Review by Review by John MacLean
Gradually I came to realize that the process of saving the desert of the human heart and revegetating…
It was with no clear intent of malice that Gerald Roper trespassed across Mr. Earl Palmer's pasture that night and with bait balls formed of cheese and white bread and lined neatly on a piece of waxed paper sat crouched in the shadow of willows on the bank of the fishpond, an artesian-fed paradise where fishing was and always was forbidden, and flung out a line to the deep and purple part, where he knew lay the biggest bass and bream. He simply needed fish. And being afoot and quite along in years, back weak from years of heavy labor, feet perpetually weary from walking his fields, he chose not to shuffle the two miles north to the Luxapalila and thrash his line along its straight channeled banks where here and there a nice hole had been gouged out and fish congregated. That was always hit or miss--the pond was certain fish.
Since he had left his glasses at home, for fear of losing them passing through the woods or crossing fences, fortunate it was that a fat moon lay flaring on the eastern horizon. He flung out his line, watching through cataract smeared eyes the white bobber big as a baseball arch through the moonlight and plop down near the opposite shore, where willows dangled like the hair of hags. Third cast, the old spool reel whined a brief second or two and he saw the float splash down near a concrete log placed in the middle of the pond for children to watch turtles sun on, jiggle in place only long enough for the heaviest ripples to fade, then scoot to the side, and his rod arched and he had a fish on, a good one, which he cranked in with urgency through gently waving reeds and hoisted between the two willows that shielded him from the highway. He heaved it onto the gravel of the dam and scooped the thrashing fish into a tow sack, which he tied the opening of and lashed to the trunk of a willow. The fish roiled in its woven prison while the old man pressed on another ball of bait and cast again.
In a very short while he had in his sack four nice bass, a large bluegill--he could tell by the broadness of the fish as it pulsed beneath his hand on the path--and a small channel cat, whose fins defined him well enough, but for good measure he decided to push his luck and catch two or three more, enough to feed him and his wife for several days. Breaking the law, though not altogether alien to him, was nonetheless uncomfortable and best done quickly. This was not sport fishing--he was after food. Still he felt a tiny pinch of guilt each time he slid another fish into his bag.
What a man sees and what he thinks he sees can, even in broadest day and with perfect vision, sometimes be deceiving, and so it was when after a vigorous fling into the farthest shadowy regions of the pond and a slow retrieve across the moonlit middle, his bobber shining on the dark water like a skull, he saw the bulging bladder-like thing come floating, a monstrous dreamy intrusion across the pond surface and his vision. Then he saw the bobber ride up over and flop onto his side of whatever it was and the hook snagged and held and the reel handle stiffened in his hand.
He lowered the rod and released the tension on the line, squatting and squinting into the moonlit miasma before him, seeing more with his eyes squinched tight than he had before, but then only dimly the thing floating on the pond, his bobber dancing in its waves. It lay certain on its axis, the thing, though the momentum of his reeling kept it coming, slower and slower, drifting vaguely off to his right.
"What in the hell?" he finally said, as much to the night as to himself, for who was he to answer anymore than the dark willows surrounding him, the silver sheen of water before him, or the scowling moon above? His voice came back to him from across the pond.
He lifted the rod and began slowly reeling again, watching with cloudy eyes as the great white thing righted its course and followed the line toward the break in the willows where he crouched. "Jesus Christ, what in the hell is it?"
And then it rolled like a dumpling in oil as the hook pulled loose and the bobber whistled past his head and clattered onto the gravel behind him, and two eyeless sockets in a white face, cradled gently by trembling reeds, looked right past him toward the ghostly moon. The old man yelped and scrambled to his feet, throwing the rod aside and tearing down the path toward the highway as fast as his watery legs would take him, his eyes on the distant lights of town.
The deputy came quietly through the door and sat on the corner of his desk studying the old man slouched before him, hat in his hand, contrite and sorrowful and confused.
"Sorry it took so long. I had to track Harvey Patrick down. But we done it. Now, back to where we was at. What were you doing fishing in the pond, Mr. Roper?" he asked again. "You know ain't nobody sposed to fish there. Signs everwhere." He was a rotund little man, given to hard work and long exposure to the sun, and everywhere his uniform ended and flesh began his burnished skin declared that he did, in fact, bale hay for the better part of his living. He smiled and asked again, "Really now, why were you fishing there? Why not the river?"
