Leaving Should-Town


Should happens everywhere.

You should floss, you should lose weight, you should make your bed, and you should read this biography. You should see this new movie (it’s soooo good). You should love cottage cheese and enjoy broccoli and brussels sprouts. You should eat super foods like kale (even though they don’t taste super unless cheese is involved).

You’ve heard the infamous imperative, “You should drink less coffee”—yeah, right. You should go to church more, put your kids in a certain school, read the Old Testament more, and you should go to that birthday party wearing a smile. You know, just make an appearance, at least. You should.

And the should-ing continues.

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Making a Gate

Oppdal 01.11.2009 : Gårdssag på Engan. Foto: Thor Nielsen


My slipshod carpentry schooling scatters the porch

With minefields of pinewood splinters and dust.

A remade garden gate emerges slowly,

Hewn for sudden need—slats and bracing

Born of sweat.

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Andrew Osenga: A Career of Inkless Novels

Andrew Osenga

Andrew Osenga’s career has wandered between the roles of front man, side man, backing musician, producer, and studio player. For most folks who are familiar with him, his emergence upon the scene took the form of a band called The Normals. They put out three records, one of which was produced by Malcolm Burn, the craftsman behind Emmylou Harris’s Red Dirt Girl. Like any time spent with a great craftsman, the sessions became a kind of school. The prevailing story goes that, during tracking, Burn was trying to explain something to the band. He made reference to The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson’s great break from the cars-girls-surfing formula. Everybody got it except Osenga, who had never heard the record. Burn’s response was to give the band a little time off while he tasked Osenga with listening straight through the record—twice.

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To Look at Her


You’d never think
she was the sort

to hide a flask away in her sock drawer

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A Song of Experience

Old Hymnal

When I was twelve, Harold Wayland was the most popular singer at my parents’ church. Every Sunday, the little Southern Baptist meetings featured special music. For the uninitiated, this means that someone, usually from the laity, stood up to sing a solo in front of the congregation, ostensibly after undergoing a delicate screening process to which I was never privy. My father, the Minister of Music, was the gatekeeper, the cherub with the flaming sword, barring the way to that sacred microphone. I imagine the conversation going like so:

“I’d like to sing the special music next week.”

“Okay, what song?”

“‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys.”

“That’s not really about the Lord, per se. And you’re a bass.”

“But the Holy Spirit told me to do it!”


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