Friday, July 31, 2015


"Tusken Gothic" by Troy's Work Table. Chalk art for Friday 31 July 2015 at Frost Park.


Yesterday, we visited the Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume exhibit at Seattle's EMP. The exhibit included two costumes of Tusken Raiders—one female and one male—who were posed in what appeared to me to be a play on Grant Wood's iconic American Gothic painting. Instead of a farmer and his daughter, I chalked the Sand People that I saw at the exhibit. Instead of a pitchfork, I made sure the gaffi stick took its place.

(And if one of the curators didn't deliberately pose the Tuskens in a play on American Gothic, then I would be really surprised!)


After having just wandered about the coulees and cliffs and 90-degree temperatures of the desert of central Washington state, these Sand People wouldn't leave my brain. So I did what I usually do in these cases of being haunted: I gave the specters corporeal form in chalk and exorcised them from my mind.


You can view more pictures of "Tusken Gothic" HERE.

Monday, July 27, 2015


I find myself walking this morning. We are tent camping at Sun Lakes State Park and I am up before everyone else, so The Dog and I walk amongst the scrub and grass and dry bushes as the sun rises over the cliffs of the coulee.

Friday, July 24, 2015


"Mountain" by Troy's Work Table. Chalk art for Friday 24 July 2015 at Frost Park.


I've been dreaming about mountains recently. Usually it's some version of Mount Saint Helens, but my mountain here is modeled more upon Mount Rainier. I just wanted to play with the mountain's form and some of its landscape details—snow, shadows, foothills, lake, trees, lenticular clouds.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


"Nevertheless, ere long, the warm, warbling persuasiveness of the pleasant, holiday weather we came to, seemed gradually to charm him from his mood. For, as when the red-cheeked, dancing girls, April and May, trip home to the wintry, misanthropic woods; even the barest, ruggedest, most thunder-cloven old oak will at least send forth some few green sprouts, to welcome such glad-hearted visitants; so Ahab did, in the end, a little respond to the playful allurings of that girlish air. More than once did he put forth the faint blossom of a look, which, in any other man, would have soon flowered out in a smile."
—from chapter 28 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Ahab"


In the multiverse it is difficult to tell who influences whom. The passage above is from Melville but reminds me of the words and writings of Ada Ludenow, as channeled by David Mecklenburg.

The beauty of the feminine. The lilting rhythm of the language. The personification of time.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


"Old Glory" by Troy's Work Table. Chalk art for Saturday 18 July 2015 at Edgewood Community Picnic.


This was a second piece I did a couple of hours later. Still hot on the concrete. But this one was a "know your audience" piece of art. And it sparked quite a few conversations with adults as I worked on it. ("Octopus" was the piece that gained the attention of kids.)


"Octopus" by Troy's Work Table. Chalk art for Saturday 18 July 2015 at Edgewood Community Picnic.


The concrete was out in the direct sun. No shelter. No shade. And that concrete was hot! So a fairly quick chalk cephalopod was what issued forth.

Friday, July 17, 2015


"Persephone Ponders Pluto's Pomegranate" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Friday 17 July 2015.


The myth of Persephone meets New Horizons photographs of dwarf planet Pluto.

Hades (Pluto) offers a sweet fruit.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


"Clam or Cod?"
—from chapter 15 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Chowder"


One of my favorite chapters. I love the language. I love the playfulness of the language. I love the playfulness of Ishmael as he orders more bowls of chowder from the kitchen of the Try pots.

"A clam for supper?"

"Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me."

"...a little experiment..."


This is one of those chapters that does nothing to really further the story, but the story would be much less without it.


"[M]ost monstrous and most mountainous! That Himmalehan, salt-sea Mastodon, clothed with such portentousness of unconscious power, that his very panics are more to be dreaded than his most fearless and malicious assaults!"
—from chapter 14 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Nantucket"


We are ever closer to the sea, ever closer to the business of whaling.


"As we were going along the people stared; not at Queequeg so much—for they were used to seeing cannibals like him in their streets,—but at seeing hims and me upon such confidential terms."
—from chapter 13 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Wheelbarrow"


So we now need to get this interesting couple from New Bedford to their honeymoon in Nantucket and beyond. The small movement of the wheelbarrow and the moving of goods becomes Ishmael and Queequeg upon the packet schooner Moss (passing the Acushnet river!) and then, eventually, the crew of the Pequod out to sea.


"From that hour I clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yea, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive."

