Forsaken Gallery: Fordson Power Major

Forsaken Gallery: Fordson Power Major

This Fordson tractor is at my cousin’s house. Many members of my family love to collect junk with the thought of future repair — but it often gets abandoned to more pressing projects and time. Farms have a way of doing that to you — stealing away even the best intentions. It is not at all unusual to find tractors, combines, plows, and other implements simply left where they were last used. I love the added effect of the tools in the seat, all growing moss and rust along with the tractor itself. It makes you wonder what life intervened in this tractor’s repair — what was the last thought before laying down the tools in the seat and moving on never to return?

About the Forsaken Gallery

Forsaken objects fascinate me.

What we leave behind, abandon, relinquish, disown, junk, dump and scrap absolutely amazes me. It says a lot about who we are as a culture, that forsaken objects are in abundance throughout our world. It says a lot about an individual as to what unique forsaken objects he or she has discarded.

Junk and junk yards have been a favorite photographic haunt of mine since my very first camera. Some of the very first images I made were of disavowed items. They are a favorite subject in this blog. They include everything from living breathing animals to houses; tractors to Anastazi Ruins; trucks to trinkets; skulls to shells.



Powerful. Capable. Confident.


All of these words describe Holly True, the subject in this image.

Around the ranch, she has been dubbed the Stallion Master. That should tell you a lot considering she’s only 18. She is an accomplished horse trainer. She is well educated — she can talk with you articulately and all in the same conversation about politics, poetry and philosophy. She can, as her title suggests, handle stallions — as well as mares, foals, and riding horses. She is good with a gun. She can do whatever the task is at hand — gates, trucks, hay, trailers …

She never backs down. She is always ready for what’s next. That is Holly.

In this image, it looks to me like she’s ready to ride the NEXT horse she decides to cut from the herd.

We’ve all heard the story of some {insert country} tribe that doesn’t allow cameras because they {ignorantly} feel that a photograph can steal their soul. We laugh at the concept of someone so backward that they could believe such a notion. But is not that the ultimate goal of a photograph — to set to record the essence of a person, place, animal or object? Not maybe to “steal,” but at the very least to borrow or capture that subject’s truth in that place and in that moment in time.

When I was in college, I was a creative writing major. My favorite format was the short story — still is if you want to know the truth. Once I had a discussion with other writers and we came to the conclusion that novelists were short story writers who didn’t know when to stop writing and short story writers were poets who used too many words. The more economy to the words, the more intense the writing.

When I look at this image its economy of words speaks to me. Whether you glance at it or study it for an hour, it will tell you a story — and that, to me, makes it my favorite photograph out of the 6000 plus images I’ve shot this week.

What’s more, is that I didn’t force the image. As an artist, I trusted my process and I trusted my subject. I didn’t agonize over settings or measure the light; I didn’t try to wrangle the horses or manipulate the scene. I had just been there when Holly dismounted from the horse she’d been riding bareback — actually, she had caught that horse from the herd, jumped on, run full out for a group of photographers and, having completed that,  slid off to release him back to his buddies. When she walked by me, I noticed she had “bareback butt” — and I liked the thought of that in an image, so I had her turn around so I could photograph her dirty jeans. In the background, the herd of horses were milling around where the wranglers were holding them until the photographers could get down the hill to photograph them as they ran down. Next thing I know, this image was in my camera.

As a photographer, as a story teller, this is the best kind of image — real, raw, powerful, authentic and unplanned.

Below are two more images of Holly from this week’s shoots…

Twisted – Chapter 1

Twisted – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 In Progress

I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I would take someone’s life. I woke up thinking about the smudge on the kitchen linoleum.

But that was before the tornado. Tornados change things.

I look up into the tree nearest me, the tree in my front yard, the tree I parked my truck under every day, the tree a truck now appears to be attempting to climb and failing, the tree that now creaked with every sway breeze. It’s limbs were splintered, odd looking now with unnatural lengths and bizarre angles.

This can not be real, I think. I feel utterly detached from my body as if I’m ether or vapor.

I stand up and approach a truck that looks like mine. It is mine, I realize. I know that inside of the truck is my best friend. I know she is dead because her head is gone. I can see that a limb from the tree has erased her face. Her name was Sunny.

