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Keyword: ‘in the rabbit hour’

In the Rabbit Hour

September 19, 2012 Comments off

by Linda Umans

 

Nibbling
Pale yellow light
Flecked illusory
Death off the shoulder

 

   By daily dying…

 

   I pass through the window
              and roam Pennsylvania

   (The ticket holds my seat)

 

Grass still warm
Geese settling

 

   Come to be…

 


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Linda Umans enjoyed a long teaching career in the NYC public schools. She is a native of Manhattan where she lives, studies, and writes. Recent publications include poems in qarrtsiluni, YB, Terrain.org, The Broome Street Review, The Ghazal Page, Status Hat, Switched-on Gutenberg and a piece in Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood.

Categories: Fragments Tags:

Fragments: Table of Contents

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Three Fragments by Eric Burke

The Book of Forgetting by Robin Chapman

Quartet by Howie Good

The Saint of Lost Causes by Alice Driver

The Travelling Bride by Zeny May Dy Recidoro

The sky today by Sarah J. Sloat

war nights by Farideh Hassanzadeh-Mostafavi

List, Pre-Word, Pre-Poem by Claire Crowther

Midmoon by Peter Wortsman

a selection from diluvium by JeFF Stumpo

Ten Ways Of Going About Morning and Thoughts on Fragments by Jill Jones

Books by Richard Krause

Fons Amoris by Grace Andreacchi

xv. remote control by Theresa Williams

accidentals by Gabrielle D

Fragments of Skye by Katherine Durham Oldmixon

With or Without by Erika Dreifus

Silhouettes by Darcy Bruce

Fortune Beams by Jeffery Beam

lines of the days by Dorothee Lang

Robert at 80 by Robert Roth

Wishful by Linda Umans

From a Notebook Weighing 194 Grams by Rodney Wood

In the Morning (Tweets, May 2012) by Magda Kapa

Writing in Fragments: a habit of being by Ursula Vaira

My life’s fragments waiting for reassembly by Natalie d’Arbeloff

Notes Made on an iPhone while Rocking My Son to Sleep, July 2011 by James Brush

The Only Order the Day Had Was Chronological Order by Sarah J. Sloat

Road Notes by Wendy Vardaman

Homing by Anna Dickie

7 Fragments by Peter Newton

Two fragmented poems by Kristin LaTour

Bokeh by Saudamini Deo

White Pelicans by Jed Myers

here there where by Alegria Imperial

Untitled Fragments by Mark W. Kidd

I started near the far north. Ran. by Nancy Flynn

Six Months by Mark Roberts

Fragments of a life by Risa Denenberg

Snapshots of the Revolution by Brad Fairchild

A Contemplation of Surgery by Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld

Matters by Hannah Stephenson

And this is how… by Holly Anderson

Break Down the House by Tom Sheehan

Message in Morse Code by Beth Enson

sk/edge by Dorothee Lang

Fragments from a Year by Barbara LaMorticella

If I Jump You Jump Remember by Rina Caparras

Hospital Wanderings and Wonders by Kathy Uyen Nguyen

Weaving the waves by Saudamini Deo

Sitting Outside to Write Poems on the Day the Cottonwoods Let Go, Grand Marais, Minnesota by LouAnn Shepard Muhm

Phantom Limbs at the Antique Mall by Timothy Walsh

Twenty-six Minutes by Jessa Pearl Tamayo

Glass Stairwells by Sarah J. Sloat

From FRAGMENTS, a print series by Marja-Leena Rathje

In the Rabbit Hour by Linda Umans

Top Five Men of the Cities by Brad Fairchild

Five Months by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas

How to Undress a Mountain by Aditi Rao

The Falling by David-Glen Smith

So Now I Return to Myself by Karize Michella Uy

Ahura Mazda; Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Alex Cigale

Travel Notes by Guy Gauthier

Black and White, 1943 by Patricia L. Scruggs

Intricate Sky by Kris Lindbeck

Falling from the cycle by Saudamini Deo

Life Stuff by gaye gambell-peterson

Not For Nothing by Matt Hetherington

Diskobolos by Pia Taavila

Fragments of Stars by Emma Sovich

Great Escape by Tamuira Reid

Materials and Not Enough Time: An Alphabet by Pamela Johnson Parker

A Wasteland Sunday by Joshua Cochran

Speak War: Speak Peace—Two Poems by Lee Peterson

Dream Catcher by N. A’Yara Stein

The Recto Fragments by Adrienne J. Odasso

Categories: Fragments

Authors S-Z

February 5, 2008 Comments off

Sa’adah, Jonathan (website)

Saiser, Marjorie (website)

salach, cin

Saldanha, Ayesha (Bint Battuta in Bahrain)

Sánchez, José Eugenio

Sandiego, Victor David

Sasnaitis, Francesca

SB (Watermark)

Scannell, Aine (website)

Schmidt, Sig Bang

Schott, Penelope Scambly

Schroder, Don (website)

Schultz, Elizabeth

Schwartz, Peter (website)

Scott, Deb (stoney moss)

Scott, Deborah Lawson

Scott, Nancy (website)

Scruggs, Patricia L.

Sea, William

Searfoss, Stephen W.

Sebastian, Nic (Very Like a Whale)

Segal, Gail

Selby, Spencer

Selig, Paul (Guided Readings)

Severance, Emily

Sezer, Mustafa Burak

Shah, Christina

Shankar, Ravi

Sharp, Ray (blog)

Sharpe, Claire

Shapiro, Lynne

Shaw, Rachel D. (photography site, Frogs and Ravens)

Sheckler, Kate

Sheehan, Tom (website)

Shem (Fourteen Twenty)

Sherwood, Carolee

Shields, Andrew (blog)

Shockley, Evie

Shovan, Laura (website)

Singleton, Ian

Sirenic, Suzanne (suzannagig-jig)

SJ (I, Asshole)

Skemp, Jeffrey (Ill Kept)

Skiles, Don

Skiles, Robert (webpage)

Sloat, Sarah J. (The Rain in My Purse)

Smith, Barbara (Barbara’s bleeuugh!)

Smith, David-Glen (website, blog)

Smith, Gordon (website)

Smith, J.D. (Smitroverse)

Smyth, Anne Morrison (website, RedBubble page)

Smyth, Jessamyn (website)

Soen Joon

Solamito, Luigi

Solecki, Kristen (website)

Sontheimer, Robin

Song Zijiang

Sorkin, Adam J.

