02 August 2017


























COUPLE OF SHADES DARKER than Mocha, the type of person you notice all at once, as if the universe really was the result of intelligent design with a human creator that took all the pride and care of a german automobile assembly line - skin not just that incredibly smooth, but so much of it, huge arms and shoulders contoured of such curved aesthetic lines you could forget to ever look him in the eyes, wide, childlike wondrous brown iris ovals, eye lashes and brows the only hair on his head, a smile that implies outsize servings of full time fun, perfect white teeth, six foot six,with an adorable lisp that doted over every s with th's like felt over polished mahogany - this was an attractive man in black spandex tights and a red guinea T from room 306 where a light-bulb had broken in the receptacle over the bathroom sink, and that iswhere I, Coops Lowe, Maintenance Man, come in, called out by Miss Rose to the Front Desk where this request for service was taking place.

I was looking for trouble, 5 hours and 37 minutes into a shift only a Maytag man could love, and it had been like that all week - I was so bored I wouldn'thave minded a feces filled toilet to unclog - now that is hyperbole for the purpose of hard boiling me - I actually kept track on a slate chalkboard in my office of the number of consecutive days without encountering guest B.M., and this morning after clocking in counted these blessings at 89, which was close to a record I hoped to extend.

- Names Coops I stuck out my hand
- and I can take care of that for you - are room 306? 
It was the first time I saw the smile at full wattage. Wow.
- I'm MarKey
MarKey said and engulfed this not inconsiderable mitt of mine into that giant gentle paw of his that could, if it chose, close and in an instant break every bone in my hand like they were Doritos in a bag. But instead he just kind of caressed it by flexing his palm in a little rippling symphony of minute contractions and expansions -never felt anything like it and I stood there a little too long, I thought, not that there was any choice but to wait for his release.
- Happy Mardi Grath
MarKey said, and let me go.
- Yes, I said, feeling light headed from the odd handshake massage.
- Now, would you have a Potato?
I did not have a Potato, and I told MarKey so.
- Well, Coopth, how-ever are we going to get that broken bulb out of the thicket?
- MarKey, I've got a trusty pair of insulated Needle-nose I've been pulling those out with since I got my High School G.E.D. back in 76. Don't you worry about a thing.
- You won't get a thwock like that?
- Oh we'll turn the off the thwitch I said playfully
- and I'll go get a bulb and the pliers and be right up.Markey beamed again and I took a deep breath as I turned and went to chapter two

Workshop Dairy

WATCH YOUR ALL-CAP INTRO LENGTH, 
the Creative Writing Prof purred over my shoulder,

 then gave that shoulder a nuzzle. Ah! I'd been all-capping my intros a little too long so I might receive just such attention.  Sure she was a hack, but she was a hack

 who not only knew Mosley -
–nice not only, she added.


We attend the workshop barefoot, sit at olde tyme wooden writing benches, and begin

 by massaging our feet into the soft mounds of fine, fragrant pine sawdust, reflexology

 charts tacked over the plywood tool racks instruct us to roll the foot from heel to ball to

 get the juices flowing, and I'm here to tell you -


SOMETIMES, ITS COLD OUTSIDE, and that is actually a freezing rain that finds you in a spotless clean white t-shirt because you expected this was a brief gratuitous journey you'd take in a car with a heater that works, but the cannabis smoked a half hour prior has persuaded, there's plenty of gas, and now you are walking down a dark road so lonely it is not named but numbered, so you remind yourself even a boy-scout can walk a mile every 12 minutes and by all-rights you should only have to experience 34 more of these yourself; the Neil Young Lyrics


Bruce Berry was a workin man


he used to load that Econ-o-line Van


you've been revolving to speed motor the lower limbs are played out and its important, somehow, to get the last filterless nail in your back-pocket lit and, whatever its called, Providence, or some pip-squeak angel too lazy to find a worthy cause, or just that random windfall we call a Jackpot -allows the match struck in frozen hands to stay long enough to take a single sustaining lung-full for the chemical POW to RJ Reynolds that you are -yeah, sometimes it happens. I was having a night like that. however improbable it sounds, just lying in my own warm well made bed, night table set with a Sharper Image clock-shower radio tuned to the worlds finest radio station, WWOZ in New Orleans, which was playing the Blues, and I was feeling it. It was four minutes after 10 when the ring-tone rumbled and fed me a voice I can expect to hear about every Democratic Administration or so, for I am a collector of treasured if no longer close friendships with beautiful women I am helpless not to adore; a voice that causes the dinnertime phone solicitor to ask if Mommy is home, that sometimes gets rough and scratchy but as dense as 440 grain sandpaper that liked to, evenly and light, rasp over my entire being in deliveries of promise to eventually exfoliate every injury I'd ever known, and I missed it.

