Aug–Sep 2013 Fluent

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Aug – Sep 2013 | Vol 2 No 1

A Man of Metal Sculptor Scott Cawood Images by Intent The Photography of Keron Psillas Art for Art’s Sake: Unveiling Artomatic@Jefferson Beer by Design: The Art of Brewing Ears, Eyes & Soul Billy Thompson, American Roots Guitarist Agri:Culture Backtracking Savoir:Fare Canal House Fiction Zachary Davis Poetry Paul Grant Ed:Cetera Søren Kierkegaard on The Oprah Winfrey Show Coda Found Art

“Delaware Water Gap” by Keron Psillas


Aug–Sep 2013

A Man of Metal: Sculptor Scott Cawood

Images by Intent The Photography of Keron Psillas

Art for Art’s Sake Unveiling Artomatic

Beer by Design: The Art of Brewing

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Letter From the Editor Accidentally Speaking

Ears, Eyes & Soul Billy Thompson

Agri:Culture Backtracking

Canal House Tradition & Comfort Food

Poetry Paul Grant

Fiction Zachary Davis

Ed:Cetera Kierkegaard Interview

Coda Found Art

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C O N T R I B U T O R S Todd Coyle is a journeyman musician who has performed in and around the Eastern Panhandle of WVa and around the country for over 30 years. He has worked in folk, blues, pop, jazz and country bands as a guitarist, bassist, singer, producer and sound man. Ginny Fite has won national, regional and state journalism awards for her writing. She was the editor of the Gazette Newspapers in Frederick, the Lifestyle editor at the Herald-Mail, and Executive Editor at Phillips Publishing before retiring to Harpers Ferry. Shepherd Ogden lives in Bakerton, WVa. He is the author of five nonfiction books, one novel–memoir and a book of poetry. His photos and collected poems are at Paula Pennell, a glass artist, writes and lives in Frederick County, Md, with her husband, a prize-winning home brewer, and their dog, Gander.

Cheryl L. Serra is an award-winning writer who began her career as a journalist. She has served as a marketing communications specialist and a magazine founder and publisher.

Nancy McKeithen Editor & Publisher

Sheila Vertino is returning to her roots as a freelance writer and journalist, after a career as a magazine editor-inchief and book and research publisher. Based in Shepherdstown, she describes herself as a culturally curious word nerd.

Tom Donlon Poetry Editor

Ed Zahniser’s poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines, 7 anthologies, 3 books and 3 chapbooks in the U.S. and the U.K. He is co-editor of In Good Company, an anthology of area poets celebrating Shepherdstown’s 250th anniversary.

See the Fluent website ( for additional content, updated daily: Calls for Artists lists opportuities. Classes lists organizations offering arts instruction for children and adults. Back Issues is the Fluent Magazine archive.

A D V E R T I Z E R S page 8 page 9 page 37 page 42

Aug–Sep 2013 | Vol 2 No 1

Hannah Swindoll is a 2013 graduate of Shepherd University, where she received a BFA with a concentration in photography/computer imagery. She has photographed two covers for Fluent.


Arts & Humanities Alliance Tenfold Fair Trade Collection The Old Opera House The Bridge Gallery


Throwing Caution Artomatic Earth Vibe Productions

page 42 page 43 page 55

Ginny Fite Managing Editor Sheila Vertino Associate Editor Kathryn Burns Visual Arts Editor Zachary Davis Fiction Editor Contributing Editors Shepherd Ogden, Cheryl L. Serra, Ed Zahniser Advertising Cynthia Fraula-Hahn, Carolyn Litwack Submissions For information on submitting unsolicited fiction, nonfiction, plays and poetry, please see Please submit events and arts news to Fluent Magazine is published bimonthly and distributed via email. It is available online at To subscribe All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be duplicated or reprinted without permission from the publisher. © 2013 Fluent Magazine

This one’s for you, Cathy.

Missed an Issue? Jun–Jul 2013 Subscribe! Fluent Magazine 4 | fluent

Fluent Magazine is grateful for the support of the Jefferson County Arts and Humanities Alliance (AHA) through its Community Arts Impact Award program. Jefferson County, WVa is a Certified Arts Community.

Accidentally Speaking Occasionally, someone asks if Fluent Magazine has “theme” issues. The answer is, “It doesn’t.” Or to be accurate, it didn’t. This issue, we have a theme: trees. It happened by accident — unplanned, wandering into content that had been set at the issue’s editorial meeting weeks before, and giving the editors some pause: How many is too many? Keron Psillas’ birch is on the cover. Shepherd Ogden’s sycamores illustrate his column, “Backtracking.” And another of Keron’s images, “Three Sycamores,” begins a feature on her. You may recall Mark Muse’s stunning photographs of trees in the June–July issue. Perhaps all these trees say more about synchronicity and the coming together of this issue than about themes. During my interview with Keron, who is a native of Shepherdstown, WVa, and is known for her magnificent equine photographs, I asked if she knows a friend of a friend who is in the horse industry — Randy Funkhouser, of O’Sullivan Farms in Charles Town, WVa. I had read one of Randy’s poems, “The Foaling,” and thought it would be a nice complement to Keron’s photography. Check. Funkhouser is a childhood friend of Shep Ogden (and both write poetry), and so it seemed natural to pair his poem and Shep’s column on the same spread — with Shep’s sycamores between them. Then Keron sent me some of her poetry, and it is in the photography spreads. And you see the direction the issue was taking.... I wonder if metal artist Scott Cawood (see page 12) has ever created a horse out of discarded oil drums? The fact that Fluent is an online magazine makes it easy to add pages when one thing leads to another. And when synchronicity strikes as the deadlines do. I should always be this lucky.

“Black Cherries in Canaan” by Mark Muse, in the June-July issue of Fluent.

Nancy McKeithen, Editor & Publisher

PHOTO Shepherd Ogden

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Billy Thompson, American Roots Guitarist BY TODD COYLE

FLUENT DICTIONARY: Billy Thompson — Obsessive, cool, knowledgeable, traveled, lucky, showman, family man, down to earth, funky. Another nugget in the amazing local musician mine, he’s worth every second you spend listening. FLUENT Many if us have a song or a moment when we’re young when we realize we’re gonna be a musician for the rest of our lives. What was the song or first time you realized you’d be doing this forever? BT That’s tough to narrow down. I met Johnny Horton (“The Battle of New Orleans” and “North to Alaska”) when I was around 8 years old. He played in the little town of Grants, New Mexico, where I lived for a few years. I really dug his rockabilly sound. He went into town and looked for a good beginner guitar at the music store but said none were good enough — too many bowed necks — so, I didn’t really start playing guitar until 18. A quick starter, I was, haha! But I loved all music. Little Richard, Larry Williams (“Dizzy Miss Lizzy”), soul, rock n roll, country. My Mom played jazz records, too — Cannonball Adderly, Woody Herman and more. My first instrument was harmonica; I started at 17 — Paul Butterfield doing Muddy Waters’ “Mojo Working,” Mary, Mary,” Butterfield was killer, Jack Bruce playing “Traintime” with Cream and “Wammer Jammer” by Magic Dick of the J Geils Band. I learned ’em all note for note — John Mayall’s Blues Breakers “Crusade” with Mick Taylor... I think that album, Disraeli Gears and of course, Jimi’s “Are You Experienced” made me switch to guitar... Strange Brew... Purple Haze / Foxey Lady.... and hearing Muddy Water’s “Fathers and Sons.” Whew, that sent me on another quest to find out who was writing all this cool old stuff... on to BB King’s “Completely Well” album featuring “The Thrill Is Gone.” I wore that vinyl out! Willie Dixon and Howlin Wolf. And like John Hammond once said to me, “It’s forever!” meaning, you’ll always come across someone you haven’t heard. 6 | fluent

And he’s right. There are so many great artists out there worth listening to. FLUENT You’ve played with so many players from around the globe, is there anyone you’d really like to jam with that you haven’t yet? BT Well, I do consider myself lucky, as I’ve played with some of my heroes: Bill Payne of Little Feat was the most recent “jam with a hero” gig I’ve done, a few weeks ago [June 20 and 23, 2013]. What a blast... and singing and playing slide on “Oh Atlanta.” That was as cool as when I played with Little Milton or Albert King or Earl King or Art Neville. Bill Payne is a super cat — brilliant, he is. Of course, you already know

CD Covers provided by Billy Thompson

this! But shoot, there are still many heroes gigging out there. To be in same building with Eric Clapton would be most excellent! Haha. FLUENT Is there any difference between European and American audiences? And when you travel overseas, how do you transport your gear? BT The last time I was overseas, everything was supplied. I just took guitars and pedals. The audiences have huge respect for American Roots Music — something I believe we are losing here in the States, along with many other things, sadly. I’ve heard horror stories about gear and guitars travelling. I’ve had good luck, so I’m not qualified to expound on this one, but have heard a few horror stories! Remember the guy who wrote a tune lambasting United Airlines?

The cover of Billy Thompson’s new CD.

