poetry, prosetry

The Flies That Fasten That Shadow To The Ground

One thing is to be, another is to see, just the way I wish you’d see me. One too many phrases like that and they found themselves confused, adrift, and said my positions lacked grounding, something concrete, which in my head rendered cartoonishly into weighted feet sinking to the bottom of the Neva because, naturally, I like the facility of pseudo-homonyms and the presence and absence of consequence mixed with oblique references to macabre historicity. “You” can be anyone, so long as you’re an idea at heart with a questionmark head—how’s that, clarifying enough? I’ll start there, for want of any special introductions, transmitting these little vibrations to the ambient air no matter how “they” swing over “there.”

Speaking of specificity and tonewood, the server’s name was Azusa and she heard him say I don’t have any friends here, now, zero, he said, and in a split second the recognition, delicious and troubled, traversed her face. It’s like that when you read me, just that, word for word as if starting from scratch but tacitly knowing it all might as well be connected like how I’ve got four days off and you and I are right on time but twice removed. I should be overjoyed at those simple facts after three straight nights of deep sleep the likes of which just might make a person feel more settled and singular in their multi-selves. It’s not the qualities, anyway, it’s their fucking manifestation—how’s that for clarity and intention despite the maths and all that counting. The strength needn’t be audacity, the laughter needn’t be defense, the assertiveness needn’t be boisterous. These are the things we think about, independently, within and without definition, no matter what articularities we might share over dinner or through coffee or around spirits, here, there, later, now, so let’s stay in and eat some cheese and fish and a little drink and a little smoke and listen to music. A little. It’s only life so let’s have us an easy spectrum and see who we are where we land.


Originally published here on Art & Insolence. As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been “away” for a while. I hesitate to label this a return, but it is at least a reappearance. I hope you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you.

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fiction, prosetry

Fear and a Spirit of Hateful Accommodation

Yes, all those things are lovely, but it’s boring when all is said and done at the end of the day eventually in the final analysis after all—indecision can be a like standing in the middle of field of lilacs and sometimes we simply say too much. Speaking of lilacs and sometimes, I don’t do well on the fly, too little meaning caught in too many words, with “do” and “fly” being the operatives here, deep down undercover with fake mustaches and mirrored aviators for obfuscation. We all know “well” well enough, or so I tell myself, to hold the sentence together with minimal disambiguation. The sentence—life, with no possibility of parole, unless you’ve got a little imagination. We all step away sometimes, needing to, receding to or from or for with grimy presumptions of stiff finality all around, creeping up the walls like rot till they seem darker than the corners and we can’t remember how or why we serve the question, but we do. Insistent on the peculiar merits of placement, I seem predisposed to point to the energy and the process like it’s blame I’m placing, not credit, clinging to rhizomatic enthusiasms rooted in contexts so specific and references so obscure that the truth can’t go unnoticed. The truth. What is this appetite for absolutes? Strip that away, and what—the positive qualities of illusion suggesting that the walls and corners aren’t in fact closing in, that they simply have spirit? Having seen it done and having done it, I strain to model myself on something definitive, over and over, ever and ever, ever stepping away to return all over, mumbling mawkish mantras like Destroy, and piece it back together but this time with gold at the seams. Kintsugi, yes? and how appealing, no, how improving, with an orange-juicer twist drop of idealism plus the pulp. Each answer is formed of countless questions, as variegated as the languages with which we pose them, so thus I ask: Do we spill because we break or does our spilling do the breaking because we get too full?

Everything has to go somewhere (that’s definitive-infinitive); there’s action in the outpouring, but I could see it working either way, or both, finding a comfortably uncertain trajectory regardless, whether of containment or release, a course, of course, if you will, running roughly from vulnerability to repair and so on, with voice, agency, embodiment, and destruction all packed in and cozy snuggled between. And so on, and back again. Till it breaks again and I’m back here on the fly again, going nowhere till it feels too right to not be the wrong words for a story.

