Contact The Author: rdlbarton@gmail.com

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



Sunday, November 20, 2022

Plum Tree Tavern (Online) November 2022
Autumn Moon Festival Issue


last night’s fullest moon
still sings, bell-clear, this morning
—Autumn’s aria—

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Fine Point

 50- Word Stories (Online) May 2019

It wasn’t until his third unsuccessful attempt to get something—anything—worthwhile onto paper that he realized he’d been using the wrong pen. Somehow, a 0.7 had made it into his pocket along with his favored 1.0 and he’d been accidentally selecting it, thus guaranteeing his dissatisfaction with the outcome.

Thursday, September 01, 2022

The Arsonist

 Potato Soup Journal (10-Word Story) (online) September 2022


He warmed her heart.
He got her hot.
Boom.
Ash.

Friday, July 08, 2022

But First, A Word From Our Sponsors

 Cow - Pure Slush Books
Anthology (Print / eBook, June 2022)

(This piece is too lengthy (500 words) to post here in its entirety.  Here's the opening paragraph. The whole piece is delivered as a TV documentary voice-over).

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll look at one of the world’s foremost chefs, and how he creates his masterpiece.  The key is control: from the feedlot to the slaughterhouse, from the slaughterhouse to the skillet, and from there to a serving platter, the truly great chefs exercise complete and total control over even the tiniest details of meal preparation. 


Sunday, May 08, 2022

Civil (re)Engineering

The Drabble (Online) May 2022

We should hand everybody a mirror,
tell them to have a good long look,
ask if that’s who they really want to be.

We should offer everybody a rifle,
see who’s interested in having one,
and hand them the mirror again instead.

We should give everyone a photo album
with photos of everyone else’s family.

We should build a planetary dinner table. 

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Pyrrhicism

Potato Soup Journal (10-Word Story) (Online) May 2022 

“Peace, at last!” said the final soldier to no one.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Candy

Light on the Walls of Life (Jambu Press)

Print Anthology - Ferlinghetti Tribute (April 2022)


I’d like to live upstairs from a candy store.

Over the years, I’ve read a few great poems
about life amid candy:
                                 Just this morning,
on my reluctant drive to work, I stopped
at the rest area and read all about how
Pinsky wakes up with his new love, looks down
at the sweetshop’s wrinkled awning, watches
an early fog lifting to reveal pigeons pecking
at rainbowed gutters;
                                and the venerable old
Ferlinghetti, ages and ages ago, wrote about
falling  in love with unreality amid licorice and
jellybeans on a gloomy September afternoon
in the pennycandystore beyond the El.
                                                       Decades
later, sometime in my early twenties, a baby
poet, I vowed that I’d pitch a tent outside
Munson’s Kandy Kitchen, and live on chocolate
and peanut butter eggs.
                                    I’m not so old, nor
blind, now, looking back, to see I should have
kept that vow. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Backyard Olympics Failure

 50-Word Stories (Online) March 2022

It wasn’t until the final, near-miss horseshoe toss was disputed that things escalated into open warfare. Heavy metal shrapnel flew in almost every direction, none of it intended for its usual targets, all of it meant to send an unmistakably on-target message of protest. Neither team took home the gold.

Monday, March 07, 2022

Attendance

 The Birdseed (Online) March 2022

He put a checkmark in the ledger next to his own name in the column marked “Absent/Unexcused”.  He was only a couple of minutes late. No one really wanted to get down to business, anyway. No one wanted to stay, but no one dared leave.  Only four or five of them had ever actually been struck by lightning. Two were twins, but their identical siblings were elsewhere. Everyone was dreaming, hoping for better days in far more hospitable places, but everyone was, after all, only dreaming and—sadly—everyone knew they were only dreaming. No one dared to wake up.

No one could wait for it all to be over with, least of all him. He checked his watch and double-checked the ledger; noted his own unexcused absence.  He closed his eyes and made a silent wish.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Shadowfax Marie

 A Story In 100 Words (Online) March 2022

Just before he’s seventy, just before 7:00 AM he finds Shadowfax Marie at the 6068 Spa, lets her drift him into his morning pages, levitate him, lets her let him forget everything, dismiss all of his desires–even his morning coffee, even his Beloved (still in bed, dreaming he’s still there, sleeping, beside her).

 

But his wings are only borrowed and insubstantial. Before he can float away, he remembers his flesh, recalls his agenda, and realizes that there’s a day ahead during which Shadowfax Marie will inevitably fade; a day filled with no sound worth hearing, no vision worth sharing.

 


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Lariateer

 A Story In 100 Words (Online) February 2022

When he finally finishes his regular morning exercise, he considers going back through his earliest journals and numbering the pages but—smart as he is—he knows he can’t count that high. He thinks about all the pens he’s ever used, tries to calculate how many oceans of ink he’s expended; imagines uncurling his cursive and deconstructing his print, laying out all of his pen strokes end-to-end and seeing just how many times the line would circle the globe, or if maybe it would form a lifeline out into space to lasso the moon or play jump rope with Mars.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Centurion Saturday

A Story In 100 Words (Online) February 2022

He’s feeling less than complete this morning. Some parts have vanished; most just haven’t woken up yet; a couple are only pretending to be there. But for the most part, for one inexplicable reason or another, he’s feeling incomplete.

 Maybe it’s just because it’s Saturday morning. And early. Very early. Too early for even a gigantic apple fritter to convince him that it’s really there and that he’s actually eating it.  Too early altogether for small-talk local television chat fests, and certainly way too early for the National or World News Countdown-To-Oblivion Update.

 All he needs is seven magic words.

