Monday, June 22, 2015
James wore that bowler hat every single day even through the hottest days of summer. All the people of Glensville suspected he wore it to bed as well; it was worn enough, with a couple of holes in the black wool. Each morning the residents would spot James on his morning walk, part of his strict daily routine. They could spy him counting his steps on his route on Main Street; his black hat bobbing along with his lanky stride.
He always started at Jones Pharmacy, where he lived alone above the shop, and would go about a mile east stopping exactly at the intersection of Blythe and Main just before the new grocery store and then he would circle back home.
James never walked past the store. He missed the field that it once was, with the cows dotting the small slopes and barbed wire fence, the grasses growing untended around the wooden posts. The field used to mark the end of town and the beginning of the dairy and soy bean farms lining the gravel and dirt roads.
Anyone with an iota of sense noticed that as the field was tilled and leveled and the concrete foundation lain, the less and less that James met Mr. Parker’s eyes when he passed him on the street.
Mr. Parker had sold the land to commercial interests who wanted to capitalize on the cars driving on the interstate. Everyone understood why he sold it; nevertheless, their opinions and misunderstandings spread around town. All the while, Mr. Parker’s eldest son went in for his treatments and his hair started to fall.
But to James, Mr. Parker was a bad man. Before she passed away a couple of months prior, James’s mother repeated many times in her calm way, “Folks gotta do what they gotta do.” Ms. Bishop always had wise words for her son, but this time he didn’t listen to her; instead he fell into his grief to the point that the townsfolk noticed.
He wasn’t as vigilant about his step counting and he lingered longer at the corner before the grocery store as if he blamed it for his mother’s death. He started staying in his apartment longer and some days didn’t even venture out. John and Carol Jenson came by, well-meaning, with pie and baked manicotti and tried to speak with him. He took the food in his kind, awkward way, but didn’t say a word during their whole visit; he took to hugging himself as the couple sat and tried to make conversation until they gave up and left.
With everyone, there was a growing tension after the grocery store opened up. The town riled with gossip, but rather than talk in person they rarely left their homes, preferring to gossip on their cells and landlines. And with all of the miscommunications and the slights and doubt that follow all phone interaction, everyone was on edge. Or maybe the agitation stemmed from the heat and the fear of draught that had struck in August and September five years in a row. It was already two weeks without a drop of rain and the fields were already losing their sharp youthful green. The Dram River was barely a trickle now and looked pitiful in its dried up slopes of its bank.
To make it worse, Lila Stiger, the biggest mouth in the whole county shimmied her way into everyone’s business more than usual. She now had more time on her hands than was healthy after selling her one hundred acres. She had found out that Bill Anders had been philandering with one of his former students while his wife was away at work. The gossip circulated throughout town like a hungry fire and soon he was living in the log motel along the interstate.
And then, Mr. Parker’s little five year old girl, Sarah, went missing. He said to the police that he saw her from his porch playing in the soy fields just before evening. When Mrs. Parker called her in for dinner, Sarah didn’t come. They looked and looked on every single acre and went from farm to farm, but couldn’t find her. She went missing for five days and on the fifth night, one janitor from the grocery store was taking the garbage out and found lying in the dumpster little Sarah; her naked body pale blue in the halogen street lights. Her whole face covered by a worn black bowler hat.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Over the weekend, from 9am Saturday until 9pm Saturday, I wrote 12 poems in 12 hours for the Poetry Half-Marathon. Today, I received my certificate of completion and couldn't be more happy! I can't wait to do it again next year. And if anyone is interested in what the Poetry Marathon is you can check out their website here.
Below I posted one of the poems that I wrote during the marathon. You can check out the rest of my poems on my Wordpress profile here.
Autobiography of A Face: Mount Hood
Your crags of shadow driven thicker by the morning light;
I never knew so many shades of white, until I saw you;
The glare of your western face in the 6 am orb of sun.
The wrinkles of century old glaciers ribbed with dirt,
And your nose’s highest peak, tallest above all others.
