Friday, March 31, 2006

Search and Recovery


I sometimes believe or want to believe that I can wake up from this dream. I sometimes think that they've got to be kidding, that there's just no way things are the way they are.

I don't know how to understand the luck I've been blessed with so far. I don't understand why I sometimes believe that because I've been so lucky so far that I'll continue to be lucky. I think that's what everybody thinks, until the big smackdown. I mean, you can take that Jack Abramoff for example. Two years ago he had no idea he was headed for a fall, and now he's going to prison for six years. And, sure, he did it to himself and I don't even feel sorry for him. But a million times a day some kid gets hit by a car or a girl gets cancer or a dozen machete weilding men hack their way through a village in the jungle, leaving behind a pile of arms and legs and headless bodies and who saw that coming? Who went to bed that night under a thin blanket and a wide sky of stars thinking that they'd soon by lying in a puddle of their own blood while they watched their children slaughtered next to them?

It always happens somewhere else.


In this shooting a couple of weeks ago this Grandpa was eating with his wife and the little granddaughter when a man came in and started shooting at folks. The old guy gets shot in the leg and just sits there in the booth, bleeding. His wife tells him

"Oh relax, Jim. Nobody ever dies from getting shot in the leg."

Of course, the bullet transected his femoral artery and he was dead two minutes later.


I remember holding this girl's head still after a car wreck and she was probably sixteen. In a car with a bunch of friends at lunchtime and the driver was speeding and lost control, flipped the truck over and out they flew all over the road.

Anyway this girl, she wasn't hurt too bad. A busted leg or something, and a cut on her forehead. A little trickle of blood running down her face and onto her shirt. But she trembled like a bird in my hands. She was shocky and breathing ragged, her eyes jittery in her head.

She never saw it coming.


That Dobyns was talking about how somewhere the hole's already dug, the shovel is leaning against the wall.

Maybe the guy that digs your grave hasn't been born yet.

Yeah, that could be.


One of the things I love best is to get in bed with my wife and lie there in the dark and feel her body close to mine, the heat of it and the way we fit together. Then I remember the most isolated and lonely moments of my life- standing midwatch at the helm of the cutter in the middle of the Gulf of Alaska, heavy seas and taking on ice and the wind hammering at the pilothouse as if to rend it from the deck. Or huddled under a tree on a barricade call, peering through a rifle scope in the pouring rain, watching a shadow cross behind the drawn blinds.

The sweetness of your own bed and a whole dark night ahead of you, tied to the body of your wife as you make your slow way towards dawn and another precious day.


This world will break your heart.

You'd better demand that it does.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Beyond Here Be Dragons


One time my partner and I were driving around late at night. We pulled down an alley that went behind a row of businesses and bars, right by the ocean. A car ahead of us was driving with no headlights and it meandered slowly down the alley, careening off of three or four parked cars, throwing sparks and sending shards of busted taillights into the air. We lit it up and as soon as we did the driver floored it. The sound of the engine roaring buffeted off of the backs of the buildings and mixed with the wild lights of our patrol car and gave everything a weird carnival kind of feeling. The driver's door flew open and we watched as a dark shape rolled out of the car and sprung up, running like mad for the pier.

The car, abandoned, rolled off into Diamond Dave's Lemonade stand.

My partner and I jumped out of the unit and chased the dark shadow down towards the pier. We were closing on him, so he turned west and ran towards the water. He jumped into the waves as we chased after him. He ran until a wave hit him, then he dove down and started swimming. We stood knee-deep in the water and motherfucked him in frustration. We expected him to swim out a little ways and then turn around and laugh at us, but he didn't.

He just kept on going.

He swam and swam and swam.

We finally hauled out and got up to the pier. We ran out to the end of it, sweeping the water with the powerful beams of our flashlights.


Not a splash to be seen. Not a sound. Just the crashing of the waves and the far-off wail of our siren, the wash of the rotating blue and red lights. The dark sea.



I have done some bad things in my life. I won't tell about them. Suffice it to say that it is some things I would do different. I never set out to hurt anyone, though.

