Front Page

Archive for the ‘by Chris’ Category

Snow on Trees

In 100, by Chris on December 1, 2018 at 2:55 am

A little tap
all it takes
to shake a
skirt of snow
from burdened
boughs.

No trees down,
no animals doing
anything odd
(except a raven
on an overpass
over a traffic
jam—but ravens
always act odd),
no neighbors
after the shaking
stopped.

Snow on slippers,
dawn not silent,
I’m not cold as
flashbacks
have me shaking,
escaping
each aftershock.

So I go on skis
to see and find
streets loaded
but no stories,
near-normalcy,
only sirens say
something
has happened,
is happening.

And these trees
bent beneath
the biggest mystery,
how the snow
hung on
while
shaking,
shaking.

Advertisements

DNA Match

In 100, by Chris on November 30, 2018 at 12:16 am

At fifty years old, she found her birth father through ancestry.com. He lived on an Idaho farm. 

He was an engaged teenager when he conceived her. 

Before the wedding his fiancée ran away with another man, who convinced her to put the baby up for adoption.

A year later, the man left her.

She returned to her fiancé. By that time he was with someone else.

Both of them wanted to know what had become of their daughter, but Idaho adoption law prevented them from learning.

Now she’s met them and their whole separate families, and they’ve welcomed her.

Zatypota

In 100, by Chris on November 28, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I get intrigued when the first line of a scientific paper has the phrase, “…has long captured the imagination…”

In this case the authors are talking about the manipulative powers of parasitoids, wasps in particular, which hijack their hosts and force them into abnormal behaviors.

Alongside a small spider that lives in interesting cooperative colonies, they’ve found a wasp. The wasp’s larva, planted on a spider’s back, begins to eat. The hijacked spider exits its home and spins a dense cocoon nearby, where the wasp is safe to eat the rest of the spider and mature.

Whose imagination is captured?

Comments On an Article About Justin’s Brother, Whose Car Was Stolen With His Grandma’s Quilt Inside

In 100, by Chris on November 27, 2018 at 7:33 pm

“PSA: Do not leave anything of value in Seattle.”

“@mayorjenny considers this a low level crime and therefore not important. Sorry young man. I would be heartbroken as well. Too many things stolen from my car to count.”

“Your grandma is very talented. That was a great gift.”

“Five finger discount from a feral Seattle pet. It’s your fault, son. You f’d up and went to Seattle.”

“Need to offer a reward. Some people may see and buy it but not return it. Some people would buy it and drive it to your Grandma’s house in Bellingham but not many.”

Burroughs the Bohemian

In 100, by Chris on November 26, 2018 at 10:50 am

Burroughs the bumpkin trying to be a bohemian, penning essays during semesters in cramped teacher housing, always temporary, during summers hayraking at his family’s farm, his essays laced like doilies with things he’d never seen and taking as their themes modern notions through highbrow analogies, inevitably strained, and ever alienating his young wife who wanted less physical love and more life steadiness, less writing, and if he’d just listened to Emerson instead of copying him he’d have ignored the nobility splashed in the magazines to which he submitted and found it instead in himself and home, in hayraking his bumpkinness.

A Transgression Upon Angelica

In 100, by Chris on November 25, 2018 at 11:13 pm

Oh no, not volcanoes, you said.

I was rushing to share my pipe dream to circumambulate each fire mountain in the Cascades—and beyond, to declare my citizenship in the Ring of Fire—and failed to hear the drop in your voice.

Later you said it was like watching a train bear down on you in slow motion as I proceeded to tell you joyously I was not alone: I’d learned of a poet who had preceded me to Japan, who wrote a beautiful blog that vanished like his footprints on a fateful volcano’s cliffs.

I knew Craig, you whimpered.

Card for George

In 100, by Chris on November 25, 2018 at 1:28 am

I could not find a loon to
send to mourn with you—
it’s November; maybe this
year none have straggled—
so I send this chickadee
on its icy crabapple twig.
I know you have no trees
or chickadees but maybe
it will substitute for the
wailing of the loons. Can
solace find a father twice?
How much can you bear?
I pray a bird is there when
you seek the sea cliffs
like you showed me. Here,
chickadees are ever outside,
hopping, gleaning, tseet-ing
upside down. No matter what
I’ve done they’re around, living,
no matter what’s been done.

