It's like my grandfather always told me: Mike, when life hands you Lemons, ask for a paternity test.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Previews to Two New Stories

"Sadness and Cigarette Smoke" (Working Title)
He had come to this bar for years and had left countless partners swinging to Monk, Parker and Coltrane. He steadied the cigarette between his lips and lit the match. He inhaled deeply and felt the first exhilaration fill his lung, his body. One of life’s miracles he thought as he let the smoke mix with the music waiting in the bar’s atmosphere. They swirled around each other, then greeted, and then danced towards the ceiling. Watching over them were framed portraits of jazz greats: Basie, Ellington and Henderson seemed to count time to the dancing elements. Countless partners he thought again and laughed. “Time and time again, I said I’d leave you” began playing when the bar’s door opened, and in walked a woman Cole didn’t recognize.

On the way back, a dog ran out onto the highway and met my front bumper. I laughed.
“Are you sick? You probably killed that dog. Why did you laugh?”
To this day, I don’t know why. Maybe I saw in that dog my own attempts to pursue a better life across the highway, and like him, I was blindsided. Or, maybe I laughed because of the absurdity of it all. Fate had a contract out for that dog, and I, the pacifist, was its agent in destruction.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Four Seasons

Imbibed with freedom,
I sway back and forth, to the
delight of children.

Wintertime one finds
me dormant underneath mounds
of pristine, white snow.

Falling rain awakes
my potential, but I alone
must reach the surface.

In early sunlight
I find nourishment and strength
for the noontime sun.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another Haiku

Here's another haiku to add to Incandescent (A Series of Haikus)

Inspiration comes
to man through the advent of
40 watts above.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

For Tsutomu Yamaguchi: The Man who Survived Two A-Bombs

Can you hear me now?
I was at Hiroshima.
When sounds turned silent.
I was burned badly, but still
I survived to find
my way to Nagasaki.
I was there both days
when azure skies flashed brightly.
Are you listening?
For I arose from falling
Snowy ash, as the witness.

Human Folklore

Your stories are
Incomprehensible, layered in
Multiplicity, a mixture
Of Strange, Strong Sounds.

Yet, you persist,
These are you stories. Remember, Re
Member us, the fathers, through these...
Your words sprout as

Fruit that entices and complicates. Have
(you, they, I, we?)
ever cut into a pomegranate?
It is hard to open, the contents

to Hold. The seeds
are sour and they stain lips crimson,
Then leave me ashamed, a spectacle
To the timid.

But you never
Cared. You sat in shame, mouths colored
Red. You laugh, then begin telling stories
For the timid.

Sit down, our sons,
our daughters, while we, the fathers,
reveal our common roots and
mold your futures.

Liberty came
Because we took up your cause, long
before you were you. We ask you
to go and Do...

But do what? You
branched out and divided until
stories became the term that holds
all the options.

I want to Un
Ravel you, open through your tall tales
Understanding. I taste the first seeds.
They are sour.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I read this blog called I'll Never Forget the Day I a Book, which is pretty boss. The author reviews books, as well as post interesting questions. In a recent post, he asked about what makes literature "literature." Here's a link to his post.
Leave your comments, and I'll try to think my way through this question.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Music Project: "Lollipop" by Mika

Thou Shalt

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt n…

Matt’s hand cramps. He has written the commandment as punishment 178 times. Only 72 more “Thou shalt nots,” and then he presents it to his mother for approval and rebuke. The cramp slowly leaves, but it takes him back to his transgression.

Matt sat alone on the playground. He always does; his mother doesn’t want him playing with the “unwashed.” So, he sits alone, and watches the rest of the fifth grade class play during recess. He once begged Ms. Carpwhipple to stay inside, but she replied,

“Matthew, your mother may not allow you to play, but you still need to be out there with your friends.”

Friends? The girls found him off putting and strange, while the other boys bullied. Only Katie ever talked to Matt. Across the playground his classmates were playing, but at her Matt focused his attention. She was playing double dutch with Sally Jenkins, Dorothy Rosenberg, and Madison Sudweeks, and at each jump her uniformed skirt came up a little higher. Matt tried to look away, but found himself entranced. Katie’s arms found their way to the sky. Matt saw her young skin and smiled. His thoughts turned to her, her chest and possibilities, the brownies she’d make for him….