Monday, February 07, 2022

As Directed

Appointment At 10:30 (Anthology)

Pure Slush Books Vol. 22

Print & ePub Feb. 2022


It was 10:15, so he only had about ten minutes to put together a back-up plan, including a list of potential support providers in the community that could be finagled into housing his client in case of an emergency.

It wasn’t a back-up plan, really, but an emergency fallback disaster plan, outlining what to do when the plan and the back-up plan failed—as they invariably did. He’d been through this procedure half a dozen times in his two years since joining the agency, and every time the plan, the back-up plan, and the fall-back had all failed and he ended up driving out at some ungodly hour to pick up the client, who inevitably spent the balance of the weekend alternately sleeping on his couch and standing out on the back lawn, screaming obscenities.

Despite his complaints about the impossibility of locating willing support providers, the Supervisors insisted that he arrive at the staff meeting with the names of at least five qualified individuals.

He used the last few minutes before the meeting to their best advantage. In his cubicle, sitting at his computer, he gathered dozens of names. 

Then he printed out his resignation, attached it to the staff directory, and stepped around the corner into the conference room.



Saturday, January 01, 2022

Covenant

 Vita Brevis Press (Print Anthology III) December 2021

Nothing Divine Dies (Nature Poetry)

---------[||]--------- 

There is nothing ambiguous about

the absence of sunshine this morning;

nothing open to interpretation; nothing

equivocal.  No. This morning

on the lawn—if brown can be a lawn,

if a lawn can be a mat of last year’s leaves—

this morning’s lawn, then, is frost alone,

no new snow anywhere, just cold

and a frosty glaze, the promise

of impending winter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Tell

 Potato Soup Journal (Online) (10-word story) October 2021

When he grasps, he gasps. Then you know he knows.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

QI

Red Wolf Journal (Online) September 2021

Anthologized (PDF)  February 2022


I think I remember feeling it,
silently ebbing and flowing,
altering everything about me.

I recall my first encounter,
ages ago, at the University
in that meditation class,

OM-ing and focusing on breath
under the blue-sky maples
with Professor Gurumeister;

and I guess I sailed, then,
unanchored, adrift, imagining
I could avoid current events.

But I’m almost ancient now, and
the Morning News reminds me
I’ve forgotten the Guru’s name.

No matter; no matter. Nothing
matters anymore; I breathe deep,
unfurl my inner sail, and I’m gone.


Looking Glass

 Red Wolf Journal (Online) September 2021

Anthologized (PDF)  February 2022

It seems like all the windows
we used to look through
to see our bright futures
have turned into dark,
accusatory mirrors
intent on reminding us
of our failed yesterdays
and our current miasma.

It seems like yesterday’s
beneficent light-givers
have turned into dark
foreboding crystal balls
into which we’re forced
to gaze at tomorrow’s
inevitable nightmares.

 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Secured Transport

25 Miles From Here (Anthology)
Pure Slush Books Vol 21
Print & e-Pub (August 2021)

 

Halfway to the crisis bed,
after he’d already convinced himself
that the driver was an alien
and his support person had been
duped into helping him be kidnapped,
he made his first attempt at escape,
only to be thwarted
by the automatic child-safety locks.
 
He pounded on the window
once or twice,
but not hard enough to break it,
remembering the gash and the
subsequent sutures
his last such action had netted him.
 
He was pretty sure he’d
starve to death
before they’d consider
slowing down enough
even for a drive-through.
 
He hadn’t eaten
in over five hundred years.


They tried to get him
to take a pill, but he was
too smart for that,
feigning sleep
between his ranting tantrums
and screaming incessantly
just to keep himself awake
whenever he thought he might nod off.
 
When they finally arrived,
he knew he’d been there before
—many times—
but he had no idea
where the hell he was.  
 


Monday, August 09, 2021

The Phoenix Retires

 Fixator Press (Online) August 2021


I’d rise from these ashes
but these ashes comfort me.
 
These ashes are all I have now;
these grey remains are my home,
far more accommodating
than even the most beautiful
sunrise, more promising than
any new day, these days.
 
These days are so dark,
rising from these ashes
offers no promise; offers
only another deadly pyre,
another chance to ash
and disappear again.
 
I will forego feathers;
ash will be my new forever. 


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Preparation

 In Parentheses  (Print & Online July 2021)

It’s an even-numbered day and
the grass is mowed evenly, the grass
is as green as grass can be, and
its medicinal properties could not
—under any foreseeable circumstances—
be more potent and restorative.

It’s an even-numbered day and
there are no plans to visit doctors;
no appointments to make or attend,
no preparations to undertake,
no recuperative balms; no ointments
or magic pills. No exercise required.

He breathes and breathes and
breathes and breathes.

Tomorrow, however, will be odd.
The grass will be irrelevant and
ineffective; the sky itself will be
a sickly pink. The air he breathes
and the water he drinks and all of
his idle thoughts will be dredged in
pink. As much as he hates doctors
and all things medically related,
all things allegedly therapeutic,
he hates the pink even more.

He looks forward to the time when,
rising before the light arrives,
he feels no need to inform himself
of the day’s odd or even number;
does not have to prepare for either
pink or green; has no need to call
his doctors, awaits no doctor’s call.

He looks forward to becoming
his colorless, numberless self.


Monday, July 05, 2021

Postprandial

 50-WordStories (Online) July 2021

 “Thank you, Darling, that’s just exactly what I needed,” he said without even looking up, too busy shoveling the meal’s few delectable remnants into his drooling face; too insensitive and neglectful to provide the eye contact every great chef both craves and deserves.

“You’re welcome,” she replied, mentally debating antidotes.

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

Red Wolf Journal (PDF Anthology)  August 2021
"My Dream Of You"

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.