The death of a moon cowboy

I am a somewhat-youth with ideas and thoughts and too many dreams that sometimes overflow as these little dribblings from my fingertips. I guess you can try to collect and capture them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I ate an orange

The stovetop glared an angry red and
smoke rose from burnt eggs
left under the burner last Saturday.
And the water growled low through bubbles
boiling upward until I filled my
Peet's mug.

I ate an orange, tore my
fingernails under its porous skin
and they smelled like citrus--
California citrus, grown ripe and shipped off
to us in the desert, so we too can
taste that summer.

Through the first
real December snow the night hazed
its yellow twilight, reflecting porchlights
and glowing streets across the settling
dust like shivering prison bars.
I took a sliver from the pale globe in my hand--
separated in chunks, stripped into orange-white triangles;
and its world fell apart--

but it was three a.m. and my feet were cold, even
in the black church socks I hated,
wore only for warmth, fearing cold. Fearing acts of
procrastination. That sour tang on my fingers.

And I pictured the black of tires six inches deep,
spinning small white whirlpools in the covered street,
wading through those drifts in the sleepless morning,
so quiet and calm--
California on my mind and in my mouth.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I do not like malls. We went yesterday to get Jarom some post-fourth birthday pictures (he needs them!). Turns out that on a Saturday in Provo--three before Christmas--everyone else has the same idea. The stupid place is overcrowded with mostly faux-punks or -gangsters and moms doing Christmas shopping and (surprise) getting pictures done. Now I'm all for the punks, but hanging out at the mall? Come on, get a better idea. The mall is the least rebellious or inspiring place in the world. It's commercialized. It's fake; they exist everywhere, in the same form. The world can't get more disgusting than a mall.

Luckily there was no open appointment until 7 p.m., so we left.

Then later we went to Salt Lake to meet Bonny and Russ who came out. We stopped in Temple Square to see the Christmas light and that was a disaster. Sure, they're pretty. But there was the hugest crowd of people. You couldn't walk. You waited in line to walk. Again, something to be despised.

Now don't get me wrong--I don't hate the people. There is just something so unrealistic in doing these over-traditional and falsely-cultural routines that happen to gather round the holidays. All the lights--do we really care? Is that really beautiful? Maybe. But to wait in line for? And the shopping; all the shopping. And how people do the same thing year after year. Tradition is great. But are these traditions great? Are they even tradition or just following what you see others do and what you see on TV, and getting the newest holiday ads and hittin the sales, taking pictures on Santa Claus's lap, Santa Claus himself for god's sake.

But guess what--there's also something sweet about it all, about valuing your family and giving (and receiving), making people happy, wondering in lights and beauty--at least some sort of beauty--and so on. It's not all bad. It just doesn't strike me as something I always want or need.

Sorry about that--to myself and to anyone who might read. For whatever reason.

And now I'm home alone and it's raining and I'm boiling hot water to make chai so I can sit back on the couch and do more homework and listen to music that I love. And I'm happy.

Audio: Threes | Sparta
Video: Monster House
Text: Where Angels Fear to Tread | E.M. Forster


Those hills weren't so beautiful.
They know the truth.

Just tall tan grasses making waves with the wind,
sprawling over the round stepped foothills.
The land was too barren, too dead, too far.
Too unsculpted--these promised land hills.

Spring rains once made them green--shining green
like holly leaves--and in groups the cattle grazed.
But this is not farmland.
This is no orchard.

One-hundred feet from freeway,
stifling, choking emptiness--
Think of the need! Imagine the people, the roads,
the homes: so artfully built!

Perfect square monuments made with concrete and tar,
unsplintering faux-wood and petroleum-carpetry.
Now we have porchside overlooks, views of
the vast expanses of other porches.

Row upon row of dual garages,
eighth-acre backyards and two-inch lawns;
lined up with their patterned paint and streetlight aisles,
cul-de-sacs stained near the curb with drips of oil.

The crown of the city, they call it.
Because you breach the top of the highway, and
you see them: the homes--jewels in a crown--
alive and aparkling and further than those hills once were.

They are colorful;
they are not so brown;
they will never turn green.
The cows are gone.

This is beauty among the hills.
They know the truth.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Fountain

When I was back in Placerville for Thanksgiving break, I saw The Fountain. The movie was awesome. It was thought-provoking, had a nice theme, great visuals--amazing special effects, really, considering the budget (35M I think)--and terrific acting. I highly recommend. However, don't expect this sci-fi major blockbuster like it seems to be billed as. There's a bit of sci-fi. But to me there was more about the immortality of love, and a bit of how the psyche deals with loss and love, etc. And it's fun to tear it apart to see how it works and doesn't, and what it really means to the audience. Kudos, Danny Aronofsky.

I'll see it again. I hope it comes to the dollar movies here, because it's way worth it.

If I had written this about two days after I saw it, it would be twenty times longer. But since I'm writing this now, finally (delayed because life is crazy and busy right now, and I don't always allow myself time to write when I should--it comes more in blocks), it's very short.

Buy Nothing Day

So this year--day after Thanksgiving--I didn't buy a single thing. It was my way of associating with Buy Nothing Day< (sponsored by Adbusters, and good people everywhere). I don't like the whole post-Thanksgiving sale/shopping thing. It's a stupid phenomenon created solely for and buy the media, and it doesn't benefit the consumer--like we like to think, because we get hey! sweet TVs for only 184.00 at Walmart if you're first in line!--it definitely benefits the corporations. They don't throw a 'shopping holiday' like that to just hook up the people.

So buy things on your own time. Don't subscribe to everything you're fed.

A lesson in procrastination

Stayed up all night Tuesday night. I finished my 51-page folklore project. I hope it's decent. I don't think that my analysis was all that good. It was nearly seven pages, but I think I could've analyzed a whole lot better if I weren't so strapped for time.

I think I have 19 collection items. And five total informants. Anyway, not bad. And Deirdre is going to have a look at it and give me feedback next if there's anything I need to change before submitting the final-final version (although before yesterday, I though it was the final-final version). It would be cool if I could win the award (a $500 award given to the best folklore project from all BYU classes this semester), but I'm not planning on it. I just wanted to make sure that my project was as good as it could get, at least, so I didn't botch my chances. Only problem with that is that I will probably have to more on it now (after I get it back), and I don't want to. I really want to finish all my projects and classes and get this semester over with. It will be great, at least for a couple weeks.

Now if only work wasn't so busy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Icy concrete and the smokering circle

Invitation to four-twenty north:
to huddle together on the steps and breathe in
the same clear cold, to talk hot and
strong in a smokering circle
and fall asleep on a soiled Persian rug
(the mudstained one where we wiped the early-autumn storm
from our boots),
wrapped in prickly dirt-brown hospital blankets
that smell like dish rags and detergent.

But no--
I excused myself, stole away
to instead stand on my own porch, where
the lights are strung up as always, like Christmas
(but it's hardly November).
And the trees south of me are dark;
they are deserted and empty with capillary limbs, and
I shut my burning pink sticky eyes
and dream of them, those long naked arms--
how they miss their fallen leaves,
rotting in heaps on the ground underneath,
eating calico patterns of wet soil through the lawn and
turning the air mossy-sweet and pungent all the same.

I sit cross-legged
to will words and worlds into creation;
to spin storms, whirling winds through my mind.
I am the conjurer--
but there is strength in my disillusion,
my futile stabs at inspiration.
Because it is a blind, frightened voice
that enchants me and I am powerless--
a siren calls to me from out of doors,
a chanty emanates from some midnight ship,
some crosstown train--
and because of my inertia
I am subject to it all.

I should reconsider, go in search of
icy concrete and the smokering circle,
twenty-five degree night.
I should smile and sleep shivering atop that navy green
woolen throw-rug with the tassels, next to
the muddy Persian.
Their doors are still unlocked;
there is room yet for me,
I am reticent.
I am that leafless tree.

Monday, December 04, 2006

From the steps at the one-room schoolhouse

Lambs graze the garden-green hillside;
they bleat and call and share warmth with their woolen necks,
and the bells around them clack--hollow, harmonically.
The forest smells of wet newfallen needles,
clumped in little mounds under the pines;
a late-afternoon cold soaks in with the shadows.

The preacher's lips touch gently the microphone.
He is pleased but dutiful; he speaks quietly,
hints of how to defy time with powers more sincere.
Celebratory music guides single-file walks.
There are pledges of union and love,
a prolonged kiss, arms in the air, leaps from the stage.

But with their backs to me, crouched behind it all I sit,
admire the life that lifts its eyes skyward
from the damp earth--like persistent wildflowers,
that when hewn down, push up again
from roots sown in hidden pockets underground--
where some source of love resides.

Because pronouncements and circles and titles
are just symbols, outward appearance;
they are ceremony, ritual, leaps from a stage.
And the provenance of it all
rests in those souls--thriving under skin, pulsing of blood,
inexplicably coursing chemicals through synapses:

the things that can't be recorded,
the sound of bells, barely ringing in the winter,
round the necks of hillside sheep.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Breakings and a Christmas tree

I've had a rough week. Yesterday, my bike chain fell off and then broke on the way to school at 7 a.m. Then I lost one of the earbuds for my headphones. The day before, the eraser and metal-brace-thing fell off my pencil for the THIRD time in a week! So all my replacements are gone, and I had to go buy more today. I only got a 33 out of 40 on my resume package assignment. And my backpack's chest strap latch broke too (but I just found the piece, so maybe I can glue it).

