clout farming

Let’s open those neural floodgates. source: unknown

I.
Canaries, the kind designed to warn, died
years ago and the audience pretended
not to hear their zero-sum absence.

II.
Did you see the etched spells
carved into downtown bus windows?
A cluster of worldbuilding signs—
anti-collections of gilded relativity.

III.
It is that time of day. Straight-ahead stare.
The inside lights have been turned on.
Fallow fields lie open, subjugated for influence.

IV.
Recently, a bluejay has become a surrogate rooster.
Declaring another day or scouting for tenderness?
Forget-me-nots in bloom, and our heads full-on empty.
A physics of being spooned, jammed, grazed.

V.
Summertime eyes, dry mouth holes, dots to be connected.
Hyperfixation as daydream, musical as chairs.

real was the last reality gap

fragments, Los Angeles, July 2018

Blue fading pink light transitions the sun’s nightly disappearance as a star.
Earlier the concentrated sunlight, setting late, hit a distant window—
just right. The bright reflection took shape of an ordinary reminder.
A reminder that temporal sequence as closure is felt, a sense.

What if we are actually expanding instead of contracting?

Hours as measured by:
clouds slipping by
    exhaust pipes
glaciers melting
street pigeon’s stuttered coos
gossip economy news cycles
a flock of geese in V formation
rivers carving out gorges
indigent centers
      exhale

Can we claim survival as the measured depth of a body of water?

An ending does not always need to follow a chain of events.
Duality alters thresholds, choices, interpretation.
These ongoing attempts become accumulations, layers,
a structure of ongoing being. There’s worship and fetish.
A complete world.

milk teeth

Perhaps I did not succumb to ideology…because I have never seen myself as a spokesman. I am a witness. In the church in which I was raised you were supposed to bear witness to the truth. Now, later on, you wonder what in the world the truth is, but you do know what a lie is.” —James Baldwin interview with Julius Lester, May 1984

Rather Be A Lightning Rod, San Francisco, August 2017

The surge is back.
We are hosts, again.

Feeling nothing but empty.
A physical sensation.

I am left wanting, again.
Never not forgotten urges.

Restraint is an evocative need.
Its own stimulation.

Free will is in the news, again.
When the wave comes, go deep.

Be a seed, insistent as memory.

analog fever

STICK YOUR FINGER IN THINGS, source: unknown

In a Christian context, responsibility of discernment
makes meaning a gambler’s holdout. I mean that literally.
It is the same mechanics when a moment can be a monument.
Dramatic affect to overactive nervous systems, tense
a knowing. Which indicators of deception are most valid?
The idea of what you saw isn’t always accurate.
That we are simply machines programmed to make complexity
out of the simplest of ideas, like wanting to be loved
unconditionally and without remorse.

plastic as plants

A bitter taste lingers—
stringent, with punchy
mouth feel—tongue maps.

Rebound special—
I dreamt, again, of moving.
A task of packing things
you forgot still exist.

We lay in bed, innocent
until forced to engage
with the world under a sky
quiet, grey milky light.

NICE KID, June 2014, Portland, OR

In America, I regret to be informed
war and rising gas prices
are equally traumatic. There’s panic
at that trigger-shaped pump.

Some reread biblical stories—
extracted citations of plagues, salt,
and sin. Fear finds us hungry.

Evacuation trails of refugees are littered
with what is no longer essential. Left behind;
rapture. Calculations shape bitter mouths,
reactions and policy becomes oracle.

In America, I regret to be informed
speculative fantasy and prosperity, a state,
are the gospel. Instead, demand nothing exists.

Some claim emerging trends tell the story
not knowing all data expires. The disconnect
of what has been with what is becoming unravels—
desperate inflations to make sugar from light.

when you’re afraid, your brain wants to fight

“Reading criticism clogs conduits through which one gets new ideas: cultural cholesterol.” —Susan Sontag, 1964 journal entry

Headline News, 2013, Vladimír Takáč

A handful of ranunculus, yellow, swell open.
Morning showers pass through. I make a wish
when the sun breaks free from its shroud.
A temporary proscenium of light forms. I see
motes and ghosts in gestured choreography.
A possessed experience of gods or a trip
of light god-shaped? In rapid succession,
I am mouth-to-mouth lucidity. I breach a crown
of paper tigers. Inside this current occupation,
I surrender in ecstatic objection to a language,
blue, that takes from lust and sells back violence.

lonely crowd

“I dream too much, and I don’t write enough, and I’m trying to find God everywhere.”
—Anis Mojgani

weiners for sale, South Dakota, 2009

Pussy willows bloom. Predictive seasons
filter a fuzz of sunlight; valedictory
transitions hold onto their return maps.

