Category Archives: Pith

A ruckus of wings

by Stacey Warde

I heard a ruckus outside my bedroom window in the last bit of twilight. It sounded like someone clumsily flapping the pages of an oversized newspaper. But who does that any more?

I went to the window and peered into the shadows of sycamore trees silhouetted against the final silver-green light above the cabin.

In the shadows below I saw little.

In the weighty limbs 30 feet up, the dark wide pages of a wild turkey’s wings spread themselves black against the sky as the big bird wobbled to its roosting place for the night.

The flapping pages of another wild turkey’s wings warned of its own arrival as it crash-landed through a thicket of leaves onto the same limb. Twigs and leaves fell.

Other turkeys arrived. Soon there were nearly 10 awkwardly flapping pairs of wings, batting like broadsides against the yellow-green twilight, giving clumsy applause to each new safe arrival, out of reach from those yapping coyotes, and settling in briefly for the short night that beckons another summer.

Man, what a ruckus! Wings flapping, and crushed twigs and leaves falling everywhere.

Finally, they settled in, and were quiet, and the frogs and crickets started their evening chorus, beeping and croaking under the same trees along the creek, bass and soprano voices lulling the birds to sleep.

In a short while, the dogs of the night will be hurling insults and cries of longing at the swelling moon…§

Stacey Warde is publisher of The Rogue Voice. This reflection originally appeared on his blog, Rogue’s View.

SHOW AND TELL

In first grade
I used to play
with a girl, Sylvia.

Her older sister, Becky,
from third grade, is the first girl
to show me her pussy.

Becky danced for me
under an orange tree where
we all played children’s games.

She asked me to please
watch. She sang and
twirled under the canopy

of leaves, her short skirt
rising and falling, unveiling bare
legs and a pantyless bottom.

Suddenly, she stopped

singing and twirling, and
turned her back to me.

She flipped up her skirt
and “boom-boomed” me,
then giggled and sprinted off.

Her sister Sylvia liked
to play with matches. Her
long blonde hair caught fire.

She ran swiftly
from under the tree,
panic-stricken, across

the patio, her hair
waving in ribbons of flame
as she screamed, “Mommy!”

Her mother banged
through the back door, and
turned on the wash basin.

She grabbed Sylvia, and
shoved her head beneath
the running water.

She got cross
with me, and told me,
“You go home!”

Becky asked
me to come up
to her playhouse

in another orange tree
near her bedroom. No one
could see us up there.

She wore a flower print
skirt in the playhouse
and sat on her bum

without underwear, her knees
raised, so I could peer inside
the tent they formed

between her legs.
She picked up pine
needles and touched

herself and talked
to me as I watched
her fingers move.

“Doesn’t it hurt?” I asked.
“No, silly!” she said, smiling,
“it’s normal.”

Sylvia’s mother asked
if Becky had been taking
her clothes off for me.

“Not really. Sometimes she
dances, sometimes she
shows me stuff.”

Her mother didn’t scold or
get mad or wave me
off:
“If she does that again,

you let me know, okay?
She’s not supposed
to be showing you ‘stuff’.”

Sylvia didn’t get hurt
from the fire. She lost her hair
but she didn’t get burned.

—Stacey Warde

MOVING PARTS

This was not our Sunday drive to the country.
Mother, patient the seasons in their slow march
would reveal in time a way forward, strengthened
our belief such sojourns made life bearable.

Father, unsure where we were going,
no longer interested which way was west, said
nothing save, “Well, that’s it.” His eyes said all
he could have said as he closed the door.

Leaving town we waved goodbye to its trees,
well-known namesake, so rooted in place thought
had it we could wait as long as needed,
should we decide to return.  But today we would be

somewhere else.  Later somebody remembered
a window left open, a door unlatched, something
we had forgotten. Though others would follow,
no one who leaves home ever really goes away.

Nicholas Campbell

ROAD TRIP

Driving in your black Mustang, Stella,
Listening to Skynard’s Simple Man
On the way to Felton,
Absence of abstract words
And acrylic paint,
Walking into the river,
We see ourselves.
Not the reflection of the painter’s
Curve, color, and form;
Not the writer’s ideas
About her character’s
Inner life, but the real life
Of two close friends.
As I lean toward you,
Pulling up my earthy dress,
Your hands caress my thighs,
Rays through redwoods;
Sounds of Nor Cal
Birds, stream, and faint
Laughter in the distance.
And right when the sounds of
Nature disappear in heated silence,
We had to pack our things
Rush back to your slick,
Black car.
—Marnie Parker

OLD GUY FISHING

Watercolor by California artist Steve Santmyer

He pulls the
hand cart
out of the back of the truck
I don’t know the parts and
pieces that make a fishing rod
but the old guy is fitting piece into
piece into piece
the way I imagine a gun
would be assembled
and this, no less lethal
if one is a fish

Bottom-weighted with an
ice chest
bait box
lunch
lawn chair
nitroglycerine

one more day amongst the living
spent killing, maiming
it all feels good
against the ripple of blue
blue sky blue ocean
fog bank kept at bay by
thousands of spiraling seabirds
off the pier

it all feels good from above
below,

bottom weighted
the ocean waits
it will survive him
everything will
reefs and jetties don’t live
by rules hard and fast
survival is neither a given
nor necessary in any grander plan

we are the rule makers
we are the hard and the fast
the old guy fishing is a rule
maybe a broken one
either way
the ocean, bottom weighted
will win

Monalisa Maione

Insomniac

He wrestles with the idea of the struggle.

He believes his opponent is the world

he imagines inexhaustible.

Believing himself powerless, his own image

is exaggerated, every gesture a minute lost,

until his life is reduced to a night,

the parameter of a bed.

Sleep is his perfection.

But the day, immeasurably long, is the absence

of sleep. An old antagonist, its eyes painfully

familiar, challenged it refuses the challenge,

for sleeplessness is its perfection.

—Nick Campbell