// from “Octopus Love” (published in Picaroon Poetry, Issue #10, September 2017)

…Transcending the daily rut today
Is less buoyant and certainly less sure
And all eight arms hang heavy now
Flailing sad and sore.

//from “A Terrific Cook” (published in Dual Coast Magazine, Issue #3, January 2016)

When Jim comes home Wednesday night, he has a woman with him. A skinny-assed woman around twenty-eight, twenty-nine with a kid about four dragging behind. Italian. Or Puerto-Rican. She has a head full of gorgeous black hair.
“Jean, this Teresa,” he says. “She’s a waitress at The Bull. You’ve heard me talk about her. She needs a place to stay.”
I smile nice and bend down to say hello to the little girl.  But I’m fuming. When I first saw them from the parlor window, I just figured he was bringing her home for dinner, and that pissed me off enough, without him telling me beforehand. But this sounds like it’s going to be more than dinner.

(Dual Coast Magazine is available from the Prolific Press Bookstore at https://prolificpress.com/bookstore/dual-coast-magazine-c-6)

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

//from “Don’t Crows Eat Corn?” (published in Penny Shorts, July 15, 2015)

Sandy whistled the simplest of tunes. Ten soft notes again and again, quietly, mindlessly, as she gathered the cups, the glasses, the dessert dishes and began piling them in the sink. Over and over, dee dee dee dum, dee-dum, dee dee dee dum, softly, trying to be quiet, not wanting the clatter and rattling to wake the children, or, God forbid, John himself. She was not a good whistler though; no bright sounds came forth. Just a rhythmic shushing noise like water beginning to boil in a kettle. On this morning, though it was her soundtrack, the music that accompanied the work to be done.

She never liked doing them the morning after, and she had had every intention of doing them when she got back from settling her dad in. Sure, hadn’t she asked him to stay here with them, at least on this first night? There’d be plenty of room; the two young ones could have doubled up—they were rarely in their own bed throughout the night as it was. But no. He was too stubborn and insisted on his own bed in his own house. God knows, it would have been easier on her if he just had spent the night. She wouldn’t have had to go out in the middle of the night, get him settled, and return after everyone had already left. But he insisted, and it was when she returned that the argument began.

It wasn’t even an argument, that’s what was sad. How could she argue? He was just so mule headed. And, to be fair to him, it was a rare thing for him to hit her, thank God. Last night was different though. It was just—she touched her ear and winced—it was just that it was her mother’s funeral. …

(read the rest at Penny Shorts www.pennyshorts.com/stories/realism/don’t-crows-eat-corn)

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

//from “Lemon Soap”     (published in The April Reader, February 2012)

…There had been two major snow storms that year. Both on Saturdays, a week apart.  Each bringing over two feet of snow. He helped her shovel. Helped her and her husband.  Digging out the cars of neighbors, pushing those that slipped along the packed down mess.  There was camaraderie, red cheeks, and dripping noses.  Afterwards, about ten of them walked to the Abbaye.  He had a whiskey. The others drank beer. A game show played on the one television.  ESPN on the other.  There was a fire-place. He told her a story about his once being concussed after walking into a billboard and she had laughed hard.  And that is all he had wanted.
(read the rest at: https://theaprilreader.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/tar-issue-11.pdf)

♦     ♦     ♦     ♦     ♦

//”Blue Light/White Light”    (published in the Kudzo Review,  Winter Solstice, 2011.)

Three jays appeared in my yard this spring
though one was feathered white,
her dark eye brilliant against the sun
her necklace black and wide.

What odds occurred to mark her so?
What chromosomal art?
Three jays appeared in the yard this year.
The smallest one was white.

A jay’s feather pales when it is crushed.
(The structure pressed, it can’t refract).
No chance had play then after all,
But simply violence and light.

Three jays appeared in the yard this year
The small one feathered white.
She darted once at a neighbor’s cat
then rose and pierced my heart.

find more at:  http://kudzureview.com/index.html


3 thoughts on “Excerpts

  1. Good Afternoon!
    By way of re-introduction, I was a student of yours back at Bishop Shanahan. Maria Walker – now Leach. I was not a stand-out student, so I do not expect you to recall. No pressure.
    I just read “Don’t Crows Eat Corn” and wanted to let you know that I very much enjoyed it. Over the years I have thought of you often – and fondly. I recall how you did the old tap-dance in my sophomore English class trying desperately to flick the light on in our heads to appreciate literature. I suppose I was a late bloomer and the last thing on my mind in high school was high school. I did wind up with a B.A. in English Literature and now I do appreciate a good read. (Count that as a win. You, Mr. Keane, and Mr. Jim Mooney at Immaculata College are reasons why that happened.)

    I remember being so sad when you decided to leave Shanahan – but I sure do understand why… if it had to do with making a living. I think you actually said, “baby needs shoes.”
    In any event, I looked you up and found your site. I will be checking it out more thoroughly and I will be in touch if that is ok with you. (No. I do not write. I read. I want nothing from you but to read your work and perhaps comment/discuss it. ) I really appreciate the stark realism of the story I read. I am glad to say that I have not lived the violence, but I know some who have.

    I hope you and yours are safe and well. What a time this last year has been.
    Peace to you.

    • Dear Maria, Of course, I remember you. And I think you undersell yourself a bit by downplaying what a good student you were. Anyway, I’d be glad to talk to you about what your reading, though this is probably not the forum in which to do so. I will contact you through my e-mail. Be safe.

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