Elephant Graveyards (Barrelhouse 15)
Connie doesn’t like it when he swears, particularly not when he swears using Jesus in the middle of it. Myron arguing that if he starts with “Jesus—” and ends with “—Christ,” Jesus isn’t in the middle at all doesn’t make much difference to Connie, though. How much he swears is dependent on his company, on picking up other people’s habits. He can’t quite say why, after a dozen years of marriage, he hasn’t picked up many of hers. But the dig team unearthing bones in Paul Finch’s oilfield got him going again, and Connie’s already lip-chewing over that. The dinosaur business makes her nervy, uncertain, doubtful.
Coyotes of Chicago (Whiskeypaper)
All over the city, kids throw baseballs through thawing spring, muscles slowly warming against the Lake Michigan wind and slush-gray everywhere. The lake yips and barks where the ice-skin folds, pinches, cracks, and the very air is an eager growl of melting.
The Rogers Ladder (Gulf Stream #13)
Rachel and David had gone climbing when they were dating, scaling indoor walls and boulders and a few actual cliffs in New York. From the visitors’ center, she can see two brightly colored bodies dotting the rock-face, but they’re not here to climb. They’d talked about it, said no, maybe not this time, and she thinks it’s because neither of them could say for certain what they might do eight hundred feet up.
Note: This story was featured at the Ploughshares blog: “Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week.”
Weight & Bamboo (Festival Writer)
Wonder at the licked-penny tang of your hand when you wipe it across your mouth, all dirty copper, the taste its own memory of scolding: what not to put in your mouth. Wonder about your last tetanus shot. Remember that you forget.
Heading North (Novel Excerpt) (Classical Magazine Issue 8, The Books Issue)
A too-early firework flares red over Parov’s downtown glow, where most of the city’s inhabitants are and where Viktor Markovic and Nikolai Stepnov are not. Viktor and Nikolai are lacing their hockey skates on the snowy canal bank, taking their sticks in their gloved hands, and stepping onto the narrow, snow-skimmed ice.
To the Wall (Rappahannock Review)
Sandy pulls every book from the shelf, shakes them out. All she finds are Star Wars bookmarks, a love note from a girl whose name she has never heard, some stickers from a vending machine: a big psychedelic peace sign, a four-leaf clover, a Colorado Rockies logo. On the wall is a framed photo and baseball card of Todd Helton. Jacob had won it at the state fair, said the card wasn’t worth anything but Helton was good, if kind of old. Todd Helton is two years younger than she is.
Jonah, The Whale (Hobart)
It was March 6 when Jonah Jimenez threw a perfect game in Spring Training, ninety-four pitches all-told, and fifty more than any starter was throwing then. If you asked anyone, it was ninety-four pitches more than Jonah Jimenez had any business throwing anywhere.
Rock and Bone (Memorious 17)
Here, the rock is bare and starkly white under the road, even in the rain’s dark, where it is visible, before it cuts down so sharply that even a car’s height makes the grade of the cliff disappear. The taillight slips and falls, and Kim watches the bike shear sideways, wind-caught and water-rushed. It knifes under the guardrail and is gone.
Indelible (Bluestem Magazine)
John sits in his darkening living room and watches the sky bruise. The clouds seem to hang low enough to touch the second floor balcony before him, and he very nearly gets up, opens the double doors, and sits there, but his legs have become rock. The paralysis creeps up his spine, pushes him deeper into the leather sofa’s plush, and he cannot look anymore at his living room, his own view of Casper Mountain’s foothills. He faces west, the wind and the reservation, and though it is a hundred miles out, he cannot look. Audio available at website.
Middle Infield (Stymie Magazine)
Brendan glances over his shoulder at his friend, the dented Louisville Slugger at home in his hands, covered, as are Brendan’s, by last season’s batting gloves. It’s cool for the end of May, the light is starting to die, and Cal makes Brendan a little nervous, leaning like that. But Cal makes Brendan nervous in all kinds of ways, ways that make Brendan nervous with himself.
You can also hear & watch me read at this link from the 2013 Casper College Humanities Festival: An excerpt from The Oak and Holly King (novel in progress)
Print only, but gosh, their back issues are lovely:
“Dreamfish.” Gray’s Sporting Journal. Feb/March, 2004.
“(What is here inserted comes from a Credible Hand and attested by some now in Boston)” (Memorious 24 and Winner of the 2014 Memorious/Writers Block Poetry Contest)
Look how this slick white island rises from its dewy pink earth all rich with love
decayed and sugaring beneath the tongue, how the mouth speaks contrary to age,
to life: that Widow Quillin was not always Widow’d, only Quillin, only someone else still,
with very fair teeth sprung up once before. Call her Bess, a good queen
“That the true owner may have it again” (Footnote #2: A Journal of Literary History)
but to think nothing of the Borrower
that she should keep it
that no reader there will think to think she
“Salt” (published at The Coil and forthcoming in Footnote #2)
She knows the man before her has never stood on any savannah. There is no grass scent on his legs, and the sun’s heat refracts wrongly from his back. Cloth dissipates what fur radiates. She turns circles in her cage and remembers how she has always hated the way it splits her sight.
