Recent Publications

“At 79, My Mother Decides to Plant Trees” | Fourth Genre (2021)

“At 79, My Mother Decides to Plant Trees” | Fourth Genre (2021)

They loom over us like sequoias, our parents. In my first holy communion photos, they flank me, grave and unsmiling in formal black clothes—my father’s wool suit, my mother’s boucle skirt, long gloves, and short jacket.

 

“At 79, My Mother Decides to Plant Trees.” Fourth Genre. 23.1 (2021): 171-180. [link]

“What A Writer Needs,”Humanities North Dakota Magazine (2021)

“What A Writer Needs,”Humanities North Dakota Magazine (2021)

In the spring of 1975, I was walking back to my dorm room at Bismarck Junior College and studying the comments my Freshman English teacher had written on my final paper. All semester, the class had written pragmatic compositions, mostly research papers, but for this final assignment, our teacher asked us to write a personal essay.

“What A Writer Needs.”  Humanities North Dakota Magazine. June, 2021: 4-10. [link]

“The Death of a Lost Dog,” The Iowan Magazine (2021)

“The Death of a Lost Dog,” The Iowan Magazine (2021)

I’m going to tell you what happened to Musa up front, so that you don’t get too attached to him like I did over the two weeks that so many of us got swept up in the search for him. I’m telling you the ending first not to make you sadder, but because I think there’s something else worth saying here, something beyond the story of the death of a lost dog.

“The Death of a Lost Dog.” The Iowan. March 2021: 52-57.  [link]

“Small Buried Things,” Bearing Witness: The Human Rights Case Against Fracking and Climate Change (2021)

“Small Buried Things,” Bearing Witness: The Human Rights Case Against Fracking and Climate Change (2021)

Frack

first the bakken     then the three forks formation     even deeper

the oil patch, they call it

two miles below the surface

oil embedded in shale

late devonian     remnants of the anoxic sea      the coastal carbonite layer

deposited when the middlewest was inner ocean

“Small Buried Things: Essay on Fracking.” Bearing Witness: The Human Rights Case Against Fracking and Climate Change, edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Tom Kerns. Oregon State University Press, Spring 2021. 108-114. [link]

“Tell It Cool: On Writing with Restraint” | New Ohio Review (2020)

“Tell It Cool: On Writing with Restraint” | New Ohio Review (2020)

For years, I’ve encouraged students to “tell it cool” when narrating a tale that is harrowing or emotional. A cool narrator can be a buoy in rough waters. I’ve always thought this advice came from Hemingway, but at this moment as I search my bookshelves for the place where Hemingway said it, I can’t put my finger on the quote.

“Tell It Cool: On Writing with Restraint.” New Ohio Review: The Personal Political.  Feb. 2020. [link]

“On the Ephemerality of Things: Thoughts on the Demise of a Small Literary Press” | High Plains Reader (2020)

“On the Ephemerality of Things: Thoughts on the Demise of a Small Literary Press” | High Plains Reader (2020)

A few years ago, I was giving a talk at the Fargo Public Library about researching and writing my book, The Horizontal World, which is a memoir about growing up a rebellious farmer’s daughter on a North Dakota wheat farm. In the 1970s, I was a college student at Moorhead State University and then later a Fargo-based road musician. I wanted to come back to the library to express my gratitude for their services, which kept me alive during a period of crisis in my life.

“On the Ephemerality of Things: Thoughts on the Demise of a Literary Press.” High Plains Reader. 5 May 2020. [link]

“Come November” Dear America Anthology (2020)

“Come November” Dear America Anthology (2020)

come

cold eye corrective, come pendulum

take wrecking ball to venerable walls

 

“Come November.”  Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, edited by Simmons Buntin, Elizabeth Dodd, and Derek Sheffield, Trinity University Press, 2020, pp. 107-108. [link]

“The Unhappy Hour” | Ascent Magazine (2019)

“The Unhappy Hour” | Ascent Magazine (2019)

We charm the waitress in her colorful sombrero at Paradiso Mexican Restaurant when our party of seven arrives. Three tables pushed together against a long booth, the scrape of metal on ceramic tile. It’s $2 margarita pitchers this afternoon, and all the chips and salsa you can eat. The piped-in Tejano music insists on our liveliness, harmonizing trumpets and a tenor sax with a two-step accordion.

“The Unhappy Hour.”  Ascent Magazine.  6 November 2019. [link]

“Buried Voices” | Narrative Magazine (2018)

“Buried Voices” | Narrative Magazine (2018)

1. Gayle McCormick
Baby, It’s You. The high point of Gayle McCormick’s career—when the song she recorded with the band Smith reached number five on the charts—is also where her path becomes obscured. You’ve probably never heard of her. But if you were alive during the fall of 1969, some cell in your body retains a sliver of her voice.

 

“Buried Voices.” Story of the Week. Narrative Magazine.  7 June 2018. [link]     Full Version

New Micro Fiction Anthology (2018)

New Micro Fiction Anthology (2018)

Somewhere between Hibbing and New York, the red rust streets of the Iron Range and the shipping yards of the Atlantic, somewhere between Zimmerman and Dylan was a pit stop in Fargo…  –“Dylan’s Lost Years”

The day after the fire, all their equipment charred in a ditch and blown to ashes, the thin axle of the truck lying on its side like the burned-out frame of a dragonfly …  –“This New Quiet”

“This New Quiet” and “Dylan’s Lost Years.”  New Microfiction.  Eds. James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro. W.W. Norton, 2018.  [link]