roy montgomery – kafka was correct

disordered chronology of movement


Failed recollections to begin with. Slow-creeping toward habit. A giant round metal head. Sudden velocity. Sudden inertia. Pavement merges with gravel. The emergence of a tentative consciousness, neither hard nor pebbly. Vexation of unidentified raptors. Vultures soar over open sore in ground. A blast. Winged assassins. New commonness of thrashers in the street. Feet to pedals. The river like a swollen artery choked with plaque. Ungroundedness. Slow mounting keen of a train not far off. Dream rivulets running off a dry and calloused cerebellum. The importance of a second floor. Eye contact with strangers. Avoid building awareness of a presence. A body imagined close, a body far off yet close, a body buried in dry soil, a body husking a soul. A dipping line, looming and drawing back, tangled in the hanging moss of a halting lifetime.


The exultant dismissal of everything. A hitching-up of trouser legs above this rising level of foreign liquidity. A spreading out tempered by a wish to gather in. Weathering. Rusty rooftop with greenery. The futile accomplishment of deletion. Southern hospitality. Sensory overload. Sensory deprivation. Every atom split to populate a neverending shell game run by con artists connotating the building blocks of life. It’s so casual is what it feels like. An unseemly seeming accidental existence. And yet people fly planes. Against near-white skies. This is a reason not to listen to all the best songs in a row. This is the reason time means nothing. Look out, the fuse is lit. See how it sputters, this heat seen and heard, racing on its journey to a black-powder shattered shack. Every early morning blink of a first-opened eye, this fuse is lit. And wetted fingertips flutter to pinch it out quick.


Bird on a wire, sing your song, lift your wing to the world. Swoop down and over this set of fleet footprints filled in long ago. Expectations of nothing can never be unfulfilled. It’s a something-nothing to believe in, at least. An anti-ideal to carry stuck beneath an idealist’s forever-sweating armpit. Relish the freedom of solitude in public places. Deny detours diverting detritus. Pick it up, handle it, determine meaning and value, discard when done. Don’t look back but for inspiration. Forward motion fuels freedom. Reminders come free.

from the amalgamator’s observatory

In the city summer after the trashmen have driven off with the week’s waste, a trailing fetid odor stagnates mid-street. I ride through the rank air and it feels so oddly cool and clean. A young man asks if it will rain today and I shrug toward the dark clouds moving towards us from the south. A neighbor stares through me from behind dark glasses and I wonder why, when before she used to say hello. I believe things shifted when she bleached her hair. Perhaps she bleached out more than pigment. In the close quarters of rowhouse life, we are farther apart than in the rural countryside where being a neighbor means more than someone to avoid eye contact with. There it means sharing and helping, a way of life. I like my space and freedom from the noise of others, but I prefer a friendly understanding to rude avoidance. What if, like Bartleby, we all preferred not to. That said, I have my aloof days. I do have those.

And so…summer’s confluence of days spreads farther into time’s watershed, like tiny feeder streams losing their autonomy. Warm water mixes with cool and thus blended seeps through me. I am a slow cracked flagon, never empty, never full. Plagued by seeing all the wrong things, agreeing to mistakes made in advance. Orchestrating release of the next batch of tics, twitches, compulsions to soothe and smooth. Periods of mania descending to flatline. Elaborating on the never happening.

But wait! It’s never just the weather, is it. Isn’t it. Yes and no. This is getting repetitive. Instead let’s go word diving. It’s like pearl diving, but with words, and less dangerous. Fun fact: the average university-educated native English speaker’s receptive vocabulary size is around 20,000 word families (a word family is a base word and its inflected forms and derivations). Receptive size refers to the number of words recognized while listening and reading. Productive size refers to the number of words used in speaking and writing, and is often understood to be half the receptive size. To put this in perspective, the OED defines roughly 600,000 words. So dive deep, the bottom is farther away than you might think.

