Strong Wind, Strange Soil

12:33 pm by


south side bridge | charlesotn | photo

south side bridge | charleston | photo

DIARY | Strong Wind, Strange Soil

Fresh rain pours into the face of the fishermen on the concrete dock beneath the great black sky of Wednesday

here at the center of everything and nothing at all. It is one of those nights of storming from the West. The rising wind flops

their hair this way and that, then back again. The fisherman to the left, closest to the thick dark river the color

of a strand of black licorice, runs his hand through his grey mop of wiry wild hair. Fingers find 6, maybe 8, flecks


of grit nestled against his scalp. They weren’t there before. Where did they, how far did they fly, borne on this

night wind, this strange soil? A guy comes down the stone steps, brushing my pant leg, down to the river he goes.

Cups his hands like he’s about to shout, only it’s a flare that lights up his face a moment, a brief orange sunburst.

Then, out. His face in shadows once again. He hands the blue-glass pipe to a friend just done pissing in the


fast-running water, his piss now two hundred yards downstream, it went past the fishermen. He, too, cups

his face against the torrent of wind. Seeing them struggle with a Bic, I lend them my jet lighter, gun-metal patina

gone orange from five years of fingering it to light up things, candles, joints, woodstove fires, but which would this

evening torch the soggy stub of tonight’s cigar. They’re glad I’ve brought a fire than can withstand the wind that brings


this earth into my scalp and to the fishermen, trying to pluck out of the wide Kanawha a fish to eat. Or maybe

just to rip out of the cold strong water a carp or spotted bass, a flathead catfish, a muskellunge or walleye,

a sunfish or a smallmouth buffalo, maybe a skipjack herring or a paddlefish, and to return it with the slightest plash,

wounded but still free to swim on beneath the river’s million tiny waves, after the achievement of its capture.


~ charleston, | june 27, 2013

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When the grass needs cutting

4:14 pm by


Tree in need of leaves. | charlesotn, | photo

tree in need of leaves. | charleston, | photo

The grass needs cutting, it’s that damn season when
the grass always needs cutting. Not to mention the spidery
brown corpses of last year’s porch-side plants I still haven’t
ripped out yet. I need to go to Lowes and get new pretty growing
things. Something purple, say. And yellow. And get down on my knees
and wallow and root about in the dark earth. They tell me it will
make me happy and reconnect me to the primordial loam.

Yet this empty Sunday afternoon, as my government hoovers up all
the data it can about me (and you), a veritable stripmining of zeros and ones,
the ones that tell everything about everything and nothing about everything, a
great lassitude takes hold. The earth, as usual, is going to hell in a
handbasket from Pier One Imports. Woven, perhaps, by slaving
thirteen-year-olds in a factory that will burn next month, bodies
piled behind the one locked exit door. Or was that last week?

It’s easy to be flippant about the news when you are trying to weave a
First World Ojo de Dios, a few words from your easy chair in a pink room
in front of a retina-friendly computer that cost more than your first
year of college so long ago, back when there was a jaunty thick wave
in the curl of your head hair. Or maybe I need to get on the mountain
bike and and plunge the backside of a hidden valley, frequented only
by people on two wheels wearing helmets to hold in their brains.

It is easy to get weary with our world. To be tired of this thing that keeps
waking us at morning, calling in the afternoon, pressing in at evening,
never getting around to answering the question my favorite Talking
Head uttered into the pop void: How did I get here?
The dead mother-in-law’s grandmother’s clock chimes the waning
afternoon hour. And, really, I could be putting my shoulder to the
world right now, trying to sort out it sadnesses and outrages. But

I did that last week. I mean, I think I helped. A bit. A few words
which, like nice white paper boats went floating on the creek, a poem inside
that said, in so many words and to quote the one fellow, one of a few who
rightly deserves ‘H.H.’ in front of their name, the one true religion
is kindness. Out the window, the Sunday breeze agitates the high green
leaves in the sycamores and oaks out back as I try and shake off this bout
of exasperation & ennui, get back out on the playing field and …

what? Make more shit, sail more boats, ride more trails, miss the arms, the
back, the heft upon me, weighing a snowflaked night with an essential comfort,
as cats scramble & chase after one other across the length of their lives. And the world
turns and the government commissars think they understand who you might be,
when even you don’t understand who that might be. Yet, anyway, it’s a
work in progress, to be sure. As ever. And that bike and
hidden valley is looking better all the time. There’s the clock again.


