Some Time Before DinnerYou cry. My head a ringing place.
Your face a freeze-frame of outraged red.
We walk and waltz and you hiccough with tears.
My body is a besieged land,
defences breached and the headquarters
inhabited by music.
In my head I am riding to Juneau.
In my head a strong man, arms like fortress walls,
holding me hard against his solid ribs.
My waltzing does not amuse you.
My tuneless singing I cannot hear.
I don't know the words, the drums are a heartbeat.
Your hot hands cling still.
Your hands entrenched, scaling the walls.
You may conquer me yet, but my mind is lost.
Fort Defiance - Chapter 6The house was quiet. Uncle Charlie had gone to Fort Defiance for news and provisions. Ben was somewhere in the canyons. With the cattle gone there wasn't much to do about the ranch hadn't been for two weeks but Ben rode out occasionally hunting, and to see if by chance any of the cattle had wandered back.
Ned could not help him with that apart from being a companionable presence on the rides so he stayed home and kept the stove burning rather than freezing outside just for the sake of conversation. If he took care he could chop the wood that Charlie hauled from the land about. He could cook too, mixing up cornbread and frying salt pork and boiling up beans so that when Charlie and Ben came in chilled and hungry there was something warm for them to eat. Uncle Charlie didn't like Ned cooking because of the danger of the stove, but he was always happy with the hot food at the end of a long day.
Ned opened the glass front of the clock and touched the hands lightly. It was abo
Fort Defiance - Chapter 5Ned stood still on the ground, listening to the sounds of the cattle and the Indians crying out around them. The noises grew fainter as they moved away behind the undulating land. All the cattle They lost a cow now and then through theft or illness. Sometimes they gave one away. But all the cattle That was their livelihood being herded away. Money was always scarce as it was, but what could they do without cattle?
Ben slipped off his horse and came to stand beside him, putting one hand on his arm in a wordless gesture of sympathy. Right now Ned didn't know how to accept it. He wanted to be alone. He wanted to be right on top of one of the cliffs screaming at the sky with no one to see him or stop him.
He turned around, hiding his face against Doggone's side, helplessness building into a wave inside him. He knew it would be no different even if he could see. He couldn't take on twenty-five Indians with a gun. But in that moment he wanted to see so badly that the wanti
Seven, Until EightWe slip upstairs, into the half-light dark,
leaving the tadpoles playing in their pool.
Time to be together, to shade the lights.
My patience is a skeleton leaf, each vein
frayed. I pray for peace. The Middle East
has nothing on you. And I lie while
you walk the floor, and drink, and milk
hangs at the corners of your lips. Outside
the sky is aflame. The neighbours fight quietly.
Inside nothing but your feet on the floor,
your experiments with sounds,
your mouth a new toy. Outside the
deepening dusk as day gives way
to shadowed hills. You cannot fight.
You fall like an old soldier,
surrendered to the hours, at last.
Fifty Minutes, Without AdvertsExercise is good for depression. Picking out words with poetry. Watching people move on the screen. Sleeping baby giving a surrender with his nerveless arms.
Deep breaths make light work of pain. On the screen they are spying and cycling, long ago but vivid. Actors are writers, writers act.
Doctors sometimes tell the truth. Eat red peppers and tomatoes. That may work.
Brain stutters. Baby's hands twitch. Don't wake yet. Don't wake. Let me watch my silver-hearted screen. Intrigue and the tiny movements of eyes. Six foot three and broad shoulders.
He is awake. Milk on his lips. Tiny yearling sounds. You would be surprised by what is in my heart.
He nests like a bird in the crook of my legs. Tumbles back into sleep. Sweet, hot breaths, short and fast. How will I roast a chicken by five?
The credits roll.
Fort Defiance - Chapter 4'Oh man '
Ned rolled over and pulled his blanket over his head. The cloth caught awkwardly on something and he fumbled with his hand to feel his hat still pressed down on his head. He pushed it off blearily. His skin felt tight over his forehead and cheekbones, his skull throbbing with a headache that seemed to reach all the way down into his spine and shoulders.
There was a clattering nearby of a pan on the stove top and the smell of pork fat and pancakes and coffee was thick in the air. It was all he could do to not be sick.
A hand touched his shoulder through the blanket and shook him with gentle firmness.
'Wake up, Ned.'
'Is it morning, Ben?' he asked, finally pushing the blanket away and sitting up, stiff in his coat and clothes. Someone had taken his boots off, but otherwise he was dressed just as he had been when he had fallen into bed.
'Near as damn it afternoon,' Ben said, moving away and rattling the pan on the stove again. 'Your Uncle Charlie's gone back to the Fort to
Fort Defiance - Chapter 3The Fort was always a place of hubbub after the predictable and natural sounds of the canyons about the Tallon ranch. Ned saw it in his mind as it had been four years ago, but there was no doubt it had changed some in that time. He heard the sounds of the place growing bigger most times he visited – nails being pounded into lumber as board houses went up, new and varied accents on Main Street. Time had been that everyone knew him, for good or for bad, in Fort Defiance. These days there were more new folks than old as everyone pushed west in search of more room or more money or just the sight of new land.
The old post office felt the same as always, though. Same scent of aged wood and dust and paper, same sounds, same voices behind the counter even if some of the men asking for letters were strangers.
'No, there's no letter from Johnny, I'm sorry,' Mr Laughton said, putting his hands down flat on the counter with a soft sound. 'Nothing at all for you Tallons.'
'Fine, Mr Laughton.
Fort Defiance - Chapter 2Ben grew to be a comfortable presence in the house with remarkable swiftness. There was something right about sitting by the stove in the evening with Ben there a few feet away and Uncle Charlie sitting nearby darning a worn-through sock or mending some piece of tack or whittling at a piece of wood. It reminded Ned of the evenings before Johnny had gone to war. Ben was quieter, perhaps, than Johnny. He was less restless but then Ben had a wife. Ned couldn't imagine Johnny ever coming home with a wife. He enjoyed being a bachelor too much. The Arizona Tallons would maybe end with him and Johnny.
Ned thought about that as he sat in the shallow wash tub before the heat of the stove, a blanket strung up between him and the rest of the room, swiftly scooping the water over his limbs and torso. The Tallons didn't get to a lot of praying on Sundays like they had when Ned's ma was still around, but they did still take their baths on Saturdays, religiously, so to speak. Ben had been here
Fort Defiance - Chapter 1The horse was nervous in the safety of the corral. It wasn't the high, dusty land that bothered him, or the wide open skies, or the threat of the loose rocks and canyon sides. Peppy loved to gallop wherever he was given free rein. It was being penned up that bothered him, being hemmed in by rough planks and having to depend on the kindness of those around him for his existence. It was a feeling that Ned Tallon had understood for close on four years now.
The horse whinnied and protested, flinching away from Ned's hand as he tried to calm him. He could feel the nervousness vibrating through his muscles and skin, everything coiled up and waiting to release. When the horse moved his head towards him his breath was hot and moist against Ned's cheek, a welcome moment of heat in the chill October air, but the head moved close and then away again as if the horse were searching for some way of escape.
'Easy there, Peppy. Easy.'
He kept his voice calm and steady. He had saddled plenty of horses