Sunday, December 31, 2017


Just as The Longest Night is a personal holy day, so is The Last Meal.

The Last Meal is a way for my family to avoid the crowds and craziness of New Year's Eve and instead celebrate our "last meal" together—what we would want to eat if it was the last day of our life. Which it is for 2017. Everyone's meal is different, but the dinner is filled with good food, good drink, conversation, and games.

This year, I decided that a proper holy day should have proper rituals and that one of them should include fire. So I fired up the barbecue and grilled my steak outside in the freezing cold (31º F) and dark. Wet black walnut wood was smoked alongside the charcoal briquets to add a peppery smokiness to the meat, along with the smokiness that was added via smoked Salish Sea salt. Some Malbec to accompany the steak made it a perfect last meal.



The Woman Who Lived Amongst the Cannibals by Robert Kloss
By far, my favorite read of the year. It is warped Laura Ingalls Wilder meets Herman Melville meets Emily Dickinson on "overdrive." It is prose meets poetry. It is fragmented. It likely sets the record for the number of em dashes used in a novel. It is a unique work of fiction focused on the United States in mid-nineteeth century (as is most of Kloss's work). It is strange and keeps me off-kilter as a reader. I am absolutely in love with it.

The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible by Sarah Ruden
Sarah Ruden has changed the way that I read the Bible. That is a bold and simple statement that is absolutely true. She challenged some of my assumptions and made me read with a more critical eye. I love her confidence and wit. I look forward to reading more from her.

Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson
Another surrealistic exploration of America by one of my favorite authors. This time, the Twin Towers, absent since 9/11 suddenly appear in the Badlands of South Dakota. And in one of the towers the stillborn twin of Elvis Presley appears as an adult. Two of the characters from Erickson's previous novel, These Dreams of You, are driving toward the music emanating from the Towers. It's a weird and wonderful read.

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
This is VanderMeer's first novel after the stunning Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance). Although I don't find it as compelling as those books, that is likely because they were so powerful. This feels a bit like a revisitation of some of the themes from VanderMeer's earlier novel Veniss Underground, but with a more mature handle of the material. The landscape and characters are threatened by a giant flying bio-engineered bear, Mord, who was once human. The title character, Borne, another bio-engineered creature is shapeshifting his way into the heart of his "owner" Rachel as everyone confronts the Magician for "control" of the city.

The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge
Weird fiction author H. P. Lovecraft and a teenage boy who is a fan of his work have an erotic relationship. Or do they? There are a multitude of stories that take place in this book that is difficult to classify. At its heart, I believe it is a mystery about science fiction and fantasy authors. It is a challenge to figure out what is real and what is false, but ultimately satisfying as it presents many heavyweights of weird fiction in cameos throughout its storyline.

A yearlong reading of "The Eighth Elegy" of the Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke
I've been reading and reading and reading and trying to figure out what Rilke is saying in his "The Eighth Elegy." Over that year, I've collected various English translations of the Duino Elegies, in order to figure out what words convey Rilke's meaning best. One of my favorite versions is that of Gary Miranda, although I think Edward Snow captures best what I think Rilke put on the page in German.


Visual Art

Is it weird that some of my favorite art was my own? I didn't initially plan on making any of my Inktopodes. I had a vision where my recently deceased mother told me that I needed to paint a couple of small octopuses. Once I had explored a number of these small watercolor-ink creatures, my mother appeared in another vision and told me to paint one that was slightly larger. I can honestly say I've enjoyed the process of making these original pieces of art.

Matt Kish
Matt is a prolific artist who I follow every day. He primarily works in ink, but also incorporates collage, comics, and multimedia into his pieces that explore mythos (ancient and modern) as well as what it means to be human. He constantly surprises and challenges me.

Lupe Vasconcelos
I was introduced to the work of Lupe through images of her work posted by Matt Kish. I have since become a follower in my own right. Her work is visceral and detailed and refreshing. She explores mythical creatures and the occult in ink and paint.

Christpher Volpe
Christopher is an artist I discovered this year due to his Loomings series of paintings. These dark paintings are created primarily on canvas in oil paint and tar, with the occasional smattering of gold leaf. They explore passages from Moby-Dick in an expressionistic fashion. I find them very compelling. Someday I hope to experience them in person.

Tin Can Forest
Two Canadian artists—Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek—work together under the Tin Can Forest moniker. Their work is a strange mixture of "cartoonish" illustration, Slavic linework, and mystical conspiracy. And it is ultimately "just right."