Soules, Aline (blog)

Sovich, Emma

Speece, Merry

Speh, Marcus (blog)

Spuler, Richard

Squillante, Sheila (All Things Edible, Random & Odd)

Stankard, Paul J. (website)

Stanton, Sarah (blog)

Starace, Rosemary (website)

Stapp, Gregory

Stein, N. A’Yara

Stephens, M. G.

Stephenson, Hannah (The Storialist)

Stevens, Paul (MySpace page)

Stewart-Oaten, Linda

Stockert, Odarka Polanskyj (website, MySpace page)

Stone, Jeneva (Busily Seeking… Continual Change)

Stone, Jon (Bandijcat)

Storey, Miles (MUTE)

Stripe, Adelle

Ström, Eva

Stromberg, Karen

Stumpo, JeFF (website)

Succre, Ray (website)

Susanto, Robin

susurradeluz

Sussman, Kaz

Svehaug, Erik (blog)

Swint, Christine (balanced on the edge)

Switaj, Elizabeth Kate (website)

Swoon Bildos (website, blog)

Szirtes, George (website, blog)

Taavila, Pia

Tabios, Eileen R. (The Blind Chatelaine’s Keys)

Tall Girl (Smoke and Ash)

Tamayo, Jessa Pearl (blog)

Tanasescu, Chris (blog)

Tanta, Gene

Taylor, Barbara A. (website)

Taylor, Marilyn L. (website)

Taylor, Maggie (website)

Taylor, Rob (website)

Templeton, Ray

Terry, Rina

Terzi, Judith (website)

Theriault,Vicki Foley

Thompson, Adrian

Tomasko, Jeanie

Tomasko, Steve

Topel, Andrew (vviissiioonnss)

Toupin, James

Townsend, Alison

Trame, Davide

Trede, Meredith

Tsogdorj, Bavuudorj

Uche, Akumbu (blog)

Uelsmann, Jerry (website)

Umans, Linda

Utting, Susan (webpage)

Uy, Karize Michella

Uysal, Ahmet

Vaira, Ursula

Vardaman, Wendy

Vassilakis, Nico

Vick, John

Vorreyer, Donna (website, blog)

Wahlgren, Jared

Wakoski, Diane

Walker, Jarrett (Creature of the Shade)

Wallace, Carey (website)

Walsh, Timothy (website)

Walton, Regina

Watkins, Amy

Watson, Andrea L.

Weaver, Julene Tripp (website)

Weaver, Susan

Webb, Eric M. R.

Webster, Loren (In a Dark Time)

Wehner, Mary

Weiss, Greg

Weiss, Lenore (The Empty Nestrance)

Welsch, Gabriel (webpage)

Wehmeyer, Holly (Printers Row Poet)

Whelan, Carolyne (website)

Whipple, Trix

Whiskey River (whiskey river)

Whitaker, MB (Find Me a Bluebird)

Wickham, Jill Crammond (jillypoet: mom trying to write)

Wickham-Smith, Simon

Wiggerman, Scott (website)

Wigney, Bev (Journey to the Center)

Wile, Richard

Wilkinson, Laura

Will, Colin (Sunny Dunny)

Williams, Katherine

Williams, Theresa

Williams, Tony (blog)

Willis, Bruce Dean (Macaw)

Willitts, Martin, Jr. (News from the Front)

Wilson, Juliet (website, Crafty Green Poet)

Wilson, Marina Hope

Wilson, Melinda

Wing, Avra

Wing, Steve (webpage)

Witzel, Lori (chatoyance)

Wolpe, Sholeh (website)

Wong, Nicholas Y.B. (website)

Wonham, Jonathan (Connaissances)

Wood, Rodney

Woods, Christopher

Woodside, Martin

Woolf, Rachel

Woolfit, William Kelley (website)

Worozbyt, Theodore

Wortsman, Peter

Wozek, Gerard (website)

Wray, Lawrence

Youmans, Marly (The Palace at 2:00 a.m.)

Young, Barbara

Young, Ellen Roberts

Young, Katherine E.

Yount, Susan

Yuan, Changming

Yung, Janet

Zealberg, Joe

Zelke-Windau, Marilyn

Zhang, Huiwen (Helen) (website, blog)

Zhoen (One Word)

Zimet, Kristin Camitta

Authors A – D

Authors E – L

Authors M – R

Index Home

Categories:

Coot in Kentucky

April 25, 2013 2 comments

by J. Stephen Rhodes

Standing alone in our gravel driveway, you look lost
in your tuxedo, water-bird flown to the wrong address
for an upscale cocktail party; either that or you’ve shown up
two hours late, so you start walking back and forth
as if most of the guests are behind the clapboard house,
as if a group of drakes smoking cigars will be standing
in a circle on the other side of the dented red truck.

In tasteful gray and black, you look out of place,
too sleek for the number eight gravel mixed with sand
on which you stumble in your over-sized, three-toed shoes.
Or, is the party on the Gulf of Mexico, and you’re not late,
just taking a break en route from your summer place up north?

Whatever, you grace our inland home—sparrows, robins,
chickadees, titmice, and us—with a sea-going elegance
we envy as the final oak leaves blow down, and we’re left
with what seems, at least in your presence, our annual upland
ordinariness. When, at last, you run across the parking lot
as you would a pond, flailing your wings, we want to come.


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J. Stephen Rhodes is a Presbyterian minister and theological educator. His poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Windhover, and Tar River Poetry, among others. He is the author of a collection of poems, The Time I Didn’t Know What to Do Next (Wind Publications). Among the mammals he has recently seen at or about his feeders (supposedly for birds) are squirrels, chipmunks, a rabbit, a shrew, deer, and two quite rotund raccoons.

The Bing

April 22, 2013 3 comments

by Gordon Gibson

The valley of the River Clyde crosses the central lowlands of Scotland, running north-west to its estuary. Beneath its fertile farmland lay coal and iron ore, and from the end of the 18th century, industry grew along the banks of the river. Within one hundred years, a continuous conurbation lay on either bank, for the last thirty miles of its path to the sea. The nation’s largest city, Glasgow, stood at the lowest bridging point, and only arbitrary boundaries on maps separated it from the other towns upstream.

