Welcome to my website
CATCH ME ON MY BLOG sturgeon-pineapple-blyp.squarespace.com
I truly was born on a "dark and stormy night" in the worst hurricane north Louisiana had seen in decades. I was reared in a small town, and as appropriate at that halcyon of safety time, I was a free range child. I wandered the town and the fields and pastures of the farms on the edge of the community like they were my own. The shallow woods near by was my second playground. Though I knew what "praying for sheetrock" was way before the novel came out, at six I became nouveau riche. I have never been able to recapitulate that feeling inspired by my Missouri grandmother, who was visiting one summer, when she took me for the first time to the parish library, in her words, to get the child a library card, and it sunk in I could take any ten books I wanted home. Nothing since then in my life has made me feel so affluent. Freedom and books--a great start to the writing life.
My previous publications include, Mad Rains, (2015 Kelsay Press), a collection of poems informed by my experiences teaching ESL in Bangladesh; Resurrecting Virgil, (2000 Backwaters Press) a novel which won the Omaha Prize, and The Trouble...coming soon to be published with Artemis Press and which has been awarded the Kirkus Award for Best Independent Novel. Coming soon, also, is my new collection of poetry, An Enemy in Their Mouths, to be published by Finishing Line Press. All are, or will be, available at Amazon. I will have a link soon to order from this page (as soon as I figure out how to do that). I have also published individual poems and short stories in the American Poetry Review, the Southern Review, the Maryland Review and many others. In addition, I have published book reviews, and one scholarly article (on Ellen Gilchrist) in the Georgia Review. My collection of short stories, to be entitled, Only Visiting This Planet, is under consideration. I was the recipient of grants and awards from the B. Bruce and Steve N. Simon Endowment for Professorships, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.
I hope to network with other authors, get feedback, and collect a multitude of fans!
My books are for sale on Amazon.com>
The Trouble With Student Affairs
Poetry, my first love. I'll be exchanging this poem for a different poem, periodically. Also, following is a complete short story; a poem published with APR; then a poem I wrote in Bangladesh as an ESL teacher. I was also lucky enough for a Canadian medical team to allow me to follow them around to rural hospitals on the weekends. Drop me an email if you have any comments, ok? I'd love to hear from you.
I Used to Hang Out With a Coroner
I used to hang out with a coroner
And no matter where we went,
If he were summoned,
We would go forth like two ghouls
To pronounce someone
Sometimes their faces were freshly painted,
Bodies already sucked dry
By some prepaid funeral plan.
Intact and civilized:
They were as tidy as pot plants.
But once we were called out from a dinner
When this time I saw one of them as real.
It lay on its back submerged
Near a late-ploughed field.
It had a long cloth coat
And pink sponge hair rollers
Clinging to its skull.
For this decomposed scene we had laid down our forks:
So he could give the nod to some puscle-gutted sheriff,
Sign an idiotic understatement,
Which allowed the separation of sediment from human,
Gave skulls permission to be skulls.
~The American Poetry Review
Only Visiting This Planet
Stories of Southerners in Spiritual Displacement
The Trouble With Student Affairs
An Enemy in Their Mouths
A full length poetry collection
Coming soon from Finishing Line Press
About MAD RAINS
"From 'the sea of rag' in the opening poem...to the collection's end...the reader is immersed in the reality of Bangladesh as witnessed by an American poet...the power of Dorie LaRue's work jolts us with her uncanny talent..." Brendan Galvin
"Nothing seems to escape her humanely generous vision..." David Havird
"...unflinching, fierce, disarming, transformative, shape-shifting, sacred..." Darrell Bourque
About RESURRECTING VIRGIL
"A winner in every way. This novel has stylistic flair, thematic depth, a wicked sense of humor and real heart. Mark Spencer
Some of my fiction. Enjoy!
Christmas Without Sears
Christmas Without Sears
That Christmas the paper mill shut down, my daddy was out of work and mother took all us children aside and said, looking mainly at me, "You all don't make daddy feel bad asking for a lot of stuff we can't afford. We'll have a good Christmas without a lot of presents." But as the days grew closer to Christmas, I couldn't help getting excited: the older boys cut down a big Christmas tree and giant cedar limbs to hang over the windows. Mother took out an old cardboard creche I had made in the Baptist Bible school when I was little and mixed up a bunch of tea cake dough and my sister and I cut it into Christmas stars and reindeer and Santa Clauses. The only difference was my mother didn't get down the Sears Roebuck catalog and ask us if we saw anything Santa Claus might need to know about. And even though my daddy puttered around the house doing lots of little jobs that didn't need to be done, and his face looked a little pale and sad like the time he lost A Lot of Money in his cousin's card game, I still got a thrill of excitement looking at our tree with the pretty, colored paper rings and fragile balls left over from last year and especially the angel at the top, who, while looking a little gray, had a full head of prickly, spun-angel hair.
