8/01/2015

Fiction: Take My Test


Take My Test

short story, fiction

Her stomach rumbled. At her desk, Stacy shifted, holding her middle, trying to mask the noise, but when she moved, the groans inside of her only became louder, turning into a sleepy, constant growl. For a moment, she wondered if the sounds would break a rib. She reached up, each hand gripping a blond braid, and she gave them a gentle tug. Her stomach churned, and she cleared her throat, hoping to hide the acidity inside.

She looked at the clock. In about five minutes, the bell would ring. She watched the second hand tick, tick, and then her eyes darted down to the blank paper on the desk in front of her. She glanced at the boy to her right. Will. Repeatedly, she blinked. When her gut was loud, she didn't sleep much.

With saucer-like, big, brown eyes, Will stared back. What? he mouthed at her. An early riser, he was tall for fifth grade. What’s wrong? You look like a sad dog.

Nothing, Stacy mouthed back, looking down at the blurry maze of unanswered math problems. Her stomach raged on, and she hugged herself, moving her small hips side to side in the hard chair, nearly slipping out of it. She leaned toward him. Ever so quietly, she whispered, I’m no dog, dummy.

Your face looks like my puppy though. Didn't you study any? Will wrote on the side of his desk.

Yes, LOTS, Stacy wrote on the edge of a small, spiral notebook. Mom made me.

You sick? he wrote back, blinking his long, dark lashes, then sniffling. Man, I am.

NO, she wrote in bubble, block letters. She thought about Pop Tarts. Strawberry. Hungry, see.

Yer gonna flunk, Will etched into the wooden surface of his desk. It wasn't hard. It wasn't hard at all, and he was happy about this.

Aren't you worried about your desk? Stacy wrote, and her body jerked when her pen sank into the hole of the spiral. She pulled it out, fixing the accident.

Shrugging, Will looked down, studying his graffiti. Then he reached for a small, black book, writing, I like your braids. No breakfast for you? Lucky Charms rock, don’t they?

Stacy wrote, They do. I like the purple horseshoes.

Will scribbled, You didn’t have anything?

Stacy shook her head. With the pen, she dug into the paper. There wasn't enough.

Will nodded, staring down his long nose, studying her. He mouthed, I get it.

The bell rang.

"Okay, everyone, time to turn the tests in. Bring them on up," the teacher, Miss Markistan, announced in a cheery, light voice.

Will handed his test to Stacy, whispering, "Here, take my test. I didn’t even put my name on it yet. I always do that last. Some kind of superstitious thing. Take it. Put your name on it, turn it in. She won't be able to tell the handwriting's wrong. It's just numbers. And I think I got most of them right too." Grinning, he nodded at her. "It's all right."

Miss Markistan yelled, "Come on now, enough of this chatter! Let's turn them in, folks."

"But what will you do?" Stacy asked Will, taking the test from him, sliding the blank one into her book bag.

Will shrugged, licking his lips. "Hm…well…I'll tell her I'm sick, or I’ll tell her that when she passed out the tests she forgot me, or I’ll kill her, I dunno. Hey, Stacy, just so you know, I think you're like some kind of movie star. You are, aren’t you? You’re special, like the purple horseshoe. Hey, your eyes are so blue, they actually look purple, it’s weird.”

Stacy smiled, looking down. She hooked her book bag on her shoulders, feeling her stomach, feeling the growl. Then she glanced back up at Will and said, "I think you're like one of those guys who wears hats and shoots guns...yeah...a gangster. My brother makes me watch those movies. I mean, I like them, but he makes me."

"A gangster, I like that," Will said, smiling wide, puffing out his small chest.

"Will! Stacy! Turn in your tests or you’ll be late for Science, and no one wants to be late for Mr. Usher. You know he'll make you sit next to the snake," Miss Markistan shouted.

"Yes, Miss Markistan," Will and Stacy said in unison.

Swinging her braids, Stacy turned and walked to the front of the room, moving lightly, like she always did, like a newly violet butterfly.

Whistling, hand on the side of his corduroys, Will followed close behind.

Lightheaded, hanging on to the chalkboard, Stacy turned in her test.

"Finally! Now have a good day, you two troublemakers," Miss Markistan said, shaking her head.

