Category Archives: Writing

Starbucks I Say is Writing or Writhing

Well, I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Downstate New York but it might be Upstate, I’m not sure actually. The gorgeous are gorges, etc. I glow all modernist, all Perec or Baudelaire (though I couldn’t feel less French except for current scraggly ‘beard’ [cough, cough] and my tendency to glow Woody Allen and Bill Clinton and ceramic dachshunds and walks along most any river), just capturing notes of life and motes of life and all that is cardboard anti-hot device or caffeine or California roll-colored North Face jacket or archery bangs. Words are meant to capture, like poetry, or the cough of fresh fish, or a certain way of flash fiction. Snagging a scene, for example. This could be a great exercise if you teach. Sit and capture. Or if you don’t teach: sit and capture. At Starbucks, I capture two giant photos of waving, green fields on the wall and that makes no damn sense. They might be acres of corn or maybe wine or just Photoshop. I can hear everyone’s order because the only seat is astill the ordering stall/slaughtering chute. I have no Internet and I need Internet so here I perch, sun-off-snow sort of bathing in passing as intensification suggesting hoarding words, a leaping (sloth!) on itself the kitchen drawer of that sky separating us from the hemline or nearly touching features (stop that metaphor!), Velveeta, no less THINGS than drawn splashes of processed cheese across that sky. Messy writing, that previous sentence. The Starbucks is very busy and very Starbucks. It has a line of 8 but the line NEVER ENDS. It is always 8 people, replaced by 8 people, replaced by 8 people. Back-n-day, I actually used to be a registered nurse and the company gave me Starbucks stock and so I used to own Starbucks stock but I let it go because I loved it. I now regret that decision.

Yo. I wrote a text about frogs.

Yo. I wrote a new chapbook with frogs in the title but really it’s all about Velveeta. If you like Velveeta, give it a whirl.

How is Starbucks? It looks exactly like this:

huff nachos 2

They are hiring. They ask two questions on a chalkboard:



But I warn you: these people are working HARD. (Though, in some jobs, working hard is better than working slow. Is Starbucks that way? I do not know. I had a job once where all I did all day was watch a train tanker unload. Hook up the suction. Sit. On chair. Upon gravel. All. Day. Good job for reading books. Forgot what I read, but most likely that was the summer of racing forms and Richard Brautigan. The company I worked for was a chemical company, if you must know. It took chaff and wheat or whatnot and mixed it with acid (arriving by train)  and other things and made a polymer. That very polymer makes Olympic running tracks and tennis shoe bottoms and missiles and yawns between the glass in your car windshield so the windshield will not shatter, if you must know, as you drive it into a tree or someone’s forehead or whatnot. I ate my first fried bologna sandwich on that hot Memphis summer. What else? Watched people steal things. Watched a guy get a 14 CENT check, which he tacked to the wall of the break room to make a point about “The Man.” (Stealing was also to subvert The Man.) Worked with a guy named Maxine. And Chester. Watched my friend fall into a vat of chemicals. (His body turned an eerie red, like glazed.) Was laid off during one of the depressions, the George Bush one, the one where the cars weren’t made so they didn’t need any fancy polymer in the windshields and we went to war with some country who bought our missiles so couldn’t sell for obvious patriotic reasons and who buys fancy tennis shoes when you can’t pay rent ? so well so go home Sean Lovelace, go home. I did so.)

Here is me eating a bologna sandwich:

denver disc 1

Everyone is polite in this Starbucks. wow, it’s busy. I’d take a photo right now but don’t want to be that guy. No one is buying mugs or beans or Cohen Brothers movie CDs or really much fru-fru food at all, but the liquids are moving. Moving. Moving. A river.

Here, let’s go live: I’ll describe everyone in line, but it will have to be quick impressions because this place is vibrating like a lobbyist.

* GRANDE NON FAT MOCHA: green cashmere sweater. Matching cashmere cardigan with imitation jade buttons that match her real jade choker. Has: Plumpish, snowing skin. Naturally pink-pink lips turned eggplant with MAX Factor lipstick. Nose that flares gently up and out. Valley black eyes. Wide-set. Excessively lashed. Smells like gasoline. Said something I missed about Christmas and a dog. Reads Diagram magazine.

Here’s a photo of her elbow:

nachos b

* LARGE ALL YOURS MY FRIEND: beanie hat, fluffy jacket brown, looks like he rifles medicine cabinets and picks up roadkill off the, well, road. Pops his neck like a knuckle and checks his fake-sincere smile in the heart of a Beyonce CD. Does not purchase the CD.

* VENTI PEPPERMINT NO-WHIP DECAF ICED COFFEE: WTF?? That’s quite the order. Possibly wearing black-n-white pajamas. This whole leggings thing has me confused, so I don’t know. (Get off my lawn!) Great legs. Legs of a panther, I’ll give her that. Gives off an odor of wet artificial grass, but possibly that’s the odor of Starbucks.

* SALTED GRANDE SOMETHING: You can salt shit here? Purse is huge and has green spikes. It looks like it’s fashioned of dinosaur. Wears UGGs the color of sand. Told the world to keep the change.

velveeta still life

* TALL WATER (ha ha ha ha): Wears tight black Lycra pants with huge red red red bag. What’s in that bag, Alaska? Who the fuck orders a cup of water at Starbucks, quit trying to out-do us with your minimalism. I’m being mean, possibly.

* DIDN’T HEAR HIS ORDER: Dressed as if heading to Everest. BRIGHT blue jacket shoes built for kicking ass at a show attended by four screaming teenagers flash-mobbing fail at the mall. Stomach appears unsteady. Drinking a drink contemplatively.

