June 2012- Week 4

June 25, 2012

Steve Cartwright “It’s well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so I’m typing this with one hand while pummeling my head with a frozen mackerel with the other. I’ve done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling – but mostly drooling – on tavern napkins.” He has also created art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. I was awarded the 2004 James Award for my cover art for Champagne Shivers. I recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: _www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright_

TO MARILYN MATTHEWS

(1943–1991)

your father had given you the blood and last name of
Thomas More and your mother what had taken a breast
from you and hidden with it but you were not remiss
trying meditation and catholicism and
sweat lodge anything to wash you rid of it that you
not have to have a next appointment
             you were only
coming a bit weakened out of the last when we met
and I from a night of my own we both emergent
into entire day on the plateau
             I wanting
fire time in the high desert had taken to trails
had joined and begun to love a shadowy woman
friend of yours there who invited me to hike with you
and another in Abineau Canyon and Bear Jaw
on the north flank of the peaks
             June heat and drought
did not reach where we went dancing up with you
a quick and intent slight woman of laughter that knew
which boots to wear and the way to achieve a mountain
did psychotherapy for a living knew how to
talk and would talk of it too
             we got to quakenasp
every other leaf on them in direct sun and
you called
                          thank you god
             in joy it had to have been
             that
you and I would revisit on our own later to
hold colloquy about metempsychosis and young
Everett Reuss who had fused with the nature he loved
and you thought of the holied ones saying goodbye to
vivid earth in the knowledge they would not come round
again and we did not mention Edward Abbey’s or
any name
            when I was looking you had and did not
rent a room to me which sort of educated my
liking and you had had reconstruction and worried
what a man would think but we took hikes together in
the hardpan country often on the Weatherford road
to Doyle Saddle
             keeping up with you I would write was
like chasing fritillaries you were that good on the
vivid earth we inhabited at our one time
and could see from such height 
             you had me to dinner on
Thanksgiving and the two children you had left in New
Mexico on running away with your profession
             two other
men at the table to rival me I 
thought but you gave me the head of it refilling my
glass with wine you did not drink anymore letting the
children know how you wanted them to vote
             nothing would
come of you and me however beyond a hug and
a long impromptu monsoon-evening talk when I
worked on the Navajo Nation every thirteen-
hour day a lifetime I needed of red dirt of
Indian chatter anglo country on kay-tee-en-
en
             maybe like the holied ones on their goodbye round
we had a knowledge we did not have to say only
act on and I might even have been fearing night as 
I got in with a redhead saltimbanque whom you
had seen and warned me of whom I enjoyed and suffered
in the only more time on earth that would have remained
to you and me
              might have been cathexis not fear when
I heard it had come to you again I wanted day
so much that kept me not with you
              we did meet in a 
hospital waiting room and one afternoon you had
a turban on were puffy I took you to the mesa
walking rather than hiking but we hiked on the south
Wilson Mountain trail with a group
              you and your nurse
not making it to first bench the autumn under way in
Verde Valley and later you in the restaurant
                        joking
              who
drove to the agency every day
to talk with clientele
              I ran into you out on
the avenue and said we ought to get together
                       averted nod
                       at the car door
                       no talking or look
              but on another
street in February a honk
a wave a smile from the same car moving and in a 
week the word you had had to go in had said you were
tired of this
              they were not letting nonfamily
visit I tried to get to you one evening the
next morning and another day could not
              late night a
ting-ringing in my ear might have prepared me for the
news to come Marilyn but I have not been knowing
of such am not 
              your children and brother were taking
your ashes to the mountain
                       we would have known where to
                       find her anyway
I wrote to our circle
               as
we got out of your memorial meeting it hailed

Rodney Nelson work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and “new.” See his page in the Poets & Writers directory
http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson
for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem “One Winter” won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His “Upstream in Idaho” received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011, and another title, In Wait, is due this year.

**************************

THE INLAW

He called himself THE INLAW. Rolled from town to town in either a beat-up Buick or a crippled brown mare, depending on which version of the legend you believed. Road up and down the streets, pilfering possessions and identities out of mailboxes.

He was Bigfoot. Never fully captured on film, little variations in all the descriptions. A man of such infamy should’ve been apprehended. We were talking millions of federal offenses.

