gone fishin

another little disappearance:

heading to columbia, missouri for the true/false film fest
shall return in a week.

though you should have been here tonight
to see all of sandhill in fishnets and mustaches
in honor of trish’s 33rd
it was a fine, fine sight
especially while doing 8 minute abs
and especially, after that, while playing poker – a little bit of which was in spanish
life is good
and should be celebrated in ridiculous ways more often.

before her sadness

i’ve broken the promise to myself. (about turning on the computer after dark. it’s 11pm.)

there are things to say about today
(like shredding carrots and slicing squash to the sounds of
a tribe called red, santigold, kishi bashi and solange
like granola the cat walking back down the road from the dead
so far that she is eating medicine
like a field trip to zimms with emory in the back seat
and standing at his side as he counts his change at the register
red cheeked and shy
like the snow mica sees from upstairs karma
that i don’t really curse, but something like it
like cooking a meal, every component of which tastes good to me
which rarely happens)
but i feel like i’m dead-ending in this detailing
(the way i show up to it, grumbling, draggy-footed, thinking no, there is nothing remarkable to note – even though it’s far from the truth)

and there is nothing in the news about water. (or, there is too much)
is it a good practice i find myself asking myself a lot these days
is it any good if i show up to it grumbling?
have i become a factory? like ca conrad talks about?

in the process of distracting myself from the task at hand, i open the family photos my aunt scanned in and put on discs for us this christmas. most of the photos come without stories attached (as in: most of them i am seeing for the first time in my life. these photos lived in a box at grandma’s (janina’s), but we didn’t bring them out because if we did, she would get lost in the sadness.

so i thought about writing to the people in the photos. or whatever comes up (directly or indirectly) in response to or in conversation with these photos.

i looked at photos of the oldest brother and thought that’s the one that turned mean (stories of underwater dunkings).

i looked at photos of the youngest brother and thought that’s the one (sweet/tender) that died of a drug overdose. he’s the one who i thought sometimes looked something like jesus in the other photos of him i have seen before. those photos lived in a different place – my mom’s album, so i could look whenever i wanted without the risk of pitching someone into a pit of sad.

what struck me the most was the smile on janina’s face in the older ones. never seen her face so soft and light. never seen her smile melt her own hardness like that. what also struck me was how different jozef (my grandpa) looked over time. mostly because i didn’t know him over time (died from complications of lou gehrig’s disease when i was five. strong heart the nurse said. and it was. the machines said so.) and because i didn’t know him over time, he looks like a new self in each photo.

the first two photos are from the old country (poland/germany). jozef and janina met in a nazi work camp. (this is the part of the story i always wonder is it necessary to tell?) they eventually left on a boat figuring the promise of the unknown was better than the dust and brokenness of the known. they came in through ellis island. my mom’s name is there. on the american immigrant wall of honor. (next to jozef and janina’s and hendrik’s and kazimiera’s).

i want to know that janina. (the one below on the left). even though i assume this is post-workcamp, it’s still before her sadness calcified.

in the bottom photo, i am alive, but out of the frame.


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spinning and flailing

wherein the first issue of the sandhill newspaper
is written and drawn by emory and me and
goes to press in upstairs karma
before delivery to the whitehouse kitchen across the street

underwater scenes on the games page
of a jet-pack shark
and sunken treasure from a skeleton flagshipplus a guess-which-neighbor feature


the turkey vultures aren’t back yet rachel says
while i had just begun to wonder
where they’ve been
they head south because here their carrion is frozen

on our walk east
we consider what our 19year old selves
would think of our current selves if they met
and on our walk west
we talk about our love and/or disdain
for our seventh grade selves
and what got us there

what was it that made things so bad (that you spent time thinking about ways to kill yourself) she asks
as we follow the up/down rollings of gravel hills
in golden light
i think it was because she was scared of the world
and all i wanted was to connect with it
all i wanted was to be told that there was more out there
than i could even begin to imagine
i wanted to be encouraged
i wanted to be asked what i wanted


the knife album on in the kitchen
while the almost-sunset sun
flashes a final silvergold dazzle
through the curtain in the doorway
so that when emory dances around on the other side of it
we see his kid-with-wild-hair-shadow
cast onto it
spinning and flailing

memorize the map

i have vague recollections i say
of zams (the cat)
joining me on the fold-out in my dreamsleep


harper’s kentucky drawl
plus grits, greens and eggs (plus carrot cake scraps) for breakfast
accompanied by blackberry sage black tea
sandhill sweetness (in the form of honey) stirred in

corinne lays down in the driveway in protest
as we are about to leave
black jacket black jeans speckled white
with salt/sand specks


what will you do on your drive back steph asks
sing to myself i say
any part of any song whose words i can remember
the radio doesn’t work


