Farm to Table

Short Stories, Writing

By Will Montgomery

The fresh produce is incredible, better than you’ve ever tried, I promise. The place popped up winter of the year you turned nine. People couldn’t get enough. You loved the summer corn and edamame salad, your mom got it for your catered middle school graduation party. On nights when she got too wine drunk to cook, the eggplant and ricotta cheese pizza always saved the day. Not long till you’d come to associate the crunchy creamy pesto pie with the smell of burnt lasagna or chicken. Leftovers for lunch the next day.

High school was punctuated with peach prosciutto and sauteed salmon with tomatoes and onions. When the back end farmers market opened sophomore year touting every delicious juicy home-grown piece of produce cooked up and served in the front end restaurant, it would be a long time before you would eat something not grown in the charming township of Shelburne, Vermont. Mom loved it, sent Dad out constantly to get the fresh carrots and cucumbers, shiny and saturated with color and twice the average size. It’s incredible! They would say. They marveled over the veggies, the fruit. Organic, Non-GMO, local. What more could you want? The veggies grew and grew in popularity. Prizes won at state fairs dotted the papers, Shelburne was becoming famous!

Feta watermelon quinoa salad in the summer, butternut squash pasta with a brown sugar reduction sauce in the winter. School trip to learn about local agriculture, snap photos of the fields where the countries best vegetables are grown. But never closer than that. Never walk on the precious soil in fear of contaminating the goods, we were told. Calendar pages torn off and discarded, new shoes for back to school, midterms, prom. You eat kale. Thank god, you think, I eat so clean. Thank god I live in a place with such fair weather, such fertile soil. The horn of plenty, the hidden valley. Shelburne is visited by celebrities, politicians. They all want a taste.

It’s nighttime. It’s summer. First summer back since college. July 14th, Your first time on MDMA. Friends you haven’t seen in three years. The suburban landscape is vibrating and the playground you grew up on feels alien now that its been so long since you just played. Borrowed bike, dirt path through the woods behind your old elementary school. The meadows. Open sky above you, the river on the right side of the path beyond the trees, open fields on the other. God, it feels good to be back here. Wind in hair, hair in face. Face pointed towards the stars.

Ahead, a fork in the path. Left. Another fork. Left again. Another fork. Right this time. The path ends and transforms itself into a sprawling field of corn. Marvelous. You three discard your bikes and run in headfirst. The feeling of the stalks brushing your clothes, your bare, sweaty arms smarting with the cool breeze. It’s almost too much to take in. The molly widens your stride, increases your pace to a frenzied sprint. Nature, agriculture, horn of plenty the breathless voice in your head intoned. A stalk catches your trainers and you fall face first into the black soil. Roots, dirt, earth, your hands press into the warm substrate and you curl your fingers around it. It’s so soft, you start digging. Pushing the soil back and forth, under your nails, into the knees of your blue jeans. Beside you lay your friends, back to the earth and front to the heavens. In the dirt your hand encounters a foreign object. A root? Too smooth. You tighten your hand around it, try to dislodge it. It pulls free, and you fall back onto your butt. The shallow moonlight doesn’t illuminate much, just silhouettes, but the texture of the object is nearly undeniable. You’re on drugs, you’re on drugs, you’re on drugs, you’re on drugs. This is just your head playing tricks. You stand, head above the rows of corn. The light is better up here. You raise your hand to eye level. It isn’t.

It is. It fucking reeks. A ring. A finger, five fingers. Held between your index finger and thumb, is a thumb. Attached to the thumb is a human hand, grimy with dirt and mushy like an overripe pear. You drop it to the ground and fall on your hands and knees, retching with disgust. Where you fall, you begin to see more that was uncovered by your digging. The contours of an ear are visible under a dusting of soil, is that a toe near that stalk there? It probably is. You need to leave. You run over to your friends, incoherent and mouth tasting like vomit. Where are they? The patch of bare soil where they lay is empty once more. There’s a violent rustling among the corn. 

There’s a beam of white light striking you directly between the eyes. A voice from behind the light growls, “This is private property”.

