Wendy Taylor Carlisle


To experience more work by this writer, explore her new chapbook DESIGNATION, available now from O:JA&L’s BUTTONHOOK PRESS.

It’s Hip to be Square by Terri Edwards

I swore I wouldn’t come back to the beach but here I am for a month. Here I am, come back from the new place where I fled hoping to turn my regrettable childhood around. Last week, unturned, I was dry and afraid and thinking of history, remembering the past I said I wouldn’t look back on until pigs flew.

I once said I’d look back when swine took wing. But the passage away was longer than I imagined, more distant and chill and there was a good deal of empty in the elsewhere. So, despite the impulse to resist the domestic and my desire to stay discrete from my old address, I’m returning from my hero’s journey.

I judge myself less heroic now and because there’s so much to know, I know less than I did. I mastered some skills, learned how to avoid, learned how to say ‘stop.’ I’m warmer, slower, perhaps more humane and a little less judgey. I left some judgment behind with the kudzu and the bless your heart. I’m less bless your heart now.

On the flight home, my actual heart lifted with the plane for no reason.. I would ordinarily never feel hopeful about the past but what about shrimp and grits? What about just plain grits or shrimp and lobster? Because even if I said sarcastically “memory is an old folks pastime,” so it is and I’m stuck with that sarcasm as with any other bent dictum.

My favorite dictum is keep swimming, water over the gills, or you die, even as I recall the horse barn, the Spanish moss on the cypress, chicken killings in the neighbors’ yard and Sunday patent leather—you know, the good things. In this way, euphoric recall yields to hunger and all at once, I’m back on the beach.


About the writer:
Wendy Taylor Carlisle writes in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of three books and five chapbooks. Her book, The Mercy of Traffic, was released in 2019. She has 11 times been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and twice for best of web.

Image: It’s Hip to be Square by Terri Edwards. Acrylic and pastel on canvas. 12 x 12 inches. No completion date specified. By permission.

About the artist:
Terri Edwards is an internationally collected artist, having achieved success initially with her mixed media collages, playing with paper and paint, mark-making and gestural brush strokes. Her recent work has been in intuitive abstract art, but she maintains an interest in her early specialty of realistic mixed-media collages. Edwards’s core belief is that art has the power to transform, uplift, and enlighten.