FLUENT Tell us about your latest album, “A Better Man.” What can listeners expect? BT Well, we’re mixing the latest album now, titled “Friend.” It’ll be ready within a month. It features a lot of the same players I had on “A Better Man” and current members of my band. “A Better Man” has the usual BT melting pot blues infused funky soul gumbo yaya I try to capture on every album. Mixing up the grooves, while being reverent to the blues and my influences. My formula is to be varied! I’m not gonna play a shuffle, a twelveeight slow blues, then another shuffle. I hear more than that, so I just let myself go there, and it’s easy to

mix things up when you have guys like Mike Finnigan, Bill Payne, Kenny Gradney, Hutch Hutchinson, Ron Holloway to bounce ideas off, not to mention my steady bandmates Eric Selby, Gene Monroe, Wes Lanich, Chris Dominici and Chris Brown, also some of my old CA bandmates. (Yes, I have a few configurations — East and West Coast!) “A Better Man” is a super record, in my opinion! Thanks for mentioning it. Ed Cherney, who has tons of platinum records on his wall, mixed it. He mixed Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time” back in the nineties, PHOTO YouTube

as well as Eric Clapton, Little Feat, Tom Petty, the Doobie Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, even Iggy Pop! He’s an amazing mixing engineer — ear candy, ya know?

Trucks, Albert Lee, Danny Gatton, Buddy Emmons on pedal steel, Junior Barnard with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. This is a short list for sure!

FLUENT You and I once had a discussion about BB King. What was his influence on you?

FLUENT Your favorite “non” blues musicians?

BT Yeah, along with Albert, Freddie and Earl King! But BB truly has been, for years, our iconic Ambassador of the Blues. What great phrasing, ya know? Then there’s the voice! Whew Lord! Again, that “Completely Well” album. I learned so much from playing along. Of course, you can’t tell that now! I have too many other influences! FLUENT What guitar players, other than BB King, influenced you the most and why? BT Oh man, the list is huge! As I sort of mentioned in an above ramble, in my usual circumlocution of question #1! Ok, here goes: Albert King, Freddie King, Earl King, King of Kings... whomever that is, King Tut.... Naw, seriously, the first three and Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Mick Taylor, Keith Richards, Elmore James, Earl Hooker, Lowell George, Duane Allman, Sonny Landreth, Derek

BT John MacLaughlin. He changed a lot of things when he came on the scene around 1970 with “Inner Mounting Flame.” Smokin’, lightning fast and accurate! Thelonious Monk for his quirky improvisation, herky jerky but super cool memorable melodies, many with a great sense of humor, I might add. My son, Michael, by my first marriage, now in his twenties and I used to always laugh when we listened to “Four In One.” Check it out, you’ll see. Eddie Harris. He wrote “Freedom Jazz Dance,” a jazz standard, absolutely stellar. It’s based on fourths. Professor Longhair is kind of a blues guy, but just more an “entity unto his own self,” as they might say, down New Orleans way!.. brilliance. He paved the way for many a keyboard player. Frank Zappa — humor, brilliance, musicianship —  and he bucked the system! The same goes for Dick Dale! Scotty Moore with the early Elvis Presley recordings.

Join us! at the AHA! September Exhibit

“Always Beginning, Yet Again... The Sanders Family” Opening Reception Saturday, Sep 7 5:30–7:30 pm Exhibition Dates Sep 5–29, 2013

Bradley Leatherwork, Jewelry & Puppets | Carol Culinary Art | Tara Events & Photography Roselyn Recycled Art | Miriam Painting | George Wrought Iron

Become a member today!

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AHA! Fire Hall Gallery 108 North George St Charles Town, WV

Hank Garland... jazz winds, one direction. The Everly Brothers... great melodies and harmonies. Aaron Neville... vocal pyrotechnics extraordinaire. Lennon and McCartney, Jagger / Richards, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Bill Withers. If you listen, you’ll know why. FLUENT Any advice for young wannabes? BT How about: Do get a degree or learn a trade to fall back on. Not that I did, but you really don’t know where it’s going, these days, and not everyone lands on their feet! But, do try to follow your bliss in whatever you chose. I always felt music chose me. And though it ebbs and flows, I’m still shootin’ the rapids! Learn as much as you can, drawing from all things musical, and hopefully, you’ll find your voice in said quest. FLUENT What does Billy Thompson do for fun when he sets the guitar down? Books? Movies? Sports? BT I hit the gym daily, at least an hour. I have a great woman behind me who is also my song-writing partner, a daughter 9 years of age and a son, Michael, 26.

FLUENT What’s on the horizon for Billy Thompson? BT The release and support of my seventh album, “Friend,” as previously plugged! (Six full albums and a Christmas two-song, digital single last year.) So, 13 more tunes with over an hour of playing time. Again, Billy Payne and Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), Mike Finnigan (Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt), James “Hutch” Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt, Neville Brothers), Ron Holloway (Warren Haynes, Grace Potter, Tedeschi Trucks, Allman Brothers) and many more really make this next one kick. It’ll be available via CD Baby and iTunes soon. I’m really lovin’ this album, too. It’s like “A Better Man” but different — more surprises on this one! Then, as always, we’ll tour in support of “Friend,” playing festivals and the usual complement of clubs. Keep on truckin,’ right? fluent

online email phone 703-203-8100

Tenfold Fair Trade Collection is dedicated to the principles of the fair trade system of exchange. We are affiliated with fair trade organizations that guarantee fair wages to artisans for their work. We provide our customers with fun and practical products which make creative use of many recycled materials. Every effort is made to use recycled or sustainable materials, from consignment finds for our displays, to our handmade cabinetry, crafted of local pine. All of our packaging and wrapping consist of reused or 100% post consumer waste. We are as committed to the care of our planet as we are to the care of our global neighbors.

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There was a long stretch of my life when I abhorred backtracking — returning from a place by the same route I had gone there. Life is too short, I thought then, to repeat things, do the same old, same old. Then I went out for a walk on the C&O canal a few weeks ago with some friends: from the Shepherdstown bridge to Snyders Landing and back. I would have preferred then to do the two-car thing, and walk the stretch between Taylors Landing and Shepherdstown in either direction, but that day we had only one car, and that left us no choice but to do the four miles up and back. The epiphany that is the subject of this story might not have happened if not for the company and the conversation — we were talking (very amateurishly) about the philosophy of space and time — and I got caught in my own net of sophistry when I put my complaint about backtracking in that context. I chose as my example on this particular walk a sycamore tree that was growing beside the canal. Why should I want to see this same tree twice, I asked, in dull and boring repetition? But as I focused on the tree to gather my thoughts and polish my mental points, I noticed that — as we walked — my perspective on the trunk of the tree was constantly changing. What one might call the vertical horizon of that tree’s trunk, what appeared as the edge of the 2-D or 3-D representation of that tree trunk in my mind was changing with every step. That tree, which we would normally think of as having a specific, concrete, unitary existence, was a more fluid kind of object, one that I saw differently at every moment. Simply walking past this tree while keeping an eye on it unveiled a multiplicity of trees, and I suddenly realized what the Cubist painters had been on to, a hundred years ago, though in this case it was happening in real time, in the real world. The tree itself — that I 10 | fluent

was walking by — was all these views of the tree, crammed into the same space. What Picasso’s “Ambroise Vollard” did for space, and Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” did for time, this tree did for me, then and there (and the here and now is eventually what always becomes the then and there… which is to say history, or precedent). The art of perspective teaches us that edges are a matter of point of view, and the science of fractals teaches us that edges are a matter of scale. Over the past hundred years, our artists and our scientists have opened our eyes to what was always around us but we did not have the eyes to see. All our perceptions of the world (we generally think of them as visual or audio certainties) are created by us via our senses, in the space as we perceive it, at the time we perceive it, by the (near) magic of synaesthesia. And this has forced me to reconsider my prejudice. That tree, anchored along the C&O canal — itself with no awareness of, or concern for my human hunger to make sense of the world from a rational, or existential, perspective — taught me something that I had been taught before, though apparently not well enough: that it is never the object of our attention (in this case the tree) that is key, but our interaction with it, which is always new, always primal, if only we would allow it to be so. We live in the immanent present but rarely allow ourselves to realize so. Every moment is different, new and unique. I love the solidity of the sycamore as I run my fingers down its bark; and my friends, and yes, even the heat and the sun and sound of the river. It may be no more than a matrix of synaesthesia, but it is our world. There is no backtracking; there is only the deadening of the senses by the mind. fluent PHOTO Shepherd Ogden

The Foaling Her hoof bruises the earth repeatedly, punctuates the silence of night. Steam rises from her sweaty withers, swirls into the cobwebs above. Straw rustles with excitement as she paces the stall. Biting her belly, she stops, rolls as if to right the foal, rises, paws again, then rolls until her water breaks. How many times have these fingers ripped open the amniotic sac, peeled back the flesh-colored veil, begun their frantic search for a muzzle, a foot, two feet, pads pointing downward? Like a well-seasoned midwife I clasp both ankles, wrenching them in harmonius rhythm with each desperate grunt. The head hangs lifeless from the vulva, the tongue turns blue, hangs limp from lip’s edge. Groping for a pulse, my eyes ascend the hayloft above, imploring divine intervention. Bracing my feet firmly against the broodmare’s buttocks, yanking and pulling with unbridled fury, biceps straining, calves cramping, life-breath exploding into a final thunderous groan as the newborn foal gushes into life.

