your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!

Day 23: "Shadows"
My old beloved cactus, Bob

I remember you as you were last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.

Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.

I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
towards which my deep longings migrated
and my kisses fell, happy as embers.

Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

[Pablo Neruda {1904-1973}, ‘I Remember You As You Were’, from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair]


hours between work and waking when all you wanted was a piece of the life you'd dreamed of

Day 22: "Black and white"
Storm clouds over the Mississippi

Every few years, lightning found a wooden storehouse
of one distillery or another in that green pocket of Kentucky
where the world's whiskey is made,
where I learned to swirl bourbon in a glass,
taste a coffee finish, learned to tell time
by the smell of sour mash in the air.

Heaven Hill burned for days.
We'd watch from the grocery store parking lot
for spikes of flame through smoke, never close enough
to see what the volunteers described, the barrels full, aflame,
blown-out stories of gray timber cascading down to the river,
the catfish and bluegill straining to breathe
beneath the bourbon slick.

I've forgotten everything else,
spent most evenings with a girl named Bobbie
draining beers, shooting pool, throwing darts,
flirting with truck drivers and college boys,
driving home with the top down, long scarves wrapped around
our heads,

iced Maker's & Cokes sweating between our thighs.
We were ablaze as you might have been, hours between work
and waking
when all you wanted was a piece of the life you'd dreamed of
or all but ruined--what you had coming
because you were good,
because you were beautiful, spilling all you knew.

[Karen Harryman, 'Bourbon Fire', in Auto Mechanic's Daughter]


it's not that linear. Only carry on this talk with someone else.

Day 19: "Dinner"  
On the 20th of September, 2012, I went on a shopping trip with this guy, and afterward we went out to dinner at the steak place in town. He was going through some things, and we spent the meal talking through it all. I have no idea why I would have taken this photograph, given the circumstances, but it means the world to me. He was not just the happy-go-lucky, funny, drinking, laughing, list-writing friend who shows in so many of the other pictures that I have. He was also quiet, deeply introspective, often sad and profoundly down on himself, and never for one moment saw himself the way that I did. It's part of what made him such an amazing friend to me, the complexity of his dark and light sides, and very little shallow (which is why most people found him hard to get to know).  I miss him every single day.

Day 20: "Metal"  Well, not exactly. This is, unfortunately, one of those inside references that can't adequately be explained. If you get it, you get it, and if you don't, there's no point in trying to make this one make sense.

Day 21: "Furry"  Sitting on the living room floor with a cat on my back, age 12
The student pokes her head into my cubicle.
She's climbed the screw-thread stairs that spiral up
to the crow's nest where I work
to say goodbye.
She hands back books I lent.
I wave her to move papers from the spot

she always took, worrying a sentence or a line;
or come with protruded tongue to show
a silver stud;
or bamboozled by some guy who can't appreciate
the dragon tattooed on her breast, the filigree
around her thigh. This term she's done with school.

Four years she's siphoned every phrase,
or anecdote, or quote that's mine to dole.
She knows what I know,
or used to know, for in me sonnets fade.
Homer erodes
like sandstone worn by age.

Each year I grow emptier, more obsolete,
can barely grope
to words that once hung iridescent in my skull.
When, thirty years back, I asked my beloved tutor
how I'd ever pay him back, he said, It's not
that linear. Only carry on this talk

with someone else. 
All his thoughts on Western Civ
would melt like ice without this kid--
hair dyed torch red, painted flames on her lug-sole boots.
She safety-pinned a plastic charm
of Our Lady's sacred heart to her sleeve.

Last night, to plot her destiny
she hurled at the world map a lopsided dart
and hit a South Seas flyspeck. Call collect,
I say, if you get stuck. Read
thus-and-such translation of Rilke only.
And though I sound like Polonius to myself,

she scribbles down my platitudes.
Without her like,
I'd live in the dull smear
of my own profession, each kid
a repeat, indistinct from the vanishing instants
that mark us made.

The hand that holds this pen's assembled by some force
newly manifest
in her face. She brought amazement for a spell,
then tore loose into the labyrinth I've meandered in
addled as a child, feeling along the string my teacher tied.
My eyes stare out from ever deeper sockets, edged in mesh.

I watch her cross the snow-swirled quad
backpacked in hunter plaid, bent like an old scholar,
moving with care across the slippery earth.
Snow is falling
over the quad, like rare pages
shredded and dispersed by wind,

that wild white filling every place we've stepped.

