“Making Minerals” at Horned Things Journal

I had a poem published last week on the website of Horned Things Journal. I will publish the poem on this site later this year. But you can read the poem on Horned Things now by following this link:

Horned Things Journal, Issue Two

This site is still relatively young but they have assembled an impressive and eclectic mix of writing and art in this second issue. I feel lucky to have had "Making Minerals" included in their journal.

The Clerk Will Call the Roll

The Speaker is third in line to be the President.  But it’s more than that.  This very House of Representatives could play a massive, deciding role in choosing the next President.  I’m not talking about something akin to the illegal attempt to dismiss the Electoral College that some of these same Republicans attempted in 2020.  If, in an election for President, no candidate secures 270 electoral votes, the House of Representatives votes to choose a President.  The implications are profound.  Imagine a third-party candidate who receives, say, twenty percent of the electoral votes, who somehow emerges from the House vote with the White House in hand.  It could happen.  It’s in the Constitution...

My coverage of the contest for The Speaker of the House, 118th Congress Edition...

Weed Chronicles, Volume One


What I’ve got here is some OG #18.  I taste meat, grease, gas, incense.  Not fruit.  Bong rip.  No cough but a little tenderness in the throat.  Harvest was June ninth, twenty-twenty-two.  The THC comes in at 26.1 per cent.

Creeping high.  I’m on my first drink, which is not usually the case.  Usually I’ve had a couple of drinks by the time I’m craving a smoke but we’ve been driving all day.

It’s Braves 5, Mets 3.  An urge to write is a good early side effect but this urge might not be due to the weed.  It could be the driving.  It’s happened before.  It’s the movement, my body through the gravity-controlled space of this planet, the vibration of traveling seventy miles an hour, backward in time, against the spin, in a car.

Read the full first volume here...

Oiled Newspaper Hack for Charcoal Grilling

Today I want to write about a “hack” I have been using to get charcoal fires started.  By hack I mean a tip, a trick, a shortcut — in the fashion of a home remedy. 

Over a decade ago, I invited my friend Ray over for dinner and he noticed I was having trouble getting my charcoal grill going.  The method I had been using was to put scrunched up newspaper in the bottom of the kettle, topping that with the smaller of two round metal grills that fit in kettle.  I would dump charcoal on the smaller grill, then eventually place the larger metal grill on top of that.  It’s the larger grill that holds whatever you might be cooking: hamburgers, chicken, bratwursts, whole onions, whole peppers, foil packs of sliced potatoes and butter. Pork steaks, carrots, asparagus, shrooms.

The problem with what I’ll call the “straight newspaper” method is that the newspaper would often burn up too quickly, not having burned long enough to have caught the charcoal, the flame wasting away too soon.  In this event I would have to awkwardly lift the bottom grate, which was a little hot and which was still holding the unburnt charcoal. Then, in a vexed state, I'd have to shove more wads of newspaper down into the bottom of the kettle.  Sometimes I went through three rounds of newspaper before the charcoal would finally catch...

Get your charcoal fire started easily with this one simple trick...

Shovel and Broom

While clearing the porch of today’s endless torrent of snow I thought about that long William Gass story, “The Pedersen Kid.”  I wish I remembered the story better but what I recall is the story of a kid getting lost outside in a snowstorm.  The story takes a surreal turn, like an impressionist painting, maybe the kid survives, maybe he doesn’t, maybe what starts to flow from the story is the kid lost in the snow somewhere telling himself he’s alright, he’s found shelter.  Gass at the height of his artistry.

My wife was outside before I was this morning, and I said to her, to myself, “You’re making me look bad.”  My body is always cranky and stiff in the morning, I usually have a hard time putting on my pants.  I found a way into them, a pair of lined snow-appropriate pants that I fortuitously requisitioned from The Internet six weeks ago, not knowing this snow would fall, but wanting to be warm at Farm, snow or no...  

Continues a short entry about sweeping snow...

A Bad Day for the Phone

“Ack, I just checked my email ten minutes ago. There’s nothing in here for me.”

The phone vibrated, then snapped off, its screen going dark.

“Oh, Phone, don’t be like that.”

“Maybe Bluetooth suddenly doesn’t work tomorrow.”

“Wh—at? Why?”

“I saw you reading that old, wrinkled newspaper. I heard you reading it, how could I not have? And then you got that awful dictionary out. How fat is that thing? Just disgusting. I could detect the mold on its pages a room away.”

“OK, I can explain. The newspaper, it wasn’t even mine. The mailman mis-delivered it last week but then—”

“Uh huh. Mis-delivered it?! I’ve heard it all.”

“We’re talking about the post office here….”

“And the dictionary?”

“It’s a family heirloom. My dad gave it to me. It was his at college. It still works. It’s not like I was using another phone.”

“I have a dictionary in here. In here! You see this screen? Flawless. Not a scratch, not a crack, not a blemish on it. My dictionary has any word you could ask for. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, nothing. It’s just nice to turn pages sometimes. I’ll find words I wasn’t even looking for. It feels more real.”

“More real?! I’m not real? That’s it!”

“Phone, where are you going? Phone, get back here. Phone, no! Do not go anywhere near that toilet!”

2019, Year Of…

Year of the dumpster, beached on the street like a malevolent whale.  Year of the winking stop sign, of constantly yellow lights. 2019, year of the home run, of rain, of record heat, of polar vortex.  Year of the tweetstorm. Of walls and rejections. Year of running water, of family, of learning another language, of learning how not to take things for granted.  Year of choking to death on vomit in a hotel room, year of death of talent by suicide.

Year of unchecked mergers. Year of the podcast, of restaurants closing, of buildings that will be empty until they collapse. Year of body rags cut from old clothes, of rubbing alcohol, of witch hazel.  Year of CBD. Of bird versus bunny, year of more and more mass shootings and no one doing anything about it.

Year of groggy mornings, of bags under my eyes, of sleeping by myself, of writing poems, of hiding.  Year of swimming laps, of AirBnB, of appreciating a picnic table in the shade in the park. Year of compound interest, of Jupiter and Scorpius, of the opossum, of the narwhal tusk, of the whip-poor-will's song.  Year of playing tennis again with my brother. Year of cuñado, year of farmer’s markets. Year of next year, if I’m lucky, again...

To continue with 2019...

Brodkey Was Right, and Not Much Has Changed

In his story "First Love and Other Sorrows," from the 1950s he wrote:

"Toward the end of March, in St. Louis, slush fills the gutters, and dirty snow lies heaped alongside porch steps, and everything seems to be suffocating in the embrace of a season that lasts too long.  Radiators hiss mournfully, no one manages to be patient, the wind draws tears from your eyes, the clouds are filled with sadness.  Women with scarves around their heads and their feet encased in fur-lined boots pick their way carefully over patches of melting ice.  It seems that winter will last forever, that this is the decision of nature and nothing can be done about it."

Harold, you nailed it.  It blew like a beast today.  There isn't any slush left in the gutters, but there was not long ago.  The radiators have all been scrapped and women maybe don't wear scarves about their heads like they used to—but they are still wearing Uggs.  And I am not being patient.