Contact the Author: rdlbarton@netscape.net

Contact The Author: rdlbarton@netscape.net

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



Saturday, June 15, 2019

Power Outage

Cabinet of Heed (print & e-Pub) June 2019

How unfortunate to be there
when the power goes out
at two separate places
at two different times
on the same day.

It was one thing, the first time,
when the supermarket overheads
and everything else
—except a few quick-witted
smartphone flashlights—
flickered twice and went black,
flashed a blinding warning signal
—a truly brilliant half-second delay—
before leaving the whole sad storefull
frozen in Aisle 7, startled into silence
and forced into terrifying immobility
for a scary seven minutes.

Everyone survived. Everyone
muddled through; made it out alive.
Praise the Lord.

But then,
again, hours later…


Friday, June 07, 2019

Shame, Shame


Pure Slush Books (Anthology)
7 Deadly Sins / Volume 7 / Pride (Print & e-pub) May 2019
 
This was supposed to be something.
This was supposed to be worthwhile;
supposed to be something that
summed up and crowned his works,
glorified everything he’d done so far. 

He wanted to be proud of his work;
wanted to be approached by readers,
wanted to see their heads still spinning,
their hands eager to shake his hand.
He wanted to hear them sing his praise.

No one even seemed to notice. No one
approached him for an autograph or
formed a line for a photo op. No one
betrayed the slightest interest. No one.

He gave up caring. He put down his pen.

 

 

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Drought's End

A Story In 100 Words (Online) May 2019

It was almost dark and he pulled into his driveway a happy man.

He had planned to be home in time for lunch, or at least to be at home at lunchtime, home in time for his favorite talking heads to read him the news he’d missed in the morning while he showered so as to make himself presentable at his favorite café, his best black journal open, crying out for him not to allow yet another eight-day lapse without so much as a single penstroke.

It was almost dark and he was happy to have generated three whole sentences.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Still, Only He

The Drabble (Online) April 2019


He watches everything around him
unfolding in super-slow-motion,
but no one else seems to notice
despite the fact that they’ve all
been standing in line for days.


Even though the line never moves,
everyone banters and chatters away
at a normal pace. No one else
seems to notice that everyone’s
clearly frozen, motionless, in place.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Medium's The Message

Potato Soup Journal (Online) March 2019
(10-Worder)

“Excuse me,” he said, not realizing his fart was inaudible.

Face Rocks


*82 review (Print & ePub) March 2019


She sees faces in the rocks and small stones she finds in the yard, faces staring back at her, smiling or reproachful, young or old. She hands them to me and sometimes I can see them, too. The ones I can see I give names to, first and last, and hand them back to her to see if I got them right. I almost always get them right, or she says, “No, she looks more like a Pearl or a Maude to me.” Then she’d put the smallest ones in her pocket, set the larger ones aside and, later, we’d carry them up to the steps, give them a nice shower from the garden hose, let them bask awhile in the sun before bringing them inside to our box of face rocks.

Sometimes I wonder what became of them after I left. I wonder if she tossed them back into the yard and garden before she moved to the mountains, or gave them away to the kids in the neighborhood, or if she just included the box one day with the other trash, dragged to the curb.

In my office today I have a large water cooler bottle filled with corks. None of them have names, though. I have a tea canister filled with Chinese fortunes, a small galvanized pail overflowing with red plastic coffee scoops, a display case for my hundreds of tin boxes, half a dozen terracotta balls, a sizeable collection of rusty railroad spikes, and about half a million books.

I wish she could be here to see them.

The Space Between

The Linnet’s Wings (Print & ePub) March 2019

She sets out for the coast, stops
at the notch to admire the mountains,
makes note that these are truly
mountains, not the soft green
rounded foothills she calls home.

Left behind, he comes home from work
to an empty house and thinks about her
traveling through the mountains
toward the sea she loves, driving along
with all the windows fully open,
waiting for that first whiff of salt air.

