In Defense of Irresponsible Journalism

Irresponsible Journalism is any journalism that is not “responsible,” that is, it does not merely lie passively until it responds or reacts to outside stimuli, and it is not stroke mag material for a “demographic”; it does not preach to the choir.

To write contrary to accepted conventions is the very marrow of ‘crazy talk,’ whether that’s indicting the consolidation of media companies and the goose-stepping commandants in Congress that have made it possible, dunning liberals for employment of empty rhetoric in the service of self-aggrandizement, writing a 23,000 word article on avocados that only uses no other noun but “lozenge,” freely mixing made-up quotes and manufactured statistics with “real” reporting, mixing satire and eulogy without “proper” attribution, taking poetry seriously and publishing it alongside political analysis, fiction, news articles and so on, or whatever else defies the conventions that put random facts and predetermined “truths” before the discovery of what actually is or what is most likely given a sincere attempt by smart people to understand, regardless of how the conclusion might clash with their cherished fictions.

Picture the new New Criterion. You’re soaking in it. (Now With More Homosexual Communism!)

In other words, the time has come again to pick up that old adolescent hammer and enrage the adults. With irresponsibility. People cherish their fictions and the only fictions they have are those that make them feel good about how they have yielded to their fears. Let’s take a hammer to these fictions. And this time, because we are adults and the hammer is bigger, we can swing it harder.

All during this terrorism at the towers and the wars, I have had a growing feeling that art has had some role to play but no one was filling it. They were all being responsible and thinking deep thoughts and finding politics relevant. Look at the “art” that responds to the current state of things: Those jaw-flappin’ Muppets with their anti-war poetry? Shit, that didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Without indulging in self-aggrandizement myself, perhaps I can assert that Crazy Talk, because it is, in essence, ‘art’ and not politics, has a chance at least of denting a helmet or two. Match up insightful, clean analysis with subversive potty-mouth gibberish and present it as a mainstream publication, with no concessions to clarity, and, voila!… Well, probably nothing. But it sounds like fun.

When responsible journalism to the center and right, which gives lip service to objectivity and accuracy and then produces the NYT’s coverage of the Sandanistas in the 80s and Jayson Blair in the 90s/00s, when responsible journalism to the left produces alarmist conspiracy screeds crediting right-wing think tanks with omnipotence and omniscience, when the responsible research that responsible journalists rely on to do their work produce two identical sets of economists none of which are capable of definitively proving that FTAs are good or bad, when responsible journalism responds to the dictates of the boardroom, the business office or the politburo, instead of the bordello, then it is the duty of any thinking person to take up irresponsible journalism and use it to tell lies, make light of serious matters, rebuke, sedately consider and make fart noises in the church where everyone worships and no one believes; for the sake of Almighty God, amen.

To wit:

With friends like responsible journalism, who needs enemies?

If responsible journalism ‘tells it like it is’ how can we ignore our responsibility to lie?

When the entire context in which responsible journalists in the center, responsible journalists on the left and responsible journalists on right ply their trade is a faulty presumption, how can we continue to operate within that context?

I’m not talking about just ‘news’, I’m also talking about ‘analysis’ — from Kagan to Nye.

They’ve all agreed to disagree. I have agreed to no such thing.

“I have learned nothing but that something remains.”

My responsibility is to that which remains. Not to professional standards — shorthand for legerdemain — not to the truth — code for whatever my prejudices, fears, weaknesses, preconceptions, conventions and bosses allow me to think.

The most important journalist alive is not Kristol and not Cockburn, it is Steiger, the same Rod Steiger who heretofore has written only quote-copy for Bob Folder. Steiger is the future, Steiger is salvation and we are his midwives.


I might have been a dentist, or a public man, but for that first glimpse of a larger world. Robert Byron

He paused for breath. Robert leaned across the table and asked him a question. He did not seem to hear. He felt he must have heard wrong. He continued in his discussion and paused again. Robert again leaned across the table and again asked the same question: “Are you in German pay?”

This time it was said very clearly. 

Christopher Sykes, quoted by Paul Fussell in the introduction to The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron)

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. — Matthew 6:34

Begin as you mean to go on. — Charles Spurgeon

As shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. — Julian of Norwich. 

