prosetry

Put Your Heart in the Hands of a Cynic

You’re a marvelous being, he says to her, eyes squinting for a better view behind the smudgy rose-colored lenses of his spectacles, common sense folded neatly on the white linen tablecloth beside the sweating half-empty/full water carafe as he reclines in a slight wicker chair on a warm, impressionistic day outside the café he’s only just imagined could be the setting of a turning point in a life story called I Missed the Good Stuff.

Possibility isn’t just enough, it’s all.

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prosetry

groping for attention’s instruments

Have you ever fallen for someone at the sound of their voice? No, he said. But I’ve created it. Sometimes you need something, so that’s what you do. It’s not always good, mind you, maybe not even often. Be excited, though—that’s why thoughts end up meaning so much. Enlightenment is not just caring whether what you do is of any value, it’s acknowledging that it probably isn’t. The things that sidetrack us online reveal what we’re really after anyway.

I was looking for a video of Derrida describing the moment before sleep when he’s the closest to truth but found myself searching sheepishly, distraction-blind to the thread of thoughts between, for a skeleton I’d kissed in a dream standing on a plateau beneath a giant sky, taken by my dream-lack of astonishment at the absolute-ness of her fleshless recognizability and acknowledging the parallel impossibility of knowing whether I’d actually found “her” and couldn’t hear her “speak,” settling instead on a strange and roving spellbinding “piece” about apparitions, fodder for more to make.

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prosetry

i am a waterspout for impressions

It’s not going to look big but it is if you make it. Tomorrow would be better if it wasn’t like today. I’d be better if I saw dissatisfaction as synonymous with unawareness, or so I try. The things we say. My sister and I have unacknowledged but obvious dreams of being other than we are that (I think) we see as either survival or tenacity but, usually, not both in the same day. The mirror in the bathroom of this house is too low for me to see myself in full anyway—I’m a torso and a neck with a little bit of chin when I stand before it and that sounds about right. Here, birds chirp in the morning outside the bedroom window above my head and sometimes there’s a spider on the wall, sometimes worse. Matters of fact are excellent distractions from the things I might otherwise wish to say about working through the welcome absence of sirens to guide me back home to loving myself.

Emboldened by night, the thoughts I think often fall flat by morning.

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prosetry

tabernacled in flesh

It’s the keeping in that makes my heart palpitate because it’s not telling the truth and then I’m in a hospital bed being nothing but honest about the white in my beard. Football (or fútbol) or baseball (or fútbol). Boxers or briefs. Scotch or whiskey (or wine or beer). Blondes or brunettes or both or whatever. It’s this or that, to be a man, and sometimes life or death—but you saw that coming.

Poets are soft i.e. effeminate and I’ve been told I have both but definitions are fluid and you wouldn’t know it to look at me. All that matters is right now, he said, stoically, warm with stern tradition, and I’m constantly surprised to be here, tormented at times by possible selves and seeking an appropriate rendering of manhood to stick to.

Today I am the type who folds over the corners of too many pages of too many books, parturient with the power of what words have done to me and holding fast to the strange singular spirit within.

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prosetry

like a shadow burned into a wall

It was a week of work, my first in over two months. Funny how you can tell what kind of day you’ll have in the first ten minutes of wakefulness. Is sensitivity something we learn? It’s hard to emulate the idiomatic and constitutional, but easy to hide behind it.

Thoughts of authenticity the other night after watching “Atlanta” connected themselves to others about lived experience, my life, and Charles Johnson, who is from the town in which I now reside and will be here again to give a talk in May. This is apparently worthy of transcription.

Self-conscious self-criticism always “kept me honest” while I sought ways to raise myself up out of the everyday, confused, predictably romanticizing “just making it” and being afraid of dependence. Writing isn’t the application of forms, it’s unfolding. I’ve made my truths, fiction et non, and still going.

Really I’m not my past, but I can get back to it like Theseus to Ariadne. Peter and the Wolf gave me a glimpse of heritage as a child and I made it my own mythology. Peter was the violin and my middle name and all was quiet, all was well.

Russian fur hats and black boots and military jackets and good-natured young boys and protective grandfathers I never knew, if I had to pluralize. Now I write prose poems because they’re somewhere between rap and short stories and because I’m from somewhere where that makes sense, working for a living and working on a novel about belonging that I might should maybe call The Clew and the Minotaur but I won’t tell you who’s who.

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life

All That Appeared Was a Blind Obstinate Impulse Expressing Itself in Bursts of Foolishness

Canceled my New Yorker subscription some months ago, as if that would help me feel less scatterbrained, once the basement bargain on the first year of issues expired and I was back to not being special anymore and just like everyone else again. All too trite and elitist, I thought, silently excusing myself from participation in some indefinable currency, realizing the feebleness of this withdrawal as that snarky manikin leered over my shoulder and snarkily suggested I’d have been more of a pseudo-sophisticate if I’d spelled realizing with an s.

There is simply too much to think about. I imagine turning to the man next to me at the nearly empty bar I’m not sitting in and saying “so what’s it like for you out there” and his obscure eyes turn to meet me with a look of total cancelation surpassing even the negation I supposed I’d find. “Bellow,” I’d say, and he’d hear it as a verb and turn away. “But this was his city, too,” I’d protest, “twice.” That has to mean something, though it’s a lifelong effort to understand that not everything does, and how. Four years on the seventh floor was a form of sanctuary but not as transcendental as I supposed.

Here, the wind blows this way and that, often in the same breath. There’s surely a meteorological explanation for this, I think, remembering the local tv news weather report showing large currents of blue and purple computer-generated atmosphere above a matte gray-brown map and how those currents seemed—always—to converge directly above this city. On the ground down where I now live I watch little plastic flags on clotheshanger-thin wire poles stuck in the muck and mud of lived experience to mark gas lines nervelessly flutter back and forth, but I tend toward the figurative and a certain desultory envy of inanimate stoicism, supposing for convenience’s sake that that’s not a contradiction in terms, nor is the struggle to perfect oneself in the symbolic discipline of an art.

Have you ever loved living so much you were afraid to let it out of your sight? Did you cling to it, even in despair, despite its flutters and turns, despite the partisan, balkanized categorizations that we adopt as identities? That’s all I want to know, I *promise* that’s all I’ll ever ask.

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prosetry

Context

I woke up and my face was bruised and a front tooth broken half off and I couldn’t recall a thing. Then it came the way fear does that I’d just seen a man I knew get fired without ceremony or ostensible circumstance and all I’d done was walk along beside him down the anywhere corridor in some kind of semi-nosey, commiserative gesture of shoulder-patting reprieve though the shoulder-patting was completely figurative and the reprieve quite literally limited to two widened eyes and one furrowed brow of neighborly inquisition since I had no idea at all what a plain person in my shoes—or his—might do or how they’d lace them because mine had been criss-crossed and tangled since birth.

And I wondered without asking why he’d been canned with such abruptness while my lowly station I for the moment did appear to retain and I couldn’t shake the pesky sense of at least maybe somehow even more than partial responsibility, as if my existence within the situation we by nothing, I to myself insisted, more than chance shared meant—and by “meant” I mean “equated to”—complicity, apologetically aware as I nevertheless couldn’t help but be of looking down on him from sheer stature though surely many’d say it was in fact a more emblematic sort of looking down from some manner of privilege, relative, menacing, atrocious privilege poking through readymade apertures of irony, privilege which (they’d say) my privileged subconscious conveniently misunderstood as owing to certain innocuous superficialities of appurtenant physiognomy and meaningless coincidences rather than the harder, deeper-buried archetypal essences on which our fates are veritably determined, thinking it could’ve been me but it wasn’t me it was just he.

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