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  • Photo of The Middlewesterner by Dave Bonta

(c) 2004-2008
Tom Montag


June 2008

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  • The endowments and the foundations won't, but you can help support my long-term exploration of the middle west, Vagabond In the Middle. Any donation to help defray expenses will be appreciated. Send to Tom Montag at: PO Box 8, Fairwater, WI 53931.


    "shelf life of prune juice" - The Middlewesterner

  • "elko + bar + bathroom + girlfriend" - Creek Running North
  • "what does a mole on the palm of the hand mean?" - Mole
  • "biro, slowly watching memory" - frizzyLogic
  • "pictures of someone who looks forgotten" - Blaugustine
  • "emily dickinson's address" - alembic
  • "heterosexual woman becomes lesbian in midlife" - Velveteen Rabbi
  • "if lost return to" - Slow Reads
  • "village voice newspaper headline when andy warhol died in 1987 village voice headline is god dead is god dead" - Marja-Leena
  • "I have no head" - Under a bell
  • "what can we do about privilege?" - Feathers of Hope
  • "stigmata montreal women" - Cassandra Pages
  • "Aztec sacrificial victims" - 3rd House Party
  • "ugliest woman ever" – Fishbucket
  • "prime number farting" - The Middlewesterner
  • "sasquatch beauty barn" - Via Negativa
  • "I have what looks like small pieces of bird seed in human feces my feces." - Nuthatch
  • "signs your girlfriend is not happy" - The Middlewesterner
  • "real tribe potion to become Immune to fire" - susannagig-jig
  • "does god blink" - The Middlewesterner
  • "Sleeping ovaries" - Find Me a Bluebird
  • "People find me offensive poem" - Find Me a Bluebird
  • "girlfriend taming" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked librarians from north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "signs a girlfriend is about to walk out" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girls at prayer" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'behind the barn' mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "basho farting" - The Middlewesterner
  • "white conic body lotion" - Mole
  • "what specifically is the emerald mole?" - Mole
  • "how to impress a tomboy girl" - The Middlewesterner
  • "ripon cookies for bear bait" - The Middlewesterner
  • "people who think they are cats" - The Middlewesterner
  • "crows and fog omen" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when you are walking in the spirit what does heat mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how to be more socialable" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does making hay mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does it mean to call someone an iowa farm boy" - The Middlewesterner
  • "What does it mean when there are 2-3 crows in your yard and you don't have a corn field?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "tomboy addiction" - The Middlewesterner
  • gunmetal tulle - findmeabluebird
  • mucho bonito senorita translation - findmeabluebird
  • "swollen rash" diagnosis - findmeabluebird
  • how to keep a kid occupied when sick and in bed - findmeabluebird
  • moose bums - findmeabluebird
  • uninterlaced - findmeabluebird
  • "red squirrels castrating grey squirrels" - The Middlewesterner
  • "short poems to impress a girl" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what is an important food crop in middlewest?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "the reason the elements of the writing process are important to poetry" - The Middlewesterner
  • "wallpaper, poet" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how to be a vagabond" - The Middlewesterner
  • "my jock strap hearts how can i fix it" - The Middlewesterner
  • "How do Hutterite deliver babies " - The Middlewesterner
  • "shelling corn slang" - The Middlewesterner
  • "lady of guadalupe as vagina symbol" - The Middlewesterner
  • "will the leaves still be on the trees October 21, 2006 in Davenport, Iowa?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "driving time between seydisfjordur and skaftafell" - The Middlewesterner
  • "impress a girl from north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do tigers get born?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "jesus nude girls" - The Middlewesterner
  • "falling in love with a midwesterner" - The Middlewesterner
  • "shanties with cadillacs" - The Middlewesterner
  • "middle road sermon" - The Middlewesterner
  • "ephemeral as the summer fly" - Chatoyance
  • "how to paint ghost flames" - Chatoyance
  • "wine of cardui" - chatoyance
  • "kevlar bridal dresses" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how to scold boyfriend" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how to find your true self" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "it goes around the sun 4 times a year" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how long does it take for a sprinter to regain his speed after a grade 1 hamstring tear" - The Middlewesterner
  • "understanding why crows like you" - The Middlewesterner
  • "customs and culture of the middlewest region of the United States" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girl in a pile of money" - The Middlewesterner
  • "dakota tom sandwich" - The Middlewesterner
  • "things to do in Middlewest US" - The Middlewesterner
  • "nebraska christian music thunderstorm" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girls performing prayer photos" - The Middlewesterner
  • "metaphysical stores in Davenport Iowa" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'worthless as tits on a boar' mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what is silo liquid and why does it make the cats sick?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "names of the dinosaurs that live in water or pictures naked women" - The Middlewesterner
  • "alien + pigs + north + dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "poems for football players girlfriend" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'making hay' mean?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do cows eat cabbage in south dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does a skunk mean in a dream" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does the mole on the buddha mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "hutterite bra" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when to planet vandalia onions" - The Middlewesterner
  • "The Republicans have been painting an unattractive portrait of Democrats roasting young children on a spit in the Capitol rotunda and what not" - The Middlewesterner
  • "kewpie doll karl rove" - The Middlewesterner
  • "Real photos of Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus and a story how Mary got her baby, Jesus removed out of her stomach" - The Middlewesterner
  • "fog barn stillness beauty poetry" - The Middlewesterner
  • "redneck outhouse poems" - The Middlewesterner
  • "haiku farting basho horse" - The Middlewesterner
  • "signs that i'm a heroin addict" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do you know if your ankle is sprung" - The Middlewesterner
  • "translations from spanish to english giving opinions about the preservation of wild cats in South America" - The Middlewesterner
  • "stealth bomber information" - The Middlewesterner
  • "emily dickinson with cowboy hat" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what causes bossy girlfriends" - The Middlewesterner
  • "owl hitting a windshield and meaning" - The Middlewesterner
  • "long arm handling gloves cat" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does a rendering plant smell like?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "potion to become a superhero" - The Middlewesterner
  • "fried egg symbols of lesbianism" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when you are sixty years old should you move back to cold weather in michigan?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "learn poetry to impress a woman" - The Middlewesterner
  • "if you were asked to teach a character education program with which you found fault, what would you do?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "tractors porn" - The Middlewesterner
  • "does black or dark nail polish on a woman mean anything" - The Middlewesterner
  • "keeping warm in north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
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January 17, 2006



