Old Man Scanlon’s
Old Man Scanlon’s

Letters from the Village

“Half Full” will appear in Front Porch Review in October 2015.

“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.


10 August 2015
Halfway through my seventh decade I realize I have gained in modesty, at least in the sense of exposing skin. It is partly because I have a clearer vision of my nerd body’s attractiveness. My face is a thing of… [more]
19 February 2014
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 June 2013
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]
14 July 2015
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…


My Photographs

The Eyes of Old Man Scanlon



7x20 (Seven By Twenty)

The Adroit Journal

Apeiron Review

Apocrypha and Abstractions


Cleaver Magazine

Cuento Magazine


Feathered Flounder


Foliate Oak Literary Magazine

Front Porch Review

Hippocampus Magazine

Journal of Microliterature

land that I live

The Montucky Review


Philly Flash Inferno

Prick of the Spindle

Prime Number

Red Fez


Short, Fast, and Deadly

Sleet Magazine

Spry Literary Journal


Three Line Poetry

Vine Leaves Literary Journal

Journals, defunct after publishing (or accepting) my work



High Coup Journal


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


Providence, RI: Cellar Stories Bookstore

Attleboro, MA: Ugly Dog Books

Falmouth, MA: Eight Cousins