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lover dearest, you break like bones in my hands

do not fall in love with me

if you don't want to be broken.

i am a glass-shattering rain

my eyes are the eyes of a storm,

yours are transparent windowpanes.

when i am done with you

you will understand why hurricanes

and people share the same names.

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Source of the Huron

Layers of fog
     early morning
          a gauze bandage

covering a wound of swamp
     shallow bowl of cat tail
          common reed

lily pad
     duck weed
          Siberian iris

long hollow stems
     of snake grass like
          miniature shafts of bamboo.

Frogs, snakes, muskrat
     fawn twins
          brought to drink

by a nervous mother,
     alert, ears twitching
          Heron fishing

lifts one leg carefully
     lowering it down again
          into sucking soft ooze

of mucky bottom
     disturbing nothing
          hunching its long body

peering into unmoving water.
     How different from the miles
           downstream where Henry Ford

imprisoned the dark water
     behind his concrete dam
          to power a factory no longer there.

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Max

He seemed just another drunk
on a stool at the end of the bar
every night until closing time.

Once he was a pilot.
There is a photo of him
on the wing of a P-36
that he didn’t get off the ground
at Pearl Harbor.

He did a little carpentry after that,
spent little time with his delicate wife
and their three sturdy sons.
He tended a small garden and watched
as life slowly dried like dew.

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No Wonder I Drink

"No wonder I drink." Perry White reached into the bottom drawer of his desk, pulled out a bottle of rye, good rye, and a small glass and poured himself three fingers of the golden liquid.  "Great Cesar’s ghost," he muttered into the glass, "they’re killing me".

"Lois Lane has been taken hostage (third time this year) and, as usual, Clark Kent is nowhere to be found.  Why can I never find my so called ace reporter when I need him the most?  The early edition is due on the street in an hour and I’ve got nothing for page one. The Daily Planet is going to hell in hand basket. In fact, the whole damned city of Metropolis is going with it. I guess I should have taken that job in Chicago. At least at The Tribune I would be working with Brenda Starr.”

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Last Run Before Ice Over

Sweetwater Sirens call from the black
Their winter gumbo in need of my head
With its old man's mental allspice
My secret recipe

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Dennis Higgins, author, father

This installment of Finding Your Writer hits close to home for me. Dennis is an author of light, fizzing, and youthful novels concerning time travel and murder. Dennis is also my father.

His novels, boarding pastism surreal science fiction, are far less concerned, to my joy, in presenting a grand addition to human literature, as they are in indulging us with a revelation into the author himself. Reading him, the feel is unmistakable that Dennis writes in order to understand himself better, a long tradition of artists grappling with their craft. Dennis writes to find his voice, to wrestle out distinctions of a blurry past, and as a means to self discovery. Biased or not, I love him for that; I believe in him for that.

The day he announced to our family he was publishing a novel, we had questions. Could he write? Did he always have an interest in literature? I remember his joy of journaling long ago, but here it was, a stack of fresh and glossy novels laid open in brown boxes at the foot of his stairs. It felt like Christmas. I reach in to grab one. It was this exact moment, in my confusion and wonder, that I felt I knew the very least about my father, that I had a world yet to know, and the day my copy arrived in the mail I began by reading though the inscription into chapter one, into a whole new insight of him, of me, of us.

Amongst other similarly cerebral novels he has written, for his work in Steampunk Alice, Dennis’s take on Alice in Wonderland, a naive young Alice is whisked away to a mechanical, leather strapped, 1900’s industrial revolution styled, Steam Punk alternate universe, and must find her way back home. Campy, fun, thrilling and brilliant. What else can I say?

Now, will Dennis write the next great American novella? Not in the next few years I suspect, but this was never the point for him, for me, and for my family.

Dennis writes novels of exploration into the human condition simply by writing himself, his fears, his joys and interests into each book. And so I have gotten to know him, that is, the universe expanding in his head, his heart, more than I ever have been able, as neither kid nor adult, and that is the true point.

My father writes.

Writing to find ones self.

Because perhaps, in an unfinished world, creation is far less about the art we sculpt, and more about the men we become at the kiln.

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: : : A man : : : A dog : : : And What These Taught Me Of My World

When we brought Dorian home for the first night, I had trouble deciphering who was more frightened in our group, him or Maura or me. Motherhood is not something to take lightly, and responsibility hung thick in the apartment, having now been prepped and readied for our new Dachshund puppy. And there was no way of predicting that this little lopsided walking dog log would be such a catalyst for the monumental change coming, and the inevitable damage that followed.