Skating Potter Marsh

In 100, by Chris on November 23, 2018 at 10:26 pm

Noon sun low over Turnagain Arm and we’re wobble-sliding on our die-cast edges, knees bent, elbows out, sugar powder of past tracks scattered across this vast marsh, we follow figure snakes on hidden rinks over buried bubbles, deep cracks, matte gold clouds, mottled surface onto the mirror ice that winds between sheafs of cattails with shards of hoarfrost, offset parentheses, slowly we go over bent jeweled grass blades guessing if we’ll catch or slide, safari skating, testing ankle angles and feeling friction come and go, pond greens and frozen frogs below, sharp scrapes, turning by shifting our weight.

Grateful for:

In 100, by Chris on November 23, 2018 at 1:14 am

family tradition food water shelter love mimi stories insulin showers warmth shoes skin bodies birds jokes silverbow bicycles photosynthesis grandparents ears education smiles soil opportunity day examples time biodiversity scientists pillows safety tithing gatherings patterns walking doctors wood silence vinegar ritual tears college binoculars mythology public sports books reed screws wine ocean women joints carpet computers mistakes life brothers whales chapstick cousins volcanoes eyeglasses contacts freedom friends fruit fishing strangers frisbees gossip imagination puns groceries apologizing fossils death engineers tea sex grass colors conversation opportunity alaska space nightmares sensors alternatives poems tacoma marriage past future present novels soap hugs questions

Slow Detection

In 100, by Chris on November 21, 2018 at 8:28 pm

Commercial aviation has called for warnings of volcanic ash plumes to be issued a maximum of five minutes after the start of an eruption. It’s a currently impossible deadline.

In the 2001 eruption of Mount Cleveland, an Aleutian volcano without seismic instrumentation, the first reports came from commercial pilots themselves as they dodged the ash plume and reported strong smells of cinders and sulfur. A widespread warning was not issued for over three hours. Even then estimates of the plume’s height were significantly off.

All current detection options are flawed: satellites, seismic networks, weather stations, atmospheric models, men in planes.

Character Dynamic Ideas

In 100, by Chris on November 21, 2018 at 12:49 am

It’s when Linda shows compassion to Olive that Olive starts to resent her. Lacking clarity and helpless to lead, Olive needs support— she needs not to be babied. (There’s an echo to Linda’s “babe” patter.)

At the same time, the stripping of Linda’s vivacious escort personality attracts Thom’s attention. 

His attention in turn attracts her attention. (Does it look different from her typical attentions?)

Thom doesn’t play the fence, he’s clueless to the fence’s existence. He keeps it light with both of them.

That scrambles Olive even more and directs her rising frustration into fire toward Thom and Linda both.

Circumscribed

In 100, by Chris on November 20, 2018 at 12:48 am

For three hours he and his attending tried to stop the bleeding—neither of them could figure out what he’d hit—and then they had to crash the child to the OR.

“How many circumcisions have you done?” demanded the dad.

The OR nurse, recognizing him, wasn’t much kinder.

Still baffled by what artery would run in the penis and unsure if he’d made a mistake, he recognized that he had to leave.

“I might be done with medicine,” he told his roommates over a dry freezer-burned pork chop. “I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep screwing up.”

Viewing

In 100, by Chris on November 18, 2018 at 7:38 pm

It was your girl’s birthday yesterday. Nine years old. She got two cakes, I saw on Facebook. Her mom made sure she brushed extra good.

Last night her mom posted a thank you for all the wishes—and said you were there with them, watching on.

We’re still in the dark. What happened, Harvey?

Today you’re on view in Bethel in someone’s home. I can’t be there, so in lieu of viewing, I’m imagining. I’m looking at photos of you on four-wheelers with your girl, much littler, holding on behind you. And I’m trying to imagine. It is hard.

Land Managers

In 100, by Chris on November 17, 2018 at 10:06 pm

They’ve got stories. Every time I see them, they’ve got stories, new stories, funny stories. 

Once they discovered several truckloads of junk dumped in the woods. In the heap was a sign advertising the estate sale from which the junk had come, address and all.

Once he hit his brand new gutter with an excavator. When he sheepishly called the company, they reported that they had installed five-inch gutters instead of six-inch gutters and would replace them all.

