Kim Drew Wright
The Strangeness of Men - Available at Amazon and most retailers.
The Strangeness of Men is a witty collection of short stories, flash fiction, and prose poetry. A naked sleepwalker, Wonder Woman wrangled by a housewife, a 1913 murder, sex lessons at church nacho night, the mythic Andromeda in an assisted living facility, a Zambian youth besieged by bullies, and a guy in a dog suit—are just a few of these thirty-eight quirky tales that will keep you thinking long after you put down the book.
Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards
2016 Silver Medalist
USA BEST BOOK AWARD WINNING FINALIST
Praise for The Strangeness of Men:
“Relationships are tricky, whether it’s men and women, fathers and daughters, siblings, or a disabled lady and the gentleman who sleepswims naked in her pool. Kim Drew Wright fearlessly explores the spectrum of human dynamics. With humor and compassion she introduces us to all kinds of characters: the Jesus with great pot, the arthritic dog who forges an unlikely friendship between a widow and a prickly neighbor, the controlling husband who lies to his wife about a letter. Brimming with finesse The Strangeness of Men is a treasure chest stuffed with literary goodies. Open it up and look inside!” – Boston Literary Magazine
“These stories and poems are filled with those small significant moments in life where we try to snatch triumph from calamity. Kim Drew Wright is insightful and her characters are as real as the couple next door, your colleagues, your friends. Fun and sassy, sometimes sad, always heartfelt, this diverse collection is an excellent read.” – Jennifer Falkner, Circa Journal
“Sweet and simple at times, experimental and edgy at others, this short and eclectic collection is imbued with a sense of longing that transcends gender and cuts straight to the heart of the human condition.” – Bill Glose, author of Half a Man and The Human Touch
Other stories & poems:
Love and Grief in 22 Syllables
Artemis Journal, 2018
A sestina after reading Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy’s work
researching the landays of Afghanistan in the June 2013 issue of Poetry.
Love and grief: coupled tropes of Poetry,
Afghan songs secretly sung by girls who will
hide notebooks and affections from men
who rattle guns like words the way kisses
ripple through bodies....
Excuse me, I was Mistaken
Sixfold, Winter 2017
Publication won by reader rankings. A collection of five poems: "Spilt Ice," "Sitting in the Parking Lot of Wegmans Crying Over My Imaginary Breast Cancer Diagnosis," "Mistook," "Touched," and "Elephant Standing." These five poems cover a wide-range of topics, from the personal to the political.
The Chosen One
Winter 2016, Issue 019; New Haven Review
Short fiction about one woman's search for her missing sister.
What does it mean to be lost? You lose a sock, a fingernail, a memory to time. You don't lose an entire person. But, of course, you can. Absent: too easy, like you just decided not to show up. Missing: can be the simultaneous action of not being there and the regret for the absence of the one no longer there. How long do you go on searching?
It's Friday night and Devon's rolled over in bed facing me, which means he wants sex. I count to five slowly in my head and sure enough his hand reaches over....
Five Things NOT to Do in College to Avoid Lifelong Regret
Life in 10 Minutes; November, 2016
Do not reject that class you really want to take because it doesn't fit into your 4-year plan. No matter how much you try to convince yourself⎯you won’t come back after graduation and take it just for fun. You will spend your life wondering if you could have been a famous Fill In The Blank Here had you just taken that one class. When you have your midlife crises twenty years from now, you will finally signup for a similar class at a local art center. It will leave you wondering even more....
Literary Mama; October, 2016
A guest blog post.
My friend has had five beers and it’s the middle of the afternoon. She’s texting me about how her son’s collecting college applications and she’s going to lose him in two years, like he’s terminally ill. I remind her she has a younger daughter and she replies, She’s fifteen and hates me. Her mournful texts are timely; my teenager is at sleep-away camp for the first time and half my bookclub is preparing to send freshmen to college. I’m surrounded by women missing children.
