Winner, Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition, 2018
Excerpt from trophy
The boy and his father are hunting. Sun filters through the hemlocks and warms the dry oak leaves that litter the forest floor. Acorns nestle in the leaves and frequent piles of fresh whitetail dung prove that deer are plentiful in this place that runs along behind the old graveyard. The tall man bends down and fingers a few of the hard dark pellets.
“Not cold yet. Can’t be much more’n a hundred yards ahead. Best we split up here. You stick with this trail. I’ll circle left.”
“Big one, huh, Dad.”
“Git a good clean shot and you’ll have you some nice trophy. Ten-pointer for sure. But if he is, he’s some smart, so don’t go messing with ‘im. Old ones like that been known to turn on yuh.”
I paint, I write, and I rant in a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods. Perhaps I’ll leave someday, but the trees make thoughtful neighbours, so perhaps not.
For a writer, every word is a choice and the better the choice, the better the outcome. But these choices can become a mire in themselves, since a character’s life can hang on a precarious balance of those words. In my work, I stubbornly insist on adding still another layer to the vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and genre—I implant moral dilemmas. I need to place the reader within the scene with the characters, smelling the autumnal breeze along with the odor of blood, hearing the birds and the sounds of physical abuse, watching the light fade from once vibrant dark eyes. I live now surrounded by woods like those in TROPHY and each year the wildlife becomes more scarce until last winter there were no deer tracks in the snow. As a child I walked these same woods with my own father, a kind man and never abusive, a hunter taking only what was necessary, always mindful. Like the writer, every hunter has a choice.
I’ve had a number of stories, essays, and poems awarded and published through the years, but TROPHY is a child dear to my heart and I’m so pleased that it’s been recognized.
The Moss In My Mind
As a child, alone but never lonely, I formed at the base of trees small structures, their architecture fantastic as a dream, the framework of their mossy roots welcoming as home. I imagined myself the elf, inhabiting those ferny rooms, constantly creating further chambers, at peace. Enclosed, yet free.
These architectural woodland forays comprise my first memories of the me whom I myself now know, respect and identify; the creative me, the independent me, the me of the moment. They form a basis of personality, an intimacy between the trees and me.
Some years ago I elaborated on those early woodsy structures and built one permanently, a house within whose walls I now type this present page as I have typed many others. A personal place, just right for me, appropriate in its mossy setting as ferns in tree roots grow. Born from an early memory to form the roots of others. A magic house in Maine.
Occasionally, there are elves.
Other works available online:
“Pegasus,” The Linnet’s Wings http://www.joomag.com/magazine/the-linnets-wings/0975110001419166777?short
“Souvenir,” Blue Fifth Review https://bluefifthreview.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/blue-five-notebook-november-2014-14-21
“Mud Season,” Crack the Spine, http://issuu.com/crackthespine/docs/issue_114/28
“The Obligation Of Rubber Bands,” the Same, https://thesame.blog/2018/01/01/issue-5-1-nonfiction
“Florence and Marion,” Pithead Chapel, http://pitheadchapel.com/florence-and-marion
“A Year In Oblivion – An Artistic Journey,” Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities, http://hekint.org/a-year-in-oblivion-an-artistic-journey
“I dedicate my no Trump vote…” http://dedicateyournotrumpvote.blogspot.com
“Requiem for the Beast,” honoree, Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities http://hekint.org/requiem-for-the-beast-a-memoir
“Of donuts and rain,” first prize Intergenerational Wordwide Storytelling Contest, http://intergenerationmonth.org/story-telling-contest-winners
“A Few Hours,” (First Place F. Scott Fitzgerald Poetry Prize) http://www.thefitzgeraldmuseum.org/poetry-contest-winners.html
“What is Aleppo?” WHIRLWIND #10, https://issuu.com/whirlwindreview/docs/whirldwind_issue10_w_cover
“On Age,” The Lake http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry/mara-buck
“Questions of memory,” “ Heritage,” The Lake http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry-archive/march
”No way,” “New Year’s Cleaning,” The Lake http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry-archive/november