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Six Vignettes, One About Two Attorneys

4:33 pm by


Looking Backwards. | New York City, March 2013 | photo

Looking Backwards. | New York City, March 2013 | photo


The well-heeled partners
cruise by the brewpub window
in their dark blue sharkskin suits, or at least,
suits I cannot afford. I’ve long admired their
well-oiled hairdos. They must cost $500
an hour, these guys, what do I know. What do I cost?
Their shoes are polished and black as a
West Virginia night out some hollow
miles off the interstate well past midnight.


Peeking at someone else’s life out the window
to take the mind off mine, all those troubles,
worries & inconveniences. Yipping at my heels
like a small nervous dog, its routine interrupted
by the arrival of today’s mail.


Nothing I do will save myself
except everything, of course. I awake
in the middle passage of the night, alarmed
by the chapter of a dream I do not like,
wishing for another book to read. Yet
all these chapters are of the same book,
its multitude of pages melting into one stream,
passing like a ribbon of sand through the
thin neck of some tall, old hourglass.


We are stuck with our stories, habits of
mind, old yarnspinners sitting round a
sputtering campfire whipped by the wind
on a cold night atop a black far mountain.
Hearing yet another tale we don’t
always understand.


A bluesman on the restaurant radio
plucks and plucks a cheap electric guitar
and sings, no exclaims, an exuberant shout
rising up from some hot delta, somewhere
very far from here.


I  light the candle once again,
a failure at going back to sleep.
And try to listen through the whistling
and roar of the waterfall.
This is the only place where it
seems possible to survive. I
look up nearly an hour later
and the white-and-black cat,
sits like a statue, curlicue tail
a question mark. Where, it asks,
is breakfast?

+ + +

Creative Commons License photos by douglas imbrogno
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

More PictureThis:

~ Photos From a WestVirginiaVille Life
~ Four Variations on Spring
~ New York City Scenario 6: The Sound in the Subway
~ New York City Scenarios: 1 to 5
~ The View form the Philadelphia Streets
~ The Busy Machines That Click and Hum
~ Pictures From a Life
~ Last Man in the Woods
~ Insomnia Album: Pictures for the Pre-Wee Hours
~ Poems Without a Book
~ Six Variations on a Curve in the Road
~ Some Days, Nothing Will Do
~ Still Life with Lines, Leaf and Water
~ Excruciating Pain Report
~ I Got Nuts, Beef, Candy
~ Blue Rooms

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The Busy Machines That Click and Hum

7:58 am by


Marilyn's Reflection | Photo by Douglas Imbrogno for

Marilyn’s Reflection | Photo by Douglas Imbrogno for

The Busy Machines That Click and Hum

It is hazardous to write poetry
when you are
lonely, in need of
a lover’s ministrations
or even just a session of

kisses. Disgusted, too,
with yourself, the world,
your lot at the moment in
that world. The look

of things out your back window
on a day when the sky will be the color
and heft of five-year-old Styrofoam,
bobbing in a junk-clumped breaker
of branches in a swollen stream.

This may be, of course, the only
time, even the best, to write poetry. Not that
this is much of a poem. But you do
what you need to do. And I have
set a new daily minimum of 15 minutes
to get back into shape. Lifting words
like weights, up from the waist to
eye level.