Today: crazy Christmas tree shopping day. We bought an Italian Stone Pine, a little 2-foot tall silver-needled potted tree. We like the potted tree--me especially--I feel a lot better about the whole 'Christmas tree' concept when I'm not just chopping this tree down to display in my house for a month and let dry out and get brown and then throw out. Call me green, environmentalist, stupid, whatever. It's just me. And me feels good!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brand new Brand New

I'm such a geek. Today--the day the brand new Brand New comes out--I'm wearing one of their shirts, the 2005 street-team only shirt. Yes, I'm that cool. The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me. I'm pretty excited to leave work here soon and go get it. Too bad the only good place to get a newly-released cd on sale is Best Buy. I miss Dimple. Maybe I should go this week, when I'm in town.

Today I didn't have class at 7 or 8 am. So you'd think I'd be able to get to my 9 o'clock on time. Nope--got there about 22 minutes late. Ah, who cares--I knew it was pretty much a throwaway day.

When I got to work I checked out the inside of the car next to me. There was a nice book inside: Should We Stay Together?, by a guy with a Ph. D. That was fun. Then the car right in front of turns on. Yep, just starts right up, there in front of me. Some girl had remote-started it and was walking up to it. Remote-start. Ingenious.

--- ---

Okay so I had written all that on November 21st and then never posted it. So here's my follow-up.

I went to Best Buy that night, but they were completely out of that cd: every endcap, even the Brand New section. Yep--all gone. Guess they've ridden the college-scene hype-train. (I'm kind of an elitist prick, but I try to hide it with logic and understanding.) So I was quite pissed, but I was already late getting home and looking for any excuse to find another place to go so I could get the cd. Borders? Possibly the only other place I knew of, because Big Daddy never has anything new.

I go home anyway--didn't want to drive all the way over to Borders. Luckily, I forgot that I needed to go get a digital voice recorder before leaving to California--which was the next day. So around 8:30 I leave anyway to go back to Best Buy. And this time I took a nice little shortcut to Borders beforehand and got myself the cd I wanted a cool waterproof, tearproof map of San Francisco. Because I have to do some research, you know. (Note: I never did that research. Not on that last trip, at least. It'll have to wait until Christmas break.)

The digital voice recorder is awesome. I've got notes, ideas, songs or words from the kids, the musician stories I wanted (18 or so in total so far, I think), etc. Great stuff. Expensive though, but useful all the same.

Audio: The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me | Brand New
Video: The Fountain | [Danny Aronofsky|2006]
Text: Where Angels Fear To Tread | E.M. Forster

My word of the day:
mondegreen : the mishearing (usually accidental) of a phrase in such a way that it acquires a new meaning

A scene [3: with Grace and Harold]

The building was two stories high, entrance on the top floor--you walk right in and there's a rotating wire display holding vertical rows of postcards. Each one showed a different bleak desert photograph, with Dinosaurs Lived! printed in the lower right. There was a bin with some plastic figurines, and on top there were pamphlets describing the displays. The ground was covered in thin red carpeting, and the ceiling went high up overhead where lights hung suspended from little wires. The whole floor was small, and clung to the south wall. A brown, three-section railing went around the edge of the floor, and the rest of the building was open so you could see the rock wall with the fossils jutting out.

Except for Harold and his father, there didn't seem to be anyone else around. No scientists or other tourists, just displays set in a little maze around the floor, with color-coded graphs and pieces of Allosaur fossils. On the left, the wall was one big window, streaked with fingerprints and glass-cleaner residue. The desert outside was peppered with little grey shrubs. It must have been at least 100 out, stifling and choking because of the heat and the sand that swirled all over.

This place used to be a river--that's what the first graph showed, at least. The earth shifted over millions of years, and ended up a hot, barren wasteland, thrust upward at a sixty-degree angle.

"What a waste of time," Harold said.

"History is never a waste of time." His father had a receding hairline and wore wire-rimmed glasses that sat on the tip of his nose. He was studying one of the pamphlets. "Read everything. I know you'll love it." He gestured out the window. "Can you believe it used to be a river around here?"

"No." Harold strode down past the displays, hands outstretched, lightly tapping each Plexiglas enclosure. He looked at the bones, the reconstructed skulls. "I'm going downstairs to see the wall."

His father nodded. The stairs were at the back end of the floor, corrugated metal covered in black rubber. They led to more displays, underneath the top level, and another windowed wall where you could supposedly watch paleontologists work. But no one was there. And everything in this place looked rickety, like it was just clapped together.

There was a girl downstairs. Harold stopped and leaned up against an open-air Brachiosaur femur, the first object past the bottom of the stairway. It was taller than him and he had his arm way up on it, same level as his head.

The girl looked at him and smiled. She had on a white skirt, and a white cardigan over a pink shirt. She was a redhead, with maroon-lipsticked lips that made her freckles stand out on her nose. She was older than him, by a couple years at least.

She pointed at a sign above his head: Please do not touch. Harold pulled his arm away and stood straight.

"Fascinating, isn't it?" she said. "That they didn't discover this place until 1909. 1909! What was someone even doing out here anyway? Why did anyone ever discover it?" She was watching a video that showed mules pulling crates of whitewashed bones toward a train.

"Yeah--fascinating," Harold said. "I love this kind of thing."

"What's your name?" she asked.


"Nice to meet you, Harold."

"You too--"

"Grace. My name's Grace."

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Transcription of a chopsticks package that I received today at Edo Japan in Salt Lake City:

--- ---
Tuk under tnurnb and held firmly

Learn how to use your chopsticks

Add second chcostick
hold it as you hold a pencil

Hold tirst chopstick in originai position
move the second one up and down
Now you can pick up anything:

--- ---

That's verbatim. Brilliant isn't it? My favorite word is tnurnb.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A scene [2]

The sunlight is slowly disappearing, day by day. Sarah and I are driving down the emptiest stretch of Nevada highway to be found. It's somewhere around the middle of September--I'm getting worse at remembering specific dates anymore--and I suddenly take notice of the greying sky. Why is it getting dark? It's only seven--much too soon for this.

Sarah hands me one of my bottles of pills. They're all so identical--that same medicinal-orange, stuffy white typewritten label and stupid meaningless words strewn all over them--it was if I were taking the same thing over and over again. Well maybe I should.

"It's time," Sarah says. I nod and dump three of the half-yellow, half-white pills into my palm, studying them there for a second.

"Maybe I should be done with all this." I look over at her.

She looks back at me, unsurprised. "No. We've come way too far for this now. Cut that out and just take them." She looks back to the road. "What do you expect me to say?" She lifts her hands a little, frustrated, then slaps them back on the steering wheel.

"That you agree with me. That this is worthless and not getting us anywhere. Isn't that why we're going back to California anyway? So we're just conveniently visiting family, right? I'm not stupid." In the distance I can still see the uppermost peak of the sun, rounding its way behind those hills.

I start rolling down my window.

She sighs and looks at me as if I'm already dead. "Don't throw them out the window."
I slip my hand out and open it wide; they stick there for an instant until they're wrenched off by the wind. I picture them bouncing, breaking across the Nevada blacktop, crumbling into whitish dust under the tires of the next semi.

"You idiot. Why'd you do that? We're going to have to get more now, first thing when we arrive. You know your supply's running low. Now take three more. And don't even think about getting rid of these." Steering with one hand, she takes her eyes of the road and pours three more into her own hand. I open wide for her, and she shoves them into my mouth. I swallow them dry.

She sighs again. "Sorry George. It's just that this is so hard, you know, for all of us. You don't think this is easy for me do you? You remember Beth, after all those complications? I barely made it in to see her. I made it right before they locked the door--a split-second later would've been too much. See, some things just happen that way, even though we wish they wouldn't." She smiles uneasily. "Nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh?"

I don't care what she's saying. I'm watching the billboards as they stream pass. There are some great ones.

"Sure, Sarah. Sure."

I can't see the color of the pill bottles anymore. The sun is completely gone now, having just sunk behind those brown hills with little flourish.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Each day will still end with a settling sun

The full moon sky fills with fractured clouds,
and they ripple in streaks and wander about,
making empty ruts seem like welcoming soil
on a hot desert night spent protecting the oil
in the sands of a desperate foreign town:
the outskirts of Baghdad, a policed crowd,
where sounds that deafen and strike at the heart
invade the flesh, create camouflage art.

Downtown the merchants are setting up shop
and a lineup of victims is met, shot by shot,
with their backs against brick, by a firing squad,
left to be loved by a nameless god--
be it Allah or Vishnu, Jehovah or Jah,
they all fall the same: face frozen in awe.
And the leaders keep laughing, keep lapping along
with their mouths open wide. Their great thirsty tongues
form the pipeline, the drills in their desert holes.
Petroleum's taste seduces the soul,
like a boy in a sweetshop, what does he do?--
if the money runs out, just pocket a few
and you have all you want by the end of the day;
it's just politics, the American way.

Some march in a uniform, some in a robe;
the color of skin marks a friend or a foe.
The roads are plowed by the tank as it treads,
aims and then focuses, cross colored red:
It rests on a boy, guns strapped to his chest--
he knows he is right, he soon will be blessed.
The tank-gunner knows that the boy is corrupt;
his hand's on the trigger, the sanddunes erupt
and the boy-threat is gone--his guns are no more.
'Didn't know who he was--oh, the fortunes of war!
Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.
It's not playing sides, it's a matter of truth!
The tank-gunner knows that his side will win,
and the young boy's friends will swear their revenge
and know that their cause is for life and for love--
all anyone wants is a mansion above.