Randy Funkhouser May 5, 2000

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a man of metal: Sculptor Scott Cawood

By Sheila Vertino


ulking pieces of rusted steel, stacked to the rafters, greet you as you enter metal artist Scott Cawood’s studio near Antietam Creek. Some things,

like bicycle chains and vintage silver spoons, you recognize. Others look vaguely automotive, their original purpose dulled by years of weather and neglect. Yep, Scott notes, “If it’s made out of metal, I probably have one.” Another thing you notice is near orderliness in the studio. Despite the fact that there are thousands of objects of all sizes and shapes, like-things are organized: typewriters here, exhaust pipes there, retired oil drums out back. “What I usually do is make piles. When you move them around and play with them, you understand how they are going to work.”


“Rise Up“ in the studio. Photo by the artist. 12 | fluent

Metal Intimacy Being able to transform scrap into sculptural forms requires deep knowledge of the properties of metals. Scott’s introduction began in the Coast Guard, at a Navy school where he excelled at making aluminum airframes for helicopters. “It was a kind of high-end riveting, and I had a knack for it. I was as surprised as anybody else!” Years later, he studied blacksmithing. “That was metal a couple of steps past what I knew about — metallurgy, intimate properties, what temperatures, how to weld it.” From forge welding, Scott moved on to electric arc and gas welding, which is what he uses on his sculptures today. At his open studio on the first Saturday of each month, people often bring Scott scrap metals, like these shapely motorcycle exhaust pipes. “I usually have a really specific idea that I want to convey, and then I let the materials define that.” Over the years Scott has learned, “If I predetermine that form too much, it just comes out lifeless. But if you let it talk to you, it will take its own form. It will take it where you don’t exactly think it was going to go.” “Rise Up” installation.

PHOTOS TOP Sheila Vertino

Taking hold of exhaust pipes, Scott demonstrates how, “They almost look like a bowsprit — here’s her legs, here are her shoulders. I’ll make her hair coming out from the head like in the wind.”

This is Success? Why Do I Feel So Bad? Recently, Scott’s masterwork, “Rise Up,” was installed at the Center for Joint Surgery and Sports Medicine in Hagerstown. As he closed one chapter in his life and prepared to open another, he shares how that transition felt: I was living with it [“Rise Up’s” three figures] morning, noon and night for 18 months. I didn’t really think about when it’s not going to be here…. But by the third or fourth day [after the installation], it was like there was something missing…. I walked around in circles. Took a walk. Took a bicycle ride. Caught up on my laundry. Painted the porch. Pulled the weeds. Started doing all that stuff, to stay busy. But then I woke up and I just felt empty…. This is success? Why do I feel so bad? A good friend told him it sounded like post-partum depression. “I said, ‘I don’t really know. I never had a kid.’ She said, ‘Scott, you just had three kids. Not only that, right after you had ’em, you put them up for adoption!’ ” Scott muses, “Best way I can describe it is, there’s a hole in my soul and the wind’s just rushing through it.” PHOTOS BOTTOM C. Kurt Holter

Frame for the sweat lodge.

Purification Inside the Sweat Lodge This week I’ll do a sweat lodge for a day. That’ll make me feel a lot better. Closing one chapter and opening the door on another. It helps me let go of it…. It’s like going to church. I fast 36–48 hours before. Lots of water, flush out my system. I have a place on top of the mountain where I get the rocks. Mostly quartz or limestone. Good, old, mountain rock. I go to a spring that a buddy has. Clear water gushing out of the mountain. A pile of cherry wood that when I got it, I said, ‘This is going to be sweat lodge wood.’ I’ll rebuild the lodge while the rocks are heating up. Cover the lodge with moving blankets. If it’s going to rain, I’ll put a tarp over it. I usually do 3–4 rounds, which last anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes…. I build up to it to get acclimated. I burn some herbs, try to get my head right, flush everything out…. There’s no weight of thought or desires or anything…. In the days afterwards, I’ll be whistling, happy. Nothing bothers you. You feel spiritually, physically and emotionally refreshed. I’m really unfocused.

It feels good because in my work I am focused so much. Maybe that’s what I like so much about it…. I have a day or two to take it in, then go on vacation for a couple of weeks, go fishing, stay completely out of the shop, and when I come back I’ll be ready to go! u

“Siren of TI Chopper,” on permanent display, casino floor at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. Info:

Biggest, Most Ambitious, Dangerous Scott’s creative inspiration is already stirring, and he’s planning a new series of sculptures which he says will be his biggest, most ambitious yet — and dangerous. “It’s going to be big and heavy, so I have to find a place to build a sound structure” that will allow him to move the pieces around while he works on them. The vision, in Scott’s words, is to “get to consciousness.” The sculptures will each use the same woman’s face, but “Instead of hair, I’ll use exhaust pipes for one, and 300 steel rods in another. One will be the galaxy, and stars will come out of her head. One will have a tree growing from the top of her head and the roots around her face. Another will be a heron taking off with the woman’s face in the heron’s chest.” And with skill, and focus, Scott Cawood will coax consciousness out of steel. fluent PHOTO Sheila Vertino

“The name of the piece is ‘Last Call,’ part of my maneater series of women’s shoes. The teeth and spines are made from finish nails.”

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PHOTO Michael Davis


From Scott’s “Bluesmen” series: “Bukka,” Delta bluesman guitarist and singer Bukka White (above); “Furry,” countryblues guitarist Furry Lewis (top right); and “Son,” Delta singer and guitarists Son House (right). “I skinned them with the steel out of 275-gallon oil tanks. Everybody’s getting rid of them, so I started collecting them or people would give them to me. I like the pits and irregularities of the material. It gives it character. Right away, I saw skin or leather, this great texture that I don’t know any other way to get.” Cawood opens his studio to the public the first Saturday of every month from 12–5 pm: 3229 Harpers Ferry Road, Sharpsburg, Md 21782. (For directions, see his website.) | 301.432.2131

PHOTO Sheila Vertino


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Three Sycamores

By Nancy McKeithen


o look at the photographs of Keron Psillas is to experience them — their rhythm and spirit, their stories. They make you question. They make you look at them over and over. And when you do, you see more than the photographs themselves; you see into the eye of the photographer. In what Psillas calls “the marvelous ways of the universe,” she landed in a nature photography workshop in 2005 taught by internationally known photographer and author Art Wolfe. She terms it a “complete and utter disaster” that later led to a dream job for a photographer: managing the Art Wolfe Digital Photography Center in Seattle. As the person whose primary role was to bring worldfamous photographers to the center to teach oneweek intensive classes, Psillas got an education in photography from people at the top of their profession. “I had the privilege to sit beside them for weeks at a time and learn,” she says. After a second workshop later that year, this one in Maine with now retired National Geographic photographer Sam Abell, who is also her mentor, Psillas decided to make photography her career. And in early 2006, she went to Europe “to make myself a photographer. “I had this idea that I had to be someplace foreign, someplace where I didn’t speak the language, someplace where everything was unknown to me, to make it as difficult as possible without being on Mt Everest or something like that.” She went to Paris. After a month of walking the streets of the city each day trying to make photographs and burgeoning thoughts of “what have you done, this is a fantasy,” she was miserable. And then the moment happened. “At

9 o’clock that night, I decided to just go make some photographs again, and I walked outside my apartment” — it was near Notre Dame, across the Seine. “I went down along the river and I saw a photograph walking toward me. And in that instant, I knew I was a photographer,” she says, slowing her words, widening the space between them, as if to confirm them to herself. “Because I saw it before it happened. I knew it was coming. I knew when the moment was.” Psillas calls it a gift: “If you’re out working dilligently, sincerely, then you’re given gifts like that. It keeps me looking for other photographs.” Once, on one of her frequent trips back to her hometown, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, she began thinking there was nothing in the area to photograph. It was after a trip to Europe and a stint working in Alaska. “I was being a brat,” she says. The words of Ernst Haas — she calls him “probably the greatest color photographer in history” — brought her out of her rut: “I am not interested to see new things. I am interested to see things new.” “I kicked my own butt,” she says.


hotography wasn’t her first career, but she may have unknowingly been training herself for it as a collector of oil paintings. “I know that for 25 years, I was feeding my brain with imagery — form, shape, color, light — all the things that a photographer must be aware of.” And all the things she wants in her own photographs, plus an ethereal quality and subtlety. “I hope my photographs aren’t shouting.” Feeding that awareness creates a better photographer, she says. “Awareness is a gift of consciousness we fluent | 19

can give ourselves.” It’s something she covers in the workshops she now teaches at the Pacific Northwest Arts Center on Washington’s Whidbey Island, along with how awareness relates to intent — knowing what she wants her photographs to communicate. sillas says if she is known at all as a photographer— and she is, for her photographs both in U.S. and European magazines and in Brazil—it’s because of her work with horses. Most often, she photographs a type of horse from Portugal — the Lusitano, known as the “horse of kings” because “in van Dyck paintings and the Old Masters, kings are sitting on Lusitanos.” She credits Dominique Barbier, her teacher and trainer in classical dressage, for her involvement with the Lusitano breed. But she also likes to photograph historical subjects: ancient and sacred landscapes, old cathedrals and architecture. And she would like to be known “as something other than an equine photographer,” to be as accomplished in other photographic dimensions. Currently, she’s focused on a project in the Czech Republic and Poland about the Holocaust. Finding more time to photograph is her nemesis. “These days, photography — for photographers —  maybe makes up 10 percent of the time we have available. The rest of it’s marketing and self-promotion,” she says. What she doesn’t say is travel time, teaching and downtime. Digital has helped. Being able to make several thousand pictures in a day, unconstrained by processing delays and film supplies, has upped her production and shortened the length of the learning curve.