I arise very early, hours before dawn, when
about the only thing to do is light an ivory candle
in front of the green porcelain Buddha, wrap a
re-purposed Indonesian sarong about you and
sit for an hour, to contemplate the endless cypher
of your contemplation. To see if you can live
without this need of kisses and ratiocination.
One of the cats, the little black one, sits on the
sarong’s edges awhile, but when I open my eyes

in time with the chiming of the family’s 106-year-old
clock that marks the hour, she is gone. I fold the
sarong into a neat bundle, put it where it goes.
Stretch a bit to keep this more than half-century old
body still limber and arise. The room smells like vanilla
from an hours-worth of candle. I poof. Out goes
the flame. It is still dark outside, though the first

penumbra of pre-dawn purple paints the crack between
the window’s curtains. I have a little more room now
with which to work, though kisses would still be nice.
Yet it is goodbye to their distraction I came to say. So, I make
a cappuccino, the cat returns and I sit to see what might
be said in 15 minutes before the work-day world demands I
give it something to feed the running of the busy machines
that click and hum.

+ + +

~ by douglas imbrogno | feb. 20, 2013




More PictureThis:

~ Pictures From a Life
~ Last Man in the Woods
~ Insomnia Album: Pictures for the Pre-Wee Hours
~ Poems Without a Book
~ Six Variations on a Curve in the Road
~ Some Days, Nothing Will Do
~ Still Life with Lines, Leaf and Water
~ Excruciating Pain Report
~ I Got Nuts, Beef, Candy
~ Blue Rooms

Creative Commons License photos by douglas imbrogno
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

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His Fourth Death (Accompanied by a Little Blue Guitar)

8:04 am by

The Open Door | photo by Douglas Imbogno for

The Open Door | photo by Douglas Imbogno for

Flat Lake’s autumn water
Merges with the winter sky
The ancient trees are rimmed
With frost
The falling leaves are red
The stone path and the footbridge
Are free of human tracks
A single hut is locked away
Deep inside the clouds.

~ Han-shan Te-ch’ing (1546-1623)

+ + +

His Fourth Death (Accompanied by a Little Blue Guitar)

It was the fourth. Not that he was counting. But he thought about it later. There was her. He’d sat in quarter lotus for the better part of an hour, on a cushion beside her bed at hospice, deep into the night. It was several hours before dawn, before she went. Surrounded by us all. Not an easy thing to watch, this death. ‘Keep yourself in the room,’ some oracle of wise practice — was it the Zen Hospice Project? — had said. So, for this fourth death, he’d brought his little blue guitar. Since, having seen how far away the dying go, well down the path in those fading-away hours, eyes clenched or turned inward, doped on powerful sedatives to ease the pain, the fear, the fear in the room of the pain, of the dying and the death … Well, you needed everything at your disposal to do it. Stay in the room, he means.

Because after all when we attend to the dying we are studying our own day to come, our Day of the Dead, and that is what keeps the young, the fearful, the anxious, the freaked out family members from coming to the bedside, laying a hand upon the clammy forehead, the cold papery skin of the soon-to-be-dead.

He arrives several hours into the vigil at this, his fourth death. Not so many, he thinks. Thinking, were this two centuries ago he’d be very good at death — children, grandparents, animals, enemies, neighbors, dying all around you, in the rooms where you slept and ate, shat and drank and there they are. Another body. Death is a stranger or the occasional distant relative who drops by rarely, if with pomp and circumstance, and mottled skin and bad breath, in these, our modern times. We don’t like death, did we ever? But we knew its face better before.

Now, he stares into the dying man’s face, sees the coming rictus. The twitches of pain as they have not calibrated the medication finely enough, to comfort both he and the people in the hospice room. The kids keep their distance — death is quite new to them, quite the terrible unusual uncomfortable thing. But he has three deaths under his belt, has even taken a retreat on death. He considers himself one of those people who arrive who keep their wits about them, who attempt usefulness as death’s black robes swirl around the room. Or are its robes white? Since certainly this man, huddled foetally in his dying bed, is ready for his release and so death has come like a white knight. Yet, he takes his time. Death, I mean. It is not easy getting into this life, even less easy getting out.

Hence, a blue guitar. Since after all, a dying person is still a person, cells still vibrating packets of energy, if fading, fading …  And a rhythm in the room, voices in unison, can still communicate into that density of a dying man no matter how far down he is on the long path out of life. Mute, he may be, but looking back over his shoulder at the receding lights of his departing life, he hears a faint melody. And that would be us, singing in his hospice chamber, ‘Amazing Grace,’ and ‘Hallelujah’ and other things that come out of a small blue guitar at such a time.

