The Drive

We stopped along the side of
The winding, narrow two-lane road
That curved out of sight behind the next hill
You cut fresh sagebrush off the side of this arid mountain

It filled the car with the scent of wild outdoors
Which followed us home, a thousand miles to the city
The road ended atop the pink mountains
These Goliath witnesses of eons

Watched the land run red with blood
The essence of the violence
That occurred in the valley below
Had oozed and seeped into the soil

It radiated through the air and into the people
The place I had hoped would become our home
Echoed too hollow and strange
And empty

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, October 2003

Thanksgiving

Karen pulled up to the shoddy beige apartment complex after school on Wednesday afternoon. Pete was released early for the Thanksgiving holiday and he was excited to see his dad. Tim, Pete’s father, had insisted on hosting dinner that year. In the past it had been his favorite holiday, the one day out of the year that he and his brother William got together and prepared the meal for the whole family. That was before Will got shot.

When Tim answered the door Pete jumped into his arms and hugged him. Karen could see the disheveled mess Tim’s apartment had degraded into- scattered papers and beer cans, the trash overflowing, and a stack of pizza boxes in the corner of the living room. Rufus the cat was eating meat off of a chicken bone on a plate that had been left on the floor. As long as the rent was paid the apartment managers left Tim alone. This had not been easy once he lost his job. Pete ran past Tim, threw his overnight bag on the couch, and slid on his knees in front of the TV to the video game console. Karen allowed Tim to kiss her cheek and went to the kitchen to check on the turkey. “Just a second Pete,” said Tim. Continue reading “Thanksgiving”

California, ND 58010

I

The doors here are on barns that contain farm equipment or rusty cars or cattle. They are not Spanish style doors on homes with manicured lawns that face the ocean. The mess here is apparent but no one feels the need to hide it.


II

There are steep hills, too steep than should be built on due to the risk of landslide but rich people build here anyway. They can afford the reinforcements that the homes require and require the reinforcement that a beautiful home with a steep staircase down to a private beach provides. You can swim naked here and if anyone should speed by in a boat, it provides an opportunity for your wife to show off her expensive breasts. It never ices over but sometimes the fog rolls in so thick you cannot see the bottom of the stairs that are suddenly very slick. Those are the times your teenage daughter slips down there to make love to your golf buddy’s second son, the one without the ambition. Continue reading “California, ND 58010”

In Thanksgiving

My dad is great. We did nothing but watch football all day today. Sometimes, my dad will sit all day and play video games with me. He’s been off work for a while on account of him being sick. He cries a lot at night when he stares at the pictures. He doesn’t think I can hear but I hear a lot on the couch. I pretend I’m scared and knock on his door, “Hey dad, can I sleep with you tonight?”

My mom is great. She came and ate dinner with me and dad- just the three of us like we were all living together again. She even sat for a while reading a book so dad and I could watch the football games. That was until she took me back home. I begged her for me to stay but I have to do this stupid homework. They actually assigned us readings and an essay ‘What I did for the Thanksgiving holiday’- can you believe that? Continue reading “In Thanksgiving”

Laundry Day

There was a laundromat on Damen, close to the house thank God because dragging your laundry out into the City of Chicago was never an easy task. The machines were kept clean enough and if you knew when to go, you could avoid the mothers with all of their children and 15 washers worth of dirty clothes.

It was a spring evening after work, still cold enough to wear my brown, fleece-lined, flight jacket unzipped. It was originally my father’s jacket, a gift he bought himself many years after he left the Navy. I inherited it after he died- well not right after. I first had to finish grade school, then high school, then flight training in college before I felt right about wearing it and before it would fit, frankly. It was one of the only things of his that I owned. Continue reading “Laundry Day”

Blood, tips, and Gore

“My band was banned, man,” said ‘Razor’ as he threw the dirty utensils into the sink. His real name was Francis but that was no name for the lead singer of the hottest new local rock band. “Your girlfriend works for the St. Mary’s radio station. It’s a Catholic college. What did you expect?” replied Steve-o. “Unsuitable for minors? Kiss my entire ass! How about my rights?”

Razor shouted as he scrubbed out the large kettles that boiled the sausages. They were both line cooks at the busiest restaurant in town, Porky’s, where they served up a large selection of meat on a bun. It was famous for good food and lines around the block to get a bite of it. The job paid Razor’s bills while he tried to make a real go of it as a musician. Steve-o just needed a way to buy beer. Continue reading “Blood, tips, and Gore”

Hunter Green

My father hunted with my uncle. It’s all they ever talked about really. That and fishing and football. When I was younger, before the divorce, I was often forced to sit at the dinner table until I finished every last bite of the game my father had shot and brought home for dinner. “Why can’t I just have a bologna sandwich?” I would ask. I was sick of spitting out the shot. “Hunter Bartholomew Green!” my mother would say in exasperation with a nervous glance at my father. Then he would give me the lecture about the importance of providing for one’s family and how there was a long tradition of hunting in our family that I needed to respect and how years ago a gun meant having meat on the table and freedom from starvation. My uncle just smirked. Continue reading “Hunter Green”