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he shoots with a top-of-the-line Canon and their professional-quality lenses, along with a Zeiss lens for shooting wide angle. “I so don’t care about equipment,” admits Psillas, although she appreciates others’ interest in it, especially when it’s about image fidelity. She never uses flash. “It’s a really bad idea using flash with horses, and I prefer natural light — to be ‘in tune’ with what’s there.” As to choosing color versus B&W, “Both,” she says. “Some images will tell you which. “I see black-and-white images when I’m working... but more often I see shapes.” While she’s never shot with a square-format camera, she see things in squares, and justifies cropping an image that way. “Three Sycamores” (page 18) is one of those photographs. Her mentor (who shoots in a 35-mm frame and never crops) agrees about cropping as long as that’s how she visualizes an image. “Sam encourages me to take advantage of every millimeter of the frame,” says Psillas. It’s about being aware. fluent Keron Psillas’ blog, “We Photograph as We Are”: Co-author with Dominique Barbier of “Meditation for Two Searching for and Finding Communication With Your Horse” Favorite blog to read, “The New York Times Lens”: Quote she shares: “To become a better photographer, you must become a more interesting person.” —Jay Maisel

Rhythm, Anemone

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Lusitano, Allegria Dos Pinhais, Brazil

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Tomar, Portugal

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Bomilcar Interagro, Lusitano, Brazil

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The Alentejo, Portugal


Speak to me of your time in the mountains ~ tell me your adventures, your stories of companions and languorous days in the forest, of the earth and her glories.

There is such beauty in your eyes, the sacred spark leaps your essence, your life is reflected as the fire awakens.

This glowing fire abides now in my favorite space. A space of warm, bright, encompassing love ~ the reflection in our eyes. Keron Psillas

Richebourg Interagro, Lusitano, Brasil

Art for Art’s Sake



his fall, a light industrial building that sits empty

The month-long exhibit, named Artomatic@

on the outskirts of Charles Town, West Virginia,

Jefferson for the county where it’s located, is licensed

will be transformed — temporarily, for the month of

from Artomatic® Inc in Washington, D.C., and

October — from its previous life as a retail rock and

produced by local artists in collaboration with the Arts

tile operation into a celebration of art. Artists from

& Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County — AHA.

the Eastern Panhandle and beyond will fill the space

with art in all its forms: visual, performance, literary,

the public every weekend in October, Friday through

music, fashion.

Sunday. Meet some of the artists….

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This feast of artistic endeavor is open and free to

“Oriental Box” by Greg McNabb

By Ginny Fite “Pot” (above) and “Vase” by Annette Verna

Greg McNabb, a fine art woodworker, grew up watching his grandfather work in his shop. “There is something about the texture and pattern of the grain that reaches me somehow. I’ve thought about other mediums but I always come back to the wood. I have flirted with the idea of working in metal but I’m not equipped for that right now. “I always have several projects going on at the same time,” he says, and names them: “a few boxes in various stages of completion... a bench and coffee table that are in the drawing/design stage.” (See “Oriental Box,” left.) His finds inspiration in other media — art and music —  which may reflect in his work, and credits a cranked-up stereo in his shop with helping to keep him energized. While he prefers “something with a good beat to it,” his eclectic taste in music can take him from classic rock to opera to bluegrass. He remembers making his first piece, a plant stand, with

Annette Verna, a potter, works primarily in clay, although she likes “the fluid aspects of paint, glass and

his grandfather, and thinks his father still has it in his house

metal.” Clay, she explains, is very plastic and soft and able

today. On a shelf in his office sits his first “shop” project — a

to retain [evidence of] those qualities even after being fired,

small pine box with a quilt pattern cut into the top.

something she strives for in her work (above). “I like working

McNabb finds gratification in the process of creating — taking a few pieces of lumber and turning them into something special, something that people can touch

at the outer limits of a medium — to stretch it, in my case literally — to take it to its furthest point.” Currently, she’s working on a mixed media piece that

and feel; finding a way to bring out the best in the wood;

includes pottery, as well as written verses and painted

and finally, that elusive perfect finish.

images. The pots themselves are not “the art,” says Verna;

“At the workbench, I leave the stress of the world behind and immerse myself in what I’m doing,” he says. “It fills that craving for creation inside me.”

the symbolism is the central part of the work. Finishing this project, she says, causes her to reflect on where she was 10 years ago and where she is now. “I have to u fluent | 33

resist temptation to ‘soften the edges’ of what I was thinking

our work to the contemporary audience, as well as in the

back then. The more I think about what I’m trying to convey,

legacy we leave.”

the more ideas are coming to me. What I thought would be finite closure is turning out to be an exciting new beginning.” Verna keeps the first pot she threw in high school — she

Painter Kay Layne is currently working on another piece in her “curves on color fields” series (see “Fail Safe”

says it started her journey in clay — in a prominent spot in her

below). Layne sketches to get her mind into the next piece.

studio, “so that I’m reminded of humble beginnings.”

“Creative surprises are always occurring in my work,” she says.

She sees artists as “the conveyors of our times and the cultures in which we live. Especially in the case of pottery,

“I look them over and then incorporate the surprise into the piece.”

we’ve learned much about previous peoples and cultures based on their pottery. “I speak through the art I make. I think that’s the role of an artist — ultimately, to educate, to convey ideas through “Fail Safe” by Kay Layne

For Benita Keller, a fine art photographer, “her camera” can mean film or digital and any type: “Holga Film, 35mm film, medium-format film, digital SLR, point-and-

shoot, or my camera that sometimes I answer a phone call on — the smartphone.” That she always has several things going on at once is de rigueur for Keller, but her current focus is square photos on the smartphone. “I have always loved square, and my favorite film camera is my 1972 medium-format Bronica,” she says. That explains why she loves the smartphone Instagram. “It’s square and instant, just like Polaroid film only with a much better success rate in terms of exposure.” As one who processes film in her kitchen sink at least once a week, she finds it funny that she can edit and “process” photographs on her smartphone while sitting in bed. She hopes to use the process in making small handmade books of photographs of Shepherdstown. (See “Train Tracks,” top right, “Fish Tales” bottom.) She admits to having some trouble getting over the “everyone is doing it” popularity of smartphone photography. “But, everyone was

“Train Tracks” (above) and “Fish Tales” by Benita Keller

doing Polaroid as well, and when the Brownie came out everyone was doing it, and then everyone was doing color and well... you get it. The tool does not make the artist; it’s how and what the artist does with the tool.” She takes more photographs now than ever before. “I don’t have the cost of film or the time of having to process before I see what the image is going to look like.” But there’s still the printing. “It’s not an art object until it’s on paper,” says Keller, who has a box of over 200 rolls of film that need to be processed and “about 1,000 Instagram images that need to be edited. ” An extention of her creative process is collage and adding to her photographs. “For years I have added ‘stuff’ to my journals,” she says. “It’s a little like scrapbooking but somehow different. I’m also a big journal writer, and I play. Playing is important to u fluent | 35

being creative — swinging on the swing at the park, being in

with acrylic paints, she explains, “so this has been a major

the woods, without the camera, just being.”

change of expression for me” (“Rocks Moss Lichens” below).

Her first art projects were created without a camera —

Her current work is an interpretation of sound waves

“the paint-by-number sets I got every Christmas,” she recalls.

which she calls “Symphony # 3.” She describes her process

“I would spend the entire Christmas up in my bedroom

as “controlled” but “coupled with a constant stream of

wrapped in a blanket, with no heat, painting on a little ‘TV

surprise in the push/pull of the painting.”

Tray’ at my bedroom window.” Asked why she is an artist, she muses: “Is there a heaven,

Wilkin says that art validates her existence. “As corny as that sounds, it just does it for me.” She remembers the first

is there a hell, where do we go when we die, did we evolve or

piece of art she made: “a winter landscape covered in glitter

were we created in the Garden of Eden, what makes those

that was featured on the TV show ‘Captain Kangaroo.’ ” fluent

Night Blooming Primroses in my neighbor’s yard open up in front of my very eyes at exactly 8:30 pm, what are the winning lotto ticket numbers for Saturday night? “I don’t know why I’m an artist—just one of the many things I don’t know.”

