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20 August 2014

Paragraphs from friends


Here are a few passages written by some of you.  I've excluded names and included artwork.  Misspellings and errors in punctuation are probably my own, and I do apologize for any I have made in retyping what you have sent me.  Enjoy!

The woman on the bench liked her coffee dark and sweet - I could smell as much from where I was leaned against a tree, occasionally pretending to try to read. Heading to the park to be away from distraction always seemed like a good idea beforehand, but much like dry-shaving or having just one more drink, it never ended the way one would hope. There were always kids or lovers or homeless or cops enough to keep me from settling in to even the most gripping novel, and as soon as I'd slogged mindlessly through a few pages (which would have to be re-read), I'd re-realize my folly, pull up camp, and head back home, the whole round trip wasted. This time the catalyst for my capitulation would end up being her coffee. I hadn't had any yet that morning, and my envy noisily churned my gut. I shoved Kafka back in my bag and turned the attention he'd been getting, and then some, to the Lady of the Mug. She held her orange, pear-bottomed mug with her palm against the bowl, hand threaded through the handle. Her index finger traced the small arc of the lip that it could reach, back and forth as if pacing. She was unperturbed by tendrils of her hair whisking across her face, and I envied her composure, tucking the few strands that had been courting my nostrils back behind my ear. Between the metronome-like arcs she traced above her coffee and her absolute stillness, I was almost certain that she was meditating - another thing that I, as twitchiness personified, seemed incapable of doing. Contemplating my shakey hands, I noticed that her mug didn't even have a lid on it! How, I still wonder, had she gotten it from home to the park bench without spilling? Just as I was adding her to the long list of people who have all the peace I will never attain, I noticed a bitterness flit across her face, as though she'd taken a sip, only to find all the sugar filtered out. A mix of schadenfreude and concern kept me watching, and the look reappeared a few more times, like the shadows cast by a herd of small summer clouds. I walked over to the bench and sat two butt-widths away from her, willing her to look over so that I could smile.

A Green Line Connects Everyone Girl in a short red skirt and a stripped black and white shirt, too nervous to sit. Instead she stands awkwardly with her bike, wondering if anyone is looking in her direction. A couple have a loud conversation in plain view of everyone around, without making a sound, just a fluttering of fingers. Happy, kissing, staring, without a care in the world. A black man with a shiny bald head staring out the window as the people and buildings and vehicles roll by us rolling by, biting his fingernails, button down white shirt, lost in random thoughts The person behind me, back to the wall, not moving not talking, trying to be unnoticed. A black shirt, a black hat, a look not to be trifled with The middle aged man enters on his phone, talking business, and more business, eyes constantly on his phone because to to be doing nothing is a waste of time The old man in the blue shirt, tucked into his pants a bit too far, carrying a book but never opening it, confused by technology but out in the world none the less Two twenty something Indian sisters full of smiles, making plans, big and small, into the city full of endless possibility.

Her head on his shoulder,
A glass of Tuaca in her hand;
It is late and she gazes off
With a faraway look until
Someone speaks
and she comes alive
blonde hair, ponytail
young and pretty
her head nestled
on my son’s shoulder.

She is up with the sun and now sits on my bed, her legs dangling over the edge, golden hair in tangles and the color of wheat in high summer.  Her skin is more golden, enriched by the the sleep of the previous night and by dreams and by her blood, which is partially my blood, replenishing her cells.  She buries her little face in the thick and furry neck of her beloved dog, an early morning intruder who has also taken up residence on my bed. The dog opens his eyes a brief moment, ascertains the situation, releases a sigh of obligation to the girl who adores him, closes his eyes and fades back into sleep. I have put my book down and now watch this morning scene play out. The birds sing outside and, if I listen closely enough, I can hear the hum of the city as it begins to wake, as cars begin to depart for their morning destinations and I begin another day with my girl. Only the empty space where my wife slept last night, abandoned much earlier this morning as she too went off to work, besmirches this gorgeous landscape. It is morning. It is glorious. It will come again.

Here sits an old woman, perhaps a grandmother, perhaps a long lost lonely lover, a teacher or just a surviving housewife. She wears very traditional clothing in accordance with an orthodox church of times past. A long, dark brown skirt, cut just below her ankles as to show no skin. She wears a once-white long sleeve blouse with a floral pattern, but tinted an off yellow color, indistinguishable due to the use of the shirt, the water it is washed in, or just a reflection of the age of the woman wearing that blouse.
On her head she wears a dark reddish brown scarf, to protect her ears and hair from the dust and to keep her fragile body’s warmth in. For warmth and tradition, the same reason she wears black sox and sandals. Next to her feet rests the end of her cane. The cane very much matching her looks: dry, weathered, and worn out. This is what I see as I walk towards this old woman sitting on a bench in the parking lot outside of her apartment complex.
She just sits and watches time go by.
For at that age is there anything to think about besides what deceptive input comes in through one, two, or all of the senses at once? Being overburdened by stimulus, once something is grasped it has already slipped away in the river of input that is constantly bombarding the aging processor. Thought is better left to be done in places such as the quite stillness of church, or the personal privacy of the water closet, where disturbances are infrequent and not interrupting at best, and thoughts can link together through the ambiguity of synapses. Here, as she watches time pass and perhaps unknowingly observes the sense of detachment she feels from what once she knew to be real; she lashes out at the fledging pigeons that walk on her sidewalk in front of her bench or behind her, on her weeds and her garden. She protects what she can with her extension of arm to keep time from taking what she can grasp for now, as real.


  1. Very well done, and enjoyable on a variety of levels, the major one being, of course, Richard's creative and generous impulse to craft together something unique that had not existed before. Thanks, pal.