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These are three excerpts from

Not A Second More, Not A Second Less

by J. J. Steinfeld.

from "Percival Gets a Phone Call"

(...) He told her she wasn't dying, that she could keep her Oscar, but she

insisted she was about to meet the Big Director in the sky. Her attempt

at gallows humour, Percival had thought. She shipped her Oscar to her son

and it took three days for it to arrive from Halifax, and by the time he

opened the package, his hands trembling, she was dead. (...)

* * *

from "Bookish Sex"

(...) I was a different person in those days, we all were. I'd never even

written as much as a verse of poetry back then. Still, the magazine story

needed its photographs and there we were, mug shots and all. But it wasn't

the story that completely exasperated me.

Books on sex, sex books, bookish sex, sexual words, word-luscious sexiness,

sex thoughts, sex words, sex-sexier-sexiest—that's what rings their

bells, starts them salivating, mixes my metaphors. I shouldn't act so indignant.

I'm an angry seventy-three-year-old woman. But I'm first and foremost a poet,

maybe a little long in the tooth poet, but I take my creativity seriously—it's

what I am, central to my existence...(...)

* * *

from "Not a Second More, Not a Second Less"

(...) Not that long ago, he had neared death, glimpsed the emptiness, but

refused to reveal the inauspiciousness of it to anyone, not that he has many

conversations in the course of a week. On what appears to be a whim, he stops

a sad-looking couple, perhaps it is the burden of their packages, he thinks,

new wardrobe, head to foot, desparate fashion.

I will kill myself in precisely twenty minutes, not a second more, not a

second less, he tells them, his words lilting, and he runs away from the

proffered revelation, not turning to see if they drop their packages to pursue him (...)

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Not A Second More, Not A Second Less excerpt ©2005 J. J. Steinfeld

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