Category: writers

For your consideration

Excerpt from ‘Lamentations of a Farmer’ from the collection Asunder, baby:

When the derecho winds arrived Friday, they lifted the split-rail fences, tore up most of the barn roof, uprooted the vegetable garden, then set everything down, hard, probably, in the parking lot of the shuttered A&P in Mechanicsburg. When he first heard the sound, he thought the P&E Freight was running ten minutes early, its whistle off-key by about two octaves. Then he remembered he hadn’t heard that whistle in nearly sixty years, and the bones of that old depot were half a country away.

Saturday morning, he carried his shovel to the fence line, now reduced to a perforated line of dirt clumps and splintered cedar, and he rubbed the tired out of his eyes. Strands of barbed wire spread across the pasture, patches of galvanized weeds.

As through a wide breach they come, in the midst of the ruin they roll themselves in,” he said. “Job, you were one sorry son of a bitch if you couldn’t figure that out.” Before he started, he checked his pockets. “Fool,” he said. “What is it you expect to accomplish with only a shovel?” Nonetheless, he set the blade into the dirt, and leaned into it with his boot.

From a mean distance, he noted the tricks of the midmorning sunshine, how it spilled through a colander of apple tree branches and furnished a fine frippery of light, then raised its heels along the curves of the pea-gravel garden borders and set itself to dance. Even so, the dark western horizon was starting to crawl back.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated,” he whispered.

His cows, those that remained in the field, gawped at him from a tousled ridge of hay. His favorite (if a beast could be called a favorite, though she wore a particular sorrowful glint in her eyes that always drew his attention), named Marmalade for the spoon-shaped patches on her neck, stepped towards him, tentative, and she brought her melancholy with her.

“To the end, eh, Marmy?” he said.

First published by and many, many thanks to DarkWinter Literary Magazine and its founder and editor Suzanne Craig-Whytock (www.darkwinterlit.com)

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The man on the other side of the door

This is a place of unremarkable geometry, of hand hewn beams and reclaimed cabinets, of cotton curtains and poplin tablecloths.There are stout lines built around her silly feminine froth. You might savvy her girlish moods: the bright New Orleans yellow in the hallway, or maybe the baby doll figurines on the bookcase. But don’t forget, this is my home, and it is a place of unremarkable cruelties. 

There are stains in my study that look like ketchup, but are not. There are sudden movements that turn on all the security lights.There is a smell that is barely masked by the nine dollar dirt that feeds her windowsill herbs.

I’ve heard all these sounds before, but this one is closer, and I know why. There is a man on the other side of the door, limping, wet from the chase. He beats on the glass with the heel of his hand. I turn on the porch light because I know. I’ve been expecting him for twenty years, back from a time when my life was fraying. He took the left road and I took the right. I don’t want to see him now — for us to see each other, really — but his t-shirt is torn from armpit to belly, and I swore to him. He is older now, of course he is, but his eyes still show his fury, and mine have turned soft and careless. 

Richard,” was the only word he had to say, and I knew it was time.

Boys

Our pale naked chests caught the moonlight. We were primitive mammals, drinking from her pool. Unsentimental, there were no aftermaths to consider, no consequences to chasten our arousals. Freely belligerent, we scraped the raw off mountains and ran roughshod over untidy hearts. We did not care. We were boys.

We cured ourselves with thought and shame, and retreated from Pan’s doom. But not all; some joined his legion and drink still from the pool, naked boys in aged skin.

The only thing to do

From the Paris Review, by Dan Piepenbring

“The creative impulse is such a fragile thing, but we have to create now. We owe it to ourselves to do the work. I want to encourage you. If you aspire to write, put aside all the niceties and sureties about what art should be and write something that makes the scales fall from our eyes. Forget the tired axioms about showing and telling, about sense of place—any possible obstruction—and write to destroy complacency, to rattle people, to help people, first and foremost yourself. Lodge your ideas like glass shards in the minds of everyone who would have you believe there’s no hope. And read, as often and as violently as you can. If you have friends, as I do, who tacitly believe that it’s too much of a chore to read a book, just one fucking book, from start to finish, smash every LCD they own. This is an opportunity. There’s too much at stake now to pretend that everything is okay.”