* I WANT A SPRITE: Kid in crisp red and white soccer uniform. I’m suspicious how clean this uniform.

* VENTI UH DECAF ICED COFFEE: Penn State baseball cap jeans undistinguished black jacket. Seems pretty much normal whatever that means. No one is normal.

* GRANDE SOY SOMETHING: Wears sunglasses indoors black North Face jacket smiles too much. Crazy smile, skin flickering like a rest stop. Lycra pants show a lot of all.

phone cheese

* GRANDE NONFAT LATTE: Keeps mumbling “There are no tables…” (Correct) Lycra pants with running shoes her long brown hair is splattered friction all over her back (spaghetti) and if she could see that she wouldn’t care because she’s holding a kid in her arms and priorities, man, priorities, though she might still care a bit because parents try to be selfless but they are humans, too, man, humans. Her eyes are a stripe of lightning.

* VENTI SOMETHING MUMBLED COUPLE. She wears brown with black, he’s in inappropriate aged Converse low tops and they both sort of lean into each other, like touching all the time, which is a metaphor of how they are one and sort of touching or it pisses you off. Sickening or pretty sweet, your call.

* VANILLA GRANDE ICED SOMETHING. Beauty does not go out of style, so it’s irrelevant what she is wearing. Her breasts are ringing hammers on anvils, I’m sorry to be so crass. Loud.

* VENTI UNSWEETENED GREEN TEA: Mom in metallic sunglasses and Lycra over-laugher keeps saying “We’re going driving in a little bit!’ and “We’re going to eat lunch in a little bit!” Then says, “Wow, you have really good hands!” to the someone nearby and then she laughs and laughs and laughs. She’s wearing gray socks that go up to her knees, not sure why. Little kid sits on counter sucking on an apple juice box. Our bones are the same, but she wears her flesh without the wrongness of my flesh.

TRIPLE SHOT SURPRISE LATTE: Guy all morning has been over-eager and WAY too loud for Starbucks and talks WAY too much and he’s wearing a hat with a fake brown beard and he’s VERY talkative about the beard and the hat and after his order (a latte with a triple shot and he wouldn’t name the flavors of the shot–instead he yelled out, THROW WHATEVER IN THERE MAKE IT A TRIPLE SHOT SURPRISE!!! After he yelled people sort of shifted around and move further from away, you know).



I can’t do this anymore, the pace is amazing. Jesus, I’m starting to respect journalists who take notes or stenographers or anyone who writes on demand, period. My toes are exploding.

COFFEE, MEDIUM: still trying the ponytail at his age? Wow. He’s sitting there writing notes on a laptop. Unstable, nosy, eavesdropping?? Black hat, camouflage jacket, a freaking Hunger Games pin (his daughter probably bought it for him at Secret Santa so he wore it, but now he sort of likes it). Black Puma shoes, no socks.

He is. Hunched over, right by the cashier.


Sean fish

Well, it takes all kinds.

Sometimes People ask me do I have Prompts. Here are Your Fucking Writing Prompts (with ideas on potential blog reader comments)

  1. Take a man. Take a woman. Add a slammed door, and a heart like flash fiction (yellow diamond, un-scratched match, T-shirt reading BOO HOO, virtuosity, systole, diastole—or series of blows/working verbs: press, thrust, hiss, memorialize, kiss and fly). Add conflict, as in dead dog, as in our dog, SarahSara, possibly skittering metaphor, as in the day you walked out the door—the dog leapt, the dog tumbled down the brickssteps, away—half-drunk, half calling/half cursing my name, SarahSara, but fully knowing, fully not-back, fully turned and door-framed like a prophecy, fully here, there, everywhere, gone.
  1. Write one page about fugacity. This moment no longer. This one. Add a shadow of cotton panties, a perfect angle, triangle, an edge tos this day softening in the memory mflaw. Add two shots of tequila before the Jai alai matchfootball game, and the way we lost currency, or won. (That I can’t remember now should matter.)

velveeta girl 4

  1. Take a character, a young man. Create for him an ornamental garden. Now drop a stone onto his head.
  1. Take a bath. Take a nap. Take a nap withinin a bath. Go lie down.
  1. [Writing prompts are a peculiar (and persistent) component to the ever-expanding genre of How to Write.]
  1. Take an act you didn’t commit. Now confess.
  1. Write one page about how you should just kiss, not ask, “Do you want to kiss?” (I am telling you now how to begin a story.)
  1. Write one page to tack it all down: gray claspfold after unclaspfold of brain. This is why.
  1. ellenWrite one page about the purple bra that defines. The shoulder shrug (purple bra spiraling to the floor)something funny then; isn’t so funny now.

 (purple bra dangling from ceiling fan)

(purple bra in the office drawer)

(purple bra in the satellite dish. some type of tangled kite)

10. Write ababout the poltergeist of yourself. An aftermath portrait/unlike image/song. . How can you haunt your own living room? Describe the process, step-by-step. Add the day you drank 14 beers and tossed a urinal into the  air.