This prayer is a practice of communicating.
A form of knowledge or disciplinary violence?
Experts debate experts into echoes.

Their meaningless noise fills sacred silence.
Our bodies desire ancient patterns,
a narrator’s reticence; sublime observations.

eavesdropper

Tender twilight skies and creamy clouds slant
the light of morning’s dedicated return. Birdsong opens
with the begging calls of fledgling Pacific Wrens.

Waking, we scroll through images of liminal threat so often
it’s either propaganda or the truth. The state says
don’t worry, control is what will save us.

I wish I could explain it better—it’s not about them.
Offering reconciliation, two halves of a whole,
agreement, I give you the keys to open your own cage.

Ready? photo: edward atlee

smile, with your eyes

Dangerous, but careful. Wanting everything, I tamed my anger, smiling wide and innocently. Dorothy Allison, from “Steal Away,” Trash: Stories

photographer: Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen

An old man carries two oranges,
the size of his fists,
in a red see-through plastic bag.
The oranges swing inside its corners.

I know I need to throw away
your wilted memorial flowers.
The moon is in its last quarter.

Yesterday slipped past me
like a stranger. These artificial
gaps of light both score inner life
and the sounds of meaning.

corral

In war, mourning the loss of art, be it actual or anticipated, is not separate from mourning for the senseless disruption and destruction of human life. To live is to build, to repair, to illuminate, to leave traces in the fabric of time and space. Until an empire’s fist hits it all and smashes it to smithereens. In the face of its onslaught, human life is as fragile as the glass that bears humanity’s loving traces. —Yuliya Komska, A Stained Glass in Lviv (emphasis mine)

A Fragment, San Francisco, CA, April 2018

Officially, it is spring. Wars are an endless reality behind opaque glass screens. We are learning to feel non-solid things in the hype. The sound of analog reflected in a digital world hits different. Open your mouth away me. Climb out from underneath those emotional thumbs. There’s overtime to be made fabricating virtual systems. Memory tracers betray our line of sight. Some rooftops grow trees and some of us are proficient in the logistics of nostalgia. Do your fantasies prepare you or scare you? Tongues are cut to remove coherent confessions; supplemental augmentations will cost extra. Always cultivate a feeling of waiting for the next disruption. Faith’s orientation requires an artifice, requite deprivation. It’s really like that. Geography as corral, gathered. A rotunda of light. The curtains hung themselves outside the cracked window. Dramatic neglect obscures strategic purpose. Tides are never mentioned in the Bible. Its promises another proxy of obscene revenge.

apex

That the forests grow back with patience, not rage;

—Tony Hoagland, “Peaceful Transition

artist: Helena Almeida

Digitally speaking, I’ve trained myself to feel distracted.
I’m occupied. As numbed witness, in muted sound and fury,
today’s testimony dissolves into lyrical indirection.
Sharp, warm shadows of morning light strike a blooming spring.
From formalized fragilities of fear, from the perceived aggressor
in endless wars, or from slants of perimenopausal sales pitches
as rumor and pre-emptive threats, it’s all terrifying.
My daily diversions upsold. Propaganda is climax!
The psyops of weak kings is an advanced state of dissolution.
I imagine a moment that lasts so long everyone craves
its optimized chorus—it has been like this forever.
This is the loop, an exquisite incantation, that never deviates.

there is a perception of threat when a loved one dies

Teach me mortality, frighten me
into the present. Help me to find
the heft of these days. That the nights
will be full enough and my heart feral.

Jack Gilbert, “I Imagine the Gods

“Heart Aches”, Berlin, October 2017

For most of the morning,
a banner declaring I LOVE YOU
hung visible from the hotel window
until housekeeping removed it—
to keep the room unsentimental.