Once they got a hair and rode one of their cows.

What comes from managing land? All kinds of stories.

Space

In 100, by Chris on November 16, 2018 at 10:54 am

Blue dawn snow with a swath of soft yellow. Above, a spruce with some boughs outlined in gold. Inside here I take a moment to space out. The sound is of refrigerator. Around me are things that are the only things many people accept: flatness of surfaces, shine of polished plastic, yellow electrical light. Now I’m spacing out about object permanence. Things last here, pure and solid, so what can I write? Ah, here’s a flicker of story. Coyote and Pacific Wren have an affair. Coyote gets so hopped up he wants to eat her whole. She somehow shapeshifts away…

Context

In 100, by Chris on November 15, 2018 at 11:05 pm

a grannie sings of seven days free
on a blue background on a TV screen

what context do you need
when these commercials
have all the information you need

the guy’s got a strange tic
as he steams at the waitress
who forgot to bring his drink

and here’s a riddle:
what’s under the tree?

what’s under what?

a green grannie
casts a spell
on a tree
and asks the kids who fall out
to dance on her lap
and a secret society
has got us all mapped
and under my fingers
is a magical app—

the context is apt

A Farm Idea

In 100, by Chris on November 15, 2018 at 12:51 am

Can you build a whole farm around a single culinary pairing? I’m imagining a rolling orchard of Asian pear trees and beneath the trees, grass grazed by dairy goats. You can see where this is headed. Every restaurant in Pierce County will be able to serve Asian pears with goat cheese—on salads, as desserts, alongside wine. The farm would be bordered by forest, so maybe we could throw in the occasional huckleberry, nettle tea, pickled chanterelle, salal cake, or fiddlehead. But the question remains: can a whole farm be based on two complimentary ingredients, Asian pears and goat cheese?

Argo

In 100, by Chris on November 13, 2018 at 10:35 am

As we speak an Argo float drifts. It is a thousand meters deep in the Southern Ocean, quiescent. For nine days it drifts, whim to currents. Then it pumps oil from a bladder and sinks farther, to two thousand meters depth, before reinjecting the oil and rising, over the course of six hours, to the ocean’s ice-strewn surface. Along the way it measures pressure, temperature, salinity, pH, oxygen, nitrate, and more. It sends this towering profile to satellites and public databases beyond before sinking again.

As we speak, there are 3,970 such Argos in every corner of every ocean.

Boreholes

In 100, by Chris on November 13, 2018 at 12:46 am

Thousands of boreholes perforate the world’s seafloors. Beneath miles of sea they are miles deep, the width of your forearm, walled with metal piping that’s capped when they aren’t being used. 

Imagine them down there.

A few select drilling vessels create these holes for scientists to lower specially designed instruments to learn about subseafloor water flow, the cycling of elements in subduction zones, the amount of silica released by earthquakes, and so on.

Imagine being on a boat on the ocean’s limitless roil, probably sick, without any point of reference—except, precisely fixed, these boreholes a two-hour walk below.

Your Poems

In 100, by Chris on November 12, 2018 at 12:11 am

Past dinner, past talking,
beyond the crossword
and any laundry, on the
far side of any email,
when the day’s patients
and their plot lines still
hang around your shoulders
like loose woolen scarves,
you sit to gather them
by writing a poem.

Such is my love for you:
beyond our healing talk,
beyond our hard-won habits,
there’s a realm in lines
of fragmentary poems
and names and bits of tales.

The glow of evening
finds our minds sparking.
We unknot ourselves
and in our fragments
find the flesh of life suggested;
the lines you write
are imagination’s gardens.

Idea for a Novel

In 100, by Chris on November 10, 2018 at 10:46 pm

“We aren’t them.”

“But they created us.”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Well, you know, they were dying. Finally, after all that chaos, all that starvation, they saw it clearly. They couldn’t survive—”

“Yeah, I know. Their DNA had too much individualism or whatever.”

“—because things wouldn’t change. They would never choose group over self. It was part of their evolutionary backbone.”

“I know. So why did they create us?”

“To correct the genetic—”

“And what if they were flawed?”

“Flawed? Look at us. We’re alive, we’re surviving. Hey, we’re thriving.”

