All posts by Trudy

A Plague Tale by Trudy Hale

Profile view of woman wearing plague mask
 

I run a writers’ retreat in a nineteenth-century farmhouse on the James River in Norwood, Virgina.  My quarters are at  the rear of the three-story house and consist of a large country kitchen with a woodstove, a mudroom, and a staircase leading up to my bedroom and small office. On the morning of February 7th I pick up my sixteen-year-old nephew at the Charlottesville airport. I spot him waiting at the baggage. He has grown taller since I saw him last. A lean boyish body and freckled nose, his light brown hair in a Westside … Continue reading A Plague Tale by Trudy Hale

Maps: Surviving Social Distancing by David Roach

Old map of the world
 

Right now, sitting in my armchair, I’m imagining myself at the Camilla House bed and breakfast in Penzance, listening to Fiona, the charming proprietor, as she tells me about her favorite local restaurants and pubs. How can I be two places at once? I’m recalling my visit to Cornwall three years ago by looking at my Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas of Britain. I love maps, especially road maps. Studying a map, I can see where I am, where I’m going, or where I’ve been. In my imagination, I convert its two dimensions into three, and … Continue reading Maps: Surviving Social Distancing by David Roach

Insouciance by Laura Marello

Photo of royal penguin with its chick
 

I just wrote a new book of poems called Celestial Navigation. One of my favorite stanzas says: Penguins man the caps, huddle against the wind, sheltering downy chicks flaunting their deep insouciance their paradoxical grittiness. For a while now, revising the book, I have thought I should look up “insouciance” because I am not really sure I know what it means. So, I look it up: definition: casual lack of concern; indifference. synonyms: nonchalance, unconcern, lack of concern, indifference, heedlessness, relaxedness, calm, calmness, equanimity, coolness, composure, casualness, ease, easygoing attitude, airiness, carefreeness, frivolousness, carelessness; informal, … Continue reading Insouciance by Laura Marello

Walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy by Alex Joyner

Photo of sign of Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
 

Once I spent an afternoon at Appomattox walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy. The Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road is mostly just a trace now but this is the scene of the last march. Here’s where Bobby Lee rested beneath an apple tree (Gethsemane) waiting for word from Grant. Here’s where he met his troops after the surrender (And Lee wept). Here’s the long hill to the surrender ground lined with Union troops—ordered by Chamberlain to offer a profound salute to the beaten rebels. It’s all here in Appomattox—the gracious, merciful victors and the humble, honorable … Continue reading Walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy by Alex Joyner

Deep Ellum B.C. by Alex Joyner

photo of bookstore with sepia tone
 

Wednesday night in Deep Ellum, the eclectic little arts neighborhood lingering in the shadow of I-45 east of Dallas’s downtown. Ever since the 19-teens when Blind Lemon Jefferson came to the barbershops and dives of Elm Street to play the blues with Lead Belly and T-Bone Walker, the area had a reputation as a collection point for artists, misfits, and the occasional spectacular violent outburst. By August 2017, it hadn’t much changed. Pecan Lodge, a hipster barbecue joint, and the brightly-tiled Café Brazil were colonizing the neighboring streets, but the scruffy music and arts scene … Continue reading Deep Ellum B.C. by Alex Joyner

A Runaway Life by Mariflo Stephens

Train running on mountain
 

I live a runaway life. I’m a writer, a wife, and a mother and, like a lot of women who tire of the multi-layered duties that come with that combination, I need to get away. Right now, what I’m running away from is a story. That could be funny since I’m a short story writer, a comedic one at that. But it’s not funny. Usually I run away to Washington, D.C. I ride the train from Charlottesville and settle in the quiet car. The train sways slowly from side to side. It’s like being calmed … Continue reading A Runaway Life by Mariflo Stephens

Journaling with Jenny by Jenny Patton

Sharpened pencils pointing up
 

When I was seven, I made my own journal out of legal pad paper—a little book that sparked a lifelong passion for writing down my thoughts, feelings and desires. E.M. Forster asks, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Here’s my take: “How do I know who I am until I see what I think?” Journal writing has been proven to combat stress and help treat eating disorders, depression, addiction and other psychologically rooted problems. People who write about past traumas show stronger immune systems. After my mom died, … Continue reading Journaling with Jenny by Jenny Patton

A Craft Talk by Katherine Smith

Sun shining though hole in red leaf
 

ALLOWING THE LEAF For an ultrasound exam, I ran on a treadmill and then was hooked up to a machine that showed my heart pumping blood. It was an incredible thing to see my heart keeping perfect time, beating with a precision, grace, and power I never knew I possessed. It’s almost embarrassing just to mention the word “heart” in a poem, and yet my heart, indifferent to its embarrassing lack of originality, keeps me alive. Heart Monitor was inspired by my echocardiogram. The heart monitor helped me see what’s always there. At around the … Continue reading A Craft Talk by Katherine Smith

Time To Write by Laura Marello

Little sign that says Write
 

So delicious—this light, this air, this time, my time, because I have constructed a solitary life in order to free up time to write. Ice chatters in cool, stevia-sugared lime juice; I look out through the window and see the avocado tree needs watering. But I do not get up because this is writing time, not plant-tending time, not cat-tending time, not house-repair time, nor house-cleaning time, not errands time, or social time, or work-for money-to-keep-me-alive time. It is not even job-application time. This is writing time. Even if what I write is shallow, or … Continue reading Time To Write by Laura Marello

Hooligans and Lunatics by Alex Joyner

Paper plate with a tiny spot of light on it
 

“We’re walking to the midnight service?” my daughter asked. “With all the hooligans out there.” It was Christmas Eve. I looked out the window onto the streets of our Eastern Shore town. A mostly full moon moved in and out of backlit clouds. The Chinese were landing a rocket on its dark side and I kept singing a line in my head from Mulan—“mysterious as the dark side of the moon.” “Parksley doesn’t have hooligans,” I replied, smiling at her faux foreboding. “Come on.” We added layers of coats and hats and headed out into … Continue reading Hooligans and Lunatics by Alex Joyner