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.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something I thought I saw

Two people stood alongside
the empty canyon highway,
embracing against the new snow,
frozen there like dead bulrushes,
upright reeds in the mud.
Drifting leaves curled up
like hollowed-out canoes
over the glassy river,
meandering its slow feminine curves.
And they stiffly watched,
apathetic sticks,
clasped together coldly
in the dying sagebrush.

Friday, October 10, 2008

She's perfect

My wife is perfect. So sweet, so loving. She makes my day every day, and knows how to throw one mean party. She threw me a surprise party last night for my birthday. All the best people and friends were there (except those who live too far distant), and I couldn't stop smiling. She had baked a delicious completely homemade ginger carrot cake, made chocolate cupcakes and had snacks and licorice galore. She knows how I like it.

Amy, I love you. Thanks for making my days perfect.

the party group

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Haikus +

Here are some little haiku and a one-liner that I wrote earlier this year.

--- ---

Blooming sun--close, bright--
heats prickly pear and blackbrush,
warms red summer sand.

Fallen Leaf
Wind against my face.
Gnats swarm in fading daylight
through the slatted trees.

Booming, crumbling snow.
Shaking glaciers make thunder
in desolation.

I awoke thirsty
against the arm of the couch
with a flattened book.

Summer's sunset lasts
longer than other seasons.
Does it have to end?

Old bridge
Across the long park bridge, its skewed boards glassy with rain.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strange warriors dream

[dream, morning of 09302008]

We were downstairs, a filthy empty floor in an abandoned warehouse or factory. We were warriors. I had a steel weapon, long and thin that waved like a whip. We saw our enemies--two of them, male--and we attacked. My companion had a long sword. I swung my whipblade and it cut into one of our enemies. At one point he blocked it and it reversed in my grip, came back and cut into my own hand, nearly severing three fingers. I finally decapitated one of them. After we had defeated both of them, I looked down at my hand. My wound was healing up rather nicely. My body's healing abilities were rapid.

We also had to avoid the michens, small insect-like creatures--almost mechanical--that crawled across the dingy underground floors. If they caught you, they put you into a state of suspension. You turn gray and become immobile. Like looking at a Gorgon/Medusa. We quickly stepped over them and left.

--- ---

So the dream was much longer than that, but that's all I ended up remembering. When I woke up my hand was actually hurting like it was in the dream. I must've been sleeping on it funny or lost circulation or something. I'm sure that the whipblade in the dream was inspired by a tape measure which the kids and I played with the night before. Dreams = reality.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wolf dream, morning of 20080910

I was with two other guys on a wide dirt trail, almost like a 4WD road. One of the guys I work with. I don't remember the other. A bedraggled wolf started following us. He was missing patches of gray fur, looked scrawny and hungry. He was gaunt by ferocious-looking. I took out my gun and pointed it at him as he approached us. As if he knew what a gun was and was threatened by it. But I didn't know what to do. The wolf kept coming. Kurt took out his gun, an old six-shooter pistol, and was trying to load it. "I'll take care of it," he was saying. But the gun jammed; he couldn't get it to work. He banged it against his palm.

The wolf snarled and came closer. It lunged at me and I shot it, shot it right in the heart. Dark blood came oozing out immediately, and the bullet slowed the wolf down so I dodged to the right. The wolf became desperate and continued after me. I avoided it and ran to the edge of a hill that sloped downward. We danced, back and forth, he trailing blood and I breathing heavily, trying to keep my distance. We stumbled at the little cliff's edge, and I stepped down on its slope to get away. I looked down at the desert and sagebrush below.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The day after the storm

Driving a narrow highway
all coated in thick ice,
twinkling under the morning sun
like hundreds of stars.

Then the snowbanks
made soundless white loops
as if viewed from a carousel--
whirled through sunlight
and then shadow, again and
again, like so many days
setting into night.
Halved sunflower seeds
hovered within reach
of our splayed fingers
for a few immortal moments, then

sheetmetal crunched,
quarter panels
a shatter of glass sprayed and eclipsed
the pavement stars.
A mosaic
of manufactured
colors spread uneven
across the manufactured ground.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That room

The door's always cracked open,
the humid swamp cooler air holding it
in stasis,
just enough
to hear the late-night cries
from each of three beds:
Daddy; and, I had a nightmare; and, I'm thirsty.

