from FIRE SEASON
Been going through a Roy Orbison phase,
and letting it happen. Orbison sang
on KVWC in Vernon,
TX, as a teen. He grew up in Wink,
and I think how he hid his eyes behind
sunglasses most of his career. This record
I’m listening to is Orbison playing
someone else’s songs: Don Gibson,
a friend of Roy’s in Nashville, in 1967.
A killdeer is threatening Ottawa’s
Bluesfest: four speckled eggs laid on a patch
of cobblestone, where the main stage would be
if Canada had not designated
the bird a protected species. A cop
guards the eggs 24/7. The letter
of the day is … K! sings Abby Cadabby.
The guy who tattooed Erin in Jerome
is named Johnny Knuckles. He owns the joint
and also fights fires and with his wife rents
out the first floor of their bordello-themed
home on Airbnb. He drew and tattooed
a Steller’s Jay on Erin’s left shoulder,
opposite the swallow on her right. Now
she looks half-rockabilly/half-hippie,
which I guess she kind of is. David Lynch
has—thank God—clarified his quick comments
about Trump. Suffering and division,
he said Trump is causing. Much worse than that,
but I’ll take it. Erin and I got through
ep 3 / season 3 of Twin Peaks
last night—we’re rewatching it all. Dougie
pulled 29 jackpots in Vegas, yelling
Helloooooooo! each time. Season 3 feels less vintage—
in that ‘50s/’60s rockabilly
way—than the first two seasons. Exception
being the crowd at the Bang Bang Bar
and sexy-as-hell Chrysta Bell. I’ve never
kissed anyone with black Betty Page bangs,
arms inked with fuzzy dice and pin-up girls.
People who caution that tattoos—Before
you get one, listen!—are forever, kill
me every time. Listening to The Cramps
now—real ghoulish rockabilly bizness.
They took a genre they loved and fucked it
in the mouth—I salute them. Can one pickle
kohlrabi? Certainly, just ask Sandor
Katz, pickling guru who says Brassica
vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts,
cauliflower, broccoli, and kohlrabi—
even the stalks of chard—ferment beautifully.
In the Himalayan Mountains, fermenting
is begun by wilting the vegetables
in the sun. For our pot luck this Friday,
I’m debating between making kofta
from garbanzos, almonds, zucchini, bread
crumbs, cumin, garlic, and cilantro—or
kabocha squash in pipian verde.
When cooking squash, I always leave the skin
on. Still thinking of the death of Koko
the gorilla. Coco is finishing
her new book in Nashville. The innermost
wrapping of a silkworm cocoon is called
the knub—and, too bad, the k is silent.
19 million acres of kelp forest
float in the ocean, providing shelter
and food to snails, limpets, sea urchins, wolf
eels, barnacles, and starfish. Today, Mars
stations retrograde at 9° of
Aquarius. Justice Sotomayor
dissents, comparing 5-4 ruling
upholding travel ban to ‘44
Korematsu v. United States,
in which the Supreme Court decided
it was right and lawful to imprison
Japanese Americans during WW2.
Rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson
sang a song called “Fujiyama Mama,”
comparing her overpowering passion
for a lover to the atomic bombs
that killed over 200,000 people
in Japan. But she didn’t write the song.
Flagstaff, Cave Creek, and Williams have canceled
their July 4th fireworks. 5,000
red-winged blackbirds were killed by illegal
fireworks in Arkansas in 2011,
early New Year’s Day. Last 4th of July
68 horses crashed into fences
and stables in Bagdad, KY—one
horse died. We don’t do body counts, declared
US Gen Tommy Franks at Bagram
Air Base in 2002. The Silk Road
passed through Bagram, westward through the mountains
toward Bamyan, The Place of Shining Light,
where the world’s tallest statue of Buddha
stood at 175 feet.
The Taliban destroyed it in 2001,
claiming an affront to Islam. Under
an almost unbearably blue sky,
I sit and read Fady Joudah: It’s not
the hell one enters // but the hell one
enters others into / & also enters
If something is small, Thalia calls it
a baby. Baby pine cone, baby
cat, baby cup, baby dino[saurus].
These phrases float in waves of aqueous
syntax and I ache with love for her
and for language that is ours and somehow hers
alone. I don’t believe in miracles
but I believe in this: baby pine cone,
she says, holding it toward me, then rubbing
it between her fingers—its downy scales
and seed disappearing on the wind.
A brush fire 40 miles east of Holbrook
has closed I-40 in both directions.
On my map, that looks between Chambers
and the eastern edge of the Petrified
National Forest. And, more precisely,
where the Navajo Travel Center is—
of which one Yelp reviewer wrote, a good,
clean rest stop with a nice Subway. The news
outlets don’t mention any of this, though;
just 40 miles east of Holbrook, as if
no one would recognize or care what’s in
between Holbrook and the fire. Petrified
Forest looks like where forest used to be—
and is, in fact, deposited with wood
petrified (petro: Greek, stone) for millions
of years. It’s on Navajo and Apache
land and last year was visited by six-
hundred-fifty-seven tourists. Thousands
of logs litter a stretch of [its] grassland,
wrote National Geographic Kids
about the petrified wood. Logs. Litter.
The magazine is majority-owned
by 21st Century Fox; CEO
Gary Krell was CEO previously
at Sesame Workshop (Sesame Street)
and is a member of the think tank
the Council on Foreign Relations.
I’ve found a photo of him online:
standing at a podium emblazoned
with the DoD logo; beside him,
Elmo, Thalia’s favorite muppet.
I can’t will myself to read the caption.
Instead, I clean up what’s left of last night’s
patio pot luck. Not much except bubble
wands, a sippy cup, some whiskey- and beer-
soaked coasters already drying in the sun.
Today, Becky is leaving for two weeks
in Oaxaca, Mexico. Pretty sure
she and Erin shared a private goodbye
in the kitchen or guest room. Double-
header roller derby later: Starlets
v. the Bad News Beaters; Chain Gang
v. the Supernovas. Bitsui
may or may not come. Leftover
chilled summer Polish beet soup for dinner.
80° F; zero chance of rain.
Justin Bigos is author of the poetry collection Mad River (Gold Wake, 2017), which was a finalist for the Emily Dickinson/Poetry Foundation First Book Award. He co-founded and co-edits Waxwing, and currently lives in central Vermont, where he teaches in the MFA Program in Writing & Publishing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.