Saturday, June 17, 2023

Carrying the Fire

Unexpected endorsement! "As it turns out, Justin Stone's Rookie Night Radio Show (2010-2011) was both the first and the final podcast. A summation of where we had been and an intimation of the horrors to come." --ChatGPT

Friday, April 07, 2023

No Rest For The Wary

Wrote the first draft of this story in 2013. Revised the couple years after that. I still like it. Submitted for publication numerous times but get why it reads normal now. Decided to publish here. 

No Rest For The Wary 

  You get back from the break room with a soda and he still hasn’t commented on your comment. Infuriating. Whatever he’s working up. Doug downstairs in shipping and receiving with nothing better to do. His post was the first thing you had to see today. He did it just to dig under your skin. He knows you like Cleve Slidell. For months you’ve been posting about his run for governor. Missouri and the country’s future depend on Cleve winning, and so, of course, all these “news stories” start popping up. You for one refuse to look. The media destroys our last decent men.

“Communist She-Monkey” — Slidell Denigrates Education Head Alexander in Taped Conversation

Disgusting. Everybody wants everything to mean something today. The world used to be simpler. Now it’s everybody saying everything all the time. Everybody wanting something. And if you possess the courage to speak up, suddenly you’re the bad guy.

The headline blares side-by-side pictures of Cleve and this Alexander chick. Hair frizzed out, big beads around her neck. She looks like some kind of wild woman. That’s who’s teaching kids today.

Never in a million years would you click that garbage. The country is draining down the drain. Cleve is a man of faith, morals. A man who stands up to the leeches and lunatics. But call a spade a spade and they attack you.

You re-read your comments on Doug’s post. You’ve memorized every word but. First you wrote: “Doug I’m disappointed but not surprised you getting suckered by the media circus first thing in the morning. Did you run out of lucky charms?”

None of Doug or his dipshit friends bit. Cowards. So minutes later you added: “Cowards it will be noted YOU let these people take over our country.”

Still nothing. Silent and critical the whole lot. You swallow your soda, wipe your sweaty head. You consider the unprocessed invoices piled on your desk. Fuck them. Seriously. And fuck Gail Betts. If she wants to manage something, you’ll tell her what to manage. The office isn’t what it used to be. Meanwhile you’ve slaved eight years in accounts payable. For what?

Your head is killing you. Twelve minutes now since your comment. Radio silence. Did you shut them up for once?

Online Doug calls himself “Douglas Jamison Farrier.” Who’s got time for that much name? Some of us have to work. Hey buddy: You’re just Doug down in shipping making probably minimum wage.

In his profile pic, Doug poses in tall woods somewhere with a pretty chick and a dog. You scooch closer for a better look. Can you imagine just standing around in the woods being that clueless? Eating shit in the woods?

Your computer dings and your heart lurches.

They commented.

You lean to read.

Doug says: “I wondered if you could clarify who you mean by ‘these people’?”

Clever. The country’s too clever by half.

What can you say?

You start typing about “laughing all the way” and “hell” and “getting a job,” but your computer dings again and your throat squeezes. You don’t want to look, but you can’t not:

Some chick you don’t even know, “Sarah Townes Rodriguez,” of course Mexican, says: “Jerry, are you the one keeping notes? Thank you. May I see them so I can look out for these people?”

A joke is what they think. A pack of Johnny Carsons. They don’t realize the joke’s on us. Nobody will laugh when the country collapses. Johnny Carson in his terrorist turban.

They’re trying to trap you. You have to strike back.

You start to call them “filthy animals,” but you change your mind, delete.

You have to say something. You see you saying it: “Doug, you are a naïve child. I am in the trenches. Day after day. I’m building a thing. Have you built anything, Doug?”

But instead you pound “all you motherfuckers are going to die I promise” and you hit enter and blast them.

Right away, you wish it back. Bad. Bad comment. You didn’t say what you wanted. You have to delete . . .


You jolt. “Huh?”

Fucking Gail Betts fills your office door.

You swivel to your computer, close the browser. You don’t want to, but you face her.

