Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flash Fiction: Hydrants (written fall 2009)

She bought eight lightweight hydrants, one for each room. She practiced grabbing and pointing them, feigned pulling the key and trigger. It helped her worry less. 

Her boy's rubber ducks were lined up along the tub edge. "Checkered ducky," he said. "Polka-dot ducky. Yellow ducky, hotel ducky, flower ducky." There was a horse, too, that wheezed instead of squeaking and took in water that later dripped onto the hardwood floor in the little boy's bedroom. 

He asked for an apple and string cheese for his bedtime snack. He sipped almond milk from a cup with bubble shaped vehicles on it. "Taxi," he said, then turning the cup, "ambulance, fire engine, red car." 

She wondered when his father would return. He was timing horses at the big race in Kentucky. He was jogging through cornfields at sunset with a rented dog. She was exhausted and sunburnt and sweaty and grimy, and his phone calls were difficult to take politely. 

"Hug," said the little boy, and she hugged him. "Kiss," he said, and she kissed. "Kiss on the cheek, kiss on the nose, kiss on the chin," he said, and she did those things. 

"Grandmama's quilt," she whispered, tucking it in around him. 

"Horsey," he said, holding it up by the tail. Water dribbled on the orangest flower of the flower garden. "Horsey water Grandmama's quilt." 

* * *

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Turned On

Thank you, blogging person named Danielle who I'd never heard of but am very happy to have discovered today, for reminding me: 

"No problem looks insurmountable when you're turned on."

From "The Perils of Justifying Yourself" at White Hot Truth.

Read the whole kickass post here.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Los Angeles

A Los Angeles writer, writing about Los Angeles, in an international place.

"It is possible to disappear, for months, even years at a time, even for a whole lifetime, into the city of Los Angeles, in a way that it is impossible to disappear into other cosmopolitan places."

--from "Los Angeles" by Joseph F. Mailander

Read the entire piece here.


Friday, February 19, 2010


It's time to make things better. To unpack some boxes, see what can be found.

This one. Let's start with this one.

* * *

A map of our world...

And then again this way. Who the hell said north is up?

Flipping the Americas, close in.

* * *

A painting from my once love, his first time in New Orleans, and I only hope I didn't do too much harm.

And another. Lower Decatur Street, my first months in New Orleans, when "living on Lower Decatur" actually meant I had an apartment there, not that I spent more time there than at home.

* * *

Dachshunds from my friend Clau, one birthday all swirling. Before we had children, healthy kidneys, clean veins.

* * *

A metal candle holder, a wedding present. I want to nail it up and light votive candles. Blessings for our lives here between the murder zone and the river, this wrought iron paint peeling stoop sitting beautiful place.

* * *

And this one fell, broke, during my in-house excavation. Is this a bad omen? A good omen? Neutral: what I make of it. This same day I broke a mirror, and received a royalty payment of 6.66.

* * *

Sugar in my Bowl, by Kim Roberti. Small, sweet, swift, and I'm glad it's out of hiding. I want to listen to Nina and cut my hair like this woman's. In her black dress, with her china, with her waiter, wanting sugar, wanting sugar in her bowl.

* * * 

A combination of two of the best things, my mini-dachshund Story, and the art of Kimberly Nichols, who danced close with me through the Quarter, the Marigny, on Frenchmen, in bathrooms, in the tropics, in the swamp, for centuries, for only three nights.

Story, by Kimberly Nichols:

* * *

And this, Blessed Lady, a gift from an artist at an art fair in Austin. I was carrying BabyBoy in a sling, art appeciating and nursing. I was fascinated with the barge board paintings of goddesses, the tin roof virgins and witches and mamas and graces. I longed to take one home, but finances just then would not allow it. We chatted, the artist and I, BabyBoy adding his smiles, his sounds still preverbal. ESSA was her name, or Sher Chappel, and she had lived in New Orleans. We almost threw ourselves into one another's arms, innocently, happily. As I was leaving she called me back. Choose one, she told me. I want you to have one. Any. It's a gift.

* * * 

Little pieces of life to remind me while gracing my walls, my altar.