Sleepdrunk, I push the door
that always creaks twice,
assist reluctantly and leave a stern warning.
See you in the morning.

This isn't my job, my responsibility. My duty.
Not something forced or worth rolling eyes at.
They look up at me, into me,
with full eyes while I'm half-asleep,
half-trudging through fatherhood.

Will I ever remember how heart-shattering
the most minute details were?
The sound of a sneeze, a burbling laugh,
mispronounced words, troublemaking,
anticipation for trivial things.
Will I always be an adult--mature, overseeing?
Will I recognize what I have?

These little personalities, distinct and growing,
small packages of voice and song, smiles,
handmedown shirts and dresses,
sturdy legs and golden skin.

There's not enough love to capture them,
to remember them.
I can't wrap myself around them
tight enough for them to ever know. Or
cover them,
a protective sheath that makes them
Keeps them tiny and spirited and perfect until they
burst free,
Because there isn't enough of me
to contain all that is them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The ballroom

They climb rockbent ladders,
legs like cottonwood limbs.
Smoke rises up the ashblack rock wall
where ground grain cooks, and
the floor of the kiva is streaked wet,
rust-colored and black with
sweat and charcoal.

Behind the defensive wall,
beneath the jutting sandstone overhang,
their bare feet make weak footprints
in the ancient dust--
some grand dance
in the cool underbelly of the cave.

Balanced precision in all things,
their wide smiles and telling eyes.
Time like a hurricane, seasons
of earth and snow and sun
all back over again,
channeled through the bodies of
people who know better.

Little dried corncobs and shattered
bits of clay bowls.
Smoothed indentations in rock just
handholds for curious fingers.
Gravity takes intricate purposeless
walls and makes skipping stones of them.
Ladder legs lie split and ravaged
among the rockshards.
All hidden and eroding in the emptiness
of the canyon cliffs.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I was idling at the stop sign
when your car blew by,
the same metal-green Honda
with California plates.

But it couldn't have been you;
you left this morning
before the sun was up.

dream, morning of May 28 2008

In my dream this morning I was on a rocky cliff at the top of a road or trail. I was looking in the distance and saw a strange military training base attached to the side of one of the mountain peaks. It came out horizontally, different layers pushing out further from the wall. Each layer looked like a handle of some sort, like a teakettle handle. So there were these stacked handles coming out from the wall, and all these soldiers doing training, some in air, some on monkey bars, row after row of them. They went in a uniform line, up one handle and down another.

Eventually I was joined by Joey and others, and I told them they had to see this base. But when I tried to show them, I couldn't find it. We walked all around and I kept looking off in the distance, but it was gone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

dream morning of 20080326

I was on a rafting trip, fell off somehow, apparently near Old Sacramento. I was clothed and with all my stuff in my pockets. I came out near these wooden buildings, and through this strange maze I reached an underground operation, like an old mining operation, by the river. I first saw Mike J, and said hi, then I realized he was with other people I had graduated with--Megan, Bryan P, many many others. I talked to them, and it felt like they were hiding something from me, like something was secret. My first thought was that it was our high school reunion and that I personally had not been invited.

I was swimming in the water with them, while talking to them. I got out and found this office of sorts. The whole place was filthy (it was underground) and made of rotting logs. I saw James T, with his hair dyed lime-green and with heavy eyeliner on. He said he was in charge. While we were talking someone broke something behind him and he yelled at them.

I went back to the raft and found all the other people I had graduated with. [Sadly, I can't remember any of their names now.] I led them through the maze of shops and wooden buildings to the operation so they would believe me. Along the way they got lost in some souvenir shops because they weren't following me very well, and I became frustrated.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The shrouded mountain
is speckled with wet white.
To the south, the sun breaks
barely below a pall of stormclouds,
lighting the faroff peaks.