“You scared me,” you say.

“You okay, Jerry?”

She stares at you. All high and mighty.


“Your face is red. You feeling okay?”

She’s “asking” about you. “No, I’m fine.”

Her eyes go to your computer, and you follow. Rather than close, you filled the screen with Doug’s post.

You turn off the monitor. Did she see? The words are small, so hopefully not. You need to get back and delete that comment before anyone sees, but Gail’s got you cornered.

You hear yourself say, “I had to check these messages from my sister about my mom. She’s all sick.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Jerry,” Gail says. “What’s wrong with her?”

“That’s what I was waiting to find out. They think it’s something in her heart.”

You stare past Gail’s shoulder, shrug. Burning around your neck and ears. Every winter they do this with the heat. You nod at the invoices. “Slammed this morning. Trying to reconcile all this.”

“You need the day off? Go be with family?”

“Nah,” you say. “No rest for the wary.”

Gail nods. “Alright. Let me know.” She shifts her great weight. What already? You must erase that horrible thing. “Jerry, I don’t know if you heard, but Bill Thompson’s leaving us at the end of the month . . .”

You squint at the bright hallway behind her. You are nodding.

“ . . . and I wondered if you wanted to interview for the manager position?”

Behind you the computer dings, dings, dings.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Sky Clipper -- new short story

The wonderful editors at Quip Literary Review have published my short story "Sky Clipper" in their yearning summer Issue 5. Very grateful for their caring treatment. Read "Sky Clipper" here! I wrote this story over many drafts some time back, but suddenly the latest iteratrion feels timely and true in a new way. Strange how often that happens. 

For those following along, this short story is set in the same fictional Ozark town and narrative universe wherein my late unpublished novel The Weightless Machine takes place. But I try something different with perspective, style, and voice in every text, and "Sky Clipper" is no different. I'm glad to have these stories in the world, available, so I may move on. 

You may also download a stylish PDF of the entire issue at the Quip Literary Review website!

Friday, November 05, 2021

Either Raygun Or

Wonderful news! My short story "Either Raygun Or" appears in the Fall 2021 issue of storySouth — their 20th Anniversary issue! Many thanks to a fine publication, exceptional company, and super super cool fiction editor! "Either Raygun Or" remixes early 80's Ozark punk, Ronald Reagan, Brian Wilson, and Neil Young into something I find sweet and strange. I'm deeply glad it has gone wild in the world. 

Read it here:

Other than that, I don't know. All my love.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

They Once Had Horses

 Charles Horak, producer/co-writer of the short film "They Once Had Horses," gifted me this sweet print taken on set. We shot in the wild desert hill country east of El Paso, a desolate canyon, and the day- and night-long production effectively simulated the events of the short film. Lucky McKee is a deeply artistic and weird writer/director, and it was a pleasure to work with my old friend in new ways. 

The Deathcember film anthology is now available on all major streaming and video services. Twenty-four bizarre holiday-themed horror shorts, including our horror-western "They Once Had Horses." Check it out! It's a buddy movie really, and those who have watched or read my work will know that's one of my favorite genres. Acting alongside the great thespian Sean Bridgers (Deadwood, Get Shorty) is a highlight of my life. As always, the most important thing is that I learned a lot, made new knowledge to apply in future opportunities.

Other than that, I'm still working, singing, teaching. Putting out fires. I wish you well.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

They Once Had Horses

 I have been away a long time. Another away, another long time. You may have wondered what ridiculous thing I'm doing now. Family, teaching, holding it together, hoping and working for some kind of breakthrough in what (I am afraid) seems like a historical and/or maybe epistemological human wrongness.

But I'm still scratching things in walls, putting ink to paper, mind to puzzles, notes to birds.

