n. 1 The process or state of being saved; preservation from impending evil. 2. Theol. Deliverance from sin and penalty, realized in a future state; redemption. 3. Any means of deliverance from danger, evil, or ruin.

--Funk & Wagnalls Standard

Akhil IX

Achilles at the prow, daydreaming of points of exposure in his armor, as the shore of Troy rushed towards him, realized not one place he ever lived felt like home. Remembering once as a boy his father taking him into the wilderness. The lesson being Salute Every Man and Bow to None, the object being learning to live comfortably in pain. There in a clearing in the woods they discovered an eagle engaging a hare, an intangible, unspeakable thing. Thus Achilles learned quickness. It was the comfort of this memory that he let his mind rest on, the clever darting hare, whenever he was troubled.

Somebody told me once that the way Homer was able to recite the Iliad over the course of many days was to imagine the story as a house with many rooms, each section representing a room populated with the story and so, in his mind, he would walk each room describing what he saw. Today on the job, your poet could find no room in his mind in which his mind could rest, so he lay down in the darkest one he could find and wept.

Just before the beach, Achilles remembered himself as the boy high in the trees. He told that boy endure, child, endure. He thought of Hector waiting for him just beyond the dunes, his own singular art of killing. Coming over the prow and into the surf, his is the shout that can be heard for eternity. The arrows raining down from heaven, thousands of them, each one is a gift.


Achilles 8- Tim

I carried my friend Tim in the truck a couple weekends ago to Lowes to pick up some material. He is building essentially a walk-in cube to be installed in his studio to showcase his work. In theory, it will be able to break down and sounds like an installation piece with four walls lined with wainscoting and furniture. Though I've never told him, Tim is an artist, one of the true seekers. We loaded up studs and for payment he bought me coffee at Starbucks. We like to swap war stories, sometimes, from the bad old days. Coming out of there he told one back when he played with Schwa and a brawl broke out, I think he said in Chapel Hill, complete with ambulances and chairs flying, and he hid under a table. Back in the truck, heading toward his shop, I countered with this one:

My sophomore year I went downtown with some other kids to a show in a warehouse club on Foushee named Caution. I think it was the first time any of us had ventured below Belvedere into the true grimey heart of this city we found ourselves in. I remember stairs up to a wide open room and a typical metal outfit grinding out some noise, all hair and bad teeth and attitude. There was a pit just under the stage with about twenty young guys hurling themselves around. I scored some beer somehow and me and my friends stood at the edge of the pit, uncomfortably, not sure what to do except watch.

Eventually the pit cleared out to a ring of boys all facing inward, with no one paying any attention to the band or what music they were making. I could feel the volume of it in my chest. The two guys left in the ring looked to be friends as they were both laughing as they threw each other around; one big guy all in black and a smaller dude in boots, jeans, biker jacket and no shirt. The big guy pushed the other into the crowd and he came running back and plowed into the man in black's chest. The kids forming the ring threw whoever got shoved back into action. Everybody grinned, the band never slowed down. Then the smaller kid in the jacket, leaping like a rabbit, crossed the width of the floor in ten jumps or so and landed his fist dead in the face of the other guy, knocking him down. At that very moment the ring collapsed with a surprising suddenness into an ocean of violence, every fist thrown, every body there colliding, the band playing metal full bore behind it, perfectly choreographed as if it had been planned that way. I told Tim I though it may have been the most beautiful occurance I have ever witnessed. We were stopped at a redlight at Broad and Boulevard, I was smoking and he responded,

"Dude, all of your stories have some element of violence in them and how beautiful it is. I think you must be really angry."

"You think?" I said, laughing.

"Yeah, it kind of worries me sometimes."

"No shit. It's been there as long as I can remember. Since I was a little kid. I don't enjoy it." I smoked a little there at the light and said, "I really would like to get rid of it one of these days."

"You will." Tim said.


My Fucking House

in my fucking town.


In May, on a whim, I downloaded this album. I hadn't regularly listened to Sleep since the mid nineties when I was in art school and washed dishes for a living. I have no idea what possessed me to download it, other than it must have been divine providence, because Sleep, and the two bands that rose from it's ashes, Om and High on Fire, have become entirely undercurrent in my life since then.


Death is This Communion

High On Fire--2007


Akhil Seven

The first time I heard Neurosis, years ago, I was struck by how strange the music seemed. It frightened me, I felt unhinged. Neurosis is well made metal, operatic, muscular and utterly bleak. The songs, sometimes ten minutes long, are black on black. It reminds me of what I imagine might be considered desolation in Romania: sparse, rolling hills in night-time. Earlier in the summer, when my body seemed to literally to be shaking itself apart with grief, metal coming home in the truck made good sense. I couldn't handle Neurosis, though. Now, months later, with the headphones, it propels me. I can manage an eight hour day.