The old man stared at his muddy shoes, which had left a stained and slurry trail from the door to the chair where he sat before the deputy's desk. Heel and toe, they were doing a little twisting dance on the white and green tiles beneath them, as they had for nearly two hours.
"I don't understand," he mumbled, "why you are more interested in me fishing there than her."
"Mr. Roper, that's the only question I'm interested in. You're the one broke the law, not that pig."
He shot forward to his feet from the chair, his voice shrill. "You will not speak of the dead that way! God will punish you!"
"God will… ? What's God got to do with it? I don't understand--" He tapped on the desktop with his fingers. "We have went over and over this and it don't make a single lick of sense to me, what you're saying." He lifted the receiver of the black phone before him, a massive relic with rotary dial, and spun out a number. The old man slumped back in his chair and for a time the whir and click of the dial were the only sounds in the room.
"Hello, Shurf," the deputy said into the mouthpiece. "I hate to bother you this hour--yessir, I know, and I'm sorry, yessir, I know--but I got Gerald Roper down here at the office. He was fishing in the fishpond . . . . No sir, fishing, no shovel involved this time." He laughed and looked at the old man. "Yessir, he was fishing in the fishpond and snagged a pig--"
Roper heaved his shoulders forward again. "I tol' you!"
"Settle down, Mr. Roper." The deputy motioned him back in the chair. "Yessir," he said, turning away from the old man and speaking quietly into the phone, a mere mumble, lost to Roper's poor hearing.
"What'd he say?" the old man asked when the deputy hung up the phone.
"He's coming down to help me figure out what the hell's going on here is all."
"I wish I knew myself," the old man said, his mind fixed on the blaze of moonlight across dark water and the bulbous pale body with little black shoes and gloves that the deputy kept calling a pig.
It was not that Roper owed her more than the slimmest margin of respect. She had, after all, dumped him twice, the first time after only a brief flurry of romance--rudely, without ceremony and without just cause, announcing her intentions before flanking buddies at the bar.
"You and me're finished, you miserable old fart," she had said through the smoky air, adding a puff of her own in his face.
The bar lights, hanging from the ceiling on slender rods, reeled like constellations in the mirror as he stared at her, trying to fix his eyes on her soul, but the windows were not open, so he simply laughed and told his buddies he was leaving. Which he did. Except that he went no farther than the parking lot, where he peed upon the ground and cursed his fate, then walked to his truck and removed from the bed a shovel, and upon entering the bar he swung wildly until every dangling light was shattered across floor and bar and pool table, leaving on the floor and pool table a wasteland of glass and plastic shards upon which his heavy boots crunched mightily and the garish glow of the neon beer signs to light the way for those who elected to leave. Which was everyone, including the bar owner and her. They slid around the walls and one by one sprang through the door into the night air, staying well out of range of his flailing shovel.
The court was kind, the Justice asking him only to pay for the lights and new felt for the pool table, which his shovel had gashed. Apologies all around and the next Friday night he was at the bar again, but without the shovel. And she consented to talk quietly with him in his truck about their problem, which he did not even perceive as a problem, namely that he never took her anywhere socially, not even to a Pizza Hut over in Columbus, only to bed, hers at that.
"Well, I can't exactly take you to mine, can I?" he asked her. "My wife's usually in it."
"It ain't which bed that's the problem," she said. "Mine's as good as any, I rekkin. It's that it's the only place we go together. It's not the way to court a woman. A woman likes to feel that she's more than just a toy for a man to play with. Frankly, Gerald, sometimes I get to feeling like a whore."
"I don't pay you," he said.
"I ain't ast you for money."
"Then you ain't no whore."
"I feel like one is all," she said.
He kissed her at that and comforted her the best he could and for the rest of the night he sat quietly at the bar and drank and watched the boys play pool until quitting time for her, whereupon they retreated to her trailer and her bed and had their pleasure, for him--at his age--a very big one.
But the friendship grew thinner and thinner as the months wore on until at the bar one Thursday night she told him a second time that she didn't want to see him anymore. Only this time she was on the way out the door, having advised Charlie McGee, owner of the bar, that she was cutting aloose of Gerald Roper for good, that she was going home early, and that she had already checked and he didn't have a shovel in the truck.
Roper watched her little black shoes pivot at the door and followed with his eyes her ample buttocks as they trundled away into the dark, barely contained by the tight white dress she wore. He sat on the stool for a long time watching the screen door, upon which the moon had cast a cross. But she did not return.