I had a rough day, she said, barely holding back tears and looking smaller and more defeated than she’d ever permitted herself to look. A hug and kiss were proffered as preludes to a word or two of unconvincing edification as I, draped in coat and bags, walked out the door and down the hallway to the elevator and another hallway to the parking garage so I could warm up the cold little car with rust spots on the hood and drive cautiously through heavy nighttime snow already covering the highway despite evening weeknight traffic to a hotel way out west of the city where there was a meeting of the old white minds that I had to endure the following day. The following day arrived and I woke up from an uncomfortable half-sleep with the outlines of a migraine that would gradually color itself complete as I tried to take notes and look like I gave a shit in a windowless conference room thick with recirculated air and coffee breath, wanting only the essentials of sleep, hydration, and a proper breakfast. The rest—freedom, love, pain—would have to wait.

 


Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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fiction

End Of a Story

Another time—yes, there was another time, but only one other time, and that not really—I saw her acting out some obscurely tragic final scene, rushing from room to room in a space not entirely unlike that flat but cross-sectioned like a stage, lamenting and gesticulating. The melodrama, the motion, the volume—oh the things I’d say if I could wake up, I thought. Like Sorry, just forget it, forget it all.

What if, when it came right down to it, I spoke less breathlessly but with the same fight, in a manner more contrasted to my hurried thinking, trying less adamantly to push it all out before it’s gone? Less, more, less—that’s how it always goes and all I can think to do is paint, I told my friend the next morning in order to have something to say, but there are only three or four colors at my disposal, looking at the walls and the one frosty window in our “living” room, but meaning something else entirely. Please look away. Who can even begin to imagine such passion tailored to their person, so perfectly trimmed and fitted, and such trouble speaking when each word reeks of fantasy. But it never comes down to it. It just goes and goes and that’s it. Or that’s that, depending how your crow flies.

The sun rose over ancient Crete in my boyhood imagination and I learned as if looking in from the outside that paradise is a construct of color and sound. That, of course, was well before I learned the first thing about crawling out from under the weight of my intentions, but I did know the myth of the Theseus and the minotaur. It was love that helped him get back out. Do you have any idea what I push through every day just to be here? To whom do these thoughts indeed belong? I’d ask her that, if I had another chance, and tell her I didn’t ask for this—none of us did. We were just born into a world arranged by madmen and madwomen and expected to find a way in and through some private-public unicursal when in fact the journey, the real challenge and struggle, is to find a way out. My friend is out of his mind, but he conforms—and he lives just fine right there in his center so he doesn’t know it, doesn’t have to. I am out of mine, completely, imagining anyone can hear me when I’m alone out here on the fringes because it’s the only time I can hear myself.

Goodbye, Ariadne, till the next time I need some literary device upon which to hang my isolation. You guys go right on without me.

 


These are the closing paragraphs of a story I won’t post here or anywhere in its entirety because I hope to publish it elsewhere, so there. Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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poetry, prosetry

To Be All Eye And Eye Alone

I have four windows open around me this morning, a sigh on every side—everything I am is a commingling of question and answer. How to live. Life’s worthiness is a matter of constant consternation. Oh, to see where it might lead, unambiguously.

These would-be pundit people and their long-winded self-flattery through the ostensible virtue of openness, though—everything I am seems at uncertain times to exist on some one-step-removed meta level. How tiresome. But what else is there? Setting out to create something—great—I find myself filling the air with the same species of noise and hoping, selfishly, that some number of those same people and an unknown sum of others will notice all the hyphenations and language-ardor and call it art, for my sake.

One night not long ago I had one of those nighttime darkness world-muted realizations and this one said you’re more into something when you’re half out of it anyway but I was too tired from being so daytime-busy “earning” a paycheck to do anything more than jot it down for later—everything I am says every mistake I’ve made began with a concession. I really should take it down a notch. I’d been reading Moravia’s Boredom, just starting, in fact, with my thumb stuck in the intro after a brief spat of indecision over where to begin, marking the page as though I might jump back out of the text at any moment and spoil it with background and situation, a hovering intermediariness which, to my astonishment, held my attention firm and strong, unburdened by any here-I-am.

