end of the third quarter | 2022

Alex Prager, Anaheim, 2017, 60 x 45 inches

“It is a time for tons of verbiage, activity, consumption.” —Mark Rothko

The end of the year is coming, again.
Will you claim you are satisfied,
so far? How will you commit
to these remaining days? In this interlude,
what to cherish, what to improvise,
what to root, and what to let go?

I am still learning to pretend
the difference between memories
of a past gone and memories of a past unknown.
A loop on its return becomes a harbinger
of sentient evidence, now personal phenomenology.
It’s best to surrender to messianic joy

at this horizon point in a vanishing year.
Update your maps of what remains of your calls
to provisional responses. Name your beloveds.
There’s still time for passionate cadence and
appreciation of light’s lengthened silhouettes.
That space, that pause, is an insider’s point of view.

These longings pull from long-shadow days and nights.
Return, again, repeat. That kind of essential
permanence, palpable. Cross reference your embodied index,
then become a territory beyond meaning.
Enable new, interpretive beginnings. I flicker—an epic
verse. Your alterity is my resonance. Ride with me.

hope is a hairshirt

“Die knowing something. You are not here long.” —Walker Evans

Québec / Montréal / 1983 / © Gil Rigoulet

I don’t want to complain. It’s the morning light, bright and orange, that is angry.
Do not read this as a confession but more guided by the belief: a month of Sundays.
It may be true; I have a furious wish to rearrange time. This is not a mare’s nest but more deceptively a half-full moon. Breaking has an edge when the loudest crowd is guided
by psychopomps muted mouthing and demented. Sound waves are dependent upon temperature to carry their messages too. I’m learning town names and their geography
by following wildfires. Not quite pastime, like writing, but more gradual like buried cities now exposed. Reminders that it is the slanting light who is sharing this memory.

nothing but expression

Full Moon [glitch], October 2020, Oakland, CA

We drown out,
floods of thoughts
and prayers—desperate gasps.


Obsessively tracking
celestial bodies:
full, new, eclipsing.


Making meaning, semantic as memories,
plumbed from cult-like sacrifice
and stolen, inverted landscapes.


This prelude is redemptive work.

plastic as plants

A bitter taste lingers—
stringent, 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, sin,
and salt. 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, I 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.

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.

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.

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

future fluid

a spill of light, Detroit 2016

For the first time in any recent memory
the sedimentary accumulation of details shift.
Cloaked like nerves and tucked inside,
we weren’t on any kind of edge at all!

Sometime, much later, Mars reflected bright
suspended above the light-polluted city limits.
Clouds clocked MPH. A smooth sense of validation.

The poets disagreed on the finer points
but we all agreed faint light still finds shadows.
Some called it art.  For now, it was simply enough.
Tea leaves will have to broadcast what’s next.

The questions endless: courage or nostalgia?
Our timelines no longer mediative glory holes.
We, the animals, will follow the sun rising.