Wednesday, October 28, 2009


You know, a lot of people view the guillotine as some sort of barbaric torture device. It’s quite a simple machine really, a large metal blade suspended in a wooden frame waiting to be release so gravity can drive it down into the neck of the waiting soon-to-be corpse. There is a thud, and—well you get the idea. After all, the guillotine only plays a small part in our story. A much larger role is played by a teenage boy, a certain kitten, and the boy’s mother.

I must confess, I am the teenage boy. We always seemed to have a surplus of cats growing up. Not that I minded. It started shortly after we moved into our house located on the edge of town on Reed Drive, a street that is now, as it was then, a farmer’s field. I remember we kids begging the parents for a cat. Our old one had come on the move with us, but decided she preferred her previous home and left. I was about eight. Dad called us all in for a family meeting. We had just gotten a new Siamese cat, and needed a name. My siblings and I thought long and hard, suggesting many names, finally deciding on Black Paw. An amazingly original name if I’ve ever heard one.

Black Paw was a normal enough cat. She ate mice, left mice as gifts for her masters and fought off dogs neighbor dogs when they’d come after her litter. We, her diminutive masters, took great care of her, lugging her around the yard, taking her bungee jumping off the fort, and even baptizing her in a puddle after a rain storm. We may have been a little rough on her, but we didn’t know it at the time—well, we might have known, but we didn’t hate her, we were just young boys. Anyways Black Paw didn’t seem to mind and she always kept us in with a fresh supply of kittens. However the never ending stream of kittens, from Black Paw and her successors was the problem. We just didn’t know it.

Through the years, our family grew to five boys and one girl, the house grew to accommodate and the litters grew. We pick up our story again when I was the oldest boy at home, after my older brother had left to play ball at the College of Southern Idaho. The matriarchal line of our kittens was unbroken. Foxes, disease, and old age took some of the cats, but we always replaced them. Our names got better as well. We had, What, Akomode, Anakin 1,2 and 3, Fatso and The Cat That Threw Up, among many others.

The best part of having so many cats was there was always one around to grab and hold. One night I grabbed What and headed down to the basement to watch a movie. While I was sitting in the beanbag, rubbing What’s belly I felt a sticky liquid. It pooled up in my hand. What was salivating, and not just a little, it was like a spigot had been turned on. I quickly wiped my hand on the beanbag, took What outside, and returned with Meow Meow, selecting a different chair. My brother came down and was excited to see the vacant beanbag. He launched himself quickly into the beanbag, and—well lets move on; he’s just a minor character.

The problems weren’t just confined to What. We had other cats with problems, none as bad as the continual salivating. One would per as loud as an engine, but only when he as mad. One had a leg about twice as long as the others, but soon died. As best as we can tell, the same tomcat had been the father, for so many generations the DNA got all screwy. Whether or not that is the case we had some messed up cats. What had her first litter shortly after she turned on her mouth faucet most of them were stillborn.

What got worse. When I picked her up her hair would fall out. The droll as so incessant holding her was a chore. Then tumors started showing up. By this time What had another litter of kittens in her. She was clearly in pain. My heart ached as she tried to move around and get food. I knew she wasn’t well.

It was a fall afternoon. I came home from football practice and walked into the kitchen. Mom was standing there, her normally cheerful face creased with lines. But at least she was still making some yummy cookies. She told me What had tried to go into labor, but a tumor had kept the kittens from exiting. It was sick. I didn’t want to go anywhere near that cat. I wanted to throw up when I got close, and could see the fetus’ head sticking out. Then Mom told me that I needed to take care of it.

Me? Why not Dad? Why can’t we just take her to the vet? Why was Mom, who wouldn’t let me take hunter’s education, asking me to kill my cat? I guess, because I was the oldest home. I was the man of the house. The one who did what had to be done. Sure my Dad could do it when he got home, but this needed to be taken care of now, before the younger kids saw her. I’d never felt that responsibility before. I’d never felt like I was where the bucked stopped. But that day it did.