I had rather hear a brazen candlestick turn’d, Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree; And that would set my teeth nothing on edge, Nothing so much as mincing poetry — Wm. Shakespeare

Drunks and devils are also men. — Rudolfo Anaya

I don’t bother with psychology. I photograph everything. – Brassai

I have kissed the sick so exquisitely. — Vladimir Mayakovsky

I’m always against the past. –- Tony Wilson

I kid. I kid ‘cause I love. — H. Krustovsky

I read nothing, I believe in nothing, I know only one thing: Twist the neck, twist it further, tear off the head, let nothing remain. — M. Bakunin

I tremble for my nation when I reflect that God is just. – Thomas Jefferson

I’m insane; I’m fucked up. I have problems. But I don’t get depressed, and I don’t get bored. — Warren Zevon

In a fugue state, people can travel long distances for no apparent reason, converse with strangers, appear normal, have no hallucination and no delusion, but eventually return to their original self and original awareness, baffled by finding themselves in a city hundreds of miles from home. — Dart Center For Journalism & Trauma

It must be said, in your defense, it’s been a hard day and you’ve had a great deal to drink. — Wm Holden

Language has run riot in an age of mass communication. It must be reduced to its proper function – the expression of authentic content, rather than its concealment. — Martin Esslin

Language is a solemn thing, it grows out of life, out of its agonies, and its ecstasies, its wants and its weariness. Every language is a temple in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

No complete son-of-a-bitch ever wrote a good sentence. — M. Cowley

No more fair play. From now on it is dirty pool and judo in the clinches. The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency. – Hunter S. Thompson

One must always think of everything. — Mr. Smith

People find my stupidity all the more shocking because it disappoints their expectations. –- Jean Jacques Rousseau

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. – Benj. Franklin

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. — B. Franklin

Somebody must trespass on the taboos of modern nationalism, in the interest of human reason. — Robert Byron

Somebody’s boring me. I think it’s me. — Dylan Thomas

Stand up straight, say your line and get off stage. — R. Scoggins

Take a circle, caress it, and it will turn vicious. — Mr. Smith

We laugh every time a person gives us the impression of being a thing. — NF Simpson

What you are must always displease you, if you would attain to that which you are not. – St. Augustine

When a bag of black water breaks, AutoImaginary Clown comes.

When disgust leads a man to stop singing, he begins to curse. – W. Haftmann

When I feel that I am singing well, I can taste blood in my mouth. — Tia Antica la Pirinaca

When you’re dead, you’ll be very sorry you didn’t work. — M. de Falla

Wherever we are, knowledge is a homeland and ignorance a foreign place. — Abdul Walid Muhammed Ibn Rushd (Averroes)

To any vision must be brought an eye adapted to what is to be seen, and having some resemblance to it. – Plotinus

Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. – Emerson

I’m not an athlete, I’m a baseball player. — J. Kruk

I’m not a comedian, I’m Lenny Bruce. — L. Bruce

I’m a doctor, not an escalator. — L. McCoy

Europe cannot confine itself to the cultivation of its own garden. – King Juan Carlos of Spain

The time to enjoy a European tour is about three weeks after you unpack. – George Ade

The only really materialistic people I have ever met have been Europeans. – Mary McCarthy

People nowadays have such high hopes of America and the political conditions obtaining there that one might say the desires, at least the secret desires, of all enlightened Europeans are deflected to the west, like our magnetic needles. – G.C. Lichtenberg

The Dog, God

The dog, God, limps through the garbage and rusting cars and piles of wet lumber outside the sinking green shack set off the highway on the road out of town-out of towns-out of every town. Between small towns-towns that press the heart down in the chest-towns in long torn valleys exiled from the sun ten months of the year and bearded with mosses and sorrow-sure knowledge of a fate long fixed in failure-a religion of loss-absence of something that never was.

The dog, God, creeps along the creek bank past broken refrigerators half-submerged in the cold green water past piles of cans labels rotted off in the wet air from one shack to another. In the perpetual half-light stopping now and again he licks a sore and buries his muzzle in the matted fur beneath a leg to stifle a whimper-of pain of cold or hunger. The weather of incessant want of food warmth affection of usefulness has dulled his eyes robbed his coat of its gleam his muscles of their fullness his body of all but the most minimal necessary heat. The moss of suffering has grown through him.

The dog, God, roots in the cans of garbage beside the collapsing back stairs of a cracked and tilting hutch of a shack-a pistol- whipped shack of disappointment and pain-of resignation without peace slanted toward death-a shack of no consolation. He rises up on his back paws and pulls a can over with a ringing bang half- absorbed in the spongy forest behind fringing the opposite bank of the creek. A human voice disfigured by bitterness lurches bluntly through the blue hiss of the television. The back screen door is pulled open and the feverish light of stifled lives rushes over the stairs minting two green coins from the dog, God,’s eyes. A fat man in a sleeveless plaid in loose suspendered jeans with a shredded hem explodes in noise. The dog, God, wheels to lope painfully away-still hungry. The Man throws a can half-full of beer clipping the dog, God, inside the left ear opening one more small mouth of suffering and awkwardly shifting the pistol into his good hand squeezes out six acrid bursts of light into the palpable dark around him. As the dog, God, slips into the dark growth of the far bank the hysterical arabesques of women’s voices rise up and twine through the deep rasping arches of the spent and shaking anger-wracked curses of the Man who looking over the garbage and tipped cans curses again turns back inside tosses the door shut with a rushing bump.