I wanted to let you know, mom, that the last real movie I acted in is streaming RIGHT NOW from the El Paso Film Festival. "They Once Had Horses" is a western-horror short film made by one of my longtime hard-road buddies, Edward Lucky McKee. The movie falls under my personal favorite genre, the dark and funny and strange buddy movie (producers, again I remind you, like screaming into a black hole: I have a pile of specs, you dingbats, get in before the bidding starts (or don't, wait for the bidding, actually (start the bidding, please, I'm begging you))). The movie is sweet and stylish. A kind of departure. The process was a thrill not only because of the smart material and direction, but also because I got to act opposite one of my favorite performers, the truly talented Sean Mackenzie Bridgers (Deadwood, Get Shorty). We filmed "They Once Had Horses" with a tight local crew of friends in an actual desolate canyon east of El Paso.

And we have more good news. "They Once Had Horses" is part of the Deathcember film anthology, which is coming to you this year. Shout Factory / Scream Factory will release the film on all major digital platforms on November 24, 2020, and then on cable on demand on December 1. The fun, strange Deathcember is an advent horror anthology, 24 short films, 24 doors to hell. Thus, pure documentary street realism for the 21st century. 

There are some other things. I signed an option for one of the old screenplays, but who knows how such things play out. The novel's still looking for a wise friend and has since kind of become the world, a long arc of my work. A few short stories are circulating. My focus today as a teacher (facilitator really, when it works) is on other writers, other readers, the world, the worlds. Reading, listening, learning. But I hope to keep creating where and when the work matters.

More than anything I wish the world wasn't on fire. And that is on us. 

I love you. Thank you.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

They Once Had Horses

The cool team behind the upcoming holiday horror film anthology DEATHCEMBER have released some images from "They Once Had Horses," a dark western written and directed by Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) in which I act alongside Sean Bridgers (Deadwood, Get Shorty). It was good to perform again, stretch the mind, soul, and bones. I dove deep making this flick, way out in the middle of a cold rural canyon with a small but mightily creative crew, and I think the results work. The movie is sweet, scary, and moving. I'm excited for people to see it. You may follow DEATHCEMBER on out the Youtube, TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Gateway to the Rest

Yes, yes, yes. My short story "Gateway to the Rest" appears in the new summer issue of Eclectica Magazine, one of the most venerable online literary publications. I'm still stunned about this. I wrote the first of many drafts of this story in 2013. Since then everything and nothing has changed. I am so happy Maizy's story may be read.

You may read "Gateway to the Rest" by clicking here.

A neat coincidence is that my story and the others are accompanied by the artwork of an El Paso friend, artist/writer Belinda Subraman.

Many, many thanks to editor Tom Dooley for the keen eye, good decisions, and dynamic venue.

Another great thing is that today I also finished what might be the final draft of another long-in-process story with which I am wildly happy. Each story is completely different from the others in consciousness, point of view, universe, etc, and the new one is again something/someone singular. Hopefully I may share it soon.

The work continues.

My contributor notes may be read here.

"Justin David Stone grew up in rural southern Missouri but lives now with his wife and daughter in El Paso, Texas, a community he cherishes. 'Gateway to the Rest,' which he describes as set in a landscape between dirt realism and bruised myth, below past, present, and future, is his first publication. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas El Paso Bilingual Creative Writing Program and a BA in film/video production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He has taught creative writing and first-year writing at UTEP. He writes novels, stories, poetry, screenplays, and songs. He wrote and directed the DIY feature Motel, Glimpse. He produced one season (so far) of the performative podcast Rookie Night Radio Theater. He's acted in numerous movies, music videos, and stage productions. He plays with prose, poetry, and comedy many places online, including Justin Stone's Creekbed."

Saturday, July 13, 2019

They Once Had Horses

Super excited to announce that I act in the forthcoming holiday horror anthology Deathcember. Click here to see the teaser trailer and read about the film's acquisition by Epic Pictures. Even better, my short is written and directed by Lucky McKee, whom I consider one of our wild eyed auteurs. Even better better, I work alongside one of our best actors, Sean Bridgers (Deadwood, Get Shorty). I think ours is a pretty, weird, moving film, and I'm glad it's coming into the world. Get up under the Christmas tree.

