I was the first to put down my pole. Crouched in the wet woods, awaiting quiet knowledge, I found nothing.
June 16, 2013
A giant stitched himself a simple hat of leather.
June 15, 2013
When I got back a few weeks later, a tree had opened the window and reached into the living room to hand me some apples.
June 4, 2013
God don't use no weedeater.
May 30, 2013
illiterate love and impotent love and unalloyed affection
May 28, 2013
I cut down a branch I was fond for the convenience of a mailman I am also fond of. The branch stayed alive in a milk bottle in my living room for several days. I stood in an empty room that will soon be a sort of memorial to me, and I didn't feel sad, I felt long and slow and safe; semi-permanent.
May 27, 2013
People at the laundromat were making shocking statements, but right when it stopped seeming possible to not say something, they softened, just a little. Doing laundry is more satisfying than washing the dishes, but mowing the lawn is infinitely more satisfying than either. I'm actually content fairly often, it's just that there's usually no one there to see it.
May 23, 2013
I cook big pots of food with lots of spices and sometimes I share them and sometimes I don't. Either way I eat them all week. The spices make it easier to breathe and sleep and I've traded all my allergies for one crusty blackhead. Last night I tried to learn a language by watching a movie but the movie was long and boring. When the rain stopped I put on shoes and shorts intended for running but I never run I always walk. The shoes were once someone else's shoes and I won't own them long enough to remold them into the shape of my own feet. Trees anointed me. The moon was fuzzy. Vines pulled down fences. Teenage trashcans got romantic in the bushes. I thought about neighborhoods changing and my friends' faces changing. Through a window I saw someone sitting close to a big tv turning sideways to look at a computer and I wondered what God does with all his time.
May 16, 2013
o draw me a line, that i may jump back and forth across it
May 14, 2013
truck's back, trees popped.
April 29, 2013
my back is a canyon, my arms create caves
April 14, 2013
wipe off the wax and rewrite it in rust
April 13, 2013
Dirt on my knees and hands and forehead from doing sujud in everyones' yards.
April 7, 2013
When sitting at a bar or on a bench with two of your friends, it's funny to say, lamentingly, if only we could ALL be in the middle!
April 5, 2013
green on top of white on top of black on top of orange
April 4, 2013
you do magic with yr phone, i do magic on my own
April 3, 2013
I woke up on my stomach in the mud and stayed there. A small herd of small cattle walked across my back. It felt good but drove me deeper. Still sleepy, I slowly came to realize that the mud was just dirt spread thin across cement. I got up, wiped my face and hands off, and walked a ways to a more fertile field. I found a hoe and a shovel in some tall grass. I met a dog with a limp, and he watched me hack the ground for a while.
March 28, 2013
a little bit of blood a lot of dirt
March 16, 2013
But then I did it. I did it anyway.
March 15, 2013
Corey talked and I listened and looked at the bricks on the wall. I could look at bricks for a long time. I could also look at mountains, oceans, trees and the spaces between trees, fields, and most skies for a long time. When I look at those things or imagine looking at those things I'm usually by myself, but when I look at bricks I'm usually not by myself. My brain thinks it understands math and art and history and human hands when I look at bricks, and I imagine making bricks and things similar to bricks. Corey said "Cowboys don't take photos of themselves. That's the only way to be a cowboy."
March 13, 2013
may my heart and mouth and mind become one undivided mountain
March 11, 2013
It's hard to sleep in someone else's house because the sounds are so different. It's easy to walk in someone else's neighborhood because the bricks are different colors and have been painted different colors; the trees and sidewalks have different pasts and duties. You get to love things for their newness instead of their familiarity.
March 10, 2013
My truck makes different noises depending on who's in it. In the morning I lay in bed listening to the wind, imagining the weather and how it will affect my day.
March 6, 2013
baking yr bread, casting yr bells
February 28, 2013
God smiles sleepy in his socks in the kitchen. We're smoking on the porch, arguing about how he spells his middle name.
February 23, 2013
I peel oranges, I peel eggs. I rarely hold, am never held.
February 21, 2013
Like a tasteless badger lapping saltwater from a pool. Like a mole starting his hole high above the surf, tunneling towards the sea, and drowning under sand.
February 10, 2013
In case there's a tornado tomorrow, here's what happened today: I walked around downtown a lot. First with Maggie, then by myself, then with Phil, and then in the middle of a small herd of teenagers. Maybe they aren't teenagers. My truck received compliments from people whose job it is to be critical of trucks. When I got home I put my plants on the porch. I was standing there touching them and looking at the sky when a pickup stopped in front of my house. The back was full of cardboard and bags of trash and some of the trash was smoking. A guy in overalls and a ballcap hopped out and started digging through the trash. A cop car pulled up and the cop got out and stood with his hands on his hips. A fire truck drove by slowly but didn't stop. The trash kept smoking. The guy in the overalls smiled and laughed and shrugged and the cop took his hands off his hips and drove away. Then the truck drove away, and some of the smoke stayed and some of it followed.
January 28, 2013
I'm familiar and even familial with lots of kinds of bark and weeds and bird songs, I recognize people's backs and their shoes and their wrists and their faces, but there's still so many things I don't know the names of.
January 26, 2013
Barack Obama came into my room while I slept and stood with his fist on his mouth, reading my lips, watching my dreams that were projected on the ceiling above me. When I woke up he moved his hand away from his mouth and opened it in a wave and glided out the door before I could say anything. On tv the next night I saw him tell the crowd "I wanna know what you are! I wanna see what you see!" and they roared and he grinned and I crumpled like a paper bag.
January 24, 2013
I cut off my hair and put it in a bowl and set half an onion on top.
January 5, 2013
Of course I tried to know the hills and fields and forests and mild tundras of Kansas. I walked where I could tell a dog had walked, and then I walked where I saw a dog walking. At first the dog was very pleased with me, but it got impatient and confused and disappointed pretty quick. All of these are reactions that I understand and expect and to some extent cultivate. When I got back to Springfield I had new sheets and a new pillow, and my own bed felt like a hotel for two nights. I walked through the woods and my neighborhood with people who talked on their phones. While they were talking I pointed at things I wanted them to see and they liked what I pointed at.
January 4, 2013
I went to the woods but couldn't hide from the highway. Wendell Berry and David Byrne sat on my shoulders. I tried to get rid of them. I tried to stay still and stop being the loudest thing in the woods. When I finally succeeded I got a little scared. I could never be an animal. My house sounds and truck sounds are the sounds I know best, but sometimes I hear my friends being asleep and being awake, and sometimes I can hear myself making family sounds.
December 15, 2012
I could build a nest in the grass, I could make my home in mud. I could roll my friends in mud and let them dry there by the river, roll them again after they harden. I could build a house up on the hill with bricks and wood and rocks, or I could sleep down with my friends, wondering whether they're mummies or cocoons, waiting for the night sounds to turn into morning sounds.
December 12, 2012
o be in the hearing o be in the saying
December 8, 2012
o lengthen my rope, o strengthen my stakes:
December 4, 2012
Patience is a coat I put on and fall asleep in.
October 11, 2012
All wars are civil wars. They tore up the canyon; there's no more wilderness in my neighborhood. Or I guess there's still a wilderness, but now it's an ugly one. Piles and pits and gravel and bulldozers. I drove my truck out of town, I rode my bike down the hill, I walked across the civil war. I sat by the creek for a long time thinking about blood and ghosts and towns and countries. Bodies under grass, bodies under water, bodies under sand. I had to go sit in the cabin. I had to hold onto a tree. Most of the trees seemed too young to remember, but some of the rocks probably do. Back then they must have been bigger rocks. I wanted to put one in my pocket, give the buckeye some company, but they didn't want to go in there. "We want to stay wet, we want to stay wise; if we go somewhere else, we'll just want to come back."
October 10, 2012
TVs and microwaves used to be shaped the same but now they're not. It's very satisfying to imagine building a big slingshot out of huge rubber bands and sturdy stop signs or phone poles and hurling old TVs and microwaves down your street. But those new TVs? No fun. No one will ever invent flatscreen microwaves because they aren't screens. You've gotta put stuff in there. But it's easy to imagine a microwave up in the sky instead of a moon. Because it isn't a sphere, the phases of the microwave would be different than the phases of the moon, and its orbit would be different. Sometimes its light would be on but usually it would be off. "God's making popcorn." "God's stupid nephew is too lazy to make popcorn on the stove." Months and holidays would have different lengths and less regular schedules. The tides would be different. Would humans be less interested in landing on the microwave than we are in landing on the moon? Or would we all be desperate to go up there and push those buttons?
October 5, 2012
your left hand unconsciously mirrors your right
September 29, 2012
Alhamdulillah, there is no such thing as silence.
