ESSAY

A coffee slave survives the pandemic

Illustration by the Author

It began so very gently…

There were whispers, soft and occasional, of some far-flung contagion.

The whispers grew louder and more numerous. Soon everyone was whispering — and eying one another skeptically.

I couldn’t pretend not to notice, on my morning walks-for-coffee, that dozens of citizens were crossing the street to avoid going past me. It was like junior high all over again.

Friends stopped calling or visiting. That was like high school.

For a week-or-so, the strangeness continued unchanged. Then one beautiful morning, someone opened a can of delirium and poured it over the planet. And like billions of…


ESSAY

A reminiscence

Illustration by the Author

I couldn’t sleep anyway — my bank balance was crying in the night — so I decided to spend my wide-eyed evenings digging graves.

Forever Cemetery was called Eternal Rest before the city sold it to a real estate developer. Lavery Holdings changed the name (and doubled the price of plots) but otherwise it was business as usual at the cemetery. It remained a haven both for the dead and the ordinarily unemployable.

“Are you addicted to opiates?” Mr. Lavery asked me, during the job interview.

Before I could answer, he slid a pair of gloves across the table and…


ESSAY

My brief, unhappy career as a caricaturist

All illustrations by the author

Writers don’t generally excel at life. They seldom even excel at writing. But the profession of writing (and writing alone) suits them, whether they’re competent or not. Alas.

The treasure of life, to writers, is having as much time to write well or badly as possible. Writing time is costly, though, and to afford it most writers engage in an activity for which they’re constitutionally unsuited: honest work.

While I still consider myself young, I’ve been younger. And when I was younger (though not much younger), I too engaged in honest work. Outrageously honest. Lots of it.

Good wine helps…


ESSAY

The lion was waking…

Tim Marshall / Unsplash

We crossed the Atlantic by ship, my mother and I. From the Old Country to the New. I was only a boy. The trip took many days, though I remember only one of them. I remember it well…

Even after a week at sea, I still stared at the water, awestruck. A child’s world is a small one, bounded on all sides by rules and limitations. That there could be so much open space in the world… It was incredible to me.

I soon realized, too, that the ocean was more than space. That it was alive.

I looked at…


FICTION

A story for children

Kunst / Giphy

When Twylla West was good (which wasn’t very often), her nanny took her to the Metropolitan Zoo.

And there they were, one day! The two strolled hand-in-hand, wearing red sun hats. All around them, people were pushing and shoving to get a look at the animals. But the only thing the monkeys and tigers and kangaroos did was lay dozing in the shade, not moving a muscle, like a bunch of stuffed animals.

Yes, it was very boring.

So Twylla let go of Nanny Grindle’s hand (which wasn’t allowed) and ran off into the crowd.

“Come back at once!” cried…


POEM

I have been dreaming…

I have ㅤ ㅤbeen dreaming

I have been ㅤ ㅤremembering

I have been dreaming
those dreams ㅤ ㅤof meaning
that come from the waters
of dreaming ㅤ ㅤdeep
like drowned men
to the gold skin
of the ocean

I have been remembering

For there is more ㅤ ㅤof water
in thought ㅤ ㅤand bend
than an arm ㅤ ㅤof the ocean
more ㅤ ㅤin thought ㅤ ㅤof one
than the whole ㅤ ㅤof ocean

She has become the ocean
that edges every
thing
her phantom as the water
of viridian

She has become
the ocean
the folding over
main
the universal water
of…


NEWS

Echo … echo … echo …

Here’s a little news roundup — for anyone who might still be out there…

A have a new short story in Sylvia — a new, paying UK publication. This one’s online only.

I have another short story in En Bloc — another new, paying UK publication. This one’s print only.

UK children’s press Nosy Crow as acquired the rights to my poem “The Moonless Night,” which will be included in their lavish anthology A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year, to be published in 2023.

I have a cartoon in the new issue of Adbusters, on newsstands now.

Rolli

Writer of books (SEA-WAVE, KABUNGO). Drawer of cartoons (Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest). Drinker of coffee. Buy me a ☕️ https://ko-fi.com/rolliwrites

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