I’ve been creating a lot of short stories in the last few years, many set in and around an imagined small Iowa town. The characters are mostly working people: farmers, business owners, nurses, bankers, teachers, and gangsters. In many, characters are forced into sudden intimacy, on the banks of a river, in a grocery store, or a stone basement where group therapy is laid on. New connections form, old ones are strengthened or broken, betrayals and secrets revealed.
Here are links to ones that have been published in the last few years:
“Asylum” North American Review. On a woodland hike along an icy river two strangers discover a sudden intimacy despite the maelstrom of splashing dog, flying sticks and skipping stones that surround them.
“Orange Fan” Blue Lake Review. Seth quits before he is fired from the grocery store, because he makes artistic displays to impress a mysterious stranger.
“A Good Stunning” Wordrunner. A farm woman who has a job as a stunner in a hog slaughterhouse, gets roped into killing her husband’s hand raised pig.
“Freddy’s Bro” Book of Matches go to p. 68. Brad threw tantrums as a kid, so he gets it when he meets a man in the middle of one, and plays along.
“Shiny Green” Litbreak Magazine. Mateo heads to a roller rink to expand his gay social life, and stumbles into a love triangle with the most dazzling skaters.
“Hula Girl” Sleet Magazine. This is very short. A woman moves her husband’s treasured dashboard ornament, but it reappears in a worse place.
“Red Sun” Cleaver Magazine Issue 41. A flood that endangers his daughter makes a climate change denier finally listen to her pleas to help the planet by making changes to his concrete business.
“Black Ice” Allium July 2023. Alex invites a new lover to skate on the Mississippi backwaters, but when he falls through the ice they must shelter in the ice house of a man who has never talked to a gay man.
“Bag of Peas” Feels Blind Literary. In a desperate longing for connection, Trisha plans to tell her sister, who thinks the opposite way she does on everything, about her decision to have an abortion.
“Kissing Bottles” Thieving Magpie. An abused woman almost accidentally poisons her husband and may get away with it because it looks like he finally died from his drinking.
“Bronze Shoulders” Rundelania. Confronted with a client who has everything but is still unhappy with his life, Hank is forced to look at his own. He has a n adventure, but returns home . He throws out all his ties.
There are also several in print journals:
“What Happened to Our Sense of Wonder?” RiversedgeVol. 32, Issue 1 2019. This essay explores what it is that makes us care about our world. As an ecologist, and grown up kid, I’m deeply concerned about the planet, coral reefs, rivers, air, trees, and wish we humans could stop messing things up.
“White Moon Road” Antigonish Review Volume 52, Number 209 Spring 2022. A woman leaves a midnight summer solstice party on a walk with a strange silent man, who leads her to a train where none should be.
“Stays on the River” Evening Street Review Number 39 Autumn 2023. A woman reluctantly consents to a kayak trip with friends who want to help her with her grief over the loss of her son.
“Tomatoes at Night” Rivanna Review. Issue 10, December 2023. A woman who has just lost her mother wanders at night through a garden in the county fairgrounds and meets a man who is just as lost as she is.
Forthcoming in 2024
“Fast Drydown” Wilderness House Literary Review The stress of corn harvest amplifies the unhappiness of Doris, a young farm wife, who leaves in the middle of the night.
“Green Madonna” Inscape On their wedding night Audrey’s new husband turns cold and distant. Thinking it’s due to the strange statue he has brought with him, she insists he get rid of it, but he reacts in anger and she fears for her life.
“Sourdough” Valley Voices A man discovers his sister’s house is on fire and sits with her on the curb watching it burn.
“Hat Pin” Boomer Lit Told by ten-year-old Candace, about the time a woman knocked on the door while the younger kids were playing on the porch. When Mom came to the door, the woman stabbed a letter to the table with her long hat pin. After that everything changed.
“Streak of Grease” Taj Mahal Review When a woman seeks help for her old car, Lyle tells her what he can do, but she wants so much more.
“A Good Session” Persimmon Tree. What happens when Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door of an evolutionist. Wait, one of the visitors is tall and dark and has a sculpted jaw.
“Quessasomethings” r.kv.r.y. Quarterly. If you’ve ever been to a snobby party and felt out of it, this one’s for you.
“Freedom to Wander” Toasted Cheese. An essay. I tell the tale of a risky ski trip across snowy fields in history-making cold, and also how a canoe trip went really badly, but both have to do with wandering the land freely. I think that ought to be allowed a lot more than we let people do it in this country.
“Best Stuff on Earth” Spadina Literary Review. A surgeon suffers self-doubt along with a huge headache on the train home after losing a patient, but awakens to a past joy that he stirs up in a muddy puddle on his walk from the station.
“Big Air” The Woven Tale Press. This is a gorgeous journal, full of visual art as well as poems and stories. After a huge argument with her husband Gabe, Elena hikes through the snow along a favorite trail that ends high on a cliff, and she considers the peace she’d have if she slipped off into the air in front of her.
“Sudden Caregiver” Superstition Review. An essay about when I realized I was one, after my mom’s fall.