Friday, April 30, 2010

Starting Over


The ritual drowning of poems
only to turn your back on that muddy river

and find a halo around an apple tree
up to its bough in sin.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Starting Over” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: snippet in the bud.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Remembering the Relatives




Remembering the Relatives
April 29, 2010

[click to enlarge]


4.29.2010 #2
4.29.2010 #1 (poem)


Spring


Death pleading with the lilac

                       you know I cannot change



        one more blossom

                              on the ground



(first publication)


Updates:
“Spring” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Bloom’s visit to the outhouse.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Thing About Strawberries: 31 Dreams


The Thing About Strawberries: 31 Dreams
by William Michaelian
22 pages. Chapbook. $5.00

Cover and four illustrations
by Neal Zirn

(2010)

MuscleHead Press
BoneWorld Publishing
3700 County Route 24
Russell, New York 13684



Also available from MuscleHead Press by William Michaelian
Among the Living and Other Stories
35 pages. Chapbook. $4.00
Cover by William Michaelian
“Eight crooked short stories of serious alienation.”

(2000)



Here’s a little keepsake of my dream-life, just out from John Berbrich’s wonderful MuscleHead Press in upstate New York. If you’d like a copy, simply get in touch through my email address at the bottom of the page and we’ll work out the details. Or you can order online directly from John. Also, as noted above, we both have copies available of Among the Living and Other Stories (2000) — and when we run out, by golly, we’ll print more. Together, these modest, inexpensive volumes are a great way to chart my mental decline. But they come with a friendly warning: don’t be surprised if you see a bit of yourself between the lines.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crossroads


Crossroads
April 27, 2010
Pencil on Index Card


[click to enlarge]



4.27.2010 #2
4.27.2010 #1 (poems and excerpts)


Crossing the Desert


Today, let’s try a double feature. We’ll begin with a little poem inspired by this post by Janice and the comments that follow, and then we’ll finish with a longer entry from Songs and Letters about my bus-riding childhood.


        Between coyotes and lightning strikes

                this old road wonders where it’s been

                        and who put the windmill

            in the back of its hand
.



Crossing the Desert

As a kid growing up in the country, I spent so much time riding in school buses that I knew every road, house, yard, barn, vineyard, orchard, tractor, pasture, animal, tree, and landmark in our area by heart. As the seasons slowly advanced, I was privileged to watch the San Joaquin Valley countryside as it was transformed by frost and fog, wind and rain, towering black thunderstorms, and searing heat. Along the way, we were chased by dogs, waved at by good-natured farmers, stared at by crews of laborers, and met at our stops by loyal hounds and little brothers and sisters eager for news and play. When we dropped off Edwin, a Japanese friend of mine, I would see his ancient, mottled grandfather chopping the sandy earth with a hoe. When I commented once on how his grandfather always seemed busy, Edwin confided that the old man used the hoe only when someone was driving by, so people would think he was working. The rest of the time, it was there simply to hold him up.

Though I did my share of shouting, laughing, and singing during those long daily rides, I never took my eyes off the landscape. There were certain things I expected to see, certain things I wanted and needed to see — old tank houses made of petrified wood, patches of dense shade formed by enormous, enchanted trees, rusted plows, cultivators, and manure spreaders no longer in use, a little cemetery here, a leaning pump house there, moss-lined irrigation ditches, and buzzards circling slowly overhead.

The first bus I rode in, way back in kindergarten, was a fairly short model with a big snout and a simple black 2 painted by the door. It had an upright metal handle the driver used to open and close the door, which was a squeaky two-piece affair edged with rubber and divided in the middle. From several feet away, the headlights looked like eyes. The driver’s name was Mr. Enns, but we called him “Bus Driver.” Mr. Enns wore glasses and had thin gray hair that he combed straight back. I still remember how discouraged he looked one hot day around noon when one of the kids yelled, “Bus Driver, Timothy threw up,” and then after a brief pause added helpfully, “I think it was the milk.” Even though we weren’t far from Timothy’s house, the poor man had no choice but to pull off the road and clean up the smelly mess while Timothy, whose brain processed very little information at a time, looked on with the expression of a sick, bewildered calf.

