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, September 09, 2010

Indetermination by railroad

I walk the railroad ties,
thick metal tracks bloodstained with rust
and rammed flush with spikes decades ago.
The stubby thistles slide their spines
into my bare toes regardless.

The rain starts,
drops the size of fists.
The specked asphalt expands until glossed
dark and drowning.
I need to pick up an old car from
some scruffy mechanics.

But I'd rather walk the tracks--
a Stand By Me moment--even
though the rest of it is city,
even though the rest is crowned by
rainspattered black-windowed buildings
and slick cars making fountains
behind them in the shiny streets
until the August heat sucks back up
its two inches of rain into those
selfsame clouds.

I want to follow these plotted railroads.
A cargo bum with slivers in his toes
from the shredded pine ties
that began coming apart slowly long ago,
polished locomotive steel propelled greedily across.

But it just leads back to the city.

I cross the five-lane road
and rush inside out of the rain
to pick up the key to my beaten car.

the tracks at pleasant grove

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The city's own silence

I stole out from the club and it was snowing
a wet snow like rain,
sifting down it spat my cheeks and didn't stick,
went right through to the skin,
made wetter my shirt and
dampened the smell of smoke.

Walking I watched the halfbright
streetlamps lighting
the weak February blizzard--
the cineplex neon
hummed and the power station hummed
and a bum with his back leaned soaked
against old walls asked for change.

The white 1910 brickwork of Redman Records,
shiny and wet under stone-carved Indian busts
like it was painted yesterday,
streaks of nonsense graffiti blackened
by its rusted entrance gate.

A raingutter poured and splashed a river
ephemeral, a small misplaced waterfall
next to a taxi waiting muted,
blinker flashing soundless streaks.

Some barren dripping winter trees, small
and landscaped accordingly.
The empty lot only mud now (and above it
the storage building I explored once when it was empty:
all puddles and exposed steel beams,
black stairwells leading to beds of the homeless).

Over wet staggered blocks of sidewalk
I sloshed and felt it rough on my toes,
I thought of lying across a wet parkbench
here in this sleepy dark, looking up to the
rushing endless flakes and
counting myself among them,
just one thing in a volley of uncountable things,
drifting over Salt Lake City and
its mudded walkways, shouldered buildings,
shoestring tenements,
haphazard midnight dreams--

I walked alone on the vacant streets
and supposed the ringing in my ears
was the city's own silence.

--- ---

In February of this year I saw Cursive and Alkaline Trio at In the Venue in Salt Lake. I came out to this snow, and I fumbled around in it and wanted to remain in it a while, and instead got into my car as it warmed and jotted some things in my journal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Long ago drive

Once I drove seven hundred miles
across the pocked face of Nevada
having slept one hour in two nights.
My mind wandered and I sang and swerved,
drifting off--
the mirrored brine pools along I-15
reflected splintery fenceposts and
halfcircle culverts,
this lone pickup truck sailing like a swan
over a translucent asphalt lake.
All of it a vision, swirling and hazed,
the open road and the shoulder and the median
and some direction, some driving westward;
I don't remember much of it.
I'm lucky I survived.
That salted and mountained landscape,
reeling me in over its sagebrush and juniper
in a dream,
with some semblance of destination.

--- ---

Just some thoughts and reflections on the craziest long drive I've ever done, Provo to Placerville when I had only slept one hour in the last two nights. I was asleep before I passed the Kennecott smokestack.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Even winter

Waning sunlight clings to the mountaintops
like a snow of red cinders from a dying campfire.
It sets behind West Mountain and Utah Lake,
a glimmering pool of reflected magma spreads
in tendrils weaker and weaker
then snuffs out
in a crepuscular hurry.

Grey the sky fades, dead and ashen
in the brief moments of nautical dusk.
Horizon flat and blackblotted from view,
our spherical world
wrapping us,
blinding us.

The stars like myopic wildlife
stare inward at us.
They stare through us.

That daylit din settles and calms, and
excepting the roars of the omnipresent diesels
and nighttrains, our valleyed little city
shutters its windows, succumbs to sleep.

The dull empty glow of the
tabernacle makes blacklimbed tree figures
and the pale moon rises quiet
over dark foresttops.

eerie provo tabernacle II
tabernacle at dark

moonrise over the wasatch
a mountain moonrise

--- ---

This morning brought a lovely little springtime reminder that winter wasn't so long ago. The heavy snow and flooded gutters and lawns made me want to post this poem that I wrote over different days and while seeing different scenes during winter months.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Life moves in a current

First night in a different house.
The first out of another:
an old nourishing home that was always too cramped,
that we found a hindrance and complained about.
Still we decorated it gently,
draped lights and colorful tapestries about,
placed ornaments of our conquests and interests.
We loved in it and danced around
our humble space as if it were really our own.
We memorized its many creaks and mistakes
because they too were ours.
A natural extension of each of us, this home.

My wife gave birth in that small living room,
her beautiful butterfly legs familiar yet foreign.
Like a goddess perfect and strong and courageous
she sweated into the lukewarm
water and life embodied rose unscathed--
strange, remarkable life
to breathe our world's uncertain air.

Early spring and we watched in earnest for
blossoms on the hollowing apricot tree,
and Jarom ruined his arm climbing the ladder to pick them.
Sucking endlessly at their pale orange nectar and
crowding them in cardboard boxes and grocery bags.
The house faced south and had character but was still
ugly, dirtied once-white siding edged with metal and broken,
exposing brownblack underside
like a dark secret that everyone knows anyway.
But a rainbow of tulips nudged
through the soil and the grass greened
and was ringed by rosebushes and lilac,
so much beauty,
so much color and life in a new land:
a sacred place to us.

