Category Archives: Intimacies, Prose. Poems and Stories

The Meeting

The Meeting

They’ve seen each other only once in thirty years & that was a brief meal in a crowded restaurant in New York. Only their mothers have known them longer & yet their knowledge of each other’s history is vague . . . so many years with no connection. On this occasion, they must cautiously . . . feel their way.


Each orders a glass of wine. White. & the first tells something of his son & his daughter who are at work in California & the other counters with the history of his son who is now in Athens & then they speak briefly of their wives & something about their work & one has ordered another wine & the other coffee & . . .

In a recent dream, the second one beginsI watched you walk away in a snowstorm, you know, the kind we knew as kids . . . big drifts on either side of the road & even after I called out you kept going & I assumed you heard me but you were always intent on your own vision & I was too far away & the light had changed to dark & I remember sitting down in the snow & crying . . . knowing you wouldn’t be back . . .

& the first admits, it was just like that but I wasn’t so intent on my vision as much as I wanted to get away  . . . find what I might do if I were really alone & then I just kept going & when I came around a corner there you were in the snow & I couldn’t bring myself to turn back but couldn’t face you either & spent the night in a strange room in a house just down the block & around the corner . . .

& then the second one says, there was another dream. In this dream you’re carrying a body & struggling to keep it on your shoulder & I’m walking at your side & you keep trying to pass the body to me but my hands are frozen & you offer to rub them but your hands are full so we sit down – you with your extra body & me with my frozen hands . . .

Yes! the first one exclaims, Yes! we were on our way overland to Berlin . . . it was after the second war & we were still kids but we knew enough to hide when we saw adults & I knew they’d taken my aunt & uncle & my father had dragged his mom & dad out of the way just in time & he’d given me the body of my cousin to carry & we got lost at the docks where there were so many others & I saw you way ahead & called & you came &

But, wait!  Do you ever think of the time, the first one askswhen we cornered Patsy from across the street & asked her to pee for us & we would for her & she sat down & all we heard was the sound of her water running on the stones but when she wanted to see us & I ran to the back of the garage & pissed alone while you took it out & let go right in front of her . . .

& they laugh together over the story but fall silent again & the second one orders another wine while the first abstains & the second, who is becoming more animated, says, I have another dream – well, maybe not a dream but a memory of us in a canoe & we’re adrift in an eddy on a fast river in northern Michigan when all of a sudden the canoe starts to move on its own & we’re swept downstream & we’re carrying the carton of food for the rest & there’s a snake under the  provisions & the canoe tips & the snake goes free but so do all our goods & . . .

Yes! Yes! You swam to shore & tossed a  line & we secured the boat &… the first one is very excited & then he remembers something & stops in mid-sentence & says, Wait! It wasn’t you it was that crazy ‘Swede’ who dove in & saved the day & us but the second wants to go on with his version & says, Yes! It was “Swede” who dove in but I trapped the box & kept it from following the canoe downstream & . . .

They both sip their drinks & laugh at their childhood & decide to order their meal & the first one says, I’ve been thinking a lot about eternity. & the second one looks up from his cream of mushroom soup . . . Yes, I’m thinking of taking a trip to Israel to visit Calvary . . . maybe feel what he might have felt & maybe make my peace with my transition & the second one says, What about a Buddhist retreat or a Klamath sweat lodge or . . . the first one interrupts & says, No! That’s not my history. It has to be from my past . . . not just anyone’s.  I’ve thought of other Jews but his is the most obvious . . . the most notorious . . . & I need to learn from one of my own.

& the second one nods & says, I’ve been thinking of eternity too but in another way. I’ve been trying to balance suicide with an indeterminate stay & have already purchased all I’ll need.

But what does that have to do with eternity, Says the first one. I mean, dying isn’t the issue. What comes next & how to prepare is the issue. & the second one finally pushes his soup aside & says,

I’ve had another dream.  This one didn’t feature you but, when I knew we would meet, I think, after all, maybe it did. In this dream there’s a road which runs up a mountain & at the top another road which runs off to the right except, at the end of that road, there’s a cliff & no where to go but off the edge.  & I raced up the mountain intent on going on & ran down as fast as I could & off the cliff & . . . I flew . . .I actually flew off the cliff &

sailed over the green fields & landed easily on another road & kept walking & thinking about that flight & how easy it was & how there wasn’t panic but more . . . a state of peace . . .

