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A Common Story

“I think he does not care for art; I fancy he has not even read Pushkin.”

A Crow Flies Cleanly over the Cornstalks

The almanac tells them when the moon passes into ghost weather.

A Dark Place

There was no sense in brushing off or any other civilized thing.

A Dream of Ease

I shoved them one by one, easy as pie yet with care, just shy of mercy.

A Farmer’s Life: Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia

For my vacation last summer, I visited the Bateer family in Xiwuqi.

A Human History in the Wilderness

My grandfather committed my grandmother to a mental asylum.

A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.

A Lebanese Feast

Lebanon’s dreams of a homeland were fading with every rocket launch.

A Lot Going On Up There

The hawk moves out of the way to let a little hot package of breath rise up.

A Matter of Appeal

Felicia knew why he was there. He was waiting. Waiting for her.

A Mother’s Son

“Maybe you should leave the rumba to those who know how to do it.”

A Portion of Your Loveliness

My daughter’s favorite game is Holocaust. She’s quite inventive.

A Shrine at the Inn

It was true. We would probably never visit that place again.

A Small Blip on an Eternal Timeline

I grabbed him by the face and told him life only comes to a person once.

A Taste for Winter

She is very rich. She will leave me everything when she dies, he says.

Across the Sea: A Sequence

The stones here carry the island’s low cry inside them. A landlocked grief.

Adventures of a Would-Be Filmmaker

Since I am in my seventies, it is now or never, and I know it.

After Music

“I’m torturing you,” she said. “It isn’t fair.” Now I saw there were tears.

Afterlife

Mostly he was in a hurry, so he’d just stick it in and away we’d go.

Alimony

I’m mourning in the armpits of a lover we once called a family friend.

All That Floats

Devanand Simon was twenty-five when the bodies fell from the sky.

Amanda Strayhorn, Reverend’s Wife

She countered the reverence of his efforts stroke by stroke, tit for tat.

Amazement

He fell to the floor and begged the gods. The gods were silent.

An Instance of Love

We have harvested nothing more than the stench of middle age.

Angels All Around, 1956

It’s just a great big old world with Santa and angels all around.

Animals

He was gentle and slow, like a blind man washing dishes.

Annabel Begins

Poems and stories are the whisperings of angels we cannot see.

Another Decade, Another Mouth

she was sixteen, and swimming. she was seventy-one, and soft.

At Age Ten I Escape from the Work Farm and Pursuant to Court Order, Am Recaptured in a Cincinnati Amusement Park

That’s why Mam drinks whiskey. That’s why he drinks whiskey too.

At Sea

I only feel that here, only here, in this one place, a small rise.

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