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Editor: Sandra Tyler Author of Blue Glass, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and After Lydia, both published by Harcourt Brace; awarded MFA in writing from Columbia University; creative writing professor; freelance editor; Stony Brook University’s national annual fiction contest judge; a 2013 Voices of the Year. Follow her Writerly-Witty-Sometimes-Woeful blog at:

Editor’s Note The Woven Tale Press is a monthly culling of the creative blogging web. Too many well-conceived and artful blog posts are relegated to their archives too soon. So enjoy here an eclectic mix of the literary, humorous, and innovative – blog posts ephemeral, meant to be indelible. If you enjoy particular posts, click on their URLs to visit the actual blogs. To submit a post go to:


The Woven Tale Press

(c) copyright 2013

Restless in Wonderment Acrylic Paint, Oil Paint, and Glitter on Bamboo Boards Series of Three Piece 6.7� x 12.7� Each

1). Applied a thick layer of yellow liquid acrylic paint to the background.


2). Allowed it to dry as the abstract was placed on top.

3). Liquid acrylic paints in yellow, red, purple, gold, and opal were applied strategically. Copper paint was dripped. Glitter was applied in complimentary areas.

4). The beautiful faces were painted on last, using different levels of washes in raw umber oil paint.



Sometimes the wind blew so hard, it blew scraps of paper, wrappers and dust from the gutter – clear up to the twenty-fifth floor. You wiggled your toes through the railings, and you saw the birds go higher. You watched them wet their wings in the clouds. You knew you were going to fly. It’s all you ever wanted to do. Your old man dragged a stool out to the the balcony, to be with you. He stretched his legs long and said, That’s good, son. So get yourself a plan. You need to study X and then you’ll get to Y. Might take a while, but that’s the way to Z . You turned to look at him and thought you saw the Z he got to. You saw the blood in his eyes and the dirt in the crease of his neck, but you never saw a bird with a plan. You just saw them fly. But Marcus said: This is how we get you there, fly boy. This is the fast track. Marcus will have you a private jet in no time, with a pilot, and rye whiskey in a sharp cut glass, scything through sky. You took the gun, because he took the wheel. He said it was fair. And fair was fair for the white boy in the suit, the one that had to mess with the fine balance of things, the transition between earth and air. So now. You dig for worms in the exercise yard. The others watch you and spit, slit-eyed. Hey Birdman, they say, you’re cleared for takeoff. Go ahead and fly. Sure, your nose is in the dirt, but it won’t be there long. They think they know you, but they can’t see under your skin. There’s a feeling – like bubbles under glass – just above your shoulder blades, and back in the cell, if you reach back around your neck, you can feel two lumps, smooth as eggs. You touch them and they vibrate, low and mellow, living things that breathe with you. They quiver and itch. This time around, they won’t melt off your back. Marcus, you can rot in hell, wherever you are. Carson squats over the bucket in the corner. You see the white sinews of his thighs. His voice is all naive and quizzical, but his eyes are the flint of no good. 3

You got fleas, Birdman? It feels right to hold his head in his own shit. He can rot too. That was three days ago. You won’t get out anytime soon. Three days they’ve watched you on their CCTV. Your screams are reedy and repetitive. You’re hopping around in their straitjacket like a baby starling in traffic, and they sip their coffee and throw their heels on the desk. You hear what he’s sayin’, they grin. Listen. You’re back with your dad, struggling against him, high above the city. He won’t let you go. You’d pull him over with you, just to be given a chance. But you’re too weak still, and he pulls you back from the edge. Now you know it’s the truth, but you’re talking to blank walls. These wings are real. These wings are real.


Not all who wander are lost. ~J. R. R. Tolkien 4

Rocking Dyeing

Here are some experimentally tied-up flour sack towels.

I’m late to jump on the flour-sack towel wagon. I had never heard of them, but they rock. They’re very absorbent, so great to dye and to dry messes, too.

This is Janet, who kept me company


I had to wake the dye vat up, since it was a couple of weeks old. I added boiling water and soda ash, and got this fabulous sickening yellow-green. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.

Here I was trying to get a picture of how the dye didn’t read some of the fabric touching the bottle. This is my favorite technique. Just wait till I show you the result.