A single raven hovers, flies,
wings taut and light in the wind;
it descends on a power line.
Horses stand swishing tails,
hooves caked with snow and mud.

Shifting patches of blue emerge
above the tumorous black clouds
A lone shock of thunder crumples the air,
telling of lightning too distant to see.

A century ago--two, maybe--
I would have wanted
my ashes spread here.
Over the scrub oak and boxelders, the
shimmering quaking aspens.
Over the scree slopes and layered limestone
and the valley floors below--
dust sweeping up like a sandstorm
into the thunderclouds.


Then, a decade ago,
I was doing these same things.

The bike was different,
a battered Raleigh road bike,
once-white, salvaged from a
basement junk heap. Its tires
blew out frequently.

The streets were the same--no,
different: fewer people, fewer lights
and less construction. Sections of sidewalk
all askew like shrapnel.

I lived a few blocks away.
A condo they called it (they still do),
though its plain walls and
shag carpet told a different story.

These timeless smells--
they still arise from everywhere, everything--
woodsmoke like late Placerville fall,
laundry detergent like the streets of Mazatlan;
the ripening spring air tastes of mulched leaves
and prepubescent lawns.

Funny how we can end up in these same places,
with so little changed--
even though
that life
has gone, and
a new one
is in its place.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dream, morning of April 23rd 2008

I was in a large city, and it was the end of the world. Some revolutionary forces had created a device which would end the world--it was seated in a large enclosed stadium. People were flocking to it. It was a party, an end-of-the-world party. Even the authorities were ushering people in. It was as if they were resigned to the fact that there was no stopping this device, so let's just all come experience it in a nice orderly fashion.

I went in as well, through these large, open doors, past police with nightsticks. Lights were flicking on and off. Music was thumping, the bass pounding against the metal floors and walls like some enormous rave. Debris floated in the black air. People screamed, sobbed and shouted. I saw my friend on the stairs, heading down [he looked just like my old friend Raun from high school]. There were two minutes left until the device was triggered.

"We can stop this," I said to him.


I pointed up. He followed me back up the stairs, to a ramp that wound around the inner walls of the stadium.

We ran up the ramp and finally found a short door off to the side. We went in, and found a square stairwell. We ran up and up to reach the top of the building.

[segue into new dream]

At the top of stairs I was alone. The view was open, looking over a pool in an apartment complex. There was a shootout going on. I was one of the outlaws.

I was handed a gunbelt with ammo and at least two pistols. A man filled one of the pistols with dried corn. Another gun used small corn cobs as ammo; when the gun fired it sucked through a portion of the cob and expelled. These weapons were deadly.

I shot at my enemies. I hid in shadows, guns cocked and pointed upward. At one point they drove by me, slowly, in a black SUV. A man in black sunglasses rolled his window down and sneered at me. I pointed my red corn-fed pistol at him, held it there. They drove off. I snuck back into a dark hideout where other outlaws and I swapped stories and stocked up on ammunition and rifles.

Friday, April 04, 2008

My Poetic Idol nomination

[Sorry if you've seen this posted in multiple places--I'm just really trying to get it out there!]

Some of you may know that in the past I had some success in a poetry competition.

I've been nominated again!

Since my last successes they've changed the way a poem wins. There's no single judge or team of judges doing all the work. Now the whole Artella community votes on twelve finalist poems, and the winners are based on those votes. My poem New/old (There's a Polaroid in everything) is one of those twelve finalists.

I would love it if you would participate in the voting! But don't automatically vote for mine--I want to be fair. If you can, read all twelve poems and vote for the poem you think is the real winner. If that's my poem--why thank you.

First you will need to join the Artella community by creating an account on Artella Cafe. Once you create your account, it will email you a password. When you receive the password, go log in and vote for the winning poem!

If you get a chance, please pass this information along to anyone you know who may be interested and who may have the time to do it. Voting ends May 15, at which time the winner will be chosen. Any voters I can get will help! I think there are currently only 53 total votes (as of today). The winner gets a $200 prize, along with some other stuff! So I'm excited. Please help out in the voting process. Love you all.

