Friday, December 30, 2005
Here's one of the few photos taken of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. These birds were thought to be the last of their species after their trees were cut down in Louisiana (thanks to the wonderful jackasses at the Chicago Mill). They were rediscovered in Arkansas last winter, documented with brief sightings, sound recordings, and a blurry video. I've always had a fascination with this bird and when I heard they had been rediscovered I about had a fit. Let's hope they find more this winter and in other areas of the southeast and keep protecting the few places they could possibly still live!
Here's a poem I found on the APR site by Katie Ford. I usually don't find random poems on the internet that I like. But at first reading I, well, actually read the WHOLE poem which doesn't happen all that often for this ADD'd boy.
I stared at the ruin, the powder of the dead
now beneath ground, a crowd
assembled and breathing with
indiscernible sadnesses, light
from other light, far off
and without explanation. Somewhere unseen
the ocean deepened then and now
into more ocean, the black fins
of the bony fish obscuring
its bottommost floor, carcasses of mollusks
settling, casting one last blur of sand,
unable to close again. Next to me a woman,
the seventeen pins it took to set
her limb, to keep every part flush with blood.
In the book on the ancient mayfly
which lives only four hundred minutes
and is, for this reason, called ephemeral,
I couldn't understand why the veins laid across
the transparent sheets of wings, impossibly
fragile, weren't blown through in their half-day
of flight. Or how that design has carried the species
through antiquity with collapsing
horses, hailstorms and diffracted confusions of light.
If I remember correctly what's missing
broke off all at once, not into streets
but into rows portioned off for shade as it
fell here, the sun there
where the poled awning ended. Didn't the heat
and dust funnel down
to the condemned as they fought
until the animal took them completely? Didn't at least one stand
I said to myself: Beyond my husband there are strange trees
growing on one of the seven hills.
They look like intricately tended bonsais, but
enormous and with unreachable hollows.
He takes photographs for our black folios,
thin India paper separating one from another.
There is no scientific evidence of consciousness
lasting outside the body. I think when I die
it will be completely.
But it didn't break off all at once.
It turns out there is a fault line under Rome
that shook the theater walls
slight quake by quake. When the empire fell,
the arena was left untended
and exotic plants spread a massive overgrowth,
their seeds brought from Asia and Africa, sown accidentally
in the waste of the beasts.
Like our emptying, then aching questions,
the vessel filled with unrecognizable faunas.
How great is the darkness in which we grope,
William James said, not speaking of the earth, but the mind
split into its caves and plinth from which to watch
its one great fight.
And then, when it is over,
when those who populate your life return
to their curtained rooms and lie down without you,
you are alone, you are quarry.
When the mayflies emerge it is in great numbers
from lakes where they have lived in nymphal skins
through many molts. At the last
a downy skin is shed and what proofed them
is gone. Above water there is
nothing for them to feed on--
they don't even look, except for each other.
They form hurried swarms in that starving, sudden hour
and mate fully. When it is finished it is said
the expiring flies gather beneath boatlights
or lampposts and die under them minutely,
drifting down in a flock called snowfall.
Nothing wants to break, but this wanted to break,
built for slaughter, open arches to climb through,
lines of glassless squares above, elaborate
pulleys raising the animals on platforms
out of the passaged darkness.
When one is the site of so much pain, one must pray
to be abandoned. When abandonment is that much more--
beauty and terror before every witness
and suddenly you are not there.
Posted by Chet at 1:05 AM
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I'm sure all of you in the Chicago area have gone to the Art Institute and seen this, but if you haven't, get on your horse! Every time I go I get caught in front of this painting and can't get away. The woman Picasso painted over is haunting. The colors the man his spare guitar his skin his bone fingers his tattered rags, wow!
Posted by Chet at 10:40 AM
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Fear destroys what bin Laden could not
One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.
If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.
If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.
That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path.
What is there to say now?
