Archive | February, 2013

Randy’s Magic Boots

22 Feb

by Jeff Flodin

Yesterday, half an inch of snow fell on our town. Shopkeepers spread rock salt to an equal depth.  Good for pedestrian footing; bad for Randy’s tender paws.


Today, Randy submits to dog boots.  His predecessor, Sherlock, flailed around like a four-legged hip hop dancer.   Randy remains stock still in the doorway, head bowed and humbled. I coax him into the great wide open.  He lifts his leg on a tree. 


“That’s strange,” I say.


“What’s strange about a dog peeing on a tree?” asks neighbor Bob.


“He normally squats,” I say.


“There’s snow on the ground,” Bob tells me, like I’m the village idiot.  “On top of that, he doesn’t want to pee in his fancy boots.  Ever think of that?”


What I think is that neighbor Bob is a jackass.  What I say is, “I leave analysis to you, Bob.  I just feed the beast.”


Down the block, we meet Molly and her four-year-old, Courtney.  “Oh, those bootsare just the cutest!” Molly gushes.  “Courtney would simply love boots like that, wouldn’t you, Honey?”


“They’re beautiful,” whispers Courtney, as if beholding Joan of Arc.  And now I have one more fear: covetous preschoolers stealing Randy’s boots.


We press on.  No rock salt. Randy progresses, workmanlike.  Sherlock would have gyrated out of his boots and buried them in a snowdrift.  I take inventory:three boots and one bare foot.


I admit, here and now, to sputtering obscenities so vile as to snap Courtney from her rapture. I conclude with, “And what the hell am I supposed to do, go back and look for the missing one?”  Instead, I manage a laugh.  Bitter, but a laugh nonetheless.  Oh, blindness, you cruel mistress.


At work, I call around for replacement boots.  The fancy ones run $70 a set, enough to dotwo yuppie toddlers proud.  Then I hear about the disposable ones.  But are they any good?  Won’t the rock salt cut into them?  That’s what I ask the guy at the pet shop on the way home.


“The rubber is heavy duty,” he tells me.  He lets me feel one.  It’s thick all right, like a short, fat condom.  “And they stay on,” he adds.  I stretch the super tight elastic open end.


“I’ll take a dozen,” I say.  At eighteen bucks, a bargain. I stuff Randy’s left rear size twelve into the disposable rubber boot.


Randy leads homeward. Still no rock salt.  I take another inventory: two fancy boots, one disposable boot and one bare foot.  ”That’s it!”  I shout, yanking the fancy boots off Randy’s paws.  Liberated, he prances in the snow like Bambi.


Nearing home, rock salt crunches under foot.  It’s neighbor Bob sowing seed.  I drop Randy’s harness handle and steer him through the soft snow on the parkway.“Old Man Winter sloughed a little dandruff,” says Bob.  “Just enough to remind us who’s in charge.  Hey, where’s Randy’s fancy boots?  And what’s that thing on his back foot?  Jeez, looks like…  On second thought, don’t tell me.”


So, I don’t tell Neighbor Bob what’s on Randy’s foot. I leave analysis to him.  I’m satisfied knowing those ugly rubber boots have staying power. And I’ve got eleven more in my pocket.  I’ll hand the surviving pair of fancy boots to Courtneygive the kid reason to believe. Randy and I have found disposable boots.  Bring on the worst that Old Man Winter and neighbor Bob throw at us!


Jeff Flodin began this story at home with half an inch of snow in Chicago and finished it with a foot and a half of snow in Vermont.  His Vermont stay is courtesy of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Access Writing Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT.  February in Vermont encourages writing—indoors, warm, dry and well-fed.  Who says creativity requires suffering?  (You can also learn more about Jeff on the Statement page of this blog.)

Each Day

16 Feb

by Nora Devane

Slowly the room comes to focus
Yet still I cannot make out what I see
Moving eyes back and forth just to get the picture
Tell my brain to fill in what I miss

Each day that circle seems to shrink
Seems to hide more of my world from me
I try and try to find what I miss
Yet what can I do to fill in those blanks

Some days, I see it “all”
Most days, takes me a while
To focus, clear the fog
See what it is that was hiding yesterday

Each day I am happy that I still see your face
Even though it is etched on my heart
I worry that one day it will be gone
So each day, I see, I am blessed

Nora Devane was diagnosed with Retinitus Pigmentosa over 14 years ago. She is a legally blind photographer who also finds her escape in writing poetry. She is married and lives in North Dakota. Her writing helps her express how she feels about having RP. For her, writing is the best way to get out the words she sometimes cannot say in person. Nora’s photography is also a huge escape from the RP, because when she raises her camera to her eye, somehow she sees it “all” and she forgets she is blind.  You can read more about Nora and see her photography at

