On the 50th anniversary of my death




“After being conditioned as a child to the lovely neverneverland of magic, of fairy queens and virginal maidens, of little princes and their rose bushes, of poignant bears and Eyore-ish donkeys, of life personalized, as the pagans loved it, of the magic wand and the faultless illustrations–the beautiful dark-haired child (who was you) winging through the midnight sky on a star-path in her mother’s box of reels…of Griselda in her feather-cloak, walking barefoot with the Cuckoo in the lantern-lit world of nodding Mandarins…of Delight in her flower-garden with the slim-limbed flower sprites…of the Hobbit and the dwarves, gold-belted with blue and purple hoods, drinking ale and singing of dragons in the caverns of the valley–all this I knew, and felt, and believed.”
love, Sylvia

Lord God Bird

Repurposed from an essay written by Issac Anderson, a friend of a friend, in Image.

LORD GOD BIRD

Keep moving.
whisper, chant
sing. if the word is Hallelujah, say
Hallelujah; if fear, say

You are an amateur. Obey
the words on the page, no need to improvise

Once a boy killed a giant with a stone and
when he grew up he became poet-king and he was famous
like Elvis, and people said, david, he knows God, but if he knew

anything, he knew
to be honest.

Frac sand mining in Arkansas

Back in December, I visited north Arkansas to talk to folks about a newish and somewhat stalled phenomena there — mining the White River watershed for the very particular sand used in fracking.

No one wanted their picture in the paper. No one wanted to be the face of the resistance. One guy mentioned “hillybilly justice,” and a house fire or two that happened in conjunction with efforts to keep the Army Corps from damming the Buffalo River in the 60’s. But the folks who retired to the pristine White River watershed, the ones who planned to spend their last decades canoeing and hiking the Ozarks, were happy to speak on record. They are the voice of the fight, but they are a measured, diplomatic voice. It’s the younger folks, the ones who grew up there, that are truly pissed off. But those folks don’t speak on record, because the mine that directly or indirectly led to the death of fathers, uncles and grandfathers and polluted beloved swimming holes also employs other relatives. And the proposed mines would probably employee more.

Sandstorm (thus dubbed in editorial meeting) was one of my last stories to write for the Arkansas Times (now I work at the state daily, which is here), and it was probably the most difficult. The facts are buried and scattered, and some of the most meaningful anecdotes were relayed off-record. But this Facebook group illustrates how insular and intimate these tiny communities can be. The ties are still binding, no matter how the population dwindles (Guion has something like 80 folks left, at last count).

Some of these towns, such as Calico Rock and Mountain View, bustle with fishers and floaters in warm seasons. But poking around others was near archeology — excavating the remains of a civilization and culture long gone.

This part of the state is gorgeous, and I do plan to return as a tourist, even to those communities that aren’t really noted for tourism. And if memory serves, I had a lovely bit of chocolate pie at a diner in the Melbourne town square. So you know, if you’re passing through, stop and sit a spell.

downtown Calico Rock

downtown Calico Rock

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downtown Guion

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Unimin sand plant, Guion

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Sunday in Little Rock

Welcome to Booger’s guided tour of the Big Dam Bridge. It’s the longest bridge built just for pedestrians in all of North America, and it’s right here in Little Rock.

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This is Booger’s favorite kind of sky.

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This is Booger’s favorite kind of boy.

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This eulogy to a stranger (and a dad) was the best part of Booger’s tour.

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