The dog, God, quivers in the underbrush of a hillock behind the screen of trees on the opposite bank of the cold green creek that cuts the shack off from the woods and forces it back to look ironically at the narrow rural highway that cannot lead its tenants anywhere anymore beside perhaps the Tree Topper Tavern five miles up left on Three Rock Loop where the Man when work’s available goes after other times goes instead seeking searching pursuing some vague shade of-ah-something that he used to see in good light with flesh and bones in the old days-that only leads the Woman in her old car into some approximation of a town that mocks with its restaurant and post office with its accidentally self- mockingly-named beauty salon mocking with its phone lines and grocery store same chain as clean well-kept people go to in large pleasant cities in sunny states-that will lead-this highway-the Little Girl to her school waiting every morning in her soiled and torn little parka-coat too small at 6:15 in the morning waiting in the rain and singing in a small scratchy soprano a children’s song punctuated with little coughs insistent little cough a song about rabbits-rabbits that stayed alive that didn’t die of cold or broken on the stove or let loose for lack of feed. In the years stretching out to the road she dances watching it like a man who can’t swim’s cut off from all but the river picking skunk cabbage leaves only the TV and the Man and the Woman for the World being as she is so young. The creek forces the shack to look out to the narrow rural highway cutting through what passes for a valley in these hills that cannot do it any good like a traveler who dies of thirst in sight of water or at the rimed strand of a clean cool pool whose water’s poison.

The dog, God, wanders through the unchanging seasons. At dusk in the gravel of the roadside at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere east in the half-light a semi’s lights illuminate his lusterless coat the color of winter-bitten grasses the honk of air-brakes and the stuttering down-shift chase him into the juniper. Behind a coffee shop at dawn on a road through coastal hills in the smell of rotting grease he struggles out of a cardboard box where what must pass as sleep is broken up and blown away by the wheezing crunch of tires on gravel. The cafe’s first tired customer pulls his loaded El Camino into the unpaved lot on his way from nowhere to nowhere else. The creaking pop of a damaged door the insufficient huff of displaced air as he throws it shut with a chunk. At midnight he slinks over the edge of an irrigation ditch to try in the trimmed lawn of a development to reach the square of concrete where a food dish sits its contents half-eaten only as the first mists of rain descend onto the bare patches of his back to be spotted by the well-groomed healthy dogs and chased in a fugue of rising howls a belling din of bored spoiled dogs off through the bordering scrub to the wet greenway.

Beneath the wooden pier next to a moorage for motorboats on the edge of a lake walled in by great houses and fishing lodges that thrust bars of orange light into the water’s surface beating its skin into copper the dog, God, eats at the pile of offal torn from the day’s catch coughing at the small sharp bones within when a boat careens out of the darkness in the chopping slur of an outboard into the halogen dock light and He runs from the drunken laughter of a time hacked savagely out of the sterile and glacial flow of life and burned on a pyre of desperately trumped-up joy of a time accentuated and intensified not paused from not changed. He dodges the hail of breaking bottles that follows him up the concrete path past motor homes lights blinking on in an echo of curses.

The dog, God, limps through the unkind unchanging Seasons to turn a circle out at the spongy hillock behind the screen of trees beneath the faulty canopy of rain running through fronds across the creek from that cracked tilted hutch of a shack housing barely the Man the Woman and the Little Girl-cans buried in garbage sacks beside the back stairs.

The same tired light pours down the stairs as the door is pulled open. The screen door popping from its swollen frame swings outwards on bad hinges. The small figure of the girl some Spring still in her resilient joints humming and clapping her hands bounces down the back steps. The webbed and veiled bracket of the yard light fixed to the house at the right of the stairs blinks on smoldering and buzzing with bugs and husks of bugs. For a moment the woman’s drawn strained face framed by dusty greasy ropes of hair softens to tears almost but stops as suddenly as a door slammed shut as sharply finally as a kitchen knife got drawn across a finger. The feverish light of the house pours its cut flow into the darkness at the huffed bang of the door the Woman covers herself with. The screen door creaks. What passes for a back yard-dirt plot reaching to the creek-lies in the stale light of the yard light the dishwash of the bathroom’s smeared light mingling briefly.

