Monday, September 29, 2014

Working the Ghost Town

They built it from below, we watched.
They bricked the entrance red, a throat groaning
Below their hill that swelled among the trunks.
Their offices grew there, fading, a ghost town
From the very beginning. Someone got a deal
On someone else’s old town, used buildings.
An old Texas outpost, ahistorical, unremembered.
They bought the roofs and walls and stilts,
Painted the doors and boards and screens
Hung the signs warning of armed fairies
Floating up from the darkness.

We answered the ads, some of us ate
Cookies they’d left out, bread filled with fruit
None of us had tasted before. Baked afternoons lay
Stale across the couches stuffed with horse hair.
Bitter coffee hints kept us on edge, drowsing
Beneath pictures that creep above our hair,
Colors flickering. Have another bite, drink
This sweet darkness we’ve brewed just
Behind the door.

They say horses are turned loose at night,
Riderless hooves burning tracks around town.
We don't see them, although we sit on their hair
Or shiver as if they whicker beneath our soles.
No one steals our parking spaces; our cars
Slide through the wood, turn by the thick trunk
And fill the spoke. Orange leaves fall; frames rust,
Tires pop. Yellow leaves pile around us.
We’re paid in fairy gold, but we shed it all
When we leave, just before the night falls
Ahead of the horses.

Image courtesy of Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

High and Low

Lift your foot, drag the world away; break it into echoes
Trembling away from your boots.
If you stand, that vision forms again, the sky and you
Hanging from your ankles.

March away, pull the dreams thick and drowned
Shivering in your wake.
Drop a boot into your tides; your pull, your drag
Pressing our steps.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Petals on the Tracks

The following is the prompt for the 9/17/2014 WordCrafters meeting and my flash fiction response.

“You’d think she’d just let it go. Maybe write a tell-all about making mac-n-cheese dinners for her husband the villain or whatever.” Bethany stepped onto the railroad tracks, bent over, and picked up one of the daisies lying on the tie. The hot afternoon seemed to drag on her as she lifted herself upright.

Margo kept well away from the tracks, left hip cocked to one side and arms crossed. She shifted to rub her ankles together, glancing back at the tall grass they’d just walked through. Something whined and a fleet of heavy insects lifted up above the seedheads. Even in this light, with the sun catching Bethany’s hair, she was sure she was the blonder of the two. She was the only one dressed as if she preferred highways to railways, in the shorts and tank top from cheer practice. “They met at the tracks, Beth. Like, she finds it romantic?” Margo tried the other hip, canting her head for balance.

“Dinah, Margo. When we’re not at home, it’s Dinah.”

“She has daisies and you have a nickname. What’s the difference?” Margo watched Bethany twirl the flower, her dress hanging in a silent bell shape around her ankles. Margo sighed at the lack of a breeze.

Bethany glanced around, but didn’t step off the tracks. She twirled the daisy for a minute and then tucked it behind her ear. “The difference is that that’s my name. My dad gave me that name. He tied her to the tracks like some mustache-twirler from an old cartoon.”

“He let her go.” Margo stepped back until she could feel the weeds at the back of her calves. Bethany…Dinah…looked like something from an old catalog herself. “Why do you let her make you wear that?”

“He would have liked you. Your chem and biochem and spending skip day hiding in the high school.” Bethany sighed and shrugged. “If she can’t redeem him, at least she’s got me.” Bethany pressed her palms against the dress. “Every day.”

Sweat beaded beneath their hair. The Texas heat shimmered between them. Margo felt every inch of the exposed skin on her legs and arms and neck, as if the field were looking at her. Bethany just kept her eyes above Margo’s shoulder. “You want to go get a soda, cruise by the library?” Bethany’s mom would ask where they’d been.

