When I was seven years old, during a summer in Madison, Wisconsin, I spent an afternoon following a trickle of water running down a shady, wooded slope on the campus of the University. Finding this miniature stream and following it downhill was like a voyage of discovery. It would disappear beneath leaves and twigs, then re-emerge a few feet lower. It fascinated me; every time the stream emerged it remained thrilling. Later, I found out that it originated out of some building; if I remember correctly, it was the outflow of a lab. I had stumbled upon an ambiguous...Read More
Author: Lowry Pei
The River Owns Itself by Lowry Pei “Those who are good at controlling water give it the best opportunity to flow away.” — Chia Jang, Taoist engineer of the Han period [With this posting by Lowry Pei, we are initiating what we hope will be an ongoing series of posts on waterways. We intend the category to be capacious, to designate the streams and rivers that enlace the landscapes where we live, marking boundaries, empowering economies, encouraging human flows, causing floods, and delighting fishermen (sic), swimmers, sailors, poets, and the lovers who recline along their banks. Also the...Read More
News from St. Louis Lowry Pei The wife holds her pistol as if it’s a cigarette she’s in the middle of smoking, and she’s showing it to you: See, I have a cigarette. When I’m holding a cigarette, nothing can happen to me. Could that be what she’s thinking? What is she imagining that she is doing? What if her cigarette should drop an ash, or a bullet just at the moment, in her waving of it, when it happens to be pointing at a human being? Does she think that person would die? Maybe she thinks it’s...Read More
The dead man mattered, the new life mattered — James Baldwin, “Notes of a Native Son” George Floyd’s funeral train departed from Minneapolis It was June of 2020 — mourners lined the tracks The tears of the onlookers watered the embankments and from that salty soil grew wiry tough roses His train passed through Milwaukee slower than slow so people could walk beside him on his way Chicago’s Union Station was draped in black bunting The car his casket rode in was called the Philando Castile because like George Floyd, Philando died in the Twin Cities. George Floyd’s...Read More
If coffee shop could open If coffee shop could open would time still be there for one macchiato, standing at counter elbow to elbow, before armor-piercing ammo penetrates bricks? And isn’t it disgusting asking this while dying goes on somewhere else? Coyote, stuck in this yard, can’t open gate hen turkey perches on back fence without asking crows caw from above I go out, thinking keep stupid legs moving keep stupid heart beating mind will think thoughts of the past but I don’t have to believe don’t let them land, keep them circling till out of ammo or...Read More
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