  1. [All of this origamiing itself upon the creative artists (and their theoreticians) usual conundrum: Can writing be taught?]
  1. Write about what you know, which I mean as nothing.

 as night on suburban lawn (always grass as emerald)

as oral as most distant

as days labyrinth, but pretend to know

as I keep waiting to give an authentic speech. years pass.

as the smell of a particular

As Nothing.

stein nachos 3

  1. 1.             There goes a highway dog, tongue lolling…
  1. There goes the writer who feels the climax early on.
  1. Take your draft and treat it like a final conversation—lacerate every Bad Faith/clumsy word.
  1. Throw a bottle through a window , into a mirror.
  1. Take your draft and make it likeable, make it lean, as in wearing tank top and surfer shorts. Run it right into the ocean, below the horizon of expectation. Let its spill like an entrance, or . Add cough glass of fake Irish beer.
  1. Take your draft, on its own terms, meaning things fall apart, meaning the flowers are collapsing on themselves, the car is rusting, the throat tightening, the very pages of a book, words of warm air, individual letters etched in tombstones crumbling as we write these words…so what did you expect from love?

Take your draft and make it feel, think, decide, experience. Don’t neglect the allure of pinot noir, sympathetic characters, and sex in bathrooms. Add a banana.

 roomTake your draft and give it to another writer. A guy named Buck. Buck will say, “The best story is an invisible story.” What the fuck?

 Go fling and lose something. (Fling two cups of warm beer, those red Solo cups, and the night of the dance with the hipster girl, the night of nitrous oxide balloons—I believe you ended up sleeping on the ceiling. Lose your lunch, sunglasses, self esteem.)

 Buck is one of those serious people.

 Lose Buck.

 Lose Buck like salvation. Don’t let the door….

  1. [Or, more specifically: Can a writer/text be jump-started?]
  1. nachos girlTake your draft, your desert wind, Sirocco, the rattle and thunk of lungs, of window shutters, hot pop of glass panes,  because the novel is a house or body (the first days, her kind mom offering me beer), the story, a room or ventricle (her photos of men: prom date, college friend at beach, guy she met in Italy), the flash fiction, a window or pulse (drywall scar—table thrown into wall, drunken Halloween), the poem, the genitalia, or the day we made love in the front seat of my father’s Dodge, in the walk-in cooler full of apples (Easy Way Produce, Memphis, TN), in the Peabody library, in the beds of all those embarrassing hotels; for the last time, very last gasp, both of us wondering why—bodies doing this (writer), minds doing that (editor)—both of us crying.
  1. I said a slammed door. The sound of sculpted cheekbones, the glint of aroma flesh, senses all wringed out wrong, words, mouth, eyes, chambers and cyclones. Something opens, closes, so sudden.
  1. Add a word loop. (day she made our way back/moved my tongue/like numbers in an equation/made our way back)
  1. Add a fixed form. (autograph tattoo, or TV show, or lying to self, worse type of lie, considering everyday availability of mirrors)nachos 3
  1. Add a rethinking (trying to hold it together not even the answer)
  1. Add a thought broken-loose, unmoored. Scrambling, scrambling dog.
  1. Add buying me bluster, the skeletons of words. The gift of gab. The gift of soft sobs on the page, or some flushed cheek. Enter stage lightning.

 (if you float above yourself, how can you be present?)

(who would you like to call?)

(writing your own history now. how can that be true?)A feeble attempt to keep the track dust from peppering her nachos grande.

  1. Add buying me a beer, honey.
  1. [Just a little positive/negative jolt, and away we go…maybe.]
  1. Add a writer’s block. Another writer’s block. Stack them up; build a fucking Taj Mahal (mausoleum of all our days).
  1. Write from the point of view of something low, a microbe, or everything you can do and lose, or an uneaten dinner.
  1. You are now a landscape. Go frame your days. Go plot-wise.
  1. You are now a long, steamy shower. Go dripping ink. 
  1. You are now a hot sore. Go run.
  1. You are now a dog. There goes a thick pelt, some covering.
  1. You are now a glass. Go stain the page. Go bleed.
  1. You are now a flaw. Be certain.
  1. You are now Chicago. Go winter. Go spellbound fog. Go big hotel and skunky marijuana. Go wonderful claustrophobia. So close together. So pressed like a flower. Go video camera I still can’t believe.
  1. You are now a stunt. Be serious. Break a bone like a semicolon.
  1. You are now a bra strap. Go undo somethingyourself, or at least try.
  1. You are now a penny. Go spend yourself, or leave behind. velveeta still life
  1. You are now__________________(this is where we imagination)

 [Like most advice on the written word, prompts work and do not work.]

  1. Put a sidekick, say police officer somewhere on the page (enter violencesnowmelt and weeping lights).
  1. Put a police officer in the rear visionew mirror. Blue sparks red. Feel that, as you slide away the can of beer. That’s how my heart always felt, then.
  1. Put a police officer at the door. Compare his hair to wet sand. Give his character a nature, which I mean as broken flowerpot on the table, winter rains, or what he does when someone slaps him in the face.
  1. Describe a kitchen. Add knives and something handy to cast and shatter. Add a yoga instructor/mom and the earlier police officer and a woman with skin like an electrifying rumor. You can’t quit looking at her, can you? Add me, and have somebody fling themselves to the floor.
  1. Lure the adverb into church.
  1. Lure the adverb into jeans. Now cut-off. steve
  1. Lure the adverb into an alleyway. Cradle like a Pabst, nearly make love, and then crunch away in headlock exponential.
  1. Take a color, any color. It could be the purple of really dancing, finally letting go. It could be the yellow of reading crumpled receipts, a lover’s purse. The green of feeding French fries to sparrows, that photo kept. Red is all the fake people we lived to avoid, their sanctimonious pleads. (I hope we aren’t one of them.) So now add mathematics. Divide. Subtract. Where are we, are we, are we summed up now?
  1. Take a list of objects: envelopes unopened, olive oil, hips rocking, bong in shape of Woody Allen’s head, Missouri in the rain, disposable razor, hardening nipples, day just dawning, unfiltered Camels, fierce and quick, floating in the pool, ribcages pressed, crushed Dexedrine, rapped it down,  Tupac Shakur, rubbing legs, glow of limbs, glow of tongue, gas station wine, hot dog stands, nacho stands, stands of pines, vibrators, purple lips, hummingbirds, 4 a.m., symmetrical cleavage, needn’t be nervous, needn’t look away, diet whatever sodas, touch of rum, touch of wet, touch of thong in color of cotton candy, throwing smoke, handstands in cheerleader uniforms, scratchy wool, paper petal skin, wrapped a towel, blonde hairs, brown curls, a dog’s howl, a dog’s black head, a dog’s way of nachos
  1. Select an object from the list.
  1. Write about the object, but don’t look at it. Don’t pause. Don’t sit there in a predictable path. Don’t sing to tornadoes, friend. Other predictable don’ts.