Cathy Wilkin, a mixed media/collage artist, uses a combination of paints, inks and papers in her work. “I heavily glaze to enhance the depth and create a refraction of light to weave my colors together.” She used to paint exclusively “Rocks Moss Lichens” by Cathy Wilkin

Grand Opening Friday, October 4, 5 pm All other weekeneds in October Friday & Saturday 11 am–10 pm, Sunday 10 am–6 pm Location 154 Wolcroff Way, Charles Town, WV 25414 Just off the intersection of Route 340 & Marlow Road facebook

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Beer by Design: GONE ARE THE DAYS of light, yellow, fizzy, flavorless beer. Craft beer is on the scene, with outrageous concoctions like DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus, a chocolate and peanut butter stout; Elysian’s Blood Orange IPA; and Flying Dog’s Oyster Necklace Stout, brewed with whole crushed oysters. Such innovative beers

give fans a taste of what beer really can be and leave them thirsting for more. Happily meeting this rising demand for better quality, more variety and maximum flavor, these beverage artisans may entice even the most non-adventurous beer drinkers to try something different — like brewing their own. An increasing number of beer enthusiasts are learning the art of brewing, with information and supplies more accessible than ever before. In addition to online sources, homebrew supply stores stock an impressive selection of equipment and ingredients to feed the experimental spirit of those who want to brew their own. Many stores also teach classes, and Left, a 3-tier homebrew system. Below, a hop vine is actually called a hop “bine,” because it climbs by its shoots and grows in a helix around a support.

The Art of Brewing some, like Frederick, Maryland’s The Flying Barrel, let beginners learn on site from an experienced instructor, using their equipment.

Beer Basics Beer consists, simply, of water, yeast, malt and hops. These basic ingredients come in hundreds of varieties, and each of them — even water — imparts different characteristics for creating one-of-a-kind beers. James McEver, owner of The Flying Barrel, provides local home brewers with expert direction and guidance for designing and brewing their own beers. “I start

By Paula Pennell

by asking questions to get a feel for what they like to drink — sweet or bitter, heavy or light and so on,” he says. “I try to pinpoint the yeast first. Yeast plays a major role in the flavor and character of the beer. It affects the body, the esters (fruitiness), the phenolics (spiciness) and the level of sweetness.” Brewing starts with boiling the water and adding the malt and hops. The mixture is steeped to extract the flavor and create a wort (the sugary liquid extracted from the mash during the brewing process). “Making wort is like making a big pot of beer soup,” says McEver. “That is the brewer’s job, to make the wort. It is the yeast’s job to make the beer.” By this he means the brewer must create optimal conditions for maximizing the yeast’s feeding activity. The yeast eats the sugars in the wort, causing them to release gas (CO2 and ethyl alcohol), which ferments the beer. More gas Left, malt and hop pellets are added to the brew kettle and cooked to create a mash. Below, after the mash has steeped, the grains are rinsed with hot water to extract the wort.

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—  Above, James McEver shows off the fully equipped brew house where beer is brewed onsite at The Flying Barrel. Right, the yeast releases carbon dioxide as the beer ferments and alcohol is created in the process.

equals better fermentation equals better beer. The beer is put away for 1–2 weeks until the yeast have settled down and finished eating. At this point, fermentation is complete. Additional flavors can be added and the beer can be aged, or it can be bottled or kegged with a bit of priming sugar. Within a few weeks, the beer is ready to drink. Like most artists, brewers develop their knowledge and skill through research and practice. “I believe the best way to learn is to just do it,” says McEver. Anyone can brew, but brewing well requires discipline, starting with organization and preparation. That means preparing all equipment and ingredients ahead of time, and going in with a plan. As many will attest, those who go in unprepared may find themselves mopping up the consequences. Then there’s sanitation — the one absolute must. Cleanliness is next to godliness in brewing. Any brewer who has poured an infected batch of beer down the drain understands why they have to be meticulous about sanitation. If uninvited bacteria find their way in, the beer will be ruined and a full day of brewing wasted. One might think that messing up the process or the recipe will result in bad beer. True, even the 40 | fluent

slightest deviation can yield unexpected results, but sometimes those results are surprisingly good, other times not so good. Either way, detailed recordkeeping helps track brewing activity, including what went right and what went wrong. Records will tell a brewer how to avoid the bad mistakes and how to repeat the good ones. Mistakes can reveal great discoveries or serve up powerful lessons, both of which lead to better brewing. Taking risks and learning from their mistakes keep craft brewers on the cutting edge. Most professionals started as homebrewers, like Sam Calagione, who owns the Dogfish Head Brewery. In his early days as a professional brewer, Calagione would walk through the kitchen of his brewpub and seek out unconventional ingredients to add to the brew pot, like raisins, juniper berries and chicory. That’s how DogFish’s popular Raison D’Etre was created — through simple experimentation and one very happy accident. Creativity and inspiration can come from many things: available ingredients, an upcoming event, the seasons, a historical recipe — or tasting different beers. “Often brewers taste something they like and want to ‘clone’ it,” says McEver, “By looking up the ingredients, you can learn how certain malts, hops and yeast

Above, the beer’s gravity (or alcohol level) is checked to determine when it’s ready to bottle or keg. Right, prize-winning home brewer Don Pennell transfers his beer from a fermenter to a keg. PHOTO Paula Pennell

actually taste in a beer. Most brewery websites list their beers’ characteristics, including Alcohol by Volume (ABVs), International Bittering Units (IBUs), malts and hops. McEver recommends, a comprehensive online source that rates and analyzes most commercially available beers. The best research, however, comes from experiencing and tasting different beers firsthand  — a local

microbrew, a mild Farmhouse Ale, a sweet and smooth Barleywine, a funky sour beer. Consider it an investment in your brewing education. Sweet, sour, light, dark, bitter, smooth, dry, fruity, simple or complex— there’s no limit to the number of styles and types of beer you can sample and create. And no end to the satisfaction of knowing you can brew your own. fluent

LOCAL CRAFT BREWING RESOURCES Brewing Supplies and Instruction The Flying Barrel , Frederick, MD The Cracked Cork, Funkstown, MD Maryland Homebrew, Columbia, MD Homebrew Clubs Frederick’s Original Ale Makers (FOAM), Frederick, MD Midnight Homebrewers League, Carroll County, MD Craft Breweries and Brewpubs Antietam Brewery/Benny’s Pub, Hagerstown, MD Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery, Frederick, MD Brewer’s Alley, Frederick, MD PHOTOS Don Pennell

Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD Frey’s Brewing Company, Mt. Airy, MD Mad Horse Brewery, Lovettsville, VA Milkhouse Brewery at StillPoint Farm, Mt. Airy, MD Monocacy Brewing Company, Frederick, MD Beer Bars and Tap Houses Dan’s Restaurant & Tap House, Boonsboro, MD Fire Works Wood Fired Pizza, Leesburg, VA JoJo’s Restaurant and Tap House, Frederick, MD Magnolias at the Mill, Purcellville, VA Roasthouse Pub, Frederick, MD· Tap House Sports Bar, Charles Town, WV

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The Bridge Fine Art & Framing Gallery August Art Bazaar • Through August 25 On Exhibit: Paintings by Seth Hill, Jacob Stilley, Edmond Praybe & Don Rees

8566 Shepherdstown Pike, Shepherdstown WV 25443 • 304.876.2300 Fine Art, Ceramics, Photography & Custom Framing

Making a poem is like exhaling, and love is the inspiration for breath in this new book of poems by Ginny Fite. Anyone who has ever loved, or lost, will find themselves in the poems in THROWING CAUTION. Somewhere in this book is your experience of love. THROWING CAUTION is available on and also at the Washington Street Artists’ Cooperative in Charles Town, WV.

