Stories, ads, and letters that could be true

  Editor's note     

        20 steps to writing for us
        (Style guidelines for writers)

             First, fall on your face.

             Second, sweat blood.  
             Repeat verse ten times.

        How to polish your work
        (Self-editing for the daring)

          1 Make something up.
          2 Change it.
          3 Change it more.
          4 Go back to the beginning.
          5 Start something else.

Contact the editor of News-from-a-small-town at

 The news crawl starts here...

Volume 1, News from A Small Town, 52 editions

See also 


the gas tank is empty but locked - someone
had adventures and travels in this car
and no one is too sure who it was -
or where they were, or what happened next.
lucky thing the pumps stay on all night,
and you can go on - if only you have
plastic and skill enough to fill up
on dreams and memories and traffic tickets.

   news from a small town 52, December 2010

nonverbal news

something is moving, silently and upwind, as the eagle swings
against the sun one more time, and crazed plumes of snow
whirl above the tree line.  it is more than wild wind that makes
the horses go running and snorting – for something big
has come down out of the mountains again. the horses
commune over the fence, then run kicking and squealing
to the far side of the field, and every stock dog on the place
paces back and forth, back and forth to see what comes next.

   news from a small town 51, December 2010

     crunch crunch scrape scrape scrape
     wheezy start up - let the blower run –
     dead of winter driving, as always

       news from a small town 50, December 2010

first tweeter (new year's customs)

the first foot to land where the bird seed
from 2010 scatters brings good luck
if a dark headed male, though the
opposite if fair or female. finches
and juncos make no objection -
the early bird gets  . . .  the sunflower seed.

   news from a small town 49, December 2010

reporting on local politics

growl growl growl but wait! then
a vituperative response and then
a reminder that this serves us - oh,
it must, it must. quit and go home
or step up to the plate. decision by
decision, you can believe one way
or the other - and above all, to ignore 
the ticking 0ff, the best that you can.

   news from a small town 48, December 2010

in juniper country where
a juniper elder makes shade
an overhanging rock makes shade
and even in the  shade the grasses of summer
smell warm on this late fall day
big ears flick
white rumps
stripes of black tail
a young one bleats a calf-call
we watch each other
the juniper elder makes a room
big enough for all of us
we could dance and sing

     news from a small town 47, December 2010
     Susan Whitney, reporting

Advice Column for Professionals and Such

             Work Madder, Not Smarter

   news from a small town 46, December 2010

Not so social news

She moved in.
He averts his eyes now,
and won’t talk
to the next door neighbors.

She’s not Ms. Wife number four,
but the house is for sale now,
and there’s a hole in the snow
where her car lives.

In true local tradition,
it is time to make up a story
about them. Peaceful
coexistence is not an option.

   news from a small town 45, December 2010

(astronomy news)

sun so bright it – wait, that’s not noon,
it is moonlight, with eclipse and meteor
shower expected. electric lights blush
to be so outshone; headlights pale

across the snowy roads, deer are out
partying everywhere in the county, and
come back around just to show you
who in fact owns the whole darn road
on solstice eve, twelve-twenty-ten

   news from a small town 44, December 2010

not as planned

stuck truck! a bale and a half
in the back, no horses in sight,
the gate blocks any inconvenient
get-away plans. ice under
all four
wheels as they drive in deeper.

grab the cell phone, call for a
muscle truck, chains, a shovel, and

a hot spiked thermos. one gloves lies

forgotten - for now - on the ground.
don't expect the truth when this story

gets told. eighty percent chance
exaggeration and a lot more snow.

   news from a small town 43, December 2010

A Child’s Christmas in Wales
(in honor of Rich and Tom on the
occasion of the annual reading)

the aunt that raids the parsnip wine
is not the true aunt, but she’s close
enough, says daddy, and he escorts
the old lady to the withdrawing room
before she embarrasses herself. the
uncle who snores in the living room
as the women skitter and wash up -
“he’s all right, he had nowhere to go
so we took him in,” says mother. and
that’s how I learned there is more
to family than generally meets the eye.
Jim and I steal Welsh cakes and pitch
them at the cat, which yawns and
moves away. the old dog shuffles over
and retrieves the treats. we’re on holiday.