From the first installment, “The Mathematical Beauty of Maikel Franco”: Still, there’s mathematical beauty in the moment. Maikel Franco wears jersey number seven. Seven is both a prime number and part of the factors of 28, which is a perfect number, meaning all of its factors [1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14] add up to itself, creating a harmonious numerical circumstance. One could attach further meaning to these numbers by turning a string of integers into a sentence: Maikel Franco hit his first homerun of the season and also picked up two bags on what was ultimately a double and error, but then he rounded all four bags while wearing that lucky seven, so seven rolled twice across home plate—seven twice is 14.
Phillies Essay (2016 Baseball Prospectus Annual)
Since 2012, Phillies fans have done their share of auguring, looking for signs in the array of onions in their Whiz-Wits, conjuring portents in the flights of birds along the Schuylkill. But The Rotation could not save the fans; we were to wander again in the wilderness. Before the start of the most recent season, the predictions came easily: doom. Or: Holly uses a William Blake poem to look both forward and back at the Philadelphia Phillies.
Leaving Early (The Rumpus)
In Savannah, what had I heard? I know the expected sounds had come to my ears because I had been at the game, and so much of it is predictable, constant, repetitious. There must have been the cheesy music in the stadium between innings, the clapping, the cheers, the whole delicate and fine scale of bat-on-ball and ball-on-leather, but I can’t remember it. I remember what came before.
On the Value of Hearing No, Kindly (Bluestem Magazine Blog)
Like many of the stories about my writing life, this one begins in a classroom at Lycoming College, in a fiction class with my mentor, G. W. Hawkes.
Why I Write (Stymie Magazine)
This is why I write. This is why I keep taking to the air.
Nowhere Near Alabama, But Home’s Still Sweet: The Fine Art of the Walk-Up Track (Recess Magazine—now defunct. Link is to an archived copy.)
The announcer in the otherwise-empty pressbox forgets to turn off the microphone between announcing batters, so the speakers crackle with empty air.Sometimes the computer he’s using to play a song or two between innings and the walk-up music makes that Windows default noise. The digital piDONK pings across the backstop speakers as the players’ walk-up music, too, is mixed in almost accidentally, cutting in and out. Still, the walk-up music is here, and I’m pleased. Walk-up music has become one of my favorite parts of live baseball, particularly at these lower levels of play.
This is not an easy book to love. As an object, it is one of those books all of an age: squat, with yellowing, pulpy pages, the kind whose corners you can’t turn down because the paper creases so hard that it might as well be perforated. Dog-ear it in the opposite direction and the corner comes off entirely. The print is small and dense; and it is a 2,400 year old account of a war that gets no press. It’s not sexy like the Fall of Troy, not Homerically epic. The gods don’t factor in. The content is almost as hard to love as the way I remember myself when the book first came to me.
All my work at The Classical is cataloged here, but the piece below was my first and is perhaps my favorite, so:
Driving To Utopia, Arizona (The Classical)
Eventually, this road also leads to a visitation of four stadiums spread in a rough crescent around the greater Phoenix area. Its two arms nearly touch as the wide ribbon between Peoria and Goodyear stretches east and nearly kisses itself in Scottsdale, a mere six miles between Talking Stick and Scottsdale Stadium. The circumference is certainly no five hundred miles, but this Cactus League island’s sheltered, idyllic heart is a sort of utopia: a week of pure summer in fickle, tempestuous March, and home to a kind of baseball that exists nowhere else. Still, it is a dangerous place to enter.
This piece also appeared in the inaugural issue of The Classical magazine.
‘Breme Beowulf’ and ‘Inclite Pelagi’: Colonizing the Comitatus (The CEA Critic)
The language of the comitatus ripples through texts both overtly Christian, such as “The Dream of the Rood,” and texts primarily—perhaps murkily—pagan, such as Beowulf, our fullest, richest exemplar of the genre. Beowulf’s treatment of secular morality and warrior ethos, coupled with its historical dating and geographical connections, offers a unique lens through which to consider medieval Christian expansion, which stood to benefit from that particular overlap of potentially incongruous elements.
“Best Short Story I Read in a LitMag This Week: ‘The Rogers Ladder’ by Holly Wendt” by Ross McMeekin (Ploughshares Blog, November 2015)
Rappahannock Review Contributor Interview (December 2013)