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things you’ll find on the fluent website all free, all the time the magazine: current & past issues to read and download gallery exhibit information calls for artists / contest info / audition listings arts & culture events listings arts class listings arts news how to subscribe, how to advertise, how to submit work, how to contact us <updated daily>

a celebration of the arts

October 3 – 31 • Charles Town, WVa • fluent | 43


Canal House: Tradition & Comfort Food BY CHERYL L. SERRA

For Nancy Veronica Dilworth, managing the Canal House Café in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is more than seating patrons, managing staff and creating menus. It’s also about empowering staff — coincidentally, all women right now. It’s about giggles and stories and camaraderie while working in the small kitchen. It’s about satisfying customers. And it’s about preserving the recipes of her Italian maternal grandmother, fondly called Noni (above, right). While mixing ingredients for the homemade focaccia that will accompany her Noni’s eggplant caponata, Nancy shares family photos of the people who have shaped her culinary history. Their influence, she says, has taught her the beauty of creating

fresh, healthy entrees that are comfort food. Her conversation is laced with memories of recipes, of family cooking traditions and lessons, and wistful smiles. Nancy’s road to the kitchen in this historic café has been circuitous. She calls herself a “Jane of all trades.” Nancy’s worked in food service nearly 30 years, in floral production and social services, and as a doula and a carpenter. “I love doing anything that involves working with my hands and taking care of people, making them happy,” she says. “Working here is like inviting people into your home and knowing they feel comfortable and loved.” Her work is made all the cheerier by the presence of the staff, she says. “They are so authentic, so hard-working,” she says, adding they take the initiative to learn things they didn’t know before coming to Canal House. “We’re kind of like a big bowl of caponata ourselves. Our individual strengths support a collective spirit of comfort, hope and joy. “It’s so exciting to see someone who’s never baked before, who says she doesn’t know how, see her first batch of biscuit bread come out of the oven,” she says like a proud mother. Or grandmother. fluent Canal House is BYOB and offers vegetarian options. Call during business hours if you would like a reservation for a party of six or more. Canal House Café also does catering. 1226 W Washington Street, Harpers Ferry WV 25425 304.535.2880 | Thursday 5:00–9:00 pm Friday & Saturday: Noon–9:00 pm Sunday Noon–7:00 pm Monday 5:00–9:00 pm

PHOTOS Cheryl L. Serra

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Eggplant Caponata Ingredients one eggplant one diced onion 1/2 cup chopped celery hearts 8–10 garlic cloves finely minced 4 oz drained capers 1/2 cup Italian green olives (pitted and chopped) two 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (Noni used her canned garden tomatoes) 4 Tbsp brown sugar 4 Tbsp red wine vinegar Preparation Noni’s key to this recipe, says Nancy, was to cook all ingredients separately, let them cool separately, and then put them together. This allows their individual flavors to come through in the final dish. Slice skin off the eggplant in strips, so the eggplant is striped lengthwise. Slice into 1/2–inch rounds and place on a clean linen cloth. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn, salt the other side and let sit for another 15 minutes. Dice into cubes, sauté in olive oil until browned, then set aside to cool. Individually dice and sauté the following ingredients, each in a separate pan, in olive oil: celery, onion, garlic, capers and green olives. When tender, set aside to cool. Bring the tomatoes to a boil, add brown sugar, reduce for a few minutes, then cool. When ingredients are cool, mix together, add red wine vinegar and chill. This dish is best served the next day. Top with shaved aged parmesan cheese and serve with bread (Nancy serves it with homemade focaccia) or crackers. It may be served heated, room temperature or chilled, as Canal House serves it.

Recalculating After reading Born to Run I jog down the slope of my drive feeling the gravel and dirt under my feet remembering the sound of my old cross-country coach cheering me on. When I reach the pond with two mallards I imagine myself twenty years older and by the time I pant past the Holsteins I can picture myself in the nursing home as a resident, not that innocent fourteen-year-old in white stockings, working the dumb waiter. Running past Skunk Hollow I wonder what if I had married that forest ranger in Colorado, quit nursing school, got my M.F.A.? My husband doesn’t like my new puzzle wedding ring, three copper pieces you can weave and unweave. He called it ornate. I called the plain silver band utilitarian. He lost his while running waited two months to replace it. Maybe he wants to love someone else. Just before the slouched, yellow trailer with a choir of mezzo-soprano mutts in the yard I turn around. Forty-five! I should have written something significant by now been in library newspapers, had critiques, Oprah calling. I should have gone wild like my brother-in-law, tattoos and go-cart racing. Mortality nips at my heels as I cut through the woods the path full of sunken cow prints downed barbwire in the grass. Most of my friends have re-birthed themselves, climbing rock faces, running marathons, and my old roommate learning to drive a Harley in her forties. Even my father is sloughing off singed skin from hell-fire sermons, sickness and accidents. He is lying on a beach in Cuba, wearing Elvis sunglasses, reading The Kite Runner, watching girls. Watching girls! Climbing back up the drive I have no new poem, no revelation, my mind barren. In the night three new age spots blossom under my right eye, like tears.

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Born in Louisiana, Paul Grant moved north after The War of Northern Aggression intending to teach, but never got around to it. His work has appeared in Poetry, Sewanee Review, Georgia Review, Yankee and many other little mags. He has one chapbook, called Soundtracks, and three discrete full-length collections currently making the rounds. He is a former poetry editor of Antietam Review. Though consistently nostalgic about the hymns that accompanied his Baptist upbringing, he remains a relentless critic of Dogma in all its manifestations, and places his faith in Mystery and Irony (despite permanent chagrin at not being better able to tell them apart), so readers probably shouldn’t depend on his poems to save them. On the other hand, he continues to believe in Grace, so they just might yet. He currently lives in the Maryland woods, with a black cat bone, three foxes and more ghosts than you can shake a graveyard-whistle at. Forgiveness

Honeysuckle Rose

He’s there where I left him, waiting One never knows, do one? by a creek full of roots and stumps. -Thomas “Fats” Waller He wears overalls and Lucky Strikes & he has replacement hooks stuck all over In the blow-to-the forehead re-mix, Fats him where he can get to them easily is heard muttering in a flurry & smells of bourbon and worm-mash. of bigger arpeggios it’s struggled up Someone he wouldn’t know if he could to meet the swallowtails in the breeze is filling his heart with marvel and my dreams of deep-fried love, at the intricate world of sun-perch, catfish with hushpuppies them iridescent reflections of sacred geometry, and black magic moonshine. and his head with worthy, brave, sober His right thoughts of how it maybe all and left hands are two angels fits together properly when seen just so . . . falling together through a solstice on a St. Louis siding Yeah, now he’s in the woods up near while the Twentieth Century sleeps. The Old Place, with a shotgun Somebody else will have and that goddamned Sears Roebuck coat to pick up the tab hollow all the way around the back for WWII. and always smelling of squirrel blood or rabbit (in months with R’s), That beautiful slouch hat seeing in spite of himself the great from the Truman years winds up mandala spinning between the leaves on an old fisherman quite from treetop to treetop happy to believe in ghosts, until it’s dropped to necessity which he calls memories & we can all go home, back down & credits roads that could never go anywhere else, with keeping him alive. & don’t even really go there, anymore . . . Out on the lazy river checking his trotlines, we get to singing like we really can, & before you know it, we’re misbehaving, not coming home till we’re good and ready & there’s no place else to go.

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Before The Fall If there was a night when we were the crickets and the wind in the trees, there must have been moonlight in the yard. And a porch with a creaky swing and rocking chairs, someone who knew everything quietly telling us some of it, leaving out the scary parts, and tall tea glasses with ice melting into the sugar that lived in the bottoms. There must have been a rattle and hum of someone down on the gravel road past the Anderson place. There must have been a coachwhip out by the plum tree, roused by screaming mockingbirds, pretending to chase them. There might have been a shooting star. There must have been a shooting star.


Yellow Dog Blues

Deja Voodoo

In Paradise, the polar ice will have refrozen into balanced sleep. The trees we breathe will be able to catch their own breath, & The music will never stop, nor anyone weep unless they want to.

Middle of the night: I get off a light sleep shaking into sweat and streetlight sneaking in under shades, & the Yellow Dog goes on off through the dream without me, why I don’t know, but that’s 500 miles or so less the Yazoo Delta can take to embellish its story, that whistle that must have waked me up just now

In one version (& this is the one I prefer), a recording of birdsong suffuses the semi-dark just as I glance at the blank card with the etching of a bird’s nest on its face.

only to leave me here to match my hip, breath, cracked lips and past to your hip, breath, pain in a joint that need the heat we generate that makes me high, cranes floating out of my fingertips, hotel window organdy catching a muddy breeze from Mexico,

In another (& this is the one I prefer), the cat is for some reason making a nest in the woodbox, rattling splinters and fat lightning, scaring the mice and the night away.

In Paradise, I’ll be much nicer than I am, a veritable paragon. A saint, A star. You, on the other hand, will be pretty much exactly as you are. The People Upstairs Their bedded laughter paints the ceiling white as a mother’s laundered wish for her child’s unmanageable future. Moments of their music, rustling like mice in history, drift out of the windows and climb down the ivied walls, neat string quartets and Farewell, my friends, I’m bound for Canaan. We never pass them on the stairs— our schedules cross like trains in sleep. We know only that they feed our dog delicate secrets that spoil him for real life and that we sometimes glimpse them by the river, riding away on their bicycles. We never see them coming back. They might be angels—or accidents.

wondering what world went on without me, if my mother and my first wife, still not talking to each other very much, were waiting at some other hopeless swamptown depot, are still waiting, have yet to find out I got off here, didn’t even make it to Memphis, had another woman in mind all along & don’t care anymore about the strange dark best they both wanted for me . . . I leave them in sleepslough, where they belong now, with bourbon and poker and handguns, deer stands and cornfields and strangling haylofts and fat black chicken snakes— the whistle echoes one more time, sure as any classic paraclete or selfordained jackleg white trash that the truth has chose to stay & that only the long night has gone on . . .