How To Win The Night

Poetry, Writing

By Will Montgomery

begin with a greeting and smile often. 

don’t talk too much or too little, cultivate comfortable silences and get to know him. or at least make a good show of it, this won’t be on the exam.

make an effort to bring up an injury you had as a child. bonus points for a cool scar.

avoid any mention of similarities between then and now. hate then love now, hate now love then, doesn’t matter. dealers choice, keep them seperate.

remember that snake eyes means go back two spaces and first player to third base gets out of jail free.

don’t bring up hawaiian pizza or eggs benedict. hawaiian pizza is consolation dinner. eggs benedict is consolation breakfast. 

try mentioning that you’d rather be in a red radio flyer wagon plummeting down a hill. it’s autumn, you’re eleven. he’ll just nod but he understands.

because if you read the little white book stapled onto the lid of the box 

you’d know that if he:

  • smells good
  • makes me laugh
  • likes my new shirt
  • has eyes that flash like a vacancy sign
  • is

it’s a sure fire recipe for a winning night.

when i dream about being chased through an empty house, you have not won the night. I won that night.

if he feels good but not loved

if he hates Mark Rothko now

if he agrees to go double or nothing

if he drills a hole into the wall

if he drills a hole into the ceiling

if he puts up christmas lights and takes them down the same day

if he drops half his classes

if he misses his train

if he keeps losing his wallet

if he can’t focus on a thought you could say he keeps losing his train of thought and you could say you won the night.

you’ll know you’ve won the night when he approaches you with two stones in the palm of his hand and when you reach out to take them neither falls to the floor.

you’ll know you won the night when he rewards you with a photograph

if he’s obsessed with patterns, disregard everything prior. 

you’ve won the night regardless.

The Ballad of Jack and Odile

Short Stories, Writing

By Will Montgomery

I sit at my desk for seven hours my first day as a homeowner. I write eight words. I make myself nine vodka tonics, I smoke ten cigarettes. Mother hated my habit;picked up at Cornell. The closest I ever came to saying a proper goodbye to her was putting each cig out on her Shirley Temple 50th anniversary doll’s face. That felt like a fitting send off. She was a woman destined to be forgotten.

The day before I watched my siblings tiny faces fade into reflections as the station wagon pulled out of the driveway and began down the gravel road. They looked sad; I hoped my expression read as indifference. I didn’t want them to have any reason to ever think to call. They were wasting away here anyway; eight and three quarter miles away from the nearest neighbor is no good sort of place for young girls to grow up. I should know. But mother left the house to me in her will, so I should be allowed to remain behind and take care of it. It was what  I always wanted, to be alone, an only child and an orphan. This is how I would write my screenplay. I had never loved New Hampshire, but with my new arrangement in place it seemed tolerable. My groceries would even be delivered for me, I had no reason at all to leave. 

Ever since moving back home after college mother had been such a pain, and the girls she squeezed out of her second marriage were no better. Their constant shouting and bitching had made the months since my post-graduation move home nearly intolerable. The only thing I could respect my mother for were the gigantic alimony payments she procured monthly from my father and Frank. Alimony payments that she wasted on ridiculous and bourgeois furniture, artwork, china dolls, collectible spoons, all of which she crammed into our two bedroom tudor, and its connected barn. Either way, the chiffon sofa and ceramic eggs served as useful investments for my purposes. A local man was compensated to deliver groceries, each week taking an envelope of cash and a grocery list from the mailbox  for next week’s provisions. I could live like this indefinitely. At least long enough to get my film made and start my journey to my destiny. 

One week in, I was getting nowhere. Everything I wrote felt too cliche, too been-there-done-that. I had banged my head against the desk, kicked the cat, overturned my desk. The booze helped the frustration, but not the work. I needed a fresh perspective. When the groceries came on day eight, I ran outside to catch the delivery boy before he disappeared for another week.

“Read my screenplay” I breathlessly called to him at the end of the gravel driveway. He turned, and for the first time I got a good look at him. Young, my age or maybe a little older. Scruffy in that New Hampshire way, not something I couldn’t appreciate. He turned and sort of smiled? I couldn’t read his expression, but he started back towards me and I ushered him inside.

I poured him a drink. He sipped. The pages were laid out on the coffee table in front of him, and he looked from them to me and back to them. He read slowly, considering. He finished his drink, I poured two more. He set down the papers and looked up at me. 

“What are you trying to do here?” He stood and walked over to where I was sat in a garish chiffon chair. He sat on the arm of the chair and gestured to a section of the story. His warm breath smelled like whiskey and coffee, in that order. I looked up at him and kissed his face. He pulled away. 

