January 31, 2016

A Laughing G-d – By Livingston Woolf

(c) 2015, Livingston Woolf

And so I married.  On our wedding night, I made love to one who never truly was alive.  Or wasn’t she?  Certainly, he was not born of the cleaving of flesh.  I wasn’t ashamed.  I did what I had to.  What did I want?  Love.  The satisfaction of the flesh and the spirit.  Yes, I dared to call it that: love.

The golden ring on her finger, the one I gave him on our wedding day, grew broader or thinner as the ring finger changed.  My lover is change itself.

At nineteen, they told me I must marry.  I had only recently returned from my very strange days in Moscow.  It was the early days of my studies and I had qualified as a rabbi.  But it was the other studies, the secret ones that gave me my true education.  None of that would have happened if not for Rabbi Reznik.

Vitaly Reznik.  A strange man.  A strange meeting.  When we first laid eyes on each other we were both completely naked.  I was submerged to my chest.  Reznik was not at first.  He entered from the preparation area.  I was already in the mikveh.  I had submerged myself the proscribed three times and my beard, hair and pe’ot were running with water.  There was water in my eyes.

Dimly, I saw a figure enter.  Strange as it is to say, the figure seemed to have a faint, greenish glow emanating from him.  It was like the light in the air before a heavy storm.  I wiped the water from my eyes and stared at him.  He was staring back.  A thin flame ran under my face.

The man submerged himself.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  He said the required prayer.  “Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha’olam asher kideshanu b‘mitvotav v’tsivanu al ha’atevillah.” (“Blessed are you oh Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the immersion.”)

He told me, sometime later, that he too had seen a greenish glow.  My aura.  “Contrary to myth, Yaakov, not everybody has an aura.  Only those with a profoundly metaphysical nature.”  So he coopted me.  We became teacher and student.  And we were lovers for a time.

But he knew I couldn’t stay in Moscow forever.  He didn’t wish to hold me against my will.  He sent me home with secrets.  And power.  Power to control my destiny.  Or so I believed.

And so I married.  Just like they wanted me to.  The golem was my dream lover.  A construction of desire, magic and deception.  But I should have known.

What Reznik taught me was the apocrypha of desire.  All of the manifestations.  They are all linked, the appetites and their forms.  Clay becomes one.  River mud is one.  But there are infinite others.  Secrets bring power.  And the loss thereof.  What I married was love, ambition, rage, my intimate self, and a laughing G-d.


** ** **

Livingston Woolf is a queer Jew, father, grandfather, author, fiction reader and opera lover.  He lives in NYC, which they haven’t blown away yet.


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January 1, 2016

Rednecks – by Andre’ DeCuir

(c) 2015, Andre’ DeCuir


Robbie sat on the overstuffed, floral-print sofa and rummaged through the small cardboard box on his lap.  He took a swig from the bottle of beer on the coffee table, sighed, and leaned back.  As he looked around at the chairs, the dining table, the pictures, the glass knick-knacks, he suddenly felt like all of the oxygen had been sucked out of the room.  He could feel sweat forming on his forehead and under his arms even though the air conditioning was on and he was barefoot, in a t-shirt and shorts.  He grabbed the box and the beer, exited to the front porch, and inhaled deeply.  He dropped the box and sat on the porch steps and stretched his legs.  He shifted his body and turned back to the house’s front door.


“Maybe I should just bulldoze the place,” he thought.


When he turned back to the yard, he jumped when he saw the tall, lanky figure standing in front of him, a man with locks of brown hair tucked behind his ears and dressed in a loose denim shirt, faded, torn jeans, and work boots.


“Tommy?  Is that you.”


“Don’t get up Robbie.  Sorry if I scared you.  I just wanted to see how you were doing since there was the funeral today and all . . .”


“It’s okay.  C’mon, we’ll go inside.”


“Oh no!  That’s all right.  It’s warm for spring, but it’s nice out here.”


Tommy was right about that.  Robbie did always like where his grandmother’s house was situated—surrounded by cornfields with a good view of the evening sky and all its colors, blending into night.


Robbie immediately felt the heat from Tommy’s body when he sat next to him.


“I’d offer you a beer, but this is the only one left.”


“I’ll just have a sip of yours.”


Robbie studied the face of his visitor, and, not wanting to appear puzzled, smiled and handed him the bottle.


“I’m . . . uh . . . sorry about your grandmother, Robbie.”


“Thanks Tommy.  Thanks for coming to the funeral.”


