Swalaska Blog

Alaska 2014

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Santa Monica

I smoked a cigarette with a homosexual while standing on the salty planks of the Santa Monica pier. Mine was a Marb…light. His was a Virginia Slim menthol 100. I lit mine with a Scripto. He wore white tennis shoes…I call them sneakers where I come from. His gaze was admittedly gay but he wasn’t about to confess

I was looking for a low riff…not so much from the Pacific tide; I just wanted to hear some blues.

Or at least a Jack White tune.

The Bubba Gump Shrimp has beer….if you’re hungry. Be prepared for the fried basket bullshit. Why is that? Is there even shrimp in the kelp infested west coast?

I rested down close to the short side of the tide, and I slept in its sandy cushion.

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Lost Angeles

Maybe he is sitting at his folding card table. The only light passes through a distorted venetian blind from the blinking red neon ‘no vacancy’ sign outside. He brushes Moon pie crumbs off his thick black chest hair. He takes a swig of vodka right from the bottle and wipes his mouth on his Armani knock-off shirt sleeve, lights a Pall Mall and fumbles around unsuccessfully for the ‘on’ button.

He flips open his flip phone and hits speed dial. In a fluent non-English language, he converses with a man on the flip side.

The lens cover pops off and the screen comes to life. He scrolls through the images, quickly at first, but then slows down when he realizes a story is being told. He crushes out his half smoked smoke in an empty pizza box, switches to broken English and laughingly tells his pawn connection he’ll be there come morning.

When we lose certain things in life, most of us learn to accept the absence, usually after a bout of grief, disappointment or finger pointing. In my case, I undoubtedly experienced all three consecutively. However, when I pointed my finger, I happened to be standing in front of a mirror. The grief was short lived, like a time elapsed film of a seedling sprouting into a full grown plant and then withering and disappearing into the dirt.

The disappointment…I will always struggle with the disappointment, after all, yellow Prius driver, you knew what that optical memorization device meant to me before I stepped out. Some losses can be recovered depending on the hands to which they have fallen. Apparently yours are now filled with more vodka and Moon pies…salute!

“We still have our memories,” my friend said before she pulled away from the load/unload zone at LAX. I laughed to myself as I watched her drive off, reeeally…seriously?

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Memphis Tennessee 8/18/2013

I didn’t see you yesterday, so I wouldn’t know if you were kissing tiny flowers. I like to think that you were.

When I first saw the Mississippi, I saw a dead fish floating in her muddy water.

When I first saw the Mississippi, I saw a homeless man sitting on the river bank with his worn-out Kmart specials to his nose screaming all that lives is born to die.

I couldn’t help but to be reminded of a song.

I couldn’t help to think that “crazy,” Mr. homeless guy, or your degree there-of, is a matter of opinion and let’s not confuse ”crazy” with sheer utter madness.

Perhaps your prolonged anger morphed into the abstract behavior such defined as mental illness…or at least I believe it did in your case. But, I’m just a stationary observer. I have no framed accreditations on my wall stating otherwise.

I stood and talked to you…I watched you raise your fist and saw you look over your shoulder and curse at the Memphis skyline.

I hope you get that check you were promised. I hope you no longer have to be angry. I hope you can soon buy those shiny new toe nail clippers that you so desperately need.

That’s the way it ought to be…oh, don’t you know?

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 While cleaning up the remnants left strewn throughout the otherwise vacant house I once called home, I was posed with a rather interesting question.  The kind that makes one say hmmm before they offer an educated guess or make a jovial attempt to evade.  I was standing over a garbage bag and a cardboard box trying to decide where to put the half empty tube of Sponge Bob-fruity flavored toothpaste (cap missing) when the young man who was helping me, popped this philosophical question;


“What is your definition of happiness?”


I smoothed out the contorted tube of anti-cavity Sponge paste and starred at Bob’s picture in all his happy-ass glory. It was as if old Square-butt was laughing at me. So, I tossed him into what I deemed the appropriate receptacle, allowed the hmmm to form what I thought was a response worthy of such an intellectual question and said this:


“I think that happiness is the absence of life’s recurring inconveniences…. How we react to these inevitable trivialities determines the length and frequency of our suffrage’s.”


