Tungsten Flames

Large suspendered frame
moving about the kitchen,
not large in width
but long in hidth.

Early morning now
on a late August day.
Tungsten flames burn dimly
as they dangle from the ceiling
illuminating sentences and paragraphs
bound up in pages.

Pouring coffee black as the night
we dreamed our way right through.


Gettin' Hitched

Main mode of island transportation.


Americana Abe

In many ways Abe has become my first sounding board since moving out of Seattle. We have been working job sites together for the last month and a half and as a result numerous conversations have arisen, most of which center around three main themes; American Christianity, American Government, and American Post Modernism.

I put “American” in front of all three themes because I whole heartedly agree with writer Nicholas Von Hoffman when he states that, “It is as though America is in a 3000 mile wide terrarium, an immense biosphere which has cut itself off from the rest of the world and left it to pick its own way down the path of history.”

Over the course of the last two years I have been called many things, some of which include “socialist”, “commie bastard”, “anarchist”, “flaming liberal”, and “revolutionary”. But in my conversations with Abe he has chosen to categorize my perspective on life as “postmodern”. That is a first for me. I have, for as far back as I can remember, held a certain aversion to labels. Unless someone has chosen to place a label upon themselves I see labeling others as a way to place an individual into a group which in turn endows said individual with all of the characteristics of the group and effectively erases any unique attributes that make that individual, well, individual. Once the person in front of you has been “erased” then you no longer have to respect them nor treat them humanely because you are no longer in conversation with a person, instead you are spewing rehearsed hatred and rhetoric towards an idea or a group of people who represent an idea. I write of this “individual erasing” tactic with a knowing smirk because I am guilty of it.

Abe is a sincere guy with a good heart. He endures my righteous (and un-righteous) outbursts toward America, its church, and its government with all the patience of a loving father. He asks me endless questions about why I believe what I believe and why I don’t believe what he believes. I usually give him nebulous answers that only present more questions for his inquisitive mind. At this point in my life I don’t have nor want answers, I am solely interested in good questions.

But yesterday as I worked on a foundation slab, as I slung gravel around trying to create a level basement floor the label “postmodern” popped into my mind. I decided that if I were to allow myself the postmodern label I would only concede to it with a definition I had put forth. And if I were to define post modernism in my own way I would do it with a great deal of ignorance to its real meaning. I would also confine its definition to one area of American culture that I have had the most life experience with: Christianity.

The following was scrawled in my reporter’s notebook while sitting shirtless on the floor of the unfinished foundation:

If by “postmodern” you mean assessing the last 2,000 plus years of Christendom and the way many of its followers have ran around like a chicken with its head cut off while at the same time cutting everyone else’s head off than yes, I am “postmodern”. I am trying to live in the great quiet that settles over a battlefield after the last soldier has been killed. It’s horrific, eerie, and hauntingly profound to look out and see what man has done to itself in the name of God.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Americana Abe, pickup truck and all.


The Other Night...

Bluegrass music wafted up from the shop just beneath me. It was Bernie, tinkering with buckets full of tools he’d pulled from his old suburban. He said it was time to clean it out and clean it out he did for at least a full 3 hours. And while I enjoy a good bluegrass song as much as any music aficionado might I have to admit that the three-hour stream of fingerpickin, boot kickin’ mountain music issuing forth from the 5 c.d. changer did wear on me, just a little.

My throat was starting to hurt (the onset of a cold I feared) and I was trying to concentrate on the story spread out before me, as with each turn of the page The Brothers K was growing more in depth and intense. It was great writing and I wanted to soak in it, let the words tumble into my mind allowing my imagination to carry me along.

I rose and went to the window with intentions of making a comment to Bernie, something that was to be a veiled statement of frustration. But when I opened the window my frustration flew right out of it and into the cool night air, never scathing even a hair on Bernie’s wise old head. The light stopped me. It always has.

The big “barn” door propped open, fluorescent light spilling out of the shop and onto the back of Bernie’s half loaded vehicle. I ran, grabbed my camera and snapped off a few quick shots, the first couple being taken through the screen because I didn’t want to ruin the scene by being noticed. Bernie is camera shy.

The camera caught things as I wanted it to, the light on the doorway, Bernie blurring by trying to finish up for the night, and the darkness that lay just beyond the side doors of his old caravan. It’s a simple picture and I love it for that exact quality, its simplicity.



