If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



Saturday, February 26, 2011


I send your letters to where we spoke last. Not that you are there... or reply. But I've tried sending them to my heart. It's just not the same. I know that's hopeless going in.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reading Material

Rebecca Stead’s
'When You Reach Me'. 

Front cover featuring a shoe, bread bag, winter jacket, library book, Miranda's school, a key, Miranda's apartment, two dollar bills and a mailbox; all important plot elements in the novel.

Soft Tom

He’s gentle,
the big orange Tom.
Pads tenderly for permission,
then pleads,
with sleepy green eyes,
to be lapped; caressed.
He doesn’t seem to have it in him,
the inherent midnight brawl,
that boxed his ear,
dotted his eye.
Maybe his heart is the culprit—
why he brings so many scars home with the sunrise.      

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Siren Song

I know your voice well enough, your silhouette. Which is why I worried your wife was who the ambulance had come for last night. Back and forth you stomped in the tiny, cluttered yard as the headlights accumulated.

     “…it hurts all over,” you rumbled, and I wondered what she could be dying of.

     I imagined her, praying for the sound of sirens in her hopeless pink night-shirt, so very afraid, as they loaded her on the stretcher, apologizing for the house, her hair; reaching for her babies, who watched with odd knowing, from a kitchen, or a den maybe.

     Then there was only your yellowed porch light and the consuming silence of a night on the verge of spring. I stood there a while in my own darkness, with your fears, crying. I had never wanted you there. Not just you, anyone... that trailer. But I would never ask that you leave like that—afraid.

     In the morning, I was relieved to hear that it was you and not her, that you had thought you were having a heart attack, but had been down to the store for cigarettes already, so you must be all right.

     Later, I felt the sting of old resentments when they told me that your ‘heart attack’ was nothing but the DT’s, that you had depleted your prescription of morphine tabs by crushing and snorting them—that was why you had 'hurt all over'—and that you had squandered thousands in disability money and pawned off appliances kind hearts had gifted you.

     “I’ve been hooked and I've squandered and pawned,” I said, trying to make some sense of it.

     “You ain’t like them, though,” they told me. “They’ll never amount to nothin’.”

     That may be. But I’ll have to pray and wait for the sound of sirens just the same.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"...it's like red, but not quite."

I'm thinking that some women just shouldn't wear pink...

     My neighbor for instance.

     Yesterday was near enough like spring for her to venture out of the trailer and ‘get some sunshine’, as they say 'round here.

     I might have preferred drawing my conclusion from a greater distance, but, one of her Pitt Bulls got loose and ran up the road to my place. So, here she came, stalking after the dog, like someone’s Olympic power lifting Valentine, pumped from clearing a 520 bench, wearing bubble-gum pink capri’s and blush T.

     It was in the road's dappled sunlight were I first noticed how the color amplifies the lack of femininity in certain wearers. Much like a tutu would a lady rhino.

     The fact that she was calling for the dog wasn’t helping matters in the least.


     Yes, Mongo.

     Rumor has it; she and her man are both ex truck drivers. My guess is from the Conway Twitty, Pall-Mall and PBR era—heavy on the Pall-Malls. She has a certain Wolfman Jack quality to her voice, an emphysema soaked timbre. And don’t forget, this is the South.

     “Mongo baby!” she calls, tender, motherly, gurgley. “Mongo!”

     Then, at the top of her lung,



     Mongo pays no heed, and up the road she continues, alternating between redneck mommy and flat-out redneck.

     Do they call it a beer-belly on women? I would hope, at her age, she’s not pregnant.

     Whatever the name, it's well beyond muffin top and the saving graces of vertical stripes.

     I waved hello.

     Mongo was now being enticed with his bone.

     “I’ve got your bone baby!”

     We could probably add use of the word ‘baby’ to the color pink.

     Mongo caved to the bone.

     If I had any doubts about my theory before, they were squelched when the two stalked home.

     Not that my gaze lingered, but my neighbor has one of those unfortunate flat butts, possibly from her years of truck driving, that seem to be perpetually clenched. I’ve seen them a lot in Wal-Mart.

     I haven’t investigated the physics, but the nature of this butt type, will, in a matter of minutes, inflict a sort of wedgy on its possessor. It looks horribly uncomfortably, even from a distance, and always makes me wonder if the person doesn’t need some assistance, say with a stick, to unhitch the garment.

     I’m no Fashionista, but I would think a darker color would go a long way in disguising this dilemma. Certainly not pink.

     But, if pink makes her happy; it makes me happy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Look at This...

This is my winter jacket.

No... you must click and enlarge...
I insist.

I love this jacket.
But I think this might be its last winter.


I made this in the shop...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Okay Daniels... Translate.

I dreamed I was in a theater, something old; operatic.

