I am more than just the residue of my own story. I am not merely defined by survived traumas, injuries unrepentant and delusions half fabricated to give the events of my life validation. I am somewhat able these days look honestly at my own history, acknowledge it for what it is and not be afraid. I hope one day not to be locked in what feels like a battle struggling hard just to survive, and get some time and some room, that I might be able to sit down and write about some of it.

Pine Forever Pine

Today me and my driver, Kent did nothing but pick up Christmas trees. I felt like we were single handedly cleaning up Christmas. At the end of the day we unloaded a solid ton of them at an empty lot over behind the diamond. I'm not sure but I think they're to be ground into mulch. After we dumped I took the opportunity to stage dive off the top of the truck into the giant piney pile. It smelled very nice. Kent, from the chair on top of the boom laughed at me and called me a Big Kid.

Requisition 032593

December 28, 2010

Dear Clay,

Thank you for your interest in employment opportunities with our company. We regret to inform you that requisition number 032593-Track Worker has been canceled.

Have a safe day,
XXX Human Resources Department

you know it's bad when the railroad is losing jobs



Down by the River

Last Year

I was too broke to buy any presents and too strung out from just having quit smoking to make any art either. Ruth bought me a twenty dollar pink Christmas tree from Walmart, her parents donated a Lego Chess set. I somehow got it together to purchase a forty dollar Playmobil set for May and that was Christmas and it was enough and everybody seemed really happy with it. This year the kids are flush, the rent, heat and water is paid and I'm drawing owls for my parents. If I got time I might do some Kingfishers. The kids are helping. I'll take pictures for you guys when we're done.

One of the major things I've learned in the last year is that when everything gets spongy, the wind is howling and the wheels have fallen off, practicing simple gratitude, even for the smallest, most bullshit Norman Rockwell things, will carry you through and then some. Write a few down in a list form and see how you feel afterward.

Two nights ago, my daughter the five year old said to me, "We're poor." I jumped up and said No, do you see these walls? What is this place, is it our house and are we in it? Is the damn heat working? I showed her the inside of the fridge, Is there food in there? She said Yes to all these things and smiled a little. I said, we keep all that taken care of and we're fine. Everything else is gravy.


Been Too Long

Ruth got a New Camera

for a graduation present last week. We took it out this weekend for the snow and despite my intense love/hate relationship with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts we wound up there again. Mostly because it's only a couple of blocks away and free and at least partially heated. Anyway they have these stunning new Greek pieces set up. I'll go back in a couple of weeks and gather up the proper titles.


Hummingbird War

Winter decided to stop dicking around last week and finally lowered its full weight upon us. Well before sun-up, I headed out from the warm cacophony of the break room full of black men shouting and laughing into the cold dark of the yard. Collectors and drivers move out from under the lone street light by the single story cinderblock structure, gettin' it toward the beeping, blinking red and yellow carnival that is the city's trash trucks moving out each morning. Me and the other groundsmen of Bulk and Brush stalk past them, under the i-beam frame of some abandoned structure, out to the tall line of boom trucks parked behind the towering cone of the salt barn. I usually stretch out, pulling my back loose off a concrete divider that the others mostly lean on, but last week we all stood in there, hands in pockets, heads under hoods like seagulls bracing in the wind, waiting for the drivers to do their pre-check and for the trucks to warm up.

After a month of wondering, I finally looked up the star I always see just above the sunrise, the one bright enough to make me nervous whenever I notice it. I showed it to Ruth one night and she thought it was an asteroid come to obliterate all life on our planet. It’s the morning star Venus, of course; bright enough to cast shadows, brightest in the morning before dawn. All of which I already knew, just never experienced first hand, with the sweet oil-smell of diesel in the air and trucks roaring all around. At that time of day, before dawn has had a chance to break open, it is the cruelest looking thing in the sky. In that coldest hour, when I don’t feel like to talking to anybody anyway, with the yellow of the hazards blinking and the amber of the rotating caution lights arcing across the yard, before I’ve had any breakfast, before I have the chance to get my attitude right, it’s Venus that makes my brain goes everywhere it shouldn’t. The heat pump back at the house and whether or not I’ll make the bill this month. The bodies of Union soldiers at Cold Harbor shot so full of lead they fell apart mid-run. The terrible precision of hummingbirds making war, upside down, in the air. In the dark there, in the morning, I feel I am tumbling just like they do.


Thank You

Seashore State Park, Va. Beach, Thanksgiving Day


Oh yeah

I forgot to mention:

thanks, Ruth!


Mighty Joe Anderson

is a good friend of mine.

Thumper is Back Online

after more than a year. While still not exactly street-legal, she's at least safe to ride.





I have become convinced that my legs were, in no small part, grown but to propel me through this world so that my eyes might record all this stuff. I am grateful for the opportunity.

Up Behind the Thirty Four Hundred Block

of Kensington this morning, my driver Kent picked up a twenty's era looking settee and shook it for me with the knuckle boom after he had crushed it. A trick one of the "old heads" taught us. Standing out of the way of the radius of the crane, I heard change rattle out onto the gravel of the alley. It was about seven this morning, it was cold and raining. He swiveled the arm around and dropped the couch into the back and I crouched down and got up about three dollars mostly in quarters. A fine catch. From his seat atop the cab of the truck Kent yelled down at me and pointed. I shrugged, yelled "What?" and kicked at a flattened bottle cap that was embedded in the rocks . He came down the ladder, strode his lanky frame over and pointed out the pennies scattered about that I had missed. "Look dude! There's a penny, There's a penny!" bent over and picked them up. "Dude I done got up all the white meat, leave that bullshit," I laughed. "Oh Hell No!" he responded and we laughed and cussed, arguing over pennies in the cold driving rain.


Sir Peter O'Toole FTW

Everyday I Wake Up on This Side of the Dirt

is a Good Fucking Day.

Just Went for a Walk Downtown

To visit Social Services as my food stamps card got declined yesterday at Kroger buying Maymay's birthday Sloppy Joe fixins. See the cool thing about food stamps is they eliminate the need to decide between paying to keep the electricity on or buying food. I didn't change out of my dirty Carhart coveralls and I wore my City of Richmond shirt. I haven't been able to get my case worker on the line since Monday of last week when she told me what I needed to fax her about my new job. My original case worker is long gone, it seems, my second case worker is on extended medical leave. My new case worker never heard of me before Monday.

I tried to communicate all this to a lady who was vetting people in line. She told me that no case workers would be available today and could I come back tomorrow. I said I couldn't as I got my kids then. She then gave me two supervisors' numbers and very nicely turned me away. I went outside, suddenly very light headed again. I had been getting lightheaded all week. There is a nice courtyard there on Marshall and eighth I think, with a canopy framed by tall willow oaks. I sat on a bench and called the numbers. The wind blew and slender willow leaves clattered all around my boots. I hated everyone walking by who looked like they might have a nicer job than me.

Walking the long blocks back to the truck, someone called me back. I didn't get her name because of noise of the traffic. The sky looked gray and cold and low. She took my information and put me on hold. I wondered if I should stop walking and get my paperwork out of my backpack but then noticed I was walking through that homeless no man's land between the dead mall there on Marshall street and the Coliseum. Everything was open, exposed and concrete and faded metal that was tall and brown. There were dudes sitting around a metal table looking drunk. At some point I noticed my call had ended. I got that old feeling again like I was marching through the Apocalypse. I kept walking because I wasn't sure what else to do.


One Year Ago

I sat on my porch, watched the sun go down and smoked the last cigarette I've had to date. It was kind of on a whim. I had two left over that I had thought about spreading out to my daughter's birthday on the Third, but decided that left too much to chance. So I broke them up, went in and told Ruth what I had done. We sat on the couch and watched Lawrence of Arabia while I detoxed that first night. She sat with me like that for months. I started smoking when I was fourteen, that's twenty four years. I'd been smoking two packs a day since the nineties. I believe strongly that my being able to quit and stay quit had very little to do with self-will, or determination.


Happy Halloween

That's right Totoro pumpkins, next year a Cat-bus!


Ruth as Bird

Meadows of Dan


Cormac McCarthy





Head in a Box

Over a year ago I helped start an Al-anon meeting downtown here in the Fan because me and a friend got tired of going out to the suburbs three times a week. We're listed here however they got the time wrong. However I'm skipping tonight because I've got some independent work to do. I stopped by Plan 9 on the way home and picked up the third album by Fu Manchu, mid-nineties Southern California skateboard stoner metal. This being not even the backup or the third or fourth choice of what I was looking for, because for all their indy-cred snobbery Plan9 has has fuck-all for Doom Metal these days. I need something slow, meditative and heavy for what I'm working on, having to do with deep old hurts. I started a piece of this endeavor last winter. It's also another reason why I haven't been making much art lately. I have so much to tell you about and it feels like I got no fucking time.

Ruth told me to write this though: Late in the day today we were trucking over the James by way of the Robert E. Lee Bridge headed for the Hopkins road transfer station to dump our freight. Gloria, who was sitting in the middle kept nodding out onto my shoulder. It had been raining all day. I scanned out over the river looking for my friends the Ospreys when I noticed a couple islands I'd never paid much attention to before. Just boulders lodged in the flow really, but they had at least one big ass Sycamore each. I noticed a huge nest in the upper reaches, much bigger it seemed than an Osprey's. Further up the branches I saw a hulking black shape and after a second more of staring intently I saw it had a white head. A fucking bald fucking eagle. We were bumping along, going maybe fifty and I can't believe I picked it out. I've never seen an eagle in Virginia. I'm almost down there looking for him now and for some reason I kinda don't want you to tell anybody about him.



Not Doing any Laundry

Not doing any writing today either. Got a new battery from Honda House Friday and a pair of blinkers from the Yamaha place next door and suddenly after almost two years of cobbling parts together, I'm ready to put my motorcycle back together. I drove back down Broad street feeling a little shocked. It's been sitting, tires holding up a tank and a naked frame under a cedar tree, since last fall. The back end's needed to be torn down and rebuilt since day one. The whole thing's very Tennessee. It's all I plan on doing today.


I am Blessed with an Interesting Life

This morning, the head of my pitchfork started working itself loose while managing a large pile of brush in the West End, the first job of the day. The truck was idling high, roaring from the PTO diverting energy to the crane swinging above me. Looking up to keep track of the knuckle boom, I saw seven geese passing overhead, the sunrise reflected pink on their underbellies.


River Hawks

Every morning I am reminded
Trucks are waiting for me in the dark,
I belong to the woman in my bed,
And a little boy and girl across town. That’s it.
There is fast water that cuts down the center
Of our city, water that can carry us away

If we let it. In the dark it occurs to me
That bending over to lace my boots,
My heart will be closer to heaven.
That crossing the river each sunrise
I will look for river hawks lighting out to hunt.

A response to a poem by Charles Simic I carried around in my wallet for five years.

Fig.10-Hummingbird Moth

Thanks to PhantomKitty



Bulk and Brush

a division of DPW

Diptych- Stake Body

Well before the sun has a chance to erupt across the morning I leave her slender arms, smelling of sleep and pale as ghosts. It is raining and even the street light outside her window is out. I drink my coffee and read in the next room by the light of the kitchen while her two cats circle me. The meditation for the day is on Work as a holy act. I think about my new job and how it might be work in the purest sense of the word. I get on my rain jacket and get out the door.

The first ticket is marked Urgent- called in Twice so we get deep into Church Hill, the worst block up there my driver claims. After three days I’ve started to hate my driver, his Jesus on the radio, his smelly sandwiches. I cuss the fact that the sun is still not yet out when the headlights catch the first tire at the mouth of the alley. I get out into the hard rain and throw him into the back of the Stake body and head on, marching the backside of the long length of the block, the lights of the truck cutting through the hard rain and tall grass around me, illuminating more low black shapes waiting on either side.


I used to see these around everywhere when I first got into recovery and just so happened to write about them here




Well, actually this was shot last summer here in Richmond, and Arwen's a blond now apparently but yeah whatevs


Take Home

Even though I won't be at the opening tonight, I feel insanely nervous and proud. It doesn't feel like this event has anything to do with me. It's as if my children went off to perform a play in D.C. or something. I want to call these drawings, these misfit poems and birds, and tell them to be sure to stand up straight and smile when the people start coming through the door. I want to tell them not to be nervous because everyone will be sure to love them.

Final Pre-Opening Walkthrough

Again, I cannot thank my friend Alex enough for putting all of this together as well as his friends at The Front gallery for having me. I cried a little this morning out of sheer gratitude.


Birds and Rabbits

Grief for Wild Bill feels like Watership Down feels like the War of the Disease feels like Tattooed Single Dad at the Community Pool.





Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your interest in the position of Writer, Rxbxnxs School of Business at the University of XXXXXX. While your skills are certainly impressive, we have decided to pursue other candidates for the position.We appreciate your interest in the University and encourage you to check our web site at www.xxxjobs.org for future employment opportunities.

Best wishes,

Human Resource Services

Wild Bill

Somehow didn't make it.



Approx Five foot by Seven and a Half and Sorry the Images of These Birds are so Horrible.

Oh Yeah done with Walgreens Sharpies cause I got no money for Paint BOOYAH


This got printed out real big and posted as sort of an emblem for the show.


NOLA front

Much thanks to my friend Alex for putting this all together.



Baby May is Here to Stay

Fig.6.-Odysseus at Phaeacia

Approximately 5'x 6' as in five foot by six foot, bitches. Made with sharpies.


And You May Say to Yourself: My God, What Have I Done

Work in Progress

At some point I need to buy my friend Eric Gurtner a bottle of Jagermeister for suggesting I use Sharpies.