Jim Jarmusch directs. It's the story of a practicing poet named Paterson who drives a bus for his day job in the town of Paterson, New Jersey. It's a story of being in love with the word—written, spoken, heard—as well as life. And it's all informed by the long poem Paterson by William Carlos Williams. (Voiceovers (and "writeovers") of the various poems Paterson are working on showo the process of the character's work throughout the film.) It is a perfect meditation on existence.

A Quiet Passion
Terence Davies directs. There is definitely some playing with Emily Dickinson's biography, but I think the film catches the essence of the poet, her place in the world, and her family dynamics. A dozen or so of her poems read aloud in voiceover help to ground the narrative of the film. I especially loved the interplay of the sisters Dickinson, Emily and Vinnie.


Punk Rilke by Michael Haeflinger
As part of the third annual Creative Colloquy Crawl, Tacoma poet Michael Haeflinger performed readings of Rilke poems (mostly from The Book of Pictures) accompanied by a live "soundtrack" dominated by guitar (played by Michael), experimental video (by Stephen Mooney), and an ever-shifting light show. Some of the notes I took during the performance: "the canopic jar in striped sweater" + "Sonic Youth squall, "bleached" and distressed visuals, all of it saturated" + "chatter of the dead" + "echoes, echoes, echoes; layers of words, notes; feedback and loops" + "anchor" + "waning."


With the closure of my favorite beer store, 99 Bottles, at the end of 2016, I was left a bit adrift in 2017. It was less a year of exploration than it was a year of focusing on some of my favorite beers.

Deschutes Brewery Deschutes Brewery continues to be the cornerstone of craft beer for me. I'm in love with all four of their seasonals—Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Hop Slice Summer Ale, Hopzeit Autumn IPA, and Jubelale. Additionally, two of their Bond Street Reserve Series ales are easily new favorite IPAs for me—Pinedrops IPA and Sagefight Imperial IPA. At the end of 2017, I cracked open a bottle of Class of '88 Barley Wine Ale, a collaboration of Deschutes, North Coast, and Rogue, that is a spectacular example of what I look for in a barleywine.

Redifer Brewing Company
I received a growler of Redifer Red Ale for the holidays. It isn't the best red ale I've ever had, but it was a solid example and reminded me of why I like the style. I realized I need to drink more red ales!

Monday, December 25, 2017


Isaiah, the prophet, the author of the "fifth Gospel," speaks:
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)


Luke, the Gospel writer, speaks. Or, rather, he has an angel of the Lord speak:
But the angel said to [shepherds in the field], “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)


John of Patmos, exile, recipient of the Revelation of Jesus the Christ, speaks:
[A] woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars...gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days. (Revelation 12:1, 5)


A child born in the desert
the wilderness the haunted places
the edge of the town
spirited away before the powers
can descend upon the child
and the child's mother
with teeth of swords

before one beast or another
can strike

stars tumble like
flakes of snow
but perhaps this is not apocalypse
rather the vision the voice
of an angel with wings
held before a face of flame

and all will burn
all will melt and drain away

the cold of November
where there is glimmer in the waning light—
Rembrandt or Goya as the dark settles
things which John the Exile cannot know

—form presses forth
—body expresses itself

this is presence in the midst of frost
and the fire to feign it

—Orion rises in the
—early night-touched morn

becomes the darkness
of December

where John raises his hand
to the dark sky
to pluck a remaining starry fruit
from one constellation or another

to hold this ember
against his lips

to seal the words
in his being

to have flame
live as though light and life

—one more dream
—one more dream.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Christmas Eve is quiet this year.

It simply feels quieter, emptier, more anticipatory. Of what, I do not know.

Perhaps it is the absence of loved ones. My mother. The Wife's longtime coworker and family friend.

Perhaps it is transition in our workplaces. Coworkers retiring and/or departing. Turmoil.

Perhaps it is the snow that is falling.


It feels pagan and holy.

It feels as though a liminal zone of the living and dead.

It feels as though walking over a threshold.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


"Yama Uta (Mountain Song)," a forest of 59 Japanese maples (momiji) at Pacific Bonsai Museum.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


The longest night of the year is a personal holy day for me.


On this longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, I am reading the Duino Elegies of Rainer Maria Rilke. I have multiple translations of these poems in my home library, but have recently added a translation by William H. Gass (included in Reading Rilke: Reflections on the Problems of Translation) which I rather enjoy and checked out another translation by Edward Snow from the library. I think the latter translation is probably my favorite I've encountered. I may have to get hold of a copy for my own library.


"Every angel is terrifying."
—from "The First Elegy" by Rainer Maria Rilke, as translated by Edward Snow

"Every Angel is awesome."
—from "The First Elegy" by Rainer Maria Rilke, as translated by Edward Snow


"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.' But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.'"
—Luke 1:26-30


I'm trying to imagine what this angel, Gabriel, actually represents. What Gabriel looks like. Why these beings, different than we humans, would cause terror—enough that they would have to tell the person they are visiting to not be afraid.


Or perhaps the terror comes in the encounter with the divine and the darkness.


Paul Klee imagines what an angel looks like in his Angelus Novus (New Angel).

Walter Benjamin, owning Klee's painting, imagines what the angel of history looks like.


"A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth hangs open, his wings are spread. This is how the angel of history must look. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage
hurling it before his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."
—from "Theses on the Philosophy of History" by Walter Benjamin, as translated by Steve Naragon


Are there many annunciations? How many have we missed? Do we miss them as we tremble in our fear?


William Blake imagines "The Angel of Revelation." His face shines like the sun, his voice is as though the roaring of a lion, and his legs are like pillars of fire. (As per John of Patmos in Revelation 10.)


Terror. Awe. Other.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


This is my new TROY chop mark/seal for signing my "larger" Inktopodes paintings/drawings.

It was hand drawn and then a local rubber stamp company transformed the drawing into usable chop/seal.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Troy's Work Table Publishing presents INKTOPODES at Destiny City Zine Symposium (Fall 2017 edition) on Saturday 12/2.

Come visit with Troy and the Inktopodes, as well as other local and independent writers, artists, zine makers, and small presses.

View the event page HERE.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Today was a day of storytelling. People wanted to know stories of the Inktopodes—in general and in particular. They wanted to know how I create them. They wanted to know names and why I chose them.

They also wanted to share stories about whom would be receiving one of the Inktopodes or where they would reside.

One woman was struggling to make a decision between three or four Inktopodes until she asked me what Jeanne's (#94) name was and why. I told her that Jeanne was named after Renée Jeanne Falconetti's performance as Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) in Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent cinematic masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, because her look reminded me of the closeups of Falconetti in the film.

Another woman told me about her covered outdoor patio "Tiki bar" where she and other teachers would gather after school for drinks and conversation. She eventually settled on Sigmund (#40) once she knew he was named after the title character in Sid and Marty Krofft's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters kids TV show.

And Karpo (#73) went home with another woman after she heard the name. Something "clicked" for her and she knew upon hearing the name that this was the Inktopodes for her niece who collects octopus art and memorabilia.

This was how most of the day went. I told stories. I listened as stories were told to me. New stories were born as Inktopodes swam off to new owners and new homes.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


The light at 8:00 a.m. on November mornings oftentimes creates miraculous visions. If only I were able to paint these scenes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Found "artwork" on the sidewalk.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Found "artwork" on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


If one of the seeds of Yggdrasil

should drop from the paw or the cheek

of Ratatoskr the Runner

and somehow find fertile loam

in which to sprout

will a new world arise?

If so what dream lies within

those woody walls?

Monday, November 06, 2017


"Ratatoskr" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, and charcoal pencil on recycled story paper and  12" x 12" concrete board.

Thursday, November 02, 2017


Ratatoskr runs and runs

and runs the lengths of Yggdrasil

the Great Ash the World Tree—

runs the trunks of the Nine Worlds—

deciduous and evergreen—

maple and yew and alder

pine and fir and spruce—

gathering the seeds of plenty

from each incarnation

and each variation—

cone and nut and berry

green and sweet and filled

with summer life

for the fallow days

of winter time

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


there are more pressing tasks than trying to settle old squirrels

for Ratatoskr is neither young nor old but timeless

and not to be settled from his frantic frenetic fevered search

for nutmeat to cherish ingest enjoy

and gossip to gather bear deliver

between the raptors in Yggdrasil's canopy

and the dragon that nibbles at the great tree's Nine Worlds roots

no, let us not delay the work of this near-divine rodent

rather, let us encourage the digging and chattering and scurrying

along the whorls and burls of the bark and branches

hoping that he will drop a tidbit for us

a relic from one of the other worlds

a glimpse of things we may feel but not necessarily know

Sunday, October 29, 2017


 "Octo-punk'n." Danish squash, acrylic paint, 24 lb. bond paper, masking tape.


Danish squash and masking tape.


"Dia de los Muertos." Danish squash.


To be or not to be, a Danish squash skull.


