Subscribe: Almost I rushed from home to tell you this
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
back  blood  couldn  day  days  didn  feel  found  looked  made  man  maybe  much  narrative  new  thought  time  tsa  twenty years  wheelchair 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Almost I rushed from home to tell you this

Almost I rushed from home to tell you this

This too shall pass

Updated: 2018-03-06T13:34:57.475-05:00





I, too, am profoundly connected
to this person who died
way back when. I want you
to really know it. Feel it.
Later remark that your heart
begged, no more, please.
How you ignored it,
punk hunk of meat holding
in gory glamour
your certain death.
Ha! You could entertain then
thoughts of Brazil
and base jumping
and sweaty assignations
with whoever
lives in the apartment upstairs.
Imagine what it would be
to fall into nothing -
the excitement of another's oblivion.
See, I am bound
to that which erases.
To a brick wall. To the weird heat
of a strange bedroom.
Light which is not light.
Her touch will mark you,
you know it, you know it forever.
I think I mentioned
how often I weep.
And the blindness that comes,
then. I'm sure
I have shared this testimony.
It is terrifying
to unhinge my mouth, but I do.



My grandfather


My grandfather, Paul Fred Bohanon, died Friday in Georgia. Almost eight hours away, I couldn't make it back for his funeral today, and it's depressing. All my childhood, he was a mythic figure, a WWII veteran, a businessman, an alcoholic, a father, and so forth. When I was maybe ten, he allowed me to drive old trucks around Chickamauga, Georgia. Motorcycles, too. The prologue of my memoir is about him, or at least about the very certain odds of danger's lottery: sooner or later our frailty is revealed, often mercilessly. A year after I broke my neck, Rip, my grandfather as he was just about universally known, was found in the floor of his kitchen, a massive stroke having detonated within his brain. He could no longer speak, except to say Goddammit, and for twenty five years that was his word for the world. Along the way, he lost both legs, amputated due to gangrene, stole his son's truck and drove it to Florida - I was living in Tuscaloosa when that news came in, that he'd disappeared, and what could we do but ruefully laugh - and much that there's no need to recount here. This brief note does him an injustice, conveying no real hint of the wildman he had been all his life. But, in many ways I think I became a writer because of him, at least in part. I owe him this mindfulness, tonight, far away.



FOR WHEN YOU ARE DOWN ABOUT VARIOUS IGNOMINIOUS FATESO bike thief in Las Vegas run to ground on TVby a one-legged cop, I will tell nobodyof the shame which racked you.Made your mugshot a studyof failed ambition aplenty.  But,I should be honest.  Whatever you felt,however you rawly ached,it won’t be found here.  Let us be clear:I’m making you up. Assigning your heartgrand disappointment.  Naming youRussell, or Leonard, maybe Estus–not all at once, but as my mood goesI speak good advice to you with great authority.In the moment you’re knockedfrom the suburban kid’s mountain bike(and how could you take it)you’re clobbered by the young veteran,his lungs about to explode into the clip-on microphone.I’d like to step inwith my mouth full of the obvious:you do not want to be this.When I broke my neck,fez-capped Shriners came to our house,looking old and white and sad.They gave me a TV,and my brother an orange foam football.Twenty five years laterthat set went dark forever,and nobody would repair it.I think of the day I went with my brotherin his horrible Camaroto buy a new television.He helped me stand,bracing my knees against his,then we turned to the unfolded wheelchair.Over my brother’s shoulder,I could see an old man watching,maybe he was a Shriner, too,ready to come over, offer his strength–“Can I help you, son?”When I said no, his face was grave;I looked down to see thatmy jeans had fallenand my legs were white in the sun.Which is a way of sayingthat I was half-nakedin a Best Buy parking lot,once.  Don’t forget the pained old man,the crappy Camaro, the Shriners who occasioned it all.Well, not all:  I, too, was knockedfrom a bike, from a life,once upon a time.  Russell, foolish thief, I think of youeach time I’m caught.[...]

The thought of the catacombs


Is (was?) Reckoning just about the best album R.E.M. ever made?  Maybe so.


I find I'm still lagging behind all possible verb tenses, these days.  This is not a complaint.