     I was with people, friends maybe, talking about some absurd adventure I felt compelled to undertake. We’ll say it was a mountain climb. That seems right. Nothing too cold and deadly though.

     Anyway, there are two women sitting in front of me. Between their shoulders, I can see the woman on the left nudging the woman on the right as I’m talking. Nudge, laugh, nudge, laugh.

     The more I talk, the more the nudge and laugh seems timed with my every mention of climbing.

     Finally, the woman on the right, who appears to have a crick in her neck, turns and says, “Why don’t you take me climbing with you?”

     She’s beautiful, in a Nicole Kidman now kind of way, same hair, gracious features. Not something I look for, but certainly something I can appreciate.

     Clearly, I think, out of my league. I figure she’s being a smart ass.

     I smile. Apparently with a bit too much “F you,” though, and not enough apology for my talking to loud, because the woman on the left is offended now.

     “Oh… No. That’s not what I mean,” the woman on the right said, reading my face. She calms her friend.

     “I’d love to go with you on your mountain climb,” she said. “Really. Only you’d probably have to carry me most of the way. Look.”

     The two women part enough for me to look over their shoulders at the odd twist of her body in the chair. She has a brace on her leg. Both legs?

     “Look at this,” she said, drawing her dress off her shoulder.

     She turns her head, wincing a little, and a bone pushes up, like the crescent of a blanket chest’s lid stay. The bone seems about to burst through her pale skin. She turns back and it recedes.

     “Touch it,” she says. “It’s crazy.”

     I didn’t much want to touch it. Not because the bone was ‘crazy’... because it looked like the action caused her pain and didn’t need repeating for my sake. Besides, what if I touched her… it… the wrong way? Ruined everything? Was there something? It seemed like there was something. Obviously I was smitten. It was bad enough I'd probably have to leave this place plagued by her spirit for the rest of my life. Why add the warmth and softness of her skin to my misery.

      “Come on. Chicken.”

     I pressed my fingertips against the hollow of her shoulder. She turned her head. It was indeed crazy.

Turns out, there was something.

     Suddenly, we’re walking through what looks like a shopping mall. But instead of stores, there are dance floors and live music and people sitting at tables waiting to be asked to dance. There is a store for old women and young women and women in between, and men, too; cowboys and Buddhists and brooding writers—a store for everybody looking for a dance partner.

     She can walk. Not pretty though, and not for long. Eventually I have to carry her, something I seem to enjoy. She’s tiny; a feather.

     She is… we are… looking for someone.

     “There, there!” she says finally, pointing to a woman sitting on the tiled, planter bench-wall.

     The woman is wearing white; glowing, maybe a bit too Galadriel for a dance-partner shopping mall.

     My girl… since I don’t know her name… wants down.

     She walks me over to Galadriel-lady, takes the woman’s hand and holds it up where I can see a ring on the woman's finger. It’s an engagement ring: big diamond, still in the whole Rivendell motif; beautiful.

     “Is this your mother’s ring?” my girl asks me.

     “Yes,” I say.
     She takes it off of Galadriel’s finger.

     “Thank you,” she says to Galadriel.

     Galadriel doesn’t seem to mind a bit. In fact, it seems she might have been waiting for us.

     My girl puts the ring on her finger.

     “There,” she says. “Wasn’t that easy?”

     I nod my agreement, though I kind of wanted to put the ring on her finger myself. She’s already walking away though, the best that she can, anyway.

     “Come on,” she calls back over the crazy-boned shoulder.

     And I do.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Moms and Boys With No Savings Account

I was thinking about my mother,
About me,
The big dreamer,
And how she’s always been there,
At the foot of every new cross I decided to bear.

I’ve been thinking, too,
About the burden I must be…
The burden Christ must have been
To his mother, Mary.
And wondering,
If maybe we both should have put a little something away…

You know…

Just in case.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


...am I like, the only person who wears regular underwear under long-johns?

just askin'.

Just... Just...

Reading for this week: ‘A History of God’ by Karen Armstrong… highly recommended… ‘Stuart Little’ and ‘The Trumpet and the Swan’, by E.B. White, and, of course, Kipling’s, ‘Kim’, which I’ve been whittling away at for what, a month now? The grown-up classics take me forever to read—amazing book though.

Anyway, the catfish dinner turned out to be good as advertised. I survived, but with an overwhelming desire to fast for the next three days and detoxify.

And it snowed, and snowed and snowed.

I really am sympathetic to you city-mice, commuter type’s plight, you contractors and construction guys; everyone who’s been forced into the season’s intended state of hibernation by mounds upon mounds of snow. I have both feared and hated snow as well.


I am totally digging this winter and the weekly dumps.

Of course, our snow will be gone tomorrow. It’s just a one day fantasy.

