Always my grandmother and mother tried to impart reality.

“Stop your wandering. You’ll only find stores, churches and some people.”

Others continued.

Yet, off I went, still go.


My grandmother by then was under my mother’s care,

Daily Yiddish yelling from both.

Resentment, my grandmother being ordered by my mother’s shrill voice.

Finally quiet.


My mother would go off and hum, Foggy Foggy Dew,

And there’s rambling in that ballad, odd …..


He leans against a light post and watches three shop girls mop the sidewalk.

He stares, and then moves to a gordita wagon, tries to get some free ones.

No success.

The shop girls tip the water buckets into the street.

The water runs gray.

Good enough.


“Here is a picture of my grandkid.”

I look at the blurred color photo, and the bus bumps along.

“My eyes, they’re gray. You think they’re green because of my green coat.”

An eighty one year old caregiver retired, attractive.

Attractive, a short eighty one year old with a lined face?

Sure, and why explain, me at seventy five.

“There are demons out there, devils, too.”

I mock her.

“No, they are. I tell you. Really.”

Before her bus she tells me that her uncle reached under a rock to grab an armadillo’s tail.

“But a rattlesnake struck at his arm. It had to be amputated. He never got the armadillo.”

Then, her bus came.



An old man walks with his young daughter.

“I married for a second time, a young woman.

“She works and I take care of our daughter,”

They also board a bus.



“Hey, come say hello,” yells the cigarette-smoking man in a rocking chair.

“I was a shrimper forty two years, never lost a boat in the Gulf.

“But many other shrimpers lost them. Big storms.

“I wisely rode them out. They made the mistake of tying up.

“I’m glad to be on land now, watching over my mother; she’s inside.”


As for my grandmother and mother, and those whose narrow sense followed

And gave, and give, not a rat’s ass for:

Shop girls,




Family snapshots,

Rural Mexican tales, animals included,

Old men with young wives and their kids,

Or, old shrimpers,


Life’s imperfect menu,

I do  ….


Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, late January 2014



Author: Gene Novogrodsky

Eugene “Gene” Novogrodsky, a Brownsville resident for nearly three decades, writes North American border slices, from eastern Canada to central Mexico, and in between. He is one of the founders of the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center Writers Forum in San Benito. He sometimes participates with the informal Resaca Writers Group in Brownsville. He prefers, however, to read to two or three attentive listeners – when asked!


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