I'll stand by that.


You stand outside a thing and you look at it. You make a judgement. But that doesn't hold anything like the truth. For that to happen you have to get on in there. You have to get your hands dirty. Then you make a judgement and it holds the truth but that truth can't be taken back outside. It will die there.

It can only live in the air that give it birth.

You take it out and it's a pathetic thing.

It lies there in the dirt and mewls in its dying like a sick thing.

It can't say what it knows.

It can only make a sound like something you wish you could forget.


I have held the following in my hands:

A human heart.

A brain.

The lungs.






Skull cap.

And etc.


I have stroked the fine and beautiful hair of a four year old boy as he lay on the stainless steel table in the Los Osos Valley Mortuary as Doc Walker made the wide and relentless Y incision across his chest and then set to work with him until it was nothing left but a hollow red and yellow shell.


I have not forgotten it.


The Puppet Show


I just wanted to thank all of you who read here and share your good thoughts and your own struggles with me. I am deeply indebted to each of you, and grateful for your friendship. It is a strange kind of kinship, but one I treasure.




The inspiration for this piece was something that I saw over on Riley Dog the other day. I was driving home yesterday and thinking about those Indonesian puppet shows and the piece from Riley Dog and this thing of my own I'd been mulling over for the past couple of months, and it hit me all at once how to do it.

A new stage for the little people in my world.


The past couple of days I've been listening to Neko Case's "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood."

She's new to me, but I like it. Her lyrics are dark and bright at the same time, and her voice is a wonder. We got an iPod a couple of months ago, and we're stumbling through the learning process, but I have to say it's a cool gadget and we're both enjoying it alot, although I feel like how it was when I first started using a computer: I'm skimming along the surface.


I took the dogs down to Lone Palm today. They were like bottle rockets shot out of a Coke bottle on the fourth of July- a shrill whistle, a trail of smoke, and then a far-off explosion somewhere in the grass when they land. The rain was holding off for a few hours, but the sky was full of huge clouds all layered in grays from the palest white to intensely dark, and the sun was stabbing through some openings and backlighting everything and the wind was sending shivers through the tall grass and the sea was that dark, dark gunmetal all shot through with whitecaps and the brilliance of the sun hammering the surface and the black rocks were swarming with cormorants and sea lions.

If I could have shed my skin and bones right there I would have done it and turned myself into that scene.


Sometimes you just have to get your ass out of the man-made world.


I'm gonna go take my wife out to lunch.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Waiting For the No. 7


Something's not quite right...


Yesterday I had the unhappy job of making a death notification, and I screwed it up. A guy called us from Texas and said that his retarded little brother had called him and said he couldn't wake up Mommy. They live in our jurisdiction, so we sent some paramedics out to check her welfare. While they are on scene, I get a call from a cop at the PD in Texas who says the lady is one of his officer's grandma, and could I tell him what's going on. As I'm talking to him, the medics confirm that the old lady is dead, and they request a deputy for the coroner's case.

I don't want to give this other cop the runaround, and I know that if I try to stall him he'll know what's up, so I start telling him that it's not good, and he says "Hold on, I'll put her on." and now I'm talking to the granddaughter and I'm already committed.

Now, we like to do this in person, not on the phone, cause you never know what'll happen. But I know I'm already screwed, and as much as I don't want to give the first cop the runaround, I'm even less inclined to give it to the granddaughter. And I figure, well, she's a cop, she'll do okay even though it's rough.

So I tell her that her grammy is dead.

And she freaks. Screaming, sobbing, the whole enchilada.

Man, when that other cop picks up the phone....he wants to homicide me right there.

"What the fuck did you just tell her?"

"Well, asswipe, what did you think I was about to say?"

"Jesus Christ, what's wrong with you? Don't you have any sense at all?


Nope. I guess not.


The best laid plans....


One of the things that this job will do to you is make you a little hard, on the surface anyways. I feel bad about what happened, but only in the way a sociopath might- that is, on an intellectual level I'm sorry for the girl, and I'm chagrined that it went down so badly, that I handled it so poorly.

