A Poleskie Poster from 2005

Rejected. . . .

It is regularly voted one of the best books of all time, a timeless piece of satire that has never gone out of print in the 64 years since it was published. But when George Orwell sent Animal Farm to TS Eliot for consideration, the poet - then a director of Faber and Faber - rejected it as "unconvincing."

In a letter from 1944 explaining why he would not be publishing the work . . . Eliot told Orwell that he was not persuaded by the "Trotskyite" politics that underpin the narrative.
Eliot signed off expressing his regret that the rejection would deny Faber and Faber the opportunity of publishing Orwell's future work, further stating: "and I have a regard for your work, because it is good writing of fundamental integrity."

Guardian Weekly


An Early Painting

YOU NEED TO BE hard headed in Rome to distinguish religion from witchcraft.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Germaine Geer on Proust

IF PROUST DID NOT make such a snobbish to-do about diction, it might be easier to forgive him for his battering of the sentence to rubble and his apparent contempt for the paragraph. He relies on commas and semicolons to do what should be done by full stops, of which there are too few, many of them in the wrong place. Sentences run to thousands of words and scores of subordinate clauses, until the reader has no recollection of the main clause or indeed whether there ever was one.

The Guardian Weekly


A Short Story

THE TELEPHONE RINGS, interrupting our dinner, the tense, jarring sound phones make when you are waiting for a message; perhaps word that someone close has died.

"Hello! How's your father doing?" "Hello! Who's this?"

"John . . . ."


"I'm at my nephew's house. We went fishing.... "

"Dad's still in intensive care . . . .” I say, in answer to John's question that he had not asked.

There is a long pause, John considering whether to go on, his earlier tone indicating that he was expecting to hear good news.

"Tell your Mom that I have some fish for her . . . catties . . . just caught.
All she has to do is clean them. I'm bringing them right over." John says, and then hangs up.

I have no chance to protest, nor to ask my mother if she even wants some fresh fish delivered right now.

We hurry to finish our dessert, two portions of homemade apple pie. There is none left to serve to John, who loves my mother's apple pie, if he should arrive while we are eating our pieces, and the first bites we have already taken from these slices have made them unofferable.

Arriving at the back stairs almost immediately, John shouts: "Hello!I brought the fish."

I walk out on the porch to greet him. My eyes do not meet his, rather they are drawn to the bucket of squirming, green and silver and brown, mustached and scaled creatures, swimming in more of their own kind than water, what little there is of it turned pink by fluids that must have once been inside the fish themselves.

The widow woman from next door, also telephoned from his nephew's house, and who is considering the possibility of the never married John, arrives at my mother's back steps with her knife. The three begin in earnest: decapitating, splitting, gutting, and then laying the pieces out on the concrete stairs. Severed, the fish heads wink their eyes, and open and close their mouths, a gesture that must have been what got them here in the first place. Then, they shut up for ever.

"Fresh!" John says, holding up the streamlined creature wiggling in his hand, its intuitive grasping at life to be taken as proof of his statement. "I caught them just this morning at Slocum Bottom. They were running . . . just jumping on my line. I was using leaches . . . they like leaches."

"Get a knife from the kitchen, Son," my mother says, turning to me, "John will show you how to clean fish."

Several tails on the pile of discarded pieces still flap, obeying motor commands sent by brains that now lie in a separate heap.

I go inside, as if to get a knife, but do not come back out.

Eight plastic bags dripping fluids, six machines pulsating with multicolored digital readouts that monitor his every puff and beat, and finally cutting away more than half of his insides, keeps my father alive for another three weeks; then the huffing and burbling, and beeping and wheezing stops.

John, no relation, but a close friend of my father, gets to ride in the limousine at the funeral, all the real relations being either too far away or already dead.

"Jeez, this is a great car!" says John on the way to the church, never having ridden in a Cadillac before.

"Jeez, this is a great car!" says John on the way to the cemetery.

He has never wanted a car before, content to walk wherever he needs to go in our small town, but a Cadillac is different.

"I'm getting old," John says, "I shouldn't have to walk up and down these hills every day."

He does not realize that it is probably because of these daily walks that he has reached his fine old age.

"I could use a Cadillac to go fishing," John tells us, "and not have to wait for my nephew to take me . . . he works and can only go on Saturdays. Do you know how much a Cadillac costs . . . I mean a good used one? I couldn’t afford a new one. I would think that people who owned Cadillacs keep them in pretty good condition, wouldn’t you?”

“I suppose so,” I reply.

For the remainder of the day, John talks only of his future Cadillac; thereby avoiding the grief my mother and I are experiencing.

Stephen Poleskie

Selected Works

A personal essay about his work that Poleskie wrote for an interview in a 2012 issue of Editions Bibliotekos
Essays that appeared in several journals and anthologies during the 1980s, including: Leonardo in the USA, Dars in Italy, and Himmelsschreiber in Germany
When his father dies, fading rock star John Foozler returns home, with his wife and son, to take care of his mother and run the family golf driving range. After a few months John’s mother dies, followed shortly by his wife. When his son leaves to join the Marine Corps, and with nothing to keep him in Eastlake, except a few now married old girlfriends, John decides to leave town and follow a dream his father had for him of becoming a professional golfer.
A National Guard corporal returned from deployment in the Middle East and suffering from undiagnosed PTSD descides to murder a man who he believe raped his wife thirteen years ago, and may be the father of his daughter.
A well-known American stunt pilot, and university professor, meets a strange old man named Caliban who tells him the story of his twin brother who as a young boy flew with Charles Lindbergh as his secret copilot on his famous solo trans-Atlantic flight.
Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe (1823−1913) was called by Carl Sandburg "the most shot-at man of the Civil War."
An unemployed actor answers an ad for a rent-free apartment and finds himself involved in a bizarre scheme to rig an election.
Novella and Stories
An AWOL soldier returns to the world after thirty-three years of hiding in his mother’s attic. An immigrant plumber bribes a policeman with a loaf of bread. And a plastic garbage bag flies around the sky looking for a new beginning, in these three out of the ordinary tales of living in America.
Selected Short Stories
A short story that appeared in the collection Acorn's Card, and on the blog Writing the Polish Diaspora
A short story that appeared in the collection Acorn's Card, 2011 and on Goodreads
A short story that appeared in the anthology The Book of Love, published by W. W. Norton, 1998 and in the collection Grater Life, 2009
A short story published in a shorter version in the 1995-6 issue of the magazine American Writing
A story published in the Spring 1996 issue of the west coast magazine Pangolin Papers and also in the collection Grater Life, 2009
This story appeared in the Spring 2009 print issue of SN Review
This story appeared in Essays & Fictions, Summer 2010, and in Fiction Daily
A short story that appeared in SATIRE magazine in 1997 under the title TGV
A story that appeared in Imago, the Australian literary magazine in October, 2001
A short story published in the Sulphur River Literary Review, Austin, TX
A short story in the Print Annual of Many Mountains Moving, a Literary Journal, 2008-9, nominated for a Pushcart Prize
A short story published in WordWrights!, a literary magazine from Washington, D. C. under the title For Eisenstaedt Spontaneously
Novel in Stories
A collection of short stories, interwoven into a dialog between a volunteer hospital visitor and a patient afflicted with AIDS.

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