Old Man Scanlon’s
Old Man Scanlon’s

Letters from the Village

“Chopped Liver” will appear in Jewish Literary Journal in March 2015.

“Benched” will appear in Apocrypha and Abstractions in August 2015.

“Route 44” and “Vulture Love” will appear in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine in February 2015.

Presbyograms

27 June 2015
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It’s a Saturday of picayune irritations followed instantly by small jewels of compensation. On the way to my afternoon walk at the Attleboro commuter rail station both lanes yield to… [more]
28 May 2015
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This was the year Uncle Russell no longer had the wherewithal to make his annual Memorial Day pilgrimage to place flowers on the family graves, and this was the week Cheryl moved him to a… [more]
19 February 2015
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Decades ago, so desperately did I desire to be immortal, I would fantasize about joining the undead. Endowed with the supernatural powers of the best-selling fictional vampire… [more]
02 January 2015
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During our drive to Hull Cheryl spots six hawks on the interstate in quick succession, perched in low trees in the median. Even without inspecting their entrails this… [more]
06 October 2014
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Apparent train-kill, a sparrow lies contorted on the commuter rail platform, only nominally three-dimensional, his days of scavenging fast-food french fries over and done. The soaring… [more]
09 August 2014
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Opportunistic stray dragonflies, sometimes nibbling on a hapless bluebottle, alight on me with a rustle while I read and contemplate in my driveway beach chair, resisting… [more]
19 April 2014
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My job for the last two Passovers has been to make the chopped liver. I had never tasted it, indeed had no acquaintance whatsoever with it except in its rhetorical… [more]
22 January 2014
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There are words as good as forgotten through disuse and resurrected by chance, words acquired in my fishing days when I had scarcely attained… [more]
23 December 2013
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Perusing online submission guidelines, I notice that in plain sight among the calls for fiction and poetry are calls for recipes. I notice, I say, but have given little thought to why we write about food. Maybe it’s just another excuse… [more]
12 August 2013
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Movies allow us to perceive discrete static slices of time as a continuous flow, an artifice in which our brain conspires. Slow motion, ubiquitous in sports television, expands… [more]
31 July 2013
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An organ pipe mud dauber is building a nest in the ornamental tin-roofed wren house Cheryl hung by the door. I hear her stridulating at her masonry work, and see… [more]
10 June 2013
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Pencil to paper, my grandson copies theorems out of the text-book, the better to cement them into his mind and make them his own. He’s studying for his geometry… [more]
29 May 2013
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For love and duty Gram and I went to our twin granddaughters’ final middle school chorus performance. Unlike the interminable ordeal of a dance recital… [more]
21 April 2013
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No longer having the excuse of a decrepit dysfunctional aortic valve—I have thus far been unable to exceed modern medical technology’s ability to fix me—I recently rode my bicycle for the first time in two years… [more]
27 February 2013
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I never expected to prove my doctors fallible, but I decisively surpassed my prognosis of death by age forty. And as if death could not happen… [more]
16 January 2013
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More night-owl than early bird, I have little desire to deepen my casual acquaintance with rosy-fingered dawn. Well after sunrise my morning is supposed to be a time… [more]
28 December 2012
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As a new year impends and winter claws its way up its freshly secured beachhead, I could easily do worse than slither into a ratty sweater of a color not found in nature, finish off… [more]
01 December 2012
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I was intrigued to find, during some basic genealogical research, that my grandchildren are one-sixteenth Portuguese, and are therefore adequately “ethnic.” In this… [more]
01 December 2012
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A haircut, at least after successfully completing the standard long-haired rebellion against materialist bourgeois conformity, can be one of life’s… [more]
14 November 2012
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On their first bikes without training wheels, my twin granddaughters raced each other down the street, shouting, pedaling like maniacs… [more]
01 October 2012
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The year is 1972, and we’ve pretty much sewn up second place in the Southeast Asia War Games. I’m about to receive my math degree, and with it, relief and a quandary. For four years I’ve been parrying… [more]
12 September 2012
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As a nerd I lead, appropriately enough, a binary existence: oblivious to my environment, or gawking freely and unreservedly to provide a never-ending stream… [more]