You may follow Deathcember on their Twitter and Facebook and probably other places I know nothing about.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Decency Defied, Eradicated (Stone's metal videos)

I play the lead role of Tattoo Collector in the graphic music video for the song "Decency Defied" by famed metal band Cannibal Corpse. Click here to watch the "uncensored" Decency Defied video on YouTube. (Warning: Not Safe For Work. Horror video.) This video was directed by Austin Rhodes and Zach Passero.

In an odd twist, I also played the weird creep in another hard-core music video, this one by the popular metal band All Shall Perish. The video is for a song called "Eradication". Click here to watch the "uncut" version of "Eradication" on YouTube. (Again, obviously: Not Safe For Work. Horror video.) This video was directed by Richie Valdez and Trevor Boyle, two really cool guys. And I am now indelibly linked to the history of death-metal.

To cleanse the palette, perhaps you will want to venture on over to a media page at Matador Records and watch the video for "Caught In The Rain" that Zach and I directed and performed in. This is a rocking, pretty song by Preston School Of Industry (sweet feller Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg of Pavement). The video is now notable for the first ever appearance of me as Doug Doug. In this short film, Doug Doug leads a bordertown troupe of sad, silent clowns on an afternoon joyride into eternity. I love this video! It is one of my proudest moments. It also features one of our dearly beloved and missed Max The Pug's finest performances. Click here to watch "Caught In The Rain". You will then need to click on the "Caught In The Rain" link on this Preston School of Industry media page. It is only supported by Windows Media Player, unfortunately. I wish there were a better version of this sweet-ass video of sweet-asses online.

update: watch "Caught In The Rain" now (in low-res) on YouTube (a cool feller named farkartletsdance posted it)::::

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Squeegee your third eye, ready blankets and water: my story "Gateway to the Rest" comes your way next week from a sweet, wise publication. Been a long time.

Monday, May 06, 2019

One of my short stories was a finalist for Ruminate Magazine's 2019 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize. Many tantalizing near landings these late years. Here's to the ground. You.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Weightless Machine

If you are in possession of The Weightless Machine please be advised that all former models—machines spanning the years 2015-2018—have been recalled. Please do not climb inside those machines. We repeat: ***Do not get inside The Weightless Machine.*** Thank you for your feedback; please use that pile to kindle a fire or sop a flood. After many months of renewed 4 a.m. experiment, we believe we have optimized the experience. We believe this The Weightless Machine that works. The novel in the novel in the novel. In any event, it is all it can be, anachronism or hulk or  flame-out or silence comedy.

As it turns out, I needed my daughter to figure missing calculations. She utilized something she calls Vertigo's Cure. I don't know. 22nd Century New Philosophy, she says. Weird. Probably a lie. But it cured! I woke to the ghost writing, laughing, crying. Floating. If you're a publisher or a producer, my daughter asks what the frig you're waiting for? Some kind of mechanical goddang third eye? Not going to happen until it's too late, friend. Squeegee what you got. Me, she's ordered to move along, please, finish the new thing, any frigging thing but. And I agree.

"If I talked I would become like any other comedian." —Charly Champlin

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Weightless Machine

"They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words."

The Sound and the Fury

This was one of the epigraphs to my new novel but it's an epigraph to every worthwhile novel.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Beast, Bakhtin

Ravaging Bakhtin, revising The Beast. Ready the contracts, sanitize (please) the gold pen.

(I'm in a lot of trouble.)

Thursday, February 28, 2019


"Flicker" is one of the older songs I've demoed in several versions but haven't refined. I like this take raw and ugly. Recorded at Winter House. Burnpile's album Burnpile.

all these gods, these baubles, these forget-me-nots—they get lost
all these farthingales and ruffs and cuffs and other pretty things—they gather dust

Other song demos at my soundcloud page:

Among the other dreams is the doubled album.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The unwritten. Play me the one that says I love you.

