The Hollow Men

:::this is the way the world ends:::

Author: Shotts (page 2 of 5)

The Blog Is Dead

We’re coming up on three months without one new comment or post.

No Line on the Horizon

Looking out to that horizon, today, on the release of a new U2 album, it seems appropriate to write to you all with a serious proposal. Namely, let’s look forward and think about a significant journey to Ireland.

I’m not suggesting this happen next month, maybe not even this year, but if there is interest from even just one of you, I’d like to get a date in mind on the calendar and start saving the money it will take to make this a real journey. You’ve got to dream out loud.

What I am proposing, what I am dreaming, is two weeks in Ireland–mapping out a course from Dublin, most likely, and spending the bulk of the time in the western wilds of the country. It would mean setting up lodging in bed and breakfasts and/or hostels, renting a car and braving the narrow roadways, eating in pubs and the like–doing it as cheaply as we can, but also not sparing out on any experience. I’m open to any road, but imagine spending 2-3 days in Dublin, and spending much of the rest of the time in the west and in Northern Ireland.

Certainly this is an expensive proposal, in terms of cost and time and planning, let alone a significant time away from home and family. It is likely cheaper to go in the off months, November through February, for instance. With that in mind, and looking at my own schedule, perhaps January or February 2010 would be a time to shoot for. I hate the idea of being away from Jen and Beckett for two weeks or so, and obviously this is just the beginning of a possible conversation, but I also hate the idea of time and youth so quickly getting away from us. And they are getting away from us. I know there was once a lot of talk among us, on a broken Kansas hillside, about just this very idea of a journey with whoever of us can make it. I’m not even certain I can make it. But I hope, and I scheme, and I instigate, and so I put it back to each of you to think seriously about this and to see what we can do in service to our friendships and lives.


Oh the long tradition. Much regret we are not gathering together. Many good wishes and gratitude to all of you on this Thanksgiving. A lot to be thankful for this year. A raised glass to you.

Election Day

A piece of Walt Whitman on this historic day:


From 1884


If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,


‘Twould not be you, Niagara – nor you, ye limitless prairies – nor your huge

rifts of canyons, Colorado,


Nor you, Yosemite – nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops

ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,


Nor Oregon’s white cones – nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes – nor

Mississippi’s stream:


This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name – the still small

voice vibrating – America’s choosing day…

Beckett Masen Aspengren Shotts

Thanks to all of you for the messages of good words and congratulations on the arrival of our new son! He is a dozen days old now, and is doing well, gaining his birth weight back and charming us completely. I look forward to introducing him to the Hollow Men. Beckett was born punctually on his due date, August 1, at 11:32 pm. He weighed 8 pounds 5 ounces and measured 19 and 3/4 inches.

Jen and I are really happy, and Jen is recovering well after what was a long labor. After the weekend at the hospital, we had a great few days here at home with Beckett and my parents, who were a terrific help. Then we went to the Aspengren lake house for five restful days, to recuperate a bit, bid my parents farewell, watch some Olympics, and get some fresh air off the water. We’re now back at home and happy to be here, the three of us.


38 Weeks Plus

Just a brief update from Minneapolis: The baby is now over 38 weeks, which means we are at full term, and could really go anytime! It’s exciting, as you can imagine, having the bags packed, the car seat installed, and more or less trying to be at the ready. As some of you know, the baby was in breech position for a while, and Jen and I had to try all kinds of things–tilting Jen on an ironing board, playing music, singing, Chinese medicine, seeing a chiropractor….–to try to coax the baby to go head down. Last Thursday, we went in to the hospital, and our OB and another doctor performed an external cephalic version (ECV) to manually move the baby into the correct head down position. It was really uncomfortable for Jen, but she was hugely courageous and strong through the procedure. Everything went so well, and now the baby is in the right position and remaining there, as far as we can know. It was a stressful week, but really joyous in the outcome, and we’re grateful for all the good vibes and energy we have from our friends, family, and our care providers! So it’s not long now, and we continue to appreciate that support from all of you!

Jesus Week

The baby is at thirty-three weeks! 



Snow making morning of the darkness, that involuntary light.

Can’t you make today a praise of something more than worry,

More than indecision, more than just the sun showing up late

Again at the edges of the fallen snow, gray and purple, then finally

The sky follows blue and pink like an anxious pregnancy?

This poem may be all you will ever have control of, and even

It is a series of decisions you barely recognize as yours

Until you revise them. Look again. The sun pulses from inside

The ice. Look again. The evergreen stoops with the weight

Of the pulsing sun. Look again. Your life is without consequence.