--- ---

If you didn't get the embedded links above, here are the links/steps to follow:

(1) Create an account here
(2) Vote for the winning poem here (you'll have to log in first)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Last night I ran, I ran all of three miles, up past Seven Peaks and the old Heritage Mountain Resort. The resort was all boarded up with plywood over the same doors we entered through only a month ago. It's impenetrable now. I'm glad we got in while we still could. I ran the upper loop of the fancy neighborhood where Seven Peaks Golf Course used to be. The houses are all new and nice, but the neighborhood appears rotting, a shambles. None of the homes have lawns or any vegetation at all really. The front yards are all dirt, mud and chunks of rock. Electrical units sticking out of the earth are broken and wires are frayed. Half of the homes are for sale, with stickers and flyers and number-filled posters taped all over the doors and windows. Some homes have Hummers and nice new trucks in the yards. One house up against the mountain has a black metal fence around a playset and basketball hoops. There's concrete, but no greenery, no yard. The end of the property just swoops down into a seemingly forgotten pit of sandy-brown earth. There's an ATV sitting unused at the edge of the property. Boxes and grocery bags and crushed grapefruit scattered the sidewalks. Weeds and thistles grow recklessly, and mounds of dirt create makeshift driveways up into the sloping foothills. To the west there was a gorgeous view of the sun lazily sinking into strips of grey clouds--this was the only redeeming beauty in the whole area, along with the close proximity to the foot of the mountain.

I ran and looked south at the Wasatch, at Mount Nebo and the snow still covering their tops and patterned down their steep sides like they were drawn in stipple. I looked at the setting sun, at the sky. I looked around at the sleeping Seven Peaks area, all lonely up there, just waiting for summertime and flocks of children and parents and teenagers to enjoy the waves and water, the chlorine and snowcones and slides. At the long-dead resort building, boarded up against vandals--though the property just sits there, wasting and decaying like an old barn, starting its third lifeless decade. It'd be better off a canvas for innocent tagging and graffiti, Harry Potter and Humpty Dumpty jokes and drawings. A cavern for pigeons. A refuge for the homeless. Everything's equally substantial, real and beckoning. It pumps my legs a little bit faster. It's all beautiful, the quiet buildings on the hill, the looming white mountains in the distance, the brilliant, darkening sky.

I left the golf course neighborhood, the sad lofty resort, and Seven Peaks behind me, ran back towards our little home closer to the old town, the real heart of the city.

My legs are still tired and sore.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The valley clean

I know this spring snow,
wet and thick and clinging
like armor on everything it coats.
The slick roads surprise us--
we've forgotten how to drive in snow.
The moon's a pale, waning smirk,
almost lost among
the floating turmoil in the sky.
The mountains are white as bone,
a landscape of hips and teeth and knuckles.
Low clouds form another range,
the same dead-white color,
spun off where mountain meets valley
like estranged cousins.
A fortress of winter encircles us,
an icy crown tightens over our heads.

By late morning the sky blossoms,
the sun emerges from its cloak
and sweeps
the valley clean.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When I first met your family

I took the wrong turn, the one
that leads to your grandparents' house.
So I drove through their place
in fear of motion detection,
and made it back around to where your
dirt road branches.
I came out into that circle driveway,
that clearing in the forest
jailed in by pine,
confined by trees and brush on all sides--
except the frame of a house
hovering over a valley to the east.
A strange and perfect place
I couldn't have pictured.

Your family was watching TV
downstairs, the room dark,
lit only by the changing scenes.
They sat scattered on the couches;
we stood there together, alone,
in the blackness by the stairs.
Your parents told me to have you back by eleven.
It was already after nine--
I think you made it safely back inside
by five.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


The streets are empty
like the pews on Saturday.
My scuffed dress shoes sound
hollow against the parking lot asphalt;
they tick-tock rhythmically,
led by my pendulum legs.

The night's faint snowfall disappeared
when the meek heat of the early-March sun
crested the mountains.
The sky is bright, the wind subtle but piercing;
dead trees awaken quietly,
buds pushing from their bare branches.