V of geese
pointing east
over i-27
against a bray/blue/purple/white layer-sky


left elbow exposed
through a double layer of ragged holes
(wool sweater and long underwear under that)
a space where the cool sneaks in


wherein granola, what we thought was the dying cat,
eats food for the first time in days
and seems to be breathing easier
and can make her way up the stairs without stumbling


i memorized the map i say
about the two and a half hour drive
which is the first time i’ve driven a car alone
a considerable distance
since 1995


mica and i up on slater’s hill
with our headlamps on ‘red light’
deciphering constellations
in the moonless night
(amongst the things we discover
is orion shooting/aiming for taurus
with his flexed bow)



ice-melt ice

a perfect day corinne says long distance
tapping some maple trees
a sunny country drive
then shaking some ass at your good friends dance party
later i tell her i’m glad she called
because it would have been too easy to not go

joe tractoring
with emory, tyler and i on the wagon attached
piled with plastic buckets/jugs
tied together with nylon rope
as we rumble out to the maple grove


what the tapping consists of:
placing buckets and
drilling into the trunks
at a slight upward angle
and hammering the taps (attached to tubes
which we dangle into buckets placed at the base of the trees)


sun so hot we say we are overdressed
in our coveralls

corinne and i loop around the blocks
while mia the foxy dog with possibly arthritic paws
(which makes her look extra prancy)
struts out ahead of us
shoulda brought my yak trax i say
as we navigate the ice-melt-ice
(water by day, ice by evening)
though the time is compact
it doesn’t take long
for us to go deep


something resurrected on that dance floor
a sort of ridiculous hot spirit
in fence nets and
ladies man tshirt
(it’s the arrow that makes it i say
you know, just in case you were confused,
the arrow helps you know that the shirt is talking about me)


how we throw our bodies about the room
and the music that makes us want to do so
and how we get stupid and silly
and laugh and love every minute of it
happy 34th, teed
this ass-shaking ridiculousness is for you


for a chain of days

morning lightning same as last night’s lightning
so powerful
it’s flash still registers
even in daylight hours


a cat who sleeps in the same spot on the bed
for twenty four hours a day
a cat who climbed up on me this morning
her frame so light
i could barely feel her weight on my thighs
a cat whose constant resting makes my room feel calm
(and whose calm i feel good at tending
a tending that, in turn, calms me)
a cat on hunger strike
who i will sleep next to and wake up next to
for a chain of days that connect themselves to each other
by the sound of her infected wheezing


for stan’s 68th
there are candles for dinner
we sing a song instead of the birthday song
we watch a cerulean movie set against stars and other kinds of light
a cerulean movie with a white boat and a tiger – you know the one
joe bakes flourless almond cookies
this time with chocolate chips


more rain
more wind
a story of a cat who fell into the pond
but didn’t panic
just swam to shore
and a puppy and a canoe
who might have played a role
(note: despite last night’s torents
snow still spread across most of the ground
which means all the water runs off
which is a call for a visit to the creek
that was nothing but dry last summer)


shred of crimson
as if someone slit the western sky
along the horizon


tori amos – a hole one can fall into
especially when one can access
all sorts of versions of her
across time
(the worst one being a new album cover
that makes a 50 year old
look like a 14 year old
this is not a diss on you, tori
but on a culture/business
that hates to let us see
our celebrities age)


from the water world:


