I am the voice in the woods calling, all night calling as the dogs, cowards mostly, footed up to the fence line and warned. I am warning, too. Go get a better job, I call. Buy a new car, I call.
You looked good in a blazer, etc.
During the day, I go home and sleep with the TV on. I dream in day-time talk shows. I imagine the world working. In my dreams, I am Kelly Rippa. I sit on a stool before a mirror and consider my makeup. I consider myself.
At night, I stand in the woods and holler. You should start a YouTube channel. You should start a podcast.
Nothing lives between dream and holler. I am in love with empty spaces only.
At night, I scream, you should consider meditating. I scream, watch more self-improvement videos on YouTube. I scream, have you considered a three-hour morning routine that prioritizes your own self-care? I scream, if you are not improving, what are you doing? What is the implication? What is not improving?
The answer is the universe. I see it sometimes in my dreams, in Kelly Rippa’s endless pupils. The round lights burning. All the coldness and all the warmth.
How often does she think about Regis?
How often do I think about my father?
My father built these woods. He wanted to hear himself echoed. Had he known, he could have stayed home. I would have been his screaming.
Your lack of income is going to ruin your family, I scream.
Why do I go on, I sometimes think, until late one night I see you on your porch swing. To be tired and never sleep is a gift. To be alone but for your own voice in the trees. The dogs have stopped barking. Regis glows from above.
Schuyler Dickson is a farmer and writer in Mississippi. He has an MFA in creative writing from Northwestern and a BA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. Recent or forthcoming fiction can be found in JMWW, Pithead Chapel, and other places. His most recent book is a collaboration with the late self-help guru Andy Evans. His web home is schuylerdickson.com.