Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Inkblotopus awaits readers, new and old.


"Ink: Poems and Black Psalms," TWT's contribution to Les Sar'zine issue #8, the "Mirrors" issue, is now printed, folded, cut, and ready for the upcoming publication party. 130 copies are available in two colors—60 in Mirrorlight yellow and 70 in Nightsea blue. Each copy is numbered and signed by TWT.


Nine new related poems from TWT:
"Black" (black psalm #1)
"Spanish Empire" (black psalm #2)
"Black Star "
"Psalm" (black psalm #3)
"Ink" (black psalm #4)


Plus "Mirrors" books from six other writers and original artwork from our "Mirrors" artist in each issue.




Les Sar'zine will be on sale at the APRIL Festival's independent publishing expo at Hugo House on Saturday 29 March 2014.

After that, it will be available at Elliott Bay Book Company in the literary journal section.


Visit the Les Sardines website or Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shore Scene with Waves and Breakwater, oil on board, circa 1835, by J.M.W. (William) Turner.
Water Album - The Yellow River Breaches Its Course, ink on paper, 12th century, Song Dynasty, by Ma Yuan.


In his 2006 book Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences, Lawrence Weschler writes in the introduction that "I myself have increasingly found myself being visited by similarly uncanny moments of convergence, bizarre associations, eerie rhymes, whispered recollections—sometimes in the weirdest places." He is writing about art critic John Berger and Berger's "way of seeing." Almost every time I notice some strange echo in pieces of art or writing, I find myself thinking about Wechsler's book or Berger's Ways of Seeing.


Or I may find myself thinking about "Pillow of Air: A Monthly Amble Through the Visual World," which is a new monthly column by Lawrence Wechsler for The Believer, where he explores convergences outside of the confines of his single (although fascinating) book.


Anway, it was a tear, a seam, in the clouds over Puyallup that started this whole series of echoes and reflections and rabbit holes.


Those clouds were haunting me.


Then, while searching for images of "water" to use in a piece for work, I stumbled across Shore Scene with Waves and Breakwater by William Turner (pictured above) on the WikiPaintings Visual Art Encyclopedia. This painting echoed the seam in the sky I had seen, even though depicting waves crashing upon the shore.


A bit further along, I find another picture of waves and whitewater—one of the twelve paintings of the Water Album by Ma Yuan. And there was the roiling and turbulence. And there was the seam.


After work, I headed to the Puyallup Public Library to check out a book on Turner—The Art of J.M.W. Turner by David Blayney Brown. The small painting I'm enamored with isn't pictured, mostly because it turns out that Turner was a very prolific painter. But the same sense of turbulence in cloud and wave and light is present in many of the other paintings reproduced therein.


It was back online to see if I could find anything out about Ma Yuan and Water Table. Contemporary artist Zhang Hongtu took Ma Yuan's twelve paintings as a jumping off point to remake Water Table, but to do so 780 years later and to depict the water as it would be seen today—polluted, filled with chemicals and oil and runoff from our modern lives and industrial lives.


Another article has a quote by Zhang Hongtu, explaining the beauty that can be found in his "re-makes" of these classic paintings:
"Think about [J.M.W.] Turner's paintings of the Thames, he made them during England's Industrial Revolution; that fog is probably smog, but it's still beautiful. Only it's a sort of poisonous beauty, the pollution isn't obvious like tin cans in a river, it is in the air and water much more deeply."

I just sat in my chair, staring at my computer screen, dumbfounded and silenced.

Cloud. Water. William Turner. Ma Yuan. Zhang Hongtu.

Centuries. China. England. The modern world with its art galleries and museums. The internet.

All collapsed into one small moment for me, seated in my living room, unable to move.


Another day and I'm sitting in a class by a Pacific Lutheran University professor on "The Virtues of Christian Environmental Ethics" during an adult education class at my church, and we have already covered six of the seven classical and theological virtues—prudence, temperance, justice, courage, faith, hope—and are heading into love and a discussion of climate change, when all of a sudden we are talking water again.


And then there was talk of baptism. Martin Luther. The Small Catechism.

"How can water do such great things?"


And then there was the article in the Word & World "Water" issue about diatoms. ("Think Like a Diatom" by Evelyn E. Gaiser.) They provide 30% of the oxygen on earth. If we pollute water, which kills off diatoms, then we raise the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


And then there was the reference in Like a Hammer Shattering Rock: Hearing the Gospels Today by Megan McKenna. The Gospel of the Earth and the stewardship of creation we need to engage.


And more waves. Psalm 104. The creation narrative. The roiling waters. The Spirit that speaks over them. The tehom (Hebrew) or the abyss (Greek) of the Great Deep. Tiamat. Jörmungandr. Sea monsters. Olaus Magnus and his map.


And then I walk off into the white margins of the map. Into the seam that I see there amongst the waves, in the clouds.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


A seam in the clouds over Mount Rainier this morning.

Friday, March 14, 2014


What does a guy do when he has an evening to act like a bachelor poet? After reading at an open mic, he heads off to the Puyallup River Brewing Alehouse for a Chicago-style hot dog and a flight of Puyallup River Brewing ales.


Carbonado Rye, a Rye Ale by Puyallup River Brewing.

5 ounce taster glass on tap.