Blue sky so bright, a harbor
to distract my voyeurism. Later,
a business man made a phone call.
Tie, no suit. Shadows from behind the curtain
portend drama breaking beneath the horizon.

Cherry blossoms explode on scene.
The trees have begun their spring planning.
Extending their grace & hope forward,
it would be wise for us to start doing the same.
We are well over 900,000 dead & barely counting anymore.

It’s the last week of February.
Angled rooftops, a single pane of glass
holds my wandering perspective.
I’m probably not telling you the right story.
Sun-marked rooms were the sentient witness.

unidentifiable aggression

They made you pay for bread
For sky earth water sleep
And for the poverty
Of your lives.

—Paul Eluard, from “Victory for Guernica”, Selected Poems (bilingual ed. trans. Gilbert Bowen)

Jan Beutener, Ochtend, 1992

In the museum of modern art,
we wanted to see the details—
up close. Moving inches
past the official stand-here line,
we needed to know
how exactly did the artist
capture the depth of pure fear
in the subject’s hyperrealistic eyes.
We knew that fear, frequent and embodied,
from our own ensnared lives
as daughters born from violent men.
The movement of color showing,
with excruciating precision,
how endlessly hollow
the projective space is for deception
like transparent fingers, pointed and sharp,
foolishly optimistic that escalation
is a proven strategy for peace.

scrawl

I’m begging you. Please don’t use this time wisely.
I want you to waste every swollen second
as your breath catches inside your abandoned throat.

Untitled, Louise Bourgeois, 1999

I’m sure you’ve felt this ineffable pleasure before?
Being unwanted, unseen, silenced: useless reputations.
What these words leave inside you matter to me.

thriving inside all this repetition

God is. July 2018, Berkeley, CA

“Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed.
You will never be lovelier than you are now.
We will never be here again.”
— Homer, The Iliad

Approaching the beginning of an end
is a crossover event. Convergence is likely.

Getting past, moving beyond, over it.
This consistency drowns its own promises.

At frequency, invention pretends tenderness
and, if lucky, courage. A day’s combined darkness.

static imprints

I can connect
Nothing with nothing.

“The Waste Land: III. The Fire Sermon”, T. S. Eliot, 1922


“Cluster of Rats”, dated late 19th century

Denying greed’s influence on our myths
means we are buried in tragedy.
Obsession of scale has left us wading
in the sheer depravity of accurate detail.

All the morning newspapers land on the same headline.
Near future is the sound of a volcano exploding
five thousand miles away. Ripe tomatoes hang on the vine.
Children swing in the blue fading black darkness.

mild paranoia

Like a good ride, it takes you somewhere.

I’ve dissimulated…, screenshot from Derrida

Show proof that you’ve lived.

Do habits (routine) flourish inside sunk cost?
Maybe normalization is radicalism?
Have you tried being more passive?

Don’t betray your stray background.
Don’t deny changing constantly isn’t boring.
Don’t forget the true believers.

Secrecy waits for something to happen.
We all have unreliable narrator fears.

shapes of buried sounds

“When it’s your turn to live through a war, you’ll see, you don’t have time to feel anything.” —Colette Marin Catherine

Zenon Zubyrtowicz

It’s all random chaotic vigilance these days.
Day number: “unknown”. Secret selves will be revealed
in the times to come. They know desperation
influences choices. Which illusions may end up real?

II.
This “new normal” hangs like a loose shirt,
an odor, a swallow. We are promised a brighter future.

III.
Philosophers and preachers’ predictions,
unproven claims, betray their nostalgia.
Doubts to the contrary raise suspicions,
an emotion of imagination and subjectivity.

IIII.
Uncertain and curious how permanent this now
will be is one way to recognize the game.
Loss, grief, time are the same measurement,
which requires comparison in some form.

IIIII.
The rich, and their need for luxuries, buy ready made.
Some beauty is unimaginable, a pang. Sharp vanishing
click bait. Possession was an emanation: source.

a cult of one

It is necessary to permit error because information is not simply making the correct responses.
—Silvan Tomkins, from Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader; “What Are Affects?”

put some respek on my names, February 2019, San Francisco, CA

What wildness still remains to be explored
and why haven’t I moved in that direction?
The horizon to the south cracks light.