“That’s what you say.”

“What we say.”

“Do I?”

“Oh. Oh honey.”

Anxiety Attacks

In 100, by Chris on November 9, 2018 at 9:18 pm

“I don’t know, Doctor, it’s just that there’s so many expectations. There’s so much pressure on me to never fail.” 

“Mm. So your anxiety attacks happen when you think of the expectations people put on you?”

“I think that’s it. Yeah.”

The doctor retrieves the patient’s mom and shares her daughter’s insight.

“Expectations? Anxiety attacks? I can tell you why she’s having anxiety attacks. Last week she stole my car to drive her brother to a party in Tacoma!”

Scandalized, the doctor stares at the patient. She won’t meet his eyes.

“Well?”

Nothing.

“It’s important to be—honest. In life.”

Satellite Echo

In 100, by Chris on November 9, 2018 at 12:04 am

Martha’s mom’s been writing letters. One begins: “Are your sister and I living like Grey Gardens?” Another: “Do you spend time with friends?”

Martha’s mom calls to see if Martha has received her letters. Luckily Martha is living her own life in Hawaii and there’s a satellite echo in the phone connection from North Carolina, so their conversations turn bearable when Martha’s mom hears her own echo and asks, “Do I really sound that grouchy?”

Her mom’s a ceramicist, sharp and healthy and eighty-five. Comments Martha, “You know, in some ways it would be easier if she had dementia.”

For Harvey

In 100, by Chris on November 8, 2018 at 12:23 am

Harvey, if you could hear these coyotes— 

I’m in the room where I grew up with the lights off and the blinds open to an ebony night. Faint spires of light are on the spines of my books. All day I’ve been haunted by the image of your room’s door—you were in there in August, when I visited your dad. I came by several times. Your door stayed closed. I sensed your sequestration in there, the door’s shutness. 

I want silence to fully feel my shock, yet these coyotes yip, yodel, taunt, tease—I think you’d crack your grin.

For the Spider that Rode the Bus with Me (And the Girl Who Spoke to Me Afterward)

In 100, by Chris on November 7, 2018 at 11:33 am

Gravid orange orb weaver, did you see how they backed and squirmed when you dangled from me?

From me or my copy of Magdalena Mountain?

Did I seem nervous too? When I saw I’d decide your fate?

Did you hear them when you were on the bus’s floor—“I’ll let him kick it out, then I can leave”—as I toed you toward the door?

Should I have picked you up and let them scream?

Did I hurt you when I kicked you free?

Did you hear what she said as we pulled away?

“Thank you for not hurting it.”

A Note on Porcupine Quills

In 100, by Chris on November 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Porcupine quills have antibiotic properties. Why? Not because porcupines have embraced the biblical message to love your predators; no, it’s a form of self defense—a defense against their own self-defense system. Porcupines spend a lot of time in trees. They often fall out of trees. One researcher found that over a third of porcupine skeletons showed healed fractures from falls. To prevent the quill puncture wounds that porcupines sustain during falls from growing infected, evolution has equipped the quills with built-in antibiotics—a fortunate thing for curious and hardly predatory dogs.

One other thing: baby porcupines are called porcupettes.

Silent, Science: Under the Northern Lights in Anchorage

In 100, by Chris on November 4, 2018 at 11:47 pm

Let me have my lack of knowledge.
I’m in the cul-de-sac in sweats and
slippers and jacket and when
you ask what makes it, I slide away
on ice to find a place where branches
block the streetlights. There above
the pallid arch is splitting, green
before the stars, beams and rays
and arcs are dancing, and I could be
in bloodless snow yet farther north.
Silent, science. Let your questions
hang. For all you’ve given, you’ve
taken much. Let me be caught out
cold, unnerved—a scrap of tissue
subordinate still to such displays,
powerless yet alive, stupefied.

Kodiak Island Psychiatrist

In 100, by Chris on November 3, 2018 at 10:42 am

Kodiak Island’s only psychiatrist has died. He was sailing with his son—an adopted son who already had more than his fair share of past traumas. Their boat flipped, and while the son survived by clinging to the hull, the doctor father died.

