The children wade naked and thigh-deep
in stone-colored water. They duck under
and come up flinging drops from their hair.
Wind raises gooseflesh on their arms.
Touch is the miracle, wrote Whitman.
Touch is the earth’s language and the children
speak it. . . .
“Y’all put that gator right back where you found him or I’ll pepper your asses with 177s.”
I aimed my Daisy right at Butch, the more chicken-shit of the pair.
Mitch held Dragon by the jaws while Butch tried to steady his lashing tail.
“Feeding him Atomic Fireballs again, . . . Read more
On November 18, 1978, an event unique in human history took place. In a remote region of Guyana, an elemental, disintegrating country just above the equator in South America, 913 followers of a captivating American preacher named Reverend Jim Jones joined in a mass suicide, drinking poison [or having it injected into them] and lying down quietly to die together. . . .
Live as if you were already dead.
All I can do is be me, whoever that is.
1. About the Dead Man and Dylan’s Names
I paced back and forth in my art studio, not taking my eyes off the drawing on my long white desk. I ’d just finished penciling in the eyebrows of a third African tribesman. A group of them stood on an above-ground subway platform, looking solemnly at men in suits who sat on the stopped train, . . . Read more
“There’s something about black,” said Georgia O’Keeffe. “You feel hidden away in it.” Louise Nevelson said she fell in love with black: “You can be quiet and it can contain the whole thing.” Somehow this is true for me, but it is also true that the first time I ever felt afraid looking at art was when I stood in front of Francisco de Goya’s Black Paintings. . . . Read more
To see more clearly,
we climbed the shifting sands
of the volcano. We read
in the guidebook that we might
be haunted if the mist & the light
were just right. Sure enough, . . .
Sealed with obsidian & red beryl
I could see a child inside
who dazzled the bottle beast &
I was afraid to release her
she was everything
her breath became my breath
. . .
The January that William fell down—1968—his father had plugged Christmas lights one strand into the next and laid them circular-wise around the banks of the skating pond immediately behind their house. The bulbed string haloed William as he lay on the ice with dilated pupils. The blanched sky, three figures on his vision’s fringe, . . . Read more
For years I said nothing.
Silent, I paid close attention to the words that others used.
I heard writers of nonfiction quote the opening sentence of Joan Didion’s essay “The White Album”: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
I heard writers and readers of all genres say that stories foster empathy. . . . Read more