   news from a small town 42, December 2010

the date is wrong

we’re all dressed up in foamfilled boots
and work gloves, hats for the weather
emergency blankets back of the seat,
flares, flashlights, protein bars, a
Swiss Army knife (not for show). so we
all pile into the old truck, head for town,
 miss three deer somehow, at the turnoff
slide to the edge of the road, then throw it
in four-wheel, dig out, then go back to
the highway, rolling down the road sedately.
the stockdogs race back and forth across
the flatbed, then settle down behind the hay.
no cell reception in this canyon, like usual.
we pull into town to listen to Rich read
a Christmas story. we rattle the door
at Fishtrap house. and the date is wrong.

   news from a small town 41, December 2010

headed elsewhere but
(ice and rain and no way to turn around)

this rig only runs at twenty-five or so
so we’re trying to signal the headlights
in the rearview to go on, go on – and:

be patient if you can - they may be as stymied

by the slick as you or me. we all fetch up
at the grocery store the next town down

it’s guaranteed (we promise) that you’ll find

too many people out stocking up on this and that
on such a day as this, but not on such a night

   news from a small town 40, December 2010

A sonnet for ODOT*
(rules for the road)

Notice for those in fender-benders: The insurance company
declines the word "accident."
It's a crash or a collision or
sometimes a hit-and-run.
You decide. Your friendly driver's manual
prescriptions for staying in the clear: Do not hit other cars
bikes, pedestrians, or squad cars. Driving is not the time
to solve problems, plan trips, daydream, or read. "I was reading
my driver's manual on my Smart Phone," is not a good defense.

Concentrate: In front of you, behind you, on both sides of you.
For extra Zen, awareness of what is above or below you
may be credited. But here's the deal: If something goes bad, stop -
or turn turn turn the wheels. Other tips: No pets, packages or
persons in your arms when you drive. It is dangerous to eat
let alone drink when you drive. Let the kids rumpus
until they make you pull over: You know they'll be sorry then.

Your car mirror is not designed to give you a good view
of your make up. Put your eyes on the road; hang up and drive.


   news from a small town 39, December 2010

first sunny day after snowfall

tires float free on the shining highway.
"take your foot off the gas gently, resist
the urge to slam on the brakes and call
a tow truck or your ex to get home."
okay, the friction is back - it's a five-
star, beautiful sunny adrenaline day.

   news from a small town 38, December 2010 

one two three/I forget what's next

from way out of town, new news: they say
a sextillion stars! three times the number
anyone could could conceive, and more
than we could ever count or see. ain't
science and the universe wonderful?
all hail the mystery and numinous innumeracy

   news from a small universe 37, December 2010

crime scene, Bend, Oregon

the night after the big snow moved through -
not a creature was stirring - and not a sound at
that recreation cabin with the fine new
stereo, most notable for disturbing the peace
in summer time. so winter came, and
those kids broke in, they stole it, got clean away
when they ran for cover. but here comes
the deputy, grinning and following footprints
in the snow, knocking politely on the door
to recover the missing pieces. paperwork filed,
owner advised to keep the sound under wraps
next season, least they try again when it rains.

   news from a small town 36, November 2010

basic rule - no free lunch, but

u turns in intersections only: but you’re hungry.
basic rule in mind, you use your good sense
for the conditions: bacon and coffee and greasy
goodness. so you pull that rusty rig over in front
of the unpolished spoon café and order a number
one. it is always slow to come, but that way,
you can catch up on all the high-speed gossip,
and refills are free if you come late to the party.
it’s even possible that old Joe the cook will buy
your breakfast himself if you can take that local story,
turn it on a dime, and make it new and fresh, right there
between the intersections of truth and sounds good.

   news from a small town 35, November 2010

truth in advertising

land for sale out among the rocks -
imagine your home here!
and the warm hostility of a small
community – no matter, then.
you pays your money and
you takes your chances. meet us
at the bar fight to make your best deal -
we'll see what you're made of.

