Old Man Scanlon’s
Old Man Scanlon’s

Letters from the Village

“Desperate” will appear in Rose Red Review in September 2016.

“Mixmaster” will appear in Front Porch Review in October 2016.

“Eutectic” will appear in Star 82 Review in Fall 2016.

“Anniversary” will appear in The Vignette Review in June 2016.

“As I Am Now So You Shall Be” will appear in Cicatrix Publishing in May 2016.

“Avenue” will appear in Apocrypha and Abstractions in April 2016.

“Atlantic Dystopia” will appear in Cleaver Magazine in June 2016.

“April Showers” will appear in Beechwood Review.

Presbyograms

17 May 2016
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The maples are full-fledged. The oaks aren’t far behind, and they’re already fueling the gentle patter of caterpillar frass on my car roof. Roadsides burgeon with celandine and yellow rocket, augmenting the initial explosion… [more]
25 March 2016
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To augment my blathering small-talk about how getting older beats the alternative, I offer another cliché: there is no free lunch. Because we old guys know so much and have such vast… [more]
06 December 2015
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I scored a moment of grace at Costco, an unexpected temporary unraveling of the ligatures that bind us to place and time, all the sweeter for the incongruity of its venue. Having no expectations is a necessary but not… [more]
21 November 2015
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I’ve spent the better part of my life blind to the fine points of our national pastime—more than the fine points. I remember watching baseball after Sunday dinner, on a snowy over-the-air black-and-white… [more]
16 October 2015
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My granddaughters exit their high school and cruise toward my car, slim, poised, and even if you must discount a grandfather’s bias, beautiful. But their faces are immobile, oblivious to the crystalline cloudless September afternoon. Ah, I think,… [more]
05 September 2015
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Cheryl and I honor Uncle Edward for the matter-of-factness, good cheer, and indeed courage with which he faced the greater part of the vicissitudes of his later life—and we smile when we remember Edward, the shoe aficionado. He grew up in… [more]
14 July 2015
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With spray paint and testosterone-enriched brutishness kids emblazon their noms de guerre on boxcars and buildings, indeed on anything conspicuous and approximately flat… [more]
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]
08 June 2015
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Dad squandered no time trying to teach me how to throw a football or hit a baseball. That would have been heartbreaking for us both, and for similar reasons. He taught me how 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]
29 May 2014
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Cheryl and I are dreading these last few yards—so easy to know the right thing, so hard to do it. We’re here to pay our respects to an aged friend. We’d had word… [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]
19 February 2014
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My ideal visit to the city is get in, deal as quickly as possible with whatever compels me to be here, and get the hell home. Though I hear of people who voluntarily live in cities, there is nothing for me that can make it worth… [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]
24 November 2013
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Stuck in traffic, Cheryl asks, “What’s the longest word you can make from Silverado?” So I’m on it, and we toss words back and forth. She’s a nerd, which will be no surprise if you subscribe to the birds-of-a-feather… [more]
18 August 2013
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Twenty or so years ago Disney World introduced me to vultures, for which I thank them. Aside from a poorly-suppressed recurring nightmare starring Space Mountain, that’s all I remember of the whole… [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]
22 June 2013
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Midsummer’s day comes with chicory-blue skies. Some fuzzy whiteness down at the horizon means a little humidity, but a fine breeze neutralizes it. Cheryl and I walk our gimpy dogs at the neighborhood soccer… [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]
Appetite
04 August 2016
Urged by novelty, I dispatch my Caesar salad anchovies. Oatmeal bread carbonizing in the toaster synergizes with Italian-roast coffee. Cheryl avers that my salivary glands clench when she utters “calzone and chardonnay” to me: how promiscuous are appetite’s triggers. My cardiologist assures me that a navel to shoulder to elbow bruise is normal—I devour watermelon, native tomato, and curried shrimp with obscene gusto.
Polyglot
18 May 2016
What a glorious time to be above ground. My great-granddaughter is a month old. Political spectacle to die for. Morning coffee. Spider in my cup, but smallish. Dead, and I saw him before I poured. Yesterday afternoon, because I’m the center of creation, I heard a mockingbird’s stylized rendition of a wood thrush, and that evening I heard the magical prototype. Today he mimicked a killdeer. I know what happens next.
Details
27 February 2016
Another year of the ordinary and inevitable: changes, endings, beginnings. Incompetence, corruption, poor decisions. Pain, suffering, and death. Yet I celebrate, because I must, the small miracles, one-offs and recurring. Kindness from a happy man working for City Hall. Warmth from February sun; year’s first red-winged blackbird. A waitress with unfathomable dexterity tying her apron strings in a bow behind her back.
Rookie Mistake
05 December 2015
Santa-hatted young couple walks to their car. He says, “I’m so bored with everything in life,” all faux world-weariness edged with drama. I’m judgmental: he’s self-absorbed, bereft of soul and wit, bankrupt. As my irritation and impatience subside, I settle on misdemeanor callowness. She says, “Everything-everything? Forever and ever?” She’s not liking how this might go. I don’t think he’s going to get lucky tonight.
Nor Custom Stale
19 October 2015
One joy of grandfatherhood is teaching your grandchildren about your favorite things, thereby making the old new again, and sometimes making aficionados in a new generation: riding a bicycle, melting pennies with a propane torch, Thai yellow curry. This, of course, gets harder as the kids gain experience along with age. I suspect the grandson in Marine boot camp will soon outgrow my finite capacity to supply novelty.
Solidago
02 September 2015
September comes, as it will. My grandchildren return to school, the last wood thrush has sung. I’ve executed a decent Bromley-LaPierre maneuver, allowing me to segue with grace into the new season. Heralded by the katydids of August, my old autumn friends arrive—jewelweed, all the asters, the multifarious goldenrods. They’re welcome, but our friendship easily survives their absence for a year, indeed thrives on it.
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.

More shorts…

Links

My Photographs

The Eyes of Old Man Scanlon

Journals

7x20 (Seven By Twenty)

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The Adroit Journal
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Apeiron Review
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Apocrypha and Abstractions
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Cicatrix Publishing
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Cleaver Magazine
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Cuento Magazine
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escarp
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FictionDaily
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Foliate Oak Literary Magazine
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Front Porch Review
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Gravel Magazine
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Hippocampus Magazine
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Journal of Microliterature
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land that I live
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The Montucky Review
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Otoliths
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Philly Flash Inferno
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Prick of the Spindle
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Prime Number
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Red Fez
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Rose Red Review
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Sabotage
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Sleet Magazine
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Spry Literary Journal
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Star 82 Review
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Stymie
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Three Line Poetry
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The Vignette Review
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Vine Leaves Literary Journal

Journals, defunct after publishing (or accepting) my work

5x5

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Short, Fast, and Deadly
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BluePrintReview
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Feathered Flounder
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Y’all’d’ve
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Thickjam
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High Coup Journal
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Trachodon
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Caper Literary Journal
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Tiny Lights
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Barefoot Review
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Camroc Press Review
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Writers’ Bloc (Rutgers)
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The Writer’s Eye Magazine
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Barrier Islands Review
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The Literary Burlesque
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Magnolia’s Press
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Sea Stories

Bookstores

Providence, RI: Cellar Stories Bookstore

Attleboro, MA: Ugly Dog Books

Falmouth, MA: Eight Cousins