The Snowblower

I thought it was as simple as push the button pull the lever or pull the lever push the button. But there I stood first pushing and pulling and then pulling and pushing believing that repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results, wasn’t futile but cathartic.

It was only a winter ago that I’d purchased the electric snowblower counting on the simplicity of it to last more than one year. The gas-powered one had frustrated both me with its fickleness and the environment with the belching of exhaust like a little dragon with indigestion.

But this is about the shiny new electric snowblower with its button and its lever. I was near giving up and returning yet again to the shovel telling myself that the exercise would do me good and that ultimately it was better for the environment. I went into the house to check the manual for something I may have forgotten when I heard it start and then stop my son continuing to push and pull some combination of which must have been the right one. But when I got there it had ceased to work.

I asked him what he did differently, but he didn’t remember, and so we knew there was a way but not what it was. We checked and double checked the plug at both ends and found nothing awry and then the accident happened again, and the truth was known holding the button down while pulling the lever and once it was started releasing the button. Still only a button and a lever and the snow now deeper.

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A Fast Reader

I opened the paper to the editorial page of the Salt Lake Tribune today and watched as a spider, not hairy or scary, ran across Donald Trump’s bare heine. The heine is on Bagley’s cartoon depiction of our emperor’s new clothes.


The spider continued down the page, through the public forum, and vanished while Donald trundled into the future.

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On Doors Opened and Closed

My wife pauses at the door of Barnes and Nobles bookstore. A gentleman holds the door for her, she hesitates. He tips his head.

"I'm waiting for my husband," she says and enters.

He continues to hold the door for me, but when I get there, three young women are coming out. I wonder if he is holding the door for them or me.

And politics still on my mind I consider whether he is a Democrat being polite or a Republican feeling guilty. Just a nice guy I decide as I enter the store.

I pick up a copy of Short American Fiction to peruse while enjoying a cup of coffee. I read Erin Somers story "Canine" a contest winner. It features lemons an apt symbol for a marriage gone awry, and a tooth, the meanest tooth, a red lipstick covered canine.

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Too Fat to Fly

There's a House Sparrow at our feeder. He sits there all day long eating sunflower seeds. Soon, like me, he'll be too fat to fly.

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Forget It

I was at Costco, checking off the items on my shopping list, when I remembered we needed eggs. I imagined the route I’d take to the giant cooler where the eggs are stored and started walking. I’d walked only a few steps when I saw a jar of raspberry preserves. I placed it in my cart imagining it spread lightly on my toast, the memory of a sweet crunch of goodness lingered on my tongue. I love jam. 

Costco is a warehouse store with miles of aisles, bulk goods stacked to the ceiling, and an occasional sparrow checking out the inventory.  
I reached the end of the aisle and turned left toward the. . . 
I couldn’t remember.  
I continued walking growing more anxious with each step. It wasn’t on my shopping list since the item was recently remembered. Thanks to the raspberry preserves and my short term memory it was gone. I took a few more steps and stopped. I searched my mind and found the bills I was supposed to mail sitting on the kitchen table. I found my coffee brewed but forgotten, and I remembered where I’d left the book I’m currently reading, but nothing suitable for a shopping list. I was ready to give up—and then I saw the giant cooler at the end of the aisle—and kaboom the eggs were back.

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The Guardian

I once wrote a story about a lost dog. I asked a friend to read it. He said he liked it but suggested that the protagonist wasn’t the dog’s owner, but rather the dog’s guardian. I understand, PETA, Peter Singer, animals have rights. But the term guardian is fraught with problems. Say, for instance, a fellow’s dog is stolen. He calls the police to report the loss and says, “My dog was stolen.” But it isn’t his dog. He’s only the guardian. Does he say “A dog was taken, and I’m its guardian”? And do the police tell him he’s a lousy guardian and don’t see the problem since the dog now has a new guardian, the “thief”? Or the dog is hit by a car. The driver stops. “I’m so sorry,” he says “I’ve killed your dog.” What does he think when you correct him and say the dog isn’t yours, and before you can explain you are the dog’s guardian he asks if you know who the owner is. I ask my dog if he prefers the term owner or guardian. He rolls onto his back for a good belly rub.

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The Peregrine

 Past plovers hiding in pickleweed 

an airborne tilt-a-whirl of phalaropes pass by

while the Peregrine continues

his roller-coaster flight down the shoreline.

He dips, ducks dive.

The gulls rise and fall en masse

shouting a collective eek.

The Peregrine passes over the ghosts of Harlequins

taken shooting gallery style

by trophy hunters

We drive parallel to his line of flight

my speedometer reading 45

it’s a leisurely flight plan he’s filed.

We soon arrive at the end of the causeway

and the falcon having shuffled the deck on one side

like a boomerang


g-force absorbed

direction reversed he rises

then wings closed, dives

and a Ring-necked Duck too slow

is struck and seized


 his prize accompanies him

under the big top

they take a lunch break.

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