It hurt. It hurt bad. But he turned hard to his work and tried to forget her. And in the daylight he could. But some nights he would lie looking across the profile of his wife's vast body toward the horizon outside their bedroom window, wondering if she were looking at the same stars he saw on the low sky. And he studied the blades of the fan against the dark ceiling, whether they were turning or not. And he dreamed often of her soft large but properly curved body and pale skin, her dark red hair, which he loved to bury his face in. There were times when but for the fact that he had not a dram of creative blood in him he would have gotten up from the bed and written her a poem, so deep was his ache for her.
"You landed a pig, Roper?" the sheriff asked, when he had arrived at the office. He motioned the deputy out of his chair and sat down. His face was swollen with sleep.
"You cannot speak of the dead that way!" the old man snapped. "She was nothing to me, but I will not have you speak vile of her."
"What in the hell is he talking about?"
The deputy shrugged and continued to fill out a form in a little bright blue school desk off to the side, one with a writing surface and, beneath, a compartment for storing books. "I done tol' you--that's why I wanted you to talk to him. He thinks--"
"What in the hell are you talking about, Roper? It was a Goddamned pig. Why do you care how we talk about a pig? Don't you eat bacon and ham?"
"You will roast in hell for talking like that," the old man said.
"For talking like what?"
"For calling her a pig."
"What--was she a pet or what? What did the fu—what did the pig have to do with you? Was it your Goddamned pig?"
"I wouldn't call her mine, no," Roper said, drawing himself up straight, "but once we--we were together a few times."
"What the hell do you mean, together?" the sheriff asked. Every time he asked a question he glanced at his deputy.
"In the bible sense," Roper mumbled.
"What?" He looked at the deputy. The deputy shrugged. Then he turned back to Roper.
"In the bible sense?" He studied the old man's face, then said slowly, "Do you mean you screwed her?" the sheriff asked.
"She was the best I ever knew--in that sense."
The deputy looked up from the forms. "You screwed a pig?"
The old man leaped from his chair and waved his knotty old fist, "You will not speak of her that way. She had passion, she was smart. I'll not have you--"
The sheriff glanced at the deputy and shrugged. "Damned if he don't think we're talking about a woman."
"I seen her little hands, with the black gloves that she sometimes wore when--and, and the little black shoes. The rest of her naked as the day she was born, naked in the moonlight. Blowed up like a balloon. The fish or turtles or something had done eat out her eyes."
"Yeah, well, something musta eat your eyes out. That was a pig."
"Hush, John. We ain't had nobody reported missing, have we?"
"Nope," the deputy said. "Not without you count Elvis and Hoffman, that union guy, but I doubt they been near the fishpond." He cackled.
"Hoffa," the sheriff corrected. "Arright. Roper, what they fetched out of that pond was a pig. A hog, if you will." He looked toward the deputy in appeal.
"Kiss your ass if it wudn't a pig. At's right. Seen it myself. Must of weighed four hundred pounds. Like pulling a white Volkswagen outta that pond. That winch was moaning and groaning."
The old man shook his head. "No, no."
"What's the word the bible uses, John?" he asked the deputy.
"For what? Winch?"
"No, Goddamn it, for pigs."
The deputy shook his head. "I don't know what the bible calls'm, Shurf. Pigs, I rekkin. Maybe hogs?"
"No, no. The vetrinarians, when they talk about hog diseases . . . . They got a word for hogs."
The deputy studied the tile floor a full minute. Then his face lit up. "Swine? Don't the bible call'm swine?"
"There you go. Now you know why I figger you gon' end up in junior collitch. Your folks didn't send you to sunday school for nothing. Swine. That's the word." He looked at Roper. "So you either believe that you hooked a woman or you been having relations with a swine, which, I might point out, is against Alabama law."
"Fornication is the word the bible uses for that, Shurf," the deputy put in.
He nodded. "Not with pigs it ain't."
The old man sat wagging his head from side to side, his heavy, work-scarred hands on his knees. "I just don't know. I just don't know. What I reeled in looked like her. The little shoes, the gloves, hair waving in the water. She always liked to--she liked to do it with high-heels and gloves on. Classy is what it was."
"Rough on the bed is what I'd call it."
"John," the sheriff cautioned.
"Yessir. I'm sorry. I just meant with them heels--"
"Yessir. I was remembering a girl I knew over in Louisiana that liked to wear boots and spurs--"
"John, Goddammit, that is enough!"
"It looked like her," the old man said.
"Well, it's a cinch pigs don't wear shoes and gloves or have hair that waves in the water--"
"What woman would we be talking about here?" the deputy asked.
