Instructions

by Barry Basden

The funeral went well, even at graveside. When the preacher nodded I tossed in the handful of Texas dirt. The puppy wanted to play but she’d trained it and with DOWN it lay quietly beside my chair in the shuttered room. I opened the collection of Hempel’s gossamer fragments. An envelope marked her place a third of the way through. The return address was a childhood friend’s in California. On the back side a note in light pencil: Lemon-sized lump and bruising will go away. NO lifting over 5 lb. See doctor in 1 week. Her handwriting looked so fragile.

Barry Basden lives in the Texas hill country with his wife and two yellow Labs. He edits Camroc Press Review and is coauthor of CRACK! AND THUMP: WITH A COMBAT INFANTRY OFFICER IN WORLD WAR II. He is currently working on a collection of compressed pieces related to war.

In your cover letter, you wrote, “Compression focuses the mind, such as when you find a handwritten note in a book and a lifetime of memories washes over you.” Can you talk a bit more about this focusing of the mind you experience when you write in compressed forms?

    These days, I rarely write a piece over 500 words. Most are much shorter. Writing in such compressed forms, when it is going really well, provides an emotional jolt that I find increasingly addictive. That jolt blocks out everything extraneous; i.e., it focuses the mind. It is what I strive for in my writing and what I look for as an editor.
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