conversational reality

THIS SIGN, Oakland, CA, 2022

i.
August kneels before us,
opening like a centerfold.
Somewhere, it is snowing.

ii.
Your boat lacks a lifejacket.
A born-into body, anomaly, karaoke
of the future, we exaggerated.

iii.
So much the same, a state of dissolve
or sentimental consecration? Bloom
reception, on the mouth and in joy.

post-errata

You have to find your own way of stilling time. —Mary Ruefle

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport March 24, 2012

Alchemic wishes and wants, memories
and miracles disintegrate—
muted into mythology of lives lived.
A texture felt both like a shadow
and a daydream or the loss of time found.

View from Main Terminal, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, March 24, 2022, 2:27pm

It’s ok. A sense of panic is inevitable
when half of this year is behind us.
Please promise me you’ll decorate
for Christmas in July, and in between
all the holiday seasons after I’m gone.

Westlake, OH March 23, 2012, 9:07am

Even machines take time to integrate
their learnings. Make the pause sacred
inside this constant state of readiness.

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.

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 are languishing, a residual and continuously active tense.

But we are extraordinary now, more so than the before-times. Those of us who survived 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 on overvalued condos built on top of 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.

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

souvenirs of temporality 

… read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life,
re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book,
and dismiss whatever insults your own soul…
— Walt Whitman

Maurizio Nannucci, THE MISSING POEM IS THE POEM, 1969

This just-past year was a hard and impatient year to live through. All the ways that living had been previously measured—flesh on flesh, breathing in blue sky, talking with your eyes in crowded noisy rooms, curating analog conversations—were inverted. In my sheltered place, I watched as the pace and geographic scale of global suffering became buried in disembodied aggregates. Paradox ruptured.

“Everyone remains aware of the arbitrariness, the artificial character of time and history.”
—Jean Baudrillard, The Illusion of the End 

pleasure  |  obsession |  distraction |  instinct

This list contains references from a calendar year that borrowed time to push its own way through. It began as it ended, incomplete.

    • 40 hours online is not affectively equivalent to an embodied 40 hours
    • consciously inviting imagination and reducing perceived need of others’ assumed expectations cultivates fascination, which is an antidote to manufactured boredom
    • making assumptions wastes time, and more importantly, energy
    • change is unquantifiable malleable entropy
    • morning walks adjust the perceived stillness
    • step into the slant

It has been enough to record the honest and the irreverent interruptions. There are whole days, months, ideas, and precious witnesses missing. An almost unbearable time-lag of consciousness is now felt experience. To survive what? An optics of promise, a future?

distance + force = gravity

the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

—William Stafford, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”

What I continually draw from this poem’s well is not hope but alert perspective and prophetic  predictability. I anchor on should — indicating both obligation and possibility — as the holding ground. “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” is a solicitation, or a prayer, to listen to your clearest signals — yes or no, or maybe — and bravely claim them.

end of the 3rd quarter | 2020

Anthony Hernandez, Los Angeles #1, 1969

count the number of Tuesday’s remaining
this year, if lucky a new year is coming
calibrate your most latent expectations

distinguish stimulation from propaganda
if you need drama, watch the leaves turn

feel the unconscious dare of hope
swallow the sacredness of ordinary days

examine the materiality of fidelity; listen
elucidate future present tense

seek pleasure to root out despair
replenish your somatic prayers

consider how your routine is a rhythm
write down its verse, chorus, verse
review when you forget you are the bridge

crowns & canopies

“Without touch, God is a monologue.” — Andre Dubus from Broken Vessels: Essays

“‘Tax the rich’ talk gaining steam” headline from East Bay Times, 14 August 2020

edge of collapse

absence entrance,

a trance

“FASTER, CHEAPER MAY BE THE WAY TO GO” headline from East Bay Times, 10 August 2020

I’m craving land
spread wide
open.

“Judge” partial headline from San Francisco Chronicle, 11 August 2020

orange primary sun
a macabre atmosphere

the news scrolls
trolls concern for structures

malefic energy
to make decisions

humans are hardwired
to scan for threats

there’s a moment
after the emergency

I feel stupid
like I overreacted

I survived
but didn’t stay calm

making everything sacred
takes so much

in my dreams,
I asked for time

jamais vu

Ketty La Rocca, Autoritratto (Selfportrait), 1971, mixed media, 2 parts overlapped, handwriting on plexiglass, photo 11.8 x 9.4 inch

This week’s evening light:

  • Sunday, 8:42pm — tender blushed peach compressed under a darkening blue
  • Monday, 8:18pm — pink fog then total gray
  • Tuesday, 8:01pm — same as the morning, thick grey, bluish twilight filtering milky air
  • Wednesday, 7:55pm — golden swath darkening blue
  • Thursday, sunset — pink forming clouds pulled taffy puffs
  • Friday, 7:56pm — waning baby blue, wails of light
  • Saturday, 7:47pm — soft yellow cast shadows, sharp, green pulled light

Each passing day isn’t the same or no less familiar to before.
Minor threats of depersonalization thrive.

Are you posting guilt or vulnerability?
When does adaptation become submission?