The sheriff glanced at the old man, who was still staring at the floor, and looked back at the deputy, then twirled a finger at his temple. The deputy nodded.
"Where's the pig at?" the sheriff asked him.
"What did you do with the fuc--where is the pig at, the swine?"
"Harvey Patrick was sposed to thowe it in the dump. When I left the pond it was hanging at the end of his winch pole. Hell, Shurf, it wudn't fit to eat. Water-logged, all bloated up. Looked like a weather balloon."
"I don't want to eat it for breakfast, John. I just want Roper to see what he caught is all. I just hope to hell Harvey didn't figure it still had some good meat on it and take it home to barbecue."
"You want to go out and look at the pig?"
"Hell no, I don't. It ain't me you got to convince. I'm just trusting that you know the difference. But Roper needs to see it. Now, take him out there to where the pig was throwed and show him what he caught. A Volkswagen or weather balloon or flying saucer or pig or whatever the hell it was."
The deputy looked at the big white clock with black hands and said, "I don't know where exactly Harvey put the pig at. He just said he was going to the dump with it."
"Then go to the dump and look. It ain't that big of a dump and I doubt that there are that many pigs in it. Find the Goddamned pig, show it to Roper, and let him go. Me, I'm going back home to get some sleep." The sheriff's very large face was tomato red. “Goddamn it . . . .”
"What about the trespass business?"
The sheriff slouched his shoulders and pointed to Roper. "Look at him, John. He's had enough bad luck for one night. We're going to let him go on home."
The old man was slumped forward in his chair staring at the tiles. A pitiful sight he was, in anybody's book.
"And what about the fish?"
"Y'all work the fish out between yourselves, John. They too far gone to put back, so you'n Roper just divide'm up."
The deputy stood and put on his hat. "I guess we better get on with it then." He walked to the door and turned around to the sheriff. "What if we can't find it?"
"You can find a big pig in that dump. Take the long-range spotlight with you. And if you can't find it, go by and get Harvey to tell you exactly where he throwed it."
"Harvey's either asleep or off drunk by now. He'd be dangerous to mess with either way, so if it's all the same to you, I'd rather leave him alone."
The sheriff sighed deeply and ran his hands through his thinning hair. "Just do the best you can, John. See'f you can find it. Satisfy Roper that he drug in a pig and let him go on home. Which is where I'm going." He rose from his desk and moved across the room like a storm cloud until he towered over the old man.
"Roper, go on with John and get this clear in your head, and then go the hell on home." He patted the old man the way someone would pet a dog. "And stay your ass away from that fishpond. And pigs."
* * *
A fine mist hung over the wooded hollow at whose bottom the town dump lay. Clay for layering loomed in large red mounds off to the side, a yellow bulldozer squatting beside them, the dump itself stretching out like a befouled and fetid pond, its surface thick with bobbing trash of every size and description. Things scurried in the headlights of the car as the deputy swung in a shallow arc.
"Look at them fucking rats!"
The old man held his head out the window and squinted. "I don't see no rats."
"And look at that!" Two scurfy possums shambled over a mound of refuse and disappeared, their hairless tails slithering behind them.
"Well, the next time you decide to go fishing, bring your Goddamned glasses. No telling what you're gon' miss without your glasses. Wish I had my .22 rifle with me. Damn, at the rats! Your wife cook possum?"
"No," said the old man. "She's cooked squirrels. And a coon once."
“Well, hell, why would she cook one twice? Looks like to me . . . . ” But he could see that his humor was lost on the old man, who simply slumped against his door.
The deputy backed the car along the rutted entry road and aimed the headlights toward the middle of the dump, heaving grotesque shadows against the backdrop of woods on both sides. Some kind of very dark bird flapped over the outrageous sea of junk, pyloned, and flew back across, soundless as the moon that stared down like a passionless eye.
"Whatever that was, if he's looking for rats, he won't have long to look," the deputy said, plugging the spotlight into the lighter socket. "Sumbitch is big as one of them terrydacktuls. Prolly wear hisself out trying to decide which one he wants. But the question is, where'd Harvey put that pig at?"
The old man had sat silent all the while, his eyes trained ahead, though he saw only a vague smear of color and light. "It wasn't no pig," he said at last.
"Was too a damned pig. I seen it. I was there, Roper. I seen the pig. You wasn't there when Harvey pulled it out. If you been screwing somebody looked like that, you need more'n glasses."
