Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cyanic Dump

A faded sign warns the intruder “Do Not Enter”. The large gray hill looms large and dull below the mill, where nothing subsists and no animal dares venture.
Winter wind slaps the mountain over the narrow portal, the mill clangs dryly on the hillside above us. Children run, screaming after a mangy mongrel. I call my sons to keep them safe, safe from volatile compounds, from mineral particles, from cyanide and the unknown. Snakes have long retired to impoverished mines and abandoned prospects. They will writhe in a spring dance when the world awakens above them. Ready as we will be to hunt for whatever has survived.

Winter wind burns the lungs as I stumble down the path to chase chuckars away from the mining camp, away from hungry dogs and idle youths. Tomorrow the sleek gray partridges will be dinner for my own children, and I watch them grow, the bird, the hare, never taking more than we need to live on the arid land. Dogs dig the ashen hill for whatever died there.

Winter wind, green and dry, inflames my nostrils with cyanic anger, I scream in the zephyr. The miner’s children play king of the mountain on the oxides of horror-zinc-lead-or silver. I scream in the weather, though no one can hear me, nor much less care in the race to futility. School is too far away, their mother is too drunk, their father works underground. Their future looms large and rich as the dreams of the poor. I am but a stranger in a sterile land. Winter wind stirs caustic ripples about the ochre mound. Its peak is round like an old bald head covered with dripping crevasses of dried pus, caked for a half life. Miners die young above the ground. 

Curious teens approach with blasting caps in hand, ready for the holidays of fire and crackers. I warn everyone to stay clear of the dangerous explosives, the tallest turns around and pulls his full frame as large as he can stretch. “There’s no danger, I light those all the time” he fights the blustery gusts and draws nearer to my sons, I tilt my head to the right in a quick motion, all three run in the direction of my gesture. The two kids that tail their big hero erupt in spontaneous bursts of laughter that echo in the canyon across us. As the wind dies down, sheets of vapors and ethereal dust drop like drapes of gossamer cloth fainting upon the hillside.
The eldest of the juveniles finds a pack of matches and a lighter in the depth of his brown pants. He shows the goodies to his accomplices. “Now we can have fun” he declares at the top of his lungs. I shake my head and walk to him. His eyes recede in his flat face, no smile moves his dry lips, the youth recoils sideways to avoid my gaze. Shaking a firm “no” with my entire torso, I tell each of these miner’s children that their fathers will be punished or fired if the bosses find out they are in possession of mine property.

“Who’d tell’em?” they simultaneously ask, I reply “the ambulance driver”, “uh?” “oh, yes after your face is peppered by sulfur and metal” they turn to each other like chipmunks checking for the eagle’s shadow on the ground. “My dad is a powderman, he giv’em to me all the time, I never blowed mysef’ up, I know what I’m doin’”.his jaw juts out a good inch forward and his mouth closes under certainty of power.
“Have you seen any old metal stoves around?” I inquire. All of a sudden faces come alive and they stumble upon each other to show me where the best of treasures can be unearthed. We follow them, they erupt in a myriad questions about my accent, my kids, my clothes, what do I know, what they know, a veritable fireworks of curiosity and giggles takes place in this new sand circus. “Have you ever had jackrabbit? It’s good. And I know where you can get a hundred of them birds you were chasing up there—I can find some real good stuff for you in the old dumps, wanna come with us?” “I’ll show you!”.

The afternoon spent running on burro trails down the canyon mouth, we are all loaded with ancient artifacts, old tools in various states of disrepair, dolls with missing heads, chipped glasses, glassless spectacles, twisted wire and unreadable signs that invite hilarious guessing. We part newfound friends at the crossroad to our shacks. Making dates for further explorations on week-ends or summer vacation, job allowing, metal prices willing, never knowing when the ore runs out or when the miners call it quits. 

