Friday, December 2, 2011


…I live in the boonies.
Really, I do.
People here raise horses and goats and (for some reason) lamas. Some chuckleheads even have Confederate flags. (Seriously, they do.)
We still have telephone poles in these parts, too. Because of that, power outages are commonplace.
This morning, an hour ago, was the third outage in as many weeks. It’s funny how easily one can take things for granted. Even though the power was out and even though I knew it, I kept flicking light switches and at one point I even thought I’d make myself a cup of coffee.
It made me think that there's likely thousands of things in my life that I take for granted.
It made me feel arrogant and selfish.
Just a little bit, it did.

…On the treadmill before the blackout, I listened to Mona. They’re likeable rockers from Nashville and quite good. Check them out.

I wrote two poems and a story yesterday. The poem I liked least got accepted and the one I liked most got passed on.
When I clerked for a law firm in downtown Seattle I’d always see this homeless woman wrapped in plastic with a shopping cart. On really cold days she’d hover over the steam grate outside the old Nordstrom store. Then one day she was just gone and I never saw her again.
Whenever it gets really frigid out, as it has been of late, I think of her and all those like her who have no warm place to go.
Anyway, this is the poem that got passed over, the one she inspired:


The winds are laced with blades,
arctic air thick blankets,
bruised blue even at night,
but us,
well, we sit at a round table
in a warm building smelling of nutmeg lattes,
loud voices tearing dust off the rafters,
our laughter rattling newsprint
and backpacks.

Through the window outside
I catch a glimpse of a woman wearing a tattered blanket,
hunkered over the steaming heat grate,
her thighs splayed as if giving birth
sending her fetus straight to hell,
saving it from her hell.

Behind, a shopping cart holds
the woman’s house
her rooms
her ceiling
her carport
her bookshelves and bed.
Something like a lottery ticket
is taped to a cardboard sign saying
I AM The oNe
and then unreadable scribble.

As it starts to snow,
two suits and a pair of lovers pass by,
giving the woman wide berth,
winter air smoking from their nostrils
and teeth.
I watch the couple kiss.
I watch a hydraulic Santa pick up a package in the store front window.
I watch the ragged woman start to tell herself a story,
praying that she gives it a happy ending.

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