Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pm/Phto: Blood


if i am quiet enough
a need to serve makes my limbs hot with pain.

when the loudness of me me me dies back
a growling blood boils to be seen
to show you my happy ache
coming through a gauze on my fresh wound
that first sign of crimson showing you that
there's more where that came from.
a need spreads across the white
jumping crawling out like the dust
coming off of the wings of a moth
like fast-motion video of spiderwebs being built.

i need to be meaningful
i need to bring up a cautious breath
i need to choke on my empty throat
i need to cause a start, send people looking for
a better bandage.

when i am quiet enough i bleed out love
love for people and all their mistakes
love for lives and moments and grocery stores
and thursday happy hour and perfect attendance awards.

i may be wrapping wrapping myself up
to get by in my own everyday.
but if i'm quiet enough
but if i'm quiet enough,
a need to help my brother would pour out onto the floor.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pm/Phto: Thread

when you look at me and expect me to be bound to my past a yesterday me, a yesterday mind
a thread is pulled from the muddy world, a root, a bog, to the tip of my toe up through the asphalt and between the guardrails of my past into my past-past self.

he is the one that has to own up to who i've been who has to provide you with continuity who wants to seem all together, and unquestioning in his identity. he is the one who gets the first few cracks at owning my face at running the levers and chords behind my lips, and nose, and irises.

the thread you pull goes from my big toe to my hip bone to my rib bone connected to my shoulder bone connected to my remote control bone. to the little levers and pulleys behind my face keeping my smile gentle, my eyes interested, my ears perked to the comfortable conversation that depends on a common contemplation on what i did and said the last time we talked, on that we are not strangers. on a certain dance we are dancing, a ritual meant to keep me bound to then and you bound to then and both of us circling now. now. now. now we are here looking at each other faces wondering what the hell do i have in common with this person? how the hell do i get this conversation back on the topic of me? where is the next reference, anecdote, TV synopsis going to come from? will we ever fuck? can i tell you about my mother, and how i am guilty? will you neglect me too? please?

we both need the thread, we both need the past, we both need the constant.
you dearly hope that i am included in the last three 'we'-s.

and maybe i am. and maybe i'm not. maybe i will snip the thread, cut away from my past. become a stupid, feckless, innocent member of now. a member of now. a member of the crowd of firey impossible people that always seem to be arriving, leaving, staying, all at once.

you ask yourself: will he cut my thread too? set me free?
i ask myself: will you cut my thread too? set me free?
instead one of us talks about family guy. we both find it funny.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


It all begins with food. Sometimes, when life throws me off, gets me down, or pulls another one of those phrases that stand in for 'shitty', the best thing for me to do is go grocery shopping. At about 10pm on a Sunday. It's really the best time, but don't tell anybody that, because my Hannaford will be crowded, and that will suck. Then it'll become an underground club scene; therapy-grocery-shoppers trying to avoid each other via more and more obtuse places and times.

Anyway. Tonight I looked at raspberries, and realized I never eat them, ever, if they are in my fridge... the only time I find fit to eat them is when somebody else buys them. Tomorrow I'm helping my boss with my intern's evaluation. He deserves a great review; he put up with my obtuse, pie-in-everybody's-sky direction. I wanted his creativity to flourish, and it did, but not in the way I intended. He ended up persevering through my craziness, all in all.

Tonight I'm looking at the coffee. Sumatra, French Roast, Sumatra, French Roast. House Blend was all out. House Blend is the flavor of coffee for the people who are ashamed to be considering flavors of coffee. I am one such person, but tonight I have no choice but to make a choice. Sumatra won. Shortest name.

Black cherry seltzer. One bottle. Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm some kind of recovering alcoholic, and that I drink seltzer to fit in at parties. Yesterday I was fitting into a party, drinking tonic on the rocks. Luckily it was a 60's theme party, which means the one dance I know can finally be exercised: the twist. Pulp Fiction style. I know, I'm a bit of a douche. Luckily, movies give you the power to step out of yourself for just a second. Just long enough to pretend you are comfortable dancing, and comfortable fitting in.

Tonight I'm checking out. Of the store. There's only one line open, but that's the risk you take when you arrive at the grocery store in the middle of the night. Fine by me. I remember walking in and seeing one of the attendants balancing a grocery basket on his hand. He stopped when I walked in, but I smiled at another clerk to try to reassure her. I'm not here to stop your fun, I just want the food. Now the basket-balancer is my checkout guy. And he's really my check out guy. Two times I catch him looking at me and darting away his eyes. It's kind of juvenile, and I have no luck with the whole not-talking-but-still-being-charming thing. He was a little young, and working, so I left well enough alone. May the universe know that I am appreciative, however.