The waiter opens a bottle of red wine which the first one tastes & approves.  Their entrees arrive & the first one, relishing a taste of the wine, says, Do you remember the time you had a fight with that guy from the other block. You couldn’t or wouldn’t hit him but he beat your head & If I remember you did get in a few before your nose started to bleed & we had to get you a box of Kleenex & . . .

the second one nods between bites of his quail & says, I never was any good at a fight . . . but years later, I found myself up against a drunk in the street & cool as can be I used his head like a punching bag . . . jab here, jab there & the poor guy couldn’t get away & finally we stopped & he still came around & tried to kick in the window of my car . . .

Wait, says the first one, let’s talk about your dream of the mountain & the road & where do I come in? & the second one says, I think I was dreaming of how our meeting after all these years was to be like a run up a mountain & maybe I needed to know it would all be OK.

& the first one, having finished his steak & another glass of wine says, It may surprise you but I’ve had my share of dreams these past weeks & some of them have to do with you or us or however that goes. The last one was several nights ago. I was having a hard time staying asleep & finally dozed & saw a snowball fight where you were out in the open & we were behind our homemade fort & we kept pelting you as you came across the field but you wouldn’t stop even after an ice-ball hit you in the eye & broke your glasses – you kept coming like a bear in your heavy winter coat & we couldn’t stop you

& . . . that’s where it ends . . . you’re climbing the wall of the fort with blood in you eye & the snow is turning red & I can see you but I can’t hear you . . . & there’s blood everywhere & . . .

he stops & wipes his lips & shakes off a smile & continues I think we ended up at my house with a plate of cookies but that part is lost . . . & the second one, who’s been sitting up & listening says, it never was like you to get angry – maybe it was me who made you angry enough to toss the ice-ball . . . maybe . . .

But, it wasn’t me!! cries the first one, startling the waiter, It wasn’t me! Jesus! I swear it wasn’t & you know how I helped you into the house – don’t you remember – it wasn’t me . . .

They skip desert & order coffee & a pair of inexpensive brandies & after a few minutes the first one asks, do you remember watching Mrs. Coleman undressing for her bath & how I said I bet we could see your mother too & how mad you got & there were the others hanging around & they all started to laugh & chime in & how you left & we didn’t see you for days & . . .

& the second one, looks at his watch & says, I must leave soon but I’m more interested in another time & I keep thinking, does he remember Fox River, when we both wanted to date the same girl & she asked us to chose & you said “Go ahead” & I wasn’t sure you meant it & said, “No. You!” & we started to shove each other & soon it got rough & we were hitting & kicking & . . . by then she’d gone off with someone else & the pinball machines were all that were left & we ended up not speaking & walking home in the dark  . . .

& the first one lifts his hand & signals for the waiter & they sit a few minutes longer sipping their brandies & their bill arrives & they spend a few minutes more dividing up & clasp hands at the door & outside they wave good-bye & turn once more to wave & then go on.