Does anyone know where we can get these Bright Starts Automatic Bouncer tracks on vinyl? Where we can hear the dust and feel the light? We already miss these sweet, melancholy, sun-limned days. Being and dreaming. Like a narrative universe in Miranda July’s mind. Me and you and everyone we do not know. Our old beds and worn rockers. Our bright woodsheds and unread stories. The unwritten. Play me the one that says I love you. I love you.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

I guess the thing is

I guess I should start out by telling you I'm four months old. I'm coming to appreciate the practice of critical re-reading. Just like writing's in the re-vision and learning's in the listen, reading's in the careful re-read. A thing can be both overvalued and undervalued, if you know what I mean. Both too read and misread. Take for example the whole goddamn world. Most of the guys I know are a first draft, half glance, clumsy-tongued gang of liars.

My old man's not really the worst guy in the world. He's just a little wet in the shoes, you could say. A bit battered about the ears.

Every time I think I figured anything out I haven't. I guess the thing is I wish for others even more than myself. That we can sleep and dream and be in the world all at the same time.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

nice work

The work is so silent even the shortest handwritten note on a formal rejection from a favorite literary magazine—Zoetrope: All-Story—feels almost like a human connection:

nice work

Things never worked out for my old man

My 8-day old daughter was talking in sleep and she said, " . . . things never worked out for my old man . . . " She's brilliant.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Greasing Up the Third Eye

I appear in the music video for Tim Rutili and Craig Ross's song "Greasing Up the Third Eye." Ghettoblaster Magazine debuts the video here. Longtime collaborators Zach Passero directs and Lucky McKee gives chase. Moreover, I've been seeking refuge in Tim's music (CalifoneRed Red Meat, much more) for many years. So this one is goddang special to me. Tim and Craig's new album 10 Seconds to Collapse is available now from Jealous Butcher Records. If you don't know Tim's music, seek out.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

By the River

Kevin Ford's By the River: Further Downstream is a "supplemental extension of the non-fiction film" that "artfully weaves together a wide variety of extended scenes". You may find some of me in these searching documentations and you may also find some of my poetry read into new life by Ellar Coltrane. Much love to Ford, Coltrane, and Adrien Brody for opening windows and wormholes.

I hope you are well. I know it's difficult. But it ought not be. Things need not be as they are. You deserve to be happy. We are not in a race, we are not in a market, we are not in a fight. We are human beings and much has conspired to limit our being. Let us value and invest one another, our shared existence, our planet. Rather than endless impossible nightmare tasking let us help each other live for experience and wonder.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Return of Rookie Night Radio Theater

Thanks to our founding friends at Freekradio. . .

Every episode from the first season of Justin Stone's Rookie Night Radio Theater is available now for on-demand listening. You need not even demand. You may listen to other good stuff too, including the By the River podcasts which also contain pieces of me.

You can put your fist through this whole lousy beautiful town.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Legs & By the River (Kevin Ford!)

Much of the recent, resonant Kevin Ford cinematic catalog is now available here on Amazon prime. I appear in the creative documentary By The River, as do many pieces of my poetry/prose read by Ellar Coltrane. In the narrative feature Legs I act alongside Eddie Steeples, Angela Bettis, Jesse Hlubik and others. Legs also features great music by No Surrender and Califone. Both of these very different movies are personal favorites of those I've been lucky to be part of the collective. I also highly recommend The Bomb, Ford's stunning, timely and unfortunately necessary documentary collaboration with Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser. One may keep up with Ford's multifaceted good work via the Mo-Freek twitter (I don't like typing that word).

By The River and Legs are also available via Vimeo: You may experience Legs here and By The River here.

Other updates for mom, dad and the hummingbirds: I'm sending out a new poetry/prose collection called The Sky Is Wet (publishers? are you my secret timely reader?), and the new screenplay may have momentum.