September 27, 2012
When I'm not somewhere else I'm at home. Last week I tossed some walnuts on the roof, plucked and nibbled a few sprouts of kale, tore down and shucked the last of the sunflowers. I'm not gonna roast any this year, there's not enough. I imagined owning some land and living on it; saving my seeds every year and getting to hear bullfrogs at night. The most fully-formed sunflower seeds are the ones on the edge of the head. The ones in the middle are newer and crumblier and not really seeds yet. In the evenings I often think I hear a low sound and I go look for it to sit under it or beside it. But not finding it in any room or corner I walk out into the street and roam the neighborhood, past dark houses and glowing houses and burned down houses and houses that got scraped right out of town, they got turned into mudpits.
Last night I sat on my porch looking at the house across the street and at Ryan's truck and a dead sunflower head propped on my porchrail. It looked like a fossilized jellyfish, a brain with too many stems, and I thought "I could just be satisfied for a few minutes." For a few months. So I was.
September 17, 2012
One afternoon Little John was mad about something that he wouldn't tell anyone about. He insisted on being in front and kept hacking up trees and vines that weren't in anybody's way. When they stopped to set up camp he stabbed his sword into the ground and stomped off somewhere to pee. Friar Tuck noticed something black sliming up out of the dirt where the sword was sticking and he got a gross and doomy feeling in his head and stomach. When he pulled the sword out of the ground the black stuff started splooging out even more. Disgusted and strangely terrified, Tuck knelt on the black bubbles, hoping to keep them underground before anyone else noticed. He closed his eyes so they would think he was praying, and maybe he was, if just repeating weird phrases over and over in your brain counts. Some of the hesychasts say that's the best way to do it. Anyway, he stayed there all night quietly groaning and mumbling and cussing and puking a few times, and in the morning his robes had all turned black, and underneath so had his knees and legs. In this way, Friar Tuck, who was originally expelled from the brown-clothed Franciscan order for drinking too much, inadvertantly founded the black-robed Dominican order.
August 14, 2012
This summer there is always wind, slow and warm, making Missouri dry and dead. One evening I heard the wind change. The new wind told a tree to tear my house apart. But the colder stronger wind and the branches trying to yank the gutters off just made the rest of the house seem sturdier. Not permanent, but perennial. I often wonder whether anyone has lived in this house longer than I have. Probably someone has. I've tried to imagine them but I can't. Sometimes my house feels like a museum and sometimes it feels like an aquarium, but usually it feels exactly like I want it to. Now I'm in California. My parents' house is different from my house, but the house I live in is obviously a descendant of all the houses they've lived in. When I go outside the air is different and there are different plants to touch and smell and look at. When I find a good place to sit it's easy to stay there. It usually is easy for me to stay in one spot, but if you're staring at water no one questions you. There's windfarms across the water. I sometimes have to be brave about people and pelicans.
August 7, 2012
they named you after a beach ball
July 23, 2012
They invented some kinda sputnik that flies around killing people. And it kills people in the mountains and it kills people in cities and in cars and in restaurants. And it killed your dad and it killed your brother and it killed your niece. And here you sit, chewing the blister on your finger that's white like an eggsac, watching your uncle's blowed up house on youtube.
July 22, 2012
my heart's a dumb cave you are sometimes alone in
July 11, 2012
It's been hot for a long time. I have often smelled my face and beard and armpits. I have often carried a jar of water and a bag of grapes. Now I'm watching wind and trash. Now I'm telling someone their sentences are no good even though I love their sentences. I'm not telling them "they're no good!" I'm just supposed to tell them to change them. The wind and the trash means it's about to rain. I want to be in the mountains for the heat and wind and rain. I want to shoot guns in the mountains with my friends. When my family shoots guns I think it's stupid, but sometimes I wish my friends were the kind of people who shot guns. Some of them are. But I want us to be the kind of friends that go to the mountains together and shoot guns together. Not at animals probably but just target practice. Now the rain is real, it's soaking the trash and the ground and my garden and the inside of my truck. When I leave I'll have to sit in my wet truck and wherever I go my butt will be wet when I get there so I can't go anywhere except home unless you wanna pick me up and take us to the mountains.
July 7, 2012
I didn't love what I was told I would love. I wanted to paint but instead I stayed sprawled on the couch, imagining a painting of myself, green and orange and yellow. The mailman pushed through the leaves and onto my porch, put an envelope in my box, and looked at the tea steeping in the sun. If it would have been cold I would have poured him a glass, but it was hot. When he got off my porch I went and got the check he had left me and I stood there shirtless and sweating. The mailman waved down the ice cream jeep and bought something and unwrapped it and kept walking. I watched the jeep drive down the street and I saw another jug of tea on my neighbors' sidewalk. They're the ones I got the idea from. Theirs is in a jug that seems to have been bought expressly for the purpose of making tea, mine is in a glass milk jug. I don't think I buy milk anymore, so one of my milk jugs is for tea and the other is for water. I thought of May's tea and Haitham's tea. The wind was hot and I was thankful for the sound of leaves. I looked at all the things and pieces of things on my porch and thought of where they came from. Ryan, Daniel, Mackenzie. The groundhog came out from somewhere and I watched him eat the spinach that's gone to seed. When he stood up towards a tomato I yelled and he ran into the bushes and I went and put the tea in the fridge and rolled back onto the couch.
June 30, 2012
Headed north my heart braked for somebody on the side of the road but the car kept going. I was in a hurry to see my family and I was driving someone else's car. That guy standing there was probably in a hurry to see his family, too. We were probably each other's family. Later, in the same car but no longer alone, I prayed that we would never understand the song we were listening to any better than we already thought we did. Again a little later, still in the same car and now even less alone, I prayed that my eyes and heart and brain and mouth would all work better. I felt insane and happy; I almost got us killed! I felt good in the woods and in the field and in the tent. The next day, attempting to transplant some buckeyes, I learned again that I am not The Man Born to Farming, unless you count just not being the first to stop digging.
June 20, 2012
My hands are different from other people's hands and they could be different from my own hands if I did different things with them. I've been doing different things with them. From now on, almost everyone in almost every part of the world is gonna get arthritis because all day and even all night we lay in bed typing on horrible burning little machines. I don't do that. I try so hard not to do that. Sometimes when I can't sleep I lay there and imagine my friends in their houses, in their rooms, in their beds, sleeping. I know it seems creepy, but people look so hilarious and adorable when they're asleep that it's not fair to tell me not to do it. It doesn't help me sleep. Nothing helps me sleep except reading William Carlos Williams until my eyes become spheres. I know they're always spheres, but I mean until I become aware that they're spheres.
June 2, 2012
I traded some encyclopedias for a hatchet and for a little while I was the loudest thing in the neighborhood. That was yesterday; today the winds and the sounds and the light were already perfect, I didn't want to interrupt. I just sat at my table singing the canticle of the sun.
May 24, 2012
Guess who lives in the biggest tree in my yard: the biggest hawk in Missouri. Guess who lives in the cereal: ants. Guess who lives in the silverware drawer: a dead mouse. Guess who needed a knife to cut his cigar so I handed him one and then he put it in a bowl of soapy water and two hours later I put my hand in there and got cut a little and the water turned red: Ryan. Only two of those things are true but it's easy to imagine the other two being true too. And it could be argued that only one of them (ants) is actually true since the hawk hasn't been measured. He's cetainly very big though. He's the reason there's never been rabbits around here. He's where the possum and the groundhog went.
May 21, 2012
I went to Golden Korea with Daniel and after that we went to Braums. I said have you ever been in here before and he said no and I said have you ever been in the drive thru before and he said I've never been in this parking lot before and I said that once I went through the drive thru with my dead neighbor. It was maybe two years ago, after he stopped being able to drive. No one has lived in his house since he died, but now whoever owns it wants someone to live in there. I've been staying up real late, painting or reading until the first birds, which is about 3:30. My favorite noise to hear at night is skateboards. At about 9 this morning whoever owns Ron's house tossed his bbq grill off the porch. I got up and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror which is the same as looking out the window and saw that his door was open and people were smoking cigarettes and carrying things and throwing things. They'd chopped up the rosebush that had been blocking the steps. I went for a walk past the houses that got torn down and I thought about Wendell Berry saying
There are no unsacred places;
May 16, 2012
This afternoon I played wiffleball and I got a little tipsy. I sprawled in the outfield and my eyes and my heart briefly overflowed with love for the people I've known for ten years and eight years and four and three and zero years. I managed to get on base every time, and made at least two RBIs. After that I went to Corey's house and he gave me some books. Corey had told a lie to someone about an hour earlier and I had lied to Corey about a month earlier but we were both overcome with guilt or something similar and quickly admitted the lies. Lying is easy! Lying is fun! But we know we shouldn't. I'm acquainted with at least three people named Corey, but the one I'm talking about right now and usually is Corey Cowan. After that I went home and then walked to the library, which is where I am now. I saw Brice on the sidewalk and helped his phone spell 'frisbee'. The flags were impotent; unwaving though the wind was. Sound is different from temperature. Sound can bounce. Temperature is always there, waiting for you, but sound isn't there until you make it be there. Metal and brick absorb heat. Wood absorbs water.