After peeing everywhere but his designated training pad, Dorian slept smoothly the first night through, nestled softly between Maura’s inner thighs, bleating. I think Maura cried a little too.

For the next two weeks, Dorian was a phantom in the house. I would search under tables and chairs and couch cushions with little success. And when he was finally found, like a bird from an open cage, he would bolt away into the bedroom closet, hopping up one shelving tier, laying shaking, scared, and immobile atop Maura’s sweater pile. “What a pathetic mess.” I would stand there, hands to hips, watching this tiny Dachshund make a god damned fool of himself, probably as well, pissing on my favorite hoodie.

Eventually, we became buddies. I would steal his pink rubber toy, vaguely moist with odorless saliva, and we’d chase each other about the house. Dropping to the floor I could hide my head in my knees and he would bury the sharp edge of his nose into the flank my thigh, searching for a face to commence licking, like he would some instinctual badger meant to be snoop out of some hole. I loved him. His little body, his little quirks. In the morning he could be found at my feet on the shower floor, soaking wet and shaking, but just wanting to be near me. ”It’s alright buddy,” I would tell him, and I would mean it completely. I have, in my life, been on the shower floor in such a way over people too.

Maura never took my last name after the marriage. I still do not know why. Like little foreboding clues of our future I guess, fate is a juggernaut when it runs, and in marriage it is always running towards you, instead of away. When we fought, she took to slinging her wedding ring at me from across the hardwood room, screaming. I once had wine thrown in my face. Frightening fights from frightening people, that is, the type of people we became around one another. She would drink to yell at me; I would drink to not listen. The juggernaut grew near. Sometimes she would say, “When I leave you, I’m taking the dog, just so you’re not surprised when I do. He’s mine, ya know.” The words would roll from her mouth so casually, as if, packed up in moving boxes within herself, there she already lay, along side her heart and her possessions, so far away from my needs.

I do not have a child, but there in Dorian I started to understand the love of small things that are able to love you back. Dorian was strong, and independent, never requiring the leash. But in him there was tenderness too, a codependency I recognized within myself. A need of touch, of love’s daily bread- the promise of I Do, without the anxiety of it. And as Maura and I drifted, we both saught solice in this little Dachshund, who’s simplicity and child like love could never imagine dividing himself in half over us, as Maura and I ourselves did. 

I miss Dorian. I miss having a dog. Simply that. I miss having that routine example of what love might be like without fear, without greed, without even a scrap of remorse. A love willing to go dripping wet and sopping into whatever world as long as it keeps them near. 

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tether

*

when the winds of whim & woe 
threaten to whip and lay waste 
our weathered, winnowed vessel;

as emotional electrical storms erupt 
emitting intermittent lightning strikes, 
causing men and women alike to scurry home
to society’s cerebral shelters;

i am an anchor that tethers;

in a sea of scienter and temporal tempests
threatening to toss us to and fro at high tide,
against cragged, unforgiveable coral;

which, would we make its’ acquaintance,
would spell the end 
of all we love, hope and hold true, 
in other words - we’d die.

i plumb the depths.

rusty, crusted and stolid,
i am an anchor;

long may i anc.
*

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Home is Where the Mind is

“I really like it here.”

“I know you do,” he replied. “I like it, too.”

“The last time I came here, I was happy—you wouldn’t believe it. Going back was…” I looked away from his knowing gaze and snorted bitterly as I recalled leaving the only place I considered home. “I felt really—everything was just really different and…wrong,” I finished meekly.

I thought he stopped listening after my snort which was why, when I looked back, I was startled to see him still focused on me so intently. For three breathes, he said nothing—just watched me the way you’d watch someone after they describe to you every wax and wane of the calla lily they keep locked away in their heart, every curve of its single petal, every kind of bow to its bending stem.

“I see it in you,” he said and before I could ask him what it is he saw, he was already telling me. “The sadness, I see it in your eyes. The struggle to—“

“—happiness takes work,“ I interrupted defensively, trying to justify what he saw.

“—I know it does. But, you know, happiness isn’t about the place you’re in.” He tapped my temple gently with his index and middle fingers before saying, “It’s in here.”

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impress

i could throw together
an adjective or two
and those words
may just impress you
for only a minute or two

but of all the words
i write in english
or with my pen
none could ever bring
the true meaning
of my love for you
until times' end

you see when my bones grow old and brittle
and my skin begins to wrinkle
these words will stand tall and true
they'll never ever alter in their view