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.

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.