“This is a brilliant start. I love your voice, I think you can really make something of this. I’m gay. I wanna help you, but you need to keep it professional. Can you do that?” I was struck by his bluntness, his intense interest in my project. I didn’t want his grubby little fingerprints all over my work, but it was clear solitude wasn’t the solution either. I decided to give it a try. 

His name was Jack. The next day he came round to work with me, and I said, “What’s your name, anyway?” He said, “Jack.” I said, “Mine’s Odile.” We got to work. I had thought that having an extra set of lungs smoking my cigarettes, an extra mouth drinking my booze, an extra pair of eyes, hands on my work would be a distraction, but Jack kept me writing. And drinking. He told me the best writers were drunks.

“Hemingway, Capote, Parker, Williams. Liquid courage, liquid truth. Whatever you wanna call it, it helps you cut away all the day to day bullshit and just feel stuff. That’s what’s important in great writing.” I believed him. So I drank. So did he. I wanted to kiss his mouth from across the room as he asked questions, made suggestions. I wanted to feel his rough hands on me as he marked down my script with red ink. I wish I was that pen, I lamented to myself from the couch. 

“Goddamnit!” He startled me awake. It was three in the morning, twelve days after Jack started helping me. He was visibly wasted, hunched over at my desk. 

“This shit issto fucking farm town! Weneed to get you out of here. You need some new surroundings to inspire you.”

“That’s forsure.” I sunk deeper into the couch and reached across the coffee table to procure a cigarette, knocking over the whiskey in the process. 

“So you’re open to it? A move? What about the city?”

“The city” I echoed, smiling to myself. It felt good to have company. I fell back asleep.

I had forgotten about it by the next day, but Jack took our conversation to heart. “I’ll handle all the details” he told me. “You need to focus on your work.”

The house sold quick, we left for New York in Jack’s truck with nothing but cash in hand and my story.

I hadn’t even stayed in the New Hampshire house two weeks. Eleven handles, twenty two packs of camel crush, and thirty three pages written. Jack was so right, I couldn’t find inspiration in the same wood panel walls I had bored my eyes into my entire childhood. The sale of the house was quick and although it went for less than asking, the money would be more than enough for a year lease on a place in the city. I needed new surroundings, something to inspire me. Isn’t that what the city is for?

The new apartment was small, but it had none of the characteristics of my old place, so it was perfect. We decorated with furniture from the street. I hung a poster of Zog Chothra from a record store above the bed, kept a lily in a pot on the windowsill. Jack brought me coke, which I had tried before at Cornell. It never did anything for me really but I guess I had just never done enough, because in that East Village apartment it conjured a story from my brain to my fingertips so fast I could barely see the words being written. I barely knew what I was writing at all. Jack watched over my shoulder, did a bump, went out for more beer, watched TV. I wrote. I felt it all coming together. For the first time in my life, I could feel everything coming together. 

I finished the entire screenplay one month to the day after our move. I watched Jack’s face every second he was reading it, and the second time over too. He finally looked up at me with a huge grin on his face. “Now,” he said, “to edit”.

With that, it was his turn to disappear. I took long walks through the city, stole lighters from bodegas and clothes from thrift stores. When Jack dropped the stack of pages onto my lap four days later, I could tell he was pleased with himself. I spent the night reading through it again, laughing at the jokes and tearing up at the ending we had written together. I watched him some more, watched him watch me read. He approached the bed.

“Thursday,” he grinned, “all this work pays off” Thursday, Jack had gotten us a meeting at an indie production company in Brooklyn who were as Jack said, “incredibly interested in our brand of genius.” I believed him. I drank.

Before we left for our meeting Thursday, we had a few drinks to celebrate. We were sure of our imminent success. I was buzzed walking to the subway when Jack grabbed my arm right before a crosswalk. 

“Odile, this has been the most intense and surprising month of my life. I never expected to meet someone like you, and I’m gonna be grateful for what you’ve done for me for the rest of my life”. I smiled. He put the screenplay into his messenger bag, and pulled me closer. I was convinced he wasn’t, but then he was, we were kissing and the New York breeze blew through my hair, and I felt like I was finally living out my own movie, not just dreaming it. His hand moved from my arm to my chest. An instant later, it was pushing me back, away from his face, his lips, his kiss. His smile, suddenly sinister? I was confused. I flew backward into the street and turned just in time to see the bus, barreling through the now green light.