One day I heard the clomp clomp clomp down my street. There he was, on a crippled brown mare, tattered white sack overflowing from his shoulder. The horse moved slowly, but THE INLAW was practically a flash. Hand in and out of each mailbox before you could even recognize he’d taken anything.

He was on the other side of the street, but I knew he’d make his way over to my house. I figured I had plenty of time to plan my action since he probably did a big loop, but I didn’t think it was as simple as running and grabbing the mail before he got there. Sure, that would prevent him from grabbing my bills or the nude mags that usually came on that day, but didn’t I also have a duty to my fellow citizens?

I shuddered on the porch as I watched him slink from box to box. Even though there was nothing singularly terrifying about the man, the whole situation creeped me out. No matter how many boxes he visited, the sack never grew, but I watched him put countless items in it.

I stepped off the porch and marched past rows of daisies to my own mailbox. Just as I was planning my big intervention, my citizen’s arrest, THE INLAW pulled a quick U-turn and called out, “Hold on there, partner.” I tried to avoid eye contact, hoping he was talking to the horse, but curiosity eventually got the best of me. It always does. THE INLAW was staring straight at me, surprising warmth on his smiling face.

“Just stay right where you are,” he said with a policeman’s “stop” gesture.

I bolted for the mailbox. It was the boldest move I’d ever made, and I hoped it wouldn’t be my last. Somehow THE INLAW and his sloth of a horse beat me there, almost like they teleported. The horse bit at my reaching hand.

“I told you to hold on,” THE INLAW said, smile still covering his face.

I pissed myself right in front of them. There was nothing else I could’ve done. They had me and I knew I was a goner. I deserved that final moment of relief.

While I was soaking my lower half, THE INLAW reached in his hand and dropped a handful in the sack.

“The rest is yours,” he said. “And if you ever tell anyone about this…” he warned before riding the mare to the next mailbox. When I looked to my left, sure enough, they were riding off into the sunset.

Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 100 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His story “The Oaten Hands” was named one of 190 notable stories by storySouth’s Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, is was released in July 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing, and his first novella, Hallways and Handguns, is due out this spring. Visit him at http://www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm.

***********************

Piggin

A lariat, some lines and rope kinda frayed,
Was discussin’ their uses, how they was played,
When out of collection of some tack in a bin
Another voice piped up, “I don’t mean to butt in,
But fellas , don’t forget the handy piggin.
For ropin’ to tie down, say at brandin’ time,
Aint nothing better you could ever find
Than seven short feet of good piggin string
Tossed round them hooves for a mighty tight sling.
Straighten’ a post that’s been set in soft sand?
Piggin’s as good as another cowhand.
Five miles out and your bridle reign snaps?
Just reach for that piggin tied to your chaps.
He aint long like a lariat, nor strong like a bull,
But the piggin’s always good for a short quick pull.
And a quick mend on the range for plenty of things
Like chokers and chinches, breechins and reigns.
So when dishin’ out praises to long braided things
Remember those handy sweet piggin strings.

Gary Ives is a retired Navy chief- lives in the Ozarks with his wife and two big dogs where he writes and grows apples. His short stories have recently appeared in Frontier Tales, Tales of Old, Hisstories, The Rusty Nail, Efiction, and Freedom Fiction.

June 2012- Week 3

June 19, 2012

JOHN TWOGUNS’ MEDICINE

When my people come I will rise up,
hard eyed, hard armed, hard bellied,
in the colors of war,
in the markings of a warrior,
with the weapons of a man.

The sun has set in my eyes.
Winter has settled in my hair.
My belly hangs over my belt
like a crest of old snow.
I smoke white cigarettes
and cling to my plastic cane.

But, I have seen my people come.
And I have risen up,
hard eyed, hard armed, hard bellied,
in the colors of war,
in the markings of a warrior,
with the weapons of a man.

Edna Running Elk wakes me,
her thin arm across my chest,
her brown eyes shadowed by sleep,
murmuring, “It was only a dream, John.
Only a dream. A dream…”

H. Edgar Hix is a Minnesota poet who has been publishing poetry for around 40 years. His work has appeared in over 100 journals, including recent appearances in bear creek haiku, Waterways, Time of Singing, Priscilla Papers, Crack the Spine, Mutuality, FutureCycle, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal . He has published one poetry chapbook, The Saint Cloud Café and Motor Inn . You can also find his flash fiction ‘Mary Had A Big, Bad Wolf’ in Z-composition, April 2012 Issue.