   news from a small town 34, November 2010

Announcement  and considerations
(holiday bazaar)

how many thousands of stitches hold together the hopes
of each artist or crafter at the holiday bazaar?

over there by the door! raffle tickets for a quilt
to help hold together the guild one more winter season.

beneath the fizzing lights we wait, hoping for sales
to help pay for holiday treats for our own tables.

over there, the Humane Society volunteers smile and thank
the folks who stop and say a kind word.

over here, Mary's little grandaughter plays
with something shiny, electronic, and mysterious.

outside, the sponsors right the welcome sign
that tipped in the wind, scraping the sidewalk.

under the table, you trade me your jam; I
trade you my handmade toys; and we agree to help old Joe.

come one, come all, and shop with a generous heart.
it’s not about the deal; it’s not just for yourself.

  news from a small town 33, November 2010

A letter from the editor

this is a story you cannot revise,
for it is my barrel of ink
and Internet or not
you can pick the fight, all right -
but you don’t get to win

the Gutenbergs and I
have a long-standing deal, you see
and the power of the press
though mediated by electrons now
is mine, mine, mine
along with all the ads

I get the last word, even if it is wrong

  news from a small town 32, November 2010

road hazard

four Charolais have crossed the bridge
no crossing guard to keep them
from the windy blind corners at Minam

across the Wallowa River, half a dozen
more trudge down the empty rail tracks

there is no cell service in this steep
deep gouge, so pull off at Water Canyon

inquire, set cowboys in motion again:
and that’s today’s deed, for good or ill -
for four Charolais have crossed the bridge

    news from a small town 31, October 2010

News from the Internet
It must be true

Today we got an e-mail from Acne
touting his cure:  Poor fellow

what it is to be a disease, and
know the remedy, yet need to

gather funds to Cure Yourself
only a dollar ninety-nine per day!

And how clever it is, to be able

to type that note without any fingers -

only red and purple pustules
on faces you’d rather not show

    news from a small town 30, October 2010

Help wanted

cubicle inmate seeks same       for great escape
at least as far as
the bar next door                    bring spoons and
files baked up
in a cake                                 have had enough
of handcuffs, golden                                or not

    news from a small town 29, October 2010

We would also like to report - no change

devoting hours and hours to specious things
that the wise ones say don’t matter -
the wise ones never having the concern
or perhaps having truly transcended it
by virtue of their virtues, we open the door:
hunt and gather at the grocery, see the
shaman at the clinic, gather sacred cure-
alls at the pharmacy, chip away at the
arrowtips of intellect, try, really try, to
take in the counsels of our elders on the
TV (they look so young, they look so
sleek) and in disgust, bury our minds in
comfort food and gambling. will he? won’t
she? another bet mislaid.  keep the change.

    news from a small town 28, October 2010

Fall color report

the autumn larch is becoming
almost respectable at last,
clear yellow spikes

scattered on Chief Joseph Mountain
and the middle brow of
Ruby Peak

it is the best of times here, just before
the longest time before

    news from a small town 27, October 2010

Haz-Mat report

he stops to fill the Clorox bottle
with gas for the chainsaw.
this town is too small
to pay attention to this error
and no one wants
to be the one punched. she taps in time
to a bad country song that
the local radio blares, waiting
her turn. the gas station attendant
tosses his cigarette too close;
the sheriff drives by; nothing happens.
days come and go like this, over
and over. but just you wait,
something interesting will happen -
perhaps a good song will play.

    news from a small town 26, October 2010

From the sports report

after a game that didn't go too well,
there’s one wet pompom left behind
on the high school parking lot,
splayed there
right by the dry spot
fading in the rain
where the away team bus pulled out.

let's show them how it's done --
put it in the trophy case
next to fading
team photos and
consolation prizes --
upon this rain-raddled shatter of color,
we now count coupe on our rivals.

     news from a small town 25, October 2010

Report from town: Oct 3
(Parking lot parade)

Time to go to the big grocery
to stock up on those things
we generally think we need.

