Breaux Bridge and environs

The day after my birthday this year, we drove over to Breaux Bridge, stopping in at the Cypress Island Preserve first. We got out and hiked a bit and then walked around Breaux Bridge, which was mostly closed since it was Sunday. I took my camera with me and thought I was being okay with it, but I really overexposed most of these shots because I had the shutter speed way too low. I also opened the first roll before it was all the way rolled up, so I lost about four shots off it. Overall, not the most satisfying camera day, but some of them are all right, and besides, I learned something, right?

Cypress Island Preserve

We wanted to go on a hike for my birthday, but there is a bit of a dearth of hiking around Baton Rouge. We found the Cypress Island Preserve, which seems really cool — though it was closed the day we went and we were only able to walk around some of the boardwalk.

A ruined shot of the algae on the water
A ruined shot of the algae on the water
A ruined shot of a puffball flower thing
A ruined shot of a puffball flower thing
Cypress knees rising out of the water
Cypress knees rising out of the water
Cypress grove
Cypress grove
Graffiti scratched on the railing: 'Dorothy Loves Kan'
Graffiti scratched on the railing: Dorothy Loves Kan
Reflections of cypress, plants in the water
Reflections of cypress, plants in the water
A clear shot of more cypress trees
A clear shot of more cypress trees
A clear shot of the puffball flower thing
A clear shot of the puffball flower thing
A hollow tree
A hollow tree
Cypress knees emerging from green water
Cypress knees emerging from green water
A blurry shot of a walkway blocked with Caution tape
A blurry shot of a walkway blocked with Caution tape
Another blurry shot of the same walkway
Another blurry shot of the same walkway
A gravel road
A gravel road
A log felled across the bayou
A log felled across the bayou
A sideways photo of a live oak
A sideways photo of a live oak
A hummingbird feeder (blurry)
A hummingbird feeder (blurry)
A faraway shot of some kind of electrical box
A faraway shot of some kind of electrical box
A dragonfly, though that's not really the focal point of the photo
A dragonfly, though that’s not really the focal point of the photo
The (closed) museum building of the Cypress Island Preserve
The (closed) museum building of the Cypress Island Preserve
The gate to a trail closed for alligators. Lots of signs are ziptied to the gate saying 'Trail Closed: Warning.'
The gate to a trail closed for alligators. Lots of signs are ziptied to the gate saying Trail Closed: Warning.

En route to Breaux Bridge

We left the preserve and began to drive. It didn’t take long to settle on the destination of Breaux Bridge, a little town near Lafayette that we’d heard was great but hadn’t made it to yet.

A ruined shot of a field driving toward Breaux Bridge
A ruined shot of a field driving toward Breaux Bridge
A fairly clear shot of the field, with a little light damage on the right side
A fairly clear shot of the field, with a little light damage on the right side

Breaux Bridge

Turns out, Breaux Bridge, like most small towns, is closed on Sunday. Or rather, almost all the businesses are closed. We still got to walk around a while looking at all the store fronts and I took a lot of pictures, most of which were overexposed and blurry.

A bright red flower in a white stand and the greenery all around
A bright red flower in a white stand and the greenery all around
American flags waving above a street in Breaux Bridge
American flags waving above a street in Breaux Bridge
A very overexposed, very blurry photo, of what I'm not sure
A very overexposed, very blurry photo, of what I’m not sure
An overexposed, blurry photo of a storefront with a palm tree coming out of it
An overexposed, blurry photo of a storefront with a palm tree coming out of it
A photo of a gas station dumpster, also overexposed and blurry
A photo of a gas station dumpster, also overexposed and blurry
An attempted photo of a hand painted sign on the side of an antique store
An attempted photo of a hand painted sign on the side of an antique store
A blurry photo of a porch
A blurry photo of a porch

We exhausted Breaux Bridge fairly quickly and headed to Lafayette, where we ate dinner at Dat Dog, a really great hot dog restaurant. I tried a brand new dog with blackberry puree, pickles, relish, and mustard on a vegan apple-sage sausage which was amazing. I didn’t take any pictures in Lafayette, though.

