5/11/05 #1

I'm digging for the kite in the back of the Saturn when I discover the runaway bag. Not her gym clothes with the bathing suit, but two pairs of everything, two toothbrushes, one big, one spongebob. The getaway bag, the get the hell out bag. I've been bone dry for two months. I left it in there, but asked if her parents knew she was still coming, and should I pack some toothpaste? She laughed, no, we'll get some on the way.

5/11/05 #2

One night six weeks ago, making dinner, she snapped at me and I snapped back. I put on my boots on and got my keys. Where are you going, she asked, I didn't know. The truck went down 321 anyway, swinging past dark cow pastures. Twenty minutes of nothing, then there was Parrotsville, it's one gas station illuminating the first curve into town. I pulled in. I could get a twelvepack there then down to Gatlinburg and get another, and onto my Aunts weekend cabin in Weirs valley. I still had the key and I had left my phone. Things could go either way from there but I turned around and went home.

5/11/05 #3

Yesterday I teased the girl at Kikers Tobacco barn about her lunch: vienna sausages, ritz crackers and a coca-cola. She laughed and handed my winstons to me, did something flirty with her hair. I could her the slot machines chirping at the old timers in the next room. I paid and got out to the truck around the side of the place, clawing a pack out of the carton. I lit one up then noticed three orange hypodermics littering the ground beneath my boots. I frightened me that I hadn't realized there were those dreamers everywhere, even here in this pissant town.

--Ghost Poems, collaborative effort via email with Jay Snodgrass inspired by the movie The Ring


There is no better day than today.



3-15-05 #1

It wasn't until her senior year that my ghost starting working with horse imagery. A lot of short, quick shots: Horse tossing it's head, the horse laying in a stall. She thought if she could inhabit the smell of a horse, how you're hands will smell of horse long after. Horse laying in snow, snow gathering on it's mane. She thought if she could feel the horse on her skin forever, she might loose the cold of the well in which she was born. An abandoned barn under mountains, red barn in a snowy field, hills rolling. Like everything else, though, she never got it right. Horse on hind legs, slathered in foamy sweat, aware that it's dying. Like everything else she touches, it turns to death. She makes art films out of death. Little girl in a white dress in a white field by a dying horse, shot from far away, she thinks it's beautiful. She lies beside it, small hands stroking over the labored breath, the waste. Forever waste and waste forever and ever.

3-15-05 #2

She was in the well for a long time. In the dark, she froze, she died and became a petrified stone version of a girl. It took many years. At what point she died and became a ghost, she doesn't even remember herself. Things in the well, snails, bacteria, consumed her and she dreamt of death and death unending. Relentless death for you and for me. Poets especially she hated. Anyone who pretended ugly things were beautiful. Anyone who told stories of suffering. Yes, she'd give it to them. She filled the shaft of the well with her malice, glossing over the scratches in the stone sides made by her fingernails. Dreams of children suffering traumatic events. Broken men, alone in dreary rooms. Suicides. She colored the water with them, the stones around her accepted this patina as well. Her dreams covered everything. They kept her safe there like a blanket of cold water, dreaming as she turned to stone.

3-15-05 #3

If I could, I'd put myself in the well. A grown man baby Jessica, just to be able to sympathize with her. If it would do any good. I have wrapped the cold around me and shivered against the night. I have gone down that dark road by myself again and again, she's seen me there. She's watched me in the basement as I swam through the music, as I plumbed and found my mind to be a frightening, nebulous place. What more could she want? I walk into things constantly. My hands. The chisel slips and cuts me again. Splinter-speared and shaking, my hands. I roam through the house thinking my wife is awake. She's got to be up, the lights are on, where is she? I check my son's room and she's still with him. Thirty minutes later I think I hear her again and check the whole house. I do it all night, afraid that I might find her, find this woman I have loved for so long, find the ghost of a small drowned girl, find her waiting to embrace me.

--Ghost Poems, collaborative effort via email with Jay Snodgrass inspired by the movie The Ring


The largest white oak in the state of Tennessee had already been cut down by the time we got there, the stump six foot across, on the far side of the lot next to where the old house stood, the one they knocked down in the thirties. They tore down old houses back then to stimulate the economy. They paid the old man some money, he hung on to the land and built a house for his daughter when she got married, the house she lived in till we bought it and she went into a home. I mowed around it for four years, piled the grass on top. The oak grain twisted into froths of grey oceans. I prized up large sections of it once, three hundred pounds a piece, levering my digging bar into rifts, splitting continents from each other. I did this for no reason. When we got ready to sell the place I cleaned out the barn and sheds and burned their contents on the stump at night. I was crazed by then, Tennessee failed, there was no way to burn the town, the mountains. The stump caught fire and burned deep into the earth for days, fire chasing down old roots, embers burning in old hollows, smoke pouring out of the ground come daybreak.



4/23-05 #5

Before the dream of the art film, my ghost dreamt she could live in smoke. It was the kind of smoke that crept beneath mountains and filled up the hollers. The kind of smoke that rolled under itself in a cold night wind, pushing back into the burning barn. The kind of smoke that rose from the hair of a burning horse. Horses running, lighting up the canopy of the woods, smoke filling the trees. The trees, for a long time, smelling of that smoke.

4-23-05 #6/1

I forget that before she was a ghost, she was a little girl. The little white house below the mountain, rocks rubbed through the earth, the fast creek by the road. Mama stooped in the rows by the barns, rights herself and smiles at her. My girl, she's running in the tall grass, chasing one of the goats laughing, wild, barefoot in a white dress. There's heavy fruit hanging in the trees, barns lilting golden in sunlight, Papa swings her onto his shoulder to pick an apple.

4/23/05 #6/3

I've seen the house, they stopped keeping it boarded up long ago. Broken windows and wild grass over the crumbling porch. Barns collapsed in a sigh. The apple tree's empty ragged limbs thrust to heaven, guarding the tiny plots enclosed by the rusted iron fence. On a full moon, they say you can see her from the road, a small figure in the tall grass watching you as you drive home.

5/6/05 #1

In her film, Route 93 is the sad road. Cue the music, scenery flashes by, indicating somber introspection. Rocks rubbed through the small hill's grass, indicating Appalachia. Goats. My pickup truck and me, whistling through it, the radius of a curve next to an old church. The one brokedown farm house off Poor Farm Road, with chickens and a small girl brown hair in a white summer dress in the yard. I wave to her tiny, hurried image, and she waves back. One small hand borne aloft on a pale wrist, the sleeve falling back over her shoulder.

5/6/05 #2

It could be that she really just wants her babydoll rescued from the well, and then she would be at rest. She could sing Frère Jacques every time her spirit manifests itself into glowing apparition. She could be so small that I could pick her out of the numbing water, clear and pure, with no effort and warm her next to my chest. Shivering under my chin. I could murmur to her, it's okay, I've got you. I won't let anything bad happen to you, ever again.

--Ghost Poems, collaborative effort via email with Jay Snodgrass inspired by the movie The Ring





More of the Paperstone Shelf

With it's cousin, "the sink."

Our electrician friend, Don came out and wired it up today. If you can't tell, I'm fairly pleased with how it came out.


Tool Box

I used my recent "down-time" due to my fucked-up back to get some pictures off my phone.

Contractor Grade

Image courtesy of J. Waff IV

Ce-Ci's De-Luxe Kitchen

Elliptical Richlite peninsula

Wainscoting and richlite bracket underneath

Paperstone shelf

Routed out underneath for under-cabinet lighting

Report from the Floor

I threw my back out somehow this weekend, I think due to a combination of many weeks of stress, humping furniture, toting boxes and hanging pictures. Not to mention I due construction work for a living. I wasn't able to walk most of yesterday, so I spent the day on the floor or couch, eyeballin' the various items around the house I needed to be working on. The most interesting thing of not being able to walk was trying to plan my movements, determining how to get from point A to B, by a combination of crawling, or hanging onto various furniture or walls or six-year olds.

I have found that after a couple of weeks on a large job, I find I have an exaggerated sense of the house I'm working on: all the various areas that need attention, how the light moves through a space, what is the natural flow that a person makes through it. Some of the problem areas get put in the percolator, so that ideas can bounce around before whatever decision is needed for that particular area. It is both an overwhelming and somehow comforting feeling to gain this omnipotent sensation of a place. For example, when we first moved in, we found the cabinets in the kitchen to be covered with years of grease both inside and out. Since we don't have thousands of dollars to pay my friend Tim to build new ones, I sprayed six cans of Easy Off oven-cleaner on the worst spots and then sanded the entire group of cabinets down to raw wood and applied two coats of polyurethane (marine varnish actually, using up a can I'd been carrying around for years) on the shelves. The doors and face-frames will get painted later. Two days of this put me into every nook and cranny both inside and around the cabinets, giving me a new sense of intimacy with the geographies that make up our kitchen. To say the least, crawling around on the floor added to the sense of what this house is about, and what it needs.


Truly, We are living in our own

Golden Age.



I Feel It All


Our House

Sits in a cluster of brick ranchers. My neighbor Ida has told me that she and ten or so other black families bought and built on this block simultaneously in '61. They paid $100 a lot. It seems that most of my neighbors are the original inhabitants of these houses. I expect we'll meet them once spring comes and everyone gets outside again, I just hope the yellow motorcycle and white pick-up truck parked in the yard haven't given anyone a bad impression.

There is a concrete slab that steps down from the main structure of our house on the west end which holds the laundry/mud room off the kitchen and a little wood-paneled den off the living room. There was a "window" with two hinged and paneled doors built into the wall over the sink in the laundry that peeks into the den. We have puzzled over the logic of this feature since we first came in with our real-estate lady. Also, on the floor of the den the builders set those old-school tan and brown flecked industrial vinyl tiles. If the light is right, you can see the tiles have hundreds of little round impressions dented into their surface, left as if by a cane or pool cue.

I dreamt the other night that black craftsmen came from all over the city to build these houses down by the river, and that this house was built for a man who's wife was a painter. The guys came and laid up the walls, got it dried in, hung the sheet-rock and ran the trim. An old man built the maple cabinets on site and ran them in place. The couple would come by occasionally to check on the progress, the tradesmen thought fondly of them, eventually finished and went away. The woman set up her easel in the den and would rotate it to catch the variations of light as the day traveled across the house, the feet of the easel leaving small indentions as she turned it. As she finished her work she would pass her brushes through the small opening in the wall to be cleaned in the sink on the other side.