Now, in the west end, I'm ready to kneel east on a prayer mat and offer thanks to each and every god in the off chance I might strike on the one that chose to come down and kill this summer. The garage I've set up shop in, building bookshelves this week, faces southeast and has cooked me for a month. The place is mostly finished, but unoccupied, and I've been there long enough to know each well-preserved trophy wife, to wave to them and their specialty dogs. The development has suffered from the economy, less than a third of the units are occupied. It is decidedly high-end; empty Charleston style row-houses and empty mock-Georgians. There are no children.

The first couple of weeks out I ran crown molding, alone, through the whole upstairs. I kept thinking of a vignette from Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, in which two astronauts are captured on Mars and kept in a place fabricated like a small southern town from Earth. It was populated my Martians disguised as humans, who behaved as if they had known the Earthlings all their lives, and were kind to them, so they actually believed they were back home. At the end of the block I'm on there's a fountain in the middle of a huge pond, surrounded by acres of dirt. Sometimes after a good hard rain, the fountain erupts the color of mud. Most days there this hot summer the sky has been pale and clear, a washed out blue.

Across from the garage is a pair of massive empty concrete slabs, a project that looks to be on hold indefinitely. Bordered at one perimeter with bulging silt fences, then orange safety fence by a line of loblolly pines. They shoot straight up, having establishing minimal limbs as they jostled with each other to form a forest. Now on the sudden, ragged edge bordering our mud lots, they look naked, gangly and tall, brides stripped bare by their suiters.

My music and my landscape. I get what I can out of my body. I start each morning with metal, I almost dance while I work. I run through the house, a carpenter again, moving fast. I am angry and that is okay. It is anger that drives me. I see the pines and remember my own woods in Georgia, a small brown haired boy, maybe ten, out in them alone all day. This morning I smoked out on the slab, with this music in my ears that still frightens me. It is music that is pendulous and brooding and then explodes. I know it for what it is now, a dirge, it is the white hot origin of pain in darkness, it is the sound of my own raw origin, I know where it comes from and why. The sky was low and gray and fast, the first cool morning of fall finally arrived, I stood with rusted rebar bent into gravel and mud, listening, waiting for epiphany to either cut me down or else flood me with violent rapture.


1. to comfort or cheer in trouble, grief, or calamity; console. 2. To alleviate, as grief; soothe; assuage; mitigate. -n. Comfort in grief, trouble, or calamity; also, that which supplies such comfort or alleviation.

--Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary


Hearts Alive


\ˈkän-ˌdü-ət, -ˌdyü- also -dwət, -dət\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French cunduit pipe, passage, conduct, in part from cunduit, past participle of cunduire to lead, from Latin conducere, in part from Medieval Latin conductus.
Date: 14th century

1: a natural or artificial channel through which something (as a fluid) is conveyed
2 archaic : fountain
3: a pipe, tube, or tile for protecting electric wires or cables
4: a means of transmitting or distributing (a conduit for illicit payments) (a conduit of information)

--from Merriam-Webster online




Achilles Six

The red line from the spinning laser indicates level throughout the room, throughout the whole house. It is a benchmark to pull measurements from, it is the point where reckless anger finally collapses into despair. The Achilles cycle. Lay down hungry, lay down with the thought that tomorrow will be better than today. Lay down with the broken promise that said "I will be there. I will take care of things." An aggregate of blackness, grief knuckling into grief that stretches back to childhood.

Two high concrete retaining walls lining Quioccasin at Gaskins form a blazing narrow channel there. Achilles walking through it. Achilles pierced with many arrows but cannot die. Rabbits racing tattooed across his abdomen. Embraced, goes nova, forms a new constellation. Embrace him.

Hector, having killed Patroclos, took the armor of Achilles from his body and put it on. Hector's son finding him this way in their courtyard burst into tears believing the monster had killed his father and come home.

Letting Go is a simple chord progression that cycles for days. It ramps up, it declines, wears a groove in the thin layer of narrative that circles your mind. It is hot blood that must finally cool. It's refrain whispers forgive me, forgive me.
Forgive me.


Today, For His Birthday,

I took Henry to the National Air and Space Museum. However the best part, for me anyway, was finding that the Martin Puryear exhibit was still up across the street. We went and sat down with each piece in each room and talked about how it was made, what it reminded us of, and how it made us feel. Tomorrow he starts second grade.



