From the throat, a crow’s hand


We are several hours away in the hills, the desert steppe, a friend’s cabin, down a dead end road that leads to a lake, a quarry, so quiet you can hear the gravel on the shoulder when we pull over and get our cameras out, split up.

There’s a ramshackle settlement that’s abandoned and says Keep Out so we get out to have a look. We collect more than we need, to make things. We seem to go looking for trouble so we can be part of a story, so we can say look what we found.

And there is a way the light is filtered through the broken roof and something in the air here, the gore of animal parts that’s been stacked by someone we don’t want to meet and can only imagine — hunters we tell ourselves, and go.

And back to the car we discover clumps of rust-colored rock sagging off the side of a hill, falling into the shoulder right there into our laps, so we load up the car to make sculptures and to leave one for Brad. This is how middle-aged men act sometimes, like boys.

We stop by the abandoned boxcars in the town of Valley, WA, named because it’s in a valley, that’s pretty much all there is, the valley, the boxcars. We take pictures of the graffiti and Loren rubs a rock alongside the rusted-out steel, records it.

We piece together firewood scraps and railroad spikes and arrange them by a wagon wheel that makes a mouth. And Loren is fussing with the pieces and bent over them with his camera, a crime scene urgency. We must look like funny insects from above.

And from the edge of the property in the woods, a sound of something dripping in a cave that’s echoing across the water: the kind of sound that makes you freeze when it stops, and as we come upon it the sound takes flight and turns into a crow waving its hand to erase our sight, a magician’s hand, the crow.

We sit at the breakfast table in the sun and there is no sound until you open the front door. The synthesizer has 127 effects on it and Loren makes use of every one. He rubs a metal wind chime with a hammer and waves his phone over the synthesizer to make an interference and records it. And they have his records in the CD bin in Seattle, right there with the other C’s, filed under Electronic. And I just wrote a poem called Then I Was the Remnant of a Tale, it’s true.

There’s no one in these towns it seems just dogs, they spill out into the roads and just sit there by the car looking like they can see right through you, no one moves.


 Photos by Loren Chasse.

Categories: poetry

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. cool stuff and i think dogs could survive armageddon.


  2. Bill, this is so rich with images. Have you read any Poe Ballentine? There are pieces of yours that really remind me of his nonfiction writing and voice.


  3. Incredible imagery in words, Bill!


    • Thank you my friend! I can’t wait to catch up with you and yuck it up a bit in SODO or thereabouts. Thanks for visiting my blog, buddy. – Bill


  4. I had a reaction you probably didn’t expect or intend. It made me miss having a bunch of guys to hang out with. I don’t really have any close friends anymore. Just a bunch of acquaintances. I miss having some guys to hang out with. The brilliant Christopher Hitchens said the worst thing about middle age is that you can’t make any new old friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right Mark, I didn’t expect that reaction — one of the cool things about writing, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing. I like that quote, and it’s a reminder for me to not take people for granted, as I do so often. Thanks for reading. – Bill


  5. Beautiful imagery, and it really evokes some of my own recollections of going into places that I probably shouldn’t have gone. (Yet they always give you impressions that last…)


    • That’s funny, we’ll go places we shouldn’t for impressions that last. I’ve thought about that and written about it and I just think it’s funny. Hope you’re settling in nicely in the new place Kevin. Thanks for reading. – Bill


  6. Dirt and sticks and rocks and planks of wood–the shiny stuff of boy crows, whether they are three, thirteen, or forty-three. This was dense and rich and delicious.


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