Saving Grace–part 1

Me and Penny were out on the back porch resting our bones when it happened, and truth be told, if we’d still been in the kitchen putting up them sweet Elberta peaches, we would’ve plumb missed it. It was that unspectacular.

It came down out of the dusky sky on a glimmer of light and a whooshing whisper of sound, a thin trail of dark smoke whipping the air behind it like a pissed-off sidewinder, and landed somewhere on yon side of the corn patch. A bit of a rumble followed, vibrating the boards under my bare feet and Penny’s white belly.

Penny raised her head off her paws, her yellow ears perking up. I leaned forward and eyed the deepening shadows amongst the drying cornstalks t’other side of the back-yard fence, wondering what might’ve come down.

An August-sticky breeze ruffled the stringy brown tassels hanging on the few remaining corn ears, and fanned out over the porch, bringing with it the acrid smell of something burning. Not wood. Not dead grass. Not old tires. It was a burn I didn’t know.

I squinted harder into that dark nest of corn, a tad-bit of unease settling inside my gut. I wondered what might be hidden by that corn patch. Little gray men or some such aliens? Pshaw—most likely, just one of them there space rocks had come down.

I reached down and ran my hand over Penny’s back. “Now ain’t we a sight, two squirrely old gals skeert of a rock.”

Penny’s head came up a couple more notches. She flicked her ears. Then with a grunt that sounded a whole lot like me when I rolled out of bed of a morning, she got to her feet and walked over to the edge of the porch. And whined.

Knees popping, I pushed out of the cane-back rocker and shuffled up beside her. “Something out there, gal?” Though Penny was older than me in dog years, her hearing still beat mine any day of the week. Why, she could hear Isabelle’s car when it was still more than a mile off. Yep, when I saw Penny crawling up under the bed, I knew that in a few minutes I’d see my granddaughter’s black Explorer come bouncing around the curve out by the mailbox, bringing groceries and her two rambunctious boys for their weekly visit.

Penny looked up at me and chuffed softly. A milky film covered her blind eye, but the good one was as clear as it’d been when she was a pup, and every bit of her smarts still shined bright in it. And it was telling me there was something out there all right, but it weren’t nothing to be skeert of.

Now, I’d always been a curious sort–that’s how come I’d ended up having Josh six months after me and Pap had gotten hitched up–and Penny too, so I figured neither one of us would rest easy till we’d seen what was out there.

“Well, I reckon we’d best go have a look before it gets dark.” I went back inside the peach-smelling kitchen, rounded up a flashlight and my cane, then pulled on the stiff boots that’d belonged to Pap before he’d passed.

Penny was waiting for me at the bottom of the steps. It took me a while to maneuver my way down them, but she sat there like she had all the time in the world, that whatever lay on the other side of the corn patch would still be there when we got there. And if it weren’t, well, most likely it wasn’t worth seeing anyway.

The sunbaked grass crunched under Pap’s boots. If something had been stomping this a’way through the corn, I couldn’t have heard it for all the racket I was making. Made me kind of nervous, the not hearing. But Penny didn’t look nervous, just curious, so I did my best not to be nervous either. Continue reading

How You Learn To Live Alone

“How You Learn To Live Alone” is from the album Trouble & Love by Mary Gauthier, an American folk singer and songwriter.

The following quote pertaining to this album is from NPR Music:

“To be affected by these songs, you don’t have to know anything of Gauthier’s backstory (Louisiana orphan addict chef turned sober troubadour), the respect she commands across gender lines in the Americana scene, or the heavyweight catalog she’s built out of unflinching introspection and Southern Gothic-shaded storytelling.”

And another from Rolling Stone:

“Every tune is a rough gem of melody, misery and economy, as Gauthier excavates romantic wreckage like an archaeologist telling a story of fossilized love.”

“How You Learn To Live Alone” is my favorite “gem” on this album. In the following video, Mary Gauthier is joined by fellow singer/songwriter Gretchen Peters and Duane Eddy on guitar.

 

Better

mistrust
distrust
no trust

been blue
been bruised
been used

cracked love
crushed love
no love

feelings gone
all alone
have no home

better this way
no piper to pay
with myself I lay

won’t be shamed
nor called names
play no games

just want peace
pain to cease
dark oblivion’s release

Photo from Pixabay

The Revolt

“We have to do something,” Betty said. “He’s taking our children. He keeps us prisoner, breeds us, then takes our children.”

“We’re not prisoners,” Tallulah said. “We can go outside.”

The other girls nodded their heads, murmured words of agreement while casting furtive glances toward the door.

Betty snorted. “Oh, for the love of God!”

“They’re not really children,” Tallulah said. “Why, they haven’t even been named yet, so how can they possibly be children?” More nodding of heads. Continue reading

Pearls Before Swine–Part 3

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

When I came back from the barn after returning the handsaw, a bolt of pain stabbed my lower belly as I stepped inside the house. I crammed the hurt into that dark, crowded place deep inside me that Mama couldn’t see, undressed Sissy, ran a damp cloth over her clammy body, and pulled her favorite pink nightgown over her head, all the while talking slowly and softly. I knew she heard me. She stood when I told her to, held up her hands when I said so, but not one word passed her white lips.

