Monday, December 31, 2007

fire in the fishtank

in your living room, what arrangements have you made? I know sometimes the couches and chairs face a coffee table, sometimes they face the big TV or they just face each other. how about your furniture? that’s mainly what I’m wondering.

front-loading washer, Victrola, flypaper; these have all been possibilities. we’ve got a computer in our front room and when we're playing with little Ash, sometimes the screensaver-slideshow comes on and she gets distracted and starts smiling at all the pictures.

a couple months ago someone’s stucco burned down. this was in New Mexico and they had left their fish tank running in the house. you know how the big ones have electric lights and heaters and pumps and things to keep everything going. well, it turns out that’s where it started.

oh! and then there’s the flat screen fish tank which is also electric.

so in the interest of glowing screens and a long cold month in the middle of winter I was thinking how it would really be something to do a series of photos on fire. these will all be fires from the east end of my living room.
sorry if this is a bit jumpy; I keep turning around, distracted. we’re getting chickadees again at our feeder for the first time in like 3 years. finally!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Last month, it was football players
Robbed the malt shop and set fire
To the Splish Splash carwash “between 3 and 5:30 am.”
A roommate brought a sackfull of quarters
To the bank and sang, they say, like a canary
In a courthouse.

There’s a mantle of sweet apples on the ground,
Under the tree and under the snow,
Rotting here and there between freeze and thaw.
This brings in a few hungry deer most nights,
Thumping, munching, scraping up what they can.
This, I think, I can understand.

But this arson, I know, has been an occasion
for improved business across my street.
The House of Suds brings in all characters.
Like the guy there right now, just began
Spraying down a red Mustang with foam at 5:30am
In the frozen darkness.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I want the big brefes

this morning I wore a baseball hat to breakfast. I could get used to this: getting out of bed, putting on some pants and just starting my day.

it was the Lunds’ annual Christmas breakfast, which they host over at the senior center, the same place we go to vote. we’ve been hearing about this for a few years but finally had a chance to go. sausage, eggs, hashbrowns. french toast on home-baked bread. not bad.

and Brother MacA had left several boxes of old free books out on a table. you may remember Bro. MacA’s free books from last year’s ward Christmas party. anyway whenever you bring up Bro. MacA’s free books later to thank him, he says something like “oh, some of them weren’t supposed to be out there,” that he didn’t intend to get rid of those particular ones and that he would probably like them back. Bro. MacA is senile and doddering and gets around with either a walker or a small electric motor.

Here are the books we took:

The Art of Walt Disney
The Essene Gospel of Peace
Great Basin Kingdom – Leonard Arrington
New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on Land and Community
There’s No Such Place as Far Away - Richard Bach
in which Kelly found this loose and cryptic recipe card of a footnote, apparently referencing someone’s itinerant religious library.
this method of citation struck us a pretty inventive, although a nightmare, I’m sure, for librarians and those looking for primary sources.

when I told Bro. MacA how glad I was to find Great Basin Kingdom in his piles and “thanks,” he said that the ragged paperback was worth like $35 and that he hadn’t meant to put it out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


yesterday afternoon I drove a dozen or so cub scouts down to the limestone quarry behind the temple in Manti. we were working on the Geologist activity badge and wanted to get a look at where oolite comes from. after a few of them piled out from the cab, and then like another ten from the back of the pickup, we all walked past the no trespassing signs, climbed over the entry gate and looked around a little.

on Monday afternoons they're pretty bored of listening all day in school. so I let them run around for a while, climb on rocks, wander off to pee on things, chase rabbits around and throw stuff at each other. then eventually I rounded everyone back up so we could start checking the boxes.

requirement 1: collect 5 geological specimens that have important uses.
"OK, OK. who can tell me what some of these rocks could be used for?"


requirement 5: explain how mountains are formed.
"OK.OK. good. now, see those mountains over there? how do you think they got there?"

and that's about when the big corrugated steel warehouse to our north shook itself like a wet dog. weird.*

requirement 7: describe what a fossil is.
"hey, alright. now, what's a fossil?" and before I can even finish the question…
of course they're really into fossils. it's their favorite. this is especially the case with Ricky C. Ricky C names his rocks. once, when making a pile of rocks, he asked whether he was to pile the boy rocks or the girl rocks. it was decided that he make two piles.

requirement 2: rocks and minerals are used in metals, glass jewelry, road-building products and fertilizer. give example of minerals used in these products.
well, one example is lead, which turned up in over a million of these things.there was a recall last month on the plastic totem badges from China. in other news, the marquee outside the elementary school tells us that it’s time again for picture retakes.