I want to tell you about that time in Winnemucca . . . it was July & I was on my way to visit mother & I’d rolled into a Exxon in the middle of the day, Tuesday, I think, & the attendant asks if I’d like to visit the local whorehouse & I say, No, but, while I’m waiting for the bill, I think it might not be a bad idea with the temperature near ninety-eight & they’re bound to have air-conditioning & it’s just down the street & to the right, he says & I pull up in front & it’s a white clapboard house in the middle of the block, so I knock & the woman who opens the door is wearing a simple housecoat with flowers & clouds & a five pointed star on a very large gold chain & I tell her the gas station attendant & she brings me into a room filled with perfume & its darker than I expect & I have to blink a few times & take the seat she offers, not hers, but one at a bar where she sets up a cold beer & introduces me to a few of the women walking by & one, petite & young with frosted blond hair, sits on my left & another much darker who says she’s part Cherokee & full breasted sits at my right & one at a time then both at once they kiss my neck & want to know what I like best & would I like to come upstairs & see the rooms & maybe since it was so warm & they’re from Louisiana I might buy them a mint-julep & I do all around & we walk upstairs where they have a bath in each room & they take off all their clothes & so do I & we climb into the big tub & soap each other really well & rinse & climb onto the large round bed & first one then the other take their turn on me, first, with their hands & then with their mouths & occasionally they stop to kiss each other & fondle each other & I sip my beer & my mint-julep & I’m very hot & my cock is straining & one slips on a condom & eases me into her & the other comes from behind & begins to lick where I can’t see but can only feel & I don’t want this to end so we switch & I bury my head between the legs of the blond & the other takes me in her mouth & we switch again & I want this to go on but my time is almost up & I ask for more & pay more & they want to show me another part of the house & I don’t want this to end so I follow them naked & straining up another flight of stairs & I smell oranges & there’s Veronica from American History 102 & she’s straddling a large man with a hairy back & calling him Jack & it’s Jack Hammer from the science lab who could always make things explode & she’s sliding up & down on his prick & I think I smell roasted squid & tomatoes & onions & the girls have me between them again & take me to another room where I see mother watching a movie of two dogs fucking in the street & she’s eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream & nibbling lemon cookies & I call to her but she doesn’t seem to hear & the brunette with the full breasts has slipped her arm around me & is delicately probing my ass with a cool & slippery finger & I’m getting very excited again so we stop & the blond kneels down & now it doesn’t take very long with her squeezing me with her tongue & her hands on my balls & the brunette in my ass & as much as I hated it all to end I was going & would & could have & . . . & they just Stop! & now there are four of them & they lead me into another room where they’ve set up a film projector & they put me between them on another round bed & begin to massage me with oils & I smell almond & strawberry & the lights go out & the film begins to roll & they are the stars of the film with a donkey & a football team & each other on the beach & I see myself walking out of the swamp with my pet monkey, Archie, on my shoulder & in the next frame I have Barbara from Accounting on my lap & she’s pressing her naked breast against my mouth which opens & I begin to suck her nipple when a wave washes over us & there’s a blanket on white sand & it’s not Barbara on the blanket but these four girls from Winnemucca & I come by at a run with cops on my heels & they join me & run out the back door of the house & into a Buick Skylark & we’re down the road & headed toward the mountains where it’s cooler & we climb the first rise & the next & the next brings us to a hot spring with a cool stream that runs alongside & we climb into the bath & now there’s just Mona & me & it’s dark & I can hear the call of the loon across the lake & the swoop & swish of owls & up ahead the silhouette of a doe & her fawn & she suggests we walk & we do down the path to a lighted street at the edge of the town where my car is parked with the motor running & mother’s in the back working a crossword puzzle & Mona slips in & so do I & she wants to do it here on the street under the lamp so I let her but I want to too so we both do in a tangle of legs & the gearshift & we’re up-side down or at least I am when I hear a siren very far off & a bugle & the tramp-tramp-tramp of marching feet & when I look up we’re in the middle of a parade & mother’s in the lead & the girls from Winnemucca & Mona & I are on a bed & we’re naked & she’s on top & sliding up & down & the crowd is cheering & the band kicks it up a notch & I shift into first & head for the highway & a straight shot to Reno where I can start fresh & get pretty goods odds on whose in charge.


If I could tell you. If I thought you might believe me.

If I could remember.

I think she was alone. Yes. & I think there were two men or maybe women. It was hazy & I’m never certain anymore. & she seemed happy to be there. Very happy. But who can be sure? I carry my own weight, as they say & never intrude . . . but it was her, I swear. & I would do it again if I could but it’s too late. But, it was her, I swear & when they began to cross the bridge I noticed a light & then a sound I’m not used to & Yes. there was an explosion & there were flames & the building collapsed & all I remember was the cloud it raised & the eventual silence . . . & sirens – they came later & I looked down to see her again & she was gone.

It was a clear night. I remember. The moon was full & in spite of the glare from the city, there were even a few stars & I did see her. I’m sure. She was with a crowd from the opera or symphony. I don’t go anymore. & she was wearing a black leather trench coat, the kind you see in foreign movies from the 40’s & she was on the arm of a woman in red . . . Yes. A red smock, the kind a painter wears & they were kissing & I was entranced & then they stopped & the fire & the explosion & I ran & No. I haven’t seen either of them.

I know her. Yes! Very well. & she can’t be trusted. I remember a time when she could but that was years ago . . . That night, Yes. I remember. She was with him & they had left the party early, early enough to have been there. I know. I was there too. & the next thing I know, they were running & there was the explosion & the rush of hot air & I fell & when I could get up I saw them – I’m sure it was them – running away & laughing.