Two or three times before the sun
goes down, he steps out onto the deck
to count and recount the giant hay bales
in the field below the house.

Miles and miles and hours away,
under a just-past-full moon, the road
ceases to unfold before her. She sits,
gazing out at water, satisfied, having
melted her mountains in the sea.

Around midnight, before bed,
he goes out to stand on the deck and
count the bales one last time,
the way a shepherd counts his sheep.

He stares out at the horizon,
thinking about how ridgelines
remind him of waves.

 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Two Below, Two Twenty-Eight

Six Sentences  (Online) March 2019

He does not envy the window washer, just outside the glass by his favorite street-view café table, her breath immediately vaporizing into massive sub-zero clouds blown away instantly by the wind-chill winds.
 
It's clear, though, that she's completely absorbed by the task; that the frigid conditions (which she had, no doubt, already encountered an uncountable number of times in the past) hardly even register; almost certainly neither distract nor impede.
 
He sits too long, watching and attempting to accurately record her persistent diligence. He's fully aware that he, too, has tasks and chores to complete; activities perhaps not as arduous as arctic window cleaning but which, once completed, should yield as much satisfaction as sparkling café glass on the last day of February in the coldest winter of the last half-century.

He knows he should get up and go about his business, but he takes one last minute to write one last sentence.

Driving away, he already longs to return.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

He Da Man

Pure Slush Books (Anthology)
7 Deadly Sins / Volume 6 / Envy  (Print & e-pub) March 2019

                                             
I see all the women who follow him around;
follow him into restaurants and bars;
the ones who never leave before closing time;
the ones he gets to choose from; the one
he chooses: a different one every night.

I’ve seen the tips he leaves the barmaid;
watched him sign the tab, watched him
peel off half a dozen nice crisp twenties
just for good measure; watched the barmaid,
beaming, wishing she were off the clock.

I see him, always chauffeured everywhere,
climbing in and out of his spotless limo,
never having to worry about a schedule;
never opening a door for himself anywhere;
never the tiniest smudge on his tailored suit.

I could go for some of that; I could be
the king of the world on only the tiniest bit.
I could be in heaven if I could only have
the merest fraction of what he’s got;
one day like his day, once or twice a year.

If only, if only, if only.
 
 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Almost There

50-Word Stories (Online) March 2019
Editor's Choice: Story Of The Month

After the hospital, the bookstore café beckons. The geezers have already gathered. Although they still do not offer him a seat at their tables, when he comes in this time, limping, they shoot him a longer glance than usual, which seems, he imagines, to confirm the likelihood of imminent inclusion.

Blood Test

Potato Soup Journal (Online) March 2019
--Ten Word Flash Fiction--

She was undeniably hot-blooded.
He had it all over him.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Dejaburger

Potato Soup Journal (online) February 2019

Everybody else in line is impatient except him.

He just stands there, smiling, behind the ancient lady and her elderly son who reads and re-reads the billboard menu to her, explaining the items as he goes, trying his best to understand them himself.

He tells her the burgers are all the same size, but you can order one, two, or three of them all on the same bun; that “large / medium / small ” refers to the size of the drinks and the side of fries, not the burgers themselves.

Everyone in line can see that the old lady’s almost blind, but adamant, too, because she keeps insisting she just wants a burger with some fries and a soda; doesn’t want to order a combo because, A combo’s too fancy, and it sounds like a rip-off,” she says.

Everybody in line is scowling and muttering curses under their breath, watching their lunch breaks slip away.