The Long Road
Sixfold Journal, Winter 2014 issue
Come to Zambia, where a teenager's obstacles to his dreams are huge, but his heart is larger. Short fiction - came in 4th place out of 375 entries.
Praise for "The Long Road":
Absolutely wonderful story. This is the only story I've read in this competition, in which, I truly cared about the main character. I really wanted him to make it to the test and show those jerks that he was more than just a house boy. Very well done. This was my top pick for the final round of voting. - Mark
Just finished reading "The Long Road." What an amazing story. I don't think I've ever been so angered and so moved at the same time by a short story. Brilliant. Thank you. I haven't been this affected by something I read in a long time... Rosalyn
I want more. That's a testament to what's right and wrong with this story. The writing is descriptive and spare. The people, even in their foreignness, feel universal and real. The geography is as vital as a character. Is this part of a longer piece, a novel or linked stories? I hope it is. I found myself rooting for Billie. I want to know what happens to him. - Shirley
Absolutely wonderful story, so descriptive. I did not want it to end, in fact I could have read a whole book. - Sandie
Excellent story - although I really want to know if he passed the test and made it to America!! ...Very well written, loved the description. Iv'e never been to Africa, but I liked reading about it in a sort of "normal way". To me hippos and cheetahs would be fantastical, but to him they are normal the way white-tail deer and raccoons are to me. Very interesting. - anonymous reader
A Mother's Life
Intima Journal of Narrative Medicine with Columbia University, Spring 2015
When life changes in an instant for Dr. Annie Gordon, what really matters? Her frantic preparations for her daughter's wedding or a moment decades ago?
Doctor Annie Gordon was running late. She had a million things on her mind. Her daughter’s wedding fast approaching, she needed this one afternoon to get things checked off her list. Call the florist. A fitting for her mother-of-the-bride dress. Appointment with the caterer. A dinner date with her husband to discuss finances. She’d had to reschedule surgery on a heart with carotid arteries. The poor bastard was going to die anyway, seventeen percent chance even with the surgery. What did he expect? His chart said he’d smoked for forty years. His blood tests practically reeked of alcohol. We had to live with the consequences of our choices. Die with them....
How to Cross the Street Without Dying
1000words, January 2015
Marco's little sister walks over his chalk outline on her way to school. Flash fiction triggered by photo prompt.
Her hightops hopscotch between outstretched arms and legs, trying not to let dirty soles touch faded white limbs. Chalk outlines of neighborhood boys that fell in motion. White stains on pavement, like a pictorial teaching kids how to cross a street....
Boston Literary Magazine, Winter 2014 issue
When nacho night at a youth group turns into sex lessons for 12-year olds. A prose poem.
The girl’s mom let Jason out at the curb.
His first official date, Nacho Night at a youth group, over.
“How was it,” I asked, wiping dried cheese off his white button-up.
He batted my hand away, grabbed an applesauce from the pantry.
“The preacher talked about it. He said God made sex and it was good"....
My name’s Amber Jones. It’s Christmas and Ma’s been locked up for twenty-seven days now. You may have heard of her, The BF Killer, she’s sort of famous around here in Tucker, Mississippi. You think they could of come up with a cleverer nickname, but it’s the holiday season and I guess, even as worked up as they all are over what my mama did, everybody mostly just wants to take off and go home.
We live in a double wide next to the new Wal-Mart. People said location’s everything when the Johnson’s next door got half a million for their land and moved to Florida, while we just got a crappy view of the parking lot. Mama said it was unfortunate, but that it’d work out good for Black Friday. Aunt Betsy and her still camped out for three hours once they saw the first car pull up.
This all started over shrimp and grits Thanksgiving morning, when Ma and Aunt Betsy discussed tactical operations while flipping through store mailers, like Black Friday shopping was an athletic sport. First pick was Wal-Mart, of course, with the 70-inch flat screen deal and the laptop for fifty bucks. I guess it’s a good thing they snagged the laptop, since that’s what we’re getting ready to Skype Ma on. Ma’s big like me. Bigger than Aunt Betsy, so she got the shoving and grabbing job. Even though Aunt Betsy always smells like french fries, she just doesn’t have the weight to handle black and blue Friday. She held cart-in-line duty while Ma darted straight to electronics.