[Mary Karr, 'Winter Term's End', from Sinners Welcome]


you too must seek the sun...

Day 16: "Glass"  3 candies, made of glass
Day 17: "Water"  Lake Hefner, Oklahoma City OK, 2005
Day 18: "Cold"  DeK, IL  February, 2013
  • What does the last text you sent say? And to whom? "Yes. Exactly that." - to my bff
  • What does the last text you received say? And from whom? "Yuck" - from my niece
  • What time do you wake up most mornings? roughly 6:37 AM
  • Are you afraid of walking alone at night? depends where I'm walking
  • What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day? read, write, watch movies
  • Where did your last kiss take place and with whom? that, alas, remains confidential
  • Do/did you get into trouble a lot at school? define 'a lot'. No, seriously: I didn't. I probably should have, but I did not.
  • Do you enjoy your job? If unemployed, are you content being so? uhmmm. I think I'm good at it, and it is sometimes interesting.
  • Do you often pick up on double entendres and innuendos? far too often. It's an unattractive habit and one I ought to try to break.
  • Have you ever been offered drugs but declined? that is accurate, yes
  • Have you ever been offered drugs and accepted? in a sense, that's also accurate
  • Have you ever met someone who has completely altered your way of thinking? definitely! Hence all the years of school that came afterward. (There have been others, too, but that was the big one.)
  • Tell us something weird that turns you on. I'm hoping this was meant in the philosophical or intellectual sense, because I'm going with Eastern European poetry, in which my interest is purely artistic and aesthetic
  • When did someone last admit romantic or sexual feelings for you? Was the feeling mutual? the first bit is inconsequential, but the latter can be answered with a definite Yes.
  • What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately? photography
  • When did you last swallow your beliefs to avoid an argument or confrontation? other than at work every single Goddamned day? last weekend.
  • Do you usually initiate hugs? probably more often than not, since there's an erroneous belief floating around that I'm not a fan
  • Are you a very affectionate person? in my own way, I am
  • Can you roll your own cigarettes? no, but I'm not a smoker so it's not an issue
  • What are you looking forward to? next weekend
  • Do you have any tattoos? Do you want any/more? yes, and yes
  • Are you mentally strong? yes, definitely
  • Are you physically strong? yes, somewhat
  • Do you think you’re a good person? sorta
  • Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now: money
  • What do you usually eat for breakfast? cereal
[random grab from here; the title quotation is by Allen Ginsberg, the {somewhat unintentional} fairy godfather of this blog]


when words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence

Day 14: "Around the House"
May 26, 2014, Temecula, CA
It was a great house, and I could get used to that sort of "around the house" feel, but it wasn't home.

Day 15: "Something Old"
Bub's has a long history of beer-making in my hometown. I'm not an antiques person, but I couldn't resist this one.

[the title quotation is by Ansel Adams]


a better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart

I'm back. The weekend was long, and also inordinately short. It was sad, and also incredibly sweet. It was restful, and also bone-deep exhausting. Perhaps most importantly, I spent almost nothing on the events themselves, but am still (inwardly) freaking about money.

Day 12: "Lunch"  The best part, anyway!
I took The American Shakespeare Company's "What Shakespeare Character Are You?" quiz, and came up with the most amazing result...

My college mentor used to call me Ophelia...
The pattern of the air around that leaf
is like someone tracing my ribcage
with his index finger
and then walking away.
Who can blame us for wanting other worlds,
but shall we take them,
or let them come to us? Is the spirit just an ear
more like a mouth
that bites the air and turns it into blood?

[Katie Peterson, from 'Meditation Denying Everything' in Permission]

Day 13: "Letters"  Sometimes it's what they say, and sometimes it's what they really mean.
Only one day left til the weekend! What a relief.

[the title quotation is by Arnold Newman, and reads in its entirety: “A lot of photographers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better photographs. A better camera won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart.”]


no, no! The adventures first - explanations take such a dreadful time

Day 11: "Floating". I'm cheating today, uploading an incredibly short video clip in place of the standard photograph. This was taken last summer, down by the Mississippi.

The next few days promise to be very busy. In all likelihood, I will not post again until Tuesday or Wednesday, but I should be able to catch up pretty quickly.

[the title quotation is by Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass]