a short-short story by Frank Diamond AUTHOR’S NOTE: This short-short story originally appeared in my short story collection Damage Control, which was published in 2005. Reynold’s Bubble Gum factory. It wouldn’t be so bad if me and Farley worked on an assembly line that turned out cars or air conditioners or refrigerators.  You wouldn’t believe … Continue reading Farley


a short story by Frank Diamond As the taxi pulls away from the bus depot we almost hit a jogger. I mean, this close. I can smell the burning rubber while the car’s still rocking. And you know what? This guy stops, jabs his fist at us a few times and then runs on.  “Fake,” … Continue reading Marty

The Anointed

A short story by Frank Diamond We were downing brews in Iffy’s when Julie mentioned that she would love me to kill her ex-husband. Of course, she didn’t say it just that way.  “Take care of Donald for me, will you Cheryl?” she whispered. In the darkness, the bruises under her eyes could have been … Continue reading The Anointed

The Shop Steward

From Damage Control, a collection of short stories by Frank Diamond. Go ahead, I’ll talk while you’re eating lunch. We only get a half hour.  This is your membership card. I’m supposed to tell you that dues will be deducted from your paycheck at the end of each month. We have a closed shop here. … Continue reading The Shop Steward

Idea That COVID-19 Began as a Lab Leak Spreads

HERE'S A FREELANCE ARTICLE THAT I WROTE TODAY (JANUARY 5, 2021) At first it was the stuff of conspiracy theorists. Most experts, and certainly the bulk of the public, believed that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) started as a result of someone eating a bat in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China. There were whispers … Continue reading Idea That COVID-19 Began as a Lab Leak Spreads


Dad and big brother, Jason, got along well — great, in fact — except for those stupid occasional arguments that any two family members can have; the kind often forgotten before they’re forgiven.

Therapy Dog

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This short story, “Therapy Dog,” was published July 11, 2021, in a little literary magazine called Sincerely Magazine. The magazine can be purchased here https://www.sincerelymagazine.com/volumenineserendipity. About 10 years ago, when my daughter Allison attended the University of Pittsburgh, she’d periodically call home with updates. Her college experience—you’d be surprised, astonished, and amazed to … Continue reading Therapy Dog

Can This Marriage Be Saved?

Before our lives implode
I bought some flowers. Here.
And human love often erodes
In hate or drift or fear
Oh, hell, it’s a marriage man (for now)
I’ve grown some foibles, true.
While you’ve sprouted these new interests
Will we make it? Can we take it?
Here comes that cliché again
We love two beautiful daughters
We’re so enthralled by them
So let’s sacrifice happiness now
Our happiness is not the point
And set table by the dark abyss
Of stony days and brokered nights
We swore before God, remember?
Maybe His miracle can still fix us
But maybe not. Let’s tough it through
That’s all I’ve got. And you?


When I get to the cemetery, I crunch through the ice-encrusted snow as wind rumbles over the expanse. I am not dressed for this. My fingers ache, and I keep blowing warmth into my cupped hands.

One Night in Harpoon Henry’s

When my first wife died I withered and withdrew
And lonely did I scale the couloir of grief
Curling about myself like that indolent snake
Confronting that first wife with cancer’s last claim
Just an overgrown garden snake parked upon our drive

A brown arm’s-spread length of languid reptilian still
A critter I’d never seen before or since that meeting
Curled into a taunt that he hurled at my own girl
Coiling tighter in delight: “The hour’s come for you!”
She died soon after when the siege broke through
And I never really heard the music until its absence
Of delight in all creation—that’s how her voice fulfilled
So what torched despair’s fingers until the grip gave out?