Still, in the summer heat, you contain a million diamonds
And shine more celestial than the brightest, rarest star.
Monday, June 8, 2015
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Jess sets the glass on the new granite counter top. Her snake tattoo pokes out from her sleeve. “I don’t know why you took the plunge. Everyone complains it breaks every glass it touches.”
Amy points, “Not that one.”
Jess rolls her eyes. “I put it down nice. You’ll have to put everything down gentle. You’ll always have to think about it.” Jess leans her elbows on the counter.
Amy doesn’t move close, instead she crosses her arms; her pink cardigan bunches at her elbows as she concentrates on the polished counter. “So?”
Jess looks up, “So what?”
Amy opens her arm, palm up in question.
Jess watches Amy, her eyes narrow and she bites her bottom lip close to her steel lip ring.
Amy shakes her head. “You come all the way here to ask why I put something normal in my house. Normal people do this. What about you, huh? What about that?” Amy points her chin toward Jess’s mouth.
“You mean my ring or this—” Jess sticks out her tongue and shows a steel stud in the middle of her pink tongue.
Amy breathes out slow. “Does it matter. Both?” Amy shrugs and mumbles, “One addiction to the next.”
Jess stands up, “I’m a lot things, but I’m not deaf. And it’s none of your damn business.”
Amy rounds on Jess and closes the gap between them. “Exactly. It’s none of your business that I have granite in my kitchen or if every one of my glasses breaks because of it.”
Jess leans away, “Jesus—”
“Is it money you want for blow, juice, whatever? What do you want?” Amy gestures wildly.
Without a word, Jess snakes her arm into her back pocket of her jeans and takes out her phone.
Amy leans one hand on the counter and one on her hip, “What is this?”
“Can you shut up for one second? I’m trying to show you something.” She fiddles with her phone for a couple of moments. “Here.” She hands the phone to Amy. On the screen is a photo.
Amy raises her eyebrow but takes the phone.
Jess points, “You’ll find more if you swipe.”
Amy narrows her eyes as she flips through them. Jess cranes her neck a little closer to Amy and watches her steady inhale and exhale. She waits to see some kind of shock or recognition. Nothing.
Amy looks up from the phone and shrugs. “So?”
Jess’s jaw drops, “That’s all you have to say? Did you even look at them?”
Amy shrugs again.
Jess grabs the phone and flips through the photos. She finds the worse one and points the screen in Amy’s face. “This.”
Amy folds her arms and stares at some space beyond Jess’s shoulder. “It’s not him. You’re crazy.”
Jess’s disbelief turned into a mean smile. “Oh, I’m crazy? I saw it with my two eyes and I’ll have new photos next week, too. He does it every week in the back of his Mercedes in the back of O’Reilly’s parking lot. Every week.”
Amy blinked, “Get out.”
Jess laughs, “Now I see,” She shakes her head. “Shit. You already knew. What are you still doing here?” She gestures around the house, “For this, really?”
Amy stands as still as a reed. “And you’re so perfect.”
Jess shakes her head in surrender, “You know what? I’m out.” She grabs her keys and just as she turns for the door, she picks up the glass on the counter and looks at it. “I have my answers here.” She lets it go and it falls.
Amy inhales and rushes forward to catch it but it shatters and shards scatter everywhere. “Seriously?”
“Right back at ya,” Jess raises her fingers to her lips, “Oops.”
“Fuck you, Jess. You have no right.”
“Yeah, well,” Jess shrugs, playing cool, “At least I know I’m not the only fucked up one. There’s comfort in that.”
“Get out. Leave. Now. Getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout.” Like an avalanche, Amy’s scream follows Jess out of the front door and into her beat up Volvo. She revs her engine, shifts into first and speeds away.
Jess twiddles her fingers on the wheel. She’d never let Amy know she was shaky from the whole thing. Never. She leans toward her glove box and flicks it open; sitting in a bed of hair ties, cigarette packs, and pens is a pistol. She slams the door closed and grips the wheel tight.
It’s her turn to be the big sister.