The glide up to the truck in the tree. I float myself up the pile of limbs and debris the truck is resting on to reach through the shattered back seat window. Sunny’s purse upside down on the seat. I take it. In its place I shove my purse. I lean forward toward the front window which is also shattered out. I take off my ring, the ring my husband gave me 18 years ago and pick up Sunny’s lifeless hand. I try not to notice the blue tint of her skin or the blood that is drying on her arm. I look away as I slide the ring over her knuckle. I then let myself slide down from the truck and float back to the curb and sit down with Sunny’s purse.

Rain begins to fall. I can feel it cool and wet against my face. It is light and pleasant in an odd way. I pull the purse a little closer to me.

A flapping noise catches my attention, drawing it away from the sad sound of the water line behind me and the worried calls of a woman down the street looking for Henry. I looked up to see a piece of linoleum caught in the broken branches of the tree across the street. The tree that once hid the house of my neighbors the Heshers. The house that I had always wished we would have bought because of the charming front porch and the big deck in the rear.

That was all gone now. The house and the deck.

I stand up, feeling my body for the first time in what seemed hours. I look down. My shoes are stained with drops of blood. My jeans are ripped above the knee on my right leg and the open seam oozes a bloody dark color. I feel no pain. That seems wrong somehow. It doesn’t matter, I tell myself. I reach down and pick up the purse beside me, put it over my shoulder and walk toward the flapping linoleum.

“Henry!” The voice is loud now.

I look up into the open sky and the openness comes crashing in on top of me as I feel the absence of the houses and trees in what once was my neighborhood. The world seems so huge in this moment, as if it the sky expanded, ran wild past its boundaries and swallowed up all the houses and trees and people into its dimension.

I reach up to grab the linoleum shred out of the tree, but it is beyond my fingertips even when stretch to the limit of my tiptoes. As I reach, the purse slides down my arm and catches in the crock of my elbow. I hike it back up again and fall back onto my heels still looking up. The breeze moves the linoleum just enough so I can see the smudge nestled neatly where two lines in the pattern merge. “Damn it,” I say. The spot mocks me as though I were Lady MacBeth. I jump up, reaching with everything I have. I miss. “Fuck,” I say.

“Hennnnrrrry!” The voice is breathless now.

“Henry’s dead,” I yell back. “The fucking tornado ate him!”

The fucking tornado ate my life, I think.

And then I smile.



Gray is honest

it claims nothing
in exposing the lies
of black and white

even in the honeyed light of morning
when ambiguity can seem warm
it casts itself in the shadows

when caught by the moonlight
it will reach into you
sharp and steely
make your breath catch
as it slices away
the security of all
that you once thought
of as truth

The Gospel of the Deer Excerpt

The Gospel of the Deer Excerpt

This is a chapter from my work in progress “The Gospel of the Deer” — stay in touch to read more.

The first time Rod knocked the shit out of me was on a Tuesday afternoon. I remember it distinctly being a Tuesday afternoon because I can remember sitting in the ER bed waiting and thinking how stupid it was to have a fight with your husband so severe that you ended up with a dislocated shoulder and three broken ribs on a stupid Tuesday afternoon. Fights like that should be reserved for a stoned Friday night or midnight Saturday after an all day drunk; but never on a meaningless, sober Tuesday at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Of course I never told the ER staff what really happened. I let Rod tell them a spooked colt ran me over in the hallway of the barn, knocked me head over teakettle into the corner of the wash bay. They believed it. Probably because it was a Tuesday afternoon. Probably because I’d had a couple of previous horse-related incidents. Probably because by the time the explaining got done the creature that had really run me down in the hallway of the barn and slammed me into the wash rack wall had turned back into my caring husband.

He was now so concerned over his wife around “those big, dangerous animals.”

I wanted to yell “BULLSHIT” out from behind the curtain when I overheard him telling this to the doctor and my brother with almost practiced precision. And right there, I did almost tell, but the truth closed up my throat and I choked on it. I was too embarrassed because, irrational as it seems, at that moment in time, I honestly believed it was my fault.

I had come to this conclusion on the ride to the hospital. As I sat in the truck seat, gasping through every pothole on our lousy country roads, Rod promised he’d never do it again — he apologized, he groveled and none of it was working on me — until  he hit on the one thing I couldn’t deny: “You pushed me,” he finally said. “Why the hell did you have to push me!”

