An Excerpt from My Masterpiece

This is an excerpt from a novel/short story/I’m not sure what yet that I’ve been working on for the past few months.  I think my plan is to take NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to really kick it into high gear and finish at least a solid draft of this thing. It’s going to turn out to be a pretty personal story (although yes, it is fiction) for a few reasons and I think that’s what’s been  holding me back from finishing the damn thing.  Either way, I remain optimistic.


The rafters in the main barn filtered the light coming in.  Tessa could see dust floating in the air, lifting and falling as though of its own will.  She thought of treading water in the lake out by the old oak tree, kicking her way up and drifting down and then back again.  She wondered what it would feel like to tread air.  The water always felt safe somehow.  If she lost her balance or fell over, the worst would be lake water in her face.  People naturally floated a little bit in water; with the air there was no such guarantee, no safety net, no promise of anyone breaking your fall.  Feeling slightly off balance, she walked through the glowing cloud into the barn.

Before going to the back of the barn, she walked down the row of stalls.  There used to be three horses, but when her father died, her mother had sold his horse to Mr. Manning.  It broke her heart to even look at it, much less care for it, and the horse was young, with many good years left in him, her mother had said during her sales pitch.  What she didn’t tell Mr. Manning was that to keep him, feed him, brush him, and take him out for rides herself would have been an acknowledgment of her husband’s absence, a realization and a declaration, if to no one else than herself and the horse, that he really was gone.

Now there were only two horses left, and they occupied the first two stalls.  The third stall was used for storage and the last stall remained empty and, in spite of Mary’s best and swiftest efforts, as persistent a reminder of her husband’s absence as the stamping of hooves would have been.

As Tessa stood outside the third stall, the storage unit between vitality and death, she felt as though she were somehow standing outside of time itself.  She was neither in the past, where her father lived and rode horses and brought her presents from town – charming music boxes and fans and little dolls with painted faces – and neither was she in the present, where the stall was empty and her world quiet without his gentle but deep voice filling her ears and her heart.  She could stand here and wait for an hour, a day, until the sun set and rose and set again, and the quiet would persist.

But Tim was here now, and try as she might to resent him for replacing her father, she simply couldn’t.  She’d known him, if not well, for her whole life, but was never really sure where to fit him into the family.  He was much older than she was, even older than Cora, and yet he was her half-brother.  He had always seemed more like an uncle.  She certainly didn’t feel as close to him as she did Cora, and she knew that wasn’t just because of his age.  But he’d always been kind to her and her sister, and their mother, and now he was their father.  She was grateful to have a man in their home to take care of her mother and she knew that without him to work the farm, they might be out of their home.  But his marriage to her mother, especially so soon after her father’s death, seemed more of a business move than one based on love.  And now, more than ever, Tessa just didn’t know where to place him in her life.  She thought of him as neither father nor brother nor benefactor and yet somehow he was all of these things.  Thinking of his incredible presence in her life made her feel claustrophobic.  Just as there was no amount of waiting that would bring her father back, there was nowhere to turn were Tim was not now in complete control.




Cicadas hum furiously, thrashing their wings

until they fly free, leaving

behind a glassy shell. A skeleton

with the marks of days past, dry and translucent, they tell the story

of a life lived and lost.

Their vibrations fade as the sun hides,

watching through a reflecting moon

and crickets chirp, following the rhythm

of the heartbeat of the ground.



Black Night


No, I said no. I don’t want it, won’t have it,

can’t abide it, stand to look at

you feel you hear your voice grate on my throat.

At night you come and do it

again and over and over we sway to the melody of a loss, a death, a pill

I can’t take

that nightly remembering, that call to prayer, call to repent,

to fall down, to flee.


Back to my head and my heart and you’re shut out but you crawl in my bed

every night. I lock the window but it opens for you, my only lover, my only one

and every time a man comes in my eyes find his face and I realize it’s you again,

no one else. You trick me every time.

You hide behind their masks, but you will pursue me

until you


Short Story Idea

So I’ve had an idea for a short story… or maybe the beginning of a novel… in my head for a while and I thought I’d share.  This is nothing in the world but a sort of focused free write.  I’m not a hundred percent on what will happen in this story, but I like the setting nonetheless…
The corn grew nearly double that year.  On warm, damp days, when mosquitoes hung in the air, so tired even surging human blood couldn’t drive them on, the leaves stretched their fresh arms to the heavens, thrust their chests out proudly, and reached to their neighbors.  The field was hot, the sun throwing light and scorching onto all in her path.  Dogs panted in the shade of the old white house and the metal tools nearby were too hot to use.
            But under the leaves, the ground was fertile.  In all that suffocating heat, the ground gave life.  It gave because the men planted there and the seeds burst, spreading their roots and eventually reaching their leaves to the sky.



A Love Poem

Wisdom is dimmed by love.

The head is numb, the body

dangerous in its rapture. Song calls us out,

pulls us. We say it moves us

because we have no other words,

no logic to describe,

to compartmentalize

its effect.

The body is an instrument
of pain
of pleasure

Words don’t move us, but love’s music,

love’s sounds, the climbing, escalating

rhythm of the unspoken,

the felt, the unsayable play. It shakes us.

It wakes us and breaks us.

It wakes us to break us.



In My Hands

I hold a diamond in my hands.
It shines,
burns the light.
My fingers smudge the surface
but the colors break through.

Every line, every cut, every vein
of the rainbow.
Red as my blood
and green
as life.

In between the refracted fabric
of passion,
of slavery,
it crumbles
to dust.

To dust that covers my nervous hands, aging them
gray now.
The light is ashes.




I hear a woman’s gasp and her quick footsteps departing,

as I realize I am lying in a field. The tips of the green grass are dried and yellow,

burnt from the hot Los Angeles sun, yet covered in morning dew, they shine

and seem to reach up to bid that sun good morning.

I hear cars driving past but find that I cannot lift my head to look at them. I try

to recollect how I got here. There must be more to me

than this paralyzed perception, but as I try to stretch back to my past,

it seems my arms are not long enough to reach it.

My mind, like my body, cannot move.


But I can feel.


I feel the contradiction of the cool wet grass below and the hot dry sun above.

Time passes and the heat from the sun fades

as a shadow dims the day. For the first time in this new existence I am not alone.

Other people are here; maybe they can help me

and together we can answer the questions in my head.

But when I see these people, blood rushes from their faces

as their features twist in horror and without any other indication I know

that these expressions are mere reflections of my new state.

I hear them say I am the Black Dahlia, but today I am white, that my black hair is

mangled and mottled with the only blood that remains in this pale, translucent body.

“Severed,” they say.

“Right in half,” they say.

“Jesus Christ,” they say.

A white sheet covers me and I am carried away, but it takes too long.

It shouldn’t take so long to move a body. But I am more now,

I am pieces and all these king’s men cannot put the puzzle together. Pieces are missing

and ripped and irregular. I challenged men in life but not like I challenge them now,

not like I will yet challenge them.

They carry the top half of my body to the police vehicles and as we approach

the sheet slips away and I catch a reflection of my face.

I am smiling, a wider smile than I’d been capable of in life.

I must be happy in death.

I must be at peace

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