Share Your Story - An Invitation

Yesterday I sent an email to the email subscribers here at the collective.  I mused a bit about blown tires, a soon-to-arrive baby, and the goodness of this present life.  I then opened it up to the email readers, "share a bit," I asked them.  Stories beget stories. Art begets art. Several took me up on the invitation, shooting emails back telling the group their most recent stories.  I sat in my living room, reading aloud to my wife, laughing a bit (thanks for the beard story Hamster), pondering a bit (thanks for the southern story Abby), and watching my wife cry a bit (thanks for the mother imagery Erika).  Stories evoke so much.

Today I give you a brief invitation.  Every month, I'll be giving a bit of a behind the scenes peek at my life to the email subscribers.  I'll ask them to take a little and give a little, sharing a bit about their lives with the group (if so inclined).  It's a really grand thing, this sharing of testimonies.  If you'd like to be a part of the monthly exchange, subscribe via email.  There's a box over there in the upper right-hand side (see it).

And if you are already a subscriber to the RSS feed, leave a comment letting me know you want in!  I'll put you on the subscribers list.

Thanks again to those who shared.  It made for a good Lord's day exercise.

Frank Sinatra Lonergan, Lucky Lotto Winner Number 1 -- To Want is to Dream

Kevin Still is at it again. (Enjoy Kevin's work at Three Hands in the Popcorn Bag.) Talk about a dream sequence worth reading! Good work today, Kevin. To read the entire series , click here.You'll want to start at the beginning if your new to this story. ______________________

She stands stage faded, kitchen yellow dress. Dark neck, chest, arms sparkle salt-water slivers slide skin. Eyes close. One hand microphone. Other strokes air. Yellow dress obeys curves, press hips damp patches late-July. To listen was to want her. To want her was to dream.

Old black man wears suspenders and bow tie sits upright piano. Juice glass gin-full wobbles piano top. Frank can not hear old-man, but Frank can tell he swings jaw and gnaws lip old man asks mercy himself. Janell’s voice swells out. Old man swings chin, eyes close, dreams someone seeps salt-water some other July.

Frank approaches stage, takes air hand. Janell recognizes. She smiles. She sings. Frank pulls Janell close, floor flushes grass field. Music continues but old man, piano, gin-filled glass, disappears and swift breeze lights Janell’s yellow dress, tugs loose places and tightens right spaces. Grass rolls calves, tall and fresh, uneaten by cattle or heat. Frank smells salt Janell’s skin and knows grass ain’t tall enough.

As Frank kisses Janelle, voice sounds. His name. He turns and sees mother stand hilltop, two butter colored hogs, stand horse high, crowd Mama’s sides. Mama calls son, “Frank! Frank, I need you go into town! Mrs. Maggie’s taken sick, and I need you to . . . .”

Angry, explanation full, Frank turns Janell. Gone. Grass grows, taunts place he not hide day away. Hay and grass and hog replace sweet salt smell. Frank turns back mother. She feet away. Hogs crowd her look eye-level Frank, grin through corn-mush and bacon grease slick jowls. He hates hogs. They hate him.

“You hear me, Frank? I need you to go to Mrs. Maggie’s. She’s taken sick, and them field boys ain’t gonna do right by her. She needs some Whiskey and brown sugar heated up and fed her by spoon. You’re gonna have to do it. Frank, you’re the only one. And when you’re done feeding her, you come feed me. I’ve been your mama long enough, and I expect the favor returned.”

Frank walks away. Hogs scuff ground. All this taking. All this expecting. To want away was to dream. Black pig army crowds feet, snort and bounce hind legs, mouths slick filth, filth table scraps, table scraps uneaten pig siblings. Frank kicks them, but black pig army root louder, gurgle chorus grunts and gut-laughs. Frank curses black pig army. Kicks them. Throws fist air. But black pig army snap heels, bite holes socks and take skin. Frank balls fists and slams own head, screams blasphemy at land and life and . . .