Tada! I love it! 6

Brabbles & Boggitt Part 1 Welcome to the first of a 46-page story titled: “Brabbles & Boggitt in the Goldilocks Affair.� Our story opens with our two heroes, Brabbles, the ridiculously over-confident yellow mouse, and Boggitt, the doomand-gloom depressive Caterpillar. Brabbles has just had another of his great, but ill-thought-out business ideas, and is about to give Boggitt the benefit of his wonderful brain...again!


The Demise of Spiders and Their Palatial Web Mansions

The little tale below is about the constant battles I have with the spiders in my house. Those regular readers of my Facelessbook witterings will know of my issues with them, of how they rule my fears, pinch my car keys and in one particular case, drink my whiskey, but now I’m here to say the battle has finally gone legal. Okay, so here’s how it happened: Out in my backroom I have always had spiderwebs. I don’t mind them out there, as they catch a lot of unwanted flies, and those particular web-spinning spiders don’t seem that interested in chasing me around the rest of my property. So as far as you can have a good spider, these are good spiders. But lately they’ve been taking liberties. The little eight-egged hairy freaks have started extending their webs – webs that historically have been of a one-story structure now have moved into palatial two or three story web mansions! Some even have car-ports, summer houses and swimming pools! I’ve contacted the council and it’s come along to have a look. Its members have taken copious amounts of notes, had a meeting, sub-meetings, committee meetings and audit meetings that have gone on into the night. And today I am happy to announce I received its final decision: Whereas the council is aware that you don’t need planning permission to build a web, you do if that web exceeds one whole third of its original structure, and seeing as it has grown, in some cases by over five times, then the council has no other option but to order the removal of all illegal sections of the web; to include all out structures, swimming pools, jacuzzi houses, saunas and, in the case of the seedier parts of my back room, brothels. I took the order in to show the spiders today, with the self-satisfied smirk of one who had used the legal system to his advantage. Most of the spiders just scoffed at the legal document while at least three of them took a run at me. I, naturally, ran off screaming like a big girlie and am now writing this post within the


confines on my electric spider fence. On a further note, I’ve been asked by someone what kind of spiders they are. I said I wasn’t too sure but I had heard the one calling the other Norris if that would help. I’ve yet to hear back from him. The war continues.


Map Mayhem: Lost in Louisville

My life has been a series of lessons – sometimes I learn easily that the stove is hot and I shouldn’t touch it. More often than not, I have to learn these lessons the hard way. However it happens, all these lessons have guided me along my way, each with its own stamp on my brain. Each with its own…Moral. For instance, I really believed that directions were a thing of the past.There was a time, not all that long ago, when many of us got to places like this: Go down to the McDonalds, take a right. At the third stop sign make a left, and my house is the fourth on the left. Now we are coddled by GPS, Google Maps and Onstar. Last week all that failed. Here’s how the I, Mr. Moral, got hopelessly lost: Mrs. Moral and I set out last week to Louisville to go see a show. It’s only about a two- hour drive and, along with Nashville, our closest Metropolis. I decided to go “ old fashioned.” For the record, I have no idea why. Actually, that’s a lie, I do know why: The Google Map app sucks battery down on me faster than a vampire goes through someone in those awful vampire movies. I printed off the Google Map directions as opposed to just punching in the address on my Android. Anyway, I had my printed directions and off we went. There’s really only one problem with printed directions: Detours. The exit we needed was closed for construction. No problem, we followed the detour off the interstate, but immediately lost the intended detour route. Sucked. We each whipped out our cell phones. Battery life be damned, I needed to get there. Well my phone went into Zombie phase. You might know zombie phase with your phone. It kinda still looks and acts like a cell phone, but something is just off. Yeah, mine was doing that, and it had no idea how to find any address in Louisville. Thanks Android. Of course Mrs. Moral’s iPhone immediately pulled up the directions and routed us to our destination. Normally I’d be the first to admit I hate having anything to do with Ap-


