Contact The Author: rdlbarton@gmail.com

Ron. Lavalette's work has appeared in these fine publications:



Friday, June 04, 2021

Double Yolk - Over Easy

 50 - Word Stories (Online) June 2021

He’d been taught that cracking an egg and finding a double yolk was a good omen. Today he discovered it isn’t always true. He opened one this morning, before anyone else was awake; before they found him in the kitchen; before they called the ambulance; before it drove away, slowly. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Fade

A Story In 100 Words (Online)  April 2021

There wasn’t much to see, wasn’t much to be seen, and he knew it. He knew every inch of the room; had taken its inventory a million billion times, day in and day out since his sentence had begun. Nothing but crumbs and dust and a bed he’d never made.

He hadn’t heard a thing but his own thoughts in ages, and even they were beginning to fade. Mostly all he had these days was the memory of sound: screams, sobs, and the slamming of doors.

The only face he’d seen was his own, smiling, on the tattered magazine cover. 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

If Only

 The Drabble (Online) March 2021

Oh, if only it were fifteen degrees warmer, we’d be inching above zero and I’d consider going out for a Saturday morning drive just to absorb a little almost-sub-zero sunshine, maybe buy My Beloved an apple fritter and try not to eat it on the ride home, listening to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” on NPR and waving at the vacant table where I’d usually be spending my coffee-and-journal morning at Montgomery’s Café with a double slice of Mediterranean quiche, a fresh-from-the-oven Blondie, and an oversized mug of French Roast, black, with a double shot of Kahlua for good measure.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Tuesday Afternoon Is Almost Never Ending

 Cabinet Of Heed (Online) March 2021

It’s eight below zero at half-past noon, but when he goes by to check on her he finds her out on the porch in a T-shirt, smoking a cigarette and only almost coherent.

She tells him the landlord won’t let her smoke inside and, besides, there’s no air in there anyway because the music’s too loud.

He gets her inside as quickly as he can, even though she insists on a second smoke and sings a couple choruses of Lady Madonna while she inhales and exhales equal measures of smoke and crystallized air.

Inside, he tries to get her into a warm shower but discovers that, no matter how long he lets it run, there’s no hot water.
She tells him the landlord’s from Pittsburgh and doesn’t believe in hot water.

The next day, he drives out again and finds her frozen to almost death, stretched out nearly naked on her unmade bed, a towel wrapped around her head, all the windows open wide, and the turntable skipping and spinning, its blare repeating, “isten to the music playing / isten to the music playing / isten to the music playing…”

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Visitations

Red Wolf Journal (Online) March 2021


Last night, sleeping, alone, I saw her once again,
three times, as I’d often seen her in dreams before:

once at recycling, recycling bottles and promises,
tossing the clatterous mass into the waiting container,

and twice at the Price Chopper: once in the lot,
parking in her favorite space, her face a smile

like the store was hers alone, owning everything
in it and around it, and loving everything about it;

and again in aisle five, buying toothpaste and
mascara, aspirin and a brush, a bunch of stuff

(she would have said) she’d never need in heaven.

And even now, today, a Tuesday or a Thursday

(I can’t remember which, have lost the knack
for keeping track) I met up with her again

at the coffeeshop in the bookstore, saw her
sitting across from me at our favorite table,

my disbelief suspended by desire for just another word,
for one more moment, hoping she could see me too.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Non-Committal Author

Potato Soup Journal (Online) (10-Word Story) February 2021


“Are these stories fact or fiction?”

“Some are; some aren’t.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Music Lesson

A Story In 100 Words (entropy2.com) (Online) January 2021


I can’t say for certain which music I’m enjoying more – Susumu Yokota’s Asian ambience on the laptop or the garden’s new water fountain concert.

Mr. Chipmunk, the gaudy flutterby, and the fledgling redwings all clearly prefer the fountain. And why wouldn’t they? What do they know about synthesizers, electronic percussion, or the meditative properties of fluid melody transformation? For them, the fountain’s water, singing its spontaneous aria, is life itself; is the music without which their lives—all lives—would cease to exist.

I reach out and tap the laptop’s mute.

