Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Circle Unbroken

A good while back, I posted this story and forgot about it.  This Monday I went to our writers' critique meeting and I had nothing new, so I pull this one out of the pile and read it.  It was interesting how there were varied opinions on the "meaning" and "direction of the story; maybe it doesn't make any sense.  I thought "what the heck", I asked another writer friend to look at it and they whacked it to "smitheriens", but I like the suggestions they made.  I figured that I would run it back through the ringer one more time and hopefully someone will give me their idea(s) on what the durn thing is about.  sooooo.....

A Circle Unbroken aka Old Fence Post

The blue 59 Chevrolet Apache pickup easily climbed the grassy knoll looking down on the valley of the neighboring landscape. The Texas summer had been hot, way hot. He hated winter, but the tilt of the planet had finally allowed a crispness to fall upon the bristling grass. The cirrus clouds painted a giant canvas of O’keeffeian beauty in the western horizon. The panorama reflected off the polished aqua blue paint on the hood of the old truck, mirroring the picturesque light show. It would soon be dark.
Turning the key off, the six cylinder engine came to a complete stop. He just sat there listening to the crackling of the hot engine cooling down in the fall air. Reaching his arm out the window, the chrome button on the door handle easily unhooked the latch of the door; the inside latch mechanism had long been broken. The truck was old. He had actually taken his driving test forty two years earlier in this same truck. You hold onto old friends that have helped you along over the years.

That fence was not going to fix itself. Replacing a single post would hobble through the winter. He and his daddy had strung this fence when he was still in high school. Tough, but the elements and time had given it’s toll on the whole run of fence. The loamy Texas dirt was soft so digging the hole next to the existing post was finished in short order. Hammering the galvanized staples into the new post, securing the old rusty barbed wire would take very little time.

An orange ray of Texas sunset reflected off the rolled up window of the passenger door on to the old dilapidated post. The smooth decades-old surface was cracked and splintered. The barbed wire had left scars and discoloring up and down its torso. Still upright, the Old Codger like post had served its intention well.

With a grunt and a shuffle, he clawed around behind the seat and finally found his fencing pliers. Grabbing the head of the long since rusted staples, he gave each one a twist and a pull. The evening wind let out a sigh of relief as the wires dangled free from its crimped existence With a “whoomp“, the new post found its new footing; it was ready to take over in this relay of performance. Three whacks each on the wire strands and the new staples were set to hold. Throwing the pliers back under the seat, he stopped and looked at the old post. Working it forward and sideways, soon the dirt had loosened around the footing. The post landed with a clatter in the bed of the truck. You don’t just throw away something that has helped you along over the years.

Darkness was winning the battle. He glanced at the empty hole. Not sure if you make a sound if no one is there to hear you, but the old codger spoke with a chuckle,

“That’s a hell‘uva note”, when you’re finished as a fence post they take you out of a hole and put you in one when you start out”.

“Sounds kinda backerds to me”

“Old Blue“ roared to life the instant he touched the starter button.


  1. Smitheriens? OUCH! I think this is great story, and I love the way you humanize the old post. Oh, the cycle of life, so backward in a way...

  2. I think it's about life. I'll leave it at that.

  3. What it's about? What it's about???? You damn well know what it's about. It's hell getting old. Do we still have worth? How are we valued? You ARE Mr. Glenn. I wrote a little poem called "Rust"


    Things left unattended
    take life
    from our procrastination
    their procreation
    born of our burden
    but not our labor

    such beauty
    makes us wonder
    if we ought toil
    at all

  4. Glenn, you have a wonderful way with detail...but you can make it stronger. You know the old saying, show, not tell? You can show more. For example, telling: "The Texas summer had been hot, way hot," vs. showing; The grass had long since whithered to a pale grey under the scalding summer sun. Telling: "...picturesque light show," Showing: The sun bled like a dripping wound as it dropped behind the bruised clouds."

    Another suggestion? Try not to write in passive tense: Passive: " digging the hole next to the existing post was finished in short order" Active:...the shovel slipped into earth that crumbled like dry oatmeal.

    One more thing. Stay away from cliches. Find another way to say what you want to say. "finished in short order" could become: finished before the truck engine had time to stop ticking.

    Glenn, you have such an refine it!

    I hope you don't mind this long winded critique...I just know that we all want to get better as writers and how will we unless our peers help us out? Best wishes and thank you for all the support you've given me.

  5. Glenn, I love you... just... as you are. And I really love "painted a giant canvas of O'Keefeian beauty." I read your blogs because I love your imagery. Oh--also love Wine and Words' poem. Perfect!

  6. beautifully said.. with so much intricacy.. loved to read the post :)

  7. Do you have to write about old things. 'Tis getting personal now.

    But you keep writing 'em so well.

  8. what's it about? all we've got and all we are.

    goddurnnit, i like old things. and not just for sentimental value but because they're ripe with the good stuff. rust and old staples only make it all the prettier.

    love this dearly, glenn.


  9. I am glad you came back to this story..weatherbeaten but also the comfort of well worn paths..there's a book that was written by a bus driver over here about a guy who puts up probably has a really obvious title but I can't find it on Google..if I remember will get back to might enjoy reading about hammering fence posts into squishy grass rather than than Texan soil! ..Jae

  10. Aha found it - 'The Restraint of Beasts' by Magnus Mills..Jae

  11. I'm thankful for having the opportunity to meet you. You are an honest Texas man with integrity and it shows in your writing. It will be a pleasure to spend time reading through your previous posts :)

  12. i felt like i was standing in that field, next to that fence, close enough to the truck to see the rust spots.

    great piece, glenn. you put the reader in the scene in a visceral way.

  13. It's brought to life right in front of us. You create beautifully with words.