It was the same old feelings. While I was too big to believe in Santa Claus anymore, I could feel that electric crackling in the air and I made up a Christmas story for my little brother Lonnie Ray, about an angel who came to life on top of the tree and granted everybody's wish. I asked Lonnie Ray what he would wish for if that story happened to us and he was so entranced with the thought he had to study a few minutes and finally said shyly, "I guess, a BB gun." When I thought about it, the wish I wanted the most was a record player. We had radio, but I wanted to be a record collector and have my own record player in my room and play anything or anybody I wanted at that exact time. I especially like Bobby Darin and Fabian too, but Bobby was my favorite. I had written fan letters to them both and from Bobby I had received a picture with a note written right across his jacket sleeve: To my favorite fan, Bobby. I hadn't received anything from Fabian, but I had put Bobby over me and my sister's bed.
That Christmas morning I woke up just like any other morning and for awhile thinking my usual thoughts before I remembered, "It's Christmas!" When he heard me, Lonnie Ray's head popped in the double bed next to ours: "Wake up! Wake up, everybody! It's Christmas!"
My mother hollered from the next room, "Hush. You'll wake up the baby," but it was already too late and soon everybody was up, except for Aline, my big sister who had worked late at the dime store and my dad, and we all clustered around the tree, waiting for the latecomers. Under the tree was a big package that was shaped like a square record player, and lots of other little gifts that hadn't been there before. Finally, my dad was sitting in his big chair sipping coffee and Aline stumbled into the living room, her head spilling body pins from her pin curls. In a few minutes the floor was littered with wrapping paper but while that big box had been mine, it wasn't a record player but a dress my mother had sewed for me. I also got a big bag of Brazil nuts from my daddy and Aline had brought all us kids little plastic reindeer filled with red and green beads of candy from the dime store. Aline received a dresser scarf for her hope chest and my older brothers got shut gun shells and Lonnie Ray got a brand new pair of stiff overalls but when he opened his package he started crying about the Christmas angel until my mother told him to hush and I had to take him outside. We took my daddy's tack hammer and cracked and ate all those Brazil nuts until they were gone and it was time to go to my daddy's cousin's house for dinner.
Over at Cousin Alvin's house the cooking smells were enough to wake the dead. They only had one child, a pale, chubby girl, Mary Rose, with a store-bought dress on and though she was exactly my age we had never found much to talk about.
"We're so glad to have you." Cousin Willie Mae crooned.
"Glad we could do something for you." said Cousin Alvin, and though my mother smiled sweetly, my daddy only hunched down even further, like he had expected something for Christmas too, and hadn't got it.
I went outside with the boys and popped firecrackers until dinner was on the table and it was worth waiting for. There was a big turkey and a ham, chicken and dumplings, rice and gravy, peas, dressing, salad, cornbread, home made rolls and on a side board near us sat the desserts, jam cake, pound cake, pumpkin pie, coconut pie, and apple and their very nearness seemed to say, "Hurry, hurry." Except for my daddy's cousin, my brothers and I ate the most, but my daddy just picked at his food as if we were embarrassing him with our table manners.
"Josh," said Cousin Alvin. "You hadn't seen my new Studebaker up close have you? Glad you got to ride in it."
Our old truck had needed a new carburetor for weeks now, but it was on order. My daddy didn't mention this but just nodded and lay his fork down, leaving a big piece of ham and another mouthful of dressing, like he had gotten full of a sudden.
After dinner, I had eaten so much I had to go to the bathroom and after I had fiddled around in their indoor toiler for a while, I sneaked into the bedroom because if it's one fault I have, it's loving to meddle. I didn't choose Mary Rose's room, because I had already seen it but went into the big room of her parents. Before I could look around good my eye caught a big package right in the middle of their bed. It was in fancy paper, not funny papers, like ours had been, and the bow on it was so big, it hung down the sides. All of a sudden, my mouth felt dry and once again I got those old baby Christmas feelings like looking at that old angel on the top of our tree and feeling that Christmas as if almost anything could happen. When I tiptoed up to that box, my heart almost stopped on its own because written among the swirls of Santa faces and Christmas wreaths was a single word, my last name, Etheridge. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was still there. I couldn't keep the thought out of my mind: this is my package. It all made sense now, since our truck was not running daddy must have sent Cousin Alvin to get it all the way up to Grady, where the big stores were. I was so sure it was my record player I rearranged the bow and gave it a pat before I left.
In the living room everybody was sitting around groaning about the big dinner and Cousin Alvin had taken off his shoes and was puffing on his pipe. "Now, I fell you, Josh. I am one to plan ahead and when I just thought and put two and two together there was only one answer, food. No matter, what happens to the economy, people gonna have to eat. Yes, sir. That was my lucky day, the day I scraped together enough money to buy old man Sim's store. Yes, sir."
"Would anybody like some coffee?" Cousin Willie Mae was a nervous little bird of a woman. Mary Rose had obviously gotten her size from her daddy.