I was with her. Yes. Hand in hand. We had much to talk about & much to settle & it was between us & no one else & when we left the lounge we walked, as we’ve often done, to the park & stopped for a crepe & a coffee & after a while – oh, maybe thirty minutes, we walked to the river & started across the bridge & stopped to watch the passing skulls & the fisherman reeling in for the night & we walked further & it was then it happened & we fell to the road & held each other & I heard her pray.

Of course it was her. Who else do you think. She’s been planning this for months & she had the time & the connections. I should know. She confided in me. I’ve spent the last six months following her & to be sure, I’ve hired others & rented rooms close by . . . & to think you let her slip through . . . & Why? Why now? Why come with your lame excuses & theories & no one to back you up . . . where were you when I was there & ready & could have stopped it all – could have saved the day.

You must be nuts. Her. No way. She hasn’t been home let alone here for weeks. I know. I live next door & we usually have coffee in the morning & maybe a croissant or two & No. In fact, the last I time we met in the market & she was complaining about the heat & how a trip to the mountains was what she needed & asked me to feed her cat, Salome, but changed her mind & said an aunt would do it or she would take it to the kennel & now you ask me – Ha. Who do you think she is . . .? & if so, you are mistaken!

Women. I’m not certain how many but quite a few & after ten. Yes. I’m certain. The news was on in my car & I remember the chimes from St. Michael’s & they were walking & one had a lantern & swung it like a sensor & they stopped & formed a circle & one came to the center & picked a partner & held her close & the rest swirled around them & then the explosion & the smoke & I couldn’t see.

Why do you ask so many questions? & why do you look so hard for me? I’m here. I live where I’ve always lived & have not hidden from you or anyone else. But you insist on asking others instead of coming to me & I resent that. How dare you. You have no right. & Now. Here I am. What do you want of me? Is it that night? Is that what you want? To know that night . . . I’ll tell you but not because I think you deserve it . . . it’s for myself that I will tell you.

I was walking along the river & stopped for a cigarette when I saw a man rowing across the river which is odd since most rowers go up & down but this one was rowing across & when he disappeared in the fog I left for the café where they know me well & I sat in my usual seat near the door & when it happened, I don’t know, the windows shook & we all hid our faces & someone cried “God” & then the police & I don’t know what else.

May I speak? Thank you. In fact, there was no woman. Yes, that’s right. No Woman. In fact, there was no one on the bridge that night. How do I know? I’m the attendant for that bridge & at precisely ten o’clock I chained the gate to that walk & within an hour, all the others as well. If she was there – if anyone was on the bridge, they had to climb over my gate or swim & climb up & the current is strong – as you should know.

The Giddy Girls

The giddy girls in their tight spring jeans swarm the coffee bars at five & tease the boys who pass & the men who give a quick glance & dart ahead. One comes to the door of the café & smiles in your face & says in perfect English, “I’ve seen you before” & you stop & hold out your hand & offer her a ride & she accepts & away you go in a rush of air up the mountain & she screams as if delighted but is not & demands to be home before the sun sets & you gear down but can’t quite make the grade & she hops off & sticks a raised finger in your face & wags her ass as she hops the metro for her quick escape & as usual the sun does set & as usual you walk down Casanova & stop for your wine at El Zapato where the band plays Night Train & takes you up to Harlem where the living is easy & the only mountain to climb is the bar stool you’re on & you order another & keep on going to the end of the line where Beatrice & Sofia help you down & carry you home for a full-blown exchange of sweat & champagne & you laugh & wave to all who pass & say out loud, “Honey, this here’s my world & my ticket to ride!”

As Our Train Passes

As our train passes through the valley the men huddle at the windows to watch the women dance in the waning light. As the train picks up speed they dance faster, some run along side, one lifts her breast to be kissed, another lies down in the grass & spreads her body wide for he who has the nerve to come into her & the train passes onto a red plain where a town once stood & relics still burn & there’s a lone black horse & a wolf with green eyes & a boy with a whip & we’re in the canyon & half-way across & the bells begin & we hold ours ears (as we’ve been told) but they pry their way inside & there’s the clawing of the cat (as we’ve been told) & we reach for our lover’s hand & look into her eyes & wait for the wind that’s been promised & the patiently evasive moon . . .