A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Afron Wilky


from Reservoir: Desiderata (an index)


from Reservoir: Desiderata (an index)


Refusal to retreat pushes on in the struggle of things proximate to one another. Disagreements about where to position the Milford Dam continued from 1959 until around 1961. However, in a demeanor from which one might observe people and events as objects, one might abstract oneself, as bodies of water are abstracted. The Republican River flows into the Smoky Hill River to become the Kansas River.

A back and forth swings between and above nearby towns before the Alida site is chosen. The dam was sealed in 1967 and water impounded.

Mustn’t one choose eventually. From what has been (set in motion?).

Yet, it seems, that while it suits, an entanglement of undisclosed length may be proposed by one party or the other. A sort of cooperative rivalry as in the state of Kansas and its river so named after the Kansa Nation who occupied the territory near where two rivers converge.

The Kansas drains into the Missouri River.

A treaty of peace between the Kansas and colonial settlers in 1815 was followed by five others which involved cession of lands. Diverging interests or a reduction of threat? Say restraint is of limited duration. A matter of time. By 1872, the Kansa Nation had been displaced from Kansas and Missouri entirely. By 1967, a dam impeded the Republican River’s capacity to flood and also held enough water in reserve to prevent drought.

Today, two freeways, I-70 and I-35, cross the state. They intersect in Kansas City, near where the Kansas and Missouri converge. Here, the highways branch, forming a complex network of coverage which circles around and within the city. They drive in spherical directions. Spinning hastily. Topology, some say, is all about human bodies. Transformation shivering out from an edge. Skin. Or scooped from beneath a horizon line. Movement. Change. Ones limbs intertwined so as to feel like closure. Acres of land scraped flat. A lone flesh crossing the expanse. Lake spreading beneath the pronoun them.


Collection, pile, assemblage, assortment, quantity, gathering, heap, stack, cluster, stock, selection, lot, number, compilation, assembly, mass, medley, mess, digest, agglomeration, amassment, depository, register, accumulation, array, hodgepodge, medley, melange, jumble, mixed bag, potpourri, mishmash.

What holds it in keeps it for later.


—as a shadow trembling with light


A reservoir brimming with water. Shimmers.


“This here [right here where they all are] will be a flood plain.”


a depth falls from beneath. Within. Waves of damage creep across. Pass through whose reservoir.

Reservoir stems from the French réservoir, referring first to a reserve of water, natural or man-made and then also to a store for other substances.

It develops an alternative sense as a part of a human, animal or plant, in which a fluid or other substance is collected or stored. Used in a surgical context, reservoir becomes circular, referring back to an artificial structure made for this purpose.

Due to the seasonal nature of moisture-delivering weather systems, Kansas requires reservoir. Water experts of the period contend that Kansas has been “exporting too much of its valuable water resources without [appropriate] control.” Defending against flood and drought, Milford Lake ensures both a constant flow of water and dry land. As an act of preservation, Milford Lake came into being.

Structures built will recede under water. A house will be lifted from its foundation, land purchased from beneath. The town of Alida will be inundated. Will cease to exist.


The occlusion of one person by another confounded by a sense of touch at the temporal fringe; structural bolts protruding from the edge. Anything, anyone extant in the midst of a flow of continuous change. One cannot deny that there are echoes.


A house, a box collected and collecting. A reservoir beading. A row of large cedars in proximity to a limestone foundation. Reverberations reaching me here, now. All that’s left is shadow, less than shadow and yet I see it everywhere.

A reservoir. Drawing on a reserve. Oblique systems of transfer. My desire to approach. A need to hold onto. The rubble. A dam holding the water in and holding it back. Preventing damage. I see the lake spreading beneath Lillian and Arthur and need to feel it for myself.


There is an echo I cannot hear rendering a room Documenting cannot undo.


 1. The Alida site would spare Clay Center but subsume Broughton and Alida. It would inundate parts of Milford and approximately thirty homes plus the schools in Wakefield. People were talked about in numbers. Considerations included the possibility of conservation storage and the potential capacity of the reservoir. Advantages were weighed with a particular eye for quantities and area as cost.

 2. Basin, person, house, library, drawer, tank, cistern, lake, pond, pool, glass, cup, receptacle, spring, store, tarn, vault, archive, file, box, a cardboard box, envelope, book, reservoir, family, memory, couple, person, well, mine, head, hand, fist, chest, throat, mouth, treasury, storehouse, trust, cache, trove, stash, bookshelf, notebook, page, note, snapshot, photograph, negative, mine.