As I drove away from the grocery store, I sang along with the stereo. The car is the only place I sing. I'm not the only one, I'm sure, so don't judge. Mike Doughty: "happiness is coming for you" me: "happiness is coming for you" I believed him. I believed me.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pm/Phto: Sunlight


This morning at breakfast the waitress
asked me if I was 'all set'.
I was watching the rain, drinking my coffee,
trying to see out past the parking lot.
I must've looked foreign somehow,
or at least desiring to be elsewhere.

I told her that I was OK, with a good smile on.
I can deflect inquiry, but that's about it.

Otherwise all I can do is collect sunlight,
drink water, and reach upward.
I'm like a plant in this way.

One, if you see me all green, it means I'm healthy.
Two, the wind blows and I lean with her like I know how to dance.
(note please that I do not know how to dance).
Three, when the soil is dry beneath me, so am I.

Should you see me at the side of the road,
know that one day I'll make it out of the grind;
my roots spread and take me somewhere better.
Just let me watch the rain.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pm+Phto: Detective Story

Detective Story

it's 1940, and i'm standing on the
outside of your police scene tape.
'what have we got here?' i ask the officer,
i'm not listening to the reply.
i'm rubbing something between my fingers,
crouching on the ground
trying to look busy.
trying to figure out what left you here in a chalk line.
why you aren't at my place making popcorn,
getting a blanket out of the hall closet,
telling me about your day,
giving me the chance to half-listen.

i take off my overcoat,
it's time to get to work,
my black suspenders,
my snazzy gun harness,
i'm ready to detect for you.
to sleuth to the very bottom,
to bring you back safe,
with a wool blanket on your shoulders,
and a steaming cup of coffee.

but this is a murder scene, i think:
from the number of concerned cameras,
blinking their big bulbs,
the number of times i have to say
'no comment, wait for my captain's release.'

i'm waiting for my release,
your release, something for us other than
long shifts with old documents,
glasses of gin, and fingers running over my eyes.
i'm leaning back in my chair.
i'm waiting for a lead on you.

i need a cause of death, i need a weapon in a plastic bag,
i need an arm to twist, i need something on tape,
i need to sleep in with you on a Sunday,
i need to quietly stare with a cup of foggy coffee,
i need a new job, with a better pension.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Readin' Memein'

Thank you This Book and I Could Be Friends for the reading meme thing...

1. What author do you own the most books by?

It's probably a tie between Julia Cameron, Anne Dillard, Amy Hempel, and Jeanette Winterson... I rarely buy more than one book by an author... in fact the winning score is two, two books ah ah ah ah. *thunder*

2. What book do you own the most copies of?

Don't own more than one copy of a book... not good for backup purposes.

3. Did it bother you that most of these questions ended with prepositions?

That is not something of which I keep track.

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

The narrator from Written on the Body... who cares what gender this narrator 'really' is.

5. What book have you read the most times in your life?

I'm not a repeat offender. Multiple partakes are for movies.

6. What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

It was this book about a boy who played flute for slaves on a transport ship in the olden days... it was kind of depraved... the boy eventually escapes, but not without learning a valuable lesson about human rights... and sinking the damn ship.

7. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?

I read so rarely that I usually enjoy what makes the cut for my rare reading time. However, I was not terribly impressed by The Sun Also Rises, especially since it was recommended highly.

8. What is the best book you've read in the past year?

I just finished Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott... really good. I like books about writing, they keep me reflecting.

9. If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

I haven't 'tagged' anyone, first of all. That's just obscene. If I could make lots of people read books, however, I'd probably shove Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel in their hands. The reason is in the title, I guess.

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

Not qualified to make the call. I'm not even sure what the criteria are, but I hope they involve giving people a reason to grin in the muck we're in.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

The Raw Shark Texts, by Steven Hall. The plot is really cinematic. It even has a mind-bending climax.

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski... only because it's too tempting and would be inevitably screwed up. The only good way would be a short or series thereof.... and even then it would be so tough.

13. Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

I don't really have dreams concerning books, etc. However, while reading House of Leaves it was tough to get to sleep because a slight fear of the dark developed (and just as quickly passed). Don't tell anybody.