The driver of the #6 bus was Bessie Torres, a woman with painted eyebrows arched in a permanent expression of resignation and distrust. We didn’t talk to her, and she didn’t talk to us, unless it was necessary for some official reason, as when we had brought a note from home giving permission for us to be dropped off at a friend’s house.

The driver of #4, the district’s only “modern” bus at the time, a long, roaring Crown with a push button door that formed an impressive vacuum when it closed, was Wayne Compton, a tall young man with the biggest feet I had ever seen, and that my mother and father said were about Size 15. How they knew Wayne Compton was a mystery to me, but I was already getting used to the idea that they knew just about everyone in town, or at least who they were.

Proud #8 was driven by Mrs. Wright, a gruff-sounding woman with a big heart who always said, “See ya, bub,” to a boy we dropped off at an old white house on the north side of Avenue 400 a little bit east of Road 80. For quite some time, I genuinely wondered if his name was Bub. It was Mrs. Wright who had us all singing Christmas carols one bleak December afternoon on the last day before Christmas vacation. It was also Mrs. Wright who drove us through a violent hailstorm on a March afternoon as the yellow shell of her bus resounded with the downpour of three-quarter-inch stones.

There were a few other drivers who came and went over the years, but of all of them, I think Mrs. Wright was my favorite. If I gave her a note asking that I be let off at a friend’s house, she would say something disturbing like, “Well, I don’t know. We’ll see what mood I’m in when I get there.” She said it with a straight face and in such a tone that I was kept wondering until the very last second. “Okay,” I remember her telling me at my friend’s stop on one such occasion. “But this is the last time.”

Almost every day, I used to count the rugged palm trees someone had planted in a row on the west side of Road 80, just south of Avenue 400. There were fifty-one. To the east, beyond a vast expanse of vineyards and orchards, loomed the glorious Sierra Nevada, its high peaks covered with snow the year around. To the west, a geometric quilt of fruits, vegetables, and cloddy aromatic fields, and on clear days, the gentle folds of the Coast Range melting like an orange cloud in the sun. In every direction, home, the flowering desert where my mother and father and brothers and I and my wife and children drew our first breaths, and where my father and grandparents have since drawn their last, and will lie forever waiting, listening for the footsteps of their loved ones on the ground above.

“Bus Driver, stop! That’s my house!”


Update:
In the Forum: The Junk Poem Shop, Paddy Dignam’s Hearse, and hot buttered logic.

Monday, April 26, 2010

And if you play the piano, feel free


A couple of new sketches to celebrate the arrival of some more wonderful people:


“Canvas #21”
[click to enlarge]




“Canvas #22”
[click to enlarge]


My thanks to all who have signed on as followers in recent weeks, as well as those who have been around for awhile. Vocal or silent, your presence is felt and appreciated. And as always, I encourage you to investigate each other’s profiles and pages in the “Circulation” area. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you find.


4.26.2010 #2
4.26.2010 #1 (recently received)


A Mutual Friend


This entry is dedicated to my dear friend Aleksandra, whose very life, I think, is defined by giving. She expresses herself in so many ways — through her art, and the way she embraces art in its many forms; through the music and other insights she shares in her blogs; through her comments here and elsewhere around the Web; and through her intelligence and humor.

And now I’d like you to meet someone else — a mutual friend of ours. Seventeen years ago and worlds away, Aleksandra sat down and made this drawing:



I can only imagine what was going through her mind at the time and who this person might be. But from the moment he arrived in the mail, together with two lovely cards and a book as a gift, and even before I had dried my eyes, I began to think of him as someone I met in a nineteenth century Russian novel.

The very thought that Aleksandra would entrust me with this — for this drawing is part of her and a silent representative of her dreams — gives me chills. It’s no wonder, then, that I feel it’s already part of the family.

The particulars, then:


A Mutual Friend
by Aleksandra Komlenovic
1993

Mailed from Holland
April 2, 2010

Arrived in Salem
April 23, 2010

[click to enlarge]



With thanks from a mutual friend.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To Relish Those Days


To relish those days when death is afraid
To be your companion,

And to relish them too,
When death, in its wisdom, is near.

