ode to the mediocre moments

ode to the mediocre moments

How many mediocre poems
Fall in between the pages
Of the masterpieces
Sonnets in the triple digits
Never memorized by students or suitors
Eldorados to The Raven
Little eulogies on left hand pages
forever undogeared

How many mediocre moments
Fall between the revelations

Peanut butter sandwiches
Before the passion of a new lover

Dirty dishes
Following a funeral

Hungry cattle
Intervening in divorce.

Steps in the middle of the flight of stairs
the space between floors
hallways that lead to better rooms.

Tuesdays never get to be a holiday.

They are the thin dull paper
The 22nd birthday
The 7th anniversary
forced to be on duty
required
Burned at the hearth
to stoke the fire for other days
that get the glitter and the billboards.

Simple moments
tied up with plain string
left to fend for themselves

Somewhere Off a Dirt Road

Somewhere Off a Dirt Road

Somewhere off a dirt road
curled up in the dust
I fell fast in love
with the beauty of grass
behind a fence of barbwire
below a hill of grazing cows

As they wander, I follow the cows
far away from the dirt road
through a hole in the barbwire
to a place unreached by dust
alone with the grass
I let myself feel the leaves of love

Deep in that field, I make jeep love
with the farmer of the cows
our act is judged by the grass
we should have waited for the dirt road
but there would have been so much dust
and a difficult gate of barbwire

Found guilty and punished, I use barbwire
to fence around my love
bury him under a thickness of dust
walk on his grave with the cows
who flow toward the dirt road
searching for autumns last grass

When it dies, the grass
becomes sharp as barbwire
choked by the dirt road
lost, without rain’s love
I leave with the cows
the field becomes dust

I force my pain to be dust
so my tears feed the grass
bringing back the stray cows
who escaped the barbwire
I once again try to love
living at the end of a dirt road

I round up the cows, spit out the last of the dust
we leave behind the dirt road, drifting together in spring grass
I crawl under the barbwire and fall fast sleep with my love

Forsaken Gallery: Fordson Power Major

Forsaken Gallery: Fordson Power Major

This Fordson tractor is at my cousin’s house. Many members of my family love to collect junk with the thought of future repair — but it often gets abandoned to more pressing projects and time. Farms have a way of doing that to you — stealing away even the best intentions. It is not at all unusual to find tractors, combines, plows, and other implements simply left where they were last used. I love the added effect of the tools in the seat, all growing moss and rust along with the tractor itself. It makes you wonder what life intervened in this tractor’s repair — what was the last thought before laying down the tools in the seat and moving on never to return?

About the Forsaken Gallery

Forsaken objects fascinate me.

What we leave behind, abandon, relinquish, disown, junk, dump and scrap absolutely amazes me. It says a lot about who we are as a culture, that forsaken objects are in abundance throughout our world. It says a lot about an individual as to what unique forsaken objects he or she has discarded.

Junk and junk yards have been a favorite photographic haunt of mine since my very first camera. Some of the very first images I made were of disavowed items. They are a favorite subject in this blog. They include everything from living breathing animals to houses; tractors to Anastazi Ruins; trucks to trinkets; skulls to shells.

Next

Next

Powerful. Capable. Confident.

Ready.

All of these words describe Holly True, the subject in this image.

Around the ranch, she has been dubbed the Stallion Master. That should tell you a lot considering she’s only 18. She is an accomplished horse trainer. She is well educated — she can talk with you articulately and all in the same conversation about politics, poetry and philosophy. She can, as her title suggests, handle stallions — as well as mares, foals, and riding horses. She is good with a gun. She can do whatever the task is at hand — gates, trucks, hay, trailers …

She never backs down. She is always ready for what’s next. That is Holly.

In this image, it looks to me like she’s ready to ride the NEXT horse she decides to cut from the herd.

We’ve all heard the story of some {insert country} tribe that doesn’t allow cameras because they {ignorantly} feel that a photograph can steal their soul. We laugh at the concept of someone so backward that they could believe such a notion. But is not that the ultimate goal of a photograph — to set to record the essence of a person, place, animal or object? Not maybe to “steal,” but at the very least to borrow or capture that subject’s truth in that place and in that moment in time.