Will approached Miss Markistan – sizing up her round face, her thick smile, and her body mass -- her height and her curves. The possible weight of it. He opened his hands, showing white, empty palms.

"Where’s your test?" Miss Markistan asked him, hands planted on her wide hips. “That’s not like you to be difficult. You’re usually such a good kid.”

From the door, Stacy glanced back at Will with bloodshot, round eyes. She ran a hand across her middle, feeling the life there. The life. She knew it was only one hour until lunch. She could make it.

Will sniffled. Maybe he’d keep quiet, say nothing. No, the sickness story might work. And then he thought about the hunting knife taped to his leg. The week before, he’d taken it from his Dad’s dresser drawer, just in case there was some enemy out there, some enemy like Dad or Miss Markistan. Will hadn’t used it yet, but he liked knowing it was there. Like Stacy, his stomach rumbled some too. Only one hour until lunch. If he breathed slowly, the pangs weren't as harsh, and he knew his house wasn’t as bad as Stacy’s. He’d heard.

"The test, the test," Miss Markistan asked, raising her voice.

Will glanced down, studying the smooth, grey floor. For sure, Stacy was like some kind of movie star. He wasn't sure about much in fifth grade, but he was sure that Stacy was like a movie star. Nobody had purple eyes like that. Nobody but her. He stared up at Miss Markistan, his brown eyes peering intently into her hazel ones. He stood as tall as he could and muttered, "When you passed out the tests, there weren't enough.” Suddenly, he was empty-handed and fearless. He was a boxer, a pit bull, a monster from the deep. Like Jaws. He was a man.

Startled, Miss Markistan said, “It’s just not like you. You’re such a good kid.” Then she shook her head and asked, “What’s that sticking out of your pants leg?” She grabbed Will by the arm, and then she reached down, lifted the cuff of his corduroys, pulled at the tattered pants leg, and ripped at the tape hard and fast, scratching at it, tearing off half of Will's sock and some of his skin. Revealing the knife, she studied the dried blood on the serrated edge, and then she backed away from him, holding up the weapon. “Oh my god,” she said. “Where did you get this?”

Looking at the doorway, Will smiled over at Stacy.

Stacy mouthed, You're a gangster, before she disappeared out the door, heading to Science.

Still gripping the knife, Miss Markistan dragged Will down the hall toward the Principal's office.

Will had never felt so full.

-- C.A. MacConnell

7/30/2015

Photos from the Garden Today.


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Veins


Wishbone Girl
C.A. MacConnell

Prayer Request

Last night, I got kidnapped.
I was trapped
inside a hot

sanctuary.
I was shifty
in the church pew –
a cramped place
I have never called home.

Last night, I got lucky.
I discovered
a blank stack

of prayer request paper.
Three by five,
I drew you wearing suns.
I’ve never seen you like this,
but that's the way I always

picture you.
I drew me next to you.
I was reaching

for your middle.
I drew a taller me –
wild-haired,
stick hands nearly touching
the place where your belt

should be.
My fingers got lost
between your loops.

I've never seen me like this,
but the pencil made me
a lead-grey, dipping,
V-necked dress.
Your mouth

was a line.
My mouth
was a circle.

C.A. MacConnell

7/29/2015

7/28/2015

Short Story: Jesus, Jimmy

Jesus, Jimmy

-- orig. published in Analecta 25: the Art and Literary Journal of the University of Texas at Austin**

All right. There were some fights. Food scattered all over the kitchen, a fork mark on the side of Dad's neck. She had thrown it at him. She liked to throw things. When I walked into the kitchen, I ducked.

Bang, bang, bang on the wall. That was how she got my attention. "Moe! Get up, Moe! You shouldn't be sleeping all day!"

"I work the night shift!" I yelled back. Something like that.

Bang, bang, bang on the wall. "You shouldn't be sleeping all day!"

And there was my hand through a glass door because she pushed me into it. Then her calling the cops on me for attacking. Which I didn't, but there was blood there, and it was my fault like it was always my fault. Then it was me choosing between juvey hall and the psych ward. Then me choosing again.

