cross field

the little disturbances of men

I was an eleven year old boy the first time someone left me alone with Father Thatcher. St Louis in 1850 was a rough place. If diseases didn't claim you, there were plenty of unscrupulous people waiting for you to show a sign of weakness. So the way of the time, was to never to do so. While Pop had died while I was young, at least he'd taught me never to look down at my shoes, never show a sign of weaker character. The moment you do, someone like Thatcher, or worse, would prey on you like a wolf in the wild.

2. January 2019
education

the bell would ring

The first breezes of fall fell upon our small town like a salve. The collective sigh of relief was palpable, as the summer had been hot, even brutal. I was eager to trade in my hard worn harvest boots for a pair of oxfords, and a return to the single room schoolhouse.
6. October 2018
sunset

completely intact

It wasn't something I'd chosen intentionally - the current of the exploration simply swept me up on it's way westward. Once word got back to St. Charles that the wagon train that had left the following spring had reached the Oregon Territory pretty much intact, it passed from the realm of fantasy into something that felt accomplishable. The west presented something new for everyone. It presented a way out. It was an escape from the lure of the city, a strike out at the unknown.

26. July 2018
gun

About death

I had a good business there on the waning ends of the Missouri, teaching would-be-wagoners about death. Here in the young city of Saint Charles, we were an odd mix of union soldiers, families and grey-coats who were looking to erase their lives and start over. We all had reasons for wanting to head west. Mormons were convinced that a promised land lay out there past the horizon. Some figuring that if gold sat in streams in California - it figured to do so in streams all up that coast.

8. July 2018
bed

Well alone

It had been weeks now since sharing the bed had gone from necessity against the night's cold towards an air of embrace. We had both surrendered to the truth that we really wanted to be there together. Neither of us had a word for what was happening between us. I would wake up some mornings and he had been watching me sleep. I could feel against my hip that doing so pleased him a great deal. We would both remember these first few nights in our snowed in escape. "I love you," I said rather suddenly and softly.

8. July 2018
cabin

The Moment

Where were you at the moment when your sexuality became part of your adult good self and not something to find a private place to practice it in hiding? Priests and Protestant preachers teach us to be ashamed of it all from the moment you are capable of free thought. It’s a miracle we’ve got a population if you ask me. Comes right down to it, its a messy business — and nothing you want to do with any gentleness when you are out in the wilderness in a wagon or your thighs have been wrapped around a saddle all day long. I’d learned in my slow sojourn westbound to just conceal it.

15. June 2018
waTER TO ICE

Water to Ice

 
We’d cleaned up, but not properly bathed, in our bed clothes when he spied me trying to figure out a sleeping arrangement by the fireplace.
18. May 2018
independence rock

Independence Rock

The trail was a grotesque mixture of dirt, manure and ice. It simultaneously crunched and slid under your boot. We'd spared the womenfolk - putting them up in the wagons. That was part of this life, this journey we'd chosen. It was a life of dirty, thankless work.
15. May 2018
CABIN

átawit láp'ulp'ul

The phenomenon is known to the Nez Perce as átawit láp'ulp'ul - the ashes of love. The remnant of someone burning like an ember in your subconscious. For a long while I found it comforting. I would lay down at nigh, punishing myself for past transgressions. Like a salve I would brush up against, his voice would come into my head and show me the fallacy. I would imagine us walking in the woods like we always had.
14. May 2018
cAROL

Carol

 
I walked into the apartment, pulling my key from the doorknob. I crossed the lushly carpeted living room and thats when my feet made the first tell tale splush of wet carpet. Oh gosh there was a lot of water.
8. May 2018
SUPPOSE

rose garden

The garden returned each year more beautiful than the previous. It sat on a quiet corner a few blocks from me. Every year I would see the signs of pruning and preparation for spring, the glorious first blooms and explosions of colour until it all fell to ground defeated in piles of delicate petals come fall. The home was a unique time capsule for me. You could always know what time of year it was by the state of the garden.
6. May 2018
JUBILANT

jubilant

“I don’t even remember taking this shot,” he said incredulously, "It’s beautiful and almost frighteningly perfect. My assistant thought it was photoshop until I showed him the negative.” “Crazy how jubilant they are so happy surrounded by war and such horribleness.” “Well you remember when you were a kid, you could find happiness in the smallest of situations. Piece of paper? World War 2 fighter jet. Overripe tomato?

