The window was open, some music was stringing through the flimsy laptop speakers, my orange pants were unbuttoned and there was a hole in my poem. At Meek and mild volumes agressive scenes of domestic tittilation sit idly on the precipice of my mind, beside the image of an imaginary girl. A spectre with a real life apotropaic corrolary two thousand miles away. Lust was blowing through the faded baby-blue curtain like a midatlantic seaside mist. Hard to focus on the poem. A poem or a naked person. Ah, a life without threats. Let's make some.
Suddenly it was June. Time to get dressed.
A simple apartment on the hill. The divagations from a long monkish tradition inherited on another hill on an important moment of insight. A moment or a series of moments. My bathroom has a framed print from a Henri Matisse show in 1987. A moment, or a series of moments. "Typically ones that leads to dramatic transformation of attitude or belief." I am alone in this. I am not alone. How did you sleep last night? A fly in the window. The light feels warm on my naked self. Why put oatmeal in soap? Who has the sight to do that? The feel?
Watching impossible people, like Jacquelline Wood from the Bold and the Beautiful. Where do people like that come from? I think about the mountain, getting dressed. Cold, like snow, underwear is still an evolutionarily recent phenomenon. Orchards brushed in flowers.
"Trying to read and understand, but I can't understand. Can someone please explain." The train goes by with a child's eyes peeking out. A child or a knife. My soul is detached on Tuesdays. It's for your own protection. Give it a try. Be safe. Go to bed by eight. Clean the dust out from behind your pillow.
The sun is going down. Your body is a fingerprint on the window of this decade. Twenty years ago it was now. Emerging from some blithe belvedere onto a moonlit walk with the shadows closing in. Up Fell, Oak, or darkening Page, filled with texts "PE•JAY?"
She wore a smile which said everything. An étranger, a voleur, a triche. We sat and ordered meat on bread. Blue napkins. Fold this part,
Unfold that, for interesting, amusing and even a bit little sad. That alchemy of wine and pints of new personalities. A small-font kiss, like a ripe blueberry. I told her about my poem. A fool, a speck of dust, her eyes became the ocean. Distant, shoring up.
We stood on a hill. The city brighter than the sky. A familiar wind. She was a chameleon. Transformed. Transfixed I swung from a tree and squeezed. What makes a man great? Some music perhaps to sink into, she whispers, "I like this rhythm" as we move in close to the lit-up crowd. Only the dead would not. Steady. Remember this sway. Each hand a smooth glove. "But they don't know where, and they don't know when" we sang along. Don't close your eyes. You lean on my chest and I can imagine our hearts breaking deep in our future bones. This is what it feels like when it starts, when it ends. When it ends don't close your eyes. Don't close your eyes The lights and the shades thrum. Like a thrush in a breeze.
This is what it felt like.
Come on let's not yet go. There.
Now I can finish digging the poem. Are you lonely all by yourself? For how much would you buy it?
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Sleeping all day, well, sleeping in, until 6:30. One pants, as if the car wreck of a night had just ended. Time to inhale some toothpaste, splash on your face and slap your keys in your pocket as you sprint to the curb to the bus/car. How do you get around?
There's a stack of magazines in my bathroom and one article title on one cover says "Rebuilding Organs." Are they church organs? Or are they the organs of the human body that someone is repairing? Or perhaps someone has invented a bizarre machine, called it an organ, and all this machine does is re-build things. It's probably one of these things that the article is about. I have not read it.
As the landscape dilates past the treated window I think about the pangaea of my past self, that soft clay ball adolescent in whose tiny cracks of character I now must navigate as vast fault lines of self weakness. That little stream of loathing now a fully-formed seasonally flooded depression. That wandering eye now a beastly cyclops. My strengths of course have equally expanded, some crust over the valleys, others chip flake and fray at the edges of me as I bake to perfection. Oops, I'm done. Time to go to work.
Type those words, bub. Add those numbers. Read conclusions into that graph. Let us tidily convene our weekly teleconference. Don't forget to look out the window over there, there near the corner office. All this can be yours for 15 fluorescently lit bucks an hour. Is it lunchtime yet? Are we done here???
Between 4 and 4:11 I took a trip on Google Maps to the place my ancestors came from, 700 years ago. Then I took a look at real estate near Nuiqsut, Borrego Springs, along Crab Orchard Lake. Thank you for calling how may I direct your call? Another political obloquy to avoid, or survey indirectly, head-on, regret. Refresh. Refresh. Flush.
Why can't we just meet people? People who are interesting I mean. Click. Amazon. Prime? No thanks. I'll just go to the bar and find 13 other guys, tonight's suite in the weekly deck. I am the King of Cups. What's that pain behind my rib? Another IPA, hun? Moths around the patio light. Two moons dancing in the window. I am unable to make any distinction between them.
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I was walking along a sparse March forest, snow up to my hairy shins, which were tucked, like all of me, thickly in a few too many layers of winter wrappings, a sublime sweat starting to build, due the gathering effort. This was many years ago, walking further into the Fraser firs, I forget the nonpresent moments. Stepping into deep snow and pulling my poor subsumed wet boots out, with both hands, her white nails holding tight on my memory, and hoping to work that out. Dig down headlong harder.
Hearing a woodpecker’s distinctive percussion overhead I look, but too quick and the effect is dizzying. A wonderful drunken feeling, like reading surrealism whilst drinking gin. Wood beetles make their own antifreeze in the winter with glycerols that effectively lower the freezing point of their bodily fluid: Just below the surface bark, each little grubby bug the woodpecker plucks is a sugary sweet dessert.
Tightly retying my boot laces and looping uphill past the tiny prints of a hopping deer mouse to a rocky ledge with an odd depression that held my destination apparent: an old chrome Airstream camper, with a brown light emanating from within.
I would have thought that I made enough noise walking up and walking in to alert whoever was within to my presence but this would have been wrongthinking. Inside, two sets of terrified young eyes pierced me at the door. One was tied down. The other, only half naked.
I think you forgot something.
Let’s go back, to get this right. Let’s tell it back right for all of them, especially my friends, the kids from school, my forever and best audience.
There was a potluck banquet for our wolf scout pack, families included. We all lined up with our partners for a race, I still have the faded photograph in a cigar box under my toilet bowl cleaning products— our baby faces. Each young badge designee looking proudly schlubby, each with their corresponding duck.
Don't ask. Anyway
I remember that CJ was there that day. I remember even though he isn’t in the picture, or he's a blur in it. I can't remember, but I remember feeling bright and hungry, and overhearing him try to explain to the Clever Panamanian Exchange Student how global warming was just Earth deciding to go on a diet. He wouldn’t have used the words “global warming,” although our brains were brimming with visions of Captain Planet. The Clever Panamanian Exchange Student was staying with the Ortner’s, Mike + Kelly, whose son Ryan was in our pack. They were a bit more of a granola crowd than we were, and by extension she, the CPES, staying with them, was certainly way out of CJ’s league. He didn’t care, or more likely didn't even know, nor did he know that I was watching any of this. Some inner voice compelled him to keep talking I suppose, just gut instinct, explaining his crackbrain idea, and as sometimes fate smiles upon us she, rather than flyswat him, showed those small tender signs of interest that, even more
remarkably, CJ tuned in on. He offered to get her some Kool Aid. I wondered if her English was so bad that maybe she had no idea what he was even saying.
Why do I even remember this? I’m getting worried.
CJ wasn’t like the rest of us. He had moved to town from New York and was a year older but still in our grade and most of his "friends" didn’t really like him, and so when he was met with even the slightest bit of attention he was like a frequently ignored puppydog getting his ears scratched, and when we were a few years older and he started to earnestly take notice of the farer sex this frequently had explosive consequences. He hurled his sexuality at them, kissing and petting and getting away with it even, sometimes— or not.
Puberty hit him hard and early; he had thin hair, flecked skin, thin lips, a big nose and dirty hands. He got no help at home and sometimes he got on the bus in the morning smelling like wet rodent, his squirrely eyes singling me out to come and tell me through
his bad breath about his hot rod designs or some wrestling thing or other. He spoke very intentionally, like a talk radio host who was not at all offended when you sat passively and didn’t care, but was up in arms the minute that you told him what he was saying was stupid, which I learned quickly not to do, but I saw people do it, just goading him into a fight, and he would lose it, coming back to find me, crying, maybe bleeding. Why was he so passionate? I don’t really know. But I remember the time with the exchange student. It was earlier. It’s one of those sparkling oracular moments when you remember that the world, as if a dream, is only really a fraction of what we can see. And what you can see manifests itself in a twinge of doubt directed at or by a girl.There was this one girl— this was probably in ‘aught three or four, on a dewlit cobblestone street with a French name with a lithe and lovely girl— who was dumping me but trying to be pleasant about it. I wasn’t oblivious to this but I was having too good a time to be let down by it. I wore a baby blue faux silk shirt with white polka dots. Nothing was going to get me down. Maybe she wanted it to hurt a little, come to think of it. A white station wagon drove by and a placid ray of sun refracted off the windshield, momentarily illuminating our shadowy position, there alone in the park across from the Whole Foods where I bought some gluten-free pretzels and some milk.
She was in a red, white, and blue blouse with beige capris pants so I couldn’t stop staring at her calves and ankles— although it was the flowing dyed blonde hair across her shoulders that really broke your heart. She was a smart girl, smart and going to Mount Holyoke but from a poor family who lived in the back upstairs apartment of an old house in the north end. Her stepfather worked in security at the hospital and her mother was like that Fountains of Wayne song only bigger, sable haired, and ruthlessly bipolar. I was “our valued guest young man” when I was taking care of my Pre-Reqs down at the U extension, but then it became known that I had taken a semester off to work on my novel, and things got cold for me very fast. Very fast. We started hiking along the nature path even though it was marshy and I trailed behind her dragging my feet and seeing flowers that I couldn’t name. I felt a twinge of pain in my back. “I have a job interview” she informed me “on Thursday.” I answered “I thought you were going away. With Amy and them. To the mountain.” The fire in my spine engulfed me and I grimaced and then it was gone in a single deep breath. “That’s not until Friday,” she said. I didn’t ask her where she was interviewing, or for what. An immense cloud crossed the sun abruptly and I felt wholly miserable. I needed to cheer up. Be the change you want to, etc. “Enjoy the mountain” I said. “But what will you do?” she asked me. I had no idea. I knew she didn’t just mean that specific weekend. What would I do? I eyed the bumps above her ankle where she’d shaved the hairs off earlier that morning. She thought we needed to have a talk, this talk, this polite breakup, because she liked me. Liked, in mostly the past tense. I wanted to do something to be liked again. I wanted to not have this conversation right now or ever. I wanted to do something interesting so I could be interested in something and I had no interest in doing anything except, yes, buying a coat like the one I saw in that late night black and white French film (I didn’t know the term New Wave yet) and getting drunk, I wanted to do that, get drunk on jugs of wine like wretched Kerouac in the Dharma Bums. I wanted to kiss her nose. “Write, I guess,” I said, trying to sound careless but I could hear myself and it didn’t sound hip or ironic it just sounded vindictive, like I was mocking her, which wasn’t what I had intended or expected. We walked along the path under the highway and it started to sprinkle, even though the sun was still shining, like a parody of itself. I don’t know why I didn’t answer her question legitimately— I mean, I do know, but I’ve beat myself up over it for years, years in which I wished that I could just erase memory rather than be burdened by it— but what I said is what I have tried to do all these years: put down words and stories and sounds and repeat them. If someone listens to something and acts on it that is what is commonly referred to as communication but when someone gets something that I’ve written honestly and earnestly I think of it as a miracle because I cease to be and they cease to be and all that remains is the idea exchanged in that INSTANT. This almost sounds like I am describing an orgasm. But sometimes you write things and years later they come back to you as old friends would, full of jokes and insights into the secret score of your mind. Fancy words like those in Banville that I used to make whole litanies from like an obscure prayer to the College Board deity although I wasn't seeking salvation from them I did it because it felt good to weld those words into sentences, to come close to doing on paper what was being done to me when I read Timothy Donnelly, Joseph O’Neill, or Goran Sonnevi translations or the word desultory. I wanted to write because when I read, truly read— not read while horny or tired or high— I could FEEL. Back then I wanted to hide myself with big words because I wanted to be famous as much as I wanted to not be seen and now that most of my vanity and ego have gone I simply feel grateful that I was able to feel anything at all through all the numbness of those years and I want to give that back to the world for the sake of that one reader out there who years from now and down on their luck and revising old comments to old girlfriends might be dismayed to discover that there’s nothing much better to say now than what was said in the first place. This is what I would tell her now: I want to say good stuff. There was another time. It was in the mouth of a dark blue night and I was in an airplane flying over a moonlit ocean’s mysteries, thinking the world hushed and suspended with my eyes pinballing between the new New Yorker on my lap and the curtain. A girl behind there distributing free champagne to certain of the more privileged passengers. A tired crimson burning behind my eyes from too much reading under a too-self-serving glarelight. Get some sleep, get some sleep, get some sleep… Or that job. That summer job oh lord with Laura there and my cousin Christy who got me in and Paolo, Stephen, Landon and Nancy, and big Tyler, and Oleysia, oh my god. That dry chalky warehouse when the big roller bins would thunder across the cement floor getting louder and louder like a jet crashing or a tornado bearing down or an earthquake outside, and just as quickly STOP- and all would be well, still sitting there behind the freight dumpsters, still getting high with the Turner brothers. That was the last time I heard anything from anyone about CJ, though, I confess that I constantly misremember how that went down, even now, and I think that I saw him that one last time, and I have to catch myself. I would have been nineteen, and Christina said her neighbor’s boss said that CJ had taken off with the circus. That was all I heard but I still see carnies when I think of it, and even at twenty he looked seedy, like an emaciated STD of a man. With a fat waist like he was deep into middle age and hollow whiskered cheeks under hollow ferret eyes.
Are you sure that’s what happened? Are you sure that’s what you saw?
Last month I went back to the camper. It was a gorgeous late winter day of endless and incredible sun. and I felt good and bright to have made the choice to come up into the woods alone. Nothing changes the endless sunlight, not even winter. It was bright and cold and one could smell the mud in the air even if you couldn’t see it under the snow. Good sugar weather. I returned
through the empty forest ducking through bare branches and twigs not yet studded with the emerald jewelry of buds and found my way up to the knoll where the camper sat, just a bit warmer inside than out. A dusty tin bed with a thin mattress on brown springs.
I wanted to light a cigarette suddenly and very powerfully but I waited awhile and found a drawer with a picture of two skinny little girls on their elbows on the floor playing cards, and a smugly smiling woman seated behind, her chin up. Hair of some wild animal was clumped up in the rear of the airstream, which panicked me for a moment but it didn’t look new. Some feral dog long gone. As the grips of the bright day started to slip into gray, I lit the cigarette, and the smoke felt exquisitely good in my chest. It felt a little sexual. I felt like a king sitting there, and then the sun went behind the last cloud for good and the wind went up, and it was almost dark and suddenly chilly in the breeze but I knew that someday soon it would all warm up. Not today, but someday. Nobody knew where I was today. Nobody. This camper wanted a
friend. I could stay. Life would be sad, but fine, quiet, meditative, more lonely for me than for the camper. I felt a song come into my head, some jingle, like the blood in my brain righting itself.
Old and crazy me, it's not like I planned this, smoking and scribbling words into his little book. The sun down and the mud under the snow starting to firm up again for the night. I could have stayed there for the night that night, started a little fire and gotten a little closer to god, just me out under the stars in that big rusting silver space capsule, but I didn’t. Let’s not lie to each other or our ex-girlfriends. I didn’t stay but I left a little note in the drawer, next to the picture of the two little girls. I’m not going to tell you what it says. But if you find yourself out there this summer, and need a leaky seething place to lie down for the night, you could hole up there, if maybe you stumble around the forest long enough to find it and know that I wasn’t dicking around about everything, and pity me a bit because you’ll see that there’s no cell signal and then you’ll think of that note that crazy guy left and find it and scratch your head a bit reading maybe, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll think, wait, that’s pretty good.
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One timeAnyway, that's what I feel like, writing on my blog today, February 21st. Some John Cage type shit, write there. My choice. We're all going to die. Tell your cats you love them every chance you get. Eat that last birthday cupcake.
At an outdoor concert, Monk was
sitting there playing until it was his turn for the solo:
He just stared at the keyboard
for 16 bars.
Plenty of time for a solo
but he just sat there and stared at the keyboard.
And then the next soloist jumped in to take his turn.
The audience applauded
One assumes that Monk was thinking through the notes, just not actually playing them.
In one's head, it must have been an astounding progression.
A sound assumption.
It was a heavenly movement, immanent, to be sure,
transcending a genius like Monk's human ability to perform it
much less mine or your ability to understand.
"The readiness is all."
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|Brushing Teeth with Lightning in the Rain
“Only the dead can say something about the living… sometimes.” …and she is not just miserable, but proud of her misery. She loves to complain, and loves nothing more than complaining about how much she complains. She is excited by the noises, hints at chaos in her bones, like a cow who figures that the lush of duckweed down by the crick is the only murky way out of this pasture. Her body. Your body. There’s no way out. She returns to the body, and ever again, slowly despairing, ever averted. Until gloomy, and extinguished… “You must have a goal,” says Mann. When you’re up you’re a cloud blown away and when you’re down you’re the dust blown away. Without direction you’ll never be more than you are in the moment. THE MOMENT. No matter what you’re doing, if you’re only ever really involved with your own ideas and emotions it’s an equation that’s not going to work itself out. It has to be more than just you. Be quiet and take the picture. Matsyasana, momma… Subdue the mind. Chain it with discipline. Work, responsibility, a goal, the objective. Getting up without dizziness in the decossating rays of morning sun. Embrace the union, the holistic unanimity of all creation. We don’t stand set apart from the wracked and wailing storms of creation, they are us. You! Me! Artists don’t transcend the ever-multiplying dance, art does. Art Garfunkle.Disclaimer: Last night we became a decade. I was destroyed. Torn apart into tiny forms which were then separated out, swallowed, expunged, exploded... The elation of freefall. A remarkably coruscating swirl of birds, an abstract mandala. Pass the hat. First time I ever read the word quadrumvirate: 2/8/16. What killed us was rotting fruit. Kierkegaard’s snuffbox. The window’s still open. Our lungs breathe a long sex poem. It’s Junyasar, dad…
Through tumblr-falling scrolls my appetite for platitudes erects, like a groangut Eiffel tower [erected in Paris, 1889, Las Vegas 1999]. Eat your preferences. Unmanifest karma. I reach to count the missing pens and keys in my pocket. “Like a memory counting its dead,” Says Cortazar. Nothing is really happening, nothing is going to happen. Nothing ever happens. Your ego is Donald Rumsfeld. Endure the wonder of survival or get stuck running red, doing bedtricks. Enjoy the touches of flying generosity, or stop waiting for things to happen. Warm your hands on the burning embers of our lost summerflower yellow dreams, or better yet be still on the sittingstones of permanent eternal glowering gonowhere. I’ll wager your mood juice that the connection in the walks through the Highgate back fields are stronger than those of the Hoskins computer lab. Everything is open. Grow your brain like the hillslumbs of Fakfak. What a baffling profusion of things. What a provincial, small-minded world view, with a smug belief that all is good in the world. To say that we’re looking for answers in my mind is not to say that in my mind we’re looking for answers. "I'm not quite right at all... am I?" asked Bowie. What spiderweb wrongs and inasmuch rights. What depths past the shallow shorelines of time. One can be blinded by such illuminancies. Sandy, upon arrival in Paris, “I don’t believe I’m in Paris. Is this Paris?”
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bwwbtatiltspr valleys are changinghwo d skee passllmusis tasb peccant
strm Humber Bay Arch Bridge sfiwtnck hwefmi2
htciscmoin iwnopmutwaga ywnsmf smsis tbabskah isciNo mud, no lotusfa oslmgp a
I've been green
all winter long
of those who fear
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follow me down
welted by grief, try to take the long view
A door marked “You
could have done more.”
I feel cold.
stop following me.
Avoid the bar. Avoid the street where the bar is. Avoid the freeway exit where the street is that the bar is. This is what they say. On the one hand. And yet, on the other hand, I pass this exit every day. It's difficult to concentrate on anything else.
And then I did.
Summers with my friend; driving around aimlessly, he said "see the moon is bright," and I suggested we call the radio station.
“Drive by Truckers,” he said and I squirmed. "The moon is bright and your heart is gold."
"Yup. And I'm Broke."
Wanting good things to happen to us and come our way. Longing for passion. Something to do and feel like doing. Wanting to make something of ourselves. Something better. But still just driving around in big ten, twenty, thirty mile circles somewhere up in the kingdom, then turning around and driving in circles somewhere else, hoping for fate to fall into our lap…
And then it did.
We came to the bridge and the bridge was washed out. Not washed out, with water, so much as snow & sludged over with snow and sludge. What water was there appeared to have reached a level just underneath the roadway, yet the two lanes of travel were engulfed by the floating wall of odd off-white geometric shapes of roiling scrum about 2-3 feet high. I stopped the car. We parked it actually, at a safe distance away, got out to watch the river roar and speak in a crunchy whisper. There was no getting across. The carnage was immaculate though. Searching fruitlessly for pattersn in the viscious push-pull of onrushing effluvia and ultimate meaninglessness of it all happening, the randomness of our being there to see it. It wasn't even snowing.
And then it was.
follow me down
for motives of clarity, mostly, help me see
like a polaroid in a cathedral
just the facts, then we’ll reduce it
with acuity see through transparent
Hole up, bed down,
stare out and
down to reach
some place undebased.
It’s a kind of trigger. Means of relating to other people are shot. Finding words, difficult, wanting to say them won’t be enough. This is what they said. The experience of loss creates a kind of melancholy reflection of normal reality, like a mirror distorting the vanity of human hopes and dreams, warping one’s perspective on the irreversible finitude of life, the mutability of human monuments… but the distortion looks vividly clear, which is troubling.