Adelaide’s voice shattered his thoughts.

“Oh my God! What’s in your pants?”

Sitting at the table, Matt smiles a little more. Only 72 more to go, but all he can think about is brownies. In between the commandments, he begins writing

It is worth it.

It is worth it.
It is

Music Project: "18 and Life" by Skid Row

The Fantastically Mediocre Life of Gary

“There’s a paper jam in the copy machine again.”

The disembodied voice penetrated the cubicle wall but reached only Gary’s ears. Slowly he arises from his ergonomically made chair and exits his cluttered work area into the microcosm that is SubStandard Insurance (It’s for the people!). He goes to work on the enjambment but his mind is not in the work no it is back on a picture he happened upon on Facebook which Jake his high school friend posted and tagged from my “glory days.” This was when I had hair, luxurious locks that graced my shoulders and hid the pockmarks. I was damn hard, and all the chicks digged me and Ricky. Jake, not so much. I remember my first tape; it was Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. This was before Nirvana destroyed my music, before I knocked Charlotte up with our first kid. Gary, how’s that jam coming? It’s coming, sir. I’m almost done. He focuses on the task, but how can I concentrate when my life’s in the shits? I wasn’t ready to be a father at eighteen, and I’ve been here ever since, scratching a life for an ungrateful family. Why can’t you make more, Gerald? She only calls me Gerald when she’s pissed. Lately she’s been that. The kids aren’t much better. They won’t even talk to me; they’re ashamed of me, the minivan, the small house we rent out because I can’t afford better. I try talking, but they just put those damn earbuds in and tune out. Gary, I have customers waiting for estimates; could you hurry up just a teeny bit? Well Carol, this jam is pretty big. You’re going to need professional help. You are the profess… No, not anymore. I need help. Gary? Gary, why are you shaking?

Music Project: An Introduction

Here's the idea. I am reshaping this blog into a creative writing source. In the next few weeks, I will be posting roughs of flash stories specifically revolving around songs given me by classmates, professors, readers, etc. What I want to achieve with this project is demonstrate a link between writing and music. How so?
I like music because of the stories I hear. Whether it's Clutch, Marvin Gaye, Talib Kweli, or Vivaldi, I see images coming from the lyrics and the musical movements. My problem til now is I usually don't know how to present these images into stories. One advantage of using a blog for the writing process is to get your input. Do the images make sense? Do you see the same story? If not, what do you see? As music is largely interpretative, readers will respond to these songs differently than I do. I just hope you see the creativity, and if not, appreciate the try.
So, with that terrible introduction, I look forward to your comments on these flash stories. If you like them, tell your friends, and send in more songs for this project.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Creative Writing

For my final project in this class, I have decided to experiment on my versatility. I have asked friends and classmates for favorite or good songs. This playlist will serve as the basis of a series of flash stories and poems. I will listen to the songs, try to find the stories and images. I will post progress on this blog as cross genres and media.
Here are a few of the songs given to me:

This is my choice.

Thanks, Cory.

From Emily.
If you have any ideas or songs, send them to me in the comments here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lecture From Brian Doyle

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, we would see everything as it is -infinite." -Blake

Unusual Intelligence and Humor are interconnected; spirituality also.
Humility is the Final Frontier of Existence.

