Here’s an older story, first published in Clamor Magazine in 2015. I thought it’d be fun to read a 3-parter in three different places.

I read part one — my favorite part of the story — at White Sands National Park. White Sands is other-worldly. It’s miles and miles of white dunes. It’d be easy to get lost there because there are so few landmarks. I guess you could keep your eyes on the distant mountains and keep walking in one direction — but that could be a very long way.

Part two is on the deck of the cabin we stayed at in Ruidoso. It was a super-cool cabin. Vrbo and Air BnB are the salvation of people like me. If I’m stuck in a hotel, I just wanna go-go-go. I can relax more at a Vrbo or Air BnB, making it easier for people to tolerate me. Anyway, here is part two, in which the narrator is a little bit mean and a lot frutstrated.

Part three is on the mountain slope behind the cabin where we were staying. It might not look like it, but it was hard setting up! The slope was pretty steep — a hike, not a climb, but still.

I am so incredibly honored to be included in both Best Microfiction and Best Small Fictions for 2021.

I’ll talk about Best Small Fictions too, but for now will focus on Best Microfiction 2021. The anthology, edited by the amazing Meg Pokrass and Gary Fincke, with guest editor Amber Sparks (I know!) has received some really outstanding reviews, such as this one from Cultured Vultures, and this one in Trampset. I am thrilled and humbled both to have a story in this anthology with some of the very best writers in this genre of tiny stories. I love the wild variety and the cascading range of emotions these stories conjure. You won’t be disappointed if you order this book, I promise!

Here is a link to the book launch readings for both volumes. I read “Places I Have Peed,” which first appeared in Miracle Monacle. Hearing these stories read is an experience unto itself. Enjoy!

It is a tremendous honor to be included in the National Flash Fiction Day 2021 anthology, Legerdemain, edited by Nod Ghosh and Santino Prinzi. This year’s theme was Magic. I’m blown away, reading these stories and listening to them. This is such a wonderful anthology, it really is. There are authors I know and authors I’m reading for the first time. The book launch readings are so much fun, too. I love hearing writers read their own works.

Here’s me reading my story, Renaissance.

Renaissance is one of my oldest stories. The original version was much different. It was longer, less focused, unsure of itself. The micro-flash format was a much better fit for it.



I was a horse crazy kid. I will say, in fact, that I was born loving horses. I grew up on Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series, and Marguerite Henry’s great books about horses in history. Like many horse crazy kids, I dreamed of taming a wild horse who would love and trust me and our inseparable bond would be legendary.

As my experience with real live horses grew, my expectations became more realistic. I gained a better appreciation for the hard work that goes into bond-building, the number of spills that occur along the way to improved riding and horsemanship, the unglamorous chores like stall cleaning, fence fixing and water hauling that are part of horse ownership.

And I also experienced the addictive magic of a forest gallop on a fast horse, the companionship of hanging out while horses graze nearby, the thrilling moment of perfect sync between horse and rider.

But despite all that, I never lost that romantic notion of a close, voluntary encounter with a wild horse.

The wild horses around Ruidoso, New Mexico are a mixed lot of recently feral and born wild. They are accustomed to people. Like suburban deer, they don’t spook at the sight of people, they don’t worry too much about being in plain sight of a house… or a baseball diamond with a game on.

Still, though.

My first sight of the bay stallion’s Ruidoso herd had me breathless. As they were at the entrance of the mountain cabin community where we had our Air BnB, I got out of the car, assured my family they could go on without me when they were ready, and settled in to observe.

I had no intention of approaching. A bay mare was particularly curious and seemed to respond when I talked to her. I moved for a better view, and the horses came nearer. The bay mare was within 10 feet of me.

When they moved away toward our cabin, I chose a route that took me close to them but not directly in their path. I paused a few yards away, watching. A roan foal and a bay foal paired up to come closer to me – clearly expecting me to give them something. I reached out my hand and they nuzzled my palm, both of them – and a third foal that crept up during the encounter.

I told them I didn’t have anything, but if they followed me to the cabin, I had some carrots. I turned from them, rolling my shoulder in the horse person gesture of “follow me.” The little stinkers did!

When I was below our cabin, my partner Tim and our boys, Dylan and Will, were on the deck watching the whole thing. They tossed carrots down for me to feed the three foals and also the curious bay mare. I kept my eye on the stallion in case he didn’t like the situation. We had a moment when we regarded each other, and he decided I was no threat.

I confess I got a little bit weepy here and there during the encounter. The flash of understanding with the stallion, the friendliness of the mare, the frank curiosity of the foals – it was the sort of interaction I’ve had with horses plenty of times. But these guys were wild ones. Not mustangs, necessarily. But wild all the same.