May 12, 2012
Some people like new buildings better than old buildings. I thought nobody did but some people do. They told me. On my porch I can hear a machine that moves around and cuts down trees. They unrolled an orange net around four houses and that means they're going to tear them down but first they're tearing down the trees. The houses are old and someone is too lazy to fix them. The trees are old and nothing is wrong with them. My truck works again, it's easy to go places. So easy that every time I drive I feel lazily complicit in the tearing down of trees and the subjugation of women. But it's already humid enough that walking gets me sweaty. Some places it's okay to be sweaty, some places I'd rather not. Strings of leaves and bags of teeth are sliding off the walls. Babies are crawling out of their moms. Birds are hopping through garlic tunnels. Sweet potatoes are leaning into the wind like buffalo. Wasps are swarming in the corners of the porch and ants are piling dirt up on the sidewalks. There's a cat who likes to find their dirtpiles and press one pristine pawprint into each of them. Should I ask this cat what's the difference between a poem and a prayer and just being quiet? Should I get a job at the baitshop? Should I get a tetanus shot? Should I change my last name to Alqahtani?
May 5, 2012
I could tell you about mornings: songbirds and trash trucks. Sometimes a good rain. Did we open a door into dirt. Did I open a hole in my foot. One morning I put on my symbolic Phillies hat and some post-symbolic camo. Walked around a corner and saw Don standing next to a bright yellow van eating buttered rye bread from a bowl. I said hey and asked what he was doing and he said "today's Sunday innit?" and I said yeah and he said he was going to church. He started pulling boxes and papers out of the van so I could get in there but I didn't want to get in there. I told him have a good day and see ya later and I bet he did and I bet I will. A while later I walked around another corner and someone asked me for a dollar and I gave him one. He hugged me and said God bless and then turned to his friend and said "whaddup Wildeye!" and they fistbumped and headed towards Brown Derby. Let me know if you wanna start fistbumping again, I miss it. The three-bump one, and left-handed please. You don't gotta call me Wildeye or anything.
April 30, 2012
More people came than they expected and they had to open up some of the pastures to use for parking lots. I knew all the cars meant there was no way I'd actually ever meet him and I shoulda turned around instead of staying in line and letting everyone's bumper stickers get me angry and hopeless. Someone waved me into a parking spot and I nodded. When I got out of my truck and saw all the hordes of people and their jeans and the way they talked I had to try hard not to hate them. But why can't they just wear normal jeans. If these're the people that wanna know him then I guess I don't. I squatted down and pulled up a clump of grass and tossed it at a car that looked like it wouldn't have a car alarm. It landed on the roof and some chunks of dirt rolled down the windshield. I was right, there wasn't an alarm. In the little hollow of where the grass used to be I spat and spat until there was no more spit. My mouth was dry, it wasn't much. I mixed it into mud and smeared it across my eyes, rolled two little balls and poked them into my ears. I climbed into the bed of my truck and layed down in there on my back to let the mud dry and crack and crumble in the sun. I imagined I was wearing a t-shirt that said I CAN HEAL THIS SHIT MYSELF.
April 23, 2012
Few days ago I went to the square to eat apples again. This time I didn't see anyone I knew and no one told me not to do anything and the apple didn't taste like anything. While I was eating it a couple sat down very close to me to share a Jimmy John's sandwich and have a gross conversation. They sat down on a cement ledge on which someone had drawn a picture of a wizard and someone else (presumably - it was in a different color) had written that the wizard was a Jew. I stared at them while they had their gross conversation and ate their sandwich but it was two against one and the two were wearing sunglasses and the one wasn't. I blurred my eyes so I would look like a dead man who was eating an apple and staring at them but they weren't scared.
Today it's cold and no one is on the square and no one needs sunglasses. I received sad text messages and had sad emails read to me. I stood in front of all my coworkers and talked about Being Cool. I know who I'll see and who I won't and who I want to. I know whose hoodie I want to be a marbled rubber bouncy ball in the pocket of but not why I want that.
April 20, 2012
When I woke up on Easter morning I could hear it raining. My older brother was on the other side of our bed, still asleep and still looking angry. I got up and put on a shirt and stood in the dark, listening to the rain and someone bumping around on the porch. I knew it was my dad and my little brother. I went out to see them and Mikey said my name with an exclamation mark and my dad said good morning and tried not to look sad. He was putting lilies into jars full of water on the steps and Mikey was rolling his jeans up. Dad sat down on the steps to roll his jeans up too. He said they were about to go to the cemetery and asked if I wanted to come. I shook my head and he looked at me and said alright. He stood up and then Mikey stood up and they both walked out barefoot into the rain. I watched them walking and getting wet and then I went back inside. In the kitchen I found opened packages of two different kinds of Chips Ahoys and two different kinds of Oreos. Someone had left the milk out and it was warm but didn't smell bad. I put everything back in the fridge and slowly ate a cookie. I noticed myself not thinking about anything and then I heard my older brother yell and the front door slam open and I heard him shooting his rifle and someone else shooting a rifle and I leaned against the back door in the kitchen and as it opened I tripped over boxes and plastic on the porch and I fell through the other door and into the rain and mud and ran.
April 14, 2012
The other day when I was buying apples I saw Abdullah but I didn't say hi because I'm not friendly and I only saw him with part of my eye. Instead I kept walking and started eating one of the apples and then threw the part you don't eat in a hole. I want to be the kind of person who eats it but I forgot that I want that. It was nice out so I sat in the sun and then layed down in the grass with one of my arms on my face. I was thinking about the shreds of apple between my teeth and what if there were two suns and how I should have said hi to Abdullah. I heard someone say "hey pardner" and I took my arm off my face. It was Rusty Worley and a cop. The cop said "no laying around on the square, alright pardner. sound good." I said "not really" and he glared at me with sunglasses on and I grimaced and squinted at him without sunglasses on. They went and stood with their arms folded in the middle of the square and I looked at them and then I looked at some girls who were looking at me. Later there was more walking and more sun and I looked at more things.
April 12, 2012
There's green evenings on my porch where I don't think I'm lonely but I do I think leaves and shadows and trashcans are people. I thought my feet were people. I can have my eyes open or shut, I can think how the wind works. I can make a list of who held what up to the stars: phones, fingers, telescopes, money. Pieces of paper with holes poked in it. I can think about certain pieces of trash that I see twice a day, or I can think about people emptying their pockets and taking off their shoes; I can think of which faces I've never been afraid of.
April 4, 2012
On the way from St. Louis to Philadelphia I sat next to Kurtis, who had never been on airplane before. It was fun. In Philadelphia I saw buildings and ate things and talked into a microphone and talked to someone who I hope will be my boss in a few months. On the way from Philadelphia to Nashville I sat between two ladies who were both maybe twenty years older than me and I slept and read my book. On the way from Nashville to St. Louis I sat next to a woman who was maybe four years older than me. I was very aware of my body and I felt fifteen. Someone in the row in front of me was reading a magazine article called "The Demise of the Blowjob". The person next to him had a gross arm/watch combination. The girl next to me didn't want any snacks when the flight attendant asked, and I felt uncool for requesting a Sprite and some pretzels. I wondered if she would think I was cool for reading César Aira. I put it facedown because the cover has colors that are ugly on a book and fonts that are ugly on anything. But on the back she could still see his name. When she looked out the window, I looked out the window too.
Usually when I think about topography I mostly think about what things were like before there were billions and billions of people. The earth has always been the same size and the hills and mountains and plains and oceans have been basically the same for quite a while. A world without highways and wires and trash is closely connected to what I think about and what I think a lot of people think about when we think about heaven, even though in the texts we're told to base our ideas about heaven on, it's almost always described as a gigantic city.
April 1, 2012
This morning I dumped out some jars that I had sealed up with rocks and pondwater a few years ago. They didn't smell bad! For a while there had been a moss cycle and a waterbugs and snails cycle, but nothing had been alive in them for a long time. I left the rocks in and the lids off on my back steps so that rain can get in and new cycles can start.
I also planted beets and potatoes and quinoa and sunflowers and realized I need another gila monster to guard the new seeds. Jabba the Hutt is somewhere in my house and it seems like he would be perfect but I can't find him. Would birds be scared of a rubber whale? A wind-up grasshopper? A wooden hippo? A candle honoring St. Jude?
March 24, 2012
I used to have to spit in all the food I ever cooked and in all the clothes I ever washed but I don't have to do that anymore.
