Friday, April 27, 2007

the lives of animals

On our run this morning, two horses got loose from the farm at the top of the hill. They popped from the barn like ghosts and trotted alongside us for about twenty yards, then veered off toward another paddock. On the way back, a farmhand was trying to corral them. Chris stopped to help. When we got home, our Pomeranian went wild for the scent on her clothes, her hands. Niku stood on his hind legs, grasping Chris’ knees with his front paws, snout pressed into her palms, black tail waving like a silk handkerchief. He wouldn't let go, like he’d never known such delight. I just know he's going to want a pony now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

bucket of humanity

There it was again today. A grey plastic bucket catching water from a ceiling leak in the foyer to the mall. About an inch or two of water at the bottom. Along with a couple candy wrappers and empty drink bottles. Orange cones were set up on either side. This sight brought me great comfort. In an age of cell-phone headlines, cans of coffee that self-heat, instant YouTube videos from all over the world, we’ve yet to invent a gadget superior to the bucket for catching a drip. Or pass a hole into which people won’t dump trash.

Monday, April 23, 2007

trent pic no. 5

Here’s the latest from Middlebury photog Trent Campbell -- the side of one of several barns in Cornwall a local man is trying to restore. Trent says, "I'm always a little wary of too much restoration because there is such life in those old worn boards and broken windows. I hope he just sticks to the underlying structure. Sort of like the difference between internal medicine and plastic surgery."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

wet applause

My wife belted out a song in the shower this morning. I stopped and listened for a moment, her voice strong and clear, obviously encouraged by the loud, sustained applause of the water. My bathroom was a concert hall gone wild for a star attraction. I guess that's why I keep my mouth shut in the shower. I'm afraid I'll be met with silence and never get clean.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

brunching on commentary haikus

I put this on my website yesterday and wasn't sure I'd post it here as well, but what the hell. I figure there's a gap between my mailing list (you can join via my website) and visitors to my blog:

This past Sunday, Vermont Public Radio held its 2nd annual Commentators' Brunch in Killington. The charge to commentators this year was a one-minute piece (normally, they're 3 mins 14 secs) on the topic of "common ground." One VPRer dubbed them "commentary haikus." Despite the onset of wicked, pole-snapping weather, about 25 of us showed at the Cortina Inn, along with a bevy of staffers and loyal listeners. It was a great afternoon. VPR recorded the event in hopes of broadcasting it at a future date. Click here for my piece (an adaptation of a recent blog post). Fellow commentator/blogger Philip Baruth took the podium, too; click here to read his piece.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

five-cent review #7

(reviews in five sentences or less)

Jim Harrison’s and Ted Kooser’s Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry (Copper Canyon, 2003)

Brief, poignant musings exchanged between poet pals -- on nature, aging, joy, dogs, daily routines. The lack of attribution means the words take center stage, freed from the distraction of credentials and dates. Among my favorites lines: “Straining on the toilet we learn how the lightning bug feels,” “A coffin handle leaves a lasting impression on a hand,” and "If you can awaken inside the familiar and discover it strange you need never leave home." At a mere 85 pages, I squeezed this one in during my lunch-hour, between bites of a bologna sandwich. It's been some time since I felt so full.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

say hey to s.r. wild

Found this vermont-based art/design site this morning via candleblog. Though the route was short, I'm reminded how satisfying it can be to follow a trail of links that lead to a cool blog you've never visited. Makes me realize I need to hit the road more often. And also thank those bloggers who feature regular linkdumps. You rock, bloggers-who-feature-regular-linkdumps!

Friday, April 13, 2007

i'm with my boys, i'm with my troops, yeah

I stare at the computer screen, at the empty white field of my Word document. I take a deep breath and start marching my tiny band of ragtag soldiers onto the page, into this snowy tundra where many before us have gotten stuck, lost their minds, died in their tracks.

We strike out – with no plan, no compass, no reinforcements around the bend. From time to time, I look back and study my little troops in their orderly black rows. They are a mixed bunch – tall, short, round, angular, humped. They form clusters and groups, some stand alone, others drop commas and dashes and periods. Their ranks swell and thin and swell again. But they’re loyal and follow wherever I lead.

Today, we’re searching for images that might be worked into a piece, a short commentary, a blog post perhaps. They’re hidden somewhere within this blanket of white. But I'm wandering in circles, and it isn’t long before I’m unsure of my whereabouts. I stop. My men stop. I double-back and retrace my steps. I already know some of them won’t make it back. After a few minutes, I regain my bearings and press on.

Soon we come across something: a pair of discarded jeans, basketball jersey and empty McDonalds bag. I poke at the pooled clothing. Remnants of a lunchtime quickie? A fugitive shedding his "last-seen-wearing" clothes? A short time later, we stumble upon a small carved Buddha, the features worn smooth. A talisman fallen from someone's pocket? Has their luck now changed? I blow off the snow and tuck it away. Might come in handy.

After slogging a while longer, my eyes start getting bleary, hunger setting in. I survey the white expanse of the page, the distance yet to go, and feel myself fading. I look back at the long tracks we’ve laid down. Then I spy something just ahead, the ghost of a shape. I stumble forward, troops close on my heels. I raise my hand to say we’ve finally arrived. But I can tell by their crisp and attentive demeanor, they’ve known this all along.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

bluebird for torch

per torch and shovel's request, a little bukowski for the week, perhaps my favorite cb poem; i've not been able to find a recording of this piece though harry dean stanton does a stirring job on born into this. enjoy.

charles bukowski

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

Sunday, April 08, 2007

my wife, the savior

I’ve started to wonder about my wife Christine. I found her in the office the other week making sandals, a heap of buckles and leather soles at her side. The next day I watched her pouring water into empty Merlot bottles. Then she told me she knew someone who’d send a plague of locusts down on me if I didn’t scrub the toilet more often. That’s when I saw the latest set of charity mailing labels (see above; address crossed out to prevent potential pilgrimages).

This identity confusion dates back to my wife's school days. On every standardized test she ever took, there were only enough boxes for V-I-E-L-M-E-T-T-I (space) C-H-R-I-S-T, the last three letters of her first name always lopped off. Raised Catholic, this has obviously had a profound impact on her. And is only reinforced by the junk mail and magazines she receives addressed to Christ Vielmetti.

A few days ago, I watched her bring in a load of wood, picking splinters from her hands and forearms. When I offered to help, she flashed this calm and patient smile. “I really don’t mind,” she said, her eyes following me wherever I moved. Now, when I wake up first, I'll study her for a few minutes, lips slightly parted, chest rising and falling. Then I think perhaps it’s best not to disturb her. Just keep my mouth shut and wait for her to rise.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

pearly gate smack-down

Chatting with my teenage daughter the other day, the image of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates came up. She was unfamiliar with this tale. “Well, basically they say when you die, you meet St. Peter at the entrance to heaven and you have to defend your life.” She looked at me a moment. “You mean you have to fight him?” I burst out laughing. After I wiped away the tears, I went upstairs and added ten pounds to my barbells just in case.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

trent pic no. 4

A mysterious whirlpool Trent came across in a flooded field in Salisbury last week.

Monday, April 02, 2007

a little bukowski to start the week

three clips from the late poet (and racetrack denizen): The Creation of the Morning Line (San Fransisco, 1972), The White Poets and An Observer (Hamburg, 1978).