But it doesn't sink in. Not where it counts.

I'll tell you what does sink in, though. The image of that poor simple man shaking and shaking his Mommy and knowing something bad was wrong. I see him wandering around the house, crying and biting his lip, rocking back and forth in the chair by the kitchen table while he dials his brother's number by memory...

That gets in pretty good.



If it's an afterlife, I'd like to be like a angel that comes and stands over a person at a time like that. Even though you can't touch them, you want to, and you spread your wings over them.

Maybe you can whisper something their soul can hear, like a gospel song heard from a long ways off, or the sound of birds busting out from a bush and taking flight, that rush and rustle of hard little packages of life, beating their wings and climbing into the light...


Monday, March 27, 2006

Natural History


What is the purpose of this endeavor?

To love...


I am grateful beyond words that these are my problems and that there is nothing seriously bad to complain about. I should be weeping with gratitude.

And I often do.


This picture is how I see me and Yolie. Riding off into the sunset on the back of a dinosaur skeleton. My arm around her, our faces close together as the light dims and something sweeps in to claims us...




Sunday, March 26, 2006

Catching The Man


The best medicine I have found is to stand still and look. To fall silent and look. To look and look until what is seen no longer makes sense, until like a word repeated endlessly it falls apart; and then to keep silent and keep looking until it reassembles into its old self again.

Only changed.
Only shifted.
Only glowing.


Somehow filled with light.


I offer this to you...


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Cambria Palms Motel


This is the motel across the street from our house. Next to the Venus Arms Apartments. I love this rundown, ramshackle place. It is home to a couple of our periodically homeless guys when they are flush and can pay for a week or two. Most everyone else stays a night and then hightails it to the Creekside Inn next door or anyplace else they can find. Not that it's bad, it's just kind of old and flat and depressing.


Today it is raining. Our only day off together this week and we've sworn off going into town every weekend, so we're just hanging out. I'm playing with my photographs and Yolie is out in her studio turning some discarded object into art. The dogs are sleeping in their various hideouts and everywhere the sound of falling water is pressing down, calming and soothing us and making us drink another cup of coffee or tea and stand at the window and stare out and stare out some more.


I thought I'd make a list of things I love:

Our home.

My coffee cup, which sports a reproduction of a vintage coffee label "Ever-Fresh Coffee." The mug is squat and deep and plain.

The bay window in the livingroom, which currently sports a bust of Qwan Yin flanked by a bird of paradise and a bamboo. Behind her head is the lush green wall of the escalonia hedge that hides the front of our house from Main street. Right now the rain is falling in the gap between her and the hedge, giving the window a heartbreakingly beautiful sense of serenity and perfect motion.

The aquariums full of silent fish and gurgling water and green plants.

Our ancient douglas fir floors, scarred and mauled by eight hundred thousand dog claw marks. Black stains from old nailheads. And the most beautiful, warm glow from the old wood.

Swiffering that floor. A deep sense of accomplishment floods my body when I've swiffered all the dog hair and dust from my mangled floors. When I'm depressed I will swiffer six or more times a day. When I'm happy, I can get by with a single pass.

The quilts hanging up on our walls. Yolie used to spend months on them, hand dying batches of fabric, sitching them together in off-kilter rectangles, then quilting a mass of interconnecting spirals over the top. You have never seen anything like them.

The painting over the mantle. It's in sepia tones and shows a man diving off a oil-can raft into the dark, glistening water of a lake. He is in a full swan dive, suspended over the horizon line, poised between air and water. It is a hopeful piece. One of the few I've done that I am happy with.

Our big, comfy, overstuffed, dark chocolate colored leather sofa. It is amazing how many people and dogs can nap on it or watch Nova.

My wife's cooking. She is obsessed with making the perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie. She is amazingly close to it, but I hope she never quite gets there. The batches and batches of "failures" are wonderful. She's also gotten me to like lentils, but don't tell her that. She does the same thing with food that she does with her art or her clothes. She can take the simplest ingredients and turn them into an odd, but delightful, experience.

