I’m not sure who our mystery predator is here. As I’ve noted before, there is a notable dearth of stray cats in Roanoke. I occasionally see one — but it’s nothing like my native New York, where stray cats outnumber people with a clean driving record.
Maybe the pupper next door did it. I dunno. He seems to be one of those gruff dogs who’s nevertheless timid (and adorable). He sort of grumble-barks tentatively and then goes instantly quiet when you make eye contact with him. He wandered into my backyard last summer and spent at least five minutes literally trembling in front of an empty tent, before he got up enough courage to bark at it. Eventually he even ran away from that.
Whatever the case, I hope that the little patch of ground below doesn’t lie along a suburban game trail. The is a place where bunny buds are known to roam. And the last one I startled there just ran in a confused figure eight — and then mistakenly ran at me for a moment instead of away. (Little brown fella had some kind of spatial relations problem. Or maybe he was channeling General Woundwort.)
I swear to you, it’s so thick in Roanoke right now that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. (I know that is a cliche, sorry, but it’s totally apt). When I first I looked out my window tonight, I thought there was a blackout.
Great news — I am going to be published in Germany again! The nice folks over at Newington Blue Press have selected one poem and one photograph of mine to appear in the limited edition Issue No. 2 of Buk 100: My Old Man, A Birthday Greeting. The poem is my recent piece “Ode to a New Black Ballpoint Pen.” The photo is of the Shaffer’s Crossing Norfolk Southern Railway Bridge right here in Roanoke.
I am truly honored to learn that my work will appear in Issue No. 2 — especially after several of my poems appeared in Issue No. 1 of Buk 100 back in June. (These were “Guerrilla Poet” and “First Smoke.”) I am also quite happy to see that a photo of my adopted Bible Belt city will appear in a literary publication in Europe.
Buk 100: My Old Man, A Birthday Greeting is a set of chapbooks commemorating what would have been the 100th birthday of Charles Bukowski. Their featured writing and art were selected to showcase “a conversance and artistic involvement with the phenomenon of Bukowski.”
Thanks once again to Matthias Krueger at Newington Blue Press for allowing me to be a part of this unique international tribute to a legendary poet!
But it wasn’t this year’s upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie — it was a real goddam highly venomous spider on the outside of my garbage pail just now. (The signature red hourglass marking would be on its underside.) I would have loved to find Scarlett Johansson clinging to the side of my garbage pails, but generally my luck doesn’t work like that.
My neighbor found it and pointed it out to me, and my Internet search indeed seems to confirm that it is of the Southern Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans) species. I also learned two fun facts: 1) “black widows” are actually several species of spiders that are also called “true widows,” which I find vaguely poetic, and 2) these are the most venomous spiders in North America. The female’s bite is approximately 15 times more potent than than a rattlesnake bite. Okay … that second fact is probably more terrifying than it is “fun.”
My neighbor also started telling me other black widow facts, like how if you find one, you can expect to find more because of … mating season or something, but I literally walked away as fast as I could, because that’s the kind of fatally depressing news I expect from the national news.
Anyway, my best friend got a new pet just yesterday, and she keeps showing off her hamster pics — so maybe this is my way of keeping up with the Joneses.
These are just a couple of shots of Roanoke that I altered with basic photo-editing software. I don’t know why, but I like black-and-white photos with their details enhanced and with plenty of dark spaces in them.
I have no doubt that a proficient photographer would look at shots like these and find them to be elementary stuff. But I’m still learning about the process and having fun with it.
So I hit the supermarket last night because I NEEDED fresh meat. (I’m part velociraptor. 23andMe says so. I even wrote it in on the census.)
Let me tell you something — Roanokers are 100 percent diligent in maintaining the recommended six feet of distance. And on top of that, they’re STILL polite and good-natured. My neighbors are smart, classy people.
And I’m doing my best to blend in … I think they’ve mistaken me for one of their own.