how do we ever learn to let go? of loved ones? of that cholesterol-frenzy of fried chicken? (never) of old habits, like picking scabs? or new ones, like facebook stalking? (don’t have one) to make it in this place, i need to learn. but today, after typing this, i’m ritually going to apply makeup while i’m eating chicharrones, cruising craigslist, and simultaneously, not giving a damn.
Just emerged from the cold waters that define Pisgah. The trout smile from the bottom of the pool; their fat bellies shine like sunlit tinfoil from the seeming abyss. Tromped around in search of the Cherokee’s slant-eyed Judaculla and assumed an expertise in dendrology, even ornithology. We grilled ribeyes, squash, onions, red bellpeppers and smothered it all under homemade pico de gallo. Late in the afternoon, once the food settled into the slow swing of a hammock, the gnats eased enough to allow us an enjoyable (rather large) beer and lazy firewood find. Slept heavy and dreamless beside the gurgled truths of the creek.
My ass is an infamous Chattooga (Eye of the Needle) black and blue. Went camping next to ferocious dung beetles and impregnated black widows.
Lynette Jenson has never been an avid SCRABBLE player. She enjoys watching old James Cagney movies and volunteering at the local animal shelter. A year ago, she saw a fire in Acton. Lynette realized this fire had the potential to be destructive or beautiful, according to how it was nurtured. So, she treated Acton like a wounded puppy, fully supporting his talent for memorizing words and arrangements of letters; she stroked his shriveled ego until it became voracious and dangerously passive aggressive. She wonders if she forgot to encourage the rest of him, and lately, Lynette fears the fire has consumed him. She understands she might one day look up and see the blackened, charred remains of a man, who eagerly traded a soul for double-word and triple-letter scores.
Whirling dervish, I spiral
across the Appalachians.
Car revs over mountain bulk.
I negotiate the hulking shoulders
with a determined squeal, blasting
shameless into the gulping night
while some dusk-driven Reverend
screams from the dash, AM 720;
his voice stretches high, intoxicating
as the bends I hug, ducking
slickly between lanes. Speedometer
needle crawls past seventy—
jaw set, teeth clenched.
The murky arrival of evening,
cold beckon of swollen hills,
this inkwell of isolated road—
a damning myriad of prospects.
Swerving toward the garbled
screech of the preacher: Keep
your hands on the wheel; for
God’s sake, keep your eyes
on the road.
Now, the little chatterbox has a name. Bert is a blustery male cardinal, who huffs and puffs along my balcony each day. His loud chirps beckon me (and my fritzed-out cat, Salazar) to the window as he claims his territory on my newly planted radishes and snap peas. I have yet to catch him pilfering through my seeds, but I know he’s bragging about something devious. I’ve never seen such hot air. His chest swells, and as I poke my head against the window screen, he grins cockeyed. Poor Salazar. The Oreo-coated cat can’t seem to resist the urge to chew my onions down to pitiful nubs, so he’s not allowed on the balcony until his two pots of cat grass mature. Until then, we’ll watch in quiet envy as Bert hops along the railing, whistling, boasting about the grandness of mid-May’s rain or perhaps the green tenderness of our cat grass.
It’s people like you who make life worthwhile. You’re fantastic!