After seventeen years, the Brood X cicadas left their deep earthen bunkers by the billions. They do this for around a two-month period, first appearing like 1950s movie aliens, with orange bug eyes on black plastic bodies, flying around on saranwrap wings laced with black-thread filigrees. The background din they create bears witness to their numbers punctuated by blink-of-an-eye lifespans, their shell corpses paving the way everywhere. Sound is how they touch base with their kin and scope out ways to mate and procreate. Again, the din of billions can make unaware listeners wince. In the entire process of flying and crying to find mates, they steer their unwieldy aircraft shells to bushes and trees. Crash landing their crates, they split them to emerge as wormish caterpillars and get it on. They drill deep into soft tree trunk tissue, issue a load of eggs, then go off to die. The eggs hatch, offspring crawl below deck deep into the firmament to rest and wait for seventeen years, after which it all begins again. Here’s a poem written in honor of the the cicada odyssey. ( To be sung to the tune of Don’t Cry for me Argentina–or not.)
Don’t drum my ears massed cicadas,
seventeen years gone from your maters,
we know you’re patient
though somewhat dated,
your orange eyes vacant,
your sere-laced carapaces.
Homely to humans though quite scrumptious,
to those who like munching crunchy lunches,
we knew it was in ya,
brief moments in time
sacrificed for the next in line.
Sleep deep drowsy burrowed nymph-cadas,
we’ll see you around here much later,
a score minus three years no doubt
unless we ourselves age out.
Break out the crystal for Daddy is dead,
long gone some decades ago.
Now in Heaven with Mom and Mark,
Mary and all those others we mourn.
Except we don’t; instead we think of them live
keeping us going with memories of wit,
gorgeous creatures who lit up our day,
those we miss most until we get there.
Long life is good, memories sweet,
bitter too for what might have been.
Nonetheless, raise up your hearts and a glass
for those who’ve gone before,
Just posted is a verse on our father’s birthday, February 4th. Aided by imbibing a few fingers of Caol Ila, sentiment flows freely as well. Hope readers enjoy and can lend it to their own now gone. Just change dates and names as you wish.
Wylisc Press has just published three collections of my short stories, each with distinctive themes. Blossom Gold and other stories presents a cornucopia of contemporary tales: A young West Virginia girl trained as a boxer by her father strikes up a troubling, long-distance friendship. Hoping to live the dream, a master plumber crosses the ocean to compete for a fantastic prize. In a small city museum, an ambitious curator crosses paths with two aspiring artists at an avant-garde exhibit. Humiliated after dropping a fly ball, a disillusioned boy’s love of the game hinges on the actions of an old major leaguer. A young woman considering her tenth school reunion reminisces to decide. These stories comprise an array that mine the country’s cultural history during the past half century. Each offers vivid characterizations of common people and places as pieces in the puzzle of an ever-changing world. Insights abound in this wide-ranging collection well worth reading through and through.
Garbage in Space: Speculative Stories transports readers to new worlds and new possibilities. Travel through space with provisional immortals as they panhandle for treasure amid a million iotas of galactic trash. Reserve a front-row seat for truly heroic Olympic feats performed on the Moon. Land on a desert planet where an eternal being chances the immolation of her gray matter forever. Follow a troubled blue-collar worker as he experiences an ultimate epiphany. Join an ambitious researcher who risks his own consciousness by delving into the depths of the permanently comatose. Track the progress of professional sports in ever-shifting environments. Explore these and other alternate human prospects in this enriching, eclectic collection of stories. Each offers an original perspective on a broad spectrum of the probable and the possible. Together, they deliver an extraordinarily entertaining spectrum of what the future might hold.
Jury of Peers: City Stories investigates grittier episodes in life: Summoned to jury duty, a divorced carpenter finds himself neck-deep in a Philly mob case. In the high-stakes urban real estate trade, a young agent makes his move to join the heavy hitters. A housecleaner seeks a unique form of justice for her upscale clients only to run into unlikely speed bumps. Tired of his mundane work buying microchips, a computer tech road warrior stops in Las Vegas for twenty-four memorable hours. These stories and their companions cast stark light on various characters striving to succeed in circumstances singular to life in urban settings. Far removed from the natural world, people are the game and currency is the currency. For many of those shaped by society’s strictures, survival defines success. This collection reveals in striking fashion the means an assortment of individuals use to work out their own formulas for success in the city.
Hope you enjoy reading them!