Akhilles 5

When it hits it will be louder than anything you have ever heard. Guitars making the sound of an elephant being butchered, my love song to the world. Flung to the wind with the hope that one day it will come back to me. Come back to me. Hideous and recurrent, it is the reptile history behind the eye of a red-tailed hawk searching out what is hidden beneath the reeds in the stream. It is the injury I share with my seven year old son. A cycle--It is nobody's fault. Adaptive behavioral patterns formed repeat themselves, it the reason my head sounds like a slaughterhouse. It is recurrent:

8 Physics- A recurring series of operations in which heat is imparted to or taken from a substance, as in gas or other internal combustion engines, which by expansion or contraction gives out or stores up energy and is finally returned to it's original condition.

The only way to go against the will of God is to go alone.
The shattered family is a song in and of itself.

The only true way to sing the loss of the exile is without you.
Without you. Without you every morning I march to war.



Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin campion-, campio, of West Germanic origin; akin to Old English cempa warrior
13th century
1: warrior, fighter
: a militant advocate or defender (a champion of civil rights)
: one that does battle for another's rights or honor (God will raise me up a champion--Sir Walter Scott)
4: a winner of first prize or first place in competition; also : one who shows marked superiority

--Merriam-Webster Online



Akhil IV

The sky in the river and the stones below. Proud kingfisher flashing. Achilles, erupting fire, walks down the center of the road. The quick talent of the killing hand. Wrath. Javelins. Quick water passing over black stones, black as iron, covered with orange algae like rust. Iron, thrust, to separate the shoulder from the neck. Geometry of broken torsos scattered like leaves before him, blood over sand, blood coursing through a holy armature. Arms sprung like wire, spear arcing it's radius, whistling and ruinous. His measured breathing. Achilles goes room to room. Throats opened blossoming like wild hyacinth. There are dragonflies skimming for meat over quick water, the gray-white skin of the sycamores flayed, there is the sky in the river and the stones below. Stone wet and translucent, look deep to witness the universe inside, the thin difference between god and monster.


turns seven monday.


Akhil 3

I can run all night, I can do it alone. The chain, the pistons, the multiple mechanical confluences sing in their revolutions. I can burn all the gasoline out of the line and still run. I am impossible to behold. I have pain enough to share with everyone and everyone gets their turn. I am fast and fast and fast and no one will ever catch me.


Fig.3-Black Rhino

approx. 3'x4'

Akhilles II

Fell from Heaven without a brother. Hand open, falls upon the smoking six-lane wreck of morning. Achilles in love with the world, hand open to skim the wind, gets into position above the merge. Born from Gods of Acceleration, a spearhead bright and cruel and thrust into the sand. Hand closed, clasps the back of the neck of his brother, holds his brothers' head to his head. Rejoice. Blessed engineers drew perfect converging arcs in space, cambers and radii, filled them in with concrete and asphalt, gave them back to the people to die on. Achilles steaming on the overpass at night, preparing, praying to the God of Propulsion. Achilles head down, shoved into the wind. Hand open reaching to feel the impossible wind across the tops of trees. Hand closed with the hideousness of dragonflies. His hand is closed, mourning openly the loss of his brother. Admiring the noise and cruelty of the wind, in a summer of hawks and wind. Counting concrete barricades, scarred from metal and black from tires. Counting seven blue birds flashing, blue flashed open across their open backs.

Torn Up Again

Guide My Hand

Every morning for the better part of the month of May I read this prayer out loud in an attempt to memorize it:

God, I offer myself to thee--to build with me and to do with me as thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power, thy love, and thy way of life. May I do thy will always.

But couldn't get it to stick. At the same time I was working on the Grove job installing a series of countertops. The material, Paperstone, is heavy, harder than white oak, and very expensive. My saw blades and router bits were mostly dull if not completely shot and I was convinced that at any moment I was about to fuck up. So to compensate, before I made a cut , I'd say my own little prayer, "Please, guide my hand" and hope I'd cut a straight line. I have since applied this shorter one to most everything I've been doing lately.


Tonight, On the Phone

My father said to me "You know, sometimes, when you try to do the right thing by everybody else, you wind up sucking hind-tit."

I laughed out loud, "What was that you just said?"

"You never heard that before? See, there ain't a lot of milk comin out of the hind-tit."



n 1. A means by which work is done; an implement or tool, especially a device or mechanism for scientific or professional purposes, as distinguished from an apparatus, tool, or mechanism for industrial use. 2. Any means of accomplishment; The hands are instruments of the will. 3. A mechanical or other contrivance for the production of musical sounds. 4. A person doing the will of another. 5. Law A formal document, as a contract, deed, etc. See synonyms under AGENT, RECORD, TOOL

--Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary

To the Wind



Found in a Notebook

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it it; nor how valuable it is;

nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.. no artist is pleased...

