Sloping power lines dance above me as the train emerges. I follow them. We race down the flat industrial landscape that ebbs and flows according to the cheap demands of consumers. Wires bend and sway to impress passengers whose eyes adjust to the glare of the setting sun, a palette of light stretching from peachy pinks, transparent blues, and burnt oranges. I listen for that moment when we all take a breath, a collective reminder of where we’d just come from. Our cadence influenced by a retrograde perspective, a point of view that manipulates distance. Even the trees, with their fading leaves and tender roots, know this isn’t enough.
There must be more. Surely we can look for opportunities to eat cake with our coffee; search for an afternoon to visit the ocean and stay until the last light disappears; discover different angles to reveal new patterns; listen for rhythms that break hearts so we can be rendered tough enough; and restore a belief in a future that can both afford to make mistakes and is strong enough to allow for change. These delicate moments of revelation, quiet and embodied, should be stored in bulk and kept tucked behind corners waiting to be shared, especially when the light feels heavy.
When so much is in front of you, the only way out is up.
“I had only one thing to say. I was so terrified of saying it because once I said it, would I still have anything left to say? To have so little to say. To insist on speaking. To create a silence every time we speak. To know all this and do it anyway. This is as close as I can get to saying what I mean.” — Jenny Zhang, Hags
Let me introduce myself.
There’s probably a disclaimer in here.
The streets did not scare me.
Every coffee had a spoon.
Museum translations lacked details.
Gold, fine porcelain, silver settings,
swords, myths, transferred power.
Remember intangible moments,
hoard the way light hides shadows.
Repeat until this is a song,
a rhythm that leaves room
for forgiveness. Retracing outlines
of curves and coveting lines
that dead end. We’ve sold out
of what’s needed
to mend broken hearts.
Violence supplying demand,
the brutality unavoidable.
Endless summers folding
into winter’s waves. Wishing to
stop long enough to synch breath.
“A dream is a poem the body writes.” — Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo
Silver Future, Berlin Aug14
I watched a city with over 430,000 trees unfold before me. Routines are similar everywhere, a perspective of work and not-work. Apartment windows half-covered with homemade lace curtains watched the moving shadows of satellite dishes and geraniums. The distance between expressions measured the speed of progress, a perspective of choice and learned leisure. I believe all those colorful thoughts were earnest and almost always sincere. The old maps are still in people’s minds, was a tension to move forward or remain. It was comforting to witness the efficiency of such intent.
Sandra Cisneros captured the essence of being so far away from home: “hotel rooms were filled with memories of other bodies”. A reminder of the way our bodies arch to say please and then thank you.
In all these ways
we carry ourselves
according to manifested desires
to be taken, wanted,
and to be consumed.
Today I watched the City wake
while clouds slept.
The past few days have been spread thin,
like that space between epiphany and practice,
I have many thanks to give to you, you, and you.
The sunset hit the mountains right where it wanted. Long, slow strokes showing how time moves with us rather than against us. The clouds manifested into curled thoughts: smoking pigs, deformed angels, naked divers, schools of fish with a solo seahorse, dusty cat tracks, dancing rabbits. Cloud shadows performed vignettes on a landscape that, up until that precise moment, had been a light and a topography I had only seen in movies. Swimming to the sound of my breath, I found suffering gave way to resistance and eventually settled on intention as the palm trees swayed to the rhythm of jet trails miles and miles above me.
Divining Gloves by Ako Castuera
“Burst of orange bombs shatter the tranquil skyline”
was the only thing I could think of last week
to describe the sunrise over the Financial District
after traveling three years across the East Bay Bridge
a witness to the construction and now its destruction.
“I wish I knew how to say good-bye to you” was a way
to compartmentalize desire after watching a worker
steal bites of their lunch for breakfast. Always realizing,
or is it remembering, that these feelings are not new.
Wedged between these thoughts, the radio told me the Swiss
had bought the leading producer of the heartland’s chocolate
in between stories of Syria, Iraq, and economic forecasts.
A confession of a shocked customer revealing they weren’t
going to stop their daily routine no matter who owned production.
These truths are the only way to understand how gravity influences
our daily lives, a routine showing progress and distance.
They walk like cowboys, recently dismounted.
ocean beach 7.25.14
Think about how many details we leave out when we tell stories about ourselves. Those intimate moments where spectacle meets nuance. All those ways we understand dimensions as coordinates – maps of contested margins. I don’t assume you read any of this, which is why I can be so matter-of-fact.
In fact every Sunday, until I found an alternative, I learned about the consequences of taking things literally, from a biblical perspective. It was my orientation to the world. Now, I find myself drawn to phrases like loving witness and learned that the prescribed strategy for getting out of disasters is to assist others.
We are racing to the airport. I am anxious. She tells me her depression is incurable. So deep that strapping electrodes to her brain won’t help, or if it did, it would only be temporary relief. So deep that she can’t wash knives in the kitchen sink when the bottomless darkness sets in. She can see herself slashing herself to death, making the motions, trading hands to make the gestures of listening to those urges, one hand always on the steering wheel. She tells me she is no longer afraid to die and that is how she has been able to survive.
I want to believe this means you found a way to see light differently.