(What are you waiting for?)

  1. [The majority of prompts are meant as metaphors. “Imagine yourself as a tree…” can be read to mean, Take yourself out of your own narrow experience, drop the ego, stop editing/watching as you create, and so on.]
  1. We don’t wait, unless we are crouching (to spring), hidden in the ambush/scribbled crevasse, that space between known and unknown. This is why.
  1. We don’t use the word because. We don’t use the word almost or very. We don’t say, “Well, my sister saw you do it” or “I’m just doing this so I can see you better.”

 We don’t use but three exclamation marks our whole lives.

 (unless during. we use three to four thousand during)

 We go exponential exhalation now, we go clear. Z NachosWe don’t stop a running dog. (draft flowingg well)

 We don’t cry on the page (anything but).

We don’t explain.

  1. Take a letter and write it into a bedroom. I prefer a creaky bed. Loud. uilding.
  1. Take a body part and write it into an unreal world.
  1. Take a frigid day and describe its lengthening. Its brilliant shrunk coin.

Take a studio apartment.  A futon mattress on the floor. Could we have lain there happy our entire lives? We never did answer. Or did we?

  1. There is a dog house shaped of a box set of Billie Holiday…
  1. [Here, I take the device of the prompt and appropriate it for narrative need.]
  1. Take a proverb. Add a taste and aroma no one seems to write about: alkaline, salty, like edge of batteries, or the brackish sea. Some type of moaning. Finally, finally, give yourself permission to end this exercise with the words, “And then she awakes.”
  1. Take the language of road signs and describe making out atop the water tower.
  1. Take a cell phone. Make your ring tone the hiss of seasons changing. Use a metronome to measure your phone calls. The sound of permission and keyboards thinning. unicorn nachos 2
  1. Take a cell phone. Whip out a cell phone. Eavesdrop like a writer. Drop-in like a writer. Steal everything not tied down, or even tied down—wrap yourself in knots of words, nets and tangles of words, barbed wire, glint and pierce and stuck bleeding still. Listen. Hear. Write one page, twelve more, and they must contain these lines of dialogue:

“I can hear you in me.”

“But won’t you need them now?”

“I think I want to, you know, hang out at home.”

“It seems I’m boring you.”

“Do you think this a fun game?”

“Party’s over!”

“I won’t believe a moment lived beautifully was wasted.”

“Prove it then.”

“Look, it’s a habit.”

“Hello? Hello?”buddha velvetta 2

  1. Take a repetition, a potential for patterns to emerge, the way our bodies keep doing everything our minds tell us to avoid. Add floating like an octopus off a kitchen floor. Add a character prop, like cough syrup and cheap vodka, like molasses sex, thick and sweet, drifting above ourselves, like calling out to a ship passing by. I think this will be a Tuesday, but that’s up to you.
  1. Take white space and make it red.
  1. [The white space and listing I feel makes it more disjointed, fragmented, and is integral, since this is the reality I feel/sense everyday in our world.]
  1. Fight for it. Break the nose of the sentence. Blow everything up like a semi-colon. Go omniscient on someone’s ass.
  1. Go flashback (body numb as if wasn’t there).
  1. Go currents struggling; go revealing truth (receiving a blow job, hand job, or tongue bath, while you watch the plastic glow-in-the-dark stars. Later you will peel them all away, and think of yourself as childish.).
  1. Go personal urgency (a need to leap from roofs).
  1. [We are split. Begin, middle, end?? Never heard of it, or as one poet says, ‘My life ain’t been no crystal staircase.”]green
  1. Now start cleaning up: verbs, coffee spills, that pile of letters, words, clichés: dog-tired, sick as a dog, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, let sleeping dogs lie, in the dog house, and you, wow, you look like somebody just shot your dog.
  1. Start on a hagiography (all of this in a phone booth).
  1. Start on a Homeric (all of this on a slow train).
  1. Start on a passion play (all of this in an elevator).
  1. Start on an index card. We’re going to file something here. We’re going to impale everything on the wall. First drafts with cigarette smoke with last of the beer with focus on nouns with a patch of dim yellow lights in the distance, the howls of dogs…They call this juxtaposition. They call this structure.

Take your eyes and close them.

  1. Take all the five senses:

Smell of cooler and blankets.

Taste of taking a deep breath, of standing.

Sound of tight within the body, curled.

Touch of mildly dizzy.paint nachos

Sight of SarahSara. That’s the dilemma for all the writers. Too much reliance on sight.

