Barrel by Roland Sodowsky

It cost a dollar or so, sometimes nothing,photo(1)

came from a gas station, auction, junk yard.

With top intact and airtight lids, it stored

gasoline, kerosene, oil, diesel,

could be sawed in two for cattle to drink from.

Topless but water-tight, it stood under

the spout at the barn and caught rainwater

meant for chickens, carried sixty yards,

two buckets a trip. At times tadpoles brought up

from the creek swam in it and became frogs

doomed to drown unless used as fishbait

and, of course, doomed anyway.

A tilted barrel soaked locust posts

in old motor oil to fend off termites.

It was a varmint-proof container for oats,

barley, hors d’oeuvres for privileged horses.

Half-buried in a south-sloping hill,

it sheltered hounds from winter wind

and spring rain. Another by the back porch

held scraps of blankets for the shepherd dog,

who was collarless and loved as family.

The best barrel had lost both ends and was useless

except to crawl into, then brace as someone

sent us rolling and bouncing wildly down

a rough hillside, both scared and delighted

to know we might get hurt, with scratches, bruises,

to crash against a tree, in a ditch, creek,

be thrown out or slow to a safe, boring stop,

then carry it back up, roll down again.

Roland Sodowsky grew up on a small ranch in western Oklahoma. He has three degrees from Oklahoma State University and studied Old High German as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. Sodowsky has taught linguistics, literature, and creative writing at OSU, the University of Calabar in Nigeria, the University of Texas, Sul Ross State University, and Missouri State University. He has published poetry, short stories, or novellas in Atlantic Monthly, American Literary Review, Glimmer Train, and Midwest Quarterly, among others. His collection of short stories, Things We Lose (U. Missouri PR), won the Associated Writing Programs’ Award for Short Fiction. He received the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Short Fiction Award for Interim in the Desert (TCU Pr). He received the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines-General Electric Award for fiction, and has been a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts award. Now retired, he lives in Pittsburg, KS with his wife, the poet Laura Lee Washburn.

Lori Baker Martin is Kansas Time + Place editor for the month of May. She lives and works in Southeast Kansas where she is  teaching English at Independence Community College. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin,  The Little Balkans Review,Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, Midwest Quarterly, Kansas Time + Place, 150 Kansas Poets, and in a Kansas Notable Book poetry collection To the Stars Through Difficulties. She’s been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  Martin is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop where she was named a Truman Capote Fellow and received the Clark Fischer Ansley Award for Excellence in Fiction.

2 thoughts on “Barrel by Roland Sodowsky

  1. Roland does know what he is talking about. Grew up about 5 miles from him and graduated from high school with him. Had many good experiences with him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s