So I hung out at Jimmy's basement mostly. We did ridiculous things like drink cases of Milwaukee's Best and smoke stuff and knock down walls. And sometimes, Jimmy got his guns out to show off to me. How Jimmy never ended up in jail, it's a wonder. He liked guns and guns like Jimmy. One time, we built a bonfire out in Jimmy's backyard. Jimmy burned things like books and chairs while I played my Dad's guitar in the basement. Through the sliding glass door, I watched Jimmy dance around the fire shooting his gun. Flash got me stoned. We called him that because he used to be all athletic and run real fast. He used to do everything fast -- walk fast, drive fast, pick up women fast. Stuff changes though. He made us crack up and turned into the dealer for us. There was money in it. When he was stoned, Flash cooked up these plans to save the world, then forgot them in a flash. He was a dreamer. We all were, like how we thought we could ace tests without studying at all. I always did okay, but there was the time when Jimmy saw my score and wrote "Eat shit" on my test. Then he dropped his pants. Boy, we both had to call our moms from school on that one. It was nuts.

While we burned things, Jimmy's mom slept upstairs. Either that or she went out with her boyfriend to Blueberry Hill for a drink, which usually turned out to be ten drinks. Her boyfriend was an electrician, and that came in handy when Jimmy drank too much and broke lamps. Me and Jimmy were just glad we had a place to hang out and do ridiculous things and not get yelled at. Jimmy's mom had a bad back and she was crazy too, quiet crazy. She took drugs for it, the kind that make you all loopy like you're half-dead.

Bang, bang, bang on the wall. "Moe, you bring me some hangers." And when I forgot, "Boy, I can see your titties when you wear that tank top." Mom said that 'cause I was big for fifteen. I was pretty built freshman year, but I kind of let myself go after that. Me and Flash were big and silly. Jimmy was bigger and sillier. Jimmy's mom was quiet crazy. My mom was loud crazy. That's why me and Jimmy hung out and knocked down walls.

--

I'm getting out today, which is a good thing because I'm playing my guitar tonight in the jazz band competition at school. All I've thought about for the past two weeks while I've been in the psych ward is how the hell I was going to get enough practicing done. They told me to think about all this past stuff, and I've thought about it, and I've written at least five new tunes about how Mom told me we were going to the doctor to get my ingrown toenails removed. Instead, she started chain smoking and drove me here, threw me in the loony bin. Not so bad, really. When you're fifteen, and in the loony bin, and your mom's loud crazy, it's kind of nice to get away for a while.

I got Dad's guitar with me. They don't let me keep it in my room because they're afraid somebody might steal it. They keep it behind the counter until I ask for it. It's not so bad here. Quiet. Kind of like a vacation.

So we go to meetings where we talk about how we feel, and I tell them I don't know why I'm here, that I'm just here, that Mom's loud crazy and I got no problems. Those whitecoats just nod and smile, looking at me all sad, the way Jimmy's mom looks when she does come down from her room, which is a one-in-a-million thing. The girls here talk and cry a lot. The boys here listen to me play tunes and beat on things when we're allowed to make noise. While I strum, I miss Jimmy and Flash, and I wonder how they're holding up. And I feel bad 'cause I know they don't like too much time without me. They need me to keep them from doing stuff that's really stupid, like stealing picnic tables from the neighbors. But that's another ridiculous story.

All right. So all week long I've been ignoring that guy with the sleep disorder. He kept banging on the wall the way my Mom did, all loud, trying to get my attention. I've been ignoring the pill suicide girls and the kid whose mom deserted his family on his birthday. I played my part in the psycho drama, the part of one of the suicide kid's abusive older brothers. That was some fun. All week long, they kept coming to me, and I listened to their stories and tried to help, but there's just no helping some people. Besides, I had to practice for the jazz band competition. Jimmy and Flash were looking forward to it. We had ridiculous plans for after the competition, whether or not I played well. They promised me that when I used my one phone call on them.

So I sit here with Dad's guitar and wait for her. When she pulls up in her AMC Eagle, yelling, "Moe!" out the window, waving her cigarette at me, I just sit and sulk.

"Get in," she says.