Not him, though; he just smiles at them both and thinks about how much he misses his mother.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

On Second Thought

Pure Slush Books (Anthology)

7 Deadly Sins / Volume 5 / Wrath (Print & e-pub) February 2019

I had to bite my tongue. I
had to bite my tongue and
count to ten. Slowly. I had to
take a few deep breaths and
count to ten eight times.
It was all I could do. I barely
managed to zip my lip, keep
my cool—
.............—no, wait a minute;
that’s not how it happened.
I had no real cool to keep;
I guess I let my unzipped lip
remain unzipped; I guess
I bit my tongue to no avail,
bit my tongue and squeezed
the trigger, counting the rounds
and the bodies as they fell. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Revenge, Once Removed

50-Word Stories (online) February 2019


“That’s what I would’ve done,” he said. “I would’ve asked all the same questions; would’ve been sure exactly who I was dealing with; would’ve made certain he’d done exactly what they said. But I don’t think I would’ve pulled the trigger on him. I would’ve gone looking for his sister.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Honeymoon

50-Word Stories (Online) January 2019

They’d only been married since the weekend, but she could readily identify his writer’s block.
She suggested that he might at least try to write something short, perhaps about a convicted criminal in his cell, awaiting the executioner’s call.
“Nah,” he replied. “I’ve never really been that much into autobiography.”

Friday, December 28, 2018

A Man Among Ferns

A Story In 100 Words (Online) December 2018

He remembers waking up—ages ago—amid ferns, with neither a plan nor any desire to ever be waking up again at all, least of all amid ferns, which he had considered to be beautiful before he wandered into them and disappeared, hoping to disappear forever.
 
Now, almost a half-century later, he endures his almost unendurable insomnia in the broadest daylight his personal December has to offer. He sits with his journal at his favorite café table by the window, attempting to capture any fragment of last night’s dreams, but is sadly reminded—again—that not all attempts are successful.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Stormfront: Bookstore Café


The Writers’ Cafe Magazine #14 (Online) December 2018


It seems like half the town comes in
for coffee between noon and two,
most of them hooded and mittened
against the cold, some of them
—despite their best efforts—
appear nearly frostbitten, their
movement toward the café tables slow,
their utterances clipped, their eyes
still frozen into a sub-zero squint.


He peers at them intently
from his corner table, observes
them so carefully that, mesmerized,
he almost ceases to exist.


Suddenly, a snow squall breaks out
over by the periodicals. Small drifts
build up around the travel guides,
ice forms on the cookbooks.

Inside Winter


The Writers’ Cafe Magazine #14 (Online) December 2018


The snow is only a paper snow today, only a
story of snow outside the window, and the snowdrifts
I pass in the hallway are only paper snowdrifts.


This morning there’s imaginary sunlight.
I bask in it in bed from nine til noon, a new man
in a new year under the same old imaginary sun.


The sky today is a painted sky
and the imaginary sun is only pinned to it
the way a child pins a paper dragon to a bedroom wall.


Outside, I can see the air in motion. I watch it
through the window, remembering the snow
is only paper, blowing away, forgetting to bite.
 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reduction

A Story In 100 Words (Online) December 2018


He sat alone.

He watched her scrape the painted letters from the window; watched FINE ARTS CAFE become FINE ART, then FINE and finally FIN.

She took a break.

He couldn’t bear to watch anymore anyway, imagined PAINTING becoming mere PAINT, then PAIN; LESSONS, LESS.

Having finished his coffee, he talked to the café owner about her plans now that she’d finally served up her last cup.

He mentally counted out the other empty storefronts, some of the buildings invisible from where he sat, their windows staring out at a rapidly fading Main Street.

He knew he’d be gone soon, too.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Unforgettable

The Drabble (Online) December 2018

When I finally walked away, years ago, I could hear her telling me all about her upcoming descent into hell; how it was all my fault.
 
If I turned my back, she said, I turned my back on any chance we’d ever meet again. But I knew it wasn’t true.
 
Even as I walked away, I could sense her reaching for the pint I know she always carries in her bag.
 
I wake up, years later.
The phone is still buzzing.

