06 February 2013

In a razor town, the only thing that matters tends to bring you down

OK Barbershop, Pulaski, Virginia, Jan. 2013

Current Listening, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Live from Alabama: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sO0KIQD8dw

05 February 2013

Before the dam goes up at the foot of the sea/ before the new wing of the prison ribbon ceremony

Hickory, NC, Dec. 2012

"They [William Eggleston's photographs] focus on the mundane world. But no subject is fuller of implications than the mundane world! When you see what the mundane world so openly and multitudinously affirms, there is everything left to say."--from Eudora Welty's Introduction to Eggleston's The Democratic Forest

"There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described."--Garry Winogrand

Listening, Father John Misty, "Fun Times In Babylon": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_yUMED9IG0

27 January 2013

What's the winter's cold negative press/ what's the spring with it's air of rebirth / to those felled under wildest duress / trading freedom for a false sense of worth

Future Borne in Eyes of the Present, Mouth of Wilson, VA

After a very long hiatus, I've decided to start updating the photo blog again. I plan to pick up where I left off (a year/ two years ago? I don't even know), mixing photos (mostly photos I've taken around sw virginia or wherever I roam) with poetry, literature, and music.

The photo above was taken in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, on a recent drive from Boone, NC. I missed a lot of potentially great photos on the trip--a faded red 1970's RV with a Confederate Flag covering the front window, and, ironically, the words "These colors don't fade" written across the top; two single wide trailers, both painted cornflower blue, aligned perfectly beside one another, one from the 1970's probably, the other more recent; etc.

I've lost some of the fearlessness or stupidity (maybe just rudeness) that once allowed me to pull over in someone's driveway and snap a shot I felt like I had to have. In any case, I hope to start posting again regularly, especially once spring arrives and I can start walking around and exploring without freezing. I also hope to start on a sort of nature photography project I've thought about doing for a long time but haven't gotten around to.

Current listening (Jason Isbell), great stuff:


15 June 2010

Have you lost your faith, have you lost your way, have you lost everything you thought you held yesterday?

Do Good, Lion's Club Flea-Market, Dublin, Virginia, 2010

the photo is just an excuse to post some old-school soothing Smog (Bill Callahan), "To Be Of Use" from Red Apple Falls

27 May 2010

I wish I was in heaven sittin down, I wish the road we were taking wasn't made for breaking down

Motel Wolves, Cherokee, North Carolina

If you're a fan of loose, rambling country rock, Phosphorescent's new album Here's To Taking It Easy is well worth checking out. Along with Bill Callahan's Rough Travel for a Rare Thing, it's been my daily soundtrack lately. "Wolves" is from their previous album, Pride.

24 May 2010

I still never win, but I'd love to try it

White-tailed Deer Throw, Cherokee, North Carolina

23 May 2010

On a day that threatens that the earth might open up, the birds have stopped their singing, the insects have shut up.

Repent, Cleveland, Tennessee

~from Flannery O'Connor's "Parker's Back"

As he circled the field his mind was on a suitable design for his back. The sun, the size of a golf ball, began to switch regularly from in front to behind him, but he appeared to see it in both places as if he had eyes in the back of his head. All at once he saw the tree reaching out to grasp him. A ferocious thud propelled him into the air, and he heard himself yelling in an unbievably loud voice, "GOD ABOVE!"

He landed on his back while the tractor crashed upside down into a tree and burst into flame. The first thing Parker saw were his shoes, quickly being eaten by the fire; one was caught under the tractor, the other was some distance away, burning by itself. He was not in them. He could feel the hot breath of the burning tree on his face. He scrambled backwards, still sitting, his eyes cavernous, and if had known how to cross himself he would have done it.

His truck was on a dirt road at the edge of the field. He moved toward it, still sitting, still backwards, but faster and faster; halfway he got up and began a kind of forward-bent run from which he collapsed on his knees twice. His legs felt like two old rusted rain gutters. He reached the truck finally and took off in it, zigzagging up the road. He drove past his house on the embankment and straight for the city, fifty miles distant.

Parker did not allow himself to think on the way to the city. He only knew that there had been a great change in his life, a leap forward into a worse unknown, and that there was nothing he could do about it.

21 May 2010

06 May 2010

with some ballet moves I removed her shoes, and painted my lips to hers, but still she said "I can't believe you own this attitude."

