Tuesday, February 4, 2014


It's time to move
to drag one's feet through
the creeping mire
to hold freedom in one breath
and pull
to find the new part deep
and darker still
to seize
the endless vine
to grasp and pull
and pull
and pull
to shun the outstretched hand
and pull
until one's lungs
are full
until one's lungs
are full.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Year 2013

After stuff happened in 2012, stuff surprisingly happened again in 2013, despite my best efforts.  I'm assuming stuff will happen again in 2014.  Oy vey!
  • The United States of America is no more after President Barack Obama tries to get poor people health insurance.
  • Donald Trump nobly continues in his tireless quest to prove that Obama was born in Kenya.  He's this close to the smoking gun.  Unfortunately, he's the one who fired it.
  • The Miami Heat again win the NBA Finals, this time in seven games against my beloved San Antonio Spurs.  I hate the Miami Heat.
  • Gus Malzahn, in his first year as head coach, leads Auburn University to the BCS Championship Game after the team had a record of 3-9 the year before.  War Eagle!
  • Erik Dryden moves to Houston, Texas.  The City of Auburn, Alabama, collectively weeps.
  • North Korea again freaks out certain nervous people by conducting an underground nuclear test.
  • Dennis Rodman makes repeated visits to North Korea.
  • North Korea is soon to become a major tourist destination for eccentric retired NBA stars.
  • According to the Juche calendar, it is the year 102.  Let us take time to remember the great Kim Il-sung and Juche, a philosophy that has spread like wildfire, all the way from Pyongyang to, um, the rest of North Korea, leading to actual instances of people not starving to death.
  • Benedict XVI, proving himself a wuss, quits the popehood.  
  • Some guy named Francis is named the new pope after secret pope elections.
  • Something something Duck Dynasty blah blah blah.
  • Russia is struck by a meteor, causing great damage and proving that the end of the world is nigh.
  • Scientists intentionally kill the world's oldest discovered animal, a species of bivalve mollusk, because they think it will be slightly easier to count the growth rings on the inside of its shell than the outside.  They end up having to age it by counting the outside rings anyway.  Seriously.
  • A federal judge in Utah declares that the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.  Same-sex marriage is legal in Utah.  Utah!
  • A human ear is made using a 3D printer.  Imagine what will happen when printers enter the fourth dimension.
  • Some kid named Prince George is born in England.  Inexplicably, millions of people care.
  • Alice Munro of Canada, one of those rarities--a great short story writer, wins the Nobel Prize in Literature, marking one of the few occasions that the award is not an absolute joke.
  • A military coup ousts Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.  People die pointlessly.
  • Bombs go off at the Boston Marathon.  People die pointlessly.
  • Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan kills thousands in the Philippines.  Americans briefly pay attention.
  • Herman Wallace, Doris Lessing, Seamus Heaney, Sławomir Mrożek, John Hollander, Ali Maow Maalin, David Hubel, Ruth Benerito, Virginia Johnson, Amar Bose, Ray Dolby, Mikhail Kalashnikov, Nelson Mandela, Masao Yoshida, Tom Foley, John Gilligan, Lindy Boggs, George Tall Chief, Sonatane Tu'a Taumoepeau-Tupou, Liu Fuzhi, Qaqambile Matanzima, Hugo Chávez, Abdul Nasser Bani Hani, Damiano Damiani, Amidou, Peter O'Toole, Julie Harris, Richard Griffiths, James Gandolfini, Karen Black, Kumar Pallana, Joan Fontaine, Jean Stapleton, Dennis Farina, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Douglas Dayton, Eiji Toyoda, Nyanasamvara Suvaddhana, Bum Phillips, Ken Norton, Walt Bellamy, Esther Williams, Helissio, Art Donovan, Tommy Morrison, Iqbal Mirchi, Chopper Read, Margaret Thatcher, Richard Ramirez, Ed Koch, Frank Lautenberg, Ike Skelton, Vo Nguyen Giap, Jacques Vergès, Hugo Black, Jr., Aajonus Vonderplanitz, Jovanka Broz, Frederick Sanger, Stephen Malawista, Elwood, Chow Yam-nam, JJ Cale, Tomás Ó Canainn, Rottyful Sky, Van Cliburn, Lou Reed, Reshma, Jonathan Winters, Scott Carpenter, Brooke Greenberg, Oscar Hijuelos, Bo Bing, Elmore Leonard, Richard Matheson, Tom Clancy, David Frost, Mel Smith, Robert Hugh Molesworth Kindersley, 3rd Baron Kindersley, Helen Thomas, Par Par Lay, Paul Walker, Srihari, Cory Monteith, Roger Ebert, Ray Harryhausen, Hal Needham, Dominguinhos, T-Model Ford, Marian McPartland, Ramblin' Tommy Scott, George Jones, Eyob Mekonnen, Donna Hightower, Innocent Lotocky, Boris Berezovsky, Marcia Wallace, and Giant George die.
  • The earth makes one more trip around the sun.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Passing Time

She hates being looked at
but she loves looking at
and she cares what the people think
because the people look at her
and she knows they look at her
because she looks at them
and they speak in her direction
and they speak about her
because their mouths move
because she cannot hear them
and she hates the sound of a ticking clock
because it reminds her
of death.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


This photograph has been featured prominently on the blog from the beginning.  Let me tell you its story.  In March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, resulting in massive tsunamis that killed tens of thousands of people.  One result was the catastrophic failure of reactors at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, the like of which had not been seen since the Chernobyl disaster.  Government authorities ordered the evacuation of a region surrounding the plant.  These are the footsteps, in the tsunami mud, of the evacuated, fleeing toxicity, fighting against the flood.