"Ash the Jack-o-Lantern." Pumpkin. Carved by The Child.


"Classic Jack." Danish squash.


Yggdrasil with shadows

is a playground for Ratatoskr


One broad leaf is an island

of light in the darkness for one


One broad leaf is an island

of dark in the brilliance for another


Each broad leaf is an island

each with its own chittering rodent—

a collage

of colors and geometries

and bodies upon the gallows


Saturday, October 28, 2017


Yggrasil as maple—
one avatar among many

Ratatoskr attempts
to grab the samaras

as they flutter toward
the soft waiting soil

to crack them and eat
their nutmeat

before they can become
Yggdrasil 2.0

Friday, October 27, 2017


Yggrasil in autumn

where leaves will hang

for only a second

if a season

where Ratatoskr

will run from tree top

to root stock

seeking rich meat

of rotting nuts

as well as gossip

of the shrinking day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


The "Octorock."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


"Some experts said it was the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs."
—page 16, from The Botanical Garden by Ellen Welcker


The Botanical Garden by Ellen Welcker is a strange and short book-length poem. I was perusing the poetry book shelves at Orca Books of Olympia,Washington when I noticed this small square volume. I was initially attracted to the sperm whale on the cover and the incongruity between it and the title.


"Fifty years after whaling began, refugee populations in the Arctic Ocean had dropped so much that they were no longer considered an industry."
—page 25


But it was the words within that finally drew me in and had me heading toward the counter to purchase it. Poking about through its pages had me intrigued, captivated. There were themes, but there were as many digressions as there were consistent threads.


"Immigrants are huge, but elusive and difficult to see which adds to their mystery and fascination. They are highly intelligent animals with an elaborate social life, no possessions, and the complete freed of movement in three dimensions."
—page 30


It reminds me of Notes on Sea & Shore by Greta Wrolstad. It reminds me of Notes From A Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel by Evan S. Connell. It reminds me of Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century by Patrik Ouředník. It reminds me of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.


"You who name mountains, oceans, and desolate towns: tell me the idea of your country. Tell me its contours and flags and animals and industries. Tell me why it is, then tell me if the idea of being is a beautiful fusion."
—page 37


The text is concerned with borders and barriers, even as it transcends them. It confuses and conflates human and whale, mother and child, geographies and bodies. Information about whales and information about refugees and immigrants trade places.


"The game was called Border Patrol. The objective: 'to keep them any cost!' Players had the opportunity to shoot any and all of the four types of border crossers: 'Nationalist,' 'Drug Smuggler,' 'Breeder,' or 'Krill Eater.'"
—page 44


Categories are collapsed. Countries are shown to be nothing more than empty names. And, in the midst of everything being swept away in some sense, there is still the sea, always the sea.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Salted Caramel, an Imperial Stout (in the Blackwater Series) by Southern Tier Brewing Company.

12 ounce bottle served in snifter.

10.0% abv.


The pour is indeed black water. The head is a thin skin of dark tan that mostly dissipates within 30 seconds or so.

The nose is salted caramel.

The tongue is dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, vanilla, a bit of marshmallow, and a light saltiness. Lurking in the background is a hint of smokiness.

The mouthfeel is medium with a hint of oiliness. The flavor is mostly chocolate and cocoa up front and then a longish finish slowly adds the other flavors.

The only problem with this beer is that it is really too sweet to be drinking a full bottle. It would be better split with someone. Six ounces in a mini snifter and paired with dessert after dinner is probably the best plan for this beer.

I liked it, but I’d rather eat salted caramels than drink them.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Detail of "Vesalius (2 Months)" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal on 12" x 12" concrete board.


Rest in peace.


"In 1849, when Melville returned to America after a short stay in England, he had a strange item in his baggage. It was an embalmed head...but it was his own."
—Opening two lines of Melville: A Novel by Jean Giono


I am so looking forward to reading this short novel about Herman Melville. I've only read these two opening lines and I am hooked.

Apparently, it started life as a preface to the first French translation of Moby-Dick, but then swam off into what is now this short novel.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


I'm just going to leave this right here for myself—a "syllabus" of sources for an upcoming class I'm teaching.

The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible by Sarah Ruden, especially "Poetry in the Bible: The Living Word of Everything and Nothing."

Poetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger, especially "What Are Poets For?"

The Humiliation of the Word by Jacques Ellul. Page 46. "Poetry needs to be spoken." + "The same process applies to religious writing."

The New Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics by Lewis Turco.