  1. Take a plot. Take a beginning, middle, an end. Throw in the sad thrill of laughter. Throw in cancer. Throw in my friend robbed of two dollars, then shot dead. Throw in the day I saw a young man on our roof. Day I smelled latex and onions. Day of reading. Day of email. Day of somebody kidnapped my sister’s rabbit. Day of doing cocaine at the bowling alley, right on the countertop where you select the ball. Day of broken bed, hair undone. Day of revolver. Crackling air. Sirens or dogs. Day of wailing.
  1. Take the day of your birth, the year. Go research. What did exactly happen?
  1. Take a word range. Make an omelet. Devastate some eggs.
  1. Take a bad poem, your weekend, now make it worse.
  1. Take a brief moment in time. A scene. Note and describe. Example:

Early spring. Thunderstorms. A squatty motel in Pensacola, Florida, pastel walls, vague paintings of shells, seahorses, a ceiling of rosy pink ceiling.

 “I like the rain,” she says. “Sunlight is depressing in a place like this.” She sits at a desk in the dark room and flips the light on and off, off and on: click, click, click. big nachos

 Now you write the rest. You finish. I want you to…You need to lie down. Get a clean sheet of paper. As if. Get some help. Describe what you feel right now. Describe a place you love. Think of a title. It should be simple yet complex. I said lie down. Shhhh… Control your tone. Someone is about to find out something rare: what another person truly thinks of them. Outside is a dog scratching at the door. A rain sweeping on the roof. Outside I am walking soon. Let’s say limping. There was a time in my life. Take the pen, the flat keypad. Take this text. Listen: you have no colleagues in this undertaking. Listen: I could be wrong. Listen: Why won’t you lie down?

  1. Take an article of clothing (The seven days straight I wore her socks to work)
  1. Do you follow all the rules?
  1. [As prompt, I hope these do start your engine, or at least get the lights flickering for an instant. If not, that’s OK, too.]
  1. Take a photo (digital, naked, her pelvis, ridge of that scar)
  1. Write about the time you clattered into an abyss.
  1. Take a myth and recreate the myth (If I fall, I’ll be caught. And we won’t spoil the moments born.)
  1. Are you sick, or simply paying attention?being sick?
  1. Which tone and atmosphereshade are you, black or white or evaporate?
  1. Which vitamin X?heart nachos
  1. [As I tell my university students, “Write about not being able to write.”]

personal ad?

  1. Which medicine cabinet songcountry song?


  1. Word association: Bottle of gin, Lorcet, revolver, dog, dragged out back in the snow falling darkness, dragged behind the dumpster with gun placed to head; and this seemed to be a solution. Go.

Which key will you discover? Which low door?

  1. Which unlucky bird? Silent still, in all this rain about us. If you could land, would you, and where?
  1. Which flea market? Which wagon or Chapstick or melted butter dish?
  1. Which god are you? Which god? Come on!
  1. Take a moment. Grab that methadone, the credit card hidden in the novel, and a all-clear weekend. Calm your spirit.
  1. Take a cold glass and a secret game. (Alabama summer we discovered bocce)
  2. Take a breath. Oh…Dylan
  1. [Oh, and if  any of you stumble across a woman named…]
  1. Take her skin. Aching, rubbing. Feathers of a rare bird. Fragrant silence. Buckle and heave. Wept on my shoulder. Oh…
  1. I am going to lie down for you now.
  1. I am going to lie down.
  1. I am going to lie.
  1. I am going to circle and circle and circle like a dog. Then lie down. Exhausted as dry mulch (once a flower itself, now.)
  1. I am going to circle and circle and circle like a dog. Then lie down. Exhausted as dry mulch (once a flower itself, now.)
  1. T
  1. 100. Take every title of every text you have ever written. Now use them as replacements for every ending line.Now make these titles into your ending lines.

Example:snoop nachos

SarahSaraMore Important Things to DoWhy does it Hit Bottom.?

SarahSaraNaked as She’d Ever BeenWhy does it Hit.?

SarahSaraWhy Does itIce Facts Cracking Thin.?

SarahSaraBeautifully Inhumane.Why?

SarahSaraTight Sparkly Costume.?

SarahSara…Leaping Quickly?

SarahSaraDrifting Apart Anything..


SarahSara…”taco bell



Yes! Very strong!



 Sticks out as one I’ve heard before.


 I feel like this one is a good start toward trashing the tired admonition to write what you know. I’d like to see you go off on it.

 Seems like these need some kind of lead in.


 Maybe a different response?

 Yes, yes, yes! This is perhaps a capsule of what I think you’re great at doing. Absurd twists, erudite glosses, bottom-feeder humor, all wrapped into a whirlwind passage.

 I appreciate the brevity, especially after the previous passages. I think they do need some beefing up though.




 How about “rear-vision mirror”?

 I like the interrelatedness of the entries. Might be something worth exploring throughout.


 Another favorite!



 More an aside, I think.


 What other words don’t we use?

 How about a starting sentence?


 Needs more, I think.

 Great stuff!


 More, more!

 Needs work.


 Here’s a great place I think needs some more of your disjunctive style, like #18.


 Yes, a few more of these asides throughout would be great.

 A riff would be nice here.

 A familiar one. Needs making strange, methinks.



 I’d say these would serve well as  an aside much like the  one after #79.

