Bozeman Writers Group

All writing samples are copyright their authors, presented with permission, and not to be reproduced by third parties.


Brock Albin


Narcissa holds out her bent hand toward the plate and the slice of cake on it but she says, No, I am old, I do not need it, you keep it, you eat it, you are growing. Her hand out the whole time. When I take her hand and place the plate in it and a fork in the other she thanks me. She has done without, without much, for most of seventy nine years. I have had enough, she says, I have always had enough. But that is not really true. Photo, photo! my mother says and I am thirty five and am tall beside Narcissa and I hold her around the shoulders and she holds me around the waist and the click of the camera comes and I know this will be a photo from which I will never part. I know that when I am thirty six or when I am thirty seven I will get a call and Narcissa will not be any longer and this photo, this very one for which I am still smiling in the way one smiles for photos, it will be what I have left of my grandmother Narcissa. Not much, but maybe enough. I remembered to Narcissa this morning that it was her birthday. She was up already before me, boiling cornmeal on her stove. I am here visiting but still I do not sleep in, but still she wakes before me. I will spend as many minutes as I can with Narcissa before I have to leave. In twenty years I will be doing the same for my mother and for my father, not for them but for me.


Ed Merritt


The Fate of Al Shamial
Muscat, Oman

“Welcome to my humble home Khalil. Sit. Let us dine. Some tea perhaps?”
“Oh thank you Rashad, that would be splendid indeed.”
“Khalil. Brother. Before we discuss business, I have some bad news.”
“Bad news? I don’t believe it. Surely you are joking Rashad.”
“I’m afraid it’s true. I have failed you Khalil; I am very ashamed.”
“Well? What is this about Rashad?”
“You trusted me with the care of your prized camel: a great honor my friend!”
“Yes. Go on.”
“I know how much you cherish him; it’s all my fault. All my fault.”
“Please! Osaff?”
“He’s dead.”
“Al Shamial? Dead? Tears of Allah! Are you sure?”
“We’re eating him.”
“Oh no! Not Al Shamial! He’s delicious. What caused his death Rashad?”
“Thirst.”.



Jennifer Courtemanche


The Bone Mother Speaks


​Who am I?
I am the fingers weaving the shroud
Of the child you bore and refuse to hear.
I am the hand that let go
Bones aching with choices past mending.
I am the tears you refuse to shed
That drown compassion’s fire.
I am the womb that bore
And the arms that never held.
I am the voice in chains
Leaving you screaming in silence.
I am cold ash on the hearth
And cold flesh in the earth.
I am the pale winter sun
And the night with no moon.
I am the mind seeing truth
Past the nightmares and madness.
I am the eyes that will not close
And the heart you forgot was broken.
I am the grave you fear
Dry bone abandoned under the oaks.
I am your story’s ending
And your final beginning.



Jess Darling


           I never finished my chores faster than on the days Papa was coming home. Scrub the hearth, weed the turnip patch, milk the goats, keep my little brothers off Mama's tit while she baked the day’s bread. Then I’d run all the way to the beach, no matter how winded I was when I arrived. But my exhaustion dispersed like minnows before a shark the instant I saw that square sail peek over the horizon. I think Mama wished she could’ve come too, but it’s terrible luck for sailors’ wives to linger on the shore mooning after their husbands. So, I alone greeted Papa as he stepped from the gangplank to the wharf.



Maurice Horn


           
Voltsaville, Montana was like a junction box where the wiring in a house or a building is connected inside a metal housing which is designed specifically for attaching two or more wires. Now abandoned, the site is lonely and bleak part of a farmer’s field. There once was a hay shed there used by the family for storing hay. But now even the old shed is gone except for a few rotting boards and logs subsiding into the ground and grown over by native grass. A few rusty, bent spikes are sticking up. I salvaged two of them by pulling them out of the rotting wood. 
Some years a pair of sandhill cranes nest in this field. Steel towers that once supported the Milwaukee Railroad transmission lines are gone, too. Just a couple brown track plates are laying around forgotten by the salvors who tore up the rails. A narrow, gentle, low berm is the only evidence of a railroad ever existing here. Voltsaville is almost gone, now and the families who once stacked hay here haven’t put up hay for over fifty years. The agriculture of hay wasn’t profitable, forgotten too, like the Milwaukee road.


Seth Hartman


     Hans von Tinklestein had to pee.
     Outside, fat, wet clumps of snowflakes spiraled down from the darkness and stuck to his cottage window. Then, they started to melt. Streams of melting snow trickled down the glass—trickle trickle—and Hans had to pee even more.  