By the 1950s, when I was a child, mining had declined in the area, the iron ore exhausted and the coal increasingly difficult to win. Most of the collieries had closed down, but their place had been taken by iron foundries, steel mills and heavy engineering factories that sent their manufactures to the shipyards at the river’s mouth.

My childhood friends and I lived in drab streets of mean tenements, built in the late 19th century to house industrial workers close to their places of employment. We played in the streets close to our homes, and on patches of waste ground where buildings had been deserted, and left to fall into ruin. In those years of reconstruction following the second world war, the steel mills of the town were in production for three shifts, 24 hours of every day. The smoke from the chimneys perpetually darkened the sky, and a metallic grit powdered every surface, outdoors or in. In our environment, nature seemed to have been overwhelmed. A few untidy weeds struggled to survive in pavement cracks, and there were sparrows and pigeons to be seen, but it was a grey world that provided our earliest playground.

In school we saw films and listened to educational radio broadcasts about the world of nature, but these were always set in green countryside, where bright and articulate children discovered the plants and animals of wood and field. They had no more to do with our lives, we felt, than the adventures of hunters and explorers in distant continents that we saw in our visits to the cinema. We did not expect that nature would have a local presence, and we did not look for it.

As we grew older, we wandered farther afield from our home territory, finding streets where buildings differed from our own tenements; quiet, cleaner streets of 1930s bungalows and large Edwardian mansions that were the homes of people wealthier than our families, the people who profited from the dirt and squalor of the town’s industry. But always there was something beyond, something more to seek. So it was that we discovered the bing.

“Bing” was the local dialect word given to a feature common throughout the Clyde Valley: the spoil-heap, residue of early mining, that remained on the landscape even after all other signs of the colliery — offices, wheel-house, railway lines — had been removed or fallen into dereliction.

We first saw it in the distance, its ridge darkly visible above the roofs of houses, like the back of a gigantic whale as it might appear when breaking the surface of a choppy sea. And this bing was somehow different from all others, because we had found it by ourselves; it was ours. It lay within our fiefdom, it was our property, to explore and exploit.

Beyond everything, we longed for a place to play that was not built over. There was no open countryside within range of our ramblings, but we hoped that the mound of mining spoil might provide for us a substitute upland, no matter how poor a facsimile of nature itself, where we could engage in our games and imagine that we had escaped from the urban world that we normally inhabited. We rushed towards it.

The houses ended abruptly, and the bing rose steeply, only a road’s width from neat suburban gardens. We climbed to the ridge, struggling up the incline, our feet sliding on the dark, grey shale of which it was composed, until, breathless and weak, we collapsed at the summit. And there before us was a vista of other ridges, other summits, stretching out into the distance. Our new found land extended beyond our wildest dreams. The bing was gigantic.

At first we wandered cautiously, uncertain of whether this was private property, forbidden to us. But our confidence grew as we gloried in the silence and solitude that the hills of mining waste offered us. As we returned there again and again over the following days and weeks, we came also to realise that the bing had been constructed over many years.

Nearest to the houses, it was youngest. Little grew on those slopes. Occasional ragged clumps of grass and weeds dotted the surface but it remained, for the most part, the naked mud and rock from which the coal had been extracted. As we ventured to more faraway parts, we discovered that, little by little, plants had taken hold. Saplings of Birch and Willow merged into areas of scrub. Young forest trees — Sycamore and Beech, Oak and Ash — began to appear, and in the most distant places, we found woodland that must have been twenty or thirty years in the growing.

Between the ridges were deep valleys which had once held the railway lines, used to transport the spoil from the mine. Water drained into them from the surrounding heaps, and they were marshy, with dark pools and areas of thick, black mud. They had to be crossed with care, for a boy might lose a shoe simply by stepping in the wrong place.

We felt that we had come upon a paradise. Here we could conduct our games, free from adult supervision; and with seemingly endless tracts of land at our disposal in which to hide, or hunt opponents. We had, at least in our imaginings, woods and mountains, deserts and swamps where our battles could be waged.

For our games were always warfare. We divided ourselves into opposing platoons, argued over who should be the Allies, who the Axis forces, and, this having been decided, one troop would flee, to hide or lie in ambush. The other would wait until all sound of the enemy had died away, and would then set off in pursuit. When we played these games close to home, it was within the cramped surroundings allowed by streets and backyards, alleyways and passages. Here, on the bing, the entire scale of things was different.

The hunted had a vast expanse within which to find a hiding place and lie in wait. The hunters might wander for an interminable time without cornering their quarry. And so, on the summer afternoons while we re-enacted World War II, a strange and wonderful education happened.

The first discoveries concerned the plant life that had established itself on the impoverished soil of the bing. We found wild Raspberries, the canes heavy with the soft red berries, and after fierce debate about whether or not they might be poisonous, we recklessly feasted on the tart fruit. Even more exciting was the discovery of small plants low to the ground that bore what appeared to be tiny Strawberries. Already under the spell of the place, we tasted them, and discovered that they were indeed what they appeared to be, though sweeter by far to us than the giant berries in greengrocers’ windows. As autumn approached, we noticed the luscious black fruit ripening on jagged Bramble bushes, and braved their thorns to gorge ourselves.

Even more magical were the rewards that came from silence. Our games required that we move or hide so quietly that our opponents were not alerted to our presence. As we did this, we began also to encounter the creatures that, like the plants, had chosen to live in this man-made habitat.

We heard the birds first. Unknown alarm calls sounded from cover as we traveled, sounds we had not heard on the streets; and we caught fleeting glimpses of species we had only seen in books, or on classroom posters: Blue Tits, Tree Creepers, tiny Wrens and crooning Wood Pigeons. When we were still, they would ignore our presence, affording us clear, enchanting views as they foraged for food.

Once, crossing a small area of knee-high grass, a male Pheasant exploded from almost under our feet, causing first terror, then excitement. On another occasion, we moved through undergrowth down into a marshy valley and were able to watch as a Grey Heron paced in statuesque slow motion amongst the pools, until like lightning it struck, the lethal beak spearing some small amphibian. Even more dramatic was the sight of a Sparrowhawk pursuing and capturing a Blackbird in a clump of trees, and then proceeding to pluck and devour its prey, perched on a branch above our heads, oblivious to our horrified attention.