 


Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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life, prosetry

Without Faltering For Reason Or Commentary

The perfect autumn day—by evening, when my toes are cold despite socks and slippers, I might not be so fond. So goes the erosion of goodwill. It’s fifty Fahrenheit degrees and sunny, gusting, and the trees are spreading color everywhere—rain is on the way, though, and the temperature is dropping. It’s fine to not be very good at something, like work, and to be much better at something else, like reading. Sincerity, I once read, is an inability to connect one thing with another but they don’t pay me to be sincere.

 


Originally posted on Art & Insolence.

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prosetry

Beauty Has No End Or Edges

A person can be internally consistent and absurd at the same time, like a comedy skit. Our imagined summaries make us lifelike, or so I heard on television. Don’t mind me, I’m just looking for permission, filled with suppositions about self-preservation through simple perseverance and tricky transposition mixed in blender-wise with kind attentions to the scratches on the table and the streaks on the glass as though I really believe I’d dissolve my fears if I could only embrace the imperfections of my style. Style­—ha! When I set out to write I expected each stanza would begin with an abstract observation followed by a loosely corresponding question but here we are in the middle of yet another goddamn paragraph because I don’t stick with anything and slip on Freudians—a fact which you, conscience, always somehow saw as something akin to sin. In the end it was a party that pulled Styron out of his second round of depression, a fucking party, can you believe it? You could tread upon enlightenment and suggest all human achievement amounts to an elaborate mating game, though some pleasures, you’d surely concede, are incrementally higher than others, while others still are far. Sometimes, for instance, you sit nude before a keyboard looking for a compelling way to resist invisibility and silence through the publicizing of one’s life’s truths—a foolish pursuit, no doubt, when you’re so overwhelmed by unreality that you cover your face and refer to yourself in the second person because distance and non-knowledge appear to offer the only way through. But who knows the unwritten rules till we write them and then reject the limitations of language, opting for the ubiquitous lure of second-rate visuals of ritualized identity since it sometimes seems skin is all the world cares to acknowledge in the first place.

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prosetry

The One Flatterer Of This Base Despair

Tears in the morning at the slightest provocation—the inconveniences of sensitivity, the troubles of necessity, and the opportunities to oppose it. The rain falls or it doesn’t, and coarse tabloid judgments are hurled at everything in between. I grow weary of trying to be definitive so I set the glass on the windowsill and avert my eyes from screens, doing my best impersonation of choosing stillness.

Miłosz observed the inescapable influence of historical context at a time when that context was quite literally governed by historical context’s inescapability, suggesting that acceptance, meaning, and possibility are dependent upon the extent to which our expressions of them reflect the zeitgeist with “scientific exactness.” Today, limits on time and attention breed anxious “musts” which branch out in all directions and frequently send us headlong into tranquil, violent, and utterly mundane abysses of pure diversion. Are they one and the same? Chaos and authority? Meaning and meaninglessness? Escape and captivity?

In the twentieth century, it was the dialectician, with his towering rationalisms and tunneled threads of theoretical consistency, who controlled the rhetorical landscape. Now, it’s the petty carnival ringmaster megaphone-spouting from every angle of every corner but I keep talking in code for lack of anything expressly geometrical to say, at once both caught and cozy in little brick and A-frame languages of home and shelter. To you I simply said part of what I felt, more or less knowing it would stack up and you’d understand. It could’ve been this way but it was that, or is, or however.

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prosetry

Revealing the Fullness of Their Pretense

The ground outside was littered with crab apples the day I found a dead dove in the grass behind the house—is their tartness merely a feature of our gustatory perception or is it absolute? This is the kind of thing. I can fight it or sit it out or I can reason and wait, again, for peace.

On the edge, or closer to it than realized, freely mistaking association for identity: near/gone, ok/not, me/you—who am I to say life is other than what one writes? This is my code, it’s what’s under the hood, my piece/peace for flexing fake emotion and unlearned nostalgia when my fuck-you energy is out on the town like an average dromomaniac splashing around in his own little personal puddle of poshlost left over from a three-days-ago downpour.

