on ‘Picking up Dirt’

Out for an evening run, I noticed an elderly looking woman standing in the driveway to an office building, hunched over, picking things up from the ground. It appeared as though she had dropped some change and was trying to collect it. I trotted over, intent to help her recover whatever she had lost and get her out of the road. She was wearing fine clothes, and appeared to be in good health. “What did you lose?” I asked. “I’m picking up dirt.” “Oh.” She looked up at me with an expression of honesty and kindness that somehow rebuked the crazy motive she had just announced for standing in the middle of the street. “Well, that’s just dust from the …

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to Robyn, on Being ‘Robotboy’

Hey Robyn! I was just listening to your song, ‘Robotboy,’ and I thought I’d answer all the questions you had. I hope this response relieves some of your worry: “Where you been?” I’ve been at work, or at home, or any of the other various places I go. I make a determined effort to find new ground as often as possible, even if it’s just a little thing – a new corner of a room to stand in, a new place to eat tofu, or a new building that would look nice in a photograph. ‘Where’ is an interesting concept. Sometimes I think of ‘here’ as more than just the place I’m sitting, or what city I’m in. Could ‘where’ …

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Word Painting

On the road from Zhongwei to the airport, going to describe as much of what I see out the window as possible: Women in visors walking in a field collecting something, putting in small plastic bags. Big red travel bus. Arch over entry driveway made of steel beams, diamond replica at apex, stone sculpture outside. Man on motorcycle. Main street of small town. Large brown dirt field filled with power lines. One story brick lots, with broken windows, some with bamboo doors. Irrigated field with crops. Blue truck with open bed, contents covered by tarp. Modern SUV. Woman holding baby outside doorway, next to drying laundry. Girl in yellow uniform sweeping lot of gas station with large primitive broom. Corn …

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