Pulling in: Three-quarter ton

flatbed decked with stock
dogs and a heavy hitch…

Behind: a big wagon full of
lumpy, bumpy pumpkins -
can it be that time again?

It’s the season to carve up Jack,

scoop out seeds to dry or roast;
cut up the vegetable flesh in chunks.

In the old days, we cut ‘em
into big rings, hung them on
broomsticks to dry in the rafters.

For now, they go into my oven,
into my freezer: pumpkin bits for
bread, for soup, and pie after pie after pie.

     news from a small town 24, October 2010

A Sip of Cider for Evie
(Press on)

"A" was once an apple pie…. alpha,
beta, zed; one, two, three: this we know;
learning comes in sweet and bitter flavors.

the rule is if you press hard enough
and hold your mouth right, you your
very self can squeeze pure gold from that

raw red wonder in your bucket – and
bit by bit watch
your cider jar fill and
fill and fill, like learning --whether by rote

or by discovery. have you ever wondered
why it is the teacher
who gets bribed
with the fruit of the tree of knowledge?

innocent little apple polisher, snake boy;
snake girl -- welcome to  the paradise of books
and cliques and uniforms and lessons and pompoms.

here’s a secret: pomp and circumstance
starts very early. there’s plenty of time
to get it right -- even if you don’t. 

the good news: each and every year,
there’s a new chance to distill wisdom
from the harvest, once you make room for it.

malus blooms each spring in a thousand
young hearts; in fall, the old apple press works on.
as ever, save a sip of cider for Evie, before it spills.

     news from a small town 23, October 2010

(canning for Fishtrap)

into a jar place twenty-seven
love letters never written.
you know where to find
the brine, everyone has
it for free, though it’s
never ever cheap. tuck in all
the times you forgot to listen
all the times you assumed
the worst, a remembrance
of sweet times for balance -

boil and bubble that jar til

the lid seals all the way.
now, set it down some-
where you’ll never find it.
the grudge is yours to savor
or forget on some dark shelf.
it is okay sometimes to
waste comestibles, or at
least create lively compost
from your sins and ambitions.

(don’t think about it)

pull the hoses, mend the drips,
heat tape the pipes, post the
number of the best plumber,
forward the mail to wherever.

pay forward the bills, present
invoices for what was sold,
hand over the keys and snug
down the locks.

time to head to winter quarters.
those left behind will hike your drifts,
 fork your hay, and likely do things
you probably wouldn’t approve.

     news from a small town 22, October 2010

Consolation from the Board of Education

the classes are at last too small for much.

once proud, we are now too few
for traditions that we never were
much good at anyway - whatever
your parents and the beer told you.

this may be the last year - have at it.

suit up for the game that suits you;
go bash your young heads together on
the playing field like buck deer sparring
in the woods, and go win or lose at least a bet.

soon enough we’ll be combining schools.

time then for finding better sport, or perhaps
chasing education as earnestly as granddad
poaches deer each year in the annual
contest of truth or dare with the game warden.

you have to understand, times change.

even when they don’t. you'll find something
new to prove yourself against - its only
a matter of time and uncertain DNA. now,
your assignment: 100 pushups, 100 laps: go!

     news from a small town 21, October 2010

Thanks for being part of our motor family
(from car ad; found poem 8 in four squibs)

       squib 1, we love you

we want you, our past, present,
future automotive family to become
enamored of the wild horse
roaming freely; fast, feisty and
full of beans – you already know
the car, don't you?  and now an ellipsis...

       Squib 2, being friendly

a quick note: here's a tip to clean
your teeth. no, we don’t know why
it's here. but we still hope you’ll mistake
our advertising for an art movement
on wheels, and go buy, buy, buy.

       Squib 3, a confidential aside

oh, and please don't worry, we know
the secret of keeping the defects
in your paint job from showing.
it is all in the car wash, and never,
ever in the paint job - we promise.

