Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Fetched from Wedgewood depths
you are all grease and muscle,
an impulse without seam,
stark and amoral as an arrowhead.
I take you, palm countering palm,
the decision to render.
Life? Or death?
Above, staggering and drunk on their own screams,
gulls tip and roil, dip and spiral,
a mob too keen to muster.
You do not fathom me,
chalky ogre that I seem,
my fingers feverish and dirtsmelling.

I fish because it is not required of me,
because it feels like staring into a vault filled with jewels.
Sometimes, I imagine my little girl with me,
Christmas happy and clapping circus noise along the shore.
“Say to the fish like the horseyman,” she clatters.
“Whisper how Mommy ate detergent
because I was just a bean inside her.”
This is how we begin:
a hormone imbalance, craving only wrong things.

Your babies float about you,
translucent and oval as planets,
and you—practical to the point of cruel—
suck them into your stomach.
You hate my thin sky,
the papery feel of wind against flank and fin,
the shoal of clouds frantic as they gallop over.
Your wellbottom eyes,
odd and unblinking,
drops of oil beading dark soup.
Those eyes,
intolerable, otherworldly,
failing to comprehend,
even as I allow you to kiss your own bent reflection
in the water.
This is about me.
This is me letting myself go.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 25, 2010

Maybe Not Flowers

Driving to work in the slate cold of pre-dawn, I swooped past a well-lighted home. Just as I slashed before the front-facing picture windows, something caught my eyes—what seemed a lovely floral display atop a lofty marbled pillar. When I snapped my head back for a more substantial look, I discovered the flowers to be a broad-shouldered woman with really messy hair looking out. Then gone. I drove the rest of the way to work wondering which of my two views was true. For the husband’s sake, I am hoping for the flowers.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Perhaps we shall die softly, die beautifully, like glacier lilies come early and slumping back into the greening grass below snowdrifts drawn long across grassy flanks and timbered steeps.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Order of Things

Here, then, the order of the two most important things:

First: my wife, my daughter

Second: any mountains

--Mitchell Hegman

Richard (A True Story)

I think Richard’s life changed the day the hitchhiker died while cradled in Richard’s arms. Richard must have been a little over twenty then, and he’d happened on a single-car crash at the ragged mouth of Wolf Creek Canyon. The hitchhiker, also a boy of about twenty, lay sprawled and bleeding on the pavement, having been abruptly pitched from the truck he’d caught a ride in when the truck somehow became crossed-up and tumbled several times in the shale and bunchgrass median. A mostly shattered guitar lay not far from the hitchhiker. His backpack had ejected from the bed of the truck lay along the fence that kept the nearby whitefaced cattle from milling around on the highway with the rushing traffic.

“I suppose I’m pretty bad,” the hitchhiker said. “Am I pretty bad off?” he asked Richard delicately. He lifted a bloody hand. “Am I gonna make it?”

Unable to think of anything better to do, Richard sat on the ground near the boy and lifted the boy’s head and shoulder’s into his lap. “I’m Canadian,” the hitchhiker told Richard. “I just now got a ride in that truck. Is my guitar broken?”

“A little,” Richard answered.

“I wish that truck hadn’t picked me up,” the Canadian said.

The hitchhiker didn’t say another word. Cars whooshed past. Cars stopped. People got out, stood there. Richard felt the Canadian dimming, fading away right there in his arms. Maybe for a few moments Richard closed his eyes and understood everything. Maybe he felt stars grinding slowly overtop the whole scene. Maybe Richard felt the wind stir right through him. When he opened his eyes he knew he had to let the hitchhiker go.

I saw Richard come home that evening. I saw him walking up slowly, bloodstains burning violently against his plaid shirt. Richard remained quiet for many days, his calm uneasy.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Reason

Things happen for a reason. Often, the reason is to annoy my wife.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Turn Off The Music

Beware the music that brings the well-intentioned to dance with the well-armed.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What If

What if a new kind of disease suddenly swept across all the continents, one that afflicted only stupid people or people who have given in to their urges and tasted a spoonful of ether dog or cat food? Would you still be here in the morning?

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tracks In The Snow

I left my house at 5:30 this morning, driving through several inches of freshly fallen snow. The country road lay smooth and without a track of any kind under my headlight beams. Eventually, a set of small tracks hooked into the very center of the road from someplace in the darkness beyond. I supposed the tracks to be from a chipmunk or squirrel or some other such diminutive creature and I followed the tracks down the very center of the road. The tracks carried on, straight as the edge of a piece of paper, once they struck the road. Rather fascinated by the prints, I tried to keep them centered between the beams of my headlights as I drove. Suddenly the tracks stopped. No turn right. No turn left. Not a single step back. No critter in sight. Had the thing vanished in mid-step? I have seen a similar thing when a bird snatches something from the snow, but they always leave impressions of their wings or some other sign of a tragic end.

I drove overtop the place where the tracks stopped—on into the cobalt darkness. New, smooth snow sparkled under my lights. Something occurred to me. I glanced in my rearview mirror. Just my tracks—just that, and me at their end.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 4, 2010


Alarmed by a gradual disappearance of our grassland songbirds, scientists undertook an in-depth and all-encompassing study to determine the exact nature and mechanisms of the bird predation. Along the way, the discovered all the usual suspects at work, gobbling up eggs and hatchlings from the nests: coyotes, cats, snakes, and mice. Astoundingly, gophers account for something near forty percent of the hatchling predation in the study area. Perhaps more surprisingly, researchers discovered that whitetail deer, at every given opportunity, will sneak up and chomp down baby songbirds.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Bambi Conspiracy

At some point the cowboy seated at the bar squares on me,
knots his hand into my shirt, pulls me to his chin.
“See, we didn’t actually land on the moon,” he grunts.
“Was all fabricated on a movie set,
like Bambi.”
I protest, “But Bambi is a cartoon and—“
The cowboy shushes me, buys me a shot of Jack.
“The government is capable of anything.”

By four in the morning the moon has ditched
And we are hunkered inside the cowboy’s tumbledown
hideaway deep in some avocado-skinned mountains.
He’s stocked with rifles and pickled beets and Polartec gear
and a new computer with lighting Internet connections.
He crashes through websites, pulls from a bottle of gin,
“Killed by the ATF...Abducted by aliens...Culture war...
Mud people...Elvis, alive and pumping gas in Utah.”

“Tell me you didn’t vote for Clinton,” he says,
and cuffs me when I fail to answer.
“A commi-pinko! Clinton—born Vladimir Stan-ko-nov
in Moscow—smuggled into Arkansas two days later.”
I speak up: “But his mother—“
”A man,” barks the cowboy.
“Same as Barbara Bush and Cher.”

Then something sets off the cowboy.
He springs toward a rifle,
barges out the door, whams twice into a black line of firs.
He pauses. Fires again. Slinks inside. Slams the door.
“You can’t be too careful,” he pants.
“I knew something was up first time I saw Michael Jackson.”

--Mitchell Hegman

The Sky Is My Garden

The sky is my garden. By day, wind tends rows of clouds or scattered birds. By night, stars blossom above the zinc-colored mountains. They say that this--Montana--is "Big Sky Country," but that is not near enough to explain things. In the heat of summer the sky ripples and spurs warped ravens across the prairie. At minus-twenty the whole of sky sparkles and the ice on the frozen lake below my house cries and moans. Clouds lift. Clouds drift away. The sky is a moving garden.

--Mitchell Hegman