David Galef


To My Niece Who Acts Like a Dog

Who eats
pet treats?

Who barks
at larks?

Who loves
my gloves?

Who chews
the news?

Who trots
through lots?

Who walks
and stalks?

Who stays
and bays?

Who begs
for dregs?

Who sheds
on beds?

Who plays
all days?

Dear Maud,
that’s you,

an odd
breed, true,

but not
shih tzu.

Tittle & Jot

“Would you care for some coffee?”
“Sure, pour me a cup.”
“Should I leave room for milk?”
“No, fill it right up.”
“And how about sugar?”
“Just a tittle or jot.”
“What did you say?”
“A soupçon, not a lot.”
“Wait, what was that phrase?”
“A scintilla, if you will.”
“I didn’t catch that.”
“One iota fits the bill.”
“Is that like a little?”
“Just a scoche would be fab.”
“That’s not English, is it?”
“A dram or a dab.”
“I really don’t get you.”
“Then how ’bout a smidgen?
Am I clear enough?”
“Is that like a pigeon?
This is odd conversation.”
“Look, I don’t want too much.”
“I sorta got that.”
“Just a whisper or touch.”
“No need to get fresh—”
“Just a nubbin or pinch.”
“Keep your hands to yourself!”
“I won’t budge an inch,
But a speck or a sliver
Is all I desire.
Got a grain or a dollop,
If I may inquire?”
“Oh, use some plain words
If it’s not too much trouble.
Let’s get this finished,
Or I’ll charge you double.”
“Then give me some sugar,
But a teeny-tiny bit.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so?
That’s clear, isn’t it?”

David Galef is a shameless eclectic, with over a dozen books in two dozen directions, including the novel Flesh, the short story collection My Date with Neanderthal Woman, and the poetry collections Flaws and Kanji Poems. His latest volume is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, from Columbia University Press. He is a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University.