Bricks. Lots and lots of bricks.

We tore down two chimneys at our house. Plus, we found a pile of bricks that someone was giving away and we rather insanely thought we might need. We are brick rich. Stack ’em in piles. Edge the gardens with them. Stack ’em in other piles. Move ’em around. Endless fun.

Treasure Everywhere

Nails. A huge pile. This photos does not do the pile justice. So many nails.

And this thing. What is it? No one knows. Total mystery. And as I was walking across the yard (a yard that has claimed three lawn mower blades since I started mowing it) I looked down and saw this dangerous piece of metal. It wasn’t there the day before. The stuff is rising from below.

And this small star-like medallion. At first I thought it was an old toy sheriff’s badge, but it says Gil Scarponi Scarps Good Luck on it. It’s made, I think, from tin.

And a more nails. And more broken glass. It’s garbage, but beautiful, too. I’m slowly piecing together who lived here.

And this thing leapt out at me. I sank my digging stick into the ground, hit this sharp, strange piece of metal. I’m thinking there may be a tractor down there, too.

Having found a ton of stuff in about ten minutes, I thought I’d go inside. Walking back across the yard, I said to myself, I’ll just dig here, see what I find. The bottle on the right hand side, long broken, long ago thrown beneath the old barn, or thrown into the pit where the barn used to be, still had it’s hinged lid. In the second picture, notice how thick the glass is.

Here’s where I dug. It’s in the  middle of the yard. All of these treasures where just an inch or two below the surface, maybe a bit more. Makes me want to dig the whole thing up and sift the dirt. Soon, I’ll build a case for the junk. My own private museum. On the right, you’ll see my digging tool. I call him Ol’ Yaller.

And then finally, as I was heading back up the slight rise to the house, I looked down and saw what I thought was a root. I’ll just put that up, I said to myself. It turns out it was an old table or chair leg that had been tossed out here at some point. All of these things were found and revealed in about a twenty minute window. Imagine what I might find with a few days and some sort of light backhoe. And a metal detector. If you have a metal detector, call me. There’s treasure everywhere.



Experiments in Apocalyptic Landscape

I’ve written about apocalypses of one kind or another. Here, I was just having fun with exposures and temperatures. Now that I’m done grading papers and close to getting back into some writing, I’ll be posting more regularly again. I’m attempting to post something each day. For now, I offer the photos that seem, to me, to suggest the beginning of the end.

Tonight, a poem…


Once, there was nothing,

a vast emptiness,

(or fullness) and then

something (or nothing).

In the blink of an eye:

galaxies, solar systems,

stars, planets, moons,

lava, crust, sedimentary

rock, construction sites,

rock crushers,

and then you,

like you were

here all along,

spread over neglected

lands, proclaiming

that everything

under the sun

is speeding

toward itself.

You curve around

boulders, kneeling

or prostrate, praying.

My journey on your

rubbly ramp warns

the world of me,

and likewise,

when I am asleep,

strange footsteps rattle

a staccato whisper,

a tornado warning

of the world’s advance.

Do you miss being

whole? If I had the

time, I might

collect your

brothers and sisters

and glue you together

into a ball bigger

than the moon.

Some fiction from me today…

I don’t normally post fiction here, but I felt like it today. This is a short short titled “The Blind.”

At four-thirty on a cold, gray morning, we rowed the quarter mile toward the blind across silent water flat as a skillet. Since my mother passed, my father had become volatile and rudderless, liable to chase drivers who cut him off, to yell at waitresses and argue with managers, to curse President Nixon on the television. However, on the water or in the blind, he was a man of limitless patience, his eyes scouring the horizon and his ears attuned to any feathery flutter or rustle. Still as the reeds surrounding us, he told stories in a hushed voice about his own father and grandfather, who had also outlived their wives. That morning, he took four shots, but missed each time. He stared at his gun, betrayed. I don’t understand, he said as he resumed his study of the marsh. Nothing moved out there. There was no wind. After a long silence, he said, your mother was a beautiful woman, even if she didn’t think so.

Several months before she died, my mother overheard a group of students joking about her size. Mrs. Hunt is so fat, one kid said, that her yearbook photo is taken by satellite. Another kid added, Mrs. Hunt is so fat that when she stepped on a scale, it said, One person at a time, please! My father insisted on knowing their names so that he might talk to their parents, but my mother waved off his request. They’re just seventh graders, she said, and good kids, too. Besides, she added, who wouldn’t want to make fun of this? She grabbed her hips and shook herself. She smiled to show that she didn’t take it personally.

The geese mostly stayed clear so my father knelt down and unpacked our lunch. Having wasted the best part of the day with lousy shots, he grew impatient, tapping his foot, looking at his watch. He took only a few bites of his food and then went back to his post. He didn’t look at me for a long time and didn’t speak. He cleared his throat and blew his nose. Only years later did I realize he’d been crying. A dozen geese flew from the east, several hundred yards distant. My father raised his shotgun and sighted. The geese grew faint against the gray sky. He did not shoot. Pack up, he said.

On the way home, we stopped at a 7-11. Inside, we overheard two boys telling fat jokes by the donuts. My father set down his steaming coffee and went to our car and unsheathed his gun from its case. The boys were teenagers, faces ripe with acne. My father waited until they were seated and then stood in front of their car and raised the barrel until it was level at his waist. The boy’s faces blanched. The passenger boy said, Go! The driver froze. My father walked over and leaned into the driver’s side window. The barrel rested on the opening, in line with the driver’s neck. My father spoke a few words and then walked back to our car to secure his weapon. The driver was crying as he drove away. I pretended to study the display of Slim Jims. Get yourself some of those, my father said as he walked back to his cup of coffee. His hands were steady as he lifted the cup and blew softly over the steaming surface.

Top Ten Things I’ve Been Doin’ This Spring (Gerund edition)

10). Livin’ on the Edge.
9). Livin’ on a Prayer.
8). Countin’ Flowers on the Wall.
7). Savin’ Tony Orlando’s House
6). Jumpin’ Jivin’ Wailin’.
5). Sinkin’ the Bismark.
4). Not Standin’ up for Fallin’ Down.
3). Continuin’ the Story of Bungalow Bill.
2). Reelin’ in the Years.
1). Waitin’ for the End of the World.

Here be some posies for you:

A little grammar/usage issue:

It’s happening more and more. The quotation is an abused little punctuation mark. You rarely need them unless you are quoting someone and/or writing dialogue (and even then it’s not strictly necessary). So, please people, be careful with such things. Look at this photo. “All Natural” is in quotation marks. Is it a simple mistake? Or should I assume the baker is winking at me (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) about how “natural” the ingredients are? I can only assume that this bread contains chemicals derived from a natural source, was baked in a nuclear reactor (uranium is, strictly speaking, natural) and sealed in toxic plastic made from natural petroleum products–and the baker wants to reassure me that yessir, everything is natural here. Or is it less sinister? See how powerful a punctuation mark can be?