BFA Faculty Writing Samples

 

– Excerpt from Moments of Being: An Antarctic Quintet by Gretchen Legler, from The Georgia Review, Winter 2002:

Gretchen Georgia Review thumbnail

 

 

 

From “Helen of Troy” by Patricia O’Donnell

This is the one thing he has to do, dial these numbers, punch in the numbers and don’t make a mistake here on the couch in the dark room, hair sticking out and fingers trembling in the faint light from the window, following the numbers written on the piece of paper glowing before his eyes, the numbers trembling as if they are sick and he isn’t. As if they are alive, as if they are the story of his life. The numbers are her breasts, rising in the dark room, the music she listened to without him; they are his youth, rising to meet the sun on any number of riverbanks, they are her tears as she cries for him–this woman cried for him–they are her belly, rising above her like a mountain he placed there, her eyes, her face crying for him, saying Frank, Frank, don’t you leave me please, please Frank. He finishes dialing and sits listening, breathing deeply into the phone, searching for the lost key to his life. When she picks up with a click and he hears her, hears that voice he has longed to hear, he knows it is her, knows it is her and the love he’s lived for, what he’s been thinking of all these years, all he manages is to say her name, Gloria, to breathe it into the phone at last, to hear its meaning, and he knows.

 

 

The Very Best of Wind Upman by Nathaniel Minton

Five Chapters

 

Jokes by Jeffrey Thomson

1.

As the joke begins a doe walks

out of the forest and the trees

time-lapse up into the sky and

ferns unfiddle in the sudden fog.

The doe steps out of the forest

and shakes her head, blocky

and big-eyed.  She labors into

the numb bracken.  The doe

steps out of the forest, shakes

her head and says, God

and a pole of light breaks through

the fog and pins her to the gap

in the trees she has just made.

The doe steps out of the forest

shakes her head and says God,

I’ll never do that again and the trees

behind her apron a litter of bottles.

 

2.

Two guys lost in the woods

stumble upon a giant hole

in the narrative and stop

their discussion about the doe

that stepped out of the woods

and begin tossing things down

the hole, because that’s what

a hole demands, after all

(the center of the story,

the vortex where all things

come together and miss).

And when they’ve dropped

all they can find into the hole

and no sound echoes up

from the bottom of that space

to fill the hollowness inside,

they set off in a search

of something heavy enough

to fill the hole with noise,

and what they find is

a railroad tie and they cart it

over and toss it in. Fortunately

for them, just then, a goat

sprints out of the brush,

pumping its origami of legs,

and dives into the hole.

They stand bent as wet grass

looking down into the hole

hoping to find some answers

to all the questions that arise

from a silent hole filled with nothing

and a goat. Just then a farmer

shambles up and says in his accent

ripe as rotten pears, Hey, you boys

seen a goat around here?

 

3.

Two guys (two different guys,

mind you.  The first two

 

are still staring down

into a hole in the woods

 

and wondering about the farmer

and what, if anything, they should say

 

about the goat that dove

into their lives and the hole in it)

 

two guys walk into a bar.

The third one ducked.

 

4.

A duck walks into a bar,

blue head gleaming and plumes

the mottle of sun-worn asphalt,

 

says to the bartender:

Hey, you seen my brother

around here?

And the bartender

looks at the duck for a minute,

then says, Well, what he look like?

 

5.

Two guys, a duck and a goat walk into a bar.

 

Bartender says, What is this, some kind of joke?

 

6.

And so the farmer says, You two boys

seen my goat around here?

 

And the two guys say, Well there was

this goat just a minute ago ran up

and dove right in this hole.

 

7.

The duck shakes his blue head,

smoothes his plumes the color

of gravel.   The goat says

nothing, goes on saying

nothing as he falls forever

down a hole.  In saying nothing

the goat says all that needs to be

said about a hole in the woods.

 

8.

And the farmer says, Nah, that weren’t my goat. 

My goat’s tied up to a railroad tie.

 

10.

The two guys finally find

their way out of the woods

and into a bar planked

with pine and windows

full of the small light

that struggles through

the trees.  Two does

shoulder through

frames above the bar.

They turn their heads

expectant in the fragrant

air, eyes dead as dice.

 

The two guys are sick

of jokes and the hole

at the middle of each one,

sick of the duck and

his vanity, the goat

who now kneels down

in the corner, content

to be doing anything

other than falling forever

down a hole.  Unable

 

to resist, one guy

finally says to the other,

So this doe walks out

of the woods, shakes

her head and says, God,

I’ll never do that again

for two bucks. Nobody

  1. They order

a shot and a beer and sit

drinking the heart out

of bright spring day.