Direction Nowhere

When Miles Davis and Neil Young shared the bill at the Filmore East in March 1970, they were living surpisingly parallel artistic lives despite playing such different music.

Source: At Length
Published: Mar 29, 2010
Length: 9 minutes (2,493 words)

The Big Father Essay

An attempt to make sense of a parent’s life and death:

“Me at the top of the stairs listening. My father’s voice would change from playful to angry suddenly, and my mother’s voice would refuse to change. When he started to shout, I’d walk downstairs as noisily as I could, and I’d yell at them both to stop. That was my job apparently. If it hadn’t been for me, they might have gone their separate ways long before they did.

“When he himself was a child and tied to the front porch, having to listen to his father beat his mother, a thing I only heard from my mother, just before I began this piece. I never hid the shotgun, but I should have at least tried. When one of them mentioned that gun after midnight, I would make my body appear before them, so they would remember something other than anger. Because I was the product of their creative power, my body was a sign, a threshold, another urge. It was hard to be there nonetheless.”

Author: Jeff Oaks
Source: At Length
Published: Aug 20, 2013
Length: 41 minutes (10,489 words)

Homecoming

[Fiction] An urban teen moves to Virginia and tries to stay out of trouble:

“When Marcus’s mother and her boyfriend and just about everybody they knew were put in jail for possession and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, Marcus went to live with his aunt for a while. Marcus was sixteen, a hurdler and sprinter on the track team at Boys and Girls, a solid B student. A good boy, everyone said. Even as a baby, his mama liked to say, he wasn’t any trouble. He cried so little that she would forget all about him.

“His aunt Tiff was twenty-two and good-hearted, but no one could say that she was good. Ever since Marcus could remember, Tiff was always deciding between boyfriends, and the May when Marcus moved into her apartment was no exception.”

Source: At Length
Published: Nov 1, 2009
Length: 57 minutes (14,448 words)