Back from less than twenty four hours in New Jersey.  Thank you so much to a truly wonderful host of nice people at Brookdale Community College.  I had a wonderful, if frenetic, time there.  I spent a few moments on the beach, pleased with the ruckus of the lapping waves - I hadn't expected to stay on the beach.  And down the street, old bars where Springsteen came up.  We only drove by them.  Still, I fancied to feel a little of The Boss.

And, then there was Tony Soprano.  The poster in the lobby for a bus tour.  Tempted.  No time.


Amtrak never looked at my i.d.


It is no real secret I love my Kindle.  The new model is pretty fantastic - lighter, slimmer, pared back.  I often do readings with it.  And just read - a lot of that these days.


Charlottesville is wonderful, beautiful in this autumn, a little like a dream.



The link is for subscribers only, but I'm happy and thrilled to say that my poem "After Damascus" is part of a feature on the King James Bible in the June issue of Harper's.



I'm thrilled and honored to say that this fall I'll be joining the faculty of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia.



Great good news: I'm honored to be a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow:



At Centennial Park, Caney Fork River Valley Grille, and, yes, Cracker Barrel.

On the road


Reading at Austin Peay State University on 3-17-11 with me, my fiancée June, and David Keplinger. Introduced by Blas Falconer.



My memoir, translated into German, now available in Germany:

The Ides


Cruddy sheets of rain follow a sunny spring day. My birthday. Thank you to everyone who sent such nice wishes. I'm overwhelmed by your kindness. I know I don't write here very much these days, but I plan to get back to it one of these days. Maybe as spring deepens. Anyway, again, my thanks and love to you all.



My thanks to Harper's for publishing my poem "Narrative 6" in their March issue.




The stealing was inevitable, you told yourself,
hiding beneath your scabby shirt a steak,
frozen hard, marbled with white veins of fat.
Some place, maybe a cruddy gas station
or roadside rest stop, would have a functional microwave.
Else, it was fire again, and still,
your hands burned like waving torches,
awful for anyone to see. Your own dismay was gone.
You thought of all the cartoons
you watched when you were young;
you thought of their representation of starvation:
a man cinching his belt so tight
that his waist vanished, with it immense hunger.
You had no belt. Lost in the woods
weeks ago, when worry for it
didn't seem insane, the belt was cheap, entirely fake.
Snow was falling and you said
to a mute woman beside you
that all this was like a mirage,
as it began to catch and melt in her uncombed hair.
That was real, you tell yourself.
The snow and the woman and her glittering hair were real.
This is not.

Or, maybe not



The ocean was so near the air
was saline, always cold, and never still:
you waited for the gulls to come
each morning, though they were alien,
ugly, and sounded so sad
you shivered. You bought cheap doughnuts
and tossed torn bits
up to where the birds bobbed.
Once or twice they missed,
but that was all. You were thrilled.
You ignored the water.
The sun had not quite returned.
Along the shore, washed up
jellyfish lay about like weird trash.
Kneeling on the cool grit,
your face low to their almost-shapes,
you tried to stare into
whatever they were, or had been-
clear like glass, or bags of slowly dispensed medicine.
They made you ill.
You took a long stick
and pierced one,
through and through,
though you felt bad about it.
That this was an unknown transgression.
Still, you couldn't help opening it up,
stirring its invisible, inscrutable systems.
Water like jellied tears ran out.
This bothered you most.
You regretted the harm,
completely, though the thing was nerveless, cold.
You walked back.




You should not feel so fragile, so fated
to be dashed to dust by a strong sneeze.
But, you do: all day long you wait
to fall beside the toilet, or trip on a rug.
To know that inside your body
something has shattered. You're a fool,
you say. Once, your father wept
over a stray cat that had bounded
into the road and under his wheels.
You found him hosing his car,
blood and shit still clinging to its underside.
Go inside, he said. Just go.
A small part of you broke, then.
You tell yourself that. You blame so much
on that sad moment
you have to admit, you have to laugh,
it is absurd. In your hand,
door knobs turn like uncertain declaration.
You are going. You are returning.
You found this thing. You lost another.
You have decided. Summer in the Azores.
Winter in a little German burg,
though there is only old menace
waiting for you. You know the time will come
when you will be unable
to flee. When your blood
will be worthless. You know
you have already been soundly defeated
at chess, in tennis, in the dojo of an inscrutable master.
You smile. Your teeth ache.
You wonder why.