My wife's face. Her limitless, dark eyes, her passionate mouth, the light that emanates from her skin. And the subtle scent she gives off. Like a shy flower not making a big deal about it.

The wonderous train wreck of parenting.

The gift of knowing other wonderful people, all engaged in the same struggle, all equally adrift and equally determined to make their way. I love seeing how they all do it. How they earn their small successes, how they fail and how they right their little boats when the waves knock them sideways. How they sing as they man the oars. How they sleep, huddled together in the hull as the waves rock them and as they drift through a night awash with mad stars. How the night holds them.

My own body. The strength in my hands, in my arms and back and legs. The way it still does all I ask of it, or nearly so. The way it can wrap itself around the body of my wife and shelter her. Give her a measure of its warmth and strength. A place to go to.

Okay, that's enough for now.


What's your list look like?


Friday, March 24, 2006

I Don't Know

It seems that peace should not be such a difficult thing to find. I mean, I've got everything going for me in this life. I'm free, employed, loved, sheltered, fed, fueled, fucked, befriended. I've got money in the bank and things around me that bring me pleasure. I've got goals and things I can enjoy thinking about getting in the future. I'm healthy and whole. The list of things that aren't wrong is too long to imagine. I'm creative. Loving. Loved. Goofy. Engaged. Curious. I meditate and do yoga and go on long walks and do art and read and write and paint and on and on.

And yet I pace. I want another beer. I sit in my parked truck and cry. I grit my teeth.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my face in a mirror or a window and I'm scared of the guy looking back at me. He's so fucking mean looking. Like he'd love nothing better than to knock your teeth down your throat.


That's not who I want to be.


It's elusive, peace. A sense of balance, a sweet joy for the simple act of breathing in and out.


It's okay, though.

I'll find my way to it again.


I know I will.


Hanging Man

I can't seem to get traction on my mood. I am happy about working again, but my wife tells me she has noticed a big change in me- uglier, eating badly, tense, moody, etc. And I feel it, too. I feel a darkness that seeps into me whenever I stop moving. I crave a drink all the time. I am unable to relax or to really be myself.

Unless this really is me.


When I am working the case, there is nothing I'd rather be doing. It is intoxicating, addictive.

When I can't work, I jones for it.



Often I tell myself that what I am doing matters. It means something to somebody that I catch the guy that killed these women. It means something to me.

Just as often, I realize it doesn't matter all that much after all.


I like Jack Gilbert and Alan Dugan alot and right now their mood suits mine just fine.

Cantankerous. Self-absorbed. A little infantile. Greedy. Demanding.

Looking for a good fight.

Stunned and light-headed with love for their women, for good food, and for light. Structure.

The bones of the world.


I want to clear this case.


Friday, March 17, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket


This week we had the Denny's shooting, three dead, two injured. Also, a friend of mine got a grazing wound to the neck in a shoot-out, and another guy I work with killed a guy. I just got off a four-hour standoff with a barricaded man with a shotgun and an AR-15. We had a major set-back on the homicide case I've been working. Oh, a meth lab on Tuesday, too.
It's been crazy.

Full moon.


I called my wife from the standoff to tell her I couldn't pick her up from work. I could tell she was pissed. Since I'm off the SWAT team, I wasn't supposed to be doing this stuff anymore, but I can't seem to convince her that we don't get to pick and choose what we go on.

I know she just hates it.

Aaron was telling me about coming home after the Denny's shooting, knee deep in dead people, and having to compete with his wife on who had the worst day. She won. She's a forensic interviewer for sexually abused children.



I was standing there this afternoon, peeking out from behind a fence, pointing an AR-15 at the window where the bad guy was waving his shotgun and saying he'd never be taken alive, and all I could think about was how glad I was to be there.

Same kind of feeling I had coming back into the bureau last week.



In the game.


I really am trying to get out of the game. I got promoted. Got off the SWAT team. Sitting a desk, the whole shebang.
I know it's time to put this behind me, leave it for the young guys coming up.