Soon, we began to search more actively for the wildlife of the bing. Our war-games diminished to a secondary significance, and then faded away entirely. We found where a Tawny Owl made its nest in the trunk of a wind-broken tree. We located, beneath rotting railway sleepers, the life of the marshy ground — Toads, Frogs, Newts — that had attracted the Heron. We came across burrows, and hid until we had gained a glimpse of the Rabbits that had dug them.

But our encounters with mammals were generally less frequent, and usually completely fortuitous. Now and again we would catch sight of a Stoat or a Weasel as it foraged for prey. These lithe and inquisitive killers would sometimes stop in their tracks and observe us, unwelcome intruders into their world. One evening, when we had lingered into the dusk, we encountered a dog Fox as we descended the last slope towards the road. He stopped and regarded us with no apparent concern, while we too stood rooted, unable to believe what we were seeing. Then he dipped his shoulders, and was suddenly gone.

Most astonishing of all was the sight, on an autumn afternoon when grass was turned to pale yellow, and leaves, russet and brown were beginning to spiral slowly to the earth, of a Roe Deer, feeding beneath the canopy of a patch of young chestnut trees. The wind must have been blowing our scent away, for the creature remained unaware of our presence for a long time. Then, in an instant, it was gone, leaving us open-mouthed in wonder.

The more we discovered of the secret life of this wasteland, the more carefully we observed, and the more we sought out information that would explain to us what we were seeing. The town library became a regular haunt, and we learned to name the animals and plants that we saw. But the books described them as being of woods, rivers, fields and moorland; nowhere did we find any reference to bings. That was our treasured secret.

Those days of childhood taught me to be always looking. They taught me that, in the most unlikely locations, even where the land has been spoiled by human carelessness and greed, nature will undertake the task of slowly, surely reasserting itself; and wildlife will seek out places to live if given peace to do so. The bing was a truly liminal area, neither of the town not of the country, yet it offered itself as a place where plants could grow and wild creatures could thrive within a locality that seemed to have been blighted by 200 years of heavy industry.


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Gordon Gibson is a retired lecturer, living in the town of Troon, in the West of Scotland. He has written poetry for a hobby over a long number of years, and since leaving paid employment has devoted time to the writing of prose fiction and nonfiction.

Trance

December 17, 2009 2 comments

by O Thiam Chin

The old man arrived at the kampong much earlier than expected. He had walked for an hour to reach where we stayed, and by the time he stepped foot into the house, he was perspiring all over. My grandfather and uncles were told that he was the most revered medium in the district, one who could summon and talk to any spirit he wanted to, to ask a request or favour, or to seek blessings or placation; his services available for a small token amount of ‘coffee money.’ To me, he was just like any old man — severe, toughened, wrinkled.

My mother told me to serve him a cup of coffee, and when I brought it to him, he gave me a White-Rabbit sweet in return. Then he turned back to my grandfather, his countenance serious, and continued with their discussion. I only caught a few snatches of words, before running out of the house, to join my other cousins at play, the sweet already melting in the heat of my palm.

That night, the old man stayed for dinner and ate at the table with the men of the family. Their heads remained lowered in deep talk, and the old man closed his eyes while he listened.

The wooden sedan-chair was brought in from the storage hut and placed before the altar that was ladled with food offerings and urns burning with smoky, eye-burning incense. The painted faces of the warrior gods and benevolent goddesses flickered with numerous changes of expression as the flames from the candles shuddered with each rotation of the overhead fans. We, the children, were told not to go into the living room for the night, or linger outside the corridor. We had to keep away from the procession.

But we watched nonetheless, peeking from behind tiny slits in the paneled doors, taking turns to observe the goings-on in the room. The old man had put on loose silky red pants, bare-torso, and was sitting in the sedan chair, his face turned down. Then his arms began to move, as if pulled by invisible strings, and he let out a terrible scream that silenced all residual noises from us, who were watching him with a curious intensity. He shook his head violently from side to side, and a voice, deep and alien and angry, fell out of his mouth. It was not a voice I recognized, but I noticed the wide-eyed surprise and subsequent relief evident in my grandfather’s and uncles’ faces. They were fully aware who was speaking to them through this medium-man, a voice they knew, way before my time.

My grandfather started asking questions of the medium, and before we could hear his replies, my mother and aunties came up from behind and swatted us away. As we ran off, our laughter charting down the dark corridor, we imagined a new exciting world where the dead are never actually dead, and the living are always reaching out to them.

*

O Thiam Chin’s short stories have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies, including Asia Literary Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Best of Singapore Erotica, Silverfish New Writing 6 and Body2Body. His debut collection of short stories, Free-Falling Man, was published in 2006 and his new collection of stories, Never Been Better, was released last month.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

Authors M-R

June 12, 2009 Comments off

Machado, Aditi (Blotting paper)

Mackenzie, Rob A. (Surroundings)

MacLennan, Amy

Maffei, Kristin (blog)

Major, Florence

Malone, Eileen

Mandel, Charlotte (webpage)

Manning, Corinne

Manning, Dawn (website)

Marchetto, Kate

Margolin, Anna

Marshall, Marie

Martin, Dana Guthrie

Martin, Julia (Clumps and Voids)

Massar, Maya (website)

Mathieu, Irène

Mattern, Kasturi (not native fruit)

May, Lori A. (website, blog)

McBride, Jenny

McCallum, Andrew

McCann, Janet

McCollar, Wanda (website)

McConnell, Marty (website)

McCool-Grime, Lisa

McCoy, Tod

McCready, Marion

McEvoy, Gill (homepage)

McGowan, Robert

McGrane, Michelle (Peony Moon)

McHenry, Kristen (The Good Typist)

McInroy, Patricia (website)

McKee, Colleen

McKlveen, Edith (Only Want Two Things)

McMillan, Hugh (Dark Mutterings from Drumsleet)

McTavish, Kathy (website)

Mead, Stephen

Meador, Steve

Medeiros, John (website)

Meischen, David

Melendez, Maria

Mellin, Robert (webpage)

Memi, Gary Dubola (Railroad Poetry)

Mend-Oyoo, G.

Menkedick, Sarah (Posa Tigres)

Merleau, Laura

Merrifield, Karla Linn (Vagabond Poet)

Meyers, Samantha (Che Vuoi?)

Meyers, Susan (blog)

Mezynski, Neila

Michael, Ann E.

