See This, if You Can

Olivia Cooke, Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler in the very funny, but also sad, Me, Earl & The Dying Girl, a film about growing up that ranks as modern day must sees, like Nick and Nora Infinite Playlist and The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Highly recommended.

Olivia Cooke, Thomas Mann and RJ Cyler in the very funny, but also sad, Me, Earl & The Dying Girl, a film about growing up that ranks as modern day must sees, like Nick and Nora Infinite Playlist and The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Highly recommended.

Freewrite: The First Story

IMG_6070The First Story

The road ahead was unfamiliar, but that didn’t deter them from driving further; there was family to get to even thought they’d never been this way before.

It was new to Nate and Janice, this visiting their son and his new wife, Astrid and it was the first time they would be traveling along on this mountain road.

They left their suburban Indianapolis home in the late afternoon bound for the Missouri Ozarks, near the Tennesee border. Their son, Phillip was a new school teacher. this was their first Thanksgiving with his parents visiting.

The road was busy until they turned off the Interstate for the lonely country road through some high plains and the town of Chulka, which sat on the gown of the Ozarks.

The night was growing dark and as misfortune would have it the rain began to pelt their Vovlo station wagon.

“Are you sure we should go on,” asked Janice.

“Of course,” he replied, gripping the steering wheel tighter.

“We never been this way.”

“Just like any other road, I suppose.”

They drove for some time in the darkening rain. Janice had turned off the radio, which had been broadcasting NPR, but the dire weather warnings were getting to be too much for her. “Do you mind,” she asked before turning the radio off. Wordlessly, he agreed by shaking his head.

The car’s headlights cut the night into torrents of rain and intermittened darkness.

Their son and his new wife had lived with them in their home for two years before Philip finally got a job; they helped with the down payment on the house and were excited to see their only son off to tackle the world. Both Janice and Nate retired from their teaching jobs a month later as had been in the works for several years. They spent their summer working on a boat, which sat docked in South Haven, Michigan. The fall came and they worked together to covert their house into one they could sell. They’d paid off the mortagage several years ago and were excited with their new life.

“Are you sure?”

Nate turned slightly to look at his wife’s face, which dripped in reflection with the rainwater and shadow from the windshield.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do.” he said.

Janice reached over and gripped Nate’s hand on the steering wheel. “I don’t either.”

They drove on through the darkness, uncertain, going slowly, but continually forward.


Good magazine piece on Freewrite can be found:

The Last Comp & Wreck


IMG_6067Yesterday marked the end of my fifteenth year teaching undergraduates the fine art of composition and rhetoric (pronounced in industry parlance: Comp & Wreck) — which I’d taught since 2001, beginning in Houston. This last class contained some of the best student writers I’ve had the honor to guide and I thank them for that very privilege. I continue to teach full time in the MFA in Writing Program at Lindenwood University.




Summer was wealthy with a daze of suntraps, writes Aidan Carl Mathews.

So great a sweetness flows into the breast, writes William Butler Yeats.

There is the creative joy, an acceptance of what life brings, because we have understood the beauty of what it brings, or a hatred of death for what it takes away… Sunspots and watery moats alight briefly. Most turn to fade should attention veer. There isn’t an audience I could accrue at the edges of this ecstasy. Only me and the spark, the flame in my soul.

Wheatgrass Sea

At my hometown across/the wheatgrass sea/forever you can see/along the vanishing point. 

Arise and drift ever so/slowly there’s always time/there always was time.

To point out/Saying exactly/the shape of things to come.


Gyroscope Heart

IMG_5348 (1)


We’re dancers… assembling & disassembling. Particles of the past, physicists say. All waves on ahead. Never stepping twice. Here and then not – Ourselves. In another time. Parallel on this very spot. With our footwork. On shuffle through. Portals behind, ahead. Within us — like odd music we’ve never heard before but can hum — a gyroscope heart.

(picture mine, artwork at Mizzou)


Notsuoh (Hurricane Poems)

Dateline: Houston. I’d get lost. Take pictures. Write. Today, found the notebook I took along the way.

This is not an Index

(after Harper’s Index)

Found this lyric essay in an old file box today. It’s from 2007 for a class in creative nonfiction with Maureen Stanton. I thought for years I’d lost it… and then there it was:

This is Not an Index

Hours, per week, in my graduate student schedule: Black holes warble
Hours in study outside the classroom: see Poincare Conjecture proof
Hours of teaching: the half-life of brawny corpuscles
Amount of time it takes to prepare one hour of freshmen English: 44 years
Number of hours needed to complete composition pedagogy class work: Methuselah
Number of years teaching composition: Just before the twin towers went down
On a scale of one to ten, one being least likely, and ten, being, you know, a body-wracking, mouth-puckering, awesomely numbing orgasm, that I will teach composition when I graduate: Oh yeah
Rank of my desire to teach composition: Dante’s ninth ring of hell
Hours in the week spent writing: Overdraft
Rank of writing among four reasons for enrolling in a PhD program: GOD
My age: Kennedy was shot
Average age of my classmates: Tupac was shot
Number of times I get invited in a week to drink: I’m a friend of Bill W
Years sober: Sun kills moon, whiskey weakens memory
Hours reading theory per week: Language speaks
Hours striving to understand Heidegger: Anxiously few. College is short, life is long
Number of professors who have asked me to stop talking and do less: Dead Sea
Number of professors who have asked me to talk and do more: Everest
Bipolar since: Oswald in the Book Depository window, one eye closed
Number of people who are normal: Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!
Number of people who are crazy: one and it’s obviously you
What is love?: You, me and everyone we know
  • Figures cited are the latest available as of exactly right now as you are reading this, gripping your pen and your coffee and thinking to yourself- should I do laundry tonight? THIS IS NOT AN INDEX is barely registered (in human terms) for obvious reasons. Duh.

artwork is mine