Short Stuff

Select Recent Short Fiction, Nonfiction, and Drama

That Word ‘Community’,” South Writ Large, May 2023

We don’t have to like one another. We don’t have to be nice to one another.

We have to stay in community and so we have to know what that means.

If You Can Call It a Game,” PineStraw Magazine, February 2022

“If you can call it a game, my buddies and I have begun to play: no points or score, no goals or winners, no final horn, no written rules.

Our field of play is a text thread. Our game time is whenever the spirit moves one of us, trusting each other not to be the guy who texts in the middle of the night.

How do we play? Simple: Name an Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball player who played between 1982 and 1998.

Why do we play? That might be simple, too.

“This Is Braves Country?” The Bitter Southerner, November 4, 2021

“The Atlanta Braves winning the World Series the year that Henry Aaron died is a fairy tale, a jubilation for all of us throughout ‘Braves Country.’ They lost their best player to injury in July. They had a losing record going into August. To see the Braves come back from that to win it all is stunning and stirring and joyful.

To see the Atlanta Hammers do it, though, would have been even better.”

“Deacon Blues”: An Excerpt from Fight Songs, Sports Literate, Summer 2021

“The Crimson Tide is ‘a name for the winners in the world.’ The singer, though, wants a name when he loses. ‘Call me Deacon Blues,’ he says.”

The First Baptist Church in Comeknock County,” A New Decameron, Spring 2020

“The Comeknock is a little patch at the heart of the Old North State, right between Manteo and Murphy, where none of the good roads go or ever went. The Comeknock’s where Froggie went a’courtin’; where Old Dan Tucker came to town, riding on a billy goat, leading a hound; where Willie was going when he was going by; where that other Willie buried Pretty Polly. Blackbeard buried his treasure there, and reclaimed his head; Maco Joe hangs up his lantern there come the morning. The Devil had his Tramping Ground in the Comeknock first, until the first white settlers spooked him and he moved over to Siler City.”

A Fair Dixie Classic,” South Writ Large, Summer 2019

“That was Dixie—to me. As the millennium wound down and turned, I mourned Dixie’s dwindling, its drowning in the suburban Sun Belt South, and searched for what of it might be left on backroads and in backwaters. I had the privilege to uncouple the word from, say, the song, which I would never sing, hum, or whistle, because I knew better. I knew its use as an anthem for Confederates and the Klan. Yet still I had the blithe ability to hold the word itself harmless, not at all to blame.”

Quick“: An Excerpt from The Rider of the Cross, storySouth, Summer 2019

“‘Go!’ Matthew shouted, not ‘Turn About’ or ‘Wheel’ or even ‘Retreat’ but just, ‘Go!’ The column’s first line levelled their muskets; the second and third lines loaded theirs. Behind them, the green—jacketed Legion riders put their spurs to their horses and drew their sabers.”

Nanny’s Crowded Christmas Counter,” The Dirty Spoon, December 2018

“So Nanny kept all the cooking to herself, and she cooked by herself for days, and she cooked on her own everything she thought a one of us might like, with one exception. She baked ham, roasted turkey, and fried chicken. She cooked collard greens, green beans, pinto beans, mashed potatoes, yam soufflé, baked macaroni and cheese. She fixed corn bread from scratch in a cast-iron skillet, then bought and heated Sunbeam Brown ‘N Serve rolls. For dessert, she almost always made a pound cake, a chocolate layer cake, and either a chess or pecan pie, sometimes both, and set a tub of Cool Whip to their side.”

Grand Houses, Grand Memories” (contributor), Wake Forest Magazine, Fall 2018

“The point I am groping towards lies somewhere deeper than career paths and cherished memories, funny stories and loyal friends, the potter’s hands of beloved professors and enriching experiences.

My point has to do with ways of being in this world, whatever corner of it you choose or stumble into.”

Ol’ Jack Spooks the Devil,” NC 10×10 Play Festival, July 2018

“And in the smack-dab middle of those woods he happened upon the single poorest piece of land in all the Ritanock, in all Carolina, maybe all America. He held title and deed to it, too, a circle so geometrically perfect that Euclid would have wet himself. Nary a nothing grows inside it. The soil, should you somehow find some on your tongue, tastes kind of like ashes and salt. What you’d really be tasting, though, is sulfur and brimstone.”

NCWN Statement in Response to Charlottesville,” White Cross School blog, August 2017

“They try to intimidate. Writers try to understand. They are cowards who shun the open exchange of ideas, hiding in mobs and violence and the anonymity of the Internet. Writers open themselves to critique and argument with every word we publish. They resort to brute force. We believe in the power of words.”

Kay Byer’s Black Shawl,” Change Seven, June 2017

“The effect on me of reading Black Shawl straight through is like breaking the tree line onto an Appalachian bald: the sudden burst of sunshine, the yawping space of the peak after the long shadows of the dark wood, the glorious realization of the height you’ve reached after the grinding myopia of a steep climb.”

Come to the Fort, Fair Lady,” storySouth, September 2016

“Now she knew no one at all. She stayed in her cove in her cabin her daddy’d built so long, long ago. She existed, she was—tucked up, passed by but not passed by the new paths hacked out, up the mountains, through the gaps, across the valleys, going west.

She kept playing her fife even as she listened to the horse’s clopping, each step stronger and clearer, and then to the click and jingle of the tack, and then to the creak of the saddle leather. At last she chose to look.

The little red horse was riderless.”

Professor Eric G. Wilson’s Quest to Create His ‘Own Sweet Ruse’,” Wake Forest Magazine, Summer 2016

“Eric G. Wilson, the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English, is not himself these days. Or any days. Ever.

In fact, he claims to have no ‘himself’ to be. Neither do you, nor do any of us.”

In Pursuit of Greener Pastures,” Wake Forest Magazine, Summer 2014

“All entrepreneurs and small-business owners must grapple with an adverse business climate from time to time. It’s just that ‘adverse climate’ is not always a metaphor when your business is farming.”

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