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Life on the Back Forty (Swamp Trio Two)

cypress trees in water

An Unexpected Visitor

For once, the bayou sky is a clear, pure blue, and the air isn’t so thick with humidity that you feel like you could dive in and splash around. Pen’s girlfriend Estelle is weeding the scattered plants that serve as …

Listen To My Rhythm

“Oye como va, mi ritmo…” Claudia sings softly, her contralto counterpoint to a sudden glissando of harp from a distant room. The ancient mp3 player is propped against the kitchen window, a set of tiny, tinny speakers perched atop the …


Claudia kneels next to her distraught child. “Well, why don’t you set the table? Dinner should be ready in a little bit.” The silverware door sticks a little as she pulls it open and grabs five sets of utensils. Why

two shallow boats on porch of small house

Hurricane Warning

Their meal is hurried. They hunch over their plates, shoveling food in like its fuel for the fight and listening to the wind whistle through the trees outside. Claudia prays that none of the older trees come crashing down on …

woodcut illo of bee


Mom’s waiting for me, Lucas thinks, better hurry!

He thunders down the back stairs and into the wild back yard, clutching a tattered and faded green book. She is waiting for him, and he throws himself into her lap, …

ghostly portrait of person in chicken wire

Pen Howell

Pen hasn’t much money. That was part of the decision to stay out here, after Tree died. Only part. Pen was thinking of his girlfriend, Estelle, a lot. Estelle isn’t good with people.
The kids, Marcie and Davenport, baby girl …

The Internet is for Porn

The ancient laptop gave another dying wheeze. Hal was used to this noise — the computer had been making it for five years now. But if you knew how to baby it, it still worked just fine. Well, it worked …