ple. Mainly because I chose Android and my wife chose Apple. I want my shit to work better than her shit. By some extension that means I’m more awesome. Don’t ask how that works, I’ve just decided it does. Anyway, we cruised along using her Apple Maps. Why? Because she apparently thinks somewhat like me and doesn’t have Google Maps and is hell-bent on Apple Maps. Either way, we cruised along until we heard “You are arriving at your destination on the right.” Bullshit we’d arrived at our destination – on the right was a run-down motel and a bowling alley. Someone tell Siri to suck it. I have some vindication that her phone sucks too. Unfortunately we still had no idea where our destination was. Mrs. Moral may be worse about asking for directions (The really old-fashioned way) than I am. I figure screw it, if I’m lost but am close, just find me a local. She made the executive decision to pull into a dumpy empty parking lot to reassess our situation. By freak accident, I saw a cop car parked behind a junk truck that was in a nonworking car wash. Take that in for a second. It’s quite a scene. I hopped out and walked over to the squad. I was greeted friendlily enough, and I politely stated we were turned around and needed some help. I got an affirmative: “Follow me.” Hell yeah, a police escort. Yes, please. We followed the squad car a few blocks and what happened next made me immediately decide this was going to be a Moral story. The squad car in front of us lit up the car in front of them. I had to ask “Did he seriously just do that?” Yes, yes he did. We decided to forgo waiting behind our escort while he wrote whatever ticket. Our destination was close enough for us to make the rest of the way by ouselves. So the finally tally included print directions (shot due to road construction), a detour route (that we lost), a zombie cell phone, (Apple Map shitcannery), and a police escort (that ended in someone’s ticket). I will have you know, Mrs. Moral drove to the show and I drove home…without incident. The moral of the story is, men should drive. 11

Playing in Our OldSchool Sprinkler

We may live in the suburbs of Texas, but we haven’t jumped on the sprinkler system trend. We’re the odd man out pulling our sprinkler to the middle of our yard, getting the spray-angle correct, and then manually turning the faucet on.


For the Love of Tangling

Two months, 39 Zentangle tiles, and eight ZIA (Zentangle-inspired art) pieces later, my love of tangling, far more than mere doodling, has only grown. One of the things that appeals most to me about tangling is that even though you may not consider yourself an artist, you will be able to tangle. Each tangle is broken down into steps, and single tangles are put together to form larger drawings, so what may look like a complex piece is actually a series of single, simple steps. Tangle supplies are inexpensive and basic, and free information and instruction abound. I started my tangling journey with the book One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun by Beckah Krahula. It’s a great introduction to the process, as well as to art supplies and techniques. Krahula provides instruction on a large number of tangles, starting with the fairly simple


and moving towards the more complex. I then moved on to Totally Tangled: Zentangle and Beyond by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. As many of her tangles seem more complex, I recommend waiting until you’ve had a little bit of practice before you start using this book. An absolutely wonderful free resource that you will definitely want to bookmark is In terms of supplies, all you really need is a pen, a pencil, and some paper and you’re good to go. But if you’d like to use the specific pens recommended on the site and in the books, the Sakura 50011 11-Piece Zentangle Clamshell Pencil Set is a great option. I also chose to order the Zentangle Kit, which is lovely and a great way to tote your essentials. If you’d like to follow along on my tangling journey, I’ve been posting on my Tumblr – “learning to tangle” – all of my practice tangles (the good, the bad, and the ugly) as well as my finished pieces. I’m also posting everything on Instagram, if you’d prefer to follow on that platform. If you do decide to give tangling a try, please let me know… and, if you care to share, I’d love to see some of your work!


Straight-Edged Razor

Bob woke from his afternoon nap to the reproduction of Georgia O’Keefe’s human skull, with its shattered teeth and empty black-eye sockets, staring at him, and for a second, he wondered where the hell he was. Then he remembered; this was his new home. He peeled himself away from the sweaty sheets. The first thing he was going to do was to fix that damn air-conditioner. Bob changed out of his wet t-shirt and thought about shaving before Marian’s dinner, but he still couldn’t find his razor. There were disposable blades in Marian’s cabinet, probably left from one of her former live-in boyfriends, but once you try a straight-edged razor, you can’t go back to that shit. A nice metaphor for the difference between him and those other two guys, Bob thought. He smiled at himself in the mirror. Well, the razor would show up, or maybe he’d forgotten to pack it altogether. Either way, he could worry about it later. He wanted to spend some time with Simon before Marian got back. Bob thought that Simon must have taken a nap too. His hair was all over the place and his clothes wrinkled. Jesus, Bob thought, doesn’t she have enough money to take him shopping? The kid’s sleeves ended halfway between his elbows and hands, and the pants ended way above his ankles, revealing legs that were covered mostly with soft blond fuzz except for occasional thick black wiry hairs. Bob looked closer at Simon’s face, and he revised his opinion about the kid having just woken up because his brown pupils were large and animated. “Coffee?” Bob offered. Simon nodded. “Where’s my mom?” “She went shopping. She’s going to make something special for dinner. Braised tongue. She says it’s your favorite.” “Oh, what are we celebrating?” Bob fidgeted. “It’s 15 okay. I know you wanted to tell me together, but you’re moving in, aren’t you?”