The Kiss

10 Feb

by Robert Kingett

We slowly draw closer in the enveloping blackness. My porch light illuminates his chocolate face as we draw closer, collapsing the distance of our feelings. Crickets cheer us on in this game of chance. The warm air places a heavy blanket of absolute around us; our breathing becomes one breath as we clash lips. Our lips rest lightly on clouds, no longer rooting us. A new kind of fire erupts between our locked passions, igniting our experience with a feverish fervor. We burn down any doubt in our minds with this towering flame of refuge. The sounds around us conduct the perfect beat for this pleasant song. My small lips gently continue to communicate urge with his. His fiery candles instantly kindle my soul. The sounds around us stop abruptly to give us privacy. Way off in the distance, violins play in both of our fantasies, never wanting this testament of love to end. We both are blankets rapping up our adoration for the past, present, and future. We pull away, letting the flame dwindle slowly. We gaze at each other knowing the imperative message that we just told each other. The fire crackles and pops but it never fizzles out, even years later.


Robert Kingett was born prematurely and was put in an incubator because his lungs weren’t developing adequately.  The oxygen levels were not monitored properly and it caused him to have cerebral palsy and blindness   He was raised by his grandmother in Florida until he was 8 yrs. old and then lived with his biological mother in an abusive environment until he was 17. He was emancipated, graduated high school in 2010 and through his own research, discovered and now lives at Friedman Place in Chicago.  Robert is currently an honors student at The City College of Chicago getting his general transfer degree.  He’s a writer, having published many reviews, literary essays, poems, and accessibility related articles for a wide range of media  Read all about his inspiring life at  and his blog at  .

Not a Mask

4 Feb

by Nancy Scott

The whole thing started by accident.


My across-the-hall neighbor gave me the big beige hat.  “I’m trying to quit smoking,” his gruff voice explained.  “So I knit.  I’m better at it than my wife, now.  I see you walking outside and your ears need a hat.”


It was late October.  I needed to lower my blood pressure and to lose weight.  Walking inside the house was boring.  So, most decent days, I paced between front downspout and back flowerbed, trailing the fence and moving fast.  The path was generally clear; I didn’t need my white cane.


I wasn’t sure about a knitted hat with a huge pompom on top, but I wanted to honor his gesture.  The first day I wore it my nose and lips were freezing.  I wanted half a mile and my talking pedometer wasn’t there.  I pulled the hat down over my face.  It went below my chin.  Wonderful!  Scarf and hat with no tying.  I braved late fall and early winter with face covered.


I never thought how odd this would look to sighted people.  My first verbal encounter was with the neighbor who shoveled our snow.  He said, “Nan, that better be you under there.  Anybody else would have to see where they’re going.”  I laughed and raised the hat.  “Of course it’s me.”


My next encounter happened while waiting for a ride to a Radio Reading Service Board meeting.  The Board president pulled up.  I walked to his car, cane in hand.  As I got in, I adjusted the  hat.  “How can you see where…?”  Ernie stopped, realizing what he was about to ask. “Oh, right.”  I smiled, but Ernie was disturbed.  He knew I was a blind person but he apparently hadn’t grasped the whole concept.  He valued sight a lot, and my temporary blindfold bothered him.  (He still tells the hat story, though he sees the humor now.)


Fascinated,  I began purposefully wearing the hat down when I could.  Of course anything covering my ears was out of the question if I moved in unfamiliar territory by myself.  So when Bev and I went for a walk on College Hill she guided my masked, white-caned self into shops and a  restaurant.  Bev described all the incredulous looks we got.  Some people laughed; some didn’t, at first.  We still giggle about that day now.


I gave up the beige hat because the pompom took forever to dry after washing.  My next hat was a gift from my more fashion-conscious brother.  I forget its color, but it was furry and it had a scarf attached.  I kept warm and occasionally tested people’s instinctive reactions to blindness.  I heard everything from “You just want to see what we’ll do” to “But your eyes are covered.”


By the time Anne gave me the stretchy red hat, I’d moved into a high-rise.  “It will protect your ears better, and it goes with your gloves,” she said.  “And you can’t wear it down over your eyes.” “Wanna bet?”  I immediately tugged.  I got it past my nose.  “You are so bad,” Anne commented.  Surely that was a compliment.


Nancy Scott’s over-600 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries. An essayist and poet, she has published three chapbooks.

Recent work appears in  Breath and Shadow,  Contemporary Haibun Online, and Thema.  She won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest.