31 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says After Examining the Nested Russian Dolls He Got For His Birthday One Year

Unwrap a dream and you’ll find an egg. Crack the egg and you’ll find a shell. Pry open the shell and you’ll find an ocean. Drain the ocean and you’ll find a thought. Forget the thought and you’ll find a bone. Snap the bone and you’ll find a cell. Penetrate the cell and you’ll find a theory. Disprove the theory and you’ll find a world. Move the world and you’ll find a friend. Betray the friend and you’ll find a heart. Break the heart and you’ll find the center. Move off center and you’ll find the self, wrapped in hope.


30 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says When People Ask Him For Advice

Go to the Golden Gate Bridge. Pick up one of the distress phones. Talk to the voice on the other end of the line. Tell them you are going to jump. Then hang up and walk away to whatever new life you have planned. People will think you are dead. They won’t know you are just being inconsiderate. You could read your own obituary while glancing behind yourself to see if your old life is still there, with its hooks and wires cutting deep into your neck and shoulder, pulling you back to whatever you thought you needed to escape.


29 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says When He Visits the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Brown floor. Bleached bone. Yellow stamen. Green stem. Curving petal. Shaded ridge. bursting line. thick light. flowing red. yellow blob. Green sky. Purple cradle. Black star. White tree. Small corner. Green line. Separated lobe. Burst husk. Wavy edge. Smudged blue. Lifted corner. Drooped tent. Spiral cloud. Stretched sky. Octopus tree. Black square. Shining hook. Pastel river. Floating ladder. Tiny apple. Red thorn. Petal delta. Stacked lobe. Rayed hood. Striped pillar. Ragged cape. Twisted apex. Falling dart. Invading cloud. Warm snow. Sad jawbone. Rocking rib. Puddled shell. Blended sky. Broken bone. Fleshy flower. Cleaned socket. Dead calcium. Deep rivulet. Cleaved edge.


28 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says When People Ask Him to Go Fishing

We never really left the ocean: we took it with us. Its salt taste courses through us even now, a red sea rippled by steady waves, beating against the shores of veins and arteries. The surging lub dubs rocking your head with tiny throbs is the shell on the snail’s back. It’s the briny home that has clung to you since birth and will stay with you even if you leave Earth and voyage to another star, where alien creatures will learn about our planet simply by pricking your finger and analyzing the oozing liquid, beading wet on its tip.


27 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says When He's On a Road Trip and Sees One of Those Gas Food Lodging Signs

Living the road life: a simple stripped down version of existence marked by basic needs of fuel and grub and shelter, the sound of pavement hum humming under you, a trick of road perception making highway noise into music, soothing wandering minds. Your ultimate ending place does not matter. Boys and girls and men and women, we all crave the road life for the new consciousness where the glyphs of windshield insect splatters define a language based on movement, where the press of rolling wheels—the odometer a time piece clicking over the temporal miles—is haven for stationary exiles.


26 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Says to the Walls When He Can't Sleep

How did we move from being a body, to owning a body? From I am sick, to I feel sick? When did the secretions of the brain take primacy and allow us to treat our flesh as a suit of clothes we’re stuck with because we lost the receipt and can’t exchange it for another? Who told us souls inhabit bodies? Why do we easily proclaim we are spirits who just want to fly but are burdened by this accreting bloody mess we have to drag around like overstuffed luggage? How do we find grace in our amazing forms again?


25 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Often Says When He's Sorting His Recyclables

Peel off oval orchard sticker, the one that says it’s a product of nature. Twist stem three four five times until it snaps off. Hold apple under tap water for a few seconds, giving it a temporary translucent coat. Dry it on a dish towel. Decide you don’t want to eat it after all. Leave it on the table for a few days until it gets too soft for your taste. Throw it out on the front lawn. Watch crows beak-stab it for several days. See it dissolve into the lawn. Turn attention to the banana in the fruit bowl.


24 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Tells the Trees When He's Walking in the Woods Just Before The First Snow Fall of the Year

Remembering complementary seasons across half a year: anticipating the semi-annual turn and wrapping your neck in wool, watching your breath cloud the air, trudging through the future, following the winter trail. Either way, balanced in the land of crackling leaves and an over abundance of zucchinis, your mind can take you this way or that way but you still end up at the same place: budding green and matted lawns, returning birds and rich dark odor. From autumn’s perspective spring is a foreign land, it might as well be colored splotches in an imaginary atlas of places that never were.


23 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Tries to Keep Himself From Saying When He is at the Emergency Room

Carrying pop bottles in one of those cardboard slings. Tripping on concrete steps, the kind that turns bottles into shards. Cutting myself on the razor edge of a piece of glass. Looking along my outstretched arm to a white-smocked doctor leaning over my hand. Registering this image as one of my earliest memories. Filling in the above information by inference and domestic detective work. Examining the scar at the base of my finger. Tracing the inch long ridge, pale and thin, punctuated with five short cross ridges, now fading. Never identifying this constellation as a distinguishing mark on immigration documents.


22 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Might Say at the Unemployment Office

When I was eleven, or maybe it was twelve, somewhere around there, there was this one kid who ridiculed this other kid who said it wasn’t right to keep fish in aquariums because fish come from oceans and lakes where they have plenty of room to swim around and be fish but an aquarium is just a box where they are trapped and the other kid said you don’t think people get trapped, huh? you don’t think getting up and going to work and coming back everyday of your life isn’t a box? you don’t think that isn’t a trap?


21 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Has Been Heard to Say On Dark Evenings With the Sewing Basket By His Side

How comforting: the push of needle through cloth, dragging the binding power of two fibrous snakes joined at their heads and knotted at their tails. You cinch the weld with firm punctuating tugs, repeating until the snakes are embedded in the cloth as twin standing waves, then sever their Siamese bond with a cutting slide of tooth on tooth. You shake out the pants, admire the repair, absurdly proud of having maneuvered the serpents into the dense reeds of cross hatched threads. They’ll hold that pose for years, living next to your skin whenever you want to feel their protection.


20 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Likes to Say While He's Waiting in Line at the Post Office

Check your birth certificate for the date you entered the fray. Most people think it was against their will but we don’t know this for sure. It’s possible we all chose our birth place and time and don’t remember. The long sleep before our debut is imprinted on our bodies but memory is a slippery thing that gets away from you. Sometimes it slides and dissolves. Then the date on your official documents is nothing but the equivalent of the journalist’s five Ws: as meaningless as a birth announcement in the local paper placed by parents you’ve never heard of.


19 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Likes to Say When He's Feeling a Little Cranky With the World

I’m pretty sure we’re the same species but I don’t feel a kinship with my neighbors. They have reproduced and their offspring are in their obnoxious teenage years, full of pointless bustle and sullen stares. My neighbors keep companion animals that bark constantly and leave calling cards on my lawn. My neighbors sear animal flesh over big bowls of hot coals in their yard. They drink out of aluminum cans and laugh over arcane anecdotes. I’m sure I would be in danger if I got too close so I keep away. I smile and nod when they catch my eye.


18 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Often Says to Pass the Time

Sand makes a noise: I don’t mean the sliding shimmering rush of thousands of grains slipping through your hands in a shower of streaming whispers. I’m talking about booming dunes thumping across the landscape. I’m telling you that if you put your shoe down on sand with a twisting footprint it will squeak under your foot. Drag a stick through a wet beach of the stuff and you will hear the ocean. Put an hour glass next to your ear and hold your breath long enough to catch the sound of time slipping almost silently into a softly hissing pyramid.


17 March 2006


The Sort of Thing Claypot Dreamstance Likes to Say When He Has a Few Too Many

Listen: We’re all bits of fire. Sparked in a warm embrace, we flare up out of our mother’s wombs, sputter on the bottom of a gaseous ocean, oxidize the molecules breath by breath, and are replenished by trees that keep us from extinguishing in the emptiness beyond. All the while we burn, our shining flesh coated with auras of heated air. And all that we are, all that we give, is more air. Generated by our combusting blood, pushed out of our simmering lungs across our tepid tongues, to disturb the sea with the fading pressure of heat wave ripples.


16 March 2006



Snow’s odor lurks near house keys. You hear snow’s squeaks when you step on a loose floorboard. You see snow’s blue on a fragment of egg shell. Snow silences the hubbub of the world, speckling the air with irregular clumps, coating the roads, closing down schools, marooning you where you are, tugging at tree branches, powdering the hills, a canvas for snow sculpture, an invitation to press fresh footprints, a miracle of lake and ocean water transformed to this meditative pixilation, this white semisolid aggregate of hexagonal crystals, this melting back after a time into fragile memories and phantom reminders.

15 March 2006



The ones you get as a kid at camp when you hardly know what the word means are forgotten in later years. Your college one dispels any notions you may still harbor about humanity living together in harmony. The one you never see makes you ponder the difference between loneliness and solitude. The one who dissolves the arrangement soon after it begins because you are the disruptive and messy one hurts in an odd way you had not thought possible. The one who shares your hospital room will learn things about you no one else can come close to knowing.

14 March 2006


At the Makah Museum

There is no grunge. The tools and baskets gasp for air under antiseptic Lucite boxes. I mistake a shiny thick strut for a carved log, then see it is the rib of a gray whale. After killing a whale the hunters sewed its mouth shut to keep it from sinking as they towed it home. I step outside into drizzly air under a gray sky. I stop by the harbor where the Makah pulled whales ashore to distribute their flesh to tribal members. I study the sandy beach, flecked with shell and seaweed. The blood stains washed away long ago.

13 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Empathy

Moondust Happenstance found a pen with an infinite supply of ink. Moondust used the pen for decades. When he was ninety years old he gave the pen to his granddaughter. She wrote a few thousand diary entries with it. She lost the pen in the ocean while on a cruise. It ended up in a whale’s stomach. The pen broke. The ink poured out of the pen, escaped the whale, and colored the ocean a deep black. Some of the ink lapped up on land and seeped into graveyards. Some if it flowed into Moondust’s grave. It stained his bones.


12 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Enrichment

We went to Mexico and lived between jaguars. Our English lowered far from us like the leaves that fell of a tree. We were in favor naked of a time, without words and raked by the elements. Jaguars demonstrated to us what to do. We put ignition the shelter of the Spanish and lived the world on the Spanish. Our vocabulary contracted to some hundreds words. We opened our hearts in the simplicity of diminished horizons and we did not feel any deprivation. When we returned to house, the alcohol of jaguars came with us and the English was transformed.


11 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Aberration

Ray and Roy were identical twins, adopted and raised by different families at birth. They did not find out about each other until their fiftieth year when they finally met and compared their lives. Roy and Ray both taught high school science and were both married to women named Carol. They subscribed to the same magazines and both injured their left foot in a fall three days after their twelfth birthdays. They both collected snowflakes and preserved them in plastic. Roy and Ray enthusiastically examined each other’s collections and found many snowflakes that were exactly the same in every detail.


10 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Ambition

Dumbsupper Hatbrim always said nothing was going to stop her from becoming rich and famous. Unfortunately, Dumbsupper had an accident and died. Everyone thought that was the end of Dumbsupper’s striving, but she didn’t see it that way. She started a business hiring herself out as a haunting presence at parties and on the sets of horror movies. In no time at all she was in such demand that she was forced to turn business away. She liked giving interviews. Death has been good to me, she would tell feature writers. It has taught me that nothing is impossible. Nothing.