 This is great! I’m not sure about your examples.

braying glass banana machine curves of deliverance glow

Deliverance, the book, is 40 years old. That’s older than Jesus C, in theory. Glow changing water to wine. Glow not-owning-a-damn-thing. [OK, sandals] Glow whitewater and the sound of a boat being sucked away/throat-down like meat from a bone. [Yes, I did almost drown canoeing, but I did return]. Glow spray. Glow eddies. Glow the human-face shape of a rock formed after years of river over its nose.

Glow Deliverance/James Dickey article here.

What do I think?

1. Glow movie. Best movie Burt Reynolds ever made. He could have been a contender, but he fucked it all up. He could have been an actor.

(And don’t give me some Longest Yard bullshit)

2. The James Dickey cameo is OK, but no backwoods sheriff would have that mouthful of crystal white choppers.

[Now they pay the writers to go away. Far away.]

3. The infamous “scene” should be infamous. It is the linchpin to the plot. It is integral and essential. Do you want to look away? Fine, but you must take the next step: why do you want to look away? It is the flame to the fuse to the whole damn explosion.

I actually knew a prof who would not show the rape scene to his class. Why show the damn film? He would pause the film, skip the scene, and then show the film. I did not respect this decision. I found it ludicrous, misguided, wrong. I found it the very thing a teacher should be against.

Yes, the scene is visceral. So what?

The blank face, the cut, the still, the silence, the “let’s skip this.” These are valid responses to life?

4. In the book and movie, the bow hunting deer scene is a contrast/setup later for the bow hunting human scene. It is a marker for change, protagonist change, and a smart structural device.

5. The book is a testament to why EVERY fiction writer needs to write/read poetry before ever starting on prose. The word, the line, the sentence is what writing is all about. Poets know. Fiction writers should. Plot/suspense and beautiful prose are not mutually exclusive.

The Sheep Child disturbing, as in amazing.

People, honest, smart people, keep talking about Deliverance and then saying, as an add-on: “Dickey was also a poet.”

Shows you something. But I digress. I was talking about words.

[To all those who have not read The Sentence is a Lonely Place.

Linking this makes me feel like a prof teaching “The Things They Carried”

Let it go.

But still Lutz...]

6. Deliverance, the movie, kick-started the canoeing boom in this country.


That’s:  Jaws making you want to go for a swim. Or

Hey, I just saw The Ring, call me.


Robb Todd at PANK.

Seductive. Building to crescendo. Step by step, drink by drink. And next thing you know we are dreaming of Gordon Lish…


I think the person-visiting-foreign-country is one of the most cliche lit mag stories in the whole damn galactic volcano world. So I respect this. Todd pulled it off. So dank beers to you, sir.

Here is an interview of Robb Todd.


The Boy in a philosophical moment. Moments later he would rod/reel in a clam the size of a thimble. He would say, “I didn’t get skunked, did I?”This clam was the size of a sigh.

[later some dude brought us a pizza we did not order. it was chicken. i would never eat a chicken–that’s cruel. these are life-moments i enjoy.]

The waters were angry that day, my friend. The waters were profoundly urban. Chalky. Plucked on strings of gray and hot lunches of dry erase marker soup. I want to say bar-of-soap sky but I think I ripped that from Annie Dillard. I know DFW would call this sky the color of a faded cotton shirt. Half a million writers would say pearl, but we all would suck.

We mostly all suck.


The new semester has started. I am teaching fiction and fiction and graduate fiction. This is a glow life. The students are glow, honestly.

I’ll tell you what: students get quicker, smarter, better. Every year. Any teacher in the world knows quicker/smarter/better is what you want in a class.


We have a new coffee machine at BSU and that makes me believe I am in the future. Feels like Sleeper but less satire, less dangerous. You can’t take the machine that seriously. Although it is taller than Us and impressive enough to see/feel that it could beat your ass in chess. Machine is tall and sturdy and earth-colored and feels like a robot, yes, but a kind, serious robot about to set you up with some quality Joe. So wary. I am wary. It claims to grind/brew the coffee a few seconds after you put in your 50 cents (regular) or 75 cents (premium). And it often does.

Good thing for Us, it often does not. I get what I “order”/punch in  about 17 percent of the time.

The coffee is oily coffee and makes me shiver some. It isn’t dregs, just keen, like turpentine or when you leap out a moving truck. I drink it and my mind is a hamster that has escaped and made its bed in the crinkly green grass of an Easter basket. You reach down and it bites you.


If your coffee doesn’t have a narrative inside it’s core/bean, a story wanting to hatch with every sip, why in the hell are you drinking it? Coffee should make you shudder, should kill you as it glows–like any drug.


I made an evening of drinking mojitos and googling photos of the world’s tallest man and thought surely this giant will die soon, and he did the following morning.

This is from Steve Stringer’s excellent elimae.

The opening. Sets us up with realism and turns to magical, twists us up, quick. There’s a Murakami story where the man wakes and makes toast and he’s about to head to work and then the author writes something like, “He was on his way to the elephant factory.”

The man worked in the “trunk” division, but I think was later transferred to Ears. Later comes a dancing dwarf.

Stringer catches something here, the fumes/fuel mix of alcohol, and this “giant,” most likely a wound of some sort, most likely one of those ghosts that haunt every hotel and give them layers of glow.

Thank you, Steve.

Hotels can be horny. Or sometimes sad. It’s hard to get my head around hotels. People come and go. For some reason I feel hotels are like graveyards, but that makes little sense. Hotels have lots of clunks and down-the-hall sounds. You can lie in bed and listen all night. Sometimes a headlight will paint the walls. The bed always makes me pause. What a history! If you look behind the headboard, on the floor, you will usually find straw wrappers, bottle caps, child toys, other things…You can open a bottle of beer on the jamb of a hotel door. Any hotel door. There’s a tip for you. Do you tip the sad people who clean the rooms? They talk loudly so you know they are sad. Nothing is more sad than being loud. Sometimes I sit in a hotel and feel like a boulder, but a hollow boulder and that’s called a geode, I think.