You get a taste for it, though, and it's hard to shake. If you don't love it, you hate it. But if you don't hate it, there's nothing else like it.


Blah, blah, blah.


What I don't want to do is come across as some kind of bullshit thrill jockey. It isn't the thrill, exactly. I don't's a kind of focus, like the best, deepest centered meditative state. Everything small and unimportant falls away, and this wonderful clarity settles over everything...

It does have to do with knowing that everything is fragile.

Short lived.



And so, so beautiful.


It is good to be alive.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Bringing It In

Image hosting by Photobucket


In the story, the man is learning how to use
a hammer and an anvil. There are marks on the hard
surface of the anvil where steel has scored steel.
The man imagines the blows from the hammer
that made the metal scar another metal.

He hears the ringing in his ears.

The man needs to make something, an implement.
He knows that it won't happen all by itself.
Force must be applied in a certain direction.
There should be heat, and a bucket of cold water
into which the thing can be plunged.

To make some steam.
To make a hiss arise
from the surface of the dark water.

To temper it, to give it strength.

And there are diagrams. Drawings and plans
in blue ink on bluish paper. Angles and vectors,
plotted down to a gnat's ass. The man knows
that without a plan there's nothing
to diverge from.

No point of departure.

Which is where art happens, the man believes.
He picks up the hammer, hefts it in his hand,
swings down hard on the flat top of the anvil,
filling the small room with the bright ring

of steel on steel. He thinks of the barges
moving goods on the great rivers of the East;
a man on a girder swinging out over the
vast emptiness of air at the top
of a skyscraper being built, girder by girder,
in the heart of the city.

He rubs his elbow where it tingles from the blow
he let fly on the anvil. Like something
living traveled up through the steel.
An excitement of the axons and dendrites in the
armature of his body. A taint in his blood for
movement, a taste for force.

Later in the story the man can be seen working
at the anvil. Swinging the hammer with steady blows,
blows like the working of a clock, the ringing
of blows as regular and irretrievable as the ticking of seconds,
away and away and away, as a new thing is forged.

What is the man making?
It could be a sword, or a plowshare;
a shoe, or a box for keeping rice.

It doesn't matter to the man.

He is making the key that Death will use
to unlock the door to the Universe.
He is making a flower with hard petals.
He is bringing a life into this world
the only way he knows how.

He hammers away.
It shifts its shape under his blows,
he puts it in the fire until it glows
white; he drenches it in the bucket,
listens; turns it over and over, picks
a spot and hits it again.

He is bringing a thing into the world.
He knows that he is damned.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Self at Forty-One

Image hosting by Photobucket


Last night we celebrated our Anniversary (a little bit early because of the unpredictability of my schedule for the next week). We spent the day farting around San Luis Obispo, doing our bookstore, healthfood store, Natural Cafe, etc. thang. It was cold and blustery and alternating sun and rain or both. It was wonderful.

But best was dinner at The Sea Chest.

This little joint is right on the water on Moonstone Beach. They don't take reservations or credit cards, so be prepared for a wait at the bar. They provided playing cards, cribbage boards, and a whole wall of National Geographics. The place is smallish, and the interior is maze-like and dark and wooden, like the inside of a ship. It's not at all cheezy, though. It feels legitimate- like everything they do, they don't try too hard. It's a seafood place, so hey, lets make it look like one. That's all.

The mood is serious, though. Upbeat, laid-back, but down-to-business. The menu is basically:

Here's what they caught today- salmon, sea bass, thresher shark, tuna.

We have some lobster and some crab.

If you want an appetizer, you can have clams, oysters, shrimp, or mussels.

Everything is served grilled with lemon and butter and a pile of fresh, organic vegetables, also grilled.

Add a bottle of wine and you're off to the races.

The kitchen is at the back of the bar, so you watch it all happen. No one has room, so they dance around each other in an intricate, effortless ballet. Hiss...the fish hits the pan. Drizzle butter, lemon. Flip, flip, plate it.