The KPH

Poetry, Writing

By Will Montgomery

The KPH

She said I need to pee

I said were almost home

She said hand me a bottle

I said there isn’t one

She found an empty tupperware

And squatted in the back seat

She shouted up to ease on the gas

Her head between her knees

She laid down a dark grey hoodie

To protect the carpeted floor

I couldn’t help but hit the brakes

Katia commanded me No more

On our street the window cracked

The car shook with winter wind

I craned my neck to see for why

Against the chassis the hoodie was pinned

She released it into the nighttime air

It flew off without a hitch

I stopped the car, I said get out

Katia just sat and bitched

I turned around

I said c’mon

She said lets just go home

I wouldn’t let up

She dumped the cup

Hopped out the car to atone

Between two acrylics

She carried it back

Dropped the mess onto my lap

We made it back around 2:10

Never thought to speak of it again

And although the hoodie was deep cleaned

Id never wash out the memory it seemed

The Woman and The Shark

Short Stories, Writing

By Will Montgomery

Gray, and smooth. The grayness is only paralleled by its smoothness. So smooth and gray, and with teeth! So many teeth. There is a woman who has eaten nearly every creature under the sea, except one. The gray beast eludes her, but her stomach yearns for the taste of its flesh. She will eat it and wear its massive toothy jaw as a crown. She goes out on the water, night after night, searching for her prey. She sees its shifting shadow lurking just beneath the surface, the occasional jagged dorsal glaring over the waves at her like a periscope. Nothing worked; harpoon guns, nets, ropes, spears, regular guns. It went on this way for years. The woman would call out to the fish, begging him to relent. But the fish knew better; it was his pleasure to see the woman in pain. Nothing brought his aquatic life more joy than seeing that garbled old face peek down into the depths of the midnight ocean night after night, growing wearier and wearier still until one night, there is no visitor. One night the woman does not arrive. The gray goblin is not dismayed. She will be back, he says to a seal as he devours him for breakfast the next morning. She can’t stay away for long. 

But somehow, she does. She stays away for days, which bleed into weeks like the blood of the swordfish the beast had as an afternoon snack on the twelfth day of her imposed loneliness. The woman must have forgotten about her, he thought, or found another fish to catch. She’s moved on, he moaned to himself. He lost his appetite, his skin lost its sparkling gray sheen. The reds and blues of his beloved ocean seemed under saturated, unappealing. He began to swim further and further out to sea, each day straying further from the spot he met the woman every evening for all those years. It became too painful to see every day. He had to move on with his life as well. 

Several more weeks passed, and the gray giant had tried grazing the schools of fish in the deep sea, but it wasn’t the same satisfaction of tearing apart a seal right up by the shore. He was starving for the thrill of the hunt, for the look on beachgoers faces. It took a few more days for the hunger to become uncontrollable, but when starvation set in he returned to his old hunting grounds. 

From a distance, he could see the underside of a dinghy at the usual meeting spot. His heart jumped; but no, no. get control of yourself. The woman is gone, that could be anyone. I’m here to hunt, he thought. But his nose picked up the scent of salmon blood being drizzled into the water like a fine caramel reduction sauce; the woman’s favorite lure. He began to swim faster, cutting through the water like he used to. He hadn’t realized how fond he had grown of her, how important she was to him, like a best friend. He felt as young as a guppy. But the boat lurched in the water; the engine was going. The woman was leaving, he hadn’t even seen her yet! He swam faster, following as closely behind as he could. He was so focused on the boat, he didn’t notice the large murky black sphere he was getting nearer and nearer to. Didn’t notice, that is, until it was too late. Too late to change course or turn around, too late to even realize what was happening until- 

Aboard the boat, the woman smiled. Beamed, in fact, an ear to ear shit-eating grin. The explosion was barely noticeable above the water, even a mere fifty feet away. The boat barely moved. Nothing but a few bubbles rose to the surface at first, but then came her prize, bit by bit. She steered back around to the site of the explosion to collect what was rightfully, finally hers. 

First trip to the supermarket in a month. The woman was, unfortunately, paying for produce once again. It had been a great month, but you can only make shark fin stew one time per kill, and the burgers get terribly dry towards the end. Back to cow meat, it seemed.