It rained fish in Texarkana, Texas—
during the last days of December
and no one is afraid.

Imagine being actively denied
of embodied experiences.
That sense of knowing.

2014, Oakland, CA

A clause (particular and separate).

“Peach blossom has a beautiful sensual pink, far from vulgar, most rare and private.”
—D.H. Lawrence, from Sketches of Etruscan Places; “Flowery Tuscany”

June 2020, Oakland, CA

What is positive about fragmentation?

||

The rest of the trees stand naked, unashamed, claiming a brighter future.

March 2012, Portland, OR

|||

When is it ok to stop remembering?

IIII

Crisis as a series, predictable, and, if you believe, a trick.

2012, Seattle, WA

Should I accept the end is near? Or deny the possibility in the swaying shadows?

like a rush

A list, after all, is an incantation.
—Lia Purpura, from the essay “Sugar Eggs: A Reverie”

September 8, 2021, 11:05am PT, Oakland, CA

I almost paid attention every day this just past year. There might not be an instant memory to pull from but I remember:

  • new pages filled: creating a full, whole life
  • [absence]
  • days moving with the sun
  • nothing urgent getting done anytime soon
  • a chain of days: learning

23 February, Tuesday, 2021 — we reached that unimaginable 500,000 deaths yesterday

By April, languishing was declared 2021’s dominant emotion. The experts were specific—we were languishing, a residual and continuously active tense.

But we are extraordinary now, more so than the before times. We have an understanding, a swallow of temporary obedience, having squeezed through another dimension. In the same way Cliff Swallows, federally protected migratory songbirds, continue to build their nests under overvalued condo awnings built on their well-known migration paths, we can claim we too are still living.

What’s next will be found in the ordinary, beyond the cleaved repetition.

reprise

July 21, 2021, Oakland, CA, 6:10pm

Traveling at the speed of days per hour.
Is it okay to celebrate survival?
(All this death. It’s inevitable.)
Arranging for false openings—second endings.
What marrow should we salvage?
Oblivion becomes subjugation
when aesthetics have agendas.
Only at the very beginning
did the freeway quiet.
Now, faint signals of endearment muted
as claw marks or socialized hope.
(All this death. It’s inevitable.)
At this point in time, there might be enough
to carry the rest of us curiously forward
full from holding unanswerable questions
in all this cropped light.

sifting through the ruins

If we do not forget, what is there to remember? —Mary Ruefle from “On Secrets”

found reality on a construction site sign, July 2011, San Francisco, CA

Suspension is a type of prayer
in the same way hard luck is still luck
or how clicking clocks make meaning.
Ending another year with reconstituted rituals:
unwrap an orange, warm the house with lights,
leave no trace and lament the echoes.

Interiors become accomplices
in a cascading culture of closures.
Reminding me the moon makes no light
of its own, and I don’t know
is the most honest answer I have to give.
This response to an unknown call,
how deeply personal an endeavor.

the saturation capacity of a week in December

That moment when the word incarnates, finds its skin: yes.
— Lia Purpura, from the essay “Sugar Eggs: A Reverie”

photographer: Leon Levinstein, New York, 1981

I’m gnawing off my own survival
and feeling full at the end of another year.

That any private emotion can still be felt
feels victorious. Sure, sensationalism

feels good, but only for so long.
Invisible patterns, an intentional result,

form this temporality, which may be also be
averse pacification. It’s not even midwinter

and yet we want—phantom abundance.
The way marginalia signals scarcity.

That kind of resourceful:
our aggregate bodies immersed in attention.

Pasteurized sameness. But wait—
there’s still anticipation—

a specific kind of waiting.
What clouds teach us.

this side of heaven

God’s own calmness is a sign of God.
The surprisingly cold smell of potatoes or money.
Solid pieces of silence.

— Anne Carson, excerpt from “God’s Work

photographer: Ashley E. Walters from When the Moon Was in the Seventh House series

The preacher leaned into salvation’s promise at the very end.
It was a funeral, no better time to coerce eternal life.
Another soul claimed and sweetly celebrated as taken.
The rest of us will just have to wait our turn.