“It’s time,” she said. I was left, not only to do the deed, but to figure out how. I looked down at What. How do you kill your pet? Maybe I’d drive out to the Arco Desert, and leave her. She would be dead in a day or two. It’d be easy. I looked down at her. Two days was too long. A bag! Yes I’d get an old potato sack, put rocks in it, and throw What into the river behind our house. But drowning? I looked at what. I picked her up. I didn’t care about the saliva that got all over my arms. I could tell she was in pain. We didn’t own a gun. I thought about getting my friends and shooting her, but what if I missed? What if she didn’t die right away? I needed to honor What in the way I ended her life. She needed to know that her master wasn’t looking for the easy way, but for the best way.

Then I remembered something I learned at school. The guillotine was actually a revolution in execution. People look at it as and think its dreadful, but in a time when one might be drawn and quartered, or burnt at the stake, the guillotine offered a quick death, with only a split second of pain.

I looked at What in my arms. I carried her with me as I went to get the shovel. Then I carried her to our back berm and dug her grave. I picked What up, stroked her a few last times, and placed her on her back, looking up at me. I said a few words, placed the shovel where it needed to go, and pressed down hard.

I felt strange walking back to the house. I don’t know how one should feel after putting down their pet. Somber, morose, come close. There was also a sense of honor that I had taken care of my pet. I didn’t leave it to some veterinarian. Nor did I abandon her in a hopeless situation. I knew what needed to be done, and I did it the best I could.

I didn’t talk much the rest of the day. I didn’t go down the basement to play Nintendo with my brothers. Mom told the other kids what had happened. And while I missed What, I remember sleeping well that night

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Poems, less crappy.


The climbing Sun gives birth to a day
Fortune, and Glory await the bold
Diligence brings contentment
Pleasure for the glutton
Sorrow for the damned
The Bed comforts,
worn out

Ripped From Dreams

There once was a class dedicated to art
The prof brought in a hussy and tart
The boys eyes did gleam
In trance they did seem
Until the art tart let rip a fart.

Natures Blanket

The mountains strive to hold back the day,
Keeping her hidden, behind the solid shadows
The closer you are, the more comfort you find
From the days searing heat.

Italian Sacrilege

Where can I find pizza
When my gut needs it
When all the stores are closed and It’s half past one
Where is the pizza man
To stop my anguish
I need some greasy bomb
To fill my hole.

Wal Mart, it calls to me
With cardboard options
Yes lower quality but still has some sauce
They’re open all hours
My tires are screeching
In and out in a flash
With my great prize.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Things Made Whole

The field was littered with brown clumps of dirt left from a recent aeration. The sprinklers had been on last night, and it was 6:00 AM on a Fall Saturday in Rexburg, Idaho. The temperature was barely above freezing.

And I wanted to give up. I'd forgotten how hard football could be. Sitting there in tryouts for the BYU-Idaho football, league carrying another lineman on my back, doing whatever torture the coaches dreamed up I thought I was a foolish man chasing windmills. I'd walked away from a unglamorous sub .250 football carrier at the end of high school. Personally happy with my effort, but frustrated that I never had the experience of truly being part of a team. (if you haven't I suggest you read about it here before continuing.) But in the Summer of 2000 Gordon B. Hinckley gave me another chance. He announced that Ricks College would become BYU-Idaho, and they were getting rid of intercollegiate sports and instituting intra-collegiate sports. In other words the teams could compete within the university. I was on my LDS mission in West Virginia at the time, but it was then that I knew, I would play football again.

I had given up on football when I walked off the field after my 1 and 8 senior season in high school. A lineman doesn't really have many opportunities to perform his craft. Blocking without pads, and a backfield to protect isn't even close to the same. If you don't have an offer to play collegiality you don't have any future. But President Hinckley's announcement had given me hope.

At 6:00 am its hard to feel hope. When you're soaked to the core, doing the bidding of some sadist coach, performing the monkey roll in the mud, its easy to just walk away. Each day of tryouts the group got smaller and the vomiting became more frequent.