So here we all are, Jennie, Megan, Daddy, and me, waiting to see Mama on the fifty-buck laptop. We invited Aunt Betsy over. She said it was just too sad, and she’s working double shifts, anyway, through the holidays to have time off for Ma’s trial.
Daddy gets the Skype session setup. The screen goes gray. We see our faces reflected back, like we’ve got our own reality TV show. Then there’s Mama sitting there with her hair a little limper than usual. A bright red sweater with a family of teddy bears decorating a Christmas tree looks festive over her prison-issue orange jumpsuit. She leans forward when she sees us, and the little jingle bells tinkle on her tree sweater.
We sit for a second and then Mama starts exclaiming about how nice everybody looks and how jail food’s not as bad as all the movies make it out to be. Daddy says, “Honey, I’m driving down to Hopewell tomorrow for visiting hours.” She kind of clears her throat and tells everybody, “What are you waiting for? Open up those presents!”
Jennie tears into hers. She’s already figured it out. It’s a new cell phone. Only it’s last year’s model. Mama only grabbed one of the latest versions. And, we all knew who’d get that. Jennie’s okay with it though, at least now she’s got voice command like everybody else. She makes a joke about her accent and how it’ll never understand, like Megan in geometry.
Megan scowls at Jennie and sticks out her tongue. But only spares a second on her little sister, because her package is larger and she can guess what’s inside. She jumps up and down when she sees the shiny silver icon on the white box. Ma tells her to settle down, she’s jumping out of the video frame, but she’s kind of laughing when she says it. Megan’s in middle school now and the teachers let the kids use their tablets during class. Ma only snagged a mini this year, but it’s a good transition to the full-size.
I’m up next. I know what I’m getting and it ain’t tickets to the art museum in Birmingham like I asked for. Daddy’s already opened his gift, of course. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to Skype Ma in jail. I had to wrap the presents, cause the cops were only about fifteen minutes behind Mama when she got home. Jennie and Megan sleep like dead cats, nothing wakes them up, but Daddy and I heard. Tried to stand up for her, but we hadn’t been shopping. Mama was all frenzied up, red and splotchy like when she’s drank too much of Grandma’s Muscat wine, only she was just high on bargain buys. The older cop tried calming her down. The younger one kept holding his hands up and getting in her face. Mama said, “It wasn’t even my fault! The bitch tried to snatch the last laptop right out my hands. All I did was shove her off of me.”
People say it’s all about location, location, location. It’s unfortunate for my mama that the Tucker Wal-Mart is only a twenty-minute drive from one of their largest distribution centers and had more than their fair share of flat screens for Black Friday. It’s unfortunate for the lady she shoved, that she was standing directly in front of a precarious stack of Toshibas. I guess the lawyers will say it’s the store’s fault. Still, Mama thinks she’s not coming home for a while.
Jennie’s snapping selfies, making fishy faces that she think’s sexy, but with her overbite, just makes her look like a donkey sucking on a lemon slice. Megan’s reaching to plug in her present. Dad’s fiddling with the contrast on the fifty-buck laptop. Ma’s face is fading in and out while she peers through the screen, trying to find me in the middle of it all.
“Open your gift up,” she’s saying to me, like I’m not the one who wrapped it. “You can take it with you next year. Call me. I’ll tell you what to get first.” Yep. They say it’s all about location. For me, I guess it’s unfortunate I was born the oldest, in this trailer, to this woman who’s leaning into the camera, saying, “Somebody’s got to carry on the family tradition.”
Ain't Nothing but a Chicken Wing
The Pinch Journal, Fall 2014 issue
Spend a night in Hanalei with Lana, Jesus, and Crazy Keoni.
