I got a short piece of mine published in a special anthology and it’s finally available for purchase.

The story is about Dinah, an observant woman using her faith to try to do everything she can to save her family from Covid-19. Through prophetic dreams she discovers, contrary to her learning, that there had always been a Talmud written by women sages lost to time because of social pressure. Can she save her mother and other members of her community using the miracle of her dreams or does her discovery doom them all because of heresy?

Strange Fire: Jewish Voices from the Pandemic leans into the crack between the faith we are supposed to practice and the faith we do, particularly in times of crisis. That may look like atheism paired with orthopraxis. It may look like charms and prayers one step removed from spells. It may look like philosophy in the light of secular redemption. It may look like blasphemy.

Three o’clock had come and gone with no one to put us to use. The staplers chattered, working their silvers into a jam. I jittered with my fellow yellow pencils, itching to be sharpened. Even the papers cut the air with their razor sharp edges.

“Where are they?”

We asked the same thing the next day. And the next. Soon losing count.

Everything missed a student. A teacher. A seat warmer. A pen biter.

STAEDTLER Mars erasers were consulted by those suspicious among us. “Could it be a zombie apocalypse?” They thought back to Robert’s famed doodles. “No, the desks haven’t seen anyone from the windows.”

With no sign of change, a rubber band, another pencil and I, made a plan to jiggle the doorknob open. The band hugged us around the waist, just above where we proudly sported our choice #2 lead. It almost felt the way I imagined skinny fingers would.

Not everything agreed with us.

“How uncouth,” the scantrons fluttered, “just have more patience.”

“Easy for you to say.” I tried to keep my purchase on the knob. “You’re barely used. What do you know of Max, Rachel, and Tanya? Only their sweat on test day. No one likes you.”

The scantrons replied with a united flap from their plastic packet. “We got better things to do than just sitting all day reduced to our use.”

I was something else once, a field of me tall enough to soar. Too long a time ago. Many of us were.

The scissors, there were three in the closet, made us all hush with the threat of sharpened steel. Anything that wanted to go, would go. Anything that wanted to stay, could stay. The door hadn’t moved despite the sounds of rubber stretching.

I began to slip. “I’m sorry.” I apologized both for my failure and to the bitter scantrons that, like the rest of us, had no say in their purpose.

Mid-fall, eraser butt down, the hinges groaned as the rust scraped from its brass knuckles. The other pencil and rubber band joined me on the floor.

The freedom had a magnetic pull, inspiring the index cards to drop with aplomb and abandon. A black tiled floor in a shower of white.

We sought purpose in each other. The pencil sharpeners came to my aid. I, to the aid of papers and cards. Even the scantrons joined us in the end.

When a familiar flowery scent mixed with disinfectant wafted the halls we froze. The paralysis reminded us we weren’t meant to challenge our roles.

“What about these?” I didn’t recognize the janitor behind his mask.

They meant us, scribbled papers crumpled over seats like butts.

“Everythings got to be clean before the students come back. Throw it out.”

My first time to be held, I thought. My last.

“S-sorry,” the bristles of the broom swished against the tile as the man swept us all into its packed dustpan, never laying a finger on us.

We receive a message from around the area of Mars. Excited to speak with aliens, we ask “Do you live on the planet?” They reply “We are the planet.”

Dear NASA Administrator,

Forgive my unprofessional ramblings in this letter, it will be my last communication.

You have always pushed for the best in your teammates. It is no wonder to me that our contact with the planet came under your command. As per order SV65, I continued transmissions with Mars. Did you know how right the Romans were to name it after the God of War?

When we first got the message, you know to which I refer, we attributed it to translational error. I cannot fault you for ascribing this to human error, to crossed wires, to extended isolation on a space shuttle, to anything but the truth of this 4th planet from our sun. I personally recomputed the code but the reply was the same.

Introductory Biology teaches that all living things are made of cells and you have argued the opposite is more true, that cells make living things. Seemingly a small semantic issue, especially when you will come to face our alien. I think of viruses, “machines” organic enough to co-opt a living host and make use of the necessary bits for their own selfish propagation. Still we cling to our definition of living things and ignore the defiance of a virus. Would you still do the same knowing what I know?

The more I write the less I remember to relate. Order SV65. You did not notice the station going off course because according to our instruments all systems were stable. Is the transmission still showing the station present?

It is a macro-fractal. Recursive down to the atomic scale. I figured this after message 75, the most challenging transmission that I continue to work on. It was not much longer then, the shuttle to the surface of the thing.

Eukaryotic DNA is composed of introns and exons. An almost universal triplet code except the universe was limited to our 3rd rock from our sun.


We are

We are the

We are the planet


What if the transmission, like our DNA, also includes code that needs to be excised? The same message plays with itself and the number of codons is inconsistent. The combinations and combinations of combinations.

