The Places I’m From

walkway

(c) T.L. Ryder

I am from that indigo moment before dawn
Boiled up from 2 parts sulfurous water
One part shining, frozen snow, and
a dash of good whiskey thrown in for flavor.

I am from the edge of the reservation,
From the side of the cliff that we didn’t fall down—much,
From the back corner of the library, where we
Read the books your mom wouldn’t let us take home.

I am from red-skinned people with black hair,
From white-skinned people with red hair,
From people who came here for a better life, and
People whose way of life was taken from them.

I am from Star Trek, Star Wars and Dune,
The Force be with You!
From the pleading of rosary beads at bedside,
From the glory of Father Sun bringing life to the world.

I am from flat bread, fry bread and sheep tail fat,
Boiled cabbage with bacon, greasy lima beans,
Sage cut from a bush in the prairie, fresh pronghorn stew,
Hamburger Helper and Tab.

(found this old thing from 2010 and decided to re-post it)

Home

THEY say “Home is where the heart is.”
I have left a piece of heart behind
blue asbestos siding
picture window
white trim
and yet
THEY say “You can’t go home again.”
I drive by and find shards of memory
the blue is gone
new bay window
unfamiliar shrubs
and yet
I say “Home sweet home.”
The ghost of once upon a time lives on
old driveway
Dad’s shed
still there
And yet. . .

 

easter67

Easter, about 1968. The picture window is gone but the house still stands.

Footnote Joust

I’ve been reading a lot of Indie/Self-published books lately. Though the quality can vary, for the most part I don’t see a lot of terrible work. Most of the time if I’m left disappointed, it’s because it was a good story that needed just a little more work to be a great story. On the rare occasion when I do run into a really bad book, I’ve been very strict with myself enforcing my “do not finish the bad thing” rule. Life is too short, especially at my age, to read bad books.file000719730180

Recently, I was reading a book that was teetering on the edge of badness. It had lots of copy errors and some very strange and clunky grammar. The story beneath the writing issues was pretty good though, and I was determined to press on. Until I found the footnotes.

Footnotes are rare in fiction, though they can be delightful. See, for example Jonathon Stroud’s “Bartimaeus”. These footnotes were. . .not delightful, unless I am allowing the crueler side of my personality to come out. The author had evidently made edits based on customer reviews, and made footnotes to discuss these changes. In many cases, she hadn’t made changes; she’d simply argued that her text should stand as written. Most peculiar, especially since some of the changes she argued most fervently against were ones concerning the most basic rules of grammar, usage, mechanics & spelling.  Not exotic stuff like oxford commas. Basic stuff that no decent copy editor should let slip by.

We’ve all heard of authors arguing with reviews (not recommended!) but has anyone else come across critique rebuttal by footnote? Strange days indeed.

Rough-Riding Sidesaddle

I wore out my welcome before I was born;
I will never play Kate to your Petruccio.
Adversity has been my most constant friend
You cannot teach things that I already know.

796px-james_ward_-_a_farmhand_riding_side-saddle_carrying_an_urn_-_google_art_project

James Ward,  A Farmhand Riding Side-saddle, Carrying an Urn.

 

Disapprove of me all you please;
Censure has always been my lot.
All those things you’d prefer not to remember
Are things for me too dear to be forgot.

Your outcasts do not always wither away;
Sometimes they flourish in alien soil.
And sometimes the ones you sought to destroy
Are the very ones you cannot despoil.

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Little Old Guy

Today I write a goodbye to the Little Old Guy who lived across the street. I don’t know if he’s passed on to the next life or simply moved into a care home or with relatives. His house and driveway are empty, and there’s a bank notice on his door. I last saw him shortly before Thanksgiving. Wherever he’s gone, he shall not return to our neighborhood, and we will miss him.

rhydgo-rpvg-pascal-mullerAlthough we were never formally introduced, he was a familiar fixture from the day we moved in. He was friendly and terrifying in his giant pickup truck, which he drove quite badly every day. Whenever he drove out, he distributed smiles and waves to everyone. He especially liked kids and people walking or out doing lawn work, though he would also wave at neighbors in cars as well. In past years, when we saw him off our block, my kids would shriek “It’s Little Old Guy!” and wave frantically to him while I prayed that his return wave wouldn’t precipitate a multi-car pile up.

He used to sit on his front porch and wave at passersby as well. In recent years he didn’t porch sit. Perhaps the heat became too much for him. Last summer I became very worried for him. One day his beloved truck was pulled up in front of his house instead of in his driveway. Both its door and his front door were wide open, with no sign of the gentleman. It turned out that he was fine and had simply forgotten something and gone back for it. Another day he temporarily snarled up traffic on a busy road making a completely addled turn into the shopping strip parking lot. These were signs of the beginning of the end. I knew that he would not be among us much longer. He was ancient looking when we moved in ten years ago. It was amazing that he managed to stay in his own home so long.

His house will probably remain empty for some time, as houses in our neighborhood tend to do. Nobody wants to sell Abuelo’s house, and taking on the task of living there is daunting. It will require repairs, remodeling, refurbishment. While we’re a quiet, safe, middle class neighborhood, it’s not a desirable address on the happening side of town. And so there is a hole waiting to be filled in Arcadia.

Bon Voyage, Little Old Guy. It was a pleasure trading smiles and waves and dodging your erratic driving.