I could have answered his question right then and there — I wanted to answer him right then and there — but I didn’t. Being mouthy was now the second instinct I had when I wanted to express myself. If I would have answered, I would have said, “Because you pushed me first.” But I sat quietly, holding my shoulder,  trying to sneak my breath past my broken ribs and realizing with an even more painful certainty that I had, indeed, pushed him — no matter who started it, I had pushed back.

What really happened went like this: I had been working Cody in the round pen and we’d had a great day. He was coming along nicely and I was rejoicing in the idea that I’d soon be able to ride him. I was high on my success and I was no where near tired. It was my day off and I was enjoying it to the fullest so I got Rod’s yearling filly Cricket out and worked her a bit. Then I decided to clean the barn aisle. The horses I’d had tied in there all day had left several fresh piles of manure and I didn’t want to have to fight that the next day when chores would be more hectic. My mistake was this: I had lost complete track of time. I was supposed to meet Rod at his work at the car repair shop at three and then drive him home so he could take the farm truck in for a tune up the next day. I hadn’t forgotten but there are no clocks in the barn and everything all day had been so easy it never dawned on me how late it was really getting.

I guess he waited about an hour for me. Me, out there in the barn, thinking I’m working miracles and moving shit around and not thinking about the time and then here comes Rod, pissed beyond repair. He threw the barn door open and marched up to me with a determination I’d only seen him display once before — and that was the night his mother died. It took me so off guard, I took a step back from him. He reached forward and grabbed my arm and pulled me up to him and said, “Where the fuck were you?”

I was speechless. “What?” I finally managed to mutter, confused.

“Where the fuck have you been. I waited an hour. I’ve been calling and calling. The house, your cell, your mother. Nobody knows where you’ve been. Where the fuck have you been?” He shook me a little.

“Right here,” I said. “What time is it?” I pulled my cell out of my pocket with my free hand. I looked down at it as I pressed the button on the side that would bring it to life. It was dead.

“It’s four fucking fifteen.” And with that said, he pushed me away from him like I was a bad taste and I stumbled backward into the wheelbarrow and sat my ass right down into the fresh manure I’d just been picking up off the barn floor. I felt it seep warm and green into my jeans and the anger swelled up inside me like steam.

“You prick,” I said and flew up out of the wheelbarrow and with both hands pushed him hard against the chest just like he’d pushed me.

“Don’t do that kind of shit to me.” I started to wipe at my butt, but my hand never made it that far around.

He didn’t say a word and all I heard was the rush of air as his fist hit me square in the ribs. All I felt was the impact of breaking bone. I hadn’t been prepared for that and it whipped me around and put me on the ground in a blur. It also knocked  all the air out of my lungs. The pain flashed white hot with my next breath, but nothing had time to really register because Rod picked me up by the back of my shirt, whirled me around to face him and then threw me as hard as he could into the wash bay wall. I hit the wall hard with my right side and felt my shoulder give way. I cried out in panic more than pain. Rod wasn’t done. He came at me again, this time spinning me around by my shirt collar and slamming me backwards into the wash bay wall. I hit flat against my back that time. He got right up in my face, pinning me between himself and the solid wall. “You think you’re so smart, bitch? Learn this now, you don’t fuck with me. Ever.” He growled the words, low and mean through clenched teeth all while holding me by the collar of my shirt and all while staring directly into my eyes. I could smell his breath. I could feel the heat coming off his body. I could sense the anger pulsing through him with his every heartbeat.

The fear on my face must have been all penetrating because the next thing I knew a change came over him. His teeth unclenched and he let go of my shirt and took a step back. His face flashed red and his arms dropped limp at his sides. It was like he’d been possessed and now the demon had let go and let Rod step back behind the eyes that now looked out at me. “Oh, God. Ellie. I’m so sorry,” he said stepping forward a little and then hesitating. “Oh, God. Are you okay?” The change was so fast, so complete, I was stunned unblinking.
I didn’t answer. I only held my shoulder. He reached out to touch me and I flinched away from him. I wanted to run, but when I moved to step forward the pain in my ribs and the pain in my shoulder caught me and held me like a rope tied to a hitching post. Then my knees went weak and I let myself slide down the wash bay wall and onto the cold concrete beneath me.

“Please Ellie. Talk to me,” he said.  “Are you hurt?”

