KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Micro-Fiction: 417 words [R]

The Delivery

by Judy Jordan

I don’t remember if a filmed moon floated silver and belly-up in a wash of blue-black or trembled in a cloud-scudded sky that scraped against the roofs. Perhaps it rose slowly as if following me up the stairs and down the breezeway past grated windows and doors bright with eyes. What I’m certain of is the ten the man gave me. That and how he opened the box, pulled out a slice of pizza, green pepper and pepperoni, and put it on the lid as he waited for change. Another man came down the breezeway, said hello, disappeared into the dark apartment then reappeared. Some things can be said only one way. He had a butcher knife and I swear as I watched, he grew; swelled, chest barreled, shoulders flared, his face hardened to mask-like savagery, his eyes beyond doubt, already seeing the world as one who was dead. His right arm hung high over his head. Then everything speeded up, the blurred knife plunged to its hilt and pulled out of the customer’s neck, lifted again and one huge drop of blood arced into air, then time returned to normal, and the blood hung, quivered indecisively, then curved like nothing except a huge drop of blood, to splatter on that slice of green pepper, pepperoni pizza.

That’s the way it was. The customer stumbled down the corridor. The other man sank back into himself, the knife loose at his side, his face gentle, and seeing me, two feet from him, flecks of blood on my uniform, he seemed genuinely surprised. If there was a moon, it might have chosen that moment to sail from rifted clouds. That moment to feather the twisted terraces of ivy in silken light and dissolve the shadows to gray and purple mist. Not that I would have cared, so slabbed with fear I could not move. I thought witness. I thought I’m next. I don’t know what he thought as we stood a minute, two. Then he spun on his heel toward stairs I had not known were there and I to the opposite stairs, the knifed man, my truck, the hospital.

What’s there to say after that? I was told the man turned himself in. Had done the stabbing because his sister was strung out on drugs and being pimped out of the back room. But that was days later, hearsay from another driver, three A.M. Who could see the moon? We were mopping the pizza joint’s floors.

—From Carolina Ghost Woods (Louisiana State University Press, 1996-2000); republished here by author’s permission

Judy Jordan
Issue 3, Spring 2015

Poet, novelist, and professor of creative writing whose first book of poetry, Carolina Ghost Woods (LSU Press, 1996), won the 1999 Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets, the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award, the Utah Book of the Year Award for Poetry, the Oscar Arnold Young Book Prize of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award.

Marking a radical departure from the rural landscapes of the first book, her second volume of poetry, 60 Cent Coffee and a Quarter to Dance (LSU Press, 2005), is a book-length poem about a two-year period of semi-homelessness, during which she worked as a pizza delivery person at a restaurant owned by a Greek immigrant. This narrative volume skillfully weaves together the lives and histories of the author and her coworkers, the street walkers and the homeless. The chorus of voices blends into a haunting melody which records the hopes, dreams, and quiet alienation of those living in the underbelly of society.

The manuscript of Judy Jordan’s third book, Hunger, is also with LSU Press and chronicles the two years she lived in a greenhouse. Her fourth book, Children of Salt, was chosen as one of ten finalists for the 2014 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry; and she is working on a fifth book which will include poems about earthbag housebuilding, among other subjects.

Ms. Jordan lives off-grid in an environmentally friendly earthbag-and-cob house which she is building herself, near a national forest where she happily tends to gardens, fruit trees, and several companion animals as well. She also teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Io Hears the Breath of All Things in Atticus Review (November 2013), which features other poems as well by Judy Jordan, including “Elegy,” “Waking in Winter,” and “Working in the Heat”

National Poetry Month Series: Judy Jordan at (11 April 2001): includes two poems, “A Taste for Falling” and “In the 25th Year of My Mother’s Death,” from her first book, Carolina Ghost Woods; plus, audio of the poet discussing “A Taste for Falling” for NPR’s All Things Considered

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