He held the spotlight out the window, starting the beam just in front of the car and working it up and down, side to side. "Shoulda thowed it out right about here. Wouldn't have been any reason to take it back in there any futher. Should be right in here." In the fine mist the beam was like a solid shaft that sliced the dark, slashing in and out of the steady lights from the car. "Like something out of Star Wars," the deputy said, zipping the beam right and left. "You ever see Star Wars, Roper?"
"No. I was in World War II."
"It wasn't a real war. It's a movie. Light and dark forces fighting each other."
The old man was silent a few seconds. "Ain't it always so? Who won?"
"It's been on TV. Have you even got a television set?"
"Yeah," Roper said. "But my wife's the one watches the shows. I just watch the weather. Who won?"
The deputy didn't respond. He got out and stood beside the car, stringing the cord out as far as it would reach, making wide sweeps with the beam. The lights of the idling car shot straight ahead into the trees at the far end of the draw.
"I'll be Goddamned if I see anything that looks like that pig. I just bet you Harvey take'n it on home and has got it marrianatin' in the bath tub."
"Wasn't a pig," the old man said.
After a while the deputy flicked the spotlight off and laid it on the fender and reached in and switched off the car lights. He killed the engine.
"Might as well have some fun, long's we're out here. You mind?"
The old man shrugged. "I ain't got nowhere to be at but home. What you gon' do?"
"Well, let's just be real quiet a few minutes and turn them lights back on, see what's stirring out there."
At that he walked around to Roper's side of the car, removed his pistol, and leaned across the hood, his elbows braced, the pistol in a two-handed grip. Roper could hear him breathing deep and even. Before them in the moonlight the ocean of trash was a surreal snarl of shapes in black and white shrouded in vapor.
After a long while the deputy whispered. "Now, Roper, when I say, reach and switch on the lights."
He let out a sigh. "Just lean over there and pull straight out on the knob. It's to the left of the steering wheel, like any other light switch on a car. Just pull it out."
Roper dropped down on his left elbow and felt along the dash until his fingers closed on the knob. "Got it, I rekkin,” he grunted. “Tell me when you want me to yank it."
For a long minute the old man's world was nothing but a distant chorus of night birds under the sagging moon, the deputy frozen across the hood, and the jumble of flotsam of the dump, whose foul odor seem to concentrate in the car. His mind was absolutely blank.
"OK, Roper," the deputy whispered. "Switch it on."
When the light came on, the old man could not believe the blaze of color and shapes before him. It was as if after long blindness his sight had been restored. An enormous black hog, tusks glinting like knives, was rooting far out on the sea of colorful trash, dipping his head, twisting, and tossing garbage high into the air. As the great hog stopped and turned his head toward the car, his eyes fierce and red, boring like red-hot spikes into Roper's, the old man could see him plainly, his vision sharp as a boy's.
Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. The deputy emptied his revolver and fumbled to reload as the hog trotted casually to the edge of the woods and disappeared.
"Goddamn, Goddamn!" He was on his knees recovering cartridges. By the time he had reloaded, the hog was gone. Every living thing on the stretch of garbage had disappeared.
"Did you see that sonofabitch, Roper?" He had crossed through the lights and gotten in the car. "Biggest Goddamned hog I think I ever seen," he panted.
"I seen him," the old man said. "Looked like the devil hisself."
"Only the devil's red. With a forked tail."
"I don't remember the bible describing him that way. His eyes was red, though."
"Whatever," the deputy said, cranking the car and turning around. "Can't believe I missed his ass. Swine fever, I rekkin."
"You didn't miss him," Roper said. "I could hear two of the bullets hit. Sounded like they hit concrete. Prolly bounced right off of him. You don't hunt hogs with a .38. Mighta been meat shots on a deer, but hogs are something else. Last one I killed I done it with a long knife through the eye right into the brain. Hide's tough, skull's thick. Hard to kill."
Wordless for a long time, they wound their way slowly back to town, the deputy with his arm hooked casually across the wheel. "What a night," he finally said. He fished a cigarette from a crumpled pack and lit up. When he held the pack out to Roper, the old man shook his head no.
"Well, look here," he said, letting the smoke whip out his window, "are you satisfied about what you drug in? I mean, I couldn't show you the pig. No telling where Harvey thowed it at. Knowing him, I bet took it home to carve up and smoke. But you got to believe me--"
"I rekkin I believe you," the old man said. "If you said it was a pig, it was a pig. It was dark and I wasn't wearing glasses."
"Hell of a night for the pigs," the deputy said, taking a deep drag on his cigarette.