The Great Poems of the Bible: A Reader's Companion with New Translations by James L. Kugel, especially "Psalm 23 • And Obscure as That Heaven of the Jews."

Poets on the Psalms, edited by Lynn Domina, especially "Psalm 23" by Catherine Sasanov and "I Shall Not Want: The Twenty-third Psalm Comes to Cleveland, Ohio" by David Citino.

"Psalm XXIII" from Radio Sky by Norman Dubie.

"David singt vor Saul / David Sings Before Saul" from New Poems [1907] by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


The July/August (left) and September (right) 2017 issues of Poetry magazine.


Poetry magazine has been firing on all cylinders lately.

First, the design of the covers for the July/August 2017 and September 2017 issues by Alexander Knowlton and Pentagram is wonderful. I love the different typefaces used for the POETRY lettering on the July/August issue and the minimalist "nested" typeface and color scheme used on the black background of the September issue.

Secondly, the editorial staff of Poetry are seeking out and serving up some of the best contemporary poetry.


The July/August 2017 issue features Asian American Poets, many of whom I already read and know and many of whom were new to me. The issue opens with Aimee Nezhukumatathil's wonderful "Sea Church" and keeps going strong until it closes with Li-Young Lee's epic "Changing Places in the Fire" and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's "Culture Lab Manifesto" and accompanying "Culture Lab" images and artwork.


As of this writing, my favorite poem in the July/August 2017 issue is "On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens" by Khaty Xiong. I see, sense, and hear transformation, fragility, vulnerability, motherhood, a shifting of perspective—and all of it layered and confused and yet somehow concrete.

Listen to these beautiful lines:
As in a fever the boy runs back & does not see / the white morpho the way I must see it: / my personal moon stone-ripe in this foreign corner, / mother as fauna forever — inhuman & gazing.


My September 2017 issue just arrived in the mail today, so I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I'm especially looking forward to poems by Atsuro Riley, Patricia Lockwood, Joy Harjo, and Terrance Hayes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


On Saturday, August 12, 2017, my friend Dave and I got together for lunch, conversation, and to visit King's Books. While perusing the poetry shelves at King's Books, I stumbled upon Radio Sky by Norman Dubie and Crow by Ted Hughes.


Years ago, I was working on a series of poems that featured Fox and Crow from the fables of Aesop. Each poem was a "comic strip" of sorts, consisting of three short sections or "panels." Each panel was filled with violence and/or death. Fox, Crow, or both were usually dead by the end. Even if they didn't die there was plenty of mischief.

A friend asked me if I had ever read Crow by Ted Hughes. I had not. At that time, I still didn't. I didn't want any associations of my Crow with that of the Crow of Hughes. I already had Aesop's Crow in my head, as well as my Crow, so I didn't need another.


But that was then. Now seemed a good time to delve into the tales of this Crow. There was distance from poems long written and released.


What appears on The Dark Mountain Project blog on Thursday, August 17, 2017? An essay by Mat Osmond about the poems of Ted Hughes and the illustrations of Leonard Baskin as found in Crow. Yes, the very book I had just picked up a few days prior was now the subject of "In Other Tongues: An Underswell of Divination."


On Sunday, August 20, 2017, I'm having a conversation with my uncle at a family gathering. The talk is of trees and how they communicate with one another. My uncle asks me if I've read The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben. I have not, but I have read about the chemical communication of bananas with one antoher as they decay, and I've written a poem about the same. I have also learned recently about research on tomato plants and how they communicate with another through a fibrous fungal network in the soil, which acts as a sort of "internet" or information web for these plants.

As my uncle and I talk, I know that I will be locating a copy of The Hidden Life of Trees and end up reading it.


My uncle also tells me about his special connection to yew trees. He talks about the amount of DNA that humans share with yew trees. He tells me about the various yew branches he has found throughout Tacoma and how he has been carving those branches. He tells me where yew trees are located in Tacoma and the surrounding communities of Pierce County.


The next day, Monday, August 21, 2017, I'm on The Dark Mountain Project website again and there is a new post. What is it? Another "In Other Tongues" essay. This time it is "Conjuring Yew Trees and Mountains" by Christos Galanis.

The essay features a couple of people who are able to communicate with yew trees, similar to my uncle's experience.


These Dark Mountain "echoes" of conversations and experiences I had just prior to their posts remind me of Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences by Lawrence Weschler. I'm not sure how these juxtapositions happen sometimes, but they did. I'm learning to be better about recognizing them and accepting them for the gifts that they are.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


"Octopus as Harlequin (after Picasso)" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal pencil, chalk pastels, acrylic.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


"Fauvist Forest" by Troy's Work Table

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastels on sidewalk in Puyallup's Pioneer Park as part of Art Downtown's "Chalk the Walk."

