a selection of short prose pieces from my published books
The Extraction of The Stone of Madness (or The Cure of Folly), Hieronymus Bosch, 1494
From Short Shrift: Sorties in Short Fiction (translucent books, 2017):
Following a Sudden Contusion
Following a sudden contusion on the left side of my skull, I discovered the truth about my body and its singular relationship to the world: My left leg extends beyond the sole and toes and wanders off into the distant West, filled with shadowy figures. My right eye is really the dark side of the moon, while my left eye ogles the orbit of Venus. Likewise, the folds of my brain and the folds of my skin are coterminous with golf courses and the ocean surface, which is known to cover three-fourths of the earth. At first this caused some confusion in my daily life. When I stretched first thing in the morning, I saluted the magistrates of the Eastern nations. When I touched my toes, I planted rice in Manchuria and dug potatoes in Idaho. And when I blinked my eyes rapidly, there were repercussions on the stock market. I have gradually come to understand my relationship to the world at large. I learned to accept the responsibilities my condition implies: to consider all possible consequences of my actions before performing them. To a definite extent, this involves placing limits on my freedom. However, I realize that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and today I am content with the puzzling yet exciting nature of things!
Methuselah at 75
As a young man bold, I plundered the riches of the past, breaking into storehouses of cultures far older than my own... American by birth – with the hindsight of a mere two hundred years – I gazed in awe across six millennia upon the glories of ancient times... I stared upon the golden images of Egyptian pharaohs and smelled sweet-burning myrrh in Nineveh. I strolled along the terraces of Nebuchadnezzar and caught sight of Nefertiti in her perfumed pool. When I rode on Jason’s galley into the harbor at Rhodes, the Colossus itself bowed before me, stone bending toward the reflecting sea, where it beheld its own image and smiled. I was welcomed at Alexandria and Athens, at Memphis and Marathon, at Urfa and at Ur. I stood beside priests at many altars and watched as they sacrificed to the Sun and Moon and to the numberless gods of earth, sea and sky. And then I led an expedition to the Dead Sea and its surrounding hills; and there I uncovered with my own hands tablets written by ancient ones, who explained all secrets as the products of human minds, all gods as the creations of human thought, and all visions of the afterlife as the escape from earthly life and death. Maybe Methuselah knew a man called Adam and lived for many moons before the great flood; but in those days, years were counted in months, and the great patriarch died at the ripe old age of 75.
from The Elephant in the Room (2020):“Blue Cliff”
from Intimations of Unreality (Hippocampus Press, 2012) :“Derrick’s Ritual”