Thanks to Poetry Daily for featuring my poem, "Love Song with Ruin," on their website today.




You never really believed the movies:
a man couldn't slice off his prints
with a razor, couldn't evade apprehension,
forever. You thought about
transgression. You thought about
the candlelight by which
this mutilation was always performed.
The night before a heist,
before the first sickening murder,
the retreat into darkness.
You looked at your own hands.
Almost, you could see
all the blood inside them.
Beside you, an aquarium stank,
thick with green curds of algae,
though nothing in it swam.
With a toy net, with brittle precision,
you'd skimmed the last fish
from the dead water weeks ago,
flushing it like waste.
Your television was a smear of sound.
Your sink made you weep.
Or strain with the sensation,
your lungs filling up with heat.
A child once came to you,
dragging a bucket of cheap chocolates.
Your money went
away to where
good causes originate.
Where swings are made
from limitless concern.
No sharp edges. No lead. No cadmium.
That was her pitch, at least.
Later, the old apologies weren't much good:
I'm sorry, never again, you have to understand.

And run


On my walk to campus Monday morning, I was crossing the street when a woman driving a small SUV sideswiped my wheelchair, spinning me around and scraping down the length of the vehicle. I'm lucky: I'm unhurt, and my wheelchair is undamaged, thank God. I was stunned - I looked up and could see the driver. She was on her cellphone, looking over her shoulder, her lips moving fast. I glared at her, still shocked. She sped off, tearing around a corner. She was gone.

I looked myself over again to make sure I wasn't injured. I wasn't, so I went on my way. It was the last day of our semester and I didn't want to miss my students.




You called Senators, manufacturers of hay balers,
and demanded lots of things. Concessions
to your sadness, mainly, which had hung around
since at least the second grade, when
a ball of ice had smacked you in the eye
and turned your face into a curtain of blood.
You never saw it coming. Now, you laugh
when the weather is on, thinking of old winters.
How much made of pain they were.
How you placed your body atop the frozen lake
and waited for the cold to come
through the back of you -
it felt like you were falling
into a brick wall, and all time had slowed.
Now, you make notes about
proper techniques regarding the disposal
of old television sets
and complain to the window
your litany of abuses.
All around is motion:
the scrape of jets in ascent,
and the buses passing by on the hour.
You practice stillness. You fill yourself up with it.
Your muscles mutter. Your bones cannot stop their sighing.
Here you've come. Here you came
with absurd things like tube socks.
Your skin. Your skin
like a sort of faith, you think one night when
outside the world heaves
with rain. When the sky burns in the vague distance.
If you inhale, the air has a taste.
Copper wire. Blood.
You are empty. You are unknown.

TSA Patdown


I have no power to convince you to call your Senators, change your travel plans, or engage in light civil disobedience. But, damn it all, I'll try.

Last week I read at Coastal Carolina University in beautiful Conway, South Carolina. Thanks to Dan Albergotti for inviting me. I had a great time.

But I didn't enjoy the trip's beginning. At the airport in Atlanta, going through security, I was directed to the space where TSA employees usually work with disabled or elderly travelers. This area is in full sight, between the tandem streams of travelers passing through X-ray machines. So far, no big deal: usually, I'm quickly looked over and waved on. Often, the TSA employees are more concerned with my wheelchair's batteries. Which is understandable: my chair runs on two car batteries. By all means, let's check those out.

But, we live in an "enhanced" era: enhanced interrogations, enhanced patdowns. The TSA employee, a dour, middle-aged man with thick silver hair, informed me that he would be performing a patdown on me, that I could request a private room if I was uncomfortable receiving this in public. That's not needed, I said, wanting to get going.

He was wearing blue latex gloves. Several on each hand. He asked me to lean over. I did. He then stuck his left thumb in my pants, between the waistband and my skin, and ran it all the way around. I was shocked.

"I feel like I have to tell you that is wildly intrusive and offensive."

