Monday, September 5, 2011

Magpie Tales: Fruits of our Labor


"...when the truck died, I knew I had arrived. Even the tires have found a home," the man finishes his tale.

His rutted cheeks crack wide as he works his teeth with a piece of straw that found its way from one of his denim pockets to his hand, though I never noticed. We lapse into silence, as men often do when talking, letting our eyes follow the wind across the great expanse of nothing that roams as far as the mountain.

Having done its job, he sets the straw free to tumble in the air then vanish into the rocks and dirt, just another shade of tan. Removing a red kerchief, he pads his forehead, removing the ring of sweat that had gathered beneath his silver hair.

"How did you know though?"doubt edges my question.

"Son, how do you ever know?"

The crunches beneath the hard soles of his boots retreat behind me, then clunk on the wood planks of the porch. A solid thunk of the door closing, leaves me alone, leaning on the cock-eyed bed of the old truck. Absently, my fingernails work beneath a few remnants of black paint still clinging to its rusted metal husk, freeing the flecks to fall silent.

Clouds bunch into caricatures on the blue canvas above, but promise no rain today. A small bird hops here and there, the only brown moving amid the rest. I watch him for a bit, until hinges creak, planks thunk, and ground crunches, louder until drawing up beside me.

His hands, creased from years of work, hold a small frame with the tenderness one would have holding a newborn. Extending it, I take it carefully, surveying the faces in the picture contained within its embrace. He is the only one I recognize, tall at the back of the group, looking somewhat off to the side at one of the others. They all stand in front of the meager house behind us, not far from where we stand now.

"When I came here, I had nothing but what fit in the back of that truck. I don't take much mind to what ifs cause they ain't nothing but smoke in your fingers, but what you hold right there is how I know."

Silence joins us again, as a friend missed in those brief moments. Even the breeze holds its breath as four generations of his family gather weight in my fingers. A lone black bird spins lazy circles between us and the sky.

This is a Magpie Tale.

On a side note, I had two poems published in Punk Soul Poet, a literary and arts magazine this month. You can see my poems, as well as those of the other poets selected for the September issue, here

And happy Labor Day to all my stateside friends. Enjoy the fruits of your own labor.

78 comments:

Mrsupole said...

Hah again.

Mrsupole said...

Such a fine tale of family love. I guess that is one way everyone knows.

Happy Labor Day to you too and to all.

God bless.

Mrsupole said...

Just have to do a third one if possible.

GBA

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian and Mrs.U...
Omg! lol

the walking man said...

The narrator is leaving some necessary info out? Did the bank take the land, was the old man dying? Why were they there in other words or was it only to get the picture of the generations that labored on land that the only thing left of was a house of memories?

Daniel said...

Some nice word pictures formed up here. I took some things from this tale, but am not fully certain I understood the true narrative. That's O.K., this one still was vivid for me. Blessings.

Heather said...

i felt like i was there with them...yes, would like to know more about them....could def feel some sadness here...
happy labor day to you and your family. xo

DJan said...

How poignant and spare. I feel like I know the old man. But then again, I have never known your word pictures to disappoint.

Pat Hatt said...

Another tale you weave
Like the little points you make, but leave
Just some for the reader to imagine on their own
With your touch of the unknown.

TechnoBabe said...

This tale tells just enough to get the imagination in gear.

ds said...

Gorgeous, Brian. You have spun straw into gold ; )

Congratulations on the publication!!!

Brian Miller said...

smiles mrsu..

yeah left this one a bit open...the heart of the matter being how do you know when you have arrived...having nothing he sired 4 generations...and that was enough, regardless of everything else....

Dave King said...

I like what you've told, I like the way you've told it, and I like what you've kept for us to wonder about.

ayala said...

Nice tale, Brian. Happy Labor Day to you and your family :)

adeeyoyo said...

Just enough to say he had a life...

adeeyoyo said...

Btw, congrats on your publications! Well done. Happy Labour Day too!

Reflections said...

Congrats on the publication of your poems!

