Lost and

Lost and

by Jeff Griffin

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Ever since he was a child sitting in the back of his parents' car, Jeff Griffin has been taking explorative journeys into the desert. In 2007, as an art student, he started wandering the back roads of the Mojave Desert with the purpose of looking for a place to reflect in the harshly beautiful surroundings. What he found were widely scattered postmodern

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Ever since he was a child sitting in the back of his parents' car, Jeff Griffin has been taking explorative journeys into the desert. In 2007, as an art student, he started wandering the back roads of the Mojave Desert with the purpose of looking for a place to reflect in the harshly beautiful surroundings. What he found were widely scattered postmodern ruins—abandoned trailers and campers and improvised structures—whose vanished occupants had left behind, in their trash, an archaeological record of astonishing richness and poignancy.

Lost and is both a chronicle of Griffin’s obsessive journeying and a portal into a world of dispossessed people and enduring desires. Comprised entirely of unaltered reproductions of extraordinary found materials—drawings, charts, questionnaires, compulsively detailed letters, legal documents, jottings, journal entries, stunningly vivid and mysterious photographs—this is a work of sociological and literary daring that defies categorization. Part documentary history, part literary adventure, part mystical detective story, Griffin’s immersion in extremity has yielded wrenching annals of the modes and manners in which lost people inscribe their psychic, sexual, religious, and economic yearnings.

At the core of the work is a collection of poems, mostly handwritten and composed without pretense to literary sophistication, that give direct expression to the abiding impulse to tap language’s transformative potential. Assembled with deep regard for the dignity of its collective group of anonymous authors, Lost and is a book of profound conceptual originality—an engrossing, shocking, and tender work of art that strives to awaken voices from the wilderness of the inexpressible.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Jeff Griffin scours the deserts of California and Nevada for artifacts—poems, photos, letters—discarded by lost souls who live in desolation. With Lost and, he arranges these sad, exhilarating, heavy voices into a stunning chorus, and he makes poetry out of pain. I’ve never read anything like Lost and. This is a wildly ingenious debut collection from an artist who has found a way to turn damaged lives into objects of wonder and beauty."—Don Waters, author, Desert Gothic

"In Lost and, Jeff Griffin offers found objects—mysteriously discarded photographs, notes, letters, and poems, often damaged and barely legible—that document the lives of people living in the deserts of the American West. With these documents, through which we feel the mysterious and fragmentary nature of the way lives are lived and forgotten, Griffin creates a physical and psychological landscape that is suffused with a powerful sense of the Uncanny. This book is a collage more strange and disturbing than the strangest work of the surrealists. Its cumulative effect is mysterious, often humorous, and ultimately heartbreaking—but never patronizing. Lost and is a riveting book of poetry—it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it verges on the miraculous."—Geoffrey Nutter, author, Christopher Sunset

"The reality of Lost and is distressing, discomforting, extraordinarily private, hauntingly familiar, and deeply moving. Its voices cut to the root of the poetic impulse: the need to write ourselves into the world, the risk we take in every attempt to record the facts of our existence, and our hope that someone is listening."—Jonathan Thirkield, author, The Waker's Corridor

Product Details

University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
Kuhl House Poets Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

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By Jeff Griffin


Copyright © 2013 Jeff Griffin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60938-199-8



Notebook dating to the 1950s that details a budgie's linguistic development.








Barbara Where's Barbara? Where's big Barbara?

beer Where's the beer, Barbara

big Look at the big, big, big bird!

bird See the bird

birdie big birdie

boy pretty boy


bad He's a bad budgie

break break the hawk!


bell ring the bell

bite Let's bite!

brat you little brat!

Billy Give me a kiss Billy Boy!

Butch Where's Barbra's Butch bird?

butcher from butcher bird


Come come on, come on!



doin' What chow doin' big birdie?

dear Big, dear Barbara or Brarbra

dirty Dirty Pancho

don't why don't you—



drink drink it—drink it!




go Let's go!

great great big bird

get Let's get up good good budgie

gonna gonna kiss the little bird

Gallahad S ir Gallahad


how how sweet the bird!

he's he's a bad budgie

happy happy bird

here come here

hot it's hot!

honey Come on, honey.



it's hot!




kiss kiss me, kiss the little bird!

know don't you know—

keep gonna keep Butch



let's Let's go



look look at the big bird

love don't you love me?


my That's my big bird

matter What's the matter?