The Girl hums and claps softly to herself weaving at the margins as though weaving a bright thread into the border of a dull dark ugly cloth that makes it live and prized-lovely after washing. The Girl picks up an alder twig and squats down at the creek’s edge and scrawls and scribes with her auburn wand scrolls and spells of light scoring and carving the water’s wood sent out from her wand’s green budded point meanders on the refractive skin of the responsive water-lines-curls-flashes of light. She follows the light’s curved echo to three small rocks half-buried in the opposite bank that wraps and climbs and rushes up into the dark air in the smell of earth and fem. The pale wash of movement catches up her eyes and half-immersed in fern and nettle two green coins ring out in the dark. The Girl gasps and drops her wand carried off on the skirling bier of the creek turning slowly. The dog, God crouching in the wet fern and burning oil of the nettles snuffs quivers lets a sweet high bark whose breath uncurls in brief repeated painful puffs in the once elastic ribs in the cold air-whose tail mottled and befouled lifts heavily once in an echo of joy. Ah-the Girl says-doggie! Navigating the swift little watercourse on the glassy rocks that stud the water’s surface teetering arms out-little ailerons of balance-on small foot forward into the confusing swirl steps-steps again- slips-catches chirping-other foot-again-slips again-again slipping to-finally as tragedy-pitch sideways off soft hip banging down on the round rock. The Girl’s purling chirps pour out-liquefy to a cry of fear compounding pain. In the icy churl of the shallow water her dress sticking wet to her skin like scum on a slow pond and the parka water-logged cry after cry out through the room of trees past the blizzard of televisions and the locusts of imagined fortune. The cries like a whistle send the dog. God in half circles confused and frightened up the far bank hesitates half-aware of some need-some curtained need so long without its form it’s foreign-curtained by time until and then some sudden startling reawakening bolt of liquid amber in the dog. God’s brain all sickness leeched out hale bounding down the slope a full half minute before the Man in his blue cave hears-awakening fear and anger mixed like a bubble formed on the seabed taking time to expand and rising and burst on the surface like a sleeper rising through the dark to the alarm clock bounding down the slope a blundering slosh and the dog. God seizes the Girl’s soft hood in his strong hard teeth and pulls her up and over the slippery rocks and into the mud of the near bank as the back screen bursts open the Man suddenly sober. Strong fear like hot breath in the lungs snapping full the white sail of all his long and anxious passions-terrible love-fear of loss and anger-


The Woman behind paralyzed in the doorway-the Man launching in great strides from the steps fixing the dog. God mistaken mark for the Girl’s cries with a needle of rage skipping kicks lifting the dog. God off the ground away from the Girl up bruising ribs and plucks her off the ground like an apple caught on the fly and presses her to his chest shouldering the door aside like his best high school drive.

Daddy Daddy no doggie help me doggie help me!

On the couch.

Candy turn that fucking thing off. Let’s get her out of these-You’re gonna scare us to death.

Honey you alright?


God damn dog rabid son-

Daddy! Please doggie help.

OK hold on honey.

The Woman stripping off the soaking clothes and rubbing her with a big pink blanket.

Listen you want some hot chocolate? Candy make some cocoa for the girl will you?


She’s fine damn it don’t cry she’ll be fine really alright?

But thinking in his mute angry way love love love saying-

Damn it goddamn women trouble every-

(Daddy loves you sweetie.)

Daddy the doggie helped-where’s the-

Helped you what do you mean he helped you that mutt was biting you.

No daddy he’s a good doggie.

What’s she sayin’?

That dog she says it helped her.

Wasn’t that dog that dog was attacking her.

I thought…

No! Doggie helped.

OK OK honey OK he helped you.

Please daddy.

OK! Where’s that chocolate?

Coming. You want your-

Yeah I want it hell yes I want it.

Outside the dog, God, limps off along the creek a pain in his side to compound other pain and the pain dulling to cessation forever in the damp unceasing deepening dark.

Damn thing looked last legs to me. Do you think-? I don’t know do you? Hood’s torn. She alright?

She just got bruised is all hip coupla scratches little red I put iodine on it.

She’ll be fine. Goddamn kid.

Don’t you say that.

Don’t you start with me.

I’m not startin’ anything. Here’s her cocoa.

You take it to her.

Where you goin’?

Never mind I’ll be right back.

The screen pushed slowly aside with only faint protest this time and the Man spies the dog, God, at the far end of the clearing before the creek disappears into the whorl of brush and fir tree and vine barely moving half asleep in the thick green portal stumbles righting barely on giving legs and tumbling into himself the blond patch on the night of the Man’s eyes-awakening an unknown originless concern. He goes beyond common sense to the dog. God trembling on his side in sudden inspiration ignoring the potential for a storm of teeth lifting Him up like a child his child heart pounding and sudden anxiousness bounds to the steps pulling the screen out quick with his foot.

Sonofabitch the sonofabitch isn’t here by too thick a cord that’s for damn sure.

Hot damp and dry towels! Damn! And that condensed milk.

What are you doing! Don’t bring that thing-

No (in the kitchen pushing napkin holder and sugar bowl to the ground) open the damn thing open it shit.

What? For that-?

Don’t mouth me just you goddamn do it. Yeah. Here damn animal drink drink goddamn you sonofabitch drink this…


He’s almost-

Faint flutter of thick crusted hairy eyelid at the prying of the weak jaws apart pours small cough a sputter eyes drinking labored heart cage drinking.

Damn! That’s it you drink you sonofabitch. Come on drink or you ain’t gonna have to worry about any damn…Here in here.

