The Bones Under the Oak, Part I
The Bones Under the Oak, Part II
Years Later, The Sky Slopes Like a Roof
Visiting the Dead
Carl Plumer, Layers
Melancholy Sits Quietly on a Hill
Kenneth Radu, Silence
Stephen Jarrell Williams, Dead in the Water
The Secret Life of Milly Walters
The Story of Half an Hour
David Rasey, The Ratio of Lift to Drag
Pierrino Mascarino, I Remember Ezra and the Flies
Michael Lee Johnson
Rod Stroked Survival with a Deadly Hammer
Waiting for Answers to Resumes Mailed Weeks Ago
Jaywing Fuller, Dancing with the Aurora
The Battle of Apple Blossom Bough
Beatrix Black, Up the Stairs
László Vida, Watchpost
Pigtailed Girl in Diving Suit
Tora, Bea, and Barda
Kate, Wooly Mammoth
A Hidden Garden
The Night Folk
Traveller in the Dark
The cloud had been over the village for fifteen days and the people of Baga, Tibet were beginning to wonder if the sky itself was sinking. It was not uncommon for the clouds to hang low, high up as the village was in the Tibetan sky. Yet never, in all the years that the villagers had lived there did the sky hang so long as it had done those many days. And now, under those unrelenting clouds, the village crops had begun to wilt and the people of Baga began to think the cloud a curse that had been placed on them unjustly.
Amrita Jampo, known to the villagers as the Gentle One, was turning fifteen, a very special time for the people of Baga, for it was on this day that Amrita was to climb part of the great Chomolungma. It had long been tradition that the Chosen, when they had turned fifteen, would climb the great mountain, beginning their journey as a young, unknowing child, and returning as a wise leader for the people of the village. The oldest Climber was Jangbu Kalsang, an elder in the village and a wise man that healed the people’s maladies, mixed medicines and herbs, and served as an intermediary between the people and the gods. And so, as tradition, Amrita Jampo rose on her fifteenth birthday and began to prepare for her long, dangerous journey up Chomolungma.
Death is a confusing thing, particularly for a child. Yet children have one thing that many adults do not; forgiveness. My father had a great deal of difficulty dealing with my mother’s passing, and had ever since, buried himself in his work in the shop downstairs, coming up for quick meals before returning to his office. Yet it was clear that the pain of losing the woman whose life he had held so dear had merely left him gripped with such sorrow, he hardly knew how to live without her by his side; and it was clear, though he would never admit as much, that a part of him hated her for leaving him there, alone in their bookshop, forcing him to move to a country he did not know, and then abandoning him. And it was difficult for him to forgive her.
It was late November and Keith Highsmith was returning home for Thanksgiving. He had hoped to leave the college earlier in the week, but a late scheduled exam and a term paper due before the holiday had caused him to delay his departure until the last minute. Anxious to shorten the distance between the college in
Little rustlings from the woods told him that he was not completely alone. He looked around nervously, but saw nothing. The trees with their dead dry leaves were still and there was an earth smell that spoke of the cycle of death and decay common to old forests. Keith pulled his jacket close around him and tried to decide what to do. He extracted his cell phone from his jacket pocket but, as he feared, there was no reception here in the mountains. He put the phone away again and looked around helplessly. A shadowy something moved across the road and Keith hastily returned to the car and slammed the door. He stared hard at the place where he had seen movement but whatever he had seen was gone now. He looked at his wrist watch—almost 3:30 p.m. and night came early in the mountains at this time of year. He wondered once again if anyone would pass by but, remembering how deserted the road had been when he traveled it, he realized that he could not rely on such a thing happening. No, he must leave the car and go for help. A little ways back he had passed a small house. He would walk there and hope that they had a telephone or that they could give him a lift into the nearest town where there was a mechanic.Read More!
Jeff Marr eased his car off onto the shoulder of the road where the Appalachian Trail crossed the highway and twisted around to look at his two young sons in the back seat. “Well guys, we’re here,” he said.
The two boys, Bobby seven and Mickey five, cheered excitedly. They had been looking forward to this camping trip with their father for weeks. The boys lived in North Carolina with their mother and her parents and spent little time with their father, who lived in Texas with his new wife. He was in every sense a stranger to them who they saw only a few weeks out of the year. When he had proposed the camping trip, their mother had been doubtful. She was a city girl, like her parents, who believed that nature was confined to the neat parks and playgrounds of her home town. Their father had been born and raised in east Tennessee where his father had taken him hunting and fishing from the time he was Mickey’s age. Her sons’ eagerness for the adventure had surprised and hurt her a little. She tried not to show it but it felt like a betrayal of all that she stood for—order, security, civilization. She agreed to the excursion reluctantly. For Jeff it was an opportunity to re-connect with his sons and to introduce them to the world of his childhood, to the forests and lakes that he had visited as a boy, enchanted places that he remembered with nostalgia even though it had been many years since he had been back.
If we’re the sum,
as some say,
of everything previous,
why even now
we’re still climbing
the tower of bones,
mounting the twisting
staircase in silence
and then in millions,
while the duke of Auschwitz
and his lady go riding
on pale horses
under a peasant moon,
and angels with flight feathers
like long black pennants
forget what it was
they were sent to do.
Visiting the Dead
The gates close at 5 p.m.
It was barely noon, but already hot.
I called her name. Here, she said
and stepped out into the road.
The sun went behind a cloud.
I clicked the dead flashlight over
and over as if this time it might work.
© 2009 Howie Good. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of eight poetry chapbooks. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Netanthology. His first full-length book of poetry, Lovesick, is forthcoming from The Poetry Press of Press Americana.