We had a huge pot of gorgeous mussels. Like eating little vaginas in butter and garlic. They must have given us two dozen in this big pumpkin colored Le Cruset kind of pot.

Then a plate piled high with salad greens and dressing.

I had the salmon and Yolie had a scampi/scallop combo.


That meal was on par with the best sex I've ever had.


I had to be carted out of there.


Oh, yeah. The Castoro cab....


I don't know how I got so lucky. My wife is a singular catch. She is endlessly fascinating to me, a never-ending wonder. I'm like a dog around her, I just want to stare at her and follow her from room to room. When she walks by me I roll over on my back and wave my arms and legs, hoping she'll rub my belly.

And sometimes she does.


The other night I was dreaming and two of the dead women whose cases I'm working on showed up.
They just stood there, kind of off to the side, watching me.
They were just like they'd been found: half-naked, bound, stabbed.

They didn't say anything.


It makes sense that I would dream of them. I mean, it would be weird if I didn't, right?


I also had another one of my "Japanese Hotel Elevator" nightmares.

They go like this:

I'm in Japan with my wife and kid and we're late to leave for the airport and I've got to check us out of the hotel. I'm in the underground parking area and I have to take the elevator to the lobby. I get in, all alone, and the doors close. The elevator lurches up quickly, then accelerates steadily. I watch in horror as the little floor annunciator over the door spins wildly. The elevator is rushing up so fast that I am being slammed to the floor. I know that I'm going to die in the elevator when it hits the top of the building, but it never does. Instead, it stops suddenly, throwing me up into the air, and then heads down again.

Faster and faster.

Now I'm hovering up near the ceiling, trying to find a hand-hold or something to keep me closer to the floor.

It just keeps doing that, up and down, up and down, as I grow increasingly terrified and beaten up from slamming into the floor and ceiling.

You'd think I might notice at some point that this is pretty unusual, and also kind of familiar, and that it must be a dream.

But this insight escapes me.


My wife got me a Wacom tablet a while ago. I'm trying to figure it out.

I think I'm gonna like it.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Day Labor

Image hosting by Photobucket


I have been given a kind of reprieve. Since my promotion to Sergeant, I've been stuck in the fishbowl for ten hours a day, doing little of any import and spending a lot of time pacing and looking at the clock. Not the greatest thing in the world. Yesterday the bosses brought me back into the detective bureau to assist on a cold-case that has been heating up. A string of women raped and murdered a long time ago, all unsolved. Before I left I put in a lot of work with another guy and we got a couple of the murders tied through DNA evidence, and now we're working the other end of it.

So, suddenly, if temporarily, I am back doing what I love.

The feeling was like waking up from a terrible dream where you're lost and trapped and you don't understand what's happened to you or how you ended up where you are. You awaken and you're back in your own familiar bed, with sunlight streaming in through your windows...

But it wasn't a dream. It was a place, and you and you and you were there...


Back at a desk with the pictures of the dead scattered all around me, and a task: find who did this.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Until The Shadows Flee Away

Image hosting by Photobucket


This deep unease continues. Nothing seems to help much. Tonight I lost patience with my yoga and quit a few minutes into my practice. Uncomfortable in my mind, I am uncomfortable in my body, too. I can sense the tension in my breathing, in the muscles of my back, neck, and shoulders. My gut burns. My eyes ache.

I am creating this.


So how do I make my way through?

I accept it. Don't try to fight it. Breathe into it, settle down, settle in. Feel what I am feeling without trying to change it or deny it or wish it away. To be here now.

Easier said than done, but it does give a sense of the course I should plot.


Work got very interesting again today. I have some heavy lifting in store; some good, good potential for serious work.
But the opportunity comes with its own set of costs.

The obstacles are numerous and not all of them are visible.

There are no lookouts on the bow.

I am in the cabin, pacing.


None of this is intended as a complaint. I am only trying to give an accurate, if muddled, sense of where I am and what I am wrestling with right now.

I am no less blessed now than when I am blissed out. This is the same thing, nothing has changed.

Yet I am uneasy.