Some creatures—most creatures—know far more than I.

Friday, January 08, 2021

Rejuvenation Maestro

A Story in 100 Words (Online) January 2021


He’d become accustomed to his trifocals and dentures; took his half-dozen morning pills religiously; prayed for just one more upright day, another day to deal with his rapidly advancing age.

Even though he still had his youthful smile and the remnants of his ponytail, most of his hair had gone and what little remained had long since thinned and greyed, then whitened. He usually shunned the morning mirror.

His grandson's youngest daughter (almost half-way through her troubled, rebellious teens) said, "Don't worry, Pop-Pop; I can fix you up real good," and before he knew it they had matching blue hair. 

Friday, January 01, 2021

(A Failed Haiku)

Vol 6 Issue 61 (Online) January 2021


black ink
in dark rooms
disappears


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Me Diversity

 The Drabble (Online) December 2020


I look in the mirror, but
I never see the same guy twice.
(Maybe that’s a good thing.)

I know who I used to be,
and who I was before that:
I’m hardly ever them anymore.

I know who I always hope to see.
I keep sending him invitations
but he almost never shows up.

Maybe I need one of those fancy
dressing room mirrors; one that
can reflect my many, many faces

until I can finally settle down,
until I can decide which one of me
is the one that I’ve been looking for.


Under The Rainbow

 A Story In 100 Words (Online) December 2020

For an instant, just before noticing the new bank of threatening clouds conspiring on the darkened horizon, it seemed like everyone knew how to think, knew what to think; everyone knew how to feel.  

No one could take their eyes off the rainbow until it faded —as all rainbows always do— and the first few burning drops of the new and far more furious downpour, promising only flood, destruction, and despair appeared.

By the time the storm reached its new-found fury, everyone had given up seeking shelter. No one had any recollection whatsoever of anything even vaguely resembling a rainbow.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

I Used To Be A Stripper

 
100 Lives  (Anthology)
Pure Slush Books  Vol. 20
Print & e-Pub (Novenber 2020)



Three nights a week, midnight
to eight-ish (though I always 
did my best to disappear briefly
on my 4:20 smoke break, and to
vanish altogether long before
the end of my shift arrived).

But at least I always got paid;
always earned the exact same 
paltry pittance no matter how
much or little of myself I left
out there on the floor, no matter
if anyone was watching or not.

Stripping requires acid. I remember
I always showed up on time and
they always had my acid waiting.
I remember that when I was done
—hours and hours after my shift—
the acid just kept on working.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Glover At Six

Jenny (Online September 2020) "Small Towns"
YSU Student Literary Arts Association
Currier’s Market hasn’t opened yet,
standing silent by the gravel roadside,
hand-lettered cardboard signs
in almost every dark window
proclaiming fresh fruit for sale
—even out of season watermelon—
fishing licenses sold here,
license to hunt, post office
window opens at eight,
finest steak in the county,
venison cut to order,
no better bargains anywhere, no
cheaper beer from here to the border
I was not born here, did not grow up
beside the grey early morning river
flowing into town, past the Blue Seal
Feeds silo, behind the rusted sawmill,
and out past the padlocked market;
but I’m home at last this morning,
driving through Glover at six.
The gravel meanders, rises; I marvel
at the unlit windows, the cardboard
signs. Like them, I am reflected
in the low sibilance of sunrise.

 


Friday, August 21, 2020

The Edge Of Green

Constellate Lierary Journal (Online) August 2020

It’s mid-April and I should be obsessed
with rapidly vanishing snow, slow green
appearing everywhere amid wet brown,
the preen of chickadees and the likely
arrival of goldfinches at feeders.
                                                     Here,
where there’s often no Spring to mention,
no noticeable warming of soil, only mud
and more mud and more; here, where
the morning air is only an unmet promise
of primrose and peony,
                                      I should just be
thankful, I guess; glad to be alive among
successive fields that will bear green corn
a month or two from now, that will show
no sign that winter ever was.
                                               I suppose
it’s really quite enough as it is, obsessing
as I do about fledgling crows, the possibility
of corn, and living a quiet life on the edge
of green, where everything’s only just
                                                            almost.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Life – A Sentence


