October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Grandpa was born in 1896, and could play
just about anything with strings attached.
What pulled most at his heart, was an old fiddle
that he kept on top of a china cabinet
in the corner near his rocking chair; where
he fell asleep every night listening to Kansas
City Athletic’s games on a Philco dial radio.
He worked part-time for the highway department;
setting out kerosene warning flares that looked
like bowling balls without holes.
During the 20’s, and throughout Depression Era
days, he set great store in playing that fiddle
at barn raisings, and harvest dances; where neighbors
could find brief but welcome respite from hardship
in simple food and fellowship. Civil war ditties
frequented the menu; passed down to him
by the same fingers that first plucked his fiddle.
When his lame shoulder wasn’t throbbing,
and I asked him just right, he’d take her down
off the china cabinet, rosin up the bow, and with
a work boot conducting: take us down dusty,
forgotten pikes lined with blue, and gray soldiers;
marking cadence on the road to their awakening:
Ride a Scotch horse
to Danbury cross,
see an old woman
upon a white horse.
Rings on her fingers,
and bells on her toes—
she shall have music
wherever she goes, and goes…..
Grandpa’s Ditties was previously published in Tidal Basin Review
Pushcart Prize nominee Kevin Heaton writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Raleigh Review, Mason’s Road, Foundling Review, The Honey Land Review, and elimae. His fourth chapbook of poetry, Chronicles, has just been released by Finishing Line Press. He is a 2011 Best of the Net nominee.
Image: Halifax Harbour, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
June 15, 2012 § 3 Comments
My pen was quivering before I started to write. It may have been the Four Loko from last night that seems to carry a hangover of trembling hands; or, maybe it was my own plain shakiness when writing in public, at a desk, in class; or, it may have been my system being nervous about writing about a place I’ve never been to– her place. She called it her ‘loft.’ I bet it looked like her wardrobe– that worn forest green color she wore too often; it probably looked like music, like John Brown’s Body. It probably looked disorderly with a tint of clean. She probably draped some curtains over the window–curtains her mother probably made. I imagine, they might have been an ugly maroon no one but I would have liked. Her nightstand was probably stacked with borrowed books. She might have had an ashtray, but probably for things other than ash. Things like fortune cookie papers, pretty marbles, or change. It probably smells like her back does in the mornings. Blankets seem to peel our skin for their own. Every night I sleep alone I am reminded of how she and I smelled together: like a live acoustic band, something raw and ready and clawing for nothing but stillness about it. I still haven’t washed my bed sheets; I think it’s because I like to hold onto things that are already gone. I still have that bottle of shitty wine, two glasses stained from cold hot chocolate, and her tea mug. I haven’t washed it– sometimes, I drink water from it. It still clings to an after taste of vanilla chai.Then again, I don’t listen to Bon Iver or Mumford and Sons anymore, because I can’t. I bet that’s what she plays on her CD player. It probably sits on a bookshelf, near her bed. And yes, I’m guessing she has a CD player. But, this is all guesswork anyways; I don’t have any real answers.
Benjamin Bouvet-Boisclair is currently a SUNY Cortland undergrad student working towards a Professional Writing degree. When not writing he is playing board games with enemies, shooting hoops, or doing magic tricks for invisible crowds. He lives in Cortland, New York, inside of a small room with a big couch.
Image: Unfolded Wing, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 24, 2012 § 4 Comments
Valery V. Petrovskiy
I first heard and memorized a tune in my early childhood when an old Chuvash woman was mumbling a song as she limped her way home. She was singing an age-old monotonous song. There were only three words: Hey-ara, hey-ara, hey-ara.
Then it rang like a travelling song, moving from door to door. But I also heard the tune at the table, and then it was a drinking song. The charm of it is that the words can be easily learned: Hey-ara, hey-ara, hey-ara. Nevertheless it is rather difficult to discern the melody, there is none. The tune changes during travel: when driving by the woods the tune fades and slows down. The melody unfolds itself again when a man sings it as he goes into the fields, there it spreads out widely and overflows the horizon. When riding down a ravine the song stumbles along together with the horse as syllable and stride are shortened.
How could I keep the song in my memory? One has to be born with it. Or you have to drive in a sledge in a winter night, a child wrapped up in a sheepskin coat, your father next to you. In spite of the dark your father is not frightened. He is singing the primeval roundelay: Hey-ara, hey-ara, hey-ara… And you are not scared beside him though you cannot see anything but a solitary star overhead.
Driven not by a horse obedient to your father holding the reins but by the drawling tune of the song, you are hauled after the prolonged note, monotonous as a snowbound country road, as dreary as the evening with the blind moon howling down: hey-ara, hey-ara, hey-ara…
Maybe your father is afraid, but he fears neither beast nor man, is only afraid to be all alone in the wintry fields. And then he is howling the mantra, filling it with deep-throated consonants coming from the very depths of his lungs. It makes his soul vibrate, then makes it expand and swirl with his horse, then with the road, and now with a distant forest, and then the tune covers the entire snow field, endless as life itself.
So whenever I hear the everlasting Hey-ara tune, it makes me startle and then recall all that had never happened to me.
The name of the old Chuvash woman was Pavel-Ahram after her husband Pavel, who did not come back from the battle fields of World War II. And yet she was so alive and bright.
Valery lives in Russia at a remote village by the Volga River.
Image: Grass and Light, by Stephen Martin