     Except the outhouse was outside, beyond the window, waiting on the edge of the brooding Bavarian forest. But the dark forest didn’t bother Hans most. Or the snow. Or the cold. What scared him most was Grandma von Tinklestein’s bedtime story. An hour ago, Grandma told him the tale of Frau Girthendorf.
     It was said that Frau Girthendorf waited in the shadows for naughty little children who tried to sneak a snack after bedtime. Then, the Frau’s jiggling arms would shoot from the dark, pulling little children towards her plump, slobbery lips. And then she’d give that child a kiss—and she’d blow, blow, blow some of her blubberyness into that child until they inflated like a plump, sauerkraut-stuffed bratwurst. But little Hans didn’t want a midnight snack. Honest. He just needed to pee.
     But what if the Frau got him anyway? Water still slid down the windowpane: trickle trickle, and Hans bit his lip. He slipped his bare feet out from under his covers, and since he slept in the cottage’s loft he climbed down a ladder to the main floor. There, he grabbed a lantern and tiptoed past his brother’s bedroom. Nearby, his baby brother—Fritz—sucked on a bottle of room-temperature beer as he dreamt. Slurp slurp slurp! he went. Then Hans crept by Ma and Pa’s bedroom, past Pa’s snoring, out across the cold wooden floor. Shadows curled across the cottage walls, following him down the
hallway.
     Somewhere ahead, a floorboard creaked.



Sir Dancer

(It is never too late to enjoy your second childhood, as the unwise man said, so I will run this up the flagpole and see who salutes this. This is the style I wrote in when I had several straight --while not being so straight-- A's in creative writing classes in college. In fact, when JFK was assassinated by an asshole in 1963, I found out about it while walking to a creative writing class..)


UNIVERSAL SOULS

 A group of stem cell selves
come again, reincarnated
on our world once more to 
take on various tasks within
the body politic.         Again
some will be women, some
men, some in one nation or
another, but all had done it
before in one form, identity
or culture. These old souls
fanned out among the catty 
chicks and rutting roosters,
naked apes & ugly tourists,
looking like bright boys and
the shining example girls...
But the pit bull of BS tried 
to latch onto their bottoms
because he was blinded by
the light and couldn't hear
the god whistle of truth...
After the fairy dust settled
and these sobered characters
on the screen of life had come
just like every body else on a
cold call into a new culture,
they too had to go belly up,
turn up their toes and take
the dirt nap.  Their decision
was whether to try, try again.
Their question was would
Theos Rule You   enough to
T   R   Y     again, not fearing
to make a mistake but rather
loving to find a solution even
when the suckers couldn't
stand your guts.    What
to do and how to be while
becoming a Being, Again?



Theresa Nichols Schuster

Theresa’s, novel, We Are the Warriors, was named 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Awards Finalist, Young Adult Fiction, West region. She studied and received degrees in Bozeman, Berkeley and Billings. For thirty years she lived on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation. When not hiking the mountains or prairies of Montana, she is immersed in creating stories, rich with real-life characters, and founded on Montana landscapes. More info and blog at www.tnschuster.com.

The Two of Us

She gives me that sly look,
eyebrows lowered,
eyes like slivered almonds,
a glint of brightness as
her head tips to the side,
her gaze steady on me.
Yes, I am her mother.
I have said yet again
one of my less than profound
string of words.
How we laugh at each other’s foibles.
The gentle humor that knows
way more than most
would ever choose to reveal.
Knowledge that can wound or heal,
held in gentle safety.
We share not only life blood,
but temperament and passion.
Conversations, ideas, dreams,
flow like the sometimes quiet stream
or the powerful river.
Our journeys, times and moods
twist and turn
as we wrap our minds and hearts
around all we encounter.
Each traveling separately,
Yet still together.
Spirits entwined,
wishing each other the best.
We replenish ourselves
knowing that we share
a gentle honesty,
a knowing ear,
a history and a love.
The sharp wisdom of my daughter
so insightful, so free,
affirming and challenging, both.
She looks at me,
her lips in a half smile,
eyes narrowed with humor,
“Where did you get that idea?”
We laugh,
at
the freedom to be honest.


​Zuzana Gedeon


From our prompt "scary lullaby"

Title: You can't get rid of the Babadook.

Rock a bye baby
Don't you dare cry

There's  an old lady
Who sings lullaby

Under the pillow under the bed
Hide anywhere she won't be mislead.