And you need a little help. And such are the small mercies of humanity that someone’s around to offer some.

I am out in the country today, the day after the results of the election were finally announced, and many of us breathed the biggest sigh of relief we have…

a poem

The train had picked up speed, heading south,
through Springfield, soon to cross
the Willamette River, and then soon to begin
the climb into the forest, away from buildings and roads
and people. On one side a ravine and a gray-paved, two-lane road,
the kind that connects every small place in this country
to every other…

The tracks at Chemult, OR

Into the night, past the lights. Up from Emeryville through Richmond, across the Carquinez Strait and northwest towards Sacramento. Then north towards Chico, towards Redding. and shortly after dawn crossing over Shasta Lake, looking East at the pink glow behind the low hills. Following the Sacramento River north, between steep…

Delicious Frosted Mini Wheats

Things were going along well enough, given the shelter-at-home and quarantine challenges. I mean, we had three rolls of TP left, so that was a concern, but we had plenty of the most important items: Coca-Cola, instant chocolate pudding, Cheez-Its, milk, and of course cereal. But then along comes this…

Leaving the city with each car crowded with people, out through Queens and then up through the Bronx and then north to New Rochelle and then into Connecticut. To Bridgeport, to New Haven, then turning north towards Hartford. And into Massachusetts, Springfield, Northampton, Greenfield, and up and up to Vermont…

If I sit on their benches, with a carpet of butts at my feet
I don’t feel different or less alone. My son runs the puppy around
and a man or two smiles, though most don’t, and I smile
and think of songs that I listen to over and over and over
that might be the same songs Nathan hears on his Sony Discman,
or maybe he plays nothing but pretends, or hears a song
no matter what. The talk from the other benches is rumbles and garbled,
and Nathan moves around the field cackling constantly
and must be tortured in his head to look like he looks
but he is gentle with the puppy
and tells my son I love him.

On the bulletin board at the Stewart’s is a cluster
of flyers, some with sides or bottoms frayed
with little tags people can pull off. The one for money
from WIC for mothers of small children or women
about to be has been stripped bare. There’s also fishing
and youth art and caregiving; a raffle, a rideshare, a yard sale.
Turns out this store won store of the month, thanks
to people like me apparently. Was it volume of meat products
and beer moved, ice cream scooped, or gas pumped? I claim this
corner table, dark red, plastic coated, and its dominion
over the register and the last magazine rack in the world,
its view of bottles of blue raspberry and lines of lit up
bags of nut mix, of hot dogs slowly turning
over and over and over.

Keithwood Stables — Charlottesville, VA — circa 1980

Before I would get the chain over top of the post, so I could swing open the big gate, Bingo would have his head out of his stall, nodding up and down, and whinnying his hellos. Paper route finished, I’d make my way to the stables on Bollingwood Rd., behind…

I do it early in the day, when the dogs and I are still alone together. Before they are fed, before my co-workers arrive, before station wagons fill the lot and line the long driveway, and families troop through Kitty City, wander the barnyard, stick fingers in the gaps of…

Montpelier, Vermont on a cold winter morning — view from bridge heading into town.

I woke up earlier than expected in the Montpelier Econo Lodge Friday morning, as the cabinet next to my bed apparently detached itself from the wall and crashed to the floor. It was a jolt, but gave me some time before the train to poke around town.

I wandered down…

Matthew Kirsch

Dog-friendly; shoes required.

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