Meanwhile, Mama fed thin slats of wood into the cook stove until the thing danced with heat. Sweat ran down her face and soaked the white collar of her dress, turning it pink.

“Put your sister to bed,” she said over her shoulder. “Then come get yourself cleaned up.”

I led Sissy into the little room off the kitchen, and tucked her into the bed we shared. “I’ll be back.

No answer from my sister. She rolled over and faced the wall. If I looked, I knew her eyes would still be open.

I laid my hand on her shoulder. “Everything’s gonna be all right. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have forgotten all about tonight. Just a dream, that’s all. A bad dream.”

“Clara!” Mama yelled.

I wanted nothing more than to crawl into the bed next to Sissy and sleep for days. I was worn out and my belly hurt real bad. Instead, I patted her shoulder and walked back out into the nightmare. Continue reading

I Wait

sprawl in a wrinkled, uneasy bed
old demons and new share the covers
they jabber and snicker, toss and turn
chase away forgetful sleep
eyes on the shadowed ceiling
I wait for sunrise…

pour a cup of bitter, black coffee
greet the ghosts of past friends and lovers
resentful and accusing in their stony silence
tears slide down unforgiving cheeks
eyes on the cold floor
I wait for sunset…

pace dingy, dark, shuttered rooms
regrets, fuck-ups, and what-ifs hover
lamplight glints on gunmetal gray
what you sow, you shall reap
eyes on the bore of eternity
I wait for death’s release

Photo from iStock

Pearls Before Swine–part 2

Part 1 here

Mama collapsed onto one of the straight-backed chairs that circled the kitchen table. She sighed, shook her head. “Sit down, gals.” We did, and she told us what we were gonna do. “Keep them bellies covered with baggy clothes, and don’t tell nobody you’re carrying. School’s practically out for the summer, and before it starts up again, the babies’ll most likely be here.”

We nodded our heads. “Yes, Mama.”

“Now…” Her dark eyes leveled on me. “Who put his pecker in you and your sister? Was it that Franklin boy?” She was talking about Tommy Franklin. He’d kissed me a couple of times in back of the church, but he’d never put his pecker in me. I didn’t even know people did that until…

“No, Mama,” I said.

“Leroy Massy?”

“No, Mama.”

“Then who in the name of Jesus was it?” She slapped the table. Sissy squealed. Mama’s eyes turned to her. “Or was there more than one?” Continue reading

Wolf

the wolf is at the door
he growls … I moan
he knows I am in here
afraid and all alone

the wolf is at the door
he claws the ancient wood
he knows I am behind it
he knows I will taste good

the wolf is at the door
his nose draws in my smell
he tastes the sapidity of my fear
his appetite I will quell

the wolf is at the door
I rise to let him in
this night will be an atonement
a night to pay for sins

the wolf is at the door
I gather my courage close
my fingers curl round the icy knob
I let in the lupine ghost

the wolf is in the door
he snarls … I scream
thrust my dagger into his heart
and carve out his bloody wet dream

the wolf is on the floor
I smile in satisfaction
he thought I would be an easy meal
too weak to take bold action

the wolf dies on the floor
no longer a threat to me
I write my name with his cooling blood
for other wolves to see

Photos from iStock and Pinterest

Pearls Before Swine–part 1

I woke in the dark to squeals and yells and thumps and bangs. From somewhere inside the house, Daddy rattled off a string of cusswords, then hollered: “Get the shotgun, Lizzy, something’s got in with the hogs!”

The awfulest commotion was going on outside. It sounded like every pig on the place was pitching a holy fit.

“What is it, Clara?” Sissy asked.

“I don’t know…” I turned back the covers.

She grabbed my arm. “Where’re you going?”

“To see what all the racket’s about.”

Sissy’s fingers dug deeper. “What if it’s the boogeyman?”

I pulled my arm away. “There ain’t no such thing and you know it.”

My feet hit the floor and I made a beeline for the slash of light knifing in underneath the closed door, Sissy’s night-breath a hot prickle on the back of my neck. My fingers curled around the doorknob, twisted and pushed.

Light blared from the 100-watt bulb dangling on the end of the thick, black wire snaking down from the kitchen ceiling, spotlighting Mama and Daddy for a few seconds before they rushed out the back door.

I chased after them, Sissy right on my heels.

The lantern held high in one hand, the tail of her nightgown in the other, Mama ran neck and neck with Daddy across the back yard and through the gate.

Dewey appeared inside the bouncing circle of light. Mama let out a startled “Oh!” and Daddy a “Jesus Christ!” and we all skidded to a stop.

“Don’t you be going down there, Mr. Primrose,” Dewey said, his eyes all big and wild looking. His oily brown hair stuck out this a’way and that a’way. Only one gallous of his overalls was fastened; the other flopped down over his scrawny belly. “It’s dangerous. There’s demons loose tonight. Continue reading

Old Crayons

white faith
purple hope
flesh yearning
can’t cope

green eyes
blue tears
pink lips
silent fears

brown thoughts
yellow emotions
orange screams
unending commotion

gray days
black nights
red dreams
nothing right

FYI–Crayola changed “flesh” to “peach” (for obvious reasons) in 1962. 

Photo from Morguefile