A place for departing saints

I watched the widowed mother

pause on the steps of

Matilde of the Sacred Heart,

a sight in black and white

posed in a black polyester dress,

maneuvering

cautiously down

cracked white concrete,

and I studied her

 

studying my children

across the street

in the

catholic park,

riding their bicycles and hiding

behind summer trees and sharing

their lovely laughter,

 

and it gave her

and it gave me

and it gave us

a précis of her new world.

 

she considered the words

spoken in

the privileged language

of prayer,

still, inside, chanting, inside,

in an idiotic, monotone

 

an old rubric

gutted by a god

prone to soliloquies

 

and

she hailed a cab

for someplace else.

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Ordinary Handsome, et al.

Published works, synopses, and reviews. Thank you.

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Ordinary Handsome

Fifty-seven years ago, a young man named Euart Monroe came back home. Only two people knew what happened to him. Years later, the man responsible for Euart’s fate is paid a visit. But is it Euart’s ghost? Or is it the boy grown up seeking retribution? Welcome to Handsome, OK, population 883 and fading. It’s a place where some men bury their mistakes, a town on the edge of becoming a ghost.

“…the writing is textured, rife with precise detail, stunning imagery, and raw emotion. Baird is a master at finding the perfect word and painting a picture that shifts and clears with each new perspective.” 

“(Baird’s) writing is exquisite, the subject matter is temporally relevant, and there are characters to both pity and loathe. Ordinary Handsome, in its grit and precision, tells of extraordinary misfortune and strife.”

“Ordinary Handsome takes you through the fragmented life story of a dying town, told from the perspective of its soon-to-be ghosts. It grips you from the very beginning and stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. I absolutely recommend this book.”

Ordinary Handsome (e-book) is available here

Ordinary Handsome (oversized paperback) is available here

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A Very Tall Summer

“It was a very tall summer in 1957, and I’ll tell you why…”
And so begins the most terrible summer for Charlotte Windover.
She and husband Jeremiah began a new life together surrounded by a wide expanse of a corn and sky. After years of brutal disappointment, she finally resolves to change her life. When Jeremiah is suddenly killed at an abandoned homestead, life becomes more isolated and harrowing. And with the threat of random fires being set by a mysterious figure known only as Croy, Charlotte’s life has become even more desperate.
In a land of big skies and small dreams, A Very Tall Summer is the tale of a woman’s resolve to overcome her broken past, and at any cost.

“Baird is a master wordsmith, painting a vivid world of sound and motion, rife with feeling, and deadly in its inevitability.”

“Baird’s use of language is both elegant and gritty. It is layered and often unexpected; and it makes something striking out of an otherwise simple story. He uses his skill to pin you to the page in a way which both pleases and disturbs, creating a kind of cognitive dissonance which will both repel and compel you. A keen observer, he will activate all your senses, sometimes in ways you wish he would not. You will find you are unable to turn away from the taste of sweat and the crunch of cartilage.”

A Very Tall Summer (e-book) here

A Very Tall Summer (oversized paperback) here

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Maggie

Maggie Day is a pregnant young woman who escapes to the only place she’s ever felt safe. As she copes with past tragedies and trauma, she is guided by her grandmother, who helps her discover courage and self-respect. Maggie is a tale of love and strength, and of overcoming the wounds of a dark past.

“Baird is a master of ‘voice,’ capturing the unique beauty of each personality through their thoughts and words. In a rural world of poverty, self-sufficiency, and few prospects for change, emotions run deep and rich with insight, honesty, and love.”

Maggie (novella) is available here

Copper pots

She stirs the big copper pot, bubbling onions and carrots and sliced red potatoes, salted and peppered, frothing like ocean foam, and the steam rises, a thin blur of vapor smears the kitchen window, aromas of home. Seeds and spilled spices on the countertop, overhead fan whirling its muscular rhythm, bubbling yellow broth, the tap-tap-tap of a wooden spoon against metal, dull noise in the grand silence. It was her mother’s pot, handed down like the silverware and the wedding dress and the family casserole recipes. This is how you will live, it was implied: cooking soup, controlling the stove’s flame, memorizing ingredients. The steam will frizzle your hair and make your hands damp, and the aromas will be your home. The bone china bowls with the rose patterns, faded now, handed down, and the gravy boat and the silver serving platter, all hers now, stored in molding cardboard boxes. No clobbered tin cups, no McDonald’s water glasses, no plastic plates collected from flea markets, not for you, but these fine Revere Ware copper pots, and ivory tablecloths, and crystal pickle dishes, these make a house a home. And the steam rises in the kitchen.

Wake up

The finer things

Wake up,
It’s time to be invisible.

Watered-down hand sanitizer in the men’s room

Laughter from a joke you’re not in on

Coca-Cola cans from the vending machine

past expiration date. Continue reading “Wake up”

Approaching a stranger

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There’s always a lull between my writing projects. It’s not intentional. Everything I write tends to be a long-term relationship and I’m always reluctant to move on. Maybe not reluctant so much as stuck. I go back and forth between reviving old projects and seeking out something fresh.

I’ve written a lot of stuff over the years, some of it good, some a little messy and rushed, some painfully self-indulgent, and some inspired by Hemingway. Hemingway on a binge.

And now I’m stuck. Stuck between calling up an old girlfriend and seeing if we can pick up where we left off, or introducing myself to a mysterious and alluring stranger. A stranger who won’t even tell me her name. (And no, not literally… I’m married… Hi, Hon!.. just drawing a weak analogy here!)

The last couple of days I’ve felt a spark. A little shimmer of an idea. Barely a flicker. But it’s there.

One of my favorite endings to a Stephen King novel was in “Misery”. Paul Sheldon, the protagonist, has been terrorized, traumatized and completely emptied of all inspiration. He’s a haunted and terrified man. And then he sees something during one of his therapeutic walks. Just a small something that shines a light in his imagination. And the reader is left with the idea that maybe Sheldon will heal. The process has begun.

All this to say, I think I’m going to approach the stranger. We don’t know each other, might not even like each other, but it’s worth a shot. It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (Hi Hon! Of course you can have a new horse!)