Friday, July 28, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
He looked up from loading the tools back into his truck and saw in the bare yard, the old Maple, left for shade when the lot had been cleared.
In the heat, exhausted from the day, he saw the tree, not as beautiful, as he once would have, but as a big, dumb, thing. A thing on which his thoughts were wasted, his time. A thing that, like the farmers and deadbeats, who, on good days he called neighbors, offered him only blank stares when he spoke of his desires. A thing that, in its inability to give, had unknowingly stolen from him the brightness of his words. Everything in this place had become an enemy.
Friday, July 7, 2017
I figure my Elementary School had Katherine Paterson's, Bridge to Terabithia on a shit-list of some sort. That's why I never read it as a kid.
I went to a private school. A Christian private school. A school so uptight, it made St. Paul's, the local Catholic school, look like some sort of inner-city den of iniquity. A school that didn't hire ... even part time ... liberated, new-age hippy music teachers, like Bridge's Miss Edmunds. A school that prayed regularly, said the Pledge of Allegiance and would blackball in a heartbeat, even a Newberry Medal-Winner, with a character like short-haired, pants wearing Leslie Burke, who says, and I paraphrase, that she didn't believe God went around damning people straight to hell.
Why Leslie, don't be such a silly girl.
Sigh. What else did I miss out on?
Anyway, I've read Bridge to Terabithia now. Got a lovely signed '77 hardcover edition. Cried like a baby. Wonderful read. Highly recommend it.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Barefoot, Wendy Poland paced the wet grass in front of her mamma’s tan-on-tan doublewide. With her left hand, she held to the ear of that same side, her cell phone, its power and minutes nearly expired. With her right, she grasped a single liter bottle of Mountain Dew, the green fluid within flat now from nearly twenty minutes of gesticulating.
“Dammit, Jose,” Wendy said into the phone. “I needed that money. For diapers.”
Wendy looked up from saying this, to see a large crow come to rest on the satellite dish attached to the trailer just above the window of the room in which she and her daughter were staying, “Until things cool down,” she had told her mother.
From the phone came only the faint ruckus of the restaurant at which Jose worked. Wendy watched the bird shift from one foot to the other, as if the satellite dish was too hot for its feet. She saw in its blue-black sheen, Jose’s shoulder-length hair, straight as new iron. The two shared the same dark eyes.
The crow unfolded its wings and dropped from the dish to the window sill below. There, it looked to Wendy briefly, then turned to the window’s darkened glass and began to peck, strong and steady.
“Jose?” Wendy said to the phone.
The phone was silent but for the distant clink of glass and silverware.
The Mountain Dew bottle slipped from Wendy’s hand.
The crow turned to her again. Its eyes sparkled. A chuckle rose in its dark throat.
“I have to go now, Jose,” Wendy said, “I have to go.”
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Midway down aisle C, Everett Boyle stopped beside the buggy coral. With a quick flick of his wrist, he spun his keys around his right index finger, landing the mostly brass bulk smartly, back into the tight of his palm. He felt the mid-morning’s sticky heat already beginning to accumulate beneath the collar of his shirt, and in his shoes, on his feet, where the soles rounded softly upward. He felt too, the eyes of his wife, intent on his back. Damn, Everett said, scanning the parking lot for his truck.
“You’ve lost the truck, haven’t you Everett?” he heard his wife say.
Everett said nothing. He drew a deep breath in through his nose and continued to look out over the car tops for the white Ford.
It was his shirt he had been thinking about when he parked the truck. Sherry, his wife, had given him grief about it the moment he walked from the bedroom with it on, enough so, that they had driven the twenty minutes to the grocery in silence.
Everett works the counter at Matlin Supply, a plumbing outfitter down on South Water, just past the Hospital. He’s been there eighteen years, and though he bitches regularly about the dumbasses he works for, and with, Everett’s quick to add that the job is far better than the shit he put up with when he did service calls as a licensed plumber. “Literally,” he’ll say, and explodes with laughter. Every time.
Christmas, Matlin’s gives Everett a check for five hundred dollars, a honey-baked ham, and seven new navy blue polo’s with the company logo embroidered over the left breast, his name over the right.
