Dead Rabbits Don’t Run (Reprise) [fiction]

I smell it again. Past hemlock, below hilltop, the aroma comes from man’s wooden lodge, drifting on powerful smoke, burning my nose.

My eyes are closed. Behind them, man eats his bloodless rabbit meal: chewing, always chewing; licking fingers clean; sucking every tawny bone bare; he will leave no bloodless meat behind. Before he sleeps tonight, he will bury those bones behind his lodge where I sold my soul.

Even now, I would run there if I could and dig up his bones and feast on marrow for the rest of my short, pathetic life.

It was there that I lost my dignity by giving in to temptation. I chewed many cooked bones behind his lodge, feasting under hemlock, becoming less of a hunter.

When man left his lodge for two summers, his woman replaced him. She did not bury rabbit bones. Instead, she threw them and their bloodless meat into high grass. Although the meat was dry and chewy, it had a rich flavor that was addictive. I became a scavenger, a beggar; I stopped hunting altogether.

If my sons should find any trace of me here, they will never know the follies of a foolish old laggard who spent his last days chasing dead rabbits. my death will erase all evidence of my foolish ways.

Did I cry just now, or was it the hungry wail of my empty stomach?

Rain assaults my eyes like large tears trying to blind me of a past that haunts me. Is this my salvation? Will regret be my pardon?

Is there no limit to my delusion?

Rabbits are near. Listen. Smell them.

The elder rabbit towers above me. He looks down at me with a laughing eye. He mocks my anguish. He sneers at my torment with his taunting round face inching across the sky, pulling the blanket of night and death over me.

I wonder if my bones will make a good meal. Will someone like me, too feeble for the hunt, rob my grave and chew on my marrow to satisfy their hunger?

Maybe man will find my old bones instead. I am sure my teeth would make a fine necklace.

Maybe I will not die.

Maybe this is not sunlight warming me, pulling me to my feet.

Rabbits scamper around me, running through summer grass.

I give chase, the way I did in my youth.

Madness

Too many people stomping around—
fractured herds mucking the rivers,
the land,
killing the grass.
They think they know when they don’t.

They rode lame in a hot race and wept when their HellCat lost.
Now they cry from twit-faces in their concrete castles filled with Eisenhower plastic,
drowning their DTs in anger
and lamenting that their cultivated habits didn’t make them rich.

Money for the populace is the reason Owners obsess over property and selfhood.
They muck the rivers,
highways,
kill the grass,
and count their dollars made of starvation, suicide, failure, death—
Illusion.

Dusty professors moan that I speak Ginsberg—
a tragedy as big as the smallest positive real number,
while the world riots to muck the rivers…
eating the life from their own butchered bodies
and lamenting that their cultivated habits still don’t make them rich.

In Memory of My Brother

My brother and best friend died on July 8, 2016. He was 57.

Russ died on a Friday night while I was at work and feeling that something wasn’t right. I knew he was sick—he’d been battling cancer for several years and was growing weaker by the day. His cancer had reached stage 4. I received the phone call the next day and wept. I was glad to know he no longer suffered, but I wept because I felt alone. We’d done so much together. Now he was gone.

Russ was born in a small town called Union City in Pennsylvania, on November 29, 1958. He was 21 months younger than his big brother Steve who, according to their mother, gave Russ all his toys the day Mom brought him home from the hospital. It didn’t take long for the two of them to become best friends. The rest is family legend.

Russ married when he was 17 and remained married to his wife for 40 years. During that time, he served in the United States Navy alongside his big brother for a while, raised an awesome daughter and awesome son, was an avid hunter, collected coins and knives, and loved the Pittsburgh Steelers, which began in 1971 after he and I watched the Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series and wondered “Now what?”

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1969. My mother and I shared birthdays in February. Here, Russ stands behind me with a cousin, getting into the picture.
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1976. I had begun a career in radio when Russ convinced me to join the Navy with him. Here we are in Chicago the day we graduated boot camp.
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1980. Russ was Best Man at my wedding. Here we are posing for one of those humorous shots where I show up late for my wedding. Ha! Funny is how we look like waiters in our hip tuxedos.
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2001. Russ and I gave each other birthday gifts right up to his death. He had just brought me a gift in 2001 when he read an article about me and my artwork in the local paper. He was my biggest fan.
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2005. Here Russ poses on the day he had a local pilot fly our 66-year-old mom on her first plane ride. This was a week before her death from complications after stomach surgery. Russ was always glad he did this for her. So was I.

This has been a small glimpse of my brother’s life. Of course, telling it all would fill volumes of books. Perhaps I will, someday, tell more about him, one chapter at a time.

Rest in peace, dear brother. November 29, 1958—July 8, 2016.

In Memory Of

In our darkest family moment
When life has ceased
And all heads of the living are slumped forward,
Tears flowing,
Tongues completing tender prayers — our final goodbyes,
Our eyes — so accustomed to observing no more than mortal time—
Now gaze back before these lonesome hours together
To when her sweet spirit departed this life and flew with the angels to her mansion on far
High upon a hill of bounteous buttercups:
Golden treasures like the ones our Father walked through on the Mount of Olives.

She ascended unto a place of dazzling gardens of lilies and tulips,
Around gentle brook,
Across tender lake,
To her final home
Where everlasting light burns in her open windows,
Curtains forever drawn wide to let in the bouquet of Heaven
Filled with savory sights and sweet sounds where God is the artist and composer.

She looks out from her doorway and smiles there,
Happy to be home,
Yet watching and waiting over us during our sudden hush
As we embrace and remember
Caring mother,
Dear sister,
Sweet aunt,
Adoring grandmother,
Kind friend.

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