love, poetry, women

Scarlett

She’s got her mother’s eyes,

Possessed by a certainty

I’m in awe of,

You never tell them

How frightening your love

For them can be,

The language is mostly

Maternal but God

I used to have her sleep

On my chest and every

Little breath was a fortune

In a cookie

‘Don’t fuck this up’.

And I’d know I was willing

To kill the way Gods do

To protect her,

She makes her way,

With what I passed on,

I hope it’s enough

But she’s got her mother’s

Strength and I fear for anyone

Who crosses

Her path

And so I keep the

Feelings to the

Back of my head

Look at her and know

I’ve won something

By the act of trying

And I’ve long since

Forgiven her

For saying I cut her

Fringe when her mother

Found her

And the thing is,

If she’d asked,

I’d have had a go,

To make her happy,

That feeling,

Never goes away.

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beauty, books, fiction, love, short fiction, women

Assignment

Slater perched on the edge of the bench, her heels beating out her nerves into the asphalt. She blessed the bobbing idiocy of the pigeons with flung pinches of breadcrumbs. She checked her phone for the time, pulse fluttering with doubt that she had it wrong.

The weight of responsibility pressed on her like the depths of the ocean, distorting her perceptions until she doubted the simplest tenets and routines. She was past excitement, having spent so long at work until she had lost her sense of herself.

There were children playing on the jungle gym across from her. She watched them whilst still flinging breadcrumbs.

‘They used to be called rock doves.’

Barrett had sat down next to her without the merest hint of her presence.

‘What, children?’ Slater said.

Barrett gave a polite laugh. They both looked ahead.

‘Glad to see you still have your sense of humour.’

Slater gave a bitter grin.

‘Sometimes it’s all I have.’

Barrett had been in the field for long enough to know how it was.

‘You’re doing good work out here.’

Slater chuckled and rubbed her hands together.

‘It feels pointless a lot of the time.’

Barrett reached into her coat and withdrew a thick envelope. She laid it on the space between them without looking away at the playground.

‘Which is why I’m here.’

Slater picked it up. She ran her fingertips at the edges of the envelope.

‘Time to move on?’

Barrett swept a lock of blonde hair away from her eyes and smiled.

‘Nature of the job, you know how it is.’

Slater started to open the envelope but Barrett put a gloved hand on her forearm and shook her head.

‘Not here. You finish one assignment before starting another.’

Slater fought the sudden, aching sadness. Such draughts of feeling, turning on a dime were part of the assignments but they never grew any easier to endure. She tucked the envelope away, ignoring the pigeons and looking at the playground again.

She was a good kid. Loved to make blanket forts and colour.’

Barrett smiled as her eyes unfocused. She had been at the top of her game and perhaps this was her way of remembering the work. She had left the field, but the field had never left her.

‘She’ll carry on being great. Just do the work and we’ll watch her do great things.’

Slater stood up, took in a deep breath. The air shimmered around her. Fragile, crystalline wings grew like crystals from her shoulder blades. Her jacket, jeans and boots reconstituted into the glimmering unitard that was her uniform. The wand appeared in her right hand, the diamond star fixed to its end humming with purpose.

Much like the rest of her.

She looked over her shoulder, illuminated from within by a beauty of purpose that would only be bearable to children and others of her kind.

‘See you soon.’ she said.

Barrett watched her flutter across the park to Emmy as she climbed to the top of the slide, whilst her nanny stared into her phone. Emmy’s smile widened, with such joy that Barrett had to slip her sunglasses back on to hide her tears. Slater flew to her, ready to continue inoculating her with wonder. Enough to ensure that imagination would always be in abundance.

She stood up, pulled her coat closed and walked away. She still had to tell Popsy he wouldn’t have to be an eight feet tall caterpillar.

She faded from view, glancing over her shoulder to see Slater hugging Emmy, her wings shimmering in the afternoon light.

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creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, grief, mother, short fiction, short stories, Uncategorized, women, writing

We Will Call Again.

In the refridgerator is the following:

 

Half a jar of peanut butter.

 

A quarter of a gallon of milk.

 

Twelve stale crackers, soft enough that they would not snap but gently surrender.

 

The sharp tang of soiled nappies,

 

A sheaf of letters pinned to the refridgerator, with big red letters at the top of each of them. On the front one is scrawled in clumsy cursive, FUCK YOU.

 

There’s a photo, a woman dazed from giving birth, cradling a pink, frail baby and looking up at everything with unfocused black eyes.

 

A folded card, brought at a copy shop in large packs. WE WILL CALL AGAIN.PLEASE BE IN.  FAIRFAX COUNTY CHILD ADVOCATE.

 

There’s a padlock on the bedroom door.

 

2.

 

In the refridgerator:

 

Nothing.

 

The musk of bad sex and alcohol filtered through sweat.

 

An ashtray filled to the brim,sat on a table scarred with the careless anger of lit cigarettes.

 

A photograph pinned to the refridgerator. A little girl, smiling like she only just learned how to do it, holding up a picture she drew in school that day.

 

A manila folder, swollen from where it had beer spilled on it. NAVARRO VERSUS FAIRFAX COUNTY printed on the cover. The sebum from where a finger has traced it, night after night, hoping to draw some meaning from it has discoloured the material.