09 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Protection

The seatbelts left bruises on our chests that we noticed after the crash. The paramedics told us this was perfectly normal. The pain wasn’t awful, but it lasted for weeks. Suddenly being in a car felt too dangerous for sane people. We had a wild impulse to wear football equipment the next time we drove. The bruises were a constant reminder of the mishap. Clouds, patches of dead grass, and the patterns behind our closed eyelids were constant reminders of the bruises. We consulted a maker of umbrellas for advice. She said rain falls on everyone. And it’s just water.


08 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Decay

Eksray Dollhouse retired from his job at the recycling center and took up painting. He was especially partial to still lifes of rotting fruits and vegetables, the smellier and blacker the better. Eksray’s friends accepted his paintings when he offered them as gifts, but none hung them on any of their walls. They were hoping Eksray would eventually turn to painting fresh fruits and vegetables. They sent him bowls of just-picked produce for inspiration. Eksray contemplated the offerings for hours. He poured paint on them and took photographs, then left the pictures in the rain until they dissolved into mush.


07 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Charity

Upstream Powerloss made some bad business deals, lost his house and job, and ended up on the streets. He found a corner at the end of an off ramp where he held up a cardboard sign saying Anything Will Help and God Bless. It wasn’t until Upstream had been homeless for a couple of weeks that he started generating any kind of income from his corner. It took him that long to really start looking scruffy and pathetic. When he took dollar bills that people offered him from their open car windows, Upstream was careful not to touch their hands.


06 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Error

Sandcastle Uproar was knot the beast proofreader anyone had ever scene, but she worked hat a hack add dim ick small press. Spel lung and gram mar is not hen exact sigh hence, she used to say, so I down try too be par fact. San Kastle had in accomadating boss who dint expect a grate deal from her and loved her scents of home mar. Thanks to San Case Sell, he said, oar press pub lushes many ink cohere ant books. Whee have a ripe pew tea shun four chill lunge ink books that reword close ink speck shun.


05 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Identity

Dandelion Streetscape signed her checks with an indecipherable scrawl. People often asked her if she was a doctor. No, Dandelion told them, I’ve just always had terrible handwriting. With such a signature, they said, you could give medical advice and people would listen to you. Oh no, said Dandelion, I would never do anything like that. But she thought about it often. Sometimes, when she put her hands on people, she imagined she really was a healer and sometimes the people would get better. Dandelion practiced signing her name over and over, making sure it was as illegible as possible.


04 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Dissent

Tripod Sillyseason offered parliament a proposition. If the vote on a particular bill goes at least ninety five percent on one side, he said, I can design a system that will lock out all opposing votes. I can, in effect, make such votes unanimous, which would make parliament appear stronger and more cohesive to the electorate. Parliamentary officials mulled over Tripod’s proposal. They asked if such a system could be deployed in general elections, enabling members to be returned with unanimous support from their constituents. Tripod bowed his head with deep ceremony. Yes, he said reverently, it can be done.


03 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Inheritance

Grassland Undertow’s grandmother died. She had wanted to be buried in her backyard. Grassland made sure her wish was honored. She planted an apple tree over her grandmother’s grave. Years later Grassland bought her grandmother’s house and moved in. The branches grew over the roof of the house. Apples fell from the tree and bounced on the roof. Grassland thought of her grandmother whenever she picked an apple from the tree. When Grassland was very old, she thought someone was at the door. She opened it. No one was there, but Grassland sensed the aroma of her grandmother’s apple pie.


02 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Power

Clipclop Stethoscope washed windows on high rise buildings. People in the offices behind the windows got to know him and would wave when his platform descended into view. Clipclop always waved back. He liked watching suits doing the work of the world behind his zigzagging squeegee. One day Clipclop’s employer switched to automatic window washing machines. They offered Clipclop the job of operating the computer system that ran the machines. Clipclop wasn’t interested. He started his own business, washing the windows of suburban houses. Clipclop worked harder than ever before. He cleaned so well, the glass seemed to disappear completely.


01 March 2006


The Metaphysics of Probability

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