In a third (& this is the one I prefer), a lingua franca of solitude can be heard coming from another room, reciting favorite attempts to combine laughter with prayer. There is a fountain filled with stars drawn from Hollywood’s veins. They prance. They preen. They’re mean, but then they forget, & behave as if nothing has happened. This is the version I prefer.

“Forgiveness” was originally published in Carolina Quarterly; “The People Upstairs” in Sewanee Review; “Sugar” in The Observer; and “Yellow Dog Blues” in Carolina Quarterly. fluent | 47



“You wanna hear a joke?” Unsure on which side the turn was coming, the driver did not respond. She stole glances at the map that lay open across her legs, but the fear of taking her eyes from the road for too long kept her from learning anything useful. The truck she drove was old, but ran well despite its age. It had started as a dark blue that had, with age, become the color of a clear summer sky. She preferred the present color; it reminded her that sometimes things get better with age; not everything, but some things did, and it gave her hope. “Are you listenin’ to me?” The question was a surprise in a journey that had until then for its soundtrack only the steady, peaceful static of a radio that had long ago lost any sort of meaningful signal. “I’m tryin’ to pay attention to the road, darlin’. I don’t know where the turn’s comin’.” “It’s on the right. There ain’t no signs, but you’ll see it,” the boy said, pausing to let this information sink in. “You wanna hear the joke?” “Ok. Sure, darlin’.” “What’s the word for an ex-wife getting killed?” The boy stared out at the lonesome surroundings that moved by too fast to make sense, faster than seemed possible. “I don’t know.” “You give up?” “I suppose I do. What do you call it?” “Countryside.” The driver’s foot slipped off the gas, and she lost her flat sandal as she tried to recover. She kicked the sandal under her seat as she made the turn down the only paved road besides the highway she had seen for miles. “That’s awful! Where on earth did you hear something so nasty?” 48 | fluent

The light blue truck stopped, and the boy slowly climbed out. His aunt was mad, but he didn’t care; his father once told him the best jokes were the kind that offended. The boy took a few steps toward the old, dirty building without looking back. The outside looked dead. He wondered how anyone could stand to live there; he sure wouldn’t be able to. The driver got out and walked alongside the boy. The dust followed their heels, and all around them there was only the sound of dead grass breaking under their feet. It had not rained for a long time. The woman walked him inside. “You gonna be alright now?” “Yes, ma’am, I will be.” The man — stout, and of an average height, with bright blue eyes — looked at the woman. She did not look at him. She squeezed the boy’s shoulder. “I’ll be waitin’ for you, hon.” The boy sat down. His chair let out a low sigh. “It’s been awhile since you was here last. I’d invite you in, but it’s worse there than it is out here. Better if we stay out here, anyhow, away from all that mess.” The man laughed, and the sound was old and rusty, like a piece of machinery that had not been started up in years. “I’m glad ya came, you know that? It’s good to see you. I saw your Aunt Theresa brought you — she don’t like me too awful much. Way back when, she used to think she was the finest thing in a pair of jeans. She never did forgive me going for your momma instead of her, I think, but it wasn’t never a choice for me. “I’ve been thinking a lot since you was up here last. You spend a lot of time with your momma’s family. Now, that’s out of necessity because I ain’t got much family anymore. But, I think you should know about my side, too, because these are your roots. Family history’s important. I was thinkin’ you probably never heard

much about granddad. He used to drink Jack Daniels right from the bottle — straight, no chaser. It was a rare thing to see him off work — or on work, just as like as not — without his best friend Jack. Even had a bottle under the driver’s seat most times. Say, you drivin’ yet? I suppose not, what with Theresa bringin’ you up and all.” “Not yet, but I can go out for the written next year.” “Good boy! You’ll be drivin’ all over town. Making the ladies happy — they all like to ride around. That reminds me of a joke. So this guy finds a magic lamp in a dumpster, right? And he starts rubbin’ it to clean it and see if he can maybe take it to the pawn shop later, get something for it. He rubs the lamp, and, poof, genie pops out and tells him he’ll grant any wish.” “He don’t get three wishes?” “Naw, he only gets one.” “Why?” “I don’t know. Some genies are just one-at-a-timers. So, genie says he’ll give the fella anythin’ he wants, so

“Moundsville Prison” Photo Sterling “Rip” Smith

fella says, ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I’m scared to fly. Build me a bridge across the ocean.’ The genie says ‘That’s impossible! Make another wish.’ Guy says, ‘I want to understand women.’ The genie scratches his beard for a second and says, ‘You want two lanes on that bridge, or four?’” The man laughed his rusted metal laugh. “You like that? It’s true, too. No man understands a woman. I know I don’t, and my daddy sure didn’t, neither. He’d go to the bar and have his fill, and he’d come home ready to fight. One night he come home so drunk he could barely stand. He was yelling and cussing, and he never even saw momma hiding in the closet. When he walked by, she stepped out with her meat cleaver. I was on the steps watching. Some people just don’t know how to behave, and my daddy was like that. I guess that’s why you’ve never heard much about him. I kind of loved him, I think. I really do, but people like that have no clue, not one, about what makes a person decent.

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“Momma ran off that night. I stayed back east with Uncle Jimmy after that. We heard a good while later she had been killed in a house fire where a bunch of squatters was staying. One night, someone like as not — from what anybody can say about it —  took and fell asleep with a lit cigarette in their hand, and the place caught fire. Momma died. They said it looked like she might’ve been dead a while before then, but ain’t no way to be sure, with the state of the body and all. “Your Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Ailene took care of me. You remember Uncle Jimmy’s house? The one with the oak tree out back? The first time I kissed your momma was under that tree. She was wearing a green dress and green shoes — even her eyes was green. Her hair was straight and blonde, nothin’ fancy, but it was the prettiest I’d ever seen in my life. Those were the days your momma and I would do anything for each other,” the man said. He was silent for awhile, as if teetering on the edge of something. “She liked to kiss other fellas, though,” he said, finally. “I saw her one time when we first started dating. I was so mad. I knocked the guy’s teeth down his throat — he started coughing and choking and crying. I heard tell later he lost one of his eyes. I told your momma when we got married not to kiss no one else never again. There was something else I wanted to talk to you about today. Damned if I can remember what it was. Happens with age. You forget all kinds of stuff, but you do your best to remember what’s important.” The man looked past his son, and his blue eyes became hazy. “I remember now, I was telling you about fighting, right? Now, the first time you get in a fight, the absolute worst thing you can do is knock her out in one punch.” The man swept his hands, palms down, across the table as if indicating the bottom line. “The next fight you get in, you’ll be so focused on dropping the guy in one punch you’ll let your guard down. Always keep your guard up! Protect yourself at all times. The way it goes, you’re arguing with some guy, the kind of thing not worth breaking bones and teeth over, but you do it anyway. Like as not both of you will be drunk. That’s how most fights start. So, when it comes time to fight, keep your hands up and protect yourself. Wait him out. When you get a clean shot, hit him where his upper lip creases. His nose and lips get bloody, his eyes start watering, and you may even knock one of her teeth out. But, always keep your guard up. It 50 | fluent

might be he’s faking to get you close and drive a knee in your nuts or jam a thumb in your eye.” The boy fidgeted in his seat and picked at a scab on his knuckles, breaking it open. A small rivulet of blood flowed from the wound. The boy stared at it, fascinated, as it ran down his arm. The boy’s shirt caught the man’s attention. “You like wrasslin’, huh? I see you got Batista on your shirt. He’s a big son-of-a-bitch, ain’t he? He lives in Florida, you know that? You remember that time we went to Florida? Wasn’t that fun? You was just eight or so. We went with the Ryans: your momma’s friend Rachel, her husband, and their little daughter Emily. I know you remember Emily. The two of you played in the sand together, and you let her cover you up to your neck, and you looked like you didn’t care if the tide came in. You stared at her as she buried you, and I knew then that you was a romantic just like me. “I remember one night I went to get your momma from that bar-and-grill near the motel. She said she was there for a girl’s-night-out. I was worried about her. I worried about her an awful lot. She was too pretty to be on her own. She didn’t know I was there. Turns out Rachel wasn’t there, but her husband was. You remember Ben, right? See, you might be too young to remember all this. You was all cuddled up on your mom’s bed with Emily, the two of you was so cute, it seemed a crime to wake y’all up when you was all snuggled in. “You need to know right now I ain’t trying to talk bad about your momma, neither. She was a loving person. She didn’t know how to love one person exclusively, and it’s important in life to be faithful. It seems to me the world don’t value that no more. But I care, and I can see in your eyes you care, too. Spitting image of your old man, that’s what you are. You’re getting more like me with every visit, and that’s a good thing. I’ve lived, boy, I’ve got experiences, and I’ve got lots of stories to tell. I seen people’s mistakes, and I’ll show you how to avoid sufferin’ because of other people. It’s like I told ya: you’ve gotta protect yourself at all times. “You remember riding up from the hospital the next day? You sat in the middle and we listened to the radio. We had a good time, didn’t we? That’s what I want you to remember, the good times. The good times you spent with your daddy. All the fun we had. Your momma, she didn’t understand. She used to go out with her friends — them gutter-trash whores who turned her against us — and she’d come back drunk, but she didn’t want to fight. She talked. She loved to talk, ’specially when she had something bad to say.

