John A. Ward
“I should never
have let you talk me into building the cabin out of corn cobs,” said
“We got a good deal on them,” said Fergus.
“But the volunteers think they're working with wood. Look at this.”
She pointed to the framework they erected by nailing cobs together.
The wall was a latticework that the first stiff wind would topple. “I
told them to pile them up and stick them together with mud, but they
“Give them trowels instead of hammers,” said Fergus. “Tell them corn
cobs are a metaphor for fieldstone.”
“We should use normal building materials,” said Maisie. “Show me one
building made of corn cobs.”
“There's the Corn Palace in South Dakota.”
“The corn is a facade. The building is made of conventional material
and the cobs are glued to the surface.”
Fergus shook his head and snorted derisively, sort of like a snooty
Poland China sow that has been forced to ride in a box car with a rut
“We'll tear it down and start over with mud.”
“It's not the workers, I tell you. It's the cobs.”
“A poor workman blames his tools,” said Fergus.
“A butthead uses clichés and hackneyed expressions,” said Maisie.
“Oh, listen to the English teacher,” said Fergus.
“I should have stayed at the University,” said Maisie. “I should never
have let you talk me into building an artist's colony.”
“These are just growing pains. When it's finished, you'll thank your
“Use one more cliché and I'll stick the truckload of cobs…” she
stopped, turning red, squinching her eyes and clenching her fists.
“Where the sun doesn't shine?” Fergus grinned.
“That's it!” she bellowed, grabbed the nastiest cob from the pile and
lit out after Fergus, her long hair unfurling like a battle flag and
her nostrils flaring. The cob was narrow and pointy at one end and widened
to a handful at the base, at least a foot long with raspy kernel sockets
sticking out like thorns.
Fergus spun on his heel and bolted, his tool belt bouncing up and down
on his hips from the bounding motion of his gait. The weight of the
belt pulled his trousers down and gradually revealed the cleft between
the mounds of his fleeing buttocks.
The fleshy globes of her target spurred Maisie to superhuman effort.
By the time she and Fergus reached the purple sage, the effort to simultaneously
escape and maintain sartorial decency proved too much for Fergus' fragile
equilibrium. He fell in the thicket with Maisie closing fast. There
was a feminine “Whoop!” followed by a masculine scream.
Nobody saw what Maisie did under the cover of shrubbery and when they
emerged they had adjusted their appearances to remove any sign of a
lapse of decorum, but by the very next day, Fergus himself had sealed
every last corn cob into the knee high adobe wall that became the foundation
for the cabin and he never asked Maisie to supervise the workers again.
John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the
early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became
a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with
his dance partner. He has published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Clockwise
Cat, Apollo's Lyre, Ascent Aspirations, Static Movement, Toasted Cheese,
Green Tricycle, Alighted Ezine, Lit Bits, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, The
San Antonio Express-News, Antithesis Common, Wild Child, Holy Cuspidor,
Idlewheel, Cautionary Tale, Sentence, Sun Poetic Times, Byline, Quirk,
ken*again, R-KV-R-Y, The Smoking Poet, Long Story Short and Rose &
Thorn. Links to his work can be found at http://firstname.lastname@example.org/dancfool.htm