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.

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