She’d talk about how I never wanted her to have any fun. She’d talk about how I made her get married, and she’d say she was sorry she ever had you. She said that, I swear to God she did! She’d say she wished she never met me. But I kept on loving her!” The man slammed his hand on the table; the boy flinched, but did not otherwise move. “One night she told me she didn’t want to be with us no more. She wanted to leave and break up the family. Can you believe that? She was sayin’ she didn’t love us no more! She loved Rich instead. The smug bastard, he had a weak neck! You can tell a lot about the kind of man he is by the way a fella’s head sits on his shoulders. The first thing I noticed about Rich was his scrawny little chicken neck. His bald head would just sort of bounce around on them shoulders. It looked like a balloon after a few days, where it still floats, but just barely. It looked like it wouldn’t take much at all to get that head to come off.” The boy raised his eyes to meet his father’s gaze. “Your momma, she used to scream up a storm at times. It drove me nuts. It was like listening to a scratched record. She don’t scream like that no more. Sometimes I just wish things were like they was underneath that oak tree, when everything felt right.

“Moundsville Prison” Photo Sterling “Rip” Smith

Nothin’ is never like it should be. Everything should be different, but knowing that don’t make it better, you know?” The man with the holstered pistol spoke up. “Cook! Time’s up. Save it for next time.” The man with the blue eyes looked behind him. “They say we got to wrap this up. You be good, ok? But if have to be a little bad, always keep your guard up. Make sure you never let no one get the best of you. Ok boy, I’ll see you next time.” The boy watched his father hang up the phone from the other side of the glass. The boy got up and walked down the hallway. He tugged at his shirt; it had been bothering him all day. It was ripped at the shoulder, and through the hole in the fabric, a faded purple bruise the size of a fist, already healing, shone under the fluorescent lighting. He walked out of the prison and onto the dead grass. The sky had become gray with storm clouds. Dust followed the boy’s heels as he made his way back to the truck. “Looks like we’re finally gonna get some rain,” Theresa said as the boy got in the car. The boy buckled his seatbelt and stared out the window as the storm began to rage; he did not speak. fluent

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Søren Kierkegaard on The Oprah Winfrey Show Oprah Winfrey recently interviewed Danish philosopher, theologian, and writer Søren Kierkegaard. Below is a transcript of the segment of the show. Oprah: Ludwig Wittgenstein called our next guest, Søren Kierkegaard “... by far the greatest thinker of the 1800s. Kierkegaard was a saint.” Indeed, Mr. Kierkegaard’s work has inspired a wide range of people from philosophers and theologians, to psychologists, to novelists, poets, and playwrights. He founded the philosophy of existentialism, popular from World War II into the 1980s, and — get this — he wrote the first work of post-Freudian psychology, even though he died one year before Sigmund Freud was born. Please join me in welcoming Søren Kierkegaard. [Sustained applause. Mr. Kierkegaard enters and takes a seat on the couch. He is slightly hunchbacked.] Oprah: Welcome to today’s show. I hope our millions of viewers will take away not only something of your work as a philosopher and writer but of your being a saint, as Mr. Wittgenstein said. Kierkegaard: Thank you. How can there be millions of viewers with only this many people in the audience? Oprah: We’re on television. We go right into people’s homes. They watch us on their home television sets. Kierkegaard: Yes, they told me your show is popular. How did I get to appear on it? Oprah: I own the network, not just the show. I am curious that your book Repetition is considered the first book of post-Freudian psychology yet you died a year before Sigmund Freud was born? Kierkegaard: I had not heard of Freud. I must have explored problems not otherwise emerging until Freud set the stage for them. My book draws on metaphors of the theater and the Hebrew Scriptures Book of Job. Maybe the ancient Persian sources of that story are 52 | fluent

the first work of post-Freudian psychology. Most of our problems can be solved by walking. Oprah: So is your book Repetition about walking? How is that post-Freudian ? Kierkegaard: It’s not about walking. My book shows that we are pulled ahead by our need to be who we really are. I’m told that Freud thought we are held back by our potty training. Maybe they had odd potty training practices in Freud’s Czech Republic. I can’t see such a theory stemming from Danish potty training. Oprah: You have written more than 35 books, as well as copious notebooks, diaries, pamphlets, and articles. In 1941 you broke your engagement with Regine Olson, [audible sighs in studio audience] whom you met in 1937 when she was 14 years old. Shortly thereafter you went from your home in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Berlin, Germany, and six months later you came back home to Copenhagen with the massive, two-volume treatise Either / Or. That’s a lot of writing in a short time. Kierkegaard: Maybe the brain overcompensates for a broken heart. Oprah: You wrote — let’s not count only books — you wrote at least 33 books between October 1841 and November 1855. That’s 33 books, some of them multivolume, in just 14 years. And you have more pen names than Norah Roberts. What’s with the pseudonyms? Kierkegaard: There are three major stages of development in life: the esthetic, the ethical and the religious. My pseudonymous books explore those stages. This why my work is called “dialectical” — life can be explored from different points of view. Few people make it to the religious stage. Oprah: Did you later regret breaking with Regine? Kierkegaard: Of course. Dante had his Beatrice and Petrarch his Laura, but the Black Death, the bubonic

plague of 1348 to 1850 killed them both. Regine. Oh, she was beautiful.... I know it, for this beauty cost me tears. She did not love my shapely nose, nor my fine eyes, nor my small feet, nor my smart brain — she loved only me. [Extended applause from studio audience] Oprah: What happened to Regine, later on, I mean? Kierkegaard: Regine later married her tutor, who became governor of the Danish Virgin Islands. They were extremely valuable because of sugar production. Oprah: The German novelist Franz Kafka had a similar experience to yours. He broke up with his fiancé and immediately wrote some of his most important works. Why do such breaks cause such productive bursts for writers? Kierkegaard: Kafka, like Freud, was born in the Czech Republic. But more to your question, I thought my melancholy would be a problem for Regine. Also, by then all my siblings had died [several audible gasps from studio audience]. I thought I wouldn’t live long. Breaking an engagement may propel you toward who you really are. It frees you from illusions. Without illusions you can concentrate. You glimpse reality itself. For example, there’s something about your name; it’s like something biblical but not quite. There is an Orpah in the Hebrew Scriptures The Book of Ruth. Is that illusion or reality? Oprah: Both. [Oprah laughs.] My mother named me after that character in The Book of Ruth, but she spelled it wrong. That’s okay with me now. The name in Hebrew is negative. It means, “She turned her back.” Orpah turns her back on her mother-in-law Naomi. What does Kierkegaard mean in Danish? Kierkegaard: It can mean two things, which can be the same thing. It’s “churchyard” or “graveyard.” In most of Europe churchyards held the graveyard. Oprah: Do names influence us? Did your name “graveyard” add to the fear of your melancholy that made you break up with Regine Olsen? Kierkegaard: I hope not. Were that so, your name  — “she turned her back” — might mean, “her head is on sideways.” Yours doesn’t seem to be. You said you own the show and the network, whatever that means.

Oprah: That’s interesting. In TV you need to watch your back, but still keep an eye on what’s happening. Well, our viewers will want to know about your writing habits. Tell us about writing? Kierkegaard: Book-writing has become so poor, and people write about matters, which they have never given any real thought, let alone, experienced. I therefore have decided to read only the writings of those who have been executed or have risked their lives in some way. Oprah: Wow, what a selection criterion for a book club! [Enthusiastic audience applause] Wouldn’t that be something? But what about your own writing? Kierkegaard: In regard to spelling I bow unconditionally to authority; it never occurs to me to investigate further. Punctuation is something else again; in that I do not bow to anyone, and I greatly doubt whether any author can match me in that. My whole structure as a dialectician with an unusual sense of the rhetorical, my constant intercourse with my thoughts by silent conversations, my experience in reading aloud: all these make me excel in this respect. Oprah: So, great writing starts with spelling and punctuation? That’s interesting, given today’s emphasis on inspiration and imagination over mechanics in teaching writing. Kierkegaard: In a scientific paper I use my punctuation differently from the way I use it in rhetorical writing. This probably will be quite enough for most people, who only acknowledge one grammar. My punctuation deviates especially in rhetorical matters, because there it becomes more evolved. I keep up a constant feud with typesetters who, with the best intentions, put commas everywhere and by so doing disturb my rhythm. Oprah: Oh my, where did the time go? Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking Søren Kierkegaard for being with us today. [Sustained applause.] And I’m very happy to report that each of you in our studio audience will leave here today with a copy of his book Fear and Trembling [More sustained applause and cheers] This is one of his pseudonymous — oh, I love that word! — one of his pseudonymous books published under the pen name Johannes de Silentio. fluent fluent | 53


Found Art

PHOTO Sheila Vertino

The refrigerator on metal sculptor Scott Cawood’s back porch is slowly evolving from appliance to its own art installation.

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