Kodiak’s medical center is already flying in a locum tenens psychiatrist in an attempt to provide continuity to the communities he served. The huge island is barely spotted with towns. It hosts several coast guard bases staffed by transitory and ill-prepared-for-Alaska servicemen and their families. It’s isolated.

Gone is an island’s first line of defense against darkness.

Alert for Anything

In by Chris on November 2, 2018 at 2:25 pm

Grit and ice collect on cars
behind the wheels, in the wells,
packed like boxes, blocks and plugs
dense as chunks of sidewalk—

These streets, streaked with light,
cold-pressed to a sheen of ice—
strewn with parasites,
these gray-ice boxes,
these blocks, plugs
that rattle off our cars and scatter,
water streaked and shattered—
they keep you alert for anything.

Anything except a box,
a real slant-sided cardboard box
ripped at the corners and full of—
as I plow past—teddy bears!

Teddies, scattered! Plush
silvery toys between lanes,
still pristine, still stiff, ready
to be crushed by a hug.

Experience

In by Chris on November 1, 2018 at 8:32 am

Mike Stasiak and I were leaving my parents’ yard. Our things were packed in small bags.

“We can go,” I called from across the drive.

From the shrubs a moose emerged and shimmered toward me, its hair sandy, even silver—some strange defect—as downy and clean as cartoon shag.

I was in the trees. Expecting it to pause and listen, I called to Mike, “You go.”

Next thing I knew it was before me, attracted to my voice, the size of a pony but fluffier, its nose up.

Oh. No.

I edged away instinctively, toward an old climbing tree.

My Estes Park Wedding

In by Chris on February 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Everything is perfect. The venue is perfect. The cabins are adorable. The aspens are a lucky flaming shade of gold.

Well, there’s a little rain. A light drizzle. I know it’ll stop in time for the ceremony. And there’s a little ice on the walkway. But we warned our guests.

Everyone looks amazing. The mountains make them look amazing. We make them look amazing! Even the turkeys look amazing.

Wait a sec. What? Turkeys? Really? There are turkeys wandering around behind the altar. Making a bizarre noise. Will turkeys be in our wedding? Gobbling at us during our vows? Seriously?

Right Place

In by Chris on February 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm

“I just don’t think I’m in the right place for a relationship. That’s the problem. I need to get myself figured out before I get into another relationship.”

I tried to suggest that the right girl would help him figure himself out. That he’d never get to a solid, figured-out place. That the right relationship would help.

He seemed to have thought that through already. “I know. It’s just that if I can’t help myself get better, how can I help her get better? It’s a two-way street. I’ve got to figure out how to do it for myself first.”

Motel Closed

In by Chris on December 1, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Even the car is waddling along after Thanksgiving dinner. I ease it into the motel parking lot, where there are actually quite a few people out.

The lobby door is locked. There’s a hastily typed sign: “Motel closed. We are going home to be with family. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Back in the car, I relay the news to my wife and kids.

“Where will we sleep?” she asks.

“I have no idea.”

On the one hand, you have to admire the guy’s priorities. But looking around at the people shivering, worried, you get to wondering about his choice.

Sunday, November 3

In by Chris on November 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm

yellowjackets are sucking
sap off the pines
in City Park

did you want to bike
or go lie and
read or…?

cyclones of photosynthetic
litter, the largest cottonwood
leaves fall first, yellow to
brown on down

six feet of double helix
spun into every nucleus,
cistrons assemble polypeptide
chains fold into proteins
that literally build us

wink, nod to the
other room and grin

pay these things no mind
they will align
give them no names
they go on all the same

the cold front
fans through the debris
like screens of static,
see clouds strained
through the Front Range

Brawl (II)

In by Chris on October 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm

“Hey!” The first friend’s stunned yelp echoes back hollow. Cursing himself as a coward, he runs forward. Dark spaces grow in the alley.

The other is curled, hands to his side, eyes gaping, mouth slack as if asking for an answer. If there is blood, the night hides it.

And the crushed kid? He feels his face and staggers to his feet. He sneers at the friends, spits out, “I dunno who you are but that serves you right.”

“What? We just… He just…”

“Yeah? I don’t need nobody’s help. I had that dude. Fucking heroes. Go to hell.”

Prius in the Passing Lane

In by Chris on October 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm

            When one of those goddamn go-cart hybrids, especially a Prius, clogs up the highway passing lane, I get twice as aggressive as ever. I swear, twice as aggressive, and that’s saying something.