May all our giants return, I say.


The Third Annual Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose ends very soon. So if this is what you do, do it now.

Prize is $1000. Or eighty-three (83) Zombie Undead Jesus Necklaces.


A fucking galactic supervolcano erupted a few days ago. This explains a lot of things. Like war, people who don’t tip bartenders, Nicholas Sparks, people who don’t let you play through in disc golf, some lady named Mrs. Rose who opened a CHRISTIAN THRIFT STORE near my house.

What in the hell is a Christian thrift store?

Do I need to worship a Christian god to get in the door? Does an alarm sound? Do I take an oath? Are you going to card me?

What do they sell? Like only Christian things? Like Mary on a piece of burnt toast or old pamphlets or ceramic apples or golf clubs or high heel shoes or tree limbs or dusty church pews?

1. Jesus key chain that makes people think you drive a Lexus (?), $1.95.

2. Jesus air freshener, $1.50.

3. Grow your own Jesus, $2.50.

Maybe they sell peacocks and Flannery O’Connor books. Here is the story where the devil is a hero for being honest and shooting a grandmother, Mrs. Rose.

[Yesterday I found a shotgun shell in a graveyard. Who shoots off a shotgun in a graveyard?]



I am in a book with Michael Martone, Jim Daniels, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Daniel Orozco, Kennebrew Surant, Rick Attig, Lolita Hernandez, Michael Martone, Matthew Salesses, Matt Bell, M. Kaat Toy, Billie Louise Jones, Lita Kurth, Anne Shewring, Dustin Hoffman, Tania Hershman, Nick Kocz, Michael Zadoorian, Steve Himmer, Pete Anderson, Pete Fromm.

This book.

I tell my students repeatedly one of the best subjects in the world is work, work, work, so I glow to be in this anthology. To walk the walk. Etc.

BTW, the anthology includes Matt Bell’s infamous Fried Chicken story.

You haven’t read it? Are you an icking fidiot? Here, dumbass.



Lollygag, you fucker.




I just had a great run. Almost spiritual. And I don’t say that lightly. Runner’s High is a bit of a pop term, and not so accurate, usually. But I did feel high today, floaty, yes, spiritual. So.

So I have no interest in the organized  religions of man. I believe in the religion of Motion. Of river. Of arrow/disc in flight. Of apple tumbling from tree. Of fish. Of the body, running.

Today was some weird flow. Runners know it. Tough to capture. Tough to figure. You feel like the runner and the run. Form=Function. Like you were born running. It doesn’t happen that often. You have to be thankful. You have to hope it happens again…

It felt like this:

corn, corn, golden kernels of hot sauce–my lunch


oh my, a mix pack. they do mix packs now, i drank the 6 quickly and my knees soared around the hotel room i was blue but sort of a deep-end blue with a tiny dime shimmering on the bottom


J is my mother


possibly i need a haircut a need i possibly


dinner on Lake Michigan

And the run went exactly like this:

6:00 mile pace  X 800      6:00 mile pace X 800      5:56 mile (full mile)

5:52 mile (full mile)      5:49 mile pace X 800      5:49 mile pace X 800

5:24 mile pace X 800

Whew. But I felt like I could have just kept on running into South America, or maybe to that former planet, Pluto, poor thing, or maybe right into the heart of all of this confusion we call Our Life.


Pay attention to Caren Beilin.

I said pay attention.

I used to make out with the household iron.

I said!

I’d like to trample you in an old fashioned manner. A writer comes along, a writer comes along. You know, sometimes you read something exponential bad-ass:

At the zoo you can buy animal balloons, dead birds on strings given shots of helium into the rectum and they jounce overhead attached by the string for an hour.

Here it is. Go fucking read.

Oh my


Laurie Lindeen and Kyle Minor and Nikole Brown, oh my.

I think I might be an idiot.

I went to dinner and drinks with a bunch of writers last night and I have a writing blog and I didn’t even bring my Didge Cam. Well that was dumb as boiled tortilla chips. It spleened me. I am going to blog about hanging out with these writers, but sorry no pics. Instead I staggered around my house this morning and took 3 random photos. You will have to imagine these photos are something else entirely. I need you to do that. I need you to do. I need you to. I need you. I need. I.


This is Nikole Brown and Kyle Minor and Laurie Lindeen giving a reading at the BSU art museum. What a room, huh? We are very fortunate to have access to this vast imaginative space, as you can see. It is whole hog awesome. The reading was a 8.9, way up there on my Dedicated Lovelace Scale of Badassness. I hope you see that Nikole has an amazing smile and that Kyle is thoughtful and often edgy and that Laurie said Judy Bloome was an influence on her writing.

(When various Heads of State arrived at the White House, Lyndon Johnson’s chef, Henry Haller, was proud of how his “steaming nachos adorned a long buffet table decorated with yellow roses…”)


Kyle read fiction about a young girl being chased through tobacco fields. (spoiler: she might get caught)

Laurie read nonfiction about boxcars and hobos and a very beautiful Nordic painter. (spoiler: the hobos might set her car afire)

Nikole read poetry about a character peeing on the side of a house (but in a good way). (spoiler: Nikole might have quaffed a Blue Moon at dinner. Huge-ass slice of orange. The orange slice was larger than the beer glass. It was like a monolith of orange. It was the largest slice of orange I have seen so far.)

