The Wastelander's Notebook, Vol. 3


I told the writing workshop: "I'm not a professor. I didn't come here to be a teacher. I'm a writer. Look--I live in a world above the ground. It's a forest canopy full of orchids. Sparkling things. Spirits. Medicine-women and poems. And every day, I have to drop a rope down to you, climb down here and try to pull you up high enough so you can smell my world. Writing. That's the best I can hope for--that you catch the scent of the orchids."


Airport, on the way to the Border Book Festival.

Time. Time. Wasted time. 4 hours waiting after 10 hours driving. Somewhere out there, my woman's arms are waiting. A woman across from me is biting the inside of her cheek. She twists her lips to get at that pesky flap of cheek tissue in there. She starts to look like a tapir as she forms her lips into long corkscrews, then bends them off to the side. Unsatisfied, she puts her index finger to the corner of her mouth and pushes the whole bit, hard, toward her left ear. I wonder whose arms are waiting for her. How long has she waited? Did she catch that last scrap? Is she getting a lot out of life?


Graceland. Devil's Gulch. The Flatirons. Taos. Bear Lake. I-70. I-25. Green River. Bryce Canyon. Zion. Saguaro. Frog Mountain. Las Cruces. Mazatlan. Patzcuaro. Uruapan. Xochimilco. Tepoztlan. The Everglades. Disneyland. The Golden Gate. Route 1. Columbia River Gorge. Portland's rose gardens. Yellowstone. Winter Wheat. Times Square. Paris.

I like this world.


sidelong sunset through her dress--
bright fire lights among her thighs


every minute is
for the hummingbird


the addict sweats out
the white horse

shivers through
alleyway midnight

no one is praying
for him but

the crickets


writing students
because it hurts
to write


my garden's
most beautiful blossom's
a weed


to the ant that turd
is a mountain


me, in
the wind


blue jay lights
on the sugar pine
exactly like
a blue jay landing
on a pine

launches then
into skyblue sky
just like itself

too much poem
in this day
for poetry


time dug
a well

in me,
night drops

dream coins
in and

the ripple


awoke from a dream
and thought myself young


On the plane, a college girl is speaking: "No, I didn't say they, like, drug the bulls. They, like, raise the bulls, like, wild. Like, the bulls, you know? When the bulls move, like, you know? They want to follow anything that moves. Charge? Like rrrrr. So they never see a man on foot, till, like, they're in the ring."


listen w/ sympathy
listen w/ the purity of death
the pliance of swamp water
soft w/ heat and alligator patience
listen like a mountain
listen like saguaros listen
to cactus wrens, coyotes, night
bats, little owls
listen like the owl
listen like the owl's prey
put rabbit ears to it and
listen like rattlesnakes
w/ your tongue
listen like the rocks
listening to snow
listening to wind's gossip
hear it: hear it, man,
all of it, the earth's moan, the
soft ringing of freight train rails,
the cymbal sizzle of the
trackside weeds, the hoot
of the wind cutting round yr building,
the tolling of the bells in the pigeons,
the rummy cough of the dntn winos, hear it,
the hymn of it, the muttering
insistent whispering of it, the truth of it,
hear the voices singing it all day,
hear your lover's blood sing it
into the night,
the story, the song,
you've got to hear it,
it's prayers,


lakshmi (not verified)

What soul tax have I paid to believe I can write with honesty?

It's the blood and guts of me that want out. The visceral, inner me that has never left the building.

I write because I see. I see because I write.

Posted 6/11/2008

Strange, but true.

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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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