Marge Sweet Marge

me Tell me a story


no oh, no you don't!



out watch out

oh oh dear!


pretty pretty boy

Pancho Dirty pancho

people See the people (looking out window)

Peaches Where's peaches?

please please talk!


rascal I'm a rascal.

real real big budgie

ring ring the bell


sweet sweet bird

such such a big bird


see see the bird

sleepy Sleepy bird


smart you're smart


said "—said the big bird!"

she she loves me

silly silly bird

supposed You aren't supposed to—

story Tell me a story


that's that's my big bird


talk let's talk—please talk!

two two, two


up Let's get up


tell T ell me a story


what what you doin'?


whysky Where's the whysky Delbert?


watch Watch out

why why don't you

we here we go

wonder wonder what you



you why don't 'chow—

you're you're smart

yes Yes, little bird


When our little feathered darling ran into his green glass and said "Del-b-e-r-t."

Another time he stuck his head in, standing on the rim of his glass, leaned way over and cried, "oh boy!"

One nite he surprised me when he said, "Wh-e-r-e's big Barbara?" He spent all the next day with phrases such as "Where's Barbara? —Where's the whysky, Delbert?" —and made a gramatical error, "Where's the beer Brarbra?" "Come on, come on!"

One day when Sir Gallahad was a year and a couple months old I had him on my shoulder by the kitchen window when a little humming bird came over to the window sniffling at the fuschia plant. I talked to Sir Gallahad about the little humming bird and said "See the little bird?" Then I turned to the stove and he piped up, "Yeah, see the little bird, honey?"

Another little incident was when it was about 8:30 P.M. and Sir Gallahad was a half hour past his bed time. He had been kind of dozing on his gym but at 8:30 he began his constant calling for someone to come to him. Every little chip was the rhythm of "Come put me to bed," so I went and opened up his cage door and in he hopped. The smart little guy was so-o-o sleepy, he'd had a busy day.

When we first got Butch, our cockateel, Sir Gallahad was afraid of him and would just sit on top of the cage and say, "Butchie," or "Butch," and from then on all he talked about was Butch, "See the little Butch bird," "kiss little Butch," etc., "Butch, Butch, Butch."

In a couple days Sir Gallahad was imitating anything Butch did. He would sit in the cockateel cage and talk, where every thing is giant size to him, and if not able to reach the drinker or seed cups he climbs upon them. He always chews on Butch's tail and tries to use it for a swing.

When Sir Gallahad sees Butch cracking sun flower seeds he must have some too although his little beak isn't strong enough to break the husks open, he tries anyway. They also eat seed together from Sir Gallahad's little feeder on his play ground.

Butch likes to pick up tooth picks and turn them in his beak, but when Sir Gallahad tried it it didn't work. He kept dropping it.



    Chapman is my shepherd; I shall not think.
    HE maketh me to assume the position with my socks off;
    HE leadeth me beside my locker;
    HE restorath my faith in bolt cutters.
    He leadeth me in the paths of paranoia for HIS ego's sake.
    Yeah, though I walk through the gates of Corporate Security,
    I still fear THY evil; for THOU still work here:
    THY rod and THY staff they intimidate me.
    THOU preparest a false cause against me
    in the absence of my accusers:
    THOU anointeth my reputation with unfounded accusations
    and cup runneth over with indignation.
    Surely deception and illegalities
    will follow me all the days of my life
    and I will dwell in the house of self-righteous fascism

My husband has a problem controlling his anger. He will "blow up" at the smallest things. It is difficult on the entire family. I get especially upset when he fails to control his anger around our children. On many occasions he has thrown and broken things. Once he threw a plate over our older daughter's head and it struck the wall and shattered, almost hitting her. Another time he threw a pop can at Madison's head. When my husband acts out his anger it really upsets the children. Ryan will sometimes yell at his dad asking him to stop. Peighton screams really loud or cries when Jari has fits of anger. She gets the most upset of all the children. Madison is autistic and doesn't seem to understand what is going on a lot of the time, but once in awhile she will act really nervous and start to cry. On a couple of occasions when Jari is yelling at me, Jari has banged his head repeatedly against the door jamb and punched himself on his head. On another occasion he repeatedly banged his head on the tile countertop in the master bathroom. On this last occasion Peighton came into the room and saw Jari's head bleeding as a result of his head banging.

Alcohol, drug and sleep deprivation issues: Jari drinks beer almost every day. He also takes some form of speed or prescription drug such as ephedra to keep himself awake after he has worked his late night shift. Jari works the graveyard shift at his employer and has done so for years. He has turned down promotions because he does not want to work day shifts. When he has changed jobs, he has specifically looked for jobs where he could work nights. When we bought our current house a year ago, Jari wanted to keep working nights so he could care for our girls during the day while I am working and we would not have to pay for child care. The problem with this arrangement is that he rarely gets more than a few hours of broken sleep each day. This seems to add to his behavioral problems, and the use of the alcohol and speed has also added to our marital and parenting problems.