So which way is right? Which way is wrong?
Just follow your leaders, just play along.
Because US or Sunni or Shiite or none,
each day will still end with a settling sun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I landed hard

Yesterday morning I was riding my bike home from school, and I was trying to do a front-wheelie: an endo, a stoppie--where you hit the front brakes really hard and pop up on a wheelie on your front tire--but when I tried it again (after one mildly successful attempt), I flew end over end (hence the name), landing on my back on the ground in the church parking lot right next to my house, with my backpack trapped by the bike's handlebars. It didn't really hurt at the time, but now I have these small, symmetrically-round, hard lumps on either forearm, and I don't know why--from where I hit the handlebars or the asphalt or something, with equal force on both sides. And my shoulder is sore because I did this really cool roll to get out of it; I wish someone had videoed it--I'd love to see that in action. But no one saw. And the music just kept right on playing.

Before driving to Salt Lake last nite for class, I went to a gas station, like I usually do. I didn't feel like junk food--I'm getting a little better at that--and so I looked around for fruit. The only fruit was in a box of .69 Chiquita bananas on the front counter. I bought one. Let me now just say that it was the single worst banana I've ever eaten. It turned into liquid mush in my mouth. The center was black but the rest looked normal. It tasted like bitter soil. I ate most of it anyway, only because I figured it couldn't really hurt me.

Also last nite, after class, I offically started National Novel Writing Month. I got through a little over 1000 words. Not bad, but I have to keep a better pace than that if I'm going to get anywhere with it. I did stay up until 2:00 though, but the writing's not even really that good. Because right now I'm shooting for quantity only; I can always add the quality later (or can I?).

I am rewriting the story/novel I started long ago, over a year ago. You may it as Highways, Highway Veins, The Circus, and so on--or you may not know it at all. The name I like most right now, that I think I'm sticking with, is Highway Veins. It's the one that won me a prize. But I was lucky. Because the writing is so florid and full of modifiers it's unbelievable. My new version actually looks *too* simple when I compare them. So I'll have to work on adding some description later--that won't be too hard, hopefully.

We saw this show last nite about Pete Seeger. He's great. He's in his eighties, lives in New York, and he's a folk singer. He plays for children, and plays for fun. He's got this long-necked custom banjo that is his signature. He wrote Turn, Turn, Turn. He is a political and environmental activist. He started a foundaation called Clearwater that focuses on cleaning up the Hudson, and he takes kids out on this beautiful old schooner replica he had built. They make strawberry shortcake and hot biscuits. He's a genius. I want to be a genius.

Look up Pete Seeger. You'll fall in love.


Audio: We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes|Death Cab For Cutie
Video: Some show about Pete Seeger last nite; the guy is fascinating--I really admire him
Text: The Moonstone|Wilkie Collins

My word of the day:
[why: I read it in The Moonstone.]
1 obsolete : the kitchen servants of a household
2 a : a rude or unscrupulous person b : a person who uses foul or abusive language

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Provo photos

So I uploaded the Provo photos like I said I would. They're on both Facebook and Flickr. I really should've added a picture of our church. It's a pretty rad building, brick, built in 1952 (I talked about it in Tale of a frozen mountain boy). Here's the link to the pictures:

My Provo photos on Flickr

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I just finished reading Ceremony. It was really good. I want to be Indian. As in, Indian-American Indian.

She write so well about nature, and smell and the mountains, juniper, sage, piñon, cattle. Everything; it's really all amazing.

I think I'm going to go ride around town, pulling the kids' trailer behind me, taking pictures of Provo. It may not be the best town, but it's full of some really cool buildings, especially round Center Street, by us. Like the tabernacle, the old Pepsi bottling building, the houses/manors that are converted into bed and breakfasts, old signs, the old meat packing building, and fading painted bricks with dates from 1926. If I really get some pictures taken I'll post them around places for people to see.

Friday, October 27, 2006


So last Saturday I bought this man-purse. It's pretty rad; it's hand-made on a loom in Chiapas, Mexico, but these women who are part of a community run by the EZLN.

[skip this part unless you're curious]
The EZLN is the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, otherwise known as The Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Cool huh. They're a nonviolent protest-type group that's anti-NAFTA, anti-globaliation, anti-neoliberalism, and they want support for the poor farmers in Chiapas (one of Mexico's poorest regions that provides 90% of the water to the rest of Mexico, while they themselves still have water shortages). They want the government to allow the farmers to own the land they've lived on and farmed themselves for years and generations, and not have to keep paying some fee to an absentee owner.

I just have so many things to carry. You know, phone, wallet, big thing of keys, notebooks, hats, gum, I don't know I could keep going I guess.

Anyway, I'm not ashamed to wear it. So if you see me wearing this bluish-grey, purse-looking thing over my shoulder, with the letters EZLN on it and tassles hanging down, that's me. Don't be afraid.

Audio: Lover, The Lord Has Left Us|The Sound Of Animals Fighting
Video: The Man Who Knew Too Little
Text: Ceremony|Leslie Marmon Silko

My word of the day:
[why: My Writing Fiction teacher uses this often.]
1 : inclined to be silent or uncommunicative in speech : RESERVED
2 : restrained in expression, presentation, or appearance

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The christening

Update: This poem placed first in Artella's January 2007 Poetic Idol competition.

--- ---

This morning I rode home
through falling leaves and fluttering snow,
with crimson forearms and a drunkard's cheeks.
The clouds hung in black quilted cotton overhead,
dirty and heavy and close.

Stormwater stole up from the streets in a haze--
a low-lying steamy fog,
a locomotive apparition without an engine--
heated by the still-lit streetlamps
in the dim morning twilight.

Droplets fell from the trees on my face,
and brittle grains of snow,
like the white gypsum sands of New Mexico,
settled on my bare arms and I slapped at them,
stung them with wet palmprints.

But high overhead, far above me in the west,
a small clearing lay open in the sapphire sky,
and a star shone down on that sleeping city
(where industry often outshines everything):
Sirius, star-king of the night,
muzzle of the great dog.

And on his right I saw his master,
an unmistakable shape, those stars I knew by name:
the shaman, the peaceful warrior,
man of the mountains and of animals,
kin of Enkidu.

That celestial figure,
an arrangement so familiar to my love.
The name we had discussed,
that I had thought of as a boy,
that we had agreed upon--

because at home, her belly is
swollen like those hanging clouds,
filled and ready to burst, to release.
And the small boy within--
he is at once ours,
growing, fantastic, mythological,
and yet still one and the same
with that watcher in the sky.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

That time again

Have you ever tried writing 55-fiction? It's interesting. Check it out, where it originated: New Times magazine in San Luis Obispo (that's got me remembering Santa Barbara). Anyway, what follows is my first attempt, all 47 words of it. It's called That time again.

"Last year, I brought you a dozen roses, fresh from the florist. This year, it's a bouquet of pansies, picked straight from the Joneses' yard." He laughed a little. "Sorry about that. I guess times change. Happy birthday anyway," he said, laying the flowers on the gravestone.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

[administrative post 10.17.2006]

So, just wanted to say that my poem Arcturus found a pencil was picked for fourth place in the latest Artella Quarterly Poetic Idol contest (check out the winning poems on their site). Not the best, not the worst, though I did do better last time. This time around it was out of 115 people, who entered up to three poems apiece. Anyway, I'm just sayin.

You can read the original poem via the link below. I wrote it in June.

Arcturus found a pencil

Waxing rain

Note: I've updated this.
--- ---

I walked home and the rain thickened;
I removed my glasses
to see the world as I should:
blurred with blackness,
people dipping into puddles,
wading waist-deep past the cars and the limbs.

Rushing over concrete--
displaced by the roots of unbridled pine--
and flowing like silt in a flooded river,
we gather in pools and eddies,
apartment buildings, parking lots:

mouths that open into the ocean
and spread us far and between,
away from our cars and our foundations.
So we run,
to flee the smiling fury of the skies.


as it soaks into my brittle, dried skin,
it warms my aching flesh,
hushes my decaying soul

and I am scaling that mountain again,
sojourning with the rain,
coursing upstream
up its knobbed hillsides;

but this time
am the victor;
am the conqueror.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The birth

Another day come and gone.
I call it ten, you call it twenty-seven.
Predictions of 'inevitable acting to fit the part',
will come true, and I won't profit,
won't see any of the so-called good.

Keep to the right and ignore the others, you said.
And you will arrive in due time.
But I never meant to travel;
that destination was a ruse--
a trick for leading slaves in on chains, under the
winter branches and full moon shadows.

And it's cold again because autumn never came,
and the bedspread lays stiff on my ankles
like a lake of ice,
my head crooked against the dying bedboards
arms clutching themselves.

It wasn't fear or shame that shut my eyes,
only the simplicity of doing so--
and there, within, I can hug typhoons and not care;
I can watch time transpire, plan the whole mess
out like before.

Saddled to the nightmare,
my feet in hot leather on hot coals,
fevered forehead in the rain,
the voice of angels singing across the
mountaintops capped in silver lice.

Insomniac nights are all part of the bargain.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I want another

I want to stand outside
under the drowning clouds--
I want to lie in the wet grass, with wet leaves
over each of my eyes,
and grow into the dirt:
a reverse weed.

I want a rocking chair on a rotting porch
in the south,
humid breezes dampening my hair and
spiderwebs cradling dewdrops before the sun rises
and transforms everything back to familiar.

I want to walk to a playground
alone at the witching hour,
to fall asleep on plastic wood-textured planks,
tracking satellites
across the mouth of the Milky Way.

