1960’s and back from Vietnam

(click play for full impact)

If he were going to jump, he’d better do it now.

One, two, three.

Piece of cake. He rolled down and through the growth of weeds beside the tracks, his backpack cushioning him. Only a short walk and he’d be “home”.

He digged living under the overpass. The new highway was far from being built. In fact the overpass didn’t even pass over the street yet. No rumblings above him. Peaceful, just like he wanted. Who needed a fancy ass pad when he had this?

After climbing the cement incline, he perched himself in the shadows against the wall where he could watch but not be seen. He lit the doobie scored yesterday from a dude at the Stop ‘n Go nearby and toked it slowly.

The rumblings of the Missouri Pacific train line, now off to his left, didn’t bother him. Perhaps one day he’d climb that train and truck it the other way to California. See what all the hoopla was about, besides the weather being perfect for a man of the streets. What had ole Machine Gun told him? “California- you could ‘find yourself here’”. That was it. Good ole Machine Gun. Such a drag, him getting blow up.

Austin’s five o’clock traffic crept below him. Sometimes, he’d count the trucks until he got sleepy, like counting sheep with engines. Today, he’d keep track of the number of Volkswagen Beetles, the new cars his favorite. So damn hard to decide which color was best. Maybe when he breathed in the world the way it was supposed to be, it would be easier to decide.

To make choices.

A chick to his left held her thumb out but no one stopped. She kept walking his way, keeping her thumb out and her back to the traffic.

Safe in the shadows, he took another toke and blew out slowly letting the drug take effect. Not bad for being free.

Prissy little thing in her cutoffs. Her ass swayed in rhythm to her blonde ponytail, carefree and cluelss. The yellow halter-top showed off her bra-less points. Many a night he’d dreamed about a girl like that. Probably nineteen, twenty. Probably just a hand-full of years younger than him but fifty worlds apart. Probably never had to wash herself in a damn swamp.

She was right below him now.

If you don’t move, you’re invisible.

The explosion pierced his ears forcing him to curl into a fetal position. He covered his head, forearms over his ears. His heart pumped bile into his throat while his mind waited for the blood to Ooze into a puddle.

He moved, inching up to a sitting position. How could he be so stupid? He was state-side now where cars backfired.

Daily post prompt – Ooze



My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous, woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.
              “Tapestry” by Carol King (excerpt)

No, not impossible. Together we are interwoven threads of beauty. Leaving out unique textures and threads would be an injustice.

Feeling cold? Embrace the warmth of human kind’s tapestry.


Weekly Photo Challenge: texture

Love in the Dustbowl

Lyrics from one of my favorite songs.

Baby I know that we’ve got trouble in the fields
When the bankers swarm like locust out there turning away our yield
The trains roll by our silos, silver in the rain
They leave our pockets full of nothing
But our dreams and the golden grain
Have you seen the folks in line downtown at the station
They’re all buying their ticket out and talking the great depression
Our parents had their hard times fifty years ago
When they stood out in these empty fields in dust as deep as snow

And all this trouble in our fields
If this rain can fall, these wounds can heal
They’ll never take our native soil
But if we sell that new John Deere
And then we’ll work these crops with sweat and tears
You’ll be the mule I’ll be the plow
Come harvest time we’ll work it out
There’s still a lot of love, here in these troubled fields

There’s a book up on the shelf about the dust bowl days
And there’s a little bit of you and a little bit of me
In the photos on every page
Now our children live in the city and they rest upon our shoulders
They never want the rain to fall or the weather to get colder

You’ll be the mule I’ll be the plow
Come harvest time we’ll work it out
There’s still a lot of love, here in these troubled fields


From Nanci Griffith’s CD: Dustbowl Symphony

       Nanci Griffith – Trouble In The Fields     

Brother Ray, the Genius

Before Ray Charles lost his sight at the age of seven, he was mesmerized each time he went to Wylie Pitman’s Red Wing Cafe. While Pitman played boogie woogie on an old upright, he began teaching Charles how to play.


My chalk painting of little Ray watching Pitman


Although without sight, he did not play Blindly. He had both direction and purpose and we are all better for having had him in our lives.


Learning with challenges


Scoots’ hand in mine, we walk home from school. His other hand blows a new harmonica, one of many Miss Helen bought at Johnson’s Variety.

He’s getting better at playing “Has Anybody Seen My Gal.” He misses notes sometimes, but now I can almost sing along without hour-long Pauses between the words.

“You like playing, Scoot?”

He takes the harp from his mouth and wipes it on his sleeve like a real musician. “Like DeFord Bailey.”

“Who’s Difford Bailey?”

“DeFord Bailey. Best ever. That’s gonna be you someday, Scooter,” he says in a Frankish-enough voice I have to laugh. “DeFord had polio. Polio. Like me.”

“You never had polio, Scooter.”

“DeFord learned anyway,” he says, straight in my eyes.

And then I know. Scooter understands that, unlike most folks in Holly Gap, Frank believes in his abilities to learn.

Scoot drops my other hand and uses both to play us home.

Excerpt from The Moonshine Thicket