Ask a Question #11 – What do you write?

I write a lot of things. I’ve been working on the same novel for the last eight years. The story has evolved significantly, my life has evolved, and I have “thoroughly examined my impatience” and have decided that I will let life live itself at the pace it dictates. Here’s the opening of the book in free verse.

(*) (*)


We didn’t give a shit about Tommy Rich until he beat Harley Race,
then he was our favorite wrestler in the world.
Will and me knew
when we saw the picture in Pro Wrestling Illustrated
that one day, we too would have our hands raised high,
in the Omni of Atlanta
The Bastard Sons of Sherman Avenue
Tag team
champions of the world


On the last day of freshman year
my neighbor Dr. Hill crashed
his Plymouth Citation
into his red brick chimney
and his life
went up, parallel to the ghosts
of winter fires
while Will and I tried to
get him out of the car
shouting instructions to one another over the
high speed grinding of engine noise
and the realization of flames
I remember smoke and more smoke and more
until the Coyote from across the street
used a brick to break
glass and reach his arm through to the ignition
heard the firetruck in the
quiet that followed


On the last day of freshman year
(Mondale vs. Reagan)
my dad read a letter to my mom
from a man who shouldn’t have been writing letters to my mom
from a man who once held us captive on the elementary school playground
and told us stories about his time playing college football
in Iowa
until he blew out his knee, a warrior, that football was like a war
he told us stories
until the day in 1976, the Coyote picked up his son Donnie, one year older
than me and said he’d been to Vietnam and he didn’t play football
there and he didn’t see him
and that was the day I saw Todd Larson for what he was, in my elementary
school way
eight years later my dad would find the letter
would call Will’s dad, just out of prison, and that the two of them
drove drunk from Madison to Houston


On the last day of freshman year
(Elmer Childress was our weatherman)
a storm came down from the northwest,
across the Mississippi River
creeping towards us
barely visible over Snake Hollow
Dr. Hill’s car still wrecked
the house dark
my parents gone
and me in the driveway doing pushups
counting lightning bolts and rain drops
with a plan to put on fifteen pounds before the start of sophomore year
I was almost fifty pushups in before
the tornado siren rose to
shrill life, and I hurried into the house for an AM radio and a flashlight
to wait out the end of the world
it felt like the end of the world
until no funnel cloud made its way up Arkansas Avenue
in the morning I learned that the tornado spared us
but that the town of Rolling Land
had not
been spared

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