Winter lifts from the landscape--
its skirt of snow pulls back,
revealing naked mountain thighs.

My own mind also thaws--
my dreams and thoughts expand, large and swollen
like hot-air balloons,
rising up and high toward the blooming sun,
to fly forever
or melt and join Icarus.

I step up three concrete steps
into the porchway shadow.
I look over the familiar whitewashed door,
raw metal exposed under large scratches
left by couches or children.
I put my hand to the dull golden doorknob--
cold from the air of the changing season--
and turn.


I have mixed feelings about shoveling snow.
Sure it clears the walkways and
makes journeying outside
a less obstructed experience.

But it tears apart the plane of snow,
creates rifts where none were intended.
It's like a snowplow barreling down an interstate,
pragmatic and determined.

Plus, when winter warms a little and the
ice layers loosen near the sidewalk edges
(and rakes and buckets emerge from the forgotten lawn),
shoveling sends heaps of soiled cakes of ice
onto the otherwise angelic, egg-white land.

I guess I'd rather just walk through it all--
there's a thrill in making the first imprints in
new snow,
like a butterknife gouging into fresh peanut butter.
I'd rather slip and fall,
rather traipse the mess
into the house.
Instead of shoveling,
I'd rather get my feet wet.

Friday, February 29, 2008

dream last night, 20080229

I woke up at 2 am with my contacts on. What follows is part of the dream I'd been having. I then woke up again at 6 am with another very vivid dream. I determined to write both dreams down, then and there. I went back to sleep. The second dream has been lost to the vastness of memory, while the first remained in portions.

--- ---

Amy and I were riding these machines--half pogo stick, half hovercraft--through what appeared to be the jungles of the Amazon. The water was blue and clear, the foliage green, almost neon green. We would soar up, then float back down towards the water. We were flying uphill over a little tributary, a noisy stream flowing over rocks. The forest was narrow, squeezing in on both sides. There was hardly room to pogo. [The Amazon really is beautiful--you should go sometime.]

We made it down to a cabin by the edge of the river. There was a man there--our tour guide perhaps. We left our hoverpogo machines and were going to get into a little boat of his. As I was walking to the boat, I saw a large wasp. The wasp landed by my foot. Then there was a loud, incessant buzzing sound. The man said to me, "That wasp stung you." I chose not to believe it, so he pointed it out to me. We both bent over and looked at my foot in the shadows made by our bodies. There was a pink blister forming on the top of my foot, between my first and second toes. We watched as the blister grew.

"We have to get the head out," the man said.

Deep within the blister, you could see the head and antennae of the wasp. The wasp's body lay next to my foot, buzzing loudly.

So that's how the wasp stings, I thought. It takes its head off and stabs it into you, and its body falls and lies there, buzzing loudly, an alarm to notify you of what it's done.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The clouds eclipsed the eclipse

There was a lunar eclipse on the 21st, slated to be visible to most of the US, including the Utah Valley, where I live. The weather decided not to cooperate, and while much of the rest of America got to witness it, I was left clouded.

--- ---

I wait outside,
watching expectantly;
I curse the weather and
the well-placed streetlamp.

I need just one single, simple
clearing--one open patch of sky
the size of a dime--
for perhaps a minute or two,

then you low, happy clouds
can go about your business,
masquerading as spring rain
over the tailend of winter.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Last night I was lost at sea

A dream.

--- ---

I was trying to board an airplane, a very nice and fancy aircraft. We were on a rolling stairwell that had rolled right up to the outer doors. The night was menacing. There was a storm brewing; it was windy and starting to rain. You could see through the clear clear windows inside the plane, watch the few people filing their carryons and the flight attendants shuffling past them. There were many empty seats. This was the first-class boarding area.

Each passenger was let on one by one. Amy was in front of me. They brought her inside and I tried to follow, but a flight attendant behind me grabbed me by the ankles so that I tripped. He said, "No! This flight is full." I lay there on this corrugated metal grating, struggling, kicking at his hand. The plane began firing its engines, and I shouted over it. The flight attendant couldn't hear. I watched as the plane began taking off. There was still a line of people behind me. As the sound of engines moved on, I told the flight attendant, "That's my wife." He and some of the others in the line gave me a blank stare. "I know she's a lot prettier than me, but she's still me wife."