Monday, March 06, 2006

The Struggle For Supremacy

Image hosting by Photobucket


Some days the man stands in a field near the ocean,
the wind whipping around him, pummelling the grasses
and turning their motion into an earth-colored sea in which
he walks, the sound of the wind a voice saying something
the man can almost decipher.

As if a woman were whispering a long secret
into his ear.

The man is not naive enough to believe
that the wind is whispering secrets to him,
but he smiles at the thought of it.

Often when he walks by the sea
he climbs onto the low, wet rocks
at the water's edge and looks out at the waves.

He feels the wash
of the surf as it sweeps into the shore
as it has done since the oceans were formed,
millions of years before the first
complex amino acid linked itself into chains
and started the long haul that leads, in some ways,
right back to the man.

Not that the man believes he was anything like the point.
But still. Here he is, all the same.

He wishes that the sea were speaking to him,
even if the wind is too aloof. He believes
there is a kernel inside of him, smooth
and hard as a pebble.

He doesn't remember being born,
feels certain he's missing something important
most of the time.

He is on the edge of a big discovery
which never seems come.

Instead he stands and turns his back
on the sea. He walks through the tall grasses
back to the road where his truck is parked, worrying
and worrying a small stone he picked up somewhere
and has kept in his pocket ever since. His hand
finds it unconciously and works it.

If you asked him what he was doing, he wouldn't know
what you were talking about.

When he is sitting at his desk,
or in his car, stopped at a light,
he sometimes gets flashes of the sea in his mind,
or an image of himself in some deep grass
on a low hill in the golden light
of the setting sun.

As if no matter where he was at the moment,
he was somehow also always on that hill, or still
crouched on a rock jutting out into the sea,
with the wind in his face and the cries of birds filling
the air around him and all he had to do
all he had to do was awaken
from this stubborn dream.

He touches the stone with his fingers, satisfied
it is still there.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Banyan Tree

Image hosting by Photobucket


Going through the motions. Spinning my wheels. Free-form anxiety, mild depression, and more anxiety.


Glad to be reading Mr. Lineberger again. He is some poet.


Trying to sit meditation or go for a walk. Very glad there is no vodka in the house.


The work consumes me, but it gives me no satisfaction. Something eludes me...


Friday, March 03, 2006

The Night Gathering

Image hosting by Photobucket


Took Cash out to Lone Palm early this morning. The sea was up and wind-whipped, nearly black with vivid whitecaps aglow in the changing light, the sky above dark and racing with heavy thunderclouds dumping rain out over the sea, the grasses leaping and flattening, swirling and twisting.

A solitary egret on the wind-swept plain stood his ground against the wind.

We made our way across the cliffs as the weather kicked up around us. Rain began to spit, blown in from over the sea, then fell hard and dense. I huddled in the lee of a rock outcropping and held Cash against my side as the water and freezing wind broke over the rocks and swirled around us.

Soon it began to hail.


For ten minutes we huddled in the lee of the rocks, breathless, as the squall passed over us.

I have rarely felt so alive.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Borradori Garage

Image hosting by Photobucket


My wife is too good to me.

I am having a little relapse of vertigo and I'm spinning around and tipping over (more than usual). I get whiny and grumpy when this hits me and I have a generally low tolerance for everything.

She throws me down on the sofa and strokes my head and brings me glasses of cool water. She whispers sweet nothings into my ear and tolerates my spazzy jerking when I think I'm falling over backwards or spinning in circles.

She doesn't even complain a little bit.


I am working on things, but I can't help feeling like I am not doing enough. I am not working hard enough. I'm not serious. Not because I want to get something out of the work, but because the work demands a certain level of commitment. I think that I am shortcutting the work in some way, not giving it what it demands.

I am too impatient. Scatter-brained. Lazy.

I think that my brain is too simple. Too quickly pleased. I see a beautiful complexity in the writings of others, or in their visual images, and I feel that my own efforts have a stilted kind of 'one-dimensionality' that might be a result of a failure on my part to let the work develop more fully before I pull the trigger on it and declare it finished, or abandon it and move on to the next thing. I am child-like in that way.

