The Only Thing I Can’t Forget: A Poem


Molly slides a new calendar
onto the old hook. Last year was clouds; this year,
twelve mountains plasticine on pages,
each wearing a glossy white cap
as if it were mink. Molly’s brown hair is in a braid,
swinging like the pendulum
in a grandfather clock, and I watch it
until I lose track of time.

I still don’t know how many days
are in a month: for me, days
seem to swirl, elusive as heavy snow.
Flurries are impossible
to greet. Anything that touches my nose
melts in moments.

The kitchen is warm. Molly clucks her tongue
and makes hot chocolate. Under the dimmed light,
I see her first grey hair, glinting platinum
like a wedding band.
I ask her why she didn’t tell me it was there.
She says it’s just her inner child
poking its nose out to play peekaboo,
its color bright only with shrill laughter.
For a moment, I can hear it
in the hot water she pours over the brown powder.
I laugh along. She drops three marshmallows in my mug.
Her lips on my cheek
bring me back to our first kiss—

it was January, and I’d never been so cold.
I told her, “The only thing I know about snow
is that I’m tired of dragging my boots through it.”
She said, “The only thing I know about snow
is that we are never as alone as we think we are.”
Our gloves met each other,
wool as good as skin.

A fourth marshmallow arrives ceremoniously,
followed by a rise in the small chocolate tide.
“This is today,” Molly says,
sweatering me inside of her. “Tomorrow is the new year.”
Her flyaways tickle my cheek until I feel
like champagne. Another grey hair drifts
before my eyes. Everything is blurry.


As the Raindrops Spill from My Lips: A Poem


You feel the summer land on your skin
after sailing such a chilly ocean.

Which parts of the air breathe cold?
Is it warmer where the water has planted kisses
or where the droplets have left your skin untouched?
Is the sky most beautiful at its grey peak
or in the shadows beyond the evergreens?
Does it bother you when the rainy breeze
rushes with embrace?

Is this not the spot where, a blink ago,
you stared into the tumbling night,
and wondered which stars drifted in lightyears
and which in inches?
Is this not the same breathless winter moment,
the same unmoving movement,
the same stillness in heavenly butterflies,
the same ponderings of hot and cold?

You know there is no land nor chilly ocean.

You know this is the love I promised you.

Footprints in the Snow

Day I

Matthew follows

his older sister to the school bus.

“Come on, Matt,

we don’t want to be late.”

She takes long strides

He struggles to leap

from footprint to footprint,

chasing her boot pattern

careful not to make his own mark.


Day II

Matthew’s sister races

down the sidewalk,

towards the yellow bus that is already there.

Her legs are tall


Matthew’s, not so much.

His chubby snow pants leave wide indents

awkward circles

around the hole she left before

He cries



“You can’t be late today,


Matthew’s mom ties a scarf around his head

so warm breath spreads across his face.

His sister

looks indignant in the corner,

preening her hair

to pass the time

replaying the scolding

from yesterday when Matthew didn’t make it.


Day IV

Matthew’s sister’s ponytail

whips back and forth

as she walks sternly, with

determination. Matthew trails behind,

his sore legs dragging

causing solid lines

that rip across the snow.

Lacking confidence, he follows his sister undyingly

to the ends of the horizon.


Day V

Matthew’s sister is sick

She stays at home

strewn across the couch like a throw fleece

Matthew has to walk to the bus by himself.


there are no footprints to follow.

Each time he shifts his toes an inch

it is without certainty.

His cautious movements

make his mom

drive him to school.


Day VI

Even though Matthew’s sister

did not throw up this morning

and is feeling better,

she has a fever

he is on his own again.

The steps are mapped out

still there from yesterday

it did not snow last night.

He trots unconcerned, eventually looking up

from his breadcrumbs,

thinking only of making it to school on time

for the first time in a while.



Matthew and his sister walk side by side

she is still sniffling.

When the yellow bus pulls up

they are still a block away,

and it is Matthew who chases it down

and his sister

who drifts through


dot-to-dot footprints.

