities in Harwich, Massachusetts, are probing the mysterious appearance of a piano, in good working condition, in the middle of the woods. {MORE here.}

The next important business of the day was, of course, reading my horoscope:

It’s not difficult to sense that something is different now, but it’s hard to put your finger on the source. Fortunately, the passionate Scorpio Moon enables you to feel your way through the emotional darkness. Remember, there’s no reason to be afraid of the shadows; you can find your answers in the strangest places.

Strange places? I’ll say! Like 3000 miles away, clear on the other side of the country, a piano mysteriously lands in the woods and enters my dreams.

i-and-the-villageThis isn’t the first time I’ve had a seemingly psychic dream: when I was a hippie practicing yoga, fasting for days at a time, and reading books on what I guess is called the occult—not to mention ingesting certain substances—I had all kinds of visions, asleep or awake. But they were like the piano: inscrutable. I had no idea what they meant, just as I have no idea what the piano means or, more significantly, of what use this ability—if it is indeed an ability—could possibly be. The difference is that back then these events frightened me, whereas yesterday, when I discovered I’d had a psychic dream, I rejoiced. I’m back! I thought.

As we get older we lose so much—our taut, wrinkle-free skin, our sharp sight and hearing, our spontaneity…I could go on, but I don’t want to depress myself when I’m happy about having recovered a part of me I thought I’d lost forever.

Vive les beaux rêves psychique!