At this, the attendant grabbed me--I had my backpack on--and we somehow caught part of the plane. We had jumped the plane, and were now dangling on the outside. The plane dipped up and down and I saw the black sea coming towards me and then away, like I was a flying fish, gyrating in the air. The wind blew my hair slick back against my head. I felt it also pulling against my pants and so I took them off for fear of getting blown off, and watched them flutter down to the dark ocean. Then somehow the attendant got us inside. I was in boxers, so he found me a pair of jeans, waist 33 Rustlers or something. There were a little big but fit fine, and I remember thinking that I shouldn't have dropped my jeans in the ocean. When I looked in the mirror I realized I had a different button-up shirt on, so he must have provided me with a new shirt as well.

Well I didn't stay with the plane. I was left in the ocean, floating far and wide and swimming and trying to find my way back home to southern California. I'd wake up and smell salt and drift back to sleep again. The one constant was the thought and voice of my flight attendant. He was like my guardian angel. I remember how he had tried to do his job, then tried to help me. I knew he was still trying to help me, direct me along the right currents. After days--and I knew it was days due to the rising and falling of the sun--I finally found myself soaked with not saltwater but freshwater and I realized I was in a river. I floated past some reeds and an airport, and I saw the plane that I had been on. I knew at that point that the plane had been landed for days now. I also knew right then that I no longer had my backpack. [The camera zooms in on a black backpack floating in the ocean far away from the protagonist. It then zooms out to show calm, empty waves in all directions and some squawking seagulls circling around it.]

So I did some amazing business. I turned around. I was able to backtrack through the currents and the freshwater and saltwater until I discovered my lonely lost backpack. This took more days. I lost track of all time, but still had the overseeing watch of the attendant to keep me going. Once I found the backpack, I suspected that once I dried it out, everything within it, including all electronics, would still work.

I floated again past the reeds and the airport. This time I kept going, further and further until I ended up in a foreign but somehow recognizable upscale LA neighborhood. It was on a hill. The river flowed like a road, straight to it. The chimneys of nearby homes were made of strange objects, like couches and large red bottles perched on top. I began walking.

I walked through automatic gates into a beautiful mansion-home with a rock facade. This was where I was supposed to go. Everyone knew I was coming. I came inside, exhausted, hungry, and strangely dry. I sat on a couch. There were six or eight people lining the couches: media people, my agent, etc. No family.

"You've been gone for nine days."

It was like I was lost and sea, recovered into another life. I didn't recognize anyone. Then some woman showed up, dressed in black, with a handsome new boyfriend. What was she doing here? She came rushing in like a mother coming to rescue her long-lost son. Did these media people think she was my wife, and notified her?

So I stumbled back to work. I had a workstation on a long, faux-wooden church table. But I when I came back, there were workers lining many church tables. Two girls were sitting there in my old spot, staring at the same monitor. They looked up at me. It seemed we had become a call center.

I took a seat at the opposite church table, where there was an opening. I decided to make some spaghetti. I was hungry. I had this very interesting broiling-inspired method, where I had steam from one pot rise up to cook the base of another, white colander-looking pot. I burnt the spaghetti very quickly. It looked awful. People were staring at me. But I mixed it around with the sauce and it ended up looking better. It tasted fine.

--- ---

I awoke.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I like to think that the sum of human experience--
every emotion, every exhilaration, and every defeat--
can be inhaled with each
ordinary, unspectacular breath.

I drive the highway on a
boring, busy afternoon, some drab lunchbreak from work,
and my life bubbles within me;
the heaving air halts on its way to my lungs
and triggers streaming thoughts
that flash like a strobe light,
crash around like bumper cars
or a pinball machine:

I see
a snowcapped mountain I climbed in the warmth of autumn,
bathing in the swelling salt of the Pacific,
leaping from bridges into low rivers,
watching childbirth with hands gripped,
numb with fright and excitement--
all these smiles upon all these faces,
icicles that grow like stalactites over my doorway,
bloodied noses, casts and stitches,
summer blowing its humid air into our deteriorating house
along with a symphony of crickets
and the sweet smell of a just-cut ballfield,
modern buildings rising like phoenixes
from the tombs of old structures,
and so on.