If we weren't sure that Ishmael and Queequeg were close before, then Ishmael now confirms it for us. Is his transformation complete?


"But, alas! the practices of whalemen soon convinced him that even Christians could be both miserable and wicked; infinitely more so, than all his father's heathens."
—from chapter 12 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Biographical"


An awakening. A loss of innocence. And yet a willingness to stay in this world of depravity.


Furthermore, a pact to set out upon the sea together: "both my hands in his." Then a kiss of sorts to seal the pact before blowing out the light. (Although I imagine a few final puffs upon the tomahawk as well. It's not there in the text, but it feels like it should be.)


"Nothing exists in itself"
—from chapter 11 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Nightgown"


The importance of contrast. Night is to day, hot is to cold, north is to south, as Ishmael is to Queequeg.


"Queequeg was George Washington cannibalistically developed."
—from chapter 10 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "A Bosom Friend"


"A Bosom Friend" (10) continues with what started in "The Counterpane" (4) and "Breakfast" (5).


The above quote is a great line. It captures the near deification of Washington in the American canon of civil religion. It portrays the importance of Queequeg within his own society, as well as in Ishmael's mind. And it furthers the friendship/relationship of Ismael and Queequeg, giving us glimpses into how much they genuinely enjoy being around one another.


"I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy."

"This soothing savage had redeemed it." The "it" being Ismael's "splintered heart"? His "maddened hand"? The "wolfish world"? All three. In any case, Queequeg will be redeemer of Ishmael in some sense. And he may actually be Ishmael's redeemer right now. Queequeg has evidently helped to transform Ishmael, and in such a short amount of time.


"What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish's belly!"
—from chapter 9 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Sermon"


Melville has delved into chapter 1 of the Old Testament book of Jonah and studied well. This is a Bible study of sorts, couched as a fictional sermon. It is also foreshadowing of a magnitude as yet unseen in the novel.


"From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds."
—from chapter 8 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Pulpit"


A pulpit shaped as the prow of a ship, meant to weather the Word of the Lord, "the meat and wine of the word."


A great short chapter that acts as bridge between "The Chapel" and "The Sermon."


"Yes, Ishmael, the same fate may be thine."
—from chapter 7 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Chapel"


A chapel for mariners and sailors leaves Ishmael meditating upon the possibility of death at sea. And this chapel is the place to do so, for it is filled with silence and grief. It is filled with those who mourn their loved ones who will have neither grave nor headstone.


A stove boat? Yes. A stove body? Perhaps. A stove soul? Never!


"...many of whom yet carry on their bones unholy flesh..."
—from chapter 6 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Street"


New Bedford is a meeting ground for the people of the world. Men and women, Yankees and savages, "town-bred" dandies and those "country-bred." All in all, Ishmael sees "New Bedford [as] a queer place."

Monday, July 13, 2015


"The bar-room was now full of the boarders who had been dropping in the night previous, and whom I had not as yet had a good look at. They were nearly all whalemen; chief mates, and second mates, and third mates, and sea carpenters, and sea coopers, and sea blacksmiths, and harpooneers, and ship keepers; a brown and brawny company, with bosky beards; an unshorn, shaggy set, all wearing monkey jackets for morning gowns."
—from chapter 5 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Breakfast"


A short chapter that helps to further the hilarious couple that Ishmael and Queequeg make. Here is Queequeg at breakfast amongst a bunch of tired and hungover whalemen and sailors, and while they eat their hot rolls and drink their coffee Queequeg is content to grab rare steaks with his harpoon.


Another small moment of humor.


"My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain them."
—from chapter 4 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Counterpane"


This is one of my favorite chapters of the novel. I love the friendship that is established between Ishmael and Queequeg in such a short amount of time. It was set up nicely in the preceding chapter and continues here. It is intimate, humorous, and very human.


Their "matrimonial bed" even includes a "hatchet-faced baby."


The whole scene is dreamlike. There is the strange tale that Ishmael relates about being sent to bed for the day as a child. There is Queequeg's arm merging into the pattern of the quiltwork. There is Ishmael's observation of Queequeg as "neither caterpillar nor butterfly," but in a stage of transformation and potentiality.

But what is the dream? The scene of "The Counterpane"? The novel of Moby-Dick? America? All of the above? None of the above? Something else entirely?


"Ignorance is the parent of fear, and being completely nonplussed and confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now as much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who had thus broken into my room at the dead of night."
—from chapter 3 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Spouter-Inn"


This chapter is rich. A lot happens.


