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

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Drum School

ezine Blog here in three installments:  firstsecondthird, 2011

The drum gives me Now; and its silence Then.

Keep the beat and my soul will mend.

My father was a smith. We lived in tiny Dodona in a house behind the forge. We lived with the beat of hammer and anvil, and the longer pulse of heating and cooling. Poor, we embraced the rhythms of starving awhile until we were no longer as hungry, of collapsing exhausted until we were merely tired. My mother foraged meals from thin air and I worked at the fire from a tender age.

Father made a living selling pins, hasps and latches for a few lepta each. He taught me how to repair broken tools. Craning past his massive arm, I watched him steadily beat the ripple pattern of circles on a copper sheet until it became a shapely pot, worthy of Hephaestus, whose hammer icon hung in the forge.

His master was a Guild smith, who died before father could be Journeyed. Father’s craft sprang from glimpses of techniques he was never taught, leveraged into what he needed to know. Continue reading

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

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

Life Off the Cliff

Lessons that we all have learned from Pete:

Be blunt: rip the Band-Aid off the truth.

Share: it makes your ownership complete.

And laugh: some days refined, some days uncouth.

Bad news? Scream ugly once, then turn the page,

You are the writer at this theater, not the show.

No bragging rights unless you scar with age;

Drive off the cliff, if what you want’s below.

During the blink of light, the gasp of breath, that’s life,

Some brothers lock their doors, seat belts secured.

Back from the edge, to stay unhurt, to just survive,

They never climb the railing, jump the curb.

But some things aren’t revealed at a distance.

Fledgling egrets or nursing otter pups,

Cliffside terns or parading pelicans,

Fluttering monarchs or rhythmic waves of kelp.

Each day’s unique and sunrise is the proof.

One buffets the beach, like storms attack a boat.

Another fades to gray, with sun aloof.

Then, clouds and sea in stained glass seem to float.

Pete, the image of you that is going to last:

You let each and every morning have its day.

You take the good from all you see go past.

You love, and are loved, more than words can say.

aired on:  KZSC radio 6-8-2010