To relish them when all are before you,
And to laugh at the worst of your fears.

To make for yourself a good grave,
Aye, you must dig with a good blade,

And that good blade is the time you are here.

(first publication)


Updates:
“To Relish Those Days” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: scrolling the Rappahannock.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Three After a Dream


“Canvas #18”
[click to enlarge]



“Canvas #19”
[click to enlarge]



“Canvas #20”
[click to enlarge]




4.24.2010 #2
4.24.2010 #1 (poem)


Lyric


He waited so long for the train,
they finally built the tracks.

He climbed up then,
onto the wooden platform,
and flagged her down.

She came to a halt;
he hurried on;

and now, how he misses
that dirty old town.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Lyric” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: trolling the Rappahannock.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lost in Thought


Lost in Thought
April 23, 2010
Pencil on Index Card


[click to enlarge]


4.23.2010 #2
4.23.2010 #1 (recently received chapbook)


Mark Jackley: Lank, Beak & Bumpy



Lank, Beak & Bumpy
by Mark Jackley

iota press
925-c Gravenstein Hwy.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(2010)

ISBN: 0-9773843-2-2

Hand-set in Ehrardt 12 pt. type,
& printed on Mohawk Superfine
paper with a 1913 C. & P. supercool
foot-powered platen press.


[click to enlarge]


If I’ve counted correctly, this beautiful little chapbook contains seventeen short poems — and if I haven’t counted correctly, all the better, because poems this good don’t need to be counted, they need to be savored and enjoyed. Here are the first and next-to-last:


          December Rain

          A tree frog sleeps
          until the spring and his waking dream
          of starlight,

          hunger, lust, fear

          Dark tongue of wet tires

          His song will be as mighty
          as the roar of a motorcycle

          His hands, splayed like Little

          Richard,
          Monk,
          Beethoven




          February

          Crows
          on every bare branch.

          Black Christmas trees
          for when

          God bestows the gift
          of nothing.


These and their subtle companions I can return to again and again — and will, thanks to Mark’s kind gift.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Looking for Stillness


I stand against the wall, eyes half closed,
looking for the still point of destruction
.

                              — Paul L. Martin


This beautiful letter from a friend,
who did not know he was writing a letter
to a friend, has me thinking once again
about pebbles, ponds, and silence,
and how each is infinite,
in that it depends
on the other.


4.22.2010 #2
4.22.2010 #1 (drawing, marginalia)


In Another Life


In another life, he could be one of those beautiful moths with markings on its wings that look like faces. In this life, he’s content to be a constellation. Or so it seems between stars, where silence scours the universe and nothing is its own reward, where night is a ribbon in his loved one’s hair.



In Another Life
April 21, 2010

[click to enlarge]



Update:
In the Forum: the astonishing hat auction.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lilac Morning


Lilac morning and soft rain,
old ghosts join me at the door again.

Come or go, it’s all the same,
so stay it is, stay it is.

Satin streets and clean white sheets,
stained by the blood of hours.

The blood of ours, dark and deep,
seeks solace in the flowers.

And the lilac’s own heart beats,
as always, as never before.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Lilac Morning” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Washington crosses the Delaware in a weird poetry hat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life Goes


Life goes, and there are blissful times when you can feel it going, as it escapes with your thoughts through the ends of your fingers. And some things you leave behind have thoughts of their own, thoughts that go on thinking, thinking you are here.




“Canvas #13”
[click to enlarge]






“Canvas #14”
[click to enlarge]






“Canvas #15”
[click to enlarge]






“Canvas #16”
[click to enlarge]





“Canvas #17”
[click to enlarge]


Monday, April 19, 2010

Hungry Eyes


Yesterday morning, after a long absence, my wife and I attended Sunday morning services at Wal-Mart. As always, the lighting was superb. And the parishioners, in from the streets and the quandary of their daily lives, were hushed, reverent. The merchandise, too, had a special glow, as if each item were an icon lit from within.

After looking at the bookshelves, we bought mayonnaise, and then two six-packs of begonias to plant by our front walk. On the way home, we listened to Merle Haggard sing his beautiful, heartbreaking song, “Hungry Eyes.” We both sang along, quietly, communicating in that way wives and husbands do when they’ve had the good fortune of long happiness — a happiness which, in our case, began over thirty-five years and four children ago before we were nineteen.

When you know how to do something, and you love doing it, and you know how to do it well, the best thing you can possibly do is keep doing it — in work, and in love. The money will come, or it won’t, or both. The shovel we use for ours is committed to rust, like the old farm equipment my father used and left behind. Its condition proves one thing: how easy it is to be rich and poor at the same time.



Amen.


Update:
In the Forum: a ball of grocery string.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Harmony


These drawings were made with a program called Harmony. I found out about it on Geof Huth’s blog. I don’t know much about it, really. I briefly tried other effects, but I like the sketch mode best. I’ve made ten drawings so far. These are the second, fourth, seventh, ninth, and tenth.




“Canvas #2”

[click to enlarge]





“Canvas #4”

[click to enlarge]





“Canvas #7”

[click to enlarge]





“Canvas #9”

[click to enlarge]





“Canvas #10”
[click to enlarge]


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Consumed


Sometimes, when I’m physically and mentally exhausted — not to draw a fine line between the two — I think of pulling the plug on my worldwide web endeavors. Then I remember that I have never walked away from a friend. Which is what you need to understand: my disease is such that I can’t pretend you in the abstract, I can’t wish away your flesh and bone and blood. In my mind we have already met, and the only way to destroy that fact is death. In my time, I’ve seen old vineyards and orchards pulled out, pushed into piles, and burned. I’ve stood by their fires day and night, and inhaled their blue-gray smoke. I couldn’t get enough, for the lungs are connected to the heart, and the heart is connected to the mind. I still carry that smoke inside. I am the flesh of everyone I’ve known, and of those who will never know me. This joy and pain I feel is our own. And yes, this sweet abiding melancholy I would never wish away, or this laugh at all I think and say. We will disappear, but that is a good thing. And we will meet again, as it has always been — I a tree, you the wind, a stone, a twig, a bright eye, a furry tail. The love we seek, the breath we hear, the hand we feel.


Update:
In the Forum: in a brand new T-shirt, waiting to be discovered.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Carrots and Willow Trees


As a little experiment yesterday morning, I tried singing while I drew. I sang three songs and made three drawings. Then the telephone rang. I didn’t answer it, of course. I rarely do. As handy as they are, I don’t like telephones. I far prefer carrots. Then I did a fourth drawing: it was of a carrot, but not the usual kind — this carrot had its eyes closed, and was deep in thought. Because I’d been interrupted by the telephone, I forgot to sing while I drew it. To make up for it, I sang to it after it was done. The carrot’s eyes stayed closed, but I knew it was listening. And then, to celebrate, I wrote a little carrot poem:


Carrots

O, to be a carrot in a garden,
surrounded by other carrots that are silent
because it’s been so long — so long

they’ve finally forgotten
what it means to be human.

Or maybe they do remember.

Yes, on the other hand,
maybe they do.



After which, I ruined my carrot drawing by adding a hairy core down the middle, effectively splitting its face and slicing its melancholy nose. Upside down, though, the carrot looks like a counter top cup holder.

The first song I sang was “Vincent.” Paint your palette blue and gray, look out on a summer day, and so on. I ended up with a drawing of the trunks of two trees that had grown together:





After that, I switched to a sad song in Armenian, about a river and a willow tree:





And then I sang a song my mother used to like, and which I still do: “Once Upon a Time.” Do you know it? Once upon a time, we sat beneath the willow tree, counting all the stars, waiting for the dawn. But that was once upon a time, and now the tree is gone.





All pretty silly, I guess. But, do you know what? If I were a carrot, it wouldn’t be.


