Incidental Courage in the Crevices

I’ve taken someone’s advice and picked up David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary – what a potent little delight!  Immediately slid into place with Alain de Botton’s On Love and Macedonio Fernandez’ The Museum of Eterna’s Novel; Jesse Ball’s The Curfew and The Way Through Doors.  Also moved me back to Daniel Handler’s Adverbs and (so-far) wonderful Why We Broke Up.  In the process, feeling forever stunted as a “writer,” I cracked A. Alvarez’ The Writer’s Voice yesterday to these jewels:

“For freelance writers like myself who belong to an endangered species which, as long ago as 1949 Cyril Connolly was already calling ‘the last known herd in existence of that mysterious animal the man of letters,’ writing is less a compulsion than a misfortune, like a doomed love affair.  We write because we fell in love with language when we were young and impressionable, just as musicians fall in love with sound, and thereafter are doomed to explore this fatal attraction in as many ways as we can…fifty years of writing for a living have taught me that there is only one thing the four disciplines have in common: in order to write well you must first learn how to listen.  And that, in turn, is something writers have in common with their readers.  Reading well means opening your ears to the presence behind the words and knowing which notes are true and which are false.  It is as much an art as writing well and almost as hard to acquire.”

Flustercucks – aborted short stories

here’s a story begun for Fluster Magazine’s short story competition…ended all too briefly?

Dropping the Mask

It is clear that we called for the meeting to leave something behind.

I don’t believe that either of us questioned its integrity, intentions.

We both of us asking to know.


It had been long in coming, decades.  Still not yet old we hoped to find some kind of truth and choosing.  A discovery discovering.  Both an offering, a revelation, no lives to be lost.


I had never seen her this way.  Never this close nor this complicated.  I allowed her to undress, even asked her to.  I did my best as well, to arrive ready, with a thousand masks.


Long navigation.  The years had dug channels, paved roads.  The routes were secret, but we remembered, as if written on the palms of our hands.  We read them with our eyes, began to retrace.


I made the first call, in order to argue, to work something out.  Why we never, nor knew.  Our stories paralleled – the subterfuge, pain, and the pathways of scars.  We dug to heal, opening the wounds.


We held it together, even with weapons.  To cleave – cut and joined.  Rifts and bridges.  His truths were all lies, logically constructed.  I sprayed mine as graffiti on his monuments, defaced.  Undone.


I guess each truth is a lie to something else.  Our stories held water and ran.  We found ourselves somewhere in their flow and stood together as a base in cascade.  In the thundering rain the masks dissolved and our veils clung to our bodies, sheer.


What we experienced together we did not forget, but forged a place for it.  Here and now.  We began.  Possessions and pasts stolen, we clung and feigned, using only our skin and joined breaths – our voicings.  Fluid in a world of statues.


Something fell away, eventuating our silence.  We departed the space we had filled, abandoning its form bags packed full.  I felt I’d left something behind, still checking my pockets and luggage.


He preferred the weight he carried, holding him secure and anchored to the earth.  I chose the flight, and the destination, returning us unharmed.  My pillowcase was empty, nothing lost, nothing gained.  Of much was made.


I guess we masked our joy in difficulty.

  Which fell to the ground in our separate ways.


“This is how we originate and how we are formed: a slapdash piece of work, subject to the vagaries of time and the blunders of brief opportunities”

-Michel Serres-


N Filbert 2012