May 24, 2016

Because there wasn’t enough income to pay a full-time hand, all animals requiring daily care had to go. Mountain lions would eat the Boer goats if they went unsold. An emu, whom the old foreman Cruz had jailed in a derelict tennis court, I freed to earn a living in pasture. So long as they had water and grass, the cattle more or less took care of themselves until roundup.

That left the llama.

March 22, 2017

Marty Robbins’s 1959 hit “El Paso,” uses passionate guitar work to evoke its story of desire, murder, sorrow.

September 05, 2017

I wake from a dream in which I am back at military training, among the classrooms and the clash of Claymores, the hot wake of wind from the report of rifles. Booted feet echo through the hallways, and forced voices call cadence while the light bends in the shockwave of bombs.

September 04, 2018

A Points South essay from the Fall 2018 issue

My suitcase is full of batik and baby cologne. One bar emulates the American South. The cover band plays Journey.

March 13, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue.

In chronicling the civil rights movement, one inevitably develops an interest in how racial crimes are remembered in the community where they happened—in the way they gradually turn into folklore—and in Memphis, I have discovered, a sense of fatedness clings to the King assassination.

June 11, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue

I have wanted to visit this house for years. Like many North Carolina kids, I grew up with the broad strokes of Thomas Wolfe’s story, the prolific, small-town genius who became one of the most revered writers of his generation. I lived in North Carolina for most of my life, but I never took the opportunity to visit. Not enough money, not enough time, too much to do: that’s an old story, I know, and a true one. It is also true that we seldom value the places where we live, not enough anyway.

September 03, 2019

A Points South essay from the Fall 2019 issue

A wolf suit. A boy suit. The belly button memory of a mama tether. An odd stone to mark the buried time capsule of your before body. Did your husband wince when it was time to cut the cord? Did you do it yourself, scissors in your weak hand, slick with blood? Was it easy to split, to be so undone? When you shift now in the night, does your hand find your belly, that soft ridgeline from sternum to navel? Does it feel like quicksand, your mother costume, and does it suit you? 

July 09, 2013

The story of how two women, Clifton and Byrd Lewis—are fighting to save one of Frank Lloyd Wright's creations, Spring House. Wright never saw the house, but the son of the architect who worked on it says, "There's a spirit to this house, a sense of timelessness, permanence, truth, and beauty." The house, though still standing, needs at least $250,000 worth of repairs to keep it from crumbling.

February 02, 2014

I was twenty-three and had been working at WDIA for one year, as long as the station had been on the air. Unexpectedly, Bert asked me to move a little closer to him on the seat. I edged over and waited but he didn’t speak. After a long moment he whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, “What do you think of programming for Negro people?”

April 08, 2014

Bill Best, who founded the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center, saves seeds—not in the way that people save stamps or coins, but in the way that people save endangered species, or possessions from a fire. He grows and stores about 700 varieties of beans on his farm in Berea, Kentucky, where he lives with Irmgard, his wife of fifty-one years, in a midcentury ranch house she designed, with stone chimneys he built. Some of his seeds are more than 150 years old—one goes back to the American Revolution.