Steel doors

We headed to court in a bucking van, but it couldn’t shake me out of a major funk. For eight days, I had slept, cold and alone, in the keep of a forbidding gray monolith. I had been snatched away with no phone call home – or to an attorney – and thrown in jail with others who hadn’t asked to be there. I had observed, trying to decipher where I  fit, if I fit. They seemed okay, but what did I know. I’d never met a real inmate before and certainly hadn’t been forced to mingle with a pack of them, eat with them or learn their language.

In the van came much brooding. I had committed a misdemeanor. Didn’t matter. Guards in basic black made sure I couldn’t do much except stare at – or away from – my fellow inmates. Just like me, ankles and wrists chafed in steel.

“What’d you do?” asked a baby-faced inmate with arms-full of faces and a woman’s name and swirls and geometric shapes done in lots of color, like red, and with apparent skill.

            Say nothing! You’ve done nothing to trigger awe or fear, like murder. Your response might draw unwanted attention – and laughs.

I kept my distance. That was after the steel doors slammed for the first time. And that was after the last time I texted her. And that was before hobbling to court that day.

Now, I took my place in a trail of orange, stutter-stepping along with about two dozen others, our hands and ankles still shackled. Even though this would be my last day in chains, I had to endure one last trial. It would come, though, without those damn doors and their metal explosion like the clap of death.

To be continued with next post, coming soon!

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Notice on courthouse wall

Barely seen

barely peeking

under clutch of notices like leaves

from a tree barely hung

about to fall


Hands dig though

discord notice isolated


Unclaimed body

Clayton Anderson

died Jan. 16, pneumonia –

still with us —

must be claimed by

March 16, or will be

disposed as per county code

notice dated Jan. 20


“That’s terrible,”

A man says as he hurries by


Another man strolls by

bulging case of papers mouth moves

“Yeah,” he says to a blue

thing on the side of his head


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Village elder

Honduras,  20180274 nn

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Chuck Wanager, author

author page 6.13.18

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China blue

The design shop owner spoke to a friend on her phone, a big brown box of Grandma’s china sat on the counter, an arc of my covenant, an opening in top where the word could get out, but not today

Yes, she would see her friend soon, the owner said. She walked around a table in burnt umber and talked and gazed to the sun and mouthed words and I faded. Could I give this up?

These willows and peacock hovering in blue jasmine on bone white? Came out on holidays  and we saw them and admired them and Grandma ran her hand across them and gazed into our past

She always said it was Blue Willow a special kind of plate with a special pattern with a  special kind of value, too. Did she know the difference? The woman and others, too, shook their heads.

My throwing-out period began a few weeks before, and I went to a shop and a crusted old man with skin bone white and dirt patina said he would give me $20 for it all.

What? I should just give away my arc? Yeah, I know it’s not Blue Willow and, yeah, I know the market has gone to hell in a brown box, but for that? Just that? I went away.

I waited for the woman. When she put down her phone, she said, yeah, not so much. And I went back to the dirt man and he was closed for the day.

Sun came up warm with a promise of even warmer as April dawned. “When does he open?” meaning that day, I asked. “Come back tomorrow morning.” A man said.

“Oh, okay, I got you. Wrong day.” “Yeah,” he said, and smiled. “What do you have?” I had a big brown box of old china. He said talk to him, the owner. “Ok.”

“Is that all you got?” the man called as I walked away. “China?”

“China? … yes,” I nodded. He looked over from his work.

“Got any pots and pans?”













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Young man

Young man

big red can

frozen to camper

big white old

ready to go – cold

Stocking cap

purple in back

stung hands chapped

bitter wind slapped

strong gray bold

temps break mode

Sleeping bag lady

large green weighty

cold type cries to many

“Out of work! Hungry!”

hurry blue groc bag

filled to top – sags

Onto Interstate

new black hard

camper pulls out

lady starts to shout

need a ride, man

young man cold slam


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Love the sun season

photo by Chuck Wanagerflower 1 McIntosch 8.23.09

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