* just this morning I heard that it was an earthquake that hit yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

all saints story problem

there's an old man in my neighborhood,
who cashed it all out this Halloween.

$1,000 in $5 bills
on his dining room table, stacked, waiting.

all evening he waited, marking the time
with the hiss and tick of his oxygen.

“hey, so are you guys out trick-or-treating?”
he yelled to mother and son from his porch.

I heard that like 3 or 4 people came by.

5 fungi

4 moons

Saturday, October 27, 2007

3 fall haiku, looking up

a mourning dove hung
on the wire line one evening
like a long soft blade

we two lay supine
and looking up, the branches
burned? were not consumed?

then sleep under the
smoke detector’s speck light, to
wake in giant moonlight.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

teenwolf exodus blues

when an overfriendly recent divorcĂ©e of middle-age pulls up in her maroon Camaro and decides to buy the home you’re renting, this is when you begin to notice other “for rent” signs around town.

when one Sunday afternoon she backs a truck up the lawn to her door and moves in, you close the blinds for a while. but when you see her swinging brooms and hand-trowels at the swallows nesting in your eaves, you begin writing down the phone numbers you read on those signs.

and when she repeatedly mentions to you her plans to “leather the walls”(?), rip out this and that, pour cement and spray the poppies, you make some of those calls, evacuate your trees and start collecting boxes.

when she, with arms and painted nails already outstretched, asks to hold the baby, be sure you can think of something quick. anything will do, really; “terribly sorry, we um, just vacuumed” or “that’s ok, she’s still pretty light. see?”

when daily you hear her fussing and barking around back with her grandkids and several gentlemen callers you turn on some music and start shuttling your furniture across town by the pickup-load.

now in the mean time, as she plants a graveyard of withering Memorial Day mums out on the corner, brews a tea of dead willows in a trashcan on the lawn, leaves a big cardboard box of storebought carrots to rot on your porch for weeks and begins erecting chainlink around the perimeter, this is when you make it clear to visiting friends and neighbors that these “projects” are not your own.

later, after digging your potatoes like a starving Dutchman, when she then tells you about how lucrative her new work-from-home weed pulling business is becoming, this is when you gather your last hoses and pick any remaining pumpkins.

when finally she goes out and buys a new toilet seat with your security deposit, you dust off your feet and cut your losses.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

last of September

last night we drove down to Salina to meet some people for dinner. on the way we saw a familiar face hitchhiking on highway 89 in front of the central Utah correctional facility. he was going north and we were going south so we wished him luck and he laughed like a joyful maniac as we drove away.

driving down the whole sky was brilliant and pretty crisp with the last of September. aspens and gamble oak were just starting to turn and, above all that, Molly’s Nipple was dusted pallid with last weekend’s first snow.

after dinner we were driving home around sunset and Ash needed to nurse. so I pulled us off on a farm road just before Centerfield. it was around sunset and we parked next to some big stacks of one-ton hay bales. while Kelly nursed Ash, I wandered around through the 2-3 story alleyways and looked out east to where the moon had come up. now with the last sun reflecting off it, Molly’s Nipple was shining pink.

then, back in the car, we played with Ash until it was time to put her back in her carseat and head home. that’s when somebody farted and I looked around to see just what. Kelly was laughing hysterically, and then Ash was, and then I was. Ash’s laughter is getting to where it can be pretty maniacal too now.

real sorry I’ve got no pictures of any of this. nor will there be any documentation of Hayley Mills strolling through the whole thing with a parasol. also, I can say that grading 50 mediocre essays until 4 am hardly sucks at all when you’ve got flames in the fireplace for the first time this season.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

at two am

at two am they tire of x-box and easy mac
and come to the merry-go-round in my backyard
completely sober, impatient and bored
round and round, they try to make their own shooting stars
squealing, laughing and snorting their case for a fire hose.