All of these things have happened. And yet a large portion of this country appears more concerned that saying ''Happy Holidays'' could be a disguised attack on Christianity.
I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.
Never would I have expected this nation -- which emerged stronger from a civil war and a civil rights movement, won two world wars, endured the Depression, recovered from a disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia and still managed to lead the world in the principles of liberty -- would cower behind anyone just for promising to ``protect us.''
President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.
Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack? Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? Who would have remembered Patrick Henry had he written, ``What's wrong with giving up a little liberty if it protects me from death?''
Bush would have us excuse his administration's excesses in deference to the ''war on terror'' -- a war, it should be pointed out, that can never end. Terrorism is a tactic, an eventuality, not an opposition army or rogue nation. If we caught every person guilty of a terrorist act, we still wouldn't know where tomorrow's first-time terrorist will strike. Fighting terrorism is a bit like fighting infection -- even when it's beaten, you must continue the fight or it will strike again.
Are we agreeing, then, to give the king unfettered privilege to defy the law forever? It's time for every member of Congress to weigh in: Do they believe the president is above the law, or bound by it?
Bush stokes our fears, implying that the only alternative to doing things his extralegal way is to sit by fitfully waiting for terrorists to harm us. We are neither weak nor helpless. A proud, confident republic can hunt down its enemies without trampling legitimate human and constitutional rights.
Ultimately, our best defense against attack -- any attack, of any sort -- is holding fast and fearlessly to the ideals upon which this nation was built. Bush clearly doesn't understand or respect that. Do we?
Posted by Chet at 7:54 PM
Monday, December 26, 2005
At the Bomb Testing Site
At noon in the desert a panting lizard
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
as if something might happen.
It was looking for something farther off
than people could see, an important scene
acted in stone for little selves
at the flute end of consequences.
There was just a continent without much on it
under a sky that never cared less.
Ready for a change, the elbows waited.
The hands gripped hard on the desert.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
A few favorite movies at 2:00 a.m. -- no particular order
Shakespeare In Love
The Usual Suspects
The Big Lebowski
Spirited Away (Anything by Miyazaki)
Dances With Wolves
Lost In Translation
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Christmas Story
Punch Drunk Love
Ace Ventura Pet Detective: When Nature Calls
Before Night Falls
Leaving Las Vegas
The Last Temptation of Christ
Of Mice and Men (Sinise and Malkovich)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Nightmare Before Christmas
Posted by Chet at 4:02 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars, and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tense, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell
"Thank you! Thank you very much, thank you! First of all, let me say how happy I am to be your nominee for the United States Senate! [ applause ] You know.. thank you.. I don't really understand your Congress, or your system of checks and balances.. because, as I said during the campaign - I'm just a caveman! I fell on some ice, and later got thawed out by scientists. But there is one thing I do know - we must do everything in our power to lower the Capitol Gains Tax. Thank you!"