my thoughts dried up so i wrote this instead

When you isolate yourself, you have no one else to blame when things go awry. There is some small comfort in this. It is possible to go days without talking to anyone. This can be a magical combination of your own self-imposed silence and a general indifference on the part of others. Together we can make it work. The woman in the alley enjoys screaming hateful words at her grandson but she is sweet as pie when I say hello. This dichotomy hurts my brain. The alley is loud in the summer. The ladies across the way gun their motorcycles at all hours. The level of their inconsideration for people living together in a confined space staggers me. Small children yell and sing and talk like adults. I brood at the kitchen table. If it weren’t for the swatch of overgrown vegetation threatening to engulf my porch, I would have to see, as well as hear, the denizens of the alley and that I could not bear. Meanwhile, in the plus column, the city installed four solar-powered compacting trash cans on a main street in the neighborhood. I was overjoyed to throw my dog’s poop in them. Then they took one away. It was the most conveniently located one. Why. On another street near my house the city erected an expensive-looking fence in the median. A few weeks later they removed it. Why. Every day I see the thousands of dollars I pay in property taxes hemorrhage out onto the streets in the form of Kafkaesque activities such as this. It pains me. I could make much better use of those thousands of dollars than by funding the erecting and dismantling of fences. Segueing into the employment realm, it’s summertime at work which results in a curious laissez faire attitude toward attendance. I like it but it confuses me. I am always suspicious of it. Yet there is a natural relaxed cadence I cannot ignore, and so I allow it to carry me in its wake. When I feel agitated, I look at the little pictures in the dictionary and this soothes me. Last night I had a pleasant time in dreamland, but I forgot most of it upon waking. I don’t like that. I need to remember my dreams or waking life seems vacant. Do you ever wonder about the nature of friendships? They are curious things. Coming and going, rarely staying. Sometimes they wane; sometimes they wither. Sometimes they fail over the stupidest things. And you wonder if it could have been avoided, but in reality if it was a strong friendship it should have been able to withstand most of the nonsense we manage to self-generate. Which then begs the question of why the friendship existed in the first place. Convenience, perhaps. Boredom. Desperation for human contact [see: possibility of going for days without speaking to anyone, as outlined above]. I have had many friendships through the years, for all of these listed reasons and more. Not many have lasted, but the tiny few that have are worth more than gold. The question is then, do I now need more friends? What purpose would they serve? It gets harder to make friends as you get older. It’s horrible but I find myself more judgmental than I used to be of people when considering them as potential friends. I am also perhaps even more guarded now. Friendship requires time and effort, both valuable resources that I don’t expend lightly. How can you know if it’s worth it. Most of the time I am content to be by myself. I also have a dog now. The ultimate friend. Always dependable, always happy to see you. Can’t go to the bathroom without your help, which is a little weird. Doesn’t talk, which is both good and bad. Sometimes I wish he’d talk, just a little. See, even though I am content by myself, I have this annoying urge to reach out sometimes. It’s irrepressible. Sometimes everything can’t be found in books. Or nature. Most things, yes. But not all. This is the curse of human nature. We are not 100% autonomous. And I am so restless. This incessant unease shadows my every move. The panic. The urge to drop out. The crushing confinement of your own mind. We’re all so spread out. Held together by weakening links. I trip over my own shallow roots and fall face-down in a mucky bog. Roll around and let the clay harden on your skin. Let it cover all that you see as wrong. It feels so good.

february coming spring*

*nod to Samhain

The daffodils are rising as the robins trickle back into the city. Last week I heard a male cardinal testing out his pipes, gearing up for courtship rites. And today, as I rolled my bike out the basement door, a Song Sparrow belted out his bright song from an undisclosed location secreted within the old cottonwood tree.

These signs of spring feel unwarranted. We have not endured enough of winter’s harshness to deserve such rich pleasures so soon. It makes me want to move farther north, where the extreme cold and steady snow sweeten the coming warmth of spring’s new life.