Friday, November 1, 2013

El Día de Muertos

The scariest thing I ever saw on Halloween was in Arkansas when I was about twenty years old.  My friend and I drove past a church famous for its extreme approach to evangelism.  A wooden cross had been set up in its front yard and a teenage boy was hanging from it, in similitude, of course, of the crucifixion of Jesus.  They were trying to prove something about the evils of celebrating Halloween.  To me it was disturbing, tacky, sacrilegious.  I felt a mix of dark humor and disgust.  Halloween, that formerly great holiday, has become bastardized because of an exaggerated view that children should never have to face fear or danger or worry.  So we see people who treat Halloween as if it should be shunned as a day honoring Satan. So we see pumpkins and bumble bees and princesses and superheroes instead of ghosts and ghouls and goblins and devils.  We see trunk-or-treat instead of trick-or-treat.  We see people who think Halloween is bad because it encourages greed by having children beg for candy.  We see people who believe Halloween is a day honoring Satan, as if all dead things and imaginary monsters serve Satan.

I'm writing this from Houston on el Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead, an ancient holiday with its roots in pre-Colombian Mesoamerica.  Despite being forced to adapt to changing politics (new kings and emperors, the Spanish invasion, etc.), the holiday continues to be celebrated in much the same way today as in old, primarily by the Mexican and Central American diaspora.  Aztec gods became Catholic saints.  The celebrations were moved from August to October 31 through November 2.   The Christian cross and shrines to the Virgin Mary were incorporated into the celebrations.  It's akin to the holiday that Halloween should be.  Costumes are worn, shrines are set up for the dead, candy skulls are handed out, images of skeletons dressed in elegant women's clothing (Catrinas) are ubiquitous.  The dead are encouraged to visit.

As I write this, I'm looking out my window at the Texas Children's Hospital.  The children it houses too frequently face pain and mortality and legitimate fear.  On November 1, many regions of Mexico have a special celebration for the children who have passed on.  On October 31, it is common for children to celebrate other children who have died before them.  I can see how this might be a comfort for them, to see that death is no more to be feared than life.

Monday, October 28, 2013

In Praise of Something

What is a good question
always askable
and truer than
When the Immeasurable
Where the Everchanging
Who the Who Cares
How the End for the credentialed
or Why the Unanswerable
the scourge of children
and Great Men alike.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


A former classmate posted this on Facebook.  One of these people is me, in tenth grade or so.

I'm an underachiever.  I've been called that more times than I can count.  I think I know what it means.  I'm articulate, mature in some ways.  I've always seemed to have a good grasp of what's going on in the world.  I have a genius-level IQ, if that has value.  I was always in the advanced classes.  I'm a good writer, when I can squeeze the words out of my brain.  I'm a good teacher, when I can be around people without having a panic attack.  Why, then, didn't I graduate high school with a 4.0+?  Why didn't I attend an elite university?  Why am I a college dropout?  Why haven't I settled down with a nice woman and begun raising a family by now?

There are the simple, obvious explanations.  My family life's always been unhappy and chaotic.  I've suffered from social phobia and occasional panic attacks, making attending classes all but impossible at times.  I've had problems picking up on social cues and understanding what others expect of me.  I've suffered from chronic depression.  I've been terrified of being rejected by women.  But there are more complex reasons as well.

Just a few years ago, Mrs. Branch, my art teacher from junior high and high school, asked my brother if I was "still an underachiever."  As with so many of my teachers, I didn't like Mrs. Branch when I was in school.  As with so many of my teachers, I don't like her now.  I have found most teachers to be intellectually lazy, distrusting of non-conformity, undeservedly certain of their understanding of the material they teach, uncomfortable with students that learn differently or know more or less than others.  They drive their students towards mediocrity.  Here, Calvin will sum up my attitude regarding "education."

I have a hard time dealing with authority figures.  I'm an anarchist.  I'm a pacifist.  I'm an isolationist.  I'm an individualist.  I'm a collectivist.  I'm easily bored by small-minded people.  I hate The System, whatever the system might be.  I'm protective of those I love.  I'm private.  I like to learn what I want to learn, which happens to encompass a lot of things.  I seek out people with different viewpoints from me.  I don't believe that there are ultimate truths, just guesses and approximations.  I believe in eternity, in all directions.