Yes, I found Jesus while doing drugs. He turned up on a barstool beside mine in Hanalei. The facial hair gave him away. I’m not exactly legal, but the bartender thinks I’m pretty despite the burns, so he lets me sit at the bar. Jesus leans in and whispers, “Hey, I’ve got a secret for you.” The smell of cannabis, goat cheese and desperate religion knocks me off my stool, and I know my life is about to change....
published with The Milo Review, print and online March 22, 2014
Empty nesters make space for their new life together while remembering their old one.
Brian sips his coffee from the cool recesses of the doorway and surveys the room. Renovations have been achingly slow, but the completion snuck up on him just the same and the room is now changed. Maggie stands in front of a new bank of windows. An art easel, dragged from a cramped corner of the attic, has been dusted off and dominates the space. Rose-colored light from the windows dapples his wife in pinks and grays, and he has the unexpected thought of the flowers on their wedding cake....
King of the Heap
published with Circa, A Journal of Historical Fiction, fall 2013 issue
Follow Max Anderson, a boy searching for his playmate in the midst of the 1918 flu pandemic. Walk the streets of small town America. Just don't breathe too deeply. - historical short fiction.
My name is Maxwell Anderson. My friends call me Max. Leo Williams is my best friend. He lives down the street, a couple blocks closer to the stack, which gives him an unfair advantage. When I told him that’s why he’s won the past three days he just grinned and yelled, “King of the Heap!” then shoved me off the stack. I plan on winning today.
Aunt Clara’s hawk eyes caught me at the front door and I had to stand in the dining room while Ma hung camphor balls around my neck and made me put two sugar cubes burnin’ of kerosene under my tongue. One thing’s for sure, I stink to high heaven. There goes my sneak attack on Leo....
How My Day Went
published with Ascent Aspirations, 2013 print anthology, What We Carry Home, and the August 2013 online issue
Ever wonder what a stay at home mom does all day? Some days are like this. I bet you've had days that felt like this, too. Even if you work full-time in an office. - flash fiction/prose poetry
Praise for How My Day Went:
“Thank you, Kim, for your story, which so well describes the many ways in which women’s unpaid work in the home enhances society. When I was an at-home mum twenty or thirty years ago I received a lot of criticism, the most hurtful from some feminists, since I considered myself a feminist…I’ve been a married at-home mother, a working (outside the home) mother, and a single mother on welfare, at various times in my life. I found that none of those roles were really respected.” – Anne
“Good story. Found myself picking up my reading pace as the story moved along¾and it moved along.” – Paul
“I. love. this.” – Tiffany
“That was AWESOME!!!! Such a perfect picture of what a mother does all day. It’s the most significant calling a woman can endure. Down time does not exist. I get that.” – Chris
“Thank you for every word! I was a stay-at-home mom for twelve years and had the wonderful opportunity to return to my teaching career when my kids were older. This year, however, we were blessed with twins and I made the heart breaking, joyous, scary decision to resign from my beloved position to stay home again. And, I love it! I’m also fortunate to have a husband who begs me to take it easy rather than flash me “the look.” – anonymous
The Library of Virginia, The Dark Side Photography Prompt, Historical Flash Fiction
Helen Matthews clutched Minnie’s forearms and hoisted her into the back of the kid hack, as she had done every day of school for as long as she could remember. A pang stitched her side. She gathered her skirts and sat on the bench seat that ran the length of the vehicle. Minnie fell jerkily into place beside her. The other children continued their teasing and swatting at flies without looking at the sisters. Their jeers had dissipated through the years, but Helen knew their scorn still clung to them like dirt from their parents’ farms. She would rather walk to school like the rest of the town kids, but the five short blocks might as well be a hundred for Minnie....
The Library of Virginia, The Dark Side Photography Prompt, Historical Flash Fiction
He’s in the army now, a-blowin’ Reveille…He’s the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B.
They’ve started up with that song again. The world’s gone mad with joy. Laughter like sniper bullets flash through any crowd, rapid-fire catching. The men transformed, little boys in church bursting to get out of their uniforms and secret-code grinning. Caught singing snippets....