When I was in college, I was a creative writing major. My favorite format was the short story — still is if you want to know the truth. Once I had a discussion with other writers and we came to the conclusion that novelists were short story writers who didn’t know when to stop writing and short story writers were poets who used too many words. The more economy to the words, the more intense the writing.

When I look at this image its economy of words speaks to me. Whether you glance at it or study it for an hour, it will tell you a story — and that, to me, makes it my favorite photograph out of the 6000 plus images I’ve shot this week.

What’s more, is that I didn’t force the image. As an artist, I trusted my process and I trusted my subject. I didn’t agonize over settings or measure the light; I didn’t try to wrangle the horses or manipulate the scene. I had just been there when Holly dismounted from the horse she’d been riding bareback — actually, she had caught that horse from the herd, jumped on, run full out for a group of photographers and, having completed that,  slid off to release him back to his buddies. When she walked by me, I noticed she had “bareback butt” — and I liked the thought of that in an image, so I had her turn around so I could photograph her dirty jeans. In the background, the herd of horses were milling around where the wranglers were holding them until the photographers could get down the hill to photograph them as they ran down. Next thing I know, this image was in my camera.

As a photographer, as a story teller, this is the best kind of image — real, raw, powerful, authentic and unplanned.

Below are two more images of Holly from this week’s shoots…

Twisted – Chapter 1

Twisted – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 In Progress

I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I would take someone’s life. I woke up thinking about the smudge on the kitchen linoleum.

But that was before the tornado. Tornados change things.

I look up into the tree nearest me, the tree in my front yard, the tree I parked my truck under every day, the tree a truck now appears to be attempting to climb and failing, the tree that now creaked with every sway breeze. It’s limbs were splintered, odd looking now with unnatural lengths and bizarre angles.

This can not be real, I think. I feel utterly detached from my body as if I’m ether or vapor.

I stand up and approach a truck that looks like mine. It is mine, I realize. I know that inside of the truck is my best friend. I know she is dead because her head is gone. I can see that a limb from the tree has erased her face. Her name was Sunny.

The glide up to the truck in the tree. I float myself up the pile of limbs and debris the truck is resting on to reach through the shattered back seat window. Sunny’s purse upside down on the seat. I take it. In its place I shove my purse. I lean forward toward the front window which is also shattered out. I take off my ring, the ring my husband gave me 18 years ago and pick up Sunny’s lifeless hand. I try not to notice the blue tint of her skin or the blood that is drying on her arm. I look away as I slide the ring over her knuckle. I then let myself slide down from the truck and float back to the curb and sit down with Sunny’s purse.

Rain begins to fall. I can feel it cool and wet against my face. It is light and pleasant in an odd way. I pull the purse a little closer to me.

A flapping noise catches my attention, drawing it away from the sad sound of the water line behind me and the worried calls of a woman down the street looking for Henry. I looked up to see a piece of linoleum caught in the broken branches of the tree across the street. The tree that once hid the house of my neighbors the Heshers. The house that I had always wished we would have bought because of the charming front porch and the big deck in the rear.

That was all gone now. The house and the deck.

I stand up, feeling my body for the first time in what seemed hours. I look down. My shoes are stained with drops of blood. My jeans are ripped above the knee on my right leg and the open seam oozes a bloody dark color. I feel no pain. That seems wrong somehow. It doesn’t matter, I tell myself. I reach down and pick up the purse beside me, put it over my shoulder and walk toward the flapping linoleum.

“Henry!” The voice is loud now.

I look up into the open sky and the openness comes crashing in on top of me as I feel the absence of the houses and trees in what once was my neighborhood. The world seems so huge in this moment, as if it the sky expanded, ran wild past its boundaries and swallowed up all the houses and trees and people into its dimension.

I reach up to grab the linoleum shred out of the tree, but it is beyond my fingertips even when stretch to the limit of my tiptoes. As I reach, the purse slides down my arm and catches in the crock of my elbow. I hike it back up again and fall back onto my heels still looking up. The breeze moves the linoleum just enough so I can see the smudge nestled neatly where two lines in the pattern merge. “Damn it,” I say. The spot mocks me as though I were Lady MacBeth. I jump up, reaching with everything I have. I miss. “Fuck,” I say.

“Hennnnrrrry!” The voice is breathless now.

“Henry’s dead,” I yell back. “The fucking tornado ate him!”

The fucking tornado ate my life, I think.

And then I smile.