- Coops Lowe, she said.
This was true, and it sounded a little too much like the old days. I reminded myself of the moons position, but this would not be her time, far as I knew, and I cursed myself for the reminder of how far I didn't -this was the parched Sahara Desert of a bed I'd been lying in. My endearment, that she once responded to like ring follows bell, flowed from every cell I own to rise out a soft release of hummed air -my lips closed to form it, but then I caught them and said her full first name,wishing I could make those two syllables linger. I added a question mark.
- Nada...?
- How are you doing, Coops?
I have long sought the answer to this question, as well as its true meaning.It is all a matter of inflection, and what I have come to realize, usually thisis a civilized invitation to play a brief song of encouragement from our lives. So from the way back at the top of my throat I pushed out in a soft high cadence
- beep... beep... beep

Her laugh made me wonder to what other ears fell this Niagara of hers to share her first, not meant to be restrained impulse: an amusement made of a refined and rapid-fire awareness to collect attractivities for the purpose of forestalling the intolerable as long as possible; left up to her this could go on forever, but in our time, I had other ideas I was now free to ponder at will with any wall I chose. This was private language that meant though I might feel like a poor dumb hound now residing in the belly of an immense grandaddy of a Gator, my electronic collar still transmit, my signal yet extent.


MP3: Beep Beep Beep


BECAUSE THIS IS A GENRE form, a recipe is followed, though you shouldbe astonished, bated, concerned, delighted, entertained - enthralled, even -flummoxed, geograph-ied, humored, informed and laugh; surprised, suspended, and ultimately transported by both the content and preparation of the ingredients that compose it. I was, this evening chapter, lapsing in my library, which is does not substantially differ from my home, culling through another tome for myCollected References to Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in the Fiction of Reynolds Price. I was going through his stories for clues about how a place is made so you can hear the creaking of boards under a rocker on a late summer porch you believe in, with characters you've come to feel positively cousin to, or find irresistibly admirable, in Price's words "worth watching." There is cadence in the sentences, and speech that reveals at once geography and complicated cultural legacies brought to bear on the shape of the person talking. They are plain folks who don't as a rule do foolish things or eat or own too much, primarily striving how best to inhabit their own skin, or at least pave a way for younger kin to have this chance themselves in a world where it doesn't take even one wrong turn to do you in. So their houses, rooms, and drawers are plain and not so much to describe. The presence of God is made near in the scruples taken to keep the house free of dirt and overly wrinkled shirts. In the minds eye its easy to see the top of the dresser drawer is free of dust and cluttered by no more than old revered pictures, a comb, a wallet with carefully kept bills and last nights change, which is not much. And, these people eat their breakfast, just like they should, sometimes expedient rations at 6:30 before work, more often including hot delicious scratch biscuits made by the back of a hand that has furnished the stomachs of dozens of lives over generations to do their work, sometimes reliably handing over a cup of coffee, if not creamed to the color of a brown paper sack, steaming and black and said enough to save the sipper's life. And by the certainty of this transaction, sanitary, sane and not unsaintly keeping of the stove it comes from, we glimpse - that I am writing at work, a job that bores me to the gills, making stuff up and missing my books more than I knew

13 June 2017

09 April 2017

Taking of the Rock




Jack says there's a beautiful rock out in the desert in an abandoned quarry he had to leave cause the 4 wheel drive on the Nissan failed, and do I feel like giving him a hand going back and getting it.
Now that sounds like fun.
We meet up in Riverside.
Drive northeast, 30 miles or so. This is Desert, in the Lucerne Valley. I follow him to a lonely and lonelier road and we go and go, till it turns from pavement to dirt, and 10 more miles that way.
Till my two wheel drive can't proceed.
Ride the rest of the way with Jack.
All alone out here. The silence, solitude, plain air and vast nowhere vista is awesome. Now out of the valley and up into hills.
Jack creeps the truck up some gnarly rocky rutted winding road, till we can proceed no farther. Park and get the rock dolly Jack made for just this occasion, using the wheels from my old Yamaha 550cc Seca, welded an axle, a cradle, and a handle. Even tied a little rope to the arm of the brake drum in one of the wheels, so we can stop.