Despite it being Tuesday, his scheduled day off, Everett took one of the shirts that morning from the closet and pulled it over his head to wear. They were comfortable, familiar.
“You have nothing good to say about that place,” his wife said when she saw him in the shirt. “Why are you advertising for them on your day off?”
Everett had only shrugged. He poured coffee for himself and then went with the dog through the glass slider onto the back patio. He stood at the handrail and looked out into the back yard.
Sherry had followed. She lit a cigarette beside him.
“It’s just silly, Ev ...” she said, still about the shirt.
Everett sipped from his coffee as she spoke and said nothing.
Everett had let his wife out in front of the grocery and driven alone to park the truck. He felt oddly blank as he searched for an empty space, as if the whole of his insides were setting up, hardening, like concrete.
“The ice cream is going to melt, Everett,” his wife said behind him.
Everett realized that he had stopped looking for the truck, realized that he was at Matlin’s; behind the counter, customers waiting as he filed an order.
“Whose next?” he asked, and adjusted the collar of his shirt.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
The Coyote had some guns. Biceps on a lean frame.
He was standing at the counter of the Quick-Lube when I came in, tan, wearing aviator sunglasses, navy blue muscle-T and a vented five-panel cap that read: Diesel Dan’s.
I circled around the counter and sat in one of the plastic chairs at his back.
You assume a fella goes by the name of Coyote, if it’s tooled into the leather of his belt, which it was, in a darkened Saloon-Style font, all upper-case and framed in leafy paisley swirls. I wondered how he pronounced it— the Western way, Mid-western, Southern, or the Border way, the way of a man who had cramp hollows built into the recesses of his vehicle. It's all in the E.
The Coyote’s hair fell straight out and down from his cap, an inky, and possibly regretful black, unnatural at any age. The cut of it lent to making his neck appear to be a length of wetted stovepipe, protruding from between his shoulder blades.
Beneath the muscle-T, the Coyote wore shorts of a stonewashed denim, tall white tube socks and black sandals. The shorts he had pulled up and held by the belt in a position that somehow made his upper torso appear oddly diminished. Legs and arms were correct in relation to the head, but the torso ... the torso was all chest, no abdomen, nothing below the ribs it seemed, but a swivel of sorts on which he turned and looked at me.
I nodded. A single dipping of my head. Hey.
The Coyote did nothing, unless his acknowledgment was hidden behind the dark lenses of his Aviators, which I doubted. The Coyote is coy that way.
He gathered his keys and left.
Friday, June 16, 2017
What does it matter that I never hold her,
never speak to her at all,
never rise and wish to her in whispers the morning well.
I have these pages
on which her heart is poured
on which the truth if her is truest.
What more could matter, I ask,
Thursday, June 15, 2017
I am in your garden,
a deep meadow, rich with color,
Fingertips, as if in water, trace your plantings
that seem an act of nature, so perfectly have they grown,
gem after gem tied together by humble yet verdant grasses,
and here I stoop to closer see,
‘The dream was too beautiful to doubt.’
These bindings are a vase.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Friday, June 9, 2017
“The children are doing well,” Priscilla tells me, when she has no choice but to sit and can finally talk. “They send their love. They’ve grown.”
She and her husband Carl have been busy refurbishing the mudded nest atop my back porch light. Priscilla’s mother did it before her and her mother’s mother, too. They were all named Priscilla.
Priscilla and Carl are Barn Swallows. Barn Swallows don’t much care for change. Names and nests, they’re passed along, mother to daughter, father to son.
They fly south for the winter. Priscilla and Carl have a nest on the porch of another little farmhouse in Chile, near a small town named Talca. There are two children there on the farm, Luis and Anna.
Carl is too busy collecting bugs to talk, but Priscilla has laid the first of her eggs and must sit, so she tells me now the news from Luis and Anna. Of their birthdays and loose teeth, the llamas they raise, and of their great-grandfather, Oscar, who sits on the porch near their nest and tells wondrous tales that never seems to end.
Priscilla will tell me too, eventually, of their journey. Of the miles and storms and passersby. We have two weeks to talk, a little more, before the eggs hatch and she must gather food as well. Two weeks to fill her, like a postcard, with stories and love to return to Luis and Anna and Oscar, who sit in the warmth of a porch far, far south, waiting.