Saturday, July 20, 2013


I was a child when I saw myself through the lens of a
telescope. Mr. Bowman had the image, captured by satellite,
on his desk. Beyond imagination, he’d muse. Even then

I was asking myself whether I was inconsequential or a
functioning part of some grand design—wondering what part
of that speck was my tiny, rundown home. That same day

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Fictionalized Account of Sean Enfield’s Hubris Following His Feature on NPR’s All Things Considered

For those of you who don't know, I was featured on NPR's All Things Considered as a part of their Three Minute Fiction contest. They read an excerpt of my entry over the airwaves this past Sunday. You can read it here


SEAN ENFIELD paces around the hallway of the International School where his church is held. Sean does not appear to be the confident writer that he thought he’d be upon the public broadcasting of his text; rather, he appears nervous as though he were waiting on a doctor to deliver test results confirming the presence of some terminal disease flowing alongside his blood. 

JACKIE LEIGHTON is rattling on about something or other. Sean is not listening. He cannot. The words all pass through him, “wah wah wah wah,” as he creeps up and down the hall. The static of the radio sings to him. It is the only noise in the world, nay, the universe. Finally, the moment arrives.


We’re back reading excerpts from Round 11 of our Three Minute Fiction Contest …

The words turn to inarticulate sound effects again. ZOOM IN: on Sean Enfield—his sweaty palms and face (and not just because of the heat nor just because he is a generally clammy person), his aimless stare, the nervous way he glances down at his phone to see if anyone else is listening and waiting to congratulate him, his tired eyes, his groomed moustache and carefully chosen tie-and-shirt-combination (though he would not be seen for this momentous occasion). He tunes out. The scene turns black. He does not hear the story before his. He doesn’t even hear his story being read.

When he comes to, he hears this and only this …


Sean Enfield of Denton, TX
yes, this is the same stock photo. I like it.

He leaps into the air … like Mario, like a freeze-frame shot of an 80s flick, like Jordan at the buzzer beater, like an Olympic hurdler over that last hurdle, like a distraught man on the side of the Golden Gate Bridge, like you might jump when the person you love calls your name for the first time and you fall into their arms. Sean lands. His alone in the hallway. Everything goes silent.


Am I … famous now?


Friday, April 19, 2013

From "Natalie Schervo Speaking"

This is an excerpt from a larger work. Perhaps a forthcoming larger work. Perhaps not. Only time and all that ... 

After the phone call, she had begun to wonder if her mother had always carried that insanity with her or if it had come upon her suddenly, like a fever, a rush of blood to the head, just a momentary lapse in judgment.

“She burned her home down,” the man said, so matter-of-factly, so lifelessly, as if crazy women had been burning their own homes down since the dawn of time, “We’re going to need to you to come down here and answer some questions for us.”

Well, could answer some questions for me? she thought. She thought but didn’t say. Her outbursts had gotten her in trouble before. Typically, the problems arose when she was in high school, like the time she shouted at Mrs. Mitchell, her history teacher, who insinuated that Natalie might have been a house slave, a product of rape, during the early nineteenth century. Since then, she had undergone counseling and could now repress the urge to shout, how about I burn your house down, when the man-robot asked her to drive down to her mother’s home, asking if she needed the address as if she hadn’t been stepping through those doors for more than twenty years of her life. Instead, she walked to Tim’s office, politely explained why she needed to leave early today, and hopped into her beat up Pontiac Sunfire, staring at the Real Girls Hotline office building as if it might suddenly combust.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

All the Ways to Say Goodbye

"Listen to the end, dear.
            I can feel your heart pounding; yes, I can. I can hear the thud, thud, thud beating against my face and shaking the very core of my being. I know that you keep your phone tucked beside your breast, often having a difficult time freeing it from your chest’s viper-like grip once the vibration starts and you, too, begin to feel the cadence of my heart mingling with yours. I can feel your heart pounding, dancing with the maniacal rhythm of a third grader with a metal can strapped to his chest and a piece of wood in either hand, and the song gives me pause, beckons me back to days when the sun was just a little higher in the sky and the moon, just a little lower.
            Do not ask how you know me. There isn’t enough time. Let the rhythm take you instead. Let it move you as those old pop songs of the eighties and nineties once commanded. Yes, dear, let it free your mind, for what I have to tell you may not sit well if not properly prepared.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A review of Team Tomb's Team Tomb by me's me

Welcome back to Kittens in Ties, loyal reader. For this brief instant, we (meaning I) have slipped into the guise of music reviewer. If you like Pitchfork reviews, pretend I gave the album a 8.125 and a BNM tag or whatever it is they are doing over there nowadays. And listen to it here, and make up your own mind, knowing, however, that if your opinion isn't mine it is wrong.

