The Fire

My father’s house burned down during my first confession. Dad had a hangover and dropped me off at Saint Patrick’s while he and my brother Jeb went to a local diner for coffee and eggs. I spent a few excruciating few minutes in the confessional in which I denied having any sins. Then I sat on the church steps reviewing …

Early Riser, Delivery Man

Waking early and hungry, he leaves the warmth and comfort of his suburban bi-level house on Sunday mornings. My father drives, not to the closest bakery, but to one he deems the best in the art of bagel boiling and baking, and carefully chooses a variety of the classics- plain, onion, sesame, poppy, rye and pumpernickel. Several dozens, along with packages of …

Flags of Mumbai

Walking through Bombay among blue flags makes you feel home among the tall skyscrapers. They make you feel a sense of deep power which makes you realize why only in Mumbai among all the other cities the blue flags still capture and resonate while the financial databases speculate on trade commodities, derivatives. The blue flag stands for very different things …

Ti Amo o Ti Ammazzo

Italians live with this very strong belief that the amount of hatred you feel towards your partner in a romantic relationship is equitable to the amount of love you have for them. This love/hate courtship shows itself as a couple fights in the town piazza, two actors performing for the crowd. There is no shame in public. She smacks him …

Roly-Poly Elegy

An April morning, or maybe March, my children and I were enjoying the medium-low sunlight, when my son, Jacob, found a roly-poly. We congregated and proclaimed it a fine representation of its species, clumsy in its armor, as if playing dress up in its grandfather’s old army coat, and concluded that it was most likely on its way home from …

Lifeless

I found myself at deaths door.  Looking up at the reflection of the stars that mirrored an image of what I once thought was my life. It seemed that violence followed me, or was it that I have been chasing it all along. Maybe the fact is that I enjoyed its company. It was my way of escape into the …

Cherries

It has been millennia since I last ate you. How did I dare, today, breaking the spell? Your stem neatly detached by a twist of my fingers, your thick flesh with its sparkly aftertaste exploding on tongue, your pit so very small that for lack of practice I’m scared of swallowing it… I have missed a fruit in my mouth, …

To a Young Cicada in August

I saw you today. You’d been left behind. Caught in the act of unzipping your old skin. There among the husks of your siblings, you gripped the maple tree, your body the color of new leaves unfurling. I saw your convulsive twitch, your jointed limbs. I witnessed your struggle to be born. That moment of leaving your armor. We are …

Man vs Plato

His biceps strain and relax beneath working hands, transferring bright flowers and plants into moist soil. Sweat silks his skin in the summer warmth, digging, planting, wiping his brow. I stand at a window in the Financial Aid hallway, sipping my coffee. Professor what’s-his-name listed off parts of The Allegory of the Cave today, all the while this man had …

The Lesson of Pain: Lessen the Pain

“The Marrow of Zen,” one of the sutras of Shunryu Suzuki’s book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, relates zen practitioners to four horses, with the fourth horse responding only after the pain of the whip penetrates to the marrow of its bones. If alcoholics need to hit rock bottom, I have some sense of what that means. I read Zen Mind, …

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Sun Fungus

I haven’t said my skin is ash. I hyperpigment where the band of my sports bra rests, where a racer back runs rigid between my blades, where my favorite strand of pearls wants to lay. I sliver tiny shavings of my skin where these polka-dots amass. I fragment, and I flake, but I fold myself in scarves and sweatshirts so …

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Rochelle Shapiro

The Dying Sister   You fell in slo-mo like a mimosa petal caught in a small breeze, sprawling, nearly soundless, on our parents’ speckled linoleum. I, five years younger, didn’t know you held your breath to make yourself faint. I didn’t know you’d whittled yourself down to taut skin over sharp bones by spitting meals into your napkin. I cried …

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