“How did you know?” “This is the way it always happens.” Bob looked down at his feet. Jesus, it was hot and dry. Bob wished for a breeze of air. He didn’t want to make a speech or anything, but he wanted to reassure the kid. Simon seemed so shy and vulnerable. Finally, he said, “I just want to let you know that it’s going to be different with me. I mean business. Not like those other guys.” “What do you mean? Who says those other guys didn’t mean business?” “Well, why’d they disappear like that, then?” “Because of me.” “I doubt that. You’re the most normal, and certainly the quietest teenage kid I’ve ever seen.” Come to think of it, this was the most Bob had heard the kid speak since he’d met Marian. He didn’t seem so shy now either. “Yes, teenage kid, that’s what my psychiatrist says.” “Oh, you see a psychiatrist? What for? I mean, if you don’t mind my asking.” “Depends.” “On what?” “On who you ask? If you ask my shrink, he’ll say it’s just teenage hormones and natural compulsions.” “And what if I ask you?” “Are you?” “What?” “Asking me?” “Yeah, I’m asking you, Simon.”


Now Simon looked down, and for a moment, once again there was silence. Then Simon said, “I’m a werewolf.” Bob snorted, a guffaw of genuine surprised laughter at the kid’s unexpected sense of humor. But when he was done laughing, Bob saw that Simon wasn’t smiling at all. And his pupils were big. Really big. Unnaturally big. They seemed to be buzzing with excitement or agitation. Bob thought the only thing to do was to play along. He said his next words slowly and deliberately: You’re not a werewolf, Simon. There’s no such thing as werewolves.” “A predator, then, Bob.” At last a breeze came. It blew the kitchen window open. That was when Bob saw the moon – a whopping, sick, yellow moon. A moon throbbing, as if were about to explode. He turned back to Simon. Bob noticed that he was holding something in his hand, and he had a tiny piece of white tissue stuck to his chin. It turned to red.

Ignominious Maximus

“Ah man, you fell off the step stool. I thought you fell off the ladder.” Unimpressed, J.T. folds his arms over his little chest and stares at me. “I heard you scream.” J.T. is a neighbordhood kid who that day had knocked on our door to see if my husband knew how to fish. He’s trying not to smile so I narrow my eyes. He blows a raspberry. “Last time I fell off my bike, I did three complete backflips and two cart wheels.” “What?” “BMX.” He throws his hands in the air and slants a look at Rob before turning his attention back to me. “You need to man up.” 17

“Man up? I did not fall off the step stool, I slipped off the counter, flipped in the air and landed on the handle of the step stool. That’s three-feet high and I smacked my head on the towel rack.” Dubious, he trots into my bathroom to check. “Okay fine,” I yell. “Thirty-two inches, that’s the standard height of a counter.” J.T. at eleven has strong opinions, which I try to thwart when possible. “That’s not very high,” he says, returning to the living room and taking a seat on the couch. “I fell sixty-two feet out of my neighbor’s tree and I was fine.” “Does your mother know where you are?” He gives me a look. “No really, the tree was sixty-five feet tall and I was at the top.” I rub the goose egg on my nether region and roll my eyes. “Like I said,” he smirks. “You need to man up.” “Uh huh.” Annoyed and a little sore, I head back to the bathroom, climb onto the counter, and tackle the trim-work around the mirror. Why waste a pan of fresh paint. Finished, I climb back down and rub my fanny. The goose egg has doubled in size. I pour a glass of wine, settle into the recliner with a large bag of frozen peas, and Google bruises. I ignore the pain. Until it drives me to the floor. The bump is now the size of a softball, but I’m sure it’ll stop swelling soon. “That’s impressive,” says the E.R. doc. “I’ve seen a lot of compartmental contusions but never in that precise location.” He takes out a pen. “Mind if I mark your skin?” “Go right ahead.” Now that someone else is worried, I feel better. “The line of demarcation is quite something.” He strokes his chin and leans against the counter. “Give me a moment, I want to consult with a specialist.” Great. Belly-down on the exam table, I adjust the backside of my gown and prop my chin on my hands. Five minutes later the doc is back with a prescription for pain killers and instructions to see a specialist on Monday if the swelling continues.