 3. Kim, Myung Mi. “Hummingbird.” Dura. New York, NY: Nightboat Books, 2008, pp. 99: All the sound a living house

 4. Howe, Susan. The Midnight. NY: New Directions Publishing Co., 2003, pp. 5:

Revisionist work in
historic interiors spread
from House to Museum
Other documentary evidence
Friends who wish to
remain anonymous

 5. Howe, Susan. “Melville’s Marginalia.” The Nonconformist’s Memorial. NYC: New Directions, 1993, pp. 116:

Along the glistening shore
we tramp to leave their print
Mullen, Laura. “White Box (notes).” Dark Archive. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2011, pp. 26:
Stanzas little white
Boxes of ash poem columbarium

 6. Stein, Gertrude. “Arthur a Grammar.” How to Write. West Glover, VT: Something Else Press, Inc., 1973, pp. 86: 
It is easy to recognize that it is not a house still it is in case that it is still that it is and easy to recognize it is not a house on that hill.It is easy to still recognize that it is not a house on that hill.
No omen that it is not a man and not a house on a heavy hill.

 7.  Ono, Yoko. Grapefruit. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1992, n.p.:
Collecting Piece II
Break a contemporary museum into pieces
with the means you have chosen. Collect
the pieces and put them together again
with glue.

 8.  Mullen, Laura. “TRUTH HOUSE MATERIALS PUBLICITY.” Dark Archive. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2011, pp. 69:
the way things invite metaphor across    nothing can contain one box
an icy path loops matter the world        becomes caught in another

 9.  Ono, Yoko. Grapefruit. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1992, n.p.:
Travel Piece
Make a key.
Find a lock that fits.
If you find it, burn the house
that is attached to it.

10.  Oxford English Dictionary.

11.  Clement, Ralph W., U.S. Geological Survey. “Kansas Floods and Droughts.” National water summary 1988-89: hydrologic events and floods and droughts. Water Supply Paper, 2375. U.S. G.P.O.; Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor], 1991, pp. 287.

12. “Milford Reservoir A Key To Growth : First Money Authorized For Work On Milford Dam.” The Salina Journal. 18 Apr 1961, pp. 6.

13. Harryman, Carla and Lyn Hejinian. The Wide Road. Brooklyn, NY: Belladonna, 2010, pp. 8:

…Every poem is a posture we have tried…

14. Snow, Carol. “Since Particles.” Artist and Model. New York, NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990:
Open the box. The words open the box.
Inside the box the words open the box.
Inside the box the words Inside the box the words open the box.

15. Buss, Warren. “Untitled.” Photograph. Warren’s Blog, 23 November 2009.

16. Waldrop, Rosmarie and James Camp. Camp Printing. Providence: Burning Deck, 1970, n.p.:

17.Site-specific maps and details gathered from the following archaeological report, hereafter abbreviated: Molyneaux.
South Dakota University Vermillion Archaeology Lab, and Brian L. Molyneaux. A 1993 Cultural Resources Inventory at Milford Lake in Geary, Clay, Dickinson and Riley Counties, Kansas. Accession No. ADA311225. Comp. Nancy J. Hodgson, William H. Ranney, Andrew M. Stewart, and Ronald I. Marvin. Kansas City, Missouri: Department of the Army Kansas City District. Corps of Engineers, 1995. Defense Technical Information Center. 21 March 1995.

1, semi-circular structure of limestone with a mortar cap; 2, row of cedar trees; 1, concrete silo base; 2, concrete foundation; 1, cistern, dated 1914; 2, cement and limestone foundation; 3, outhouse base; 4, house rubble consisting of cement, brick and limestone; steps are visible in interior and a corner stands along the perimeter; 5, barren ground with trees surrounding it (possible barn structure); 6, cement and limestone foundation; 7, storm cellar with earthen berm and stone steps; 8, rubble pile and corner of foundation; 1, foundation corner; 2, rippled concrete floor; 3, windmill base; 4, three concrete floor fragments and one concrete corner pad; 5, concrete pad with limestone foundation wall extending from the NE corner; 6, retaining wall; 7, retaining wall; 8, cement pad toilet base; 9, foundation fragment; 10, limestone corner; 11, concrete silo base;