Marital breakdown: The marriage really broke down last summer. We were fighting almost constantly. In September 2003 I met a man by the name of Nick, with whom I had a romantic relationship until the end of November 2003, when it ended. My husband found out about the relationship on November 25, 2003. At that time he threatened Nick at a restaurant where Nick worked and harassed him. I suggested Jari and I go to counseling which he refused to do initially. We finally attended 4 or 5 sessions but stopped going because it was not helping, and it is plain the marriage is over.

Recent events: Two weeks ago Jari called me at work and told me he was going to kill me if I didn't stop lying to him about my relationship with Nick

Dear Nick,

I know you're mad at me and probably don't care what I have to say. But I hope you'll at least take a few minutes to read this letter.

I know I've already said it but I sincerely am sorry for what I did. I didn't call Meredith to hurt you or get back at you for anything. I was way too drunk for my own good and I was also very hurt by the way you were treating me. That wasn't fair at all. I didn't do anything to deserve that. I have been nothing but nice to you. And don't tell me that you've haven't done anything stupid while you were drunk.

I am sorry that I met you when I did. But we can't turn back time. I think that under different circumstances things would have turned out much different. I have never been too much about sex. I thought it would be fun to try something new with you. Honestly I would have been happy keep you as a friend. But for some reason I just didn't think you'd be interested in me for just that. So I figured I needed to do something to spice things up a little bit. And you know what? It worked.

You were right about me not being totally happy with myself. How could I be in my situation? I've been in a relationship for almost 9 years, 6 of them being bad. My husband was never hurtful towards me for the way I looked or anything like that. In fact he was the complete opposite. But I felt bad about myself for putting up with all his shit all those years. I didn't ever feel strong to just leave and yet

Just because I was seeing you behind my husband's back doesn't mean that I don't care about my kids. You really hurt me when you said that. They know nothing and I always made sure they were ok before I left. I am always trying to protect them from anything that might hurt them. All I can say is that you wouldn't understand unless you were in my shoes. I know it was still wrong for me to be with you, but for once in 6 years I actually had something in my life that made me really happy, besides my kids of course. Something I never thought I would feel again. The excitement you brought to my life was great. You made me actually care about myself again and made me realize that when I leave I'm going to be ok. And someone will someday care about me again. So no matter how wrong this was it still wasn't for nothing. I am so glad to have had that with you. But like

I didn't get a chance to show you the real me. I think because of my situation you were very guarded. Because of that I stayed somewhat reserved. I felt like there were so many things about my life that I never got to share with you. In a way I felt like you would talk about yourself and not ask me anything just to keep from getting too close. I don't blame you for that. I completely understand. It's just something that I've never experienced before so it was difficult for me to deal with. I wanted so bad to get close to you.

I know this is getting really long so I'll try to cut myself off in a minute.

One thing I really want you to understand is that I truly did care about you so much more than you know. I still do. Even though you kept things from me that you shouldn't have. I am really hurt by what you did, but I have already started to forgive you. I know you're just at that point in your life where you're trying to get things figured out and there is so much you want to accomplish in order for you to be happy. I would love to be friends with you again. I mean it when I say that. Just friends. If you can't ever find it in your heart to forgive me that's ok. You need to do what makes you happy. But I really do think we could be good friends.

I hope that someday you find true happiness within yourself. But please, for yourself, figure out what it is that you want before you get yourself involved in another situation like this. No one wins. Three of us got in this and that didn't need to happen.

Ok, just one last thing before I go. I want you to know one more time that I'm sorry and that I miss you already. I'll think about you every day for a long time.

Take care, Lori

P.S. I wasn't planning on not seeing you again so I borrowed your sweatshirt when I left Saturday night. I woke up and was really cold so I put it on. If you want it back let me know where/when I can drop it off. I would drop it at your apartment when you're not there but I can't get in the building.

he has no place to live now when he turns eighteen and the foster care industry formally and officially abandons him for good.

So a military airforce recruiter shows up at the high school and makes him feel real good, real excited, pictures himself in a military uniform, gives him the big "build-up" about traveling to distant lands, flying a jet etc. and this is probably the first time he felt a man talking to him and showing some genuine concern since Jimmy Curran, Walter Irish, Jeanete Agilpay, Donna Gordon, ARMANDO CORELLO STUCK THE IR GODDAM FEET IN OUR FRONT DOOR AND TOO K OVER HIS LIFE.

Excerpted from LOST AND by Jeff Griffin. Copyright © 2013 Jeff Griffin. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Jeff Griffin is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an associate at Griffin Moss Industries, Inc., and he operates the publishing house Slim Princess Holdings. He lives around Nevada.

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