the dullard stares from the front row
with shameless headphones, vacuous eyes and flytrap maw.
a new haircut is plenty dashing but does little to commend
the empty hands and po-jama posture
all making their case for yardsticks and the draft.

in a mustard-colored shirt with buttons
the skin of his face the color of mustard
and his hair the spicy tone of a fancier mustard
this man sits across the room from me and dozes through the meeting
heated by southern afternoon light through the open blinds.
his watch face flashes sharply in my eyes like a heliograph
transmitting his soporific appeal for spitwads and rubber bands.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


what could have thrown this lakebed two miles into the air?
to where the weather and clouds roll on their bellies,
scuffing their cheeks and hair over the tousled grasses.
what else but the years. what else but the centuries.

coarse alpine prairie, sheep-eaten. dark dusty soils, mole-guttered.

when the glaciers and snowfields recede there are kneecaps,
kneecaps everywhere, all kinds, strewn about, piled into drifts.
like from an antediluvian battle, like from the hosts of Atlantis,
from whales, from angels who flew too low or too high and later washed ashore.

all kneecaps. each one marbled and laced with its own tiny bones and shells.

for so long the whales held onto their kneecaps;
kept them around for millions of years, just in case, so patient.
when the waters come again, we’ll stand on the shore
and skip them back in like the stones they are.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

John Doe

Last night the neighborhood watch reported a raggedy, sandy-haired hobo.
His willowy silhouette passed over lawns and through front and back yards,
in and out of lamplight, under a clear half moon.

That was a Saturday in August, when I slept soundly, windows open, miles upstream from the city of sprinklers. That was when I dreamt and forgot anonymous dreams.

On Sunday morning a keeper of public works arrived with his mower and rakes to the scene: the fresh wreck of a deer, little gore and no horns, flung up on the clean grass between tennis courts and boulevard, in the sun.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

an update

ok, here’s one about blogging. let’s get meta. it’s been weeks since my last post so I’ll be brief and get this updated: I’ve got my right hand back and maybe I’ll put up some before and after x-rays if I can get my films back too.

we’re just about all moved in to the new place now and most other things are getting back. also, school is back in session. but please, say no more of chalkboards! I’ve studied my primer and learnt my lesson. that morning when I struck Oman a right jab it changed everything. but then, looking around, I saw that Oman was completely unaffected, which figures. I peeled back Oman and all of Appalachia made it out unscathed too. this was hard for me to take.

so when people would ask, I'd just tell them that “I fell”. but now my pins have been taken out so it’s no longer such an issue.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

proposals for meat lessons

one time I saw this movie about a guy in Italy who found a special book sitting in a dustbin. it was missing its cover and he spent the rest of the movie trying to find out what book it was.

here we have a cover but must ourselves stitch together the content; retro-engineer it if you will, like an impoverished eastern bloc regime. are you with me comrades? we need at least 10 lessons for the rising generation. I know you know about this stuff. what have experience and precept taught you about meat over the years?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Archived Americana

here’s a little more Americana from the national archives

cuckoos & roadside explosives

my friend Paul is working as a security guard in Hawaii these days. his company sends him out to protect state parks and private schools and things, and he gets to use the CB radio a lot. I could begin a completely separate blog about Paul and it would be way better than this one. we’ll see.
anyway, he’s come back again for a few weeks to sell fireworks in Roy, UT and he’s got his stand set up in a scorching parking lot between Beto’s Mexican restaurant and Dr. John’s adult novelties. for the last couple years this is where we have gone for all our firework needs. this time Kelly and Ash got to hold down the fort for a bit while Paul and I jaywalked through 4 lanes of traffic to get a Wendy’s burger. during the short while we were gone they did about $30 in business! when I was like 14 this would have been my dream job: selling fireworks from a chipboard shed up by the air force base.

there was a time when Paul threw several routes of newspapers for NAC. and for a while we all entertained the idea of painting a flaming newspaper on the side of his golf cart. but now that he’s hustling little exploding papers, people come to him. so if you still have any fireworks you need to buy, hurry go get them from Paul. I’ve got a suspicion that he might actually be America.
“We Americans are all cuckoos. We make our homes in the nests of other birds.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes