Category Archives: archives

or driving

Originally published in Bombay Gin #28
Naropa Press 2002

I used to love to read this out loud; it was one of few times when I felt poignant and certain, even rhythmic, in front of a page. There was a 16-hour drive from Boulder to Chicago which consisted of a single flat line punctured by small white dashes. I began to consider my thoughts in terms of those lines, and the road, and the way I would follow them forward, coming or going, between cities, lost in other moments, then back to the lines, then the road, then other moments. Our destinations are composed of such lines, inside many other such road-like lines, inside many other such road-like moments, between two cities. Now I read this piece–always out loud and sometimes while driving–and discover a simpler me.

or driving.

and how to reach there from here or should i say here from there because the other again always circumventing itself, the question. multi-planed like dry layered clouds the kind that hide or take the form of when the light is right and besides that. this yes is line, linear but one line of many like driving.

not looking at him, he at me and massaging his own hands looking at his nails no book no paper no pen does he think they wait on you here in the background sound. washing serving dropping sorting and distinction between this and customers sip pause sip pause delicate placement of coffee by means of clear handled mugs on the table on the hand that says People Helping People with the Helping now covered of course and somehow.

all this uninteresting and yet still required because every moment cannot be so profound although. set up life we do like a stage so it can happen like it plays out in our mind like we wrote in memory then a combination of the inside and. all this because i was at the end of the hour of the sentence and you at the beginning the front and back of never merging.

getting up now to pee leaving bag on the table in chicago i would classify these people as seedy watch my back but here for some reason here i leave my stuff money papers soul bike pump tool kit pen all the necessities amenities to keep me independent because.

running you decided you wanted to be a runner again because you love it not because of skinny legs red skin sweat time him but falling asleep tired in an orange shirt under the cottonwood knowing what your legs feel like and suddenly you started dreaming. are so sure the duality is will ever be but still needs such constant reaffirmation again. again. the cigarettes move in an image of not him what was that line from an old journal on the other side of the hour the edge of the stage and all those lines.

and all the times i was lost. look back and wonder how i ever accomplished anything at all writing showing up for work learning to dance falling in love or rather causing him to fall in love with me too first or last in the same hour what is really incomprehensible but looking back i.

even though the question was never really answered or asked thought of another is all at least you’re reassured some part of you knows and it’s that part that refuses to be silenced so. looking up out the window a cold dusk or step after winter gray but inviting and lights strung out on trees across vine covered fences somehow reminds. even though the weather there was so different so humid still and lately longing thinking remembering and so much so very much happens in one year but to pin it all in order or if.

heaviness hangs like a hook or the front door concentrates in bladder cold settling but last year the first sign of fall was bare feet on wood floors in. almost never comprehensive or chronological order linear why is time if thought piled on top itself consecutive only to the order of importance or cohesion or. no instance alone.

white polish french dutch irish runner smoker what am i found lost to me to him to that time in fools canyon coyote gulch muleshoe. edmonton Eunice el centro el gulfo flagstaff athabaska sedona chicago the atlantic tough in maine boston monroe kissed the guy from Ireland in the airport not the kiss but his accent kept me mesmerized his voice on the phone for months after pinacate roselle sioux city college ave hopi res bookstore flower farm anchorage thanksgiving eating thai and a dozen empty glasses of coke his hat backwards and two straws in his teeth pretending he’s josh lake ponchartrain and only four days in one place and it was like home to return to it profound cow in the mist like it had been there for eternity highway and tenley blue bandana always rice and or beans grilled cheese fried eggs fennel soup potatoes biscuits georgia’s were best but now.


given that

Revised 11.17.2007
and again 3.30.08

given that

grace is ever drawn
from this veiled vein reserve
patched by a sky she can never surprise

this human thing
an art of sentiment

there is some chemistry of time
between us trying to figure
into words which way is up
attempting cartwheels or laughing sandy
but (we think)

what shall i call you

revised 11.22.06
and still thinking

we could have seen it at every exhale, had our eyes been so open. in creation. in your rains; in unexpected lessons on the shorelines of puddles; we have yet seen not ourselves, but you reflected.

our reach extends as far as the pleats at the edge of your dress; grasping. you meet us. when you love despite this careless desire to run sand along calloused hands. when you remind, gently yet again, of one stanch option. into your unseen eyes, dewy, like the sea. like tears, bigger than our resistance. they envelop us, your eyes. ourselves no longer present yet reflected. a third of your unseen face, which is also everything, replaces ashen, human fillings.

creation meets logic in a prismatic way that eludes. web of time and space we label soul, wedged between circumstance; sensing something near within our grasp that commands all accident. you reach to meet us in tangible moments. sacrificially, breaking your ocean into manageable puddles that bathe, alone, on the shores of our timeline.

you keep all your promises. tap our deepest corners and draw, as if by your own blood, praises to a universe in whom doubt finds no employment. you cover the fissure like a scar; a healed reminder that you will never reopen wounds arbitrarily. you stay. regardless of how we treat you; you stay. regardless of how poorly we love; your love covers it. breaking our resistance.

you not only nourish, but you do this outside of time; never with poison, but out of love, as we find habit in faulty pastures. without your wisdom we would easily misname our miracles, yet this does not deter. for you understand what it is to be human; you made it your charge. and thus charged us with the test to accept.