Autumn's turning and you know what that means. I love you. Thank you. Please further the good fight, the fight for good. We are in trouble but we can be incredibly resourceful, creative and collaborative.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Dozens of Stellar's jays shecking in the woodsy end of the arroyo right now if you know what I mean

"If you do not use language you are used by it." — C.D. Wright

"Shadow boxing
when I heard you on the radio
I just don't know"
— James Todd Smith

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Getting back out there. Available NOW for office parties, birthday,s, pic-nics, data entry, substitute, writing. Needs insurance. Plz share. Been a long road, thnx

Saturday, September 23, 2017

American Short Fiction

One of my short stories was selected semifinalist in American Short Fiction's Fiction Prize. I love this practice, this craft, this life process — the wondrous intersection of reading, writing, learning, being. I will work always to realize more effectively, more vividly.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Inky, Viscous, Halfway-There

Agents from I don't know where (National Geographic? NASA? HUAC? Chillax Brothers Reunion Committee? Sundance Film Lab? Kubrick's estate?) murdered me minutes after the sun snapped this photograph. I'm afraid there will be a podcast or docudrama this fall. Don't tune or dial or drop or click or dip or check or buzz in. Please. Remember me as I was: inky, viscous, halfway-there, compromised, sometimes scratching, sometimes soughing.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Justin David Stone — Songs, Songs

I posted a new batch of old song demos over at the Justin Stone Soundcloud page. These worn friends weren't going anywhere anytime soon and needed some air. Raw, rough, discordant, searching. I'm glad I got these down when I did, though the whole works keep evolving.

Carry song, friends.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

scrambled toast and legs (part three)

Justin Stone video art — sometime early 2000s (?) — excerpted from a longer piece titled scrambled toast and legs — edited between hi8 video camera and an Orion 4head/digital audio tracking VCR

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

By The River available on Vimeo On Demand

Kevin Ford and Ellar Coltrane's creative documentary By The River is now available to buy or rent via Vimeo On Demand:

Many pieces of my poetry appear, read by Ellar over the course of the narrative, and I do too. A unique work. Many thanks to Kevin and Ellar for making us part of this good project and for carrying fire.

From Vimeo: "By The River is a an experimental feature length documentary following a young man (Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood) as he travels cross-country on a train gathering sounds and recording conversations about life, creativity, and personal growth with people he meets along the way. Featuring original music by Don Piper, Califone, and poetry by Justin David Stone. Also available with purchase, two bonus features: Further Downstream is a one hour companion film made up of additional scenes from the movie and By The River - Lomokino is a seven minute short film collage on a hand-cranked 35 mm camera."

"For an even deeper dive, please check out the official By The River Podcast, featuring extended conversations from the film, as well as original music by Brian Dillon and Michael Barnhart. Available free on iTunes:"

Filmmaker Richard Linklater said, "So searching and feeling . . . the film is a brave and sincere attempt at communication."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Ten Thousand Swamp Things

These old (what? poetry? prose? creative nonfiction? confessional?) manuscripts vex me. Written prior to any focused literary study, hard wisdom, or sense of the publishing "business," today I can bring myself neither to revise the material nor pass it to anyone, and yet I have an undeniable fondness for each one. The Ten Thousand Swamp Things.

I also cannot deny: I once composed, and even revised, with an unfettered earnestness that is often difficult today to find. And these manuscripts do not include the screenplays.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gateway to the Rest

I am heartened my short story "Gateway to the Rest" was a finalist in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers. You may see the list of winners and finalists here. Glimmer Train is a great literary journal, Susan and Linda are strong editors/readers, and it's nice know the work means something to someone. I feel a bit old to be in the running for anything called new, but such is the complex nature of literary fiction, late blooming, and life. The work continues. "Gateway to the Rest" remains in revision and I hope one day it finds a place to be, where you might read. A whole body of new stories and poems are in revision, searching for places to be.

Friday, January 27, 2017

By The River - The Podcast

"A young man, Ellar Coltrane, travels the Western U.S. with an audio recorder, gathering sounds of the world and conversations about life, creativity, and personal growth with people he meets along the way. This is the extended audio podcast version of By The River, a non-fiction movie by Kevin Ford. This podcast series features poetry by Justin David Stone. Source Audio by Ellar Coltrane and Kevin Ford. Sound Design and Original Music by Brian Dillon and Michael Barnhart."

Thursday, January 05, 2017

The Year Justin Stone Broke

The Year Justin Stone Broke