He sputtered a bit about the safety of American lives.

"That's fine," I said, "I understand the concern. That doesn't change the fact that I feel that what you're doing is totally unacceptable."

He didn't say anything. He crouched in front of me. He asked if any parts of my body were sensitive to pain.

"They all are, I think," I replied. He thought about that for a moment before continuing.

"Starting with your ankles, and moving up, I'm going to examine your legs until I feel resistance."

He began kneading my calves and shins, up over my knees to my thighs, squeezing, until he reached my genitals.

It was like a bad date. With the US government.

After he had thoroughly groped me, he sent me on my way.

This was truly, profoundly egregious and contrary to what we claim are American ideals. In fact, this kind of abuse is corrosive to those ideals. If we accept these practices, then we accept the next wave of violations. We are complicit in the extinguishing of our rights.

Say no, stop flying, call your Senators - you have a lot of choices.

The PB cover for OMTAH




p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; min-height: 15.0px} span.s1 {letter-spacing: 0.0px} span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre} NARRATIVE 5Your paperback of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finnwas ruined when it sank into the motel bathtub,fat and seeping when you plucked it back.  Outside,there were old people screaming for the busor playing games of chance with bits of bonesthey’d scooped from the roadkill by the curb.You were waiting for darkness.  So were they.The bus never came.  You suspectedthere was no bus.  On dried-up stationery,you drew a picture of a squarewith knobby wheels and a few windows.Stick people stared out them, at the ceaseless road.At you, you thought.  You drew a fat markthrough them, canceling whateverthey had hoped for, and tied it to the soggy book.You threw it out the motel door,praying they’d shut up or scatter.Or go to sleep.  No one noticedand all night long the hiss of oxygen tanksand the electric clack of wheelchairsand the chirping alarms of all the world’s congestive failureswere at your door.  You missedthe book you’d lifted from a libraryin the next town over.  Whyyou had picked it made no sense.Everything was pitiable.  Above the bedthe room’s sallow light hummedand wouldn’t shut off.  The mattress felt like straw.You figured it would not be longbefore you found work againin a mine or as a museum docent.Whatever that meant.  Docent.  You liked the wordlike the matches you keptin your pocket like identification.There was more to your story,you always said if you were asked.You rarely were.[...]



WATCHED POT APOSTROPHESYou will never boil. You’ll go blindnot doing that. In space, your bloodwill also refuse to boil. No surpriseall the movies are dead wrong,though my nerves aren’t soothedwhenever I’m bobbing in the vacuumlike an apple in ice water.You are going to receive money.And then you’ll spend iton a fiberglass replicaof the sports car you wantedwhen you were thirteen.Or fifteen. You may think this matters,this discrepancy flutteringin your face like a rabid moth.Trust me, you will summer in Ceylon.When they decide to changethat name back. When allthe maps at once go a little bad.I have assumed morethan is good for one’s soul.You’ll inform me you bled out a long time ago.In Chicago. In Reading.Somewhere cold. Winterall the time, where people godown to the frozen waterwith a rusted crowbarand bash the skin of the ice back to current.You were one of them,weren’t you, with deathitching in the brain like a cloud of midges?You won’t fall if I let go.I never held you in my arms.[...]



NARRATIVE 6You once dreamed of bedding down in elevators.Maybe your young life had been touchedby prolonged contact with suburban commerce.Maybe you had been sexually confoundedby the strain of cinnamon in the air,or bleating saxophones beamed from low orbit.Maybe you skipped pennies acrossthe dimpled waters of the fountainand recited under your breathwishes so desperate you recanted in that instant.Teenagers veered about in misery.Mall-walkers hissed like adders.There were grandchildren, there were balloonsthey had all let go of, screaming,there were anatomically indistinctiterations of the human bodywearing suggestions of life behind glass windows.It should not go unsaidhow happy you were.How free of predatory lending practices.Your ligaments did creaklike ropes in a storm.You dreamed of dreaming about nothing else.Only this:  rising, descending,over and over until no one would come in,and you were alone in a box.You thought of coffins,how complacent a comparison,you said to nobody in particularas you waited for the doors to shut and motion to resume.[...]