you not only offer, but have faculty to fill. the distinctive soul-shaped hole that you let in. you built us hungry so that you would have the pleasure to love; so that we would have the delight of its incident. you satisfy with joy; the sound we use to describe something more than temporal. a moment, or a lifetime, in which we are suddenly

you are everything equal to justice; all that goodness claims without need for interpretation. you are what takes time to make sense of, because you are what begs to be found in its completeness; no shred of false construal can compose your intention.

you are always just on the other side. of the door we choose to break; of the cracks in our wall if we peer out to find reason; of the eyes with which we suddenly have the strength to behold the world. and you are on our side. molding the parts that are more than human, that seek beyond this world. into your depths the deep in us cries, and needs not cry far; you are here.

and i do not know what to call you.

pencil scratches

Latest read: Annie Dillard’s ‘The Writing Life’ (again). Someday I will have other heroes. The last time I read this book, I’d decided that the act of writing was terrifying.

Then i learned that Annie Dillard had a husband, that she actually grew up in the city and that Tinker Creek is no larger than Salt Creek that runs into Twin Lakes. She hates writing with a passion at times; that she’s a Christian, and skinny and getting old.

So here’s yet another me, getting something wholly new from the same old thing again.

Lists have emerged in the back of this book with my name on them. Let’s see what has become of pencil scratches.

Ps: computers think they know you. For example—this one takes liberties with capitalization in a way that I infrequently find cause for.

end of ps…(intentionally weird, exaggerated pause, almost a sarcasm)

Two lists:  new stains to write with
   new scratches to itch

(these titles are the type that look much smarter in pencil with curves on the back of someone else’s book)

New stains to write with. (a period indicates an abrupt end to an unsparingly sure statement)

1. You are ordinary (inside) –still hearing that sermon.

2. Outside, see, things are extraordinary. creation and all that comes between. The only extraordinary thing about you is that it so moves you that you have a ridiculous need to spend significantly wasted tracks of time making feeble attempts to describe it, and that maybe this then moves some other extraordinarily ordinary human to appreciate it as well.

3. This is different only because: although the expression still comes from within (you can never not be the one observing) – but now you are not writing about the visions in your head and trying to use everything in the world outside to describe this. Instead, you are describing the world-albeit still through warped vision.

4. Why you need shoes more than manuscripts. (something to do with tactility)


A woman of twenty-four holds a picture in her hands at least twice a week.  She removes it from its place among the rows of books over which, unlike this frame, dust gathers rather quickly. In the photo, a young woman holds a small plastic wand while a child blows bubbles that fill the top left corner of the square. The woman’s hair is dark, and cascades over her eyes in curls softened by a 1970’s matte finish. It’s autumn, and this further accents orange. The town is a 20-year’s drive away, or so it seems; the house in the background unrecognizable outside of pictures and recurring dreams. 

There is a one that always follows, one of few childhood judgments that may have distorted among the stretched lines of memory, into something closer to metaphor; the curious truth of invention. She is the same child of the picture, now roadside in another Midwest town. The playpen is as square as the driveway. Her small, round head stretched upward towards a woman on the other side of a picture-box window. No words nor expression is painted inside the frame of the woman’s face. We see her hair and those same soft, dark curls that fall across her eyes as she folds laundry in the air-conditioned living room. Watching to make sure that the child will not float.

The heat is everywhere; secretes a cautious orange like the picture tucked into the book shelves. It is in the asphalt driveway, in the air, inside the child, in everything on this side of glass. The heat stays with her; she breaks through it with angry feet, even at the age of fifteen and in the same house that is more than just a dream.  As, it seems, are all those that follow.

This memory changes frequently, with each stroke of photograph. She realizes again how things are misinterpreted and then stick there; ‘reverse’ is an imaginary term that exists inside the soul of inanimate objects. She climbs inside when it is meant for her to fly. She thinks the glass bubble is solid enough to be broken. Because neutral is just that: dispassionate, designed and unbreakable. The ubiquitous streets of these moments are all equal, until she is high up and scorching and long enough distant to unraveled to find ground where glass was latent. For a long time she does this only in dreams, while the rest of her sleeps.

Now the woman in the photo’s hair is cut short, like the magazines, but lacking the softened luster of eras gone.  She folds laundry on the couch in the afternoons, in front of the television, and is difficult to love.  On a nameless street, in a generic Midwest town, she goes about her tasks and they become thankless and unfulfilling. She lives in other women’s dreams and tells their stories as if they are her own. She goes about this in individual transcripts, one after another, amongst box houses, driveways, air-conditioners, prisons. A steadily regulated sixty-eight degree existence. And still, you love her; you are her daughter, and in a way you are her.

And you, a twenty-four year old woman, with hair that does gloss, but nothing like the magazines, are elsewhere.  You are on a street that curves, that is sometimes hot and at times bitter cold and you are swinging on sun-kissed icicles, learning to fly. Learning to stand on bubbles, instead of squeezed into deceptively round glass boxes. Learning, again and again, what she meant so many times to tell you. That it wasn’t one thing, and it wasn’t profound. She simply wanted you to fly.