26 July 2009

Max the Monkey

People emerge Monday mornings
to pursue paradigms
of synergistic systems
office and technology
compete and eat
multitasking corporate identity
vision, position, mission
maximizing moments
winning bread
for that competitive
little monkey
that rides their back
and eggs them on
begging them
to neglect everything
in pursuit of it all.

Dear Reader

A little over a month ago, a fellow participant in the Yellowstone Writing Project inspired me to start a blog. The Yellowstone Writing Project brought 18 educators together to write, to engage in writing workshops, and to discuss the nightmare and the glory that come with implementing writing instruction in the classroom. YWP filled me up. When I head back to my building this fall, I will promote student and teacher writing. Think-- How can you teach writing if you do not write yourself? Would you choose a flight instructor who never flies airplanes? Prior to YWP, I shared my writing with a dozen or so individuals (and one class of nine students). During YWP, I read words that sprung from my soul to 17 other adults. My fear was palpable. I read four pieces. My head throbbed through each reading, making me certain I would wake up in a hospital room after stroking out. Can you say drama queen? I made it through the reading and did not die. Imagine that (I wonder how many students in America’s classrooms endure fear responses when put on the spot?). In writing groups of four at YWP, we shared and revised our work weekly. The process of working through my pieces during YWP illuminated the importance of sharing my writing with others. Other peoples’ ideas found openings for me to explore when working revisions. Implementing their suggestions strengthened my work. This blog provides a platform for a continued sharing of my work. While you, dear reader, remain mostly anonymous—I appreciate your eyes. Beyond the Bozone inspires me to write. It forces practice. Practice presents a chance to dance back and forth with words on pages. Practice breeds a deeper understanding of the structure of language. Practice generates exceptional writing. The value of feedback revealed itself to me on a personal level at YWP. If you are so inclined, feel free to comment on some of the pieces posted here, Beyond the Bozone.

Walk in peace,


24 July 2009

Soldiers and Cicadas: A Sestina

Good intentions pave roads to hell.
Tactical maneuvers force soldiers
to stifle--to suppress the enemy’s voice.
Sucking sap through tree roots
cicadas that spent seventeen years under ground,
emerge and transform--sprouting wings.

High in the branches of ironwood trees, villagers wish for wings
to lift them from the gaping mouth of hell.
After seventeen years waiting under ground
a million cicadas pulse out yearning, over soldiers
screaming to be heard, tripping over ironwood roots--
cicadas, explosions, and wishes--one screaming voice.

His mother’s storyteller voice
drew parallels between the cicada’s sprouting wings
and the wings yet to come from Aoul’s violent roots
germinated after the last cicada hell-
when his mother rose and fell against a soldier’s
hips grinding hers into the ground.

Every night Aoul sleeps on the ground.
Every night he hears his mother’s voice
crying out against the soldiers
crying out for angel’s wings.
She’s seen all she wants of hell.
She receives no nourishment from roots.

Save his mother, Aoul knows no roots.
Although, through men on the ground
his father’s hell
shares its voice.
Aoul stands to raise his wings
He stands against and for the soldiers.

His father, his mother, cicadas, and soldiers--
ashes to ashes to ashes to roots
bullets, grenades, and wings
he steps from the branch and flies to the ground
giving his voice
to hell.

Soldiers kick the boy’s lifeless body across the ground
into the ironwood roots that sustain the mating voice
of the cicadas, whose wings fan the gates of hell.

20 July 2009

Moon Walker

lunar landing trips deep mystery

Metaphor had its way,
long before the moon signed
the second moored
on Manhattan’s West Side.
To set foot on that night,
a big white platter
over 46th Street demons
which seem to suffer
through future melancholy
to fascinate him.

Dark glasses.

40th Anniversary of Fame

She took her moonward memories
of more missions.


His mother’s maiden flew the ships beyond.

In the Barn

Tim, the hired man locks the sheep into a blue metal basket, one at a time, as I feed them to him single file, through a long curved wood chute in the barn. A big stick I found in the field last week encourages their journey through. Once locked in, Tim gives a carnie flip to the blue basket. The sheep’s eyes spin wide searching circles of fear while Joseph shoots them in the backside with a big blue syringe. I look at Joseph’s blue eyes, and wonder if he makes certain that everything around him is blue, or if it is a matter of simple mistakes or coincidence.

“Dadblast it!” Joseph curses, “Those Pretty Feathers got themselves a brand new truck last week.”
Tim concurs. “Damn nice ‘un.”
“I heard in town that they traded it with Wilson Family Ford for ongoing butcher services.” I offer.
“Bullshit they traded it.” Joseph counters, “I’d more likely believe they paid for it with the money they save up not paying taxes on that butcher business. Lance Wilson won’t do business with Indians.”
“Wouldn’t be too sure about that,” I retort, “Wilson’s wife Wanda is friends with Josie Pretty Feathers.”
Tim chimes in, “I heard it ain’t no butcher business, at all, but a cover for card games they got goin’ on in the freezer. My wife read a book by some Indian woman, talked about playin’ cards in freezers.” He punctuates his remark with a loud laugh.
“Either way," I say, "Wanda and Josie took that new truck out cruising last Friday night. I saw them down by the Gap.”

Outside, the lambs bellow for their momma’s teats, and the ewes inside feel some relief—that is until they get closer to the basket. Fear spreads to the first three or four ewes in line. Eight to ten ewes back from the basket, I station myself on the bottom rung of the chute, my own personal soapbox. “Do you know,” I flourish the stick above my captive audience stretching know into an almost two-syllable word, “That the Pretty Feathers are the only people who make potato sausage (present company excluded) in a five county radius?” Pausing for effect, I raise my voice slightly, “Do you know, that the Pretty Feathers are required by law to pay both state and federal taxes?” I stop to catch my breath, look up and notice that Joseph has stopped working and is staring right at me.
“Now what do you think you know Miss FancyPants?”
Stepping off the fence and onto the soft barn floor, I turn and face Joseph straight on, “Will you listen?”

He will sit on every word I say, just to think of a way to turn it into a question about Wanda Wilson and Josie Pretty Feathers. Joseph is a good listener; he remembers things no one should. His wheels are spinning.

“Come on Joseph,” Tim pleas, “Tell 'er you’ll listen. I wanna hear this one!”
“Go ahead, I’ll listen, but let’s keep these ewes moving through, I don’t want to spend another day in here with you two.” The metal squeaks as Tim turns a ewe on her side.
I start slow, striving to sound mysterious, “Let me start by saying, it isn’t what I think I know, it’s what I’ve been studying, it’s what I am coming to know.”
Joseph rolls his eyes, and Tim laughs.

“First of all, the Pretty Feathers land is not on the reservation. They are required to pay taxes. Not only federal property taxes, but state property taxes, as well. Because they live and work off-reservation, they pay the same state and federal taxes that we do, even income taxes. They are also responsible for business taxes, too. They run their business in Harlo, not on the rez. Most of their customers are folks like you and me.”
Tim posits, “…and every Indian in Harlo, and every Indian in the Gap.”

Joseph holds the syringe up in the air and squints one eye, “Is it legal for them to do a trade business? Do they have to report that for taxes?” For emphasis, he inoculates the ewe right as he says the word that.
“I don’t know, Joseph. Now if they lived and worked on a reservation---that would change things up a bit.”
Tim asks “How so?”
“Squire vs. Capoeman is a Supreme Court case. It holds that legally, Indians must pay the same federal income taxes as everybody else, unless Congress expressly grants them immunity through a treaty or other statute. So unless it is written in law explicitly, that Native Americans are exempt for any reason, they pay federal income taxes.”

“What about on the rez?” Tim asks.
“Because reservations were set up with the idea that Indian tribes are sovereign nations, the courts have upheld that state taxes don’t apply to Indians who work and live on the reservation. Unlike states, recognized Indian tribes have a government-to-government relationship with the US Government. Concerning federal taxes, a few exemptions were upheld by the Squire vs. Capoeman decision. For instance, Indians earning an income from the land they were “given” through the General Allotment Act do not pay federal taxes on that income. The court interpreted that GAA “conferred” that immunity from taxation. So, if Joseph were a Native American and these sheep,” I push one along, “were on the reservation, this business would be immune from taxes on the income it brings.”