I want each little piece of this world;
I want its travelers and landmarks and little-known alleyways.
its bakeries and bookstores.
I want
its laundromats,
its farms and mini-marts.

I want to metamorphose with all of these things at my side
to prove to myself--to everyone--
that transformation is necessary,
and that we should forget
if we were ever
or afraid.


I don't know about this life.
I just don't know.

There is so much to love,
yet so much to hate.
Things to question
and dread,
push aside their existence,
out of sight--
I'll pretend they never occur,
or don't really matter,
for that matter.

I'm a coconut, a flesh-filled endocarp,
but some godly otherworldly survivor
is cracking me open, holding me up and milking everything of
value out of me,
drinking me dry,
right there beside the ocean.

Now I'm an empty shell,
my meat removed, flaked and dried,
and I'm falling,
falling slowly behind a waterfall
that's drawn in vertical lines
of colored blur
and illusion.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

At school narrative type

I went to bed at 4 a.m. last night. I had had a mostly productive day, finished my Fiction and Technical Writing class assignments. Wrote out some Spanish vocab. Read some. But then everyone was asleep, and it was 1:30 or so and I started hacking apart my new Michael Stadther book [Secrets of the Alchemist Dar] so I could scan each page in. I planned to stop at the hacking stage, but ended up scanning every page in as well. It took a couple hours. I wish I'd had the time to do a better scan of each page, so that the colors would come out more accurately. The funny thing was, Jarom woke up right before I started scanning, he "had to go pee-pee," his little catch-phrase. So he goes back to bed and says, "Dad? What was that sound?" I don't know what sound he heard, but he had me take him outside to show him all was well. Then he went back to bed and I started scanning. Scanning is loud, but somehow Bella and Amy slept through it all. Not Jarom. he stayed awake the whole time, finally at 4:00 he went to bed at the same time as me. For all I know, he stayed up even longer.

Then I woke up at 6:35 and was about 25 minutes late to Spanish, but At least I got full credit on the pruebita that I kind of guessed on. Thanks Adriana.

We didn't have Technical Writing today, so I went to the library. I was tired. I thought maybe I'd sleep on a book. Instead, I went to a computer. I know, I know, it's an exciting schooled life that I lead.

So I'm sitting there using a school computer, and in comes this girl who sits in the chair next to me--now remember the tables hold four machines, one in each direction, so it wasn't exactly *next* to me, more like to the side of me. And it just seemed that something was amiss when she sat, like she did it intentionally or something, like she was eyeing me. And believe me, I'm known for my sensing abilities.

I kind of kept track of her, but didn't look much her way--and she was pretty decent looking--but she didn't seem to be looking at me either. But she did seem to hack and cough and choke enough to clear everyone out of her path. She was obviously getting sick. I wasn't really doing anything at the computer anyway, and I had some reading I needed to do, so I packed it all up and headed off to a table where I could read.

I was wearing my glasses, because I got little sleep the night before, and I thought I could see her looking at me from afar. I was really squinting. Anyway, five minutes later she gets up, grabs her stuff, and walks on towards me. She sits down, right next to me. At a table meant to fit four, she sits right next to me! There were plenty of other tables. Now, I'm a shy kid, and I don't know what this girl's thinking, so I just sit there, keep reading. She kept on coughing, throwing little fits. Eventually she asks me in a squeaky voice, "Do you know if the copy center is open this early?"

I tell her that I don't, and get back to reading.

She mentions the cold, asks me where I'm from. California, I say, what about you? She says she's from Arizona, and that I won't be seeing much of her when the winter hits.

She was working on this project, this big craft for her art class. The only thing I remember is this huge green posterboard piece with the stenciled word INSTITUIONALIST on it. She has dance at 9 a.m; she has to have this done right away.

Then the bell rings. She starts to pack up and gathers her things for a long time. Maybe she's procrastinating. Then she starts to walk away.

"Good luck," I say.

"Thanks. Seeya!" she says.

I watch her walk away. She never turns around.

... ...

I go home, pack up some stuff and take off for work. I know that it's Monday, and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday--when I get there late--I have to park further away. Now the thing about that, is that I go through a different, closer entrance to get upstairs. When I am just about to my door, there is always this girl sitting there in an armchair, doing her homework. The first couple times I'd just nod hi, casually, friendly. Then she started talking to me, like a week ago.

"Where do you work?" she asks.

"In here. It's called Distriba. You wouldn't know it. I'm a programmer."

"Cool," she says.

I ask her if she's doing homework, what she's doing there. She says that she has to wait for a ride on these days. I tell her how much school and work I am handling. She acts shocked. She asks my major--it's English.

"Oh yeah? What's your favorite book?"

I tell her my favorite book is Ask The Dust, followed by On The Road. She hasn't heard of either of them. I have to go, I say. See you next time.

But I avoided her the next time. This is getting uncomfortable.

So then today, I say to myself, ah well, just go the usual way, say hi, be friendly. No need to *avoid* people.

She is up there with a boy. I say hi, she immediately says, "We work together," to make it clear to me that the boy is not a threat. I want to say, I'm married, it's cool, but I'm too polite. She says, oh yeah, this is Cameron, and this is--motioning to me, as if she knew my name--

"Matt," I say.

"Matt," she repeats.

"I don't think I know your name," I say.

"No you don't. It's Suzette."

"Hi," I say.

But I have to go, so I leave them. And that was that. I think I'll be going the other way from now on.

Audio: The Red Tree | Moneen
Text: Writing Fiction [7th edition] | Janet Burroway/Elizabeth Stuckey-French

My word of the day:
1 : at an opportune time : SEASONABLY
2 : by way of interjection or further comment : with regard to the present topic
[Why: I read it on some forum, some idiot trying to sound really smart.]

Sunday, October 01, 2006

CSUS party

There was a massive party, almost like it was Halloween and it was 1930. The party was at Sac State. Dad, Heather, Mikie, Joey, Amy, Jarom, Bella and I were all there. We went inside one of the buildings; there was a nice lounge and a white stairway. There were white leather sofas and the lights were dimmed, and so things were only lit by the colorful sparkles of light that came from devices that spun to the music.

I saw my friend Thad from high school. I hadn't seen him in years, almost ten. I called him Thaddeus Winston Andrews, esquire, the III. That's what our junior high school principal, Mr. Momberg, called him during 8th grade graduation rehearsal, and I've never forgotten that. We went outside.

He asked me if I wanted a chile tequila. He had one and he threw it at the side of a car and it seemed to explode. I took one from him, held it and asked him what was in it.

I never drank it, ended up leaving it set inside on a balcony somewhere, with the chile oil separated and lifting to the top.

I realized I had been separated from the rest of my group.

Outside there was a street that looked ancient. I watched as a nice car comes down the street, rams into the back of a second car that was parallel parked. They were engaged in some sort of gangster war or something, They took some items out of the back of the rammed car's trunk, right in front of a shop on the street that an Asian man owned.

I went and got a a second chile tequila which I never drank.

Jarom was standing on the sidewalk, looking clueless and holding the hand of a bearded man who was also holding the hand of his own child. I came up to them and asked the man if he had helped Jarom. He looked like he didn't know what I was talking about, said no.

I went inside to find the others.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The general state of things

The weather of each day is generally starting to improve; we've got upwards of 70 degree weather and all that snow that Mount Timpanogas was showing has already melted away--though it did take a week or so. I've got this glassy office window view, right there looking up at the mountain, but I'm all climate-controlled and barricaded by double-paned windows, and so it seems sort of alien to me to even look out there at all the cars passing by and flocks of women with their single, double, and triple joggers as they speedwalk right past me, right before my eyes, up the slight little hill and onto somewhere else. And I've got work to do. And writing to do. And I'm behind on all my schoolwork. And readings. I had to ask my fiction teacher--Dr. Bruce Jorgensen, an amazingly intellectual older man with a large head and these staring spells where he lectures while apparently studying the clock--for an extension for a story. It's just brief extension, only until tomorrow morning before 9 AM. I have this story idea about a tomato trucker and a deer, but I don't know if it will work.

I'm so self-centered lately--that is, I suppose I'm alway self-centered, but with school and work and all this stuff, I'm just beyond reach. It's so awful, coming home multiple nights each week where Amy has already put Jarom and Bella to bed--and not to mention how to rarely I even get to see Amy. Tonite she's going to Kathy's house and she and Kathy and Carrie and (?) are going to engage in a fun-filled all-nighter girls' night of scrapbooking. So that leaves me with Jarom and Bella; we're going to get some time. Not sure yet what we'll do.

Jarom and Bella both have night terrors. It's a very interesting problem. Jarom's are worse than Bella's, and seemingly more traumatizing. He wakes up crying and shouting things--last night's were "I don't want to!" and "But I love you Daddy!"--and can't be woken up. So last night I take him into the kitchen to try and wake him up with pots and pans (sounds brutal I know, but I was desperate, and I now know that trying to wake him up is worthless, so I won't try anymore), and nothing works. It wasn't his worst. The poor kid. He's so smart; he's in preschool now; he went this morning. It's twice a week. He's got homework, and he comes home all boisterous and excitable. We might get Bella to go too, to a different class. I know she would love it.

I just finished reading Frankenstein. Sure, I read it for class, but sometimes being prompted to read something is good motivation. It's fascinating. Written by an eighteen year old girl, daughter of writers, acquainted with writers, married to a writer. It's profound and thought-provoking, and entertaining. I could associate with the monster, for some strange reason. I felt for him. I would be his protector. There are many other things I need to catch up on reading.

Today is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday. I will be productive.