It opens with Ishmael as "art critic." Then we meet Jonah the bartender. Foreshadowing and more foreshadowing.


We meet Bulkington. I understand that Bulkington is a favorite character of many readers, although I've never understood why. ("...for some reason a huge favorite with them...") In fact, I know that he will appear later, and Melville tells us as much, but I never seem able to remember him. I guess the question to myself is: Why?


We meet Queequeg, which is a great scene, and gives us a couple of great quotes.

"It's only his outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin."

"[H]e has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian."


"With halting steps I paced the streets, and passed the sign of the "The Crossed Harpoons"—but it looked too expensive and jolly there."
—from chapter 2 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Carpet-Bag"


Then Ishmael passes on another inn, the "Sword-Fish Inn," for the same reason: "too expensive and jolly again. So he eventually settles upon The Spouter Inn, which he come across upon "such dreary streets! blocks of blackness" as he heads for the waterfront and the cheapest places to stay for the night. But these streets appear to be much more in keeping with his depressive state. The exterior landscape reflects his interior landscape. (Or vice versa.)


"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world."
—from chapter 1 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "Loomings"


I myself have set sail in my favorite novel once again. This time I head out with fellow readers, participants in the adult summer reading program of the Puyallup Public Library. While out on the waters of Melville's novel, I am selecting at least one quote from each chapter that speaks to me for one reason or another. I am also jotting down a few notes for each chapter as a way to remember what I see this time, on this particular journey.


Hopefully, I survive this sailing unscathed!


I find it interesting that the novel's narrator doesn't give us his name and won't give us a specific time for his tale, but his descriptions of the place he starts from (and the other places he encounters) are described in such detail. If I knew his New York City, I believe I could find my way around it from his love for it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


I had an artificial intelligence deep dream my chalked deep dream of an artificial deep dream of an image offered by a human.

Does it appear more human than my chalked original?

(I see more realistic eyes, an added right ear, a shadow person.)

View the two images side by side.

Friday, July 10, 2015


"Deep Dream" by Troy's Work Table. Chalk art for Friday 10 July 2015 at Frost Park.


Google artificial intelligence is "deep dreaming" our images in its neural network, producing new from the old.

I did the same, by "deep dreaming" one of the Google AI's images and likewise made it my own.


And then the chalk happened.


It appears the Mother Octopus must still be bouncing around inside me somewhere, especially since the Google AI seems to favor the canine in its "dreams" while I seem to favor the cephalopodic.


I describe the particular Google "deep dream" I used for my dream-source as Edvard Munch meets H. P. Lovecraft on the dance floor.

Mine, for me, feels like Queequeg meets Mother Octopus in the cosmic bath.


View more pictures of "Deep Dream" HERE.

Friday, July 03, 2015


"Stars and Stripes" by Troy's Work Table. Chalk art for Friday 03 July 2015 at Frost Park. A rare wall chalking.


Sperm whale meets star-spangled banner.


The Starchild.


Seven stars of Revolution or seven stars of Revelation?


View more pictures of "Stars and Stripes" HERE.

Thursday, July 02, 2015


“Green Melville” by Troy Kehm-Goins. Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastels on concrete.


Join Puyallup poet Troy Kehm-Goins and others as we head off in search of the ever-elusive White Whale as part of Puyallup Public Library’s adult summer reading program. We will meet for two evenings, one in July and one in August, to explore Herman Melville’s classic American novel, MOBY-DICK.

On Wednesday, July 8, 2015, we will look at a brief history of how MOBY-DICK came to be written, its poor reception when first published, and its “rediscovery” in the 1920s. Then, Troy will share some of his favorite passages and chapters, and will provide some different ways to read the novel, whether one is new to the story or has made several sailings with it.

On Wednesday, August 05, 2015, we will reconvene to share our impressions of the book, discuss our new-found joys discovered in its pages, and talk about some of the challenges we encountered.
Copies of MOBY-DICK will be available at the library, but you are encouraged to bring your own well-worn and weathered copy, if you have one. A list of related books, movies, and music will be available both evenings.

Visit to join the 7/8 event!


Seven sunflower stalks / each with its own strangling vine // deft hands and sharp knife / leave them stretching toward sky / unbound once more.



Seven sunflower stalks
each with its own strangling vine

deft hands and sharp knife
leave them stretching toward sky
unbound once more.


My hands were digging in the rich volcanic soil of the Puyallup River Valley—pulling weeds, removing roots, sifting out rocks. Oh the joy of the garden.