“Do you think madness is like spandex of the mind?” Bethany asked. A whistle shrieked in the distance. Fear, Margo thought, was pretty much as a good a cool gel pack. “Wake up so early in the morn…can’t hear the whistle calling…” Bethany crooned to herself. Then she stomped on the daisies, her laughter shrieking a reply to the whistle. “Sure, let’s get a soda. Tell me again how we’ll find him, once we get to the city.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mermaid Memories

I roll my neck, click the morning’s trending video.
Turtle feet stretch back and push against the water
Kicking the jade glass ripples.
A pool ghost, pale-faced, rises to balance below me.
I remember awkwardness, learning the yaw of the body
In soaking, chilly darkness.
Until he made us open our eyes underwater, watching
From just below as we struggled to hold our breath
While raising our eyelids.
Stretch your arms, kick like frogs in the backyard
Flood. He swims in t-shirt shirt and shorts beneath;
Calm against our thrashing.
Now I see blue instead of milky, moss-green water,
Beyond the embroidered leaves, blue fathoms high,
Air deep but thinning.
I am half-mermaid memories, half green-woman grown
Thick with a forest of days, a flood at my feet
Sun tangling in my crown.
I stretch my body long, drawing air into its crevices
Until I have learned to balance again. Then, I
Drift away, kicking.

This is my first attempt at blogging with poetry prompts, although not my first time using prompts to spur my writing. For me, the poem owes perhaps too little to the image, especially as I've reached an age when images of younger people tend to provoke nostalgia, which is the high road to sentimentality. Whee, poem and critique in one! Otherwise, I see this and am immediately put in mind of avoiding something--maybe avoiding the day altogether--and what better way to do so than to go swimming or just let your imagination drift?

Thanks to Magpie Tales for providing the image!

Friday, September 12, 2014


There, in the vacuum of the said,
The pause, the breath that comes
Beyond the waves just fled,
That space, the hollow of the voice
Is shaped that the soul
May shred or smooth
Lose the track or follow close
Along the wind-walled shore.


So...I've been thinking about a novel that is slowly disintegrating under that ceaseless, wearing, constant thought and I have come to fixate upon voice, which would give me a path through or a shape to the various grains of plot and theme and setting. Who is speaking?

In tandem with this bit of confusion, Carrie, one of the leaders of our local library writer's group, announced that she'd be holding a workshop on blogging. This seemed the perfect oblique way to find the voice that my novel is lacking. After all, my favorite bloggers have a terrific sense of voice. Typically, those voices are quite unlike what I would describe as my own half-lecturing tone. Blech. I mean, who goes in for voluntary lectures?

Carrie's work has a distinct voice and she encourages participation in a community of writers. This exchange helps, I think, strengthen the writing toward something that takes place in this exchange of idea and image. Other voices help you define your own. Maybe?

My own voice has become thin through repeating things until the ideas become worn away rather than refined. There are no walls from which to hear strange echoes.
Chatter becomes noise, eventually.

Therefore, I'm going to try and take this blog in a new direction: more flash fiction/prompt writing, less drifty blah blah blah (see above). We'll see if that helps.


Once upon a time, it rained. Rain fell on grass, on wide concrete roads, thin concrete paths, and short oaks; rain fell on dogs curled up beside warm bricks, on roofs, on narrow gutters that made streams beside the eaves at the edges of those roofs. Rainwater and thin rivulets from the yards pooled beside the rounded curbs until brown puddles lay on the edges of the streets.

Stories fell with the water and bubbled up in great domes floating across these rain puddles, an entire story in each great breath beneath the rainbow-thin water. They drifted across the stillness, across the reflections of sky and house, stark as photos on the ground.

As they pop, the rainbow remnant of the water that fell through frost and electricity and torrent, that flowed past leaves and grass and brick, stains my skin. Narratives evaporate. A quick chill of drops thump against my skin. More rain falls. The street lamp catches some and they roll around, hanging suspended from the insect-eyed glass, and fall into the calmness of the puddle, creating a lake of the curve of the street and the curb's cliff.

Damp, warm concrete presses its cuneiform into my stomach and arms. Someone launches a craft on the waves, a green and flat boat that carries me from the edge into the middle of the road, where the summer heat inhales all the stories back into itself. Even me, gone into the haze.