James Dean’s Mother

James Dean’s Mother

I found a bio of James Dean at a garage sale for a quarter. When I travel I like to take incidental-looking little paperbacks, old or thin or otherwise disposable-looking; then I can discard them when I’m done, or, if they turn out to be good, give them away to friends I’m […]

How Clinging Happens

And never sacrifice; for if you sacrifice you cannot forgive and you cannot forget.


Freedom makes even love beautiful.


I am not talking here about the natural clinging of the infant to its mother; primate babies, including humans, have a powerful grip designed to enable them to grasp their mother’s fur. I think […]

A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919

A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919

Two-year-old Virginia is missing

Her parents look throughout the tidy

Wooden house

Where yellow curtains glow

They go outside and peer

In the shady woods

Where a brook chuckles a sudden secret

And small shy forest mammals

Are gone to earth

Among the violets like watching […]

Exploding Toilet

My father loved fireworks. My brothers tell me that before I came along, he would, each Fourth of July, take a babies’ bathtub out on the crabgrassy front lawn and fill it with water from the hose. Then he’d put into it a thing from his lab: sodium metal, a highly toxic, explosive-in-water substance. The […]

A Particular Silence

One evening two thousand of us sat with folded legs on cushions in a vast oval hall with a marble floor and walls of mosquito netting. High overhead arched a roof made of tough fabric supported by metal beams. The tropic darkness clung closely to the structure, but we sat in soft light from suspended […]

On Bended Nose

Once, rather long ago, a wee baby girl curled up like a seedling in her mother’s womb, and maybe she was eventually pressing her face against its warm walls so hard, trying to see what was going on out there, that her little nose got smashed, or maybe she was trying to look away and […]