Posted by Chet at 1:13 AM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I tried to make a top 20 songs list, but couldn't. Nostalgia vs. current favorites causes too much pain. So I just started with a loose definition of "all time favorites." In no particular order
Machine Gun - Jimi Hendrix (Band of Gypsies) Live at the Filmore East
Kind of Blue (Whole Album) - Miles Davis
What Would The Community Think (Whole Album) - Cat Power
Sunday Morning Coming Down - Johnny Cash
Going Back to Georgia - Nanci Griffith w/Adam Duritz
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain - Willie Nelson
Visions of Johanna - Bob Dylan Live 1966 Royal Albert Hall
Angeles - Elliot Smith
Chickenman - Indigo Girls
Big City - Iris Dement
Never Far Away - Jack White (Cold Mountain Soundtrack)
Poems, Prayers, and Promises - John Denver
Dummy (Whole Album) - Portishead
Heart Cooks Brain - Modest Mouse
Rid of Me - P.J. Harvey
Because The Night - 10,000 Maniacs
Burn One Down - Ben Harper
A Love Supreme (Album) - John Coltrane
Back to the Earth - Rusted Root
America - Paul Simon
Rastaman Chant - Bob Marley
Pancho and Lefty - Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson
Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key - Billy Bragg w/Natalie Merchant
Cocaine Blues - Johnny Cash
Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) - Jimi Hendrix
Omaha - Counting Crows
Volcano - Damien Rice
Rocky Mountain High - John Denver
Blue Train - John Coltrane
Another Lonely Day - Ben Harper
Whiskey River - Willie Nelson
Concrete Jungle - Bob Marley
Overkill - Men At Work (Acoustic)
Out of the Woods - Nickel Creek
Concrete and Barbed Wire - Lucinda Williams
Blister in the Sun - Violent Femmes
Galileo - Indigo Girls
Sara - Bob Dylan Live 1975 The Rolling Thunder Revue
In the Morning - Built To Spill
All I Want - Joni Mitchell
Amos Moses - Jerry Reed
one - U2
and so on and on
Posted by Chet at 6:11 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2005
So last night in a fit of sleep deprived, anxiety ridden, drug induced rage? no, depression? no, some yet to be described clinical diagnosis, I changed my "theme" for my class. I wanted very much to stick with my place/nature thingamajig, but I kept thinking, ya know if the students rain on my parade I'll be much more upset if I am teaching something I really care about. So I am now focusing on "The American Dream" whatever the Hell that means. I think I'll have them watch Office Space, do some work with advertising, pop-culture, read some essays and then end up with the book Into The Wild. Maybe we could just watch movies everyday and my main contribution will be Popcorn???? Good idea? Done.
and a quote to make this seem a little meatier
For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.
- Alice Kahn
Posted by Chet at 1:04 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Just read this NY Times article,
Here's a quote from the article, "Reports that the donor committed suicide also have implications for Ms. Dinoire's future, because if true, and if the transplant is successful, it would mean that for the rest of her life, she would see in the mirror the nose, mouth and chin of a woman who herself met a brutal end."
I can see the hollywood script writer's word processors lighting up as we speak. Move over 21 Grams.
Posted by Chet at 10:20 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Saw John Malkovich being interviewed for his movie The Libertine the other night. I had seen a trailer for this movie a long time ago, but now I guess it is really coming out. It stars two of my favorite actors -- Depp and Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich! It is being billed as a "contoversial" movie. Whatever it is, it will have good acting at least. It is adapted from a play by Stephen Jeffreys (adapted by the same) that played at Steppenwolf. It's about The Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot. Here is a poem by Wilmot that made me laugh.
A Satire Against Charles II
I' th' isle of Britain, long since famous grown
For breeding the best cunts in Christendom,
There reigns, and oh! long may he reign and thrive,
The easiest King and best-bred man alive.
Him no ambition moves to get renown
Like the French fool, that wanders up and down
Starving his people, hazarding his crown.
Peace is his aim, his gentleness is such,
And love he loves, for he loves fucking much.
---Nor are his high desires above his strength:
His scepter and his prick are of a length;
And she may sway the one who plays with th' other,
And make him little wiser than his brother.
Poor prince! thy prick, like thy buffoons at Court,
Will govern thee because it makes thee sport.
'Tis sure the sauciest prick that e'er did swive,
The proudest, peremptoriest prick alive.
Though safety, law, religion, life lay on 't,
'Twould break through all to make its way to cunt.
Restless he rolls about from whore to whore,
A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.
---To Carwell, the most dear of all his dears,
The best relief of his declining years,
Oft he bewails his fortune, and her fate:
To love so well, and be beloved so late.
For though in her he settles well his tarse,
Yet his dull, graceless ballocks hang an arse.
This you'd believe, had I but time to tell ye
The pains it costs to poor, laborious Nelly,
Whilst she employs hands, fingers, mouth, and thighs,
Ere she can raise the member she enjoys.
