David Grubb, a retired Coastguard Warrant Officer, has creatively written since childhood, yet career/family always came first. He’s changing that aspect of life and loving every minute. His work appears in Touchstone, Toasted Cheese, 1:1000, Sixfold.org, The Elevation Review, Every Day Fiction, The Abstract Elephant, The Bookends Review, Wingless Dreamer, In Parentheses, Havik, Novus, Ab Terra Flash Fiction, & forthcoming in The Dead Mule School & the Showbear Family Circus. www.agrubbylife.com
Artwork from “Balance & Disorientation” by Rick Rider, as featured in Volume 7, Issue 1 of In Parentheses
Rotten oranges discarded in the park, frozen from the inescapable Maine winter, resemble mutilated heads. Any human noggins, yet upon closer look, fetuses unable to make it to cherubim overtake all similes.
Mood, perhaps it’s to blame, perhaps it makes the fruited waste a malignant thought instead of gold nuggets nested like goose eggs at rainbow’s end waiting for a leprechaun to twinkle into view; to grin and reluctantly bequeath its treasure to a lucky passerby who can see still see magic instead of gloom.
At the next bend in the path, the cherub corpses wail as if the eggs hatched, and the ensuing hunger needs proclamation even though it’s implied. Even though silence is yearned for, because a morning walk is taken for quiet contemplation. If that insolent voice of grand imagination is overzealous then blame pent up angst, blame COVID-19, blame dead babies and miscarriages, blame addiction, blame endless winter, blame anything but those forsaken oranges.
Dead stop, glancing back the leprechaun dances a jig on the trash can looming over the spoiled unanimated fruit like a boarded-up storage house. The wailing—it’s warrior song, its prelude to gifting the splendid cache to the person trailing behind. A disparate individual who spots unicorns, elves, imps, dryads, and all of Pandora’s gifts as readily as Argus spies all things godly (almost all) or atheistic. An uncanny one eighty to the unlucky hapless fools who see nothing but rot and bleakness and winter in mid-March.
Safely back at the car/porch/cubicle/classroom, the revelation hits like wet dung. The leprechaun tried to flag the stilted morning walkers, glibly baring the frigid temps, but none were worthy. Not even the wretched vagabond whose lackluster attempt to throw away a withering box of food pantry fruit will linger long past mud season.
Then again, maybe he or she or they planted them like Jack’s miraculous beans, unaware of what remarkable or horrific things might come.
Some saw Cupid undone, few the latter, but who beheld the truth?
She wore green on Tuesdays, the day he invoked her coral depositories. On their first encounter, he broke off a piece no bigger than her pinky.
Tucked it in his sleek breast pocket, eager for more, yet patient like a great white lurking seal.
Their fourth sojourn, he snapped her foot in half and stole away into the bioluminescent night, making Kildare cry out warnings from sandy nests. In the murky water she limped to shore, salty breeze in her lungs, hoping he dropped it, knowing he never would.
On a ferry, motors rev and its bow rams a mooring dolphin, hard, jarring her awake. She tries to sit up but pulling her head out of his lap is like wrenching a rocna anchor from a thick, muddy seabed. Minutes pass before she drags it free. Any longer and he may have gotten her pearly marble bust, then and there.
That’s later, much later, after he’d pried rubies from her conch, nicked anemones off her bed, and doused her millepora. After he’s bleached her zooxanthellae, acidified her calcareous reef-biota, gave her black, white or yellow bands. After…after….after
What’ll be left, when he’s done? A quarter, half at most. He’s taken for so long it’s hard to remember fullness, a whole being, a robust body glove-like in a stunning green dress. The one she used to wear at dance halls, the Governor’s ball, and the city’s New Year’s Eve gala.
On blue moons that fall on Tuesday she wears green, even though she continues to phase; waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent—fittingly called old. Perhaps when he’s relented, he’ll let what remains drift into the tidal pools. In time, she’ll coagulate and become a starfish and cling to the rocks to rejuvenate, praying the next manta ray silently passes by overhead, and if not, he finishes her in one ravenous bite.
Ode to Deering Oaks Park
Deering Oaks quaint and fair,Georgianna Deering Upham’s Diary, 1875
oh, the secrets you must bare,
a burden so grand not to share,
if you ever dare, I’m always here.