       Squib 4, the pitch

so, in closing this deal, we can get
you - wherever - in your purchased
transports of joy, while allowing you to
pretend you are green, green, green,
with unlimited money and sex appeal.

     news from a small town 20, September 2010



this week of this year:
        low 45, high 80  -    
        no rain predicted    for     never    and    ever.

but if you wanna:      
let's go to the trouble bank for
       competitive whining
       about snow    that's    not    here     yet.

oh bring it on:
       you know you want it!
       the river is low, but you don't have to push it:
       it runs off      to     sea     by     itself.


September 25, news of the day

today you can almost see the larch
turn. someone’s garden got it last
night from frost. odd little busses
done up as campers hum down the
road -- clearly from out of town.

time to roll up the hoses for the
season.  crabapples are nearly ready
to pick, blanch, and freeze. hunters
hunt; some bring home the bacon, 
and some stop by the store to do that.

there are all kinds of hunting, some 
having more to do with climbing hills
and draining a bottle around the campfire
than much else. it is fall, hay is in, and the
local RVs are all prepped for Yuma.

     news from a small town 19, September 2010


Little town doings
(eventually -- found poem 7)

It is the season of the nonstop
fish and four-footed stalkers,
and will be for some time.

The varied seasons are open,
along with our school doors,
kids to be inside 'em, starting now.

Note, though: The schedules have
changed to shorter days and
weeks, depending on - stuff.

Be sure to look forward to last summer’s
deferred potluck and promotion party, now
plotted for soon this September. 

We will yet confound that flu bug
that captured our attention last year
at school's end, and celebrate, b' gawd.

Bring your favorite dish and plates, and
what donation you can for the youth
hospital, because – well, you never know.

In the meantime, bingo starts next week,
three cards for a buck; soda for free.
Happy hunting, one way or another.


        Hospital Gown Optional
      (this week, we harry your stress)

         to diagnose your trouble and sorrow,
         please begin. your answers are confidential.

what is it that warms your heart up -
even if you don’t want it to?

           go there for ten minutes. all right…
           five, to start. just five. or ten.

what is it that breaks your solid
concentration when you most need it?

           give it the ten minutes it demands.
           all right. five. better, yet? all right, if no.

what is it you chew on when you
have things you’d rather not chew on?

          can you wash it down with distraction
          just for now? let go of that for a moment?

you can have them all back if you want them -
but kindly oh so kindly give yourself a break.

     news from a small town 18, September 2010


Lost and found
Lost: Credit card. Canceled; replaced instantly.
Lost: Driver’s license. Needed: So. Much. Stuff!

Found: A whole industry in insecurity.


For sale
(We didn't plan for this)

Motorcycle, very cool. Only used
three months last year. Best offer.

     news from a small town 17, September 2010


Open letter to the bad guys
(truth or dare -- found poem 7)

You ought to know by now there is
no privacy in the backcountry.
We saw what you did out there.

You get one chance to turn in
the stuff you took from camp.
Otherwise we’re turning you in.
And we will love to prosecute this one

Worse than conviction, from this day on
no one will serve you at the café.
Your gas card won't work over at
Grain Growers, and we know you'll hate it.

Bring the gear back, or be ready for
the snub and the gossip to follow. But
don't think about the fine and sentence
to come. On second thought, join us in that.


Captured by the court reporter

I don’t want a D.A. who applies
his own morals to the case.
You never know where they've been.

For sale

Rusty F-150. Many
untrustworthy miles
remaining. Best offer.


News of the wired
(found poem 6)

The library has to charge a tiny fee now
for internet connection – someone near
and anonymous was sucking down
connectivity –maybe for business, we
don’t actually know, but the hours were
from one to three in the morning. (Jay
thinks maybe they were downloading porn,
Angie, more hopeful, voted for movies.)

Whatever it was, they took so much,
that the rate went up for everyone. 
So now, neatly written on printer paper
stuck to the door is this advice: For free
internet, go to the coffee shops and
get a latte – or give us a couple dollars –
or pay your own bills - and everyone’s happy.

                news from a small town 16, September 2010


Congratulations: (1993 dedicatory sentence for a bookstore door - found poem 5)


   Special Classifieds
   (First five words free, $1 each, after.)

         Good rifle: mine shoots crook’d.

To Good Home
Spouse; will deliver. Football season.