I am in the yard, sorting our collected prizes by immediate use, expected re-use or flat out creative purposes. Suddenly a sharp sound splits the still air above the valley. The boys and I stare at each other, we all stand stiff and frozen. We recognize the agony behind the scream. More yelling follows, I find myself running down the steep gravel road, I slip and glide not remembering that I am barefooted. The younger teens run toward me “don’t tell nobody! Don’t tell on him, please” they beg, scared little boys that they are, they still don’t believe powder is dangerous. I must promise before I approach the fallen oldest one. A few spots mar his face with driplets of blood, but his right arm is quite chewed up. I don’t believe he is a candidate for infection, the very heat of the burn must have cauterized his wounds. “as long as you keep the area clean, you’ll be fine, but you may hurt for a long time. The stuffing has left his ego, he whines and stares at his arm, someone’s little boy has played with fire and his daddy won’t feel sorry for him, his daddy will know he has taken these from his work jacket. There will not be any pocketfuls of presents anymore. Fait accompli! 
I run back to our house for bandages and sterilizer. My sons have waited with trepidation. I regale them with   descriptions of flesh and blood, the hanging skins and smell of scorched meat, making appropriate grimaces to emphasize the gruesome accident. To send a warning of caution in all things that burn or go boom! A chill courses through my veins when I think I have spotted more than mere curiosity in the youngest, I believe I have seen genuine attraction to risk taking in the bluest of his eye.

Mill gossip soon carried from shack to house kept me informed on the health of the teen. His father was later given his last check with a promise of not mentioning that he had committed the dreaded powder theft, code of honor among diggers. Never leave a job with a price or a crime on your head. He was a good man with a regular son. City or country, boys-will-be-boys is an expectation in the harsher places where men make a hard living up or down below. And mothers are often absent for all obvious and not so obvious reasons. Boys will be men. Maybe.
      Winter wind blows upon the hill where all children breathe. A lone buzzard circles in the fading day.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A review of the new edition of The Fires of Waterland by R.A.Kukkee

The Fires of Waterland. By Raymond Alexander Kukkee.

If a book is to be judged by its cover, then the Fires of Waterland by R.A. kukkee presents the reader with an ominous presence. Fire remains ever present in the belly of the story, in the lives of the characters. Water, its opposite cools the spirits with self doubt and secrecy.

Polar views of the poor, and of those in control arise along raw conflict. They drive suspense with a certain knowledge of the ruts on these roads. Truth and adversity make strange bedfellows in this movie of the mind. “Some things are better left under the bed, like dust balls” said Floyd, a smart man in this saga.

Small town, orphanage, youth and old age, no subject is spared along the pages. The simplicity of the language reveals the  visceral complexity of these lives as they weave in and out of hardship.

Dialog is well served with unwavering accuracy; Fletch and Livvy take us on a tour of youthful yearnings and covert feelings. They lead us into explosive consequences and let us explore the innermost flesh of being. The stuff of living permeates the very innards of this book from page one. Hard and ultimately hopeful; like life. Like fire.

A review by Nadine Sellers. The new edition of: The Fires of Waterland by author Raymond Alexander Kukkee

review of Morgidoo's Christmas Carol, by R.A. Kukkee.

Morgidoo’s Christmas Carol: by Raymond Alexander Kukkee.

“A hundred years ago”, thus begins a journey where sound travels upon snowscapes toward the center of humanity. To follow the story of this silver bell is to dwell in the lost-and-found of goodness.

The classic language holds the voice of childhood through Morgidoo’s words. It is also to trust wisdom in the enduring love of Mr and Mrs George Blister. The text depicts each exquisitely detailed scene as the plot evolves along magical suspense. Original artworks illustrate each step along the pages of this tasteful volume.

Young or adult can pause for a sustaining reading or thoughtful perusing of this contemporary classic; indeed a classy little present in a season of casual excess. This book is a mainstay of the return to the essential purpose of literature through the author’s vision.

Read aloud in a warm and comfortable place, this book has the potential to carve a secure memory path in a life cluttered with expectations. A cup of tea, a CD and Morgidoo. Best yet, Morgidoo on CD?  What a simple pleasure!

Morgidoo’s mindful pursuit aims to enlighten living, to entertain with art, and most of all to strengthen the core; in this, our celebration of sound and spirit in the form of a bell and a boy.

 a review  by nadine Sellers of the new edition of Morgidoo's Christmas Carol by author Raymond Alexander Kukkee.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Burning Bill

Burning Bill

Every morning she sat at the kitchen table in front of the large window overlooking the slopping garden. She placed a match box and a glass of water by a thick porcelain plate. She smoothed her apron and sat straight, looked around the yard and set her hands flat upon the tablecloth. Shallow breath and vacant gaze, she grabbed a twenty dollar bill out of her pocket, lit the match and gently caressed the paper money with the growing flame. When the fire reached her fingers, she let the white dish receive the last of the sacrificial   ash and then she rose to go about her day.

