9 Articles
Mark Folse


As the youngest he is given the night watch. The sheep huddle together in the cool Judah night and leave him free to study the dark clockwork of the stars. Then wolves howl in the distance, and he is forced to walk guard, wondering what he would do with this simple staff of wood against determined yellow fangs, greedy for sheep. A gentle youth who would catch a scorpion in a palm leaf and turn it loose outside rather than crush it with a stone, he wonders if he has the strength to confront an angry pack howling for blood, if he is really meant to be a shepherd.  As he walks guard the stars turn relentless in the heavens, unconcerned with his doubts.

John Hicks

Communicating with mother is tough. Sometimes you just have to sit there and listen to her yammer.

You know you can’t get out of the conversation. It’s your mother, who carried you in her womb for nine months.

Splattered with unpleasantness, you just sit there in it, because someone must.

I’m in the yard, next to the clothesline. I was walking away from another pointless exchange, but I have stopped, because mother is not finished.

I always stop at least once. Then I feel I have performed my daughter duty for the day.

She is leaning out the screen door, yelling at me to do something about my hair. Yammer yammer yammer. You hope, stupidly, for a significant event. A mushroom cloud, or the sudden return of Christ.

The sky is blue and the zinnias are in full bloom. Pink, orange, yellow, red, purple. The breeze is exquisite. I’m in my grass-cutting clothes, a pair of my father’s khakis and a blue-cotton work shirt, satiny to the touch.

“You can’t tell me how to wear my hair. I’m an adult. I’m lucky to even have hair, mother, because you are enough to make anyone’s hair fall out. You don’t understand boundaries. That’s why you don’t have any friends. People don’t, you don’t … You say things only a crazy person would say.”