Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'll be taking a short holiday from Bent Country. Will see you again when we're both cats.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Warhol on Postcards

The project begins today, but started much longer ago. I sent my contributor biography to Harper's for an early illustration and said my life story could fit on a penny postcard. I was twenty-one and being clever was important to me then. My hometown still felt only a few miles away.

With the lights turned low in the studio, I might as well be back in Pittsburgh. Everything has a steel feel to it with the evening sun giving so little of itself through the streetfront window. I think too much and work too little in a climate such as this.

Pittsburgh is word association. Chorea. Pigmentation. Outcast. Bedridden. Hypochondria.

But this place now, this New York, can do the same. Escape. Poverty. Campbell's. Factory. Fame, all fifteen minutes of it.

Even with the fame and the success, though, things here are gray without shine. So heartbreakingly colorless. In this absence of true light, there is only the memory of my art, as sterile as the imagined God.

The end of this will come later. Platinum wig. Sunglasses. A copy of Interview across my chest. A bottle of Estee Lauder's Beautiful tucked in the bend of my arm. They will leave these gifts and I will pull their silence around me.

And here now there is a silence, on the first day of my project. No parties. No Superstars. Goodbye, Ultra Violet. Goodbye to you, Candy Darling and Sedgwick, too, with your black leotards and chandelier earrings. No arms made of dear plastic searching out my narrow shoulders.

Spread across the studio floor are postcards. They are all blank, a white like direct sunlight or a dropped cloud shattered after the fall. A section of about ten or twelve of the cards cover the place where my Jagger gazed out at me from a rainbow wash.

It will be days before I've made my way to that part of the studio. I must first start here, beneath this gray window.

I've told them I will write my life story on postcards and they've only ever asked how many will I need. I've never counted, is all I know to say. This is answer enough for them. I have won the benefit of such faith in the unknown by changing the world with both hands.

But if anyone were here now, I could tell them it begins in the steel mill where I was born with a broken cloud at my feet awaiting the dark lines of my life. I could tell them it begins with white.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Your Monday Offerings in the Key of A-Minor and One of My Own at DDQ.

Kari Nguyen's stories "After Dinner," "Ice Melts," and "A Sage in the Copse" are up today at A-Minor. I enjoyed them and expect to see more work of promise from Ms. Nguyen in the future. Have a look.

Also, my short story "The Son of a Man" is currently published at Divine Dirt Quarterly. Thanks, Andrew, and all those who had kind words and offered helpful comments when this story was live at this blog and also worked through Fictionaut.

Friday, July 9, 2010

GUEST POST: Andrew Bowen

Andrew Bowen is a thinker. A writer, an editor, a theologian, a philosopher, and did I mention one hell of a thinker.

That's why I'm kicked up nicely that Andrew agreed to write a guest post here at Bent Country. It is a true pleasure to give such a mind some room to run and not only have the chance to read the results but share them with others.

Now, read this heat-seeking essay, this "human narrative" as Andrew would call it, and enjoy.


By Andrew Bowen

I’ve got a theory. Some of it has been proclaimed before but hey, like Muhammad said, I’m only here to remind you. Perhaps what follows will change mankind’s point of view; or maybe just yours. By the end, you just might come to understand that these are actually one in the same.

It all started with God, and God was small…very small. God was so small that there existed no volume, no space within. Picture a grain of sand. Smaller than that. With me? Imagine an atom. Smaller than that too. This was reason, what kept God’s substance together.

Then there was the heat. This heat was actually love; all the love that would ever exist. This heat was absolute, the temperature at which realities are ignited. Heat—love, wants to rise and expand. It is an electrical current, a heartbeat.

Like the constant push-pull fury in a star between the outward convection of its furnace and its own gravity pulling it inward, love and reason eternally fought. The density of God was so infinitely great that the resulting gravity withheld the heat—the love—thus creating a compressed core of molten passion, the heat and light of which could not escape God’s gravity. This is what theoretical science has called the singularity.

God wanted to create, to be known. For God to do this, gravity would have to surrender. All reason, the very force that held God together, would have to unfurl in order for love to bloom. This created a great risk. In the event of this release, God’s very essence would scatter outward in an uncontrollable flare across a vast landscape of time and space with little hope of ever coalescing again.

Unless, of course, Creation was made aware of its origins and was willing to join.

God’s passion grew too hot, too wild to control. Then, when the balance between love’s expansive heat and reason’s reigning gravity came to a head, he relinquished control and gave himself to passion. Gravity collapsed. This was the Divine Spark that set creation into motion.

And so it came to pass, that 13.5 billion years ago, God truly died.

The resulting explosion, an exponential spray of passion’s molten core, spread through a black nothing a tick faster than the speed of light. Theoretical science calls this the Big Bang.