Dance Academy, Erwin, TN

Questions About Angels
~Billy Collins

Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God's body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

Isadora Duncan

~Vic Chesnutt

once I dreamed I was dancing with Isadora Duncan
in a silver cafe,
it was a cafe that was not at all near here
she was planning to diversify
and she sang I should do the same
so I whistled to her how I loved her the best

but she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude",
but with some ballet moves,
I removed her shoes
and I painted my lips to hers
and still she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude"
she sang "I can't believe you own this, this attitude"

she needed her beauty sleep
though I didn't want it to sound like that
her mind was occupied,
her hard coffee was cold by then as snow

and she sang "my smile is more than pearly white,
and my dreams are more than you",
she sang "my yellow eyes are more than mirrors,
and my scarf is more, more, more than blue."

and she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude"
yes i sang "I can't believe you own this, this attitude"

she closed her New Directions paperbook
and screamed "there is no shelter in the arts"
she'd been crying all day
but now her eyes they were brighter than the moon

and she sang "my smile is more than pearly white,
and my dreams are more than you",
she sang "my yellow eyes are more than mirrors,
and my scarf is more, more, more, more than blue."

and she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude"
"I can't believe it, I can't believe you own this attitude",
"I can't believe it, I can't believe you own this, this attitude".

29 April 2010

I'd be riding horses if they let me

Some photos from the 2009 Virginia High-School Rodeo, Dublin, Virgina

I've been going through some old stuff recently...I don't think I've posted these before.

Will Oldham (Palace), Horses

28 April 2010

Once again in the world of 1,200 feelings

Hoop Dreams, Northfork, West Virginia

Defending Walt Whitman
--Sherman Alexie

Basketball is like this for young Indian boys, all arms and legs
and serious stomach muscles. Every body is brown!
These are the twentieth-century warriors who will never kill,
although a few sat quietly in the deserts of Kuwait,
waiting for orders to do something, to do something.

God, there is nothing as beautiful as a jumpshot
on a reservation summer basketball court
where the ball is moist with sweat,
and makes a sound when it swishes through the net
that causes Walt Whitman to weep because it is so perfect.

There are veterans of foreign wars here
although their bodies are still dominated
by collarbones and knees, although their bodies still respond
in the ways that bodies are supposed to respond when we are young.
Every body is brown! Look there, that boy can run
up and down this court forever. He can leap for a rebound
with his back arched like a salmon, all meat and bone
synchronized, magnetic, as if the court were a river,
as if the rim were a dam, as if the air were a ladder
leading the Indian boy toward home.

Some of the Indian boys still wear their military hair cuts
while a few have let their hair grow back.
It will never be the same as it was before!
One Indian boy has never cut his hair, not once, and he braids it
into wild patterns that do not measure anything.
He is just a boy with too much time on his hands.
Look at him. He wants to play this game in bare feet.

God, the sun is so bright! There is no place like this.
Walt Whitman stretches his calf muscles
on the sidelines. He has the next game.
His huge beard is ridiculous on the reservation.
Some body throws a crazy pass and Walt Whitman catches it
with quick hands. He brings the ball close to his nose
and breathes in all of its smells: leather, brown skin, sweat,
black hair, burning oil, twisted ankle, long drink of warm water,
gunpowder, pine tree. Walt Whitman squeezes the ball tightly.
He wants to run. He hardly has the patience to wait for his turn.
"What's the score?" he asks. He asks, "What's the score?"

Basketball is like this for Walt Whitman. He watches these Indian boys
as if they were the last bodies on earth. Every body is brown!
Walt Whitman shakes because he believes in God.
Walt Whitman dreams of the Indian boy who will defend him,
trapping him in the corner, all flailing arms and legs
and legendary stomach muscles. Walt Whitman shakes
because he believes in God. Walt Whitman dreams
of the first jumpshot he will take, the ball arcing clumsily
from his fingers, striking the rim so hard that it sparks.
Walt Whitman shakes because he believes in God.
Walt Whitman closes his eyes. He is a small man and his beard
is ludicrous on the reservation, absolutely insane.
His beard makes the Indian boys righteously laugh. His beard
frightens the smallest Indian boys. His beard tickles the skin
of the Indian boys who dribble past him. His beard, his beard!