Spring Freaks Me Out


I get it. Spring is all about rebirth and renewal, it’s about fluffy bunnies and Easter baskets and tulips and the color green. But I’m going to be very honest about it: spring is kinda freaking me out right now.

Where I live, the big snow of the year was relatively recent, about three weeks ago or so. Needless to say, I’m not ready for it to be gone yet. I haven’t done any of the cool stuff that most people do with snow. I haven’t made a snowman. I haven’t made a snow fort. What the heck is wrong with me this year?

I also draw a lot of inspiration from snow. There are so many emotions in snow. You could have someone sad or someone happy or in love, not to mention someone going through a spiritual cleansing, in the snow. Snow is a representative for every part of the soul. I’m not totally sure what I’m going to do without it.

So March, being the jerk it is, decides to come along and melt all of the snow. The snowman in our front yard, that I didn’t participate in building, is just a white lump with two detached twigs at its side. The temperatures that I was just getting used to rose dramatically, making my skin confused. I can hear birds chirping like everything is beautiful. What happened to the sound of snow blowers? Is that really too much to ask? Where did my winter go?

Another thing that I’m not looking forward to this season is not having an excuse to stay inside blogging/being a loser. Two of my favorite things that are difficult to do outside, and I can’t stay in to do them. Spring, do you realize that you’re ruining my existence? I don’t care if lovers love you or if you’re filled with chocolate eggs, I still think you could hold on for another month or so, and then I might consider embracing you with open arms.

So if anyone sees Mother Spring or whatever they’re calling her these days, could you have her enforce Operation: Delay Spring for me? That would be a big help.

Ciao for now,


The Happiest Sound I’d Ever Heard: A Short Story

crop_old_man_in_window_by_cube2_at_When I was little, there was an old man who lived down the street from me. He was the last old man living on Odds Parkway, and he clutched onto his house as flocks of spring chickens flew in from north, south, east, and west. He never left his house, just sat behind his window like a character in an art film, watching with scrutiny. On the sidewalk in front of his house, conversations were hushed and laughter stopped. Even joggers slowed down in reverence.

Around Christmas, when I was seven or eight, a new family moved in up the street. Their youngest kid was a nine-year-old boy named Seth and their oldest was a teenage guy named Charlie. Seth and I became fast friends and we used to play explorers throughout the neighborhood, turning the trees into spies and driveways into rivers of lava that would kill anyone who stepped on them. We played this game everywhere except for the old man’s sidewalk, where plants were plants and pavement was pavement. The old man would look out with eyes full of scrutiny as we tiptoed by, judging us like God might.

“Where’s your mitten?” my mother would ask as I came back home. “You had two of them when you left. Oh, here it is. Why do you always put it in your pocket? Doesn’t your hand get cold?”

The reason I put my mitten away every time I went out to play with Seth is because of something Charlie once told us. “People always take one of their gloves off when they’re at funerals,” he’d said, “but since you don’t have gloves, your mittens will do.”

“But Charlie,” Seth had whined, “we’re not at any stupid funeral.”

“The old man is always at a funeral,” Charlie had replied. “and you have to respect his funeral.”

Seth and I took in the words like they were from the Bible. We went out of our ways to respect the funeral; on top of removing one mitten each, we bowed our heads, walked in a polite line, and I think once we even brought napkins to use as handkerchiefs and dabbed them at our eyes. None of our attempts were sarcastic, although I’m pretty sure even Charlie said the napkins were over-the-top. Every day, for those five-to-ten seconds when we walked in front of the old man’s house, we would stop our pew-pew-ing and shouting and jumping and walk like a couple of kids who come from a military school.

Sometimes Charlie would walk with us, sometimes he would ride his bike in the street alongside the sidewalk, but he would always join us in our moment of respectful solemnity. At least, usually. There was one day when he brought someone with him who I’d never seen before. When I asked Seth about it, he said, “That’s Jeffery Braker. He comes over sometimes and makes Charlie do bad things.”

