Rodney Nelson

Rodney Nelson's work began appearing in mainstream journals long ago; but he turned to fiction and did not write a poem for twenty-two years, restarting in the 2000s. So he is both older and "new." See his page in the Poets & Writers directory for a notion of the publishing history. He has worked as a copy editor in the Southwest and now lives in the northern Great Plains. Recently, his poem "One Winter" won a Poetry Kit Award for 2011 (U.K.); it had appeared in Symmetry Pebbles. His "Upstream in Idaho" received a Best of Issue Award at the late Neon Beam (also England). The chapbook Metacowboy was published in 2011; another title, In Wait, in November 2012. Bog Light and Sighting the Flood have just appeared. The chapbook Fargo in Winter took second place in the 2013 Cathlamet Prize competition at Ravenna Press, Spokane. Directions From Enloe won third in the Turtle Island Quarterly contest. Nelson's chapbook of prose narratives, Hill of Better Sleep, is out from Red Bird Chapbooks. Mogollon Picnic, poems (Red Dashboard), is already in print; and the poetry ebook Nodding in Time (Kind of a Hurricane Press) is "up." The full-length Felton Prairie has appeared at Middle Island Press. Red Dashboard has brought out another, Words For the Deed. The latest: Cross Point Road.

From Hill of Better Sleep

Beth and I were raised in a rundown red dobie in Winslow where the old man rented a filling station that kept him and Ma tanked and no one fed, raised would not be the term, two stricken people came out of Victoria Texas had children and let them grow, we were let to do that and in the dirt yards and streets of the wind-whipped town we became native unlike the old man and ma neither of whom got more than one leg in Arizona, I should not say we, I might have been anyone and Beth too, I could not have predicted what she did at sixteen and I would have less insight into the old man, there was no we at all but during the music, he played cornet, Ma the wreck of a Chickering piano they had hauled from Victoria, on Saturday night if the vodka allowed they would go through a collection of arias with him on the vocal part, Beth and I listened in a momentary we, the cornet is not a romantic solo instrument and I could not even tolerate bel canto on it though he was good, would have black cracked fingertips and three days’ yellow growth, made music in tribute to what might have been, music is a Palmer tradition I had heard him say and in marrying Ma the church organist he had thought of that but her forte pedal was stuck which meant cacophony, she grayed when Beth and I were quite young, smoking had puckered her mouth, it was during those unmusicales that a we seemed to move in the room but mainly the man worked at the station and the woman off and on in a restaurant and each of the children went to school where when I was twelve the band teacher told me to choose an instrument and I said clarinet, the old man and Ma did not have the money to get one so the teacher took me to the music store and arranged the loan of a veteran Leblanc, he must have paid, our family tradition continued, both he and the owner of the shop were large and kind with too much nose hair and when I think of kindness I think of that and the smell of cork grease, I am not kind, I like music and the body of Arizona not men women children or pet animals but I have yet to cut a nose hair, at home no mention was made of the lent clarinet, I knew to practise only when the old man and Ma were at work or in a stucco bar on Third Street, Beth turned twelve, did not join me in music, into her teens would get caught shoplifting then not charged, she was wild, attractive in the old man’s faded way, he and Ma seemed not to know of her smoking drinking and being out, not when they were into vodka which toward the end was all of the time, I could not watch her, I had a new remote life with school and working in the music store and could not have predicted what she did, she who might have been anyone was no one I knew or wanted to know, the mock we that she left were unaware it had happened until a teacher asked me about her the next day and I went to the old man and Ma with the same annoying question, Ma looked in Beth’s room and told him and me the clothes were gone, that does it that does it the old man said, Ma retreated coughing as the truth sank in and I have to tell the police I thought, they were too numb to, I did, nothing came of the investigation but a report that she had been seen with an unknown Mexican kid which amounted to hearsay, the feds got involved, she had taken clothes and disappeared at sixteen, I sensed no crime, had we kept the authorities hunting who knows what might have been

More about the author...