Friday, September 22, 2017

Ebbing excerpt from 40 days

Day 14 ebbing


He stared back at me, unconscionably, as if I were a grossly errant creature. Maybe it was not me, not my voice. I have an uncanny ability to incarnate a person, like Marion in her final moments. When I don’t know a thing, I imagine it. Marion  awake that night, fearful of never waking. Her times was short, but, still, even at her age, she was fearful of the unknown and what it entailed, maybe heaven, reunification, maybe reincarnation, maybe nothing. She recalled James, the way he stomped his foot down and twisted, as if he were killing an ant. “That’s all that happens,” he’d say. And she’d say “Oh, James, stop!” and hit him, playfully. But now it was of no comfort and she shuddered at the memory.  So she settled on me, our visits, my recent fears about Jim Jones, how I seemed sad, profoundly sad, she decided, unfulfilled, seeking something beyond what Marion could provide for me (although she tried) and she wanted to dwell on it, pause, probe, but that notion kept slipping, all the time lately slipping, and she felt inebriated, swept up, encapsulated, the way the tide ebbed like the sun hitting water, piercing it like blades of blue pointed rays of fire, unsettled, James next to her, his utterances, deep sighs, her feet buried in the sand, in the warmth, security tide is moving in he had said, or she said, and then silence, and she with her gin and tonic with a lime, two limes, James had said, no, no, too bitter, too bitter, she told him. Yes, maybe I’ll try. He liked to have his way and she liked to let him. What did it matter, really, if she had one or two limes? It empowered him. Leo fell asleep so early  he mentioned.  Fed him an early dinner.  Poor boy. He was wiped out. Leo, always sickly, frail. Priscilla and Lilly, in the waves, running back and forth, tan-legged, skinny, bean poles, brown as berries, they get brown as berries, she’d tell everyone, those two, and she imagined little Leo in in his crib, fighting to keep his eyes open, just like his mother, looks just like his mother...she felt it now, the heavy lidded weight of it, now at eight-nine years old, a long time to live, she could feel it herself, remembered the way he fought sleep, fought it all the time, and she crept into his room and saw him wide-eyed, staring up at the ceiling, at nothing in particular. And she stared at the nothing with him, and, now, too, in this moment, the return to nothing settled her.
“Do you want to talk about it, Catherine?"
“Why should I do that?”  
He looked at me, then, in that way,  and smirked as if he got what he wanted, engorged my mind with his intimations.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sylvie and musings on Jim Jones excerpt



Even as a young boy, Jim Jones was weird. He grew up in Indiana, on the wrong side of the tracks, unaccepted, a loner, fixated on Pentecostal religion. He was said to kill small animals so he could recite eulogies for them and trap neighborhood kids in his barn so he could preach to them. She imagined, like all tyrants, Jones as a small boy, where others were climbing trees and building forts, Jones set his sights somewhere else, honed his skills of elocution and gesturing, fed his ego until it grew first inside of him and then outside of him, so that anyone standing next to him was somehow smaller in size and importance. He became charismatic, bewitching, acquired and perfected all the mannerisms and makings of a cult leader with inexplicable sway over his followers. The followers sought a power to control them, someone who could say do it or die. It was no surprise that it was a man. Most cult leaders are males (I know this to be a fact). It is no surprise as males have the right kind of authority. And they are the superior beings, according to the bible, according to Simone de Beauvoir, according to the the written and unwritten word, and at some point, it became internalized, a maxim, an unconscious norm accepted as truth. And no matter the culture, beliefs or values, we women hold the community together by simply continuing with the daily routines of life, despite chaos, an impending doom. The chores more than likely kept us naive, blindly occupied in the trivial, the mundane rituals. It wasn’t surprising then how reporters found order, laundry hung out to dry, fields plowed, and a metal tub filled with grape Flavor Aid and Potassium Cyanide, and the nine-hundred or so bodies piled on top of each other, children at the bottom, the first ones to go, small cups and syringes littered the spaces around them. The messy environment was indicative of an even more tragic possibility, the notion that such an orderly community might litter their environment, might have have come to their senses too late, that they had a glimpse of him, the imposter, and what was happening. But by then the female chores, the mundane that had occupied their minds, kept them captive, unaware, betrayed them, took them down to the depths they had never considered.


