Treehouse

online magazine for short, good writing

5 Things about an Easel

by Treehouse Editors

from Linda Conroy, author of The Way of Neighbors

1. Twice I’ve owned one, twice have given it away.

2. I thought I wanted lushness of another life, modest help for my intentions, a guarantee of restful nights. I thought I wanted mystery, a way to find true artistry without the grind of too much work so I bought an easel, strong of back, and plain of face, its three feet still on earth.

3. In art class sometimes, feeling shy, I can’t cope with the paint. It doesn’t go the way I want. I hide behind the easel, though it trips me with its legs spread out, or leers, leaning on grey walls, with paint still wet, the brushes needing to be rinsed, put back into the jar beside the sink. The canvas, though, is steady, twenty degrees from vertical, suggesting life propped open, waiting. A framework, tripod, a tall support, a wooden form upon the desk or standing on the floor, asking “am I something you could use? Would you rest your half-formed collage on this ledge, edge of the artist you’re beginning to become?”

4. In winter when snow forms banks and drifts, and squirrels, groundhogs, hibernate, I see evergreens dot steep-sloped mountain sides, and the sun slides quickly, leaving blue shadows longer than the trees, like fingers pointing in a landscape of mixed media on nature’s easel, murmuring “paint.”

5. The Dutch word for donkey, ezel, meant to carry weight.


Linda Conroy is a retired social worker who likes to observe the simplicity and complexity of the human connections which inform and foreshadow the art of writing poetry. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Third Wednesday, Shot Glass, The Penwood Review, Washington 129, The Poeming Pigeon, Clover – A Literary Rag, and Raven Chronicles.

The Way of Neighbors

by Treehouse Editors

Linda Conroy

With rain from empty sky, fall came fast, unexpected, even after all this time. Strange to be dark again at seven, then at six, time to tuck in, close the curtains, cushion coming doubt. Harsh division day from night, in from out, splits liveliness from sleep, unless, as is the threat, the good game changer, snow. It will be a brighter place here then, pulling us outside with shovels, brooms and salt, bringing neighbors, dogs and children out, and Mary next door with her red coat says, wait, after we have dug and swept, I have some apple cider, let’s make punch. Macs and boots stack in her hall. The kitchen fills and long-told stories creep from dusty shelves. Remember when Clement broke his leg the day the barn came down, and Silas married Sarah in three feet of snow. The minister was booked, so Silas said we had to go ahead and others stamped their feet and dug a path. Good thing we only had to come from here, someone said.


Linda Conroy is a retired social worker who likes to observe the simplicity and complexity of the human connections which inform and foreshadow the art of writing poetry. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Third Wednesday, Shot Glass, The Penwood Review, Washington 129, The Poeming Pigeon, Clover – A Literary Rag, and Raven Chronicles.

5 Ways of Seeing the Moon (Who is Also My Grandfather)

by Treehouse Editors

from Finola McDonald, author of Denial

1. Against all the darkness of the small, city–suburb that was my home. Curious how
something so big could be so small against the night. Also wondering
if I could ever look as magnificent
under the same circumstances.

2. Getting off the bus at dusk a few blocks from our tired, green, house.
Surprised to see him out at this time, still carrying faint stains
on his whiteness that time so graciously lent him.

3. At midnight, still up, peering through the kitchen window
at the blue walls, and the land line,
shining a faint light
on the pantry.

4. Through the rearview mirror while I rush to leave,
catching him for a moment, imagining he is saying
goodbye, don’t forget to fill the tank
before returning to his present atmosphere that I
am moving further from.

5. Looking for him through the cracks
in bedroom doors, or by the meat market,
greeting strangers, asking my grandmother who says:

“He’ll be up soon, love, he’s just down for a nap.”


Finola McDonald is a Bronx native and coffee enthusiast with a thing for writing. She is currently completing her undergraduate studies at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, NY.

Denial

by Treehouse Editors

Finola McDonald

the last time
I went into town
there were bodies in the convenience store

strangled with garlands
of their own
misfortune.

I knelt beside them,
thanked them as I plucked
rubies
from their eye sockets

           and continued on
to the milk aisle.


Finola McDonald is a Bronx native and coffee enthusiast with a thing for writing. She is currently completing her undergraduate studies at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, NY.

KIT

by Treehouse Editors

D. Marquel

              She always did
              like
              seeing him
hang

on

her

ellipses –

              on a leash
long enough
to leave
              the illusion of freedom.

              When he whistled
her way,
              she faded away,
melting,

and
bleeding
              indiscernibly
              into color.

              She had an appetite,
              apparently,
              for the semi-sweet,
              and after all,

              grains of salt
              and sugar ​do
              feel the same
at 3 am.