“Yeah, she was a nice lady.”


“I was trying to go through some of her things, but I just didn’t feel like doing it.  I’ve got to though.  I can’t stay around too long.  Bills, work.”


“What are you going to do with the house?”


“I don’t know.  I don’t think I want to sell it.   I don’t think I want to rent it out either.  No telling what kind of tenants I might get.”


“Yeah, they might trash the place.”


“I may just leave it as it is and used it as a getaway. She was the only family I had after Mama and Daddy got killed in that car accident.   I always had her to come to on those family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now she’s gone, but I still have this place to link me to her.  It’s so quiet, so peaceful here.”


“I could keep an eye on the place while you’re gone.”


“Oh, that would be too much.  You have farm and all to . . .”


“It would be no trouble.  Anything to keep you coming to see us down here.”


“Us.  Hey, I was sorry to hear about Mike passing.”


“Thanks, man.”


“I still can’t believe ya’ll lived as a couple in this town.  Thing sure have changed.”


Tommy stood up and stretched.


“It wasn’t bad.  I mean, no one ever said anything negative to our faces.  And then when Mike was diagnosed with cancer, a lot of people came by offering to help, bringing us food and all.  In fact, the talk of the town was never the queer couple from the country but Rosa LaMarche.  She was supposedly seen riding around on her lawn mower without a top on and bottle of whiskey between her legs!”


“You’re kidding!”


“I was curious, so when I found myself driving by her house, I made it a point to have a look at her yard.  Let’s just say that those paths left by the lawn mower weren’t as straight as usual.”


Robbie smiled, took a sip of beer, and held the bottle up.  Tommy came up behind him for the bottle.


“You know, I was surprised when I found out about you,” said Robbie as he turned to find Tommy and rested his eyes on a pot of red geraniums.


“Why?  Did you think ‘He’s too redneck to be queer’?” asked Tommy as he sat next Robbie again.


“Well . . . uh . . . yeah!”


Tommy laughed.


“Hell, I have the biggest and best damn farm around.  I drive around in a pick-truck, drink beer, and own guns.  I’m a redneck like many in this town.  I’m supposed to go around beating up queers—not being one.”


“You were one redneck who could turn me on just by leaning against the school lockers,” offered Robbie in a low voice.  He quickly turned away, embarrassed by the boldness of his statement.


“Do I still turn you on?”


“Yeah.  I had a big crush on you in high school.  I thought you were straight

because . . .”


“Because I was a redneck?”


“Uh huh.”


“I remember the afternoon of your parents’ funeral.  I saw you walking down the road around our farm.  You still had on the suit that you wore at the funeral.  I guess you needed some time to yourself.  When I saw you, I just wanted to run out and hold you and kiss you and kiss you forever.”


They both stood up, Tommy pulling up Robbie’s shirt, Robbie unbuttoning Tommy’s; their hot, damp skin smelling like the fields, the corn that grew just beyond the house.

As they closed their eyes and fell into each other, their hunger became part of the picture, the strange light of a darkening sky, a discarded white t-shirt, faded denim, red geraniums.


** ** **


Andre’ DeCuir is a southern writer who has been transplanted to the Midwest.  He enjoys writing short fiction, poetry, and plays.  His work has appeared in The Rose and Thorn Journal and Dialogual.



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December 19, 2015

Rilke’s Ghost – by Michael Ampersant

(c) 2015, Michael Ampersant



I still see myself sitting there as a boy on the greenly-striped couch of my parents reading Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875-1926), Bohemian poet, best known for his “Duineser Elegien” (Elegies from the castle of Duino). I read only the first two elegies then, but still, I went with the flow and was very impressed.



Portrait of Rainer Maria Rilke
by Paula Modersohn-Becker.

(Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)


We moved to the French Riviera where Chang and I rent our house to holiday makers. We get a surprise booking in April and decide to visit Croatia, a new country that isn’t too far away and reasonably cheap. Chang collects countries, he’s never been to Croatia. Bonus: on the way we’ll have to cross Slovenia, yet another country missing from his collection.


We will drive non-stop the nine hours from Cannes to Croatia but should stay overnight somewhere on the way back, some place nice. Chang is on the internet and suggests a town between Venice and Trieste, on the Adriatic coast. A hotel without sea view, budget-friendly. “How is it called?” I ask. “Du-i-no.” Sure, Duino.


Du-ino, Dui-no. “Chang! Rilke! Duineser Elegien!” “Chang, we must stay there. Rilke.” “Rilke?” “Rilke!”