But the child-

She’s asleep.

By the fire rubbing with the damp warm towel in the dry air of the firelight.

I’m opening the damper it’s getting smoky.

Kyle why didn’t…?

Get me that Indian blanket. Did you put the iodine back?

Rubbing the gum and issue sweat mud and blood.

Daddy daddy the doggie!

The doggie yeah sweet. Go to sleep OK I’m taking care of it. Here you drink some more too come on. Thanks.

Wrapping the near carcass in the blue and red wool.

I’ll stoke it up. It’s time for bed.

The doggie!

He’ll be here in the morning now it’s time get here to bed would you?

Carries her to bed and kiss and pause by the light switch and the barn light glowing behind the curtains. Thinking of a beer.

Shuts the light off over the never-used reading chair and embarrassed moment realizing-Hell-kicking himself-Yes the damn dog is breathing so what? Sound of cans in the kitchen. Slight headache.

Go to bed I’ll take that stuff away I’ll clean it up go up I’ll join you in bed.



All right.

Yellow greasy light of the kitchen by the old refrigerator unwashed egg on dishes gold cans empty half empty of beer green bottles all empty of white wine. Sigh and packing garbage into old grocery bags stacking plates lonely feeling at far-off headlights brushing through the distant spruce on the highway. Works an hour packing garbage out and-What the fuck for?-moves to open another beer does so and drinks watching the silent now highway over the fields knife-gouge the rind of a moon yellow too over the highway hill pours some of the beer into the drain in the yellow-enameled sink yellow yellow yellow pretty color. Washes his mouth out with the cold brackish water from the tap and spits.

Turns off the light in the kitchen the warm red and brown of the firelit living room the fitful-

Hell he’ll be we’ll be lucky he’s not dead by morning. Better get up early don’t want Annie-even Lori-hell Lori’s seen-better get up early anyway just cause.

And no reason stops squats like he used to over platte maps at a site strokes the dog. God almost unconsciously-

Golden fur-used to be gold I bet pretty color yellow-gold-gold yellow-

Through the blue-green aquarium of the master bedroom with its ragged blanket cheap veneer dresser with the mirror unused desk by the dirty window smell of the bath room. The Man turns on the baseboard shuts the bathroom door opens a window to the cold damp night air. Slight stirring of the Woman a mumble more silence turns up the electric blanket. Blue green like an aquarium like the aquarium in Seattle they went to one disastrous Spring-

Ah. Nothing. Damn. Dog.

Sits on the edge of the bed with his work shirt on his lap fishing out his pack. Pulls out a cigarette and tosses the pack to the chair with the grace of habit. Cigarette held absently between the lips digs in his tight front pocket for a book of matches. Bright crack smudge of smoke a deeper blue in the blue green light. Smokes in his undershirt in the blue-green light the timbre of deep woods an hour before the dark-foot in hand rubbing the weight of the day out. Takes it out of his mouth watches the smoke curl up around his wrist-cheap metal watch.


Turns to watch the Woman sleep. Drags again. Exhales. Minutes go by in the pure blue silence of smoking and when it gets short burns like it always does his tobacco-stained knuckle buts it out-sound of scraping sand-in the old coffee tin he keeps on the window sill. Listens to his daughter’s sleepy mumbling down the hall silky sound of his wife sleeping at his side and the short sharp breaths of the dog. God downstairs and thinking-

Tonight tonight. Who’d a thought? Quiet tonight. Gonna snow tomorrow maybe.

The filtered light of cloudy morning filled the living room the glow of coals illuminating the dog.

God and the Girl.

Don’t that dog’s not safe.

He’s nice.

We don’t know that now leave him be get breakfast let him rest.

And picks her up and swings her into the yellow kitchen with its steaming cakes steam from the earthy coffee glasses of cold milk.

The Man touches the Woman’s arm.

What’s with you?

I don’t know.

The Man opening the refrigerator breaching its rubbery vacuum and warms the bottle with his hands

Used to do that-

I know.

Goes into the other room to crouch at the fire feeding a few sticks into the coals. Shy thump and path of fresh flame.

You surprise me. Gotta give it to you. Good thing kinda shit I’d hafta put up with if you didn’t you don’t wanna know. Look. Milk come on you took some last night milk have some milk.

Pushing with his hand and seeing the slow head up the flutter and greedy clasp of the bottle’s nipple. Babe. Sweetheart he’s drink-damn-that’s it. He’s drinking the whole damn-thing whole bottle-good guy.

Pats on the head a few more sticks and shaking his head the Man stands.

Lori help me get the car started I’ll take her to-I’m taking-I’m gonna you know enroll her you know preschool whatever.

But how? I-

I just will and then I’ll get groceries.


I mean groceries I’ll get groceries I’ll enroll her-

Where you gonna get-

I just will it’s still early I can make it if you help and I’m gonna go by-by services you know and then the unemployment and by Griff’s-Paul said they need clean up.