There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

--Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille




Texas Beach


Night Run

I got stuck on the motorcycle in Carytown traffic Saturday night around six, which resulted in a wild hair that put me on Route 5 headed toward Williamsburg. I have wound circles around this city lately and I'm tired of it. The problem with Route 5 was a spring bloom of some kind of flying insect, I was forced to stop frequently to clean the guts off my visor. I got out of Williamsburg around ten, figured it wasn't enough, reached 64 and decided to go east. Somewhere outside of Hampton I got the idea to visit my parent's old house on Lynnhaven inlet in Virginia Beach. This is where Mary and I got married sometime late in the summer of 98. The last time we were there must have been Christmas of 2000 when we discovered she was pregnant with Henry. She felt nauseas in the hot-tub one night. There was snow on the sand dunes across the creek. The next night I was sent out for pickles and cottage cheese. I came back with a pregnancy test.

I must have made the Inlet sometime around 11:30 because I have a receipt for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which is where I went next, that puts me on it at eleven fifty-eight, last night, June seventh, 2008. I think the idea came from watching Cast Away the night before, and the scene where Tom Hanks is unconscious on his raft, just before being rescued by an ocean freighter so huge it almost seems to be passing overhead. My desire was to be out over the water. It was cold, I ran it fast and alone. It felt like soaring, which is exactly what I needed it to feel like.


The Dirt Smelled Like Dirt

There are things that cannot be made okay. There was no insulation in the crawlspace under our house, hundreds of feet of exposed black pipe leading to the convectors. I lined each of them with foam, wrapping each linear foot with all-weather duct-tape. A main trunk down the center took all of one cold Saturday in February. I re-acquainted myself with the spider crickets. Deep in one corner they sounded like rain falling onto the plastic vapor barrier covering the dirt. The dirt smelled like dirt.

Henry helped. In camo-coveralls, he crowded me, minded the flashlight, examined the spider carcasses hanging by their webs from the joists, he said he wasn't scared. He worried about the crickets. For two whole days I had him with me, in the dark belly of our home.



Every morning I forget how it is.
I watch the smoke mount
In great strides above the city,
I belong to no one.

Then I remember my shoes,
How I have to put them on,
How bending over to tie them up
I will look into the earth.

--Charles Simic

The Fire In Our Throats Will Summon the Thaw






In a Tree House

Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.

A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend's gratuity will come --

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.

He is conducting the affairs
Of the whole universe

While throwing wild parties
In a tree house - on a limb
In your heart.

~ Hafiz


Eight Miles High

There is a seam in my skull that marches northward from the inside of my left eyebrow across the expanse of my forehead and dies just into my hairline. I suppose it congealed there in my mother's womb some thirty seven years ago, like tectonic plates forming a rift where they agree to junction. I forget that I have it, that I have always had it, until occasionally, I find my fingers tracing the length of the crack. Like how I rediscover the ridge-backed line of callouses across my palms, my tongue yearly wearing my chipped teeth, or the individual story associated with each unnumbered scar. Part of the song my body carries with it is an anthem to these traumas.

I have no idea what possessed Husker Du to cover Eight Miles High, but they forever transformed it. I tried unsuccessfully one ragged winter at a conference to drag a group of academics across the length of Athens, Georgia to the punk jukebox I had found it in. My intent was to expose the old hippy professor from Maine to it and note his response. About two-thirds of the way through the song the thing deteriorates into merely the chord progression and the drums, Bob Mould stops growling the lyrics and begins to scream, his voice a howl, it is the sound of a body being subjected to incredible pain. It is precisely there that the song is transfigured, it is there it ascends. It is there the body of the song is broken and thusly remade.




Given to the Rising

Plates 29 and 30

--Anatomy of Humans, Crescent Books

Anguish, Etc.

In order to graduate I had to hack together one last sculpture for Joe Seipel, the department chairman. I had been working carpentry for about two years. The contractor who hired me got me to build forms for some trapezoidal pier blocks for a house we built. I'd been thinking about angles, and the tapered lines that defined them, so I backed the truck up to the loading dock at sculpture one night and cut up a sheet of OSB plywood on the tailgate. The thing I built was like a ten sided die, constructed in two halves like the geometric version of a plastic easter egg. It was open at each end, and I filled it with cement, the words ANGUISH and ETC. projecting out from the cement faces at either end. I had made a negative for the words from a block of plaster and carved out the letters free-handed with a router. I screwed it all together, it was about three feet square and weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds. I put a 3" eye bolt on the top as I had thoughts about hanging it. OSB or "oriented strand board" is made up of chips or shards of waste lumber. I ruined a trowel by smearing jet-black roofing compound over the entire surface. Joe, who is about six four and every bit two hundred plus told me in the crit-room that while he realized that OSB was the cheapest material, it was a bad choice, and the roofing compound was a sophomoric fix. There was no disagreeing with him. Truth be told, I had chosen the materials because after handling the stuff for months, nailing down literally hundreds of sheets, I'd go to sleep visioning it's fragmented, splintery surface.