Months To Years (Online & Print) July 2020

He’s almost an hour early
for hemo/oncology, waits
with a coffee and the other
early arrivals, watching 
the white coats come and go,
counting the turns of the lab’s
revolving door, and attempting
to calculate the likelihood
that his particular marble
will fall on either red or black,
odd or even, hoping that
when he’s finally released
it will still be Spring
and he will have
hit the jackpot once again,
can stop one more time
at the bookstore’s café
for a second cup of coffee
and a couple of macaroons,
can bask in all the tentative 
reassurances that modern medicine
can offer to an iffy, aging scribe.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Leaving Eden, Unmasked

The Drabble (Online) July 2020

After a couple hours bobbing in brilliant lakewater, there are grapefruit margaritas on the sundeck, or maybe a couple of cold beers out under the shadetree. Everybody’s full-throated, half-naked, sunburnt, and totally shot by three o’clock, even though happy hour is still several hours away. Everyone’s already as happy as anyone can be, thanks to their lengthy lounge, chips and dip in a darkened bar, and their spirited but friendly debate about the current sad state of affairs no one’s paying any real attention to anyway.

Eve snaps up a Tupperware filled with applesauce, steers Adam toward the back door.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Salute

Fewer Than 500 (Online) July 2020

Sal’s only job was to make sure the saltshakers were always filled. Full. His boss told him on his first day that he knew exactly how much a perfectly filled salt shaker should weigh, and if even one grain of salt was missing, his ass would be grass, and, by God, the boss would do some serious mowing.

He watched the tables and booths like a hawk, and when the customers stood up to leave, even before they could put on their coats, he’d rush on over to check and fill the salt, even if the customer had only inadvertently brushed the shaker with a careless elbow.

He kept the job for years, kept the shakers filled, kept the boss happy and the customers salted to within an inch of their lives. No one ever complained. Most people never even noticed; no one except the boss, who frequently conducted random weigh-ins but never found even a single crystal missing.

When he finally retired, decades later, his diligence was duly noted: corporate executives decreed that a memorial plaque bearing his name and photo and extolling his contribution to their success be mounted in the employee’s lounge, though (to be honest) no one ever really lounged there much.



Saturday, July 18, 2020

One Of The Flock

Verdant (Anthology)
Truth Serum Press (Vol. 5) July 2020


He never really knows which curve
will hide the flock of wild turkeys
that almost every morning
struts and pecks its way across
from field to field, either
oblivious to or ignorant of traffic,
intent on only what can be
found and eaten, whatever it is
that turkeys, long before sunrise,
seek.
         All he really wants, driving
away from his bed, driving away 
from anything bedlike and restful,
is another day of certainty about
anything; another reassurance
that goals can be obtained; 
that, like him, the sun will rise;
that grass can indeed be greener.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Loons

Cabinet Of Heed (Online) July 2020


He works the phone all morning, calling to remind his clients to take their pills and drink lots of water, and to reassure them that the voices aren’t real. Some of them he calls and calls again, hoping that on his third or fifth or eighth attempt they’ll give in, pick up, and maybe even recognize his voice, hear and heed his advice.

By noon he’s pretty toasted from the effort, buys himself a burger and a Coke and goes down to sit in the shade beside the lake, contemplate its smooth surface like it’s a giant crystal ball, and try to divine what comes next. The only other beings he encounters are a few ragged gulls scavenging the shoreline for scraps and a pair of loons forty or fifty feet out, bobbing and diving for whatever it is loons dive for. He watches them for the longest time, thinking about how quiet it must be just below the surface. He wonders why they come back up at all.

He can hear the snarl of a revved engine on the bank far off to his left, somewhere out of sight. He can’t tell if it’s a chainsaw or a dirtbike, only that it’s small and angry sounding. It echoes across the water and comes back at him almost a full second later, only slightly smaller but just as angry. When he can’t stand it anymore, he heads on back to the office.

When he gets to his desk, the phone is ringing, but he can’t bring himself to pick it up. There’s a meeting going on in the conference room; he can hear voices through the wall.