"Writing, Editing and Money"
Words are terribly weak, but must be used to understand the abstract. Examples are God and love. Are there any words more used, but also confused?
Writing matters, more than I think it does. Great writing is an arrow that is shot into other's hearts; it's not about the author. Great writing becomes a part of another. We have nothing, are nothing, if we tell no stories. Stories are Everything! As long as we tell their stories, people live on. True stories have nothing to do with fiction or nonfiction. You can knock on them, and they resonate.
Writing: Being lost in a forest, with only a sharp pen to make your way home. "Learn to ask a question and then shut your pie hole." Silence is a great tool for writing. Really, then what? Put your butt in the chair and get started. 90% of the work is sitting down and starting a story. Don't sit down to write "literature;" just get the story out on paper. Writing is cathartic and a discovery. Avoid "me." Stories are prayer, food, the past, the heart, etc. Without them, man is but an empty ego. There is something great within stories that brings people together, and give selfishness and greed the finger. Writing comes in all shapes and forms; boil it down to power, verb and courage. Let others make sense of it.
Editing: A craft, not an art. Patty Ann Rogers -Great, American Poet. Editing is about clarity of thought. Editors are sparks, motivators. Poke people to see what they should write. Editing is clarifying; Does the piece have bones or not? Personal essay and poetry are most prone to egotism. Strip away the ego, so the truth (salt) of the piece comes out. Poke the author so blood and humor come out. Find the flow within the text. You can say a lot without a word.
If you can smell, catch, or tell a story, you are Marketable!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Haiku

I wrote this, and put it on Thumbscribes for public scrutiny and editing. Here's the original:
Incandescent (A Series of Haikus)
Life is beautiful,
Illuminated by bulbs...
Life tinges on fraud.

Now we will see if others will alter or change this idea.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Woods and Chalices

That's the name of the book of poetry I'm reading by Tomaz Salamun. He's pretty good.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I am sitting at a desk in Provo, about to teach an elementary school in South Korea. How interesting is that? With my new job and today's technology, I can reach out and talk to people across the world. But there is also points of disconnection.
Take for instance earlier today (by earlier I mean at 1:30 in the morning). I am teaching a young man in ChangYang Middle School, when his connection stopped. I tried calling several times, but to no avail. I lost connection.
I thought about this in terms of human interaction. How often do I "disconnect," meaning lose interest or focus. I may be present, but there is no communication.
Those are just some quick thoughts; I'll flesh them out later.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can We Go Back?

I realized after reaching campus today that I forgot my cell phone. I thought about going back to get, but I stopped. Hadn't I lived life without a cell phone once? Is it possible to live today without one?
I decided to experiment. I won't carry my cell phone for the rest of the day (until midnight tonight). I want to see if I can handle not having it, or if carrying my phone has become an addiction. Already I feel an urge to be connected.
Oh, this is indeed a philosophical conundrum.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This YouTube video will make you cry

When I volunteered at the Utah County half Ironman last week, a guy mentioned this video from "Ukraine's Got Talent." I can't get enough of it: incredibly powerful and emotional. Plus, she's doing all this art with sand! Enjoy and leave a comment of how you like it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

De-Centralized Learning

With the advent of this new semester, I find all my classes away from the Joseph F. Smith Building. This may not seem like much to most of you, but the JFSB is the home of the College of Humanities. It is my educational home at BYU, and without classes there, I'm just a little lost.
Or I can look at this experience as a journey to discover new parts of campus. We'll see; stay tuned.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I found myself in another one of those "That just happened" moments last night: singing Elton John with friends as I drove to Smith's to pick up orange juice for my developing cold. Thanks to Amanda and Danielle for sharing in that moment. Also, thanks to Anna and everyone else who didn't show disappointment in the cancellation of the outdoor movie (The Sting) for an indoor movie (The Empire Strikes Back). You're good people, no matter what others think or say.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blackberry Picking

It must have been twelve, that transitory time when Tuesday night concedes to Wednesday morning, and where was I? In the thick of a thorny bush and attired in shorts and a pair of slip on Vans, I found myself and Joey Majdali picking blackberries.
We picked five to six cups, which we used in a homemade cobbler. Plan for next week: pick some more.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


For the fifteenth or twentieth time in my life, I started running again. I ran three and a half miles the other night and aim to repeat tonight after work. And every time I run, the same thought runs with me:
Why do I run?
I hate it, running. I don't mind if there is a purpose to the running; soccer and football give me a reason. But running for runnings sake seems like torture to me. Friends of mine say they run "to clear their minds," or "to sort things out." Perhaps I am not a deep think or am extremely organized, for I can only focus one thing: how much I hate running. There must be something which motivates me to run x amount of miles.
And there is.
As most of you know, my father past away at the tender age of 49 from a sudden and massive heart attack. Reason: he didn't take care of himself like he should have. That reason scares me to run. I wish there were a more superficial or selfless factor behind running: enjoyment, personal goals, marathons, etc. But those goals aren't the reason. I run for fear, scared that if I don't, I will rob children and grandchildren of their dad or Grampa. Selfish, I know, but that's the gist of the post.