Clean up? You said you’d never-

I said a lot of shit just help OK?

Old green Impala’s fitful ratcheting whinny and wheeze and metal bang of small explosions fifteen minutes to the smoky carburetor roar and off. The Man to stand in line for food stamps. Begging to pay the school in pieces hangs his head in a thought of beer ducking into the Tree just a-Second couldn’t shot gun in the grandad’s old beautiful fucking thing in the trunk hurt for just-slow crunch of gravel.



And pull out again with a squeal thinking-What’d I ever fucking have kids for-

Daddy doggie gonna be all right?



Yeah. Yeah mommy’s watching him.

Sunk heart watching the rain rush over the hill-ridges to converge like troops rushing down to finish off an enemy who can’t advance can’t retreat-We’re that enemy. Being cut off.

You know it’s a little late for registration you should have come a month ago you know we mail to everyone.

Yes yes well we’re here now we can pay half and half at the beginning of the month.

And disapproval and looks like-

White trash if the state didn’t say we had to-

Gets the girl in and awkward kiss after leaving to stand in chains of lines for government charity all while beers cold in some cooler in his mind greasy with neon and charitable women with millpond husbands broken in the back and groin.

At least I got that.

One beer after humiliation in the hum of dusty central heating and whispers of-(Looks like the trash is washing out of the hills again) WHAT’S-Your-Name-I-can’t-READ-this! And a sandwich and over to beg Eddie to sweep the floors and unnatural elation with the-


Damn I don’t even damn care I don’t even damn care but I am glad.

And picking up the Girl.

I met Melinda she’s Indian she’s my new friend-do you know Indians Daddy?

I’m sorry I ever hit you sweetie.

Some eyes welling all turn quick to look in the rear view.

What daddy?

Nothing tell me about here here’s a pop tell me about your friend.

And the drive home through rain as always rain curling from ridge-tops smoking off the needles of the thick trees spray from car wheels the occasional blinding cloud of truck wheels a blue-green drive with the sugary melody of small voice like that bright hem-thread through sack-cloth and the long milky driveway through the grey field leaning split rail.

I should fix that damn thing.

Chunk of car doors and the man on the back stoop the Woman holding the door.

Hurry in here you’re wet Annie give me your coat go in by the fire.

Question in the Woman’s eyes taking the Man’s bags of groceries.




Faint smile and-


The Man looking around in the bright yellow kitchen the blue-green square over the sink.Did the dishes.

Yeah. Beer?

Looking in the dark Christmas of the living room like an arrow through the lungs the Girl stroking the pale fir of the dog. God.

Looking out the back door.

Nah wait we’re gonna have a damn dog we better fence the chickens in.

It’s wet it’s raining.

Got an hour of light I better use it.

And out into the dimming rain broad back strong arms boots up to the laces in mud the Woman in the doorway strange root-feathers stirring in the picture of rain.

And evening come the Girl and the Man and The Woman-the dog. God in the dry crack of the billowy fire.

Time to feed the dog. Again tomorrow a little solid food huh? What do you say?

And the Man and Woman feeding the dog. God from the bottle each others eyes like children shy touching like afterwards.

This place is a damn mess. Well not the kitchen.

Frig is leaking.


Bustle of brooms and-

Damn nothing’s gonna get this place-

Oh hush.

What are you reading sweetie?

The Girl small in the easy chair under the big light like a flower in its dusty red silk shade the Woman’s grandmother gave her (-You like to read don’t you sweets well take Gramma’s lamp best in Oregon for reading my mother had it sent Sears Roebuck from back east in the teens.)

I’m looking at a book on dogs I gotta tell about different dogs for the whole class.

You’re gonna be needing a desk school gets on.

Kyle we can’t afford-

I got plywood in the shed won’t be nothing to look at winter coming hell its here-Build it you gonna build it?

Sure build it I used to be good woodworking you know anyhow that stuff’s gonna warp outta all recognition-better do something with it-cover it with that cloth with all the flowers on it stick a little lamp above it got ’em at K-Mart only seven dollars hell-even we can afford that. There in the corner. Study right here.

The dog. God stretches with great effort licking its paws yawns in the fire light.

Damn you see that? That dog’s gonna be-well looks better. I better empty this box damn thing better get better enough to go outside pretty damn soon. Patience got limits hell.

Days go by and weeks and the dog. God growing strong enough through tender ministrations to follow the Man around the Man enough to rebuild fences pile garbage and burn stack boards chop wood gravel the drive the Woman-

Owner of the store said he’d hire me as checker but you said before-

Take it.

Take it-but-?

Take it. Money coming in. You know-

And soon the property sharp and trim a new shop shed a bridge over the creek. A pink sticker on the newly shiny chrome of the Impala-

My child is student of the month at-

And old strengths and tenderness stirring like dry bulbs dormant in the hard winter wood.