14. What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?

I concur with the previous answerer, this is a fun question. I've read some poetry by Billy Collins... which is not low brow per se, but since he was a poet lauriette, I guess it was the most 'mainsteamish' reason to buy a poetry book.

15. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?

For the time I read it, Brave New World was tough, I think I was in seventh grade or so. As an adult, I can't say it's been hard to read anything... Descarte's Meditations were a little wordy (though I'm sure quite terse for 1641).

16. Do you prefer French or Russian?

I prefer your mom. And she prefers me. Sexually, I mean.

17. Roth or Updike?

Sorry, no dice.

18. David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Let's go with Eggers. I'm more partial to Amy Sedaris, really. So I'm changing my answer to her.

19. Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Steak, Fish, or Lasagna?

20. Austen or Eliot?

I'm not a huge Jane Austen fan... I like the movie and miniseries renditions of her work, but the reading is kind of tedious. So by default, Eliot, although I'm rather under-exposed... and I dare call myself a writer!

21. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Just about everything. Really. There's so much out there, I can't find the time to even begin to wrap my arms. Although Henry Miller most comes to mind as a gap.

22. What is your favorite novel?

You are a jerk for asking that. What's a novel, anyway? Some of my favorite novel-length books are collections of short stories, poems, essays, etc. The whole of these collections is greater than the sum of their parts; they'd be different if taken piecemeal. Fine. Jerk. Sigh. Ugh. So far it's The Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson. It's in verse. Take that.

23. Play?

Greater Tuna. It's a 20 role play performed by 2 people. I did it in college and it was a blast. If we are talking reading rather than performing, I'd go with R.U.R. because I'm still a sucker for robots overthrowing humanity.

24. Short story?

"In a Tub", "The New Lodger", and "Tumble Home" by Amy Hempel. "The Daughters of the Late Colonel" by Katherine Mansfield.

25. Epic poem?

You're mom's an epic poem. Or an epic fail. I can't remember which.

26. Short(er) poem?

"Fight Song" by Deborah Garrison. "Toward the Solace" by Adrienne Rich. Others too, lists should be in threes.

27. Work of non-fiction?

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.

28. Who is your favorite writer?

You are. It's you.

29. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Going with Hemingway on this one. Recommended to me, but didn't make the grade. Except that he isn't alive today, to my knowledge, but this is my answer anyway.

30. What is your desert island book?

FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual. Come on, what kind of question was that?

31. And . . . what are you reading right now?

Starting Last Nights of Paris, by Philippe Soupault... How we are Hungry, by Dave Eggers... and Between Angels by Stephen Dunn. Novel, short stories, and poems, respectively... I like to have something for each mood...

And that's that, you are now as informed about reading as I am. Thanks, E.L. Fay!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Essy + Phto: Neck stuck out

I was listening to supposed former infatuation junkie and noticed something about the album. A lot of the songs deal with someone trying to learn to be 'better' in a world that has taught them to be 'worse'. Compassionate in a selfish world. Giving in a taking world. Forgiving in a judgmental world, and so on. It got me thinking: are the emotional survival skills taught to us by our culture actually the very things that leave us alone and alienated? How much of our lives are spent unlearning all this wisdom and becoming more connected to the real world around us?

There's been some shaking up in my life lately; a lot of things have changed. I keep telling myself that I'm going to get back to normal, back to myself, back on my feet. So much of the word 'back'; so much of the belief that my best days are somehow behind me, and I need to turn back the clock somehow to achieve an idealized, paleoconservative self identity fully adherent to the rugged individualism our culture requires. I'm a little tired of trying to get 'back'. I was never really totally rugged anyway; I've always been a tightly wound ball of fears, anxieties, regrets, etc. Plus a dash of grace. Maybe I should just walk forward with that dash of grace. How poetic. In real life I really just want to start being more honest... because worrying about being to forward or too guarded is a tremendous waste of energy when there's so much to do in this life.

Today i am going to buy a bicycle, schedule an eye exam, and enjoy the weather. Later will be drum practice and reading, and probably a movie or two. All the while, i'll have my neck stuck out, my ducks out of their rows, my honesty spinal-tap-amp at 11, my sentences starting with anything but 'I', and ironically i will be the most 'together' person you know. Cheers.