              Word is,
              she still gets a rush
              at imaginary glances –

              at the chance to drag him
              all the way to the edge,
expectant,
unsheathed
              stalactites
              salivating,
smeared
              in burnt cork,

              and would,
              too,
              if not for the tugging
              at her own choke chain
              designed to keep her
in tow.


D. Marquel was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been featured in Chaleur Magazine (July 2018), San Diego Writers, Ink: A Year in Ink Anthology (Vol. 11), City Works Journal (Vols. 23 and 25), and by So Say We All’s VAMP reading series. You can find his work-in-progress at www.instagram.com/d.marquel. He currently resides in San Diego, CA.

 

5 Ideas about an Afterlife

by Treehouse Editors

from Bailey Bridgewater, author of The Congregation

I’m an atheist, and one of the best things about being non-religious is that it allows a person to evaluate different religious ideas pretty objectively, without any commitment.  It’s like if your friend handed you her phone and asked you to do her Tinder swiping for her.  It’s entertaining, and you can evaluate the choices brutally, curiously, without having to directly deal with the consequences. I believe that when we die, you, me, and all those people on Tinder are simply dead–nothing more, nothing less.  Yet ideas about the afterlife captivate me, so I share with you here five ideas my good friends and questionable family members hold about the afterlife.

1. We re-live the same life in perpetuity. This theory is held by a good friend who has a graduate degree in Mathematics, which gives him some level of credibility–not because graduate students are trustworthy, but because anyone who can deal with numbers at that level has access to mysteries of the universe that most of us can’t or simply don’t want to understand. He believes that not just the individual, but the entire universe participates in an endless cycle of creation and destruction that goes the same way every single time, and thus we all live the same exact life over, and over, and over, never able to correct our mistakes or even remember that we made them. You’ll always lose that key, always miss your boat, always say the wrong thing, always realize a little too late. Always. It’s the most depressing of the theories I’ve heard. There’s no justice in it.

2. We are reincarnated on down the food chain. My great-grandmother lived by far the longest of anyone in my family, which is its own argument for some sort of God–surely nothing that’s out there would have wanted her back. What she lacked in overall goodness, she made up for in fanciful ideas.  Despite her Methodist upbringing, she believed that we’re all reincarnated–a not uncommon idea worldwide. But her reincarnation was ruthless. You only come back as a human if you were pure as the driven snow and right as the unpolluted rain.  Screw up a couple times, and you might come back as a donkey.  Screw up a lot, maybe you’ll be a possum. Manage to mess it up so badly that your kids don’t come to your deathbed, and you’ve got a good shot at cockroach–which means, ironically, a reward of near immortality. There’s a chance you might kill a cockroach that is my great-grandmother.

3. We live again, this time as someone close to us.  All right, so this was my idea, and I don’t actually believe it. I thought it up as a comforting punishment after divorcing an abusive ex.  What if my great-grandmother’s reincarnation idea was on track, but instead of a wolf or a goat, we came back as someone who had an impact on our life, for better or worse? We would feel the pain we caused that person, or the joy, and we would see what had been ourselves from this new perspective.  It could be a strange form of heaven or hell, depending on how much of an ass you were.

4. There’s totally a dog heaven. Totally. One common denominator among both the religious and non-religious folks I know is that they all sincerely want to believe in a pet heaven. One acquaintance of mine is so looking forward to seeing his deceased pets again that he has a tattoo of himself running out of the void and down the rainbow bridge, where his animals are all running to greet him. If there is any justice in the afterlife, there is a place where we can be reunited with our animal companions, or at least where they can eternally play with one another. If there’s not, it’s just further proof that there is no higher being.

5. All is forgiven, if you remember to repent right before the ax falls. My grandmother, a devout Catholic who was apparently so religious that she almost never had to go to church, firmly believed that no matter what you did in life, if you repented on your deathbed, lucidly, honestly, then all was forgiven. (She also believed in curses and ghosts, and would sit on the sofa to talk to her deceased sister well before she developed dementia and Alzheimer’s. I don’t know where all this fit in with her religion.) It didn’t matter if you were a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile–so long as you repented, God would allow you into heaven. I often wonder if, given that she died not knowing where, when, or sometimes who she was, she remembered to say her “my bad’s” in time.

5 Ways in Which My Ideas Are Like My Garden

by Treehouse Editors

from Karen Collier, author of The Gift

1. Sometimes my ideas are like clematis. They are so dawdling I forget I planted them until the day I notice they’ve overrun the trellis.

2. Sometimes my ideas are like coreopsis. They leap their boundaries, and I must rip them out by their roots.

3. Sometimes my ideas are like flame acanthus. They immediately perish but then pop up the next year in the most unexpected places.

4. Sometimes my ideas are like pigeonberry. As soon as I plant them, they are stolen, not surprisingly, by the pigeons.

5. Sometimes my ideas are like mealy blue sage. They grow tall and strong in exactly the place I planted them.