Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our Eyes Eschewed the Glory of the Coming of the Bored

Fuck spring.
Fuck the blossoms on the tree. Another sexual awakening, opened.
Close the damn door. Go back to sleep.

He wasn't the biggest guy I'd ever seen but I couldn't quite think exactly of who I'd ever seen that was, somewhere out there

somewhere out there a little lost gold dust on
her ears
flooded with messages that darkened her eyes.

I wandered the streets severing
through the city mostly, a collagen across the land
the surface I mean, calling and
I can’t stand my own mind.
The parting glances there where there is a road that leads but not toward home.

This was supposed to be a setting sun, not hope
Nope. Matted leaves repellent down, when everything is new everything
Echoes like voices
zigzag in the eyes tight shut night

In forest-view apartments avoid the windows
crack-a-bay feel the cold wind
wrap up your dreams 'n cover them in ice

So he left you? Boo Hoo. Now I know.
Will you be going it alone?
Dirt on your fingernails makes me want to act impulsively.
i wanna sin, i wanna lie
Tear you apart and leave you dry
like the old man under the fortress of moss

Thinking about my hairy friends
with tired hearts up in the cold mountains. Thinking a made-up bed is a bourgeoisie dream.
A California Jew staring into the infinity of his soup

I want so little in this wild April heat that it's scary
yes I know. My inactions could be misconstrued
taking advantage there's something bad within me
allergic, eroding, anulled to all the damage.

You're tripped up, slipped up
A blonde haired ghost all black-lipped up
Spit tuck, silk straps 'round your hip buck
Eyeing myself in strange place.

I think I'm going to be sick. Roman ruins, indian ruins, ruined ruins.
You see where this story is going, don't you? Isn't it high time
we s
craped the paint off, like hoary moon breath
Oh I hate that song.  Wrong wrong 9-5 long.


The old man reminds me that most days I don't even know myself.
It seems to me that everything is find just behind the surface.
It seems to me that there are forests of doubt and above them blue sky and sun.
The forests are burning back in Rancho land. I am yearning for my own arms.
Yearning for an armament to ignore.

"Have you seen the fires?"
"Yes, how are you?"
"Don't change the subject."
"Machinery is too much for the earth to handle."
"You mean you, y’know?"

I think about mentioning fulcrums. Describing an apple. Sour color in tastes.
Crawl through the barbed wire strands beneath the boughs
and make a run for the top of the winded field.
This afternoon isn't cold. You know that clouds dress for the weather?

I don't think I can handle it.

"Do you feel these things I feel?"

The heavy incandescence of romance, smothering me blind
A dark night potholed by loneliness
I understand now. It seems to come in dripping drops.
Those boys out in the parking lot understand. Nope, they're just drinking. Let's take an inventory of what we've got.

A shelf of books, a table of newspapers, expired mac n'cheese, a rusty kettle, my spring hiking boots, toothpaste, condoms. I am talking to myself again. Show me some trust.

There are clouds over the road that look like they need chasing. I am a dog in want of a tail.
Show me something flat.  Enough with the bursting

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

ARK-617

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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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Rebuilding Organs



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 know must navigate as vast fault lines of self weakness. That little stream loathing now a fully-formed seasonal flood depression.  That wandering eye now a 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.

Friday, April 08, 2016

(O to Kill or to Thrill at the) Whirl of Memory (a Four Tet Remix)


"May you find water and shade Mangin," Rand told him sadly.
-Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan



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 forgot 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.  

It was cold.
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 piercing 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 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, 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 must have compelled him to keep talking I suppose, pure gut instinct, explaining his crackbrain idea.  Fate sometimes smiles upon us.  She, rather than flyswat him, showed those small tender signs of interest that, even more remarkably, CJ tuned in to.  He lit up like a glow worm and offered to go 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 already 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 gain active cognizance of the farer sex there were frequently explosive consequences.  He hurled his sexuality at them, kissing and petting and even getting away with it 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 was like a bad talk radio station, it didn't matter if you weren't listening, he spoke very intentionally and was not at all offended when you didn’t care, but the minute that you voiced an opinion opposed to him or told him it was stupid, which I never did, but I saw people do it just to goad him into a fight, he always lost 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 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 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 trail even though it was wet and followed behind her, dragging my feet and I 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 thought you were going away. With Amy and them. To the mountain” I said, grimacing a bit, as the fire in my spine engulfed me and then 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 abruptly blinded out the sun and I felt wholly miserable and didn’t ask myself what I was miserable about.  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 or careless it just sounded vindictive, like I was mocking her, which wasn’t what I had intended or expected.  We walked along the marshy 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 sounds into stories and repeat them. It's more than mere communication because when it happens, and someone hears 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, full of jokes and insights into the secret music of your mind. Fancy words like those in Banville that I used to make into litanies, like an inaccessibly obscure prayer to the College Board deity, but I wasn’t doing it for salvation from them I was doing it because it felt good to weldwork those words into a sentence, to come close to doing on paper what was being done to me when I read Timothy Donnelly or Joseph O’Neill 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 and I want to give that back to the world for the sake of that one reader out there who I will never even meet years from now when they are down on their luck and revising old comments to old girlfriends.  They 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 with perfect white fingernails through which she was 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 with the big roller bins that would thunder across cement floors 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 invariably misremember how that went down and think that I saw him 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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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Resoundingly Quiet

One time 
At an outdoor concert, Monk sitting there playing, 
until it was his turn for a 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
wildly.

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,
transcending a genius like Monk's human ability to perform it
much less mine or your ability to understand.



Anyway, 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.



"The readiness is all."
– Hamlet

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Brushing Teeth with Lightning in the Rain


“Only the dead can say something about the living… sometimes.”
-          Sonnevi


…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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hwa olbikiw


biismltts ycmlssm sterile itsariwim dressing
bwwbtatiltspr valleys are changing
hwo d skee pa
ssllmusis tasb peccant

strm Humber Bay Arch Bridge sfiwtnck hwefmi2
htciscmoin iwnopmutwaga ywnsmf smsis tbabskah isci
No mud, no lotus
fa oslmgp a
I've been green
all winter long

just imagine
as desire
of those who fear
the treasures
i promise
i'll bring

wwguawfio

fwvsikn
par bif

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jdmm


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Friday, January 29, 2016

Unflummoxable

follow me down 
welted by grief, try to take the long view 
follow 
me 
down 

A door marked “You 
could have done more.” 

I feel cold. 
letting go 
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 patterns in the vicious 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 
with acuity see through transparent 

  lies. Hole up, bed down, 
stare out and 
  follow 
  me 

  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 
along, into the ground, let's 
go 

get lost in a whirling dance
with invisible partners 
  dark, slowing down, cold, going down 
Tell me the truth: 

  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.  This, before the fight, before all of it.  Slowly, without light, everything appears to sink into ghostly darkness.  His posture perceptibly shifts forward in the stairwell toward the door.
  “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.”

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