Family History

Cabinet Of Heed (Online) March 2020

My father always told me
his father always told him
that my father’s grandfather
died just like my father’s father:
rolled over in bed, sat up,
probably sat there a minute
thinking about the weather or
whatever it was that lay ahead,
reached down for his slippers,
groaned slightly, keeled over,
face-first onto the hardwood,
gone. Both of them, gone
in the lack of a heartbeat, gone
forever, before they got old,
regardless of what “old” was,
way back then, when they died.

My father broke the pattern:
managed to hang on longer,
managed to avoid the floorboards
until his pancreas ate him alive,
slowly, letting him spend his
last few ancient days in his own
drug-comfortable bed, dreaming.

I’ve still got a few dreams coming,
I think; but these days, now that
I’ve clearly made my way to ‘old’
and ‘ancient’ seems unlikely,
I wake up, roll over in bed,
look at my slippers on the floor,
and feel like I’m flipping a coin
when I reach to pick them up.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

When We'll Finally Quit


Rusty Truck (Online) June 2020


There will come a day
when we have to tear up all the flags
to make more bandages.

Nightly News


Rusty Truck (Online) June 2020


You can call it whatever you want, put
whatever label on it you like, but no amount
of obfuscation makes the end result
any less bitter. You can close your eyes,
vow to keep your mouth shut, turn and
turn and turn away from the truth
but, in the end, there’s really no escape:
he was only seven years old, maybe less,
and he’d been shot through the neck.

And your mother can still love you,
and your girlfriend or your wife
or your brothers and your sisters
can still love you, but some nights,
around midnight, you remember:
he was only seven, maybe less,
and that’s as old as he’d ever be. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tits And Ass On Main Street


The Beautifullest (Anthology)
Pure Slush Books  Vol. 17
Print & e-Pub (May 2020)



Not surprisingly, I notice her naked
ass first: a beautiful ass, buttery
smooth, each cheek firm and 
round, perfect, perfectly tanned,
and cellulite free.  A Venus ass, 
when Venus was at her prime.
A lovely ass I could easily die for
or, even uninvited, marvel at  
for hours.  I know this, even 
with only the merest glance. 

Breasts to match: also tanned,
also Aphrodite perfection, each
a perfect handful, also perfectly
naked, firmly inviting a caress
or the tender ministry of lips.
I see them for only a second 
before I turn the corner, catch
only a glimpse in the mirror.

And as she recedes, I note
her perfect hips, her perfect
thighs: a pair of lover’s thighs,
not designed for running or
holding a baby on a lap; no:
thighs designed to open and
admit a lover, hold him there
until, at last, his darkness fades.

But her arms arrest me most:
She has no arms; has no arms
to wave at me as I pass, 
no mannequin lips to smile, 
nor eyes to see me go.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Voice Activated

Up The River (Issue 8)
Albany Poets (Online) May 2020

I do
whatever she says
pick up my socks
take out the trash
get the Chinese take-out
do the dishes
mow the lawn
you get the idea
It used to bug me
until
she reminded me
I love her madly

Some Things, Sometimes

Up The River (Issue 8)
Albany Poets (Online) May 2020

Some things never stop.
Some things, stopped,
never get restarted. I’m
like some of those things.
Sometimes, started, I can’t stop.
Sometimes people yell at me,
“Shut the hell up, willya?”
They don’t know me.
Sometimes I just sit there,
silent, pretending to think.
Pretending. People think I’m
thinking. I don’t think I am.
Some things just repeat
over and over and over,
continue repeating forever.
Some poems never end.


Amuse-Bouche

Up The River (Issue 8)
Albany Poets (Online) May 2020


After finally determining 
the critical difference 
between pudgy Basset hounds
and sinewy Burmese pythons,
he changed the name of his failing diner 
to Amuse-Bouche
totally revamped his menu, 
and began serving vastly different lunches 
to a more discerning clientele.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Separate Ways (A Ghazal)


North Carolina Poetry Society
Pinesong Anthology (Print) May 2020
**Honorable Mention, Joanna Catherine Scott Award
(Sonnet or Traditional form)


Separate Ways 

She likes to travel, leaves him alone for days at home;
and he, reclusive, easily a hermit, gladly stays at home.