For all the effort at wakefulness, I find my solace lies in sleep—what depth is deep enough to escape the carnal thrill of words? I hope you’ll stay and read each line twice, once for identification and once for all the stories you’ll tell yourself later, layering response after response to question after question, need after desire onto person after image, brushing sophistries over underlying truth with the brightness down and exposure up and contrast set on apprehensive frequencies that cause the sort of muscle twitching we’ll all mistake for action.

The world is only as large as you can comprehend; I understand, now, what I was doing all that time when I wanted to be awake—where does this end, where does that begin? It takes a village to meet such needs and the body count is high and rising, overtaking composition on principle if not by sheer volume while, really, the only question worth answering is whether the headstand is for me or for the moment’s desire for inversion, whether what’s sought is an end or a beginning.

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prosetry

Every Mirror Holds Different News For Me

For a good twenty-five minutes she some young unknown sits in a blue Camaro parked with the engine running on the street in front of my house putting on makeup in the sun visor mirror while I contemplate the tree leaves and the idiosyncrasies of conversational American diction—they are changing color, the leaves, imperceptibly, as if each night deep in the middle under dark and cover yesterday’s foliage is replaced by today’s, fickle as interests and grammar. It’s the second time this has happened, this curbside dolling by this same someone on the way to someplace from somewhere else, once on a Saturday night, now on a Sunday morning, the only immediate difference being that I am no longer consumed by the small problems of sanity as I try to imagine what possessed her and for whose benefit these last-minute preparations are made.

Eventually she drives off—“in a small town everything is quickly over” yet some of us like to wrestle with incidental eternity as if it’s the converse though I usually wear Vans to front on the fact that I’m a poor hustler because I don’t know why, don’t know why there must be such fear in me, such small town awareness, here, made up, then gone, the intoxicating thrill of necromancy wafting superfluous like bad analogies and perfume on careless breezes before the maddening ice cream truck jingle monotony of ease, comfort, and simplicity snuff out these little conquests of attention. Let’s start this story over. Welcome to the city, to the refuge and the pulpit, where whatever gets rid of the terror will get rid of the wonder as well and, well, it’s fair field and no favour to suggest we here are tethered to the past by knowledge like anywhere else though the future grows up through cracks in the concrete like imagination and young women in blue Camaros who stop on side streets to put their faces on. But that’s just so much distraction. Where did you go, normalcy, and what will you be wearing when you read this, I wonder, superficialities of attitude and style subverting any comprehension of why honesty full and brutal is so hard to imagine out on the town without rejection while a life of sufficiently partitioned duplicity is well within reach. Yes, let’s start this story over, this time without the constraints of contradiction, each part and every to its fullest free and ready to embrace the impermanence of some great singularity.

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poetry, prosetry

The Light That Sometimes Increases the Wisdom of Joy

Sometimes I’m alive. Look at the sky. Feel the breeze. Read Dante. Write a poem. Love/lose someone. Have hope/despair. Good morning/night. Enjoy a meal. Ponder existence. Learn a new word. Paint a dream. Hold your breath. Ride a car. Drive the train. Run. Be here. Get somewhere and make it strange. It’ll be hard to take anyone along with you on this, he said. You have no faith in medicine. No, oxygen—the peaks are craggy and daunting and altitude sickness will make fools of the best of us.

Sometimes my mind is a run-down tenement with a sparkle inside where best friend and worst enemy are principia interchangeabilia. It’s not art that’s at stake, it’s identity, slipped in with faux-Latin. It’s not art, it’s identity. I do not so much insist on that as acknowledge it, I swear, though there was a time when insistence was all I had and let’s not go back. The question is now, whether to hide behind or live through. To live through identity, live through creation, or get mixed up in the matter of the mortar for adding more bricks to the wall.

Sometimes seeking specifics, I wonder: how often do you like who you are? Fact is, I like who I am to you, enjoying the pleasure at being a cause. Seeing myself in the reflection from the liquid in my cup one morning as slivers of sunrise slipping through the cracked blinds marked my multiform alliterations with what was left of dreams of humble harmless hands around my neck slowly squeezing the life into what I write, I again chose to remain out of focus, glad nothing is still a thing sometimes.

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