I wrote this last night. 

“How ya doing?” asked a dear friend of mine yesterday. I told her that I felt like there was a room within me (as I patted my chest) where there’s a man crying, all day long. If it were the challenges and horror of the Pandemic alone, I’d tell myself that this is a rare potent time to create, to go within, to tap into the introspective blue. But if one feels empathy, it’s overwhelming. Another man in another room simply goes about making tea and speaking softly about hope while whispering the many names we have given God. Crying man sits unceremoniously at the end of the bed like the subject in a Edward Hopper painting, looking towards a wall that used to have a window. He’s predictable now and heavy company, so I don’t visit him often. I can see him from here. I get the internal nudge to create, to wake up from the inside out, to cultivate inner peace, to work to uncover truth, to protest in the streets, but I keep myself busy fixing everything around the house, my lists are long.  I drink too much, smoke too much. Some nights it feels like everything is for nothing; that what was worth something wears only the clothes of memory. I’d like my life stirred, not shaken I murmur to myself as I wake in a dream. How does one care for one’s self when so deeply focused on caring for another? I place my ear up to the door of the crying mans room as I shove a love note beneath the door and wait.



This story originally appeared in Backpack Trekker: A 60’s Flashback (Beatlick Press, 2011).


In 1969 four-hundred students at Harvard University seize buildings as part of a campus-wide strike.

I enjoy long flights while looking out the window at rivers and empty ball parks. When the clouds blocked the view at 30,000 feet I read “Uncle Tom’s Children” by Richard Wright. It is right to say he left a rich mark on literature. He introduced a new element into American fiction. He created a tension from the possibility of random violence. H.L. Mencken taught him how to use words as weapons.

In the story “Big Boy Leaves Home” three Negro men go skinny dipping in a lake. There are no signs of trouble until a white man appears with a rifle. He kills two of the men but Big Boy manages to kill the white man. Later, while trying to secure a hiding place, he beats a snake to death with a stick. From a hide-out he watches a friend get burned with hot tar and gas. He strangles a barking dog that sniffs him out and threatens to dis-close his presence. Big Boy is pursued by the vigilante commit-tee but he escapes to the north.

Richard Wright escaped to Paris in 1946. In 1953 with the publication of his novel “The Outsider”, he culminated the work of the Harlem Renaissance and joined forces with French existentialism. Wright died in Paris in 1960 and his ashes are interred at Père Lachaise. He shares the cemetery with other exiles such as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.

The stewardess asked if I wanted a drink. Her skin was the color of a cooked pinto bean so I assumed she was a Latina. I replied in Spanish that I wanted a beer. She popped the cap on a Corona and we bantered back and forth in Spanish. She complimented me on my accent and asked where I learned to speak Español. I explained that I read Antonio Machado. My father served in Spain during their civil war. He accompanied Machado into southern France and was at his bedside when the poet died in exile in 1939.

She asked if I was familiar with Federico García Lorca. I told her my mother was a student at Columbia University in 1929. My mom provided the lonely poet with a conversation partner. He gave her a hand-written poem called “La Aurora” which he signed “Federico.” She kept it until 1936 when she showed it to a neighbor who inadvertently spilled a blotch of ketchup on it. Lorca’s name was smeared blood red.

We landed and like Dean Moriarity, I crossed the street into Mexico “on soft feet.”


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NONFICTION: KATIE GOETZ – Glenn Marx & The Swivel Sweeper Max

Glenn Marx & The Swivel Sweeper Max

“Take your cleaning experience to the max!”

You could almost eat off the floors at 44 Samuels Path.
Maybe that’s what Glenn Marx had in mind when
he muted the TV and ordered the Swivel Sweeper Max
he’s always wanted, but never wanted to pay for.

“…just two easy payments of $19.99!”

All this month, he’s been shining up his home
in Miller Place, NY, near the new Mt. Sinai.
(The old one, you’ll recall, is where ten tidy commandments
like THOU SHALT NOT STEAL were first handed down.)

“It’s so lightweight, even a child can use it — and they will!”

Across God’s miles and dirtpiles, I Discovered I’d been thieved.
I muted the radio and dialed a series of numbers to clean up the mess.
A customer service rep unspooled all the details, as if
combing hair, thread, and floss out of The Great Digital Vacuum.

“The brushes spin at 4,000 RPM!”

At 40 bucks, the Swivel Sweeper Max is a steal:
Its brushes are removable, it runs on a rechargeable battery,
and it collects all your floor junk in a no-touch tray.
Glenn Marx won’t have to handle the mockery of facing an actual dirtbag.

“Other vacuums and sweepers get munged up and bunged up…”

Leave it to a man named Marx to think that what’s yours is his.
I like to imagine him rolling out a perfectly groomed carpet
when I call him at (631) 474-5607 or (631) 374-4675 or (516) 473-8847
to hand-deliver a clock worthy of gazing upon his floors.

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The place you come from
will call you home someday
when it really needs you.
Like it or not — understand it or not —
you’d do well to listen.

I couldn’t have known then
what was really drawing me back,
but time is a teacher:
It was to know my brother,
fully formed,
in the crucible that forged us.


Too few years later,
three sets of headlights pointed the way
as we caravanned through the desert
to carry his things home
without him.

My dad led the way in the pickup and trailer.
My older sister drove my mom
in my brother’s car.
I brought up the rear and let go the gearshift
to clutch my little sister’s knee
as she sobbed in the scoop of my passenger seat.

A moment or an eternity later,
I found myself in the cradle of the universe —
no need for clock or compass.
To be held so mercifully —
to feel as one with all that ink —
this is God, I remember thinking.


It seemed brighter in the driveway
than the moon had a right to be that night.
We crawled out broken as a car crash,
knees wobbly as a newborn calf.

My mom, my dad, my sisters, and me —
now the answer to “Where is everyone?” —
we just couldn’t believe it,
even with a box trailer full of proof.

There in the gravel, we stumbled
toward an uncertain center.
Winter’s night could have been summer’s day:
membranes melted
until we stood
a single pool of sorrow in the desert.

Had we stood that moment
anywhere but in the place that made him —
the place where he made himself,
the place where we made each other —
we would have failed him.
We would have failed our own nascence.


NONFICTION: DeAngelo Maestas – Untitled


On the other side of town only a fifteen-minute drive feels so distant. The one place I can always let the world go.

-The place of death,

How ironic, live green grass in the summer encompassed by death and tombstones. The still air as it seems… like time doesn’t matter.

I always know where to go in that little upper left corner. One little spec, in a wave of grey and green, spread on forever like what seems to be infinity.  There she is. The stone made into a heart.

One of a kind.


A big sunflower engraved on the front with such detail.

I always bring her peanut m&m’s. Always the king size. Never more, never less. If I can, I bring her a sunflower. One with the biggest brown center and the yellowest of petals. I make sure it faces the sun… Just like her taking things head-on.

This place is dark and somber but her pink heart gives me hope. I can still see the black lettering now:

“June 5,1970- September 26, 2010.”

Her last name engraved with the finest of fonts.


I always do things different just like her. I put the peanut m&m’s in the flower holder. I lay that one beautiful sunflower on her heart. I like to think her actual heart was this big. Loved everyone. Me, my brother, anyone kind. I still hear her voice. Her calm tender touch. I feel it embrace me.


I don’t wanna leave. The place of eternal sadness brings me true happiness. The thought of seeing her again. I run my hand across the stone, say my goodbyes and let her know I’m doing just fine.


The spec of hope in a world full of darkness. That… is who she was.




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