And so it was.
I met my friend in the 5th grade. His name was Johnson. He smelled like peanut butter sandwiches and dirty socks.
We met playing whiffle ball, sort of. I was batting and whacked one out clear across the playground to where he was standing with his girlfriends, a different kind of player altogether, and it hit him right in the ear. Not the most auspicious of meetings I suppose.
I knew who he was before that. I was lucky that we became friends. I knew who he was because everyone knew who he was, but also his family went to our church and once, I’ll never forget it, during a prayer when everyone was quiet with their heads down his sister yelled at him out loud to "shut your freaking pie hole!"
And so he did.
I came to know him as a frenzy. His youthful ambitions trumped everyone I knew, and most everyone I didn’t. It was through Johnson that I found myself invited to the party in Chelsea, standing in dimly lit leather book-lined apartment next to a guy (who seemed to believe that dressing casual meant a pinstripe three piece) talk about reverse funnel guaranteed online income strategies. I felt slightly ashamed to be there. The room was actually bursting with rather handsome people, all of them slightly too clean, a bit too members-only. I am a satellite friend. I scan the room:
“He’s related to the Laura.”
“It’s foolproof. Absolutely assured."
“They’re not functional,” a young woman said, losing interest.
“Who was he to talk to me like that?”
“The labor force is what they called them," is the punchline, and so much polite laughter erupts that one begins to questions one’s very notion of actual jocosity.
“Bogie and Bacall named their kids after their friends from work. Would you name your children after your friends?” and I start thinking about my friend Zeno Blumqvist.
And there he was.
Johnson came in. He came not in a puff of smoke nor in a cloud but through the door like a common man ambling into the room slightly off-kilter, with a wink that fills me with a devastating happiness. “You got a right regular little rhubarb going here.”
Completely out of balance and yet unflummoxable, he started shaking hands and speaking to everyone in the room, individually looking them all unfailingly deep in the eye. The real genuine article that. I’m not sure anyone had any idea what he was saying, what was he… but the words were always secondary with him. It was his passion that captivated you. He made the rounds and made everyone shine and then he came to me, inclined his head, opened his arms wide as if to hug me, turned his back, yipped for me to follow, and walked out. In short, he was lovely.
And so he was.
So do or so don't
follow me down
Come along, into the ground, let's go get
lost in a whirling dance
with invisible partners
dark, slowing down, cold, going down
Do you know where we are going?
The anniversary of a loss, and significant events spent without the person may be pointedly difficult. Instead of letting yourself fall apart, you may find that doing something special to mark these occasions can help. Eventually you should find ways to use all the stuff of life—particularly the most challenging memories that nobody wants to think about, pain, loss, and suffering—as fodder for awakening, for pulling yourself together.
And so it did.
I feel the sweep of internal winds, as if a powerful voice from somewhere back in time had just spoken and set fire to an invisible rush of air around only me. The cat nuzzles my shin. We have just left the church, uncorked a bottle. It was a nice service, someone is saying. I sit with a few mostly blank pages in my lap. My friend is gone and I can't do anything to bring him back. Blank pages. I know I could have done something. I hope he is in a better place, although on any other day I would doubt such a place exists. Blank pages, a warmth deep in my chest, emanating outwards. I should have done something. I put pen to paper. May my asemic brooding shine I pray.
And so it did.
Were we intuiting what our futures would be? The unbridgeable distance that once again we would find ourselves up against. The thwarted lover, hardhearted and frozen cold incapable of feeling; the divorcee with two small kids he's terrified of absolutely fucking up for life because his psyche isn't fit for single parenting.
And yet it was.
We all have different gifts so we all have different ways of saying to the world the only thing each of us truly can say: who we are. Each of us is so much more than any one thing. A sick child is much more than sickness. A person with a disability is more than a handicap.
I knew this once. Why do so many of my catastrophes creep up on me without warning. Are my eyes closed? It is from suffering that we learn compassion, from loss that we learn understanding, and from overcoming struggles that we come to discover ourselves. We are more than our job description or age, or income or output… and how others whittle that down is their problem. Johnson’s problem: to be true to his inconsistencies.
At least, it was.
The light dims. “Follow me down” he says, leaving the party. Slowly, without light, everything appears to sink into ghostly darkness. His posture perceptibly shifts forward.
“What is beauty?”
“Leaves floating on a stream. Did you have a good time?”
“You were on fire in there.”
“I know. It was good.”
“Where are we going now?”
He laughed, “I don’t know.”
music: Long Night- Guster
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Sleigh bells in the airSax solo. Dreams of sidewalk junk shopping. Are there reasons? When dreaming of epic restaurants one knows one shall wake up hungry. Must have missed something. Or maybe it's because so much family in town for x-mas. That would make sense. Hanging out with The Dude for the first time since… well, first time, long time. “It felt like everything was the same” is something that was not said. Just talking until 5:30 in the morning, like we were eternally young, all life on the cusp of, if only we could just say the right ones, talk it through stone sober, find the right song, the right tube video, the right meme…Now I'm really tired. But I ordered some great stuff off etsy before lunch.
Yuletide by the firesideLong hot showers and sleeping in late after being out late. No work, no class in… can’t remember… first time, long time. Meeting funny strangers (and getting gdh (good & decently high), (we call it seasoned)). Walking around the neighborhood to look at the lights with those holographic glasses that make every bright point of light a candy cane or a gingerbread man or a wreath.Can’t believe that it’s been another year, I don’t feel older, I just kinda feel like I’m running out of youth. Maybe I’m crazy, so what? Does life push and pull you wherever the fuck it wants and our choices serve to either validate destiny or hopelessly flail against it like a toddler in the surf? Or do our choices matter, can we effect change, were the things we thought were fate really just luck (good or bad, not judging.)Fun group went out on Tuesday. Cailtin (rrh, really really high) laughing laughing so it makes Tony angry because he has to be the responsible one. She’s wearing those fish earings she wore for the birthday party back in August and she glows pink right through her skin saying what is happiness, but a feeling, a state of mind, like sadness? Poetry, that. Tony scowls and scrolls. She grabs his warm hand and laughs. Peaking inside her mouth and nostrils, watching the poetry of her soul rip through this fragile body like a 23 year old volcano of joy that will break right through her heart and she doesn’t even know it. I could be wrong. I miss being happy.I miss being sad in the winter. Let’s say it started to rain this week for a bit. A good coupla days in which I should have emailed Alex and M but didn’t. One thinks of names to say in prayers, thinks of God, another old friend you meant to get in touch with. November skeleton trees, like on Lorne Park Rd. doing lame Musiq Soulchild dancing in cold up and down wind. I am naked as the yard. A good couple days. I guess we already established that. I guess the fact is its winter brings up how scared I’ve been all year. Having to do the whole Christmas thing, I think I don't feel the pain I once did, and here it comes back. Doesn’t have to. So what if I’m crazy? Dreams of sidewalk junk shopping odd but not surprising. A broken car hugs the driveway.
And joyful memories thereNot hard to imagine cousins having a good time at Christmas. John the Baptist took Jesus Christ down to the river on a Friday night, talking about politics and the revolutions of the young, how’s Aunt Mary, playing with fire & water, just boys. nothing to lose.If only it worked that way. If only things had gone differently. Things might as well be different, while I’m going down this train of thought. Two cousins might not have moved apart, happiness might as well be sadness, love hate, hate love, crying laughing, death life, separation togetherness, I might as well not be me (put a mask on much?) and you might as well not be you and we might as well have never see anything in each other at all.But that’s not going to happen. I am me and no one else can be and I guess that does make me pretty crazy. Are you listening?Yes, you now. Now I wish that you would just leave. Now you’re gone. Now I wish that your presence would stop hovering over me. Not like an angel over those stinkin’ shepherds but like the whole heavenly host. How the fuck could you miss it? I see you all the time, over and in everything and no one else notices, which is wonderful and terrifying. My nerves shiver, tightness in my chest. I tighten my belt, finish the soup. Once the soup has disappeared I see that it is meaningless to eat or smoke. You, appearing, first time, long time, like a Christmas Carol on the breeze, like a gust of water spray over the rutabagas. Wonderful and terrifying. Why not go for a run? Why not pick up the phone? Why not dig plastic out and buy more things? Song comes on the radio. Sax solo. Had junk dreams of sidewalk shopping. Are there reasons? When dreaming of needing to take a piss one knows one shall wake up and need to take a piss. I am remembering something.
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|1/3 Fewer H's in the word Shhhh
"Love is on top, fucking pain"
- Frederick Seidel
I hate packing a suitcase. There it sits, it’s great zippered maw open, awaiting my wrinkled trash. Tomorrow is the day. One more X on the calendar. Did you know this Monday was National Best Friend's Day?
Me neither. But apparently it was. My question is, what about people whose best friends live in other countries, is there an International Best Friend's Day, or can you celebrate that on the same day as the other? Or do you have to pick a best friend in the Nation you're in at the time? Or does this holiday mean that we have to be best friends with our country for a whole day?
"Hey 'Mur'ca, how 'bout I buy you a beer?"
RBI1991Apollo: My National Best Friend is Pakistan
Dmmsqdmn3.1: You don’t just blurt something like that out.
Dmmsqdmn3.1: In front of little girls.
Dmmsqdmn3.1: Girls or women.
RBI1991Apollo: Little Women? Francis Hodgson Burnett?
Dmmsqdmn3.1: I literally do not care Larry.
This reservoir has been running on empty for decades.
DMM is out of damns. He hasn't had one damn to give since Bush was reelected. Or elected for the first time, depending on who you ask. How you ask it.
· “How would you ask it?” Someone in the crowd yells without looking up from his phone.
I’m glad you asked.
First, put down you phone. And second read a book.
I read a book.
Ok a book review.
But it described an author's prose as "neo-Mephistophelian singsong"
Isn’t that nice?
· “You’re stalling.” No one is laughing and the clock is ticking. The suitcase awaits. You are trying to find a successfully hipster method of measuring and tracking time.
Remember when you were moving and you read that the neighborhood was “decidedly hipster” and neither of us knew what that meant but we liked the sound of it? Well, I liked the sound of it. Turns out it was me. I was hipster. I was hipster before there were hipsters.
God is unemployed and, even after the end of the recession, probably, at this point, still unemployable, not getting up off the couch next to a couple two cans of Dr. Pepper.
· “But God is love,” he says in his best Ben Stein.
Fuck it. Love is a battlefield. Fuck it. John was right. So was Gord. First, love is a curse, love is as bad as or worse…
But it’s because our hearts are made of fire.
Forget the signs on the wall, forget the prayers.
Close your mouth, stop the rain. I am the mountain.
· You are the radio song.
Our poor decisions are the road. Our pasts are burning tires.
This moment is a city.
No, this moment is a rodeo. And now that moment is a rodeo replay. Not quite eight seconds.
My sadness is the color of the moon. Your joy is the sun. I put my sadness on an island, and it’s citizens started emigrating to the city. Now I am homeless and sleeping on the streets. I don’t know what is best represented by the streets.