God, there is beauty in every body. Walt Whitman stands
at center court while the Indian boys run from basket to basket.
Walt Whitman cannot tell the difference between
offense and defense. He does not care if he touches the ball.
Half of the Indian boys wear t-shirts damp with sweat
and the other half are bareback, skin slick and shiny.
There is no place like this. Walt Whitman smiles.
Walt Whitman shakes. This game belongs to him.

04 April 2010

You've been sittin' on your ass, tryin' to find some grace

Flowers in Car Window, Dublin, Virginia

--wanted something from Chris Bell's I am the Cosmos, but there's not much on youtube. So...

30 March 2010

It may be crazy, but I'm the closest thing I have to a voice of reason

Untitled, near Asheville, NC

Gil Scott-Heron covering Smog's "I'm New Here"

27 March 2010

the only tune I hear is the sound of the wind, as it blows through the town

Graham's Forge, Virginia

The Red Clay Ramblers "Aragon Mill"

26 March 2010

Follow the ocean line, follow the flow, and give me a little time to take what I know

Ocean Bay Seafood, Wytheville, VA

--a sentence from Marc Richard's "Happiness of the Garden Variety" (in The Ice At the Bottom of the World)

…one thing about Vic, and I say this to show how Steve Willis and I made all this worse, was that Vic not reading or writing seemed to make him not to think about things like they had names that he had to remember by of thinking that needed spelling, but instead Vic seemed to think about things in groups, like here is a group of things that are my humans, here is a group of things that are my animals, here is a group of things I got for free, here is a group of things I got off good deal making, and here is a group of things I should keep a long time because I got them from some people who had kept them a long time, and maybe because of another couple reasons put together, Vic had another group of things painted aquamarine blue because he had gotten a good deal on two fifty-five-gallon barrels of aquamarine blue paint, and everything—even Vic’s humans and animals who could not help but rub against or sit in somewhere because it was everywhere wet—everything was touched the color of aquamarine, though all of us calling it ackerine, because even spelling it out and sounding it out to Vic it still came out of his mouth that way, ackerine, keeping in mind here is a man who can’t read nor write, and Steve Willis and I saying it ackerine like Vic said it, for fun, because it also always seemed like somehow we were always holding a brush of it somewhere putting it on something in change for rent.

25 March 2010

All my heroes are in the great beyond, England is old but Atlantis is gone

Artificial Flowers, Gadsden, Alabama

One of the Butterflies
~W.S. Merwin

The trouble with pleasure is the timing
it can overtake me without warning
and be gone before I know it is here
it can stand facing me unrecognized
while I am remembering somewhere else
in another age or someone not seen
for years and never to be seen again
in this world and it seems that I cherish
only now a joy I was not aware of
when it was here although it remains
out of reach and will not be caught or named
or called back and if I could make it stay
as I want to it would turn to pain.

~Louis Jenkins

It turns out that the drain pipe from the sink is attached to
nothing and water just runs right onto the ground in the
crawl space underneath the house and then trickles out
into the stream that passes through the backyard. It turns
out that the house is not really attached to the ground but
sits atop a few loose concrete blocks all held in place by
gravity, which, as I understand it, means "seriousness." Well,
this is serious enough. If you look into it further you will
discover that the water is not attached to anything either
and that perhaps the rocks and the trees are not all that
firmly in place. The world is a stage. But don't try to move
anything. You might hurt yourself, besides that's a job for
the stagehands and union rules are strict. You are merely a
player about to deliver a soliloquy on the septic system to a
couple dozen popple trees and a patch of pale blue sky.

23 March 2010

They got a name for the winners in the world, I want a name when I lose

First and Commerce, Bluefield, WV

History of Desire
~Tony Hoagland

When you're seventeen, and drunk
on the husky, late-night flavor
of your first girlfriend's voice
along the wires of the telephone

what else to do but steal
your father's El Dorado from the drive,
and cruise out to the park on Driscoll Hill?
Then climb the county water tower

and aerosol her name in spraycan orange
a hundred feet above the town?
Because only the letters of that word,
DORIS, next door to yours,

in yard-high, iridescent script,
are amplified enough to tell the world
who's playing lead guitar
in the rock band of your blood.

You don't consider for a moment
the shock in store for you in 10 A.D.,
a decade after Doris, when,
out for a drive on your visit home,

you take the Smallville Road, look up
still scorched upon the reservoir.
This is how history catches up—

by holding still until you
bump into yourself.
What makes you blush, and shove
the pedal of the Mustang

almost through the floor
as if you wanted to spray gravel
across the features of the past,
or accelerate into oblivion?

