Stories by terry williams

Last night as I was reading, I heard a dozen gunshots outside my window. I know the number because I counted them. Pop-pop-pop, pause, pop-pop-pop-pop, another pause, and then, the rapid fire pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. Then, nothing.

My heart was racing with my own succession of questions, quickly followed by plausible answers.

What was it? A gun.

Where was it? At the school across the road?

Who was it? A student? A neighbor?


On the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, hundreds of us who had tickets in hand to see the premiere of After Tiller at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, were wanded and searched by police before entering the theater. It was a sobering moment.

Last week, I was a guest at a meeting of abortion providers in the Intermountain West, where the first rule of business on the agenda was the rule of no disclosure: absolutely no identification of those who were in attendance.

America's Natural Gas Alliance is up in arms over the Academy Award nomination that went to Gasland for best documentary.

"The oceans are telling us a very important message," says Carl Safina, the renowned ecologist and co-founder of the Blue Ocean Institute. "Maybe we need to metaphorically pick up a big seashell and hold it to our ears and listen."


I honor how Tim seized the moment when he suddenly found himself inside an oil and gas auction with a bidder's paddle and began raising it. He saw a crack in the system and realized he could widen it with a gesture of guts and aplomb.


Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

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