That’s one of the things I love about Tennessee though, my neck of the woods in particular: You get the seasons, but none of the prolonged extremes. Sure, there’s the occasional freakish weather, but usually, if it’s hot a couple of days, it rains a couple to cool things down, if it’s humid all afternoon a breeze’ll come through and blow it out in the evening, if it’s twenty degrees and snows three inches today, it’s fifty tomorrow and the snow’s melting away. There’s balance here. The seasons aren’t inert, but they’re not brutal either. No single wonder lasts long enough to lull you into complacency.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lunch Today

On the menu for lunch… sorry, dinner… today is catfish, or, what inland Southerners classify as... Seafood.

Our mud-sucking, bottom-dwelling fish will be breaded, fried and served with ample sides of slaw, white beans and hushpuppies, and steamed to succulent perfection in its Styrofoam container for roughly fifteen minutes: the drive time back from Harper’s legendary Catfish House, just across the State line, in Kentucky.

Aside from the sarcasm, I count a half-dozen challenges in the above paragraph alone, where I can apply what I’ve learned in the past month, and possibly overcome.

I don’t know about the Styrofoam though. It gives me the heebs... that squeaky noise. I don’t have to have compassion for Styrofoam, do I?

I hope not.

Anyway, it’s an adventure. Right?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


They had called the old man Sarge. He retired from the Military and then from Ford glass, James told me. ‘Then he went plumb crazy.’ He parked his truck in the washed out drive of what used to be Sarge's house.

     The house didn’t make you doubt Sarge had gone off his rocker. It looked like a play thing, with the holler rising up, high, all around it; some child’s concoction  of remnants, piecemealed onto dry stacked stones there in the creek’s bend.

     James and I crossed the shallow water.

     Inside, the house was squat and icy and smelled of the sweet hay, strewn thick on the floor. The roof was sound, so the bedroom had been bricked up with bales, as was most of the space between it and the modest kitchen, which had become a catch-all for fencing supplies. There was no sign of power or plumbing.

     Holes had been knocked into the walls and ceiling. Sarge's boy had been hunting for the old man’s double pensions. Clearly, Sarge wasn't a big spender. The money had to be somewhere. James had punched his share of holes, too.

     ‘I didn’t find a damn thing,’ James said. ‘That old coot probably buried it out in the yard. He was crazy like that.’

     He might have been. I never met Sarge. James said the old man came up missing one morning though. He went missing for nearly two weeks. Then one day his boy came by the house and found a new, Ford pickup parked out in the yard.

     Turns out, Sarge bought himself a bicycle at a yard sale. He rode the son-of-a-bitch clean to Indianapolis, where he was form originally. There was a Ford dealer up there he’d always done business with. Sarge paid cash for the truck, threw his bicycle in the bed and drove back home.

     Maybe that is crazy. But there's a lot to be said for an old man who can jump on a yard sale bicycle and make it to Indianapolis from Tennessee, then back, in two weeks.

     Anyway, if there is any pension money, Sarge won’t be telling anyone where it's hid.

     ‘He’s down in one of those homes in Gallatin, damn near a vegetable,’ James said as we drove back in the slow rain that had begun to fall. ‘Got that spinal meningitis. Kindly drawin’ up on himself. I guess he’ll keep on, too, till he’s dead.’

     James said that Sarge had had two boys. Twins. The one who knocked holes in his house, and another, who drew up on himself, too, till he was dead.

     ‘His boy says the old man’s gettin’ just dues for never payin’ his son no mind,’ James said. ‘He kindly disowned the kid when he took sick. Then the old bastard didn’t even come see his own blood put in the ground. That's somethin' else, ain't it, doin' your own boy like that.’

     I watched the fence row, choked with saw briar and cedar, pass by us; cattle, huddled in mud and mist, the hills, the valleys.
     ‘I reckon it’s gonna snow,’ James said.

     The treetops were dark veins in the low clouds.

     I’ve never been to Indianapolis.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Last of the Cheese

So, Dog and I ate the last of our Christmas cheese yesterday.

Remember? The eight two pound vacuum-sealed wedges I was re-gifted from my neighbor Jackie, the local, lumber and steel-roofing magnate?

As it turns out, I was probably the last neighbor to get the big bag-o-cheese for Christmas. Understandable, considering I’m not known for my bowel and artery restricting diet. Jackie must have known I was hungry. Thank goodness I eat a lot of oatmeal and raisins. Just sayin’.

Anyway, it also turns out, the big bag-o-cheese has a history.

Jackie sells what you need to build a barn. Not the jumping-from-the-hay-mow, big red, Bridges Over Madison County, where Meryl Streep was about as fine as she has ever been, kind of barns. Just ugly, metal boxes… like my shop.

Some guy was building a big, fancy horse barn and bought the roofing material from Jackie. He had Jackie order him a weather vane, too... a weather vane with a cow on it. It didn’t make sense to me either. But anyway, Jackie calls his vendor places the order: One weather vane… with a cow.

It’s around Christmas, and Kelly, the UPS guy, drops a big box off at Jackie’s.

The box has a picture of a cow on it and the weather vane vendor’s address. Logically, Jackie assumes it’s what he ordered for the big-fancy-horse-barn guy and has one of his boys run it out to the job.

It arrives just in time. The guys are still there, working on the big, fancy horse barn. They throw a ladder to the roof and a couple of them scramble up with cow-picture-having box in tow.

They cut it open.

As you might have guessed, there sat eight, two-pound wedges of vacuum sealed cheese, packed in paper grass.

Now, for the ensuing head-scratching and mystery-unraveling to be as priceless as it was, you’d really have to know Jackie, and the boys working on the barn. But since you don't, picture a blend of The Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres and The Dukes of Hazard, with a splash of Quentin Tarantino, for the R-rated language.

Of course, now the vendor will never, ever stop sending Jackie the big-box-of-cheese for Christmas. Who would?

I’m guessing, too, the cheese has rubbed a bit of a sore spot in Jackie's hide, considering his, “Here... We’ve had about all the cheese we can stand,” when he passed the eight two-pound vacuum sealed wedges on to me.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just Open Your Mouth

Don’t believe for one minute that poison ivy is harmless in winter. True, there aren’t any leaves. But given a day or two of spring temps, that venom is flowing in those vines. And what better to do on a spring-like winter day, than to clear fence rows…

What are you writing? I mean, really. Who cares that you got poison ivy? Again. And why do you want to talk like that? That’s not the way you talk. This is your journal. You’re not here to impress your colleagues. You’re here to record thoughts and situations, blow off steam and, and, stumble through. Lighten up. Enjoy the thing for what it is.

What is it?

It’s you man: You, talking from point A to point B, following the footsteps of that voice in your head, recording this, ignoring that. Just go with it.

I don’t have anything to talk about.

Just open your mouth and start typing. One word will follow the other. Have you ever known that to not happen? You have something to talk about. You just need a prompt, to be pushed a little. I just pushed you. See how easy that was? I mean, you just wrote half a page, some decent dialogue—albeit, with yourself—but it’s good; it’s believable.


You’re welcome. Hey, are you going to talk yourself out of making pancakes again today? ‘Cause I could really go for those pancakes. I hate that when you talk about making pancakes all morning, then eat cold cereal. I mean, I don’t hate it, hate it… Go on. Go back and pump me up with the italics… Feel better?


Like I was saying, I don’t hate it. I know we’re eliminating that word. But it’s like every weekend. You’ve got two perfect bananas and a bag of walnuts… Oh crap!


You used the last of the milk yesterday on your cereal, didn’t you?


Can you use water?


Maybe mix yogurt and water together.


Will you at least try?




Saturday, February 5, 2011

On Killing My Not-So-Very-Much Better Half

The part of my mind that is feral, that paces the cage and strikes at anyone or anything that gets too near, has outgrown my ability to control.

   Like any wild creature, it was irresistible as a pup. So I kept it.

   It grew. Its young rage was so primal then, beautiful and decisive. I loved to watch it hunt. But the hills are empty now. There’s nothing for it to feed on; to torment. So it’s turned on itself, its tortured hide, nearly bald with gnawing scars.

   I’ve put a bullet in its head. But its blood is slow to drain, its veins so very tangled with my own.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been dicking with.

   Yesterday was good. Not that nothing went wrong. Plenty of things went wrong. I dealt with them though, the way I need to deal with all problems: with laughter and the awareness that things will not always go as planned. Dog helped.

   I've finally given in to meditation, and tried again last night—the whole, sitting-Indian-style on a grass mat thing. My left knee won’t stand for too much cross-legged, and I couldn’t bring myself to do the little forefinger to thumb deal. I don’t know the significance, so it seemed silly.

   Anyway, what I’m after is to be able to focus on one thought for any extended period of time—say, one whole minute. I figure I need to have some semblance of control over my mind's thoughts, before I can step up to focusing on nothing.

   It may be wrong, but I create a candle in my mind. Then I try to keep it lit and watch it burn for as long as I can. One light, one thought.  

   I can’t believe the crap my mind comes up with though.

   The few times I managed to get a clear picture of a candle and only a candle... a burning candle... something blows out the flame. I get matches. The matches are dilapidated. I find one that will strike. I put match to wick. It won’t light. Another match. Finally it lights. I settle in for some serious meditation, and Poof! It’s out again. Back come the matches. Round and round. If it's not that, my mind is setting out all of these crazy shaped and enormous candles that are a complete distraction. Who the heck is in there?

   Obviously it’s going to be a long road, but little by little it will come: one light, one love.