Special Intentions
Hay’s in: Pray for rain.

Good wheels; dinged up kidneys.

For rent
Dive; perfect for college student.

Lost wedding ring, near Joe’s Bar.

For sale
Good gelding, $1,000. Naughty mare, free if you can catch her.

                news from a small town 15, September 2010


More ads

Take this, not that.
Think that, not this.
Vote here, not there.
That covers it. Buy, buy.

    news from a small town 14, September 2010


A few changes
(Announcement - found poem 4)

Volunteers pay ten dollars; guests are free.

The big event that we have every year
at this time is coming up again, as always -
except the date is different and the location
and the price and such. Hold the date -
come one, come all, if you can. The tradition
is much changed, but otherwise the same.

You must be this tall to enter the gate.

    news from a small town 13, September 2010


Yard sale

One day only!
Every day for
the rest of the year!

It's all in the barn.
If the sign's up,
come on by.

If it's not, our
next door neighbor
will see to you.


Situation wanted
Rain maker/rain staller

Hey, it never rains on me.
Pay me to come to your
party, wedding, funeral,
or to stay the hell away.

Can also be bought to
follow your ex around a bit,
though I draw the line at
stalking. (Professional ethics!)

Results guaranteed or
your money and beer back.

Rates negotiable.


Special event very soon
(Second Ranch on the Right - found poem 3)

Contra dance party Saturday
in the Big Blue Barn on
Tenderfoot Valley Road.

Beginners welcome; music live
and quite lively, cheap to get in.
It's generally a friendly crowd.

Anyone can dance with anyone -
or not. Your kids can come; you
can too. Yes, we’ll tell you just what to do.


Ceili (dance in translation)

a gathering of friends
that’s what the word means

but what happens when
the gathering contains not

so friendly intent? we have
a secret drill - we make them

dance til their socks fall off,
and (should they pass the test)

hand them a dry tee shirt,
but only if concensus says

you can trust them with
your lady friends. let them

drip, if not. another dance
starts soon, be ready for ’t.

    news from a small town 12, September 2010


Slow news day (Editorial license #w3103493840)

There isn’t a blessed thing to print.

The press release from the pompous
ass we elected to the Commission
is like the finest cheesecake – sweet
and just full of fluff. No meat there.

The kids don’t have a game 'til Thursday.

And our sportswriter only really
understands polo, though he has promised
to swot up on great sports writing, so
he can do some, if needed. But nothing for today.

Oh, let’s go ask the president of the Council something.

How about ... how she feels about the mayor
now? No real dirt yet. But if we catch up with her
during the second glass of wine, we can fluff
some feathers. And snarkiness sells papers!

We do have a wedding we didn’t cover last week...

Not sure we should print it now, since
the bride’s mother came by with that shotgun.
We do have some freedom of the press to defend,
and her son in law says she’s out of ammo. But it’s copy.

And hey, we’re desperate. Any obituaries?

That could fill space. Oh wait, we make them pay
for the long ones now, and we hear the next of kin
won’t have anything to spare til the next check comes in.
From what I hear, it was a mighty bender at the wake.

So here’s some news. Let’s photoshop a picture!

You know, put a cougar or a bear or a wolf or
a moose into a picture of downtown near
the school crossing, and get all the parents excited. 
After all… this is the issue with the back to school specials.

  news from a small town 11, September 2010

Relationship advice column

Dear Addy,

       How do I know the romance is doomed?

      Signed, Heartbroken


Dear Heartbroken,

       He salts the meat before tasting it.
       She takes the last can of beer.

       She calls you the i word (idiot).
       He calls you the c word (clingy).

       If you have to ask, you already know.

       Love and condolences, Addy


There is no privacy (and that’s the good news)

The birds are chirping and the wind rattles the fall
cottonwood leaves in the distance, and out by the quarry
we hear an old rattletrap stop. 

It sounds like Mary’s old pickup, the one that runs on three cylinders
three-fourths of the time. (There is no privacy in a small town).

We all tell her she should get that fixed, and Tom
at the restaurant even offered to loan her his old beater
while she gets it done, but she says, “I’ve got other things
to spend my money on.”