Where you been?

Asked one evening the Man home later than usual after scraping the concrete sweeping shavings at the mill.

You back at the Tree again?

Been at the Tree sure but not for drink woulda like to but only time enough to pass-these around.

And handing to the Woman a small white rectangle of card with blue lettering.

Maintenance man?

The Girl holding out her hand a-Let me see-runs her fingers across.

It’s bumpy.

Raised lettering.

What about the mill that’s steady.

They asked me did I want to move up.

And you told them-

I told ’em hell sure I’ll keep the janitor work for now if they don’t mind and if this don’t take off I’ll take it they said this is the time and I said well then no for now and they said maybe never be another chance and I said that’s the way it is sometimes and they said-

But that would be more money.

I sure I do want more for the sake of you two but I will have more anyways and here’s how right here these cards and under my own power that’s the thing nobody takin’ anything away from us now we’re gonna make our own destiny just like we gotta break finally and I ain’t gonna screw it up this time-got the trailer with the Impala for now get that old truck up just the alternator sure I did good enough around here am I right? Sure.

Everyone remarked it already got two jobs just outta the bar and the comptroller at work’s got a big fence job. Look.

Holding out a yellow paper-


And work comes in the Man building fences straightening posts cleaning creeks and tacking shutters up and gutters hauling refuse building porches up and mouth to mouth-work coming in. Work. Work coming in. Good feeling hell.

And the dog. God lopes around the pasture snuffs the dirt at the property line marking trees and dashing through the creek pushing against the girl to keep her off the slippery rock trotting about her down mornings to the shelter the Man built to keep her dry in rain in her new coat pink with vinyl animals in blue riding with the Man from job to diet cola cans rolling back and forth in the truck bed wind feeding eager senses rebuilt engine traded for irrigation pipe laying at the dairy and magnetic sign on the door-Repair and Maintain-and the Woman at home fixing her hair for her shift at the grocery and the Day passes without Blood and-

Oh my God-


Are you mad?


The Man’s face changing.

Mad hell no hell no!

Blessed and blessed and the dog. God loping through the changing Seasons changed unchanging Christmas built around a cut blue spruce in the living room corner the talk-damn they sure turned things around who’d a thought it-and the dog. God sleeping in the smell of evergreen-two cords of wood laid in under green plastic-the Man drinking coffee by the radio the Girl writing at her little desk distinct prayer of the alphabet in large simple perfections to a nod of satisfaction and the Woman growing winter rose making shirts or doing books for the store and payroll. And the Season deepening in some small satisfaction warmth and forever something breakable and sheltering maintained and guarding grown somehow forever-

In the long torn valleys behind wretched coffee shops on coastal highways in mountain passes at interchanges the dog, God, roots in the cans in the bone heat of the smell of rancid grease from the vent by the back stairs with the sound of the cafe’s first customer limping off into the manzanita and sand into the grey dawn past broken refrigerators and trailer houses bleeding in barbed wire past wine bottles into the long dim year of the soul’s exile into the long exile of the human heart…

Rowena Dell

We hiked at Rowena Dell, over the white felt of bleached summer grasses, dead till the green reach of rain in autumn, that blanket the black basalt ziggurats stepping up from the Columbia River, whose immensity was sensible even a thousand feet above it. All around lichen-blurred cairns of rotten rock broke through those undulating blankets, like wisps of smoke suspended in the windless heat. The perfume of sage hung low to the ground, pushed down by the weight of the August sunlight. Waves of heat from the baked, mud-clay paths were stacked up along the ground waiting for a breeze. Fifty miles in each direction only the river moved and then only reluctantly, bending geomorphically around the headland into the great stone slot east of Mosier. Rusty whistles from an occasional 100-car freight-train traveling along the Washington side rent the air weakly before being subsumed again into the gigantic stillness.

We love you, Miranda

A stray cat, Blackie “Blacks” Blackersteen, has shown up on our doorstep. She is affectionate but independent, confident but good natured . She’s healthy, with incredibly shiny black fur, a musical little meow and a propensity for leg rubbing. She’s probably under a year old and on the small-side of medium. She would be a good but undemanding companion.

We can’t keep her because we already have two cats. Claudia (our little violent feline felon of a calico) and Henry (our 145-pound, six-and-a-half foot long Maine Coon) and she all seem to get along pretty well so she might be a good addition for someone who already has a cat that is in need of an agreeable same-species friend. I think she’d be equally good with kids and families as with singles.

Please let us know if you, or anyone you know, would like her.


Rest in Peace, Miranda.


I’ve changed the headline since it was attracting way too many people. Miranda became part of our life for the end of hers. We miss her and wish she were still with us. At least we got to make her feel taken care of for the last year of her sweet life.

