What can YOU say in six sentences?
Back in the early 1970s, before chew toys and waste management were known to men of our somewhat rural hamlet, a 10-year-old couldn’t mow the grass without first scouting for deer legs and skulls that might otherwise become missiles capable of amputating his own stalks.
A taxidermist lived up the street, and he discarded all the carcasses in the piney woods behind his home, pieces of which found their way onto the…Continue
A few ticks away from dusk, I quit fishing and began walking to the cabin alone. Barefoot, wearing only cutoff jeans, skin slick with mosquito repellent, I crossed the bridge over the creek, and then I remembered the catfish at the end of a stringer still poked in the riverbank.
I’d backtracked about 10 steps -- couldn’t leave my fish for the loggerheads -- when I looked down and saw a fat water moccasin slithering…Continue
“No ’oblem,” said the twentysomething waitress, scooping up the plate of waffles smothered in rancid blueberries. She returned moments later, big sounds escaping her curiously almost-closed mouth: “Uh anager says e’ll ake em off uh ill.”
“What?” I asked.
“Thank you very much,” my wife smiled, seemingly oblivious to the girl’s impediment, while I fought wild urges to ask…Continue
It's been called both the cradle of the Confederacy and the birthplace of the civil rights movement, where Jefferson Davis was sworn in and Martin Luther King Jr. sworn at; where Rosa Parks was just too goddamned tired to move to the back of the bus; and where George Wallace decreed ours a state segregated and proud.
Rush-hour traffic is manageable here, though residents have long forgotten the rules of approaching and…Continue
1972: Took my first summer job, cleaning kennels, and saved enough to buy my own brand new bedroom suit: Mediterranean-style with red velvet inlays.
1975: Lost my virginity, if spilling seed by another’s hand counts.
1976: Lost my virginity for real, if the former doesn’t.…Continue
I painted an old fish camp dock many gray hairs ago, its slips all filled with aluminum boats, and called it “The Cows are Lying Down” because the fish don’t bite when the bovines aren’t standing.
I don’t know what the hell to expect if the cows are lying with the fishes, but that’s what they were doing when I passed through the Midwest last week.…Continue
My friend stares at his oil gauge as if the engine’s arteries are clogged, and we wait until the needle rises before we move. In rural Nebraska, where a man’s measure is judged by tallow and bushel, vehicles are merely means to an end -- better a mule than a show horse -- and they aren’t replaced until they’re beyond resuscitation.
When finally pronounced dead, old trucks are simply…Continue
Ten o’clock Friday morning, two women in housecoats were smoking in dinette chairs on a porch no bigger than a sheet of plywood. Two shotgun houses away, three men worked on a late model Ford, hood raised, its right front wheel on blocks.
One of the shadetree mechanics kept hitching up his pants, which required that he bite the tip of his cigarette to free his hands. He was…Continue
“Isn’t it gorgeous?” the woman beamed, thrusting the just-framed decoupage plaque in front of the art gallery’s owner.
“Sure is,” he smiled gently. “Did you do it?”
“Goodness, no,” she answered. “It was done by … by …,” she fidgeted with the edge, as if trying to peer under a corner. “I guess it doesn’t have an artist.”…Continue
The Jack Russell terrier, red leash coiled on the grass beside him, cocked his head in front of the giant speakers flanking the Front Street stage.
While Vince Johnson and his Memphis-based Plantation All Stars praised the virtues of big-legged women, little-legged girls danced on the bricked street, oblivious to the lyrics.
As the shadows from the nearby Yazoo River…Continue
When the local art guild’s newsletter advertised life drawing sessions at the college, Pawel Jonca thought he’d died and gone to heaven, but he remained very much alive for six more weeks.
Every Tuesday night before the heart attack, the 70-year-old widower lost himself in charcoal renderings of unclothed youths, filling his sketch pad with images he’d revisit daily, remembering a…Continue
“There are no inhibitions in here,” the postman shouted, gesturing at the dance floor with his Marlboro Light, the glowing tip aimed at a woman in a taut skirt. Leaning far forward, her hands nearly touching the plywood floor, she planted her feet and began polishing the smoky air with her backside.
All heads turned, mesmerized by the silent coitus between woman and air, and then…Continue
He didn’t kill anybody, though some cops with spit-shined sunglasses and starched underwear claimed the 30-year-old bank robber meant to. He’d thrown a ninja star at a policeman, for crissakes, hit the officer in the neck and drew blood, right before dashing into a Florida swamp to elude his would-be captors.
They reluctantly dropped the attempted murder charge, and only because some fancy-smancy doctors said the man,…Continue
Ever wonder what it would be like to hear the actual voices of your writer friends here at 6S, to breathe the same air, and to break bread and tilt back a wine glass or cup of joe with them?
Ever think about how fun it must be to climb into a treehouse with a gaggle of kindred spirits who appreciate words on a page or screen, who actually read them instead of politely clicking "like" on Facebook?
If so, then mark your calendars and pawn something; put in for vacation time; find…Continue
GREENWOOD, Miss. -- There’s more gap between a toddler’s first teeth than between the many shotgun houses fronting streets named for either flora or dead presidents. They sit like plucked piano keys with fading furniture on crooked porches, from which life -- a television with a single static-filled channel -- is observed.…Continue
For those who have no choice but to live life at low tide, where even high tide is barely sufficient to float a power pole’s reflection in a roadside ditch, poverty is not charming.
It’s either hot or cold, laden with cholesterol, bald tires, rust and too many mouths to feed.
Survival requires space heaters, quilts sewn of old underwear, tabletop fans, sauce for the…Continue
"Red's Blues Club," one of my paintings in progress
The mingling of pork fat dripping on hot coals,…Continue
I was a towheaded 6-year-old when a woman with a boy’s name caused me to gaze at the placid Warrior River with a sense of mourning, though I didn’t even know the meaning of the word.
Back then, death came only to stillborn beagles, to flies beneath a swatter and to mice in traps.
I was in the back seat of Daddy’s nondescript Ford Galaxie, lulled by the metronomic whoosh…Continue
Twenty years have passed since I sat in an old truck, listening to the man behind the wheel explain what it’s like to have an artist’s sight.
The driver who so desperately wanted me to see through his Mr. Magoo eyeglasses was Ney Park (now deceased), about whom I was to write a newspaper story.
Ney steered onto the country road’s overgrown shoulder, parked, retrieved his…Continue
Before Ike made a Turner out of Anna Mae Bullock, before he and his Kings of Rhythm found a new moon in St. Louis, he was living out of the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Miss., one of the South’s few in 1951 where blacks could be guests, not just bellhops or maids.
There’s a new plaque on a pole outside the Riverside nowadays, but the establishment appears ready to slide down into the flood plain Ike must’ve gazed…Continue