And the breath is bad from the bed, a gnarled tobacco-brown tooth visible in the laboring mouth, thinking of the handsome blonde-haired soldier so long ago, pushing behind German lines, a hero, a man doing the dangerous work he’d been assigned. Now, here, a blue guitar playing at the end. He shifts in his seat a bit to evade the smell, this fetid breath of death in progress. Yet what can be evaded at the last? For awhile, he lays his hands upon the  forehead, cool and dry like sand. The music — is it an illusion? — seems to yield some calm from the twitching.  Or maybe the new pain meds are taking hold. We sing on until we stop. Sometime, in the cold wet hours before another day’s dawn, he casts off. Still, at last, like the blue guitar, idle now in its black case upon the floor beside the bed.

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You’ve tried to write like a son of a b*tch. Now what?

9:43 am by

Greetings. If you’ve taken part in National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month for the month of November 2012 (thanks, Jim Carroll, for inspiring the name), please set down your pencils at this time. We realize it’s unlikely any of you were actually writing with pencils. But let’s be old school for a bit. Plus, this gives us the opportunity to deploy more pencil clip art. Below, then, are closing steps for your participation in the debut of W-SOB month.


PENCILS, DOWN: We thank you for participating (all 7 or 8 of you) and we encourage you to drop us a line about any increased levels of writing, however small and seemingly inconsequential, you were able to complete this past month. Also, please consider sending the finest couple of paragraphs you believe you wrote during the month (up to 10 paragraphs maximum or two poems) and we’ll consider republishing your words in WestVirginiaVille with a little something about yourself. So, send an 11th paragraph with your short bio. Send to: Contact Us.

MAIL AND DELIVER: Send no less than 10 and no more than 100 pages and/or screens of your writing to your W-SOB partner (to use the official designation, your Compatriot in Composition or CIC). We encourage you to snail-mail your partner actual paper printouts or copies of your writing — again, old school. When was the last time someone mailed you words, huh? It’ll be like getting a nice long letter. Yet if this is, like, way too much of a hassle and since W-SOB Month is all about boosting writing discipline without making your life Already Harder Than It Already Is, feel free to e-mail your W-SOB final document to your CIC.

The official designation of this final piece, BTW, is your WIW document (pronounced ‘whew‘ ). It may be a random splurge of words. It may be a highly edited selection of what you’ve written during the month. It may be a serious revision of an existing work that you finally got to edit to your satisfaction. It may be a long complaint that you were hardly able to write anything during the month except for this complaint and sorry excuse for an effort. But after all, even when write about not being able to write, and get all whiny and stuff, that’s is still writing and should be done with verve.

So, to sum up:
Send your WIW to your CIC, ASAP, OK?

FEEDBACK LOOP: In sending off your WIW, we suggest you add a note to your CIC as to what level of feedback you desire:

No Level: I have no expectations and do not wish to send anything but my final document.

Level One: I request NO feedback on what I’ve sent. I was just happy to have gotten through the month and I feel what I am sending is probably about as substantial and writerly as the ingredient list on a box of Captain Crunch, as you can see that my writing self-esteem is as fragile as a glass unicorn. So, thanks for being my partner.

Level Two: Friendly, constructive criticism welcome. I encourage supportive words about what I’ve sent and light, constructive reactions with a dollop of thoughts on what worked well and what worked not so well for you and maybe why.

Level Three: Let me have it. I am a writing warrior. Does any of this work for you? What did you really like? How would I make this sucker better?

FUTURE MONTHS: At least one person arrived late to the month and wondered in a comment whether we’d do it again? Yes! As a matter of fact, we are thinking of designating January another W-SOB month. We may also do W-SOB single weeks. We find the ridiculous announcement that an entire month has been designated Write Like a Son of B*tch Month to offer a slight improvement to the usually unlikely possibility that we may buckle down and get some serious, sustained writing done before we tango off this mortal coil and the book closes upon our life. Wouldn’t you rather, when life’s book slams shut on you, to leave behind a book or chapbook or working manuscript or three? Consider it your Epilogue.