“Like what?” I asked, curious.

“Like say bad words,” Seth whispered like a teenager saying bad words was the secret of the century. I gasped.

“Dude, check this out,” Charlie guffawed to his friend, diving his hand into the foot of snow that had fallen the night before.

Seth’s jaw dropped. “You’re not even wearing gloves!”

“You’re not even wearing gloves,” Charlie’s friend mocked back, “Oh my freaking god Charlie, what are we gonna freaking do?” The two teenagers cracked up in a way that stabbed emotional knives deep into Seth. I could tell by the way his shoulders tensed up that he wasn’t going to let this one go.

“I know what I’m talking about!” Seth yelled. “I’m ten! His hands are gonna get cold and then he’ll be sorry!” I thought this was weird because Seth’s birthday hadn’t passed yet. But I didn’t say anything.

“I’m ten,” Charlie’s friend repeated like a half-witted parrot.

Charlie took a wad of snow and smoothed it our for at least twenty seconds until it formed an almost perfect sphere. Then he bent back his arm and threw the ball.Snowman-Snowball-Hit

Before either Seth or myself could turn around to see where the snowball had hit, we knew by the look of horror on Charlie’s face.

“Dude, you’re a freaking idiot.” And with those words, Charlie’s friend ran away from the sidewalk in front of the old man’s house.

Somewhere a dog barked. The one street lamp that was illuminating the purple dusk started flickering. Seth stated whimpering under his breath and I grabbed his hand.

The old man was not in his window.

The place where he would usually be glowering out at the world was blotted out by a perfect spot of snow.

“What have I done?” Charlie muttered.

The doorbell on the old man’s door started to twist around.

“Stay in place,” Charlie demanded. He didn’t have to; we were too scared to move.

The old man’s face peeked through a crack in the door. As the crack grew wider, more of him was exposed, down to a walker we’d never seen him use. His winter coat was bright red and his pants were khaki. As the door opened even more, he pulled a blue hat with a sports logo down over his ears.

“I thought people wore black to a funeral,” I murmured to Seth. He nodded. Neither of us took our eyes off of the old man.

“Look, I am so sorry,” Charlie pleaded across the lawn. “We were just screwing around, I never meant to–”

The old man said nothing in reply as he hobbled down the stairs. Tennis balls left round marks in the snow on his stairs that had previously gone untouched. The old man got to the bottom of the stairs and stopped walking, then, leaning heavily on one arm of his walker, bent over.

“I am so sorry,” Charlie tried again.

The old man, wearing chocolate brown mittens, reached down into the snow and carved a perfect ball out of what he pulled up. He pulled his arm back in a pitcher’s stance and, regaining his balance, whipped the snowball right into Charlie’s face.

And then the old man laughed.

Shoveling: A Poem


I felt like a model today

while I was shoveling.

I had on my perfect shade of

olive green winter coat,

the one that matches


I had on a baby blue scarf, tied, just so,

so it puffed out a little

from under the coat.

A fleece hat


the look.

Snowflakes kept sticking onto my

Pinkermint™ lip gloss

(which I got for Christmas),

and then melted on the spot.

Dark, dark jeans

were balanced by highlighter-yellow boots.

I shoveled my neighbors’ drive,

and pictured


as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year,

with a caption:

“Beautiful and Helpful: A Fashionable Shoveller

Does Good in Her Community.”

That’s what

goes through my head

when I shovel.

The Vanilla Candle

snowflake+002Snowflake 43289765189409873, who went as Brad, loved his shape. He loved his long, spindly limbs that extended in six directions and swirled around into lacy perfection. Snowflake 19384576049884739302, or, as most knew her, Gretta, had bumped him on the way down from the clouds and chipped his favorite arm, which was incidentally directly above his head. Or below, or to the side of, because as he spun around dizzily it fell in all directions.