 

The padlock is gone. Along with the door.

 

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art, beauty, book reviews, books, emotion, fiction, love, man, masculinity, men, nature, psychology, Uncategorized, wildness, wisdom, women, writing

Legend of a Suicide by David Vann

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Synopsis:

Roy is still young when his father, a failed dentist and hapless fisherman, puts a .44 magnum to his head and commits suicide on the deck of his beloved boat. Throughout his life, Roy returns to that moment, gripped by its memory and the shadow it casts over his small-town boyhood, describing with poignant, mercurial wit his parents’ woeful marriage and inevitable divorce, their kindnesses and weaknesses, the absurd and comic turning-points of his past. Finally, in Legend of a Suicide, Roy lays his father’s ghost to rest. But not before he exacts a gruelling, exhilarating revenge.

Vann explores the wound of paternal suicide and it’s resonance across time. In a collection of short stories that share theme, setting and characters he shows us Roy and the impact of his father’s suicide on him. The changes in perspective between stories are a little jarring, and the central story, as incredible as it is, is jarred by the way that it is structured.

For all that, it reaches incredible heights, delivering a central set piece that starts off poignant and then descends into a pitch black nightmare where you are not spared from the inexorable logic of Vann’s crisp plotting and beatific prose. It was his first book and it held within it, the promise that bloomed in Dirt and Caribou Island, a melange of careful observation, exquisite, unsparing prose and a deep understanding of blood, dirt, landscape, self deception and familial agony.

He does not write comfortable books but there is within him, a greatness that marks him out. He has the nervy insight of Joyce Carol Oates or Margaret Atwood and he harkens to the spare unstinting chilly beauty of Cormac McCarthy. It’s fascinating to read later books by an author and then see the first book where the author is developing their style and craft. Vann is great, and everything I have read points to a writer who is continuing to come up with startling and powerful literature.  Legend Of A Suicide speaks to the wound that the missing or departed father leaves in a child, the unanswered questions, the unfulfilled destinies, the hopes and the unspoken dreams.

Books like these aren’t comfortable, but they matter. Life is ugly, cruel and lacks logic or justice, but against that are moments or periods of joy and wonder that make the whole ride worth it. Literature is a way to make sense of it all, a limited perspective using a method that seems almost antiquated but continues to thrive and develop. More people are reading than ever, even if the last publishing bump was adult colouring books and celebrity biographies, then at least there is space for the likes of Vann, not only to publish but also to continue to publish. Give him some consideration, he’s doing spectacular work. I’m close to finishing Goat Mountain and it’s stunning, entirely worthy work and a continued evolution of his craft and focus.

 

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creative writing, emotion, fiction, flash fiction, mother, short fiction, short stories, women, writing

The Road Leads Nowhere

Infinity by Hengki24

 

Mom hadn’t said much. Ellie had stopped crying, now giving off contented murmurs thanks to the music on the radio which sent her off like warm milk.

The muted roar of the road was soothing in its own way, but questions kept me awake.

‘You must be tired, Momma.’

She sighed, then hiccoughed. I reached over and touched her face, shocked at the warmth of her tears.

‘Momma?’

‘I’m okay baby. Just watching the road.’

My jaw still throbbed when I swallowed and I sunk back into the seat.

‘Will we stop soon?’

She sighed and switched the radio off.

‘Are you hungry, baby?’

I winced, putting my hand to my jaw and she bit back a sob.

‘We’ll find a drugstore. Does it still hurt?’

It did. But I had learned the difference between hurt and pain early. The way walking into something makes your shins bark or the bright flash of a burn. That is pain, the best teacher a blind boy can have.

Hurt is what Poppa taught me.

When it was only me, him and momma, things weren’t so bad. Seldom heard or touched by him. My world revolved around Momma and her scent, baby powder and oranges, the thick oil of her hair and her skin, always soft and warm. Pain came later, and she wept each time for me.

When Ellie was born, I held her. Shocked at how delicate and tender she felt, the milky fragrance of her skin and how piercing her cries could be. Another baby should be a time of joy, even if it meant she needed more of Momma. But it twisted something inside Poppa.

His voice changed at first. Then other sounds.

Thumps.

Smashes.

Cries.

Whimpers.

Ellie was a year old when he first struck me. Alone with him in the house, Momma had taken Ellie to the doctor, and I was reading one of my special books whilst hearing him argue with his old boss. He had slammed the phone down hard. Asked me what I was staring at.

‘Nothing, Poppa.’

My breath flew from my lungs, and I only managed a strangled cry. His breathing sounded harsh, and he swore before promising me ice cream. All the ice cream I could eat if I didn’t tell. After two years, my stomach rolled from the scent.

Tonight he had forgotten his end of the bargain.

She saw it all, and I sprinted from the room. Desperate, terrifying screams surrounded us while I held Ellie until I heard a thump louder than God. A silence followed that was thicker than the screaming. Momma opening drawers and the soft crush of packing. Grabbing us both and telling us it will be okay.

She told me there was a drugstore ahead. I knew we had a long drive before we would be safe.

I forced away what my senses brought with me.

The smell of blood.

I wanted to ask her something else, but a sound made me stop. It was faint in the car, but growing louder.

Sirens.

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