Monday, November 29, 2010

Who knows what to call this?

I've quit smoking. But, wait. There's a good reason for this lapse in faulty decision making. Bear with me.

It's simple. I don't have the money to buy cigarettes. That's right folks. Surprise, surprise. A good ole Kentucky boy is broke as hell.

But don't get out the pity party streamers and punch for me, please. This is normal for me. I've always been poor. It's just taking some time to adjust to working full-time and still being poor. Payday comes and, like everybody else, I pay what I can on bills, fill up the gas tank, etc. Then I'm left with nothing.

For two weeks it's like this strange real-life game of how to manage to continue living. I'm getting really good at it.

Well, not really. But who could be?

Point is this: generations back as far as spoken word history can tell me I'm from a bloodline that works hard every day and, somehow, stays broke. But it has shown us how to focus on other things. Work every day. Do the best you can. Then forget about it. No cigarettes. Cry me a fucking river! No food is the worst, and there's people who deal with that every second of their lives. I've been there plenty. No food is the worst.

Okay, that's my daily raincloud for anyone hapless enough to have wandering into Bent Country. Now, on to brighter things.

I'm thinking.....still thinking....okay, brighter things.....just wait, I'll think of something.

Ah, shit. Just think of sunrises or something, laughter, a lover's embrace, a full stomach, the smile a baby makes when you smile, an unexpected warm day in late November, a memory of playing with your dad when things were still normal, making the most of it, doing your best. Think of the little critter, your great and critter-like ancestor, that crawled through the muck and got upright instead of just laying there and dying like a bitch just so you could be here. Think of your obligation.

Think of people who love you hugging you until it almost seems okay to stop breathing.

Think of

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Review And An Upcoming Guest Post

I gave my thoughts on xTx's chapbook He Is Talking To the Fat Lady in a guest post at HTMLGIANT.

On the subject of guest posts, Marcus Speh will guest post here in the coming weeks. Be watching for it, folks.

That's it for now here in hellbilly land.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just A Love Letter And Some Info And Some Rambling.

We had what you call a "short week" at the newspaper where I peel potatoes all day and so I've not had as much time as I would have liked to read xTx's chap. I've read five or so of the stories, and I'm still trying to reattach the top of my head. But I'm going to save my full thoughts for when I've fully read the chap. It's tempting, though, because I want to talk about her use of language and her ability to place through that language a reader in the exact spot she intends. But I'm going to hold off for now. Just know this...xTx will grab you and you are no longer a "reader" but a vessel through which she channels some of the most real work being done today. It's a rush. But, like I said...more on that later.

Mark Reep is awesome. He gave my story "Intruder" some Pushcart love this week, as did Emprise with another southern story of mine called "Go Get Your Honor." I'm bubbling over with Pushcart love. Thanks to Mark and Patrick for that. All we need is love. John said that. Lennon.

I want to take a moment to say that for the past month or more I've been working with Frank Hinton at Metazen as a staff editor. Frank, Chris, Caitlin, Riley, Len, and the whole gang are amazing to work with. Frank has vision. Frank is the type of creative person who spurs others to action, passion, drive. I'm just hanging on and paying close attention.

I corresponded with the insanely awesome Rusty Barnes this week about his work on Fried Chicken and Coffee, one of my favorite online journals, and Rusty put a call out for some good work from good writers. Take a look. See if you have something that Rusty might find interesting. He's also a founding editor of Night Train, so bring your A game. Give him some love. I'm going to, to the best of my ability.

So I've had my turkey for the day. Mashed taters, green beans, baked beans, dinner rolls, etc. Gave thanks. Ate like I wouldn't get a crumb for another month. I hope you guys did the same and were able to spend time with people who make your heart what it is. That's the whole show, folks.

Attention Andrew Bowen: I still haven't cut my hair. Next month will be one year without a cut. We mentioned some kind of marker and such, a cut off point, something earlier. Well, I've figured it out. I'm just not cutting my hair. In fact, I actually had my daughter, who wondered if it could be done, put it in a ponytail this evening. It's ponytail long. I'm digging it. So...no cut off. I'm just not getting a haircut again. As Forrest would say: One less thing to worry about.

