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The World’s Last Night (and an invitation)

If you’ve been hanging around these parts for any amount of time, you know what I’m about: reading; writing; exploring the world around me in light of the faith I carry. I dig good music. I read the poets I like. I share what I can, when I can, for the sake of my readers–you. I love every minute of it.

In the past months, I’ve curated a new space near and dear to my heart. It’s a space where I can lay down the bones of new poetry, stretch into longer form pieces (short stories and such), and share the work of some of my friends. It’s a small community, tight nit and committed, and I’m truly grateful for those who’ve already joined. They are my Patrons.

(Thanks, Darby, Mary, Beth, Linda, Erin, Joseph, Peggy, Ron, Leslie, Lisa, Dan, Erika, Claude, Janet, Dorothy, Ronald, William, Karoletha, Nigel, Adam, Diane, Cynda, Sari, Elaine, Diana, Adam, Todd, Jessica, Chloe, Scott, Tina, Tracy, Beth, Mike, Micah, Julie, Karen, Joyce, Christina, Shawn, Andi, Danette, and Steve. Whew…)

This month, a story I wrote for my Patreon community was picked up by Fathom Magazine. It’s one of my favorite pieces of the year, a thing I’m considering stretching into a novella. Today, I’m posting an excerpt of it here. If you enjoy it, and if you’d like early access to more work like this, consider joining my Patreon community (if you do, there are some great rewards). I think you’ll enjoy it.

Now, enjoy my latest piece, a Patreon piece published in Fathom, “The World’s Last Night.”

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The World’s Last Night.

Part 1: The Ballerina

The world’s last night came as a black surprise with its low groan, its fiery canisters, its torch-bearing ants marching. It came ribbonless, boxless, a series of presents carried in the bellies of airplanes. It came and unwrapped itself.

Poppy lived in the building tension before the world’s last night, the years then months then days then hours then minutes that tremored like an old man’s hand. Slight as she was, she felt this tremor though she couldn’t name it. How do you name an inkling, an intuition?

Patron, her father, was one of the seven governors of Urdun, an unimportant man with an important title. He was the manager of the Waterworks, the plant at the mouth of the river that bore the town’s name. The Chancellor had once called Patron an honorable man at the annual Convocation, though even at twelve, Poppy knew these were the simple platitudes given to ordinary men at Convocation or funerals. That was the day the Chancellor pinned Patron with an unshiny medal, a bland brass star, named him a governor, and gave him the task of overseeing the purification of the waters piped into the city. The people at Convocation clapped automatically before making their way back to their brick buildings, their businesses of necessity not choice.

He saved all his words for Poppy, he’d said, which made her blush and beam.

Patron—not his birth name, but the name everyone called him, even Poppy—spoke to others only on rare occasions, and then only when necessary. The girl once asked why he was so often statue-silent. He saved all his words for Poppy, he’d said, which made her blush and beam. She knew this to be true; Patron was a man of his word if anything. So, in the evenings, after supper and a bit of reading, he’d make his way to Poppy’s bedside, tuck her in, and spill all those saved words. With them, he’d spin stories of the Ballerina.

Each night the story began the same. The Ballerina was a figurine, Patron said…

 

Continue reading at Fathom.

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What is America?

Yesterday was All Saints Sunday, and during the prayers of the people, I prayed for the departed saints in Sutherland Springs, Texas, all 26 of them, including no less than three children, a woman who was 5 months pregnant, and the the elderly who could duck, or run, or whatever.

What good is prayer? I genuinely wonder sometimes, but in that wondering, I prayed for America, too. America the wasteland.

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Who are we? What is America?

America–land of insanity, of gun rights and rage, of itchy trigger fingers.

America–land of politicians with their soothing words signifying nothing, the genetically-modified weeds growing among God’s wheat.

America–where a good run up in the stock market or consumer confidence or the coming #BLACKFRIDAYDEALS or positive cattle futures or any news of prosperity numbs our collective consciousness to death, death, death, death.

America–where we pay lip service to the life of the unborn but shell out big bucks to preserve the capacity for one man to commit mass murder and infanticide.

America–where rifles spit bullets into the Body of Christ. On a Sunday. In November. Blackest of days, again.

America--you are heartless, and where is the soul when there is no heart, beating?