Thus, God became the first martyr. His essence, countless sparks of primordial matter and energy, spread throughout the newly expanding bubble. Though ripped apart, he still had one more act to help ensure Creation’s hopeful recognition of itself as one. His last thought, “Love”, delivered a seismic burst into all matter and energy, thus animating its creative properties and the universal frequency of all. Mankind has listened. The phenomena we know this as are sub-atomic vibrating strings of energy called “quarks”.

Creation had a heartbeat, a vital sign of God’s collective existence. Our experiences in prayer, meditation, visions, and ecstasy are the background radiation of God’s former existence. An echo of our birth; an evidence of our base, shared substance. Our attraction to one another, toward peace, love, fellowship, and the cosmos is a natural and divine magnetism. God cannot come together without us doing so, and we will never know God without submitting to the same force of Love that ripped the divine asunder.

I made this up; it’s bullshit—a metaphor, but that’s what makes theology fun and enlightening. Only when we take ourselves and our traditions too literally or seriously do we miss the chance to come together and share our human narratives, to claim our birthright, to truly become the image of God.

Andrew's work has appeared in places like Prick of the Spindle, decomP, Metazen, Wrong Tree Review, and others. He is the founding editor of Divine Dirt Quarterly and blogs at

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Shelby Show and Tell.

We're only onion blades and bulbs. You two are pure, sunlight on the skin, warm and alive, really alive. Pretty dresses and little girl toes there where we meet the ground. So pretty someone might forget how strong you are, how much stronger you will be someday. Remember us then. Remember that you took a picture with us, just old onion blades and bulbs. For that short time, we stood with flowers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Show and Tell With Shelby Lee Adams.

Images say thousands of words, or something like that.

Pictures, talkative. Better than speaking, they say. Something like that.

With this in mind, here is the first of a few pictures I dig great and will be posting over the next few days taken by Eastern Kentucky native Shelby Lee Adams.

I'll offer a bit of prose to go along with the photos, if my work-ravaged brain is so inclined.

You should also check out the film about Adams and his work called THE TRUE MEANING OF PICTURES.

I'm not going to smile while doing this, son. This is a serious thing you're laying witness to. Faith that All Mighty will cloak me in angel's armor borrowed from Michael on a slow day in the battle for all above us and all this worldly hardness below. I won't smile. I want All Mighty to know I take his gift and blessing seriously. I want Him to know I'm a tough sonofabitch forged from this hardness, made a part of it, born from and raised in fire, who can join His ranks as soon as He's ready for me to fall in line.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Turkey Neck Stew Day

A few things I'd like to mention today.

Parker Tettleton has three stories up today at A-Minor, the journal I kicked off in late May.

You should be reading xTx's Zombie Summer. The stories, by a host of fine writers, are of high value. Value and fun. What more?

I need a haircut.

Read what Sean Lovelace has to say about my favorite writer of all time Breece Pancake at his blog. Then do as Sean suggests and get your hands on Pancake's only published book, a collection of short stories I've read more than I've blinked in the past year.

I have a spider bite I'm watching closely. Brown recluse issues. Past hospital stay including surgery for the same incident some years back. Nervous.

I understand I'm not promoting my new open forum for rants and all things crazy and edgy at a new site I've started called Fierce Black Hound. Here is another attempt to do that properly. Come talk.

It's possible there are spiders crawling on me at this very moment.

I'm addicted to the Josh Whedon series Firefly and I'm not much of a sci-fi fan. Been watching the DVD set into the wee hours of the morning the past several days. In fact, I need a fix right now.

The Camel Saloon, which has been publishing some great stuff of late, rejected a story I sent about some folks wringing a chicken's neck to prepare for supper. They said they were friends of the fowl and just couldn't publish the story. I understand, but it's how I used to eat, all jokes aside. Holler Monkey, you know. That sort of thing.

I'll end on something that amazed, humbled and thrilled me that went down recently. That hard-as-nails writer xTx honored the hell out of me by sending an mp3 of her reading my story "The Son of a Man," which is due for publication soon in Andrew Bowen's Divine Dirt Quarterly. It was the most amazing and generous gesture anyone has extended to me in a long, long time. Finally, I wrote and asked if I could share the file with others (her reading voice and the emotion she put into the reading of this story was outstanding and magical, seriously). Of course, she was fine with my request, but there's a problem. I'm touched. That is I'm sadly limited on my tech skills. When it goes beyond words and the rare picture, I have no idea really how to post an mp3 to either this blog or anywhere else I stomp around at here in computer land. But I'll keep trying, because this is a gift to be shared. What a voice, what a reading, what an extraordinary thing for someone to do for another.

Oh, also, I'm addicted to poker again. I'm very good, though, which helps.

Yes, I googled myself. But look what I found!

I googled myself yesterday. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I have a busy online life and so I like to see what...