The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:34 am Thursday, June 7, 2018

“South Dakota, Here We Come.”

By Linda Barnette

John and I always traveled by car because that method of transportation allowed us to go places without specific itineraries.  In the summer of 1995, we set out to see the West, specifically the Black Hills of South Dakota.  As we were driving along the interstate in Illinois, I spotted a sign that read Galesburg, home of Carl Sandburg. Naturally, we took that exit.  Sandburg’s house was tiny, only 3 rooms, not the sort of place that one would imagine producing such a great writer.  The more interesting section was the yard, where the stepping stones have carved into them quotes from his works.  Those stones take one to Remembrance Rock, where his ashes are buried.  The bronze marker beside the rock says “…for it could be a place to come to remember.”

We stopped at several other places along the way, notably the Corn Palace in the small town of Mitchell, South Dakota.  It was built in the late 1800’s as a showcase for the area’s agricultural products.  The building is decorated all over with ears of corn, many forming murals.  The corn is replaced and new murals placed each year. The building was indeed unique, and we would never have seen it either had we flown.

We drove through the Black Hills and the Badlands also. The Black Hills are a small mountain range in the larger area of the Badlands. They look dark from a distance, thus the name.  The Badlands are desolate.  One can drive for a long while without any signs of civilization.  Of course, I thought a lot about how the discovery of gold in that area displaced the Cheyenne and the Lakota Indians whose home this place had been for generations.

Of course, we visited Mt. Rushmore, a very impressive site. We stood in line and took our turn to look through the telescope to see the famous monument. It’s definitely the kind of sight that leaves you speechless.

We also went to Deadwood, a small town that was home to several Indian tribes before the discovery of gold “in them thar hills.” With the arrival of hundreds of prospectors came outlaws, so Deadwood became a lawless place full of gold diggers and people running from the law.  Now it’s a nice tourist attraction although far off the beaten path, which was probably why it was a haven for crooks.  We panned for gold there also, but the closest thing we got to gold was a piece of jewelry I bought there!

The best part of the trip was a visit to Custer State Park.  The huge herds of bison were magnificent although a little scary as they wandered loose, and we were out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by them!  Wild donkeys also walked all over the road, but the cutest creatures of all were the hundreds of prairie dogs jumping around.

That was a memorable vacation, and we saw many places we would have missed had we flown.

“Survival Skills”

By N. R. Tucker

I love screens on windows and doors. Living in Italy taught me that. Northern Italy boasts weather similar to North Carolina, but in the late 1980s, no one in our village had air conditioning. Humidity was high, and the heat in the summer was oppressive. Italy closed down for reposo (afternoon break) for a few hours every day when the heat was at its worst. They still do. Windows and doors to balconies were open all summer. We dealt with the flying critters the same way the Italians did, with a fly swatter.

On a particularly hot and humid day in June, I was already cranky when I noticed a lizard on the spiral staircase staring at me. It batted its eyes as if to say, “Catch me if you can.”

Challenge accepted! Flies were one thing, but lizards? Not even in an alternate reality did lizards belong in my house. I grabbed the nearest weapon at my disposal, which turned out to be my preschool-aged son’s plastic golf club. I proceeded to chase the lizard up the spiral staircase, jumping over the gates at the bottom and top of the stairs.

The lizard ran out on the upstairs balcony, but then it made a daring turn, running between my legs and down the stairs. With a war cry (it was not a scream), I followed, jumping the gates again to land on the main floor. Through the dining room and kitchen, I chased the lizard, swinging my weapon frequently but never making contact with the offending creature. Eventually, the lizard tired of the game, ran out on the balcony, and disappeared out of sight.

My daughter slept through the entire experience. My son had the poor taste to laugh. When my husband arrived home, I told him of my brave assault on a menace to our family. He also laughed. The men in my family have poorly developed survival skills, but I refrained from chasing them with the golf club.

Until the day we moved, I continued to do battle with the lizards, though not always with a plastic club. I never won a fight, and no lizards were harmed during our skirmishes. The family continued to be amused by my efforts.

“Summer Nights”

Julie Terry Cartner

The heavy, humid air sinks down upon the earth

As night’s curtain slowly obliterates the last rays of the setting sun,

And the fragrant blooms of honeysuckle perfume the night.

Dark clouds silkily slide across the evening sky

Playing peek-a-boo with the crescent moon.

Stars glitter in the patches of sky not obscured by the clouds,

And the air, heavy laden with moisture, weighs down upon me,

As heavy as the burdens of adulthood resting on my shoulders.

And yet, as I swing gently on the oaken porch swing,

The creak of the chains as comforting as a baby’s cradle,

The swish of the to and froing a soothing sound,

I watch, as enthralled as I was when I was but a child,

While the fireflies perform their age old dance,

Twinkling and sparkling in the dense night air,

Calling out to the child in me, in each of us,

To cast off worries that only weigh us down,

To find a jar with a hole-punched lid,

And run, willy-nilly, chasing Nature’s faerie lights,

To Frolic with the fireflies.

“So Sayeth PeeBee the Dog”

By Sandra Vance

Well, daddy and me went to the river last week (mama says last week, I don’t know time) to see it. ITWASRUNNINGOVERTHEBOATROADTHINGANDFAST!! So, I just stuck my feet in and sipped some water, and that was enough. I like to see the river. It is bigger than the pond, and things that I do not know what they are go by sometimes. Sometimes there are other humans there, and sometimes my daddy talks to them. But lots of times, we just look at the water.

The other night, there was a very loud noise outside our home that sounded so strange. My daddy said it was a bobcat! I had to come inside because my parents do not want me to tangle with a bobcat, they said. I bet I could beat that bobcat because I am a DOG! But daddy says no, PeeBee. Bobcats are wild and can be mean! (But it is still a cat and I am a DOG)

Yesterday my daddy and mama went away and took food with them. Mama said they were going to a reunion. I thought she said a re-onion and wondered what would make an onion need a re…oh well. They came back after a while, and then later they went away again! I stayed inside this time because a storm was coming, and I don’t like to be outside in a storm. The thunder scares me! Night time came and daddy and mama FINALLY came home!

When they are gone, I put my two front feet on the black thing under the window and look out to see when they are coming back. I miss them, but I take naps then. Yesterday I took a nap behind the couch because of the storm which really was just lots of rain. There is no rain right now, so I am outside. I will sleep some and then go back inside to see what my mama is cooking.

So sayth PeeBee the Dog.