we built this

what water brings:

Indonesian marines look towards a rescue boat carrying asylum seekers at Merak seaport. Afghans were among the 54 survivors from a wooden boat that disappeared two days ago off the Indonesian coast, but hopes of finding more of the missing were fading. – bbc day in pictures


to file under birds:
in 1995 a flock of 342 snow geese landed
in the oxblood-red waters of the berkelely pit
which was left behind in butte montana by the silver/copper mining of the once-named anaconda copper mining company (later bought by ARCO in 1977 which is now part of BP) 
in response, BP-ARCO and montana have set up an intensive watch/patrol during migrating seasons to haze (scare) birds out of the water via shotgun blasts and wailers that emit loud electronic sounds
and all i can think is:
just like the republicans at the convention have been saying
we built this


an image
brought to you by GE
(responsible for 175 superfund sites across the u.s.)
hudson river
most complex environmental cleanup in history
contaminated mud wrapped in plastic
and shipped by rail to a dump in west texas
the first phase will remove 22 tons of pollutant form the river
the second phase will remove 102
(note: one ton = 2,000 pounds
which is roughly me x 18)


dead zone = places in bodies of water (or entire bodies of water) that are too low in oxygen (as a result of excessive nutrients due to pollution linked human activites [such as agricultural runoff]) to support marine life
underwater desert


how the deli man smiles when we say hello
and the cashier rolls my fruits
like he’s pissed that i exist
and the bagger defends my existence


alison b and i crunching cracker jacks
on the sunset ride home
moon rising in the rearview


gathered around celebratory beverages
(in honor of the first concrete mixing and pouring
at the vesta temple site)
at some point we are discussing planers
you mean curlique-makers
i say
two strawberry twizzlers in my mouth

and rising

what the water takes:

Keilani Brown who is eight months pregnant is rescued from her home in the Cambridge neighbourhood of LaPlace, Louisiana, as tropical storm Isaac continued to cause damage in the region. – bbc day in photos

hold tight, gulf coast



when the day is built of heat layered upon itself,
fridge-cold watermelon and lime water suffice for dinner
(though when alison throws in some dahl
corn tortillas
and last-minute quesadillas
we cannot refuse)
spitting seeds we talk about suffering and cycles
how we inherit and how we sever


hurricane issace moving in at 80 miles per hour
hold tight, gulf coast
hold tight

this man will lift up this country
mit romney’s wife claims
in her speech at the rnc
does that mean we’ll finally see the seedy, rigged and corrupt underside?
i would ask her
if i could


by 2020, gaza will be no longer be livable
under israeli blockade/occupation
the u.n. reports
(in reference to access to water
estimations that its water aquifer could be drained
by 2016


and while a street is named after rachel corrie in iran
israel rules in court that the bulldozer that crushed corrie to death
(while she wore safety orange and shouted into a bullhorn
in defense of palestenian houses/homes/families)
that it was not the bulldozer’s mistake/error, it was hers


in the gold light of morning



news from the waterworld:

South Korean police officers rescue a fisherman from a stranded Chinese boat in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, south of Seoul. A typhoon hit South Korea’s west coast, killing five people and leaving 10 missing after two Chinese fishing vessels capsized.


i was smudging the site
a.v. says
in the gold light of morning
and later we find
sage in each of the 10 column locations

after a.v. and i take turns jiggling the chevy 4×4 steering wheel
necessary to start the red truck
i’m following her
on gravel road
out to highway 14 and west on 36
janky windows rattling
hair whipping in wind
which is what happens
when you are one of the few people on the farm
that knows how to drive stick
on the ride back
bed full of sand/gravel
i shout this song
loud as the cornfields can handle


and then there’s the part where we ask the random kinda sunburnt guyin safety orange at the gas station
to help us start this thing up
who says you get in and give it a try
and then
lifts the steering column in just the right place
because he knows just which wires need to be connected
whose help we are grateful for
and whose assistance i think he was delighted to provide
and i get a kick out of looking like a pre-teen boy with my baseball cap on
hair tucked under
small in scale compared to this beater
yelling out the window thank you again!
before hanging a right out of the parking lot
thinking about thelma and louise
on the highway home


we joke about the farm olympics
while wheelbarrowing dust/clay dirt
until we have built
a small mountain range
regina with dirt on her face
carey quiet but sometimes cracking jokes
alison with her hat tied on tight this time so it doesn’t blow off
a.v. who says once she can get it
there’s this book on math for construction
that she wants to donate to art farm


it was too hot to go to my hut
i report later
so instead i took photos
played the piano
walked a letter to the post box
camped on the couch
where i could see out the window
the needle on the yellowed plastic thermometer
rise between 90 and 100


in polka dots and sequins
i hold a 22 against my armpit
lining the barrel up with alison’s 30th birthday bullseye
it is a long gun with tiny bullets
and i think of a line that i either remember
or am making up
from the film dead man
where nobody says something like how the white man’s gun
will soon replace language


i drove a big truck today
a shot a gun
what’s next
i ask
at the birthday shooting range
dipping tortilla chips into home-made guacamole
whose avocadoes probably traveled
halfway across this country
and perhaps even over the mexic0/u.s. border


a.v. slices watermelon
while i squeeze limes
and alison
fries up veggie burgers
on the gas stove




community of suffering

a.v. pilgrimages to me
across prairie
where she hands me my manuscript at the thinking hut door
tears in her eyes
community of suffering
she says
instead of having to go through it alone
a kind of collective grief, i think
and this
is enough encouragement
to keep me going


humidity and haze lifiting
sun in patches on gravel
i count at least five smashed frogs
in the tire tracks
on my five mile run
yesterday’s rain coaxing them out into night

wild light of life

walking into red-brick public library
in aurora nebraska
whose light and smell
remind me of my childhood library
i gotta come back here
alison says
to which i nod affirmatively