I get in because I got to get to school fast for the competition. I can’t drive yet and Flash is the only one with the car, but his is on blocks in Jimmy’s backyard because of the night we got all drunk on wine coolers and had the munchies. We went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and ate straight off the all-you-can-eat bar. When we got back, Flash ran straight into the side of Jimmy’s house. That was after we trashed the Cedar Ridge apartment complex across the street. Jimmy had to get a new brush after that because he left his floating in the pool there. Slipped out of his back pocket.

Dad’s guitar sits in the backseat behind me, same way it sat the day after he had his first heart attack, which was the same day Mom asked him for the divorce. It was the same day that gunfire and explosions went on in Jimmy’s backyard, and we stole a birdbath from his neighbor. A week later, Jimmy’s mom smoked in the basement, ashed in the birdbath and said, “Where’d this birdbath come from?” And Jimmy said back, “Moe’s mom gave it to us.” Jimmy’s mom smiled and went up to her room with a bottle of Wild Turkey and got all quiet.

Mom rolls up her window and lights one smoke off of another. “How you doing?” she asks me, stretching her neck like a bird so she can see over the dash. Mom is skinny and wrinkly. Makes me wonder how I turned out so big.

“How do you think I’m doing?” I say back. I feel like playing some blues. Maybe Muddy Waters. Miles Davis. Yeah, Jimmy and Flash would like that.

“Moe, we got to hurry. You got the jazz band, and I got people coming to see you,” she says.

I always thought it was funny that I had to play my electric with no amp because she was always telling me to shut up, but when people came over, she wanted to show me off.

“Yeah,” I say. She doesn’t talk anymore, and I’m glad because I’m trying to remember chords in my head. I move my fingers to make sure they still work.

When we get to Wilson High, my school, Mom drops me off at the door, and I rub my hands together because they’re cold, and it’s hard to play when they’re cold. Jimmy and Flash are there and they pat me on the back. Jimmy is stoned for sure and Flash is too I think, but sometimes it’s hard to tell with Flash since he wears glasses and when he takes them off, his eyes are just slits all of the time.

Jimmy pats me on the back again, and we walk back behind the school, where I smoke a blunt with them. We huddle together like three big bears.

“Was it a shithole?” Jimmy asks me, pulling that new brush out of his back pocket. He got the new one the time when we were fucked up and Flash was running around Food Lion yelling, “I’m available for any fourteen-year-old chicks,” while Jimmy was busy stealing pot pies, and while I was busy keeping track of them.

Jimmy brushes his greasy hair back so that it’s all slick.

“Yeah, man. The people in there were so crazy, made me think I’m pretty normal.” I take the brush from Jimmy and get slick too. Got to hold up my image. I’m a slick, fast blues man. I feel my goatee. It hasn’t grown much.

“Did you meet any women?” Flash asks me, pulling a flask from his pants, taking a swig, then passing it to me. He doesn’t slick his hair ’cause it’s not worth it — his hair’s so curly the brush just gets stuck there. But he pushes his glasses up on his nose even though they’re already pushed up there. Habit.

“One. She liked to hear me play, but the nurses watched us close. Made me leave the door open. Treated me like I was some kind of nutcase,” I say.

“Too bad,” Flash says, “Hey man, you can stay at my place if stuff with your mom is tiring you.” He takes another swig and goes, “Geez, ahhh,” then smacks his lips. Something like that.

“Yeah, like your mom wants another kid running around. She’s already got ten,” I say. I think about it though. Whenever I went to Flash’s house, his dad would cook me gourmet things like eggplant Parmesan. There was just something about his house. No matter what, me and Jimmy could walk in there looking and smelling like bums, but Flash’s house always smelled good. And Flash did too. My house smelled like smoke. Jimmy’s did too, only not cigarette smoke — his house smelled like smoke from burning things because Jimmy just liked to burn things.

I pick up Dad’s guitar and go around the school to the backstage, where I get ready, and where Jimmy and Flash say to me, “Don’t kill yourself,” which means good luck. Jimmy brushes my hair where it’s sticking up and Flash puts a pack of smokes in the pockets of my jeans. I pull them up. They’re a bit loose. That’s what happens when Mom puts you in the psych ward. You get loose jeans. Doesn’t matter, though, ’cause I’m big and Flash’s dad’ll cook me up something soon, like he did the last time I was in there — cooked me up some roast duck with wine sauce, which is something.