5.6% alcohol by volume.

The body is the clearest of clear yellow, with a thin skin of white pattern on its top.

The nose is a combination of cereal box cardboard (think Lucky Charms), a hint of white wine, and the clean of the air after spring rain.

The tongue is clean, buttery, rye malt.

This is a subtle beer, but one that rewards the drinker willing to simply enjoy it. This is excellent and goes down buttery and smooth.


Green Cream, a Cream Ale by Puyallup River Brewing.

5 ounce taster glass on tap.

6.7% alcohol by volume.

The body is a bright and clear neon emerald green, with a bright white rim of head.

I don't catch much on the nose, but the tongue is cream of wheat and rice. It has a good mouthfeel. Imagine a cream soda with little carbonation and only the faintest hint of vanilla, light oatmeal, and rice notes. That is a fair description of this St. Patrick's Day special brew.


Old Pioneer Winter Ale, a Winter Ale by Puyallup River Brewing.

5 ounce taster glass on tap.

6.0% alcohol by volume.

The body is a deep-brownish red (garnet), with a rim of white.

The nose is Seabreeze, cloves, and tobacco leaf. (I noted that "the nose is very intriguing" and was anticipating getting to taste it.)

The tongue is tobacco leaf, cloves, Ricola cough drops, Magic Marker, vanilla, lavender, and black licorice.

It is unlike any other winter ale I've ever had. It's a bit like Puyallup River Brewing's Black Pumpkin Saison, only in a different style of beer—a cousin, or sorts. It is rich, dense, and chewy. This is easily my new favorite winter warmer.


When I told the owner/brewer that Old Pioneer Winter reminded me of his Black Pumpkin Saison because of the Magic Marker I tasted, he said, "Yuck!" I informed him that it was a good flavor, like sniffing markers in school as a kid. He said, "Exactly. Yuck!" Oh well. I guess it's a flavor I'll have to enjoy and savor alone.


Carbon Glacier Black IPA, a Black IPA by Puyallup River Brewing.

5 ounce taster glass on tap.

6.7% alcohol by volume.

The body is black with a rim of tan head.

The nose is blood orange, soy sauce, vine, and sweet and sour sauce.

The tongue is bitter espresso, dark chocolate, pine needles, and grapefruit, with hints of soy sauce and permanent marker. The sauce notes of the nose (sweet-and-sour and soy) play well with the bitter flavors. The finish is long, with the grapefruit, dark chocolate, and espresso flavors mellowing and lingering for quite some time.

This is a great black IPA.


The owner/brewer and I had engage in some banter at the bar. He saw my notebook as he was making my hot dog and asked, "You're not one of those beer bloggers are you?" I told him that I was.

"The brewer was just here and you missed him."

"That's too bad, because I love his beers and now you'll have to tell him. You'll have to tell him not to worry about what I'll write."

He checked in a few times as I tasted and wrote notes.

At one point, one of the other bartenders approached me and placed a small two ounce taster glass in front of me. "This is from the owner. It's the St. Paddy's Day Dry Stout we just tapped." I expressed my gratitude.


St. Paddy's Day Dry Stout, a Dry Stout by Puyallup River Brewing.

2 ounce taster glass on tap.

6.4% alcohol by volume.

The body is ruby red.

The nose is espresso.

The tongue is espresso and dark, bitter baking chocolate and whipped cream, although there is very little sweetness to it. This is dry and excellent.


The owner/brewer stopped by to tell me that this stout is only brewed once per year for the St. Patrick's Day weekend. I am glad that the timing of my bachelor poet night out and St. Patrick's Day weekend coincided. I may have to be a bit more deliberate next year and not leave stopping by the Puyallup River Alehouse to chance.


Tonight, I headed off to King's Books to listen to Dennis Caswell read some of his poems as part of Puget Sound Poetry Connection's Distinguished Writer Series.

Dennis was witty and very present. His poems, many from his book Phlogiston, and a few he had never read before an audience, were erudite and tongue-in-cheek, intelligent and playful. He and his work were both everything I hope for in a poet and poems.


I also read three poems during the open mic that followed. I read three of my recent "black psalms," all of which will be published in Les Sar'zine #8: the "Mirrors" issue at the end of March 2014. I made some minor edits (from how they will appear in print) to "Black," "Parkinson's," and "Ink" before reading them. They seemed to be fairly well received.


If you want to get your hands on a copy of "Ink: Black Psalms and Other Poems," then head up to the APRIL Festival's small press book fair/independent publishing expo at Hugo House on Saturday 29 March 2014 and visit the Les sardines table. You may even get to meet me in person.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


"But the leechbook would later land me in such desperate straits that I will never again be able to return to society but am fated instead to sit here talking nonsense to birds."

—page 46, From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón (and translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb).


"Yet although my body hair was not singed on their bonfire, I felt the heat of the animosity they bear toward me, the vindictive nature that drives a man to destroy his neighbor in a fire as if he were a banned book."

—page 47, From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón (and translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb). 

Saturday, March 01, 2014


"You, bird, are the letter that was deftly penned during a quiet hour in the Lord's house, whereas I must endure having my image scored out or scraped off the vellum by those who envy and hate me."

—page 13, From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón (and translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb).