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.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Drive home

The snow came down, balled into little fists
so many frozen comets railing against the ground
(thrown down from the heavens).
It piled up like rock salt in the streets;
our tires made thin black stripes.
The sky was one heavy sheet,
one homogeneous layer of graphite overhead.
But when the lightning struck
it changed,
it melted lavender in all directions,
purple-blue luminescence.
We braked with painstaking caution,
slipping sideways over the coated roads--
rogue wanderers taking to a lake of ice.
We lurched into the curb at home,
opened up to the silent, sleepy neighborhood--
safe now from the quiet fury of December.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

dream early morning december 12, 2007

I dreamt last night that Jarom killed Nemo. He was up with him at four in the morning, in the bathtub. I let Jarom have Nemo in the water with him. I left, went back to sleep or something, and when I came back there was this strange-shaped orange colored thing in the water. Jarom had cranked Nemo through a plastic playdoh tool. The orange blob was still quivering, like Nemo was barely alive in there.

I smacked Jarom's head against the wall. Just hard enough so that he would know better. I did it again and again. I was a child abuser in my dream.

I took Nemo outside to bury him. As I was in the process of preparing to bury him, a fish casket salesman came by. He was dressed like an undertaker. Great timing.

Seeing sentences

I see a big beautiful world.
I see people.

I see pain, heartache, hate and sorrow.
I see religion and belief, pacifists and zealots.
I see clouds moving like ocean waves over cold little desolate valleys.
I see daily routines.
I see aimless wandering.
I see comfort, but also complacence.
I see compassion and hope, people dreaming without regard for practicality or limit.
I see a little piece of me in everyone.
I see God in everything.
I see love,

it's as lucid
as a white full moon coming up
out of the black sea.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The view

It's interesting that I get to sit here in an office building
so early in the morning
and stare up at a massive snowcovered mountain.
This mountain is nearly 12,000 feet tall;
I can see its peak through my little window.
It's brilliant and white and has
sloping jagged shadows strewn across it.
The streets next to me are busy, swarmed with cars.
The houses on the hill have frozen snow in the
nooks and crevices of their rooftops.

My heart sometimes feels swollen and bruised and it aches.
It makes me think of slapmarks,
or pinkeye,
or Indian burns--
something that leaves red where it shouldn't be.

That's how my heart feels sometimes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I prefer how it was before:
carefree, uncomplicated,
But a single all-night conversation,
a confession,
burrowed our quaint little dreamland
into a sinkhole.

I chose communication, catharsis,
knowing full well the outcome,
and now we lay back to back,
both our faces wet,
haunted so much by the present
that the joys of the past
seem like the faded sheets under us,
worn thin and forgotten,
unimportant for the
weight pressing down on them.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Here I am,
clipping along past glass windows
over an underground library.
My campus grounds--
I have taken them for granted.
These grounds are owned by a church,
and I walk fastpaced over them,
as if barely touching them,
trying to avoid the ground I've
known so long.
Children half my age scurry past
me booming voices and laughter
across concrete walkways.

I think of how I am here,
why and how.
I have a family,
and I brought the whole of them here with me,
uprooted and towed along behind me,
silent, acquiescent.

Now I walk to a
graduate school application meeting
(which is nondenominational).
It's shortsleeves weather
in November
and it still hasn't snowed.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The setup [dream, morning of 20071105]

There was this sense of doom or death, like something was happening in the background somewhere, and I only knew about it instinctively. Some mystery or crime. I felt apprehensive.

It was the middle of the night, and I was being chased through this old, bombed-out-looking downtown area, like I was back in the slums in a 1950s city. An old car was cruising around, following me. This car was a golden-yellow; it also looked like it was from the 1950s. I couldn't escape its headlights. Each corner I turned, it was there. Finally I found a strange half-height passage on a corner, and I crawled through it, through a burnt-out shell of a building, to a different side of the street. The car didn't follow. It continued on. I expected to hear the startled screams of a different man at any moment. They were looking for a good time, I figured.

[note: This car episode was an enigma in the dream. It actually happened twice. In the first, the car followed me and then some prohibition-era, gangster-looking men came out of it and beat me ruthlessly. But then it was as if I rewound time, and I was able to replay the scene, to do it right the second time through or something. That's what is recorded above.]

I ran up a dark, sloping hill that was covered in dead leaves and mud and had some thick-trunked trees growing on it. There was an old plantation house-style mansion on the grounds ahead of me. I walked up to the house and two girls were there waiting for me--average-looking, but seemingly seductive and sly. They were in nightshirts and pajama bottoms. "Do you want to come in?" I was nervous and wanted to leave, but followed them inside regardless. They took me upstairs to the kitchen area, and proceeded to turn on an outdoors light, where you could see what looked like sycamore trees through the kitchen windows, right up there against the house. Then they took out large butcher knives. "It's a game," they said.

I was scared and needed a way out. They wore innocent smiles, but I felt that there was some deeper motivation--plus I had that feeling, that something was going on around this town.

"You just throw the knife against the tree and see if you can make it stick," one of the girls said. So that was the game. Then I noticed the faint-red footprints in the white carpet, tracing footsteps through the living room and beyond. I ran into the next room where it was dark, and I tripped, entangled in a mass of stickiness and hanging wiring and a soft substance. The light came on and with it, the looming secret made clear. A skewered, bloodied body was hanging in wires from the rafters, a young boy--Don Shugan, I thought, though he was hardly recognizable.

It was all a setup.

There had been a party at the mansion that night. I didn't attend. Things obviously took a turn for the worse. Turned into murder. They needed someone to blame, someone to take the fall--hence the car and the girls.

I had been away from the mansion all night and now they had drawn me there, covered me in the victim's blood. They had done it perfectly. I ran out the porch door, went sprinting past the sycamores in the pitchblack. I stopped and put my hands on my knees, panting, waiting for the sirens I knew would be coming, just out there among the trees, waiting.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The legend of Rolling Mountain Thunder

He came across the interstate in 1959
with a rusted-up car and a weighted-down mind.
When he couldn't make it up past the Reno line
he turned his car around,
he was lookin to be found,
and the wind howled, "rolling mountain thunder."

So he settled down in Imlay, got the land for cheap,
and he figured out that he was better off a Creek.
With an apocalyptic prophecy to fuel his dreams,
he started it up then--
he built a monument,
while he sang, "rolling mountain thunder."

He welcomed wanderers and vagrants and all their kind--
he was always sympathetic toward a roaming mind.
If you showed up emptyhanded you were let inside,
given a bed and a plate
if you pulled your own weight
and listened to Rolling Mountain Thunder.

Always smokin with a mason jar in one of his hands,
always craftin carefully; he was no simple man.
No one really knew his vision, no one knew his plan.
He made a work of art
from discarded parts--
the great Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder.

I was only nine years old when the great chief died,
when that elder artisan was thinking suicide,
then he went and pulled the trigger neath the blue blue sky.
It was a tragedy.
The monument complete.
And they mourned Rolling Mountain Thunder.

Then the place it went forgotten, started fallin apart.
And the state, it didn't care for some cemented art
standing naked in the desert sun, all bleak and stark,
with painted faces, all,
and bottles in the wall
that remembered Rolling Mountain Thunder.

Then I was coming cross the desolated desert sprawl,
doin eighty on the 80 in the heart of fall
when that great spirit whispered through that bottled wall
and it caught my ear--
it wasn't hard to hear.
It sang, "rolling mountain thunder."

Now all those colored statuettes and all the patchwork rock
smilin out in all directions, a contented flock,
a reminder to remember what the past has wrought--
they are Americans.
We're all Americans.
And we'll sing, "rolling mountain thunder."

Monday, October 29, 2007

October office morning

Through the window
the world brightens slowly.
I am early, first to emerge
from the nocturnal black cloud.

A single green-poled streetlamp
glows burnt-orange,
a sunlike orb across the
avenue, perched on a wet lawn.

These two blinding liquid-crystal monitors
reflect my profile in the window glare.
My features seem a blur,
vacant and pale and white:

awkward black glasses over a thick nose,
hiding skinny eyes,
lips chapped from the deepening
season and a forlorn mound of hair.

My heart moves begrudgingly,
its reluctant pulses
prefer lost bedside comforts.
My tea is overbrewed, a waste.

I keep the office light off, because
I prefer the darkness.
And as always, I'm sure this Monday morning
is missing something.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The ashes

Outside my window
the ash trees have already dropped
their yellowed leaves.

Piles are raked
by jolly immigrant workers under
the heavy afternoon sky

and loaded into dark bins,
then hauled to a waiting truck, dented and
coated with rust

with LANDSCAPING stenciled
in whitewash on the wooden slats
of the pickup bed.

Now the trim winter lawn
is clear again--like a body left naked,
bedsheets pulled back;

the neighboring ponderosa pines
point their verdant needles heavenward,
all full and defiant,

hovering comfortably over the roadway,
next to barren bark, the grisly remains
of thriving once-green.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Aspartame not a part of me

In the last two months I've cut my aspartame intake by at least 75%. Cut it completely out of yogurt, gum, mints, etc., and probably cut 75% of my diet soda intake, though I'm still working on cutting that down to 90 and then 100%. Anyway, here's an article about a new study that may instill fear in some, may leave others unconvinced, but either way aspartame just seems a wee bit evil to me. I know the studies and the article and comments and such are inconclusive. Guess it's always that way (especially when money and the money-serving FDA are involved), but either way, I'll be glad to be completely rid of it.

On another note, the absolutely best diet soda out there is Virgil's. It's microbrewed, sweetened only with stevia and xylitol (natural, nonchemical sweeteners), made with all-natural ingredients, comes in bottles (so no plastic or aluminum taste, plus very recyclable), and is absolutely delicious and worth every penny of the 1.39 you pay per 12 oz. bottle (about the same price you pay for a 20 oz. of much worse-tasting diet soda). They make root beer, cream soda, and black cherry cream soda. And it's owned by Reed's, the ginger company. Check your local health food store for some. It's awesome.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My new motto

Let me just display this pretty amazing quote from one Millard Kaufman, who, if you're a McSweeney's enthusiast, you've already met in one form or another.

quoted . . .Years ago, I was working in Italy, and Charlie Chaplin and his family came from Switzerland. We were at a beach north of Rome, and it was a very foggy day and the beach was lousy. At about three o'clock it cleared up, and Chaplin said, "I'm going back to the hotel. Unless I write every day, I don’t feel I deserve my dinner."[-->]. . . quoted

I just think that line from Charlie Chaplin is amazing. "If I don't write every day, I don't feel I deserve my dinner." I think that's my new mantra. No kidding.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Distant rock fading

Early autumn, a slurry of cirrus overhead.
This season never lasts long here.
A few days or so of color and then the leaves begin to
fall, beaten back by thick breezes and high-desert storms.
But during those few days of color
is patched about like a rainbow,
with absinthe greens,
cinnamon browns and the color of beets,
and an overwhelming rusted-orange that
flows across most of the mountain
like a tidal wave of ferrous sand.
Along it slopes quartzite,
limestone and fragments of old ocean beds
all crusted over with lichen--
somehow living
without soil, clinging
to a rock;
the lichen is the same rust-orange color of the leaves.

From the roadway Timpanogos is just another
one of those sedimentary rocks,
covered with lichen;
and the further we trespassers
remove ourselves into our homes,
the further the view recedes,
the more distant, more faded becomes
that kingly overseer of our naive little valley.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mechanical drivers

Back in April I read this brief article in Discover about driving. Here's the tagline: "Driving used to be about taking on the world. Now it’s about being tucked in for a nap." It's so true, isn't it? The automated car stuff can be a little annoying. See, I actually like driving, being on the road and taking road trips. I like to press down on the pedal, change gears myself. I like driving something a little older, so that I can actually work on if I choose. Nowadays you buy a new car, and nobody but a computer engineer can diagnose it or figure it out.

Cars used to be symbols of "personal freedom" and "rugged individualism." That's how I still feel--my car becomes in some strange way an extension of myself, which can be both positive and negative, but come on, you're in your car often enough that you need to give it some personal character, some attributes that say, "this car's mine" (that's why some of us love bumper stickers and the sort). But now we've gone from "muscle car to computerized chauffeur," where the car tries and wants to do everything for us. An illustration of this: We went up to Baker City last month, and Rustin was showing me this feature on his Jeep Liberty--pitch control. He couldn't pitch the car even if he wanted to. His demonstration of this left me white-knuckled and dead silent, but he was right. As we barreled down the dirt forest road doing sixty, he threw the steering wheel toward the trees, and amazingly, it corrected itself and kept us on the road. The car was in control, not the driver.

Then we add DVD players to keep kids satiated (yes, I use one too, but I don't like to, and try to play car games as often as possible), and get GPS units that literally talk to us, telling us where to go. Cars are basically becoming large transportation robots that do all the work for us. That's the problem though--if the car does all the work, does that mean the work is worthless, something to finish up quickly? I don't feel this way--that's why I like my feet on the pedals, one hand on the wheel and one of the shifter. I like to be able to replace my own brake pads and replace a clutch if I have to (dirty, dirty work). My car is valuable to me. I value my own driving, my own navigation skills (if I get lost, I guess I'm lost), and my own sense of control.

I recently acquired a car, a 1993 Honda Civic. While it's 14 years old, it still has the typical amenities we've gotten used to: power steering, power windows, power lock (driver side only). But beyond that, it's very basic. It's a manual transmission, which I have always loved, again because of the control issue--with a stickshift I control more of the car. Last weekend we went to California and this thing got us 36 to 38 miles per gallon on the freeway. That's with two adults and three children in the tiny car. So why are the best non-hybrid cars these days getting a maximum of 35 miles per gallon? In fourteen years the automotive industry couldn't keep up with itself? It's sad, but I'm sure it's commercially-driven (no pun intended) and after reading this article about Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles and how you legally *cannot* buy them in most states, my suspicions are confirmed. Don't trust the automotive industry.

Anyway, I reckon most of you folks are with me on this. And I'm not talking environmental issues here--that's another story. (But if I were, I'd say the usual: drive less, walk and bike more. If you live less than ten miles from work you should seriously consider biking. Lower your overall emissions and CO2 output. Increase legally-enforced emissions standards nation- and worldwide. If you need a car, buy it used.)

Let's be more connected to our surroundings, our journeys and destinations. Let's care about how we get there. Let's keep driving a liberating adventure, a freedom-imparting excursion that's exciting every time. It's more than just commuting or traffic or smog. It's the summertime wind through your hair at seventy miles an hour that few humans 200 years ago could dream of feeling.

Read this stuff:
Peer Review: Dreary Driving
Dirty Secret: Green Cars Automakers Won't Sell You

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dark sky

I recently read an article in The New Yorker about the nighttime sky and its darkness. Even with how much I enjoy astronomy and stargazing, I never gave this issue too much thought before. I just thought, "Hey, it's skyglow, what can you do? Let's find a nice dark spot like out in the middle of Nevada or north of Nine Mile Canyon." Just like the environmentalists tell Owen in the article, it was a soft issue for me.

But let's really think about our relationship with the night sky. Do we have anywhere close to the same relationship with the night today as others did one hundred years ago? No way. We love to light up our skies. We don't care to watch darkness fall and envelop the earth. We like to broadly illuminate our buildings at night, instead of seeing them by moonlight and starlight, instead of seeing their silhouettes and large darkened grandiose, even menacing, shapes against the blueblack backdrop of everything cosmic. We like perpetual day.

If there's anything we can do to better our nighttime viewing--whether it's advocacy, activism, education, sharing these ideas with others, adjusting our homes and yards to use full-cutoff or fully-shielded lighting, turning all lights out at night, calling the city to ask for pointless streetlights to be shut off, or even throwing rocks at those streetlights--we should do it. Also, we should donate to and join the International Dark-Sky Association.

Oh yeah, and vandalism appears to *increase* with more constant lighting. So don't use any lights at all, or just motion detection. And less lighting at night means lots of savings in electricity for everyone. Plus less carbon emissions because of the lessened electricity.

It's just sad to think we'll never see the sky the same as we did when we were kids. The earth's just getting artificially brighter. Even what we see tonight will only get worse and more washed-out. Maybe this is just a soft issue. But I think it's an important one.

Read "The Dark Side" article for more information on all this stuff.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Timpanogos caves

I just finished up my Flickr photoset about our trip to Timpanogos Cave National Monument. The set is right here.

I also made a brief blog about it, which includes many of the pictures, over here at the family blog.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

El vaquero de la luna

I've been doing a lot of updates on Flickr with my sets and photos. I will post more when they're fully fleshed out, but for now I wanted to say that I updated my photoset that includes my favorites.

Check it out here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Baker City

So over Labor Day weekend we went to Baker City in eastern Oregon to visit some family. It was a short but entertaining trip. I've outlined it and included some pictures here.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Last week I had a brief dream. This is what I remember:

I was on my cell phone with Emily. Yes, my old girlfriend. Only, the dream wasn't about her. She was just a dream-device I apparently was using. We were talking about Shawnee. We were very upset with her. She was moving to California with her boyfriend. They planned to be there for one year. It seemed so ludicrous to us. Why Shawnee, why? How could you!