Duino is off motorway A4. We descend into a villa town and get lost because budget-friendly hotels are always hard to find. There’s a ludicrous little beach attached to a harbor of a few fishing boats and a pier doubling as boardwalk; three restaurants, the castle (tower, battlements), and a university, i.e., a small building labeled Collegio Sapienza Rainer Maria Rilke with lots of kids milling outside speaking American and a concierge inside who knows the directions to our “hotel.”



Castle of Duino (Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)


It’s still a bit early in the afternoon, so we’ll have a nap in the budget-friendly double bed. We should have a nap, that is, the room is quiet and reasonably dark, save for a distant wailing, a sound like “Oohh, oohh,”—a human voice almost that appears to come from nowhere—“Oohh.” Not a typical hotel sound you’d say. And it won’t go away. “Oohh.” Impossible to fall sleep. We should complain. We should get up, descend down the noisy stairwell and thwack the desk-bell on the reception desk. And, of course, the moment the manager appears the wailing is gone.

So we have to explain. “Bizarro,” the receptionist says. “Oohh,” I intone to give her an idea. “Insolito,” she says and shakes her head. “Oohh,” Chang intones. “Pronto,” she says because her phone rang.


I had them printed out, all ten elegies, in German (the ninth got misprinted). I had packed them with my luggage to take them to this bench on the Rilke path which leads from the harbor to the castle, the bench where the poet put pen to paper elegy-wise (we presume). We sit down. “I will read them now,” I explain to Chang, “all ten elegies, always felt guilty that I never got past the first two.” “Rilke really that famous?” Chang ask. “Yup,” I say, “insane, five stars, trending.” “Why don’t you share them with me, your elegies,” Chang asks.

I begin to read out loud: “Wer, wenn ich schriee, hört mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen …”. “Why don’t you share them with me,” Chang asks again (we are married). I translate: “Who, if I were to cry, would hear me from the angels’ order … no … orderings …angels’ orderings…not cry, yell…”

“Funny they are blowing the fog horn,” Chang says and points at a freighter out on the sea. It isn’t exactly a fog horn though, it sounds more like a human voice: “Oohh, oohh.”

“Do you get it?” I insist. “These orderings? And here: ‘Ach, sie verdecken sich nur miteinander ihr Los.’ Do you get this? They are only covering up jointly their destiny? Why not covering up their ass, jointly?” “Oohhoohoo,” the fog horn goes.

“Why don’t you try Google translate?” Chang asks and hands me his Samsung Galaxy. “Oh, they cover only their lot together,” the Galaxy translates.  “Oohhoohooo…” the lamentation goes again, louder this time, not coming from the freighter in fact but from nowhere in particular. “Stupid,” I say. “Oohhooohooo,” the voice moans.

“Let’s go,” Chang say. We descend the Rilke path. The oohing follows us effortlessly to the hotel. We run. The reception is abandoned, I thwack the bell. The moment the manager appears, the wailing is gone. “Did you hear this,” I ask her. She has this funny look now. On her face.

“Let’s get out of here,” Chang says. We fetch our bags, pay for the unspent night, and ask the manager for a match. There’s a fireplace in the reception area where we incinerate all ten elegies, including the misprinted ninth one. We flee at high speed; the wailing stays behind.


Years later. We’re now summering in Bürchen, Valais, Switzerland, in the chalet of a friend, our own house is rented to holiday makers. Chang is bored, so we go on excursion and visit the village right below in the valley, Raron. There’s a Gasthof, we have a drink, and a friendly local tells us all about Raron. There’s not much to tell about Raron, except that Rilke is buried here. Yes, Rainer Maria, the poet. “Remember Duino,” we say, laughing. The letzte Ruhestätte is located next to a pretty chapel up on a rock. Let’s go have a look. A “Rilke path” leads up there. Half-way there’s a bench. We sit down. “Remember the bench,” I say? You see it coming. “Oohh,” the wailing begins, “ohhoohoo, ohhoohoo.”



Grave of Rainer Maria Rilke, churchyard in Raron, Swizerland.
(Photo by Michael Ampersant)


We’re cloistered in our chalet now. The oohing managed to follow us this time, and it’s “oohing” at an alarming rate, day and night, except when police shows up, or the fire brigade, or the village priest. He’s warned us, the priest. Next time he’ll call the ambulance from the nearest asylum. In Raron.

** ** **

Michael Ampersant – more stories


See his recently published novel: Green Eyes: an erotic novel (sort-of)


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