Did I read that right? Did you buy yourself a reflective vest???

(hooray!!!) :-)

Now the next thing I'd recommend for when it gets icy are YakTrax: have you seen them? They're rubber thingies with metal traction springs you strap on your shoes. I *love* mine: they're the only way I feel safe walking on ice or hard-packed snow.

(yeah, since when did I become a safety freak???)

Good luck with your writing class tonight. I have two lit classes & a freshman comp class...and the freshman comp class meets for the first time tonight. It never gets any easier...

You know, I'm beginning to rethink that old saying "Writers write." No, writers don't just write. The thing that separates writers from Everyone Else is that Writers REVISE.

Tom Montag

Well, actually, Lorianne, we already had an orange vest, and Mary put reflective tape on it front and back. The only question was whether she could get away with a big bull's-eye on the back. She decided against it.

Fortunately, in 85 miles thus far, today has been the only instance of slippery footing. So - as the need develops, we'll look at how we respond.

I am the fortunate devil who has never had to teach Freshman Comp. As I say, I've been blessed.

You are absolutely right: anyone can write - WRITERS REVISE.... I think that's it exactly.


And do we ever revise. I want to revise MY essay on qarrtsiluni NOW - there are several bits I missed. But that's OK.

Tom, I loved that the glow you saw wasn't a car, but dawn. You're a determined person, and I like that - good for writing, good for life.


Tom, as someone who had a hand in editing that piece for qarrtsiluni, i'd have to say that the first draft didn't sing quite as naturally as many of the pieces you post here, especially the Morning Drive Journal. You were trying to Say Something Important rather than just letting the words come, and so I think it took you a little while to get it right.

On the other hand, I do remember saying that i thought it was fully publishable at that point. We just wanted to make sure that you were writing the essay that you meant to write, that the finished product was an adequate response to the inspiration. And that's the part that must be really hard, I'll bet, for a writing teacher to convey. Because something can look fine to everyone else, but deep down you know it's *not quite right*. Learning to hear those deep-down voices ain't easy; we all struggle with it. But I think frequent nighttime walks might be part of the solution!

Larn them kids good, now.

Bruce Hodder

My earliest inspiration in writing terms was the poetry & prose of the Beats,whose guiding creative principle was supposed to be "first thought,best thought," though the adherence of any of the main characters other than Kerouac to that formula is fickle at best.But I have to revise poetry and prose extensively because most of what I write instinctively, from the top of my mind, is complete rubbish!What I've learned is that the shape of the idea as it comes into your mind before writing is the thing to keep to; the words you use to deliver the idea can be played with liberally.Except in blogs, of course. There you're really writing spontaneous prose, though since blogs are normally opinion rather than composition clarity of thought is more important than technique.
I do find it useful to post poem drafts on mine,however.Sometimes I can see the poems' imperfections more clearly when I've put them into the public domain.

Tom Montag

Oh, Beth, thanks. You said I was "a determined person." I think the term my wife uses is "obsessed." Harnessing one's obsessions is what writing's about, yes?

Tom Montag

And your excellence as an editor, Dave, was in helping me to see that the piece wasn't what I wanted it to be. Thanks for that. I call it "making the writing equal to what the material wants to be," and so often for me it isn't obvious in the first draft.

Reconfirms my sense that a good & trusted editor is a gift of great value.

Tom Montag

Hi, Bruce. Yeah, I'm with you. I need to revise and revise. How can it be art if it's just laying there on the road, ya know?

I don't know that I make the same kind of distinction between my "literary" prose and my blogging prose that you might be making. I WANT my blogging prose to be a good and clear and ringing as the rest of my writing, but the urge to get it posted keeps me for working and re-working to the same extent. There are pieces I have blogged that will someday end up in a book of essays, I think, but they will be REVISED first.

As for putting a post up and seeing its imperfections in public, I'll say Amen to that, too. And I have made revisions as a result, sometimes revising and reloading a piece three or four times.

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