One night in Harpoon Henry’s I kissed a pretty woman
A nice, friendly girl I’d been working with for years
Mouth-to-soul resuscitation seasoning bloodless sleep
That kiss—alone, apart, about. A prelude to nothing
Except the entirety of life. A kiss. That’s it.
Interceding like prayer to caulk my brokenness
Did I ever tell that girl what that kiss delivered?
I now forget (surprise!) how she wriggled off the hook
Can’t even recall the name, just drops of smiling eyes
I am deaf, now. Blind. Can’t bend to tie my shoe
A salty wind-whipped spray gentles this old wheeze
Lets me taste that kiss once more and that is what I’ll ride
You may release your servant, Lord. It is time for me to die.

Plague Year

personal history by Frank Diamond In September 2019, I got laid off from my job as an editor of a trade publication that covered the managed health care industry. (That publication, Managed Care, has since gone belly-up.) It’s a common story in publishing but fortunately, in November, I landed another job with another trade publication … Continue reading Plague Year

C and the Boulevard

I curse the Devil
And he welcomes me home
You talkin’ to me?
You lookin’ at me?
Fear churns inside unceasing
Becoming a low-grade anger
Or the better angels … at Greasy’s
Dizzy, Ziggy, Porter, and Fink
Donna, Linda, Trifecta, and Slink
Stickball and tagging summer’s fit
Schoolyard dents found, “You’re it!”
O Lady of the Concrete
O Lady of the Asphalt
O Mother of Tomorrows
Affliction so becomes you
I cannot obliterate the self
Cannot chew my own teeth
Past aftertaste lingers still
I live! I live! I live! (I blink.)
Grant me peace, grant me peace
Give me an everlasting treat
Do for me, I do for you
O Lady of Disclaimer
O Lady of Delusion
O Mother of Obfuscation
Seven years of famine troll
Since I took my last vacation
The Devil curses me
And welcomes me home
God cannot make us love Him
And we cannot leave Him alone


Sped to those battles
With ghosts and holograms
Those yester-rages remodeled
By this middle-aged grunt
Forever scoring points
Through which poison leaks
And a wealth of elfies
Expose a darkened view
“People are holy,” she prayed
Dusting grace upon my rage
She convenes with angels now
As offenses merely imagined
Grow slights obsessively enhanced
How did I become so toxic?
Choice, or folly, or chance?


“You stay your age forever.”
Sign now, sit back, watch
These premiums will not change
As indemnification unfolds
October leaves drift like embers
Each snapshot freezes, then evolves
Moral hazard roils and regals
As outliers in mid-orbit pause
Dodging regression to the mean
“Love stays its age forever?”
No, it’s different looking back
That’s no stranger in the corner
Slowly waking from her nap

The Chase

I reach into my back pocket, unfold both copies of the formula and hand them to him.  “Here’s the Fountain of Youth,” I say.  “Golden,” Jake says, squinting at the figures. “Cheryl, you’re amazing.” “Careful,” I say. “Looks like rain.” He leans against his car, gives me a look. He places his hands on my … Continue reading The Chase


Outerbridge voices
Reach from rest
Nothing lays still
In nether fog

Spread blankets
Over graves
Burgundy sipped
As midnight rises

Bloated at world’s end
Fold newspaper
Horoscope out
Dead swamp, dark layers

Save for future
Space in the attic
Like one more box
Where dust descends

Wait for deliverance
As purgatorial voices
Gather in layers
Outside rotted doors


A friend’s dad is a ward leader and we get to be on the advance team for Robert F. Kennedy and that means Secret Service clearance and other privileges. When RFK arrives in Philadelphia in late March, we ride in the motorcade out to Our Lady of Czethochowa in Doylestown. Because we have college kid … Continue reading 1968

It’s Not Fair

That I should awake each day
Dream-sliding on a bed of my own
And know three meals will be consumed
Washed down with water running through
Drive to my job. Get lost in my work.
Light a votive for my sleeping wife
Praise how she graces my existence
That I can walk in October woods
While leaves descend in tongues of fire
Or by the Atlantic on a summer’s eve
Feel eternity in the soles of my feet
I can laugh (what power!); sing in the shower
And down ice-dazzled beer on Friday nights
That my health so far, so good (knock wood)
Watch my daughter grow proud and strong
Savoring experiences that her path offers
I can read great books or gossip columns
Watch TV by the light of the fireplace
Cherish the beauty of women with proper respect
Find youth-light in the withered faces of the old
And wisdom in a toddler’s pronouncement
That I can stand awestruck in kiss-ling snow
Or listen to rain romancing the streets
Look up at the star-quilt from a country road
And praise all who have hallowed my journey
For vast legions of humanity dead and alive
Aren’t so blest. And it’s not fair! It’s not fair!