I got the idea from a conversation I had with my friend Paula on a trip we took with my wife going up the eastern shore to New York. I can't remember how it went, something about depression, the affliction of it, the banality or something. I made the piece with her in mind, and afterwards asked her if I could install it in her apartment on Lombardy. She allowed this reluctently. I think I hurt her feelings, that I was saying she bitched all the time. The roofing compound never fully dried and it left black marks on her pine floors. After she moved away, it moved to Lisa T's backyard in Church Hill where it deteriorated and was eventually trashed. I don't think I ever got slides of it. It was a mediocre piece anyway.

I think what Paula was getting at was the process of dealing with pain, and in talking about it how you get sick of hearing yourself talk about it. Or that it never stops. I didn't care, I was in love with the word. Anguish is a word that sounds like what it means. It is the image of a body tumbling through space. To know it, fully, is to be crippled by it. Lying awake, it is a word that breaks over you like a wave. I think now that I should have driven the sculpture to the ocean and filmed it rolling in the surf. Anguish for the sadness associated with the sound of the ocean, Etc. for the set of waves lining up to crash.

Plate 33

Acts, 9

1. And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus and suddenly there shined around him a light from heaven
4. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest, it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man, but they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.

Water is Not Enough


St. Elmo, Chattanooga, Tennessee

They had us ride in the hearse. No, that's not right, we had our own car, the grandchildren: me, my brother Josh and our cousin, Kandy. He was in the hearse of course, in the casket, we rode in the next car behind him. You always remember the first one close to you to go, it is in this way they give you a gift. I think the service was in Brainerd, out by my Aunt Patsy and Uncle Lloyd's. We wound up coming down by Erlanger hospital, which is where countless Blancetts and Gants have entered into this city. I don't remember what all we talked about on the way to the cemetery, it was on 23rd st. where I noticed two old timers sitting on metal folding chairs in the open bay door of an old brick garage. They both took off their mesh-back baseball hats as our procession passed by. Twenty-third is a big four-lane there and traffic in the opposite lane pulled to a stop. I remarked about it to Kandy, did this always happen? She said she thought so. I asked the guy driving, was it a law to pull over? He said actually no, it was against the law, it was something people just did out of respect. We had been in Virginia about eight years by then, I couldn't remember seeing anything like that happening for a funeral procession in Virginia.


St. Elmo is a working class neighborhood at the foot of Lookout Mountain. It is categorized as being the oldest "bedroom suburb" in the city. My grandfather used to ride the trolley to his foreman's job at Crane Porcelain. In the seventies they built a project directly over the hill behind it. There is a company there that built wooden horses and carriages for carousels. There are horses at the windows, still. The neighborhood holds the lower station for the Incline Railway, a train that goes up Lookout at a maximum grade of 72 %. Forest Hills, the cemetery which holds my grandfather and many others of ours was established in 1880. It is Gothic and serpentine, it's roads winding up hills and falling into hollows. Like the rest of the neighborhood it has been burdened and neglected and revived over decades. We buried him facing northeast, I believe, and years later, my grandmother next to him, at the foot of a hill, across from the train tracks that roll over a bridge separating St. Elmo from the rest of the city. The arched stone bridge there forms a sort of a gate for St. Elmo.


I don't remember feeling much of anything the day we put him in the ground. It would be four years later before the grief fully landed on me. Thus the gift to be carried with you always. I remember most being shaken by the sight of his twin brother grieving openly, sitting graveside in a metal folding chair alongside others of our family now gone. I don't remember his brother's name.


I have no reason for recalling any of this now other than my mind has lately been turbulent with memory. My therapist says is it is due to grief.


My dad used to say he would burn a quart of oil in his GTO to go see my mother in St. Elmo from East Lake. A couple of summers ago me, him, mom and Henry went to Chattanooga for a Harley Davidson rally. Dad and I took the bikes out see Pa-paw's old place and got lost heading back in to town. We wound up coming around the back way to East Lake, to the house he grew up in. The neighborhood wrecked, I remember an engine block hanging by a chain from the lowest branch of a dead oak tree, surrounded by emptied carcasses of other machines. The porch of his mothers house fallen in, the porch I once sat on. The collapsed porch of my fathers story that he is only now beginning to tell me.

