We raked until raking puffed our mitts with hot blisters.
Then we desisted. Wind de-raked our raking then,
spilled the tops of our piles, blew new-fallen bronzes

across brief spans of lawn. We worked like the damned:
I the Sisyphus of fall, you the Sisyphus of autumn.
Rakes dropped, we drifted through discarded wrappers

to a graveyard but yards from our unfinished raking, caught
neighbors peering down through parts in high curtains
to catch us there, looking. Oldest stone. Newest stone. Smallest.

One the size of a toaster read: I bud on earth, to bloom
in heaven.
We drifted back then. With what leaves we could
muster we filled dungarees, a workshirt bequeathed

on a hook in the cellar. For the head: a plastic pumpkin.
And to keep this arrangement from the wind’s
undoing, we cut utility twine in five measured lengths,

four for closing the cuffs, one to pass through the belt loops and bow.
We tangled these limbs in the limbs of magnolia.
The head balanced. Night fell. In the scant moonlight

and the light of seven streetlamps, the sealed magnolia buds
seemed a light silver, the peeling bark a lighter silver,
and the lesser branches brittle black. The figure shaking

in the limbs had shed its color, or it as also black.
The stuffed interior. The rumpled thing. The black flower
that we had meant to blossom was, blossoming.

-Timothy Donnely

… Even though all the lamps were on, the nicotine on the walls jealously hoarded the light, letting only vague scraps of jaundiced yellow reflect eerily onto the ceiling. Whole swaths of the room were unable to beg their share of the terracotta lamplight. Somewhere in the looming shadow that was the bed, Austin moaned. Cricket heard Morgan beside him, whispering in that sibilant twin-tongue of theirs, and knew she was brishing her hair with her silvered comb. Marc’s knock was muffled when he returned; only when Cricket saw that even he had succumbed to the room’s mood and let exhaustion stretch his features did she first let herself imagine that all this might not end well for them. Newman followed Marc in. While Marc set down his shopping bags and sank down one wall to crouch and let his shoulders hang, Newman resumed his running tally of inconveniences and outrage. “Red Bull, had to get Pepesi, not even Coke, Pepsi, we couldn’t even afford Asprin and Marc wouldn’t give me back my credit card and I didn’t think we had…” None of them had eaten since the border. At first it was panic, driving around Mexico, stopping as Austin lurched from the backseat and vomited, again and again, always with the torrential sweats, betrayed by the water that was suddenly compelled to abandon his wracked and ash-pale body. “…food I just want to go home shouldn’t we call an Ambulance what if Austin’s sick he looks sick what if he dies.”

Last night I got off work and was home, by some weird portland traffic miracle, before 6. I decided that closing my eyes would be a good idea, since I wanted to 1) go see a concert, and 2) not be late to work. (These seem to be recurring goals in my life, all the more alluring given how very nearly contradictory they often seem) So, I lay down and within ten seconds there is a stampede of elephants tapdancing and dragging pianos across the hardwood floors upstairs.

Isaac and Ezra, in other words, had invited friends in and were rollerblading and jumping around in the house.

Isaac has decided that Wilco’s real lyrics are boring. Therefore, he likes to sing “If I could walk on walls” over and over again, sort of in the neighborhood of the tune of ‘It’s a war on war.’ While, I can only imagine, actually attempting to do just that. Repeatedly. And failing loudly.

Anyway, I didn’t get the nap, but I did make it to Concordia on time, and then got totally lost and turned around and utterly discouraged on my way to the Towne Lounge – it’s 20th Place, not avenue. I have made similar mistakes in Queens, with similar results – ending up on a freeway and having to double back at the next exit.

Part of the discouragement was a sense that going out on a work night after *two* meetings about my attendance isn’t smart. Which, you know, fair enough – you can’t be smart all the time. But the other part is weirder – people cancelling at the last minute hits pretty close to home, mostly because (I imagine) for so long, my friends and I were really conscious that our lives were very much in each others’ hands. So there was this sense that you had to constantly reinforce your reliability to your friends, by showing up for the small stupid things, so that your friends knew you’d be there for the big stuff.

Now, naturally, this never actually help true – the people who were actually there when we had to take someone to the hospital, or who showed up to funerals, or who took the phone calls in the middle of the night weren’t the same ones who came out to the bar when you called or who showed up to the parties they said they’d be at. But we all wore this fiction of reliability – we wore it and we held on to it, mostly because I guess we didn’t have much else to hold onto, and it was important back then to feel like there was at least something between me and me turning blue in someone’s bathtub.

Anyway. Ah Holly are fucking awesome. I was late to their set and there were loud drunk people but none of that mattered. I was describing them to Ian and I said they sound sepia toned and I think that’s not really true. Not sepia. Washed out Kodacolor just on the verge of sepia, the kind of scallop-edged photos that could almost be watercolors. It’s all got this ghostly roadside america feeling, like catching a radio station that’s been bouncing around the stratosphere for seventy years, and is just now angling down over some nighttime highway. I have no idea if they have commercial potential, or if they are going to be able to sell albums or headline shows, but they’re totally incredible to see.

…but lo! the heart is not consumed, the heart is not consumed
but burns with want and fear unceasingly, and
why we’re who we are, and how to get through any day of it…

Re/discovering Gram Parsons on my iPod after work: I wonder at how much digital storage has changed the way I experience music. Friends just transfer huge quantities of songs all at once, burst-transmitting hours of music. We used to dub cassettes, which even with that weird high tech High Speed Copy took, let’s say, at best five minutes per album. Now I have this whole huge archive of music that has been recommended, alluded to, reviewed, or just turned up somehow on my hard drive… and I just throw it on there, trusting that someday I’ll check it out.
It doesn’t always work – I’ve still never sat down and listened to Her Space Holiday, despite having had them a thumb’s click away for what must be four years now. But today it really paid off. Gram Parsons. Grievous Angel. Amazing.