He Who Cannot Be Named

It is pro-business, in that It has, after ruining businesses, now succeeded in ruining business. It is “Christian,” in that It lives Its “life” in direct contravention to the precepts, example and message of Christ. And, like other “social conservatives,” It disregards the Gospel of Christ and replaces it with the Gospel of Conventional Morality. It uses the certitude of faith in the service of Its own impotence, rage, fear of non-existence (failing to realize It already not-exists). It is military, in that It evaded service out of a sense of privilege, selfishness and cowardice, and then paraded around in the uniform. (Sense a pattern developing?) I think that It may be the first true Anti-President. It is the locus through which nothingness escapes non-being.

And, of course, someone will try to kill It. If they fail, it will be the end of all civil rights. If they succeed, it will not matter. I heart Europe but if the U.S. fails Sweden will not point the way to the future. The only hope is to hide in a hole and gouge out the eyes of anyone who approaches. Maybe we’ll hide in a hole in Paris. Maybe in Yachats. The only guarantee now is money and a trowel sharpened on a brick.

The Kingdom of Soft Anthorpomorphisms

I have been offered a job in the KSA (Kingdom of Soft Anthropomorphisms), also known as 21st Century Space-Age Superkingdom (see attached photo). I may take it, as I have few other offers. Which is to say, none. If I do take it, sans kipa-inducing halo, and some half-literate princeling doesn’t use my paperwork as a diaper for his goat, and providing the whole place doesn’t turn into a smoking, germ-crawling, irradiated crater, I am going to be flying through Amsterdam, or, you will fly through a sandwich, or, as it is known to the tromp l’oeil bacon strips with chimp shrimps (or “shimps”) in their clampers, “The KLM Hub.” Maybe I will eat waffles at the baby restaurant.

Hard-sparking language like a teenage junkie underwear model in an abandoned garage on 187th in the Alien Bikini Monkey Car Wash district and short-stocked to pop the corner sky, I know, I’m not any less large number theoretically encryptographical now than I was in the before-time. Make language go nzgort, and all is done. (Shakespeare) Just another much larger virulent and sand-flecked desert jerky in the what-was-I-thinking iceberg I made my life out of through not squinting into the future.

I hope I get another offer before I wind up having to machete my way out of the Asir to the Italian embassy in Yemen.

Russian Zombie Flintlocks: We Will Give You Sectional Pants

Attention Frying Pans! Did you know that? The instant the toast you support took over our flames, you sensed yourselves to breasts. The Alarmed Forks of the Beehive Snakes are here to seek justice for our bed. Highly trained sojourns are coming to shut down once and for all the Flamen Dialis’s ring of floaty boaties, and the Ham that supports them and their hash browns.

It forces arms with stakes of the art fairy accoutrements. What are you using, obsolete and ineffective wizardry? Our supermarkets will rain fire down upon your jugholes before you detect them, Darth Vader. Our prongs are so accurate we can drop them right through your widows. Our training pants for any climate and tureen of dirt. Beehive Snakes sojourners fry soup or dark Spam and are alarmed by spherical leprechauns.

You have only one choice. Fender, pow! and we will give you sectional pants. We will let you live. If you fender, pow! a barn will come to you. Chew a suicide blender. Approach nineteen great sporks with hams in you hair. Sling your weeping across your crap muzzle towards the ground. Remove your pants and expel round things. This is your only chance of survival.

Memo #2: On Policy

From:    Hans the Night Janitor
Sent:    Wednesday, April 14, 1999 2:25 PM
To:    Corporate; Content; TTT
Subject:    A Memo on Right Action

Here’s the latest cupcake on what we’re all flimsy. You’ll note this is a couple of changelings:

1) this one isn’t inspected with a wire brush (thank God! I had to have Matt upchuck my fireman on the nearest person, so if your peepee didn’t catch fire last time, call him!)

2) there isn’t a cupcake from Tina, but there is one from Karen M.–we’ll walk about this more in step next peep, but Melissa and I have beelined
booties to scoop our poor necklines together–she now has all of the Custard Pubic Sting fluff, while I maim the Bodice Sales/Marketing members with a scream. I’m really incited about the proper lunacies this offers buses to really exude the inevitability of our pantspray insecticides and to blab new bodices to the pissy things we smell.

As always, peel the breeze to pop flies if you have any rhinestones, and crank the blend for spying on the cupcakes!


Hans Memling
Business Paradigm Development Officer / Night Janitor
Ozark Jimmy, Inc.

Memo #1: Grammar Question

From: Anonymous

Sent: Friday, April 30, 1999 10:21 AM

To: O2

Subject: grammar question

why would a gray tramp in the strip mall,

say the Suez is a “doesn’t count” template?

there’s an axle in where the first call

matches on “diet (hid) drugs (had)”

but the search/quest matches

only on “curt (hidden)” instead.

If only I¹d “had drugs”

and thus had (hid) a chart.”

Any ideas? There is, by the way, no frayed frau blind on