The woman knew the intimate feel of crisp bills, placed face up, smoothed and stretched in little white envelopes for each purpose; to pay the propane man, the electric company, the taxes. That was all she needed. With the passion of an ascetic she had saved many a small fortune over years. She loved the sound of stiff paper, the sound of enough, just enough.

No one had grown hungry around her but many had taken advantage of her generous skills; a chicken here, a bushel of potatoes there, and perhaps she could dole a dollar for whatever? Oh yes, she gave a few of her precious pieces of paper to worthy projects. Mostly she made gifts for those in need, never wasting nor giving others a chance to do so.

She feared neither wind nor pain, she performed her rituals in the spring, waking up the earthen plot. None went needy by her, first her man, then the chickens, the cat, the rabbits and the occasional goat. She fed her little world, and went to work at local farms.

In winter she painted by the north facing window where diffused light calmed her eye and soothed her anxious mind. Then everyone wanted her pictures, she obliged the few, kept some for the county fair, saving profits for appliances and perhaps an emergency.

This small woman framed in the large window, burning the last twenty dollar bill of the month at dawn. Passing mirrors as if they held no image, this woman listening for silence.

That’s how she remembers Bill, the man who used to watch her dress and put her socks on, slowly. He would bring her shoes wordlessly before she left to go to town to fetch his needs at the store, every day, sometimes twice a day and on mean days three times.

The grass is greener now under bare feet on the lone path. Flowers bloom among her carrots and peppers. Nothing else has given a clue to her loss. Her eyes are drier, her hair thinner over this plate, his plate, where she sacrifices one more, one last wrinkled token of his absent need.

Word Dust

Out of a winter's slumber comes an attempt to awaken the rocks, so far, the sky has not blinked, only a pitiful sneeze has shaken the dust off the keyboard..the sun is calling, and i shall return with stories and french accents. happy tulips all!

Mots Poussiereux (Fr.)

Dans les entrailles du theatre
Parmi les costumes poussiereux
Git le ventre vide d' un artiste
Sans coeur sans honeur
Sans soupir sans odeur
Un etre compose
Se decompose
Se repose
En prose.
Word Dust. (Eng.)
Within the entrails of the theater
Among dusty costumes
Lies an artiste’s empty belly 
With neither heart nor honor
With no sigh or odor
A mere being
At repose
In prose.

Monday, February 10, 2014

In the Face of Time:

A tiny fissure suddenly appeared above my lip, safely tucked in a shy smile. The toothbrush hid it, then revealed it between alternate gestures. Like a sin come to roost upon my ego, it highlighted vanity in one surreptitious glance.

Zero weather by day and minus by night had carved this latest assault on my good side. A pitiless blow to fair complexion or natural consequence to reckless behavior?. Time passed over me with neither pause nor respect. The mirror was to deliver blotchy news of seasonal excess in the beloved outdoors.

My loss of grip upon eternity had loosened a string which held features to ossature; as if the puppet master had abdicated his role upon such a rebellious visage. I saw the tendons hinging jaws with mannequin precision. I chewed and spewed and swirled the foam of shame in furious toothbrushing routine.

The crimp of skin now visible under light, a vertical line, a tiny scar of a harsh life risible in sun and snow. I examined patterns of ancestry. Mother had suffered the rigors of expectation in a skin obsessed culture, she had lived with a chain smoker and used her fair share of beauty products on a lifelong basis--to no avail.
Grand-Mother had never considered skincare an essential part of womanhood and yet had fared quite well in the hereditary past. I have also lived with chain smokers, first father then husband. I have left the temperate verdant South of France to run wild with my children in the American deserts..

Wherever I was to park my small mirror, a slow tan was to obfuscate any flaws in my freckled face. I did not attempt to manage sun damage. Neither mine nor tailing mounds of alkaline insult could ruin my determination to survive the elements between water wells or rare salt ponds.

Nor did I slather creams and lotions, much to mother's frustration after reminders and strict orders in letters. I remembered a youth of avoidance and terror. No way to escape the lotion wielding matriarch, bent on cornering me with her dreaded tubes of the newest gunk. Her intent being of producing a thoroughly marriageable damsel to some future suitor of largest means ( and I mean rich)

The deep trenches in her face reminded me of the futility of her expense. I often ran off to school balancing my leather satchel on one hand and a wash-mitten in the other sloughing off the odious goo from cheeks, hair and eyes till I could see the road ahead to flee from the scent and the assault..

Hello wrinkle mine, earned in time through gravel and dirt, through sand storm and wind chill.