Anyway, I was on some school campus with concrete blocks to sit on in the quad or something like that, and I kept racing around while talking angrily and vigorously to Emily about Shawnee's situation. I don't know what was so wrong with it, but we obviously disapproved.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wondrous thunderous

Outside, the thunder beings made voices. It was 6:50, and I was awake because Bella was awake. The morning twilight made everything yellow as it came through the muddy clouds. Lightning struck and struck again, briefly lighting the sky and the stormclouds before the rolling thunder voices cracked like commanding whips. I couldn't help but think of their power. I couldn't help but think they were talking to me, just me; even though this valley is overflowing with bodies and souls the thunder beings wanted only to speak to me. Bella lay awake in bed, and I was worried she would be afraid. I talked to her. "Do you hear the thunder?"
"No," she lied. "Listen," I said, just as a quiet voice boomed through the sky.
"Thunder is the sound of lightning," I told her. "It's like voices speaking to us. They are the thunder beings. They are kind, but powerful too. Do you hear how strong they are?"
"I love you, Bella."
"I love you, Dad."
Then the rain came pouring down like an ocean was dropped on us, its lukewarm waters coming in bucketsful. I stood under our sheltered little porch in only my red underwear, feeling the splashes and drips of the rain as it jumped the two front steps onto my feet. I looked through the yellow air, wanting to go stand in it and let my bedhair instantly be smothered by water from the sky. But I didn't. I don't know why. I went back inside and got dressed and made a lunch instead.
When I left for work the rain had let up. The air wasn't yellow anymore. The thunder and lightning has stopped, voices quieted. Dingy patches of bluegray sky poked through the receding storm. Thick groups of college kids hung out at 8 am at the bus stop, hoping to be to school on time. They started school yesterday, and this time I am not with them, I am not one of them. This time I drive by them on my way to work; my bike's at home by the washer, my backpack's empty and on the floor by the desk. Rainwater churned up in circles under my black tires, and I listened to Dolorean and thought about the sunrise and starlings.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


My mind is conflicted. Two halves pushing against each other, almost forced that way. So much I want to write and do and think. But I'm holed up in an office all pseudo-comfortable focusing on things that waste my time, that are wasteful. There's so much else I could be doing. But I need to earn, to make money, to make a living. It's hypocritical I know, it's counterproductive and yet, I don't know how else to evade it right now. I want out, but I also want in. I want to explore and interrogate the world and my own mind. I want to probe depths and swim through my mucky thoughts--it's a swamp in there I tell you, but it's hardening, igneous-style, a liquid dynamo of lava into sedentary rock. Rock is great--I love rock--it's large and grandiose but just there, always just there and unable to do anything. Sure it can be imposing, but it can also be conquered. Oh our mountainous minds.

So what to do? Keep feeling confused? Keep going about my business in ways I wish I weren't? No, no way. I can't keep it up. My ambition (do I really have any?) will have to flow out, and quickly, through other outlets. Okay I guess I just made up my mind.

I feel like Mikie.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Library night

For my 291 class that I took online, one of the assignments asked that I write a sonnet. So in ten minutes, I whipped up the beauty that you see below.

Rhyme scheme is abba cddc effe gg, which is one of the forms Wyatt used--technically English (Shakespearean), but really kind of a mix between the English and Italian (Petrarchan).

--- ---

The moon is smiling shyly overhead
like Joyce's shell half-buried on the shore.
I study words, but she whom I adore
is waiting there, half-covered on our bed.

Imprisoned in this building made of glass
and brick and filled with books and endless thought,
wishing I were somewhere I am not,
instead of reading pages for a class.

She waits there patiently, so sleepless, still--
and when I crack the door she'll welcome me
with the warmth of arms and face and body--
but only if I leave this place. I will.

Biking, soundless moonlight searing bright,
I ride toward home to steal her from the night.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dream, morning of 20070801

My first dream of August.

I must have been at some sort of high school reunion gathering--though I didn't know it at first--at the coast. People were drowning offshore, and I was finding lifejackets and throwing them out to them, telling them to hold on. Jarom was helping me throw them. It was overcast and dismal out, like the Northern California coast; there was a breeze but it was still warm out. I was wearing my Lotus lifejacket, dressed to raft. I went running to find more lifejackets to save people. I ran past Lisa Adams, and turned, recognizing her, shouted her name. She didn't notice me, and I had to keep running, had to save people. I turned into a little shop, and there was Evan Lehrman and Scott the tennis player [note to self: look up his last name in the yearbook]. Evan said, "Hey dude" and I said hey in return. They looked surprised and one said, "You have a goatee!" And I was offended because I did *not* have a goatee, I just had some scruff that grew in thicker around the chin. Then I grabbed some lifejackets out of the breadbox and said, "Sorry, people are drowning." And they just sipped back on some beverages while I ran outside again.

I threw out a few more vests. Then I found a gondola-boat and rode it inside the cathedral, where the moat was internal and wove through the church. It was beautiful inside, with ornate ornaments carved in soft cream-colored stone: lions' heads and candlesticks and posts and columns.

I got off the gondola later and was hurriedly going elsewhere when I ran into Mom by some steps. She was looking for me, worried about me. I said I was fine, not to worry, then went running again down the halls, softly carpeted in red and lined with golden metalwork and draped with fine bloodred silk curtainry.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dream, morning of 20070622

[A dream, from last night/this morning, before waking up--late for work--at 8:12 am, after hitting snooze countless numerous times and breaking my self-avowed promise to finally be to work at 8 am because they had hooked me up in some ways with love:]

There was a major rainstorm, flood, just me and the kids at home [this just after I told them a rainstorm/lightning/oak tree/rainbow/treasure story last night]; I watched as the streets flooded--we were in our current home but a different version of it, somewhere removed or different--and this sloping hill to the left of the house became mudridden and sloppy, the water rushing up quickly over the gutters (which ran in a stream eastward, to the left towards presumably the mountains). It covered the front yard and all you could see through the window was a thick, transparent view of the dark outside, like looking through TV-rock, ulexite. The slanting, thick strands of pouring rain came like clear jail bars and we were trapped inside. Amy was not home. I remember going out back, by the trash cans (at this point it's a different house, with a garage attached to a concrete backyard/patio, and there are black trash bins there; the sloping hill is now to my right, because I'm out back, and the mud and water mix is visible and ready to pour off this high concrete step, to drown me and start the actual flooding of the actual house). Then the rain has stopped, and there are clouds and bluer sky and birds flying in it, but the water is still everywhere and we don't know if it's just a lull or the storm is over and everything is miraculously saved, no flooding, now just waiting for the mighty waters to recede.

Then I am in a large mansion. More like in a large room in a large mansion; there is sweeping crystal and golden chandelier overhead. There are stairways at each of the four compass direction of the room. Each stairway climbs up then curves, creating a small squared-spiraling staircase up to some connecting bridge or walkway overhead. I am there, and Orion is there too, somewhere, with me. Jonathan is there. There is crying. There has been a family feud. There has been death.