Michaels, Clayton T. (blog)

Midgley, James (one last wild)

Miller, Leslie F. (website, blog)

Milligan, Michael

Millington, Paul

Mills, Mara

Milosevic, Mario (blog)

Minot, Leslie Ann

Mitchell, Reid (webpage)

Moga, Irina (blog)

Mohring, Ron (Supple Amounts)

Moira (Blue Abstractions)

Molini, Sally (webpage)

Montag, Tom (The Middlewesterner)

Montes, Rafael Miguel

Montgomery, M.V.

Moore, Nathan (Exhaust fumes and french fries)

Morgan, Esther (homepage)

Morris, Ellen Birkett

Morris, Jean (tasting rhubarb)

Morris, Lucy (blog)

Mosco, Rosemary (website)

Moya, Enrique

Moya, Erika

Muhm, LouAnn Shepard (website)

Mullins, Margaret S.

Murdoch, Jim (The Truth About Lies)

Murphy, Erin (website)

Murphy, Peter E. (website)

Myers, Jed

Myers, Jennifer

Nandy, June (Through the Striped Shirt)

Need, David (O Pure Contradition)

Neely, Sarah

Nelson, Paul (Global Voices Radio)

Nesdoly, Violet (poetry blog)

Nester, Richard

Nester, Robbi (Shadow Knows)

Newton, Peter

Nguyen, Kathy Uyen (Origami Lotus Poetry)

Nicholson, Nicole (Raven’s Wing Poetry)

Nickels-Wisdom, Michael

Nikithser, Dawn

Nimigean, O.

Niss, Millie (Sporkworld)

Noon, Alistair

Oberley, Edith (Bitterroot and Bergamot)

O’Brien, Andrea

O’Brien, Caitlin (Up!)

Odasso, A. J. (blog)

Ofosu-Amaah, Koranteng (Koranteng’s Toli)

Ogbuji, Uche (website)

Oldmixon, Katherine Durham (Katudi Artists Collaboration)

Oriana

Otto, Jessica (blog)

Owen, Coco (website)

Owens, Scott (webpage, blog)

Overell, Helen

P.

P., Andy

Packa, Sheila (website, blog)

Packard,Betsy

Pacosz, Christina (webpage)

Palmer, Shann (blog)

Paquette, C. H. (C. H. Paquette Photography, Wabi Blogi)

Pariat, Janice (blog)

Parker, Harvey E.

Parker, Pamela Johnson (Pamela’s Musings)

Parks, Lorine (website)

Parmanu (Parmanu)

Parrell, Sara

pawelek, bl (website)

Payaguaje, Fernando

Peake, Robert (website)

Pelletier, Danny

Pence, Amy (website)

Perry, Lynda Fleet

Peter (Slow Reads)

Peterson, Allan (website)

Peterson, Evan J. (Poemocracy)

Peterson, K. Alma

Peterson, Lee

Phillips, Anna Lena (To Do in the New Year)

Phillips, Betsy (Tiny Cat Pants)

Phillips, Ruth (meanwhile, here in France)

Pica (Feathers of Hope)

Pickett, Ronald (blog)

Pike, Brian (artist’s website, haiku blog)

Pinegar, Bethany

Pinto, Cecilia

Pobo, Kenneth

Polach, Zoe

Polyxena

Porter, Cati (blog)

Press, Tony

Priego, Ernesto (Never Neutral)

Prince, Samuel

Provost, Denise

Puican, Mike

Purugganan, John

Pupek, Jayne (website, Notes on the Writing Life)

Quigley, Claire

Raghavan, Nithya

Rago, Steve

Ramsey, Tammy

Randall, D’Arcy

Rao, Aditi (webpage)

Rapstoff, Ann (website)

Rathje, Erika (thirteen cent pinball)

Rathje, Marja-Leena (website)

Raven, Francis (website)

Rawlins, Rachel (twisted rib)

Ray, LeAnne

Raymond, Monica

Raynes, Katie (Elaby’s LiveJournal)

Recidoro, Zeny May Dy

Redmond, Glenis

Reid, Heather

Reid, Tamuira

Reynolds, Cynthia (kittyanydots)

Rhein, Christine (website)

Rhenisch, Harold (blog)

Rhodes, J. Stephen

Ribar, Daniel (In the Lion’s Den)

Rice, Jane

Rich, Susanna (website)

Richards, Moira

Rifkah, Eve

Ring, Laura (Parts of a Bell)

Roberts, Mark

Robyn, Fiona (a small stone, website)

Roney-O’Brien, Susan

Rooney, Kathleen (website)

Rose, Rebecca

Rosen, Maggie

Rosenfeld, Marjorie Stamm

Rosenwald, Lawrence

Roth, Robert

Rowley, Mari-Lou (website)

Authors A – D

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Little Boys and Snips of Donkey Tails

March 20, 2009 2 comments

“It’s a children’s book launching. Children are necessary. You know that.”

Richard hated it when Marie, his marketing agent, spoke to him as if he were a lost-and-found anteater on its way into the eye of a hurricane.

“And pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey always ensures a huge success,” she added. It was her way of pointing out a trail of life-saving ants before him.

In the fourteen years they’ve worked together, Marie never knew Richard’s secret: that just because he wrote children’s books didn’t mean he was actually fond of children. He also wrote a lot about rabbits, and these too he abhorred. After selling four million copies of The Magical Carpet Bunny in Tahiti, which he wrote while visiting Gauguin nudes in Paris, he broke into his therapist’s office. There he stole most, if not all, of the session tapes with his ramblings and meanderings on bunnies. He still recalls the chill he got when he realized that Dr. Orten actually labeled them “Richard’s Rabbits.” He’d said (and more): I keep my allies close but my enemies closer. And: I have names for the ways they twitch their ears, how they just lie there, for example, panting in the sun.

Luckily Dr. Orten didn’t notice that someone had stolen the tapes. Richard, after all, still valued their appointments and didn’t want to cut her off totally. He knew he could count on her to keep billing even though he cancelled over half of their meetings at the last minute. He needed that time for himself. The paper trail was his name for the arrangement.

Richard’s wife, Lorraine, was mildly jealous of Dr. Orten. Richard thought of Lorraine as his wife even though they were no longer married. They’d divorced several years before and had recently reunited-to the displeasure of mutual friends and bankers who preferred Lorraine alone with, perhaps, a bottle of wine. Richard needed a wife like he needed a therapist. He was conscious of this and tried his best to conceal it from both of them. At least Lorraine didn’t want kids. Her sprawling home was a perfect ecology for him, in both temperature and in how it faced the sun to the east. He slept and wrote soundly there, without any drug inducement.