Audio: Lover, The Lord Has Left Us | The Sound Of Animals Fighting
Video: Point Break [1991 | Kathryn Bigelow]
Text: The Wine Of Youth: Selected Stories | John Fante

My word of the day:
: the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also : a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues

[why: I read it in a short story, Gryphon by Charles Baxter, in my Writing Fiction book.]

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Heather, Dad and I were going to a deserted, woodsy cabin in the middle of nowhere--it was either a polar region or a rainforest, Amazon-type area.
Heather and Dad were already there. I came on a boat, but there had been a flood. There was a paved road that lead to the cabin and I reached it just as the floodwaters rose up entirely around me, soaking me and covering the road. If I had been in a car I would never have made it.

I walked the short distance to the cabin. There was a very deep pond or lake out in front, and three different breeds of dogs were swimming there underwater, as if they were amphibious or something.

Once in the cabin, I pointed out to Dad that there was a mountain lion across the pond, out in front. And I was no liar.

... ...

Then Russ and I were packing our snowboard packs, like he was there with us and he and I were going to leave the house.
We talked about how it would be okay if we brought our packs, because if worst came to worst, we could just let them float off in the flood while we were climbing on floating sheets of ice. The ground underneath us was rippling and breaking like we were in the middle of an earthquake.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


[Last year I wrote about the rain; it was the same time of year--the equinox--and it rained angrily for a day or two. I actually dreamed about it beforehand. This year, instead, I should write about the snow--how September is misleading and so on. But that's so commonplace--or maybe it's just differentplace.]

There's the earthshine you see, the shadowy nether-region on the moon that you think you see if you barely focus on, say, a highrise building slightly off in the distance, not far from the moon but not too close. I have two eyes, my left is an erased scantron bubble with a partial crescent, my right is Venus. I focus on them. They guide me. I'm a sailor on already-discovered, already-explored ground, land foreign only to me.

Fifth grade fire-red crayon shading clogs the horizon, about half of it. The mountains are purple, they are liquid, they are grey. They are disappearing.

I madly wish that I were mad. I want to be insane and isolated, holed up in a cabin somewhere, taking walking tours of countries I've never seen, prophetically afraid of consumption, addicted to drugs that I need and that I want, burning out bright and dying young and accomplishing all I ever needed to accomplish four years ago.

So then I'll just live in the earthshine--a place where you can never see me. Sure the rest of the moon will brighten and everything, its little monthly cycle thing, but when it shines loudest I'll be gone.

It is round, after all, and I know how to run.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The monsoon

So there's a monsoon this week. The mountain that we intended to climb only a few days ago is saturated with snow. It's 37 degrees out. It's September. Tonight's the autumnal equinox. May as well be winter solstice. Rain is everywhere: it's in my shoes, my hood, my skin. I like it, mostly. I'd prefer if it were only raining in the mountains as well. I don't like to wear hats in the rain; I like my hair to get wet, soaking wet so it drips to the ground from strands in front of my eyes. It's even better when my hair is longer, like it is now. I think I see bits of snow in the rain. I'm pretty sure that I do. I was even inspired to write something about it. Sometimes I inspire myself, but lately I just depress myself. It's degrading, really, how unimpressed I am with my own work, my own intentions. Over time I'm sure I'll wade through it all, figure something out. But for now I can't look past the rain.

I'm planning on this rain letting up, and the real post-summer early-fallness taking over. I expect at the very least: 70 degree days, sweatshirt weather, lukewarm nights--the occasional rain is okay too. I expect that, when Joey and Mom come around Amy's birthday next month, we will still climb that mountain, and it'll rain and it'll snow and we will be wet and frozen and have black toes, and once at the top we may see cloud instead of city, but we'll be up there regardless and it might be 1 AM or 7 AM but we'll be there. That's what I expect.

This morning I stopped at a gas station on the way to work. I bought gas, two sodas and some licorice belts.

My word of the day:
: mechanical, learned or memorized as from a crowd, unthinking routine or repetition

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A scene [1]

I had just picked up two blocks of cheese--both of them cheddar: one mild, one sharp--when I felt a tap at my shoulder and turned around.

"Hey," she said. It was Sarah. We made brief eye contact second until I looked down at my shoes.

"Hi Sarah. Hey, this is unexpected. It's been a while, huh? How funny."

She smiled. "What's so funny?"

"Well, just that there you are, and here I am; both here shopping at the same Safeway. I guess I just never thought I'd see you."

"I guess that's funny." She was holding one of those blue supermarket baskets by its handle; it swung down by her knees. In it was a single loaf of bread, a half-drunk 20 oz. bottle of diet cola and a bag of chocolate chips.

"That's some serious shopping."

"Yeah, you know how it is--there really isn't that much you need, but you end up here anyway."

"Yeah." I was still holding the blocks of cheese. "So I take it you moved?"

"Yeah, I'm about three blocks down now, the Grandview. Third floor."

I knew the Grandview--a little old hole of a hotel that they fixed up nice and new with a slick white facade.

"That's a nice place. So why'd you move, are you still working for--"

"I'm doing real estate," she said. "Connelly Brothers Realtors, it's called. I manage the office, things like that."

"You've moved up--good for you." I didn't believe her when she said office manager; she was probably just their secretary, having to wash out garbage bins, bring them lunch and coffee, all the fun stuff. My cheeses were starting to get warm.

"So what about you?"

"Working? Yeah--can't seem to escape it."

"Have you finished writing your book yet, that one about--"

"Oh no, no. I dropped that--it wasn't really getting me anywhere." (As if I needed to tell her that.) "I've been doing this stuff with computers, you know, designing logos and things, marketing, I don't know. It's fun I guess. I like it."

"That's good. I'm glad for you." Her mouth perked slightly at each end, creating a sort of false smile, with v-shaped smile lines that framed her lips--those lips that were barely familiar to me but still so easy to recall.

I let my eyes wander randomly around the store, as if looking for something I still needed, and I latched them onto an aisle endcap filled with cereal boxes.

"Hey, well, I better get going," I said.

"Me too," she said.

"Good luck with your real estate business."

"It's not really my business--"

"I know, I know. I just meant, good luck with everything."

"You too, with your computers and stuff. And I think you should start writing again. You had potential there."

"Thanks. I'll think about it."

"Alright. See you later."

"See you. Take care of yourself."

I slid the two cheeses into my blue basket.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Doll at the supermarket

I went to the supermarket today
to find the doll my daughter had lost.
The clerk in guest services searched
through those unmarked bins of unclaimed items,
but returned to me with only,
"I'm sorry," and/or
"Someone must have taken it."

It's not that my daughter will be much distraught,
or even remember for that matter--
it's just that now I can't be her hero,
bearing the spoils of a victorious crusade.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


We are awakening from our hibernation.

We are rusted grills.
Black charcoal, glowing sun-orange.
Dusty lawn chairs.
Lifeguard booths.
Car wash lines.

We are in bloom.
Turning skyward during the day.
Flopping rhythmically in sandals.
Open longer hours.
Rattling swamp coolers.

We are ocean clouds that burn off at noon.
Packing our things.
Long open highways.
Red-stained popsicle hands.
Crushed ice stands.

We are shedding layers of skin.
Fresh as rain, warm on sidewalks.
Melting ice cream on sugar cones.
Running traffic lights.
Baseball diamond lawn clippings.

I am a regenerating tree.

I live forever.

My sister said

[This was selected to be read at BYU's September 11th 5th Anniversary Commemorative Service remembrance (is the name really that long?) on 09/11/06. 13 poems were selected overall, but only two of those were selected to be read. Just thought I'd boast.]

If you had seen it, she said,
you'd have cried--
how the sun is blotted out
and everyone wears a mask.
They gave me one, but I gave it up to the couple
standing near the mound of brick and glass.

I did see it, I said,
all over television.
We watched it for hours at work,
didn't do a thing, because we couldn't--
just stared at the tumbling images
over and over, all day long,
sitting in shock--everyone cried, made phone calls.

Everything's a mess, she said,
you can't get anywhere.
None of the phones work,
(except payphones like this).
And people search your face as they pass;
sometimes they walk past again, just to make sure.

Everyone's so glad you're safe, I said,
Can you imagine? Could you ever imagine?

Yes, she said,
I can imagine.
And we should be thankful for life—

Because you should see it, she said,
how everyone's lost, everyone is family.
A woman came up to me and hugged me,
buried her face in my shawl
and wept
little muffled I'm sorrys into my shoulder.

We embraced there for a moment,
while the people streamed past
and dust clogged our throats and nostrils,
both telling each other it would be okay.

And everything will be okay
we have newfound unity;
we have newfound love.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Class in Salt Lake

Class in Salt Lake is a bit of a joke. My teacher is always at least ten minutes late. The class consists of five students, two of whom are the teacher's friends (read: older women), auditing the course. Last night only three of us even showed. I guess it makes for a personal touch, and it seems that the grading isn't going to be terribly harsh, but it's still just weird. It's intro to folklore by the way. So there's this definite feminine-touch thing going that I don't fully have. I don't mind it all--let me be as feminine as you like--but, for example, last night we discussed quilts as part of an occupational folklore discussion. So there's all this talk of tying, batting, stretching, quilt tops, polyester vs. cotton, length, thickness, and anyway, I was the only one unfamiliar with most of the terms. "What's a quilt top?" I would ask. "What's batting?"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Swarming, impeccable, feather-tipped by evening,
in their dark suits with straightened ties,
at their empty mahogany tables spread across floors of glass,
with leathery wings tucked neatly into leathered belts,
they smile sincere beaked smiles--

revealing fresh stains left by juicy red pith--
that widen when I reach into my pockets.
They are crouched at the edge of their chairs,
feet and hands placed intricately, prepared and ready to pounce,
to smile and always devour--

always hungry,

never limping, never lame, always wishing for the same,
if there were enough it would never be,
because they are hungry
and they feed upon me.


