Returning A Star


The next morning the coals were there, buried but lurid, glowing like rare orange gems.  Across the distance of a cold night they were still hot despite being abandoned, despite being covered by a heap of fine grey ash as the prior day's fire faded in upon itself.  I walked around looking for pieces to add to the fire, to bring it back. I was out at Farm again, waking up chilled from a night in the unheated farmhouse. I was in search of fresh fuel, the arms and legs of trees, fodder for the next go-round.  Honey locust, sycamore, cedar. Walnut, hickory, oak. Just-fallen twigs, young limbs, old broken trunks half-rotted away, wet with the promptly melted snow of a Missouri winter.  On top of coals prevailing through the wind and dark of night any wood will do...

Click here to continue with fire, bluebirds, osage orange, and the sun...

Get Your Fix at Heman Park

If, like me, you’re starting to climb the walls during this coronavirus lockdown, you’re also asking yourself: what can I do, within these newly instituted, claustrophobic confines that doesn’t run afoul of the Stay-at-Home order?  How can I look after my own mental health, the quality of which has for years depended on being able to locate myself as needed in wide, open spaces?

Under the Order, residents of the county are still allowed to go for a walk in public parks.  Indeed, the County Executive has urged operators of public parks—presumably he is speaking to municipalities such as my own, University City—to keep their parks open.  To console myself, I think about all of the county’s various parks remaining open. Whether it has been for the purpose of playing disc golf, going for a run, or taking my dog Hugo for a walk, I have spent a lot of time in the parks of University City and St. Louis County over the past decade.  One of the parks nearest to me, which I have come to appreciate despite its faults, is University City’s Heman Park.

Continue with this essay about Heman Park...

Encounter with an Iberian Woodrat

Like the jigsaw puzzle suddenly nearing completion the pile was virtually gone. I had used the tarp to drag the piled debris to a new bonfire-to-be in the pasture. After the pile down below went up so easily yesterday afternoon I figured we could easily get this pile ablaze before dark.

The locust limbs split and hauled away, the thorny vines extirpated and lofted onto the pile, the only element of debris remaining where the brush pile once sat was a collection of tree detritus: twigs, leaves, the maroon pods of the honey locust. It was a curious collection, somewhat familiar-looking. I was grabbing at this melange with gloved hands and tossing some of it on the tarp to be hauled away. Doing this I stepped into a depression, wide but shallow. I started to get an inkling that I was disturbing a nest...

The full account is available here...

Pages from An Old Woodshed

I've been clearing out part of the shed. One of the bays. I think of it as a future café, or perhaps even a place to sleep. I'll show ya. I'm taking certain old items—tire, rim, an old heavy plow, pure iron, the weight—and moving them into a different shed. A junk shed.

Now I'm taking my drill out there to reinforce the structure a bit. This is my playground, my school, my office, my church.

To read much more, including a new theory of the universe, continue here...

Line for Billy

How are we gonna
heat our house this winter?
One mourner has a stove
but it eats a lot of wood, he says,
standing in a line
barely any light left and ten degrees
behind an IGA
and no place for parking.
A great loss…
A great tragedy…
He sold me mulch…
He sold me flowers…
He taught me how to hunt…
We hoisted one together.
We followed The Dead.
Here we all search for understanding
on our feet for how many hours
at this crowded Northfield funeral home.
It’s not like trying to find a lost watch.
It’s not like re-building a house.
We know the faces
          (but some of the names escape us…
He’s bearded,
no tie,
his hands folded for the Lord’s Prayer.
I can’t pretend I knew him
but plenty of other people did.
As I’m writing this a multitude pays its respects.
I’m sitting in a rental car drinking a beer.
For him, I say.
All’s I remember is the maroon Corvette
he couldn’t get started after JB’s funeral…

Continue with this poem...

Lump of Wood

Lump of wood.
I split it,
I’m takin it.

Got it off a
red-cheeked maple
in Santa Claus, IN.

Lived to be cut down
thanks to the
Paperwork Reduction Act
of 1995.

I was of three minds,
like a lump of wood
in which there are three logs.

In a storm
there is only gas
(breath of earth)
and wood
(mother’s heart).

When a leaf burns
it becomes a star.
When it changes color,
a crimson decision.
Fall the time of its choosing.

How many lumps of wood?
How many fires?

The smoke only
stings my eyes
when I leave
the fire's side.

The coals a meditation
crumbling to heat
the future.

Its denouement ashes,
when spread over beds,
a singular taste
in next year’s tomatoes.

In the end there is only
whiskey and wood,
a balm against
splenetic mood.
And windows frosting over
in the mind,
and memories of bark
shedding like a rind.