has published a few chapbooks and appeared in a
few terrific poetry magazines.
Little pine tree off in the gloaming looks like a little person, a dwarf
maybe or an elf, while a bumpy, gnarled tree root appears to be a skunk, and then over on the side of the path is a rock that
looks so much like a baby elephant I stop and stare. I should've worn my glasses, but sometimes it's better to see things
as they aren’t.
Timothy Gager is the author of Short Street and Twenty-Six Pack, both collections
of short fiction and the e-book, The Damned Middle. His first book of poetry, The same corner of the Bar, is available through
Ibbetson Street Press and his most recent, We Needed A Night Out, was released in 2006. He hosts the Dire Literary Series
in Cambridge, Massachusetts every month and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writers Festival.
How to Care
for a Sick Animal
Gracie flipped through the magazines in the waiting room.
There were issues of Time from years ago and copies of Your Pet and You, which made her nauseous. Gracie tried not to stare
at a woman whose parrot was wrapped in a giant band aid or a fish covered in white fungus. When the receptionist called out,
“Gracie and Todd” she jumped up and motioned Todd to come with her.
me,” the receptionist said, holding the door. The hallway was lined with pictures of smiling Labradors and fluffy kitties.
“My name is Helen if you need anything, but Dr.
Jones should be right in.”
“Should Todd jump up on the table?” Gracie asked.
Helen gave her a confused look. “Todd can sit wherever he wants.”
to the table and Todd stepped up to sit. Gracie walked around, circling the small room. She filled her hand with anti-bacterial
jell and covered her arms and legs with it. As she was massaging some into her ankles, Dr. Jones walked in.
“So where is Todd?” the veterinarian asked.
on the table.”
“So, this is Todd?”
“Do you realize that I am a veterinarian?”
course I do.”
“I only treat animals.”
you see…Todd is a dog.”
“I see Todd. He seems to have skin, two arms and
two legs. If I’m not mistaken, he is human.”
“No he is a dog. If you knew
what he has done and said lately, you’d know he is a dog.”
“Well at least
he is calm.”
“He’s a dog and I hate him. Will you check him out, make things
“That may be easiest. I’ll give him a quick check.”
Dr. Jones patted Todd on the head and checked his coat. It was a windbreaker. He looked into his eyes and ears,
had him turn to the left and bark when he checked his testicles. “Everything seems to be in order,” Jones said.
“No. You need to check his heart. Listen to his heart; I don’t think it’s
Dr. Jones took out his stethoscope. “Uh-hum….hmmmm….uh-hum,
yes, yes,” Jones said. “I think you are right. We may need to run some tests, there appears to be a serious problem.”
“Well an echo, an EKG and
a stress test may be needed, but I don’t see….hmm, I don’t really understand what is going on. I can’t
hear any heartbeat. There may not be a heart at all. The tests might find something. It may be costly though.”
“So we are talking thousands of dollars?”
“I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars.”
best we can do is to make him as comfortable as a man without a heart can be, unless you want me to put him down.”
“I want you to try to save him! You are a vet, aren’t you?”
but the man’s heart is missing.”
“The dog’s heart…”
“Yes, the dog’s heart is missing.”
“Well then, just
put him to sleep."
"But can I have
a few minutes."
"By all means."
After Dr. Jones left Gracie
approached the table. “So how are you doing boy? I’m sorry that it has to end this way. There’s nothing
I can do for you. Awwww, don’t look at me with those sad eyes. It’ll be ok. I just want to know that I’m
not going to go out and get a new dog anytime soon, ok? Oh, Todd you were my best friend and I loved you, but can’t
you see I need to do this.” Helen entered the room with various snout sized Halothane masks and Gracie gave Todd a hug
Ron Czerwien is the owner of Avol's, a used & out-of-print bookstore
in Madison, Wisconsin. His poems have appeared in print journals such as The Wisconsin Academy Review, Rosebud, Wisconsin
Trails, Ugly Accent, and After Hours. More recently, some of his false translations of poems by Rene Char appeared on-line
at Moria, and his poem "Chaos Shirt" is on-line at Shampoo. Ron hosts an open mike poetry reading on the First Thursday
of every month at Avol's.
Your Recent History
We also give you the ability to alter Your Recent
Take yesterday, for instance, what you thought, you
said, the pebble in your sandal replaced by rain, the
puddle in a late field gleaming like a collection plate,
and the mineral-rich run-off filling the ditch of your body
where a crayfish scuttled around the mud-sunk erotic
hymnal at the center of your heart.
---First published in Ugly Accent
I always looked ajar around badly finished doors.
What I thought I left behind, unpredictable scissors,
the absence of air, a sudden hoist, shaded into each
other, their twitches building a miniature replica of the
ceremonial driveway where I tried to talk to her. She
would tell me the grounds are vast, with several lists
of flaws and timidity. Except for the manicure, that
corridor was lumbering. The bus came to pick us up
at the wrong time and its general air of despondency
was a good deal.
It took us no more than five minutes
Our capriciousness turned into a park.
Prince of Objects
The trees turn their spindles of music through
the shadow of his skull. Below a dead crow
the staircase the sea balances on one leg
to view those black limbs, the shore’s green
torso, scraps of cloud washed up on the beach.
In his suit of granite marshmellows he dreams
himself visible, the blood of the world poses as
a river and its opposing landscape. The sky is a
cutout leaning against a wall. In the One-night
Museum, the finery of the storm. Where the wind
nudges a village on the horizon, neither horse has
a fixed form.
The prince of objects is breaking mirrors.