During the rains, members of my family and members of Jonathan's family were out in it, playing or hunting or otherwise recreating. Heather, Darin, Amy and Adie were there, at least. Perhaps Mikie and Joey too. Not my parents. Jonathan's wife and both of his parents, along with some cousins or other relatives who apparently had some gang relations. There was a fight among them. All I knew is that is was about "politics." I kept chanting the word, hating it: "Politics--politics, politics--politics." Every one of them was dead. Our entire families dead. I was left alone with my kids. Why did they all die? Could this be true? This must be my imagination, right? Dreaming?

Jonathan was wounded, a war veteran. He had been out with them. Both of his legs were missing. He was using his hands to drag himself. I would ask him, regardless of his wounds or state of mind: "What happened? Is it even possible for them all to die? What, did they all fire off their guns at the same time, hitting each other perfectly, mortally, all dropping to the wet forest floor at the same time? It's impossible. What happened?" I just couldn't picture it. This was (obviously, appropriately) very difficult for me to grasp, for me to comprehend.

Jonathan could not answer me. He had no answer. He sat on his stumps on the floor, and there were other people pouring into this mansion-room-dininghall. They were his, our customers. They needed their services, their goods, whatever it was that we provided them. Jonathan and I were in business together. The business took priority. But wait! Jonathan made an announcement--seemingly directed to me, because I was out of my mind and miserable and constantly questioning him. He said, "Let's all come back tomorrow and figure this thing out. For now, any money you could offer"--he said this part to the customers--"would be much appreciated. We are going through a hard time." One old man--a farmer, missing teeth, with strands of hair and looking just like Mr Nebbercracker from Monster House--threw down a thin plastic produce bag filled with some loose change, a couple quarters and then some, probably under a buck.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Aphelion: time to celebrate

We're at aphelion today--the farthest Earth gets from the sun! (even though it's summer--the closest we get [perihelion] is in January).

Doesn't feel like we're too far from the sun though. At about 101 degrees.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I still love you Dave

I've been reading You Shall Know Our Velocity! by one of my favorite literary heroes, Dave Eggers. Now read this paragraph:

quoted . . .I understood the Earth's shadow on the moon. I knew that the Earth was hiding most of the moon from the light this night, leaving a curved white blade. What I didn't know was why the moon and its shadow should be so clear, the lines so clean. The sun wasn't at all clear; its outline was debatable and changing. And though I know the sun is gas and the moon is rock, still I wonder why the moon's circumference would be so clear, its edges so crisp--cut from cardboard with scissors. (38). . . quoted

Beautifully written, right? Right. Inarguably. Assuredly. The problem is in the editing, the factchecking! Dave Eggers is a fantastic writer, but it's just not at all true that the earth's shadow is responsible for the phases of the moon. It's the light from the sun and the moon's position relative to it. The earth and moon don't orbit on the same plane (though twice a year, when the moon does pass--briefly--through earth's shadow, a lunar eclipse occurs). Didn't any editor--at McSweeney's, or Vintage, or during its retitling and then unretitling--notice this? Or at least feel at all peculiar about the assertion? Oh well--I didn't know what a pachinko was. Maybe everyone just trusted him. Anyway.

Also, I do understand that this misconception could quite possibly be intentional, intended to represent the character Will's idea/surety that the earth's shadow causes the moon's phases. Or maybe later on in the novel (because I haven't finished it yet) something else is somehow revealed, and I will eat my criticism (and if the book does make me take this back, I'll come back and edit this post and retract my statements and apologize profusely to the great virtual Eggers-god).

Okay, back to the lovely book.

Friday, June 15, 2007

This is me outside

I'm lying on shorn grass,
sloping down longside a manmade river
with amaretto brackish water
but there are tall shoreside weeds
and the greyblue sky
and unwoven strands of clouds
like veins of milk

Cut short, the grass prickles
the backs of my knees and neck;
it is stiff and unforgiving--
a bed of thin nails,
why we call them blades
(an insect's bite would be indiscernible).
But I feel I could roll through it
down the sloping hillside
and still somehow be cushioned,
that it's soft regardless of

A small spider,
yellow and black with a pattern
of white on its abdomen--
like a spider-bumblebee--
climbs near my eye.
It's a droplet of sweat--
I brush it away, expecting liquid,
but that spider climbs on my finger
and waits, pauses, plays its
stout hairless legs across my skin,
then leaps to the grass,

I want to look high into the
sun's orangegolden brightness,
the small stretch of sky
that is off-limits--
would being blinded by the sun have its

Once, we weren't so afraid
of the sun--sunscreen and air-conditioning
and hatred of its heat--
we played in it,
let ourselves sweat,
let it bathe our bodies
without fear of UV-induced skin cancer.
We were fearless and young and loved
the sun.

But now I will pick myself up
off this sticky-wet grass
and wipe my still-(always)-perspiring body
with an old pink and white towel,
and walk through two sets of doors
using a keycard,
up one floor through another door or two,
into a climate-controlled office lit by sunlight,
leisurely dripping in through
two spotless tinted windows,
like enormous sunglasses facing
the mountains.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lying in beds

Tonight I put my hand on your face
as you drifted to sleep--
it covered nearly all of it.
I felt your pulse pushing softly near my thumb,
your cheek warm and bare
against my hand and fingers,
our skin traced in faint lines and marked from
the slow years,
but plain and naked the way we were made.

And it came to me,
how all these other bodies
lie in beds with faces exposed,
yet my hand is on yours,
touching the lines where you smile,
feeling your heart settling slowly,
watching shut eyes dream.

So I put my other palm against my own face and
held it there,
connected us with my hands.
I felt the pricks of wispy auburn hairs
sprouting over my cheek,
as warm as yours.

