UNTELLABLE TALES, BOTH ACTUAL AND TRUE

Listen to Jim:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/untellabletales.mp3

or read his story below:

UNTELLABLE TALES, BOTH ACTUAL AND TRUE

As my time in this planet’s orbit wobbles ever forward, the cracks between the cracks fascinate me more. And more.

Much of my writing career is spent looking between the things that might be missed, gazing up as others are looking down, peering under when all focus is above and over yonder, turning away from sudden loud noises to see what is going Back There where no attention is being paid.

After a lifetime exploring the significantly insignificant, I find I have accumulated stacks of notes that don’t seem to have a place to rest.

Some for instances reside within the following lines.

What do I do with the receipt-printed CVS information that reports I can get $2 off my next eye-shadow purchase? (How can I do something NEXT when I haven’t first done it and won’t ever do it?)

A stranger walks into the bookshop carrying an elephant head. He wants to sell it to me but I can’t recall any recent need for such an object.

A couple drops by to obtain my opinion of what appears to be a small Russian satellite they have recovered from a NASA junkyard. I’m not kidding. It is singed from re-entry. There is a small porthole through which some creature once peered out. There are numbers and cyrillic letters stamped clearly on the asbestos-like surface. They do not know what to do with it but they know better than to sell it. They disappear along with the knowledge of what eventually happens to this modern artifact.

A jobless man wants to get a paying job here but talks himself out of it in four minutes flat. That’s in the category of “Let me tell you why you would never want to hire me.” I get that a lot, though I’m aware that each applicant hasn’t the vaguest idea why unemployability is such a mantra. I long for the day when one of them pauses thoughtfully and asks me to share my observations as to why the jobs are not happening.

In order to enter the shop each day I must wade through gusts of smokers’ smoke (holding my breath as long as possible) and dance around critters who tread the sidewalk oblivious to passersby but enthralled with their own screen-dancing thumbs. I actually don’t mind this so much, since it is a kind of entertainment that adds color and spice to the day.

My store has become a kind of sanctuary where, for a few hours, I can enjoy the fragrance of books, recall encountered characters, ignore any horrors or crises outside, appreciate customers and browsers—trying my damnedest to pay attention to them and see what new and exciting lessons they can teach me unaware.

And I always thumb through newly-arrived books to find evidence of readers’ lives. An old greeting card, a bookmark, margin notes, underlinings, a folded page, a list of things never completed, one snapshot of all those unknown family members who deserve re-cherishing, a theatre ticket stub, mustard stains, a feather.

All of which are totally unsaleable totally unappraisable totally unclassifiable…

Totally keepable to any appreciator of cracks between cracks

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

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HAVE YOU VISITED MY MOTHER’S GARDEN?

Listen to Jim’s podcast:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/haveyouvisitedmymothersgarden.mp3

or read his story below:

HAVE YOU VISITED MY MOTHER’S GARDEN?

My mother’s garden is overflowing with old, unusable objects that she fills with flowers and plants and soil. And love.

Do you like my mother’s garden so far?

My mother’s garden is a museum of reclaimed objects. Things like old metal and wooden cola cartons brimming with plants, a coal fireplace grate ready to sprout, tin cans with seedlings, a broken stone pony, a splintery white swing, a brick barbeque pit budding, a graceful tree, a nameless score of would-be sprouts, wild flowers that you’d better not mow down.

My mother keeps everything. Nothing goes to waste. In her hands things turn useful.

My mother’s greatest fear is that when she dies we will throw everything away. She feels we may not cherish every cracked vase, every old bottle.

My mother is wrong. We will not allow her treasures to be buried.

Have you smelled my mother’s garden?

My mother’s garden is scented with memories, memories of a small boy named Me hiding in a bush and changing into a Batman costume, crawling under the house to discover musty memories, swinging Tarzanlike from a lassoed tree, huffing behind an extinct pushmower.

My mother’s garden is filled with memories of a young mother named Mine, serving iced Pepsis on the baking lawn to prune-dry kids, pulling unwanted plants from around wanted ones, talking with stray animals as if they were children, cherishing every pebble and old toy.

That is my mother, a relentlessly warm and happy memory that does not fade.

Now, take a seat beside me on the swing. Here’s a cool drink. Close your eyes.

Tell me all about your mother

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

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WHAT I MIGHT HAVE MISSED HAD I BEEN TEXTING

