Birds of Malaiseville

Spiritual Discontentment Enters Late Middle Age

An artistic collaboration between Vic Ardelle & Alice Moore, Birds of Malaiseville is, at its simplest, a collection of meditations asking after God while stuck in the Bible Belt. We've placed each essay inside the feathered deck below, shuffled and ruffled just to our liking.

This is, perhaps, the best way to experience the work, but if you prefer a more structured view, feel free to click the nest, where we've laid out the pieces as a sort of book.

However you choose to experience the words and images here, we urge you to take your time, to tread lightly as not to scare the birds into flight.

A birds nest, complete with three eggs. Painting by Alice Alexandra Moore.
Tap the cards to turn them.
The Vulture: a psychedelic portrait.

Dove into swimming pools the way she said Navy Seals do: upright, with their arms crossed over their chest.

A mockingbird taking off into the sun on a stormy day.

Orange mercurochrome stains from skateboarding in culottes in those abandoned apartment complexes in Santa Clarita.

A mother robin tending her nest of squawking, hungry chicks.

I think I can say that the parents’ suffering did not diminish their faith. Amen. It would have mine.

A grackle, stopping for but a moment in a wintered forest.

Neither married nor given in marriage. That’s rich, tell her, coming from the world’s most desirable bachelor.

An Eastern Screech Owl closeup. Eerie.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held my father’s face in His hands. This was it. “Earvin?” Kareem said. "Earvin asked."

Canada Geese in the middle of a street.

My brother, you are seen. It's no relief to be done with physical beauty. Some men can let go. Certain others, you and I, never stop measuring.

A goldfinch sitting on a branch, quite pleased with himself.

Because I know that promises plague my wife’s heart*, I know that one night she’ll redirect herself.

A small brown bird, looking up, embedded in pink flowers.

I’ve gone to church for 50 years and have liked it best only when it’s over.

Painting of a peacock, tail filling the whole screen.

The Devil is no help to my marriage. He makes nicknames for the clothes my wife wears that he knows I don’t like.

A turkey vulture preying on a dead rabbit.

“Thank you, please, but no,” I say when offered the soup. Dead people can’t eat in dreams, so it seems best that I don’t either.

Two chickens, staring at the world "American Gothic"-style.

My life is no longer ahead of me, Matthew Stafford Baby, and my Double Thickburger will be nothing like the advertisement.

A blackbird holding a red berry in its mouth, perched on a tree of berries.

The seed, Aleksandr, the seed! my father, crowing to Solzhenitsyn about me, his only boy, lurching through woods behind wayward rototiller.

A sparrow drinking from an old pipe.

The grackle is a walker. The robin too. Songbirds? Hoppers. Pheasants and partridge?

Painting of a peacock, tail filling the whole screen.

Nightly I aimed it to avoid the afterglow of God and received what I could in the static.

An Eastern Screech Owl closeup. Eerie.

I can’t outwork my father-in-law, who grew up on a farm and goes about hard jobs steadily, stern as a man killing possums.

Two mourning doves on a branch; one pesters the other.

It’s late afternoon in eternity. Early spring. The cold and the sunshine make the blue membrane of the atmosphere look taut.

A mockingbird taking off into the sun on a stormy day.

My sister would want you to know this about her: after I came along, her debt clock began clicking and remained dynamic all her life. She was owed.

A Red-Tailed Hawk perched on top of a fence post.

He drives a truck that looks like a fighter jet and backs it in so it’s face-first. Always flexing.

The devil: an ominous bird, spread-winged in the distance, creeping tendrils below.

A bugler will play “Taps” but not “Hail to the Victors” because I lost the nerve to ask.

A Carolina Wren sitting on a birdhouse.

"He's taking what Mr. Trump is taking," my mother-in-law told my wife. "Don't even," I said.

A mother robin tending her nest of squawking, hungry chicks.

One imagines mud on bleary headlights, corn stalks and field grass caught in the undercarriage, a side mirror hanging boozily from the door.

A grackle, stopping for but a moment in a wintered forest.

Everybody but you nodding. Everybody but you singing along on the chorus. You didn't know the song then.

A mallard contemplating flight near a lake.

My grandfather is a drunk and lost and he and I never knew each other, but we share this: we’re overcome by even meager kindness.

A mockingbird taking off into the sun on a stormy day.

Her eyeballs are vibrating and my mother doesn’t see me at first. For those seconds, I am and am not her son.

A sparrow drinking from an old pipe.

This long in heaven my grandfather sees limits to perfection. When the weather turns, his scars itch.

Vic Ardelle is the pen name of a writer and professor who lives in the rural Midwest.
A crow screeching. Painting by Alice Alexandra Moore.
Alice Alexandra Moore is a web designer and artist who hails from the backwoods of Ohio. You can find more of her work at her personal website.
A sparrow perched in a thin branch. Painting by Alice Alexandra Moore.