Are you so out of love that you
can't move fast enough away?
But if desire is acceleration,
experience is circular as any

Indianapolis. We keep coming back
to what we are—each time older,
more freaked out, or less afraid.
And you are older now.

You should stop today.
In the name of Doris, stop.

Falling and Flying
~Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

19 March 2010

All words aside, take care

Untitled, Princeton, WV

RIP Alex Chilton (1950-2010)

Big Star (Alex Chilton)-"Thank You Friends"

Paul Westerberg (The Replacements)-"Alex Chilton"

16 March 2010

Stupid man, hitchhiking out of the good life, he says "Catch you when..."

Wheby's Van, Princeton, WV

Rolling Stones (Keith Richards) "Coming Down Again"

14 March 2010

All that profit taking was a beautiful awakening.

Flag in Window, Bluefield, WV

~Robert Creeley

America, you ode for reality!
Give back the people you took.

Let the sun shine again
on the four corners of the world

you thought of first but do not
own, or keep like a convenience.

People are your own word, you
invented that locus and term.

Here, you said and say, is
where we are. Give back

what we are, these people you made,
us, and nowhere but you to be.

A Supermarket in California

~Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store
We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in
an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,
what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and
you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat
disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

12 March 2010

What do you do with your pragmatic passions, with your classically neurotic style?

Jiffy Lube, Princeton, WV

Of Memory and Distance
~Russell Edson

It’s a scientific fact that anyone entering the distance will grow smaller. Eventually becoming so small he might only be found with a telescope, or, for more intimacy, with a microscope…

But there’s a vanishing point, where anyone having penetrated the distance must disappear entirely without hope of his ever returning, leaving only a memory of his ever having been.

But then there is fiction, so that one is never really sure if it was someone who vanished into the end of seeing, or someone made of paper and ink…

~Russell Edson
On the other side of a mirror there’s an inverse world, where the insane go sane; where bones climb out of the earth and recede to the first slime of love.

And in the evening the sun is just rising.

Lovers cry because they are a day younger, and soon childhood robs them of their pleasure.

In such a world there is much sadness which, of course, is joy . . .

11 March 2010

'Cause we've got our recruits, and our green mohair suits, so please leave your i.d. at the door.

$3, $7, $5, Bluefield, WV

Weariness of Men
~Frank Stanford

My grandmother said when she was young
The grass was so wild and high
You couldn’t see a man on horseback.

In the fields she made out
Three barns,
Dark and blown down from the weather
Like her husbands.

She remembers them in the dark,
Cursing the beasts,
And how they would leave the bed
In the morning,
The dead grass of their eyes
Stacked against her.

~Frank Stanford

My father and I lie down together.
He is dead.

We look up at the stars, the steady sound
Of the wind turning the night like a ceiling fan.
This is our home.

I remember the work in him
Like bitterness in persimmons before a frost.
And I imagine the way he had fear,
The ground turning dark in a rain.

Now he gets up.

And I dream he looks down in my eyes
And watches me die.

The Intruder
~Frank Stanford

after Jean Follain

In the evenings they listen to the same
tunes nobody could call happy
somebody turns up at the edge of town
the roses bloom
and an old dinner bell rings once more
under the thunder clouds
In front of the porch posts of the store
a man seated on a soda water case
turns around and spits and says
to everybody
in his new set of clothes
holding up his hands
as long as I live nobody
touches my dogs my friends

10 March 2010

The scientists say it will all wash away, but we don't believe anymore.

Iron Ore, Foster Falls, Virginia

Henry Flynt--Hillbilly Tape Music

09 March 2010

If you're tired and you're sick of the city, remember it's just a flower made out of clay

White Doors, Princeton, WV

~David Brooks

This belly is not mine,
not the one I imagined
when I was younger and thought
about how it would be
when I got married.
This belly is a rude intrusion
into those dreams, it bumps
into my wife, who also differs
from that golden vision.
She is grander in ways
I never suspected: like my house,
she is bolder and kinder in dimension:
I used to think I would marry
a blonde and live in a shack,
both of us perpetually, pathetically thin.
I push my belly up against my wife
and admire the warmth of the
afternoon soaking into it.
The sun shines in on us
the way I like it, the sun is
the way I always thought
the sun should be.