Wedding Bands

“Wedding Bands,” a new piece of flash fiction up at the estimable “Friday Flash Fiction”.   Love.  Memory.  Pawn Shops.  Bob Dylan. Enjoy.
 
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Ranch House

Recently, I saw a prompt for tales about displacement and I thought I’d do a short that got at it in what I hoped would be a different way.  Didn’t get it published (yet), but I can always post it.  So, hope you enjoy it.

RANCH HOUSE

It was the first house I’d ever owned, red brick and yellow flowers, perennials the previous owner planted. I bought the house because I wanted to step outside my comfort zone, have something for my son, and put down some roots.  It is long and sleek, close to the ground, full of straight lines and horizontal dreams that sometimes find their way to the open sky and other times, wither like the dying tree in the front yard that I really should have removed.

Before I moved in I hired a handyman to rip up the carpet and refinish the hardwoods.  My realtor recommended him; he was a trucker cap fellow and longtime Nashvillian, who lived half a mile away.   The price was right, but I immediately had a funny feeling about him and insisted on being there every morning to unlock the door, eschewing the spare key routine.  He took forever, but eventually, it was done.  Then, I had a painting crew come in.   I picked out the color for the bedrooms and the living room, a dark maroon that was inspired by a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

My painters, the Martinez brothers, were Hispanic, closely grouped in age, stocky men in their 30s.  They were extremely nice and personable fellows who knocked out the job quickly, efficiently, and affordably.  I watched them work for a little while one afternoon; they were true artists, didn’t even use masking tape or drop clothes.  It would’ve taken me weeks and looked half as good – if that.  During their breaks, we talked a little bit and I asked how they got to Nashville; it was the usual thing, where one came from Mexico – I think it was Juarez – told the others, who told the others, and now it was home.  They all had wives and children and even brought their parents in from Mexico.  “Family is important” the lead brother said, as he pounded his chest lightly and smiled.  My family had always been small, and for a moment, I was envious.  It was just me and my son at the ranch house, and sometimes, he stayed with his mom.   Like on the night I’m about to describe, when a friend came over.

She was a descendent of Seneca Indians who riffed through multiple lives, as an opera singer, a performance artist, and at that moment, a visual artist.  She wasn’t first or second generation anything, I suppose, but a true American.  She was intelligent, with a playful personality and impossibly attractive smile.   We talked now and again, kanoodled a bit, watched old movies, and one day, she asked me if I could help her on an audio project, interviews and music to match an installation she was doing at the airport.   It was a mural with found sound, about people being displaced from their homes and sometimes, in their homes. For me, it seemed as everything she did had some sort of play on reality, virtual or otherwise, as it connected to identity and her Seneca roots.   For me, airports are places that also act as a home between homes, outside of identity, and I figured that’s some of what I would contribute, from my considerable traveling days.  So I agreed.

She came over on a Thursday night and it was then I realized she was the first guest I had at the new house. She loved the hardwoods.  “They’re beautiful,”she said,”look at the shine, I can almost see myself.” At the end of the tour, at the end of the hallway, we reached my bedroom and she pointed to my futon, long and sleek, close to the ground, full of straight lines and horizontal dreams. “I like how low your bed is,” after which she sat down on it,  I took off her shirt, she took off her earrings and we proceeded to roll around on the floor next to the bed for at least half an hour.  We eventually made it onto the bed and she stared at the deep red walls and talked about the sun.   We finished the project much later that night.   I didn’t sleep well, because I felt oddly displaced from my routine, if not my home.

Through the night, shadows peaked and valleyed on my popcorn ceiling.  The notion that I would dupe karma by going in a direction that wasn’t me, was a folly on every count.  A ranch house dilemma.   As I lay awake, I decided more painting was the answer, an affordable, if cosmetic fix that would rely on the reliable – the Martinez brothers.   I called them up and when they arrived, the lead brother began by walking in through the front door, pounding his chest lightly, and asking how my son was doing.   I will always remember that.