Joseph blurts, “That there is a crock of shit!”

“Simmer down, Joseph. Let me tell you why I think it works this way,” I say. “Vine DeLoria, a Standing Rock Sioux, finds fault with the implication from “Squire vs. Capoeman forward…that the (tax) exemption occurs because Indians are incompetent. That we won’t tax them until they are our economic, social, and intellectual equals.” DeLoria calls that a “hazardous thing to hang your hat on.” It is a system that grew out of racist, paternalistic ideas of white guys like you.” I smile big at him, knowing he hates the whole blame the white male for every malady that arises in history attitude. “The General Allotment Act, or the Dawes Act, sought to civilize the Indians. The land they were allotted was supposed to be some magic carpet ride into the white man’s view of success. American Indians did not want isolated pieces of land to farm—their culture is communal in nature. Not to mention, the language in the act is ridiculous. It talks down to Indian peoples. There are all kinds of assumptions regarding their inferiority written into the document.”

“Okay, okay enough pontificatin’!” Tim continues, “So because we wanted to civilize ‘em, we gotta give ‘em a tax break?”
“I think it’s more about the language in the treaties, and statutes. It’s more about semantics----or what those words mean. Picture a bunch of people sitting around arguing over what the words mean.”
“Like church,” Joseph says, “everybody’s got their own ideas about the Bible.”
“Yeah, it’s like interpreting the Bible, and look at all the havoc that’s reaped! The GAA was supposed to empower Indian peoples to meet with success as individuals. Taxing them on income earned from the land impedes their progress. At least that’s how Squire vs. Capoeman interpreted it.”

“So what if I as a white person had my business on the reservation, would they get to tax me?” Joseph asks, read for another go at it. (I’m still waiting for him to bring up Wanda and Josie.)
“My mind is full of learning, Joseph; let me think on this for a minute.” We keep moving sheep, most run out of the barn with bleats of protest. Back in the corral, they nuzzle their lambs wildly. Pacing the floor of the barn, I formulate my response and with incomplete certitude posit, “I think you still pay the same taxes that you do, and I don’t believe the tribe can tax you, too.”

“What, the tribes tax me, too? I don’t have a brand new truck from Wilson Family Ford!”

“Whoa, hold on, Joseph, I said they can’t tax you. The state and the feds will take care of that---and what does any of this have to do with a truck?”

As the last ewe entered the basket Tim said, “Truck, schmuck…Joseph never did get over Wanda Wilson.”

“What the hell she doin’ with an Indian chick on a Friday night, anyway?” Joseph let the last sheep loose, and it ran out the door without looking back.

14 July 2009

Magnetic Poetry

Perfume bleeds
from the woman's sacred growl.
Her translucent desire throbs,
lingering in eternity's sky.

13 July 2009

Dandelion Power!

Okay, so I'm updating my personal profile with a fabulous answer to a bizarre-O question. Must be at most 400 characters pops up, and I can't post my answer. I still want you to know, dear reader, my answer to blogger's random personal profile question.

So here is the question, my answer follows.

Your superpower is that you smell like dandelions whenever someone lies. How will you maintain your secret identity?

Did someone say dandelions?
OMG, you must be kidding me!
I LOVE dandelions.
Just the other day, I made this dandelion chain.
The one right here. It looks like a halo on my head, don't you think?
GAWD! I love dandelions. They make me really happy.
I can't stand how cool dandelions are.

When I was little, some lady
at the Cub Scout Jamboree
told me that you could tell how much you liked butter
just by holding a dandelion under your chin.
Tell you what, I was mesmerized.
It depended on the amount of yellow
that dandelion reflected under your chin.
I love butter, especially on steamed green beans.
The lady said my chin was the yellowest yellow she'd ever seen.
I sure don't like the way dandelions taste, though.
My aunt Delilah made me some o' that dandelion tea one time.
EW! Nasty!
But I do like dandelions,
we got this affinity thing going on.

I just don't think you should eat them.

12 July 2009

John Goodman's Head

Disclaimer: In no way does the author wish harm to John Goodman. This piece was written in response to a photograph from David Lynch's "A Dark Night of the Soul" exhibit. National Public Radio led me to the picture. Several musicians created a "uniquely collaborative album" -"Dark Night of the Soul." Lynch conjured the images in his photographs while listening to the album. I conjured John Goodman's head from the second of the pictures in the NPR piece.

Now the head in Lynch's photograph is not John Goodman's head, but it reminded me of John Goodman. That, the children, and Aunt Ruth in her apron, got me pondering the power of apple pie. A story beckoned.

And so, without further ado, I give you:

John Goodman’s Head

The children looked so small standing beside John Goodman’s head. Aunt Ruth put the head on the dinner table because she didn’t know what else to do with it. Just the day before, so the story goes, John Goodman called Aunt Ruth. He heard tales told about her apple pie.

Now Aunt Ruth’s apple pie is no ordinary apple pie. Nuh-uh! Aunt Ruth’s apple pie, when eaten under the right conditions makes wishes come true. About now you are probably wondering just what those conditions are. So I’m gonna tell you.

But before I do, you need to know what a blue moon is. Do you know what a blue moon is? Just in case you don't---a blue moon is the second full moon that graces the night sky in a single calendar month.

In our case, Aunt Ruth’s apple pie makes your wishes come true if you eat it under a blue moon in October.

Unfortunately for him, John Goodman called Aunt Ruth the night before this October’s blue moon. He told her that he wanted that apple pie. He told her that he wanted that apple pie more than he’d ever wanted anything in his entire life.

Now Aunt Ruth isn’t one to judge people. If someone wants her apple pie she makes it for them. People come to her sometimes by the dozens, sometimes none come at all. There's power in her pies. John Goodman was Aunt Ruth’s first celebrity. Maybe she shoulda smelt trouble. But he was her only request for apple pie this year, and Aunt Ruth loved baking on blue moons. She’d been doing it as far back as she could remember. Blue moons in October don't come that often--that’s why we say stuff like this only happens once in a blue moon. (Now ain’t that the truth!)

Anyway. the entire time Aunt Ruth made that pie, she wondered what John Goodman would wish for. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around it. Aunt Ruth manifest all the yearning she could and put it right in that pie. She wanted to supercharge John Goodman’s wish. If he wanted to fly, she wanted him to fly! (that wish had only been manifest once before, it ended badly for the wisher) If he “Wanted to be a Millionaire” she manifest doubling it. Whatever it was that John Goodman wished for, went into that pie. Aunt Ruth isn’t sure how it works, she only knows THAT it works. Oh Aunt Ruth was feeling smug all right. She knew she’d whipped up one of her most powerful blue moon apple pies ever. She could feel its strength as she worked..

John Goodman arrived at Aunt Ruth’s house as the blue moon rose. She seated him at the old Ma Bell spool table under the oak tree out back and handed him a bib. “Nothing like moonlight and apple pie, I always say.” Aunt Ruth said.

“Bony Aphrodite, that’s what I always say,” John Goodman said as he raised his fork. Aunt Ruth laughed. “Wait,” she said. “The wish. After I go inside the house, stand up and say your wish out loud, wiggle your hips side to side three times, and no it don’t matter what direction you start,(ya wouldn’t believe the number of times I get that question) Say your wish out loud, Swing them hips a yours three times, just like this. Clap once, then sit down and eat. Eat every last bite. No ala mode, no cheddar cheese, nada.”
“Cheddar cheese, EW.” John Goodman wrinkled his nose.
“I know, right?” Aunt Ruth said with a laugh. “Well as you say, Bony Aphrodite.” Aunt Ruth turned and walked back toward the house, thinking about John Goodman’s wish.
Before she closed the door she heard John Goodman say, “Bony Aphrodite, indeed.”