When I walk into the rehearsal room, the kids are already warmed up. They all stare at me, like they are thinking, There’s that big Moe, who was sent to the psych center. He must be nuts. But they keep on warming up, and as I tune my guitar, my hands feel bigger and bigger. My body feels bigger and bigger. And Dad’s guitar feels ridiculously heavy. I feel sweat coming down my head, messing up my hair where Jimmy brushed it. But I am strong, strong like Dad. I am a fighter, like Jimmy when he threw that kid into a mirror at his house and glass went everywhere. “Shit,” Jimmy said. “Bad luck.”

“Ready. The crowd’s waiting.” Mr. Slosher says that. He’s the gym teacher, but he’s also the music teacher. In gym class, he laughs when he calls my name for attendance. “Oh, it’s Tuesday. Moe must be here.” I only go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays because that’s band practice days. Always get an “A” in gym though. Mr. Slosher likes me ’cause I play a mean guitar. He says I know how to improvise.

We follow him because he’s got the suit on — me, the keyboard player, the bassist, and the drummer. One big bear and three little kids. We follow Slosher the way Mom follows me around the house, watching me, waving her cigarette like an extra finger, saying, “Moe, why you always look at me like that?”

Slosher opens the curtains for us, and the four of us go out on stage, waiting for the good part. I breathe deep and think of Jimi Hendrix. I look at Charles, the bass player, and nod. And he nods back. I feel all loopy and daydream about his dark face fading into Jimmy’s pale one. I picture Jimmy standing next to me on stage, saying, “Look at my new gun, Moe. We’re gonna tear some shit up tonight.” And I look at the skinny, angry drummer, wishing it were Flash beating on them, saying, “Come over. My dad made some linguine.” But when the curtains open, and I look out at the parents, all I see is Mom’s face, wrinkly and smiling. She even claps.

I stare at her while I play Dad’s guitar. I’m not thinking about what I’m playing, but somehow, my fingers move because Slosher says I know how to improvise. I keep staring at Mom and thinking of songs in my head, songs about people just like me and Flash and Jimmy, people that do ridiculous things. When it’s over, and the crowd’s making some noise, I think I see Dad out there too, smoking a cigarette in the back of the auditorium because he has to smoke in order to cough and get stuff out of his lungs. And that is the stupid thing about all of it. Not that he has to cough, but that he’s not there at all.

When they give me the plaque for "Most Valuable Jazz Band Member," all I can think about is how good it is going to look on that wall, that wall that Mom always bangs on. And as she takes me home, all I think about is where the plaque should go, somewhere between my poster of Jimi and the one of B.B. King. So, when I ask Mom for nails, she says, "Moe, we can't be ruining the walls."

But I do it anyway. I search through Dad's old work shed and find a big one and pound it in. Bang, bang, bang on the wall. I hang that plaque there, and when she comes in and throws things and takes that plaque away, I duck and keep hitting the wall. Bang, bang, bang. I hit it until there's a hole there, then walk over to Jimmy's to cool off. I'll get that plaque back. Something like that.

Me, Jimmy, and Flash hang out at Jimmy's and play pool. Jimmy is good and liquored up by the time I get over there to tell him about the plaque.

"That ain't right," he says, sitting on top of the pool table. It doesn't matter if we do that. The table has all sorts of dents and slants in it.

"Yeah," I say, drinking Jimmy's Mom's Wild Turkey.

"That just ain't right," Jimmy says, hitting his fist on the table, knocking the eight ball with the side of his big hand.

"Boys, we need to have a little meeting," Flash says, pulling bud out of his jacket.

The three of us move to a holey couch, sink in it, smoke and get all quiet until Flash says, "Man, you're gonna be all famous on stage someday and none of this shit will matter."

"Let me see your guns, Jimmy," I say to him.

Jimmy's red eyes open, and he jumps up to get them, but he only makes it to the pool table. He lies down on it and gets all sleepy.

Flash puts his arm around me. He feels warm and smells like some food I can't put my finger on. "You're gonna be all famous, and I'll be the cook for your band." He takes his glasses off and starts cleaning them on his sweatshirt. The glasses are clean, but he cleans them anyway. Habit.