“Earth to Richard,” chirped Marie through the megaphone.

He could feel himself walking away. Rather rudely. He was past the water cooler and Darcee’s desk and half way inside the elevator before he realized what he was doing. He hated it that Marie never ran after him in public. Instead, she used the megaphone which she carried around in her a showy floral hangbag along with pins and plastic balloons.

The only thing Richard was allowed to decide about his book launch was the hour. He made it nine o’clock. As a child, he was never allowed to stay up later than eight. He was counting on the guests to be solely adults, but the adults disappointed him-as always. They came accompanied by their children. Watching them enter, hand in hand or screaming at each other, he felt a sourness sting his mouth.

In Richard’s mind a small list, like a contrail, fleeted horizontally in his mind: What Sane People Shouldn’t Bring to a Book Party.

Children came up first naturally. Even though they bought or, at least, manipulated their parents to buy his books, he still couldn’t think kindly of them. Once, he even received a fan mail from a little girl in Kansas who addressed him as Dear Santa. No, there was no liking them at all. Especially after Carmen. He’d been in L.A. for a book appearance five years ago, and was cleaning up Lorraine’s place when she called. She mentioned something about being pregnant. It was late in the day, but he still whined, Do you know what time it is! He knew he could throw her off every time he made her aware that she never knew what time it was. She had always been quite vulnerable about this, but never cured her low self-esteem by buying a wristwatch. He’d called her crazy and switched off the phone.

Then jello. He particularly disliked signing books smudged with strawberry jello. He felt that it took the edge off his pen. Not being allowed to sleep later than eight in the evening can grow a child overnight into a cynic. Green jello was almost as bad. It reminded him of him whenever he thought he could or might have actually gotten anyone with child.

Pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. This was obvious. Like DNA testing to find out the biological parent. No one ever thought about how the donkey felt. Personally, if he had lost his tail he would’ve much preferred not to find it, or worse, have it pinned back erroneously on his nose. In his school days, he saw this done every year from his bedroom window. His parents never allowed him to attend any parties because they suspected an alien conspiracy in anything that begins with the letters L-M-N-O-P.

Which brought to his mind parents. Somehow it occurred to him that even his parents came generically under the letter P. Aliens. At least, his taught him the meaning of camouflage underwear. They had never warmed up to Lorraine and Marie. Or accepted Dr. Orten as part of the family. Ironically, perhaps, because of their beliefs, they’d have approved of Carmen. When he first met her, she was working in a publishing house. She kept inviting him out for some chocolate pecan pie and finally he relented. He thought it was safe enough. He was even flattered when she wrote herself promiscuous notes under his name and left them in public places-like a phone booth or ice cream parlor. Dear Carmen. She actually thought she could handle his electric knife and still keep her side of his bed.

On the night of the party, Richard got off the elevator on the tenth floor of his building, as usual. It took him but a moment to notice that the party wasn’t there at all. Of course, it was across the street at Le Bec Fin. He loved their food, but the thought of kids stashing some of it between the pages of his books rather sickened him. The company had gotten a pro to play Chopin or Satie, he was looking forward to that. They’d have some nice champagne, at least. He couldn’t think of new ploys to make himself more late, without being too late, so he sighed and pressed Down. When the elevator doors opened there was Marie.

“Thought you’d be here,” she laughed. When she grabbed him by the elbow, it was almost friendly. He thought, she might be my friend, this Marie. She might stop bursting balloons with pins to get his attention.

“They’ll want to know about your next book, Richard. How is it going?”

Could he tell her? Open up? He was trying to branch out, write about donkeys, even business managers. A story with complications, with a climax-with more than a punchline. Something for a human being for heaven’s sake. Stories serious enough to hold ambivalent adult twins (fraternal) and spies in feathered capes. He felt ready for that.

At the same time, he was afraid to know what was going to happen next.

Eventually, Marie pulled him into the party lounge. A crowd of around two hundred was already waiting. And frowns waited heavily on the waiters’ faces. The plush oriental carpet had stopped resembling a plush oriental carpet-here and there escargot and roast drippings presented a sort of conceptual art that might’ve been entitled, “Agoraphobia.”

When Marie blindfolded Richard, she left just enough room so he could cock his head and sense the lay of the donkey’s rump. Was that Carmen in a Tahitian mouse get-up? Wasn’t she transferred in a high-security prison? He never knew whether she was being truthful or sarcastic. The whole two months they were together, she had complained incessantly about where she was, wherever he was, and here she was again.

Sex, he thought, should not be the only subtext for anyone’s life, even Carmen’s. Or gambling. Or hotels with heated swimming pools and underwater Bach. Lorraine, at least, never suffered such hang-ups, even though now and then she would refuse to wash behind her ears for weeks. Where was she now that he needed to get rid of Carmen?

In the background, he could hear children clap and holler. There was no doubt he’d pin the tail on the damn donkey with aplomb. That wasn’t the reason he had all sorts of escape plans weaving in and out of his mind.

Through the slit Marie left for him, he thought he could see the shoulder of a boy. And Carmen’s finger was pointing at it.

by Arlene Ang and Valerie Fox

Download the MP3 (reading by Beth Adams)

Process notes

Valerie writes:
In “Little Boys and Snips of Donkey Tails,” Arlene Ang and I were especially interested in developing the character of Richard, who has been popping up in some way or other in many of the stories we’ve been writing. We went back and forth with the edits in a highly methodical way. Richard is always on the edge of something, and we think a lot about how obvious we should or should not make this. In some of the stories that feature him we tend to use a lot of description of his physical surroundings, his habitat. This episode explores his mental, voice-filled landscape.

In this interview, Robert Watts discusses with us our ongoing collaborative work.