< 24-hours after a murder, sunbathers litter the park.
Patches of grass worn thin from socializing.

Does a poem always have to have an image to make sense?
Where is hope, not as commodity but energy?

Regret and regards now partnered as the high and low tides.
Oracles continue to collect then sell the texture of amnesia.

Will we recognize our cumulative danger as real now?
When the common fades into spectacle?

in situ

There was a sun once
It lit the whole damn sky
It kept everything
Everything alive

Jawbreaker — Shield Your Eyes

3 November 2017, Berlin

what gods are inside you?

have you asked them for help?
will they respond in time?

5 June 2018, Portland, OR

The different names for the soul, among nearly all peoples, are just so many breath variations, and onomatopoeic expressions of breathing.” — Charles Nodier (1828)

14 September 2019, Oakland, CA

my idle hands are:
structures of experience
polymorphic intentions
dimensions of interstitial time
devils playthings
listening

honest debt

Money cancels criticism. —  Alissa Quart, SINKING IT ALL INTO

Mark Wagner, Petty Cash

I thought, maybe,
I might know myself better by now.

I’ve gotten as far as:
I have a shy crown
with deep roots and
I peel oranges,
with my left hand
separating the segments,
for my future self.

I’m not ashamed to be
loud by omission.

abdicating

“Walking on the land or digging in the fine soil I am intensely aware that time quivers slightly, changes occurring in imperceptible and minute ways, accumulating so subtly that they seem not to exist. Yet the tiny shifts in everything – cell replication, the rain of dust motes, lengthening hair, wind-pushed rocks – press inexorably on and on.” – Annie Proulx, Bird Cloud

Whooli Chen, Morning Song

I’ve learned enough to be dangerous. I’ve failed enough to feel successful.

Lessons learned, in the order they showed up:

  1. Expectations are different than boundaries.
  2. Shame is a form of self-abuse.
  3. Distinguish the difference between meaningful work and paid work.
  4. The stories I tell myself matter the most.
  5. Maintaining a conscious awareness of abundance is the work of being open to inspiration — being fascinated feels good. Acceptance is eternal work.
  6. Establishing new routines takes time.
  7. Trust in self is a sacred commitment.
  8. Patience is its own desire and trust in myself is sacred energy. Learning stimulates: both focus and curiosity are required.
  9. Creating poetics inquiries deepened my capacity for patient discovery.
  10. Breathe through the urge to have answers.
  11. Staying present and having curious inquiry is the process of accelerating joy.
  12. It matters how you show up.

2020 is one of those future-forward years, like 1999 and 2000. Every year has its own biography of echoes. The list above are some of my loudest.

music from the balcony

new wave vengeance frames this reflection. we are now, again.
2018: masses react and subjectively perform aggression.
yes, I do think differently. epistemic relevance matters.

THE MUSIC FROM THE BALCONIES NEARBY WAS OVERLAID BY THE NOISE OF SPORADIC ACTS OF VIOLENCE, Edward Ruscha, oil paint on canvas, 1984.

What a savage year. Calendar time and actual time disassociated. Let go or be dragged. I got dragged and then I let go. In this protracted state, I mended critical boundaries and broke open new patterns. I made the days useful to me. I wrote about cowboys while breathing in fire. I listened and was seduced. I transmuted silence, my way. Drowning in manufactured violence and drama, we held each other longer and tighter. I saw urgency extract exquisite ideas and leave behind ghosts still in motion. Recognizing that glitch, I give myself infinite permission to fail, to risk, to revive. I still believe revolutions are frenetic desires and armor myself contextually. Curiosity is my ideal pace. I follow cats and poets. I came into this world greedy. I need reminders when my body grips fear: be awake for soft pink sunrises and orange suns floating into fading darkness. It is my responsibility to source these personal validations and ritualize inspiration. Reflex grace. Find balance in distractions and create sacred ceremonies with your hands on my hips.

holy memories

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

— T. S. Eliot

December light, 7:51am

2017 notes to 2018 self:

  • seek light / confront darkness
  • feeling worthy is a practice
  • be clear about priorities
  • inspiration is a higher form of knowledge
  • “discipline creates spaciousness”*
  • no matter how deep the ocean is, you will always find sacred land

These are my centerfold memories — the lessons I opened to over and over again.  The specifics are tenderized images of evolution unraveled, then a consecration of release. As tipping points and space to witness, revision expanded bravery and abundance shifted structures.

My past experiences have been arranged into possibility bright as desire’s capacity to make power transparent. I exorcised ghosts to bankrupt suffering. I transitioned from shame to justice. I bartered verses delicate as externalized validation. I owned my name and its history.

Absorbing only credible echoes, I dreamt I was safe and expressed joy religiously.

I wake curious.
_______________________

* Naimonu James

theories

Manuel Calvo, Sin título, 1960

I.  spam is a language and a strategy

II. our hearts are rabbit holes

I.  interstates *need* mirrored billboards

Inflections reflect emphasis, and opening and closings. Some days I think being ___ is the best way to survive. An existence spread. That feels aspirational in vision and phonetically embodied. A form of capacity.  Or dispossession. A bridge as much as a boundary.