Monday, October 3, 2016


Feel stone underfoot, men, feel stone there. Stone accepts no footprint, men, but stone think of men and the passing impression of men.

Stone think long, men, stone think hard.

Yes, hard, men say. Stone is hard.

No, men, no. Listen! Stone think hard, but stone is not hard, men. Stone is tender. Tender in their care of men, men. Tender in their hard thoughts. Tender in their long ways.

Tender, stone seeks stories overhead, men, the stars there. Stone hears stars, men, swirling in the long dark. Stars burning through the hard cold distance, men, burning their own heat, their own light until the long dark swallows them and they turn to unlit distance.

Then stone speaks, men. To men, men. Listen! Stone speaks tenderly, slowly, longly. A word takes a week, a sentence a month. Patience, men. Listen! Men must stop to hear stone. Men must stop!

When speaking of stars, men, stone becomes star, and when men listen to stone, men, men become the passing impression of hard cold distance. Men, unlit stars in the long dark.

Stone’s slow words are starprints, men, long impressions left in the swirling path of stars, men, the hard distance of it unmeasured until stone speaks.

Tenderly, stone speaks of unseen stars, men, stars swirling darkly overhead. Stone speaks their burning thoughts of cold distance, their hard impressions of the long dark, and stone becomes star, men, stone becomes heat, becomes light. Feel stone there, men. Feel them. Listen! Stones are stars swirling underfoot.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Moth light alive

A few days ago, I posted this picture of a moth sunning itself on my front door to Facebook:

This picture calls to mind a passage from my (soon-to-be published in Spring 2017 by MSU Press) novel, Stories for a Lost Child, so I thought I’d share it here. This excerpt is from the chapter called “Putting Out the Light.” This chapter opens with with main character Fiona talking with her friends Dane and Strep on a summer night just a few weeks before they’re set to enter high school. Dane’s college-age brother, Chance, is also there, just released from a psych ward after his third schizophrenic breakdown.

The four friends are sitting at the picnic table in Dane’s backyard talking about life and religion and other of their teenage concerns when a moth flutters near the kerosene lamp they’ve lit, is drawn into the updraft from the chimney on the lamp, and burns up in a brief flash of light.

“Whoa, did you catch that?” Strep asked. “That’s what I call messed up.”
“Poor thing,” Fiona added.

“It’s not poor,” Chance stated flatly. “Moths can’t be poor.”

“I mean it’s sad that it died like that, so quickly.”

“But it’s something else now,” Chance said. “It’s not poor; it has died and entered the light.” He nodded at the lamp.

“And the light killed it.” Dane leaned forward into the lamp glow. “It’s not alive, it’s stupid. Brainless.” Fiona wasn’t sure if Dane was aiming this last word at the moth or his brother.

“Whether it was brainless, dumbful, or innocent, the light killed it and that’s evil. The light is nothing to be entered.” Chance took a drag on his cigarette and thought about his words. Light, Fiona knew from Sunday School, was supposed to be God. Chance seemed to be measuring that notion as he took another lungful of smoke. “Moths dying of light is evil and evil is the opposite of 'live,' just like the moth is now the opposite of alive.”

Chance leaned back but then rocked forward abruptly, pointing his cigarette at the lamp. “The light is evil, it’s the problem. Light is not life; light kills. It’s hungry and it pulled what was living in that little bug right out of its body and made it into a nobody, a no-body.” He began to rock more steadily, gathering force, and Fiona knew he was moving through that building that he said was inside him, a building full of a thousand rooms, joined by short hallways that branched off in a thousand directions. Voices emerged from some of the rooms, Chance said, but he could never find their bodies if he looked for them. The voices were no-bodies.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Ides of Genocide

I remind you about this sort of fictional science (see previous post) in a book about Native people and science fiction because, well, we better not forget that, ever. It also raises an interesting idea about Western perceptions of Native people. While some so-and-so’s were measuring heads at White Earth, much of the science, social science, and cultural expression produced in the America of that same era was busy predicting the imminent demise of Native people. Given the sepia tones of photographs like “Sunset of a Dying Race” and the romantic rending of hearts in other tales of the “Vanishing American,” perhaps we should say what they really predicted was the eminent demise of Native people. That lends it a far greater air of gravitas and makes it all sound kind of noble, doesn't it?

Et tu, EdwardCurtis?

"The Vanishing Race" (1904) photo by Edward Curtis.
The only problem with the pic, Mr C, is Natives weren't vanishing;
that was your fantasy.