In a review of the new Foals record, David Goldstein wrote, “What’s a telltale sign that a young British band thinks they’re hot shit? When they open their album with an instrumental,” and while I don’t know if Team Tomb thinks they are “hot shit,” I can say they sound pretty damn sure of themselves. After about thirty seconds of rhythm-less guitar noodling, the hi-hat comes in and clicks the intro track into a somber groove, the kind of groove the comprises the majority of the album. It’s something of a statement, though not made with any words. By the time the falsetto vocals slip into the mix you are already well aware of what kind of band you’re listening to.
For the most part, Team Tomb rides a mellow intensity throughout the album. The guitar licks, performed by Caleb Ian Campbell (formerly of the Polycorns), are graceful, sometimes biting, but never reaching beyond the slinky pop rhythms the band has carved out for itself. In that same vein, the drums drive and propel the tunes with a sort of rhythmic certainty but never really crescendo. Behind it all, simple keyboard lines complete the aesthetic.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Poem Written in a Gas Station Bathroom

Check out the Vine Leaves Literary Journal. They are a great publication, and I am honored to be featured in issue 5 of their publication.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Lost Messiahs of Rock and also Roll

It's purely by coincidence that these two happened to drop by Dallas within a week of each other, and by obsession that I made sure that I saw both. These two men are both titans of a so-called "indie music scene," both often appearing in headlines on Pitchfork, both musicians with adoring fan bases, both Caucasian males.

And that is where the similarities end.

Jeff Mangum at one of his recent solo shows
Jeff Mangum is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery pancaked between a couple of Hardy Boys books, the kind of guy who writes lyrics such as, "Your father made fetuses with flesh licking ladies," and issues press releases with "from a thoracopagus dovecote of comets" in the closing line. He is a relic of the last decade in which larger-than-life personalities could grip the nation as a whole (at least as a perceived whole), a decade in which the mythic aspects of rock and roll was alive and well though threatening to follow Kurt Cobain into the grave. And it did. Eventually. In its wake, several years later, Ty Segall came on the scene, with his John Lennon-esc falsetto and his finger-blistering solos (shredding, if you will).

Yes, Rock 'n Roll is dead, and not in the way your grandfather or your father might say it's dead because they no longer play Zeppelin on the Top 40 stations and because kids these days wear pants that don't fit. Dead in the sense that it's principal philosophy no longer applies to those still touring the nation with guitars and drums in the back of their vans. Gone are the pervasive cultural icons of yesteryear, the titans of Rock who took the nation by storm and gripped the youth of that time so that they would grow up and write Rolling Stone articles celebrating the good ol' days.

Our cultural icons today don't seem to have the staying powers of those in the past. They appear to come in fads, fads that appeal to a certain demographic of people and very few outside of that target audience.

I don't mean to associate Segall and Mangum with that notion of "fads," but there is something ephemeral about the music they play.

Ty Segall
"We've come down with the plague," says a sick Segall, periodically squirting a bottle of cough syrup in his throat, "So let's get weird." And for one loose, loud hour we did get weird. Very weird. So weird, in fact, that one couple used the dance floor as a place to get their "freak" on, coming up mid-song having lost their shirts and their tact.

We all lost our tact for that brief hour, and when the last chord washed over the packed club, we staggered to our respective cars and lives, having jobs and obligations to tend to in the morning.

Mangum starts his set without words, launching straight into "Oh, Comely" after trotting onto the stage. "Are you going to sing with me?" he asks once the song is finished, knowing the answer before the rapturous applause sounds in reply. The crowd, at first reverent and silent, knows every word and bellows them out without hesitation. His voice seems untainted by the decade of reclusive-ness, perhaps even better. So much so, that as he roars through "Two-Headed Boy" you can watch the tears stream down the face of the person beside (though not yours truly, too manly to be moved).

These men attract adoring crowds, perhaps not The-Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan level of adoration, but from the crying spectators (again not yours truly) at Mangum to the boisterous crowd at Segall, there is no doubt they've garnered their own brand of affection. We're too close to these moments to judge their historical context and cultural perseverance (if they'll even have any). Still, they carry on a new breed of "rock 'n roll," and it just may follow us into the future if we bring it with us.

Yes, in a few years time, we may have our pants waist-high trying to force our children to listen to our Neutral Milk Hotel albums and scoffing when they don't appreciate it like we do. These are the things I dream of. As well as flying...