A Thousand Happy Lives

A Thousand Happy Lives

Youth. His father lived a thousand lives before he died at the age of 53. He worked as a security guard at the casino, watching 12 screens linked to cameras placed high above the throngs of people moving about below. Playing cards, pulling levers, drinking, laughing, shouting, generally unaware. Always drawn to the most interesting and dynamic outfits, hairstyles, physical peculiarities and mannerisms of the people who passed beneath his gaze, he gave each of them their own story and invented personalities, fleshing out pieces of his own being – his wishes, dreams, regrets, fantasies and inspirations – for them to live in his stead. At night he would share these stories with his son. The boy would stay awake long past what his mother told him was bedtime, waiting beneath the dinosaur bedspread for his father to come home, the bedside lamp still on and books on paleontology and planes scattered across the floor. His father sat at the foot of the bed, his face half-lit in the light of the lamp, and told him of the woman who was once a star goaltender for the German soccer team; she blew out her knee making a spectacular save at the World Cup. The man who had written poetry in his younger years, published three books in French, but never reached his full potential; he now spends his time at the blackjack tables. And there was a family of four today, their first vacation together, their first time leaving their hometown of Blooming Prairie in fact, and the experience will surely change them forever. And so on. But while...
The Depths of Finer Things

The Depths of Finer Things

The first time I died, Ima tells me, the sun flared its great, fiery disc and swallowed the whole world in a moment. And everything that had been was then no more. The second time I died, it was at the hands of a grand, dark army, their bayonets through my stomach and heart. And when I fell their boots marched over my corpse as though a body that falls was never standing to begin with.

Bury Me in St. Paul

Bury Me in St. Paul

It is a warm and humid night in summer. The sound of dogs barking on the street. The sound of crickets from the brush and cicadas in trees. Fireflies flash like tiny cameras through the grass along rows of dark cars parked along the curb.

Not For Sale

Not For Sale

Gogo was raised by her uncle, whose name was George Sale, after her mother died and her father left for Africa. Her father never returned from Africa, and whether he was alive or dead she never cared to find out.

The Definition of Hope

The Definition of Hope

The day breaks sweaty like the last. Like every day in summer. And especially so in the city where there are no trees to provide shade – only countless blocks of cement baking like the desert, or like the desserts baking in oven pans from the church basement after service. All we can do is hope for rain.

The Seasons

The Seasons

My memories are made of brick and cement and glass. My dreams are bathed in the waning sunlight of an autumn day. Long shadows creep over fences and pull at the sidewalk as the sun begins to set. My dreams are apples picked from trees and flat piano notes from songs I never learned how to play.