I thought of the many
other things that try to connect us:
waves and wires and digits,
devices and lenses that capture us,
transmit things through blank screens,
fuel to relocate us;
how these things are powerless
and trivial--
they are not like two faces, bodies, hearts and lives
connected by two hands
in the dark space of night.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Divorce (or small dark scars framed in white)

I miss the sounds of children,
their warm hands slapping against my cinderblock walls,
the same walls that caught their gentle breaths,
sheltered them asleep at night;
and heard their voices--
the way some deepened and boomed,
while others grew tender and lovely.

I miss the midnight pool lights,
lit up secretly during summer,
their droning neon buzz and the parade of moths
that continually danced in the pale lamplight,
the quiet laughter and excited splashes,
the way the lights turned off abruptly
from the inside once discovered on.

I miss the cavalier pursuits of youth
under the stoic gaze of adulthood,
the unconcerned and the desperate
trying to balance themselves within my walls,
in a house where love and joy
made occasional tidal bursts
instead of steady even flows.

I miss the lost looks of the parents,
staring at their reflections
in the bedroom mirrors, the bathroom vanity--
I watched them age,
wrinkles widening, greying hairs lengthening;
I watched their eyes darken into hard black pinpoints,
their lips pursed tight together
as they came and went
and passed each other wordlessly at night.

I miss the hollow hole--unrepaired for years--
hammered through my back bedroom door by an angry fist
and a rough cry of shock and defeat;
all that sleeping in two separate beds,
two separate rooms when I wished it were one;
and the dinnertable quarrels around a checkbook,
because it was all the conversation they ever had.

I miss the moving men,
who carelessly scraped paint from my doorway
with the edges of the old chestnut dresser
(the one with the burnt black incense circle),
making small dark scars, framed in white;
the look of the bare orange kitchen tile,
those once-crowded countertops useless,
all closets empty, walls and carpets immaculate:

I miss those same voices I once loved,
so vacant, so feeble and hollow now,
mechanically announcing quick arrivals and quicker exits
(ephemeral, the way a child can become an adult
and then quickly pace down these old familiar hallways
after so many years).

I miss the sounds of their engines
as they drove away,
separate cars into separate worlds.
The lifeless bonds that
time and remembrance forged between us all
left with a SOLD sign like a headstone
and a small stack of flyers
strewn across the naked kitchen countertops.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Passage of a recovering gasoline addict

I remember how I intended never to pay more than
two dollars a gallon,
then it was three,
then four.

Yesterday I drove to a lonely station,
seeking the cheapest purchase--
but it was deserted, forever advertising at $3.09.
Inside, lights from a Pepsi refrigerator still blazed
and half-empty paperboard boxes held
solitary packages of M&Ms and Snickers bars.
Wooden "For Lease" signs propped against the windows outside,
set in the barren auburn dirt above breaking concrete,
and the bloodred roof shingles were covered in dust,
as if a hot desert wind had flown over them for decades.

At home I untangled my bike from next to the washing machine.
I wiped off layers of lint,
inflated the tires, added a small aluminum rack
with bungee cords and carabiners to secure my things.
I rode out into the streets in the early morning,
felt leg muscles crackling and straining
from inexperience.
I felt the sun's subtle heat as it crested mountain peaks
and touched across my cheek and neck,
impelling me to propel myself further forward,
past pavement and exhaust, intersections and blaring horns.

I rode up through the canyon,
heavy dry mouth heaving from canine panting, thirst.
The motorway sounds faded to a dull growl,
a humming roar drifting backward and
behind me with every passing meter.
I stopped near the small park
where ornamental maples overhang the walkway,
riverside ferns grow along their trunks
and a waterfall plunges lazily upstream--
all of it vacant like the gas station. I sat atop a wellworn
picnic bench, its wood still damp with morning dew.

And with the summer sun now sparkling and clear to the east
I turned about to look over
my journey, down into the valley--
to watch gasoline stations withering in the distance,
their monetary marquees like neon flags
or blinking communication towers.
Insectile vehicles crawl on all fours,
desperately attracted to them, starving, needing them;
without them they see no other way, no alternative:
mechanical moths to a bonfire flame.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Mick Kelly

The old 1898 school, being restored--
a squat block of brick and wood and
newly placed, sharp-tinted windows,
with a slanted steep roof and some scattered shingles,
some plywood angled up and high.
The heat of early March, nearly spring,
and in the purple light of the disappearing sun
I scaled up to that unfinished roof,
up three floors and past grey exposed sheetrock and
pale twobyfours, to a small propped ladder against the sky.
I walked lightfooted and straddled the peak,
the warm wood against my legs; I watched the
darkening light, blazing slowly down behind the distant west mountains,

and I sang out like Mick Kelly--favorite songs,
about existing and knowing it,
about love and dying and holding hot hands,
palms sweating near the lake in the summer,
of being young and hungry and unspoiled, untainted--
fearful even at the bigness and greatness of life
and its sorrows and joys.
About reality.
About all being connected by strands, links to each other,
to soil and cloud and human heart and animal eyes
and a common soul--
a sweeping-blue oceany soul, made of sky and sea and depth.

That sweet taste of reaching infinity,
between all of us and our minds
and uttered from our lips
into a common stream of need and hope and

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Eye tonight

I am drinking rooibos tea flavored with gingerbread house icing and lavendar honey.
I am writing about James Joyce and Stephen Dedalus and Stephen and Daedalus.
I am three days behind with this assignment, my seminar paper.
I am almost done with the semester.
I am still awake and it is three a.m.
I am worried about taking four online classes at once.
I am not always motivated.
I am very full because I have eaten a lot today.
I am ready for a departure.
I am prepared for a change.
I am now home from the library. I was there before seven and I left at 1:45 when the cello-orchestrated Nothing Else Matters started playing over the loudspeakers. An orchestrated version of The Legend of Zelda themesong follows that, and tonight I missed it.
I did come home for one hour from 10:30 till 11:30, though.
I was able to successfully find all BYU's archived and bound copies of James Joyce Quarterly.
I am a procrastinator, and sometimes that worries me.
I am dry in this Utah weather.
I am dry though it snowed all day today.
I am wondering whether the mountains look as beautiful hidden in the dark of night as they do during the sunset.
I am wishing that certain magical and wonderful things happened to me.
I am thinking, thinking, thinking, and not getting anywhere.
I am not Einstein.
I am no fabulous artificer.
I do not have a strange name.
But I'm me all the same.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Shadows, seeds

I came out into the high spring evening sun,
my tall shadow trailing behind me--
it looks like me, connected to me,
black and fearless it is me.
I thought of James Dean and his Spyder on Highway 46,
and I walked past the junipers,
the sweetgums and birches,
planted purposefully in green hilly mounds.
I slid my hand over the chafed and chipped handrail,
all rustbrown except on top--
scraped bare to the metal,
the pavement-clacks of the skateboards told me why.