28. April 2018
IDOL

artifacts

I like toys. No not that kind, well yes that kind but that's another story. I like playful toys. Bobble-heads seem to dominate as well as artifacts. a ruby slipper, a coffee cup key-chain, a detailed model of an air stream trailer, a surprisingly cheerful fake bush planted like a topiary, my old dog's collar and tag, paintbrushes, a children's sized tiara with a blinking star. a pair of hand blown cocktail stir sticks.

26. April 2018
SUPER

Sleazy Corner Leatherbar Light Kit

 
It was 4pm in the afternoon at the old downtown Eagle. It was one of those visits to the bar where it's simply for a cold beer. Anything but sitting at home in that apartment.
24. April 2018
DREAM

Cinema

"Nothing worth doing is every easy," my father used to volley at me, in between puffs on his pipe, "You need to realize that approaching everything from laziness is going to get you nowhere fast." Forty-two years later, and that conversation plays in my head like it happened this afternoon. My mind will play a litany of failures - and these uninvited reminiscences happen right before slumber. Terrible romantic breakup conversations played like I am experiencing them for the first time.

23. April 2018
MALAISE

malaise

It was a strange kind of cool October morning. As Big Ben chimed 6am so proudly across the Thames, you could almost see the fog part as the sound waves collided across the hazy morning malaise. I had been daydreaming, but the sounds of the chime brought me back to focus. Daydreaming is an interesting thing, isn’t it? A doctor would tell you that daydreaming is stimulus independent thought, or a Buddhist might say it is thought about something other than events that originate from the present moment, away from mindfulness.

30. March 2018
QUIET

Quiet

You could hear the afternoon rains echo in from the alley behind the theater. Curses in French from the house master echoed in when people would linger, letting the offensive humidity in from the outside. The strange dust of the old playhouse frolicked in the softly lit stage. After an hour of unremarkable college students churning through grossly under-prepared auditions, I was growing impatient. "Next please," the stage manager grunted methodically. She shuffled into the light and began. She stood rather plainly.

13. March 2018
;

Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom: The South of Market Gym

" 'ere in ze gym south of mar kette - is the cruisehr, " he spoke with a hushed horrible fake Jacques Cousteau accent, " 'eh does two reps out on ze floor and zen reuturhns to ze showehr 'oom to zee if anyone is hot enough. Notess how 'e grunts at you if 'eh tinks you are worth of his sexyehness." He paused for a moment as a large muscular bodybuilder passed him, naked, returning from the showers.

3. February 2018
99

Come Sunday

"Whatchya doin'?" "Watching the Superbowl!" "You warned me when we met that you would always be the butch one, and you've never proved me wrong." "It is really excellent, close game so far!" "Who are you rooting for?" "I love rhetorical questions." "No seriously, I have no idea who is playing." “Philadelphia and New England" "Ah, well, then I guess you are rooting for Philly.” "That would be correct!" "So should I root for New England just to make sure the testosterone is even in the house tonight?" "So how about a wager?" "A wager?" "Sure, if you leave me alone and let me watch football an

2. February 2018
L

Rand McNallly

Forty years in finance had been done. Dutifully, exactly - like a scarlet-lettered penance - and the rest of his life suddenly lay ahead of him. He spent the first chunk of his retirement on a retrofitted volkswagen bus which he'd meticulously detailed out. A mobile home, a gourmet stove, a safe, a soft mattress, and a special shelf for a particularly tattered Rand McNally road atlas. He remembered coming home with that road atlas as a senior in college - his sails filled with dreams which parental and professional expectations quickly deflated.

2. February 2018
OIP

Remembering Nicki

I'm not always completely clear on how exactly I chose her. or maybe she chose me. Nicki. and her sparkler. We’d met freshman year of college and fell in such love that school seemed to hardly matter. Held her on my shoulders as Prince serenaded to her. We’d stolen booze from my parents liquor cabinet and gone drunk camping, laughing into campfire light. So many stories - so many adventures. I'd bought her that ring with money my parents sent me to pay for a quarter of college. A year later I found myself in the U.S. Navy bringing Nicki's photograph out my wallet -- telling our stories.

2. February 2018
JJ

Floor Show

"Fluffy Puppy, you're the one!," he sang to the little dog in the sink getting a bubble bath," The one that makes bathtime so much fun! Fluffy Puppy, joy of joys, When I squeeze you, you lick my face!

7. January 2018
SCOTCH

Glass of Scotch

On Christmas Eve, I had killed someone. I’ll just let that sink in for a moment. I can still recall the sound of the glass of scotch in his hand breaking with his wrist. I can feel the swing upward with broken glass, and the smell of flesh being torn aside. He stepped back from me reaching for his throat, his eyes wide with the realization these were his last moments. “I am not sure what happens when you die, but I’m satisfied to stand here and watch you find out,” I said to him matter-of-factly. He involuntarily knelt. He was very intimate with fear at this point.

28. December 2017
mascara

I think it is completely unfair how beautiful he is

She broke out the compact and started applying blush. Her trained hand moving with the weave of the commuter train. The same technique for the soft rose lipstick. Even the mascara was applied precisely despite the oscillating train car. “That is real skill,” said the man across the aisle. She looked over at the man. mid-thirties, strong cheek bones, and almost inhumanly perfect skin.

22. December 2017

Ho Ho Ho

The silence and wonderment that the first snow creates made the early morning crime all the more unsettling. Sticking out from behind the dumpster like a holiday version of the Wicked Witch of the West, were two boot clad feet, followed by the tell tale fake fur and red velvet of a Santa. The flakes of snow danced across the dirty face of the deceased.
13. December 2017
cross field

Wormwood and Rue

She runs away into the woods, wormwood and rue cascading around her feet in the autumn woods. The smell of the end of summer, the decay of leaves sticking to her like judgement. Does she notice accidentally falling in the water, simply neglecting to save herself from sinking? Her garments pull her down, as if they had a mind of their own. It is simply the way she'd lead her life: doing what her father and brother — and boyfriend— tell her to do, rather than making decisions for herself. She'd been seen with him was proof enough.

28. November 2017
ginger

a proud people

Ginger Men are a proud people. We are bread in deep, surprisingly peppery, cultural origins. It is in our prime ingredients to know that our time here is measured in hours instead of days. Baking at 400F for ten minutes, we all have the chance to dream of that moment when we are set on a plate next to a hot cocoa. We lead simple, tenderly baked lives, always knowing that we immediately start going stale from the moment we are set out in the world. Don't feel pity for Ginger Men - know that we accept our place in the circle of life with a glad heart.

20. November 2017
deaer john

Dear John,

DEAR JOHN, "These letters have gotten a LOT more complicated than they used to be.", she thought to herself, letting the Johnny Walker work it's magic on her tongue. -“It’s not you - it’s me”- nope - it is all about him
-"I want different things now"- like a solid witness protection program -"I've grown and well...."- you haven't.
13. November 2017
charlie

Rendered Invisible

I was in an angry, hurried rush. Who calls a 7am meeting on a Monday morning anyway? I was madly sipping a coffee, and rushing to meet the train in the park. That was the first time I saw him - a 15th century friar sitting in the park watching the dogs play. He seemed like a very robinhoodesque character to be sitting amongst playing dogs and their owners busy instagramming only the cutest pictures before getting on with their day. The doors pulled mechanically shut on my train and I stared back at him sitting so blissfully in the park.

28. October 2017
origami

origami

He came to a rest under an enormous California oak. The arms of the tree disappearing above him into the last hints of daylight. The pack peeled off his back with a thud. The weight coming off allowed the deepest emotional sigh escape with his breath.
17. October 2017
reality show

Bitter Bottoms of Baltimore

"Even food shows are angry these days, with women throwing stuff and calling each other bitches... it's awful... and then they cut to an interview in the 'truth-booth' where she says 'I'm doing this for my kids'. Does she realize that her potty mouth and horribleness will soon be out on high definition blue ray for her kids and grandkids to enjoy forever? , a classic childhood moment." "yet, you continue to watch it each week........"

