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Ronald Shields

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Breaking Branches
I have returned to take Aunt Vicki to the place she will likely die. Home where I spread thin my youth has become bitter with death. I don’t know how my brother can live here. The old woman comes quiet as a saint. The day wears on, we begin to stretch taut ...

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The Color and Music
You can almost hear the click, in the dark, in the heart, in the silence. A note, then another, flows over the crowd, a wave sliding up the sandcastle wall, washing it down to nothing, taking it back to the sea; this pearl of a note, repeated into a strand ...

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Tossing a Ball
I look at my dogs and wonder why they like chasing the ball. Rabbits and squirrels I get; the ball must have a magic all its own. 20 years after Annie Barker’s dress lifted above her waist as she ran for a touchdown I married her – still I marvel at the dai...

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Cold and dark in the morning, talk comes at a price. It is a bargain with the waitress and the diners get what they need.   The eggs are served with sympathy for another birthday missed. The road is more than miles for the trucker who takes them over hard. ...

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Jubal Archer's False Horizon
Brown fallow fields ladder across the hills to a false horizon. I am no longer able to see beyond these simple fields and hills, or fathom the distance beyond the buoys in the harbor. That world is on the far side of my vision.   Early stars hang over the w...

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Diamonds in the Street
I wait in the rain for a taxi. The street is newly paved, a scent of smoke and oil hovers, curling in the air. Flecks of light reflect in the water, reminding me of diamonds.   There wasn’t any pavement where we lived on the coast, only snow, gravel and mud...

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Birch Grove By Stephanie Williams Broken skin on the birch trees; curled silver taking in the light and returning a muted glow to the air. I wonder, do they prefer this smoky light to the carnival glare of unbridled sun? There is a gravity about the atmosph...

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Yeah, it’s less than you think, what you see. It is nothing more than the debris we bring, like the pianos settlers dragged over the Great Divide, deepening the ruts for the next wave of pilgrims. It’s not insubstantial, this debris, after all we have made ...

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The Great Plains
“Nature includes too much and art can’t include enough.”   The gold that shines off prairie grass as the sun comes to rest on the butte, the absolute black shadow in gullies scythed by flashing water, the expanse of blue, shading to red above the sun, secti...

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Speeding Through the Rez, 1963
The sun beats down on tin roofs, a burning fist from God – the One who made the cactus flower bloom, and needles to protect it.   Two boys lock eyes at 70 mph. The bronze one standing still, surrounded by flowers and needles. The white one protected by his ...
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