The place can probably never become a park with expensive park-like structures and accessories, but will always be “the Oaks” whatever may be done in or about it.Goodwin’s Report, 1881
The tattered North Face sleeping bag hidden behind your grand stone entry wall: a clear sign of one’s grand cataclysm. Do you embrace this poor downtrodden soul? Or lash at them using your mighty accord with nature? My bet is you’re a grand protector to all who enter, so long as they ask not what their park can do for them…. though sadly most don’t.
Squirrels on one side of your bold 55 acres know some of your unknown curiosities, while mallards, Canadian geese, and hardy ice skaters learn more than enough, yet scarcely a fraction. Even the revered great black hawk that lost its way found out plenty, and who knows what it discovered if only it had a Spanish translator. Did the young creature’s demise weigh you down as much as its admirers? Perhaps it’s of no matter, like the countless squirrels it devoured. Does the statue dedicated to its brief visit, a $26,000 piece of bling, make you feel regal?
Ever get nostalgia? Brood over the family, your namesake, that gave you up to the public domain for a tax break. Go further back and relive the natives’ touch who surely trod upon your carpeted escapement; hewed a few of your distinguished oaks for firewood and shelter; or drank from your veins; or ate from your breadth. Maybe your memory drifts back further yet, when megafauna and megaflora gave you stunning features for an even greater magnanimous appearance.
Nay, you seem like a live in the moment entity that notes the here and now, then forgets, but never forgives. The ice across your uneven undulating body slowly receding as buds sprout, faceless visitors clad in masks grow in number like the spectrum of fans at a Seadog opener or Santa’s annual visit in a red helicopter that rich tourists rent while they overtake Vacationland. More trash, more sun, more lush greenery—a stupendous awakening you’ve thrived upon for eons.
Sure, I’d love to know all your secrets, but I’m enthralled by your mysteries too. When I come to share a moment or more, you can merely give me hints as you’ve been doing for so long. Like those spent needles from users scattered everywhere that make me pause to abhor and then accept, because it adds to the wonder. I’m livid about it for you, for the animals, for the young playful kids, even for the walking dead that discard them like your oaks fling acorns in the fall. However, you probably don’t care, just some more debris that will eventually fade to nothing. With the grace of all nature’s power, you’ll outlast this blight too.
Say, what’s your favorite attribute? I’ve no doubt you admire most of your splendiferous features. The 1911 stone bridge spanning over the babbling ravine, those modern bright red, orange, green metal zip lines added to the playground (Goodwin’s Playspace) late last year, or that small brick amphitheater for summer productions of Shakespeare, Euripides, Wilde, Hellman. Per chance is it your other bauble, the unobtrusive hiker statue, Spanish American War memorial (Ms. Ruggles finest piece), or the manicured ball field (occupied all day in summer), ooh, wait it’s probably the Victorian duck house that’s stood the test of time ever since Goodwin incorporated it into his grand design smack dab in the middle of the pond. Yes, that Goodwin: the venerated city civil engineer for Portland Maine 1872-1879 whose deft touches ensured your poignant placement on the natural register for historic places, albeit a century later.
A part of me imagines when you speak it’s throaty and reverberates, terrifying, delightful; you wave off my questions, my inquisition, and you express I’m not Deering or Oaks, I’m more than that. I’m beyond your pathetic misconceptions. I am mother, goddess, hermaphrodite, Venus, Zeus/Jove, eternal ruler, rightful heir. You simpletons can shape me, obliterate me, scorched earth, yet I will prevail. When you are no longer vertebrae, nothing more than a miliblip in the endless epochs that are finite, as my God—your true ruler—the sun will dictate in its final moments before supernova.
Now leave me, let me lie in wakeful slumber so the squirrels’ constant scrambling tickles my ribs, the waning white winter chills my itchiest rashes, the howling wind scours my lovely lumps, and your kind trod upon my breaking back.
I nod, hang my head, and shuffle off, then stop. Meekly, “if it makes any difference, my favorite feature is your honesty and your perseverance to withstand all evocations, to endure and outlast, to humble the mighty and exonerate the weak. You awe this lowly knave, and I will return, come back to continue my education and I’d apologize but you understand I can’t; after all, one day I might rest the eternal rest under your canopy, or if I’m lucky one like it.”
As I step onto the crosswalk and return to my daily routine, my mundanity I try to leave your bubble of serenity without remorse, without a longing to rush back and right all your wrongs, without a burning desire to root myself among your grand trees and reach toward heaven, strive for immortality, and become one of your greatest mysteries: a funky oak with a buddha shaped trunk that seems to know…everything.
Transcription of a Video Blog 2019, Bizimana Yousuf
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022
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