Look again. Your life was once without consequence, and now

There are consequences. Praise them. The rushing aquatic

Beat they played for you out of a little box is beating inside

Your sleeping wife. That sound is not the rhythm wearing

Down a worry stone. Listen: it is the blood of your everlasting

Taking the shape of its vessel. The decisions you have made

And make now will outlast you. You are more alive in

The consequences you impart to your child than you are

Anywhere else. A poem is just practice.   



I have to say, it has been about as quiet as it has ever been on the HM site. J.E. and I seem to be keeping some nominal chatter, but I haven’t seen Toby or Peters here for quite a while. That seems surprising considering all that has been going on the last few weeks: the Democratic primaries and a seeming turn this last week for Hilary Clinton; John McCain clinching the Republican nomination and so quickly seeking Bush’s endorsement; the Academy Awards, with No Country for Old Men as Best Picture; a new trailer out for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; the intriguing basketball rivalry between Kansas and Kansas State and high hopes going into the NCAA tournament; Ned has a new painting posted; there’s a U2 movie out in 3D; a Graywolf poetry title (Mary Jo Bang’s Elegy) just won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; Jen and I had a great experience with our first ultrasound this past week, with everything looking good and healthy so far; making some plans for the spring or summer; and just about anything and everything else that might be going on.In any case, I hope the silence means you’re all doing well. 

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If you haven’t yet seen U2-3D, I highly recommend getting to your closest IMAX theater to take it in. It gives a whole new experience to “Vertigo.” There are some amazing shots, and the 3D quality of it is such that you feel you could reach out and take Bono’s glasses right off his face. It also gives you some of the little details of what goes on up on stage–Larry Mullen’s orange Fanta, for example. The set list is very good, and while it can’t quite capture actually being at the concert, it’s the closest thing available. Even just some of the shots over the crowd are remarkable, and the whole film gives you the virtual experience of what it must be like to be walking out on those catwalks in front of thousands of people. I think the film is in limited release now, but supposed to be wider in the next few weeks. I’m not sure it will be coming to the Hutchinson Cosmosphere, however…

Clinton? Obama? Someone Else?

I’ll just let the title to this post say, and ask, it all.


Jen and I had our twelve-week appointment this morning, and everything is looking good and healthy, I’m happy to report. We heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time–a sound I have kept hearing since.We’re very excited, and glad to be beginning the second trimester, and enjoying this time of anticipation and what it means for us.I appreciated talking with each of you earlier this month with the news–your support, your stories. Thank you.  

Holidays and End of Year 2007

Happy holidays to all! Be safe, merry, and joyous, and accept good intentions for the New Year and for seeing you all in 2008. 

Jen and I will be at her parents’ home for a couple of days over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, then will be enjoying some restful days here in Minneapolis. We have a good few inches of snow on the ground, and it’s expected to snow tomorrow an inch or two. So no need for dreaming of a white Christmas in these parts. 

OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson is #33 on this week’s New York Times Bestsellers list. Amazing for such an introspective, literary work of translation. Funnily enough the book is just ahead of WAR AND PEACE. So take that, Tolstoy!

Any thoughts on the past year? Predictions for the new one? Anyone care to share some of their favorite books, albums, gallery exhibits, songs, movies, etc. of 2007? 

Here’s to what’s ahead… 


The holidays are upon us. I hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving next week, wherever you will be. Jen and I will be in the Pacific Northwest from Tuesday through Sunday. So here’s wishing you a good feast to you and yours, from there.

As it happens, I have a fairly grand holiday break set up for myself this year, due to the fact that my class ends the week of December 10, I’m three days a week at Graywolf, and I have saved up vacation days all year, apparently. I will more or less be off of a regular work schedule from December 13 to January 7.

I’m hoping that might mean I can come to Kansas for a few days somewhere in there–either before Christmas or sometime after. I will certainly be in Minnesota roughly December 23-26 for family gatherings here. I thought I would see when others of you might be around the McPherson area during the holidays, to see if I can match my schedule to yours, as it would be great to see you all, in addition to my parents, grandparents, and extended family.

I need to get my air fare set as soon as possible, so let me know what your plans may be. And of course, it’s always interesting to know what all of you are doing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s…


Is anyone still watching LOST? Toby, Peters?

I have still only watched seasons one and two, but season three is soon out on DVD. Is it worth putting on my Netflix queue, or has the whole series jumped the shark by now? I haven’t heard much talk about the show lately, so I’m getting the feeling it’s become a bit less enthralling. True?

Don’t give too much away here, please, but I’d be interested if there’s still the fervor for the show among the group, or if that has died out. Is Locke still the best character, as I assume he must be? Is J.E. still the Locke of the group?

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