I was happy as a dead pig in the sunshine. I felt skint. A good time. These were all good people I felt and their words felt like maybe spring is nearing. Maybe near.

(Pour an undrunk bottle of rum over the kebabs. Add rhythm and allspice to the nachos. Serves 14.)

Next we had dinner, and two Sycamore Review editors joined us. One was from Iran. I asked him, “Does Iran have separation of church and state?” Then I said, “Are Iran and the U.S. fighting a cold war in Israel?” I’m not sure what I meant by these questions. He answered them all. He answered them rather well.

He said his taco was too hot. He started sweating. I thought, “He sure is sweating over that taco.” He was really sweating. I had a friend who would sweat that way over hot wings. It was pretty much endearing. I left thinking this in Tao Lin quotes: “That was a cool guy. I wish I could have talked with him more.”

Another editor said she ran marathons (like me) and then after the second marathon she had two seizures and stomach problems and I guess almost died, like that. We talked proper preparation for a marathon. I told her, “You should get a doctor who is also a runner.”

She seemed like she really wanted to run another marathon although she almost died after the last one. I could totally get that. I felt close to her then, spiritually. I felt much obliged to talk with her.

(Nachos are not cowpoke food. That is a misrepresentation of nachos.)

Out of nowhere someone at the table said loudly, “That guy Blake Butler makes his money writing about poker. That’s how he makes his money. Did you know that?”

(I did not. I was startled to hear the words Blake Butler. I had not blogged in a few days and felt detached from blogging and someone yells out Blake Butler. It almost put me off my feed.)

We ate fried pickles and I ordered…yes! Check out these fucking nachos!!!


Can we say salsa?? Do you notice how the chef actually correctly placed the jalapenos? Finally!

Next Kyle said, “I am done with my readings and so CAN I GET A QUALITY BEER IN MUNCIE?!” And Laurie said, “Hell yeh!” (She is a rocker at heart. She was/is member of Zuzu’s Petals.)

(Caviar doesn’t have to be beluga for certain upscale nachos. Long story.)


(Laurie in middle here)

Uh, Kyle and Laurie, you are preaching to the exponential choir now. I said, “Drinking? I’ll take you to the Heorot!”

I took them to the Heorot.

We drank quality beers. We drank Magic Hat #9 and Two Hearted Ale and some IPA I forget. I think it had the word dog, or either wheat or maybe inscrutable malice in its title.

(A flattened waffle is basically a nacho. I mean you can take it that way, with tenaciousness.)

At the Heorot Daniel Bailey walked up and spilled his flask on me.

I said, “Dude.”

He laughed. I love Daniel Bailey’s laugh. It’s like a Motherlode of mandatory triggers. He said, “I feel like my whole life is nachos and I wonder who made them, and are they enjoying the experience?”

I nodded.

Here is my final photo. This is Kyle singing Karaoke up on the stage! That is Laurie smoking the cigarette in the background! That is me on the saxophone!!! Wow.


Nacho Submissions. Ander Monson Frozen D Golf. Blar Me.

Ryan Call submitted this photo of his nachos last night. I encourage any nacho photos, or nacho related material to this blog. If we all spent our time preparing and eating nachos, there would be much less pettiness, hate, reality TV, and running over of husbands/wives/friends with our cars, I feel.


I won’t do an official rating because I haven’t tasted these nachos. To rate without taste would be like being married without the dinners, sex,  and arguments over finally re-painting the bathroom. Just wrong.

But as for visual, this looks solid. The bedrock chips are corn, and possibly organic (the black specks indicate a lack, or at least purposeful calibration, of processing). No wheat gluten here, thank gods! The chips weren’t baked by Ryan himself, but they aren’t Kansas City ballpark either. The insistence on a tomato based tertiary horizon is questionable, but this isn’t the southern hemisphere, now is it? And even there this stylistic decision might fly in some regions (most likely Chile or The Falklands). The cheese glistens. You can’t really say much more without working in a lumberyard. The green item (jalapeno, green pepper? Can I hope for chopped habanero?) is clumped into a quadrant. Again, really a regional distribution decision. Since the late 60s, quadrant clumping (also called saturation, or, in Mexico, agruparse) has pretty much infiltrated itself into the world of nachos, for better or worse.

The Nacho Queen (RIP) would be proud, Ryan. Good work, my man. I bet they tasted like walking next to a train, right before twilight.


We miss you Carmen Rocha! Thank you for all you did for nachos.


I can canoe and fish with my son in the spring. I can play disc golf until my shins bleed all summer. I can bow hunt all fall. But two months, I detest, January and February ( I really hate February, but will post on that later).

Anyway, here are a few January texts I have enjoyed. Thank you for making  my January less cold and lonely, peoples.

Mark Neely’s poem about January at Diagram.

A January story by Matt Bell.

A brief January essay by Brian Oliu

Three kick ass January poems by Arlene Ang.

One time I played disc golf with Ander Monson in January and our discs kept disappearing in tall wind-swept snowbanks (they left a little slash and you’d dig for them in the snow) and my fingers froze, then my lips froze, then my fucking beer froze in the bottle (!!) and I mumbled (could barely speak now), Ander, we got to go.


The arty print…


The classic. She is looking and thinking what people often think: What in the fuck is that metal thing?

(I have heard of people chaining bikes to disc golf baskets. Also, in Indy, a man laid out some tin foil and actually grilled out in a disc golf basket! Sweet.)