Residents collect water from a water tank in Balakong, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Residents in some areas of Klang Valley faced water shortage caused by dams running low on water due to dry weather, according to local sources. – voice of america, day in photos

throught the tunnel of winter

a quality of light/sky
both at sunrise and set
that suggests something about weightlessness
and offers up something hopeful
about having made it
(this far, through the tunnel of winter)


granola the cat
curled atop the loft of double down layers
in 6am light
in the same spot (minus some minor readjustments)
that she settled into at 11something the night before
the deep wheeze of her breathe
(despite the pain and laboring associated with it)
and the victory of her lapping water at the bowl

cat hospice joe calls it
which is kindof true
the sweetness of sleep when she is able to slip into it
the reality of her old-cat shit smell
and every now and then
wiping her infected snot
sneezed onto sleeves or blankets


metal spoon scraping mason jar
for what’s left of the
caked-on cocoa powder
and stirred into hot chai


when i said i like your shirt
i wasn’t talking about vaginaville
i was talking about the tiger


budgets and finances unfurl
in front of us
color coded on newsprint


40-something degrees in the shade
thermometer reads
we lunch outside anyway
at the backyard picnic table
heated to at least 50 if not 60 degrees
in the sun


how gold/orange  the chopped wood looks
in the pre-dusk light
against the snow


thunder mica says
(a significant switch
from the wintry mix)
from the office after dinner
where she searches the weather
for tonight/tomorrow


muffled sound of typewriter keys punching paper
passing through handbuilt walls
wall rain waterfalls down
(two kinds of thunder)

from the water world:

Children drag water containers as it snows in Kabul, Afghanistan. – voice of america, day in photos


from the water world

this in from the water world:
Screen shot 2014-02-23 at 8.08.35 PM

Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez are hit by police water cannon during a protest against Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas. Mr Lopez, of the opposition Popular Will party, was arrested on Tuesday on charges of inciting violence following a wave of anti-government protests. – bbc news, day in photos


into the never knowing

i think she’s dying i say while looking out into the melt
about granola
who i found this afternoon
(in these days of ever-growing elusivity)
and held to me
in the sun-thawing-ice air

(didn’t want to release
into the never knowing
she’ll appear again)

the cat whose sharp shoulderblades (even under all that gray black white brown tabby fur)
illustrate lack of appetite

so the fat winterbirds come and swoop at her bowl
flashes of blue and white and black and crimson
swiping dry pellet snacks for the living
at this threshold
as if something like reincarnation
is already occurring

she waits at the door
(which she never does)
allows her weightless body to be cradled
to my gut, my chest
she hunches in my lap
wheezing, the work of each breath
and when she climbs down it is for a look-around
not to partake in the wet-food offering
but to poke into low and tight corners
and consider a pile of blankets on a ground-level shelf
that this is of more interest than a feast
i take as code

all while upstairs
onion seeds
deep black 
winter-dormant in their paper envelopes
are shaken out into cupped palms
and twisted between thumb and forefinger
carefully spaced into tiny furrows
of seedling soil
in trays
arranged in sun
and offered water

what tenderness we carry
even when our arms are empty
how we ache
to build a soft quiet place
or any kind of offering
that might ease the way

how we only want to provide the  kind of care
that one provides at a bedside
which is less like care and more like presence
a holding of the window open
the chaperoning of a spirit
(possibly the deepest honor
of being alive)

this death is its own
but wound inside it
a coil
of all the other deaths
that made their way through all the other bodies
so quickly or unexpectedly
i was unable to arrive in time at their sides

gigantic on gigantic

mason jar of alfalfa sprouts greening
on a west-facing window sill

smell of crayon wax
as emory and i
pick colors and scribble
gigantic mazes on gigantic paper
(one forest-themed
one ocean-themed
and one animal-themed)

icicles slowdrip and thunk
from gutter to roof below

in the dream
i meet a man (sister’s roomate)
whose name i can neither
hear nor pronounce
but who is kind
despite a darkness

when the downpour comes
my raincoat is packed
in the bottom of a backpack
which is beneath my other backpack
on the back seat
and i am so overdone with things being difficult
that, rather than wrestle the thing from the bag,i scream and scream and scream
wordless and wounded

tiny white feathers
from a borrowed blanket
stuck to black cotton pants
duncan’s wrist free yoga:
a reference to stilettos (don’t lose your pride)
and the pose where his shorts get shorter
plus that giggly laugh

the crunch (cinnamony sweet) of joe’s oatmeal cookies
made with mostly maple
but a bit of sugar
after greens, corn, beets and twin-oaks tofu

steam rising in rings and little billows
from silver thermos
in the warm light falling
from overhead lamp
to the woodgrained table


from the water world:

In England, homes along the Thames like these in Staines-upon-Thames, have been hit by flooding. – bbc news in pictures


After strong winds and rain have battered parts of the UK and hit road and rail links. Flood water has surrounded sections of the M3 motorway, near to Chertsey, in Surrey. – bbc news in pictures