Brad had heard about cities before: always vibrant, never silent. But this was nothing like the turmoil he had head about. All around was peace, tall graceful black things rose into the sky, so crystal clear he could see his reflection in them. Flickering orange went on all around and below, above the stars were bright in the gaps of the clouds. It was the perfect place to go.

At the same time, Mark sat alone in his apartment, staring at the phone like it would ring. It was dark in there, and the phone wasn’t working anyway, and he knew that Grace would go back on her promise to call him. She always went back on promises like that. Their relationship was deteriorating rapidly, and that thought glued his eyes to the phone.

Mark’s fingers found themselves and slithered with each other like snakes. Mark’s throat was all tied up in a confused knot, and his lips kept finding themselves between his teeth. the lips remembered the color Grace’s lipstick had been when he’d met her: red, like sweet cherries; and when they kissed, it tasted like vanilla. Mark was still confused by this but accepted it as part of the love he had for her in his heart. And his mind, which went mad with the thought of her even know, as she was slipping away.

In anger, he knocked the candle over.

Brad was filled with sweet sentiment as he toppled slowly. Below him was a thick pile of his own brothers and sisters, and he aimed to join them. maybe Gretta was down there. Suddenly angry with himself, he wondered why he had thought of Gretta. The two had grown up together in the highest levels of their cloud mother, and were only separated when she’d playfully bumped him and he’d been too peeved to follow her. Too peeved over his stupid limb. Over his stupid vanity. Suddenly, the silent world of the city seemed distant and hollow instead of serene. He didn’t want to join the others at the bottom. But he couldn’t control his destiny. At the beginning of life, when ice particles formed at high altitudes, snowflakes are instantly cursed with falling: just falling and falling without having their own minds on the reins.

Something fell from a dark hole. It was a light! The light gave off heat, winging him against the limb already damaged by Gretta. Following it came a shout of fury that Brad felt was partly his own.

Mark followed the candle with his eyes. It glittered for a while until the motion and chill put it out. He heard the glass shatter when it hit the ground, not images-4saved by the inch of snow that should have softened the blow. Grace had given him that candle for their first anniversary. When you lit it, it made the air taste like vanilla. He gasped and screamed for it. Then, seeing no other option, he slung a scarf across his neck, flung the door of his apartment open violently, and dashed down the stairs.

Brad wanted to speed his way to the ground. Maybe Gretta would be there.

Maybe she wouldn’t. Did it matter? She’d given him a chance and he’d blown it out of the sky. She was mature and he was childish. Vain. Stupid. He closed his eyes and refused to see the reflection in the black structure, because who would want to look at something so stupid? He wanted to move faster. Or just shut off his mind and be already lifeless when he landed with his brothers and sisters.

Every time one of Mark’s feet slapped across a stair, his calves and back and head hurt to, and his eyes could barely see through the minimal light, which came from downstairs neighbors, especially as they streaked and blurred. His lungs groaned for the air they couldn’t warm. His lips, the ones that had kissed Grace and tasted vanilla, the ones that had spoken to her when she was tired and cooed her to sleep, the ones that bled because he was still biting them.

The end of the staircase came with a huge emergency light glaring in from outdoors. Everyone had an emergency light, no one was going to save this one stupid little apartment building. The one where he had first had Grace move in with him, the one Grace had moved out of when she went to a college dorm. His ankles burned for a rest, a rest he wouldn’t, couldn’t, give them. He jerked the door until it almost came off his hinges.

The singed bit of Brad began to spread from the one limb down to the next as his body temperature rose. Part of his head was gone already; he felt delirious and alarmingly gleeful. The thought crossed his mind that maybe snowflakes go to heaven.

Mark thought that the snow on the ground looked like a sheet of vanilla, even as it crunched underfoot and clung to his face. There was the candle, a melted patch surrounding it, splinters of glass all around. He grabbed it and cut up his hands, but he didn’t care. It smelled like vanilla. It smelled like Grace.

Brad saw a human figure, dressed in black like he was at a funeral, crouching in the snow, shaking and bleeding. The thought crossed his mind that maybe snowflakes go to Hell.