She likes to wake to the sound of surf and a foggy sea,
imagines him waking up in the mountain greys at home.

Fog is fog, he tells her on the phone; it all burns off—
but when she leaves he finds himself in a haze at home.

He makes the bed and cooks the meals. He’s got his flutes
and drums and all the other things he plays at home.

Still, he hopes he remains Her Beloved Poet, immersed
in words and searching for the perfect phrase. At home.

Friday, May 01, 2020

May Day


50-Word Stories (Online) May 2020

He’d waited long enough.
Surrounded by new greens
under a fresh blue
he drew three deep breaths,
dove into May’s first morning.
May air fills lungs more fully than
any April rain has ever flooded
any April field. May Day’s sunshine
warms everything more deeply
than any mid-winter furnace fire.
 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Return To Sender

The Drabble (Online) April 2020


All of his incoming mail arrived in self-addressed envelopes which contained letters from his many alter-egos, none of whom he was aware existed. Most of the letters included invitations to dinner, provided updates on the status of his pickup’s tire pressure, or announced news items such as the introduction of guacamole as a new flavor at Tim & Doug’s Soft-Serve Stand.

He always marveled at the valuable timeliness and specificity of the information he received, and felt profound and genuine regret that he lacked the wherewithal to respond in any similar fashion.
After his most recent relocation, he simply vanished.


Friday, April 03, 2020

Aubade

Ephemeral Elegies (Online) April 2020

Tonight the moon is new;
only a few dim stars trapped in onyx,
granite-cold wind near midnight;
sound of the river, distant, empty,
washes across the frosted space
where new snow fell this morning.
When I saw you last,
your image receding in the window
at dawn, a faint sail on a far horizon,
the bland November sunrise reflected
on the thin glass like lake ice, I knew
I would find myself alone tonight,
humbled under the darkest sky,
wondering where you are, and
searching for the vanished moon.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Imaginary Friend

Tiny Molecules (Online) March 2020


I had an imaginary friend once but, frankly, he was a real jerk. I could barely stand him. He was never really there for me when I needed him, and he only showed up when I was buying an ice cream cone or hooking up with slutty Maria down the block. I always had to buy a second cone or a second or third condom, sometimes both, sometimes more, depending on how things were going. Going for him, I should say. The guy had some appetite.

The idiot could absolutely not remember my mother’s birthday, and he always had something pointless he needed me to do when it came around. I always regretted giving in to him. It’s like he just didn’t give a crap. Same deal with my Exes. All three of them. Look at me now.

Time to go to work,” I’d say. "Time to go fishing," he’d reply, wearing that vapid, shiftless grin. It was like he had some sort of hypnotic power. And don’t get me started on the whole money thing. On top of the lost jobs and un-repaid loans, there’s a mountain of bills he talked me into letting slip into collections, the trunkful of parking tickets, and the boingity-boingity rubber checks bouncing all over town so fast you’ve got to duck one to avoid the other.

I haven’t seen him in a while, but I know he’s out there, just waiting until I get my head above water, maybe get a new girlfriend. He’ll show up. Jerk.


Friday, March 06, 2020

Altered Itinerary

Red Wolf Journal (Online) March 2020
Red Wolf Journal (Online Anthology "Journeying") Sept 2020

He drives an hour north to
Montgomery’s famous scones;
decides to limit himself to a
single scone and a coffee
because, even as he settles in,
he thinks about the bar at
Positive Pie down in Hardwick,
remembers they have Switchback
on tap, remembers how dark
and cool one end of the bar
can be; how conducive to
journal work that — somehow,
some time later — ends up published.

He drives an hour south and
drives another hour south.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

She Would Have Been Proud

50-Word Stories (Online) March 2020

I hadn’t planned on speaking
at my mother’s memorial service,
but my equally reticent siblings looked to me
when the minister issued the invitation.
I had no script nor practiced comments,
but in no time at all the entire congregation
was rolling on the aisles.
Later, everyone thanked me profusely.