Say for instance, you are waiting for an elevator. The bell bings, the door opens and out walks a heavy set man who goes about his way. You step in; select your floor and the door closes when you suddenly realize something is wrong.  That man just left you a little present. Your nostril cavities begin to fill with the rancid aroma of a wet, stinky fart. As if the man had feasted on a Thanksgiving Dinner the night before, complete with candied yams and pumpkin pie. You start to gag as you spill your triple mocha latte which burns your hand causing your reflexes to send the cup of hot brew crashing to the floor. “Shit!” you yell, right before you throw up into your mouth…just enough to puff your cheeks, then sending a slurry of banana and rice crispy vomit spewing out of the elevator door that just begins to open.  You jump through the opportunity, crashing head on into the girl from HR.


Inconvenienced, yes. Pissed… probably.


 There is an array of reactions that can influence your mindset throughout the rest of your day; mirroring your facial expressions.


You can choose to continue on with your day, choking on ass vapor, or you can exhale it gracefully and chock it up as a fluke of nature, smiling all the way.


You can start pointing blame or you can offer your sincere apology to the innocent bystander whose own reaction, will affect yours.


Your reaction can become a paradox, which affects not only your future happiness, but the people encircled in your matrix. “Gee…I see Bob is really pissed that I’m happy, and now I’m not as happy because I pissed off Bob on my way to becoming happy.”


Now yeah, I know…much has been written, pondered, contemplated, studied in labs using rats, argued, and agreed upon about happiness throughout the ages…but…there comes a time in life when one day we wake up and gradually realize what our own definition of happiness is. This is mine…and it makes me happy that I have found it.


Now there are plenty of circumstances where getting really pissed (unhappy) is justified. Say, for instance, I jump out of a plane and my parachute doesn’t deploy, I’d be pissed as hell, especially after I shit myself.


All I’m saying is that I’ve come to realize that by learning not to sweat the small stuff will condition us to better handle the bigger issues in life like, illness, death and taxes, all which we will inevitably experience at some point.  



So the time in which our lives are void of these seemingly problematic inconveniences, we tend to experience happiness. How we go about solving or eliminating them when they arise, can prolong the misery, anger, finger pointing or it can bring us back to the happy state we strive everyday to achieve.

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I came across this obscure definition and felt compelled to share/elaborate:

Heartworm :n. a relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.


Smoldering embers can lay hidden and fester for days…weeks…months… even years.

Slowly burning inside, through a maze of twisted fibrous knotted roots, desire can erupt in flame given a conduitlove on fire.

Text, bump, smell, email, sound, song, gaze…

unkempt bedsheets…

singular reflection has snuffed them out…

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Ignore the all too familiar red octagon

Blow across the proverbial crossroad

Slump your wrist over the steering wheel and listen to the sound of the tires slinging gravel and chipping paint

Tip up your sunglasses and watch the dust bellow in the rear-view mirror

Rip the knobs from the commercial chatterbox and sing about your own reasons…

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Reed Gold Mine

Photo by Jeffrey Arnold SwanWinter held it’s breath for two days last weekend.

I decided it was a good opportunity to venture out into the warm, golden rays. The only pigment that provided any color to my skin could have been found at my calloused fingertips.

Been clawing the walls with a boredom induced frenzy might you ask?


I’ve been maintaining my self proclaimed sanity by allowing my thoughts to transcend through and out of my fingers. The resulting compilation of words and such is what I will call my attempt at writing.

But, like George Jetson, I too, can get punchy from punchin’ all those buttons.


Photo by Jeffrey Arnold Swan


The temperature dropped a good 20 degrees when I walked alone into the mine shaft.

The 20 watt incandescent bulbs sporadically placed along the dim corridor, fueled imagination.

Relieved to see modern timbers supporting the earth above me, I walked slowly, allowing myself to travel back in time.