Love the grit of this one, holding together beyond the rusted moments, stumbling through the unknown. You have left much to the imaginations of the reader, yet graced the finer lines of his aging world.

zongrik said...

some old people know so much and are so helpful.

Shrinky said...

I'm guessing the old man is all who's left of his kin now? What a poignant, stark picture you paint.

Beautiful.

jabblog said...

Poignant, warm - a lesson there for the younger man if he can learn it.

Kat_RN said...

Lovely, and that is just it, isn't it. Family and love make home.
Congrats on the poems, but I am not surprised.
Kat

Valerie said...

I love it when you make me use my imagination. That's art of storytelling.

Good news about your published poems. Keep it up.

Boom Boom Larew said...

As I read this I was picturing the old family homestead back in Iowa... the rickety front porch and the graveyard of old cars & trucks. Beautifully wrought as always, Brian!

Mama Zen said...

This is a pure joy to read.

David Allen Waters said...

this might very well be a fav of mine you've done. It brought me in, but left things to my imagination....bravo :)

congrats on the poems dude, you rock!

Ténèbres à la lumière... said...

"Silence joins us again, as a friend missed in those brief moments. Even the breeze holds its breath as four generations of his family gather weight in my fingers..."

Hi! Brian...
What a very descriptive, and well-written poem..."Fruits Of our Labour."
and like Mrs.U said, here wishing you and your readers, a pleasant, and safe Labour Day Weekend too!

"On a side note, I had two poems published in Punk Soul Poet..."

By the way, "Congratulation!" and Thanks, for sharing the links too...I plan to follow the links.
deedee ;-D

ladyfi said...

This was a lovely lovely poem!

And congratulations on getting two poems published!

thingy said...

Sigh... so beautiful.

Congrats, too! : )

Ed Pilolla said...

smoke in your fingers is one of those lines that lights the moment on fire, as if the power of the ancestral line were behind that image. least for me.

Ed Pilolla said...

all souls is so great. abhasra's back is great, too, but all souls reaches me deeper. congrats.

Sue said...

This is beautiful, Brian. You stripped life right down to the bare bones, where all the truth is.

=)

Laurie Kolp said...

Loved this, Brian... and congratulations of the publication! I'll have to run over and read your poems...

Fred said...

Nice tale Brian, really love open ended work, some time ppl leave it way too open, but you put a structure together, paint a bit and then allow the mind to fill the rest in. Excellent job as usual, and Happy Labor Day to you as well

Claudia said...

yes how do you know...? love that you leave it open, there's lot of space to breathe and think in this..i like

Victoria said...

This is such a good example of how poets can take their gifts and apply them to prose. You hone in on details and your sensory descriptions just make the piece outstanding.

I'm off to read those poems, now. Congrats on the publication.

Thanks as well for linking to MMWP

Steve E said...

Wearing a smile when I see you published, Brian!

I am asked, "Why do you fall for every temptation?"

"Well", I answer, "it's in my DNA. 34,460 generations ago, a relative took a bite out of an apple...after that, it's history."

Berowne said...

The story of many a farm, many a truck...

Friko said...

Memories fill the days of the old.

Words A Day said...

That was beautiful, the voice of the man was so real - and I love that sentence about what ifs
'they ain't nothing but smoke in your fingers' but my favorite part is your final image of the lone black bird spinning 'lazy circles between us and the sky.' wonderful,

and congrats on your publication, look forawrd to following the links:)

repressedsoul said...

A lovely heart warming magpie Brian. Congratulations of your publication! Happy labor day my friend!

Baino said...

Congrats on the publication. Still waiting for the link to M Magazine? I could get by just fine with everything I own in the back of a truck

Christine said...

I love old pickup trucks, have a special memory of me and my Pop driving out to the cottage, I wonder where the old gal is now?? Congrats on the poems, have you submitted to Geez magazine ever?, check that publication out sometime

Helen said...

Can we say 'movie screenplay?' Jeff Bridges? Loved this. And my heartiest congratulations!!

Lyn said...

So beautifully descriptive.."nothing but smoke in your fingers"...life itself, it seems...well done!

