little Mamaw’s been in the hospital. pneumonia’s had ahold of her pretty good. so the blog has fallen a bit behind. hope y’all will forgive me.
the good news is, she’s made of some pretty damn tough stuff and i’m gonna’ get her all better and home on the Ridge real soon.
can’t you feel it?
the lightning in the air,
and the heat
from way down here,
all the way down here.
can’t you feel it?
streaks splitting the sky
leaping through the time
and the space
doesn’t lightning ever strike twice
along Shades of Death Road?
damn, it feels good to be a tapdancing gangster.
y’know, Night Train is bringing you a dose of super powerful, super short fiction once a week. we’re totally open to your submissions. check out this firebox piece by Mather Schneider, Arivaca. here’s a little taste to get you started…
“On the twisting road to Arivaca the radio goes to static and I turn it off. We watch the countryside in silence. As I round a sharp turn we come upon a caravan of tarantulas crossing the road, a couple hundred of them trooping along. I stop the cab, the only car as far as you can see, and we watch the little hairy army cross the pavement. You can almost hear their footsteps under the autumn sun, you can almost hear them humming a song. The cab shakes with a gust of wind and I get a chill down my back, despite the heat. Debora doesn’t think it strange at all. She smiles beneath her glossy eyes.”
he moved in with his Mamaw once his parole finally came through, after five years at the Gladiator School down in Burgen. he moved home, with his Mamaw and her home cooking, into a tiny, little, house on the far outskirts of a tiny, little, town in Eastern Kentucky. the same house where he had lived and been a happy little kid once, a long time ago. up until he was eight and his Mom swept in like a twisted, drunk, tornado and ripped his home apart and sucked him in and carried him off to Cincinnatti where she threw him down again. when he first went to prison, what he worried about the most was Mamaw dying before he ever got to see her again. he laid awake and listened to the buzz of the men packed tight all around him and he’d wonder if anyone was taking care of her garden. or if he’d ever taste that cornbread again. there weren’t any gardens in Cincinnatti. he grew pretty decent tomatoes in a window box for a little while. up until his Mom got vodka kind of pissed and threw them at her piece of shit boyfriend’s piece of shit car…
he stumbled across the living room leaving a noxious cloud of expensive booze and cheap aftershave and sweet, sour, milk wobbling on the air behind him. patsy never understood the appeal of mixing milk and vodka, no matter the nomiker. as she watched him hover behind the bar he built in the basement, she realized he liked the ceremony of a mixed drink. sometimes all she craved was a long, deep, swallow from a cheap bottle of whiskey chased with a swig of Orange Crush. it was better if the bottle was glass. the pop bottle, anyway. but her boyfriend loved the clink-clink of ice in a kitschy, flea-market tumbler. he languished over the slow pour. he bought stirrers and stools and rigged crackling speakers to the record player. the way he moved was made to entertain, catch the eye. he knew how to find the light with his slick, dark hair and how to shoot a sleepy, cynical look out from under hooded lids. he was flashy. and at first she was impressed. patsy never met a russian, black or white or purple. but her boyfriend had been to Europe with a great, big, backpack and his Daddy’s money. at first, it seemed exotic. when he realized there wasn’t anyone to entertain, he started burning through that bar. ceremony was suddenly forsaken for thirty year old scotch mixed with ginger ale and video games for three days straight. so much for all that talk of things meant to be savored…
artwork by my incredibly talented Mommy, Bonita Skaggs-Parsons.
don’t forget to watch a short documentary about her on the season premiere of Kentucky Life on KET.
i don’t even know
up around town any more.
the weathered faces of rural drunks
like they used to be.
like the fucked up ol’ feller
on his bike
with the temp tags taped on
who rode up off the sidewalk
and right on into my conversation
to inform me
i looked nice
dear universe -
thank you for laying out
that is the mile long yard sale.
that rolls on for miles
and miles more,
a glorious spread
of damned good junk
in every fairly flat spot,
crammed into the hollers
squeezed between the hills
along a two-lane stretch of road.
doesn’t know what to do
with so many cars
darting in and out,
breaking for barns
in blind curves.
