I believe that with some horses, or maybe all horses, when you approach them for the first time, there exists an extraordinary moment akin to something like this: it is a moment when you draw near to the animal and perhaps look into the penetrating eye, breathe close to or inside the nose, stand beside the chest, or ride him for the first time, and in that remarkable instant, I believe that the horse has the ability to see and feel some or all of your past experiences through flashes of images, scents, and dream-like visions, and if the horse wishes to open up completely, he can sense your entire history as it stands up until the present, and it strikes him with a force -- he is suddenly aware of your (and any human's) entire nature, even the biggest joys and deepest pains, and the horse knows, right away, on a level man cannot comprehend, what it is that makes you who you are, and drawing from what he knows, the horse reacts accordingly, responding to these senses and visions, whether it be in a positive or negative light, and the crucial, initial moment of connection determines the course of the relationship forever; that is, the dynamic of the bond, and the entire relationship remains the same unless horse or rider (or both), suddenly and strangely shift, opening up to the idea of humility, and overall, when both surrender, learn, and let go, there is a partnership of true understanding that is difficult to duplicate. Lesser creatures? I think not. Each creature is nature's schoolteacher for humankind.
Such as with people. People live in various stages of relationship combinations, whether they be full of angst and/or triumph. And when it comes to true understanding -- herein enters the idea of the soul mate.
Also, more importantly, yesterday I had graham crackers and Cool Whip, because I don't like lemon pie. I asked Mom to make me a cookie dough, graham cracker, Cool Whip pie. Raw? she asked. Oh yeah, I answered. But then she said I'm not supposed to eat raw cookie dough because it has raw eggs in it. Life is so complicated. On the soul mate thing, and the cookie dough.
Ignatius, who has served as the President of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League, is an avid poet, gardener, and artist. He has studied his craft for over twenty years. Recently, out of nowhere, I received his book of poems, Fifty Under Fifty, in the mail. It's a deep joy to read, packed with feeling and full of craft, the kind of accessible poetry that I love. Yes.
Are you going to venture to the grocery store, a.k.a., Before Thanksgiving Hell? Seems that everyone + the wild uncle needs a last minute turkey or special bread or prescription or ham or t.p. or stuffing or whatever. Be prepared for this -- people yell at each other, cut off old ladies in the parking lot, steal parking places, and zoom carts around like it's the last day on Earth. Here, some dude with a full cart nearly takes out a lady in a wheel chair. No prisoners. Over there, another lady squeezes her cart in between an aisle and a bench, and she keeps trying to jam the sucker through. She has some sort of nasty “I must force this cart through an impossible space” plan, and no one is brave enough to interrupt her.
Be careful out there.
Everyone seems to be on a separate mission -- the store managers, the shoppers, the workers, the children, the woman ringing the Salvation Army bell, the man at the Veterans' table, the teenagers behind the customer service desk, the bank clerks, the pharmacists, the family of eight from the country, the addicts buying Sudafed in the self checkout, the hippies in the organic aisle -- and everyone wants to be the most important one in charge, and everyone wants to run the show, whether it be through action, passivity, or noise, and no one seems to agree on what the mission should be. On the way out, look forward to someone in a car with dark-tinted windows following your ass all the way to your car, waiting for you to unload, almost running you over, then quickly zooming into the spot like a speed-racer. Without another thought, he'll take your place.
There's a war going on.
And there's more to come. Everywhere, Christmas decorations have already sprung up. Someone just put antlers on his SUV.
From the inside out. There's a war going on.
Of course, I'm not immune to this kind of thinking. I get caught up when it comes to daily plans, but after observing what's around me and after reading the news, my prayer this morning is the following: this Thanksgiving I'm reminded of what a wise man once said to me, 'Stay in your own lane.' But when I say this, I mean, let me pay attention to my side of the street. Let my 'lane,' so to speak, be a place where I can take a look at myself and harness all of the things life has taught me thus far in order to be of service to the world, in whatever small way -- to be 'a part of,' to be a person among persons, to be a part of the solution.
From the inside out, let me be a part of the solution.
Short story, fiction. Since Thanksgiving's coming, here's a creepy turkey story for you. One of my favorites, strangely enough. Hope you have a good day. I'm going to ride Q, the jumper. He's tricky, but he's learning. I'm getting strong again. I'd like a few of my own, man, to train and sell, to just be able to do it on my own. Maybe someday. Hope you are happy & free, whatever you're doing. Enjoy the story. Love, C.A. XO <3
Thanksgiving break. Evening in Jaytown, flocks of college kids browsed the stores and each other. Back home, each year, Rose became one smooth deal hunter. Her jeans were the black, skinny kind -- straight-legged and tight. Casually dressed to kill, she was window-shopping until some voice came at her from behind, the way she liked it.
“Hey!” he yelled.
She whipped around. "Hey yourself," she said to the man in the new T-bird. The car wore temporary tags.
She looked him over. Fresh meat, she thought, grinning. He was young, around her age, nineteen, and his build was hardly bigger than hers. He sank low in the leather seats of his crimson car. His hair was her brown shade. His wild brows weren't plucked, like hers. His shirt was red and fading, bleeding like hers.
Waiting for him, she leaned back against a storefront, restless. Maybe she’d buy a thumb ring later. Maybe skateboarders would soar and wreck, nursing breaks and bruises on Jaytown's streets. She never knew what characters would appear or vanish. She looked at her watch. Dad might ground her if she were out too late.
Hand at her chin, she studied him.
He parked crooked as hell. He was half-baked. He wasn’t careful.