They went back by the office to split the fish, the deputy rolling three nice bass in newspapers for himself and handing the rest for Roper, who hoisted the sack and started out the door.
"Roper, you got a car or truck somewhere down there?"
"No. I don't drive no more. Can't see well enough. My wife does what driving needs to be done."
"You want me to run you on home?"
"No," the old man said. "I walked up here, I can walk back. Got to go by and pick up my rod anyhow."
"Fine, but don't you fish no more down there."
"I ain't." He clasped the sack of fish to his side, closed the door behind him, and started off toward the fishpond.
"And stay away from them pigs," the deputy yelled as the old man faded into the dark.
The walk was a long one, the way dark, and overhead the familiar stars spun on toward morning, shepherded by the moon, from time to time obscured by a small sailing cloud. In the cool night air the only sound was the tiny whisper of his tattered pants legs brushing against each other, his feet keeping to the very edge of the asphalt on the moonlit side of the road until the copse of taller trees around the fishpond rose out of the backdrop of forest that lay between them and the river. There he crossed over into shadow. More than once he wished that he had taken the deputy up on his offer of a ride, but soon enough he was on the path that led to the pond, his shoes making soft crunching sounds in the gravel. From there he would have another mile or so across pasture and through shallow woods before he got home.
The pond was dead flat and silent, with little wisps of vapor hanging cloudlike just above the surface, and the fat moon lay now much farther toward the willows at the other end, so still that even without glasses the old man could see details of its surface in the water. Nothing stirred, nothing sounded. Even the frogs were quiet. He was aware of his own deep breath as he rested in the spot where he had been fishing.
The rod was lying at the edge of the path, beside it the sheen of waxed paper with three little balls of fishbait left.
He squinted and looked all about him. "Might as well," he said quietly, "since that sonofabitch take'n more'n half of what I had, at least by weight." He straightened out the line and strung on a ball of bait, glanced over his shoulder toward the road, and flung the bobber toward the line of willows directly across the pond. It plunked down in shadow, way back under the arching branches, little ripples radiating out in even rings until the whole surface riffled with his cast. The moon now weaved on the water like a dancer, light of foot and young. The old man was astonished at how well he could see.
"Damn good cast, Roper," he said to himself. He set the drag and waited.
He did not wait long, no longer than it took him to lie back and take two deep breaths and begin to reflect on the awful night behind him. There was a nudge and another on his line and he rose and set the hook, knowing even before the rod creaked to the point of breaking that what he had on the other end was not of that clear artesian water or the mud--something pale and ponderous and bloated like the moon he saw it coasting out toward. Unbelieving, he reeled and the thing creeping in the dark water passed through the moon, shattering it like a mirror, and nosed up into the reeds at his feet. He could see then moon-shadowed sockets in the swollen face, the starkly white body with a thatch of hair where her legs parted, little black shoes at one end, little black gloves at the other, hair gently waving.
"Just a pig. It's just a Goddamned pig," he said softly to himself, snatching his line loose and reeling it in, fastening the hook on an eye of the rod. "All it is, just a pig." He grasped a willow limb and leaned far out, with his foot shoving the thing back toward the middle, back toward the moon, stretched out across the water like a hand.
He slung the sack of fish across his shoulder and, the moon at his back, shuffled off down the path toward the fence and pasture and the thin copse of trees beyond which lay his wife and home.
* * *
Review by Review by John MacLean
Gradually I came to realize that the process of saving the desert of the human heart and revegetating…
Review by Review by John MacLean
"Sooner or later, we must learn to live in the same world as our colons" -Gene Logsdon
By William Hastings, Editor, Industrial Worker Book Review
JJ Grey is a musician from North Florida. …
By Steve Davenport
Once I had a sorrow/ Long as a rainbow/ Crooked…
By Ron Cooper
Like most people, I do not answer the telephone when it rings at suppertime,…
By Michael Gills
My cousin found a hand-grenade in a Camp Robinson stock pond that summer,…
By Patrick Michael Finn
My older cousin Irene—we called her Reenie for short—got married six months…
By Michael Gills
Summer Faye arrived like a freight train from…
By Eric Miles Williamson
Let Your Children Be Taught by Idiots
I read a statistic nearly 30 years ago, when I was in college in California, that shocked me so…
By Eric Miles Williamson
What I've been hearing from literary types is a lot of whining. Literary authors published by small presses piss and moan about being underpublished (and we know who they are), victims of some vast…