The Cloudy Day

A Nonsense Poem
by Henry Blancett

The South Mountain Coward
Eating sour tomatoes
In the shower
For an hour.
He did not know
That he was actually eating
Bowls of powder
He thought it was chowder,
So he spat it out!
He went to the sea to drink
But before he drank
He saw a drowning cow.
He saved the cow
And taught him how
To eat chowder in the shower.

Henry Blancett
First Grade
Ms. Ford's Class
William Fox Elementary


Middle English fadme, from Old English fæthm outstretched arms, length of the outstretched arms; akin to Old Norse fathmr fathom, Latin patēre to be open, pandere to spread out, Greek petannynai
before 12th century
1 : a unit of length equal to six feet (1.83 meters) used especially for measuring the depth of water —sometimes used in the singular when qualified by a number fathom deep> 2 : comprehension

--Merriam-Webster online


Working Man

That's right, fuckers, I work for a living.



One day last year, daddy and me took off on the bikes and headed south and west for Ocala. I don't know why, he said he wanted to go look in on Pa-paw's old place. It rained a half-dozen times, hard quick storms blown deep inland from the Atlantic, roaring across whatever one calls those great saw-grass plains. I'd opted out on the windshield for the 883 and at sixty the rain stung my lips most so I'd draw them back into my mouth for protection. It was June maybe, with the hot wind we'd dry again under an hour.

One day I'll go back, alone with my camera, to stop and record each cornered and relic fruit stand under dark canopies of moss covered pines, each hoary road-house, each derelict gas station with roof angles jetting off for no practical architectural reason. Elemental Florida, the true one that I remember. Instead Daddy and me ran over the beige shell-embedded road through Ocala and headed out 40 to Silver Springs. I followed him over the great bridge of the Intracoastal into the Silver River state park through that hard country where a man named Bill Tester, who would later mentor me, crawled into this swamp-world before breaking out to New York for the first of two times, learned his craft and went insane.

When I was little, the bridge over the Intracoastal always seemed to be a mountain to me, the last of a long extinct line passing through there. Daddy running the FXR up it that day seemed to be going straight into the sky. It was under that bridge that my Pa-paw and me once flung a bottle into the waterway. I had written a letter with my name and a little about myself and sealed it up with wax, I was maybe nine years old. It passed, somehow, through the broad waist of Florida, through swamps un-numbered and perils over years, eventually making it out to the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream.

It passed north and into the Pamlico and then later the Albemarle sound of North Carolina, where it was discovered, about an hour's drive south from where we would years later settle in Virginia, by two fishermen. A reporter from a newspaper called us back in Tennessee and asked me questions about it. Four years might have passed since I first threw it in.

Daddy never could find an article about it, nor the name of the reporter or the newspaper. There's no telling where this bottle with my name scrawled in it might be now. I have tried before to chart it's course through the state of Florida, many times daydreamed how it might've meandered, got hung up under mangrove roots, then broke free. I don't reckon it ever sank.

I cannot form a clear image how it finally met with the Atlantic, or how exactly it might've bobbed in the eternal deep-blue of the Stream, or for how long. I wonder why it chose Carolina to come back, this small thing with a part of myself sealed away in it. Why not journey forever, lost, mad and alone like Ulysses?



The intersection where the jaw hinges, greets the tendon rising up the neck, embraces the root of the ear. A body adrift, banished. Beheld. The pelvis is a ship, a construct, that holds what fruit there is of us, miles and miles of us. The flaring edge of the iliac crest peaks at the hip, there is bound in sinew and dives away again, forms a valley. Another confluence. Resembling the way God's hand shapes the Blue Ridge going north up 81. The bones ridged and many across the top of the foot, the arch springing, the air that somehow moves beneath. It is a lost landscape, it asks an old question, "What is going to happen?"



It was Beth who, when I explained how the thing I'm in felt like some kind of transformation, told me, standing out on Boulevard in her Carhartt coveralls, "Yeah, you're just going through the fire." The ten pounds I lost, the veins rangy upon my arms like tree roots, or tributary streams, the feeling like I'm a walking wire with a current run through it. She named her gallery Wilderness, down in the tail end of Manchester, the dog-end tail of dog town. Consider this ghost city within our city, every maimed ghetto, every last trolley that clattered across the bridges burned years and years ago. Whole blocks lost to the fire of purification, returned to tall grass with stairs leading up to it. There in the grass, the lonely trees and loading docks, our brave pilgrim lives and works and breathes. If I ride my bike that way I go without music. So that I am aware. Down Hull to West Seventh street and the warehouse where I want to live. Past Alcoa, past weed stricken husks of industry waiting for developers and their blueprints. I roll on the throttle around Legend, as there is no one to hear, past empty shops overlooking the river, and bank it up the ramp onto Commerce. It is there I catch the hammering of the pistons housed in their cylinders, the sound of them a song against the concrete of the rail, the stobbed aluminum posts of the rail staccato past. It is there in the night I am jettisoned onto three empty lanes of this bridge from Manchester, a machine on a bridge with no other machines, pointed at the heart of this city and hurtling across the river towards it's rising.