Disclaimer: I do apologize for the inconsistency in thought process. Writing down personal thoughts is not easy, nor should the task be easy. That, or I am looking for an excuse for my sloppy writing. (I would choose the former excuse, but I know the latter to be correct.)

A Brief Return from a Long Sabbatical

I know; I haven't spent time on my blog in a good while. Let me recap, ever so briefly, some events of the past few months:

Playing "poolball" three times a week
Campfires nightly
Spontaneous camping trips, without planning
Found new music
Signed up for the Dirty Dash
Reconnected with Family
Other Things

There it is. Plus, I'm writing another blog post, Today! Consider yourselves lucky.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thoughts on U.S. Soccer

I just finished watching the US/ Ghana game, and as we bowed out of this World Cup, I cannot help but feel adoration for the Yanks. We battled past early concede goals and phantom calls to make it to the round of 16. The team showed a fighting spirit that is lacking in most other teams. As others rile on the ground from knicks or constantly complain to the ref, our team bounced up from adversity. They, nor the country, should feel disappointed in our performance. Rather, we collectively can look to the future to something brighter.
Being a soccer fan, I know how most US sports fans view soccer: It's a sorry excuse for a sport. I even read someone naming it "the lowest common denominator in sports." However, the US team's performance in the World Cup in South Africa drastically altered the country's view point. Yes, there were teams that acted more than played, but the US team's approach to the game is very American. There were no instances where a United States player took a dive, or pretended injury. Andy pointed out the reason for this revolves around the American concept of toughness. When a player is taken to the ground, he or she pops right back up. It's a form of intimidation. While the United States wasn't always the best team on the pitch, they certainly were the more psychologically fit. I believe novice American fans picked up on this, and it spread across the nation.
I'm looking forward to the future of the US soccer programs. I see more of our players becoming exposed in European leagues, as well as the establishment of better youth academies here in the States. I say the future looks bright for American soccer. What are your thoughts on the Yanks' performance in South Africa?

Friday, June 4, 2010

why don't they make Music anymore?

I live in a world of polarities. While I work at LC, I'm subjected to top 40 radio, which consists of four or five songs which are played non-stop. All day. Every day. I liken the experience to sharp needles (Lady Gaga) being sharpened by a cruel mistress (Rhianna) and placed consistently through my ear lobes (every single radio DJ). It is disheartening, soulless music, with only a beat to catch my interest.
Yet, when I get home and put on my Pandora radio, I rediscover the soul of music. Lately I have enjoyed the music of Al Green. Every time I listen to him sing, I hear something different. It is moving, invigorating, challenging, sorrowful, effulgent, intellectual, bluesy, sophisticated, earthy, and (most of all) demanding of subtle attention. This isn't only Reverend Al: there are countless other artists, most old but some new, who are keeping Music alive. To them, I give my undivided attention. Please enjoy "I'm so Tired of Being Alone," by Al Green.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Few Simple Pleasures

A list of those seemingly insignificant, small things that make my life beautiful:
Waking up Naturally (No alarm necessary)
The Smell of Books
Otter Pops
Finding Money in my Pockets
Raucous Laughter
Late Night Talks with Family
Smile Wrinkles (Really ladies, nothing is more beautiful than a woman comfortable in her own skin)
Walking in the Rain (Splashing in Puddles included)
Listening to the Beatles, on vinyl
Random Notes of Affirmation

Here's a few that have been on my mind lately. There are countless others which I will include at random and in their own due time. Until then, comment on this post some of the things that make your life livable.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