            Makes me sound like I hate the environment. Naw. I appreciate those hybrids, they’re all fine and good. But you know what, goddammit, I’m in a truck, like it or not. Nothing you or I can do about it. Unless I get a raise. And I sure as hell won’t be driving my truck like a flaccid hybrid.

            It wasn’t made for that. Well hell, neither was I.

Brawl (I)

In by Chris on September 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

The rowdy night grows silent. Streetlights like spotlights stay fixed on empty stages of sidewalk. Two friends, buzzed, pass through the city.

Muffled shouts on a sidestreet. Thuds. A panicked yelp.

The friends turn the corner, see the beating, one kid with hands raised and the other above, fists falling fast.

The first friend halts, searches the scene, alert heart pounding. The other dashes forward, bowls into the brawl, throws the attacker back and turns to the crushed kid. Then the attacker’s on his back, hand to pocket and a knife, an angry shout.

The attacker dashes; the friend collapses.

Hospital

In by Chris on April 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

“The hospital, really? No. Why are you doing this?” She shuffled after him, nose dripping and eyes feeling like pillows. Moonlight lay splayed across the gravel path.

“I love you. That’s why.” His shoulders, skinny under a ratty T-shirt, led her on. “You know that.”

She pleaded with him one more time, knowing he had set his mind. He ignored her, pulled out a cigarette and returned it to his pocket.

From over his shoulder their child looked at her with his soft, dumb, sick eyes. Even carried by a man he hardly knew, his pear-shaped face showed no fear.

I Could Do Better Than This

In by Chris on April 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Maybe we’re all struggling at our jobs and in our relationships because we let consumerism dictate the way we approach life.

That boredom at work that leads to possible-futures speculation? That inability to give one person all our love?

Both assume that what we’ve got is unchanging, that a better model exists, that the world is run by things, not processes. By conditions, not our approach.

Is life only about the obituary? Does joy come from optimizing external conditions or channeling internal passion?

We search for prefabricated solutions instead of acting like handimen: mending and improving upon what we’ve got.

Out of the Cabin

In by Chris on March 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

She raises her face into the swirl of wet snowflakes and smiles. Alone in a sloppy snowstorm, she can’t help but leave the unspoken morning grumpiness in her cabin behind. The snowdrift melts away beneath her snowshoes when she stops. A perfect temperature for leavening the air with the scent of Sitka spruce.

She begins to wonder about the source of her husband’s truculence, but a posse of silent gray jays arrests her attention when they swing into a tree above her. They look expectant. She shakes water from her jacket, grins at them and continues on down the drainage.

Hate

In by Chris on February 27, 2013 at 11:01 pm

“I hate everything here!” The girl, dressed all in purple sheen, hunched in the shopping cart with an exaggerated pout.

Her mom, appraising bottles of shampoo, said, “No you don’t. You want it all. Just cuz I’m not buying you a thing doesn’t mean you hate it.”

“I hate it. I hate you.”

Mom ignored her.

It was bad enough being in Target, moonlighting as a secret shopper, but seeing a mom talk to her kid like that put me over the edge. I abandoned my cart full of Coke Zero and bath towls and walked straight out of there.

Lumber Mill

In by Chris on February 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Tacoma Lumber almost shut down for the first time in three years when Jack, a thick Indian of one tribe or another, got mad at his Chinaman partner’s silence, slapped him with scrap wood, and sent him unconscious up the conveyor, tangled up in miscut boards and sawdust and into the wigwam.        

Maybe another crewman saw the incident. About the time fish-smoke jokes started around, the boss sauntered over to see if he couldn’t see what the rumor was about. Of course, Jack was long gone, and the wigwam burner glowed hot as ever, firing out smoke at the seams.

Future Naturalist

In by Chris on January 9, 2013 at 10:43 pm

When Arthur got to be seven, he decided that spiders weren’t so terrible after all.

Soon after he startled a parson spider in the basement. It scrambled on the shag rug and into the crack behind a bookshelf. It terrified him. Instinctually, he wanted to rock that bookshelf back against the wall until the spider got smashed.