Who can be sure of anything? Put down your phone.
Condoms in the outfield.
Condoms in the dugout.
How frangible, youth, on the eve of graduation. Jump those fences. Pack your bags.
"The darkness doesn’t descend, and then it descends so quickly it seems to seize you in burly arms.
I’ve been waiting all night to have this dance.
Stay, it says. Haven’t touched your drink."
mood: Frangible and Unpacked
music: John Fucking Mayer Fuck.
'alf & 'alf
, all you need is love
, best friend
, california there i go
, fragile and sad
, guitar music
, little women
, my favorite color is pig
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|Adz, Blur and Om
"Things are not always what they seem, nor are they otherwise."
-Well-known Zen AdageThe heat is palpable. You can see it throbbing the air, waves of distortion rising up in tandem on the horizon, the edge of every vista like bubbles of boiling batter, are we in an oven? Walking inside, into the slough of AC. Soothe is the word. It wetlicks my skin, like a balm I guess. What is a balm?
A weird old word.Where does that leave us then? Finger wading stacks upon stacks in the office. An avalanche of rejection. A glare on the wallclock’s number 3. Maybe it doesn’t say three… I am thinking about your cheek. A kiss on that tender blush. Like an apple. The fleshy lines of your arms…Where does that leave us then? Not where but when. A long time from when we started. I did not walk here all the way from the airport to listen to myself talking.
I came here to watch you.
I came here to watch you all.
To see you listening.
Listening to me talk.
Talk without thinking…
Parking lot snowbank remnants
beneath the springtime stars, “it's open mic night muthafuckas!”Remember?
No, you weren’t there. Maybe even I wasn’t there. My head was elsewhere. Yes certainly. Was I walking home? Dusty boys playing by the side of the road. I check online. Weather in GoogleMaps is always fixed. Is that old home still there? Where was it exactly? Streetview. I was leaving work. What was that job? Did I drive or take the train? A plane, a boat? Remember?
I seem to recall
air fanned by a flock of hands,
the cats flanks flecked with burrs,
veiled windows, lit by sunset, or streetlights…
the smell of wood floors and coffee grounds,
the smell of lost causes, the taste of boredom
your Jacobean mouth…
Am I my own vision? Yes most certainly, but how am I stretched beyond it? Like a starlit lake in the midst of San Francisco. Midst or mist? The moon was late tonight.Tonight I touched the dry warm skin of the building
And what is it beyond my own vision? Heat, for sure, the lines all rubbing together but beyond that, what name this stage, this set, a wind from other oceans we hadn’t known, the codenames of lost continents.
What is this place called? Not where but when. The camera clicks, flash a light. What do I see? When did we enter? Let's give it a name to say when it starts. How should we stay? The points aren’t fixed.
because the night is the curethe cure is the beginning
let me throughThe streetlight glare on the digitalclock number 3. Everywhere blurry hot and halogen.My ideas no longer ideas
just two fine French doors you live inside
like I live inside this promise
like we live inside dreams
the best dreams where you did not yet existYet not where but when
when inside I knew knew you in the universe
the universe would create you eventually
and the universe would continue to burn,A dream fire fueled by a heart’s promise.Or youth.I was the lithe flower then and now I am the fat fruit. I am ready for a fall. I am ready to fall apart. I am ready for the seed somewhere within me to spring.
music: Georgia On My Mind- Ray Charles
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|Zodiacal Irreligion and the Havoc of Heavenly Haps
In which during the month of heat and thunderstorms
The Mass Kedman asks;
"Is there an end to life?" and says "You monsters are people! Everyone
wants to go to heaven but no
one wants to die" and vice versa
"This is where the Hips begone," Mr. Marley malapropedly misspoke
The man who worked in the lending library, sat there, reading comfortably in what looked like a reading nook. I imagined we were not in a store, in the city but in a cabin deep in the sea of trees. This man was reading in his cabin and when we left, he would open the door and go on a hike where the air smelled like icy pine mountain death.
A lark, alack a larch.
He peeled back the face of a shag-bark hickory.
I pressed my whole weight into it, letters
grooved deep in, pressed firmly against my face, leaving
behind a backward M+R in the empty
hollow of my freshly shaved flesh-
I became a madman. I become the hunter.
Snow falls through the pine boughs and covers
Us in a fresh white page I
rip out the bindings I
recede multitudes I
take leaves of the grass I
I met Paritosh only twice, but the second time he made me give him my address. Gibran's The Prophet arrived in a neatly wrapped cloth package.
It's been 4 years and I haven't returned it yet. I bet he is still in his store. I imagine it is not a store.
One time at a waxy museum I thought one of the tour guides wax a was person cuz he wuz just standin' there. Naught movin'. So I goes up to hem I does like "who the guck idis spose tah be" then he just looked at me and laughed.
You are the future.
Mornings, The Masked Man tries to look so tall,
unless he is still asleep
or half a sleep
But if there is a girl
And he strides
up the high train platform,Man tries to look so tall,
el masqbre, eye-
-ing her one hand
holding her skirt against the breeze, the other clutching.
And then are split apart into multiples again:
The Unending Battle of the Sexes (Past, Present, Not too Distant Future)
One day there were high rise office buildings
and tenements and grids
girding and alleyways sunk down under with rain water.
Then one day she came with them.
tearing them apart from within
like an overfilled balloon.
Cloister walking 156th street and midnight stroll souvenirs from the neon 7/11 where people were recently shot. With large guns. At close range.
And I said to her mordaciously that you have absolutely no idea what in the world you are talking about. We steeped the hill and broached the porthole door wherein found us three sofas closely parked around an old Magnavox television, they were there, watching a bearded Roy Shneider, on SeaQuest.
A Bronze Bell
A bronze bell. That's what it was.
Two week ago I asked my friend Edi to paint my portrait because she is an artist and she does art. I told her I would pay her, and tried to get away with the conceit of paying her after-the-fact, but she, (like a good artist who is almost thirty now and no longer an imbecile giving away the fruits of her labor for free) insisted on my paying up front so then today was when I got the results back.
"Is this what I paid for?"
Yes. Yes it was. A bronze bell.
She's 26. During the Mid-life Crisis of Dionysus he watched Archer work at ISIS crying "Why's this not mine" like I wished... Bing! Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar, and be better off than you are, or would you rather be a mule? Or a double-amputee struggling emphysemically to breath three an oxygen tube. Through. I want to trademark "MyBad". mybad.org. The Elysium Corporation, maker of "green" beauty products is owned by the Clorox Co., a Fortune 500 company with more than $5.5. billion in revenues last year. Their CFO is reading the names of flowers followed by their unpronounceable secret latin names. I remember promising myself to catalog a dictionary of sounds people make when they sneeze. I just remembered why my teeth taste like beer bottle caps. Tim McGraw was 33 when he recorded "My Next Thirty Years." Jesus was 33 when was asked "what is truth?." Pilate didn't stick around for an answer. I forgot to close a parenthesis in an email this morning and now I'm going to feel off for the rest of the day.
Ret Fleedom Ling
let's explore limitations
stretch your neck till you sweat, girl,
just vent that frustration
lively, delicately curves wet, girl
eyes examine my radio station
She laughs. She laughs in quick clips. A glow spreads across her tender skin.
My armpits smell like pot smoke.
It’s time again.
Pale window peregrinations and temporary fixes
Pilate dreams like charcoal drawings.
Utility is defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering.
The moon, gently evanescent, is going to California, in search of stardom.
ps can you
mbake me a bulky cherry pie in a skillful and passionate way?
A Complete Lack of Considerable Changes
That littlest tear in the fabric. A Best Of list of ferret riddles.
The sunset red laments of the confederate want ad. The perfection of all dying things.
The dollops of starlight that spring drops you through the nightclouds. The Rejoinders of the Llama Herders.
Okay, I forgot to tell you all I have been failed to build up the nerve to talk to this pretty girl in my math class all semester and then on the final day I ran into her three times outside of class and she spoke to me.
I never said a word, Never will.
Forever. Unending. Infinite. Unquantifiable.
Fortune and Glory"I think when we're young we kinda want to fill the air with notes,it's kinda a naturalyouthful exuberancein the young player.I listen to my old records and I thinkGoddarnit take a breath'you know? And uh, I — ”"It's very impressive," Marion interrupted."It is impressive,But it's more impressive to play one note that means something.Now, I'm trying to slow down.Slowing down that's the-the-that's the art."-Phil Woods Episode Twelve.In Which We Meet The Masq'dmn, and he blogs about The Nice Girl From Somewhere Else and finds Nothing to Talk About and Talks About It.
May 6: The Office ending and Jim and Pam are going away and I don't want to lose them and I don't want to lose her. I listen to Alexi Murdoch and I miss her, thinking of her crush on John Krasinki. That was like five years before five years ago. I don't miss her all the time. I used to miss her all the time and then some more time happend and for a lot of it I didn't miss her. I didn't. That felt like a short time. Right now I do. That was a long time.HOUSELately I've been contemplating the beauty of trees. Partly because we're looking to buy a house and the parts of houses that I'm most excited about owning (aside from the bookshelves within) are not parts of these houses at all. I'm dreaming about a yard. If there aren't any trees, I've been planning on building a bunker. I've always wanted to build a bunker (to put inside some bookshelves) and on top of it I'd plant some trees.
It's difficult shopping for houses, as anyone knows, but I have stringent stipulations for a property, and among them it cannot be in so deep a city that there is no room for a yard, and it cannot be in the suburbs because I have a strange unsubstantiated and yet unmitigating fear of the dark heart that lies in the bright avenues of the American Suburb. Fascist rows of houses all the same with spray painted skulls on the interior garage walls briefly visible when they raise the door to drive out at a quarter to dawn to join the workforce. Or children, on a playground, selling crystal.Revolutionary Youths who Quit the Struggle (because they did not realize what an impact they truly had)RobAndLeRoyBrownInc: I used to think it was just me who went through periods of hating their friends and family. Turns out its every single human.dMskdMn: Yay humanity!RobAndLeRoyBrownInc: Boo humanitydMskdMn: It's not that bad. Not all the time.Again with the Poet tree
A vast sky refigured, flashing
on black limbs -
/Trucks yawning Ag supplies down
your hands are cold.
your eyes are steady
The clouds all flushing eastward
Through streaked glass, the accused
A line of elms/
Em.Real.Fine.God is real, she said. “Could this be a real thing?”“Sure,” he said. “fine.” If people say they feel it, it has to be real – in some form or another.The question is what kind of real is it? Are all these people experiencing the same thing? Is it learnt, or something we are born with? How common is it?The End of ('Dis)continuityOr, the long blank-verse, streets ahead of the groaning populace of this great agrarian lostland.What makes the study of history so fascinating is that the perception of discontinuity exists within the context of continuity. "The historically ignorant believe in absolute novelty; while those with a smattering of history are apt to believe in no novelty at all; they are blinded by the discovery of similarities. Beyond that, however, lies the discovery of small, but sometimes crucial, differences. |
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|Yet the things they did not say could fill an ocean
"What I didn't realize is Holden Caulfield had a third sibling named Allie who has died when the book has begun. And in an absolutely key scene he is wandering around muttering to himself: 'Please, Allie, don't let me disappear. Please, Allie, don't let me disappear.' "And I remember just putting the book down when I read that. And I said, my God, this is really a book about sadness and grief and finding oneself after a terrible loss."