But first, time for the level, hooks and wire, a hammer, some nails.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


An interesting article about chickens, in the Times Higher Education...

"Peter Lennox keeps chickens, and they have taught him a great deal about behaviour, ethics, evolution and the psychopathic nature of modern 'efficiency'."
(Click to go to the article...)

And, a bit about my own hens...

The red one gave us a nice brown egg every morning once she got started. She would also let me pick her up, carry her around, and place her in the little wire coop makeshift coop at nightfall. The blue-footed creature, the little one, would only run around madly to get away from me, and lost her tail feathers being pecked at daily by the red one. She was grouchy and never made an egg.

The weather turned suddenly and drastically nasty, and a blues playing neighbor offered to add my two hens to his flock of eight with a temperature controlled henhouse and fenced-in grassy yard.

Goodbye, June and Anais. I hope the blues man treats you well.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dat Mayor

The weather is cold. We won the Superbowl. We have a new mayor.

I found this scan on an old disk. The original went with the flood.

BabyBoy asks me about the picture. I try to explain to him, about the mayor, the city, a leader. That we're trying a new one.

"Dat mayor old," he says, pointing.

Husband wants to know who the guy is, to the non-mayoral side of me. Naturally. (Naturally said naturally here, sans sarcasm.) He is my old friend Chris (dat friend old?) who invited me once to the Press Club Awards banquet. He was dressed here as his character, Citizen Numa, after performing for the tippling crowd.

Back to the mayor.

I remember the moment, in evacuation Austin, watching future Husband's television, hearing CNN reporter Jeanne Meserve crying as she described what she was seeing in the Lower Ninth Ward. Her stories were the first to say, wait, no, New Orleans did not get lucky, people are drowning out here, hanging onto phone polls, screaming from rooftops, trapped in attics with water to the chin and baby and cellphone held above. Dogs are tangled in live electric wires. Fuel fires shooting out of the water, people screaming, it is night now, too dark to find anyone, to dark to navigate, it is devastating, it is hell.

To read a transcript of Ms. Meserve's report, go here and scroll down.

I felt frozen, wondering was happening to my neighbors in Holy Cross. Thinking I should have stopped my car and invited the elderly hip-swinging crack ho in her hot pink curlers, from down the block, when she waved so jauntily to me and my dachshunds as I drove off.

And the Mayor, live on radio, fierce, brave, raging for New Orleans and its people:

"Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country."
From CNN's "Mayor to Feds: Get Off Your Asses"

I thought then that he could be a hero, could do anything, that maybe someday he'd even be president. I didn't know yet about the parked busses, the refused Am Track cars, and more such. But the biggest disappointment was seeing him go into a room with W days later and come out idiotized.

Remembering those days and months after the evacuation, the flood, the horror and enormity, the reality of it, is still painful. I will make hot chocolate, breathe deep, and watch nap dreams flicker on the sweet face of my hurricane gift, my BabyBoy.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Flash Fiction: "All Girl Band"

My all girl band is in trouble. Not musical trouble, not financial trouble, not boy trouble, not even the trouble of looking like beautiful vampires every night and every day. We have simply done something wrong. We do not know what it is, and I am sure we did not mean to do it. Nevertheless, we are in trouble.

My father looks at me nervously. How can I be so white-skinned, ebony-haired, red-lipped and ethereal, when my mother, at my age with the same face and body, was suntanned, golden-haired, peach-lipped and earthbound? I believe I make him nervous. Yes, I make him nervous, and it's about time.

I am back in our old house, bad house, in my old room, changing clothes. What does one wear to jail? I am frightened.

The other three "Four Whores of the Apocalypse" arrive and we console one another. As we walk through the family room past the loud football game, my father looks at us without moving his mouth or turning his head. As I say good-bye he nods once, chin down, hold a beat, chin level. That is all.

We climb into the red Ford Fairlane, slide our own CD into the player and sing. I know through the terror in my stomach that we have never been so on, so hot, so perfect.

Of course we are right to turn ourselves in.

* * *

First published in The Cafe Irreal.
Reprinted in the Norton Anthology Flash Fiction Forward.