But he stopped himself. It was a decision. He’d let that spider live, even if he’d have trouble sleeping at night. It was an interesting spider. It was cool. Anyway, if he really wanted to be a naturalist, he couldn’t kill anything, right?

Mission 26

In by Chris on January 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm

We’ll never go again. We’re hauling our
final Endeavour through the City of Angels’
thronging streets, a stub-winged relic
never more to seek the space between stars.
Larger-than-life, like a shipwreck it
is paraded past America dirty and inert,
majestic and distant, its white tail stiff
among all our rattling repair shops and
cops and living roof of palm fronds.
Telephone lines are lifted, speeches given
to scientists and astronauts and discovery,
lofty soliloquys that slide off the lumpish
shuttle and its spent history, silent technology.
The greatest frontier forsaken, they take our
once thunderous aim away to a museum.

Lotta Yard Work Today

In by Chris on November 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Coincidentally, soon after a fully armored SWAT team broke into his neighbor’s house, Carl Simmons came out of his house to pick lint from his broom.

“Got some sweeping to do,” he said to an unresponsive police officer. Moments later, two handcuffed men were led out of his neighbor’s house.

At last, those bastards, he thought to himself. “Yard work,” he said out loud. “Sure wasn’t expecting this. If I’m in your way over here, just let me know.”

The police knew better than to lead him on. They knew they’d get an earful about these neighbors.

So Carl swept.

Lie with Me

In by Chris on November 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Third floor, fourth door,
sixteen-hundredth building,
eighty-fourth avenue;
no one looking could find
our lifeblood apartment
in this fully loaded city
of overstimulated people.
Too many freaking spaces.
It’s urban nature, acts of god,
growing lists of things amiss.
It’s how it is, living here.
But look, I’ve made a nest
in the chaos, discovered this
hollow where we fit
like slippers – no questions
getting in at the seams.
Lie with me, my dream,
sleep here safe with me
among our bookshelves
and all our trappings, in
blankets that hold stories
like voyagers who enshroud
you and make you believe.

Discovery, Interpretation

In by Chris on October 20, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I read: “Conservationists focus on cognition and the changing of landscapes. Yet it is interpretation that offers the public meaning and values.”

It took a couple of re-readings before I realized that this summed up the way I felt about writing, landscapes and connection to life.

Those who are able to discover and illuminate the significance-endowing elements of cultural or natural landscapes through storytelling turn unordered space into identifiable place. Within the bewildering array of details in any landscape, they provide moral holdfasts. They make passed-by things sacred. They spark place-based ethics.

I want to be one of those people.

He’s So Freakin Good, Man, Everything He Says Is Genius

In by Chris on October 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm

When I finally wrote the album I believed in, the album I’d been dreaming of, I thought all those years demonized by depression were over. The words were powerful, unforced, backed with chords that felt like my heartbeat. I was happy. Things were right, finally fulfilling. And becoming famous seemed to confirm my enlightenment.

But a year of fame later, and I’ve fallen hard. Almost cracked. Since I can say any damn thing I please now (these fans hail as genius every flippant thought that enters my head) all chances of difficult, miraculous transcendence are gone. Gobbled up by hype-worshippers.

This Is Why

In by Chris on September 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Dylan had a can of black spray paint pointed at his eyes.

“Hey! Dylan! Stop! Put that down!” His mom ran out of the house screaming, the baby tossed over her shoulder. “Dylan!”

Dylan pointed it up and sent a balloon of smoky mist into the air.

His mom tore the can from him as particles of paint settled onto their shoulders. “You can’t do that,” she said.

Dylan poked at the baby’s bare feet.

“You cannot just come out here and play with stuff like that. This is dangerous. OK? It’s not going to come out of your clothes.”

How Do You Know When You Know?

In by Chris on August 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm

When he finally found it, shuffled in with a thousand other cards in a clueless man’s shoebox, he knew instantly.

“Thirty bucks for the whole box,” he said dazedly, fingering the Nolan Byan misprint rookie card, the card he’d searched for through attics and trade shows for thirty-two years. Nolan Byan. His white whale, looking skinny, grinning. Worth five grand, at least.

Late that night, though, the card packed away, doubt filled him. He’d seen counterfeits. On his, was the border thinner on the verticals? The photograph background barely gradated? He felt sick. The card couldn’t be right. Could it?