We go up the way, winding around a turn, a hundred or so yards.
Beside a gully where rests the ancient wreck of a big A-frame truck, and then up some more to the Quarry, which looks dynamited outof the hillside. And there's the Rock.
Jack spills some water on it for me to see.
A luster of pale avocado jade, veined with purple, flecks of gold.
Now he taps it with a hammer.
It very purely rings.
That's how you know.
Okay, lets go.
He wants to do a surprising amount of pussyfooting to lift it up straight to fit on the dolly. Its rectangular, about 18" square by about 40" tall.
To use boards and other rocks to leverage it step by step.
As a kid I learned how to lift prone 55 gal drums of stuff much easier. Jack doesn't think so, and it won't do to injure myself.
What you do is squat, grab one end and rise, legs, back and arms into it, just a little wiggly reaching a fulcrum, then its easy, 600 lbs, I guess, straight up.
My technique has prevailed. Not often that happens. Heh heh.
Now he secures it with rope to the dolly.
This is early May and its warming up.
There's also a bowling ball sized chunk of the same stuff.
Very difficult to break the dolly back from vertical to the slightly canted horizontal position we'll need to roll it down the hill.
But we try.
The loaded dolly, as we lift it to aim its downward roll, becomes a catapult when the weight of the rock shifts, suddenly flinging us aside. The string operated Brake is a joke, the cart crashes.
The Armbreaker I call it.
90 yards to go down this rock strewn path.
We have a length of rope.
Wish we had a rake.
I help him tie a harness around the Rock, an immense effort.
He takes his 30 feet of slack in front of it and starts to pull, while
I push behind it, for momentum. We make 20 feet or so.
And then the harness has to be fitted again, which takes a while.
We get another 8 feet.
Eph this, I clear a path, turn the rock from narrow to wide so I can roll it. Jack's shaking his head, saying Dude as in that's wasted energy and that ain't gonna work, but I get it it to tumble - a 20 plus something foot advance.
We try that again.



It goes like that.
Its absurd, but you can't leave behind the efforts taken to get it this far. And it is getting closer to the truck. You think of the pyramids and, two guys ought to be able to figure this out.
Every now and then I roll the balling ball rock in front of us a ways. Till we catch up. At the turn, we're halfway to the truck, but fortunately our decline increases. I toss the little one down and it tumbles off the path, down the hill. Jack is tying the harness together again, and taking a break.



I tromp down for it.
Lift it up.
Rattle.
Fuck!
Audible Shudder - the Willies.
Fling the rock up and scramble up the hill.
Watch it from up there.
About 5 feet long. Sidewinding. Wow.
Wonder and a slightly sick feeling.
Gooseflesh.
Jack gets a chuckle.
That's the last response you want he says.
For one you don't drop the rock. Its a weapon.
Two be still and look around.
Where's the one, there's usually another.
Is that right.
About 5 hours in all, the sun is going down.
We set planks from the hill to the back of Jack's Nissan.
It is a rare unrestrained excitement on Jacks face at our accomplishment.
Big boys with real toys get the good rocks, he proclaims.
I'm envious at the relation of the artist to his material.
I think of my drugstore rolls of film made from the hooves of cows.  He shakes my hand and says
I couldn't have done it without you.
Jack who specializes in not needing help.
Immensely satisfying to see it on his truck.
Drive back to Big Bear, get a hotel and hardly move for 24 hours.
And then very slowly for another day - all beat up.
Jack's geologist friend estimates its weight - 700 lbs.
In the next few years Jack whittles it down to about 90.
Carves the bowling ball chunk into a water bowl for Sasha.



I'm always hoping he's going to offer it to me.
That's alright.
I got plenty of other stuff.
Two months later I'm listening to him tell the story at his 4th of July party.
And somebody says,
- Really, you can just take rocks like that?

I think we shared a grin, thinking

Yeah, you just take em -