CHET’S IMPACT

Have and Have Not crtsy Lee Chapman

Have and Have Not crtsy Lee Chapman

first publ: jan. 20, 2014

Chet shoved the key into the lock of his Brooklyn apartment and twisted.

In arid Mauritania, Hissein fell writhing against the lead goat, holding his belly from the pain of the parasite in his stomach.

As Chet dropped down the stairs two at a time toward the sidewalk, the tailings dam of Cerro Negro, Petorca, in Chile, began to bulge outward from age and the press of water behind it.

When Chet reached the curb, he glanced at his watch.

Dolores, in the mountain town of Sarang Sarang in Indonesia, died of old age at 53.

He chose the ignition key from his ring.

A village school closed its doors in Belen de Andamarca, Bolivia, for lack of funds. Continue reading

Myth or Mom?

Honorable Mention:  Fall, 2011

Mom was perfect from day start till shut eye. I can’t mourn her:  her myth remains, clogging my mind like milfoil. The woman, not my mother, died.

She willed good things to happen, healed wounds with a kiss, never lost her cool.  She exuded control, and I believed it of her, even after I saw her face without her teeth or commanding smile.

At twenty-three, sans my wisdom teeth, I passed a doorway in a huge medical center, a woman’s face spotlighted in the operating chair, visible because the dentist leaned away.

“Mom?!”

Her hand flashed up to hide the unmade bed of her mouth, the unguarded pink walls of her gums, stretched between two or three isolated teeth.

She was instantly in tears.

It was my fault.  I felt that terrible comfortable nausea of knowing I’d screwed up, just not how.

So I resorted to mythic beauty.

Until today.

Southern Writer Legitimacy Statement for the Dead Mule School

    pubbed with School of Dadhere

I’m Southern by adventurous inoculation. I left college in Chicago the first week of January as a White Seattleite with Mardi Gras on the brain. My friend and I got a lift from Farrell Haney in a rumbling Camaro convertible with Texas plates, and spent the first night away in a hotel in Kentucky. Pool was closed and covered with a thatch of brown leaves that stuck to us like fish scales: baptized as we swam a celebrating-being-free lap.
When Farrell disappeared with all our stuff in New Orleans, we tracked him to Homa, Not the Other Homer, where we got to look into the flashlights and down the barrels of the Sheriffs’ guns, in the process of getting our gear back. Continue reading

School of Dad

Manometer by stefanolmo

published here

I think my Dad invented Thursday Night School so he could avoid reading the notes my mother left taped to the fridge.

Dad made Thursday nights out to be a big deal, the weekly seminar at our house; he prepared for it all week, looking statistics up on line and checking newspapers, but I’m the one who had to haul the empty brown bottles to the driveway, Fridays, and sweep up all the cigarette butts and left over pizza crusts. Once in a while, I had to wash out a waste can laced with curds of old puke and napkins.

He was teaching the course: Inebriate Verticology. He had a sign, too, on his office door in the boiler room of John Russell Middle School: “Dept. of Inebriate Verticology.” He’s head janitor. Continue reading

Tempeche, b. 1799 d. 1824

photo: outlaw chapbook c/o bannock street books

published here

Tempeche willed one of the bullets into his own skull. The fusillade threw his corpse backwards, still tied to the iron ring.

Monterey’s angry court officials were not to be swayed, so he had sung them quiet forgiveness. He chanted thankfulness to the four directions, to the earth, to the sky. While they convicted him of murder, he recalled the lush taste of raw salmon, the heart-pounding scramble ahead of a grizzly, the brief eternity of taking a woman.

Fickle Coyote was elsewhere, though he’d inspired Tempeche’s other escapes. Tempeche knew that even the chance to slash the Corporal’s throat while in custody was just a final trick, not a path of escape. Caught immediately. Execution guaranteed.

*** Continue reading

Through Lisa’s Eyes

pubbed here

You’re five now and you can help me with Lisa. Mommy made me take care of her since I was five, so now it’s your turn to help. I’m six so I’m going to have to go to big girl school soon.
They can’t fix Lisa’s eye until she’s older, like nine. Then maybe the doctors can make her see better. I know why. It’s too bulgy. And she already has one gone. They want to save the left one, later. The light hurts her. She screams. You know; she has to. That’s why we keep the shades down.
Don’t open the closet door that blocks the light from her Daytime Nest. Keep the towel scooted up to the bottom of the door and pretend the light might get under it like water, so do it right. If you want to go in there to give her carrot sticks or cheerios in a baggie, knock first so she can stick her head in a corner. Continue reading

High Water

pubbed here

Willy was born delighted in the middle of a rainstorm that threatened to flood the root cellar where they were hiding from the lightning. She had wide-open blue eyes. Her tiny expressive face soundlessly oohed and aahed and grimaced and startled with each feeling from the very beginning and, soon, she had a coo of contentment that nurtured her mother and then a three-tone song of a laugh that always made her siblings smile. Thunderstorms and floods threatened them so often but Willy’s birth let Mama engage with them easier from then on.
By age two, she had become the sixth oldest for the second time when her mama got sick in child birth and by four she was fifth oldest again when she stopped seeing Ezreel, who used to feed the pigs. She knew every inch of the farmyard and garden, had her own names for every chicken, pig, cow and horse on the place and could boil water on the stove, if mama was there. Continue reading