Organic Water, what will they think of next. Who are “they” you ask? I have no idea, maybe the little green men who live in subterranean worlds just beneath our homo-sapien cities, hatching new plans for world domination through clever advertising and new consumer gimmicks we didn’t even know we needed. Oh you think I’ve gone out of mind with all this talk of little green men and subterranean cities, hey if you don’t believe me ask the government, their the ones who told me all about it and we know they don’t tell lies.

The water in the jug isn’t actually organic; I stuck that sticker on there after I pulled it off of an orange I ate earlier in the week. But it does make me chuckle every time I see the little fluorescent “Organic” sticker, makes think about how companies actually sell bottled water and how if Coke could it would charge $8.00 a bottle for the little organic sticker to be placed in front of its Dasani line of bottled beverages.

Buying organic is expensive; at least when compared to buying crappy, earth destroying, people exploiting, soulless, bleached, enriched and sugar filled foods. Organic tastes better (most of the time) and I feel better when buying it, which is one of the angles marketers of organic products use to sell their wares. It’s the whole ‘you are a smart, compassionate, and progressive thinking human, you organic consumer you’ feeling. When perusing my local organic food market I usually find myself surrounded by fresh faced, loose fitting, long haired, and free flowing hippie type folks. Your typical “Earth People” or something like that. Don’t get me wrong, I'm down with the whole “whole earth” deal.

But lets not fool our selves here, because whether you ride a bike to your local market and buy organic foods which you personally stuff into a canvas sack you brought yourself instead of using the supermarkets bags (which they charge you 5 cents a piece for by the way) or climb into your air conditioned hummer and pull out of the freshly pressure washed driveway of your 3,500 square foot mansion (also air conditioned) in the suburbs and drive the half mile to your local Super Wal-Mart where you buy not a stitch of anything made organically and have it bagged up for you in 10 or 12 of the gazillion plastic bags that Wal-Mart goes through every year you still come out of the stores with this in common; organic or not, plastic or canvas, you are both consumers.

I think I am going to sell organic water, please no one steal this idea from me as I am sure the brilliance of it shines so brightly from your computer screen that you wish you’d worn sunglasses as you read this post. Maybe I’ll call it “H2Organic”. Come on, you know you would buy it.



In more ways than one Abe was right. He assessed an entire generation in this way: that unlike the hippies of the 60’s this generation, my generation, his generation, had a steady and consistent disdain for the country we were born into. Never before had there been a generation born into this young empires existence quite like us. We saw the corruption of what money could do, we saw families crumble like pieces of stale bread beneath the pressures of a capitalistic system; our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters striving for an illusionary goal that only a select few had somehow attained.

Information inundated us on all sides, a 24-hour barrage of news, entertainment and noise to override any semblance of sanity that may have lingered in the wake of our disembodied and decimated lives. We blamed the media, the government, our parents and the corporations for the emptiness we felt. Most of all we blamed ourselves.

The Shins, Don Chaffer, and countless other musicians, writers, poets and futurists not only understood but put into song and dance, word and rhyme what an entire generation of young Americans was feeling. In a word, insecure. Out of balance, used, exploited, embittered, lied to. And when the truth was finally told it was so appalling, so heart wrenchingly overwhelming that we wished we had never heard it. “Give us back the lies!” the tenderest parts of us cried, “or at least give us back the parts of our lives we had before we heard the lies”. Could we go back to the innocence we once believed existed?

I stood and watched, listened to the cries as they rose up like the midnight prayers of mothers who’s sons were far away from home at a war they did not understand. My heart sank then crystallized, froze over then broke into a billion fragments, minuscule shards of what was once a passionate pumping life force that sent hope to the rest of this bone-dry body.

With the heart gone what was left?

I couldn’t tell just yet as it was too soon to diagnose. I sent away for the lab results and waited patiently for a reply. I’m still waiting.


49th Parallel

This is Leigh. A couple of falls back I shot his lovely wedding, which took place smack in the middle of Canada’s breadbasket. The wedding brings back good memories, memories of family members traveling far and wide to come to this little town (Leigh’s family flew in from Australia), of stories told around the living room table while outside in the expansive sky above us geese in great numbers made their southward journey that would eventually carry them far beyond the 49th parallel.

I saw Angela (his wife) and Leigh just a few weeks ago while visiting Vancouver. It’s always good to see old friends. To be reminded that you are known, to remember that you are not alone on this journey.

Some days I have to remind myself that I am not alone.