As the day grows to a close
and the sinking sun saps every last ounce of my strength
and the grass is still damp
(and I wish I'd taken that paper route)
I am a void---unfilled

But I can imitate and perpetuate
and follow like the lambs
whose woolen clouds cloud the last dusted remnants of daylight,
and I am one of them,

secretly believing that within
I am perfect
I am better, above,
beyond their words and their ways--
their passive attempts at assimilation.

So with love in my head,
I walk softly and listen carefully
and gently I find my way back into the migrating herd.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The weird Wes Anderson-themed dream

I opened a bag of sunchips that mom had bought at a grocery store in some town I didn't recognize. She had her grocery bags all hung out on her car; she said that it was quicker that way because she could just set it up first and then bring out the shopping cart and fill them all up. But she chastised me for opening and eating the sunchips, because the bag was apparently for the bishopric. I told her I would go in and buy her a new bag (even though I hadn't eaten the first).


At a house that Amy's aunt Debrah owned: She had built this massive waterpark virtually in her own backyard. Joey was already there; he jumped off the second or third level and into a big pool. So I went up there to join him, but there was a huge line and gathering of not-the-most-savory of people. There were some African-Americans who wanted to jump me but then said to each other--"no n_g_e_s" (fill in the blanks yourselves, and note: I'm not racist at all, I'm just tellin it like it was). There were some younger boys who jumped in tandem. Satya was there too and for some reason he jumped naked, however his jump was weak and he seemed to be lacking the correct set of genitalia. Weird. But I wanted to use the diving board like some of the others--it looked the most fun.

Then there was a Bill Murray part--where we must have been in some Wes Anderson film--he was wearing a huge robe with some insignia on it and he wanted to jump in. Finally he disrobed and jumped in, but under the robe he had huge manboobs and was a lot bigger than he normally seems. But he jumped in anyway. Then there were all these weird glove/hand type things that were trying to steal a bottle of lotion that Bill had been carrying. I jumped in and wrestled with them. Bill just disappeared, but at the end I barely made off with the lotion by trying to sneak it down my own sleeve (I was wearing sleeves?)--the trick didn't work very well but somehow I got it anyway.

There was another part to this story where there were two girls who were attractive and one apparently was a Gwyneth-Paltrow-in-The-Royal-Tenenbaums type (there's a Wes Anderson theme here), but she knew she was hot and always wanted other guys to like her. Even though Amy was with me she was trying to play her moves on me--I attempted to avoid her, but she would just do all this weird stuff, and then I realized it all in the end that she was mostly making fun of me. But she really did like me or want my affection, even though she though I was geeky. The end.

Monday, August 21, 2006

How I came to know everything

In a patch of dying grass
sheltered in the shadow of a pine
I sat, back pressed up against the tree.
And in a bed of its green acupuncture--
under the darkening clouds as they gathered overhead--
I began to know everything,
and I dreamt--


of the clinking of china,
and my mother's plastic plates that bore sketches
hand-drawn by my brothers and sisters and I--
I had always been secretly ashamed of mine--

of submersing in black water
at midnight in the summer,
the endlessly long wait and subsequent drone
of the one flickering outdoor light

of thin layers of snow on a worn wooden deck
and the burning comfort of a stove fire--
such excitement for a world that was larger then,
than ever imaginable today--

of broken valuables
arranged neatly on my father's dresser for him to fix,
next to his fabled pile of loose change
and the drawers full of batteries and handkerchiefs


It was then that I remembered my own dresser at home--
that same, unmistakable dresser--
drawers stuffed with notebooks and socks
a box containing unfinished tasks on top
a stack of torn books and toys in need of glue
and a pile of loose change.

I saw my own son's hand
clutching a treasured quarter,
placing a disassembled flashlight in the stack.

I saw that excitement
for snow and for ocean in the eyes of my daughter,
and the flash of fear as the thunder shook.

I saw crayon drawings turn magnificent,
and height-notches crawl up the wall,
growing taller with time--

And the world spun in place,
grasses grew,
dust collected
and the strands of twinkling lights
on our porch went out one by one.


The rain filled my boots with mud
until I awoke with a shiver
and a numbing agony,
as if something had just left me.

And at that moment I knew everything.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cherry Lane or varicose veins

Newly constructed sidewalks,
overgrown with weeds
like varicose veins--
meant to outlast me.

Imagine them in a century--
my body already absorbed by dirt
or fired to cinders
forty years past--
with its sunned concrete white
faded to a pale mortar grey,
its edges rounded and torn
into crumbled blocks,
the children's initials and handprints
hardly visible anymore.

All of this is meant to outlast me,
transient visitors,
blips on a lifeline,

But the man half-asleep on the steps
of the Community Congregational,
with his head propped
on a pillow of bricks--
he sees little more than Cherry Lane,
he sleeps in little more than fatigues.

And so I ask him,
are you the product of some god
are you the product of my imagination
are you the product of chaos?

To which he replies,
I myself was wondering the same.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Treasure journey

I was left alone at the estate while everyone else was off in search of the treasure. But it seems that the whole boat sank, and they all came floating back on flotsam and little wooden boatshard shrapnel, and no one would tell the location of the chest. There were some golden coins all over the beachy shore, i picked up some and everyone was fighting over them.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Laugh, the devil

The town had been abandoned, for years.

And so I walked its empty streets
and scoured its vacant rooms,
wading through crumbling drywall
and cast-off scrap metal.

If it were Thanksgiving two decades ago,
I would watch at six AM as the cafe awoke
and they wrote the holiday greeting
and turkey specials in chalk calligraphy.

Hotel neon would burst and brighten,
and maids would push restocking carts
through filled parking lots
and streaks of asphalt snow.

But one day they would move the highway.

So doors would latch
and weeds would rise,
windows crack into spiderwebs
and shatter over cinderblock doorstops.

While three miles north
in the shadows made of red canyon handpaint,
earlier villages would be recalled

and the devil would laugh
through blackened hollow eyes,
riding atop his bull.


along the rusted railroad tracks
in the salted sands by the desert shrubs
runs a line of poles

wooden crosses
cradling only the telephone wires
and the ravens

each wishes for something grander
more glorious
than the splintering and drying heat of the sun

the small patch of dirt
the trickling electronic voices
the steel and the jackrabbits

I am one of those crosses.
Aren't we all.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

No meaning

It was streetside art-type show. Zack was there wearing a dragon shirt that he'd designed; he was going to get the same design tattooed across his whole chest--a wise choice. It really was huge. Another guy had on a different shirt from Zack--it was a Jack Frost shirt that I guess he had modeled for, and Zack commented on how the guy hadn't yet paid for the shirt (even though he was the model, I guess that fact didn't matter).


There was a treehouse and I was trying to get down; I needed help and wanted Ben to be my roommate. I was hanging there and this guy swung across like a superhero and got me a ladder to help me down.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Just one day
another hot day in the summer
closer to the sun than ever
bottle rocket screams and
Roman candle smoke
and lightning,
lightning on the mountains,
air so heavy it wants to

The concrete porch is a friend to me
empty cold and listening
as barren as I'll ever be
little red wagon wheels to fix
broken spigots on the ground
cobweb floorboards and cracked welcome
and dried straw filters that smell of

The fan cranks hot air over sweat hair
all night long
over me and the couch and the corner lamp
past my bike by the unwashed laundry,
third try still deflated
I tried so hard
I ride out in the

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


in the alleyways, the temples, the fire escapes
the newspaper shelters, of mansions, of paradise

Her hand holds her skirt up to a pale thigh
betraying bruises and pockmarks--
so round, like that haggard stare
as desperate as the desert skies

Lain on the business brick another corpse,
embalmed in the sunlight remains--
an old army bag against cocoa skin
casts a shadow of contrast

Gravel boots and stolen steel carts
slalom through nightsticks and sirens
and the pole-supported, transplanted trees--
nurtured growth or a jungle of failure

Bedlam on a Tuesday night
and a family of strangers
between spiral attractions of colored light,
and they gather, magnetic

in their hideaways, the train tracks, the stairways
the monument benches, of judgment, of ignorance

Captive while we watch
In their cells they stray
and dissipate
until the appeal disappears

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


it smells of formaldehyde.
the floors are stuck with sugar and urine,
tracked in bootprints out back by the pallets,
and the plasma-woven high-definition screens
scream Las Vegas at the ruralites.

and it smells like a wet parking lot
with rusted shopping carts.
clouds soak us in their seaboard cover
against the backdrop of a single mountain,
newly devoid of snow.

the bums wander and talk to themselves
on glistening streets
while the Hummers brush past
with their glossy neo-modern colors,
and the whole scene is backlit by
a bright red neon bullseye.


must we always live in heaven.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The weatherman

I played in the hail last night, while the
sky made yellow fractures between the noises
of earthquakes, and it tried to wound me
with small white pebbles sprung from nothing
and shot like ammunition toward the asphalt.
The grocery store clerks stood sheltered and
stared out at the spectacle: others racing
past me through the storm and I alone walking
slowly in a different spatial dimension.

I danced in the twilight tonight, as it burnt
out the sun in a great golden gleam in the
west, and cast its purple cloak across the
canyon to make shadowed remains of mountains.
The neighbors rushed inside from front yards
and the cars all returned to line the curbs.
The hush of nighttime fell all around, and
indoor lights flickered like false flames,
showing only the streets the color of curtains.