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***join me***

Do you like the content here or in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter? Do you read it over morning coffee? Want to help defray the costs of the veritable coffee plantation that fuels my writing? Then JOIN ME in the lab, the fun factory, the place I try out new things to see if they’ll stick. (Ahem… my Patreon community.) What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

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Reaching From The Shadows (And For The Sun)

I’m building a little membership community over at Patreon. If you like what I’m doing here, I think you’ll enjoy that community. Would you consider joining for as little as $2.00 a month? If you do, you’ll get access to my mini-podcast (“Dispatches”), my interview series “The Places I write,” and short story or two. Come along.

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1.

Ten years ago, I was watching Austin City Limits when an orchestra and choir wearing technicolored choir robes took the stage. Their vocal arrangement was tight, the instrumentation precise, their dancing boisterous. As they played, they jumped and spun and danced and were in every manner of speaking foolish. It was the most beautiful foolishness.

They were the Polyphonic Spree, and they continued their full-bodies performance, singing “just follow the seasons and buy the time; reach for the bright side. … Just follow the day and reach for the sun.”

It was an invitation.

2.

Every year about this time, I sink into a sort of quiet melancholy. It’s not the sort of melancholy that lands me in the bed for days on end or in the therapist’s office. In fact, it’s not a particularly unhealthy melancholy. It’s more of a realization that I’m little more than breathing dust, that I’m more shadow than gold (though I might like you to think otherwise), that I’m the incarnation of Solomon’s wisdom. It’s the sort of melancholy that might be concerning if it weren’t so damned cyclical, and though I’ve tried to push it down for most of my life, I don’t feel the need anymore. I’m honest with it. It’s part of the process of living.

This morning, I woke with the sense that the melancholy might be moving on. I sat with the scriptures, read about dying to live, about the process of reaching toward the true sun (the sun that gives light to everything). And meditating on those scriptures, that old Polyphonic Spree tune came to mind.

“Follow the day and reach for the sun.”

Outside, the sun climbed over the horizon and I saw an oak falling into its own autumnal melancholy. It’s shadow spread across the yard, but it wasn’t all shadow. In the canopy, the leaves were beginning to turn. They were gold, reaching from the shadows and up to the sun.

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#MeToo: Let the Women Speak

Social media has been abuzz with the #metoo hashtag, a hashtag highlighting the personal stories of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. I could spill words on the hashtag, but instead, I’m opening up space today for my friends.

Below, you’ll find the stories of women I follow on social media. Read their tweets. Listen.

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Today, make space to listen to a #metoo victim in your life.

***better than coffee, and cheaper too***

Do you like the content here or in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter? Do you read it over morning coffee? Want to help defray the costs of the veritable coffee plantation that fuels my writing? Then JOIN ME in the lab, the fun factory, the place I try out new things to see if they’ll stick. (Ahem… my Patreon community.) What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

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Where Wonder Lives

I bird-dog my way down to northern Louisiana, following a lead on a story near my grandfather’s old stomping grounds. Four miles from Black Bayou, I roll the windows down, and I smell the humidity, the cypress sap, the sweet mud. There is Bartholomew Lake, just to the east. In the bones of an ancient cypress, anhinga perch. Spanish moss beards the limbs of the living trees. A truck runs too close to the shoulder of the highway, and I hear the duh-dum duh-dum of the “waker-uppers.” I am seven again, riding shotgun in my grandfather’s green chevy, feet dangling from the bench seat. I am holding a box of hot cinnamon rolls while my grandfather passes down his mastery of colorful language and his knowledge of the shape of a woman. My ears and cheeks redden.

This world is a wardrobe to another time and place. Wonder lives there.

I cannot stop my car from careening into the Black Bayou entrance. I am pulled to the mud, to my kin, to the ghosts. On the banks, I stare into the water and see myself again. Now, with unveiled eyes.

***FEED THE LIONS***

Do you like the content here or in my bi-monthly Tiny Letter? Want to help defray the costs of the lions, clown-cars, and in-house DJs that keep this site hum’n? Then JOIN ME in the lab, the fun factory, the place I try out new things to see if they’ll stick. (Ahem… my Patreon community.) What is Patreon? It’s a way for you, the reader, to become a patron, a person supporting the arts (my art to be precise), and receive behind the scenes content in return. Visit my Patreon page for more information. And, if you enjoy this website and haven’t yet signed up for the bi-monthly Tiny Letter newsletter, feel free to sign up below.

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