We hope you agree. Thanks for taking part!

Write On.

Douglas Imbrogno
International Coordinator
Write Like a Son of  B*tch Month

> Announcing National Write Like a Son of a Bitch Month
> 4 Addendums to National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month

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4 Addendums to National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month

10:47 am by

NOTE: If you are coming cold to ‘National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month,’ please read this first.

by Douglas Imbrogno | Greetings. We have some updates if you are a W-SOB participant or are contemplating joining this month’s noble efforts to kick your writing self into gear, if not in the rear.

Addendum 1:  Mea Culpa

So, this is my son-of-a-bitching mea culpa. I, yes, I, your faithful founder of National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month have not, I must admit, it is true, godforgiveme, I…

[hangs head]

I have NOT been writing like a son of a bitch.

I am here to inform you, in this cometojesus moment, that I am now effective immediately commencing more fully — re-committing, if you will — to writing like one helluva son-of-a-bitch (thank you, Brother Jim) through November’s remaining days.

For after all, are we not in this together? Are we not trying to be more faithful to our impatient Muses? Pity those weary souls, who wait, yellow Ticonderoga No. 2‘s rolling between fingers or with fingernails clacking on keys, for us to sit ourselves in front of a desk, to hotwire our laptops, to pick up the damn writing utensil wouldyouplease! And get ourselves to work!

But how? Why, oh why, you ask yourself, have I not written anything substantial for the last several days/weeks/months/years? If that describes you, and it certainly describes me for the last several weeks, we encourage you right now, to join us in this revival and repeat after me:

I, [your name here], am going to start writing like a son of a bitch right now. Right this very second. I hereby pinkie promise.

(We’ll wait while you fire up Word or WordPress, or pull out a notebook/journal/sheet of paper/bank stub or napkin ….”

And so it begins.

Addendum 2: An Inspirational Poem

It is HARD to write like a son of a bitch. Let us admit this bald fact. So, I have made a discovery. It is not a radical discovery. It is hardly MY discovery. Yet it is a discovery nonetheless because, well, I discovered it. It’s kind of like an episode on my personal ‘DISCOVERY’ channel.

Anyway, the discovery is this one: You know how to write like a son of a bitch? Start writing. Start writing until you end up past the point of non-writing and realize, hey, I had better start kicking my legs because I am no longer on shore. I am floating out on an ocean of words, far from the safety of Non-Writing Land.

And so, you kick your legs. And you realize: Hey, I can do this! I can float on all these words! And the more I kick (a.k.a. – write), the farther and longer I can swim.

This may feel like automatic writing. Like you are (to switch metaphors in mid-Addendum) pushing a bunch of consonants, vowels and dipthongs around in a wheelbarrow on the page. And that’s true, there is a self-propulsive force to just pushing yourself to the actual act of writing without, necessarily having anything to say.

Or so you think.
But how will you know that unless you, like, write.

Here is a poem I once wrote, which I hereby officially deem the Official Poem of National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month:


There is a difference between
people who do things
and people who

The difference is
people who
do things,

who don’t,

+ + + + +

P.S. You may substitute ‘people who write things/write them’ for ‘people who do things, do them’. And ‘people who don’t write things/don’t write’ for ‘people who don’t/don’t.’

Which is a far more ungainly poem. But you get the point.
And now ask yourself – which of those kinds of people do you wish to be?

I thought so.

Addendum 3: Official Name Change

As a result of complaints from no one and soley because we like the look of it (plus, we don’t want to offend our sweet born-again Christian friend who sits near us at work), we are hereby officially changing the name of ‘National Write Like a Son of a Bitch Month’ to ‘National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month.’ The acronym shall remain, as ever: W-SOB.

We wish our original name had been boycotted by some national organization, like Mothers Against Drunk Writing (MADW). This might have given us some press and so enlarged the number of W-SOB participants in this, our inaugural year, to more than the 7 or 8 of you who have so far signed on. But trust in this. You few are veritable pioneers of writing like sons of bitches. (Excuse me, ‘sons of b*tches’).