Incipient Pariah

50-Word Stories (Online) December 2018

Although he’d never been
officially banned
from any of the many
downtown establishments
he frequented,
he increasingly found himself
isolated
at one end of the bar,
other patrons
choosing to congregate
at the other, even if
half of them had to stand
two-deep,
reaching through the crowd
for their beer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Conservation Of Energy

Pure Slush Books (Anthology)

7 deadly Sins / Volume 4 / Sloth (Print /e-pub) November 2018

I meant to start mopping up
the last of that spilled and
spoiled milk a month ago
last week. I meant to start,
at least, to scrub those fugly
upstairs bathroom tiles
and—while I was at it—maybe      
try to unclog the toilet or
open up one of the windows,
let in a breath or two of that
less fetid outside air.
I meant to. I really did.

I know I made a pledge
on New Year’s Eve, a pledge
to change my ways, a pledge
to do the things that anyone
else—anyone with gumption—
would do in a heartbeat, do
without a second’s thought;
but that was then, and this is
now. I’ll get to it later. Maybe.

The way I see it’s like this:
parked here on the couch,
I’m saving a bundle of cash
at the hardware store and the
laundromat; I’m not likely to
injure myself or wear out all
my shoe leather waiting for
take-out I don’t have to cook.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

14-Year-Old Pediatrician

50-Word Stories (Online) November 2018

I saved my little sister’s life.
She had a bad case
of deadly Arphidarfilus.


She sought a second opinion.
Mom was busy in the kitchen.
Dad was, as always, on the road.


I prescribed gumdrops.
(Gumdrops is the only cure.)


Half a century later
she says I’m still her hero.

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Plan

Here Comes Everyone (e-pub & print) November 2018


Recycled recycling,
washed wash. Find a way
to avoid the keyboard.

See the light: fix 
the  lamp, stow (at last)
the Christmas strands.


Before anything, coffee.
After the landfill and storage,
a shower. Maybe a nap.


Wish you were here.
Count the moments.
Pucker up.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Absent Relatives

300K - A Poetry Anthology About The Human Race
(Print / epub) October 2018)

Nothing reminds us of you now
and nothing remains but these:
a small stone adze
and a scrap of buckskin boot.
It is recorded only
that you sat near fires
but not that you felt the snow.
Your glazed clay bowls are gone,
broken by the sun;
you have taken them with you
to an endless spring
beyond that far blue mesa.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Not Too Much To Ask

Pure Slush Books (Anthology)
7 Deadly Sins / Vol.3 / Greed (Print & e-pub) August 2018 
 
 
All I want is whatever little I
already have. And half of yours. 
I mean, you’ve got plenty,
eh? Way more than you need.
So I’m only asking for half.
Equal shares, y’know?
Fifty-fifty seems right, right?
And his, too, maybe; half of
his and maybe half of hers.
Half of theirs. It’s all I need.
It’s all I’m asking for. Half.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Flying Home

Winner of Laureates' Choice Award at Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest
(Online - August 2018)

Tonight the latest April sky, a sky
I rarely venture out to see, is filled
with smallish change: a quarter moon and stars
like dimes that spend their tiny light on eyes
a million billion miles away. But still,
with her away, they do not seem as far.


If I could fly away, or fly at all
—had wing enough or wind enough—I’d fly
across the empty miles of senseless air
to where I know she waits, and then I’d fall 
like starlight, lightly, kiss her face and eyes
and never fly away again from there.


We cannot stay, but always we must go;
the home we seek’s the only home we know.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Skip

The Linnet's Wings (Online) August 2018

It’s like when that needle hops
on your favorite vinyl but it hops
at just the right spot…just the right
spot…just the right spot

 
and you almost don’t want to
go over and fix it because it’s
just the right spot…just the right
spot

 
and it’s the snippet you could
listen to forever…forever…

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Silent Night

Montana Mouthful (Print & ePub) June 2018


Even when you’re not there to
hear them, only half the trees
falling in a forest make any noise.
The trees you don’t hear you don’t
hear, and the rest of them fall
silently, often at midnight.
                                    Even when
you try and try again, like all the
childish fables say you should; even
smack in the middle of the forest,
in the middle of the night, in the
middle of winter; even though
you keep your eyes open, your ears
peeled; even then, the falling trees
and the winter’s midnight night
remain silent.
                     All the silent night
long, all the falling trees keep falling;
but all you can hear is the nothing.