They too had slid across it,
scraped it, and made long shadows
all colorless behind,
brightened and blocked out on hot pavement.
I stepped forward with hands on that cool wounded rail,
the warm setting sun soaking me and coloring the
greens and browns
of the trees, with their soft hanging catkins,
and dry winter branches
sprouting pale new shoots of mossy green,
heavy with bloom and seed.
I sat on a hill and watched the world washed
in color,

while the day pressed to an end and the sky rotated round.
Time did not exist.
I felt this emotion, in this moment:
just a feeling
that I can't express--I could never.
I can't say what it is I want, or what I sense;
it's just a feeling.

So I sat and thought of that colliding car,
of Santa Barbara and crisscrossing highways
and youth and growth--seasons of planting and harvest
and rebirth,
of all the seeds that would never take root,
all the abandoned ideas and half-thought thoughts,
all the lives that would be lost at twentyfour,
such stifled vitality.

I held the prickly brown seed from the sweetgum,
knew that it was like living:
painful and inflicting, yet full of potential,
spines surrounding germs of hope--
and I was the writer without words,
the rebel without a cause.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Daytrip to the meadows

Anxious and hungry, we are thirsty for fluid nighttime lights
and a view from the dead flatness of earth.
And so we soar southward over cool blacktop
in the close, sunless morning--
a small restless flock we are, buffeted about by westpacific winds--
until over Delano and the Tushars daylight crowns, quick and golden,
same as seven a.m. summers when my eyes crack to the light
and breathe in heavy awake the heaving morning air.

The blue sky, pale blue sky colored like
milky soap bubbles on a freshscrubbed sidewalk
blazes through the red sandstoned buttes, the ruddy bluffs behind us.
Edge of the mojave and we patrol the wideopen road;
joshua trees line up the freeway (those hands to the sky),
first guarding the guardrails
then spreading out and off and further,
scattered in forest patches the distant claycolored sand.

On a long desert boulevard we arrive in the midst of chaos,
next to a stadium brimming with colors and bodies
and surrounded by hard white trailers and numbered flags and barbeques.
We are ushered in by these celebrity helicopters, circling closer and
hovering just above our heads like sleek painted falcons, shining
and swimming through sunlight, one-by-one. Policecar lights splay on
chainlink fences and hot double-yellow lines, and through a queue of cars
we stumble past the spectacle, all the race-waiters.

To the architected center,
throbbing heart of a barren land, haunted by
spectres of generations of drowned hopes and sloughed dreams.
Where the earth lights the heavens instead of vice versa,
and society gathers in united strands of joy and craved emptiness--
Where desire is desired.

This city so full of people, so churning and thriving,
so consumed by artifice and laughter and swagger
and erected replicas of places they'd rather be, scenes they'd rather see.
They want the whole world condensed into one small vision;
they imagine adventure and purpose in these diversions.
(But still we come to be diverted by these diversion-seekers,
as if one with them.)

We walk miles till our legs throb and the
children must be carried--pregnant or no.
The heavy sun sinks in the Nevada soil but light never leaves;
dark only in the dimming sky.
Modeled censored girls on hard coloredpaper cutouts
litter the walkways and we trample them,
hear the clickclack of fingers flicking decks of them and beckoning
with hands extended and eyes elsewhere,
tossing mass-produced faceless bodies into the crowds,
bright glaring shirts:
"I can get you any girl in 20 minutes."

Oh Las Vegas must you be so bright
with your sidewalk stench and shine?
and all your choreographed light shows and circus parades,
dancing fountains and megaphone whores with wideopen legs
and soulless stares and the tinkling of glass,
the smell of rum and whiskey sours and thick raisiny cigarsmoke.
But even as we decry it all we can't help but watch, awed, captivated;
we can't help but smirk behind our smiles.

We leave as we came: that stadium we passed,
exploding with colors and flags and movement, all dying away.
And then the slicked waxy trucks, gleaming like greased billboards
with images of razors and two-by-fours and tall beer cans,
trail each other through the intersection taking their racers away.
And back over blacktop we flee, north toward the Wasatch,
away from the little harbor-pool of endless light in the desert.

But even as we despise it we validate it;
even as we walked its streets we gave it breath.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tantrum after the results

I shut the office door--past six and it looks like rain--
and lay down on the turf-carpet with my face up on it all flush up against it;
it smelled of socks and sunflower seed shells and scalp flakes.
I know my weaknesses, and I'm too logical, too
levelheaded for this tantrum.

I spoke clumsily in whispers and chants like some mantra of "I don't believe" gets me anywhere.

I curled up and in a daydream with my fingers clenched digging my palms
I thought of an old woman holding a mirror up to her withered face
and gasping at the sight of herself she dropped it into the dingy porcelain of the tub
where it shattered and broke, that old family heirloom,
and she said "good."

It's just that I wanted to be the best, I didn't want no comeuppance. I needed,
face to the floor like this.
Now I want to cut my hair and starve myself, to change to be different to be
better. Or just to be.
Always acting so serious, so deep ostensibly steeped in meaning I try to fill
it all in. I guess I try to mean in everything.
But isn't, there isn't meaning in everything./? (<--even in this)
Some things are just pointless. I know my weaknesses.
I'm too clearheaded and I can't cry when I try
or when I need.
But enough's enough. So I sat up.