24 July 2012
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Cheryl, to the amusement of our friends, loves to start bemoaning the end of summer as soon as the days first perceptibly begin to shorten, long before Labor Day. This year… [more]
02 June 2012
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Just as it was becoming widely fashionable to despise America and flaunt one’s tolerance of Commies, my friend Cav and I engaged in behind-the-scenes operations… [more]
03 May 2012
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Some days just can’t be bothered to deal me an idyll with my grandchildren. On the other hand, seldom can I… [more]
First Impression
01 June 2015
June introduces itself with a sparse fitful pinpoint drizzle out of the northeast, the usual source of our nastiest weather. But the unirrigated grass at the soccer field’s margin no longer crunches like shredded wheat underfoot. Clover abounds, my favorite milieu for youthful catch-and-release honeybee hunting. Making my day, a red-shouldered hawk screams by just above the treetops, vengeful peasants in hot pursuit.
Après Moi
21 April 2015
Wakefulness at 4:00 A.M. usually brings me foreboding; it is indeed the darkest hour. Today, though, it’s a paroxysmal lung-everting cough. After an hour I still can’t divine the romance in dying of consumption. Instead I hear thunder and frenzied wind chimes. Jackbooted mice race over my roof and onto my neighbor’s: the quick burst of a passing front’s first fat raindrops. Sometimes a deluge follows. Not tonight.
April Showers
19 April 2015
So little does it take to mitigate the horrors of IRS Form 1040, a spider in the mailbox, or repeatedly snagging pinkie toe on errant elastic while slithering one’s foot into a recalcitrant sock: Cheryl’s swift soft peck on the temple as I type at the computer, Bach’s Ascension Oratorio with the volume at 11, spring’s first dandelion. Anticipating spring’s first dandelion. Remembering last spring’s first dandelion.
Anticipation
09 April 2015
Redwings have long since broken February’s austere stillness and men in tights prowl the roads on thin bicycles, but we still have winter foliage: stands of bleached-out beeches, the occasional raggedy brown oak leaf, and buds not yet quickening. Part of spring’s considerable charm is knowing what’s ahead, but not when or in what order. They’re not here yet, but they will come—for me, the first peeper makes it real.
Foundation
04 April 2015
Even discounting the unfounded human propensity to believe things always turn out for the best, I can’t regret a failed first marriage that was an essential precursor to life as I now know it. During yeoman service as a horrible example that marriage didn’t lack high points: I owe thanks to my first wife for introducing me to capers, German wine, and for browbeating me into attending an exhibit of Rembrandt’s prints.
Ritual
03 April 2015
I’m ransacking the cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator. They disgorge olive oil. Salt, ginger, peppercorns, paprika. Onions and sherry. Measuring cup and spoons. Liver, garlic, and eggs. Bowed cutting board, concavity down so it won’t slip. Knife, grinder, bowl. Gathering tools and materials and arranging them optimally center me for making the Seder’s chopped liver: crucial minutes but never acknowledged in recipes.
Milestones
27 February 2015
This year my grandson turns eighteen, my granddaughters turn sixteen, and today I turn sixty-five. At the corner pizzeria a lunch of kale soup and cabernet; I won’t mention the fried banana rings. This evening Cheryl and I gorge on Nebraska—twice now—understated, masterfully paced, cast, and acted. A quarter century ago I hadn’t the wit to conceive of gifts like these, let alone of living long enough to receive them.
Boxing Day
26 December 2014
Gram and I, our grandchildren, and their mother lunch on Christmas leftovers followed by Godiva chocolates. We open one final round of gifts. Gram and grandson go for a walk. Mom takes one girl to practice driving in a deserted parking lot. Her twin sister dozes on the couch while I polish off food scraps and coffee. The boy dresses for work; I knot his tie. Temporal. Quotidian. Mundane. Moments that bring me joy.
Back Bay
14 December 2014
I memorize maps, and can freely indulge getting lost only when I’m not responsible for anyone else. I feel in my bones why my granddaughters are worrying about getting off the train at the right stop on their first solo trip to Boston. I badly want to escort them, but I know it’s purely selfish. They must do it by themselves; I hope and fear they will. I don’t even trust myself to go to the station to see them off.

More shorts…

Links

My Photographs

The Eyes of Old Man Scanlon

Journals

5x5

7x20 (Seven By Twenty)

The Adroit Journal

Apeiron Review

Apocrypha and Abstractions

BluePrintReview

Cleaver Magazine

Cuento Magazine

escarp

Feathered Flounder

FictionDaily

Foliate Oak Literary Magazine

Front Porch Review

Hippocampus Magazine

Journal of Microliterature

land that I live

The Montucky Review

Otoliths

Philly Flash Inferno

Prick of the Spindle

Prime Number

Red Fez

Sabotage

Short, Fast, and Deadly

Sleet Magazine

Spry Literary Journal

Stymie

Three Line Poetry

Vine Leaves Literary Journal

Journals, defunct after publishing (or accepting) my work

Y’all’d’ve

Thickjam

High Coup Journal

Trachodon

Caper Literary Journal

Tiny Lights

Barefoot Review

Camroc Press Review

Writers’ Bloc (Rutgers)

The Writer’s Eye Magazine

Barrier Islands Review

The Literary Burlesque

Magnolia’s Press

Sea Stories

Bookstores

Providence, RI: Cellar Stories Bookstore

Attleboro, MA: Ugly Dog Books

Falmouth, MA: Eight Cousins