How death gathers us together—memories of memories.
Grief a double-edged fascination, overactive,
a disorder of obsession. Not here, anymore.

But on this side of heaven we must find a way.
Not wanting to arrive too late for the inevitable call
to forgive what has been left behind, and its remainder—
the sky laid open in exonerated glory and surrendered
its filtered light to be just as definitive as belief in faith.

a rendering

You can go home again…so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been. —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

David Bagnall, Eating by candlelight during a 1972 power cut (Ironbridge Power Station, Shropshire, England, in the background)

Winter constellations hang low in the blue-black night sky,
Gemini returns. Add homemade cherry strudel to the list
of memories unforgotten, folds and folds of circumstances
harmonizing with the grace of effort. Repeat the sounding joy.
Decades pass into desire for acclamation but are instead
filled with humble enthusiasm. Hard luck made this base.
Conceptually, all archived reality shapes heartfelt elegies.
Not even God knows all our translations whispered
into twisted defenses. Hope is the last to die.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

repeat the sounding joy is a verse from “Joy to the World”

hope is the last to die is a fragment from A Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector, tr. Johnny Lorenz

delight of movement on a static facade

Cascade from PDX to SEA, April 2008

Radiator hisses fill the space left between
a bright sun in an empty blue sky.
Expressive clouds reclaim their territory.
Rain and miso ramen for lunch.
Downtown buses trail each other like snails
as layers of buildings are held together by math.
The remaining oak leaves hang like ornaments.
This week, scientists proved birds sing in their sleep
but most of us already know how the body tries to protect.
Are you the audience? Have you been disciplined?
If not, pay attention to how the slow accommodation
of western light adds to the rapidly sharpening darkness.

revision happens on Sunday

Now I become myself. It’s taken time, many years and places.
—May Sarton, “Now I Become Myself”

screenshot from As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty, Jonas Mekas

I’ve traveled far enough to remain the narrator.
The beautiful distortion of reflection,
time arrested. Star gravity.
Symbiotic or parasite? It’s both
and there’s only one answer. Details,
I need to add details. Salt air stains.
I am not doing anything wrong,
which is where we disagree. What does it mean
when the middle ground is now the high ground?
Sometimes the only place to start is right here.
It’s the same kind of living that believes
challenges are opportunities. Experts predict
the rapture will happen in the early morning
during the hours of softening darkness.
Show a smile; brave a tooth.
Imagine this as it is—a holy exposure.
Stimulate me, please.

looking for god

Saturn, it says, devours his children.
Yes, it’s true, I know it.
An ordinary man, though, a man like me
eats and is full.
Only God is never satisfied.

Ai, “The Good Shepherd: Atlanta, 1981”, from Sin, 1986

LORE, Berlin Oct 31, 2017

How we all get busy in not believing
in ourselves despite mixing in mantras
that repeat with each breath—
I am enough

and you in absence,
no more next year.

A week’s worth of grind makes edges
so soft they can’t be felt, just yet—
like observing shadows’ length and depth
and distant clouds thick as mountain ranges.

Day skies still hold starlight.
That kind of worth fighting for.

grasp and release

screenshot from “Alphaville”. Jean-Luc Godard. 1965.

They walk like cowboys, recently dismounted. He eats slowly out of a Trader Joe’s bag, the one that has the laughing donkey on it. We wander to find new ways of understanding old ideas. Innocent babies continue to be born into privilege. Ordinary trauma is a slow build—swinging from want to need, and back to want to be taken. The multitudes of being consumed becomes a careful process of discernment like knowing the addictive taste of dispossession. Although sometimes, with frequency, the loop closes on you. Don’t worry. There is space here, stored as evergreen desires, located between patterns of waves formed from swallowing knowledge by association. It’s been recommended we might feel at the edges for faint annotations of alchemic personality. In the same way, men have learned to cross their legs at their ankles and global fantasies of catastrophe make us proficient in technology. Ritual is perfected suspense. It has already taken place. Events such as these are mere dreams; a tiger, white and mangy, tries to eat my hands from taking up too much space. A way to show how time is wasteless.

as time expires

Praise in the sense that it is an embracing of emerging experience. —William Stafford

Back from the market, Blizzard 2 series, Christophe Jacrot, 50×75 ed 10

A cloudless sky, mostly blue,
held remnants of peach
at its opening edges.