Then on the way home,
in an old rusted white Taurus wagon with a maroon hood,
a small boy--River Phoenix in Stand By Me--
cranked his window down next to me and set his small hand
on the glass, stared at me and lifted two fingers, waved.
I stared ahead at the road and the pillow blanket of thick pregnant clouds
and lifted two of my own, waved back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I saw this mighty elm in a field,
next to new highway contstruction,
and the small man holding a chainsaw underneath it,
eating into the outstretched lower limbs,
the pale, wet wood.

And I thought of mankind mining ore in the earth,
learning to purify it, melt it mold it sharpen it,
place it into that circular metal ring
then power it black with oil,
extracted up from the depths of the earth--
remains of the living, prehistoric matter.

Cut into them mighty living trees,
tear them to the ground, limb by limb, uproot the stump;
make way for an empty stretch of highway, roadway,
noxious hardened black tar set in straight lines,
inorganic, coating the soil:

an unwanted armored shell
to transport us to highrises and complexes,
to tear us off like crooked elm limbs
and then straighten us out like roads.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lit paper lanterns

My knees up at my chest,
under striped rows of
turquoise and cherry and hazy emerald.
Our reflections hover on
the curved charcoal screen that faces the bed:
Amy in her rosecolored robe, book open,
belly full; and there I am,
knees up, watching the blank television
like we're a scene:
where romantics lie on the bed in bathrobes
and they read and smile and love, and nothing
is wrong and their bare feet touch barely
under the striped Spanish blanket.
Lamps on either nightstand shine together;
they light the string of olive paper lanterns overhead,
illuminating the pages in our books with silhouettes
of bamboo stalks and leaves and branches.
And the tapestries behind and above us stretch and hang down
like stomachs, like a small child is lying in each one--
like pushing up round and warm under a quilt
where hands rest softly and silently,
and that lump groans and stirs and makes subtle movements--
a Herculean youth.

And I stare straight at the slanted screen,
at our two or three shapes connected by lit paper lanterns.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One of these days

The door shudders at the hinges, and
overhead the pale thumbnail moon glows,
matches the weeks-old snow--
and my feet trample through it like it fell
just last night and stuck there,
across the church parking lot--and there even,
spread out in a moonlight quilt over our bare backyard,
hiding the dormant lawn and the apple tree's rising roots,
the frozen wooden garden boxes strapped with rusted braces,
the little tin shed and the damp dresser
with the missing leg and the loose drawers,
the old cobwebbed lawnmower and its dull, exposed blades.
Overhead the cable wires droop down heavy with white
and reach for the dark solid soil hidden under
our field of winter.
It knows just about everything, this omniscient season does,
it squeezes through every crevice and permeates the world wide
with its frost and taste of cold.

I walk past the blue and black trash bins
(through the little rickety steel gate that overgrows
with olive-colored vines in the summer).
The neighbors' light is on;
the baby cries and I watch through the fogged kitchen window
as his mother shoulders him up,
wraps him in his yellow-and-white-striped blanket
and hefts him high. She smiles and coos, walks
to calm him, to protect him from the
deep hibernation outside.
Something steams in a shiny pot on the burner,
and his father eats dinner on a brown leather easy chair
in front of the television screen,
flickering sports highlights.

So I lay down out back there under the naked apple tree,
all wet and cold and bare, stiffening in that windless clear,
watching the line of icicles that parade across the eaves
single file like deep translucent roots of ice
or clear January speartips made by the trickling warmth
of the slow southern sun in the daytime.
They are bent downward bound for the street,
bound to break loose one of these days.

I want my arms and legs to just freeze up
and stop being me, so I can quit feeling cold
and feel something else for a change,
something that takes more than sensation
or season or temperature.
Something crying like a fetus at the walls of the womb.
--Let me out.
--Let me out!
--Let me in.

I am ready to begin.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The hero

So I played Guitar Hero from 11 till 1 tonight, with Mike and his brother James' house in Pleasant Grove. Just got home. Ran over an already-destroyed sheep in the middle of the road on the way there. It disgusted me. There were this huge massive lump of white in the middle of the road; I thought it was snow except for all the red splattered all around. It got up in my undercarriage I think too cause later I was smelling burnt lamb from inside my engine and I was sickened. I drove over these frozen drifts of snow made from the plows to try and clean my car off. On the way home though the whole creature was gone, all evidence removed (hallelujah). Some poor soul had to clean it up. A cop maybe. I was picturing it in my mind, who had to deal with it. Maybe they hired a tow truck driver to do the dirty work. Or some guy with a plow attached to the front of his truck who could run it off the road into the empty snowy lot.

And I drank a Coke Zero, relished my aspartame and wished it would go away. I am trying to distance myself.

On the way home I saw these intense fireball (or bolide) to the west. It was the best one I've ever seen. I watched again outside once I got home and it was nice and beautiful out. The moon is a little over half-full and so it's navy blue all around, but it's winter after all so I can identify lots of stars and they seem so familiar to me, still so close to home. Kinda makes it feel more like home here, at least because the stars are so similar. (Nothing beats driving at 3 a.m. across Nevada though, when there's no moon.)

Anyway, I have to get up way early to beat the bookstore rush and here I am in a cold house wasting time while the sky's probably already getting lighter and I haven't even got into bed yet.

Audio: Brand New | Mew (still)
Video: Open Season
Text: Rule of the Bone

My words of the day: exegesis, repudiate, iconoclastic

Thursday, January 04, 2007

We've built our own sun

So over the break I recorded a song of mine on Joey's equipment. It's one I wrote over a year ago, but I just thought it would be fun to get it down. Though I think I have to re-record the vocals cause I botched a line, but you may not notice. Check it out here:

We've built our own sun

Obviously it's called We've built our own sun. And while I'm at it, I may as well give a shout out to cool website that gives you free file hosting/storage, and that's where my song is for now. Sorry no streaming. Oh well.

Note that this might be reposted all over the place, so I apologize ahead of time if you see it more than once.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I had a good break. Guess I'll post a lot more about that later. But for now: I got a DeviantArt site. Check it out here:

Not much there yet that you haven't already seen.

Audio: Mew | And The Glass Handed Kites
Video: Night At The Museum
Text: Rule Of The Bone | Russell Banks