When the Light Cools

When the Light Cools. © Chris Bronsk 2014.Twin Tracks. © Chris Bronsk 2014.

If night is our last address,
This is the place we moved from,
Backs on fire, our futures hard-edged and sure to arrive.

These are the towns our lives abandoned,
Winds in our faces,
The idea of incident like a box beside us on the Trailways seat.

And where were we headed for?
The country of Narrative, that dark territory
Which spells out our stories in sentences, which gives them an end and beginning…

Goddess of Bad Roads and Inclement Weather, take down
Our names, remember us in the drip
And thaw of the wintry mix, remember us when the light cools.

—Charles Wright from “Appalachian Farewell” in Scar Tissue (FSG, 2006)

(To ends and beginnings. Best wishes for 2014, everyone.)


Diagnosis (I). © Chris Bronsk 2013.

Diagnosis (II). © Chris Bronsk 2013.

Diagnosis (III). © Chris Bronsk 2013.

The blue square of light
in the window across the street
never goes dark—

the cathodes, the cordage, the atoms
working the hem of dusk—
traveling past the cranes and the docks

and the soiled oyster beds,
the trees loaded with radium,
colors like guns,

red pock-pock red and yellow up,
yellow down—
the blue hour, the waiting.

Meghan O’Rourke, from “Halflife”

Refuse Stasis

Refuse Stasis. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Refuse Stasis. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Reconfigure Bones. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Reconfigure Bones. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Exquisite Repose. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Exquisite Repose. © Chris Bronsk 2013.

“And Father, dear Father, ‘your memory causes my heart to fall out,’ to spatter flat on the ground until all is left behind, until the hollow body begins to trace out its shell-like regions:  the ribcage, chest, and pelvic girdle grieve until the bones are rearranged, resemble a skeleton, a museum exhibit, a body shell case. In case the glass shatters, document the past with exquisite repose; reconfigure the bones until they order the mind without disrupting the brain, which is constantly at work to put the pieces back in order. Say to the brain: ‘Replenish the images you refuse to keep; refuse stasis. Resign from eating away at the thing; eat the thing.” —Claire Donato, Burial

The Cracks of a Gate

Cracks of a Gate. © 2013 Chris Bronsk.
Cracks of a Gate. © 2013 Chris Bronsk.


If after our death they want to transform us into a tiny withered flame that walks along the paths of winds—we have to rebel. What good is an eternal leisure on the bosom of air, in the shade of a yellow halo, amid the murmur of two-dimensional choirs?

One should enter rock, wood, water, the cracks of a gate. Better to be the creaking of a floor than shrilly transparent perfection.

Oblivious Nephews

While You Wait © 2013.  Chris Bronsk.
While You Wait © 2013. Chris Bronsk.
Eternal Accidents © 2013.  Chris Bronsk.
Eternal Accidents © 2013. Chris Bronsk.
Mouse Holes © 2013.  Chris Bronsk.
Mouse Holes © 2013. Chris Bronsk.

FLAMENCO by Dean Young

The sexual gasps coming from the garden shed
of my friends turning twenty, tipsy
droll joke of my friends turning thirty, lost
car keys even with tied-to-them a silly whistle
turning forty, bullshit about September
the most passionate month fifty, bird-watching
nap my friends sixty, turning empty chair
at card-club on my friends turning, turning
while I remain unchanged, a peach pit,
still assisting an ant with a stick,
tapping a peanut to signal a squirrel,
a collection of eternal accidents
while the body, without pity, shrinks,
expands, noises coming from it like
trapped rabbits, sometimes muffled
xylophone, its liquids fermenting,
drunk on itself, dance just foot slams,
painting just spray and spill, brain commanding
its grit to become ruby, won’t, tears amniotic,
incinerated dust then an oblivious nephew
given my watch in a velvet sack,
my ghost eating mulberries in a tree,
still stained, my tyrannosaurus skull still
trying to poke through a mouse hole in the cosmos.


“We passed the abandoned windmill , and Mr. Kaspar went on talking. He told us that a few days ago he dreamed that a grown man and a little boy came knowing at his door with some good news for him. That premonition had put him in an excellent mood, and it came true today. For what finer thing could happen to a fellow in times like these? My father glanced discreetly at his watch; time was sailing by relentlessly, and the last narrow-gauge train was leaving from the next village in an hour.” —Paweł Huelle, “The Table,” Moving House: Stories

(This post was inspired by Kevin Kainulainen’s amazing blog Objects Gross & the Unseen Soul.)

Administration (I), Yreka, CA, 2013
Administration (I), Yreka, CA, 2013
Administration (II), Yreka, CA, 2013
Administration (II), Yreka, CA, 2013

Two Blocks Down

You remember the name was Jensen. She seemed old
always alone inside, face pasted gray to the window,
and mail never came. Two blocks down the Grubskis
went insane. George played rotten trombone
Easter when they flew the flag. Wild roses
remind you the roads were gravel and vacant lots
the rule. Poverty was real, wallet and spirit,
and each day slow as church. You remember threadbare
church groups on the corner, howling their faith
at stars, and violent Holy Rollers
renting that barn for their annual violent sing
and the barn burned down when you came back from war.
Richard Hugo, from “What Thou Lovest Well Remains American”

Seeds, Yreka, CA © C. Bronsk
Seeds, Yreka, CA © C. Bronsk
Lodge, Yreka, CA © C. Bronsk
Lodge, Yreka, CA © C. Bronsk
Number Four, Yreka, CA © C. Bronsk
Number Four, Yreka, CA © C. Bronsk


Trend Setting

Trend Setters (I), Yreka, California
Trend Setters (I), Yreka, California

“What is earned at the end of a given year is never to be depended on and, even late in a season, is never predictable. It can be enough to tide through the dead months of the winter, sometimes even better: it can be enough, spread very thin, to take through two months, and a sickness, or six weeks, or a month: it can be little enough to be completely meaningless: it can be nothing: it can be enough less than nothing to insure a tenant only of an equally hopeless lack of money at the end of his next year’s work: and whatever one year may bring in the way of good luck, there is never any reason to hope that that luck will be repeated in the next year or the year after that.” —James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Viewing the Bay

Viewing the Bay (I)

Viewing the Bay (II)

Viewing the Bay (III)
Viewing the Bay (III)

“So my husband and I went up north to the tenth floor and we entered our room and the glass doors in the far wall were open and the filmy white curtains were fluttering and we stepped through them, out onto the balcony, and there was a wonderful view, the sharp ocean horizon, Banderas Bay a jade green out far, and to the left was the curve of the shore, the hotels all nestled there and also the distant city with its red-tiled roofs and palms and the mountains rising behind, thick with trees. It was very nice. I had seen but I did not look at the band of brown water, maybe seventy-five meters wide, stretching along the beach. I supposed it was the tide-drifted water from the mountain river I’d seen coming in, water full of mud and leaves from the jungle. Sort of romantic, if you think about it, the jungle hugging our shore. But of course my husband’s eyes went straight for this stain on the bay and he didn’t see any romance in it. He just shook his head.” —from “The American Couple” by Robert Olen Butler‘s A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

To a Stop

To a Stop (I), Seattle, 2013

To a Stop (II), Seattle, 2013


It happens very rarely. The earth’s axis screeches and come to a stop. Everything stands still then: storms, ships, and clouds grazing in the valleys. Everything. Even horses in a meadow become immobile as if in an unfinished game of chess.

And after a while the world moves on. The ocean swallows and regurgitates, valleys send off steam and the horses pass from the black field into the white field. There is also heard the resounding clash of air against air.