Friday, December 29, 2006

the citizen

she is a citizen
of every molecule
of every minor development
in every room
of every city.
her mood is a headline,
her laughter a legend.
i can't wait
to forget her.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

five-cent review #5

(reviews in five sentences or less)
Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man (DVD, 2006)

Too often tribute concerts only disappoint. But here, a host of talent – Nick Cave, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, U2, Beth Orton, Antony, Teddy Thompson – manages to illuminate the funny shattering heart at the center of each Leonard Cohen song. Cohen’s gorgeous soul-sweeping lyrics could move mountains. Even the one Bob Dylan stands upon. Compelling interviews with the wise and tender Cohen woven throughout.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

library air

click here for my latest vpr commentary; regular blog readers might remember the post that spawned this piece.

Monday, December 25, 2006


from our house to yours (artwork courtesy of chris v. daniloff).

Friday, December 22, 2006


Read this great column by rockin' Addison Independent photog Trent Campbell in the current issue of the Middlebury twice-weekly. Trent is one of Vermont's best photographers, an excellent eye all around. And he's turning out to be quite the writer, too. This is the second Trent column I've featured. The first was in August. You can find it on my old blog, in the August archive, 8.3. Check out some of his pics on the gallery page of my website, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

my black boots

I’m retiring my black leather boots. Ankle high, round toebox, thick rubber sole. Dark as oil in places. After eight years, worn smooth like slippers, no longer gripping the ground. I bought them on Sixth Ave., around the corner from my grad school professor’s apartment in Chelsea. She was a New Yorker writer for many years, under William Shawn. Rubbed elbows with giants like A.J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell. My wife and I stayed at her place whenever we visited Manhattan. Back when I was convinced of certain things. That my MFA was a literary achievement. That New York was the answer. My professor once told me about a favorite student who graduated a couple years before I arrived on campus. Daisy was a staggering talent, she said. But went back to the midwest after graduating and was never heard from again, at least not in print. I never saw a picture of Daisy or read any of her work. But in my mind she wore olive green army pants, a patched purple jacket, her straw-colored hair cut short except for sharp bangs that swept across her pudgy face. Her talent kept in a breadbasket on top of the fridge. For a while, I used to hang onto Daisy like a prow, feet dangling above the floodwaters. I’ve since let her go, along with various other fantasies and nightmares. But I'm finding it harder to part with these scratched-up boots. All the roads and sidewalks and puddles and stains and snowbanks they’ve logged. I stare at them while I lace up my brand new Keens. I cast my eyes about the mudroom, then stride toward the two boots. For now, I’ll stand them by the door, side by side, like a pair of gargoyles casting away the rain.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


In response to several requests, I've collected the posts I wrote about my father-in-law's passing this fall and added a link to my blogroll. You can read the whole thing here (thanks to alias802 for the title suggestion). I've also gathered my five-cent reviews. Click here to see the whole group. Lastly, I'm adding Vermont College's literary journal Hunger Mountain to my blog roll. Check 'em out. Til next time, rebyata.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

five-cent review #4

(reviews in five sentences or less)
Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men

In bare sun-bleached prose, the ever-staggering McCarthy breaks down the play of choice and consequence in this bloody borderland tale. The decision to go back and give a dying man water all but seals our hero's fate. Antagonist Anton Chigurh, armed with a cattle gun and unsettling pre-kill questions, may be the most compelling -- and certainly relentless -- villian in recent fiction. Conducts a coin toss that'll tie your stomach in knots. Can’t wait to see what the Coen Brothers do with this one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

the scent of a failing bladder wins every time

props to alias802 for the poignant scene-setting and rhythmic ending, in response to Sunday's challenge:

"that old man is probably wishing he could still sit in the woodz long enough to actually go muzzle loading without having to chase away the deer with the scent of his failing bladder. That will no doubt be my dad someday. Crying every hunting season that he is too old to go and reminding me each year, like every year, the first and last day of each season...bow, rifle and muzzle; turkey, goose and deer."

Thanks to all who participated!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

two images

A couple images struck me this weekend:

1) An older man pulling a box of Depends off the supermarket shelf as casual as a can of soup.
2) On this morning's run, a deer leaped across the dirt road just a few feet in front of me and bounded into a set of fields. Less than a minute later I came upon a hunter, muzzle-loader in hand. How would the scene have played out had our timing been slightly different? What does buckshot taste like?

If anyone cares to muse upon either scene or better yet somehow connect the two, I’ll feature my favorite take in a future post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

the magic of public space

The local library is one of my favorite lunchtime haunts. Not just for the shelves of well-worn books. But for the daily human narratives. A stale-smelling man hurriedly washing socks in the bathroom sink. The middle-aged woman surrounded by wrinkled shopping bags and law books. Young and old, disheveled and proper, copywriters, artists and mall custodians. An indoor park. The sound of human voices is blissfully muted, you can hear the world again. I love the box of found photographs – infants galore – left in returned books. I love the list of rules taped to the doors: no sleeping, no eating, no open intoxicants, no fighting, no bathing in restrooms. Shirts and shoes must be worn. I imagine life before those signs went up. Dirty barefoot drunkards tearing each other’s sweatshirts off in the poetry section, while their pit bulls went at it in biography. Unaware that in some back room, pen on paper was already changing their lives forever.

Friday, December 01, 2006

thirty seven

Thirty seven today. Felt like I stepped in thirty-seven rain-filled potholes on my run early this morning. The clouds were thick and low, blocking out any pre-dawn light. The wind swirling. Not a soul around, animals and birds bedded down. Rain pricked my face like electricity. My glasses useless. Thirty-seven today, with something to prove. No discernible smells, only the sound of my footsteps and rain to guide me. The wet dirt road shining like ice. I was senseless, skating through a dream. Mailboxes became wild roosters. Bums were resting against fence posts. My shoes plunged through holes of rainwater, the rest of the world breathing behind windows and wipers. Nothing ahead of me, nothing behind. Just my belief in this moment. An hour-long moment. When I got home, I sat on a step and watched our Chihuahua Oliver pull the sock from my foot, shaking the toe side to side, furiously working the cloth down with his teeth. Thirty-seven today, and things look much different from twenty five. Oliver tugged with all his might, inching the sock down my foot. Almost there. A mongoose slaying a python. I watched the wide mouth at last release its grip. Oliver ran off with his kill, and I was for the moment free.