March 23, 2012
I would dig a little hole for anyone who asked.
March 21, 2012
The mail doesn't come at the same time every day, which seems strange. I imagined the mailman wearing a different kind of uniform and wondered if a mailman is a type of soldier, if there are armies we've never noticed. Yesterday morning I went to the Missouri State library and took some poems off the shelves and someone behind the desk handed me more poems. Then I hurried home and got back just before the rain started. I was very pleased with the timing. I sat on my porch and read some of the poems and looked at the rain. In the evening Corey gave me a ride to church and at night Ryan gave me a ride home from the bar. So I never got wet. Laying in bed I heard a sound I didn't know. Someone made out of water walking through mud. My windows and the front door were open and I could hear the rain and everything outside was water, but all of the ground is grass and cement and asphalt; maybe a little mud, but not deep enough mud for someone made out of water to be slogging through. I thought about characters from Darkwing Duck and from Dante's Inferno. I remembered that hours before I had wanted to say "the reason I'm shaking is because earlier I was doing pushups" but I didn't know for sure that that was why, and I didn't know for sure that anyone had noticed I was shaking.
March 21, 2012
Yesterday I planted spinach and lettuce and encouraged the kale to keep coming back. Today I put a fake gila monster in the dirt so the birds would be too scared to eat the seeds. The gila monster was previously living next to the sink in my kitchen. Many years ago my mom or my dad or my grandma bought him for me at the Topeka zoo. While I was adding the gila monster to the garden my new neighbors Cory and J.R. walked up and I talked to them. J.R. was in a stroller because he's a baby. When I was digging the ground up a few weeks ago one of my other neighbors burst out of his house and said "YOU SEEN A LITTLE WEINER DOG AROUND HERE" and I said "yeah he was right over there like just a minute ago" and he said "WELL WHERE'D HE GO AFTER THAT" and I moved my hands and shoulders to say I didn't know and he walked off wailing the weiner dog's name, which I have forgotten.
March 17, 2012
Having enlisted emotionally in every opposition group,
March 16, 2012
dreams is truckstops on the brain's black highway
March 9, 2012
If I'm ever able to walk all the way home from work with my eyes shut it won't be because my feet have memorized every single step, but because they'll have learned how to react to a certain number of specific situations.
February 29, 2012
This semester I don't have to teach any classes until ten on some mornings and eleven on other mornings. So that means I can sleep til eight every day and then get up and make coffee and a good breakfast and read and pray and be calm and happy and then walk or ride my bike to work. This morning when I was still laying in bed I heard a sound that reminded me of the ice storm, something like a big branch crashing on the ground. I stayed in bed and imagined a long line of people silently dragging huge dead tree branches down the street and I imagined the sound of no people or cars or buses, just the sound of the branches scraping along the streets. That's how I want it to happen. I want to pray for Syria at night and then do something strange and solemn and symbolic in the morning, and I want that to be how justice happens, how everything changes. I know that's not how it works but that's how I want it to.
February 22, 2012
My most intense smell-memories are Africa and Chicago. The basement and the attic in Chicago, the fruits and fields of Africa. Mud maybe. Sometimes when I'm in my neighborhood or in my house I think I hear cows but it's just chainsaws; I think I hear horses but it's just motorcycles. At night I hear the trains stopping and moving against each other, and I know that they're trains. And there are roosters now, and sometimes hawks. Birds every morning so it feels like Easter. A little chihuahua running around. I haven't seen the possum or the groundhog or the black rabbit in a long time. I live in the center of a small city and would likely be overwhelmed by living in the woods, though I still claim to want to.
February 18, 2012
If you come into my room while I'm sleeping and peel back the quilt my great grandma made and the blanket that some girl's aunt made and the blanket that a factory made and the sheet a factory made, you'll find a sticky mound of rice molded in my image. And if you squish your hand into it, feeling for my heart, thinking to find a red and pulsing pomegranate, what you'll pull out instead is a glob of cooked quinoa that looks basically the same as all the rice.
February 12, 2012
Barack Obama often thinks of me when he's staring at his computer feeling incapable of responding to any of his emails, or when he goes to a meeting and everyone just wants to talk about tv shows he's never heard of or the good deal they got on some furniture. Or when Joe Biden tries to make a joke about dubstep. I didn't watch the State of the Union; instead I imagined putting on a full face and body molded-foam Obama shellsuit. I stood beind the podium for a minute, unsure of what to do. It was hard to breathe through the tiny nostrils and the tiny gap between his teeth. I stepped out of the shell of him and it drifted to the floor. I got a little closer to the podium, leaned into the microphone, and said "I don't know any facts, but sometimes I have . . . feelings."
January 25, 2012
why say two things that mean one thing when
January 15, 2012
I don't want to talk on the phone or be at a bar with a hundred people. I want to be at a restaurant with one person and at a bar with two people. I want to spill my grape juice and my coffee on the snow. I wanna make bagels and pretzels. I wanna read DEBT: THE FIRST 5000 YEARS and THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY. I wanna know what you are! I wanna see what you see!
January 13, 2012
let it float to the surface and then skim it off the top
January 11, 2012
The sun is warm and I am hungry for dirt and mud and mountains. I want to pull carrots out of the ground and bite right through. The place I wanted to walk had fences all around it so I walked on bricks and trash and grass and leaves. Moss, cement, and asphalt. I saw pieces of trash and piles of trash. People kissing on a porch, an old lady standing on a chair, a house turning into a log cabin. Other houses turning into caves. When we were in Wichita my mom said I smelled like the great outdoors. Like the wind. I'd been out there taping the year together. Making the year out of sticks. Sticks is a story I already told you, and stories is something we say to keep track.
January 5, 2012
My friends is not my family and my family is not my friends but I'm friendly with my family and familiar with my friends. I want to live everywhere, with everyone, but I can't. I wanted to learn how to plunk out Auld Lang Syne and When the Saints Go Marching In on the piano, but I forgot to ask anyone. Daniel called to tell me someone broke into my house, but I barely cared. When I got home my cat was mewling miserably in a bush and I picked her up and probably got some parasites. Here's some things I intend to do in 2012:
And so, in the 21st century, our fingers have become tongues too.
Late in the afternoon we set up camp in a clearing at the bottom of a hill. It was a good place. I had a tent to myself. I mean, there was no one else in my tent. When it got dark they rolled his body up in burlap and we stood around him in a circle. Someone said a prayer and then they started a fire on his chest. We all watched the fire; the men turned into stones and the women turned into trees. I looked at my hands and the trees and the stones and then I crawled into the fire.
each of the clouds above the city
Hi I'm in the Denver aiport eating pizza and reading Confucius. I mean that's what I was doing before I started typing. Some parts of THE UNWOBBLING PIVOT are pretty good. I wanted to love it because I love the name but so far it's just Pretty Good. I don't know what time it is because I don't understand time zones or technology. Soon I will get on an airplane and when I get off the airplane Ryan will take me from the airport to my house. When I get home my house will be cold because the heat's been off for a week. My house will be full of books and leaves and the books will be full of more leaves. In the morning I will trim my beard and cut off some of my hair.
o come o come
Love is the loaf rising within you; time is the tailgate your ankles are tied to.
Some cults stay cults, some turn into religions, and some turn into economies.
fingers usually don't forget
The third living creature that I saw this morning was the groundhog. He has become very bold, nosing around my yard where anyone can see. While I ate my breakfast I watched him and imagined that it was him who ate the dead rabbit. That was too gross though so I imagined that the rabbit had been his wife. A fat male groundhog married to a fat female rabbit - that's funny! They're someone's grandparents. It made me sadder about the dead rabbit though so I stopped thinking about it. The fourth living creature that I saw was my neighbor. He was on his way to the bus stop and I was getting on my bike and he nodded and I said "morning". The fifth and sixth living creatures that I saw were a dog and a woman walking together. Each of the six living creatures had two wings that they flew with and two wings that they used to cover their faces and two wings that were touching the wings of the other creatures. When I got home there was a black rabbit in my yard - wingless, to my ever seeing never perceiving eyes - but living.
I put something here but then I got rid of it because I couldn't tell if it was blasphemous or not. When I put it on the internet my heart started beating a lot and my face felt full. Usually that is a sign that I SHOULD do something, but this time I took it to mean that I SHOULDN'T do it so I got rid of it. I mean, I put it in a private gmail draft. Does anyone want to be my editor, your job will be to sort everything I think and say and type into the following piles: Funny Enough, Not Funny Enough, Too Stupid, Too Blasphemous, Too Gross. Maybe that makes you my secretary instead of my editor, does anyone want to be my secretary.