Mindy Beth Miller, who I interviewed some months ago here at this corner of the hellbilly world, was recently named by Kentucky Monthly as one of the five up and coming writers from the bluegrass. I love me some Mindy Beth, and just wanted to share that with y'all. She's a gem and a helluva writer. I've known that since the first time I met her in grad school.

Before I end this Thanksgiving ramble, I want to say that Roxane Gay is working to bring all of you fine folks an online version of Bluestem, Eastern Ill. Univeristy's journal. I think it's due out next month. Be on the watch.

Oh, now shit I almost forgot. Jarrid Deaton, aka JRock...and I are working to put together an online version of Wrong Tree Review Issue 2. He's already spread the word that we suck and couldn't put up the dough for a print issue, I think. But, it's all good. Online is fine. Look at that. I'm a damn poet. Look for this in the near future.

To you all....sending Irish love and luck and before we go let's get three sheets to the wind. What's say?

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'll Be Reading And Talking About What I Read Soon.

I'll be reading the rest of xTx's chapbook, He Is Talking to the Fat Lady, today and writing here about it within the next couple of days. So far, and as usual, xTx does not disappoint. Some of the most alive and breathing writing out there, folks.

So, I'll offer my words on this fine chap and this spectacular writer soon.

I want to take time to thank Brad Green who interviewed me for Dark Sky Magazine's "Spotlight On" series. A link to that interview can be found to the right of this post under the Interviews section.

In the meantime, I recommend listening to Tom Waits' The Early Years Volume 1&2 and keep your fingers crossed that he gets the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nod he so rightly deserves in the coming weeks.

I'm listening to "Grapefruit Moon" as I write this and so now I must freewrite as I sign off....

Beneath a Cool Rock

He walked the woods in search of flat rocks, sandstone or shale. Rocks about the size of his fist and with moss, rocks near the base of trees, always shaded from the sunlight and tucked against the trunks of the trees, dark and waiting. Collecting them he would lift his shirt, find the place where his heartbeat was strongest, and press the chilled underside of each one against his skin, the mass of the whole unseen planet weighing down on him.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hello Again, Loves

Well, I finished the 33-day Wikiphotomicro Experiment. Thanks to xTx for giving me that number to work with. She was quick Tuesday to write and give me a pat for plodding through to the end. She had done a similar thing I think it was this past April by writing a poem a day throughout that month.

By the way, xTx has a new chapbook out, but I'm pretty sure it sold out roughly eighteen seconds after news got around. But congrats to that thunderbolt of a writer.

The experiment was fun, though I'm not confident in very many of the micros and flash pieces after a certain point. It was difficult in that most of the random photos given by Wikipedia were, well, bland and stuff.

Some interesting things happened along the way that I've not had the time to mention. Degrees of Elevation came out, an anthology edited by Charles Dodd White. That was way very cool.

Also, Pank 5 landed and, well, honestly a bunch of other amazing things have went down. I've been looped into this wikiproject for so long it would take awhile to catch up. Let's just say that all the good people who consistently do good things have continued to do them and that is very rock and roll.

I've not submitted any work for publication in a great long time. My submitter button is broken, I think. Worse yet, my writer button is a little shaky. I tried to start on the Novel Writing Month thing but failed pretty fast on that one. I have started to assemble what could be a decent novel in the last two weeks, though. I'm about 60 or so pages in and I'm not hating myself or anything yet.

But that stalled a few days back and now I'm just reading Paul Ekman books, the behavioral scientist who formed the basis for Tim Roth's character Cal Lightman in the series Lie to Me. I'm obsessed. Facial coding. Universal emotions that show on the face in less than a second and then are gone. Whatever.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 33 - "The Truth"

Washington ain't all it's cracked up to be. Just a place like any other. The place is that way. The people more or less, too. Lots to see and lots to do if standing and looking at things counts for doing something.

I stopped shaving when I was thirty-four, the year my folks sent me to Washington. I get a two bit trim once a month to keep my looks, a dignified representative of the people. All that.

Truth is, I'd rather be hunting or fishing or any sort of thing like that. Somewhere out west where you can see the animals coming at you straight on. That's the truth.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 32 - "All The Poison We Need To Share"

The elephant in the room is the fact that this guy in the front row is wearing a dress. It's probably not a dress. But we're just going to keep calling it a dress. It's likely a kilt. But then, well, we can see his legs. Dress.

He's happy though, so we're happy. Who knows who these other people are. We're in the corners. We serve the food and refill the glasses. We've read Fight Club too many times.

This guy, the guy in the dress, he's the only one we're not messing with, though. Balls it does take to do that. The rest of them – it's piss and spit and all the poison we need to share with every single person on this planet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 31 - "Converted"

All the booze in the world wouldn't save Hammer. All the pills. The coke. The whatever. He rolled through the county, a topped off 18-wheeler with no brake pads, splitting curves, dropping bars.

Vic paid him just fine. Almost two grand a week during all that time. Hammer spent it as fast as Vic gave it. Straight to the church parking lot to meet with Everett and Brown Eye or anybody the Kenworth's sent to deal with him.

Enough trips to the parking at night was fine, but it was going to happen eventually. A Sunday morning, Hammer told Brown Eye to meet him at the parking lot. There was a baptism going on out at Jimclara Creek. Hammer waited for just over an hour and then left.

Brown Eye wouldn't be there. Not at the church.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 30 - "The Moment of Death, the Moment of Creation"

The group had met all the so-called wizards of the region. Each brought before The Oracle, the only true path. But this boy was different. It was not what The Oracle said, and so it was not really said. But he was different, head lowered, shoulders slumped. Embarrassed by his power. All could see, and many noted his name. Remembered it for the time when he may no longer be here to say it himself.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 29 - "Why"

Where is all the grass, Daddy?

I don't know.

The bird is the same color as the ground. Is that the desert?

I'm not sure, hon.

I feel sad for the bird, Daddy. It looks lost or hurt. Is it hurt? Do you think?

Birds sometimes look like that. It's just way birds look.

The same way as Daddys?

A Pre-Post for the Wiki Project - An Epiphany

This one is short, loves. Here's what I've learned in my week off work as a journalist. It applies to both myself and to everyone.

It's simple. Most everyone thinks in extremes. The example I've most often thought about is the extreme spectrum that positions the risk-taker at one end and the calculated person at the other end. I have know idea what types of people exist along that spectrum. I've only every looked at first one end and then the other, divided people into these two categories. Call me naive...I deserve it.

But that ended this morning. I now realize the term "calculated risks" means something other than just a blending of two worlds along that spectrum. I have figured out how to blend the two farthest points along that spectrum.

A risk-taker with calculated motive and understanding. A bit of a show, to be honest. A real Barnum & Bailey sort of thing. It's truly phenomenal.

So, I feel better. Feel free to call me a nut job. You would be both accurate and completely wrong. See how it works?

Well then. See you later this afternoon for the Wikiphoto posting.

Regards.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 28 - "The Fourth Lady"

The four ladies. I've known them all, except the fourth. One never hopes to meet her, I think. I think if there's a river Styx it is this fourth lady who will be standing there. Sure, the ferryman will be nearby, maybe admiring the view. Been when you're in this fourth lady's crosshairs, there is no view to admire.

She will take your memory and toss it like a stone into the oily waters to float forever. She might let you dive in, feel the heat and crushing weight of that water for as long as you can stand it. When, and that's if, you break the surface again, lying on the banks of Styx, she will be there.

This is now you, she will say, holding the round stone out in the palm of her hand, and you are the stone.

I never hope to meet her, this fourth lady, who will make all that I am a stone and turn stone into something the likes of me. Anyone who would do that to a stone, I cannot imagine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 27 - "If Only I Listen"

Family don't have to stand on ceremony. What is expected. Cordial hellos, heartfelt goodbyes. I love yous every two hours.

But they won't listen. I stand and I talk. I move my hands to entice interest, to wake them. All else is motionless, void. But family.

My father would have insisted I wear a suit to this lecture. God is in the details. A man must show pride in himself.

I heard, God watches from the corners. I believed pride was vanity. I believed my father and the whole of our lives was constructed on ceremony, without need.

I grew paranoid and then exhausted. Then I needed money and knew I could mold these things into a fastball, a curveball. Whatever pitch I needed.

I speak often. Motivational lectures about finding that comfort zone with your wife, husband, son, daughter, father, mother, and on and on. But beneath my words, in every other word, like a finely woven fabric, a wedding ring quilt, is the real truth.