Back home

I still had some photos in my roll when we got home, so I headed down the street to try and take some photos for a series idea I have: Hand painted signs of Baton Rouge. There’s a ton of hand-painted signs around here, and my dad was a sign painter when I was growing up, so I’ve always loved hand-painted ones. This beginning wasn’t so auspicious though. I need to try again with better exposure settings and a steadier hand.

What I can only assume is a garden hose, though it boggles me why I'd take a picture of one
What I can only assume is a garden hose, though it boggles me why I’d take a picture of one
Stella looking through the front window at me
Stella looking through the front window at me
Telephone pole, trees, and attempted clouds
Telephone pole, trees, and attempted clouds
Telephone wire and attempted clouds
Telephone wire and attempted clouds
An attempt at the first photo in a series called 'Hand Painted Signs of Baton Rouge'
An attempt at the first photo in a series called Hand Painted Signs of Baton Rouge
Another attempt at the hand-painted photo
Another attempt at the hand-painted photo
A final attempt from across the street
A final attempt from across the street

One good thing from this experience: I got my photos developed by The Darkroom out of California, and it was really easy and affordable. I got my disappointing photos emailed to me within like, 5 days? It was fast.

Storytime - Part 1 - The Sun

Listen:

a long time ago there was nothing, or it looked like nothing, or more accurately it didn’t look like anything because there was no light. That’s when the Sun came in. It lit up the world, or about half of it, and we could all see what, in retrospect, had already (always) been there, but at the time we thought had just been made by the Sun. So we decided to worship it.

We started out pretty tamely — we looked at it til our eyes hurt, sang it songs we wrote about how great it was, we even left it little gifts of food, stuff we were making for dinner and thought it might enjoy. But it never ate any of the food or said thank you or anything, so we guessed it didn’t really like our gifts. And our eyes were really hurting from staring at it.

So we were at a loss, until a dog just died one day and the sun got really strong. Like it really liked that dead dog. We were kind of weirded out, but who were we to judge? There is no, as they say, accounting for taste.

We killed another dog, to make sure it wasn’t just a coincidence. The sun got really strong again. Apparently it really did like dead dogs. We started killing like, one a week, and leaving it out for the sun to do whatever it did with it.

All of a sudden

everything changes	everything changes all
of the time	suddenly and irrevocably	but
that's no cause for alarm	right	it happens all
the time	like raindrops happen
spread out over hours	or days sometimes not
in a big buckety splash	not all at once
each little thing though	little changes
each of them is sudden	is out of seemingly nowhere
has no sense	nothing has no sense
sense must be made by someone	that is our job
so they say so they	are fond of repeating
someday they will stop saying it	someday suddenly

Failed poem about the Mississippi River and the moon

It shines on the river like a bruise on a thigh.
The light trips over the water
and falls into the coffee table head first.
The river, for its part, does nothing but sit
there and take it all in. The light, the warm humid
air sucking at it like a sucker. The dead
spaces where no wind moves over it like
a hand. I want to imagine it calling to the moon,
something relating to gravity or attraction, but
that’s not where this is going. The river is
(at least I imagine) heading where it always heads,
that is, the ocean, which really is pulled
heavily toward the moon all the time, thus tides.
But you know that, don’t you? You, O reader, I’m
calling you out. What do you know about the moon?
What do you know about the Mississippi, which in my
head is always preceded with mighty, which
flows from (what I imagine is) a trickle, scars down
the middle of the continent, builds, crescendoes,
exits through the marshy lowlands south of here,
into the gulf? Where does it go after that,
the water from all of America? I’m asking you.
Do you have any idea where the moon pulls it next?

New Kid

My branch of the library has recently acquired a lot of juvenile titles, so I’ve been reading a few of them in my spare time at work. I recently picked up New Kid by Jerry Craft, about Jordan Banks, a black kid from Washington Heights who wants to go to art school but instead is sent to Riverdale Academy, a majority-white private school with better opportunities. The book is a chronicle of his first year at Riverdale, and his experiences with implicit racism and bias that are inherent to the school. A big example is his teachers’ continual mixing-up of names among all the black kids, but not among the white kids. Jordan also makes some friends he might not’ve expected along the way, too.

I liked New Kid for its frank discussion of what it was like for Jordan in a mostly-white school, and for the clear lens through which he showed systemic racism and microaggressions that impacted his life daily. I also liked the drawing style and the jokes, especially the pop-culture references in the chapter titles. I would’ve liked to see more about Jordan’s life at home and his interactions with the neighborhood kids, which seemed set up to be more than they were. Overall, I’ll keep my eye out for other books by Jerry Craft.

An effortful song is the best way to do something right

The problem is, writing a new thing every day cold is no way to do anything right. So I feel the quality of these is decreasing, and I worry that by the end of the year they’ll be trash. I know in my logicbrain that’s not true. My logicbrain doesn’t always have control over my thoughts.

I’m hoping this is the hump I have to get over to really get into the good stuff, which is what they call the stuff that gets published, or at least I think it is. That’s what I want, right? Honestly, I’m not as sure as I think I was in seventh grade, when I started writing in earnest, little terrible poems that were, nonetheless, beautiful in their earnestness. Or that’s what I’m telling myself.

Nothing is ever final in my mind. There is no finishing a thought, putting it away, never to be taken down again. Sooner or later, I’ll run over it with my thumb, wearing down the smooth places again, turning it over and over until it goes back up. For a little while. Is that effort, that running-over? Are there answers to any questions?

I’m doing this to clear out the cobwebs, I’ll say. To burn out the pipes to make room for the flow of creativity, for good poems, stories, children’s books, whatever. To get ready to show everyone what’s going on. To get ready to begin.

But I’ve already begun, and this is it. This is me writing. The best isn’t the only way to do something right.

moon, every night, and every day

it rises and sets rises and
sets it waxes and wanes too it
circles the earth and it always
faces the earth it can
be seen day and night if it’s
looked for hard enough
but the sun its enemy blocks it
out most of the day time
but it’s still there trusting
those who seek it out will
find it if they look hard enough
it’s hidden in plain sight
as they say plain daylight
they should say it thinks alone
in the space between today
and tomorrow that’s big enough
to house every other planet in
the sun’s orbit side by side
but is still small enough to
make out craters and mountains
and a face if it’s looked for
hard enough at night or
alternatively in the day as it
rises and sets rises and sets
early people thought it rotated
around the earth and they were
right about it but not about
the sun which is why it is its
enemy the sun the moon are enemied
and the sun always wins except
for sometimes every so often there’s
a moment when the moon blocks it
out and nothing is seen on earth
the bees stop buzzing the birds
lose their nests in the sudden night
the people become quiet and hushed
and everything is very still
the moon for once is in charge over
the earth and it feels good
to be in charge to get that taste
but it makes it all the bitterer
when the moment is over and
the sun takes back its day
relegating the moon to its borrowed
light in the cold darknesses
of the windless barren night

Chimpanzees

There’s an infinite number of them in the next room,
but I’m concerned about Michael Jackson’s, sitting
next to me as I type this. Bubbles’ eyes look like
a dog’s, puppied and pouting. He’s disappointed
about something, I can feel it. I have no idea what
it could be — the language barrier of our separate
bodies is insurmountable. He keeps looking at
the keyboard, then back at me. Maybe he wants to type
something, some message, a tell-all book about his time
with Michael, a request for more humane conditions
for the chimpanzees in zoos or films, a love letter
to Jane Goodall. I don’t have the heart to tell him
she’s been dead for a while now. I suppose Bubbles
has been too, since it’s come to that. Who’s dead
and all. The chimps in the other room are getting
louder. I think they’re ready for me to read
what they’ve written. They’re ready for an editor.

Little old books full of stories of horses

I am a librarian. I am a special kind of librarian, however, not your run-of-the-mill, hair-in-a-bun, severe-faced, glasses-wearing librarian, but rather a horse librarian. I deal exclusively in books about horses. Libris equis, you could call them. I call them that. Most of the books are manuals of some kind: how to stable the horse, how to bathe it, how to feed it and water it and help it grow into a big strong horse, how to bet in a horse race, who to back, the optimal weight of jockeys, where horses come from, surveys of wild horse populations, histories of the domestication of horses, you know. But my favorites are the books full of horse stories, with their covers with black horses so tall, in paperback covers. I don’t read any of them, but I like seeing the children come by and pick them up and take them home, and seeing them again a week later with the books back in their hands, ready for more.

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