It was easy to leave, to gather
armfuls and boxed labeled belongings and slowly
fill different rooms.
Piles dwindled and we dusted
and vacuumed until floors gleamed and brightened and
cobwebs were finally removed then we turned out
all the lights and checked each room
and locked the doors and drove elsewhere.
A routine operation, clockwork.

But when we happen by once and once again
the haunting spirit of that place
fills us and memories burn again so molten,
reinforcing pathways, etching moments on us
like tattoos or windborne sand stinging your eyes.
These are magic things reborn
(as by the same crouched mother in a blowup pool in that room
when the seasons changed some time ago),
and like everything these too will fade, accidentally--
but our hearts and hands and the deepdown places in our minds
know better.

I'm sorry we left you, but
life moves as in a current
and things change that way too.
Yes you, our trembling house of strife and joy, you
will someday crumble or lie bulldozed but each
of our living memories there
will be recorded and remembered somewhere,
or by someone, because
nothing really ever leaves.
Although it often seems that way.

Now, here, I look around at these cold wooden floors,
the secret downward stairwell and pale
impersonal walls, the long backyard with
winter's shriveled grass stretched all across like dead skin,
the different smells everywhere,
the echoing hardness of this new unbroken place
and I smile
and look to the naked ceiling,
wondering will anything else change.

--- ---

I'm sentimental, it's true. We just moved out of our house of the last four years. It was a little rental house that needed lots of love--and we gave it. Now four years might not seem long to some, but it is. It's a substantial amount of time. One-seventh of my life. We only had two kids when we moved in; now we have three. I turned 30 there. Big things occurred, lots of life involved. We miss that house, but it will always be special. And we love our new home already.

our house

roses in bloom

ice cream truck treats

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Still half asleep, opened eyes barely;
woke at two, three, four and so on.
Packed snowdrifts stream by in subfreezing weather.
Fogged eyes and rear windows.
The motor hums and warms and
spit little bolts of fire inside like
fresh sunburts propelling a new day,
a new tired string of hours,
some chorus of immaterial voices fixed
like ornaments in a Christmas tree--
seasonal and fleeting we hope.
So static and typical--these displaced
priceless things that glitter and gleam
where we've set them, waiting to
be appraised by a future which may never arrive.
We wait for a decisive indicator
that our choices have been good and correct,
that we're working and will work
hard like those tireless spark plugs
until the day our job is done, engine retired
or dead
or maybe a moment sooner.

--- ---

A random poem I wrote in January regarding work and working, routine and monotony. The way things like this in life ebb and flow.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Snow on your day

On your day it's snowing,
wet and pale like your first moment,
all wide-mouthed and noise and glistening
new life.
So small, your tottering form
has never been enough to contain
all that spirit and raucous laughing
innocent joy.
It's more than a little paradoxical.
Except smallness you will outgrow,
and still you'll enliven me,
quicken my purpose and intentions,
and it's surely a wonder
how you smile
your three-year even-toothed grin that
hasn't stopped
since you first looked up
those opal eyes into mine.

--- ---

Happy Birthday Orion. You inspire me.

at the living planet aquarium

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


My little girl, while dreaming last night
I saw your Baby Kitty
sitting collapsed and formless,
mostly black now from exhaust and dust and bits of asphalt,
black plastic eyes still shiny and intent
as if she has been waiting--
That day, inch by inch we searched the meridian in vain
and finally pulled back out into heavy traffic,
you in disbelief that after all these years
and second chances she was gone,
your eyes were full, mouth set and angry,
and the white dashed lines on the interstate flicked by
as you thought about putting
your hand out the window and letting go,
and saying goodbye.

--- ---

I wrote this last October, after dreaming about Bella's stuffed Baby Kitty, the one she had for five years, lost and found numerous times, across state lines and in movie theaters, always resurfacing. She loved her so much, and one day we drove north on the I-15 and Bella held her out the window and let go. It was accidental. We went back and searched and never found her.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The west valley

Watched an airliner cut through fog
over the west valley.
Children play nextdoor
near the parking lot,
shrieking in their
loose-fitting uniforms, ties untightened and
rolledup unbuttoned sleeves.
They jump about their small asphalt schoolyard,
cold chainlink fences enclosing
squat brick buildings.

The bald youth at the front desk
buzzes me in, and I wait and then make
my way to geometrically set chairs
and halfwalls in a back corner.
I sit and stare, speaking acronyms
and cryptic jargon, proving my worth first
with words alone.

Midday, past the parking lot children roam
the broken sidewalks,
clutching their stacked books and hunched over,
edging to and from this industrial-block private school
through mixed-zoning--
the Latino market complex and 7-11,
rows of dilapidated apartments, their
rotted front lawns littered with faded plastic toys.
We park near an old factory and eat Thai.

The mixed blazes of
neon brakes and blinding headlights mingle
like stars twinkling through the atmosphere,
like twin lanes of peppermint red-on-white
or a barbershop pole churning
in endless monotony,
screaming racetrack traffic across the freeway--
is it such an enabling way of freedom,
wandering us home
under a foggedover full moon at night?
We clutch our notepads and thin computers,
ready to close another hazy day of
the same frantic, purposed nonsense.

--- ---

I recently started working up in West Valley City, a long drive, a true commute, next to the airport and its continuous takeoffs and landings, in areas and neighborhoods once completely foreign. There are many ordinary and strange things that transpire--it's just life; they're just kids and people going about their daily routines.