---All monarchs I hate, and the thrones they sit on,
---From the hector of France to the cully of Britain.
Posted by Chet at 10:38 AM
Friday, December 09, 2005
The book Refuge by TTW was my introduction into the poetry of place. The question of how a landscape/community can shape and hold a person has been with me ever since. Here is an excerpt from an interview with TTW.
- - -
London: In An Unspoken Hunger you say, "Perhaps the most radical act we can commit is to stay home." What do you mean by that?
Williams: I really believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among... The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms -- plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings -- then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put ... if we don't know the names of things, if don't know pronghorn antelope, if we don't know blacktail jackrabbit, if we don't know sage, pinyon, juniper, then I think we are living a life without specificity, and then our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation.
I remember a phone call from a friend of mine who lives along the MacKenzie River. She said, "This is the first year in twenty that the chinook salmon have not returned." This woman knows the names of things. This woman is committed to a place. And she sounded the alarm.
- - -
Posted by Chet at 11:37 AM
This morning's crap fest --
Regret is a town in Kansas.
Red brick paved main street. Lula’s Diner full at 5:30 a.m. with coffee and talk and silence and more coffee. Hedge rows divert the December wind. Branches like antlers, like elk in rut, cracking, rubbing and with the dawn they light like the first hit on a bowl, -- the boy can’t sleep and the embers flare and cut the edge. The wind is faceless, rattles his window, he shivers and is tired. History is this place. The men grab their cups to go, exhaust pours from flat bed diesels, each one heads to check cattle, talk radio, the ag report. Silos hold near each home. Mailboxes read, Ewerts, Rausch, Eck. K-State Wildcat heads and purple pride banners are doted on like John Deere engines, the wife’s Christmas pumpkin pie.
Posted by Chet at 10:49 AM
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Here is one of my favorite birds, a Winter Wren. They are fellow hole dwellers hence the scientific name. They are only 4 inches long and are loud and non-stop singers. While doing surveys on the Olympic Peninsula they were one of the most common birds because I could hear them as soon as I stepped out of the truck.
Now here's a photo that made me laugh. This is what a Winter Wren probably wants the banders to kiss!
Posted by Chet at 5:21 PM
Here's a pic of my professor from WSU. I love 70's pictures of poets. The American Poetry Review has a collection of their
Here's a review/article on Professor Goldbarth on
I really love his poetry. I could never write like him so when I read it I get to just sit down and enjoy instead of thinking about how I could try doing what he does.
Posted by Chet at 12:22 PM
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Here's a photo I took on our trip to Zion National Park. The petroglyphs there were pretty amazing. Here we have some guys riding a snake (Jim Morrison would be proud), a couple in the bottom left walking like Egyptians, and another couple top right that are doing "it."
Posted by Chet at 1:03 AM
So my alma mater is Wichita State University. I used to attend the men's basketball games religously and still keep up with them (mainly by listening to play by play on the web). Tonight my Shockers beat the San Francisco Don's. What the hell is a Don? My brother in law's name is Don. But I'm sure you are asking what in the hell is a Shocker? Well I guess it is someone who is harvesting wheat (at least in the olden timey days). Here is a cool site showing some
I used to think this was a pretty lame mascot, but now I love and identify with it completely. Kansas rules!!
Anyway, they won and are doing well at 7-1. Their only loss was to the defending national champion runner-ups, Illinois. And they only lost by one point. They play the nationally ranked Michigan State Spartans next and will probably lose, but I'll still be cheering!
Posted by Chet at 12:11 AM
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I've been a big fan of Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute, for quite a while now. He is one of the few people in the world that seems to be looking for practical solutions to environmental problems. Here is a short write up on him in the newest Smithsonian. There are better more detailed descriptions of his ideas and work elsewhere on the internet and in those bound paper things with ink scrawl inside.
Posted by Chet at 11:44 PM