Winter Above the Circle

Winter lasts eight months. No sun for three of those. None. Temps cold enough to freeze your eyelids together. Wind gusts to 50 knots — enough to sever a finger caught in a door. We grin and bear it, watch our hand placement, and pray for a summer that never comes. Copyright © 2021 by Jim… Continue reading Winter Above the Circle

First Dose Problems, or The Privilege of a Sore Arm

The needle stabs and the guilt stings. My country, the USA, has spread the virus and hoarded the vaccine. I’ve commiserated with my international friends who remain at risk, but didn’t delay my first dose. Soon I’ll travel safe while they’re still locked down. Cheap flights beckon. My guilt fades. © Copyright 2021 by Jim… Continue reading First Dose Problems, or The Privilege of a Sore Arm

Dekel’s Eyelashes

Our waiter’s name was Dekel. He had the most amazing eyelashes I’ve ever seen and was friends with the lady I was traveling with. While they caught up I ate a small piece of perfection in the form of a chocolate croissant. The morning sunlight reflecting off the creamy Jerusalem limestone was warm like the… Continue reading Dekel’s Eyelashes

Bus Stations on the Equator

Restaurants near the city’s bus station were my favorite places to eat in Ecuador.  Beans, rice, meat—usually chicken—an egg, a small juice. A checked tablecloth, a small TV on a high shelf, a soccer game.  All that for a buck, buck and a half. Plus: a shy waitress surprised a gringo spoke Spanish and impromptu… Continue reading Bus Stations on the Equator

Xanax and Legumes

The vasectomy doc named Buzz prescribed Xanax and legumes. “The Xanax is for before,” Buzz said. “While the pharmacist counts the pills, grab a couple bags of frozen peas for the swelling after.” “I’ve got ice packs at home,” I said. “Ice packs won’t mold to your body,” Buzz said, holding up a cupped palm.… Continue reading Xanax and Legumes

New Dreams, Reason Unknown

My dreams have changed. I don’t know why.  They’re harking back to my childhood—to the bad-old school days—dredging up long-nurtured hurts, and mashing them up with more recent pain. What’s weird is the mood. These dreams feel good—like my psyche is tearing crusted-over scabs from the edges of old wounds and then sewing the freshly… Continue reading New Dreams, Reason Unknown

Mayan Colors

The Mayans assign a color to each of the four directions and one to the center. So the guidebook says. The color assigned to the center is blue-green. I imagine an enchanted isle where everything makes sense. I conjure soft breezes, a warm ocean. I wish for a compass that points the way. I imagine… Continue reading Mayan Colors

Not Quite Canadian

I couldn’t figure it out. Was there something on my face? Was my fly open? I hadn’t made it halfway across campus from the bus stop and three friends had already stopped me to ask how I was doing.  I was fine, as far as I knew.  But I was starting to wonder. It was… Continue reading Not Quite Canadian

The Bus Driver

From my perch next to the window, I look down on the bus driver — a small, tidy white man with a bald spot and a collared shirt. Cradling a complicated novel on my lap, I tell myself that his small head surely houses small thoughts. The bus driver’s eyes roam the rearview mirror.  He sees me… Continue reading The Bus Driver

A Horse Named Special Take

A red stallion, iridescent in the sunlight, stands on thick rubber mats. His coat shines like sequined cinnamon. Raw flesh, days old and drying, dangles from a wound on his chest the size of a shovel blade. I lanced the abscess, says a tall, rawboned cowboy—proud, somehow, of the carnage. The cowboy squints through a microscope… Continue reading A Horse Named Special Take