PS - This sick, sad confessional is not really poetry, so it's labeled as an essay in the title (though it's not very well cited, is it?). Thoughts, reactions, stories to share? Comment away!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poem + Phto: Reasons i check my phone

maybe someone called me last night, some people they stay up later than me.
737am i hit snooze a bunch of times, you know maybe the buzzing of the phone was drowned out by the soul crushing once every nine minutes nightmare called my alarm clock
804am coffee's on the way, stepped out
836am out of the shower, and my phone wasn't with me obviously, what you think i'm crazy or something?!
855am one more check before work, because they don't allow phones
856am just one more, i mean there's no phone for like nine hours i don't want to miss him... or her, you know it could also be a her...
857am i mean there's no phones, none at all. it's for security or something.

518pm back from work, been a long day, starving, but before i eat something i should make sure nobody invited me to dinner.
543pm ok i ate, alone, but maybe someone else is getting ready to eat, and maybe i'll be like 'hey i already ate, but i could just drink coffee or something and you can eat, i don't mind. really. at all.'
625pm it's about time for people to start making plans for the night. you know plans, those things people do. with their nights.
713pm practicing drums, and left the phone in the other room. i better put it here next to me in case someone calls for a movie or something
725pm that song was really loud, and if the phone rang i definitely didn't hear it... so i better check to make sure
840pm watching dvds... you know just chilling, maybe someone else wants to hang... you know pajama party... woooo... dvds....
932pm someone might be going out for a drink, even on a weekday, some people have like funky part timer schedules, don't hate. maybe i can grab just one, cause i have to work tomorrow. i'll DD.
1009pm nothing, no? really? fine.
1136pm almost soul searching time, so maybe someone called. making sure there's no soldier folks finally ready to risk it all with a secret affair. or astronauts tired of the spinning chair things and ready for some nerd love. checking for anybody... ready for anything?
1209am i better check this thing one more time. before going to bed.
1213am ok last time. i don't want to leave anyone hanging, you know?
1217am come on, i mean it's gonna be a long night... and some people they stay up later than me.


PS - new headline. time for forward movement.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hole in my Bay, Day Tres

Hey all-

Yesterday was mostly walking about. 'Cruising', as Speed Levitch put it. I decided to take him up on his offer, and plotted a course for my salvation. A pilgrimage across a bay; across a chasm holding me back from myself. I started on a bus, and then a train, and then another train, and finally another bus. I still considered this part of the cruise, because as my mind wandered to the music I had set aside for myself (side-note the Decemberist's new 'Hazards of Love' is fucking wonderful) my body stayed on its course. This dichotomy was a midnight blue on a pink stucco. I saw some pick stucco; somebody's house and lawn flamingo had a terrible scientific accident and merged before me in the hilly southern expanse of san fran.

The bus stopped suddenly and there was a mass exodus to Golden Gate Park. I followed, that is to say, my nose followed, and I was enslaved. I found my way through a rose garden, and met a bush named Betty Boop. I thought of my friend Heather, who is making her way in NYC as a fashion goddess. There were too many couples and small families at this park for my liking, however. They had too much of the pre-programmed cruise; the cruise that really isn't a freeing tarry, but rather a pre-scripted jaunt down invisible tracks. The park was a glorified Walmart parking lot, the task of getting the best parking spot akin to an orgasm, the walk to the store an awkward pillow talk while putting your shoes back on. After getting a street hotdog, something of a hobby for me while in larger cities than my own, I headed back for the bus.

This time I took line 28 all the way to Golden Gate Bridge. This is something of a boyish fantasy for me, when I was young watching Full House I wondered why the Tanner family didn't spend every waking moment on this red metal dynamo, defying the blue water and blue sky. Sticking out like a sore thumb that had always belonged there. After acquiring a new wallpaper for my phone in the form of a contrasting graffitied caution sign against the backdrop of the pristene bridge, it was back to the cruise.

The shapes and curves amazed me. People all around me were snapping pictures of the view of the bay. Pictures that may as well be postcards, worth every penny of the fifty cent price tag. Pictures that were beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the real experience of walking across this bridge on a breezy day. Your shirt rippling in the wind, the sun keeping you oddly warm. I only snapped one picture on the walk, a juxtaposing shape of a street light against the bridge. The red, yellow, and blue coming together in a perfect geometric moment.

Once across the bridge, I realized that the little observation pen on the other side was decidedly anti-cruise. It was self-contained; requiring that you either escape by car or stay among the stones and old wood forever. I ended up walking down a bike trail, serendipitously following a group of Brits. The only lady in the group had cork wedges on, and I felt viscerally sorry for her. After a ways down the obvously pedestrian un-friendly highway, they went to the side to examine a hole in a fence, and I lost track of them.