This longing permeates, resisting
a horizon—a working class assumption
of completeness.

Our culture is from men who recorded tides
before gravity from the moon was proved
by future men.

And we must keep living
in that absence.

fake crowds

The past beats inside me like a second heart. —John Banville, The Sea

A Marilyn Monroe Simulacrum, December 2011, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

From football to cult rallies on glacial plains,
America excels at strategies of deterrence.
There is generational learning behind knowing
the difference between submission and giving.
   Release is forbidden.
Americans’ reflective accolades penetrate the best
as fervent belief converts to trembling devotion.
The point being none of this is supposed to make sense.
As true as death, reality always fades.

chatter

Mona Hatoum, Deep Throat, 1996. table, chair, television set, glass plate, fork & knife, water glass, laser disc & player

This feels influenced…
in the same way as
believing in tomorrow
is a predictive narrative.
Futures become quid pro quo
throbbing, mid-life lust.
Fog pushes inland, offshore swells.
Well-earned suspicions form furious
visceral optimized expectations,
soaked in publicly circulating emotions
from day-trading warlocks and wardens.
Waste is fantasy. Plastic generations
replace curiosity with optimism, a commodity.
Hoarding ironically creates emptiness.
Ask any aspiring millionaire.
Habitual behavior now discounted reward.

going all the way

unrequited OKCupid inquiry (January 2015)

one hundred hours spent
+ one hundred hours taken
= affectual transactions

a certain level of suffering
is required to earn a dollar
I put enough here to fill that hole

Hard learning

“These are my Confessions and if I say nothing in them it’s because I have nothing to say.” —Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Seconda Emerging, Barry Stone, 2015

is to know where the bones are buried.
Synonym: institutional allegiance.
Why is risk so often in your mouth?
Your answer, “That’s where the desire swells.”

It’s true the end of a river is also a mouth.
Waves form unnoticed. We tell each other stories—
unanswered questions worth more conceptually.
Wanting words that hold their form
both as concrete nouns and confluent verbs.

No subject is stable you often tell me.
Following the principle of least astonishment
is probably how we got here.
The living room pictures hang crooked
from the last noticeable earthquake.

Lesson: survival is a false dichotomy.

carry the message

“What use having a great depth of field, if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?”
—W. Eugene Smith

Barbara Kruger, The Globe Shrinks (video still), 2010

The park’s grass is ankle deep,
again. Promises of everlasting life
continue to hold their sway.

It’s 2021, and I just learned
gold seeks gold.
Bounty hunters still scheming.

When will the rich suffer equally?
Is that even the right question?
Forests burn to their crowns
while babies drown in basement apartments.
What frequency will you hear
the trees screaming? Repeat yourself.

The neighborhood birds continue to sing
their morning songs. We must still be ok,
for now? Surrender—then acceptance—or
is it the other away around?

Certainty needs urgency
to keep it potent.
Embody your devotion.
Watch the ocean replicate.

All those Sunday sermons
soaked deep within.
Knowing, that convinced feeling.
Accuracy a worthy reliquary.
Be an animal, again.

panic in the pocket

personal screen shot from the film “Utuqaq” by Iva Radivojević. Text reads: “There is a time/space interval between thought and fear.”

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“To imagine that turmoil is in the past and somehow we are now in a more stable time seems to be a psychological need.” —John McPhee, Assembling California

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In Audre Lorde’s 1984 Creative Writing Workshop in Berlin, she had two requirements:

  1. Read at least 10 poems a week. Keep a log of the poems—name of poem and poet—and write a sentence that will help you recall how you feel from the poem.
  2. Keep a pen/pencil and paper with you at all times to write things down (“it will not stay in your head”).

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In claiming this emotional space every week, anchors of memory and experience structure a highly unstable body of work. I arrive inhabiting this swath of living, or as Lauren Berlant said in her essay Cruel Optimism, “deflating the symbolic into the somatic”.