I want to serve the work well.

I'll keep working at it.


Does the urge to write poems spring from a sense of dissatisfaction with both the exterior and interior worlds? I guess that Whitman was celebratory, but he seems an exception. My own feeling is that when I am happiest I am least likely to be generating poems, and that when I am most unbalanced and depressed and I've lost my insulation against pain that I am compelled to wrestle with the world through the poetic medium. When the filtering mechanism is too sensitised, too finely attuned to the subtlest input from the outside world of the senses or from the barrage of interior thoughts, then poems result.

When the system is in balance, then the poems that I write seem to me to be more 'academic', mere wordplay. Intellectual exercises, little more.

This must be the surest sign that I am not a serious poet.


I like it when the fever of compelled creation grabs me and worries me like a bone in its jaws.

This, perhaps, is a trustworthy sign that, whatever else I am engaged in, there is some aspect of art about it.


I can't get off this merry-go-round.


Hartford and Vine II

Image hosting by Photobucket

Jim Lineberger's blog is up again. Do yourself a favor and go check him out.

I have to warn you, he's a sneaky bastard and he'll jerk the rug right out from under you after spending a good long time coaxing you onto it.

I have a physical, embodied reaction to his work most times. The surface of Jim's work is often deceptively simple and direct, but it only barely keeps the lid on a swirling maelstrom of conflicted and conflicting subcurrents that will drown a motherfucker in a hurry.

Like all good poets, he is wounded in an almost crippling way, but like all great poets, he doesn't make a big deal out of it, and refuses to make the woundedness anything like the subject of his work. Instead, it acts as a warping force on the lens through which he films.

It provides a wonderful, dizzying distortion.

The kind that shows us something more real than the real world.


Last night I gave an hour talk on basic Criminal Law to a citizen's group. One of our people put the arm on me, and I couldn't think of an excuse fast enough, so I got suckered into it.

I had the best time.

I could have been a great teacher. Who knew?


Well, after two seventy-hour weeks in a row, it is finally my friday. A ten hour shift ahead of me, and I'm off to the races...

In my heart of hearts, I'm just like the guy on "Office Space" whose highest aspiration is to do nothing.

I mean a serious amount of nothing.

We're talking world class.


Had a long talk with my Dad yesterday. He's struggling with his diabetes, even though he's the most anal-retentive dude you'll ever meet (hidden under a surface of southern geniality and laid-backness). He's depressed and anxious, can't sleep, losing serious weight even though he's already too skinny. He's wrapped around the axle pretty tight.

Although it breaks my heart to see him this fucked up, I'm very grateful he feels like he can talk to me about his true feelings. He says he gets a lot out of our bullshit sessions, too.

I hope he can find his way to some kind of happiness soon.


Mad Hot Ballroom.

If that motherfucker doesn't give you some serious soul-wrenching happiness, you are already dead.


Today, there is hope for all of us.


Even you.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Girl With Two Windows

Image hosting by Photobucket

One of the strangest and most beautiful things about this place is your presence here. You live your life out there in the big yonder, and yet you and I have come to be good friends. Here in this poorly lit little backwater dive. I wander around, muttering to myself, blissed out or grumpy, throwing stuff up on the walls, dragging you by the arm and pointing-

"Look at this. Look over here. Look. Lookit. Sheesh..."


Here's to you! This place just wouldn't be the same without you.


I am forever having movie stars come by for cameo appearances in my dreams. Last week Anthony Hopkins appeared in my dreams as an aging, heroic king. I was his right hand man. A combination of Lear and Don Quixote, Hopkins raged against the walls of his castle with his huge sword, swearing and crying and hacking away, the sound of his blows ringing out over the hills.

Steve Buscemi came by last night. That guy just wouldn't shut up. He was carrying a big phone book, jabbing me in the ribs with it...

"Call them, dude. Give 'em a call. Whyn't you call 'em already, huh? Tough guy. Just pick up the fuckin' phone why doncha."

Gimme a break already.


I do not want to die anytime soon, thank you very much.