Wear the planet

We are the plan

We are the net

Always “We are.” Or maybe it does not start with “we” but ends that way.​

You cannot imagine the most outright solar panel as it held its last in orbit. What was left, before continued immersion, showed all the features of inorganic matter native to this living rock that breathes wind and ash. Soon, as the rest of the station, and my soul with it descend, we will be nothing but Mars.

Do not underestimate how inclusive ‘we’ can be. How long have you, has Earth, been searching for home?

I wonder if this is what the good book meant when it said dust to du-

A librarian who has all the knowledge in the world but hasn’t seen it and a traveler who has seen the entire world talk about their lives.

Svetlana adjusted her lenses and stretched her fingers against the thick frames. On holiday weekends she could work until her hands gave out, or her eyes–whichever came first–without worry of a patron to attend to. She was taking notes on a cosmology book, feeling both inspired and dejected by it. Inspired, because for a book on cosmology it delved so much into the history of famous astronomers it could double as a study on human ingenuity and psychology. Ego clashing with the pursuit of knowledge. It was a book on world exploration, illustrating the need to understand the depths of space to command the sea. Dejected, because she feared she could never write such a worthy book herself and the thought of writing anything less crushed any motivation to try.

Svetlana was not always destined to be bookish. Her mother was a great explorer, in a time when the exploration for women was limited to the house and market. But when she met her father, he urged her to settle down on account of the pregnancy. And the pregnancy after that. And the pregnancy after that. And eventually her mother’s sea traveler legs had gone too long without use. As the first born, Svetlana was the first to hear her mother’s extravagant tales of other worlds and customs. When it hurt her mother too much to speak of her travels, Svetlana relayed the tales to her siblings. But eventually her father forbade even that, lest his daughters fill their head with too many silly ideas that reduced their standing. Her father never said it, but Svetlana could sense his disappointment in being surrounded by the opposite sex, especially all who would have done better had they been born with different parts.

Svetlana wished to please both her parents so as each sister left, either to marriage or other pursuits, she stayed behind. To please her mother, she rented books from the library, and when her father was away, and the chores of the day were complete she and her mother read them to each other. “That’s not at all what it was like when I was there,” sometimes her mother would say, and Svetlana was drawn back to the stories from her childhood. “Never marry,” her mother chastised and so thrust her into the present again.

When her father died, her mother’s legs were not the only thing keeping her from traveling. In a way little changed, but significantly the home was again filled with the sound of fantastical memories. Free to speak again, the mother poured her memories over every activity. “In Ciqikou, they prepare the fish this way to honor Yinglong, a dragon that controls the floods.” She’d cook a meal that had Svetlana’s tongue traveling to the East.

“Where did you travel today?” Her mother always asked when she returned from work.

“To Ancient Greece, to speak with the greats: Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates.”

“Then you have missed your mark. Let me tell you about Diogenes, I heard of him first from a friend while traveling along the Nile.”

Svetlana did not inquire about the friend. Somehow her mother once had had many of them, but they went the way of her travels. In this case, the friend was her father, long before the marriage to her mother. In her mother’s mind there were two versions of him: the friend who was her travel companion, kept her safe but explored with her to her heart’s content, and the husband/father who she preferred not to think of much anymore. “And can you imagine, Svetlana, when caught sifting through garbage, by Alexander the Great no less, his reply was ‘I am looking for bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from the bones of his slaves.’ Svetlana and her mother talked little the rest of that night. Both were consumed with thoughts of their own bones and the stories they would and would not tell.

Eventually Svetlana excelled at her job in the library, as almost anyone with enough experience and willingness can. She updated her mother on changes to the places she had once been. “They trade Dutch salted cod there too now” in reference to places once lacking due to location and knowledge of salt making.

“Soon it will all be the same.” Her mother lamented but asked to hear more. It was then Svetlana began scribbling.

“Write about me,” her mother said, “so we can travel together.”

Time has reversed 20 years. Everyone retains their memories but cannot mention it

Isis looked down at herself, investigating her body as though being in it for the first time. She could see her toes. She could see her toes! She grasped her belly and sobbed. Tear-filled gasps from the depths of her small five year old frame stifled the room.

Downstairs, her mother gazed at her own reflection in the mirror. She caressed her face from forehead to chin, inspecting it at different angles. So smooth, she thought. She could have stood there for hours still, until she made out the noise from upstairs. She turned in front of the mirror one last time, admiring her thin, tight frame, and made her way up. It felt so good to stretch her muscles, her body no longer aching from the aches of her joints, and cold and hot flashes that early menopause eventually cursed all women with.

The noise was coming from her daughter’s bedroom. She walked faster, enjoying the feel of every footfall.

“Isis.” She turned the knob. “What’s wrong, my doll?” Elaine lifted her up and rocked her in her arms, relishing the feel of the weight of her little girl. “Talk to mama.”

“My baby,” Isis wept, hands pressing an empty stomach.

For a moment Elaine’s eyes opened wide and a knot caught in her throat.

“There’s your doll.” Elaine pointed to the bed. She handed it to her, “here it is.”

Isis pressed the baby doll to her chest still weeping. “My baby.”