Frank woke on the couch. The light of the side-table lamp burned his eyes. He pulled his hand over his face, rubbing his mouth. His lips felt cotton-thick from his open mouth breathing. His throat stung dry. He used his thumb and index finger to pinch the bridge of his nose. He could see Janell in her kitchen yellow dress, and Mama with her guardian hogs standing behind her. Mama stood in every background. Her presence, her voice, bigger than those prized hogs.

Frank swung his feet off the sofa and reached for the bottle on the coffee table. He chugged a gripe of Irish Whisky, smoother than Bourbon, and looked out the window. The music had fallen silent. A few voices – one a bellowing laugh from a gentlemen trying too hard – remained after the crowds. Frank wondered the time and then thought better of it. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, you cursed slave-driver,” Frank said as he reached for the laptop. He couldn’t remember where he’d left off. Just somewhere in his story, his story that seemed to have no beginning or end, just a neon explosion of moments he could not re-gather except in words. Words were all Frank had.

Frank swigged the Jameson again and took the lottery ticket from his pocket. He held it between his fingers and flicked the corner on the coffeetable’s edge. “Mrs. Maggie’s dying, Frank,” he could hear his mama saying, “Mrs. Maggie’s dying, and you got the money right there to do right by her. She’s been your neighbor all your life, I expect the favor returned.”

Frank slipped the ticket back into his pocket. “Mama, why don’t you and your hogs go rut in someone else’s business?” He opened the laptop, waited for the document to reload, and then he lowered himself, mind and spirit and all, back into his pool of words.

The man behind me on the bus out of Millwood finally asked why I kept staring at him. I lied and told him that he looked like someone I knew. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he looked like one of Mama’s hogs.


"It is a truly wise man who does not play leap-frog with a unicorn. "Ben Franklin

I am married to a writer. A good one with note-worthy perspective and a penchant for a nice turn of phrase.  She stores up metaphors like... well, I'm not really sure, but she's a darned good writer, nonetheless.  Once, when we were dating, she wrote me a letter that was punctuated with the complimentary closing "Ciao" (used curtly in the Italian form for "good-bye," not "hello," as was made abundantly clear by the context of the correspondence).  Good writers, I mean the really good ones, can convey such finality with the proper word usage.   We are friends with a rodential type known who actually answers to "Hamster."  He has a red and blue target tattoo that represents some significant symbol from the Second World War.  I'm not sure what it means, but if he wrote about it you'd say, "WOW! That's inspiring!"  He reviews horror films with such beauty that you might actually be inspired to take a date--not the blind kind but the kind that you'd really want to take home to Mama--to a Sunday matinée of Saw 13.  Right after late service at your local church no less.  Though these films are not my particular cup of tea, his art stirs up desire.  Not a lot of people do that.   There are a few others that I like to read in this blog-world--the preacher-man in Colorado, the quiet mother in Canada, the Hoosier foodie (among others).  They are real writers, with real books that you can really purchase (and should). I'm sure I'll introduce some of them from time to time, along with other friends who make photo-booth art, paint enormous pictures of Jesus, or play in the mud.    I'm keeping this space small for a while.  I'll write things here I'm not ready to broadcast or publish, and it'd be frog's folly to try.  This site will not be connected to search engines, and I will not blog-hop all over the good green earth leaving comments so that other's can stumble across this space.  It's not really the intent.

I would like to keep this space in the spirit of share-and-share-alike.  Certainly I'll write here, but I also want to know what you are reading, writing, and learning.  Show me your art.  Let me hear your music, read your books.  Leave me a taste of what God is doing in you.

I hope this can be a place where we can vet those things that God is doing in us, whether through Scripture, prayer, writings, readings, musings, sculptings, or paintings.  I hope this can be a place where we discuss the handiworks.   I would love your input because, really, I'm just trying to figure this whole thing out before I land high-centered, impaled on the horn of a mythical creature.


For those of you who may know the back story, this may run a little like the common guild did from time to time... that is to say, very, very, loosely.  If you have something you want to share (music, art, writings, etc.) email me at seth.m.haines @ gmail. Grace and Peace.