The Ache

As I drag our trash
To the edge of our drive
Orange streaks our dawn
In our fortunate sky
Two gamey deer just happen
To turn quizzically my way
Then on they bound just like — Snap!
What DO we talk about
When we DON’T talk about love?
Two cats cloaked in canvas
Somehow getting on — but just
Time to decide which room
Needs a coat of paint today
And when the fumes finally settle
Our bickering takes a break
We tap water into the kettle
Never mentioning The Ache
But in that pause each clutches hope
“Please let me die fore this old dope.”


Your hair, that hair of yours
No, of course, it doesn’t define you
Curly, bouncing, bold, boyant
Light brown with tints of red
That’s what I said (you set me straight)
People pay to look that way
You didn’t even go to a hairdresser
For ten easy years. Remember?
Perfect prelude to cascading laugh
Sways like a searchlight’s pivot
Lets your eyes shine hope, joy
Toward the children you’ve taught
To old people drawn to warmth
Never like the other girls
Wouldn’t bother carrying a purse
One — that’s right — one pair of shoes
Of the earth, by the sun, to the sea
But what feeds on you eats at me
Right here in Buddy’s Barber Shop
Where photos dim every inch of wall
Tumble down, down like a pyre’s end
“I’m not going to let this beat me. Watch!”
Not if have any say it won’t. (I don’t.)
Love discovers from now back to start
As your beautiful noggin’ steals my heart

All Right, Then, Damn It: A Love Poem

Old man next door
Dying from love
45 years married
Wife gone (what?)
About 45 minutes
We say he lost his love
But he looks for her still
Shakes out the laughs
She’s not there
The sunsets, and rain baths
Not there either
Moments of “glad grace”
Jeez, not a friggin’ trace
He stands by the memory chute
But they’re no substitute
I catch him in his car
Staring beyond the driveway
Ask him, “You OK?”
Tells me it’s day-to-day
I know what he means
Man wants to die
Dark hands his only hope
Of seeing love again
There’s nothing that rhymes
Or explains away the unending,
Sharp-stabbing grief —
Which leads me to us
That’s right, you and me
You’ve never asked
What you mean to me
If you did I’d just point
Across the way
You never asked
But for once I tell
You are air and water
And, yes, “shadows deep”
So, now, can we
Get something to eat?
And then later maybe catch
Some serious Zs by the fire?
And murmur, softly murmur,
Our incommunicable joy

The Masculine Virtues

“Joe Claimer. Tell us your story.” Claimer shifts in his folding chair, the squeak echoing through the recreation center’s gym. McKinley’s probably reading his body language, because that’s what shrinks do, you know. Hell, that’s what everybody does: cops, clergy, pimps, and poodles. Claimer pretends to get less fetal, uncrosses his arms. I’m ready! Ready, … Continue reading The Masculine Virtues


The world has lost its beauty
Once filtered through your eyes.
Sunset, sunrise, falling fall leaves
Shift now into a dimmer space,
But I still seek cohesion
With evidence of things not seen
And the scales that fall will weigh.
Do I really need these videos?
These unnecessary glass totems?
Memories swoon, drift and die
Then rise at the oddest moments.
My tickets on the River Styx,
But everything else needs to go.
How do you weigh stuff against spirit?
We were both such able thrower-outers,
But look here at this refinancing pack,
Long ago digested by other deals.
“I won’t ever let you go!”
I think as I dismantle
Rooms, chimneys and the backyard fence.
“I just … just cannot stand it!”
Echoes against walls that used to be.