In the checkout line, a gray haired woman behind her oogles her bag, her shoes. When she takes out her wallet to pay, the gray haired woman remarks on the beauty of the material, the matching set. So smooth, and a beautiful deep gray. The woman smiles kindly.

“Why thank you, they’re handmade.”

Months later, the woman gazes out over the empty ocean. The clouds mask the moon in a gray shroud. She releases the bag in her hand into the freezing embrace of the January waves, and a leather purse and matching wallet sink into the darkness. It had to be done. The past seven weeks had been comprised of solo moonlit walks on the beach, introspection and regret.

Intern Activities!!

Art, Intern Stuff, Sculpture

Recently at Real Art Ways I was assigned to help a visiting artist install a sculpture for a exhibition. It was a lot of fun! The artist is Kylie Ford, a West Virginia based artist and professor, and it was loads of fun talking with her about her practice. The exhibit was centered around the intersection and forced combination of the accidents of Real Art Ways historic reclaimed Hartford warehouse space, and those of present day West Virginia. The show explored the way both areas, though very different, experience similar economic trends, which creates similar trends in the architecture. I learned a lot, and definitely did not hurt myself 😉

See below; Kylie and her fantastic installation, and us installing it!

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Camping Trip

Art, Pastels

This was my first piece of the summer. I finished it more than two months ago, but like I said i haven’t been online much this summer to blog about it. (for more timely updates, follow my insta @prestomagiccc). This piece was the second time it came to fisticuffs with myself and oil pastels. I’ve grappled with them once before and loved the results, so I took what I (thought) I learned and applied it here. I love the way this looks finished, but it was a bitch to work on.

Aside from technical stuff, the message here is straightforward but very important to me. The way I see it, we are really just camping here on this Earth unless we change our ways of living. I often struggle to find action in my art practice. I work on my art which says what I want it to say, but where are the ramifications? I don’t mean in terms of support, but in terms of change. Art is meant to inspire change, but what can I do for the environment besides “raise awareness” through my art? This summer, it meant ditching single use plastic, dairy, cutting back on meat, and reduse-reusue-recycling as much as I could. I’m only 19, so I’m not too worried, but I am actively looking for the cross section of art and activism. I’ll let you know when I find the sweet spot. Anyway, here’s Camping TripIMG_4566.jpeg

Creative Cocktail Hour July (and an update)

Art, Photos

Hi!! I know I’ve been MIA all summer. I’ve been very busy casting spells, working three jobs, and getting very tan. However, art waits for no warlock so despite my absence online, I’ve still been working on lots of projects in the real world, which I will begin sharing right now!! I thought I’d start by putting up some pictures I took at Real Art Ways July Creative Cocktail Hour (so many proper nouns). I have been interning at Real Art Ways, a cinema/gallery/event space all summer, and part of my job is to take photos of all the goings on  around the place. These are the gems I got this month. 🙂

 

Do I Exist?

Video

I made “Do I Exist??” now I’ve made “Do I Exist?”. Totally different question. In this second installation, I removed the filters I used because I wanted to take away the separation between audience and viewer. I’m very pleased with how it came out. I still was unable to prove to myself that I exist, but I had a lot more fun trying with this attempt, which is why I’d say it was successful.

The Runner Album

Art, Ceramics, Painting, Sculpture

“The Runner Album” is the debut studio album by Magical Mysterious Dream Machine. It is 665 tracks long, a total of 45 minutes of listening. It was also my assignment for my 3D final. We had to make a sculpture and photograph it for an album cover. This assignment made it kinda hard for me to think of an idea, because since the work would be photographed, there were a lot of different restrictions and benefits versus seeing a piece 360 degrees. I needed an idea that really did took advantage of my advantages. I decided to create this cover because I wanted to do a forced perspective shot with see through elements, that appeared to contain stuff when in reality that stuff was just behind it. The TVs was perfect. The televisions themselves are made of foam, then sanded and painted. The milk carton is paper drawn on with markers, the remote and lil guy are ceramics painted with acrylic. The backdrop is painted and then I had a friend pose for me. The hand is my own. It was so difficult to get this perfectly aligned shot, but nonetheless my idea was finally brought to fruition. Magical Mysterious Dream Machine also plays baby showers and bat mitzvahs. album.jpg