Beyond Happy and Sad

By Andrew Gretes

Instead of an angel and a devil, my friend’s shoulders
harbored two musicians—Stevie Wonder and Johnny Cash.
When my friend was happy, Wonder would warble a
siren serenade, a song capable of luring a suicidal
light-wave out of a black hole. When my friend was
sad, Cash would croon about how life is like a chicken
with its head cut off, full of blood and circles, signifying
stuffing. Then, out of the blue, David Bowie appeared
in the guise of a Martian. And Freddie Mercury materialized
as a monarch. And John Cage, Miles Davis, and a pudgy
Lutheran organist who only spoke in counterpoint
joined the fray. In danger of falling off my friend’s
increasingly overcrowded shoulders, the musicians emigrated
north. Some lounged in his hair. Others protruded
out of his ears. One rode on his nose.

Ever since, my friend’s cried ebullient jazz-blue tears.
Smiled baroque Zen-green smiles.


Andrew Gretes is the author of the novel, How to Dispose of Dead Elephants (Sandstone Press). His short stories and poems have appeared in such literary journals as Witness Magazine and Fiction Fix. He currently lives and writes in Washington D.C.