Figment of Reality

I guess everyone needs to express their existential unease at least once. This short story has been in process for at least 14 years. Although it is informed by reality, keep in mind that it is as much poetry as fact. I had a few vivid scenes to start with, but it still took the process of writing to tell me what the story was actually about.

Finishing it (except for the inevitable edits and one sizable addition) was kind of a 50-year celebration. I ended my in-country tour in Vietnam on July 17th, 1970, my 20th birthday. My comrades and I celebrated it and our exit with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red in a hydraulic-fluid-spewing C2-A on our flight back to Japan.

The photo, by an anonymous VQ-1 airman looking west from the barracks next to mine at Da Nang Air Base, shows a diving F-100 Super Sabre, an illumination shell, flares shot by individual Marines, and a Cobra gunship in action. It was nights like these that inspired this story. There were many of these in late April and early May of 1970.

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In the Grip of Something Larger

I like birds and birding. My wife and I maintain a lot of feeders in the back yard which allows us to observe each species’ different ways. We are also able to develop relationships with family units that make our yard their home. This is important to me. I have always felt a deep but respectful connection with creatures in the wild. In this short story, I experiment with magical realism via a small gray bird.

The photograph is of a Brown Shrike. It was taken by Dr. Callyn Yorke at the Son Tran Mountain wildlife preserve on a rainy day in Da Nang, 2017. (

“Taking a sip of coffee, my gaze lands on a bird feeder hanging in the shadows of a cedar tree. A chickadee swoops in, grabs a sunflower seed, and hustles back into the foliage. There’s no telling how often I have seen that little ritual, but this time it brings a blurry, long-ago memory into focus.”

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Path of the Painter

I’ve been writing a lot of memoirs. They seem to require an economy of writing that doesn’t interfere with the story. As a mild rebellion, I wanted to let loose with description. The result is this short fiction about the contradictory soup of friendship, love, and the imperative of ambition among and within those who must create art. Frankly, there’s more to come, but it’s still a fun read. Image from photo by Katarzyna Gonsior on

“Astrid seemed too pretty, too gentle, too in touch with her feelings to be the paramour of the Painter. I knew that part of me and saw this immediately. But oh, how I was smitten by this precious gift. I promised the Painter that I would not become lost in a trackless wilderness. This time.”

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