Tomorrow, electric fans and air conditioning
units will cool my boiling blood and pull my
eyelids downward like shutters, until I sleep
in the daylight holding crossed arms near my
damp heart.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Comiendo la cena conmigo solo

It's like that time last year when I ate at Chipotle by myself; eating alone is never enjoyable--you just sit there, eating, looking around and catching the occasional stare. Because you just know everyone is staring at you: What's that guy doing by himself? He must be waiting for someone. But no, he has only one plate, one drink. It's so pathetic. I vowed I would never do it again, but here I am at Cafe Río, different state, different Mexican restaurant, same old situation.

It's after nine. I'm not even that hungry. I'm surprised they're still even open. (This cilantro-lime salad dressing sounds delicious, but it's so oily I can't keep a grip on anything, a plastic fork or a pencil for example.)

I wish I spoke better Spanish. Maybe then I would call out to these guys in español, "Close already! It's nine-forty-five! Who eats dinner this late?--it's ridiculous. I don't want to be here. Give me an excuse to leave. Just close up shop and usher me out." But they wouldn't listen anyway. Plus my Spanish accent would be so terrible they probably wouldn't even understand me.

So I finally leave with half my meal untouched. It's almost ten. And the strange thing is, that with so much freedom available to me, I head home. So many places to go, so many opportunities, and I make the easy choice: go right on home. Go where it's comfortable and inviting. So free yet still so trapped. And that's the easy choice.

Three guys and two girls in the car in front of me are having a jolly old time. Waving at passersby, leaning out of windows and shouting. I'm smiling. Listening to Moneen, my third cd obsession in Provo: "Sing for love. Sing for choices. Sing for everyone without voices. Sing for love. Sing for laughter. Sing for everyone here and after." So I keep driving and change lanes, and then they come up to pass me on my right and all three in the back seat (girl/boy/girl) lean forward in perfect succession, seriously perfect like it was choreographed from some comedy or something, and they just kind of stare and blankly wave at me, and so I smirk and wave back like, Hey it's just me, thanks for noticing. Then I pull left to get into my turn lane and they pass by again and look backward out their rear window. So what's the big deal? Did you think that you knew me? Well, you don't. I'll just be going home now.

I'm so tormented. Such an artist. But I wasn't the only one eating alone. Guess that just happens.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Arcturus found a pencil

Update: This poem placed fourth in Artella's August 2006 Poetic Idol competition.

--- ---

A warm wind bled all over me
atop that faux-marble bench
that smelled of old jeans and chapstick,
and I watched above as thumbtacks
slowly made open holes through
the blue buckshot canvas.

If just one of those thousand
flashlights from faraway worlds
would drown me in light,
shine down like a streetlamp
to lead me through the fog and coming darkness--

then with sleepless eyes
as red as Sand Creek's soil
and dreams of half-moons and silhouetted strangers,
for one moment,
just one brief moment,
I could be where I intended.

So I sat up and forgot my dilemmas
and started home--
but then saw the pencil
positioned between my feet:
long and black with bitemarks,
a blunt tip and a worn top.

I wondered how many graphite scars
its eraser had stolen--
how many were mistakes, misconceptions,
or curses, love notes, drawings, letters or poetry.

I wondered how many more nine-thirty nights
I would pedal my bike across mown lawns,
with the sprinklers' bite ready to startle me
and the crickets humming along
until I begin to rotate with the earth.

How many more times would my eyes blink
before admitting defeat?--closing for good,
recalling only the pinpoint memories
created by those flashlamps,
those streetbulbs,
Arcturus and the others.

Would the rabid amusements of genius
and catastrophe be lost?
Would this one dark pencil
contain enough of its black-match lead
to record all I was worthy of remembering?

But then I understood
that remembrances are only there
for those that are in need of them--
and so I cast the pencil away.

And I sat at a bus stop to wait, to sleep
until 6 AM arrived and signaled the end
of the buzzing electric lights around me
that laughed so loud in the night,
ruling over the crickets.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

April is confused

With still little flurries
of seed or snow,
the winter months try
to reclaim the land from spring,
to make blossoms barren.
But the rainwater sidewalk
and the lemon dandelions
are discouragement enough.

From the line of mauve bushes
on the hill across the canyon
a boundary is formed
between mountain and grid.
Toxic air crowns
in machinery plumes
(the good old torchsmoke of liberty)
next to the ranches.
And the airborne pollen
that strangely smells of mold
or mushroom
perfumes each mountain desert afternoon.

I'm on that road,
right round the corner.
That same old road;
that lonely creeping canyon road
that still hasn't forgotten.

[administrative post 06-01-2006]

I suppose this is a bit of boasting, but here it is anyway: My poem Tale of a frozen mountain boy (originally posted here) won the Artella Quarterly Poetic Idol contest for April 2006. And I am excited. You can see the poem and a picture and a cheesy little bio on their Poetry Gardens page, right here:

Monday, May 29, 2006

That familiar feeling

I've been around. Seen these guys before.
Just a bunch of familiar faces
with long hair in unnatural colors
and beards and shark shirts.

These same old dancing shoes:
not yet retired.
They've lasted
longer than I can remember.

Yes, I know everyone here.
It seems so much like home,
so comforting--

am I all alone?
They touch my skin,
transfer some to me, and
then escape. They leave me.
Destroy me.

Oh I am alone.
There's that familiar feeling.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Our synthetic souls

we suckle at invisible airwaves,
latching onto plastics and metals and information constructs.
Our bodies rely on that cherished electricity
and its latticework that spreads and frames the earth:
black cables beneath the soil,
hovering panels and capsules between us and the moon,
towers and wires out in the wind--
supported by once-trees made naked by factories.

we always want and never need.
Our fancy boats coat lakes with a film of oil and exhaust,
but are parked on spotless-white carport concrete 361 days a year.
We walk in synthetic soles and fabrics
that are weaved of fake fiber by calloused, impoverished hands--
theirs is a place where asbestos fairy dust grants humble wishes
and our indifference executes a death sentence.

we somehow become clinically depressed,
our diagnoses a product of unfulfilling lives.
We tote our problems as small typewritten medicine labels
pinned up against our shirts like badges,
next to our poisoned, wrinkle-free skin.
More proud than ashamed, we laugh and drink it off every night,
only to see if it will ever feel any different.

we take a valley (not home) and turn it into a city (home).
Every patch of grass intricately placed,
every block of broken concrete intentional,
every building some sort of sanctuary
or celebration of our supposed success.
The people are merely numbers, and the mayors rejoice
while nearby farmlands are forgotten next to cloned homes.

we are each other's mules.
We refuse burden, lessen it with gestures and fingers,
wishing our pockets lined with litigious spoils.
Then we chuckle at primetime newscasts
while watching handcuffed executives
holding up briefcases to shield their faces
as they are escorted to blinking blue and white taxis.

We horde consumer-end commodities
like they were apples freshly harvested from the orchard.
We are unaware of process or consequence,
only gleeful moments of self-gratification
that end up gracing carefully-selected entries in our diaries.
Then in standing lines at amusement parks
we check our wrists, visibly impatient
as our blood runs pink with cotton candy,
and we devour hot dogs made of thousands of bits
of the lives we line up to needlessly slaughter,
in a weak attempt to satiate our collective gluttony--

But there, in the end,
are our own lives really so different?
Or have we been dying so slowly,
so persistently over all these years,
that this world is the world we truly want--
the world we truly love?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Beachside California

We always expect it will be so much hotter,
and then even with the open stare of the noonday sun
searing across our backs and our ankles,
a breeze sent straight from the sea gives us the chills
and dissipates the beading dewdrop sweat from our brows.

You can see the elastic bands cutting away at waists and thighs,
clinging there so tightly, creating small mounds of skin on each side.
And the plump little teenage arms beam a pale crimson,
embraced by the sunlight and the thick white lotion
that still streaks in thin racing stripes across their backs.

Our towels attract the sand that flings from passing heels,
and so it sticks to our stomachs and gets into our hair,
where it grinds our scalps in little gravelly bits
until we take to the ocean and swim in the frothy tide
as it kisses the beach again and again.

Where the shoreline is left damp we dig for sandcrabs,
following the air bubbles. Outwardly we are brave
but inwardly we hope we don't find any--a vacant shell is enough.
Their wriggling, burrowing bodies always startle us
when one ends up amid the clumped wet sand in our cupped hands.

Sea glass and shells and sand dollars are never abundant,
because everyone searches for something, special to only them,
a keepsake memory that revives the smells and sounds of the ocean.
Bulbs of seaweed and swarming flies hide treasures
from the prying fingers and eyes of both adult and child.

Soon enough the sun turns the horizon a little bit purple
and a little bit pink as it sinks behind it all.
The lifeguard booths and reclining mesh chairs are empty now;
the water is not quite warm enough for our toes anymore
so we clamber back to our towel-carpeted stations.

Saltwater stings our shoulders where the burn is deepest red,
and it dries into a sticky second skin that itches
as we shield each other and replace our suits and shirts.
We pad barefoot from the cooling sand to the welcoming asphalt,
ready to turn our engines and be delivered from the coming evening.

Slowly we return, and we coax our minds into believing
that a Saturday or two spent amused at the beach is just that:
amusement, and that our lives will scrape and fall and burrow
just like those sandcrabs, until we too shed our shells and again
take to the sand, trying always to escape the hands that would trap us.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

U of U

I decided to drive all the way to Salt Lake to the University of Utah campus, for the pink and white ball. It was so strange to see Mike and Chelsea there, but I was ecstatic. The weird thing was, they totally ignored me. It was as if they were upset that I was there and had run into them.