Walking the Dogs Between Blizzards

February 19, 2009 14 comments

snowy trail
(Click on all images to see larger versions)


We walk, Gilgamesh and I, in preparation for the storm, twenty-five inches predicted. Weeks below-zero and chilling winds solidified feet of snow already fallen; finally,
we can walk, skating across surface, only occasionally breaking
through. Gilly runs for sheer pleasure, throws himself forward, compensates with sheer velocity
for uncertainty of ground. He hurls his body into space, ahead, ever
ahead; plants his face suddenly into snow when he falls. He always comes up laughing, black fur dusted white, ears crinkled. This is what dogs do. We haven’t walked enough lately;
snow too deep, crust too unreliable. I want to check on the beavers; it’s been many weeks
since we’ve walked enough, in the back field and the woods by the stream. So we pass
Shalom’s grave, a circle

spirit tree

of stones and a Japanese Maple surviving its second winter under heaps of snow. In a few months, the leaves will appear, scarlet, determined; yellow Narcissi will rise around the small tree and shout aggressive, happy color at the sky.
I invite the dead on my walks.
Gilly leaps
gratitude for our Northwesterly direction: behind the house, no stacks of wood to fuss with, no barns in which we do mysterious, officious human things
—sorting recycling, trying to get the damn mower to work—
no mailboxes to check, no boring cars for grocery shopping. To the Northwest, only trails; the ones I built with an ancient pair of garden shears, with bleeding, blistered hands while I grieved
Shalom

one tough, fibrous goldenrod stalk at a time,
for miles. Gilly bounces me repeatedly; I shove him off, but he doesn’t stop, because I’m laughing. He knows that if a joke is funny the first time, it’s even funnier the next
twelve times. He bounces, I laugh. He bounces,
I laugh. This is what dogs do.
We pass the old shed full of ancient farm equipment abandoned
by the hippies who built our place, the dairy farm family before them. Manure spreader, enormous steel carrot washer, old sleds, hay rakes with snapped handles, detritus from ramshackle greenhouse. The piles irritate. We have history enough

ruins

of our own, the interesting nature of the machines notwithstanding. They threw nothing away, ever, and everything left is broken, it weighs
a ton, it has to be dug out of the ground where they let it rot. One person’s history;
another person’s litter. We crunch through the stretch of trail that is marsh in spring; quails and pheasants nest there, sudden explosions of wings when we pass
the Christmas tree I dragged out to the property line, barricading the gap that invited hunters from the next farm. Gilly pees on it obligingly. Do not pass, no killing
here, the yellow snow says; this land is a territory belonging to the living, and to certain ghosts who are in that condition because of the likes of you: you who are not welcome
here with your gun and your beer can and your ‘he came out of nowhere,
he died within minutes.’ Here
is what dogs understand about time:
now. Or:
forever away from now. For a long time now I have walked, understanding what ‘minutes’ means to a dog who is dying,
alone.
Good boy, Gilly, I say. You have a nice, big pee right there. There is other pee around the Christmas tree, too; coyote, probably. Good coyotes. You mark that territory line. Mark it
well. We pause

sycamore sky

at the choice of trails: left into the lower field and a short-cut to the beaver lodge, or straight toward the woods and stream, the long way ‘round. The sumac canopy over the track into the woods beckons. Gilly looks at me, I look at him, and we break
for the woods. I lecture him: stay off the ice! He dances ahead, happily
ignoring me. At water’s edge we see tracks and follow them to summer swimming hole, a convergence of streams. The small pool is frozen
now, swift waters bubble under ice. Dry Brook—named for miles of course that run underground—rises ice-cold, even in August, from the South. From the East,
Unadilla Brook runs warm through the swamp where trunks of dead trees rise gracefully, sometimes home

convergence (stream in snow)

to eagles, herons, hawks. The tracks to the pool are large, but dusted with new snow; I can’t tell who made them. Gilly tests the ice on the swimming hole, of course. I cringe
at creaks under his feet, his spread-wide toes, the light from below makes his webbing purple, his claws scrape for purchase. Convinced he will break through,
knowing he won’t, I have to look away. I inspect the deepest mystery track, shout: ‘I thought so!’ Gilly hurries over to see
what’s so exciting. ‘Look,’ I say, squatting down, pointing into large pad impressions and the outline of claws. ‘Bear.’
Gilly plants his nose in the print, snuffles enthusiastically, inhales snow, sneezes it back out in an explosive
burst. His eyes water. I laugh, so he does too, ears crinkled, teeth half-revealed. He slaps my knee with his paw. Another good joke. This is what dogs do. Back through the woods,
we skirt frozen stream, through maple and birch, under giant sycamores’ thick, mottled, white trunks that rise like enormous
bones overhead. The lodge: a white heap at a bend in the stream. Ice unbroken around it; no tracks. Utterly silent. I wonder if it is warm
in there, under the ice and snow, in the muddy heat of bodies, snacking on stored branches. I guess it is, if you’re a beaver.

homemaking (beaver-chewed tree)

We back away from the water: I don’t like to intrude
at the lodge for long. We never see the beavers. We eavesdrop on summer cannonballs into water, felling of trees. We spy on smooth impressions of teeth everywhere. We admire amazing feats of engineering. We sneak glances at the living, as unobtrusively
as wonder allows. Above the lodge, the field we mow into a rough circle each summer is smooth, a white ballroom floor now. Gilly races to the center
and does a gavotte.
I used to come here with Shalom, renovating the abandoned house; before trails, before carrying furniture, boxes, his body, shovels to dig
his sudden grave. One day, Shalom and I stretched out in this wildish ring of field grass and milkweed, goldenrod, buttercups. We cloud-busted
together, for an hour; each chewing a piece of grass, on our backs. My arm around him. His head on my shoulder. His heart beat on my ribs. He smelled like grass,
Shalom did: even in winter, he had a grassy smell. I buried
my face in his fur during February cabin-fever and March doldrums and breathed deep summer. Gilly’s smell is more floral, especially
when he’s hot. His little armpits reek of flowers. His breath smells like mushroom soup. Right now, he has his first cold, so his nose is running
in the chill. The sky has a laden, leaden look all too familiar this winter. The light the soft-focus of imminent storm; edges softened, outlines blurred. It’s warmer than it’s been. Gilly and I follow tracks:

tracks in the snow

rabbit, then squirrel, chipmunk, deer. Rabbits and deer move in purposeful direction. Squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and dogs run in circles; they leave intricate swirls and knots of passage in the snow. We follow them all, winding
home past sleeping pear and cherry trees, cluster of pines, winter-berry brilliant red, we avoid hawthorn spike, drink land. Near the house, mulberry trees tangle messy and delightful. In summer, their berries turn bird guano the most alarming shade of fuchsia.
Shalom
goes and lies down in his grave. I wonder if it is warm in there, under the ice and snow, with his buried bed and his toys and his

sycamore

emerging bones. I guess it is, if you’re a ghost.
Ducking under tree boughs, treasure: ‘Gilly!’ I point. He looks up at the branch above my finger, where a single, frozen apple hangs. Apple,
one of the first English words he learned. He apple-dances every summer, tossing them over his back and leaping to catch them
before they fall. His first autumn, he ate so much fermented fruit he got drunk. Dog Farm Apple Wine, we laughed, sitting at our fuchsia-streaked picnic table under mulberry.
Gilly sits for his apple. I jump
for it, hand him treasure he carries inside to thaw by the wood-stove. Later, he’ll throw it around, smear it all over the couch and the floor. This
is what dogs do.