Jane, who always shares more than she knows, says
Mary picks up big cases of Slimfast at the big box store
seventy miles away.

Everyone nods and looks embarrassed at this,
it is not our business. But then, Jake adds
Mary was spotted at the local hardware store
picking up .22 ammo yesterday.

And Terry jokes maybe she’s going to knock over a bank
so she can support her habit and get the truck fixed, and
Joyce the waitress spills coffee real close
to where it ought not to go and all the men jump involuntarily.

Then: Bam! Bam! Bam! A hundred gunshots echo in the quarry.
Then… silence.  And no one drives away.

So after a while Big John says, "Think I’ll check that out." And
two or three guys who should be working pile into his supercab
and they head to the quarry.

And there’s Mary with her rig broken down, putting her rifle away,
saying “I was about to fire off three SOS shots to see
if any of you boys might come to help! But here you are!”

And over on the target line, 100 cans of Slimfast, shot to hell,
and a set of bathroom scales in pieces. “Thanks, boys,” she says.
“Let’s head in to the restaurant. I want to talk to Tom about that loaner.
And I’ll spring for some pie.”

  news from a small town 10, September 2010


Theater listings

One new movie this week

the one about the character
popular in 2009
or the year before

It takes a while for them
to get here, but
the good news is
the popcorn is fresh.


What you want
(not when you want it)

The catalog has been replaced
by a computer with
a slow connection...

still the process is the same
read, consider
drool, budget
fill out the form...

send off your plastic payment
What you want
will come in due time...

Then you’ll decide on the fit.

  news from a small town 9, August 2010

Five alarm fire

Five dogs in pickups downtown -
they all howl when the fire sirens go off.

Yes, we do know the world is coming
to an end, or at least what’s in the trash barrel is.

Thank you for praying, anyhow.

Hotdogs and chips for all
after the engines and hoses are put away.

Maybe some beer, too
if someone will take the cans back after.


Situations Wanted
Ranch Hand (found poem 2)

I have over twenty years of experience
working for upscale equestrian operations.
My greatest strength is working with young horses!

I have grown as much as five acres
of organic produce in one season --
and I did this alone.

I am a committed former missionary.
I am considered one of the most effective
inside sales specialists in the country.

I am a certified Ninja practitioner
with forty years of experience in the martial arts.
I am single with no children and no legal problems.

Please call me. Or else.


Ranch Caretaker (found poem 1)

Need a new job on a ranch.
My old job petered out.
I prefer an absentee landowner -
New Mexico, Arizona, or Tennessee -
but will go to other states as well.
Need a small salary. You will not
be disappointed with me. References. 


Letter to the editor

All right.
I’ll read – the classifieds.

But I don’t want to see the sports page
and I’ll tear up the opinion page
sight unseen.

That’s my comment. I’ve had enough
of the others. Thank you
for the free speech.

Some of it’s worth what you pay
when you steal
the paper.


Voting time is coming

the visitors are headed for
wherever they came from
bless them and the wallet contents
they left behind.

a new season starts:
football, firewood, hunting,
and town politics - our own
little crabs in a bucket!

Play review
(At the community center)

Friends, Romans, countrymen
I leant you my ear

my daughter was great
your son was swell

and all the rest...
not bad, not bad.

  news from a small town 9, August 2010

Heartwarming story of the week

It’s one of the old timer’s sons who rescued the situation -
gave the kids a donation at their car wash big enough
to buy gas to send everyone to the Big Contest, which
they won, pretty much against all odds, and now
we plan to put up a sign at the edge of town, “Home
of the Big Prize Winners for 2010” – or we would
if we could just agree whether that’s appropriate.
So then the son of the old timer’s dad pretty much takes
things into his own hands the way he pretty much
always does, and now that proud slogan graces
a newly painted, rather hideous old barn
on the edge of town, and everyone is
quite unexpectedly happy.

  news from a small town 8, August 2010


Chamber Meeting Notes

Discussion: Big dreams for gain
versus the usual practical nitpicks.
Someone goes ahead anyway.
Grumbling at the break.