I could smell dampness in the air mixed with burning oil from the lanterns.reed 051

I heard first, the sound of steel smashing steel. Then, rock cracking, splitting and falling to the ground.

An empty ore cart whizzed past me as I jumped out of its way.

Muffled voices of Negro slaves began to emanate from the walls.

They spoke of the poor conditions and the open sores.

I saw the rock bolts that had been placed in the walls to stop the fissures, to stop the cracking, to stop the cave-ins I presumed.reed 054

A heavy set man in a dapper blue suit holding a lantern approached me.

He looked right through me, checked his shiny time piece, turned and walked away.

I continued on, stopping one more time to hear the rickety wheel of an ore cart being pushed by, without even seeing the whites of his eyes.

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Flow With It


It flows beneath me as I lay upon it.. I appear motionless yet I am a mass of vibrating energy. I am a magnet floating upon the river of life absorbing all the positive energy the universe is casting my way. I feel no need to steer. I like where this ride is taking me. The masses battle against the current. I know some of them,  I have battled against the current with them. I have learned to think thoughts that are buoyant, which keeps me floating…


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Oct 28 Sun, West Asheville, North Carolina



“Hey…where you at man?

“I’m at (anonymous), where are you?”

“Not sure, let me find a cup of coffee… and my bearings and I’ll call ya back in 20.”


I knew I was in a parking lot in West Asheville, but having parked the car along Haywood Rd. and after walking to many of the fine establishments this area has to offer the night before, I lost track. I lost track of my friends (or they lost track of me) and the location of the windshield wiper blade switch…which an anonymous passerby-er-err was kind enough to assist me with. She even gave me a hug and tucked me into the front seat of the car.

I drove out from behind the buildings and onto Haywood and immediately pulled over.




“West End Bakery, I’m at –“

“Hey, do you know where the West End Bakery is?  (“Yep,” said a voice from the background.) Right on man…we’re on our way.”


I walked into the bakery and my senses began to yawn and stretch when the sounds and smells burned through my fog brain, brain fog. I actually felt pretty good, considering. Hungry, I glanced at the menu but thought best to wait for my friends. “Coffee, please.”


After they arrived, the four of us sat down and I ordered the “Trout Bagel,” a fresh everything bagel with fresh cream cheese and topped with fresh, local caught trout.

Although I only ate half and offered the other, it was scrumptious; a word my mother used to use comes to mind to best to describe.


Over the course of a few more cups of coffee, we shared comical details of the night which included the fact that I was now coat- less. Through all the doors I passed, there must have been one room in one bar that was a little warmer than the others, and that’s where my coat must be. The only clue to where I definitely was, after playing the process of elimination, was revealed when I pulled a pack of matches from my pant’s pocket.

After we exchanged handshakes and hugs with our new friends, my friend Tomas and I set off on a quest for the coat. (By the way, all names I use in this blog are fictitious, to protect the innocent and respect their privacy you know. And it maybe true…we all have an identical twin…somewhere.)

“Man, I’m sure glad I’m not a dentist,” he said, looking at his choppers in the rear view mirror. “Why?” I asked, buckling my seat belt. “Cause I probably would have tried pulling some teeth last night!” Oh right…”The Hangover.”


We found the coat, like the matchbook said, and what was in the coat pocket was in the coat pocket. Desoto’s on Haywood has some good karma points coming their way but I get the feeling that’s just how the people of Asheville are.

From the moment we rolled into The Riverside Arts District and made our first stop at The Wedge, I could feel the coolness in the atmosphere, and I’m not talking about the effects of hurricane Sandy who was casting her gusty winds across the NC Mountains that Saturday afternoon. I’m talkin’ about the whole vibe, the art, the architecture and most for sure, the people. From the locals to the bartenders who worry about your well being rather than the tip jar. To the wait staff, to the young lady who stopped to help me out, thank you. The West End Bakery… you were right where I needed you. And to our new friends, who live in Asheville, thanks for accommodating.

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