DOWNTURN ECONOMICS

Published 2/18/14 here:

Mowing Alfalfa (SwissLane Farms)

Mowing Alfalfa (SwissLane Farms)

Manuel laughs and sets the pace at the lumberyard, salvaging twisted, stained, split lumber, turning short pieces into stakes or pickets. He and his crew replenish plywood, cut orders, load trucks and help customers in 100 degree heat or driving rain.

I’ve carpooled with him since the economy puked in 2008.
Continue reading

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

SEVERED DREAMS

UltraShorts Anthology: 12-6-2013

hilltop grove

The snore that severed me from peaceful dreams

Was his zipper, ragged as the pull stroke of a chain saw.

Though the act was six thousand and many nights ago,

The sound still rips through me as I edge toward sleep.

The cruelest wedge he drove forced comfort from my bed,

Where I might have healed when the pounding stopped.

My duvet of down and sheets of Egyptian weave don’t soothe

The girl of twelve, sobbing, shattered, on her closet floor.

The graft never takes; split forever, my seam is open to the world.

From dark to dawn, till I stand up, fully clothed,

I count the hundred saplings around her grave

And, weary, guard that little forest with my life.

UNDETERRED

first published: Halfway Down the Stairs, June, 2013

frogner-happiness.jpgfrogner-ecstasy.jpg

About six years ago, a dark-haired, thirtyish man in a white T-shirt pushed an arresting young woman in a wheel chair up the main aisle of the hardware store. She had intense brown eyes, smooth tan skin like her companion, and exuberant, thick eyebrows.

     He approached me. “Do you have a little time you can spend with my sister? Anna has a few questions.”

“Sure. What can I help with?” I said. I was grateful. I am a rover in the store, free to help almost anybody with pretty much anything, but especially a  pretty girl.

The girl had the same shiny rich, black hair as her brother, shoulder length. Her upper body was brown and broad; her legs were in jeans, but Velcro-wrapped to the foot rests of the chair.

“Well, I hope you can help me with pulleys, because I have to invent some things. I can picture it, but I need help to get the pieces together.”

Her eyes were mirrors into which I didn’t dare look. “Okay.  Anna, I’m Jerry. What are we building?”    Continue reading

Married Love, Year Thirty

MARRIED LOVE, YEAR THIRTY      by Erik Svehaug

first published: UMM Binnacle Ultrashorts, 12-12-12

Moon-Jupiter-cloud-and-trees

Fading memory is now our little family’s art,
And gravity unwraps the careful packaging of youth;
So let’s meet in serenity, embracing grief and joy,
In the mercy of moments that dawn perpetually.
When you quit pressing weekdays into weeks,
And I stop scraping flotsam into heaps,
We’ll come together in the unmapped dark
And shine our flashlights at the moon.

Rafael Garcia Meets the Devil

Published in anthology here:  6-9-2011

The Spanish horse patrol was on route to Bodega on the Pacific. Rumors, then reports, had come to the fort beside St. Rafael near San Francisco Bay that other Europeans had been seen in the headlands around the mountain called Tamalpais.

The five leather-coated soldiers, their priest companion and the native servant stopped awhile to stretch their legs and barter food at a poor village.  The missionary, mildly drunk, was still able to talk with the village elder in Bay area pidgin.  The man had apparently seen nothing.

Private Rodrigo played with the kids.  They got him into line with them in the field and passed a rawhide ball from one to the next, then faster, then two lines formed and raced to see who was fastest.  They laughed; he laughed; no one used words, but cheered and yelled and slapped each other’s back.

It turned into tag and racing through the woods.  The Miwok kids were quick as deer and knew the paths, but Rodrigo’s heart made up the gap. Continue reading

A Hint of Wind

Published here:  Microstory-a Week, 11-30-2011

The young priest cut the outboard engine half a mile from Horseshoe Bay off the Marin Headlands. He had no fishing pole, no crab pots.  He spent most Mondays off from his stagnant ministry in this rowboat.

He tipped the engine up and back, put the oars in their locks, let the blades hang in the water.  He waited, bow pointed across open water toward old San Francisco.  Outside the mouth of the Bay, the barren Farallons called and the immense Pacific offered to take him.  The boat drifted dully.

He closed his eyes.  His seminary enthusiasm had met polite tolerance.  He just couldn’t engage these natives with roots as old as the Bible.  Power-Points were useless.

Small waves licked the side of the boat; the hungrier ones slapped it. Continue reading