And perhaps we will hear from some cranky feminist writers’ group, standing up on behalf of ‘daughters of b*tches,’ which might also drive some bad-ass PR our way. Which, if you think about it, daughters of b*tches are a truly under-represented group in the popular culture and lingo. Why is that? Is this some form of discrimination?

For that matter, what about ‘sons of bastards’? And ‘daughters of bastards’?

But we digress.
Which, it should be noted, is a good way to keep your Muses beavering away.

Whatever it takes.

Addendum No. 4: Possibly Hyper-Useful Suggestion

As part of our Official Suggestions for National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month, we encourage the following.

REVOLVE YOUR E-MAIL: Start an e-mail message write now and address it to yourself. SUBJECT LINE: W-SOB, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 (or whatever date you begin said e-mail). Start writing an email to yourself. Just start writing. Describe the weirdness of writing an e-mail to yourself. Describe the room you are in. Complain about your lover or lack of one. Describe exactly where you were when you learned Obama had been re-elected and how you and your crankiest relative took the news. Whatever. Just start the consonants and vowels, the synonyms and similes, coming. Get a page down without stopping. Or two.

Hit ‘Send.’

Now it is three hours later. Or six hours. Or the next day. Open up that e-mail to yourself. Update the subject line. ‘SUBJECT LINE: W-SOB, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.’ Type in a new date or new hour. Start writing again above the body of text that you wrote before. Write for a few minutes. Write for ten.

Hit ‘Send‘ again.

Rinse and repeat, sending this revolving e-mail notebook to yourself through the month of November. It may very well have a high crap-to-noise ratio (this is a technical term). But you will have kept an easily accessible digital journal going for days and weeks.

In such fits and spurts – since this kind of writing exercise can be dashed off at work while you take a breather from furthering the glories of the March of Capitalism — you may accomplish more writing time, cumulatively, than you have done up to this time all year.

And that’s a good thing. Plus, with your self-esteem bolstered by the fact that you are now writing as opposed to not-writing — which is a sorry-ass state for anyone who believes themselves a writer — you will be a far happier cog in the machine. As a result, the Man will be happier with you.

Then, when you really get going on your writing, you can stick it to the Man. We mean, metaphorically, of course. (But if do, like, actually stick it to the Man, like with your Ticonderoga No. 2 or lunch fork, let us know. So we can write about that. True crime tales always sells)

This will bring great satisfaction, this writing success. If not, eventually, revolution. Or, at the very least, a revolution in your own thinking and that of your readers. You take revolution where you can find it.

And there might — there just might — be a few good sentences in there somewhere in that e-mail screed. Or maybe the stubby, blunt end of a raw mineral you can pull out, dust-off, shine up and refine into a real gem.

Just remember us little people when you are short-listed for the Booker Prize.


Right on?
Write on.

Announcing National Write Like a Son of a B*tch Month

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Seeing into your neighbor’s window as life goes on

12:06 am by

Tomatoes on the Porch from the Neighbor Next Door | | august 2012

“We need to see the primordial potential in all of our experiences in the same way a doctor sees the health and well-being in his patients. If a patient didn’t possess a fundamental well-being, what would be the point of prescribing such antidotes as medicines, exercise, or new diets?”
~- Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, “Free Expression”

+ + +

So, it is Day 5 of my Facebook Fast for the month of September. And I can claim no high moral seriousness or report any breakthroughs. I have not yet begun to write, or get back to tapping out new episodes in the novel I am concocting. In truth, I have re-directed some of the time and effort spent tilling the soil of Facebook, growing ‘likes‘ and comments, and applied  it to learning the physics and culture of the Twitterverse. Long have I ignored WestVirginiaVille’s Twitter account, only allowing my Facebook page for this blog to automatically post status updates to Twitter. I see now that the only way to grow followers is to wade into the throng. I am up to 208, last I looked an hour ago, a veritable tidal surge since I began tweeting in earnest a week ago, when the number was, like, 101. New York Times tech writer David Pogue has 1.4 million Twitter followers — I know this because of stories about his recent viral wedding proposal video. These are comparisons we would do well to avoid if we live in rural web villages.