It took until the final game of the regular season, but the Stihl Chainsaw Gorillas won a game. Our record heading into tournament play is 1-3-1, and while there is room for improvement (there always is), I am happy with the win. We played well, and missed several opportunities to extend our lead.
Highlights of the game begin with Austin's two goals. He broke defender's ankles left and right as he pestered the other team's back line. As much as I enjoyed Austin's goals, the missed goals were just as enjoyable. Morgan had a pretty shot on goal. It beat the goalie, but the top post was unrelenting in its defense. I can't remember which of the brothers (Matt or Austin) sent the ball through, but it was the prettiest cross I'd seen all game. Sadly, Elissa had a miscommunication and didn't get a good connection with the ball.
Our defense was solid throughout the game as well. Tisah and Gwen are ridiculous in the center, while Allison, Eric, Mike W. and I took turns playing right and left back. We shut down the offense, making the game relatively easy for Brittany and Jesse in goal.
As we begin tournament play, I feel really good about our prospects. I see the improvement in our passing game, defense, and hunger for goals. I think we'll start working the wings more. Also, we'll focus and strengthen our midfield. I'll keep you all posted on tournament play.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rock Climbing

I know in the past I have derided and complained about my current living situation. I am a student and live in Utah, several thousand miles away from family. However, after Thursday, I found one of Utah's redeemable qualities: rocks. They're all over the place; there are pebbles, boulders, rock faces, canyons and mountains. And their allure over me was as strong as when I was a child. Actually, allure is not the correct word; enchantment is more fitting. But I'm digressing into emotions, and as a man, I am obligated to speak of manly things (like climbing and conquering new heights).
Thursday morning found me eating a bowl of Apple Dapples, Kroger's solution to Apple Jacks, when my roommate entered the room and asked if I wanted to go rock climbing. I had never rock climbed before; in East Texas, there are no mountains to defeat, only pines. I decided to go, and we joined a few friends for an afternoon in Rock Canyon. To paint a picture for you, Rock Canyon is one of the more awe-inspiring sights in Utah County. The cliffs rise on both sides, small trails branching out from the Bonneville. The hiking up there is spectacular; when Will visited me, we went to Rock Canyon and explored. This day, my friends and I came with rope and harnesses, belaying equipment and carabiners. We broke from the main trail and followed a sliding rock path up to our first climb. It was a 30 foot rock face. A few of the more experiences climbers secured the rope, as I watched with some trepidation. A friend climbed up easily, as did another. My turn shortly arrived. My roommate assured me of the safety of everything, and slowly I began the climb.
I learned quickly the effects climbing has on the body. First off, I had to use my toes more than I thought. I had previously assumed that climbing focused mostly on leg strength, but the pressure placed on the feet became apparent. It didn't help that I had hurt my foot playing soccer the day before, but I continued my ascent. Finally, I made it! I climbed my first rock face, and quickly repelled down. I had a sense of accomplishment I haven't had in a while, not since winning a comedy competition in March. There was no time to dwell on past laurels, because we quickly left for another part of the canyon. This time we crossed a dried riverbed via a tree bridge, and arrived at the "Appendage," which housed three or four increasingly more challenging climbs. We selected one, and began our individual climbs.
Here I will explore my physical weakness, which wilted in the face of mental resolve. About 2/3 of the way up, I couldn't find a hold within reached. I immediately thought of a joke someone told me: Once you're up there, you find yourself wishing you had two or three more inches in your reach. Well, my hold was two inches away, my legs were spent, and my toe was killing. I lost my one grip, and swung for awhile at the end of my rope, yelling down that I couldn't do it. My friends, in their upmost wisdom, disagreed with me, and encouraged me to try again. I decided to listen to them, and not to my protesting muscles. I caught onto the rock again, found my holds, and hoisted myself up the rock face. As I repelled back down, I just laid on a rock bed, to the congratulations of my peers.
I opened with a mild rebuke against my current environment. Now, I look forward to next week, when my friends and I will get together for another trip to Rock Canyon. It doesn't change the fact that I will return to Texas after finishing up, nor does it cure the righteous contusions on my big toe (it's a palette of purple, black, and green). Nevertheless, rock climbing brightens the outlook of being in Provo for the summer. Which brings me ask: what do you guys have planned for this summer?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For My Mom (who doesn't know how to find my blog...)