— Kevin Smokler
She said something and I did not respond because I was reading and napping and writing letters into The Week’s Crossword puzzle to try to see what came out. When I remembered that she had said something I tried to write it. I could not remember. “Let us go out and spend our hard wrought earnings at the decentralized marketplaces for propagated dissatisfactions.”This is not at all what she said. “Yearning for some obscure and wholly unattainable object of desire?” I did not really rejoinder to ask her. “Yeah, we've got that,” the Staples ad did not aloud proclaim. My face as hard as a mineral, a weariness from my long battle with the week, and the week before this last week, and a long ignored longing to connect mixed with the innate self-centeredness of a person who isn’t fully grown up and gets his greatest kicks from ignoring people. There is a real energy to be had in ignoring people. I feel this in my gut to be true but no one ever tells you this. They expect you to be someplace, you are not at that place, you steal their energy.You will arrive. You will fall asleep. You will read this. In reverse order. How does this blog I am writing tie into what this blog is about? It’s called meta narrative. I would be lying to you if I told you she said “Most people are ugly shits incapable of projecting two ideas simultaneously,” but she was probably thinking some variant thereof when I never responded “The fact that they think of themselves at all is doubly ironic— Quadratic?” This thought process does not make sense, and that’s what makes me think that it was real. It might have really happened to us. I would have said something stupid because we all say stupid things when we’re not thinking about ourselves, and when we’re not thinking about ourselves whilst talking about people who don’t think about themselves we say stupid things and realize that there is some redundancy, some double redundancy, and then, for the first time in this blog, we actually say something out loud:
“What is the difference between how a word is used generally versus legally.”
I repeat,” what is the difference between how a word is used— ”
“No I mean what word?”
“Lifetime,” I lie, realizing my spur-of-the-moment misdiagnosis of quadratic is less important to me than the materialistically modified theory of reincarnation I’ve been working on.She did not respond because she, too, was reading and when she remembered that I had said something she chose not to answer but instead to read aloud a passage from her paperback.
"A river reached the sea; there, on a ferrous red delta fan -- with copper-colored reeds on the bank, and huge steamhorning ships in the distant middle, where there are silent picnics, the lovers eating greenhouse strawberries from a basket with a lid..."
Outside our window a man with green hair passes by, toiling diligently on his cell phone. A bird whistles. Time passes.
“I had this dream about an antiques store and” was interrupted in the telling of it.
"That's Arsenic and Old Lace."
"The antiques store?"
"No, the whole dream you are describing."
"How do you know the dream I was describing?”
“Arsenic and Lace?"
"Cary Grant. With some of your less typical but highly guessable embellishments."
“How do you know?”
“You told me about the dream already. I googled it at work.”
When she finished reading she undoes some matryoshkas by the window and then the spooled a strand of ribbon.
"What kind of embellishments," I finally asked. This is bait. Her argument are always faux–naïf .
"What part was coded?"
"When you picked up the thumb tacks. One at a time and 'felt a strange spiritual power come over' you." She eye-rolled, “Come. Cum over you.”
"You are willfully ignorant."
"I liked to think of it as cheerfully innocent until a few seconds ago."
Does love conquer all? No. Power conquers all. Love conquers vice. The phone rings and we both ignore it but a minute later when we both remembered that it had rung we both look up at each other at the exact same moment and smile, knowing that we are proud of ourselves and of each other.
“Copies of the first ever translation of Finnegans Wake available in mainland China,” I read aloud, “have sold out.”
There are many things that she did not say in that moment's pause which I had conceded for her response, but I did not wait long enough for her not to say them. “Some people may ‘just want to have it on their coffee table,’ Hockx says.”
“How many people are actually going to read it?”
“I haven’t finished.”
"The article, or Huck Finn?"
"Finnegans Wake. No, both."
“Let’s go shopping.”
“I just felt I had to own it. Finnegans Wake. It’s seminal. I told you about my longstanding ambition...”
“To one day read Ulysses to my child..."
“Every night read a little bit... You know, as like a bedtime story.”
“I wonder how long it would take...”
“Let’s go shopping.”
“I’d need to start when she was a baby...”
“I’m going to look for shoes online until you are finished with that paper.”
“Okay I’m almost done.”
So that was happening. So, that happened. Then we went shopping until it got dark and I found myself sitting outside a brightly lit shop where bright music clanged and chimed and I waited, doing these puzzles on my iPhone. Sometimes all the pieces come together, level after level, and sometimes nothing fits— Most of the time, if I'm honest. I keep playing.
When we returned I resumed reading, having never really stopped. I had pretended to stop, like I had pretended to start, and forgotten that I was pretending and when I remembered I was halfway through an article about feminists forcing a crackdown on pornography in Iceland. Pretending to read. Like we were pretending to talk to each other. Not really asking "Is this it? Is this all there is?"
I put aside the newspaper and picked up a book. I read to myself but not aloud how "future humans suffering from radiation sickness will hemorrhage coconut-milk-colored puss from their tear ducts and in the process, slowly turn into giant homo crustaceans" thinking "what does decency mean in our time?" I did not ask her this. She would misinterpret the question. She had put away her new shoes and was now wearing the glasses that she never wears. She never wears them, but she was wearing them as she read, to herself not aloud, about Yukio Mishimo, who's book Gogo no Eiko has a difficult English translation. It hinges crucially on the homonym eiko, which can be rendered either ‘An Afternoon’s Glory’ or ‘An Afternoon’s Towing’. The book's original English translator figured that 'glory' was a drag word for a title and and went to the author for help. The author, hungering for a Nobel Prize, wanted to impress the committee with a long title in the manner of Proust's À la Recherche — and chose The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, in reference to the exceedingly gruesome downfall of the main character. But this did him little good. Sales were disappointing. Even in Japan.
Mulling over the blogger's every present difficulty to find the right words I said aloud:
"Joyce made up his own words rather than live behind the bars of social convention."
"Who is Joyce?
"James Joyce. Leo Bloom. His lines are dense, blizzarded replete with sexual puns, double entendre, tits..."
She made every appearance of actually thinking about this, as much as a person can look like they are thinking, but I doubted that she was thinking about it until a few minutes later when she said something, and I did not respond to her this time because I was working out a problem in my head and when I did respond it was many minutes later, and without thought entirely, apropos of nothing.
The problem that I was working out regarded the final days of life. When will you know them? When you are in the final days of your life what will you want? I think about this often when I pass the frame I bought to hang the college degree that I did not get. I hung the frame beside the door to the garage. My life as a writer is haphazard, choral, shitty, happening right here — in front of your eyes — on this blog. I try to be a writer every day. This is the place where, having written, I can un-write. I can move on. Keep writing in different ways. I write because I love to, because it feels good, but that is a lie because I write habitually now. I can't help it. Writing begins and ends a self-perpetuating cycle with varieties rewards, emotional upheavals and spiritual contentment.
This had been a rough week. I had been awake late at night thinking about numbers. If I died this weekshe might assume I would find comfort rereading our financial statements but of course that is ridiculous. Of course she would not make such an assumption. Of course...
"Life is a prison," I did respond aloud, many minutes later.
"Writer," I corrected her.
Was she crying or were her eyes bothering her? I did not know. I could only see her wet cheeks behind the glasses, because she had canted her head low and to the right, and the lamplight glare kept her eyes invisible. She made no sound.
She did not read aloud: "A young woman, Francisca Cañada Morales, ran off with her cousin, Francisco Montes Cañada, moments before her wedding to a local man. The cousin was then shot dead by the prospective bridegroom’s brother."
You will arrive. You will fall asleep. You will read this. In reverse order.
Later I remember lying in bed with her and feeling nothing at all: staring at the ceiling and wondering what was wrong with me, but pretending to be going to sleep because she will see no reason to keep the light on. Sometimes she wants me to lie to her.
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music: Gloria- The Cadillacs
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|"I get so tired of this wind that blows"
Got up and dressed up in clothes picked off the floor at the crack of nine safely untouched by a restful sleep
and went out & got laid
lack energy or elasticity
When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon
the wind blowing stench off the mosquito slough longside the road
People don't like to be reminded they are angry, that they are going to die.
Stop caring about me and it wouldn't hurt so bad.
Stop caring about anything, he said, not really meaning it when his mother looked him in the eye.
It's too easy to care about a panoply of personal things. The tiny flowers in the lawn on the dark side of the house where I grew up. The living room where my songs were born. The cracks in the sidewalk where I bounced my basketball
and the tree where my sister and I waited all afternoon for sunset and a call to dinner that we would ignore, the smell of grilling meet through the apple trees. My mother washing socks.
My friend Dan likes to stand next to Asian girls and have his picture taken. Because he's short. He met this one chubby girl from Florida who I talk to sometimes online:dMskdMn:
The ugly duckling stayed ugly for his whole lifeAmiiTran:
its okay to take your meds there NietzschedMskdMn:
It's okay not to take your meds.AmiiTran:
Luckily there were many other ugly ducklings in the bay and they all became friends and played D&D together.dMskdMn:
I like what you did there.AmiiTran:
My goal is my starting placedMskdMn:
There is no subtlety in popular culture anymore. Where are the double entrendres of yesteryear? What holds us all together?AmiiTran:
I am mostly held together by coffee and student loans.dMskdMn:
Coke and sympathy.AmiiTran:
Just for the taste of it
AmiiTran: it likely has to do with a certain "spiritual hunger" in America (perhaps due to an absence of mystical and ecstatic dimension in general American spirituality).
Beneath the floor in our cabin in the hills we buried our cat Scruffy. Nominally to keep her away from the coyotes but now I think it was more.
During our walk today we stopped talking for a good ten minutes and your eyes were lowered, I watched you. We came to a large open area with a view of the water and I said that it'd be great if we could do this more often but you said nothing.(caesura 8)
When did I stop starting and start stopping? Where do I start?
Like the cat, she was, not dead, but a pure soul.
God it's bright, and it hurts and I wish it wasn't associated with Ben Franklin.dMskdMn:
Are you hungry?dMskdMn:
Let's have a meal of wordsAmiiTran:
First, a salad, then ____dMskdMn:
and then dessert.AmiiTran:
no dessert for me please. Thank you.
Hoo! It's bright.
Mind if I step back into the darkness and let the tan denvelope like film, not a film which is residue, say polaroid
briefly flashed and lasting.
I am The Masked Man.
Where do I start?
When do I stop?
Then die and get buried
in a coffin in the grave,
then the flies will come to ransack drink and feast up on my ____, then ____ ,
then the worms. And the worms are the worst. They will orgy on you til ragged and you will be part of the populous dirt.
People don't like to be reminded they are angry, that they are going to die.
Tomorrow I am funky llama outta here.