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or read his story below:
WHAT I MIGHT HAVE MISSED HAD I BEEN TEXTING
*
*
My hand, wrist deep into jacket pocket, searches for a bookmark to turn over to a chatting stranger. Then, that oddly human experience of being able to sense many things all at once kicks in, and I realize that the pocket is in reality a time capsule filled with interconnecting disparate bits of history, the history that is part and parcel of my minuscule life.
*
From the innards of the jacket, I pull forth a rumpled sticky note, part of a napkin on which are scrawled earth-shaking notes that must be preserved, a Dum Dum wrapper (cherry), one plastic toothpick (bent), three semi-shiny pennies, a ticket stub (Doc Severinsen concert), and three bookmarks.
*
I hand over a bookmark (my business card) but quickly retrieve it because I see handwritten Haiku on the back. I replace it with a clean bookmark and re-pocket the paper cunieform.
*
I won’t bother you with the contents of the other two jacket pockets and the four pockets of my trousers. Troves!
*
Later, I become aware that my bookshop is one big pocket of ongoing experiences melded with tiny and large mementos of what the past contains and what the future might bring.
*
Reaching into the shop, here’s what is going on right now, in memory and metaphor:
*
One deliberative and unsmiling customer is fragranced with powerful perfume and powder, his long multi-colored fingernails clacking at the smart phone screen…two
timequake skateboarders gaze up, down and around in awe of the books and doodads…a happy flower child straight out of a time machine purchases St. Exupery…one customer devoted to G.K. Chesterton and H.G. Wells exits the store, beaming down at his cradled books…a no-read (as in, “I never read books”) tagalong wife waits patiently for her WWII-collecting spouse…several different millennials wander around, unable to caress a book but eager to texttexttext…a South African tourist says his kids could not understand why he would mail them a postcard instead of simply texting (they did not realize the card itself is a gift of love)…somebody who knows me but whom I don’t know merrily relates true anecdotes but leaves unidentified…the flower child talks with a jolly guy about Ray Bradbury’s DANDELION WINE, which she is purchasing…a Senior Games photographer buys one biker hat and several photo books…one table tennis champ buys a Kellerman mystery…one man scours the shop, diligently filling his I Oughtta Read These list…
*
By now, you may be as overwhelmed and delighted as I am at all this blend of humanity and ideas and emotions.
*
One good thing about being a metaphor hoarder is that I never run out of people and ideas to write about. All I have to do is reach into a pocket or a corner of the bookshop.
*
There I will always find reminders of where I have been, where I am now, where I could wind up.
*
There I will always find evidence of life, with its curious mixture of loathing, laughter, loving, languishing, lollygagging, lashing out, lullabying…and those are just the L’s.
*
I am forever grateful for the things I do not overlook.
*
I am always wondering what I do overlook.
*
And I look forward to digging into a pocket or two to see what messages I sent to myself way back when…when I was an earlier version
*

TO READ OR NOT TO READ: NOT EVEN A QUESTION FOR SOME

 Listen to Jim’s podcast:

http://redclaydiary.com/mp3/toreadornottoread.mp3

or read his story below:

TO READ OR NOT TO READ

“What’s your favorite book?”

I frequently surprise Accompanying Browsers with this question.

Clarification: an Accompanying Browser is someone who enters the shop in the company of a booklover who is searching for just the right thing to read. The booklover is always avid and enthusiastic and heads for the shelves to see What’s Where. The Accompanying Browser simply has no interest in the books and gazes into space, waiting patiently for the booklover to get it over with.

That’s when I’ll come out with something like, “What are you reading right now?” or “What kinds of books are you looking for today?” or the inevitable, “What’s your favorite book?” I pretty much know what the response will be, but sometimes it’s worth the effort.

Standard replies to these questions include, “Uh, I don’t know…” or “I don’t really read…” or “I don’t have time to read…” or “I tried to read a book once, but I only got halfway through.” No kidding–this last response came just this week from a twenty-something person.

Whenever I feel it is safe to trade pleasantries with such a responder, I say something like, “Can you read?” as in “Are you an adult illiterate?” If this evokes a smile or a defensive response, it is usually, “Of course I know how to read. I just don’t like to read.”

Later, the once-read-half-a-book customer and her partner arrive at the check-out desk with two books in hand. One is a biography of Dylan Thomas, the other a collection of John Masefield poems. I effuse: “Great selection—Dylan Thomas is one of the five best employers of the English language, and Masefield was a great poet. You’ll love these.”

The male of the couple stares at me for a puzzled moment, then comments, “Oh. Well, I never heard of Dylan Thomas or this other guy,” at which point I realize that both books sport solid black bindings and are being purchased for decorative purposes only. The couple confirms this.

I hold up the Thomas volume and try once more, reciting, “Do not go gentle unto that good night…rage against the dying…” The male smiles in recognition and says, “Is he the one who said that?” followed by a “Wow!”

The young woman smiles and drawls, “I just don’t understand anything y’all are talking about,” in her best “I’m-just-an-ignorant-old-gal-who-has-more-important-things-to-spend-my-time-doing” voice. But at least the male says, “I guess I should try reading this Dylan Thomas.”

They leave happy.

As the afternoon tumbles forth, another Accompanying Browser engages with me for some pleasantries. She brags about never reading, although it is all right with her that her grown daughter loves to read. I can’t help giving it a shot, “Maybe you could get started by reading books that are only a page in length.” She is curious, so I do go on, “Here’s an example of a one-page novel. It’s so brief you won’t even have time to doze or be distracted.” I’m showing her the story, “The Earth Overhead,” from my book DAD’S TWEED COAT: SMALL WISDOMS HIDDEN COMFORTS UNEXPECTED JOYS.

I quickly read the story aloud. She smiles, looks somewhat stunned, and soon becomes my friend for a moment. She and her daughter buy stuff and leave happy.

Oh, in case you’re interested, here is my one-page two-paragrah novel:

THE EARTH OVERHEAD

Above my head in the book loft there floats a foot-wide, thirty-foot-long red orange yellow green kite, waving in the air-conditioning breeze and making me look up occasionally to remember a time far gone, when my small daughter and I stood in the abandoned parking lot of the old Liberty supermarket on Greensprings Highway and held on to the longlong string for dear life, the string that kept the world from breaking loose and floating away from that wonderful solid stationary kite around which the entire universe moved.

The asphalt under our feet felt light as seafoam and the kite weighed a million pounds and we wanted so much to climb that silver strand and reach deep into the rainbow kite and bring up the mystery of being, hold it in  our hands for a few precious seconds, then let it fly away from its kitebound center and travel to a place where it could make someone else intensely happy for a few ticks

 

© Jim Reed 2017 A.D.

 jim@jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com

 http://www.jimreedbooks.com/podcast

 Twitter and Facebook