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The Minor Deities

by Marc J. Sheehan

Praise be to the Bodhisattva of Junk Drawers, who refuses Nirvana until the last stray key has been reunited with its lock; until all the unopened locks have remembered the combination to their past lives; until the dead laser pointers are resurrected and the cats who once chased their tracers brought back from the ashes. And ask for wishes, or understanding, from the Djinn of Bottles You’ve Emptied Alone and the Archangel of Crying Over Stupid Movies. Or beseech the Patron Saint of the Obsolete, who once played you the hymns of Patsy Cline – the Goddess of Heartbreak – on your Ford Pinto’s 8-track player. The Major Deities see the wars, but not the soldiers; observe the dance of super-galaxies, but not our footprints on dusty floors; give witness to all yesterdays and tomorrows, but are blind to today. Therefore, entreat the Spirit of Abandoned Coin Collections to fill the most precious circles in your half-full Books of Years. And sing the off-key psalms of the Seraph of Could Have Been Famous. And wipe away the tears that the God of Will It Never Stop Raining spills endlessly. And pray to the Divine Keeper of Warranties to fix you when you break, and forgive you for not sending your card in when you were whole and had the chance.

 

Marc J. Sheehan is the author of three poetry collections, most recently, Limits to the Salutary Effects of Upper-Midwestern Melancholy, from Split Rock Review. His flash fiction has been featured on NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction series, and Selected Shorts. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “The Minor Deities”?

As I get older I’m increasingly unsure where a piece of writing comes from. Or, at least, I increasingly don’t remember the initial impulse. However, having written many failed poems and stories over the years I have developed a mental junk drawer full of images that still haunt me, having not exorcised them properly the first time around. Here, the images of the coin collection books and the dusty footprints were both in earlier pieces I wrote, which ultimately didn’t come together. Also, I just love Patsy Cline and beater cars, and feel nostalgic about things like 8-track players. I guess this piece is a sort of Cornell box that allowed me to put these disparate images together in what I hope is some kind of harmony.

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