As it is Mother's Day, and I happen to have one, I feel inspired to tell you how great she is. I offer a few examples of Mom's awesomeness. It is from her that I learned how to tell stories. Some of my fondest memories are of Mom having all four of us boys sit on her and Dad's seeming giant bed. There, she related stories of her childhood, as well as stories of her father. I remember sitting wide-eyed and entranced by these stories. I laughed as she placed a tack in her sixth-grade teacher's chair, and became an accomplice in her mischief. I learned from her stories perhaps more than when she lectured.
Mom also taught us how to cook. Seeing around her feet four wild boys, she decided to domesticate us. Luckily she chose cooking instead of crocheting. She would ask us to do simple things when we were little: grate cheese, crack eggs, pour milk. In return, she rewarded us with treats. When we get together now, we return the favor, and cook for her (although our cooking pales in comparison to hers). She unknowingly set her boys off on a life-long course; several of us have cooked or catered events. I personally have taught others some of the recipes that she gave to me.
For these examples (and countless other acts of sacrifice and charity), I will forever be grateful to her. Mama, I love you!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thoughts on the First Game

Last night, at 9:15, an intramural game between the FC Shirkeadores and the Stihl Chainsaw Gorillas began. After two, 20 minute halves, the score was FC Shirkeadores 12- 1 Stihl Chainsaw Gorillas. I am captain of the SCG's, but I'll be the first to tell you we won something last night. Allow me to explain.
From the beginning, our team was outmatched. The Shirkeadores scored within thirty seconds of the opening whistle. By half time, it was 9-0. We could not close down their passing lanes, nor could we progress the ball past mid field. We were outplayed the first half. I tried to rally the troops, saying, "We can still win," to which one player carefully reminded me, "Do we want to win? Because I was having fun."
I remembered then why I organized this team: to have fun. I specifically chose the lower division so a bunch of us from the ward could get together and play some soccer. I assured people at the signing up that we were in this league to have fun. No pressure was the name of our game. With that in mind, we talked as a group, and started the second half. While there wasn't a miracle comeback, we played better. We waited until the last second for Brenton to finally score our first goal. The last second goal produced the greatest celebration, even greater than the other team's victory.
While I am wary to place a moral on this story (that is my cynical side lurking within the text), I find meaning in the mundaneness of our goal. As I stated before, the SCG's were outplayed at every position. That said, we did not give up. We continued to play, to challenge, to pick ourselves up after their goals, and we scored. We played through, and I couldn't be happier.

As a side note, we have our next games on May 11 (9:15 PM) and May 15 (11 AM).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Feeding the Monster...

I knew it, from the minute that I walked through the door, that I wasn't going to regret this for a moment. My favorite used bookstore is relocating, which is a bummer for a couple of reasons. One, the downtown location is (I refuse to use the past tense til the doors close permanently) just a few blocks from my house. Second, I buy nearly all my books there; it's comforting to know I can get my books for half the price of other bookstores. Third, the store has been a staple of downtown Provo for a couple of decades, the store itself a claustrophobic nightmare, with narrow lanes of bookshelves filled with countless texts. But the best part of the store was its smell.
I must confess. I love the smell of books: new, old, slightly used, water damaged. I find in the aroma as story as compelling and thought provoking as the text itself. And it seems each book has a different flavor, as if the authors chose the specific glue used in the binding. If you don't believe me, try it. Go to your desk, bookshelf, local library, wherever the case maybe. Crack open a book. Take a whiff. Then again, you might not find the same pleasure I do. I just humbly ask that you do not judge me and the countless others who take a moment, upon entering an archive of books, to take a deep breath.
For the record, I bought three books: a Harvard Classics edition of Don Quixote, an anthology of poetry entitled Tennyson to Whitman, and an anthology circa 1961 of William Faulkner. Closing price: $ 3.18.

Friday, April 16, 2010

End of the Semester means Soccer Season

It's the end of my second year at BYU, and this marks my first year of intramural soccer. I'm actually surprised how many people signed up to play on this team. I like playing soccer, but have never played on a team. This should be interesting, given the stringent rules placed on the players. I can see a couple of red cards in my future. Wish the as-of-yet unnamed team luck, and I'll keep you all posted on our progress.