"Yeah," I say. "I'm gonna make some noise." I pick up Dad's guitar by the neck and begin to strum the blues, staring at the birdbath. Flash gives me a noogie and fills up the big bong. Jimmy talks in his sleep. I play until I can't move my fingers. Then I shake them and play some more until I'm sweating, sweating like I'm on stage with thousands of people staring at me, yelling my name, smiling, smoking their cigarettes, letting me hang up my plaque. Me and Flash get stoned off our rockers and laugh at Jimmy who wakes up when his Mom comes down the stairs when she gets back from Blueberry Hill and thinks she better check on him for once.

"Let me see your guns, Jimmy," I say because it's too quiet, crazy quiet.

"Mom, does your boyfriend stick his dick in light sockets?" he asks her. And she shakes her head and walks to the upstairs, which I have never seen. She doesn't talk back to Jimmy because Jimmy has guns. She just stares like a crowd stares before the music begins when Mr. Slosher says, "You ready?"

Jimmy laughs all loud crazy then starts nodding off again, spread-eagled on the pool table. Flash goes over, pokes his shoulder 'cause he's worried Jimmy might choke on his puke or something ridiculous like that. Sometimes, it's hard to wake Jimmy unless you stick forks in his mouth. And then he'll just wake up and puke in the birdbath.

I keep yelling, "Let me see your guns," and Flash keeps poking him, until Jimmy wakes up and punches him in the mouth. "Let me sleep," he says.

"Jesus, Jimmy, it's me," Flash says to him, wiping his mouth, which probably hurts and will hurt more tomorrow. The whole scene will stick in his mind like a bad tune.

Jimmy opens his eyes up some more, rubs them, and says, "Sorry man." Flash and I know he means it 'cause he messes his hair up when he says it, and that means he's telling the truth. Sometimes the truth is messy that way. Then Jimmy slurs, "Hey, Moe, me and Flash'll help you get that plaque back, even if I have to beat the shit out of your old lady. She probably stuffed it under your dad's old clothes in the basement or something," right before he passes out for real, when there's no waking him.

"All right," I say. And sometimes it was.

-- C.A. MacConnell

--

**Note to the reader:  in this story, the stigma-driven language regarding hospitals/mental health treatment was intentionally written in this manner in order to be true to the character, time, and environment; the dialogue shows how these words and ideas are ingrained in our society, creating a pattern that can later lead to an ill person's non-compliance and resistance with regard to reaching out for professional help. Thank you, C.A.

7/27/2015

This

Howdy, hello! The first line is the title in this one. I heard the most amazing story tonight from a man named Ken from Vietnam. I love hearing people's stories. We all lead such rich lives, really. Man, I need a bath. Gonna get on that. Much love. Enjoy the poem. I love those damn Quest bars so much, I'm addicted. Peace out, C.A.

This


is better. You catch me
singing at my window.
High-pitched,
neck stretched,
my lids are pressed shut
as if the lashes
are skin-stuck.
Shades hiding your eyes,
you look up and smile,
wildly waving your arms
while the muscles shake
and twitch, your fingers
rising and falling,
cooling my blink,
forcing it open,
and your hands move
for us, changing our air
like two paper fans
who suddenly turn
human.


C.A. MacConnell

Photo: Hollow


Hollow

C.A. MacConnell


7/26/2015

Photos: Self Portraits



Me, yesterday. Today I saw "Trainwreck." Smart, hilarious, heartfelt, and clever writing, casting, and acting to boot. Right on. I love learning from other writers like Amy Schumer. I really enjoyed seeing Bill Hader in this role. And John Cena! And Matthew Broderick! And LeBron James! And on and on. Great cast.

Now, on a different note, I'll leave you with this "Elder's Meditation of the Day" from the White Bison siteOh Great Spirit, allow me the insight and knowledge of how to live in harmony and balance with my surroundings. Grant me change from within.

Love.
C.A. MacConnell

Bring Her Back

Just wrote this. It's poetic, but I had more musical rhythm in mind; it's really written as a song. Yes, indeed, I hear the song here. I dunno, see what you think. Love, C.A.

Bring Her Back

Remember when school girls
had big bangs, and no one cared
about saccharin. Even then,
whether or not it could kill you,
the world loved the skinny.

