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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Through a glass. By John von Daler

                  You pick up the little glass ball with its solid black base and shake it to see the miniature tableau.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The man who changed clothes. By John von Daler

                       Well, well. You have to keep up with the times! said Turner to himself. He looked in the closet. Deep it was. And broad. Turner threw nothing away. But he did push the old things into the back. Let the new take over! he thought. Fresh air for the mind!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Missing Persons. By John von Daler

                         Sometimes he would awaken from a dream and he would flow back into life like a murky little tributary spilling dredged muck into the clear main stream.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bottled in. By John von Daler

               The building could have been a fortress, but instead its solidity had been chosen to house all kinds of culture, learning and pomp.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Caesura. By John von Daler

                         Once upon a time there was a proud little man. He owned a little store for rests: you know, the kind musicians use when there are no more notes in their music and they have to sit quietly with their instruments in their laps.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Coins at the Counter. By John von Daler

                    When the dignified old woman entered the supermarket there almost always was whispering.
                She was once a great beauty! they said. They say she slept with the Czar!

                Famous she had been at any rate. A great goddess. Even now her face, covered as it was with wrinkles and creases, shone through those crisscrossed lines like some stately old mansion now hidden by the underbrush and the windows of her eyes looked out with ancient patience at the passing of the years.
                She had been a ballet dancer. Even now as she moved around only with the help of her cane, her shopping cart in tow, she created a sense of rhythm and form through her movements, a kind of measured mazurka more elegant than her surroundings could perceive.
                Once quite by accident we stood together in front of some canned tomatoes and having made a quick survey of the possibilities (organic, chopped, with garlic, etc.) both our hands reached for the same can of tomatoes with basil. After that brief touch and my apology to her for touching her hand, I began to think that that must have been the hand that had made love to the Czar. Or had it just dangled in all passivity from some great silk and satined bed as the Czar had his way? Perhaps it never had touched the last of the Russian royalty, but only had been close to him. Or had it in fact tried to fend him off?
                You do not ask a great woman these things in a supermarket. Perhaps, if we some late night in her apartment had shared a cold pheasant and a glass of Chablis, she would have unveiled some detail, in passing, without explanation: I think I have not tasted quite that use of juniper in a cold pheasant since my young days in Moscow...
                Perhaps I would have tried to unlock this little doorway to the past, Ah, yes, when you danced for the Czar, I suppose?
                And then, like all people, great or inconsequential, who have become symbols of their times in one way or another, she would probably have fended off my query by tantalizing me: Ah, but I did not dance for the Czar! He danced for me! But now you must tell me how to use those wonderful cans of tomatoes with basil that they have down in the supermarket. I love it so when a man can cook!
                So when she turned away from the cans and from me, I did not dare speak, but only watched her measured steps with her cane and cart in hand. How can you watch a magnificent story like that just float by? At least you must try to imagine its details, even as you are counting out your coins at the counter. After all, our lives consist in one way or another of trying to make such symbols worth their weight.

My book,
is like
an old lady
in a supermarket:
elusive and
full of tales.
Buy it here:


Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Closing Door. By John von Daler

                           I am not good at noticing the closing of a door, the silent wave of a hand, or any quiet disappearances that transpire unwarned. So I did not notice their unheralded passing.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Allé. By John von Daler

                          The usual metaphors will never do: the Allé is no artery; it has no connection to any heart.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Battle Axe. By John von Daler

                    A damned hippie, that is what they had called Ove when he unveiled his sculpture. Now please do not misunderstand me. This is not the way I use words myself. Sometimes words can generate less meaning than a blank space.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Open Book. By John von Daler

                You can never tell, she thought. Which one is it today?
                Kate watched her husband roll out of bed and shuffle out to the bathroom; his white pyjamas hardly looked as if he had slept in them. He never really changed positions in bed, but only lay on his back, his face pointed at the ceiling.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Counterpoint. By John von Daler

                          "Small talk!" he snarled. "Just damn American small talk!"
                "You could at least have asked her what her name was!" said Ann, slapping both hands on the steering wheel. "In this country people are interested in each other!"

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