Everybody kind of shook their head except my daddy. He was studying a picture on the wall of a strange little sissy kind of a boy, all dressed in blue like he was going to a party and fixing to have a good time.
I sat down but my nerves were jumping. Why didn't they bring it out? Couldn't they see I was losing my mind?
Cousin Alvin cleared his throat like he was going to make a speech and I almost jumped up from joy.
"Now, Josh," he said on my unbelieving ears, "what you need to do maybe, is relocate. You'd kill your self anyway, if that mill opens back up. You need a nice soft job like mine."
My daddy started to say something. I could feel his jaw muscles working like the time he found a good many of his tools in my tree house when I had forgotten where I left them. I knew he was going to say, "Okay, enough of this. Let's bring Irene's present out now." But before he could say a word, my mother stirred and lay the baby on his blanket, "I will have some more coffee, Willie Mae. If it isn't too much trouble."
I was so excited I thought I might have to go to the bathroom again. But my mother only came back with her coffee, and she had to frown at me to keep me still. Hurry, hurry, hurry, tramped through my brain while the woman sipped their coffee and Cousin Alvin's voice boomed on and on. I was beginning to hate him. He was deliberately keeping my record player from me and I had to sit there and pretend I didn't know. I looked at the faces of my mother, casting glances at my sleeping baby brother and my father as he studied his thin hands and I wanted to shout "Thank you. Thank you." I was so overcome with love for them I almost forgot why, for a second.
Cousin Alvin interrupted my thoughts. "When old man Sims asked for the money in cash, I was glad for all the scraping I done I tell you."
"If I remember correctly, Alvin, that was my Uncle Chester's money I had just inherited." said Cousin Willie Mae, and her voice was so soft and clear, even the baby seemed to have heard because he sat up and looked around.
"I 'spect we better go." My daddy jumped up and spoke so loudly I was startled.
"Oh no," Cousin Willie Mae shook her head and stood up too. "Ruth hadn't finished her coffee and I have something....." and her voice trailed behind her as she left the room down the long, cold hall.
This is it, I thought, my knees jumping up and down unable to be subdued. Finally. I smoothed back my hair and tried to look calm. I could already see it sitting at home. I would let everyone play it. Even Lonnie Ray. I felt magnanimous. I felt as magnanimous as that Christmas angel at home sitting on the top of the tree looking around and seeing what everybody wanted.
She was back so soon it almost scared me and holding my package in front of her as if it were a box of diamonds. "It's nothing much," she said, holding it out to my mother. "Just a quilt I made. I hope you like it."
"Thank you." my mother said. "I thank you."
"All the same. I think we'll be going."
Cousin Alvin stood up and thumped his pipe with a little rhythm into his chubby hand. Ratta-tat-tat. "I'll bring the car around."
"Don't bother," my daddy said, his jaw muscles working again. Why, he's mad, I thought. Did he expect a package too?"
"Come on, Josh. It's no trouble."
My daddy stood looking at him and his arms hung at his sides and his hands curled into fists for just a second. Suddenly I could not bear Cousin Alvin and his house and his fat daughter and his new car. Punch him. Punch him. And my daddy's fists clenched again and he stuck his face right up to Cousin Alvin's in such a way for a second I thought I had spoken out loud. But he only said in a voice I knew real well, "I said, we'll walk." And he picked up the baby and slung him over his shoulder as easy as if he were a little sack of cotton and we walked out the door.
Later one of my big brothers figured out we walked about 1 1/4 miles home. It wasn't real cold, not like some Christmas's, but we could see our breath misting around us and by the time we got home our cheeks were red and the baby's nose had started to run.
"Christmas Without Sears" in slightly different form, published as "The Christmas Angel." Short Story Review. Trouvere, Eclectic, AL. Fall, 1986. 1st Place, Open Annual International Short Story and Poetry Competition, pps. 1-9.
The Busboy's First Tip
After the dosa and sambar and coconut
chutney a busboy moves our way.
He wipes the tables softly
gathers the plastic dishes
like someone's heirlooms.
He is too young
to remember why he speaks Bangla
rather than Urdu. Never having
been to school
he cannot spell Gandhi.
Maybe he knows
the USA mostly loses at soccer.
Arab spring, 9-11, na nei.
Perhaps he will tell his plenitude
of siblings about our table
the 50 taka left by
an American under a plate
he will wash later by hand.
"Mam, mam," he calls after me,
and "Mam, mam,"
when I wave him off.
I pantomime tip
and shove an imaginary bill
into my pocket
to show how things are done.
The vendors all lean out of their stalls.
"Kip it! Kip it!," they shout, amused to see
the country boy learning.
But they like him too.
We'll never have peace in this world
until we all like him,
returning what we don't think is ours,
keeping the tables softly clean.
~from Mad Rains
Summer ESL teaching, Dhaka, Bangladesh
We are all one. ❤
Pictures from Bangladesh
View from the boat
Me in Noel Library
"Women and fiction remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems." Virginia Woolf