Update:
In the Forum: bathing in streams and public fountains.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tree Spirit


Tree Spirit
April 14, 2010
#2 Pencil on Index Card


[click to enlarge]


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

After the Fact


After the Fact
April 14, 2010
#2 Pencil on 4 x 6 Index Card


[click to enlarge]


Recently Linked: A special thanks to my dear friend Aleksandra for her kind presentation of my video and one of my recent drawings. A friendly welcome, too, to new followers of this blog, Paul, Jan, Pris, and Matt. Thank you!

4.14.2010 #2
4.14.2010 #1 (Recently Received)


How to Make Buttons Out of Bootlaces



[click to enlarge]


Ever since I discovered Ken Flett through his blog, Shaping Stones, I’ve felt we have a great deal in common — not in the sundry details of our distant lives, but deeper down, in their underlying fabric. That, of course, is due to his artistry and humanity. As the title of this post suggests, Ken is someone who needs to make things. And he is very good at making things out of whatever is at hand — so good, in fact, that I wrote a bit about him in the first installment of the new “Web Lights” series I’m doing for John Berbrich’s literary quarterly, Barbaric Yawp. I won’t reproduce the column here. If, after spending time at Ken’s site you’d like to read it, copies of the Yawp are easily and cheaply obtained from John. Just ask him for the January 2010 issue, which is also chock-full of poems, stories, and small press reviews.

Naturally, I didn’t want to tell Ken ahead of time that I was writing about him. Instead, I sent him a copy of the magazine as a surprise. What you see in this photo is what he so graciously sent me in return. The book was given to him long ago by a dear friend. Now it’s mine, but in a way that makes me feel that it’s really ours — Ken’s, mine, his friend’s, and yours. It’s hard to explain. It doesn’t need to be explained. It just is.

At the top of the page that says Scouting for Boys are the last two steps showing how to make buttons out of bootlaces. The pictures are Ken’s, and the stamp can be interpreted in many ways, or, better yet, relished as it is without interpretation — a lesson in life and poetry.

There is also this outlined phrase: No matter how difficult it may seem, he should tackle it, with a smile; the more difficult it is the more interesting it will be to carry out.

And that, along with my thanks, is a good place to end this post.


Update:
In the Forum: hydraulics and loneliness.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Beers


I was with my friend who died three months ago in January. We were walking on a street beside the river, through a section of old abandoned warehouses. We came to a concrete ramp framed by a metal rail and followed it up to the back door of one of the buildings. He opened the door and we went inside. There was another door just a few feet in, guarded by a tough-looking young man who knew at a glance that we were both old enough to enter. He opened that door for us, and we walked down a long, narrow, carpeted hallway. At the end of the hall, we turned right and entered a dimly lit bar. We found an unoccupied table and sat down. A man I assumed was the proprietor, and who bore a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln, was sitting behind a small desk in the corner. He got up, came to our table, and asked us what we wanted. My friend said, “Two premium lagers.” The man bowed, went back to his desk, opened one of the drawers, and then returned with two clear, flexible, partially deflated rubber balls with short red straws in them. We could see the liquid sloshing around inside. My friend’s straw was sticking up; mine was folded down and stuck to the surface of the container. He took a sip from his, frowned, then offered it to me. Knowing he was dead, I was reluctant to drink from the same straw. He immediately understood and helped me free my straw instead. I took a drink. The beer was weak and warm. “This really isn’t what I had in mind,” my friend said. “Me, either,” I replied. We put down our beers and left. But the way out was not the way in. And so it always is, I thought. So it always is.


Update:
In the Forum: the tooth fairy and one last gasp.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Plein Air


With dawn, a question: am I still dreaming this newly painted sky?

(first publication)


Updates:
“Plein Air” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: a hand inside my face, searching for my left eyeball.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Self-Portrait with Newly Broken Crown


Self-Portrait with Newly Broken Crown
April 11, 2010

[click to enlarge]


4.11.2010 #2
4.11.2010 #1 (dream and recent links)


Quiet Time


There was now a toilet at one end of our narrow bedroom closet. I was sitting on it fully clothed, with the lid down, thinking, when the door slid open and my wife came in to hang some clothes. When she turned on the light and realized I was there, she apologized for intruding on my privacy. She quickly finished her chore, then turned off the light and closed the door. A moment later, the door slid open again. This time it was our son, looking for his guitar. I could see he was trying to hide a smile. “I know you think this is ridiculous,” I said. “And you’re right — it is. Be that as it may, I have a lot of thinking to do.” Still smiling, he left without answering and closed the door. His guitar was in the opposite corner. I had to get up and turn off the light myself.


