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Submitted on
July 20, 2013
Submitted with Writer


71 (who?)
In the country,
the scarcity of humanity,
our ability to stand outside and be alone,
holds an undeniable appeal to me.
Even in the cold, the quiet can be
a great friend. The sun was out today,
pleasant on the skin. The wind had subdued
from last night's blowing. I sat in my
great-grandfather's metal lawn chair.
He kept this one outside the barn.
Told me once how he found a meteorite
in the chair. Said it hit the barn
and bounced right down to sit a spell.
Said it gave him a little shock,
a space-spark he called it,
when he picked it up from its resting spot.

How old was he then?
My age? I only recall an aged,
bald, weathered, cowboy who still preferred
to do his business in the outhouse
instead of the indoor room with water
from pipes. He told me
he knew when I was being born
because his knees itched from where
I would sit and his hands stung
from where he would spank me.

He and Granny shared a small house,
blown by the horrid western Oklahoma wind,
on a hill that overlooked their pond and
however many acres of wheat
and barley and potatoes and sorghum.
Granny's garden began about twenty yards
south of the house. Stalks of broccoli and
shoots of asparagus. Okra, tall like red cedars,
made me itch during games of hide and go seek.
Granny, picking the green prizes of her toils,
she'd yell for me, her voice contending little
with the wind and getting lost amidst the swirling
rusty red dirt; her voice calling like
a hundred confused ghosts. The way I hear her still.

A mockingbird lands in front of me,
approaching my old lawn chair like
I'm some ancient, crazed, heathen king
of a lost desert nation, ducking and
bobbing his head, greeting me in the
cracked voices of thousands his kind converse in.
He sings, the bold little critter, turns
his head as though seeking applause or
ridicule, and I feel either would satisfy him.

I have very little from the Home Place.
When dear ones die, you can always
count on your relations to fight one another
like catfish-whiskered demons for
what scraps of wood and iron and earth
they can lay claim to. Come to the end,
you give them most of what they want
just so you can go back to living
once more in the quiet country.
Shotguns and judges are needed
at every familial estate dispute.
Pick your own tool.

The mockingbird's conversation was lengthy,
as though he had never spoken to one
who might decipher his words. Tales of flight
and bugs who stubbornly refused capture.
A pleasant updraft this morning that brought
him hence before me for this most excellent
meeting. His mother was mostly silent and his
father had no tongue, exceedingly shameful
amongst his people, thus who would have
predicted him, a bird of such amazing
familial humility, to be gifted with an
unstoppable tongue, thereby precipitating his
rise to ambassador of human and mockingbird affairs.

I remember dust storms that could
hide the wheat from our eyes.
Ice-storms slicker than greased owl snot.
Snakes hiding in the tires that helped
keep the dam together. How Granny's
quilts where cool against my skin no matter
the time of year. My great-grandfather
beating a heifer with a 2x4 after it
attempted to gore and trample my father, the tears
that burned from his eyes during each swing
of the board, his fear and sadness showing
with only the thought of his grandson lying
in the corral, compound fractures, fleeing blood
pouring from unnatural holes. His protective
love turned most violent toward that which
threatened the people he believed love worthy.
That's what I believe true goodness is.
Because my dad likes this one.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-09-20
A Short Visit by *Iago-de-Xibalba ( Suggested by LiliWrites and Featured by Beccalicious )
HenekoMarie Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013
I love the closing statement, so true.
Iago-de-Xibalba Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks!
RDV37 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013
Congrats, this one touches most folks. 
KanePaws Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013
His protective
love turned most violent toward that which
threatened the people he believed love worthy.
That's what I believe true goodness is.

I think the concluding lines come off in an unintended fashion:

Love turning to violence is true goodness? It seems more misguided, shortsighted, rather scary even, beating an ignorant cow as some sort of punishment. I can see that love is mentioned as a good, as well as protective instincts, but I just can't reconcile these concluding images with most of the other vignettes throughout.

I'm sure you meant to highlight the intent behind the violence as the good, and not the violence itself, right?
Iago-de-Xibalba Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Kane, I was curious as to when someone might come to a conclusion of that nature. I didn't mean that the cow was being beaten for what it had done, only that it was being stopped from doing what it had intended. If the old man continued to beat the critter once its attack was halted, I don't know. Some might argue that once a threat is perceived, the only sure course to making certain said threat never recurs is to either eliminate the threat fully or teach it, by some means, that its acts of aggression will not be tolerated. Given that cows are God's dumbest creature (though mighty tasty and the most efficient way of turning plant life into protein for us), I would bet that the great-grandfather would do the latter.

You bring up a good that I've been tumbling around my noggin for some time. I recall two of my writing professors' beliefs that the most difficult parts of writing poetry or fiction were the beginning and ending. I sometimes struggle with both. I've had some difficulty in deciding whether or not this ending is proper or needs work. I've been leaning toward re-working it. Your confusion of my meaning only backs me up, though I know that not every reader can be certain of the meaning or be pleased with it.

I really appreciate your comments and thoughts, as that was my main hope in joining this site. What is a writer who craves not the thoughts and criticism of their contemporaries? I'd welcome your thoughts on my other works as well if you would be willing.  
slowbotomy Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013
I never get tired of this one. To me, it's like watching a great movie, again and again. Each time seeing something I missed before.
Iago-de-Xibalba Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hi praise indeed! Muchas gracias!
Delta-13 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I really like this piece. It brings to mind memories almost of the Oklahoma plain and I see, feel, and taste everything you described here. I think you perfectly capture the essence of the land and the people in this piece. Well done.
Iago-de-Xibalba Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, Delta. Faulkner told us to write what we know. I know Oklahoma. :)
lintu47 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove:
    Have a nice day! :heart:
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