This little apocalyptic story first appeared in Ghost Parachute, one of my favorite journals.

It seemed appropriate to read it on the forest-fire-blasted landscape on the slope behind the AirBnB we stayed at during a family visit to Ruidoso, New Mexico. I’m in the Lincoln National Forest for the reading.

Normally I pan the camera a little bit to show where I am. I couldn’t this time. It doesn’t look like it but I’m balanced on a slope and was afraid I’d slide if I moved too much!

I tried to get the local crows and / or ravens to participate. The photo is the best I could do.

Crows

One of my favorite things to do, when I have a free day, is to have a general idea where to go and what to do, but to take the most scenic or circuitous route to get there. Tim and I call it ‘sploring.

Last weekend I got to do some ‘sploring with my friend Lindy. Along the way, we stopped to admire the decaying beauty of several abandoned barns. And also some old barns that weren’t necessarily abandoned. The light was great, and Lindy got some good shots.

We drove past a few old car graveyards too. There’s something melancholic about seeing what was once someone’s pride and joy rusting gracefully into the the wildflowers.

Anyway, here’s a closeup of an old tractor’s front grill.

And a Gene Simmons poster in the bathroom hallway at Mase’s Place, where we stopped for a quick bite. Good food, we recommend.

I have been wanting to get to the Rocky Bluff Trail out at Devil’s Kitchen Lake all spring. It hasn’t worked out. Until now. It’s a great hike for wildflowers early in spring. I didn’t see as many Blue-eyed Mary as I hoped to, but there were plenty of violets, a few trilliums, buttercups, and of course lots of golden ragwort, daisy fleabane and woodland phlox. Also, the waterfall was flowing, which it isn’t always. So that was cool. I have a few pictures up on my Instagram page if you are curious.

And I did a reading! On a big ol’ rock perched about 25 feet or so above the Little Grassy Creek.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight
first appeared in New Flash Fiction Review as part of the Horo-Flash / Horoscope-inspired curated flash series.



One thing about this pandemic I’ve experienced I didn’t expect: apathy.

The first few months of working at home were a time of settling in, to discovering how much I enjoy working from home and how much of daily life I’ve been missing out on spending so much of my day and so many of my days in an office — albeit a nice office with a good view and a love seat and books. It felt like we were all holding our collective breath. So quiet.

Then there was a second period of settling in, during which we all realized this new life was going to be normal for a longer while. I felt less afraid and more afraid both at the same time. We still knew so little about the coronavirus, but I felt that the precautions I was taking would keep me safe and so I was less afraid. But more afraid because by late summer, most of us knew multiple people who’d gotten covid and usually someone who’d died from it or who was hospitalized.

It was somewhere in there that I struggled with apathy. I wasn’t reading as much as I normally read. Ironic. I had more time to read and fewer distractions and yet found myself sitting on the patio or by the fire pit and just staring.

I struggled with writer’s block. I wrote some things I’m proud of here and there but my overall output has not been great. Like with the reading, I’d find myself in front of my computer, but watching the bird feeders or just sitting while the room darkened around me.

We also had a family drama unfolding into a tragedy, the timeline of which exactly coincided with the pandemic safety measures. I’ll write about that another time.

But one thing I wanted to do with this space on my web site was to share things. Pictures, other people’s writing, my own random thoughts, interviews with writers, musicians, visual artists, things that caught my attention. And I’ve been sadly remiss in all this.

So today I’m going to post a poem by Marlin M. Jenkins that appeared in Split Lip Magazine on March 14, 2021. I read the poem because of its title. It’s exactly the right length to pull a reader into the monotony and the frustration of navigating health care that tries to address a problem — in this case, expressed thoughts of self-harm — that doesn’t quite address the problem, and in some ways, makes it worse. I’ve never been in this position, but I think many of us have at least experienced suicidal ideation, which is a different thing from being suicidal. To me, it’s something a person should be able to talk about. Anyway, here’s a link to the poem. Split Lip Magazine is a fantastic journal. Check out the whole issue.

https://splitlipthemag.com/poetry/0321/marlin-m-jenkins

You know how it is. You know you should do something. You put it off. Several times. Then you feel guilty. Then the whole thing becomes a bigger deal than it ought to be.

I’ve neglected this part of my website so long it’s become a mountain of guilt. I knew if I just wrote SOMETHING it’d take the mountain down to a manageable size. But just touching it…. jeez, so hard.

So, here, now I’ve touched it. Now I can get back to keeping it up.