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: en route, on the way, away, underwayHere's a story: She was Russian (and they said she was easy) who played the piano beautiful and didn't sway back and forth as she did it but sat straight upright like a classicist. The Masked Man perched anxiously alongside, briskly playing little notes in the betweens where idler hands don't linger. Her more ardent arpeggios ringing through the vacant edges of the night as she whispered "you taste like your brother.""I miss the sound of your voice"
- Matt-Nathanson -
after years of being buried by that shit
And I am
no more but growing with this vine--
not the time
to give you second thoughts
now must think of me
trying to shake the feeling
recurring dream that I gave it all I had.
I had but I didn't give it all to you
I worry that I've learned it too late
aimlessly but I was a stowaway
on a ship that refused to go to port
settled cleverly, with sunlight,
grows within this new soil I am rooted to
I know you know how and you want to.
call me but it'd only confuse the air.
either of us those steps we've made
are stretched behind us and I wanted to say
you at night alone when the moon is bright
was on the line far away oh so far away
We could turn that key again
we must put that key away
And then someday as I'm leaving the plane
and somehow the way'll be clear
nothing has changed.
I must be going away
Yes until then I'm underway.
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|Thoughts on an Arcade Game
Not sure I can translate the pure vision, but lemme see...
Picture it. Midi notes harken a spiritual quest about to begin, the credits reeling still, and suddenly all the stars have blown out. The present vanishes, even as it unscrolls before us.
There, the orange triange. Fire-breathing, vulnerable-under-the-chin dragons, who live on horizon.
And closer now the shire peasant, of a thatched kind who fear of the unknown and eschew the blazing sun.
Disintegration and bodily invasion. Inhabit now. Your avator is defined by the distant limits of the screen. What would you like to do?
Each phrasing further floods the constraining shores of syntax, thickens every effort, expands the breadth and depth of this conflux between the present and the textual or visual representation of the past. Inhabitant.
Beholde the webb'd castle. A jagged crown of flames / Above the empty rooms/ an old man's mouth moves and here be the charge. Ye bum, he thinks of you, shrugging off danger, to the first quest.
Eccentric inventor, “conked on the thinkum,” incapable of resisting the impulse to dismantle things and reassemble them in skewed, unexpected ways
the lightning bolts going in and out
he is a wizard
high in a cave
above the cliffs that you must grip. Holdstrong.
someone falling : once/ asked, there’s no retrieving it. / that syllable drops into hostile / genuflection.
the echo of cloud on wave
Eagles swoop young rabbits to drown them there in the river
Congratulations! Here is thy potion! POOF!
Fragile ferns lay upon the stone
imprints dew foresaw,
off-key odes sang in monotone
as sorrow scraped me raw
A cauldron in the forest brews a show of the rape/ the take. Must retrieve her, now it is personal.
A dervish, his skirts flaring, his bright tongue forked aflame,
gifts his entourage with hookah and all the lights of luxury
so they may subside beneath the weight of Maxwell’s general excellence
but notices how you lap at misery's pool
and offers sacred tool
if you'll dance the fire dance with him
around/ around/ the brim/ his whim
to rush around and you must bound
alight the ground up left left down
up right right up right right right down
Congratulations! The sword is yours
Map menu is a room of such simplicity
from the mountain a view of the sea,
its round immensity
crossed to desert shores where
contemplation acknowledges rather than evades despair
pursue your own thoughts
feeding on the rarified points what
running up the sands of time,
at each footfall lay a passing day
aging with every step until you slip on your own beard.
Check the inventory and pray
use the potion , ageless you ascend
to the lair where dragons den
"They've sent you?" asks elder snake
to make your almost amiable mediocrity rewarded, somehow, in a manner that is surprising, and heartrending, and ultimately, worthless...
I don't know how it ends. But I assume you get the princess in the end.
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|Sea, the mar
There was a day not unlike this one, it occurred to me this morning as I was leaving the grocery store with a smile on my face,
nearly 3 years and twice as many lifetimes ago,
when a girl with long dead hair (soon to be short) and I went to the farmers market on a rare wet and not unpleasant day when neither of us had to work, and we bought mushrooms and held hands through the glittery dew of spiderways as the sun finally came through the clouds over the buildings that we walked past imagining we might one day live in together.
Once, another time, I was in the cemetery outside of the town where she told me you grew up.
It was surreal for a number of reasons, I was holding a box of lunchables and a monster, for one, and also at that precise moment a funeral procession drove past, stamping the cold sting of middlewestern wind into my face in their wake, the air itself all small town main street, , no not main street... what's the street behind main street America? Parallel to it, but sketchier, closer to the tracks, you know the one I'm talking about… Beside me a bulldozer clawing away at what appeared to be an old elks lodge. Insolvent wallpaper walls crumbling as I stood there munching on lunchables and almost crying for the cold.
In the night I would lean against the sturdy of her back-
-she would hold herself warm by the light like trying to try
and then trying to try to be, to be let go, to be
this was all the past.
The Rashomon effect
is the effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection,
observers of an event produce
but equally plausible
accounts of it.
Now am all out of focus, like the number when the young lovers sing their first-flirting song in an old Hollywood musical.
At the community college where I slum I tell my young teen disciples that we can make things more or less real depending on how we fixate/avert our attention(s).
When we were 22 my girl and I decided to adopt.
I adopted a drinking problem. She adopted 20 pounds.
One time the seagulls stared at me. I was regarding la mer. When lit up I remembered the soft skin on the inside of her arm. That day I wore black, a heavy hoody, back then I wore black every day. My potential in light saddened me. I slunk at the thought of levity. Happiness is hazardry to a guy like me.
Are guys like me?
Few are inspired.
Few act like themselves.
Few are natural.
Cut short the cigarett--. My yearning singes. Cough, the wind, the wind. Gray swaths cover everything. I shall pay you the humane compliment of not beginning at the beginning. How could I? How irksome was that initial joy? What pleasure begot the first of first pains? Was there a beginning? Such is my infinite regress.
my girlfriend used to say
that I was one person in person
and then I would be somebody else over the phone
I would deny it, pathetically. She looked skeptical and righteous.
Telling the truth now, honestly, I was myself over the phone and I was trying to be somebody I was not when I was with her, in person.
All that was too much work.
-And whaddaya call this?
-A blog, so far.
Life's clicking by.
I call this
simultaneous portrayal of something that has receded into the abyss of time and something that is still emerging
I've got some new stories in the pipeline that are getting great reviews in my mind. The reviews come in the form of secret whispers between my leftsidelying dreams and me, and also sometimes
I scribble milkstains in the margins and then stack them in the dusty archives which I call postpreview. My fingernails are bitten down to keep out the dirt. Today I bought three nice new pens at the grocery store.
When I type in my phone number to get credit towards gas, they can thank me, as they do at the end of a purchase, by name.
“Have a wonderful day Mr. Masktman.”
(I'm sorry. We would have accepted "Easier, nicer, or better")
Maybe someday everything will feel like as much work as trying to convince myself that I was happy in that miserable relationship with that beautiful conniving genius of a woman, but until then
the days are pretty easy.
I am confident that the leaves will come back in the trees, and new subdivisions that I loathe will stubbornly pop up all over the branch roadways of this great nation.
Soon we’ll buy a house in one and share it with a toddler who likes to write on the walls and that kind girl with long hair and the easy smile who habitually makes beds and sweeps the tile, and hopefully it will be within walking-or-biking-distance to where I work so I don't get fat. Then at the end of the day I will triumphantly return home and recline in my deep-sunken chair by the lamplight with a bourbon room-temperature and A Moveable Feast and slowly save enough money from each paycheck to buy an island in the Hudson Bay and retire there.
Remember when people could work 30 years and then retire?
I sing my boy a song,
My heart says no leaving
no leaving says my heart
my heart says no leaving
no leaving says my heart
, and she listens in the doorwell, well...
At night her body brings my body what my brain cannot provide. I dream of film stills from Turner Classic Movies, painted over as canvas, by Bob Ross or the Group of Seven or somebody who paints with thick brush strokes. Somebody who has wings like Icarus and flies away when the painting is complete and I am there, a camera, watching him go off into the sunset, like Apollo, while in the foreground a still life with iris hat painting, bursting out of the seams of its canvas.
In last night’s dream, I taught myself how to fly. The ground was slushy and slipperly and uphill so it was slow at first but then I turned around and I took off.
Soon I was soaring and I was wearing corduroy, so I could feel the wind against the rivets of my legs. I landed on the roof of a building in my home-and-native town where there was a cheerful old man with long dead hair in a Santa Fe wool sweater who I was surprised to meet, because I recognized him from the Apollonian painting and I told him this and he told me that this must be the end, and he took my hand and we drank six or twelve or eighteen beers together and threw the bottles in the snow and fell on our faces and laughed until we were little kids and the big brown bell rang indicating that recess was over, and inside was whirring a warm coil radiator, waiting for us to drape our snow-smattered cold wet hats and mittens all over it and learn some more before we went home for another day, or maybe a weekend, maybe a weekend, I don't know. I did know, but sometime this morning, it seems that I forgot.
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|Words I Didn't Know (Originating From McClatchy)
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“In every megrim or vertigo, there is an obtenebration
joined with a semblance of turning round.”
I was staring at a smudge on his bicep. “What— what is that?”
“It's a Persian Magpie, the seal of Persian Royal Family.” He flexed, obligingly.
“That's very chic,” said Mr. two-chins.
“Sheik? Or chic?”
He was right. Sheik is not chic. The guy was short and angry about it, lounging beside me on the leather sofa while his white wine perspired in a way that allowed me to feel a sort of kinship with it. I wanted to be elsewhere, to move on, but I was trapped here, with her. I kept looking around the room for some sort of escape which never came.
“So I bought a new camera the other day,” said the blonde girl. She wasn't a natural blonde. Her eyes were bulbous and crooked like one of those Sims3 characters that look mildly retarded. “A Rebel T31. Eight-hundred and nine some-odd dollars. It was a great deal.”
I couldn't figure out who she was talking to as the rest of the party plopped around the sparse-deco sitting room were eyeing the door, where Dav Brun had just come in and was removing his girlfriend's coat.
“Are you a photographer?” I asked.
“No. It's just a hobbiest camera. 18 megapixels though.” She swiped her red veiny hand across her pasty speckled cheek to remove a thin errant strand of fake blonde hair that had stubbornly broken ranks and lodged itself in her wan and petulant mouth.
“Wow.” I said, trying to smile. Failing to smile.
They were friends of friends. Friends of friends of friends. The only one I really knew was Pad. Who names their kid Pad anyway? It's short for something ancient and sacred I think. I forgot. Caro told me once.
Caro's my girlfriend. She was in the kitchen with Pad and Dav Brun. I watched her nodding as she listened to Dav Brun's girlfriend yap about traffic in the tunnel while preparing hors d'oeuvres— little green and yellow garlic spinach puffs with nondairy cheese sprinklets— still deciding if and how I was going to break up with her tonight.