Recently Linked: My thanks to Pris Campbell for kindly recommending me to readers of her blog, Songs to a Midnight Sky. Thanks, also, to Shelli Proffitt Howells for linking here from her blog, Naissance. So nice of them both!

Update:
In the Forum: What do you mean by that?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ancient Andy Lace


Ancient Andy Lace
April 9, 2010

[click to enlarge]


Note: A rock star of a certain vintage. I wrote about him in a story once, back in 2002. Just drew him yesterday.



4.10.2010 #2
4.10.2010 #1 (marginalia)

Domestic Detail


Not quite awake, my vision blurs just enough to transform a box of tissue adorned with lilac spikes and leaves into Dostoevsky’s beard and eyes. Reaching out, I imagine I imagine I hear his voice, and then his footsteps on the gravel by the road. He stops; looks up. Someone, somewhere, blows my nose.


Update:
In the Forum: long ago and nearaway.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Gift


for Vassilis Zambaras

That until the end of time
someone you thought knew you
knew you thought so too.




40/2000: a Chronological Order
by Vassilis Zambaras

Meligalas, Greece
(2001)


40 poems completed in the final year
of the past millennium and arranged chronologically:
A past made to order. Meligalas, January 2001.



In Credible Evidence
by Vassilis Zambaras

Longhouse
Publishers & Booksellers
Green River, Vermont
(2010)



Note: In evidence of an incredible friendship, I accept these beautiful gifts from the humble, inimitable master of short verse, Vassilis Zambaras: 40/2000: a Chronological Order, a one-of-a-kind hand-bound volume laced and thoughtfully inscribed; and In Credible Evidence, which in its long simplicity houses visible proof of the whisper and music that first brought us together. My thanks to this great poet, who, by his genius, renders time timeless, and the moment secure.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Too Cool for School


Too Cool for School
April 8, 2010

[click to enlarge]


4.8.2010 #2
4.8.2010 #1 (marginalia, recently linked)


You’re It


It’s interesting when you’re tagged by a new artist-friend on Facebook in a sensuous painting of a woman’s backside. Granted, the experience is diluted a bit when you’re tagged along with seventeen other perfect strangers, who might, after a few hasty mouse-clicks, become your friends as well. It’s also an intriguing way to see, within the space of a few minutes, what others around the world are doing, and if it relates in any way to your own endeavors. To be sure, mediocrity is alive and well, but so is the creative urge that drives some to greatness and others to despair — two raging states of being that so often walk hand in hand. Meanwhile, thanks to technology, it’s more possible than ever to be anonymous and isolated in public. It’s as if we have created, in effect, virtual gutters and asylums for our dreams and wayward souls. And yet, what’s not to love, when you love it all?

Note: I posted this as a note yesterday on my Facebook page.


Recently Linked: Once again, I’d like to direct your attention to the “Circulation” area in the sidebar. It’s always a pleasure to welcome new followers — those brave enough and kind enough to show their faces here, and whose work, thoughts, and ideas merit further investigation. Thank you!

Update:
In the Forum: Our fearful trip is done.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

spring and all


to be a raindrop on a naked limb


                              a man


                a woman



                        and then



(first publication)


Updates:
“spring and all” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: The residents were accustomed to hearing the constant roar, but one morning awoke to silence.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Poetry, n.


Poetry. n. That sublime moment when a loved one dies, and you have not yet heard the news.


4.6.2010 #2
4.6.2010 #1 (drawing)


King’s Wild


King’s Wild
April 2010

[click to enlarge]


I have so many nutty drawings propped up on my desk at the moment that I feel like I’m being watched. About half are the result of a dream that stayed with me yesterday right through to the evening, and which I never did manage to articulate, because, all the while, I felt like doing so might actually make it come true. The rest, like King’s Wild, were done over the last few days.

