I saw the corporal, the stairs, the dust, the milk, the glass, the caliph, the aphid, the aleph

“Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping poverty: that, one magical day, good luck will suddenly rain down on them – will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down, yesterday, today, tomorrow or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day on their right foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms. The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the no-ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life, screwed every which way. Who are not, but could be. Who don’t speak languages, but dialects. Who don’t have religions, but superstitions. Who don’t create art, but handicrafts. Who don’t have culture, but folklore. Who are not human beings, but human resources. Who do not have faces, but arms. Who do not have names, but numbers. Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the crime reports of the local paper. The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”

— Eduardo Galeano, “The Nobodies

It has been a fine day for texts. Some lovely digital artist has created a data sculpture inspired by Borges’s The Aleph in which a man sees the entire universe and all time through a spot on his stairs. David Hirmes created an ever-evolviing text by mining Project Gutenberg and Twitter for sentences that begin with “I saw…”

I am always healed by invocations of infinity.


And then I found excerpts from a new day book by Eduardo Galeano, an(other) Uruguayan writer.

“On the third day of the year 47 BC, the most renowned library of antiquity burned to the ground.

After Roman legions invaded Egypt, during one of the battles waged by Julius Caesar against the brother of Cleopatra, fire devoured most of the thousands upon thousands of papyrus scrolls in the Library of Alexandria.

A pair of millennia later, after American legions invaded Iraq, during George W. Bush’s crusade against an imaginary enemy, most of the thousands upon thousands of books in the Library of Baghdad were reduced to ashes.

Throughout the history of humanity, only one refuge kept books safe from war and conflagration: the walking library, an idea that occurred to the grand vizier of Persia, Abdul Kassem Ismael, at the end of the tenth century.

This prudent and tireless traveler kept his library with him. One hundred and seventeen thousand books aboard four hundred camels formed a caravan a mile long. The camels were also the catalogue: they were arranged according to the titles of the books they carried, a flock for each of the thirty-two letters of the Persian alphabet.”


And to think just yesterday I was all worked up about a job.


the metaphysical animal of absence

A gathering of mostly latino poets filled the Palace Theater in downtown Bryan, Texas a couple weeks ago. Among them was a small, widely applauded, white haired and bent little woman who effortlessly commanded the space. Her name was Ida Vitale. After she read her poem in Spanish a young man who had been sitting next to her rose and read a translation.

And then it was clear she was a poet among poets. Royalty. I found a collection translated into English and bought it. This is not the poem she read then. This is the poem I’m showing you now.


I thank my homeland for its errors

those committed, those to come,

active, blind to its white mourning.

I thank the contrary gale,

the semi-forgetfulness, the spiny border of sophistry,

the fallacious denial of a dark gesture.

Yes, thank you, than you very much

for having taken me to wander

so the hemlock has its effect

and it no longer hurts when

the metaphysical animal of absence


–Ida Vitale, badass exiled Uruguayan poet living in Austin, 90 years old.

The italics refer to a quote from German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk.

The great ones do move among us.

hoppers vs. grangers

Grangers versus hoppers - Page

Hunger the Giant, titular protagonist of my short novel in progress, is involved with the hoppers today. Research has turned up a number of great images– giantism was all the rage in the pioneer times– and I am sharing a few with you. 

In 1874 and 75 plagues of grasshoppers fell upon the new settlers of the Great Plains. They darkened the skies, fell in drifts several feet thick, and ate everything they could chew, including the wool off a sheep’s back and the wooden handles of tools.

I suspect the plague of hoppers was a direct result of changes in the ecosystem, specifically the catastrophic decline in the passenger pigeon population.

I don’t know the story of the wounded hopper above, though I wish I did.


The real insects, like practically everything in nature, are amazing. To walk through the prairie in high summer is to enter a grasshopper kingdom. Their stridulating keeps the beat of the summer song cycle and as you walk the hoppers explode from your steps in every direction, setting before you carpet of motion as they sculpt the force of gravity the grasses defy.