Spotlight: Slingshot Vignettes by Tony Burfield

Dirt Jump

The new neighbors are four boys, one girl. Their dad’s a lumber man, mom, a lumber woman. Lumber people like my people. My first dirt jump. My first slingshot. My first black-eye. I start at the top of the steep driveway. They’re all around watching. I’m rolling down, the bike going faster than my eyes, and then the jump’s transition. My ignorant muscles. And I’m nose diving, endo over. Flat on my back with no breath and daytime stars. Their dad’s deep gut laugh.

shoes tied
too tight —
new friends

In the Evening

The Appalachian plateau. The Allegheny river, the Sinnemahoning portage. Pennsylvania canyonlands but covered in trees and hollowed. We listen to the wind and the coming dark, and the trees do speak. Lush high grasses. Barefoot swivels and yard apple bites. Woods roaming and taking shots. The slingshot strap drawn.

kids down
the road on bikes
bulbous buds 

Stained Glass Windows

The connecting stone to stained glass. Slivers on the ground in morning light, a dazzle of blues, greens, reds. Our slingshot wrist-rocket arm dangles. No one around on these old country roads, the quiet. Tall and white-washed the church siding towers ominous to our kid strides, kid aim. Another whiz of another stone and more stained glass raining down in kaleidoscope complexities and the true pleasure of the smash.

dad’s belt —
he holds his aim
just long enough

Jean Jacket

“You in the green jacket!” I hear “jean jacket” and bolt out the door, down the alley, and empty all my jean jacket pockets into the dumpster. Stone washed, spiked hair, my mullet. Casually, I stroll back down the street. Re-visitation. Surely past the cop car rolling up, surely right past Jess being pulled out of the store by the collar of her green jacket.

five-finger discount
touching my cross

Slingshot Lists

Slingshot, wrist-rocket, ball-bearings. These are my harked-up diaries, finger-pinch and ink. This Appalachian map legend, deep green hollows, wide hazy summer skies, the vernal moists, the hibernal wood-smokes. The lush of sugar maple, white oak, black walnut, black cherry, mountain laurel, blueberry, cattails, the lichen dot. The green-blue of the cricks, streams, rivers all run to rage. The browns of the rocks, spring muds, summer droughts, autumn logging roads. I chase these, list those, inhale them, exhale all. The slick of the trout’s belly, the prickly deer hide, the rough of dad’s cough, the soft of mom’s look, sister’s joke and laugh, and the muck of the neighbor boys, their muddy boots.

full moon over the hayfield
our attempts at crop circles 
Initiation Rites

The Plan

“I bet there’s money in those cabins, guns too, guns and money,” Mike said, his scum-stache, his height. We’re convinced, of course, by his smirk and laugh. “It’ll be easy through the back window.” We sit and plot in the damp basement. I draw a map in pen ink, we set a time. We decide on camouflage pants. We decide on bikes.

dawn sweat —
the upper lip


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 )

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