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.

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.