I wear the jeans and roll up the sleeves of my $160 shirt to put people at ease. I move my hands to wake them up. I speak to hear myself. If only I listen, someone learns.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 26 - "The Memories Most Likely Going Through His Mind"

Maybe he won’t come back tonight. Maybe he’ll drink a lot and fall on something sharp and won’t come back

Some people talk about the dark like it’s something that hides you away, and I just don’t understand that. Even when I do feel safe under the blanket. The dark feels like it wants to swallow me.

Mom asked me once if he ever fell asleep on the bed. He never has, but now I worry about that all the time.

But he’s not here yet and I’m just about to go to sleep, thinking maybe he really did fall on something, one of those big beer bottles I find behind the couch and inside the busted magazine rack that sits beside the tv that don’t work.

Mom says I can’t remember things from when my real daddy was around, but she’s wrong. I remember crawling around in the living room floor with belts sticking out of our back pockets like tails. Daddy said we were lions, big and proud and mean. When I tell Mom I remember this, she says it was my uncle Carter, Mom’s brother, not my daddy who done that with me. Maybe she don’t remember.

Pardner. That’s what he calls me.

Pardner, this. Pardner, that.

We’re going to buy you a new bike, Pardner, he might say, or, I love your Mom, you know that Pardner?

I hear that name whispering inside my head until I'm asleep and then, like magic, I'm up before everybody and straight outside. For just a minute I let my eyes drop to the foot of the stairs thinking maybe he’ll be down there all white and dead, but nothing’s there but some old mutt stretched out in a patch of sun.

The dog is yellow and I can see its sides moving in and out real slow like. It’s fur looks shiny in the sun, looks warm and shoots that yellow color all the way back across the yard. I make my way down the steps and to the dog. When I get right up to it, I see real fast it’s a girl dog. Her belly’s all flabby and hanging off her side and almost onto the ground and she’s got titties that are hanging down there, too. I hear yelping behind me, close to the little creek that runs beside our building, and look around to see five newborn puppies.

They’re all smaller than small and twisting around at each other, trying to get up a muddy creek bank to the mommy dog. Except the yellow shiny mommy dog is just laying there with her head all plopped back on the ground and stretched out in the sun breathing slow and relaxed like. I can see milk coming out of her titties, drops here and there, wasted on the ground with the puppies at the creek yelping and hollering for some.

I keep figuring the mommy dog will jump up soon, all at once, and go down to her pups, maybe pull them one at a time. They must have pushed right on down the hill and by the creek after she had them and wasn’t able to get back up there. I watch for awhile and then get tired of standing around like that and sit on the ground. But she don’t move, that bitch. She never moves. And the puppies, they just squirm across the ground by the creek pissing on each other.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apology

To those gracious souls who have been reading my posts over the last twenty days or so:

My apologies for the many times I've missed my intended target of good writing on this Wikipedia project – and those I've felt good about, then all power, I suppose.

Thank you for reading, and it will all be over soon. I'll try to do better in the coming days.

With love, respect and gratitude......

Wikiphotomicro: Day 25 - "Dream a Little Drawing"

If they could only dream a little drawing, catch the moment, the second hand before it tick-jerked to the next. But the mesh of forest wrapping around them, shackles or rope pockmarked with beautiful colors that none of them would ever realize were blossoms.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 24 - "Bonnie, Clyde and Janice, Almost"

Janice pushed the gas, a foot like a shotgun barrel, stiff against the pedal, cocked, oil slick from shaving earlier that morning.

80, 95, 112...Speed, speed, speed.

But still her heart was empty, her mind the busted skin of a chesnut. Outside the window, guardrails blurred, a flatline of gray. Janice was already dead and Bonnie and Clyde had already made this better than she ever could.

Also, she would have to die to make it happen.

The guardrail slowed enough to see the random dents here and there. Her heart, still empty, now allowed fear to sit down, have a cup of coffee.

