Before you go.

Before you give up on Whitefish as it skips and morphs into some unrecognizable tourist town filled with second homes, flashy cars and Canadian merrymakers stop by Casey’s the next time the Whitefish Review has another issue release party. Listen to the authors, the poets and know that there is some there there. Text yourself just one line that spoke to you when the author breaks through and grabs something in your consciousness.

Casey’s Bar, Whitefish, Montana, Whitefish Review Issue Release Party

He had lived long enough to see the ocean again.

Kevin Canty Resurrection City, Whitefish Review Winter/Spring 2020

So much, so little.

I journal and as far as I can tell it all began April 12, 1992. It was Palm Sunday or so I recorded.

Sunday, April 12, 1992

Palm Sunday

On this inaugural passage I would like to state the objectives. This journal is to serve as a diary, a record of thoughts and feelings so that I may look back on them for remembrance and to learn from the error of my ways. I plan to note here the prevailing attitudes of both myself and the people around me on a national, local and personal belief. I hope that I will be able to speak clearly to the pages. For the true inner feeling of my being shall only be forgotten if not noted. And so with these objectives put forward, I shall begin.

Beau Wright, Chinese Silk Bound Journal 1992-1995

That first entry told of a night time trip into Washington DC to smell the Cherry Blossoms with my girlfriend, Gigi. We were both exhausted after our junior prom and the ceremony in which my Catholic high school presented class rings. Thinking about the Vietnam War Memorial inspired me to rant about the United States’ recent adventure in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. “Who really believes that we rescued Kuwait to restore a Democratic nation?” I write about my heartbreak for the Kurds of Northern Iraq, left to be butchered by Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and my disappointment that the United States had done nothing to restore order in Haiti. The entry ends with the realization that the pageantry of Catholic Easter had made no impression on my spirituality.

Who wrote this? Who was this seventeen year old kid strolling through the Tidal Basin with his girlfriend? Was I really that aware about Iraq, Haiti? I remember being proud of how quickly we dismantled Saddam, had my patriotic enthusiasm already been swept away? I often wonder how much I can expect my students to know about government and current events, but judging by this first passage I knew, or thought I knew, more than I remember.

And so it began, 27 years ago.

Step back with me, or not.

Big Mountain, Whitefish Range, Montana

I pulled the plug on my Instagram and Facebook life. Like so many of the vices that came to me with the advent of the internet, these two in particular seemed especially adept at drilling into the very core of my anxieties, and proclivity for procrastination. Since 95 percent of the traffic to this blog came off of links from those two platforms I’m not sure who might be left to see these posts. I do ask that if you find something here you enjoy, you spread it to someone else who might enjoy it as well.

Listen Well


Listen well though this not be Little House on The Prairie, children can be seen and heard. Be a close study of wisdom that comes from people older. They have seen more, suffered more, achieved more. Their failures do not need to be yours, but their successes can be. Be Thankful for the ability to listen and learn. Happy Thanksgiving.

Yet we do

From the Whitefish Range

How many times have I been here, right along with you. My thoughts twisted into injustices and corruption, real and imagined, slights festering inside the incessant blabber of consciousness.  

Oh! how do we recover? yet we do.

After the fear comes silence, breath returns.   

Look far, look to the horizon, past that impenetrable forest, past that distant mountain.  The sunlight, our way out, let us rest tonight and in the morning we will push on.  

Worth so much more

I grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a beautiful state, that has been graced by nature with areas of truly awe-inspiring geography.  From the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the endless ribbons of wooded mountains and valleys stretching down its spine.

In 1783, Thomas Jefferson traveled to Harper’s Ferry (then Virginia) and upon seeing the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac River remarked that this natural wonder “is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountains being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in that plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around to pass through the breach and participate in the calm below…This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

But Jefferson never traveled west of the Appalachians.  He could only imagine what his Corp of Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark had witnessed and seen on their journey to the Pacific and back.  As a teenager, I too hiked high above Harpers Ferry and like Jefferson meditated with the beauty of the confluence. But Jefferson never saw the sunrise in Eastern Montana, the sunset and alpenglow on the Mountains in Glacier National Park.  If Harper’s Ferry is “worth a voyage across the Atlantic”, then Montana is worth low bagging to get to. Montana is worth all the pains of having your heartbroken while you’re a zit faced teenager knowing that things are going to be better. Montana is worth the late night insomnia of doubt about what you should do with your life.  Montana is worth all this and more. Not just one view worthy, but thousands, from the soul swallowing immensity of the Missouri Breaks to every peak in the Spanish Peaks.  

Sunrise over the Judith River, Fergus County, Montana

Thank God I was not born in Montana and never had these state backdrops of Montana infused into my life before consciousness.  Every drive is a discovery, every trip across this state another opportunity to fall in love and realize the promise of life.  Montana, worth a voyage from anywhere.  

The outside looking in.

Fredericksburg, Texas

For My Daughter in Reply to a Question

We’re not going to die,
we’ll find a way.
We’ll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We’ll think always on life.
There’ll be no fading for you or for me.
We’ll be the first
and we’ll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There’ll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.

David Ignatow 

Summer Ends

Tomorrow I begin my 18th year of teaching. Roughly 1,800 students can say that I attempted to teach them. I’ve grown an immeasurable amount since that first period bell rung so many years ago.

The North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana.

Summer break has come to an end. It really came together, much accomplished, much learned and the experiences I lived through recharged me, brought me back to a good place. I think I might finally be where I’m supposed to be. Thank you to everyone, I’m so lucky.

One final last trip into the backcountry this weekend. The weather didn’t cooperate, but even on her worst days Montana is where you want to be.

Back Where It All Began

A decade ago somebody told me to find a picture of myself as a kid. I had to find a picture in which I looked happy. Furthermore I was instructed to think back to the mindset that I had when the picture was taken so that I could capture the innocence, joy, unmitigated happiness of youth, if only as a memory.

Perhaps life’s greatest tragedy is that we lose that sense of youth.