I am not the first
nor the last to recall these memories,
to breathe these slivers of eternity.
These experiences are intimately mine,
yet communal, shared,
like a jumbled storyboard
pieced with images from countless different films,
as if every single ceaseless second--
all sixteen frames' worth--
was made of
heartbeat fragments from other lives,
in technicolor.

There's reincarnation all around us.
Every breathed particle a small bit of everything else,
every taught or inherited trait a subtle homage to
countless others.
The very nature of life is cyclical,
and we are entangled within it,
looping back around,
rising up then lying down.
Moment follows moment, life follows life.
Just like that.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Straight from me

This is a short 500-word story I wrote last year and submitted to Quick Fiction. They didn't accept it. Here it is anyway.

--- ---

Mona spent three nights sitting on the couch, crocheting a few hours each night. A skein of yarn the color of earth, specked with sandstone browns and sea greens--colors she knew Marshall would like--ran in a steady stream to her hands, and she turned it round and tucked it up until it formed the scarf, colored like the dirty desert sand, long and soft with straggly fringes. She finished by four on the third night, tucked the scarf gently under her pillow and slipped into bed, lifting the covers softly and sliding her legs next to his. He didn't stir; his back was to her and he was breathing, heavy into the sheets, muffled and slow.

When she awoke he was already gone. There was a cold snap, and today's forecast was a high of fifteen degrees. Marshall was always cold on the site, out there in the open, hands chapped and plum-colored even inside his gloves, ratty brown scarf slipping to his shoulders because it was too short and he wouldn't keep it tight. Mona draped the new scarf she'd made on the coatrack behind the door, where Marshall hung his things.

At 5:15 the front door flew open wide and Marshall came stomping in, dirty snow flying from his boots. Mona greeted him, hugged him as cold as he stood there. He hugged her back, then pulled off his gloves and unwrapped the old scarf from his neck. It was maple-brown, thick and still soft despite its age, but Mona knew it was wearing. She smiled to notice the little holes in it.

"What's this?" Marshall asked, picking up the new scarf. "Is it for me?"

Mona smiled. "I crocheted it myself."

He held it and let it hang to the floor, compared it up against his old one. "It's very nice. Thank you, Mona." He rubbed the long fringes between his fingers. "It's really so beautiful and all--but do I need a new scarf? I mean--don't take this wrong now--but this old brown one does me fine."

"But it's starting to wear," she said, and poked a finger into one of the small holes.

He yanked it away. "Careful--you'll make it worse." He looked down at it mournfully. "You can just patch it up, can't you? Make it good as gold again?"

"I could. But I wanted to give you something new. Something straight from me."

"I appreciate that. Really I do. But--for now I think I'll put this one up in the closet with my spare gloves, and I'll wear it as soon as this nice old one gets beyond repair. How's that?"

She stood straight and he took her by the shoulders, smiled and squinted into her eyes then kissed her forehead. He went in the bedroom and rustled around in the closet, then came back out again, emptyhanded.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tomorrow and Jarom's dream

Each morning while gathering together a lunch for work, I hear a telltale thump--Jarom dropping from the ladder on his bunkbed. He always walks out of his room, a little bit slowly, wearing his pajamas or his clothes from the day before, clutching his nicey or one or two stuffed animals. "Hi, Dad," he always says to me. I'm always the first one up, then him.

Today I said to him, "How'd you sleep, Jarom?"

"Why do you ask me that every time?" he asked.

"Because I always want to know."

He then told me about a dream he'd had: "Orion was sledding down a hill in a circle," he said, making a spiral motion with his hands, like the hill was a draining bathtub or a flushed toilet. "Then he got to the bottom, and he bumped into a trashcan."

"That's a funny dream, isn't it," I said to him.

"Yeah. But it's also a little bit sad."