90, 75, 60...Reality, reality, reality. Now she couldn't even get a speeding ticket. No blue lights, no shootout, no immortality. The name Janice would never be remembered forever. The ages would forget her, her leg now a overcooked noodle, her mind still empty save the memory of how Bonnie was the baddest and Clyde was just a driver.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 23 - "Dusklight"


This is where we met. Pizza, cheap beer, pasta, low lighting. When it ended, it ended here, too. Pizza, cheap beer, pasta, low lighting. You'd think I'd remember what we said, not what we ate. Not the fact that something was born and then died in dusklight.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 22 - "Inner Thoughts From Left To Right"

Inner thoughts from left to right: My stomach hurts when did I get here look too clean; In the back just like that my choice they'll notice me more because I'm in the back; Pictures photographs look mean serious or smile my eyes so intense I'm magnificent; This is foolish but Aria when she dips just so I lose my mind; If ma where here my beard is no beard my ma would ask I shave I'll shave.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 21 - "The Shinest Shoes In the Graveyard"

Water poured from a boot is extreme. It wasn't raining like that, but it was raining hard. Harry Tackett dug most of the grave with a JCB 3CX backhoe, the arm stretching out, reaching toward us, then the dip of the bucket and another clump of sandstone and soil, bits of fingernail coal tossed at the edge of the fence lining the cemetery.

I hadn't been on a burial where at least four or five family members didn't have shovels, but none were needed here. Harry and the JCB worked without emotion and the grave happened fast.

That night I noticed my shoes were caked with dirt and streaked here and there with blades of grass stuck in the eyeholes and strings. I took out his shoeshine box and punched my fingers around the polish rags until I found the Kiwi can.

And though it was December, I went to the porch with my shoes in my lap and ragged them for half an hour, my breath smoke signals in the streetlamps. I ragged them until my knuckles ached, each one pounding under the skin, marble-sized hearts working in the cold.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 20 - "Discovering Hutch Gavin"

His family didn't find him. They wouldn't have as not one of them had visited in more than a year. It was strangers, sort of. The police officers, the deputy coroners. They knew Hutch, but didn't know really know him. No one did.

He had been dead maybe five days. The window of his bedroom was coated with a black film. The room was an assault on the senses. The younger officer, Neeley, wore a mask to keep the scent out, but it made its way in through his ears and when he tasted Hutch's death at the back of his throat he tossed up in the corner. Neeley was still dry heaving in the yard when they found the first medal.

In a trunk at the foot of the bed where the changed body of Hutch Gavin was found knotted and swollen, Officer Henson saw the Purple Heart first. He pointed it out and after the coroner's office had Hutch out of the house he and the others pulled the trunk into the living room.

The usual items, aside from the Purple Heart, but then two or three certificates and then another medal, a Bronze Star. Henson and two others continued until a shade of pale blue stopped them, froze them solid.

Henson pulled the last medal from the trunk. In the powder blue ribbon were captured bits of dust, the wing and leg of a fly. Henson stood stick straight, his chest pushed out, and wiped at the medal. Read the word over and over: Valor. He'd seen pictures of this medal, heard stories. Names came to mind. Alvin York. Audie Murphy. But never Hutch Gavin. Hutch Gavin should have been given a medal with the word Drunk written on it. Or Pothead. Not Valor.

Henson walked to the window overlooking the camp town of Sentry, an old coal camp, the houses placed along the hillside and roadside at perfect six or seven feet intervals. How many heroes lived in those houses? Not many. Drunks. Thieves. Pillheads. Most of them wouldn't work enough to strike a lick at a snake.

He shoved the medal in his pocket and went outside for some air. When a deputy coroner met him at the corner of the house he asked about the medals, said the boys had told him about it. Henson told him there were a couple. He said he'd seen them all before.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 19 - Tradesmen

The two men traveled together, but never spoke, only pointed and nodded, traded fossils found along the way, this one a plant, that one as unidentified as their own names.

Along the way, the search changed, shifted focus, but there was always the fossils and arrowheads and the curled skins of snakes and the peaceful lack of conversation so missing from the actual world.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wikiphotomicro: Day 18 - Departure


Leaving that old place. Nevermind my suitcase, you. Not setting around here counting smoke signals, watch them make out with clouds. People got the wrong idea about around here. Luck rubbed off years and years ago. Tourists can kiss my boney ass. Nevermind where I'm going or my busted eye. Nevermind making sense of this. I'm leaving. You can stay.

Fail Better: Learning To Let Go as a Reader and a Writer

Tonight I begin again on a book I'm writing that may have no ending at all. And no hope for one. It's doesn't even have a tit...