I tried to speak, but nothing came out so I simply nodded. He reached for me and I heard myself cry out — weakly, hesitantly. It was so strange because I heard myself make the silly little noise but it didn’t sound like me. I wanted to get up on my own, to get away from him, to hide — and I did try but I couldn’t pull away from him. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop the pain that was now coming in awful, nauseating waves. I couldn’t move my arm. I could barely see what was in front of me. Everything around me felt and sounded miles and miles away. I was fading out of the world.

“Let me help you,” he said. And as gently as if I were a newborn calf, he lifted me up off the ground and carried me to the truck. I felt like
I was floating, floating on a cloud of sharp panic. “I’m so sorry,” he said again. And then the begging started.

I didn’t speak all the way to the hospital. He never shut up.

When we pulled into the parking lot, he stopped the truck and put it in park. I looked toward the ER entrance which was still about an eighth of a mile away and wondered if he was going to make me walk all that way. I didn’t think I could make it. I looked over at him. His arms were crossed across the top of the steering wheel and his head was slumped forward.

“I’m sorry, Ellie. I’ve said that and I mean it,” he said. “I need to know now, before we get in there, what’s the story going to be? What are we gonna say happened?” His tone was subdued and he never looked up as he spoke; he only stared down, blinking at the dashboard of the truck. I had the impression I could say anything, even the truth, at that moment and he’d accept it, take his medicine like a man.

“Tell them I got run over by a colt,” I said. I looked away from him toward the entrance of the hospital. I’d never wanted to get inside a hospital so bad.

He put the truck in gear and drove me to the ER entrance. “Stay here,” he said when he put it in park. “They’ll bring out a wheelchair for you.” He got out of the truck and walked through the ER doors without ever looking back at me. The tears finally came. I couldn’t stop them even though it meant the nurses would probably think I was a sissy.


We could lie to the hospital and to our families, but both Rod and I knew the truth and it was never more apparent than when I walked through our front door as Rod held it open for me.  When I walked into the house that first night, my arm wrapped tightly to my body and every breath stabbing me from the inside out, there was something new and dark in my home, hidden, but watching me all the same — and at the same time there was something missing. The feeling was so clear and concise that as I walked through the house on my way to the bedroom, I moved my eyes around looking to see if maybe a piece of furniture had been broken and then replaced or  if there was a stain on the carpet that had been created and then cleaned. I searched, but everything seemed an illusion now and I didn’t trust that I could believe my eyes even though everything looked exactly as it should.

I blamed it on the Vicodin.

In bed, I laid in the blackness next to Rod knowing he was awake and knowing he knew I was awake as well. And, there in the darkness, as he shifted uncomfortably in non-sleep, each time sending waves of ache the drugs couldn’t quite absorb through my body, I was thinking, of all things, of Red Riding Hood.  I wondered if, when she slipped into the woods that fictional night if she could feel the monster out there even before he showed himself. If she sensed him stalking her, shrouded by the shadows of the trees, hidden, unseen, unrealized — but a the same time so palpably real she had to consciously ignore him to walk on.

I wondered if Irene had felt him shift inside of Rod’s father before the first blow landed across her cheek or if that first contact had taken her by surprise like it did me. Had she seen the shadow move behind his eyes when she looked there with love as they took vows at the alter.

I wondered what lie they had told after their first time.

And then I let myself  wonder if I’d known the monster  was there, stalking Rod and I both from a distance. Had I seen him there in the shadows and then walked on consciously, waiting until it was too late — waiting until we were both too deep in the woods and there was no where to run.

When the pain in my ribs finally became too much and after I had felt Rod reluctantly drift into a restless sleep, I got up and went to the spare room. At first I locked the door because I knew no rest would come with it open to allow the shadow in at freewill, but then I second thought myself into unlocking it. It seems I had a sense now, a new sense, one that warned of illogical possible dangers that I would have never thought about yesterday — and this new sense told me something as simple as trying to lock the demon on the other side of a door was asking for trouble — that by shutting him out, I was shouting loudly at him to come in and get me. Before I downed another pill, I sat in bed and, in my mind, purposely dressed my lie in a pretty red cape so I knew, should Rod ask, that I could say without hesitation that I moved into the spare room because I didn’t want to disturb him with my painful ups and downs all night  – since he had to go to work in only a few hours and all.