(if you can name five rounds of thunder and far off lightening that
in the midst of a drought)
whittles market down
from five to three
french green beans
ground cherries
brussel sprouts
and i don’t know her name
but she tells me
her niece loves the small tomatoes
eats em right off the vine
and she tosses a handful in for free
tells me how i’ll have to report back on them
next week

the woman behind the counter at espressions
a tough-love kindof figure
either that or she’s just in the middle of the breakfast rush


alison and i
discuss the ridiculousness
of tossing all the apples
in the bad pile
the problem is
i think i’m perfect
we laugh
even though i know i’m not


the trick might be reading your own cards
i tell her
in the front seat
when we talk about the doom/lack of agency of tarot

rain gathering weight and rolling down windows

i want your suffering to be lifted
i write in oil-lamp glow
and the wild light of life to break out of you

this is about life

Mine workers attend a memorial service at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, South Africa. Police shot and killed 34 striking miners and wounded 78 others last week. – bbc day in photos

(this is not about water, this is about life

Water Recovery in Platinum Mines (Inside Mining)

Modikwa Platinum Mine
One of Talbot & Talbot’s recent projects involved the technology selection, design and turnkey installation of a dewatering plant at Anglo Platinum’s Modikwa mine.

The project allows for the effective recovery of water and platinum group metals. This plant has allowed the mine to minimise the stress placed on the mining region’s extremely limited water supply by managing its water resources more efficiently. The success of this project, its positive impact on the mines’ triple bottom line, including the reduction in the mine’s environmental footprint, illustrates the prospects for roll out to other mines in the Bushveld Complex region.

at the height of wet season

A child stands in pouring rain in the slum of Susan’s Bay in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown. At the height of the wet season, over-populated areas with poor water and sanitation are exacerbating the spread of the disease. – bbc day in photos

for the water that wasn’t enough

water vs. fire

A resident throws water onto a fire at a squatter colony in Pas City, Manila. The fire destroyed about 200 shanty houses, according to local media. – bbc, day in photos

(in the photos, kids without shirts stand against the blaze, unhooking a hose from a cement mixer to send water to the flames. giving my image of fire-fighters a broader scope.
in the photos, one man floating on a makeshift raft with his belongings floating in manila bay looks on to the camera as if caught – though the sense is that it’s the photographer who’s caught with taking a photo instead of lending a hand.
in the photos, there is barbed wire, corrugated tin, a dock in flames. the cloud is thick and gray and lifting. the blaze is a wall. orange.
in the photos are some of the 5,000 residents whose homes have been consumed to char. their belongings in 5 gallon buckets, or whatever else they can manage.
bare footed and flip flopped and shirtless and bobbing in the bay and shouting for help from rooftops with O shaped mouths and rushing away from the flames and packed into a shelter and stun-faced and exhausted.
an offering for manila
an offering for the displaced
an offering for the water that wasn’t enough
or the heat that was too much)


9am walking
teeth puncture purple plum skin
sweet sour fuschia juice burst morning


alison, a.v. and i and sometimes regina
with rope that is too slippery and looks like hair at the frayed ends
and wooden stakes
and a mallet for pounding
and a measuring tape set at four inches sometimes
and fifty-four inches at other times
and blue tape just for a good measure
and neon flags attached to rusted wire posts
halfway around the circle
(this is a construction site)
we develop a system
halfway around the circle
i take off my boots
drought dust
darkening my toes

afternoon so hot
i doze off
sitting up
notebook opened
pen to paper
in my lap


a.v. tells me about the north star
as a measuring tool
which means she will come back out
and measure with her fists
her knuckles
a 45 degree angle to the star

and then
there’s the way the clouds
first spread across sky at sunset
and then wrapped themselves around waxing moon sliver
as i navigate by its light
the curves of prairie-cut path

this is a temple

brought to you by more monsoons:

A child cries in his mother’s arms at a temple being used as a shelter for people displaced by flooding in the Irrawaddy delta region of Burma. Recent heavy monsoon rains have left swathes of farmland flooded. – bbc day in pictures


carey and regina on the auger
while alison and i shovel drought dry dirt/clay
three feet down
one foot wide
angling maroon baseball cap
every time i change my orientation to the sun
until it’s too hot/dry
to stand up
this is a construction site
this is a geometry test
this is a temple

carey says he should stop talking
because the question he just asked me
came out of a dream where he said deja vu
i respond by telling him about pulling the death card this morning
which reminded me how i dreamed all night of snakes

collecting hoses to link together across the prairie
we run water to a ring of swamp elms
planted by seed three years ago
and marked by vinyl neon flags on wire posts
i tell regina about the ogalalla aquifer
and she gives me directions to bader swimming hole
(follow road 21
take a sharp right
go over the bridge
then head left)