     

Turtleglass

Montana Mouthful (Print & ePub) June 2018

He puts a glob of turtleglass
under the jeans in her suitcase
before she goes away.
                                  Later,
when she calls him after midnight
to tell him she’s arrived, tell him
that she misses him already,
and he answers the phone,
calls her his little turtle dove
and she doesn’t react,
                                he knows
she hasn’t yet unpacked, hasn’t
found his little round travel gift.

                                 He hopes
she’ll find it nestled in the jeans
shiny in the shiny morning; hopes
she’ll put it in her pocket, keep
their little green secret crystal
close to her heart all day long;
hopes it brings her safely home
                                and soon.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

New Snow and Disease

Medical Literary Messenger (Print & eBook) June 2018

It’s freezing here & there’s
new snow. I can’t write a word
and the doctors want a second look,
another look inside, and yet
another. I’m X-rayed to death
and there’s new snow and I can’t
write a word. I’m thinking of you,
Doctor Guru, out in sweet Siouxland,
your deskful of papery lab reports,
neatly stacked and white.

There’s new snow here this morning
and I’m spending my time these days
in labs and waiting rooms
waiting to hear something
I’m not wanting to hear.
I’m having my coffee on the porch;
I’m looking out at a full foot of new snow
and I’ve nothing more to say.

One test leads to another, no?
Nothing speaks to me now.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fat Ronald Cheats

Pure Slush Books (Anthology)
7 Deadly Sins / Vol.2 / Gluttony (Print & e-pub) June 2018 

 
All the ads say it’s hot and juicy,
and it’s hot alright, but the juicy’s
really just grease that congeals
pretty quickly back into fat.  He’s
reasonably sure he can feel it
coating his cluttered arteries
even before he swallows. 
None of this, though,
keeps him from eating there
four or five times a week,
nor does he ever—even remotely—
consider ordering a drive-thru salad
or the lo-cal fruit parfait.

His wife says he’s turning into a
bacon-wrapped double cheeseburger,
but all he hears is how delicious he is,
how much she wants to gobble him up.
He still loves her madly, but she
just doesn’t satisfy him anymore.
He’s always somewhat disappointed
when even her tastiest dishes
refuse to dribble down his chin,
promise neither cardiac arrhythmia
nor the ever-expanding waistline
he’s come to honor and obey.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Fernophobia

Night Terrors and Daymares / Vol 1  (Print / PDF Anthology)  June 2018
--Previously Published: Amygdala (Online) 2015


Nearly dawn
near the border:
Seconal, Valium, booze.
No one expected
the slow opening of eyes,
least of all
the man among the ferns, dismayed.
This was to be the longest sleep,
the rest, at last, so well-deserved.
Imagine his surprise:
dew-soaked, a slug
across the bridge of his nose,
no shoes or recollection.

After The Pills Kick In

Night Terrors and Daymares Vol 1 (Print / PDF Anthology)  June 2018


Limp, rattled, and torch-bruised
I jug an octopus jam
stow tomes, strum rug fringe

Feeding The Cat

Night Terrors and Daymares / Vol 1 (Print /PDF Anthology) June 2018


She called from the road, said not to wait;
told us to go ahead and eat without her,
her shift at the vet’s had run into overtime
and she still had to swing by the store
for cat food and a new scratching post
for that feral one-eyed flea-bitten stray
she brought home a couple of weeks ago
that had dropped its mewling and scrawny litter
amid our newly-laundered bedsheets.

We’d already finished our impromptu dinner;
everyone, satiated and amiable, had helped
with the dishes, retired to the living room
for another joint and wine when she finally
walked in the front door, apologetic, her arms
laden, her eyes surprised, and shouted
“You didn’t make the pot roast? What did you
cook instead? And where the hell’s the cat?”