Friday, August 11, 2017


"Seraph" by Troy's Work Table. A companion to "Shift."

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, and charcoal on concrete wall and sidewalk at Frost Park.

Monday, August 07, 2017


"Pillar" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk and charcoal on 12" x 24" concrete board.


There are three "divine" beings who are "nightmare" "characters" from my childhood. The three of them "haunt" me. It is likely that I have conflated them in my imagination. Or, alternately, they have converged, in some sense, in my inner world.

(The many quotation marks set off beings that are not necessarily equal, but perhaps have provided me equal amounts of terror throughout my life, for various reasons.)


The first being is the God of the Old Testament. And it is this being that provides the chalk "painting" with its title. I think of the pillar of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night, which was leading the Israelites throughout the desert. But the relationship was holy and tense and tentative, the latter mostly because the people lacked the proper faith to trust in this God and his manifestations.

Additionally, I think of the fourth figure in the furnace fire with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. Christians like to get a bit sloppy with the story and insist that it is Jesus made known to the the three men. I like to think that this figure is a manifestation of God, but I don't need this person to be the Word, the Son, the Christ.


The second being is Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos of H. P. Lovecraft's weird fiction, who has "risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries." I think of his thousand manifestations of madness and how he pursued me when I was an impressionable young reader of horror. I see him as the "swarthy, slender, and sinister" man who "looked like a Pharaoh" so that I don't have to imagine his otherworldly, non-Euclidean, extradimensional forms.

But the "human" avatar is plenty nightmarish on its own.


The third being is Randall Flagg, the dark man of Stephen King's The Stand. I don't watch film or television series versions of Flagg because he is both very concrete in my mind and very fleeting. I see him as King described him: walking the freeway in his "sharp-toed cowboy boots" and "faded, pegged jeans and a denim jacket," the latter adorned with the many buttons he has placed there. I see him as a man of no age, as well as a man with no face. I see him as silhouette, as shadow, as darkness, as void, as abyss.


There is a piece of me that wonders if Lovecraft was drawing upon Yahweh and other gods of the ancient Middle East for Nyarlathotep. There is a piece of me that wonders if King was drawing upon Nyarlathotep for Flagg.

Even if neither Lovecraft nor King is searching back and echoing what has come before, those echoes and juxtapositions still resonate for me, right or wrong as they may be.


Which is all a long way of saying that the dark charcoal figure in the pillar of flame above is a mixture-manifestation of those three. I see one as good, one as "neutral-indifferent," and one as evil. Yet they are gathered together and presented as one in some deep place in my dreamscape. They are nightmarish because they are so other, so supernatural, so different.

And each of them has appeared in my life again for different reasons. The first because of a death and having to turn to one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament: (the same) God appearing before the prophet Elijah and giving him his mission. The second because of a couple of stories and poems I'm working on, and the weird fiction that inspires them. The third because of the film version of The Dark Tower being released, which includes Matthew McConaughey as a manifestation of Flagg.


Then, for whatever reason, I saw the forms of "Fungal Forest" underlying this figure and the chalk piece emerged. It was quick and raw in its creation. And, fortunately, it is now out on concrete and out of my head.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Details of "Shift" by Troy's Work Table.

Art as grief therapy. Art as process. Art as ritual.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, and a spot of motor oil on 13' x 4' "found" concrete.

Friday, July 07, 2017


"Senescent" by Troy's Work Table. Sharpie marker on "found" paint. 10" x 18". Bremerton Art Walls.


"Swim Free!" by Troy's Work Table. Acrylic paint on "found" paint. 9" x 12". Bremerton Art Walls.

Friday, June 23, 2017


"Gorgós (Dreadful)" by Troy's Work Table.

Mixed media on 24" x 36" concrete board. (Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, plaster of Paris, tempera paint, charcoal pencil.)

From left to right: Euryale, Stheno, Medusa.


"Lemnian Athena" by Troy's Work Table.

Sidewalk chalk, chalk pastels, charcoal, and charcoal pencil on 18" x 24" concrete board.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


"Entropy of the Imperial Youth" by Troy's Work Table.

Watercolor and India ink on 9" x 12" watercolor paper.

Saturday, June 17, 2017





Union officers flank the battlefield at the Civil War reenactment during Old Town Days of Union Gap, Washington.