After all, islands are the tops of mountains. Perception as slant, signaling both perspective and insight. That sweet trigger of embodied habit. Writing from an ascetic life.

What earned reward lays in wait? Is it focus as illumination? Maybe the reward is endurance inside an anxious limbic system. Simply, a need gets satisfied. A temperance of honesty that there is no final outcome to this effort. That this predictive text, and its energy, may be read as art. That this is worthless.

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“If I resisted, I was lost. If I gave in, I was saved.” —Didier Eribon, Returning to Reims

manic melancholia

Everything is just enough to be the same—
delusional observation—everything except
for the unwelcome return of an orangered sun.
The sky is no longer a place to look up to.

GOD IS MY VACCINE, Frank Stoltze, LAist (August 2021)

Wednesday news: 34 wildfires
have started in the last 24 hours.
Have started is an example
of present perfect tense.
As in, trees of all types and ages
have started screaming.

WHAT

So many remain illiterate
about events they claim
have never happened—to them.
Blind to the sound of yellow. Deaf
to exploding blues and facile ghosts.
Forgive me, you wanted this memory to be precise.

forced to opinion

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin, last stanza of “Thanks

photographer: Mark Steinmetz

Afghanistan is falling. Call me.
Pulling out resonates
inside the soft mouths of liars.
Strategic slants concealed
into compressed scrolls [timelines].
Repeat. The future of artificial
intelligence will be a series—trying and failing.
Like the original version of intelligence,
it presumes. It bleeds into itself.

Audacity is roiling. Shhh
your contemporary affect is showing.
In rooms with no windows, meetings crosstalk.
Taunting, we call out to god and beg
his celebrity angels to rescue us.
Suckling angst between pauses of incidental music,
our atmospheric knowledge tells us to take comfort
knowing even the rich are mutually suffocating.
Our shared psychosis now bonded as emotional reality.

itinerant habits

I lean into the throat of summer.
—Jenny Xie, “Chinatown Diptych” from Eye Level

if she had it or NOT

You assume you’ve seen this before,
this familiar demarcation of transition.
What promises or expectations did you bring to this?
You know you can never step in the same river twice.
Are you listening to remember?

edgeplay

“No matter what disintegrating influences I was experiencing, the writing was the act of wholeness.” —Anaïs Nin, In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays

OWING TO LACK OF INTEREST, TOMORROW HAS BEEN CANCELLED, artist unknown

A local politician sells
subtext. Mixing patterns
of outbreaks, denial, aggressive
neglect, profit, waste.   Time
monetized into relativity of spectacle.
Subterranean realities. July descends into August.
Clouds sail by dry as bones. Crowns above spread
shade. Our vernacular noisy wagons, isolated
oak savannas, quarantined in translation.
Wanting to do what we see; evidence.
Let’s take these metastasized days
and ride them into darkness. Be silhouettes,
featureless. Are you aware of all the consequences
when accepting the advertised risks?

regeneration

Write about love,
long evenings,
the dawn,
the trees,
about the endless patience
of the light.

Adam Zagajewski, from “Letter From A Reader”, trans. Clare Cavanagh

7:16am

The sun is out,
bright marine layer.
A bus kneels at its stop.

7:30am

Every morning
a renewal
of acceptance.

7:31am

An honest question: how do you balance hope with truth?

8:22am

electric hum

How good it felt: to want something and
pretend you don’t, and to get it anyway.

—last two lines of Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s “July

“Whose Values?”, Barbara Kruger exhibit, Getty Museum, July 2015

Trust your gut. I don’t want you to get lost in the details. This is a map, a blueprint, a ledger of interactions, process or form or whatever you’ve been taught to see.

Guests of former selves clamor. There are fires and no water. Heat domes and variants. Return-to-work and shelter-in-place. Critical race theory and Big Lies™. Long division and 4th of July car sales. Blueberries are rotting on the bush and border theatre sells out. The routine of keeping it together. Line by line, word by word, click by click. 21st century prefabrications.

