A grand wave that came my way

Yesterday I passed a pageant walker. This was on a nearby street during my morning jog. 

Wearing workout clothes and gloves, he waved to me in solidarity as I passed in the opposite direction. He was walking down the center of the road, keeping a temperate pace as I briskly made my way down the sidewalk.

A thirty-something of petite stature with a relaxed and confident smile, his wave was slow and theatrical, not quick and to the point. It embodied stateliness and grandeur, as if he had been among other notables in the Macy’s Day Parade along 6th Avenue en route to Herald Square for some step and repeat to please the crowds.

He wore a white shirt — a rather loud adornment at such an early hour. The sun had not yet even risen.

The man who lives near my house

I walk through my complex to start my jog several times a week. It’s still dark out, and I begin my run near the big tree across from the leasing office.

In the morning the sky is pretty because I can still see the stars, and I usually spot a constellation or two. 

Today, the man was not yet outside smoking. I see him when I go by his home, on the corner where I turn to head down the block to the park. This morning his paper was still in his driveway.

The other day I saw him, having apparently returned from 7-Eleven across the street. He held his bag of groceries, and he flicked on a small flashlight and began reading headlines near his garage door while his paper was still in its wrapper, which I thought was peculiar. He was squinting and trying to make out the words through the plastic.

Most times the man nods when he sees me pass. 

He is tall and older and wears a ball cap when he comes out to smoke. With that hat on and his demeanor and style of dress, he looks like he should live in the country and be on a John Deere. 

The other morning, when it was chilly, he said, “Beautiful out.” I was running by with my hood on. “I wish it would stay like this,” I replied.

He then stared across the street at the horizon over the buildings, like he often does, as the sky reddened with dawn.

Make this restaurant great again

In the triple-digit heat, three unmasked older couples sat out on the patio under the misters, sharing a table and talking with gusto in a release of all the gossip and opinion that had been bottled up inside them for months

I awaited my take-out order near the register, wearing my bandana over my mouth and nose and my surgical mask layered over it.

The waitress wore a Betty Boop mask. She had thick, long eyelashes and blue eye shadow. I watched her as she, wearing a pair of blue surgical gloves, poured red wine into three large goblets and placed them on a tray.

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On cheesecake

You can sit down to cheesecake.

Served on proper plates with a fork, you cut into it for a well-selected piece.

Cheesecake is romance food, and if you eat it solo, these are special moments with yourself.

To eat cheesecake is to dominate and get what you want: it’s pliable yet firm, with no falling apart at the last minute and little cleanup afterward.

Cheesecake is pleasure with precision.

And because you are being so decadent, you are accordingly proper while eating it.

Summer casualties

Everything colorful was gone from the woman’s flower beds, despite all her ardent work. The summer just wouldn’t allow anything other than perennial green now.

Listening to Chopin’s tender Nocturnes as dusk descended, I gazed into her yard at a wheelbarrow holding slender planks of oak she had acquired for a trellis. A large ceramic pot sat hollow inside the wheelbarrow belly, along with smaller plastic pots — summer casualties, all lumped together and parked in the shadow of an awning.

Sunday morning at Charlie Frias

Up ahead I see a man lounging on the pavement in shorts — no shoes, no socks, no shirt. Leaning up against a utility box, he is a white man tanned browner than a band aid. His feet nearly reach the curb, so I step off my bike and wheel it gingerly past him. We exchange good mornings, and I hop back on and head toward Tropicana Avenue to hang a left.

It’s warm out for my first trip to Charlie Frias Park in Las Vegas. Riding on sidewalks is legal here, so I take advantage of it sometimes when the streets have no bicycle lanes.
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My story is online at Entropy magazine

My creative nonfiction story The Size of Hummingbirds was posted yesterday at Entropy magazine.

There was an American robin on a bough above us guarding its nest. I had pointed it out to Rob, as well as the male grackle that had been looming higher in the tree for several days, as if setting its sights on raiding the nest.

The story is included in Entropy’s ongoing series The Birds, which features fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and essays.

My great-grandmother lived into her late 90s

In my late great-grandmother’s building on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx

about a block from my old Catholic elementary school
the stairs creaked like a rocker on the front porch
they had resonance as if empty crates walked upon.
A skunky amalgam of boiled cabbage and potatoes
still in their dusty, cratered skins always permeated
the air as I climbed to the third floor for a visit.
They were the smells of death and aging
but still I knew they were not emanating from my
great-grandmother’s since she was from Sicily (died in her late 90s)
and cooked accordingly. Besides, she did mostly baking:
Those cookies she’d make by the batch, we had named
them “rocks,” crafted with a thick chocolate glaze stiffened
to a shell, and the inside with nuts and dried fruits
and all the warmth and texture of the earth.
They had a shelf life of almost forever