"...some sort of gun."

Night Terrors and Daymares / Vol 1 (Print /PDF Anthology) June 2018
--Previously published: See Into The Dark (Print Anthology) May 2016


I’d like to think
I might have found more to say
had it been me lying there
             instead of him.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Slippers

The Writers' Café Magazine (Online) April 2018
Issue #7 - "Shoes"


In the dark, he puts his slippers on the wrong feet; they walk away and he never sees them again.  Sometimes he misses them, wonders if they ever think about him, if they pad around someone else’s kitchen now, dreaming of his rainforest hardwood mornings, his quiet carpeted bedroom nights.  All day long, no matter what he does or how long it takes, he’s only doing it to kill some time while he’s waiting and hoping they’ll find their way back to him.
 
But it’s no use, no use.  They’re lost forever in the great wide world, lost somewhere in the vast asphalt universe, no doubt someone else’s slaves, pacing strange floors at odd hours, bending to foreign biddings.
 
He vows never to forget them, promises himself to remember even their most minute detail, but with each passing hour he can feel them slipping further and further away.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Do It Yourself

Pure Slush Books (Anthology)
7 Deadly Sins / Vol.1 / Lust (Print & e-pub) march 2018


A word to the wise:
it pays to clean your tool
when the job’s finally done
even if you only dip it
in the old paintcan
once in a blue moon
or you’re one of those
six-jobs-a-day
touch up artists;
whether it’s a straight,
long-bristled detail brush
with a customized grip
or a bulky twelve-inch
cement floor roller,
no matter what kind of
medium you’re spreading
—matte, satin, or glossy —
you’ll save yourself a big
headache later on if you
wash it down afterwards.

And you guys with the big
power sprayers: remember
to wipe down your hoses
and flush them out often.
You don’t want them to
get all gummed-up and
rot away from inside;
and pay special attention
to that tricky nozzle area.

Always remember this:
a well-maintained tool will
give you years of service,
but if you don’t scrub it
down between jobs
you’ll pay for it in the end.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Couched

Eunoia Review (Online) March 2018

After he deposits her at the therapist’s office, he goes down to the bookstore cafe and settles in for an afternoon coffee. Before very long, the therapist shows up and she’s with him. They look like a couple, out for an afternoon on the town. They don’t see him right away, and it seems to him that he’s watching two people he’s never met before. He wants to go over and tell them what a lovely couple they make, how he wishes he had a girlfriend as lovely as she, but he tries to keep his mind on his coffee instead, even though it’s so suddenly bitter. A few minutes later, she spots him at his corner table and waves, but doesn’t smile.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Coyote

Cabinet of Heed (Online) February 2018

Coyote only comes to town once or maybe twice during the tundra months, dragging his game leg and leaving an odd print in the deep snow down by the place where the gray silent river turns toward the north. He’s tired of the hard-won slim pickings starvation diet he scratches out from under the hard-packed snow cover. He’s fed up with putting out a full day’s labor for a three-minute reward.

This time when Coyote comes to town he’s looking for a little something extra; something a cold and half-starved beast can take his time sinking his teeth into. He’ll be out there, relaxed and happy, well-dressed, late at night, smiling and coaxing some sweet piece of easy prey into his waiting snare. Few can resist him or, once he turns on the charm, even want to.

Back in the forest, Coyote always had to take whatever he needed by force. There was neither time nor need for either stealth or finesse. Survival suffered no flourish, no filigree. But here, under the protective eaves of balsam and hemlock, inside the sheltering windbreak of the common town, Coyote could afford the luxury of laying-in-wait, the methodical stalk before the inevitable pounce.

It was weeks before the corpses began to accumulate; weeks before his grisly handiwork became apparent; before the bloodstained snowdrifts, driven by wind, gave up their horrible secrets.

There was massive carnage before anyone even knew that Coyote had come to town.