How can I hurl myself deeper
into this life

—Ellen Bass, “The Long Recovery”

I’m a maximalist by virtue. I want more than an average understanding. I’m the oldest daughter of an amateur bull rider. Surface-level commonality is temporary as an ocean wave. I want to be like the tides, consistently influential to the point of unforgettable. Inverting the fates, nothing unimportant.

proportional speculation

Les Krims, 1970, spitting out the word p-h-o-t-o-g-r-a-p-h-y

Hope was my greatest sin. —Clarice Lispector, from “The Disasters of Sofia”

Your and my immunity are fated these dragged, hot days.
In a burning world, my dreams saturate. Mostly trees,
thick, green, with moss thick as absence. Caution—
only longing and sunny winters ahead. Toward is a feeling.
Away a noun. What luck has found us both still breathing?
Our futures have become increasingly jealous of the past.
Portents of death a spammed life—forgettable.
Self as a frequency. Do you know how to want less?

wasted on apparitions

WHAT ARE YALL LIKE ON A GOOD DAY, 2021

The pattern is there is no pattern. Only thrills split from the inside of nightly dreams. Fireworks imploded. In the background of Jaws, the captured sound of the ocean insistent. Tumbleweeds untitled. Lives carefully leashed. Forgiveness now sold at cost. It’s cheaper than a full-bodied excavation or postponing uninsured vacations. Those flag waving contests, sacred competitions, enunciate the ascendant feelings. Clear and bright. Rising suspicions, surges of delusion, all of it natural as dredged wetlands or pipelines exploding to spectacular affect. The variants are just following the rules of long division. A simple prayer; please. Insert more coins to keep living. The transactions of ordinary time. Freedom to fill an empty page. Phantom whisper networks now interstellar contextual markers. Parabolic welcome wagons. There is no pattern, only recognition.

an observer’s song

“How innocently life ate the days.” —John Updike, Couples

Oakland, CA, June 2020

All day long, she sits behind windows
watching swollen ancient clouds
echo along abraded front lines.
She traces their carved patterns
and records distorted stillness.
Parting seductive, the bruised grey sky
swarms off to her west and opens wide.
Some might say she’s damned
but that’s a different parable
for a different time. Today,
she’s thinking about sanctity of attention.
Relationally vast in its deviant transience,
she listens to sovereign urgent voices
like well-fingered coins tossed into wishing wells.
This form of anticipation reclusive and incessant,
unyielding as the agency of water.
An observant song now broadcast as western light.

summer testimony (no. 4)

“What happens when you reposition agency away from power?” —Ocean Vuong, episode 227 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

Hayashi Waichi, Large Chrysanthemums, 1981

I’m writing this down
as proof of memory.
The sky is almost always
a solid backlit blue
unless it isn’t.
A specificity shared
by anyone who lives beneath it.
Not unlike knowing poppies don’t unfold
until midmorning and being aware, now,
how summer here blooms—
if you’re paying attention.
Gradients of time punctuate
while light cascades unnoticed.
In other words, there’s devotion
and there’s feral experience.

present perfect tense

bright / waiting, East Bay Times, May 25, 2021

Time is visual—
the sun an arc,
we are the curve.
On the cusp of a new year
time has been absorbed;
last year not yet finished.
Unless otherwise stated,
no one is coming to save me.
Time now swarmed with qualifiers,
its own forgotten circumstance.
Lead me gently back to place.
My tense present perfect—
not yet.

pay me for this time

Pleasure is productive; it produces itself. —Arielle Zibrak

Clouds stretch fluff
over million-dollar hills.
That clock stopped years ago.
The plants grow taller.
Evacuations have started,
master prompts. This land of fault lines
under a sky so blue, suspended in hope.
Responsive is the desire, a memory.

relent

SFO to PDX, March 2012

#HolySpirit trends
as the jet stream moves
torrid seasons west to east.
The Arctic Circle holds tropical.
We start to make summer plans—
then actually book them.
“Space to breathe” or “create
new memories” congregate
fragmented within threaded comments
like when Roland Barthes says
in A Lover’s Discourse,
“this is the paradisiac realm
of subtle and clandestine signs:
a kind of festival not of senses
but of meaning”. Maybe this summer
will feel more like a communion—
public intimacy sanctioned.