1. October 2017
tux

A Toast

The wedding dinner settled down as he tapped his glass with his fork.  He took a card out of his suit jacket. He'd practiced, and learned the best words for this moment. He took a big sip of water, took a glance at the newlyweds, and leaned forward to speak into the microphone. "When I was a kid I didn't have much. I just grew up in one of those families where the only things you looked forward to inheriting was sorrow - the future I saw in front of me was workin' at a shit town Pick and Save in a wrinkled red schmock dreaming of the day I'll get promoted to Assistant Manager.

12. September 2017
ring

no.

A few dvds, a pair of earphones, and some neatly folded tshirts and underwear sat there. Every night when I came home the small box of stuff taunted me, reminding me of all of it. He had changed his Facebook profile to read "engaged to" - so absolutely sure he knew all the answers. He'd posted photos for all our friends to see of the engagement ring.

11. September 2017
ocean

Time Capsule

I hardly recognized the young boy in photo, walking in the surf, letting the late summer waves frolic with his hands. That beach. It had felt like the very definition of liberation when I visited. I remember trembling with excitement when I stood at the rail, my first trip on a Fire Island Ferry. All that thick black hair waved, shined in the sun calling to men like a siren from Greek mythology. The twinkle in my eye lead to humid late summer days of cruising, relentless sex, strong cocktails, sin and scandal.

2. September 2017
holding hands

How Did We Meet Again?

“I’m sorry…I guess I’m just nervous. I’ve never been taken home to meet someone’s parents before, let alone conservative parents who come with a pre-prepared list of forbidden conversation topics.” “Well, those are for your safety, not theirs. My family is very passionate about being on the wrong side of history in every situation.

31. August 2017
triscuit

highly tuned and manufactured culinary expression of dullness

I broke through my hangover to clean up from last night's party. There in the bottom of a large bowl was a single triscuit. I sat there starting at it. Poor Triscuit. All alone in the world. The party is over Triscuit, sorry, you missed it. What does it mean to be this highly tuned and manufactured culinary expression of dullness? What is it worth - until - until you add cheese, or lox, or a thin slice of fig - then pile on goat cheese and honey and .... you see my point.

27. August 2017
burning man

Every touch, every conversation, every sigh of pleasure was a salve.

He was the softest, most tender person I'd ever met. Every touch, every conversation, every sigh of pleasure was a salve. He rode into my life on a large adult sized shiny pink tricycle. He was wearing a matching pink "fur" vest and ridiculously oversized top hat - pulling a trailer of little pink wrapped gifts. His nose was pierced with the largest gauge pink metal ring. He was mesmerizing. He broke the silence by offering me a small pink package. It seemed so magically out of place. It was six-year-old little girl birthday party perfect - out in the middle of the dusty dirty desert.

17. August 2017
moustache #5

and just where do you think you're going...

We met on the old wooden stairs of the old DC Eagle. It had this big dramatic landing between flights of stairs, with enough room for a couple of people could stand and watch the parade. He wore a pair of tight blue jeans, big boots, and a green tank top with the word "DADDY" across the chest. He had that not quite 5'oclock shadow thing going on with this his beard, but the thickest most amazing mustache I've ever known. I literally stopped in my tracks the first time up the stairs walking past him.

16. August 2017
umb

unrepentant reflection

टायर टायर, उज्ज्वल जलते हुए, रात के जंगलों में; क्या अमर हाथ या आंख, तुम्हारी भयानक समरूपता को चौड़ा कर सकता है (Tyger Tyger, burning bright In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry? ) He closed the small leather book and let out a weary sigh. Tapping his chest, he confirmed that his papers were in his coat pocket. Papers that would ensure safety. Between his legs, the frantically packed suitcase. Thousands of people just like him had arrived at the station with their ragged bags of belongings.

9. August 2017
angel

because I didn't know better

"You're a bastard, you know that? Fuck you!" were the last words I ever heard her say, as she slammed the door. I can't say that I blame her. I had brought home the clap for the third time. I was horrible to her. I left her alone on nights when I could have been there for her. I "worked late nights," I had told her when she knew I was with other women. I wasn't being such a wreck deliberately, but because I didn't know better. Suddenly, there she was in a cross walk. The light was red and I nearly hit her. She slammed her hand on the hood of my cab in indignation.