As the temperature wavers, still my mind wanders, far from here, never where it’s paid to be. This dreamer role, this aqueous nature, it is equal parts curse and blessing. It becomes harder every day to reel myself back in to accomplish the tasks at hand. Perhaps one day I will unravel all the way, cut loose to float wherever the wind will take me. But for now routines strangle me, each of them a single lead weight in my pocket, rooting me to this unfamiliar patch of land I struggle to call home.


In the woods I came upon a young bobcat stalking a rabbit.

My arrival on the scene gave the rabbit the window it needed to escape.

The bobcat rose from its crouch, turned and stared me down before slinking off into the woods.

When I got home a mouse was living in my stove.

Outside a mockingbird splashed luxuriantly in the bird bath.

The orange cat next door was hungry.

I am feeling here and there, but mostly there.

see you when your troubles get like mine

Small tragedies and minor victories twist around your idle fingers like woody vines. You trade witticisms like barbed wire slipped underneath your tongue. A single scent scatters a part of the brain already always a bit on edge. But at arm’s length, you don’t ever find the visceral. You won’t ever find it there. So push away the veil of ions, then, and you will see the rush of blood. Warm air on skin, brushing off a touch that never came. Color in cheeks, déjà vu and try to ignore imagination prone to wanton escapades. Think and wish, then, and think again. Fall into the ordinary, fall into it open and true, with wild grit in your gut.

be all end all

Twin telescreens of death stare unblinking at your bleary listless eyes.  Four o’clock on a day of daylight supposedly saved, but actually just an extra hour wasted in a box inside of a box inside of a grimy concrete and asphalt wrapping.  An hour saved, an hour squandered.  I’m so worn down by the angles, the geometry of what surrounds me, what stares me rigid in the face.  I’m tired of the traps, the ones I walk into every day knowing they are there, and knowing they will snare me once again.  Day in, day out, I disappoint myself…my raging imagination like a balloon full of nitrous I suck on just enough to keep me standing up (and sitting down).  It’s a cheap high, and the euphoria of what whets my synapses carries me along, as the concavity of my soul deepens.  Further degradation in my psyche occurs, my social development a crumbling stone wall snaking back through the years behind me, each day pounded into smaller pieces, ’til no longer can I see through the cloud of rock dust to even know there’s someone on the other side.  There’s no alarm system triggered, no preventive maintenance performed, no evasive action taken.  I am unsupervised….out roaming the barren plains, shuffling and stumbling over minor events while veering away from major catastrophes.  I am giddy and lightheaded with a belly full of lead shot.  I want to run and never stop.  I wrote once that stasis has its merits but even then I knew motion was the skeleton key.  When you’re limb-locked and dusty, there is no other cure.

snowy day

As I stare out the window, fluffy puffs of snow drift purposefully down from the sky. They signal a lazy day, or at least they provide rationalization for such. As the first of the season, they also hammer the final nail in the coffin lid of autumn, and prod me into a grudging admittance that winter is definitely here now. Yesterday morning, I searched in vain again for the Red-headed Woodpeckers at Irvine. It was cold, gray, and quite birdy, with loads of other woodpeckers, sparrows (including several Fox Sparrows), many jays, and the other usual suspects. I also surprised an interesting looking squirrel. It was smaller than an Eastern Gray Squirrel, with a reddish tail and mostly blonde body. Blonde phases of gray squirrels are not uncommon, but I’m not too sure about a red/blonde mix.

Feeling a bit restless now so I think I better venture out of the house. Maybe more later?

it just seems like there’s no end in sight

This winter is never-ending. Spring drags its muddy feet, reluctant to bless us with its milder tones, and I in turn remain sluggish and reclusive, like a surly overwintered plant not yet ready to unfurl its new leaves toward the sun. The white sky, the wind, the cold air within my house conspire to press me down. My body at rest stays at rest, no forces working upon it. I waste away; I shrink inward only to then recoil from what I find within. For the cold resides deep down in my bones, gathered in thick pools that creep forth to fill every cavity. I have begun to harbor caustic feelings toward this season we call winter. I love three seasons out of four, yet I’m not sure if even that combined love outweighs my growing hatred of the fourth.

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