I like Twitter, there is less cacophony there. Facebook is like a loud party, everyone vying to be heard above the din. Twitter is more like a series of telegrams placed inside an in-box on your desk. You may scan them, choose which to open. There is dross, but not as much dross as on Facebook. And anyway you can quickly scan for what thought-streams, story-clicks and pools of persona into which to dive.

If I were truly going to cancel out the white noise of the cantankerous contemporary Ominverse, I would do like that writer is doing and just abandon the Internet for a year. Yet my quick left-turn into Twitter after my right-turn off of Facebook reminds me that I am hooked into the age by a thick white cable that runs out of my Mac, under my desk and into the wall, and which might as well be an umbilical chord. Do I, do we, do you, need — no, require — this constant connection to the worldwide village square? Hello, is anyone out there? I am here, talk to me, talk at me, talk with me. Verify.

+ + +

Bells on My Front Porch. |


I return from work and feel the urge to write in my blog, some long and sprawling post, which only my most devoted readers will suffer through to the end. Or maybe just myself. I want to hop on a random train in Grand Central, see where it goes, hopping on and off into towns I never intended or thought to visit.

So, I return home, get out of my car in the dark of the cul-de-sac and look right. I happen to see straight into my neighbor’s window. The man of the house was, I think, a boilermaker before he retired, or had something to do with that union of hard-working men (and no doubt women, by now). I know him hardly at all except we share a mutual support for Obama, unlike other neighbors on the street. I initially resented their arrival on the street, after they lopped down one, then two, of the tall shade trees in their yard, which is adjacent to ours. This reduced the shade in the street. But it did open up the sky as seen from our porch to greater vistas. Now, we get a much better gander of the boiling, blue-grey thunderclouds, heaving jagged bolts of lightning land-ward, when the storms come to our suburban ridgeline.

I have come to give thanks for the lady of the house next door. And she us. She leaves fresh tomatoes on our porch from the sprawling garden that went in where one of the trees was taken out. Also, she donated marigolds and purple-pink asters from her garden this summer to revivify our sorry weed-wracked front yard plots. Ripe, sweet tomatoes and fragrant burnt-orange marigolds and purple asters for a shade tree — not an altogether losing proposition, if the tree was indeed going to go down. I sometimes cut one of her gift marigolds with the Leatherman knife always on my hip and place it in water into a glass flower vase beside one of the several Buddha statues around my house.

Anyhow, there is my neighbor, a serious-looking expression on his face. He sits at his dining room table seen through the glass, facing one of his several older sons, who have come back home to live in what has become, really, a small family compound. What are they talking about? Perhaps it is something serious, a life-important event. Perhaps the son is just saying he needs new back tires on the big Ford truck that crowds our tiny cul-de-sac, so that I have to do a lot of jockeying, forward-reverse, forward-reverse, to get my Honda around it in the morning to get out to the interstate. (We also crowd the cul-de-sac with vehicles, now that my daughter is driving.). I turn away from this inadvertent peek into whatever dramas are unfolding at my neighbor’s dining table.

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I head into the house. Greet the daughter, who sits at the sofa, teaching two of her posse the ins-and-outs of Tumblr. “She’s teaching us how to be cool,” says one of the friends, leaning into my daughter’s shoulder to get a better view of the screen on her brand-new MacBook Pro. It’s my girl’s first laptop, bought for the start a week ago of her college career.

It’s still odd, seeing her un-tethered from the stodgy old desktop Dell in the corner of the living room, her computer post for the last decade. Now, she turns up everywhere in the house, wirelessly jacked into the Omniverse, where she and her posse are native citizens, half their brains, and more than half their attenion, permanently settled there. Me? I will forever be an ex-pat of the Ominverse, sitting with a double cappuccino like an American in Paris, liking the place but never completely, utterly French.

douglas imbrogno | huntington, | sept. 2012

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