Final Decrepitude of 2009

So closes the first 12 months of photoblogging.

Off the tourist trail, Ashland OR

South end Seattle Chubby & Tubby, recently demolished

Downtown Seattle


Ghosts of Culture

Once upon a time this telephone pole was blanketed in punk band posters.


Signage Without Message

As usual the back side is more interesting.

Billboard exoskeleton, Yakima WA

Cruciform neon beer sign, Issaquah WA

Giant bottlecap, Minneapolis MN



Is that the ghost of Hamlet's father, stage left?

Farmer's Market, Bellevue WA



...How thick the water is tonight. Whiskers of fire
grow around the eyes of wild birds who stalk the surf
as I watch their path diminish into the sea.

I know their steps are covered by air and water
and yet no matter where I step
the stones are the same stones;

but what salmon are as they burn their
lives out along the fuse of stream
is open to question--egg? Flame? Story?

...How can we say a flower is beautiful
without appreciating its petals? Surely the muck
around the tendrils is as wondrous as the petals,

surely the clams in the beach as brilliant as suns
upon the shores of space. Waves break behind
my eyes. ...

from The hat named ceiling by Sean Bentley, Herb Payton, Robin Smith


Roadkill: Fair Warning

I went to the Animal Fair;
the birds and the beasts were there.

The big baboon by the light of the moon
was combing his auburn hair...

The most disturbing childhood song I've ever heard.

The monkey, he got drunk
and sat on the elephant's trunk...

What fell to its knees and caused the end of these critters?


Out Back

Continuing fascination with the geometries of what lies behind, in the alleys and employee parking areas...

No dilapidated chairs, but a board-and-cinderblock bench.

Los Angeles
The ever-popular used-pallet repository.

Materials of mystery.

I think that's a base for a sidewalk sign...

Just junk and damage control.

Port Townsend
The evolution of pallets or devolution of a ladder.


Do Not Play On or Around

They're everywhere, so why not make the best of it?

Three still lifes with dumpster.

This is a school...another school, another mattress! Whiskey tango foxtrot?

Everett, WA
Alleys, the natural habitat of quadrilaterals

Fremont, Seattle
Making a silk greenspace out of a sow's loading bay.


Construction, Deconstruction

The local school building is once again in transition.

Out with the old concrete blocks, in with the new.

Mattresses? We don't need no steenkin' mattresses.

You can never have enough hurricane fencing.


Holiday Cheer in Lake Heights

Our neighbors are really going over the top with decorations this year.

So Santa traded in the sleigh?

(Yes, Virginia, Santa is an elephant.)

SO, here's a poll, what's your opinion of these decorations?

A. Approve: Representative of typical Yankee Christmas cheer
B. Disapprove: Not American enough, where's the flags?
C. Disapprove: Not Christian enough, where's Jesus?
C. Disapprove: Not enough recognition of alternative faiths and/or atheism
D. Approve: Representative of the Suburban Absurd movement

Tableaux Redux: Minneapolix

Once a soap factory, now artists' studios

Once a mill, now a city park

Once the I-35 bridge, now an unstated memorial


Looking Backward


From white the world fades
in, vision begins, of pleating
water, sand defined by sandaled
feet, by footsteps.
     Toward the camera
     a wind fixed.
In this dream's a ghost
far shore of ghost hotels
and trees tall tokens
of horizon.
     Foreground, Mort and Beth
     posed shortly to ride
     on Mama's back, unsure
     of what? Helen,
     mother, propped herself
     up on her stomach.
     Paul wore a woolly jumper
     like a little muskrat.
Grandma fading into
sky arrests his arm
as he hops.

     august 1925 sunset
     all day it's been in the seventies
     hazy with small-boned breezes
     arthur under the oaks drinks limeade
     three poles spike the lake down
     to the farthest ones the kids wade
     they hang on kicking
     pretending to swim

Grandma, hair pulled back,
wore a knit dress
that passed for bathing suit.
     She looks from the camera,
     blends with background.
Who is this picture of? Helen smiled
for the camera but is almost buried
by her children
     staring straight at me
     as into a window.

     In Helen's house I look at the photo,
     her mother long dead, and now Arthur;
     children moved away and married.
     The picture is so sharp I could be there,
     even the distortions are believable,
     monochrome and overexposed lake.
     Depth. I might be Mort,
     wild ears, buck teeth, the asking
     look. The eyes are sharp linchpins.

I could hear the waves,
Paul singing, Oldsmobile horns
from across the lake.
I can't say
     what I'm trying to say. Maybe
     it is that in thirty years
     that girl, Beth, will have a child,
     and in twenty-five unimaginable more
     he will see a photograph
     about which he will try to write.

Mystery Chair of the Week

Abandoned Flour Mill, Minneapolis




My daughter, six, passes over
the freakish Indian corn, the misshapen
pumpkins lolling in the carpark
at the farmers’ market. She wants
moon-round, the ripe for carving,
though the blade will answer to me,
following her directions toward spookiness.

She hefts her choice
in textbook perfect hands,
hugs it to her like a tiny sister,
as I rummage for payment.
Giving a fiver to the woman
my hand meets two
stumps, one bearing

a thumb, a lithe thumb
which, even as it volunteers
a vestige of normality, is
monstrous, amplifies the smooth
otherwise inarguable finality
of the farmer’s arms.

She has been carven, at least
in the way a wayward log might be
sized to fit a hearth’s narrow cause,
or some beast, sacrificed—
the thumb, like Ishmael, alone escaped
or left there to rub in, over the years,
the hatefulness. I think

of those hands falling like small cobs
in an Asian field somewhere, she
pressing the stems of her arms
to her belly to save at least
her blood, its lavish rouge
twinned incalculably
by the man’s neckerchief, sweatsoaking.

Her face today is crinkly, pleasant, as old perhaps
as mine. While I filed for CO in ‘72, she
did the staggering run up to the killing fields.
She calculates, explores for change,
wrists stirring her apron pocket,
thick spoons in a cauldron.
I know where Piper’s eyes look

and dread explaining, then realize
even if I knew whatever atrocity
was truth, I need not tell it.
She’s unable to imagine
anything but accident or sad nature,
horror limited to the small witches soon
at our door, “scary,” and gross-out

masks the drugstore flaunts.
Little news. No history.
She is fallow to “truth.”
The woman levers out three
ones, hugging them
as she hugged her arms back then
and – hands them is not right –

offers me the bills.
At home tonight she will know
she’ll never know
as she stirs her children’s hair
how soft and light it feels
to her husband’s fingers
combing through it.

She will stroke with skin over bone
his face and perhaps remember
her nails against his back,
how he felt
to hold.
. . . Whether bearing it in hands or heart,
my daughter and I bring this harvest home.


Constellation of Leaves

The exploded view

"Live in a perpetual great astonishment."
- Roethke

A leaf falls: countless
attitudes between its branch
and earth. Earth is changed
wholly in this transaction.
I feed on this, I live.


Oregon Colors

The gray time of year. Nonetheless some colors still pop.





Centralia Tableaux

Scenes from a Thanksgiving trip...

Bright Lights, Big City

The Neighbors

Valley of the Dolls

Remembrance of Things Past