Note: This drawing was done with two pencils simultaneously. My son says it looks like a crazy king on a deck of cards. I agree.


Update:
In the Forum: Everything about you reminds me of you. Even you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Locomotive Breath


An old raccoon, tired and thin,
stops on the tracks;
no train should mourn alone.

(first publication)


Updates:
“Locomotive Breath” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: Barbie Yawp, with Ken dead in her trunk.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Haiku


after the rain

                after the moon

                                a friend calls

                about the rain

and moon


(first publication)


Updates:
“Easter Haiku” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Prophet’s Life of Frost, Flesh, and Genealogy


See? This is what happens when they let me out. Five more lovely hardcover editions, all in fine condition:

Robert Frost, Selected Poems. Introduction by Gail Harvey. Gramercy Books. New York, 1992. 224 pages. $2.00.

The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler. Illustrated by André Durenceau. Note by R.A. Streatfeild. Doubleday & Company. Garden City, New York, 1944. 429 pages. $2.00.

The Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell. Illustrations by Gordon Ross. Doubleday & Company. Garden City, New York, 1946. 631 pages. $2.00.

The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy. Preface by Ada Galsworthy. Fold-out genealogy: The Forsyte Family Tree. Charles Scribner’s Sons. New York, 1937. 921 pages. $2.00.

The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, with twelve illustrations by the author. Large slipcase edition. Alfred A. Knopf. New York, 1969 (twelfth printing). 84 pages. $2.00.


4.3.2010 #2
4.3.2010 #1 (marginalia and recent links)


Three Times Three


Every year on Good Friday, the businesses in my old hometown used to close their doors from noon until three. It might have been warm that day, or a cold, dark cloud might have descended; a stranger would search in vain for a haircut. Once, on the day before Easter, I was waiting my turn in the barbershop, watching one of the locals getting an old-fashioned shave. He told the barber, and consequently everyone else in the shop, that he wanted to look his best for the Easter sunrise service at the little cemetery on the hill east of town. I didn’t know his name. But every time I saw him after that, I remembered his shave and what he said. I also knew that if my father had shaved the afternoon before Easter, he would have needed to shave again by morning. In junior high, the fuzz on my face was turning brown. It was time: Dad found an old electric razor that literally yanked the hair from my skin — not the shaving experience I had admired and imagined. I stood at the mirror like him, growing tougher by the minute. Before long, I’d earned the right to a grown-up razor, mug, and brush. I still have them, and the mirror. These days, I scrape around the edges, as if I were tending a roadside field. Some days are warm; on others, a cold, dark cloud descends. I am not the way, or the life. Have never been. But the road, I must say, is a cross I love to bear.


Recently Linked: A hearty welcome to two new followers: Wine and Words, who is recovering in a state of Quiet Commotion from her recent run-in with martinis; and Diane Dehler, who blends art, haiku, and urban aesthetics in her life and in her blog, Princess Haiku.

Update:
In the Forum: Barbaric Apps.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Morning Notes


Coffee in my mustache. Coffee in my beard. I haven’t had a cigarette in years. I remember once sharing a pack of unfiltered Camels with a friend late one night in a coffee shop in Fresno, long before the smoking rules had changed. I was relatively clean-cut then. My mustache smelled like smoke for days, long after it had all been washed away. The smoke was in my nostrils. The smoke was in my mind. The smoke was what I yearned for when I stepped outside. A lot of people know, but still don’t realize, if you’re up at the right time, you can see the dew arrive.

(first publication)


Recently Linked: My thanks to Annie McDermott for her kind words in this concise, mournful entry of her blog, Unfiction.

Updates:
“Morning Notes” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: F’ool’s’.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Strays


Every thousand words or so, one will drag itself out of the muck and across the lawn, shake itself off on the front step, and beg to be let in. I haven’t turned one away yet. But I’ve been bitten by some. And that, my friend, explains the blood.


Update:
In the Forum: “She emptied the bottle; he ignored his slumbering dog. Before the door slammed, they were wondering what they should do to celebrate April Fool’s’ Day.”