“I have a flight on Sunday.” “Absolutely not.” He looks ready to argue so I say, “That won’t hurt my feelings, I’m a flight attendant.” He grins. By Monday, the bruise has eclipsed the pen marks by five or six inches and spreads from my inner thigh, over my glutes, and out to my hip. The swelling has stopped but I can barely move, let alone sit down. I make the call. “Where did you say the bruise was?” I inhale. “On my ass.” The receptionist laughs. “Okay then, I can squeeze you in at 11:30.” “Well,” says the specialist, “You’ll be out of work for three or four weeks and I suggest physical therapy.” “For my butt?” I’m flabbergasted. “I came in because I’m worried about flying and blood clots.” To his credit, he doesn’t laugh. “You could fly, blood clots aren’t the issue and I suspect, judging from the location, you shouldn’t have too many issues, but you can’t do your job. A little heat, a little massage and you’ll heal quicker.” “Amazing.” The P.T. doc rotates my leg, presses on tendons and shakes his head. “That’s quite the contusion but your joints are fine.” Back home, I’m hobbling to the door when J.T. rides up on his bicycle. “So what did the doc say?” “He said I’ll live.” “Going to work tomorrow?” “Nope.” I say, then realize my mistake as J.T. grins, slips past me into the house and grabs the remote. “Cool. Lets watch Spongebob.” Great, now I really have to man up.

Art Print Illustration Drawing Actor’s mask print on zinc plate. Drawing by Darryl Z. Oates

The drawing above is a print from a zinc-plate drawing. The plate had dimensions approximately of letter-size paper. The image was drawn with a metal stylist. The plate was then dipped into a series of acid baths, creating cavities. Parts of the plate were protected from the acid. Next, each color was added on and varied in viscosity. Finally the plate was rolled through a press. The image above is the result. 20

The Mud Hut I Grew Up In

The Story behind the name of my village, Nswazwi, whose heritage is the foundation of my upcoming book, The Nswazwi Dynasty: Shabalume was a famous hunter, and it was on one of his hunting escapades that the name of Nswazwi was birthed. Shabalume used a spear to hunt, and the stick was made from a Mokabi tree also known as Nswazwi in Bukalanga. It is said that Shabalume killed a buffalo with his spear, and he praised his weapon with “Nswazwi wa pomba ngombe” (Nswazwi has entangled the beast). Shabalume was therefore the father. Hence the title Nswazwi was given to Shabalume. To this day, the Nswazwi tree is greatly respected in Nswazwi village. It is a ‘moila’ (taboo) to cut down the tree for any reason especially as firewood. 21

The Longsheng Rice Terraces / Fields These rice fields are on a slope to the mountain top, And you cannot see where these terraces stop, At sunrise they look like dragon scales, Never-ending, living fairy tales‌.

The Time Caspule

It was old and rusty. Caked with dust and dirt so ancient that it had started to harden under the pressure of all those years spent underground. the Elders panicked when they saw it – a wide-spread, rustling sort of whisper that ran throughout the entire community within seconds. The Oldest of the Old was called down from her stone to peer at it with blind eyes and feel it with fingers that had been bent and warped with age. It was only later, much later – after it had been taken away to be hidden by the Men, the ground re-covered and the place marked off as Waste – that the Children met under a blanket of half-dead stars and a shattered moon to talk. The older ones, as many children are wont to do, began weaving stories about the people that came Before. A people that were young and reckless and did not understand the limits that their World had placed upon them. A people that lived in enormous steel and glass houses built on the backs of the long-dead spirits of ancient trees and noble rocks – all sacrificed for the Ruins that rose and fell like rusted-out waves throughout the dips and valleys of the Land. They called these people the Reckless Ones – the ones that, in their own ignorance and unwillingness to learn, invited the Disaster that re-made the World. The Children understand why the Elders had locked it away, for it was not the first to be found, nor would it be the last. Those things, boxes of stylized metal, decorated with the etchings of long dead Words, were the solidified material memories of the Past. A Past long-dead. A Past to be forgotten. A Past to be tucked away amongst the bare bones of the dead cities They left behind.



The Woven Tale Press #6  

An Eclectic Culling of the Best of the Creative Web

The Woven Tale Press #6  

An Eclectic Culling of the Best of the Creative Web