So there we are, all waiting in line in food together, and suddenly they disappear completely. That was that.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Seven hours


I slept on the couch, though hardly at all, and after I left I was able to watch the sunrise as it came from behind the Wasatch—that strange situation where dawn comes but you don't really see it until the tip of the sun finally breaks the crooked surface of the nearest mountain. For the first time I had left for the airport with plenty of time, after straightening the house and showering and saying a temporary goodbye to the lit front porch and the small run-down house I find so endearing. Somewhere around Sandy, Robert Hayden and his 'blueblack cold' came to me and I realized how perfectly he had described 5 AM with that phrase. I swear it, I would stay awake all night, every night, if only I could.

So I decide to park in the extended parking, which I've never done before. I usually park in the covered lots (but end up parking on the roof level anyway because airports are inevitably always full). But in extended parking you save four bucks a day. What a deal. The only problem is you have to either walk a mile or take the shuttle. I opted for the shuttle; I had 50 minutes until my flight left anyway.

My shuttle station was the first stop for the empty bus. I thought that was so great. But I didn't know that the shuttle had 14 more stops, we were only the first. So this shuttle loops around this monstrous lot—as full as the covered lots ever were—and picks up group of people after group of people. After 15 minutes of this nonsense, we start finally making our way back to the actual airport. And there in the middle of the road on our way there, another bus had come to a dead stop.

Its driver radios ours. "Gotta make a stop. Jerry, can you get around me?"

Our driver—now known as Jerry—has a little scraggly white beard and longer hair and droopy eyes. The driver's chair looks like it's boosted as high as it could go to accommodate his height. "No, doesn't look like I can."

He tries anyway. But the bus is just too long, and so we end up stuck at an angle, jutting out into the road at 45-degrees against the other bus.

"I can't make it around you." He sighs and sits contemptuously, not hiding his bitterness and swearing under his breath.

The other driver gets out and we see that he has stopped to help a wheelchaired woman into his bus. I recognize her as someone we had just passed a few minutes ago as she drove a van. Wheelchair-bound? How did she drive that van? Maybe it wasn't her that I saw. But see, now this was nice and all, this other driver picking up this woman who is obviously handicapped, but it started to put a significant damper on my arrival time at the airport. And we were just sitting there.

Another ten minutes pass, and the other bus finally starts driving again. You can tell that all of my bus's passengers are somewhat miffed. The radio crackles. "Sorry Jerry, but there was nothing I could do."

"Like hell there wasn't." Jerry says this to the open air. Another passenger voices his opinion: "Tell that to us!" So now Jerry depresses the button. "Tell that to them," he says.

"Like I said, I had no choice," the radio says again. This whole thing had really cast a cloud over Jerry's morning. I kind of felt bad for the guy. But it was the end of his shift, and he stopped inches from the airport to stop and swap seats with a new driver, who was much more chipper. "Hiya gang," he said when he stepped in and readjusted the seat to about two feet below where Jerry had set it.

He drops us off and I run to check my bags and then start towards the security line. This Hawaiian-looking girl also hurries alongside me. I had twenty minutes.

Now if you can possibly even imagine, the Salt Lake City airport's security checkpoint line was not only long, but it weaved through all the elastic-strung standees and pointed like a pistol through the whole west end of the airport, past baggage claim and the seats and telephones and to who knows where, because I never saw the end of the line. What I did see is the Hawaiian girl getting roped into the near-beginning of the line by her friends who had already been waiting. At this point I was getting desperate. If I waited in that whole line there would be absolutely no way I'd make my flight. So I run back towards the Hawaiian and shout to her (knowing that since she had cut in line, she may not mind if I did the same): "Hey! Can I get in there? I'm going to miss my flight!" She looks around and kind of shakes her head no, but then seems to not care and just says something like 'sure'.

So I cut. So what. I'd rather not miss a flight. And never have yet. But the weird thing is, compared to Sacramento, Reno, Spokane—I have never seen such a long security line. Salt Lake City at 6:45 AM on a Thursday morning! What's the big rush, the big deal? Anyway, I made the flight. This sold-out seatless flight where there was pretty much nowhere to sit. I go all the way to the back, where I see one kind-looking woman sitting in the aisle, with two open seats next to her, the very last row on airplane left. I sit next to her, relieved. I like to sit with a vacancy on my right, a window on my left. Barely made it like usual.

Oh yeah, and then these two huge Hawaiian/Samoan (Fijian I actually found out—well, guessed from the huge "FIJI" written on one of the guys' shirts) come barreling down the aisle, veering directly towards me. The kind woman stands—she must have seen only one of them—to let one sit, but ignorant of their surroundings, they both sit.

Seeing this, the flight attendant in the back by the lavatory remarks, "Sir, you've taken this woman's seat."

"Oh I'm sorry!" The one in the aisle stands and makes as if to take a different, very hard to reach seat, but the kind woman stops him and says, "That's okay," and then takes that seat herself.

So there I was, indescribably crushed next to these two huge men. I couldn't sit straight. That is not an understatement. I was essentially molded into the wall and window. These guys were nice and all, but we just didn't fit there, not together as a group of three. The flight was about an hour, and I was just stuck, pretending to write—nope, to listen to my music—one song, to read the in-flight magazine—boring. The greatest part about all this was that these guys ended up being the friends of my Hawaiian/Fijian girl. It was some weird looped moment of karma or coincidence. I was bound to somehow be tied to this group of islanders.

... ...

There's always turbulence when landing in Vegas. Today's wasn't as severe, but even a stewardess remarked on it, "Guys there's going to be some bad turbulence so I'm going to make a quick run down the aisle to pick up trash if you have any." The only two times that I ever seriously considered the fact that I might die on an airplane were both at the Vegas airport, on arrival. So I was intimidated but rather pleased to see that we touched down nicely.

The great Las Vegas airport: home of oxygen bars and shoe-shining booths and slot machines that have no slot. All of this the second you step off the plane. I had two and a half hours to kill.

"Can I see some ID?" Some ID, not just your IDsome ID. I love how they say that. Thanks for the confidence, little security guard lady. I guess I look young, but please.

"No," I said to her, which was pretty surprising even to me, because I almost always show my ID whenever asked, even if I have no plans to drink or smoke or play the slotless slot machines.

"You can't stand by the machines if I don't see your ID." Those sacred machines.

I just leave; it's not really worth it. Besides I don't have any ones or tickets for those stupid slot machines. Instead I look for something to eat. I find this little Blue Grille burrito place. Redefining airport food is their slogan. We'll see about that. I get a Chorizo breakfast burrito—I wasn't in the mood to try to ask for a vegetarian breakfast burrito without all those things I always have to order without, because I'm so needlessly picky.

"What's chorizo?" I ask.

"Spicy pork sausage." She's been asked this question a million times before.

I get it, and it's six bucks and huge and greasy but doesn't taste too bad. I'm on this food-minimalist kick that won't last another few hours but makes me only eat half of it anyway. Now the nasty part about this is that I wrap the rest of the burrito in its foil wrapper and put it back in the white bag. After arriving at my dad's house later that night to sleep, the entire white bag would be orange with grease. That chorizo grease. The tortilla itself would also be orange. And what's even worse is that I'll be so hungry after unwrapping it I'll end up eating it.

I go get a soda from Subway, a fountain soda. A really bad idea—it's disgusting, tastes like airport water. Do you know what airport water tastes like? Like it's been sitting in a rusted metal tank for too long, and they threw some pennies in for good measure. Maybe some mercury or blood too. And it's ridiculous what they charge for things at the airport. It's at least double. And somehow they can get away with it, like at a movie theatre or an amusement park.

But I tried to trick them by getting the fountain drink—at $2.49 for a small it's cheaper than the $2.79 20-oz. bottled soda. Little did I know that they actually charge for refills! Who charges for refills? Airports apparently. So this thing may have been a little bit cheaper, but I had to taste metal for a couple hours. And I never even got a refill.

... ...

There's something about looking down from an airplane that's fascinating. How do they get everything laid out with such perfect angles? Farmlands, tract housing, shopping centers, recreational areas, factories. Don't they ever make a mistake, go off course just a little bit and end up it not being squared? Sure doesn't look like it. I know I'd never get it right. My squares would be closer to circles, or end up as trapezoids, something like that. And all the overpasses, underpasses, freeway intersections, entrances, exits—how do they do it? It's really quite amazing.

You just get this perspective from the sky. When else can we look down on what we are, what we've created, to see how truly miniscule it all is? Especially in comparison with the mountains—those huge arteries of the earth; you see how they reach a summit criss-crossing the land, and how on either side they sprawl back down in winding descension until becoming flush with the level ground again. But us—we're all untiring hubbub and activity, trucks and buses and people walking back and forth to wherever it is we walk back and forth to. I try to insert myself into the minds of others, just to think for a second what they might be thinking: the truck driver coming up on the stoplight, the old man on the golf course, the car in the fast lane that passes by everyone else. What would they think if all our lives were to come crashing down on top of them, here in this bird with steel wings and turbine feathers?

But planes never crash in the Nevada desert. They only crash into the clouds, creating turbulence so they can rise above the weather where it's calmer and then crash down on landing gear onto asphalt carpets laid out for them like celebrities. We're all headed for our little celebrity carpets. Right now mine is at the Sacramento airport, surrounded by causeways and bridges and green on all sides.