Report: This year’s community events
coming along nicely. We are happy
we sold many more things to tourists
than might have been expected.

Treasurer’s note: We have
almost nothing in the kitty
except our grant fund.
Let’s talk about dues again. Or not.

Presentation: Those dratted new people
and the guy who retired
from the Forest Service are here.
Give them a couple hundred
and maybe they’ll go away again.

Meeting adjourned for now.

  news from a small town 7, August 2010


Political news

nothing new under the sun
just like history
but less so


Social doings

A journey of a thousand miles


Police blotter

Suspicious noises reported
in the neighborhood
at 10:15, 11:07, and 11:59 p.m.  
Dog fed at midnight.

Cattle on the road
at the usual place
where the fence is still down.

Death threat call. Intended
recipient out hunting.
Wife took a message.

Domestic dispute. Officer informs caller that
red wine is a good choice with venison out of season.
Game warden responds to the scene.

Usual recidivist hedonism
and underage mischief.
(You thought I couldn't spell that.)

Dispatch calls forwarded to dial-a-prayer.

  news from a small town 6, August 2010


Social calendar: Mars mars plans

Big star to show up August 27?
It's all moonshine! Even so,
party by the still, Friday night.

  news from a small town 6, August 2010

Hometown U-U-U
Ambition Central

Every little town needs a world class university or three,  for credit or not. Fantasy football season to come;
on-line education to go:

(Yes. Really.)


Official Warning
(Office of the Disturbance General)

All the news that’s not fit to print -
We’ve been reading too much of it again -
and watching and listening and so forth.

Unleavened news from only one source
may cause indigestion, spark bar fights,
and self-righteousness beyond permissible levels.

Call the State Fire Marshall; invoke the Conflagration
Act; toss the paper; turn down the tv; mute
the radio; shut down the blog; look to your own:

Object in Mirror May Be Hazardous to Your Heath.

news from a small town 5, August, 2010,
with contributions from Ned Ludd

Just in

fire on the back porch
the grill got away from ‘em

smoke and to do!


In social news

The neighbor’s sparkin’
a likely candidate for

Ms. Wife number four


Classified ad: Jobs

Wanted: One good man:
come to the aid of your country.

45 wpm, Recruiting


 Classified ad: Personals

Seeking: one hundred
percent what I want; cute too:

I’ll think about it.

news from a small town 4, August, 2010


headline haiku
Coming event: save the date

bar fight, open to
as many as will – beer served

read all about it

news from a small town 4, August, 2010



A reason for unplugging things
Weather report

east behind the storm lingers a double rainbow
behind the storm. it is as if this didn’t happen:

the scent of iron sweeps town in a dusty gust
a self contained cell of rumble, bam, bang
masses over the mountain: then it starts!

first the thundering warning, then the flashes,
cloud to cloud, and a fizz of heavy rainwater,
a rattle of hail: forty long minutes for the dog
hiding under the bed: and then suddenly blue sky.

news from a small town 3, August 2010


bark responsibly
A public service announcement

eyes pale blue or the color of half dry manure
or maybe both at once
black and white stock dogs sit silent,
mannerly on the flatbed pickup
come to town. clueless town dogs
bark at everything in sight, convinced
they can take on the world. little do they know
how far down the hierarchy they’d fall.
one blue eye takes in the ruckus calmly
saliva forms around a fang – it
could take you any time, if only you knew it.
don’t pet, don’t pat, it’s not dignified –

unless you’re the boss. then – maybe.

news from a small town 2, August 2010


Keep courtesy rural
A public service announcement

In the crosswalk by the grocery,
a fat squirrel squats.
“Yes, in fact, I do
own the whole darn road!”

The biggest, baddest
white pickup with local plates
and a honkin’ big flatbed
dragging behind bears down.

?Left? ?Right? ?Left? ?Right?
No…. ?Maybe? What! Maybe
I’ll just stay right here
and let it go over!

Driver stops, squirrel debouches
stage right. We laugh and clap
and shake our heads.
Keep driving courtesy rural.

  news from a small town 1, August 2010