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Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Roses On Fire

Feeling my way toward some understanding of the mystery of death, I find that I must begin by talking about my mother. She was my beginning, at least in this life. Her appearance in my room immediately after she died in a hospital, one-hundred-eighty miles away, was the only time I can say with certainty that I interacted with a “ghost” while I was wide awake.


Reptile Man

It was July, and I hadn’t had sex in more than two years. The last time I’d loved and lost, I had ended up walking the streets in a snowstorm, melting the drifts with my hot, salty tears. While in this unfortunate condition, I ran into an acquaintance and blurted out my tragedy. It’s hard to say who was more embarrassed.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

My Father’s Bartenders

The girls who poured my father’s gin-and-tonics were slim, brown-eyed beauties, quick to wipe up his spills, freshen his drinks, and smile at his wisecracks. They looked nothing like him, and they asked for nothing from him. Maria worked in the city bar, where my father drank in the afternoons, and Debbie worked in the suburban bar, where my father drank in the evenings.


Blue Flamingo Looks At Red Water

That bus is going to slam into my daughter. In my stop-action memory, everything lies bare a grace note before the accident. The school bus grinds forward stupidly, a yellow hippo. Henry is at the crosswalk, waiting for me as I turn the corner. He is not holding Mary’s hand.


Lost In The War Of The Beautiful Lads

Three kids in a pickup truck. In a field. And Corrie in the middle. Her head on a shoulder. Another leaning against her. The three of them like a trio of knocked-over pins. One window shattered. Glass on their laps. An empty open CD case on Garrett’s knee. Corrie’s hand clutching a wilted moss rose so tightly the woody stem had split, leaving a thin gash across her tender palm.



She’d been giggling and nervously trying to act her way through a mixer with boys from a slightly classier school when she spied a long-legged, outrageously long-haired, odd bird looking lost by the corner of a table. Feeling suddenly responsible for playing hostess, she approached the stranger boldly as he pulled out a pipe from a deep coat pocket and began fooling around with it in the manner of a total novice. She was fond of his ungainliness already.

The Sun Interview

Judaism’s Mystical Heart

An Interview With Dovid Din

Judaism is very concerned with the natural rhythms of things . . . like crying children, and the pulse of family life. It insists on family life, and is very cautious of the ascetic or celibate life — which may be an important route, but it’s not real.


News From El Corizon: In The Composing Room

Now leo says that of course we will get together again. He calls me on the telephone from seven-eleven parking lots long-distance and says that he loves me and he sends me a hundred dollars a month to keep his name on the mailbox, he in fact spends great parts of his poet-in-the-schools money to drive from galveston to dallas for weekends of love-making and whispered reassurances and barbequed chicken crowded around the little kitchen table with me and the three kids like he is simply a commuting husband and this family is really his.

The Sun Interview

Living With The Dying

An Interview With Frank Ostaseski

Frank Ostaseski is a tall, slim man with blue eyes that radiate calm. As director of the San Francisco Zen Center’s Hospice Program, he counsels the dying and their families, and teaches others to care for people with terminal illness.