Maybe you worry
that he won't like it.
Maybe you write
that his eyes are dark
just to be safe.

Maybe you are half-sleeping
on a brown couch
with a red pillow
and just like him,
you can’t find the bear.

Somewhere, someone’s winning.
Maybe a pirate who deserves it.
Maybe some jerk-off
in a souped-up body suit
made of teeth and blood.

Maybe you want to dye your hair
back to black. Winehouse
was a genius. But then the skin
would stand out. The skin.
Tattoos can’t bring her back.

Maybe you write
that the eyes are dark
just to be safe.
Maybe you worry
that he will like it.

C.A. MacConnell

7/25/2015

7/24/2015

The Ride: Coming and Going, the Way it Was

Shy Guy, April 2000

The Ride:  Coming and Going, the Way it Was

During this time, I was an Assistant Hunter/Jumper Trainer. My boss found this chestnut horse at a "dude ranch." It's in quotes because there really weren't any real dude ranches anywhere in the region, so when a place nearby was called that, it was usually a pretty scary operation. But lo and behold, after being auctioned off the track, for some reason, this absolutely gorgeous thoroughbred ended up at the pseudo-ranch. Every now and then, it was possible to find a gem at such places. See, those "ranchers" thought he was trouble, and they really had no idea what they had found. Of course, the horse wasn't cut out for the dude ranch, because he was way too smart and fancy for trail rides; that is, they thought he was "crazy junk."

In reality, he was a talent.

Well, my smart, talented, eagle-eyed, horse-hunting boss took a trip to this ranch when he heard that they had horses for sale, and he took one look at this lovely, flashy creature, and he nabbed the gelding. The horse's name was Cheyenne, but we changed it to Shy Guy. Soon after, my boss pretty much handed Shy Guy over to me; I rode the horse daily, even on my days off, and it sort of felt like he was mine for about a year or two. I loved training the greenies, so I was thrilled. I taught him to jump, and he eventually started showing hunters.

But then a new trainer came in and one day, I went to the barn, and Shy Guy was gone. My original boss would've given the horse time to ease into his training. But the new trainer had a different view. So...gone.

This happened in the horse business all the time. When I rode in college, I took a liking to a black mare who was half bald because she had such bad rain rot. Daily, I bathed her, medicated her, fixed her skin and coat, and watched her regain her health. Suddenly, she became a slick, black beauty, and she began to relax, and I started riding her every day. Not long after, she was back to jumping 3' courses and such. Then I came back from break, and she was gone.

Just the way it was.

It was business. So strange. When I was little, I became attached to my horses, but later on, working in the field, I had to remain somewhat detached at all times. As a trainer, I worked with living, breathing creatures, and we bonded some, sure. But usually, the goal was to sell them to another barn or pass them on to students. So I always knew that I was only there for a short time.

But even though that was the case, and I probably appeared to be a serious, detached trainer at times, I still felt that horse love from my childhood, that hidden love, and I secretly hung on to that, as if I were carrying around a smirk within my heart. So despite my life's work and my poker face, deep down, this love has never left me. That edge lives on.

So would I go back to it? Perhaps, in a different way. I'll let someone else do the detached part, and I'll find some gem in a field somewhere, and I'll keep him.

Just the way it was,
C.A. MacConnell

F'n Rad Road Ragers

Back when I taught yoga, I was driving through the hilly streets, cruisin’ along nice and slow (okay, I was speeding and late as usual), listening to a new yoga CD my buddy sent me from L.A., testing it out (always good to test out yoga music before using it in class…I learned that lesson the hard way. One time I accidentally started a class with Led Zeppelin). Anyway, so I was getting my serenity on, when I looked to my left and there, at a stop light, two cars were running, but both were still sitting there when the light turned green. Very suspicious…

A gargantuan, terrifying, well-toned, enraged Big Man jumped out of the second car, and he half-leaped right up to the window of the first car. Leaning in, he put his face right in front of the skinny, young Kid in the first car. Then the Big Man screamed, “I’m gonna kill you, mother! I’m gonna skin you. Woohoo! I’m gonna fuckin' kill you!”

