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Place of Shelter

Nolan Dennett

Sun and Moon Press

Pending Works

  • Making Clouds

  • Vincent's Tale

  • The River Keeper

Making Clouds

Nolan Dennett


Clinton Sennett is a second son in a family that traces its roots back to the Salem witch trials. His journey is a quest for place and the crucible of his longings are defined by a summer he spent in his youth with another lost boy. As he looks back through memory’s window, every thought etched there in the dusky glass leads him back to his boyhood friend, Corey, and what passed between them in the halcyon days of their greening.

Now a man of 60 he has been gifted the journals of his grandmother and his great grandmother and it is through these journals and his own that his story unfolds and the damaged, sexually prolific, dancer and storyteller is revealed. The graphic sometimes pitiful, and sometimes joyous confessions are made and framed within the stories of a family of dreamers, Sibyls, accused witches and the narrator’s own nighttime fugues.

Drowning in such a fugue one day, three withered crones come masquing. He hears them first then sits up and watches through the window as they materialize in his garden. They move in unison as if one and not three. And all the while, as they come pouring over the garden wall, they drone a tuneless melody that is a pretense at a blessing. But beneath their robes their hands twitch and claw at dried-up genitalia. They draw their power from festering abscesses within, and it is their way to caress themselves there while rendering any curse.

How does a man living within an ancestral line of moralists reconcile dark urges of depravity that he cannot resist? For it is Clinton’s artistic nature to embrace all things. It is in his DNA to be free of ordinary restraints and so, like Sisyphus pushing stones uphill, he wounds himself again and again upon the slings and arrows of dark impulses and appetites. In doing so he comes to know madness: the madness of grief and loss—the madness of being possessed by desire.

And so each night when he enters his small house of dreams he crosses the bridge of sighs where lovers meet and whispers to his dreaming self, “If my father can survive 27 missions over Nazi Germany, if my grandfather can make friends with an orangutan, if my favorite Aunt can weather a typhoon in a cargo ship off the coast of Central American, if against all odds my great grandmother can endure the Apache Wars and the wrath of her mother in order to become the second wife of the polygamist man she cherished, if my enigmatic progenitor John Proctor can be burned as a witch and still preserve the honor of the family name—then I too can find….

Prelude to "Making Clouds"

When I was a boy I fell in love with another boy. The larceny of fate was not kind to us and we were torn apart. Residue from that happenstance has created in my heart a moving and mysterious constellation that will not be still and understood and in my reminiscences I can easily find myself lost within the deep alchemy of my memories overlaid by the twinning’s and taints of loss and the entanglements that have followed. It was my baptism into manhood and it happened way too soon. It will not piece or parse and so now wizened and old I lie upon my bed in a smoky white room and draw myself in to dream insistent dreams high above the troubled waters of what went before and I think again of his flesh merged with mine indistinguishable, and transubstantiate. Visions and memories alternate in my mind one after another each more lurid than the one before doomed and empty edging me further and further away from any understanding away from the present and into the long-ago.