Day 10

I slept pointing south, no, I can't remember. My head is a compass, it has been set reeling. There are dreams of wild libertines ranting about free will. I have scattered toothbrushes throughout this city. It was late in the day, it was time to go again. It was time to go. I have determined sludge-metal to be the anthem of this season, the speakers in the truck blown. There are guitars to growl and hum like my blood hums, loud enough to feel it in my chest like a collision. I leave the windows down in the truck for the wind, our quick movement across this city resembling flight.

Robinson street cuts across this story, the story isn't anything to fall in love with. That would be stupid. Over by the lake the road isn't Robinson anymore it's something else, it is the fountain road. The sun hadn't set, there was pink yet in the sky shot deep into the water, gas lights ringed the lake in orange, reflected like a constellation there, the deep blue left in dusk ran deep throughout, the surface chopped by wind, the fountain caught the white hot from the tennis court lights. It sparkled, fragmented, and danced. It danced like a falling chandelier might dance.




Mrs. Pam called one day to tell there was a problem with one of the parents of the children at Gooseberry school, and the doors would be locked when we came to pick up our own. The story she left on the message, as well as the story Mary heard at the college, was vague enough to be alarming, so I got the truck over there early, walked the curving path around the back to the door to the basement. The red barn stood in the field a mile off behind her place as always, I think it was this time of year, spring. The mountains miles past marked the gnarled border of North Carolina.

Sam, who was a year younger than Henry and still ten pounds heavier and who hasselled my kid daily unlocked the door and let me in. The room was open and airy , many lights in the ceiling, many doors and windows facing the blue edge of mountains east. There was red mexican tile over most of the room's breadth, the noise from the children was constant and almost deafening most of the time. I crossed to the horseshoe shaped countertop in the heart of the room, which served as a kitchen, where Mrs. Pam, in the middle, was serving up juice. The other children were in centers, Henry playing with his legos, and I let him be. Mrs. Pam was tall and midwestern, with short hair and the kind of glasses you might think a woman from the midwest would wear and everyone loved her dearly.

She leaned in and told me, almost in a whisper that the father of one of the kids, Gabriel I think it was, was bi-polar and stopped taking his medication, and today had gone missing from wherever he was interned. There had been some talk that he might come to try and take Gabriel. I remember she smelled like something, lilacs or cookies, one. I remember hearing her husband Scott upstairs in the kitchen and imagined him staying home from work that day, carefully loading borrowed guns while the muffled noise of the children floated up the stairs.

Just past the kitchen area was a large carpeted patch where I always managed to bring Henry in late and disrupt the story each morning. The was a tall window behind it facing a deep window-well where the earth fell away toward the back of the house. Field mice would tumble into it and so trapped, would die, the children poking at the window like a terrarium. Mrs. Pam would tell them each mouse was sleeping, until Scott would come later and remove the thing.

The window-well bothered me so one rained-out friday I constructed a chicken-ladder for it, one of four I have built in my time as a carpenter. You have seen them before, they consist of one long board with small cross pieces, blocks, nailed across it acting as rungs. It is an ancient and simple construction. I think I built it out of some half-inch plywood I used for templates and some white oak left over from a porch job. Mrs. Pam said it was the nicest thing anyone ever did for Gooseberry. I set it down into the well so the mice, at night when the children had gone, could perhaps make their way up the rungs and out.

I used to look at my chicken-ladder when I sat at the horseshoe, as I had a hard time meeting her quick blue eyes. As we talked another parent came in and told us, hushed while the children played very quietly all around us, that we could unlock the doors now, someone had found the father dead in someone's house. With a pistol he had erased himself, his illness, from Gabriel and everyone else in this world.



The therapist at the Jewish Family Services who accepted me on a sliding-scale always wore her hair up in a bun. In my ignorance I always wondered about the nature of her attire, but never had the guts to ask her about it. Strands of dark hair hung down from it onto her neck. I never felt more like a redneck carpenter than when I was explaining my depression to her, how it almost always occurred at the end of the day coming home it the truck. People were disappearing in large numbers in Bosnia. Between us on a table she had a miniature waterfall, water tumbling over rocks under a stone bridge, past a small hut. After a couple of weeks it stopped working and I tried to no avail to fix it.

On a bookshelf she had a sandbox and surrounding it were figurines-- dragons and knights, children and monsters. Some other types of people, heroes maybe. I can't remember. I inquired about it, what was it for?

"Some of my clients use it to act out scenarios or fantasies they don't necessarily want to talk about." she said.

"Is that like a Jungian thing?" I asked. She replied yes, that it was.

It took years for me to realize the sandbox and it's players were made for children. A way to help those with no formed language, perhaps help them to communicate things there may never be no words for.

I must have stared at it frequently as one night my therapist paused and said, very slowly, to me,

"Clay, would you like for me to get down the sandbox for you?"

I thought about it for a long time but again, I didn't have the guts.



Last Day

My bags packed and shouldered, the man responsible for the floor that morning told me, "God lives in your feet, keep them moving."
There should be music. There should always be music.
I had slept pointing north. The bike on the sidewalk faced south down Robinson. Everything in the morning was cold again. Willet still slept inside.

I tugged open the choke, started it easily and left it there. Gloves, zipped up my jacket, warm in my leather shell and helmet. I got it off the curb onto the worn pale road, the front tire almost bald now.

Rolling south, the wind increased incremental with speed. At Monument I banked east over the cobblestones, opened it up, all noise and fury. I muttered to the bike under my helmet, "Bark, boy, bark."

Jack London

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”


\ˌin-tü-ˈi-shən, -tyü-\
Middle English intuycyon, from Late Latin intuition-, intuitio act of contemplating, from Latin intuēri to look at, contemplate, from in- + tuēri to look at
15th century
1: quick and ready insight2 a: immediate apprehension or cognition b: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference --merriam webster

1. instinctive knowledge:
the state of being aware of or knowing something without having to discover or perceive it, or the ability to do this --msn encarta

Intuition is apparent ability to acquire knowledge without a clear inference or reasoning process.

It is "the immediate apprehension of an object by the mind without the intervention of any reasoning process" [Oxford English Dictionary]. --wikipedia


Day 1

I had slept pointing west, woke to the massive grid of windows filled with pink skies, fractured clouds, piled red and white. I wondered about the nature of this hellish new day.

I believed I could wake before those windows forever, to regard each morning broken and remade again and again.

In his partitioned bedroom Dennis slept, three walls enclosed in the open heart of the warehouse. The clock by his head held a disk, left in it for years. Slow metal erupted at a specific time, the same song.

I heard. I thought only of the notes, the lush fabric of sound as it turned, flowed, wrapped in the feedback of itself.

The song faded and I rose, and everything was once again irrevocably changed.




Middle English, from Medieval Latin agent-, agens, from Latin, present participle of agere to drive, lead, act, do; akin to Old Norse aka to travel in a vehicle, Greek agein to drive, lead
15th century
1: one that acts or exerts power

2 a
: something that produces or is capable of producing an effect : an active or efficient cause b: a chemically, physically, or biologically active principle

: a means or instrument by which a guiding intelligence achieves a result

: one who is authorized to act for or in the place of another: as a: a representative, emissary, or official of a government agent> agent> b: one engaged in undercover activities (as espionage) : spy agent> c: a business representative (as of an athlete or entertainer) agent>

At Randy & Cindy's Place

They found this in the closet when they moved in and decided to leave it up.


Last Paragraph, Last Chapter

Somewhere in the grey wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castellated press of cities. His work lies all wheres and his hounds tire not. I have seen them in a dream, slaverous and wild and their eyes crazed with ravening for souls of this world. Fly them.

--Cormac McCarthey, Suttree

the old man


Three days before the solstice, I chase my father down a nameless pissant north Florida road, on my mother’s black 883. He’s riding the red FXR that started all this, the bike I learned on, always wanting to run out from under me. It is the red chariot of Helios and back then I was Phaeton clutching the reins.

It is not warm but cool out, there are the unnatural pines, un-harvested rows of them, lining the fast periphery. There is the bend in the road, over the slow creek, where the air is still and unsafe, the guard rail scarred and black from years of impact, conflict, there at the point of apex where shit breaks loose.

I joked once that the reason this works is that there’s no way for us to talk. On the four-lane back home I get up to his four o’clock and listen to the pipes, let them obliterate all sound. They become a song at that point. It sounds like a chorus.

Ten miles out I can smell the ocean, and wish I had taken the windshield off so that cold air could hit me, full on the chest, and that I could let go and embrace it.



Chattanooga Hell Cats

My father and his cousin, Buzz, Daytona 1965