I’m not sure why he wanted to kill the Kid, but the “Woohoo” made it all the more ultra creepy. And all in all, it made for incredibly interesting background noise to my yoga music. Ah, the serene sounds of the streets of home. Wide-eyed, tuning in, I thought, What if we created yoga hard core street music? It would sound something like this: “Om, shanti, I’m goin ta kill you mofo, skin you alive. Peace, Peace.” Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bestseller, but if you can hold a tree pose or handstand to “I’m goin ta skin you alive,” then dayum, you are one crazy spiritual human, if you ask me, and you don’t even need to be doing yoga. Fly right on outta earth, because you should be catapulted to planet heaven or some shit, as far as I’m concerned.

Now here’s the ridiculous part. The wimpy-looking Kid was yelling back.

Dear Kid, I have some news for you. Big Man wanted to skin you alive, kill you, and he meant it, and he was enormous, and he could easily flatten your ass. The only reason he didn’t was because his wife begged him to calm down, and it took some work. But if the Big Man felt so inclined, we’re talking messy steamroller action here. So Kid, it would’ve been a good idea for you to just sit in your car and cry, bro. I mean, not just tear up, but really cry -- blubbery and snotty and shit. Or at least apologize for whatever stupid thing you did before the light changed. Just sayin. Because, here we had a case of this...


versus this:


I would’ve sucked it up, if I were the wimpy Kid. I mean, I’m one tough person for real, and I’ve been known to stand up for myself in some ridiculous scenarios on the streets, but holy crap, I’m no dumbass, and if that Big Man screamed that shit at me, I don’t care how pissed I was, I’d be offering to wash his car and give him cookies. I mean, there’s a time to talk back, but there’s also a time to be smart and suck it up and kiss the scary Big Man's ass and buy him a choco malt or some cookie dough ice cream with sprinkles and take him on over to the auto-car wash and soap suds up his SUV and dry that fucker with a goddamn Kleenex.

Woohoo,
C.A. MacConnell

7/23/2015

Photos: Early for My Appointment

Hello. Was early for an appointment, and I took a little walk. The tower/sun one was from the day before, but I threw it in here, just 'cause I dug it. I think I'm learning, just by doing it. I still prefer black and white. I really do love images...photos, film, allowing myself to see the depth and detail in all that's around. Keeps me present. Love to you. Enjoy.

 Bend


 Driveway


 Her, Waiting


 Leaning


 Once, a Working Barn (and a turkey vulture on top)


 Sun Wins


Three

C.A. MacConnell

7/22/2015

Photo: Farm House

Once, a Farm House

C.A. MacConnell

One Sentence Movie Reviews: Almost Famous (2000)

One of my all-time favorites, because it turned me into a golden god; however, during intense interview sessions for this review, I spoke with Elaine Miller, William and Anita Miller's mother, on the phone, and she informed me that throughout this film there is a venomous, alarming, unhealthy, impregnable, undeniably pervasive and permeating dangerous "cult" thread.

C.A. MacConnell

7/21/2015

Photos: Chick Foot, First Date.

 Chicken Foot


First Date
C.A. MacConnell

Ache,

Just a straight up, dreamy love poem for you today. From the archives. Just tightened it up a li'l bit. Not my best in terms of scholarly poetic form; however, I just dig it for the rhythm and feel...the kind of piece better read aloud or sung. Love, C.A.

Ache,


I am home,
polishing silver.

Maybe you, maybe
me,
ache.

I am the fading plaid,
the checkered,
bruise-black
ache.

Two mouths,
two necks,
ache.

Christ I thought my eyes
were 20/20,
ache.

Rock and roll tells us
maybe me,
maybe you,
ache.

Hey character,
ache.

I assume
we are what we are,
what we are not,
what we will never be,
what we will fuck up,
what we will hell-yes-into-the-night-create,
ache.

I love these hours too.

-- C.A. MacConnell

7/19/2015

Photo: Picnic Girl

Picnic Girl 1
C.A. MacConnell

One Sentence Movie Reviews: Jurassic Park (1993)

Acclaimed French actor Omar Sy from The Intouchables (2011) would have been a magnificent, untouchable addition to this 1993 freshman Jurassic work, but he wasn't hired on by the park until 2015, due to budgeting and scheduling within the dinosaur training department.

C.A. MacConnell

P.S. The Intouchables is in my top ten, on a serious note. :)