The BYFL has a no cut policy. Tryouts are there to weed out the weak and uncommitted. If you make it through tryouts you'll be on a team, but that's a big if.

My first year in the league I was placed on the Titans. Jordon, Our quarterback was a former jr. college QB that was finishing up his schooling in Rexburg. That year was great. A unofficial team goal was to never punt, and we didn't have to. ON the rare occasion we didn't convert on 4th down, our defense could stop them. I remember one game giving the other team the ball on our 20. Our defense held them to 4 and out.

We had a perfect season winning the league championship.

One of things that makes the BYFL different is the focus on becoming better people. All our practices began with a prayer and devotional, and the league had weekly devotionals. It was so different from high school and I loved it.

My second and final year in the league I was drafted onto the Knights. With black and silver uniforms we were the most menacing team in the league. I almost didn't come back for a second year. I'm glad I did. It gave me some of my best memories.

-Our quarterback was Dax Wells. He was a natural leader on the team. When he told you a way to improve, or when he told you you needed to get your job done better, you wanted to do it, and you would.

-I got stats! I thought I was fine with not having any official stats to track what I did in the game. But our coaches let me go out for two passes. The first one was a touch down pass. I was playing left guard and ran a five and out. Dax lofted it up there. But my cursed lineman's body wasn't fast enough, and the ball bounced indifferently off the endzone grass. Later in the playoffs, our coaches called the play again. I went three yards and out, turned, thankfully our quarterback knew how slow I was, caught the ball, and was promptly tackled. But I got three yards receiving, and that was enough for me.

-We were a team. Before games we would all gather close together, while Danny Vanstinkus, would say in almost a wisper, "who's that talking 'bout beating them knights?"

We'd all respond,"who that, who that say what." He then would call again slightly louder, with us repeating, all while in a tight huddle, and jumping up and down. This would continue until until near tumult levels

I'm sorry if I get a little personal here and apply this to life. Like the NBA says, "its just a game, right? But sometimes is so much more than that." Football was my sport, my brothers had basketball and track, and football, but football was really the only one where I excelled. But in high school I had been given a pathetic team with unconcerned coaches. I wanted football to be my sport, my life, but my team had never even won more than one game in a season, never bonded as a team. I wasn't bitter when I walked away at the end of high school, but I was empty and unfilled.

But God gave me a new chance with football at college. Not only did he let me play again, but he put me on two teams that were the exact opposite of high school. Two league championships, one undefeated season. Teammates and friendships. I have to believe that if God in his mercy gave me a second chance at football, and gave me more than I have ever deserved. He will give us blessings that far out weigh the trials we have experienced in this life. Children who are taken while young will be reunited with their parents, the abused will receive the love and caring so sorely missed. Those who long for families, and whose hearts ache from sometimes decades of being alone will have that intimacy so long denied them. Those and all the other tough times, set backs, and things left unfilled, will be rectified with blessings that far and beyond compensate us for the injustices suffered. If God will do that with a simple thing like football, I know he will do it with all the trials in life, for those who remain faithful to him. It may not be until after we think the opportunity has passed, it may not even be during our current lifetime, but it will come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Weekly Storm

(Yeah this is total crap. But if i have to write poetry for class, I hope to pass on some of the misery to others.)

Brick walls, wood floor

Waiting anxiously behind the door.

The storm gathering in the stands

Waiting breathlessly for their fav’rite band,

Not of music, but of men

Come together once again

To battle against the hated foe

Be it panther, Trojan, or Eskimo

The door opens wide

We run with pride

The storm cloud breaks

And yells for homicide

Battle is firey

My innards diaree

Ah, much to my utter chagrin,

I leave the conflict to hide my sin.

Friends come cheering

For our nearing

Vict’ry over life long rival

To my inner sanctum of trial

Half time is over

I have the go-fer

Fetch me new armor

From the old clothing garner

The game comes close,

We might be toast

Jim fouls out

disgusted coach starts to pout

But puts me in to do my thing

I find the ring

I dunk the ball

The warm hurricane engulfs us all