snow storm

The storm arrives.
Chinese pear a lemon-summer burst on my tongue as outside the window fine, small flakes fly in diagonal sheets, the kind of snow
that isn’t fooling around. Shalom’s grave looks snug, and lonely, a white heap beyond glass walls. ‘Come in
by the stove, love, if you want,’ I say, through ice, through silence. Gilly, in his bed by the stove, looks up at me, bleary, already asleep. I wink at him. He goes back to sleep. The wood hoop is full, the covered shed stocked,
the stove-flue seems to be working again. I have candles, kindling. My favorite tea, cream. A working flashlight, another pear in the fridge. Vitamins, St. John’s Wort, good dark coffee. Andres Segovia and Yo-Yo Ma,
split pea soup. We are settled,
in for the duration.

winter berries

by Jessamyn Smyth and Anne Morrison Smyth

Download the MP3 (reading by Jessamyn)

Process notes

This is a walking collaboration. A collaboration of loss and witness. A mother handing down particular vision of love and love of place, a daughter handing it back transmuted through a different life and a separate sensibility.

This is what happened when the daughter said: help me keep this place, help me document its magic, the bones of it, the love buried here. This is what happened when the mother said: this is convergence, this is the blood of those we’ve lost on cold and frozen ground, this is some of what home and history is.

In January of 2007 and December of 2008, a mother and daughter walked in storms, bearing witness to loss and history through separate sensibilities.

It shouldn’t be literal, necessarily, the daughter said. I mean, some of them might be, but not all — I want your interpretations of these words, your wholly separate vision of these themes as they exist for you. I know, the mother said. She doesn’t like to talk about her photographs.

Look at that, the daughter said, on these walks.

I did, the mother answered.

Sad, fierce, true: something universal emerges through unshared particulars. A fundamentally shared experience of love, loss, and complicated history blows in sharp, diagonal sheets.

Bighorn

August 20, 2008 2 comments

Thin clouds blow in from the ocean to the west. The desert air bears a tang of distant rain. Dark clouds swirl from the sea to the south. Sage and datura strain thirsty leaves toward the sky.

Soon the rain will come, will slick these canyon walls with wet, quench the lichen and the moss. The rock will darken. Fifteen thousand years of rain and the rocks turn black as blood.

You grasp a rock chisel, your callused hands hard as hooves. Place the chisel against the rock. Strike it with the hammer. A fleck of desert varnish falls away, pale granite underneath.

Sweat beads your forehead. It runs into your eyes. Below you and miles away is the river, blue and tempting in this heat, but you are not fooled.

When you dreamed of the beginning of all things, your mother knew it. Your father argued. “That doesn’t happen anymore,” he said.
“She has the headaches.”
“It wasn’t that kind of dream.”
“It has to be. She has to be. Look what’s become of us.”
When the dream came again your father understood. He cut off your hair. He bought you boy’s clothes.

Clouds blow in from the west, from the south. A deep bass whisper comes from across the river. Dry lightning strikes the far mountains. You watch smoke curl from a distant peak. The remembered taste of tobacco smoke flits across your tongue.

The desert burns piece by piece. The others brought strange grasses with them, weeds that spread as quickly as the very fires they fed, and what had once been clean bare soil between the creosote bushes now lies choked with fuel. One spark eats an entire mountain. Flame piles on flame, smoke on smoke, and nothing escapes. The desert dies. Centuries-old piñons die, and junipers. Each fire roasts jackrabbits alive, and coyotes. All that remains is ash and char. You try to chase the image from your mind.

There comes above you a scrabbling of claw on rock: spiny lizards contend for territory, doing pushups. The vanquished one dives for cover in a crack, disappears into the other world.

How many times have you died of fire? How many times has the smoke filled you, brought the haloes, the headache, how many times have you died and gone to him? He met you there the first time, the man with the spiral horns, he came to you and he folded himself into you and you became him, and you flew out over the desert and fell wet onto its greedy soil. It all made sense then. Who better to bring rain than a man who bleeds? The others were like the river below: stopped up, plugged up, unable to come up out of their concrete tombs. How many times have you come back from death, puking, longing for the permanence of the deaths the others die? Girl become man, become ram, become rain: how many trips through that crack in the rock, split hooves clinging to the thinnest flake?

Too many such deaths to remember, and after each one another bighorn carved into the rock.

Too many such deaths to remember, and after this one there will be just one more to come.

You try to chase the image from your mind. You were not there but you see it plain. The desert dies. A wall of flame, a cliff of flame, and it blocked the canyon mouth. There was no escape. There was nothing to be done. All bones; all bones. All char and ash. The sky turned black as blood.

Still, she was lucky: she only had to die that once.

Hammer hits chisel, and again. You free another fleck of rock. The new bighorn takes shape, forefeet raised, standing like a man. Another hour, perhaps two, and then all will be finished. Sweat beads your forehead, falls upon the soil.

Soon the rain will come, will quench the fires. The river will swell, will burst. The dams upstream will pop out one by one, teeth on a zipper. The sky will darken. Loud cataracts in every canyon will scour the desert clean; will sweep away the fetid river cities as dead, dried leaves on a sudden wind. Cattails and tules will sprout where once the jet skis fumed. You feel a raindrop, fat and cold, hitting your shoulder. Then comes another. Your children will plant beans on the graves of old casinos, soil marled with the ashes of those you loved.

You grasp the chisel, your callused hands hard as hooves. Fifteen thousand years and these rocks themselves will dance. Place the chisel against the rock. Strike it with the hammer. Distant thunder comes from across the river. A fleck of desert varnish falls away, pale granite underneath.

by Chris Clarke

Download the MP3

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