31. July 2017
fireworks

4th of

We celebrated our own unique independence in the dark alley away from the summer revelry. I ran his shirt up, exploring his firm muscles and curiously thick back hair. He slicked his tongue from my mouth onto the curve of my neck. Looking over his shoulder I spied a woman watching us from the street. She leaned against the drain pipe, letting out the softest sigh. The kind smile on her face told me how much she approved. I earnestly smiled back, but then shut my eyes getting lost in the little French sailor I'd met in the bar. He smelled so good. I needed him to be mine.

28. July 2017
lipstick

new voices: my terrible idea

So many things have a beginning. and so it was with the idea. It just seemed to be there one day. A terrible idea. It scared me so much at first. It would disappear into the minutiae. Then  gently the idea would return. To be considered. To befriend. To become comfortable. To become acceptable. I sit imagining it with my eyes closed so gently as to not damage the beauty of it. I lay down at night and it is my last thought. I awake, suddenly, in a single gulping breath. I panic to do the mental inventory. I rush about in my mind to see if the terrible idea is still there.

18. July 2017
paint smear

new voices: tone

She walked into the studio. I looked up, finding her gaping up at one of the large canvasses. "This is so beautiful, but the inside of your mind must be a horrifying place," she said to me, as if I were a light fixture, without turning to address me. No breezy hello. No..... courtesy. I left her standing there. I studiously took a brush full of a golden yellow and gently smeared across the canvas in front of me. I let the silence build. I let her think that perhaps I wasn't the artist after all. "What was your name, again?!" I said, dismissively, looking up at her.

17. July 2017

layers of an onion

She died in the manner that she'd been in life - with not a single thought to how it would affect other people. I was the dutiful daughter. It wasn't complicated. The house sold. The prized possessions with new hosts. All of it was completed without a trace of drama. Everyone expects it was like some multi-layered emotional onion from an Amy Tan novel. I don't believe in the afterlife as a reality, but I believe in the afterlife as a metaphor. There is a romance to think that our ancestors live on through us - the painstaking result of countless generations before us.
16. July 2017

new voices: the one equalizing moment

Now for some, it is instantaneous. Perhaps a piano falls on you like a doomed cartoon character. Perhaps shot on the battlefield. Perhaps you are at the end of a long, beautiful life clutching the hand of someone you love. I am not reliant on the promises of a heaven or the special planet of my own in a universe far far away. Death has never held power over me. It has always seemed like an inevitability. I have always said it is the one equalizing moment that every human being will share. Granted - we don't get to sit around and talk about it.
14. July 2017
subway platform

new voices: follow, follow, follow

'You were chosen to do something special in this world'. A phrase used not-so-innocently by unprepared parents as emotional novocaine. "Struggle hard, my love, for you, are chosen! Precious. Special." So you buckle down and work hard, you finish school, you marry a beautiful bride and start up a family. There is a sense that there is a prophecy to be fulfilled, there is a Chosen One to do it! If there's an adventure to be adventured, it is just waiting for you to take up the cause.

11. July 2017

new voices: 99 problems

Sometimes a murder is on your mind for so long you imagine it every way. Such primal fury and passion, with a dash of luck. But before you put your Poirot and Jessica Fletcher proof plan into glorious action, how to do it? You could pay someone else – but everyone with cable TV knows how well that goes. The busted dumbass check writer (who pays for murder with a personal check?). Not Venmo either. How about cash. Jesus! Then you are on the six o’clock news with that “What happened, how did this not go my way” look as you are lowered into the police cruiser. You’re angry, not stupid.
11. July 2017

new voices: All there was anymore

The event happened suddenly with no warning. An audible snap and everything changed. Everyone knows where they were when the event happened. The lives they used to live, the people they used to be. Now, ten years on - those kinds of reminiscence had stopped, and the reality of how to survive was at hand. When the event happened and commerce stopped, the great migrations began.
9. July 2017

new voices: surety

The reasons I left are immaterial but it strikes me strange that nobody has asked me why I've returned.  Once they figure it out it'll all be finished anyway.
Therapists, the armchair psychiatrist - they will tell you that you can choose who your family is. While I suppose that's true, your original parents and siblings create you to a great extent. They create the first glorious, delicious moment where you go from loving to compassionless in seconds.
4. July 2017
Subscribe to