About twenty minutes passed, and Aunt Ruth heard nothing. Then a gawd awful wailing started up outside. Followed by a “Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit.”

Aunt Ruth hurried outside. John Goodman had grown a good four feet. She thought he was a big man before, but now he was friggin huge! His head was as tall as the trees.

“This is not what I meant.” John Goodman said. “Life is one BIG fucking joke.” He threw his hands up in the air, knocked a branch down, then grabbed his forearm. “Ouch, Fuck!” He rubbed his arm. “Fuck!”

Aunt Ruth approached John Goodman. “Just exactly what did you wish for, Mr. Goodman?”

“I wanted to be “big”, real big, not just some type cast, flash in the pan, second fiddle, small-time loser nobody. Shit. I’m big now. I’m big now.” He threw his hands in the air, turned and stomped off toward the barn.

There he was, John Goodman throwing a fit in Aunt Ruth’s backyard. Aunt Ruth stifled her laughter while he was going on and on, then she remembered something horrible….. “Oh shit! Stop! Oh Mr. Goodman, stop!”

It was too late. John Goodman stormed through the 12 foot barn doors. Just two days ago, Aunt Ruth and her husband’s cousin Joe stretched a piece of razor wire from one loft to the other across the barn. They video- taped themselves throwing all kinds of things at that razor wire, from watermelons to tin cans, thinking that they’d make it onto America’s Funniest Home videos. Thinking they’d hit the big time. Thinking they stood a chance.

They hit the big time all right, just like John Goodman’s head hit the floor.

The family stood at the table stunned.

“I didn’t know what else to do with it,” Aunt Ruth said. “It just didn’t feel right leaving John Goodman’s head out there in the barn.”

08 July 2009

Herodotus's Great Birds

The great birds come
on air currents
carried in from beyond the world
the people know.

Beaks and talons laden
with rolled brown sticks,
they flock to the cliffs that rise
on the long side
of the river’s bend
packing their nests
with sweet-smelling cinnamon.

The people stockpile hunks of flesh
from dead horses, oxen and ass,
and wait for the first full moon
that follows the fledglings' flight song.

flesh of trees, fledglings see
CAWri caw! CAWricaw! Home.

On the river, opposite the nests,
the people pile all animals amassed
since the spring’s first crescent moon.

The great birds dive into the meat feet first.

Grasping greasy chunks,
they push down on the air
with their wings and rise to their nests
to deposit pieces of beast.

Rising and falling
they fill their nests
until the mud breaks away
from the gray rock wall
sending the nests
sailing to the river below.
The great birds settle
into a frenzied feast
of flesh left on shore,
as the people stretch a hand-knotted net
against cold downstream currents
to collect the floating gift the great birds bring,
coveting the moment they will sip rich wine
through its sweet rolled flesh.

04 July 2009

Great Falls Fourth

Proper parade waving improves with practice.

An oddity in Great Falls, or anywhere?
Speculation that this guy would show up in the ER later.
Flag Man to the rescue!

No worries at US bank.

03 July 2009

hands that honor & burn

hands that get lost in the picking

hands that prepare

hands that braid

blog on?

I guess the thing about blogging is that you have to, well, blog. A blog requires writing, pictures, something, or it merely sits unused, the proverbial falling tree in the forest. Does it even exist? The handy dandy neo-counter proves that you are reading this. Aha! Gotcha! Who are you…and what are you doing reading these words? Don’t you have anything better to do? Are the words worth your time? Precious seconds you can never get back are vanishing before you even notice they are here.

The Yellowstone Writing Project concluded its second week yesterday. Like-minded peers, we expose our words in spirited exploration. The writing that pours into the room bares open souls as we ride the tide of every story told. A common voice in the room claims that pieces are writing themselves. There is magic in the air. We are writers. We are teachers. We are pioneers. (This is after all the inaugural year of the Yellowstone Writing Project, and this week was the FIRST second week of the FIRST YWP….we’re talking….ever!)

And so, dear and dwindling readers….bear with me, as I explore personal landscapes and wonder what the best use of this blog spot is…