Continuing on my illicit cruise down the hill, among the bikers (of which there were a great many), I came to a small town. I could tell by the cars in the driveways that these were very affluent folks. I worried for a time that my usual fallback plan of 'don't worry I work for the government' would not draw much water here. Then I noticed the time. My cruise had taken almost all day, and now it was in question whether or not the ferry's were still running. Now, with the possibility of being a poor vagrant tourist in the Western Cape Cod, my cruise had a singular purpose, escape.

Finding a small downtown area with cafes and shops (and the obligitory tourists), I made my way towards the water's edge. Here in this bay, the water was a deep green, and men with over-complicated T-shirt prints with women in seemingly early 90's wraps meandered among the rocks. Huddling in masses, the day travelers had the exact opposite goal of the locals with baby strollers. The ensuing foot traffic jam led to some very non-cruise moments... for which I am ashamed. However, I trodded on in hopes of finding the ferry and my survival.

Finally, I made my way to the dock. To find a very long line of bicycles. Aparently the myriad of bikers on the hills between the bridge and the bay also had to escape. Luckily, the ferry accomidated the lot of us. After a twenty minute ferry ride I was safely back in fisherman's wharf, known territory at this point in my journey.

My cruise concluded as I found my way back to the subway, the train, the bus. Having walked over six mile in that day, I was finally in a state where Speed Levitch had never commented on. I was so tired that my mind stopped racing. Finally.


PS - Also, I managed to write a poem. It came upon me somewhere in the middle as I was trying to fall asleep. The Romans believed that there were daemons in the walls called 'geniuses' that would bestow work onto artists, who were conduits for such insights. The genius in the Comfort Inn did not follow my sleep schedule...


They've turned the harsh overhead lights on in the train car.
it looks like the aftermath of a rock show; forgotten red party cups,
friends pulling each other to their feet,
and harsh florescent lights pointing out
all the pores and exits in the room.

this is the time of night when i miss you most
how trite to have that line there
when it should be obvious and unsaid

i'm sitting in the seat alone while the foursome in front of me
hides their coors lights in brown paper bags
"beer condoms" they laugh.

I am struggling to see outside of the car, something more than
dark blue outlines of palm trees and occasional neon lights.

this is the time of night when
the screens on the train ticket machines
are noticeable against the dark.
i'm looking for the dot on
the diagram of the line that leads me home,
or at least away from here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Hole in my Bay, Day the Two

Hey all-

Today shouldn't count because I didn't go to San Francisco. I stayed in Palo Alto and followed my nose up El Camino Real. I had a theory that because the bus PA would announce 'now approaching El Camino and California' that there was something to be found on California Ave. And there was! A whole strip of shops and cafes, lots of hussle and bussle. Rogamaror. Razzle Dazzle. Etc. And so, I decided to check it out. My first destination was Know Knew Books, which Google Maps pointed me to as the closest bookstore (yes, I search for bookstores on vacation).

Know Knew was friggin' great. There were used CDs, VHS, and DVDs on top of all the used books. The best part was the myriad of unopened action figures for sale lining every shelf-end. I snapped a pic of Leon from Resident Evil 2. LEON! Anyway, I spent a good amount of time there, and got the following:
  • 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' on VHS
  • 'Escape From New York' on VHS
  • 'Dune' on VHS
  • A souvinier for a Utica peep
  • A pic of two books by Margerat Thatcher
  • A pic of a Leon action figure from Resident Evil 2
  • A pic of 'Mad About You' by Brandi Carlile on vinyl
  • A pic of a 'Full House' young adult novel (the very heart of San Francisco)
I walked further on the Real, hoping to get to Long's Drugs to pick up some clippers for my face (I'm getting scruffly). When I happened upon it, however, I discovered that Long's was nestled deep inside a consumer frenzy of a strip mall. Complete with multiple strips. And little maps. It was weird. Anyway, I wandered about some more, packing away some more shopping. I came upon yet another bookstore, which just about made my day. This makes four bookstore visits for the trip. So far. Haul part two:
  • A 'Stanford' emblazoned T-shirt and pair of shorts
  • 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' by Milan Kundera
  • 'Last Nights of Paris' by Phillipe Soupault
  • Clippers, for my face
  • Deodorant, not for my face
Then I took a bus back to the hotel and am resting my poor feet. Might read a bit and have some awesome Thai leftovers. Rock and roll, Palo Alto.