Caro, smiling, turned to see if I was watching her. I turned quickly away. Perched there not watching her, my back hunched, shoulders suspended, a pose meant to indicate how unreceptive I felt.
“Are you sure you won't have any wine?” Pad asked me, coming in from the kitchen with the tray of nasty treats between her long marble fingers. This was Pad's get-together. Pad's place. Pad's pad.
“No,” I said shyly, imagining her hands sliding down the soft curve of my abdomen, the way she would laugh with those dark painted lips pulled back to bare her shiny teeth as she tugged my beltline, “I'm fine.”
“How about some tea then? We have tea going. IS THE TEA READY CARO?”
I agreed to have some tea so she would go away. The conversation had moved into money matters, as it inevitably does at these things, and I stared across the hardwood floor at the two teenage linguists from Columbia sitting wrinkled in the corner discussing ablative inflections and taxonomic Latin. One had dark curly hair and I took him to be a Jew. The other boy looked like Jack Benny if Jack Benny had ever been young and worn snap-pocket cargo pants.
When Caro came with the tea came it was filled to the brim and I had to sit up and take the mug delicately in both hands, stretching out my neck to sip without tilting and spilling. I set it down and Caro put her hand atop my head affectionately, as if to show me the least committal form of intimacy and, thus, keep me here placated while she has fun with her friends, and I suffer, indefinitely.
I wished McIntyre were here. He's my best friend in the city, although he's not in the city tonight since he is a lobbyist and his boss makes him split his time between here and Albany. McIntyre would be just what this place needs. That guys is wild, superfluous in both vivacity and vigor, although you wouldn't know it to look at him. He likes to walk with his grandfather's silver-tipped cane, and he walks really really slow because he has a bad leg. And he'll twirl the cane around in front of him like a spinning top while he tells smug and dissatisfying stories, the silver tip glinting mischief as it goes around and around and you wait patiently for him to get to the point of his story, which he never does, and he talks so low and slow you want to strangle yourself it's so frustrating, and then when he gets almost to the end of the story he'll get distracted and jump up and walk away leaving everyone angry and feeling stupid and used. It's hilarious!
We've been friends for years but it was pure circumstance that landed us both in the city together again. Caro and I moved here last April from Chicago when she finished graduate school. I hadn't spoken to McIntyre in over a year, nor seen him in five, but I ran into him last summer on a weekend roadtrip upstate. It was my first trip alone since I'd been dating Caro. It was a trip home. Home for me is down one of those cracked and winding asphalt roads in the middle of nowhere, I always seem to innately know exactly where I am when I am there driving those old roads, and I always seem to get there just after dark when I go now, which is not often. We reconnected late on the fourth of July, and spent an hour late into the night throwing classic works of literature out the window of my Uncle's blue Mustang while we drove down those twilit back roads where we both come from. I found not only that we were both living in the city, but that we were living there within walking distance of each other, and it was just like old times again. I always know exactly where I am when I am there. Home feels like home. So different from here in the city. I get lost going for the corner newspaper.
McIntyre takes me out for breakfast uptown once a week, scooping quick steaming mouthfuls of gristle into his face while the sun shines in coldly at odd angles through frosty windows and I tell him lies about how terrible things are with Caro, who pays for us to be here and so I resent her heavily and portray her as the cruel villainess to my lost and helpless hopeless sensitive hero self. Or sometimes McIntyre's in a good mood and he'll talk while I prop my elbows and listen to glib and practiced snippets of his one night stands with girls with names like Jennie who was Czech, or Orelia who was Dominican, or Fanny who “had one of the nicest tails I'd ever seen. Fine, Mmm. Fine, Fanny, I could understand why her parents named her that...”
“I always thought I would end up with someone who likes Joni Mitchell,” I said, “and we could listen to it together and she could explain to me what's so great about her and it'd be great.”
“So Caro doesn't even know who Joni Mitchell is. So I tried buying her a CD and she hated it. So I have to listen to her alone.” The malnourished double-shift waitress refills our coffee warily and slips the bill right in the middle of the sticky red plastic table where McIntyre picks it up to examine it whilst telling me again that I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I'm a good writer, he tells me.
But am I a good writer? I wrote a story about a Penguin who lives in a frat house. One story. Eight months ago. And, yes, yes, it got picked up by a second-rate art mag called Pumped, where my friend Adam works and he got them to ask me for another but I hadn't been able to finish it all year and then it was New Years and their new issue came out already and I told myself I'd finish it six months ago and meanwhile Caro comes home every night successful and happy to see me and asks me how it's coming and it's driving me crazy. I'll have to break up with her soon if I'm going to do it. Otherwise I'll drag this thing out through Valentine's Day and then what's the point?
Everything depressed me. The thin girl next to me grazed my side with her elbow and I recognized her as the model Pad introduced me to when we came in. I looked at her elbow and then up the sleeve of her white cashmere sweater to where it drooped off over her perfect bony shoulder, with the gold moon goddess earrings slinking down. Her long, center-parted hair with bangs that brushed her sculpted eyebrows. I wonder what her heritage is? It's so hard to tell with models these days. They're all racial heterogeneity, a single skinny race of genetically perfected clothes hangers. I appreciated her with my eyes, until she opened her mouth, laughing gauchely at Dav Brun who had made some unfunny joke about mortgage fraud that even he didn't think was funny, but he laughed at as well, because she was laughing, then others strained to join in. I fixed them with a look of slightly aimless defiance, all of them except Caro, who I did not look at at all.
If McIntyre were here I could tell him all about the new Pynchon novel I read this afternoon. I didn't really read it, but I was hoping he'd be here to ask me to boast about it. In fact I read only the first chapter, but it was pretty good so I wikipedia'd the rest so I could sound impressive. I spent most of the day playing Xbox and sitting in the window watching life pass by on the street below our apartment. A lot of people pass by our window because it's between the Blimpie's and the KFC on E 148th street, by the Metro. I watch people pass and imagine what jerks they all are. Sometimes I go out to join the jerk ranks. Another whore in the horde. It's a good icebreaker in the writing process when things get incapably dire to get up and take a walk to the park, a copy of Letters to Rollins in my overcoat pocket, downing mini-whiskeys and watching the aristocratic supermoms and nannies spin and twirl their robustly entitled children around nauseatingly bright playground equipment. Mostly I just watch them all out my window, headed to the Metro. When that gets tiring I play Xbox until about an hour before Caro gets home, then I do the dishes and get dressed and sit front of my penguin story and try my best to look miserable, which isn't that hard to do. I have no gumption, I have no presumption. Every day depresses me lately.
The other day the model did a photo-shoot with some children, she told us. “I was their mother and it was absolutely adorable. I decided right then and there that I wanted to have kids.” Her voice went up when she said this, “right then and there!” as if by being more shrill we would understand the depth of her desire for impregnation. “Not someday! Right now! But when I went home to tell Derrick you'll never guess what he had waiting for me!”
No one guessed so I interjected. “A baby?”
She didn't hear me. “A puppy! A brand new baby puppy, with big ears and big eyes and oh oh it's absolutely adorable! I call him Sugar! Here's a picture”
Just then the lights went out. Everyone shouted in a flutter of panic and then they grew real quiet with their myriadic reassurances. Sure that the power would come back on. But it did not and the silence deepened. The distant traffic sounds flared up from outside. Somewhere, the whirr of a backup powersource groaned to life and cellphones emerged to illuminate the immediate darknesses. The fan had turned off and the place promptly began to smell like armpit. Out of the blackness Caro grabbed my arm. I am reminded... If you tell yourself not to think about it, it means you're thinking about it already.
She sat with me. Pad rummaged in bureau drawers for candles or a flashlight, cursing. “Nothing is where it is supposed to be.” I got up and moved to the floor. We huddled in the eerie half-light like insomniatic bats. Eventually she found some candles and one of the foolish young Columbia linguists gave an ignorant and monotonous speech while I sat listening to the floorboards creak in the floors above us contemplating suicide or perhaps a drink. Voices moved in the hallways. Pad asked if we all wanted to play a game, two truths and a lie, and no one objected and so they started to play. The model went first. I wished someone would shoot me through the brain while the lights were still off. Right now. Not someday. Right then and there.
˙˚˙ ˙˚˙ ˙˚˙ ˙˚˙ ˙˚˙
It was an exercise in abeyance. I thought to whisper this to Caro, who had rested her head demurely on my shoulder, “this is an exercise in abeyance,” I would say, but did not, afraid she wouldn't understand. Her command of the English language is passable but the hidden obstacles of larger words like 'abeyance' still lurk, menacingly. Plus my utilization of the secondary definition of 'exercise' — mental exertion rather than the more commonly intended physical variety, might translate misleadingly in her brain into a nuanced indication that I wished to lead her out on a midnight run around the river. I waited for death to come. When it did not, I got up and started drinking the wine in the kitchen. I hated to admit it was really good so I took the whole bottle and stood in a dark corner watching the candle-lit boredom cloud of their game. Pad had taken my spot on the couch next to the guy with the Persian Magpie tattoo. Turns out he was her boyfriend. They were an odd couple, with an air of quiet desperation to them. The not-blonde girl said she had been to every country in South America except Brazil and Jack Benny called “Lie!” Mr. two-chins came in from the fire escape to report that from what he could at present ascertain the power was out across 30 square blocks. I took a big swig on the wine to finish it off, and was starting to pleasantly feel its irresistible warmth in my head and then there was a knock at the door.
Since I was closest I moved to answer, but Pad leaped up and beat me there, jumping back gasping as we both reached the knob at the same time.
“FUCK! I didn't know you were over here! You scared me in the dark like that.”
“Sorry,” I said, timidly, having a sudden vision of my step-mother, coming out of the bathroom of our old house by the dump wearing a red, white & blue corset from Stars & Straps Forever, her chest heaving as she saw me in the dark and I, squeezing around past her to lock the door, too scared to say anything at all except “sorry. Sorry.”
The guy at the door was Jeff. One of the few people in the city who I knew and liked. What he was doing here I had no idea. He certainly wasn't dressed for this party, purple windpants and a black glow-in-the-dark T-Shirt for The Sex Organs. With him was another guy I did not recognize who looked like he was levitating a foot above the floor, rather wobbly.
“Hey I'm Jeff from downstayahs,” Pad gave him an abhorrent look and pulled her green blouse up a little over her breasts. “We'yah jus' goin' around lettin' everbody know that theyah's gunna be a potty in da basement tonight. Ta celebrate the blackout. You should come.”
“Okay thanks” said Pad already closing the door. I held it open.
“Jeff! Remember me? From Pumped!” Jeff's face contorted as he squinted to recognize some weak semblance of my face in the darkness. “You remember: the penguin guy! Do you live here man? Here?”
“Man, you gave me a rush! I thawt you was dat othah guy I know who looks jes like you, from Brooklyn. That fuckah's an asshole. I'm glad you-ah not him man.”
“So you're having a party?”
“Yeah. This is my friend Sabre, like the tiger.”
