“Waiting for the Train to Fort Devens” Now Online at The Rose & Thorn


My flash fiction piece “Waiting for the Train to Fort Devens, June 17, 1943”, is now online in the Winter 2010 issue of The Rose & Thorn, a quarterly journal of literature and art. This story was inspired by an archival photo of young men from Western Massachusetts going off to World War II, republished in the Florence Savings Bank calendar. The photo’s owner, Sharon Matrishon, whose father is featured in the image, kindly allowed us to reprint it on The Rose & Thorn page. Here’s the opener:

This photograph was taken right before forty boys turned into soldiers. In fairy tales, transformations are sudden, painless. Seven brothers lift up their white arms in unison and become swans. Forty comical thieves peek out of fat-bellied oil jars. But these forty men waiting for the train to Fort Devens will have a long way to go before they all become the same.

They line up, as if for a yearbook portrait, beneath the slatted wooden balcony of the old Bay State Hotel, which must have been a cheap hotel because its front porch is only a dozen feet from the railroad tracks. A place for salesmen and card sharps, or girls who thought they needed to make a quick getaway from their parents’ sleepy fireside. Some of these boys might have taken a girl to the Bay State Hotel after a night of confused carousing, hooked up by an elder brother who offered a knowing wink that both annoyed and excited them. Some of these boys have never had the opportunity, and are distracting themselves from thoughts of German bullets by imagining the grateful softness of French girls in a farmhouse where a single candle burns in a wine bottle. These boys kissed Mary Sue or Ethel in the back seat at the drive-in and promised to wait for her, and she might have unhooked her bra even though she knew waiting was powerless against male hormones and the U.S. government.

In other writing news, my prose-poem “Possession” won the 2009 Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Prize from the journal Quarter After Eight. My poem “What Dora Said to Agnes” (a feminist response to David Copperfield) tied for third place in the 2009 Caesura Poetry Contest. Caesura is the literary journal of the Poetry Center San José.

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