trucks toting trailers
turn on random gravel
sometimes i stand in front of the full length mirror in our tiny, trailer bathroom wearing nothin’ but my hot pink bra and matching panties. and i forget to hate myself. i’m sorry. i know that’s what you want. i know you want me to pinch my pudgy rolls good and hard, leave a bruise and punish myself without mercy for existing in this blubbery incarnation. i know you want me to cover them up, my displeasing bits and pieces. hide it all under baggy folds of material, be considerate. i know you don’t want to see the flabby flags of pale skin waving proudly under my arm when i wear a sleeveless tank on a ninety degree day. oh and i hate to turn your stomach.
but i forget.
i forget to despise my thick thighs. i forget that i shouldn’t be showing off my soft, curvy, powerful body. i forget that the cellulite peeking out from under my jean shorts makes you sick. i forget.
but then i remember -
i don’t give a shit.
i didn’t get dressed this morning for you, the collective you all. i didn’t put on my make-up and accessorize ‘cause i wanted you to notice that I have such a pretty face and ignore my tubby form from the neck down. i didn’t don this lowcut shirt so that the male gaze could be directed directly to my tits. and i’m not going to hide my decolletage just ‘cause you can’t look away.
sometimes, i stand in front of the full length mirror and all i can think is -
“damn, Misty Marie, you sure do look spiffy!”
sorry, i forget.
the fear grips me
as i crack cool, speckled,
on the brim of my favorite mixing bowl.
sheer and sudden terror, unexplained.
the fear of a tiny, half-formed, slimy
plopping out of that thin shell
to land in my bowl
so i got tagged in one of those book lists on facebook today, ten books that stuck with me. and i just enjoyed thinkin’ about that topic so much i thought i’d post it right here too…
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - a childhood favorite! is it strange that as a ten year old my favorite thing to do was take a bubble bath and re-read the fully illustrated scene where Jo turns a heart-broken Laurie away? le sigh!
Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson - another early favorite. the first book of poetry i ever owned! it came out of a box we brought home from an auction and had this weathered, moss green cover that was so soft to the touch. it was a thick edition and i loved the weight of it and how the pages were as gossamer thin as a the Bible. Emily Dickinson made me believe that if used right, a rhyme can bite.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - first book i checked out from the “adult shelf”at the high school library way back in junior high and it broke my heart. totally worth asking my mom to write a permission slip.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka - i read this as part of an independent study course back in a high school where AP classes were non-existent. from the first sentence, i was hooked. and imagining what the monstrous vermin misty might look like.
The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry - did y’all know i was a governor’s scholar once? true story. i stumbled across Wendell Berry’s collected poems at the university library on the campus of NKU when i should’ve been out socializing like a normal kid. that book became my lush, green oasis in the midst of the awkward heat of a concrete, teenage, summer.
Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscia - i associate reading this book with becoming downright determined to lose my virginity and get it out of the way already.
Kinfolks by Gurney Norman - first time i ever remember seeing the word “gom” in print. my bff and I still debate over the correct, colloquial spelling of that word. i’ve had the pleasure of reading at MSU with Gurney Norman. in my world, it was like being the opening act for a rock star.
One! Hundred! Demons! by Lynda Barry - mmmm, autobiofictionography. with art! these stories made me laugh and cry in a matter of pages. bittersweet stuff that stayed with me and a book that i revisit often to has up my own demons.
The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake - this is another one that haunts me, pulls me back in. to me, Pancake puts into words the struggle of having roots in a powerful place, a place you want to run from sometimes but always wind up running back to. once in a while i read these stories just to feel a shiver. they helped me through a serious bout of homesickness.
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor - i didn’t discover Flannery O’ Connor until i was in the throes of my twenty somethings, it kind of makes me happy that i got a late start. now i’ve got some literary probing to look forward to.
what books have gotten into your blood and kept on circulating?
random cell phone shots from a lovely day at the Huntington Museum of Art. impressionists and eskimos and haughty donors and abstract sculpture. oh my! i could wander around in there forever.
Glennis and Mamaw ride the Ferris Wheel in the ’40s.