Monday, May 24, 2010


Photo: Sagittal section of nose, mouth, pharynx, and larynx.
From Gray's Anatomy 1918 edition

The motions of the tongue, the moves
that constitute a sip. With aid of lip
the blade relays a roll and curl
from cup to tip. A snaking
belly-dance and mambo, throat
to gut the things we swallow.

Tit or tat or bitter batter, lemony
lemon-free lemonade. Push pause,
rewind, play back slo-mo,
now cue it. Take it from
the glass. Joe, make it
dry and spritz it sour, salt
the rocks and shake the ocean. Make
the motions of the tongue, the moves
that constitute polite.

Monday, May 17, 2010

the fragrance of shattered concrete

In a vision I saw a perfect world,
no burden to carry,
no weight to hold,
no tension, no strain,
without pressure or stress,
but only a dream.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

a prayer for the theriot family

A family, once it has sprouted, never stops growing. And when the seed is from good stock, the stalk becomes strong and grows sturdy. Today the family of Sylvain and Angella Theriot stand shoulder to shoulder on the shore of this sacred lake to mark this sacred day with a gathering to remember. We thank those members of our family whose journeys have taken them to the other side, too many of them much too soon. We are grateful for the years you spent with us and we feel you here this morning. But today is a celebration of life. Let us celebrate this togetherness. Let us charge this family with love so that we might rejuvenate it. Let us send its power forward as vibrantly as we have received it. May the stalk grow tall and prosper. Amen.

on photographing dead birds

Purple Gallinule
Photo: jetheriot

I put birdseed on the back patio for the birds that live in my neighborhood. When I open the back door each morning, I see twenty or thirty doves peeking down from the roofs of the houses next door, waiting for their breakfast: mourning doves, white-winged doves and occasionally tiny Inca doves, their feathers scalloped and mottled like fuzzy scales on the side of a fish. Whenever I see an Inca dove, maybe once every month, I pretend an Incan princess has returned in the body of a dove to say hello. Some mornings, the patio is mythologically covered with doves. And when the family of bluejays, the family of cardinals, a squirrel and some sparrows join in, it ends up looking a lot like that scene from Snow White, but translated into Midtown Houston. I know by hearing a bluejay whether it is young or it is old. Often I become familiar with the voice of an adolescent bluejay and follow it from day to day until his boyish call matures and blends in with the scratchy cackles of the others. Today I saw a small female cardinal, a daughter of the cardinal family. I recognized her face from her visit to the patio yesterday. She hopped around handlessly with a tiny seed in her beak. When she cracked it open, I heard the husk fall to the brick floor she pranced upon.

the tongue of an okapi is mute

Did you hear about Ruiben van Assouw, the nine-year old Dutch boy who was the only survivor of a plane crash in Libya that killed one-hundred-and-three other people? Some say it was a miracle. Recently in Houston, a dishwasher in a school cafeteria saw an image of the Virgin Mary stuck crusted to an empty pizza pan after a burnt piece of pizza was removed. Many people agreed that this was a miracle too. The story made the the five o'clock news. Personally, I believe that the brain of that nine-year-old boy is more miraculous than the oddity of his survival, that the brain of that Catholic woman who was touched by the vision of the Virgin is more miraculous than the vision of the Virgin. It's the everyday things in life that are actually the most miraculous.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

our lady of the brown mirror

October 2, 2005

I went back to that cemetery in Breaux Bridge today. Not the white-washed cemetery beside the orange-red brick church by the big steel bridge on Bridge Street. That other, smaller cemetery, maybe a quarter mile down Main Street, by a second, smaller bridge beside a second, smaller church. The light was better today than the last time I visited Breaux Bridge and I wanted another portrait of a statue who lived there. Our Lady of the Brown Mirror, that's my name for her anyway.

Monday, May 10, 2010

the reflection of a bluebird in a window

Holy Calvary Cemetery
Lafayette, Louisiana

One could speak of the minor harmony that is produced by the vibration of one string against another as the ratio of their oscillations. It is a mathematical relation. String on string is sound and song is sound. The reflection of a bluebird in a window is an optical calculation. A blue pixel here, a blue pixel there, scientists make rainbows every day.

But what is song? Do songbirds cry? And if so, does it sound like a song? Down which side of what pane do whose tears drop blue rain? From which grew whose grim portrait? Who breathes there? What is one? What beats there? What is two? Those are more difficult questions.

a fine mender's fit craves measure

There is a moment in the making of every minestrone when a whole and happy bean surrenders its integrity to the lure of the surrounding soup. Twist a ring around a finger long enough – any finger, any ring – and it will come to begrudge its knuckle. And you will forgive X if it cannot remain forever sandwiched between W and Y. The water turns slowly savory and the shell falls away eventually tenderly.

(This title came to me in an early morning dream fully formed. It was preceded by three images: the bean in a soup, the twisting ring and the sandwiching of X. Only after I wrote it all down did I realize the logic behind it.)

Monday, May 3, 2010


The human tongue is like the songbox of birds or the blowholes of dolphins. Nature, finding opportunity in the pliancy of anatomy, endowed these humble organs with the magic of expressiveness and the body began to talk.

Minds used to be more like islands lacking bridges between them. We traveled from the shore of one island to the shore of another only with great frustration and always with an unshakable sense that there was much left unexplored. There was always a between between us. Then tongue-turning turned into language, fashioning a magic carpet from the fabric of our mouths and now we are able to fly effortlessly from one mind to another, vaulting the murky waters that once isolated our souls.

real blank fruit

Photo: jetheriot

I was lucky. A wet box of photographs and mementos in an outdoor closet was the only damage I had from Katrina. This photograph was printed from a 35mm negative I had to pry apart from another negative.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

a heart is not a valentine

In the solitude of a January morning, when its life on Earth has ended, a Christmas tree will undecorate itself, loosening the wire ties that twist the ornaments around its branches and packaging them in familiar shoeboxes between layers of folded tissue, being careful not to loosen the macaroni pieces arranged to resemble beards on the faces of three wise men.


A VICTIM of the exotic virus starving the tribe of its livestock and its fruit trees, the stunted, sickly apple tree in the cemetery at the edge of the village quivered with infestation and grew grayer with the fading of spring.