The Trials Of The Messenger

If you follow the canyon trail down,
the blunderbusses will pick you off.
There is absolutely no cover
save for a few pomegranate bushes.
All is visible through the branches.
If the pragmatic blasts
can reach across this divide,
you’re connected to your apprehension.
Any litter you’ve collected won’t save you.

Colin James has poems forthcoming in Pyrokinection, Nazar Look and Eudice. He has a chapbook of poems
available from Thunderclap Press. Formally of the UK, he now resides in Massachusetts.


THE EARTH WITCH

It is the right time of year to search for the Earth Witch. I once found her lair. It is past the subdivision with its orbit of builders’ waste and tires. Past a ring where teens throw beer cans and cats abandon litters. Past a fisherman’s trail, where two old lawn chairs face each other, holding conversation in the woods. Beyond the green briars curling from the soil like cruel whips. At the lakeshore,
you get the feeling of being watched. Time is remote–you can feel the swell of the earth. I once spotted tall figures walking along the far shore. It was the Crane People. I watched them awhile silently, until early darkness surprised me. Then I cut across the thickest part of the woods, parting the vines with a stick. The forest opened up ahead. Before me, an ancient oak stood covered in ciphers.
A zigzag arrow: snake. Eight-rayed circle: spider. Many Xs and markings I can no longer recall. Hanging from the branches were knotted cords of small skulls– opossum, rabbit, skunk. I crossed a circle of stones blackened by ceremonial fire. Stepping quiet, knowing an Earth Witch received her visions here–once, long ago.

M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. His third book of poems, What We Did With Old Moons, will be released by Winter Goose Publishing this November.

June 2012- Week 2

June 11, 2012

THREE OF THE WEST

   GARY ELDER                                                                                                                
   BILL HOTCHKISS                                                                                                          
   LEN FULTON

I rode with one of the men to meet
another on the Sacramento
and the trailers of winter rain cloud
were smoke to me 
        and up the valley
into the foothills to see a third
at a compound of wood smoke and in
a week I would think to kill myself
                      and among
big metacowboy men
of the West were Elder and Hotchkiss
and Fulton and easy toward one
another and with me
        if not the
America behind the rains of
nineteen seventy-nine and I saw
the two that only time
                      the winter
I rode a truck with one and watched and
listened to who were men of the pen
and older than I and had done more
        and in a week I
would think to go to Coronado
and kill myself and did not and of
the winter three
                      no one’s on the bay
or the river or in the foothills
and I the living am elsewhere but
the California part of me
is wondering what they will write next
        not thinking
of Coronado Bridge

Rodney Nelson work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and “new.” See his page in the Poets & Writers directory
http://www.pw.org/content/rodney_nelson
for a notion of the publishing  history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem “One Winter” won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His “Upstream in Idaho” received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011, and another title, In Wait, is due this year.

Dead Bolt

Purple thunderheads climb the horizon.
Maria sits alone in the kitchen, the house dark,
muggy as the front room at Taylor’s mortuary.
Randy starts to the refrigerator, but reconsiders,

easing into the chair opposite the wall.
She lets her thoughts rumble in her chest, distant,
building in the west, driven by the heat.
When finally she opens her mouth, sentences

slam against the windows. Her verbs
are wind, her proper nouns lightning.
He feigns indifference to storm. Her hair, matted
to her forehead, is splayed like rain beaten wheat.

You need to brush your hair, he interrupts.
She throws a salt shaker at him. It clatters
against the chili pot on the stove. He shoves
the table and grabs the pepper shaker.

She runs for the bathroom and slams the door.
He kicks her chair. It clatters across the kitchen floor,
and spins to a stop against the dog’s bed.
She dead bolts her heart; steel clicks against steel.

Al Ortolani is a teacher from Kansas. His writing has appeared in a number of periodicals, across the United States: *New Letters, New York Quarterly, The English Journal, The Midwest Quarterly *and others. He has three books of poetry, *The Last Hippie of Camp 50* and *Finding the Edge,*published by Woodley Press at Washburn University, and *Wren’s House*, recently released from Coal City Review Press in Lawrence, Kansas. He is active with the Kansas City Writer’s Place and an editor with *The Little Balkans Review*.

Week One-

[click on image to enlarge]

‘In The Saddle’

Scott Welch is a living breathing Texas cowboy and rancher who works his land before and after he works a full-time job. This photo was taken while Scott was out riding one afternoon; it’s the perfect example of a birds eye view of the cowboy on the trail.

***

THE GALVESTON FLOOD

My grandfather went hand-over-hand
on a barbed-wire fence
with a table tied to his waist
and my grandmother tied to the table
because she couldn’t swim.

Hand-over-hand, man.
That’s Texas.

H. Edgar Hix is a Minnesota poet who has been publishing poetry for around 40 years. His work has appeared in over 100 journals, including recent appearances in bear creek haiku, Waterways, Time of Singing, Priscilla Papers, Crack the Spine, Mutuality, FutureCycle, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal . He has published one poetry chapbook, The Saint Cloud Café and Motor Inn . You can also find his flash fiction ‘Mary Had A Big, Bad Wolf’ in Z-composition, April 2012 Issue.

***

[click on image to enlarge]

John H. Dromey was born in northeast Missouri. He’s had a byline (for brief, humorous items) in over one-hundred different newspapers and magazines. Once upon a time he had light verse published in Grit, Hoofs and Horns, Light, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. His cartoons have appeared in Bowhunter and Farm Antiques News (no longer published).

***

ANIMAL MYTHS

Crows fly in unwavering lines,
snakes eventually go blind,
and elephants trot off to die.

Fish can shut their eyes to sleep
crocodiles forlornly weep
and moles can sort of see.

The eel has two beating hearts
barn mice grow up into rats
and birds listen for worms.

Worms turn into lightning bugs
bears give suffocating hugs,
and hippos sweat real blood.

Running horses stay aground,
honest men could once be found
who’d never put another down.

M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. His third book of poems, What We Did With Old Moons, will be released by Winter Goose Publishing this November.

***

All the Pretty Horses
—for Cormac Mc Carthy

June 1st and it finally stopped
snowing. It’s been a month
since I’ve seen a bluer than blue
cornflower sky stretching
overhead between mountain tops
whose rent valley gloves
still show fingers of snow
pointing downwards.

I drive past the Hi Ute Ranch
on the Kilby Road
where all the pretty horses
graze and I have to stop the car
to watch as they frolic,
running with the wind
and I can’t help but think
of Cormac Mc Carthy’s novel,
and I sigh with remembrance
at his pensive and provocative prose.
His use of Spanish without translations.

The horses are pastured behind a split
rail fence near a strong runoff
stream of rushing water—
snow melt tumbling and falling,
rushing and frothing from higher
up the valley forming a creek
with a little falls, and then
pooling into a good-sized pond.

I want to write about the west,
about horses and tycoons, gamblers,
cowboys, river men, trappers,
gold diggers, and the Plains Indians,
the nomadic tribes of the Arapaho,
Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa,
Nez Perce, Coeur d’Alene,
Sioux and Shoshone.
Most of all what I’d have loved being:
a rancher, homesteading
cattle country in Colorado
at the end of the 19th century.

But when I set pen to paper
all ideas vanish
like smoke signals
trailing upwards,
which makes me wonder
if these internal images
and feelings shouldn’t stay inside,
once you’ve already lived them.

Nina Romano earned an M.A. from Adelphi University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She is the author of two poetry collections: *Cooking Lessons** by Rock Press, and Coffeehouse Meditations,** from Kitsune Books. She has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She *is the co-author of *Writing in a Changing World. *Her latest poetry collection, *She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding,* is forthcoming,from Bridle Path Press. Her short story collection*, The Other Side of the Gates, *will be published by Kitsune Books early 2013.
More about the author here: http://www.ninaromano.com

Dine With Pat

Food & Dining in the Garden State

campfireshadows

Western short stories, heritage and trail recipes.

The Blank Page

Confronting Writer's Block