Category: Realistic Fiction

My contemporary and historical fiction that tries (and I mean really tries) to sound like it really happened.

Poem — “Elephant Statue”

The elephant statue, dark colored coal,

a kingly pet bought by a kingly toll,

the remain of days of foreign conquest,

put here to attend to an age of rest.

Now defenseless from a people irate,

who seek to call ruin on the estate.

An axe scrapes a toe to heartless good cheer.

Drunk now, a farmer attacks the veneer.

From a rotten wound in its side outbreaks

the rat-bit scholar who lives in its legs;

shouts at the mob every curse that he knows:

“You anarchists, anti-Christs, and assholes.”

Below callous claws, skin peels away clean

to release beneath a summerset gleam;

a chest, trunk, and tail made of despot’s gold,

dissolved into dust – the marketplace sold.

 

Short Prose about Teaching (Part II)

“During the day, the door remains unlocked—the lights flicked on by a sleepy department head and flicked off by a custodian whose back vac makes her a ghostbuster.”

Read more of “Once there was an empty classroom.”

 

“Mrs. Whittaker paused from grading papers to appreciate the room. The kids were engaged in what’s called Flexible Learning, working in what is called Flexible Groups, to accomplish Flexible Goals, based on a Flexible Curriculum.”

Read more of “Flexible Groups.”

 

“When I wake, the cats are at the door—they want to slip into bed and lie in my warm vacancy.”

Read more of “Snakes and Spiders”

Short Prose about Teaching (Part I)

“I open the year with a joke. ‘My name is Mr. White, like the color of my [the students look expectantly toward my skin] walls.’ Cue enough laughter to sustain the joke next period.”

Read more of “Starry White.”

 

“Today, I had a rather innocent and ill-informed student inspect an atlas on the wall (one with only the boundaries of countries but no printed names), point to Cambodia, and say, ‘I think that’s South Koran.'”

Read more of “Geography and Centipedes.”

 

“My classroom is a block like those you stack in first-grade.”

Read more of “Teaching Tapas”

Nonfiction — “New Territory for Old Slavery”

In 2019, New Territory is concentric circles of green grass cloistered by brick houses, brick walls, brick veins. The streets have pretty names like Whisper Ridge and Rippling Creek and Silver Lake, imagining a lost era of folkishness, only this is the knees of Houston and there never was whispering, rippling, or silver anything, only marshland turned to farmland turned to homeland.

The suburb wears a coat of trees which make the residents hostile when the government cuts them down, arguing that the trees have history, roots, are more than shadow-makers, but no one mentions that they were planted, full-grown, in the late nineties alongside the people. A militia of invisible gardeners marches through the parks, and when the trees are bare-limbed, none can tell if the leaves were individually picked or if it’s Late Winter.

An aerial photo in George Memorial Library shows a different New Territory.

(more…)

Nonfiction — “Teaching Tapas”

(One)

My classroom is a block like those you stack in first-grade. Desks stand like lines of British soldiers, and students shout and throw rulers and text each other in a war of attention. My desk is the general’s tent—to the side of the parade grounds and barracks, capable at a moment’s notice to survey the ranks (all I have to do is lift my eyes from my screen to review a regiment using phones to redo eyelashes).

From this distance, it’s difficult to tell if a student is passing notes digitally or using a calculator to complete physics problems. With a war weary sigh, sans mustache, cigar, and epaulets, I rise from my command to remind the infantry that the assignment is due in five minutes.

(Two)

Sometimes I’ll see a student staring out the window at the end of the hall. But what does she see out there that holds her attention? I know from experience there’s only a gray lot, cars, the track field, the tennis court—all yellow and hazy behind the dusty glass.

But I don’t think she’s looking at anything in particular.

Maybe it’s a mood she senses on the other side of the pane. Across the gold beer plains, coming from distant mountains.

A feeling she won’t find among white walls that slide into a maze of locked rooms and lockers. Halls guarded by ceiling cameras and attentive teachers.

Out there? Streets and side-streets. The brown roofs of suburbia. Highways weaving with the hills like little gray veins. And patches of trees binding shadow-flooded plains to the homes of coyotes.

Sometimes I know what she sees.

Published — “Cuidado”

Forgot to mention this when it came out. Life gets busy sometimes. One of my poems published at the end of August.

Rue Scribe is a magazine devoted to “Small Literature”—to “micro fiction, flash fiction, tiny fiction,” and to, eh, what the hell, “short shorts.” This cigarette drag of story is about the “small but powerful,” about the smoke that lingers. That’s why I’m honored RS chose to publish “Cuidado,” a poem condemning global violence on women through a life-changing encounter that lasts no more than five seconds.

Published — “Boar Song”

My poem, “Boar Song” published in Ink & Voices, an online publication devoted to “unapologetic expression, unedited art.” The magazine seeks to provide a space for “humanness” and has a predilection for the “honest, raw, and original.” My poem, about how my wife turns goblinesque when I tickle her, was an attempt to express my adoration without convention or praise-filled language. I couldn’t have found a better venue to publish.