He pronounced it 'Sabe uh. Like the Tie-guh'
Sabre said “hmph” obligingly, like someone had woken him from a not unpleasant dream. Jeff continued, “His buddy Trog lives heeya, downstayahs. We'yah jus goin' around tellin' everbody to come to dis blackout party in dey basement tonight. You know? Sawda makeshift. It's a great space. We know a guy from Steeans with some speakahs and Trog's a DJ so he'll be all spinning an' shit. Theyah's even some Bawnad goils coming later on man, you should stop by.” The light behind me flickered and he peered over my shoulder at the pompous indignants, clustered around their spinach puffs and candlelight and lies. “Bringya friends man. Everyone's invited. Well, best be gettin' along.”
“Nice to see you Jeff. Maybe see you later.” He was gone.
˙˚˙ ˙˚˙ ˙˚˙ ˙˚˙ ˙˚˙
The party at Pad's pad, if you can call it that, lasted another two hours. The power still had not come back on and I'd found and polished off another three bottles of wine, one by myself, the rest I shared some of, retreating to the solitude of the kitchen counter, waiting for the burden of their conversation to break rhythm and then pretending I was watching a TV, changing channels with an imaginary remote. They were seeping fat garlic-ooze mosquitoes, buzzing white noise to me, the honeysuckle moth. They were a glassed-in bulb and I was aflutter translucent. My thoughts suddenly drifting around, illuminating the air, a girl I wished I'd dated from Ponoka Wisconsin, of all places, her earnest face embarrassed, then irritated, the shards I cut into her, and vise versa, and then Caro handed me my coat. It was time to go.
“Good luck finding your way out,” Pad whispered escorting us out of one tomb and into another, making no secret of the fact that she was done with us all and ready for bed. “The elevator will be out I suspect. Call me if you need anything.” They all said their goodbyes and I murmered something about a great time and the next thing I knew we were alone, marching down a winding black staircase by the light of Caro's phone, listening to the creak and clop of our shoes reverberate against the walls. We sounded like a stampede. Caro stopped to lace her boots and catch her breath. I stepped past her and then handed her the bottle of wine.
“I swiped it.”
“What? I was ready to cit off my thumb in there!” She said nothing, huffing and puffing. I jammed the bottle at her again and laughed as she swatted at me. “We're going to the party in the basement.”
She said nothing.
Pretty much I just drank. We found two other people in the lower floors who were going to the basement as well, and followed them through the network of catacombs. Jeff was right about the space. It was perfect. About 60 feet long and 25 feet across, everything made of cement except a small patch in the front where there were wet brown flattened cardboard boxes on the floor in front of a group of guys was huddled around a generator with a few lights and a stage where the DJ stood setting up. Just in time. A tall bald black man stopped us at the door, asking for ID and twenty dollars. We all paid. And by 'we all' I mean Caro. She paid for both of us. I didn't look back to see if she was mad. I didn't even turn around.
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She asked if I was a poet. I had no idea what the hell she was talking about. She wore a camel hair overcoat, red felt vest, white tank top and jeans. Her hair was a hippie gnarl. I remembered only that her name was Katherine. I was sweating and holding an empty bottle of beer.
“Should I be a poet?”
“Okay, then I am a poet.” She clapped and hugged me. I smiled and looked around. “I dabble.” The basement had filled with a torrent of young people in the last hour, wearing the kinds of clothes one wore to loud, young, crowded places— tight jeans and lots of skin. Caro and I were steering clear of each other, doing our best at conversation with other people. She was four feet and two dozen or more people away, looking beautiful, fragile, proud and so completely out of place it made me sick. She could have said no to coming. She could take care of herself.
“She owes me.”
“Let's go get another drink,” I said to Katherine.
“OKAY!” She bit my shoulder. “That's for looking at other girls.”
“I like other girls!”
She bit my shoulder again. Harder.
“You're quite the little domino aren't you?”
Katherine blushed, looking a decade younger in her innocent erubescence, grabbing us a jug of punch. We were suffocating in a hot sea bodies.
I turned to a chubby girl in a glasses floating beside me. “She bit my shoulder! See?”
I showed her my shoulder. We all three started dancing.
We were killing our dreams, drinking in draughts of unfamiliar spirits. I made no sense of the clattering sound-bytes, the riddling bass thumps, the digital strings of bright laser lights strung out like a nuclear spider's web across the ceiling.
“We all have our magics,” said my new friend Tran who was born in a car in a junkyard in Orlando and told me he wants to create, through selective cross-breeding, a domesticated species of miniature elephant. He had a thick accent, plus it was hard to hear him over the music. The chubby girl suggested we go out to the fire escape for cigarettes. It sounded good to me. Tran lived up on the fourth floor. “Follow Tran!” We struck for the stairs.
It had started to snow outside. It was colder than death. The air massaged our bodies, needled our skin. There were people there smoking already. Some were moving in time to the music playing inside, music they could not hear. Most were back-slapping guys, barking obscenities at each other. I envied them.
Chubby handed me a cigarette and looked into my eyes for a long white delicate moment that I wanted to stretch out even longer. We had to stop, we were shivering.
“How are you?” she asked.
“Good as gold.” This one was pretty in a little kid kind of way. “How are you?”
“I feel like jumping.” She gazed confidently over the rail, out across the pitch black towers of this tenebrous city.
A few guys starting shouting: Jump! Jump! I looked down into the abyss. “There is nothing to jump into,” I said.
“Don't you have any trust?”
“I trust people.”
I had to think about it. I listened to the suck of her lips pulling smoke in through her filter and pushing it back into the night. A vision started, my Ponoka girl carrying an armload of plump wet white towels across the bright green lawn behind the church, she proceeded to wring them out over the rosebushes on the lawn before her cousin's wedding. Memories are what's left when you don't want to remember anything ——
“How old are you,” I asked suddenly.
“When you're 21 nowadays it's almost like you're middle age. All the re-evaluating life after school, thinking you can't act like a idiot anymore. And that's a sad realization. And then before you know it you turn 22 and nothing has changed and so you get moody and gloomy and then you turn 23 and start acting unpredictable because you're a sad 24 and you realize by 25 that nothing is going to change and we all get old and its hard because no one wants to be an adult."
She looked at me like she wanted to laugh. It was not quite funny enough to laugh. I realized that I was starting to sound like McIntyre, telling one of his stories. What Would McIntyre Do? He would be at work.
“How old are you,” she asks.
“How old do you think I am?”
“Thirty maybe, I'd guess.”
I loomed over her. I put her chubby hand in mine and pulled her close, leaning down close to her pretty little kid face. So close I could taste her breath which smelled of tequila. I kissed her on the lips and she didn't push me away. I put my arm around her smoothness and followed the notches of her spine through her hoodie down the length of her back. A manly gesture. She brushed her hair behind her ear. We stood there breathing in each others warmth
“Did you know there are 50,000 emus currently in the United States,” said Tran, interrupting.
We went back inside.
There was a girl on Tran's couch sipping at a several-hours-old iced coffee while whispering trivialities to a lover in her iPhone, hoping, I imagined, that by stacking up minutes of emptiness she would find her — deep-breathing late-night-rejection-riddled — heart full. I know the feeling.
Or maybe it was a parfait in there hours ago. Who knows?
She was the only light source in the room. I watched her for the minute while Chubby went to the bathroom. Some men came in with what looked like an armload of fireworks and bee-lined it for the window to the fire escape.
A dark guy came up to me and complemented my shoes. He handed me a drink. He reaked of menthols and fried fish. He said that he had twice today encountered “haunting ghost selves. Twice! Twice today! Same day! See my ex-girlfriend los her phone, only I no know that cuz I didnwanna talk at her but then thiss guy founit an apparently he call me twice that day—today! He call me to find her! Twice! Apparently I wass t'only save contact that seem worth askng! The guy say I was saved under 'My Boy' in contacts. An' we was broke up 8 month ago! If you tell yo'self not to think about her, it mean you thinkin' about her already.”
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Alone in the crowd, I looked for Chubby, or Katherine. Or Caro. The basement was getting out of hand. It was near breaking point. So was I. All around me kids dancing all schizophrenic, like bombs popping in explosive nightmare waves. There was probably a kind of grace in their collective fluidity but I couldn't make it out. A hand on my shoulder and I jerked thinking of that girl that got away. It was Jeff.
“Disco Proskynesis!” he said.
“Disco Proskynesis would be a good band name!” He licked the skin between thumb and pointer and sprinkled it with salt, then motioned me to follow.
Some people want nothing to do with ambiguity. Jeff is not one of these people. He wants nothing to do with dignity. His pants off, he made hoary thrusts against the bemused and disgusted, as we wheedled our way through the crowd to a table down the hall where he stopped and cackled “heh heh heh,” swaying slightly as he handed out shots to everyone he could reach.
“What is it?”
“Don worry ma man. It's blackoutproof!”
I noticed Katherine was there, and gave my shot to her. She looked terrible. My eyes hurt. Jeff immediately handed me another.
“Heays spit in ya eye!” he toasted and they all took it back. I set mine on the table. Jeff coughed.
“Come on man, I found yoah girl.” He grabbed my right arm and Katherine slipped her arm through my left.
Caro was in a twin cement cell quietly tolerating a speech from an old drunk homeless man with a shock of graying piss-yellow hair who had her cornered. “Around the magic cadences, uh, the twin eternities of the Hebrew faith in uh, the, uh, Hellenic burial rites have, um, inextricably...”
“I must go now” said Caro, spying us. The power had come back on. We hadn't noticed. “Good meeting you sir.”
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With a light snow filtering down through the streetlights and the moonlight everything seemed a little dreamy. My forehead was burning. I heard a cat yowl from a distant alley, where a man collected bottles from a trashcan, the tinkling sound of glassware rattling like jewelry through the sewage steam street mists. Those shots acted fast and Katherine, clutched tight to my arm, declared “I don't feel too good.”
“Let's get you a cab,” said Caro.
Jeff, still struggling to put on his windpants, stumbled around a bit and then frowned. He swung an abrupt arm up from the shoulder, indicating some obscure intention to penetrate, something— an otherwise obscene gesture out of its context— and then disappeared, following some secret inner moonlight calling. Serenade? Lemonade?
Katherine bowed at the corner curb and started lurching. Caro knelt beside her and held her hair and I announced to no one in particular that I was going for a walk.
Pretty much I just stared at the stars. We all fool ourselves don't we, and we know all along that the lies we tell ourselves are merely enticements that keep us buying, buying, buying it, while the real price is writ in the small print, faint but legible up in the night stars, dangling cold truth over our heads. My neck hurt.
In a block or two I found my way to a park where a pond was sheathed in ice. The sun started coming up. A runner passed me in the other direction, yellow reflective stripes of his jacket bouncing with each broad stride, woolen gloves and hat on. I thought of what I'd like to say. What I was going to say. I started to write the story of it in my mind. How it would end. How it would begin.
When I came back around the block I found Caro still nursing Katherine. Who doesn't want to to protect someone worth protecting? Who doesn't want to love someone who is lovely. She'd be alright. The sunrise, the city, the early morning taxi cabs. The street below, the future forward, the snow slowly shining as it fell at odd angles and our cab pulled up, to take us home.
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