I inhaled deeply, my last few drags, heard footsteps, Linda’s abrasive coughing down the hallway, thought of Tim Chapman, the reporter, the photographer, the artist, imagined I might call him, or write to him, ask to meet him for a cup of coffee to talk about the way he saw death in colors, wide angle shots, horizontals and verticals. Tim Chapman extraordinaire. Before his helicopter touched down, he saw it, reported on the compound--the colored specs, happy colors-- the reds and greens and blues, two parrots on a fence-- a red and yellow macaw and a blue and yellow macaw, near the bodies, the good people of the compound, he referred to them, Peoples Temple, the men, women, children, black, white, the rotting meat, swollen, grotesque, cooked and bursting, three days in the sun. Their heads oddly positioned, pointing to Jones.


By the time I took the last drag and blew out the smoke, Linda walked in, scowled, and went about her business, fixing her hair, smoothing out her shirt, checking her teeth, muttering under her breath about not having enough sick time, how she can’t get ahead, how she has to fix the damn wall that her husband punched, and then there’s the car, blew another gasket, needs brakes, and why should she work to support him, and the useless son who can’t get his fat ass off the couch. Just like his father, she said. They hate me. I sleep with one eye open, she added. Believe you me, one eye.


Women like that depress me.

Dandelion Village and the labyrinth excerpt


I loved that sacred wall in the labyrinth, Dandelion Village, Marion's slight voice, cracking, fading, so much bigger than Tad and his infidelity or the dangling branch, it was a Lampedusa of sorts, testimony to the farmers, the salt of the earth people might say, not me, no, I never said those things, and Tad was wrong this time, because I could care less about the dead past, not now, not while the present was so visceral, when Marion was dying, not when he may have been falling deeper in love every minute, laughing at her jokes, watching her mouth, the nape of her neck when she looked down at the ground just so, but maybe Marion, or even her father, maybe Theodore Quinn, he might have said it, or men like him, the kind of man Tad might have wanted to be but never could be, these men like Theodore Quinn, men who climbed and fastened shingles and lightning rods to roofs, men who fixed, who hammered and sawed, brought trees down, men with sanguine cheeks and callouses, these men who worked hard, worked from dusk until dawn, prayed before meals, thanking the Lord for family and bread and drink, prayed with calloused palms used for tightening and hammering, later used for caressing a wife or a daughter’s cheek, men who drank hard, drank whisky, told stories while fire embers cracked on mud-caked boots, dazed, weary men who sat still as stones, enamored by wives busy and bending, lusting, wiping raw hands on aprons, swiping stray hairs away from tired foreheads, while these husbands, watched, voyeuristic, watched and waited for the taking, knowing the pleasure was more in the the hunt, anticipating the taking, when she was unaware, sewing, bent over the belly stove, emptying water into the basin. Those were easier times, Theodore Quinn might have said, good times, before the race riots, before the cults, before Jim Jones, before the Manson Murders and Helter Skelter, before the sexual revolutions, before women argued for the sake of arguing, burned bras, held signs that said women power and peace not war, before all of the angst and misery and modern conveniences that made life more complex, more dangerous, turned women against themselves, as they had too much time now to consider their own importance, to see themselves amounting to more than breeders, to reflect on their roles, to become problematic and snarky and dismissive of their men, no matter how hard these men worked.

Annointing up in Sleet Magazine and other

New publication here Sleet Magazine    And cute pic of Jack, the greatest showman And excerpt... Ro was a good boy, Josi felt.  She n...