June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

Lenny did all he could to hang around it over the next couple of years, cleaning lines, fetching balls, brushing the clay to maintain a smooth surface. Eventually, after cocktail hour ended and the guests went home, Gibson set him in front of a backboard and showed him how to rotate his back foot and drive the ball. She even imparted a few life lessons, foremost among them, he remembers now: “Every time you come to this gate, you better be ready to go.” 

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

Holy Mother Lode. I rose straight up out of the driver’s seat and fairly levitated for the next six minutes/miles. New Grass on the radio is rare and precious enough, but where was I headed that very morning? Up to Bristol, Virginia, and then a winding ramble northeast to speak about writing, heading to Roanoke via one of my favorite roads: U.S. Route 11, a.k.a. the Lee Highway. Cosmic? You bet!

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

I am journeying north. I want to see the infinite yellow flat of the Texas panhandle. Stables and barns. The dipping heads of pumpjacks. Enough to situate a fictional ranch along the Caprock Escarpment, a location I need to depict for a novel-in-progress. My mother’s family comes from the region, but I’ve never been there. My plan is to drive the seven hours north from Austin to Palo Duro Canyon, where I’ll camp for the night. Often, a single detail will bring a scene into clarity, and I’m off to find it.

June 11, 2019

A poem from the Summer 2019 issue.

Here it is iftar
and I forgot to eat
I’m banqueting on a spice
that’s not on this table
June 11, 2019

A poem from the Summer 2019 issue.

My mother turns off the kitchen light
before looking out the window
June 11, 2019

A poem from the Summer 2019 issue.

Two decades later, I read they named themselves
for Emmett Till. 
The idea of the name was basically that 
a 14-year-old boy should be swimming in the river, 
not dying in it.
But they spelled his name wrong. 
May 24, 2019

A poem from the Summer 2019 issue.

Fieldstones covered with velvet in emerald mark the heads of graves

a deeper depression in the ground means there was a casket that deteriorated causing the 
earth to cave in

shallower dents in the earth mean only linen shrouds wrapped the bodies

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

I am angry. I am sad. I cry. I shout. I don’t understand. I am good about not expressing any of it with the van, especially when I have my daughters with me. I’m a model driver—no, please, you first! But when I’m alone I listen to the sound of a head exploding and, by some magic of sympathetic resonance, I experience the relief of it for myself. I know what it feels like when the pressure valve works, briefly.

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

I’d go to the bar early to watch them sound check—I loved the “check, check . . . check one-two-three, check one-two”—and then I’d sit with Matt while he ate his free meal and ask how he was doing so I could report back to our parents. Was he eating okay? Was he happy? Did he have enough money? He never had enough money and there was always something lost, a jacket or a wallet or his keys, which made me nervous. I had never lost so much as an earring. 

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

I’m too old for bedtime stories, too old to be writing words like these, maybe too old for love songs. But for me, bedtime songs, my body, and my truck are physical links between New York and Mississippi, between a home I was given and a home I made.

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