Vicki Lane said...

Even your prose is poetic. Congratulation on the published poems!

Ruthiey said...

Loved the birds in the story! Sorry I haven't been around but I always look forward to your posts. Happy Labor Day and congrats on getting published!! :)

Pat said...

So many beautiful lines in here! Your words are gifts to all of us!

gayle said...

This makes me want to know more!
Wonderful!

Lolamouse said...

Love the voice in this one. I can picture the old man so easily. And congrats on the poems!

Cheryl said...

Congratulations on the publication of your poems!

I'll leave the critique of this story to others.

Tara Miller said...

I really enjoyed this one love, and could vividly picture the story. A simple man telling the simple truth of the importance of his family. Doesn't matter what we have, what does matter is the relationship....of family. :)

lori said...

This was one of my favorites. The language was wonderfully descriptive, so I had a strong visual image of the scene. Though the questions could fit a few scenarios here, I think it's okay to let it sit with the reader because we've all asked that question about something. I love his answer, "Son, how do you ever know?" So good :)

KB said...

Really enjoyed this one, Brian.

Pseudo said...

Happy Labor Day to you, but from your wording I am thinking you're not stateside...

Mona said...

The visual imagery is fantastic, But the story a little 'unfinshed'...

Just Be Real said...

Happy Labor day to you as well Brian. Great post. Blessings.

secret agent woman said...

That's sweet and a little sad.

blueviolet said...

We're left to interpret this one, I see.

Madhulika said...

beautifully written :)
however.. I felt something are left unsaid.. yet I loved it :)
and yeah.. heartiest congratulation for you publication..!!!
Wish a lot more would follow :)

Syd said...

So many of the old farm homesteads are gone. Some to development as if patio homes could replace what was once vital and beautiful.

AmyLK said...

Happy Labor Day Brian!

Zuzana said...

Congratulations on being published dear Brian, but I am not surprised.
And yes indeed, how do we ever know...;)
Have a great rest of the week, I am traveling until next Monday but will have one scheduled post in my absence.;)
Take care dear friend.;)
xoxo

Magpie said...

You always find such touching stories hiding within the pixels of a picture. Well done, Brian.
Congratulations on your pieces being published!

Anonymous said...

"letting our eyes follow the wind across the great expanse of nothing"

The image of the wind blowing in waves across "the great expanse of nothing" is a clear image.

Enjoyed the detailed dream-like using all the senses."ain't nothin but smoke in your fingers" - excellent verbage!

Profound descriptions of setting, atmosphere and character.

jane jones

Mystic_Mom said...

Brian, I love this. You painted such a rich picture, I could see everything! I think I'm in love with this piece. No, I know I am!

Arian Tejano said...

Nice texture. I can feel the rust of life. And the light of a parable at the beginning caught me.

Kathe W. said...

lovely tale-salt of the earth tale

william said...

this was complicated brian, but as always done in your true experienced style :)

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

Just love how you amke me use my imagination.

Nice one sir!

JJRod'z

Irish Gumbo said...

Poignancy...I feel it. And "smoke in your fingers..." that is a gem of a line. Worth it for that alone!

Jo Bryant said...

This is a great tale you have woven from the prompt. :)

Trellissimo said...

Photos hold all the answers...

Tess Kincaid said...

Nice...great opening line, Brian...

Lucy Westenra said...

Great realization of a character. I liked the "sound" paragraph, when the younger man, who is the viewpoint character, cannot see the old farmer. Very good technique. This piece is worth careful study to see how you achieve your effects.

Margaret said...

We lapse into silence, as men often do when talking, letting our eyes follow the wind across the great expanse of nothing that roams as far as the mountain.

Actually there a number of lovely lines here. Nice work, Brian. I loved the "what if" line ... this is a great short story full of character and place.

charleslmashburn said...

Beautiful writing. The story and the eloquent voice you tell it in is masterful. Very enjoyable to read.
My humble offering for this prompt: http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/he-was-a-ford-man-2/

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Excellent write

Anna Lo]

M said...

A tale skillfully told.