From my new horror story “The Testament of Harriet Tubman”. What do you think? Would you read it? Let me know in comments!


“I will help those men, those women, those children. I will help them with you. Or I will help them without you. Make no mistake, Sir. It will be me, not some hero made of shadows, at the front of that line. I will get on my hands and knees and lay each piece of that moaning track, as that line moves along, piece by piece, as the line moves along, till my knees bleed and my back breaks, if that’s what I got to do. I will be there; candle glowing, right up front. A long line of candles, burning like the devil’s footprints in the blackest night. It ain’t about the destination, you see, or what someone told you you need to do to save your soul. It’s about what your heart screams at you, from the pit of hopelessness. You can go for the love of God with a clean conscience. You can go with vengeance laying on your skin red and hot as a brand. Don’t make no difference to me. Just so long as you start walking. Light up the hole of the night with a line of light, hang on, think only about the walking, and it will lead you to freedom.”

The rocker creaked against the rotting green boards of the porch. Back and forth. Like time.

She diverted her eyes upward and appeared to be staring into the oaks that lined each side of a long rutted path that led to the creek; their branches, waist-thick in places, seemed to curl before his eyes like something from a fairy tale. Moss hung from the branches; swayed in the warm air. It made him think of the unkempt hair of old women in storybooks, snagged while night-flying on crooked sticks through the trees.

The moon went behind a wisp of cloud. Crickets sung. The wind picked up. A cluster of moss landed on the porch step. He watched her lift the skirt of her white dress kneel on the ground and lift a delicate gray tendril with one slender finger. He thought he heard her whisper something, but that could have been the leaves.

The moon reappeared, full and white and unblinking as the eye of God. It Illuminated strands of gray that ran like silver threads through her coal-black hair, pulled smooth and tight across the top of her head.

Could he, too, hear the moss sighing from the tangle of dead leaves? “It’s whispering its surprise at so sudden a freedom— after a lifetime of hanging from them trees.”

She looked up at him. Her milky eyes burning into his. “Best thing for you to do, if you ain’t helping, is to forget you ever laid eyes on me. Forget; and be mindful that you stay out of my way.”

She stood slowly, bent to brush something from her dress. Closed her eyes. Her nostrils quivered at the smell of nightime; moist air and rotting leaves; and the smoke from hidden fires.

It was time.

—from “The Testament of Harriet Tubman” (c)2019 by Sanguine Woods. All rights reserved.


“Letter to NY”—A Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

The Sanguine Woods

For Louise Crane

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays and after the plays
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road gose round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves
and suddenly you’re in a different place
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can’t catch,
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so teribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field…

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Why Donald Trump Hates Thoreau’s Walden, or: “Do you want an armed soldier to point a gun at you & your kids & tell you what you are not allowed say at a football game or in the food court or in church?

The Sanguine Woods

This letter, from a concerned citizen who loves America regardless of its beliefs, race, orientation, gender, political faction, &tc. I wanted to share it because it is so powerful!

Dear United States of America:

“There are solider with assault rifles stationed at walden Pond.”

Mr. Trump doesn’t like people like Henry David Thoreau. People who demonstrate—even calmly—concern Mr. Trump.

“You’re an American,” Mr. Trump says: “act happy.”

But what if we aren’t?

Happy that is.

What if we feel as though we have no voice? And so we decide to show our unhappiness with being told what to do and how to live by moving out to the woods, near a lake or a pond, and build a little cabin with our own hands, and decide we aren’t going to tolerate the way things are going in our nation. So we decide to live off the land—OUR LAND—and we grow…

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Great Short Stories, Good Bones, & Jimmy Dean


The Sanguine Woods

A stellar short story starts with grand bone structure. Just like a beautiful face. I read a handful of short stories every single night and I have for decades. There are many that are very good. There are those that aren’t very good, but good—and you can see where they went astray, perhaps, where they try too hard or not hard enough. Lots of telling not enough showing—dialogue / prose that doesn’t understand how to reveal character / atmosphere…you’ve heard the schpeel. The ones I choose to share on Social Media—and my blog (—I consider to be so very good and often in the great category. There’s just not enough time or room to share them all across the quality spectrum. But I learn something valuable from each and every one I read. A lot of commentary on short fiction is opinion. Things like style and voice are subjective. What…

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A few lines about Borges’ story “The Aleph” & using details to reveal character in fiction…

The Sanguine Woods

A6696D19-D2D2-4AD0-87D4-A490BCE551C0 From Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process, ed. by Joe Fassler (Penguin 2017)

Excerpt from “The Aleph” by Jorge Luis Borges…

On the back part of the step, toward the right, I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded. The Aleph’s diameter was probably little more than an inch, but all space was there, actual and undiminished. Each thing (a mirror’s face, let us say) was infinite things, since I distinctly saw it from every angle of the universe. I saw the teeming sea; I saw daybreak and nightfall; I saw the multitudes of America; I saw a silvery cobweb in the center of a black pyramid; I saw a splintered labyrinth (it was London); I saw, close up, unending…

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