Once again, they did a great job, knocked it out quickly and affordably, a smooth transaction.   Somehow things got better after that; I began to accept what I could and couldn’t control in my new landscape.  As to the Martinez Brothers, I haven’t seen them since, but I do think of them every time I look at the deep red walls in my living room or the pale blue gray I selected for the office.  I can see the brush strokes and the movement of their hands, up and down, dancing in the light of the room.  Honest toil takes root, and when I look deeply into the wall, I can see the Martinez Brothers as children, their parents watching over them, and their parents before, back in Mexico on a farm hoping with no idea of what that hope will be.   When I look at the walls, I can see my parents watching over me, and their parents before, back in Lithuania on a farm, hoping with no idea of what hope will be.   All the lines are connected and live in my house.    When no one is displaced, we are all at home.

model of custom design

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In the Direction of the Slide

A new Doug Hoekstra poem, “In the Direction of the Slide,” just out at Edify Fiction.  Edify’s mission is to “offer positive and uplifting fiction content by new and established authors. For our readers, it is all things good or true or romantic or beautiful or lovely.”   There can be a fair amount of post-modern hip in the art world, so it’s nice to see that unabashed sentiment – go Edify and thanks for running it (and to you for reading it)

You can find “In the Direction of The Slide” on page 42 of the Christmas Issue.  Right here.   http://online.anyflip.com/lxwv/wgzj/mobile/index.html#p=42

Posted in 2017, childhood, Life, Uncategorized, zen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The After Party

Don’t know why Memphis Soul has been turning up here so often, but since I did Isaac Hayes a turn awhile back, seems it’s only fitting to David Porter, as well.   This is based on a true happening.  Enjoy.

The After Party

At the Orpheum in Memphis,
Waiting for the crew to guide us
Backstage to the after party
I met legendary songwriter
David Porter, and his wife

When soul was soul, there was
McLemore Avenue. Hayes and Porter
Hold On I’m Coming
I Thank You. And later….
I’m Afraid the Masquerade is Over

David was older by that time,
Like all of us, but still hip
With his black leather jacket and
Purple beret, tilted ever so slightly
Still working the angles

When he slipped out to the restroom
His wife just smiled, eyes
Affectionate, knowing, as if
Waiting was something she was
Used to – and didn’t really mind

“I’m sure you get this all the time”
And there are so many good ones
But what is your favorite
David Porter song?” I asked,
Making conversation notes

Her face became thoughtful
As the stage hands broke down
Rolling and rumbling equipment
Flight cases on casters to the
Unseen side of the stage

“No, I don’t get that at all,” she said
“But I’d have to choose,
“When Something is Wrong With my Baby,”
Past the stage lights she gazed
Searching for the shadow of a young girl

I nodded my head in agreement,
Thinking of past loves, wrong turns
Destinations lost and found
When something is wrong with my baby
Something is wrong with me

 

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Officespeak

Here’s a poem for anyone who has had to sit around meetings, classes, or parties, where folks who are clearly in over their heads,  talk just to talk.  You know what I’m saying.

Officespeak

There is no “I” in team,
But there is no “we” in creativity…
However, if you look closely you’ll find
A “me” in team and an “I” in spirituality
There is no “you” in selfless, or
“Everyone” in solitude
Yet, “us” exists in stupendous
And a “bum” lives in umbrella
Proving that it only rains on
Direct reports
Offline, by the
Low-hanging fruit
Resistant to change

the apartment

(from the Billy Wilder film “The Apartment”)

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That’s How Strong My Love Is

Another flashback, a time traveling Stax story that first appeared in Canopic Jar right here

100_1442 stax1

http://canopicjar.com/archives/canopic-jar-25/thats-strong-love-short-story-doug-hoekstra/

And was later added to the Canopic-published Bothering the Coffee Drinkers tome.

Enjoy and think of Otis…

100_1468 stax records

 

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Breaking Glass

I’ve always loved Nick Lowe and he was a big musical influence for me early on, when I started writing songs and playing in bands. Over the years, Nick has remained authentic, refining his musical gifts to respond to life’s changes – those within and around us, personal, societal, creative. That’s a true artist and something I always strive for, on my best days. He opened with “So it Goes” and nearly closed with “What’s so Funny ‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding,” with plenty of the great newer material (i.e. “Sensitive Man) inbetween.

So I took my son Jude to see him live, nicka couple weeks back.   Jude’s also a big Nick fan; we first started listening together. to the latter period stuff when we drove to the Grand Canyon (i.e. “I Read a Lot” and “People Change”), six years ago, now.

The link below is  an older wordpress post, a poem called “Simplicity” that I wrote back in high school, nicking a line from Nick, who Nicked it from Bowie. The poem is what it is, but when I wrote it so many years ago, I never would’ve thought in a million years that I’d be taking my son to see Nick while he was in high school, right here in the Music City. It’s not that remarkable but then again, it is.

On we go, Nick, Jude, all trucking along, breaking glass in the best possible way.  I can’t wait for tomorrow.

https://doughoekstra.wordpress.com/…/simplicity-high-school/

Posted in 2017, Jude Stories, Life, Music, time, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment