One-Sentence Journal, Week Seventy-Four

  1. 11/20/2016: Silence, then the whir of at least forty wings as a score or so of sparrows swoop in over the house to assault my feeders.
  2. 11/21/2016: It remains among the strangest things to me how the body feels differently from day to day, as the one I inhabited this morning sure seemed a superior model to the one I last tried to navigate a yoga class in.
  3. 11/22/2016: Whoever said social media and smartphones would make our lives so much easier should probably be buried in concrete at the bottom of a swimming pool.
  4. 11/23/2016: Will make paper snowflakes for pizza . . . apparently.
  5. 11/24/2016: Vegetarian Thanksgiving proves one doesn’t need meat to stagger away from the table feeling like a parade blimp.
  6. 11/25/2016: I marvel at the idea that being disinterested in shopping causes many folks to view one as some kind of zoo animal kept solitary in a filthy enclosure.
  7. 11/26/2016: It isn’t entirely unhealthy from time to time for one to put both hands on the counter, palms flat, look left, then right, and wonder, “How the fuck did I end up here?”

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Taking My Own Temperature, Raw and Heavy-Handed

A Confession, with Wishes

It’s time to ‘fess up.
I’m feeling less and less keen
on “finding common ground”
and all that assorted
“give them a chance” bullshit,
and the vague nature
of my pacifism is washing away
with every drop of water
that stings the flesh
of peaceful protestors
on a frigid landscape barely
a day’s drive away
from where I sit fat and warm,
mired in my own
inconsequential dramas.

So here are some truths.
I wish a vessel would burst
in the heart or brain of our
“President Elect” and he’d
drop flopping and dead
in a puddle of shit from
his own vacuated bowels,
and the world would sigh
with relief,
then point and laugh.

I wish every one of that man’s
braindead followers would be
visited in the night
by the spirits of the lost,
forgotten, and brutalized,
– Dickens-like –
to see a possible future where
they and their loved-ones face
the violence and hate
they advocate and cheer,
that each one may wake
soaked and reeking
of piss in their sheets,
screaming into the morning,
“What have I done?”

I wish that the ghosts
of our ancestors
would sweep across the land,
whooping and singing,
and leave behind nothing
but shriveled carcasses
frozen inside the body armor
of every rent-a-soldier
who tramples the bodies
of my friends, lovers, and family,
like the husks of locusts
whose plague ended
when it ventured too far
onto the Northern Plains.

I wish all those fuckers
would suddenly understand
that indeed they are correct:
not everyone belongs here.
But it isn’t the ones
they were thinking of.

Photo Finish Friday – Willy Vlautin

This is writer/musician Willy Vlautin at Shakespeare and Co. in Missoula on 11/16/2016. He read passages from his most recent novel, 2014’s The Free, and then performed the songs that inspired the characters who populate the book. He is also in the band Richmond Fontaine, who just called it quits after their 11th album, You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To, which I reviewed for the Indy here. I also recently interviewed Willy via email, here.


Willy is my favorite novelist. He writes the kinds of books I try to, the songs and music I struggle to find an outlet for, and seems to battle many of the same issues I do when it comes to presenting work to the world. Feeling like an outsider. Loving and relating to that class of folks so many in the world consider “losers,” because they feel more like our people than anyone else does, and that sooner or later it will be revealed it’s because we are secretly “losers” too. All that stuff we don’t often talk about.

It’s been difficult for me to come back to these photos and watch the videos from the event. Or to even think about it that much. It was one of the best ones I’ve ever attended, easily. I had met Willy once before, in the saddest of circumstances, and we chatted quite a bit the other night. However, I totally missed an opportunity to hang out with the guy for a couple hours in a bar later that night, largely my own doing, and I really haven’t gotten over it. It’s complicated, and sounds like hero worship but it isn’t. When I heard later of what I’d missed, the opportunity that had passed, I was bereft. I’m not proud to admit it. It was like getting a phone call that someone had died. I couldn’t believe I’d missed out, that I’d failed to hang around (something I almost always do) after the event, that I’d not been more available.

When I left my job last year, I got this tattoo as kind of a statement of purpose. That by leaving the safe and secure behind I was embarking on some heroic undertaking by truly dedicating myself to being an artist. It’s been helpful (and yeah, it sounds melodramatic too). More than once, driving and reflecting on what I’ve done, what I’m doing, looking down at my forearm has reminded me that being all in means being all the fucking way in, no turning back. I couldn’t live with myself if I gave up. I gave up on trying to make a go of it as a musician a couple decades ago and feel I’ve paid the price every drab, mono-toned fucking day since. I’m determined not to make that same mistake again, now that writing, and photography, have given me a glimmer of a second chance.

Lately I’ve been struggling with a lot of depression; definitely the “months of complete darkness” phase of this particular part of the adventure. Plagued with doubt, utterly lacking in confidence, the whole bit. Vlautin talked about that, wrestling with one’s own demons and self esteem the moment you even consider getting out of bed. But we get up and push on. Spending time with folks like Vlautin — people sharing our journeys, but maybe a good distance farther along — can be like a break in the storm, if I may continue the Shackleton tattoo metaphor, where the sun or moon comes out and allows us a moment to get our bearings and will to continue.

I missed this one. And it’s taken me down for a couple days now. I’m sure it’s been made worse by where my head already was, by the stuff I try and keep a lid on, but that doesn’t really matter. I haven’t been this filled with regret in a long, long time. But you know, shit happens. We continue on. And hope that sometimes lightning does strike twice.

Next time I’ll be ready. Until then, HTFU, La Tray….


This Will Wreck You

Maybe like me, you didn’t like Hillary that much. You didn’t care for her politics, whatever, or how the DNC handled the primary. She bore the brunt of all the rage and anger that has built up toward the DNC; it comes with the territory, and I’m sure she understands that. But what she stood for to so many isn’t something I take lightly, and I feel for all those folks who are crestfallen. Hell, a huge chunk of me is too. I’ve been in a funk in the aftermath that has come as a real surprise, frankly. I understand failure and heartbreak and not achieving something you wanted so badly, and I’m not such an ogre that I can’t feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. What a shitshow the last months have been, what a shitshow Tuesday was, and what a shitshow it’s going to be moving forward.

Anyway, if you have a heart, this will crush it. Context: this is the cold open from this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon playing Hillary Clinton, as she has brilliantly all election season. She is singing the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, who also died last week. It’s beautiful.

Many people are hurting out there these days. I hope it gets better.