"Because he bumped into a trashcan, and that hurts him."

--- ---

Sometimes the theme song to Annie starts playing in my head in a big, dramatic, orchestrated version. There's a steadily building roll on the timpani and cymbals, which sometimes seems to last forever, as if the theme song is indefinite and will always haunt the attic of my mind, and then crash!--"Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow. You're only a day away!"

"You're only a day-- a-- way-- !"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An assignment

"The lady's eyes met mine, / And held them, knowing / Very well what it was all / About." -- Gary Soto, "Oranges"

"Man is not a god, that's what you said / [. . .] I never knew a man who loved the world as much as you, / And that love was the last thing to let go." -- Gjertrud Schnackenberg, "Walking Home"

"Love what you touch, / and you will touch wisely" -- Rita Dove, "For Sophie Who'll Be in First Grade in the Year 2000"

--- ---

Another poem,
another notch on my office-sheet
bookmark. But

this one reminds me of
of life, of death and
clinging to moments,
living through actions and
words each day,
knowing the both devastating
and unsurpassable strength of

This one reminds me of
and this imperfect, unkempt
world which we pass on,
which I save gingerly,
like a frail flower cupped in my hands,
to show to my

And this one reminds me of
tenderness in chasing dreams,
that shock, disbelief
they are realized.
And lastly, of course--
of course--

It's all here,
found out,
harshly sometimes. These
feverish minds,
part mine, part yours.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


[Composed vocally while traveling the salty marshes of western Utah.]

--- ---

I feel it,
this power,
binding, pervasive.
it is real,
it is love.

I don't know who I am addressing:
it may be you, or me, or us, or it.
I realize that my life is facilitated
by countless unnamed others:
scientists, laborers, doctors, philanthropists,
inventors, farmers, activists.

I feel I am an individual,
but I am not distinct.
I am unique,
but I am not whole--

I am part.
We are all part.
And only together
are we


Saturday, January 05, 2008

God is good

Papa died Sunday, and I understood.
All dead white boys say, "God is good."
White tongues hang out, "God is good."
-- Sam Beam of Iron and Wine, "Sodom, South Georgia"

Folk music and new snow,
warm heater vents.
Driving past that office building
(which I both despise and strangely love)
to visit an old friend--
a good friend--
a continent away from his home.

I pass schools and stores, gas stations.
Few cars on the road.
Halfway there I park in a cemetery.
Some graves are decorated with tiny lights,
glowing yellow--
determined beacons of the afterlife.

I think of mortality,
higher powers and purposes,
opportunities and how to squeeze this wondrous world
for each one--
how we must earn them.

I cry, not for death, loss or stagnation,
but for the unknown, unimaginable
walkways that lie broken and perfect and endless
between tonight's empty black skies
and these lighted plots.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New/old (There's a Polaroid in everything)

There's something outside, tingling and singing in
the arctic night air.
I am a foreigner in my own town. Something indicates
to me that I am elsewhere, alone, someone else perhaps.
I crunch across frozen mud to the steps of the
video store, then return, toss the rented film on the
passenger seat
like an old pro.

The ground is littered with icy cakes of snow,
like abandoned mattresses laid end to end.
This place is new, though old,
foreign, though familiar.
It could be anywhere.
I wear brown mittens and the polar skies bite
at me.

There's a Polaroid in everything:
the diffuse glow of red traffic lights--
small red giants
reflected off my frosted windshield and through my glasses
until a dull glow batters my eyes;
the exhaust spouting from the car beside me,
idling at that same dying traffic light;
the plumes of laundry heat and furnace steam,
erupting upwards from ancient ramshackle buildings,
spiraling staircases of smoke;
the two boys in jumpsuits,
beating palms together to keep their fingers alive,
standing outside the state liquor store,
exhaling clouds of vapor--

Everything is translucent;
this strange world a fog,
a winter landscape seeded with sparse
signs of life.

Lights dim and heavy eyelids close all around me,
and I traverse rocky black asphalt that
smiles up at just me,
only me--
it is worth seeing, observing, watching and

waiting for.