The world is a phone book.
if u love kale so much then y don't u smoke it
I've been exchanging political e-mails about comic books with my boss and training to be a boxer based on the advice of Cutty from THE WIRE and this book about a Marine that I read the first thirty pages of. I don't want to be a boxer, I just want to do weird exercises that are hard and that feel good.
There's a place close to my house where either cranes or herons or egrets live. Homeless people live there too. When I go there I always leave my wallet and backpack at home because it's kind of illegal. I forgot that they made it so you can't get to the bridge. I had to go out the same way I came in, and I was briefly trapped between voices. Lots of the plants seemed to not know what season it was, and some of the plants thought they were underwater plants. There was something spread across the ground that was like a carpet pad and a fishing net. Sometimes it was green and made out plastic, sometimes it was gray and made out of dead grass. I don't know who put it there. I don't want them to put it there. Everyone wants to be in charge of everything and everyone wants you to know that sometimes they hang out with babies.
I was in a different classroom than usual and it felt like a cave in there. Not in a bad way - I like caves. After everyone had finished their quizzes and wandered out the door I stood up and closed my eyes and said "In darkness a light shines on me; in darkness a light shines on you, too" and I felt almost insaner than I have ever felt.
I knew what happened before I knew it happened
Yesterday I ate nothing but orange juice and honey and lemons because I was sick. I managed to keep everything down until I was at work but as soon as my classes were over I rode home and took all my clothes off and threw up a lot. I layed on the couch and had a short dream about a plastic swimming pool in someone's backyard and a bride was standing in it and someone poured gallons and gallons of milk into the pool and the wedding dress soaked it all up. By this point I had but some clothes back on. Then I threw up more and slept more. Today I got up before the sun did and I felt great and I still feel great.
The college where I went to a conference had a lot of good statues and a lot of shitty sculptures by the same person who made some shitty sculptures for the college where I went to college. The streetlights in the city where the conference was were made out of the same thing as the streetlights in the town where my brother lives. So that's what it was like. At several of the lectures that I went to I felt strongly that I was the most serious student of linguistics, pedagogy, literature, fast food, the internet, Christianity, Islam, human nature, etc etc in the room. I tried to concentrate on the logs in my eyes, tried to tell myself "the flaw is in that which finds the flaw" etc etc but sometimes I can't do it. I went for a long walk and sat by statues and rubbed the bellies of statues until my brain was a little calmer and colder and cleaner. When I got back to town Daniel and Elise found a dead rabbit in front of my house. We buried it but it didn't stayed buried.
Seems too early for fur hats and heavy coats. I miss the reassuring clomp of walnuts on my roof. How they all fell out all the trees already?
For the last week people have been carving bricks and using them to build a new sidewalk across the street from my house; it's noisy and an impressively slow process. They stop working at 3 in the afternoon which is when the sun is in a perfect position where it hits the rail of my porch but not the rest of my porch, allowing my bare feet to be in the sun and the rest of me to be in the shade so I can read DUNE or LEECHES or EL ELOGIO DE LA SOMBRA or whatever in complete physical comfort. Tomorrow I'm going to a wedding. I don't know where I'll spend the night or who will tie my tie for me.
no teams no teams no teams no teams
Yesterday I received a check for roughly one hundred thousand dollars. (adjusted for inflation, economic disparity, imaginary purposes, etc.) To celebrate I ate a pizza with DZ and we went and saw a famous play. I liked the famous play a lot. The famous play was about hell. The play says that in hell you can never close your eyes and the lights never go off and you can never be alone, and during the play I thought yes yes this exactly what hell is like, everything you hate about yourself and everything you hate about other people. But riding my bike home I went down a narrow little alley and thought no, hell is darkness, hell is dogs. Infinite knowledge of yrself, infinite absence of God. I've been reading a lot of books about war. In ANY EMPIRE, one of my favorite comic books of 2011, a dad tells his kid You'll hear this too much -- but you should know this: war is hell. The characters in ANY EMPIRE do mostly the opposite of what everyone in PEACE BE WITH YOU keeps suggesting. The monks in PEACE BE WITH YOU quote Thomas Merton a lot: If you want to understand the social and political history of modern man, study hell. and The long and sorry parade of human history is nothing less than the endless dismemberment of Christ's body. I'm sort of surprised that thinking and reading and typing about WAR and HELL isn't making me feel weird or sad or angry or sort of dead, but it's not, I feel great. I just ate a chocolate donut. I have a backpack full of kitty litter. When I was buying the kitty litter something stupid happened at the self-checkout and I turned around in a slow circle and threw my wallet on the ground and a girl who worked there saw me and said "What! You're fine!" and I realized that the stupid thing that was happening was my own fault and I made a sheepish face at her and did something with my arms and she laughed in a friendly way and we both felt good. I'm gonna spend the rest of the day riding my bike and reading Borges and Wendell Berry. Tomorrow I'm either going to the woods or, uuhhh, reading more Borges and Wendell Berry.
When the sun was going down I was sitting on my porch, reading very short poems by very old men. When it got dark I went inside to read a different book. My cat was annoying and I was mean. My cat is annoying; I am mean. I pushed everything to the edges of the room and spread out on the floor. I remembered my high school PE teacher telling us to close our eyes and imagine sinking down through the boards of the basketball court. I imagined Ryan and Jerilyn covering their floors with yellow mattress pads and Elia doing somersaults all over them. I imagined being the tiniest tiniest person, tinier than a flea, and living in Ryan and Jerilyn's apartment and one day having to cross a vast expanse of those yellow mattress pads. Getting anywhere would be exhausting, I would have to climb up and down all those spongey mounds instead of just hurrying from one edge of the room to the other and Ryan or Jerilyn or Elia would step on me and I would die and I would be dead on their foot and my family could never bury me. When I imagined a tiny family never getting to bury their tiny father (if I was very tiny I would have a very tiny wife and tiny, tiny, tiny children) I got sad, especially because soon the tiny wife would have to cross the mattress pads to find food for the tiny children and what would happen to her?
I opened up notepad to type things while I listen to recordings of my students telling me what they are going to do their next project on but that's not what I want to type about right now. There is a building that someone painted black and across the street from it there is a building where someone is painting airships with mountains on their backs. A block from there is a building where someone was painting a picture of a man who is painting, but they never painted his hands or his head or his paintbrush, they just painted his white overalls and his blue shirt. And then a week later they unpainted those. I'm not painting anything. Close to my house someone cut down a big tree and chopped it into pieces and left it laying all over the yard. Last time this happened I rolled the pieces of the tree into my truck and then lugged them into my house where they have garnered many compliments and questions. But the pieces of this tree are too big to put in my house and I don't need any more things in there anyway. It's raining. 69.66 percent of News-Leader readers support the idea of voting against all incumbent members of Congress with the hope of bringing in better lawmakers. A slightly larger percentage of News-Leader readers believe that U.S. Muslims sympathize with al-Qaeda. None of my neighbors go outside anymore. Some people watch movies, some people don't. All over the world, things continue to happen. Who needs the news when you got me.
Usually what I'm most aware of is time, which is more like a tundra than a desert and more like a parking lot than anything else. Not the best place to build my favorite things to imagine building - little monuments to everyone who ever stood or sat or layed down next to me.
Sometimes I have fun at parties and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I do the Tootsee Roll and sometimes I don't. Some people have jobs and some people don't. Some people starve to death and some people don't. Parties and economies are alike in that they can get too big, at which point no one can understand or control them, and it's no longer possible for everyone to have fun and some people end up being miserable. I tried to learn about the economy but I couldn't. I listened to the radio and read the Economist and looked at things on the internet and talked to my dad. I took out a loan to see if that would make me feel like I was part of the economy but I don't know if it did or not. That's not actually why I got the loan, I just wanted a computer so that I can grade papers and watch movies. I didn't get a cool computer, I got a functional, inexpensive one that had a 4.6/5 rating based on 15 reviews. If something is stupid, is it possible to participate in it without being stupid yourself. Jesus lived in a small town in the middle of a slowly collapsing empire. It seems like he didn't care about the economy. Or I mean, it seems like he thought it was stupid and fake so he mocked it, imagined something better, and then began to heal it. I feel like there's a lot more to say about this but that's only how far I've figured it out.
Now that you are transformed into ineffable light,
and the guvvamint will be a chip on his shulda
I was the only one at Hardee's. The person working there made eye contact with me and said "this is the wrong time of day to be at Hardee's" but I touched my eye and touched the counter and ordered anyway. Hardee's has become a form of penance. Remember when Thomas Merton said he was truly a citizen of his own disgusting century? That's why I have to go to Hardee's. If I drink coconut milk and grow my own kale, but don't eat at Hardee's, I am a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. Inside of myself, without even talking about it, which I don't, but am doing right now.
Summer finally showed up. I let it hover in the air above my head, pull it down and hold it in my hands a couple hours every day, rub it all over my face. I keep saying "Cheer up man, it's Ramadan!" It's not a joke, it's just in the shape of a joke. And lots of people seem pretty cheered up already anyway. So am I. I'm basically done with school for a while, and I have lots of books to read and lots of plans to hang out with lots of people. But that only gets me through Sunday, after that's a short but somewhat worrisome week of nothing. I might try to find The Deep Web. What if I can find a way in but not a way back out? Is this the closest thing we have to a world inside a world? No. There are other, realler things, but I'm too lazy for them right now. I'll leave all my clues with Ryan Reed so if you can't find me go talk to him.
Well you'll help them build their home right there on your chest and they'll fling out a young forest all across your stomach but when the trees get three feet tall they will run they will run they will run and you'll be left laying there with nowhere to stand and nobody to sit next to.
"becase there are many worlds and all of them are smeller"
Hell is a picture that gets smaller and smaller every time you click it.
kale and lentil and lightning bug salad
fleas as a metaphor for loneliness; loneliness as a metaphor for fleas
I typed up a dream I had so that I can read it over and over again. A couple nights ago I said outloud a different dream and told what happened the morning after the dream and the people I was with looked at me skeptically without saying anything and then talked about something else and I regretted having told them about it. Sometimes letting something float outside of your brain and into the semi-physical world makes the thing more real, but just as often it makes it less real. Yesterday I saw a movie about houses with nothing on the walls or on the floors, yards and fields without bugs, dinosaurs that don't kill each other. False idylls, etc. I was at the movie by myself and there were three other people there by themselves, plus two impatient moms who kept whispering to each other: "I think he's just imagining this part." "Which ones of them are dead right now?" None of them were dead. I loved staring at space and at the dark and formless earth and I wanted the moms to be quiet and not mind that they didn't know what was going on. Someone in the movie prayed a good prayer: "I wanna know what you are. I wanna see what you see."
Millions of toddlers marching east on Walnut prevented my haircut, prolonged my analysis of Saudi t-shirt trends. But it's summer and my thoughts don't prolong, they just stay short. When I finally got to the barber shop I almost fell asleep in the chair. Saw one of those old green O'Connell's stickers in there, the ones that weren't sticky enough, and I thought about a certain time period and a certain series of photos that I assume are still on facebook, and I reflected on my sandwich choices over the years. I only ever eat at Sub Shop now. For sandwiches, I mean. Mostly all I eat right now is sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and kale. Two of my sunflowers popped, the whole neighborhood has been discussing it and congratulating me. Sunflowers is good for the economy. The imaginary economy, I mean, as opposed to the fake economy.
world wars ninety-nine thru one-oh-two is me versus me versus me versus you
it's summer i'm something
all problems are pronoun problems
When I was almost asleep my shoulder was a cliff and it was also the dark of the rolled down window of a car. Someone jumped out of the car (my shoulder) and knocked over someone else who was standing on the cliff (my shoulder) and they both tumbled down (my shoulder), grabbing at each other and at the cliff (my shoulder) and kicking up leaves but not yelling or making any sounds with their mouths. I was confused about what had happened and didn't sleep all night. But it feels good to do that sometimes and it felt good in my garden in the quiet of the morning and it felt good on my bike and I feel good right now even though I don't want to live somewhere this humid anymore.
Last night I had a dream about a tiny, tiny donkey. I found it hiding under my bed and went and told someone else to go look at it. They crawled down there and said "it's just a bug" and I said "no it's not" and then they gasped and quietly said "donkey donkey donkey donkey donkey." Couple nights earlier I had a dream about a panther. Next morning when I was making my breakfast I looked out the window and saw a possum strolling around my yard in broad daylight. I was so appalled I forgot to put cheese in my omelet. The cat was upset too, because of her encounter with a possum several summers ago. To a cat, a window is a television that you can put your eyes very close to all day long without getting a headache. What if they think it's 2D, is what I'm saying. But anyway I was very angry about the possum - full of rage and loathing - until I wondered what if the possum is my neighbor. Am I supposed to try to love him. I imagined sharing my breakfast with him, the possum sitting in the chair across from me, spilling food all over the place and telling boring, disgusting jokes. The cat hissing and hiding and hating me for trying to not hate the possum.
I've been wearing the same shirt for about five days because it matches my mustache the best. Eating lots of dandelion leaves. Drinking lots of limeade. I have to work at the office again for a few weeks. It's kinda bad but I'm doing a good job of not being angry. I just listen to Onipa Nua and TPOK Jazz and eat snacks and feel happy and defiant. I want to read The Instructions again already. The good parts about defiance and teams extending beyond their obvious boundaries. "In becoming who you are becoming, Gurion, you heal a rift by mocking it." That part. There's lots of things that need to be defied and mocked and healed. The world is infinite rifts.
fake rocks fake talks fake food fake feet
I wanted to do several kinds of work today but have been blocked on multiple fronts and I don't mind. Jen and Rogan came and stood on my porch, then Don stood on my porch, then I stood on Don's porch. In between I sat around and flopped around and read Georges Perec. Now I'm drinking coffee, reading The Economist, learning how to build a lamp, and typing. I'm at the library. Willie Nelson is playing. Species of Spaces. Descriptions of Days.
Nothing is more fun than being inordinately fond of people.
Where do I put my thoughts or any of my things. I went to what I call the canyon, but they're building hills in there. Hills on top of hollows, on top of rocks and mud and metal. Look up where the word panic comes from if you don't already know or here I'll just tell you: the Greek god Pan used to appear to people in wild, lonely places, and panic is what you felt when you saw him clambering down the cliff, coming towards you on his little goat legs, shirtless and smirking. No one will ever have to calm themselves down from the fear that Pan is going to appear on top of those hills they're building; those places won't be places anymore. They'll be quiet, well-lit parks. Nothing I can do but bring my backpack with me next time; fill it up with rust and rocks and make a pile on my porch.
Well, my sweatstains and my bloody knee and my farmer's tan are back. Everything's coming up but the spinach. I've been sitting on my porch thinking about Wendell Berry, Masanobu Fukuoka, and Genesis 3:17, 18, 19. My neighbors who listened to nothing but Phoenix and Vampire Weekend the last two summers have started listening to "Delta Dawn" on repeat.
That was the last couple days, anyway. Last night it thundered and then there wasn't a tornado. I paid for a haircut for the first time in like six years. This morning I couldn't understand anything my students were saying. And it's my job to understand them. Is that my job? I don't know what my job is. I kind of want to live in a hotel. Just for the weekend. Sleeping pills, clean sheets, mediocre continental breakfast.
Standing next to sounds is like being next to boulders: it's just me & this brick wall; it's just me & this beach ball.
Sew yrself a flag and run it up and down the pole til you go blind in yr right eye.
Last night I ate supper with people from church. Then I went to a birthday party and then I went to a show and then I went back to the party and danced and farted. I also floated some balloons out the window, which people seemed thrilled and impressed by, even though what else would you do with balloons. While I was at those places and also while I was at church this morning I thought about a book I'm reading that's gigantic and good. It's about all my favorite things: teams and infinite allies and monotheism and talking and not talking. Actually I don't know what it's about because I've only read 12% of it. Someone needs to make this book into a book club with me. Me and Emaad are gonna have a book club I think but not until summer. Infinite allies, infinite book clubs.
Springfield is like so cool right now.
I'm not on any teams, I just have infinite allies.
I went to Kansas with my dad. We started a fire. I went farther than usual - on foot, and on the four-wheeler. I dropped him off at the airport and fell asleep in a museum. A few hours later I was looking at a parking lot waiting for Nathan to get off work, and I remembered that I had forgotten to pretend to be Catholic. Ash Wednesday was one of my favorite holidays in 2010. The 2011 version was good too, just hard to call it a holiday.
I got my bike working again and I've been going home and digging up the yard on my lunch breaks. Getting things ready. Familiar blisters coming back. Feels real good dawg. I forgot to call people dawg at the party last night. When the talking turned into two teams I felt like I was on both the teams. Or I guess more accurately I felt like I wasn't on either of the teams. I said to myself you can wear this like a hairshirt, or you can wear it like a badge which is a good a thing to say to yourself, but in the end I didn't wear it all. Wearing means talking.
Last week I ate at Taco Bell for the first time in like four years, in honor of Mark Ruzicka. It was a good way to end it. I thought about my old Taco Bell self and my non-Taco Bell self and my new Taco Bell self. I felt my skin and stomach change. Sometimes I can feel my face being my dad's face and hear my voice being my brother's voice and see my hands being my mom's hands and my right foot being my cat's twitchy tail.
When I was asleep there was a Global Crisis and the school I work at was relocated to some farmstead out by Hartville and when I showed up to teach my reading class, each of my students was wearing a flannel shirt that they'd taken from my closet. They were very pleased with their joke and I was too and I felt proud of them and fond of them. In real life they don't respect me because I have a weird voice and I don't know anything about grammar and I wear Levi's 511 Skinny Trousers and I just ignore Yaz every time he tells someone to shut the fuck up. Fifteen percent of my dreams are Global Crises and ten percent are Spiritual Nightmares and fifteen percent are Sexual Encounters and sixty percent are Interpersonal Trivialities. The percentages used to be a lot different and buhLEEV me, my nights are much calmer now than they used to be.
my heart's a potato my stomach's a squash and my brain is a broccoli
You know what I did on Saint Valentine's Day dawg I ate a pizza and a box a chocolates. You know what my cat did dawg she popped a black balloon. The balloon was the winter. It ended when I lost my gloves and it ended again when that balloon popped. So I cut down all the snowflakes and flattened em in a giant WWII book, same place I keep my avocado leaves. Couple days later I think someone musta went in my house and took a copy of 77 Dream Songs that belongs to the MSU library and a copy of Dark Night of the Soul that belongs to the Vineyard and a framed photograph of Jeff Anderson that belongs to me. Took it right off the wall. Nothing I could do. Turned off the radio and went out in the yard and stroked my garlics; went on down the street and found my milk found my orange juice found my friends.
all wars are air wars
Yesterday I drove Guillermo out to his farm. "We call this Mother Farm, because of the Virgin Mary. And we call this the Salmon Bridge, because it is made of salmon." It isn't actually made out of salmon, that's just how he pronounces 'cement'. We had to push his brother-in-law's van up a hill and then we had to push my truck out of the ditch and dig his car out of a different ditch. It was fun; small, easily surmountable problems, extended families, the Missouri countryside, and extremely brief periods of physical exertion are some of my favorite things. Then we went back to Springfield and he bought me a sandwich and some coffee and gave me a lot of unsolicited advice and he went back to his hotel to study physics without being distracted by his seven kids, and I felt sad for his wife and kids and I went and hung out with people my own age.
If you like reading comic books I'm working on a list of which ones the public library has that are good. Please tell me if you know about any other ones.
I'd rather not say what I've been up to. The snow's cancelled everything and it aint been much. Some of it's been fun but more's been miserable and even more's been an endless, unplowed street, marked by no one's pawprints but my own. I've been somewhat alarmed by the news, my friends, my books, and my brain. Which is to say my actions. But I know all the best places to stop and rest, and all the best places to hide. "The author of all things watches over me, and I have a fine horse." Some pretty decent boots. A small, reliable truck.
When I got home from trying to act like a teacher I read a very small book that came in the mail and then I knocked over a very small lion so that I could make a snack, and then I came to the library to check out a book about a very huge lion, and now I'm typing. The snack I made is the one where you put some dry oatmeal and some powdered milk in a cup and then you squeeze some honey in there and eat it with a spoon. I'm trying to use up all the things on my shelves. What I don't understand is how real milk gets turned into powdered milk, or why powdered milk is cheaper than real milk. I guess because you can keep it forever and it doesn't start to smell bad or taste bad. When liquid milk goes to church sometimes it sings a song that goes never grow old, we'll never grow old, there's a land where we'll never grow old. And the song comes true for some of the milk because it gets cremated and put into little pouches that my grandma buys at the store and gives to me. The milk enters my body for a while, which is a sort of purgatory that all milk must go through, but different milks enter the purgatory in different forms. When it comes out, the milk is in hell, I guess. The only way milk can avoid going to hell is to not serve its intended purpose, which is to be drank by a human or an animal. Some milk is born in a person's body and then it goes into a baby's body, but other milk is born in a cow's body or a goat's body. Being milk is a lot different from being a human.
What else I have been thinking about is what if cats were the size of fleas and fleas were the size of cats. We would just think it was normal, that's what. When Lewis and Clark were flying over the Great Plains for the first time, they looked out the window of their airplane and saw all the buffalo herds looking very very tiny way down below them and Meriwether Lewis woke up Sacajawea to ask what all those things down there were and she said "fleas" as a joke, but he didn't think it was funny, he just believed her.
If ever you need more room in your brain to store football stats, movie quotes, or Bible verses, just introduce me to your parents, your siblings, your cousins, your neighbors; tell me about your dead friends, the bleachers, the fields, the ponds, the pelicans; let me spend one full day in each room of every house you ever lived in, and I will remember them for you.
Lots been going on. One night I ate some lentils and bought two shirts that didn't really fit. I sat at the bar by myself for twenty minutes, then Ryan came, and then Phil came. Ryan said "looks like the valley is ours for the taking" and I was very pleased. I made two jokes and then a wall was built inside my brain. A strong and stupid barrier. I tried to call my parents but the phone lines were underwater. The satellites were underwater. The earth, being a vessel floating in a sea of space, was subject only to maritime laws. ummm. I played with a butane lighter and went to bed.
In the morning I tried to act like a teacher. Phil Bridges, Andy Eaton, and Will Hickman all told me I ought to be scared about it, but Emaad, Guillermo, and my mom and dad all told me not be. Intending no disrespect to anyone, I decided to be scared about it and I feel that I made the right decision. In the afternoon I tried again and again the next morning. Went into the bathroom to wash some blood off my hand and somebody was sobbing in the stall. I said "you alright in there?" and they stopped crying but didn't say anything so I left. Gotta learn to walk slower, talk slower. Gotta learn a lot of things, I guess.
It's snowing and I'm glad. I ate some snow off a tree and the snow tasted like the tree. No one saw me. Some people, this is the first snow they've ever seen. Babies, I guess, but also people who used to not live here but now they do. Me and Will Hickman have been sending each other emails about snow and urine and :David-Wynn: Miller all day. When I was walking to where I am I was walking through the snow, wearing my boots because it seemed appropriate. It doesn't hurt to wear them anymore, it only feels good to wear them. I was also wearing some gloves that are the warmest gloves I have worn in a long time. I'm always losing my gloves so usually I just buy ones that cost like two or three dollars at Ace hardware and they aren't very warm. But these are some ones that my mom got me. Did you know that I only have one thumb. When I'm wearing gloves I'm much more self-conscious about only having one thumb and I like to stick things into the empty part of the glove so it's not just a flapping pouch. A rolled up piece of felt is good. With this one I tried to put a fake bone in there that Cecilia left at my house a long time ago, but it was the wrong size. Cecilia is a dog. When I was in like middle school my dad took me to Jeff City to see some dudes who made prosthetics and they had me try on these bizarre and horrifying skin gloves with fake thumbs and every other kind of fake finger. Another time a doctor who was supposed to be looking at my heart suggested that I have one of my big toes surgically removed and attached to my hand but I didn't want to do that. When I was in college someone was telling me they thought I was a good writer and I was like "okay thanks" and then she said "and you know what I think it's because of this" and started stroking where my thumb isn't and I started to laugh and she started to get mad. Don't remember why I wanted to tell you this but I'm going back out into the snow now.
Very sincere thank yous to whoever put that wasp nest in the back of my truck.
Well, I could type for all time about anything you wanted but I can't hardly talk about nuthin':
Yesterday I had to go to a meeting. On the way to the meeting I found a muddy postcard on the ground that had some flowers on it and said PETUNIAS: NEVER DESPAIR. I thought about leaving it there for someone more despairing to find but I decided not to and I put it in my backpack. Every day I make a list of things to do during the day and yesterday the first two items on the list were go to the meeting and don't be weird at the meeting. I feel like I did an okay job of not being actively weird, but I might have been passively weird. So I wasn't sure if I could cross don't be weird at the meeting off my list. After the meeting I talked to Grace at the library and to Will Andree at his art gallery. We opened up a trapdoor but the crawlspace was too small to get into. Later, I was driving my truck and I saw J.R. Top walking along the street with a hairier, beardier version of himself, and I wondered if maybe there was a Sweetwater Abilene show that night. There was, and I went to it. I told J.R. that I had seen him walking and he said he had seen me driving and then he said he was going to go out to his car to put on more deodorant. My brother left his deodorant and coffee filters at my house and I don't understand if I need to mail them to him or not. When the person J.R. had been walking with was singing he said "and now I believe / in a world that I can't see" and I thought about Wendell Berry and the Bible and when I am partially awake and partially asleep and I thought about some other things too. When J.R. started singing I wanted to put my scalp and my friendly fists into the small of everyone's back, but I mostly resisted. I mean, I did what was expected of me, then became jealous of several people, then I went outside and J.R. hugged me in the middle of the street and I went home. I'm allowed to miss people without missing the past.
I had a dream that I watched an eleven minute long Willow Smith video that featured not only her mom, her dad, and her brother, but also an extended guitar solo by my favorite Russian history professor, Maxim Matusevich. I watched the video alone, in someone else's empty house, on someone else's laptop. I imagined watching the video again in twenty or thirty years and wondered if there would still be laptops or cellphones or any kind of physical electronic devices or if I would watch the video inside of my brain and eyes just by thinking about it and I wondered if watching it again several decades later would make me remember this first time that I watched it and if that would make me have a lot of emotions or no emotions and if noticing myself having no emotions about it would then cause me to have some emotions after all.
And yesterday morning I had a small vision of Barack Obama moving to Columbia, MO where he had gotten a job as a weather man on KRCG TV 13. I thought about it while I sat at the laundromat, and was a little sad about it. Nothing funny happened at the laundromat because there weren't any babies in there. When there are babies in there, I usually like the babies but not the babies' parents. But I guess if the babies were there without their parents then I would have to take care of them and I don't want to.
I feel like wild boars are really popular right now. Please contact me if you have been thinking about wild boars more often than usual.
Normally I spend most of every day by myself but for the last like week and a half I was around my family every minute of every day except for the minutes when I was pooping or peeing or taking a shower or sneaking away to go on a walk. I love my family but after four days of not being able to be by myself hardly at all I was grumpy and had a headache and had to go to bed at 9 o'clock so I wouldn't start throwing up. After that I was mostly fine though, even in the car and even in several extremely crowded rooms in Texas. During the day, anyway. At night my dreams were full of endless rooms and hallways and parking lots and baseball fields that were all crowded with real people and imaginary people doing things and saying things to me and and doing things and saying things to each other. If I've interacted with you in any way in the last twelve years it's likely that you were in one of these long and blurry and exhausting dreams, let me know if you can remember being there.
For a few nights I was sleeping all over the floor with my brother and ten of my cousins. Everyone else in the room would fall asleep instantly but I would lay awake for at least an hour trying to remember how to forget how to breathe and trying not to think about anything. I couldn't do it though, and sometimes I thought about how easy it was to admit to myself that I loved everyone in that room - I love them individually and as a group and as smaller family groups. I remembered when the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day and I imagined my own heart glowing and melting and flooding and filling my body and then I started over and imagined it swelling like a balloon and going up into my throat and floating out of my mouth and hanging in the air above me.
On New Year's Eve we all made hats and I made a shirt and we did a countdown and toasted each other with champagne and fake champagne and then ran all over the neighborhood, barefoot and yelling.
Hi I'm in Kansas. There's wifi or something out here now, I don't know how I feel about it. This morning I walked out to the south pond and then Steve took me up to the pasture, we took the cow path instead of the truck path. I'd been all over up there before, but it was good to see things smaller and slower; on foot instead of in the back of a truck, to see how everywhere connects to everywhere else. And it was good to have three dogs of three different colors jumping and snorting everywhere. Lucy and Max and Sadie. "You ever wrestled three shit-covered dogs on top of a mountain?" I imagined someone saying that to me. I sang some Joanna Newsom lyrics to Sadie but she didn't know why I was doing that. Down in the ditch where I nearly served you/up in the clouds where we almost heard you. That's what I sang. Real quiet. Steve told me about tearing down a stone wall to build a stone house and about how him and my mom used to burn the pasture. Anyone who says Kansas is ugly or flat or boring has never really been there, which is how I feel about anyone who thinks anything is boring.
When I was in Springfield with my family I wasn't taking pictures and my brain wasn't writing sentences so you don't get to know about it. But one of my favorite things that happened was on Christmas day when it was snowing a little and I walked to the gas station to get some more Coke for my mom. I was wearing my old hat and my old scarf and my sort of new coat and my brand new gloves and some boots I found out a thrift store that no one had ever worn before. My heels were bleeding into my socks a little because the boots aren't broken in yet. But it felt good to be wearing everything I was wearing. After the gas station I was walking home in the snow carrying a two liter bottle of Coke in each arm and a girl in a bright blue peacoat carrying a baby wrapped in a bright yellow blanket yelled Merry Christmas at me from across the street. It was a shy yell if such a thing is possible. I yelled Merry Christmas back in a less shy way and then we stood grinning at each other for a few seconds, both very pleased to have said Merry Christmas to a stranger.
Tomorrow I'm going to Texas.
Because it's almost Christmas I've been memorizing a somewhat sacrilegious poem, making lots of paper snowflakes, and endlessly wandering my neigborhood. I don't really understand how eclipses or time zones work or what effect they might have on each other, so on Monday night I was away from my house for a long time. A lot of people were out in their yards or on their porches during the middle of the night, it was cool. I want people to be in their yards or on their porches all the time. Some people said things to me and I said things to them and we looked at the moon together. I thought about a lot of things - Mayans, oceans, centaurs, the end of the world, Druids.
I've also been hanging out at the public library a lot. Reading National Geographic and The Economist, telling teenagers how to spell the word 'people' and letting them borrow my pen to write it down, explaining to people how to use the computers, and then explaining to other people that No, I don't work here, everyone is just very eager to ask me questions. The problem is that I have my own question that I need answered, and Grace is never in here when I am. A few days ago something gross happened involving a library book - I mean, the book wasn't involved, but it was definitely affected - and I need to ask Grace what I ought to do about it. I feel especially bad about throwing up on the book because it's good and important. I mean it's good if you like feeling sad and angry and guilty and impotent.
Tomorrow my mom and dad and brother will be here to stay at my house for a few days. It will be fun, I usually like them. Here's a video of us from 2006:
o come o come
Instead of going and buying papers towels I tore apart an old t-shirt and used it to clean up the kitchen counters and the kitchen floor, they were both getting pretty gross. I'm a little sad I won't be able to wear the shirt anymore though, it was the one with Nathan's blood on it. If anyone wants to make me truly happy this Christmas they can write their name in blood on a t-shirt and give it to me.
After I cleaned the kitchen I made a pizza and read a book. Then I went to Ray's Lounge. There were only about twelve people there and I drank a certain amount of whiskey and talked to my friends; Boris Yeltsin was playing and they played a song that always reminds me of hauling hay with Dean and Jonathan and Matthew Breshears.
Go get yer axe and we'll chop down summa them streetlights.
I dreamed that two sixteen foot high chain link fences had been built thirty six feet apart from each other all along the Iraq-Afghanistan border (when I'm awake I'm well aware that these countries do not share a border). There were a number of gates in the fences, and people were free to go back and forth across the border until the 8 pm curfew, when computers and machines slowly slid the gates shut, creating a long and narrow no man's land between them. The building of these fences was the first accomplishment of the Afghan government in many months, and in the dream Hamid Karzai is feeling a weary sense of satisfaction and can be seen riding his bicycle towards one of the gates in the fence, after spending the day visiting his nephews in Iraq. He glances at his watch and realizes the gates will be closing in only a few minutes - he needs to get back on the Afghanistan side. He pedals faster, excited by the idea of slipping through the gates just before they close. But he is older than he once was, and to his great annoyance he sees that the gates are already starting to groan shut. He pedals even faster, barely managing to get through the first gate, then jumps off his bicycle, expertly shoving it with his foot so that it rolls right into the second gate, jamming it as it tries to close. He had hoped the bicycle would prevent the gate from closing completely and that he could squeeze out through the gap and walk the rest of the way home; instead he has ruined his bicycle and he's still stuck between the gates. He looks at the fence, considers climbing it, decides against it. He thinks of the reporters and photographers that are likely already finding their way towards him and the endless interviews and explanations that he will have to give and he sits on the ground and writes the name of his wife in the dirt.
My only plan for today was to put spinach and cheese and sour cream on the potatoes I pulled out of the ground yesterday and eat them. But I don't have any spinach or cheese or sour cream, and every grocery store in town seems to be having a very boring problem that prevents me from buying food. At the second grocery store I said "I feel like you should probably put a sign on the door or something" and then I walked out without buying anything and got in my truck and slammed the door and drove over a small curb to make myself feel powerful and dangerous. Then I went to Purple Burrito and ate some tacos and chips and queso and angrily drank a giant soda, my first in several weeks.
Daniel came over and we pulled up the last of my carrots and potatoes and we talked about Tintin and ate the lamb that Emaad shared with me. After he left I made carrot top tea with some dirt in it. I took a good walk and got a good phone call; I saw a dog sniffing a statue of a bear. All day long I think about people who are alive and people who are dead, usually I think more about the alive ones.
I'm sentimental about this expired yogurt, it was given to me by a dead man.
Things aren't they way they used to be inside my mouth. At first I could tell it when my tongue felt the back, and then I could tell it when my tongue touched the front, and now I think I can tell just by looking: teeth moving. Shifting. At first I thought it was like tectonic plates, but now I think it's more like a rock wall. Still, my mouth is neither of those things. It's just its own thing.