She liked this.
When he climbed out of the car and reached for her, his shake was firm, like hers. “I'm Billy,” he said, raising a brow. “You look familiar." Billy touched her wrist, which cracked.
In his hand, her wrist became weak and fragile, like a wishbone. For a moment, she liked this too. "I'm Rose," she said, grinning. He seemed like a good egg. And when he touched her hair, she felt a shock, which was strange. She liked strange birds.
His eyes turned round and large, nearly buckeyes. "Come with me," Billy said, tugging her small wrist.
Meeting Billy was a good excuse to avoid home. Dad was usually out. Or making juice or eating tofu, watching Survivor, just checking out. Mom checked out too. Ten years back, on Thanksgiving, raspberries were on sale again. What a deal. Mom went to pick some up, planning for Dad’s special pies, but she never returned. Around twelve items or less, Mom disappeared. Dad let the turkey burn, burn, char in the oven. Dad still called her "missing;" he still put up signs. Rose couldn't picture Mom anymore. Rose only saw smoke.
Past the ghetto mart, past the people gliding through auto-doors like shopper hawks, Billy led her into Jaytown's famous ice cream shop. They shared a cone, berry sorbet.
Rose called it a date. Each year, back home, around the fourth Thursday in November, she had dates like this. She grinned, reminiscing. She checked the wall clock. She knew she had to either push this one in the oven or let it sit. She checked her watch, scratching her head. She would already be in trouble by then. Might as well stay out.
Backtracking, they paused in an underground parking garage until it became a deserted maze. Sex began with the slight tearing of shirts until both were bare, focused on skin grabbing. Billy let her suck on his finger. He let her suck.
Rose discovered that Billy was the sweaty kind – nearly cooking. And Rose discovered that someone had written Bush Sucks on the wall in black. Overhead on a fire escape, a couple fought until breakables began breaking.
Billy scooped his arms above her, making weird wings. Then he reached down, gripping her wrists, pinning her down on the ground.
It was hot, mad, wet, rough, and then her body became his giant skin pillow.
His chest, his body curves fit hers.
She wondered if she'd see him again. She fell asleep wondering.
Stiffly, she woke. It wasn’t that cold out, but Rose shivered. The world was hardly lit. She squinted to see. She was whale-hungry, chewing stale gum. She looked at her weak wrist. It was 9 a.m.
Billy slept spread-eagled on the blacktop. Then he came to, rubbing his buckeyes, moving his mouth like hers. Chewy.
Quickly, they dressed before crowds or cops appeared.
Her car had a fresh ticket. Using a rust crayon she found in the gutter, she scribbled her number on the back of the ticket, handing it to Billy, saying, "That's me." Rose sat in her car, wondering if Dad would ground her for staying out. That turkey.
Blocking traffic, Billy leaned at her window, hovering and shifting like a drug dealer. He said, “I’ll call,” and his buckeyes loomed at the surrounding traffic. All around, drivers’ faces burned red, trapped in various road rage stages. "I will," he said. Then he kissed her. Then he paused. Then he kissed her again. “I’ll call,” Billy said again. Then he shot away, heading for his T-bird, heading for the highway.
She didn't believe him. She never believed those turkeys. No matter how good they tasted, the seasoning was never quite right. Gripping the wheel so tight that her wrist, her wishbone, hurt, she noticed that her red shirt was too loose, too faded. It wasn't hers. It was Billy’s. She should give it back. She smiled. She followed him. She was close. Too close.
His lead foot was serious, like hers. Deep into the back roads, Billy flew easily until he couldn’t take the curves.
She tailed him. She was close. Too close. She watched him weave, trying to lose her, but she grinned at the game. She knew these moves, these streets; they were all a familiar recipe.
The T-bird screeched, wobbled, then flipped like a toy, landing upside down. The car was no more than shredded, splintered metal. A smoldering nest.
Pulling over, Rose's body simmered, shaking out a small earthquake. She listened for Billy’s life signs, blinking repeatedly. No movement, no life, no breath. So much smoke, so much black ash mascara. Her eyes smarted, taking the burn. Her eyes leaked, crying and drying. One thing was clear – another turkey was burning. It was too late for Rose to check out. Dad might ground her. Dad sent Mom out for raspberries. He had to have them. Twelve items or less. I’ll call. I will. That liar. All those liars. Express checkout, motherfucker. She shrugged, running her hands together – slap, slap, slap – then licking them clean. All she had to do was speed and wait and watch the time, and this dirty bird was done. She clapped, just once, feeling suddenly sleepy.
Rose's U-turn was hard. She scanned the road, studying the cars, the colors, the metal skins. She knew how to pick a bird. She followed another car. She could see the back window, then the plates, then the driver’s hair -- tangled with angry wings, beyond help with flyaways. She was close. Too close. Rose was one deal hunter. She smiled, red-faced and whale-hungry again, her teeth tearing through stale gum.
This was a rare one. The head was feathered messy, out of control, like hers. Rose looked at her watch.
Hi, fan. The first line is the title in this one. Love, C.A.
She could hold a hummingbird.
Balance is easy. Others see her strong foot, her grownup, glue grip to ground. Nesting. Look, even her eyelids barely move. A secret, a beating, each blink cotton-lands, silently resting to close, like paper touching paper.
Hm, I thought it should be "bodies," but who needs grammar when you've got ripped abs and a demon-strong core? If you'd like a massage after your routine, there's a sister club down the street that focuses on relaxation...it's called, "Lay Down Bodys."