the remainder

Fortify yourself with contentment: that is an impregnable stronghold.
—Epictetus, Fragments

WHAT A RIDE, Oakland, January 2022

Let’s look at the ocean until we grow old and
drag the thread of time in between murmurations
as their shadows break the bright winter sky.
To our west, memory spools present tense
as a setting sun moves into its next future.
We are movements of repetitions, constellations,
imaginary museums, ancient light.
Out of all the days and all the cumulative years,
what we hold together is dedicated to what remains.

long in the tooth

starlight, November 2019

The Office of War called yesterday.
All I heard was long in the tooth
when I hung up. My sins caught in a swallow.
The shape of my throat a specter.
Inside a rest of breath, the devil entered.
Its own mouthed amnesia performing miracles
for an imaginary audience. Held in conversation,
duplicitous like looped lights, our testimony
has officially become an unsanctioned occupation.
My collusion its own astonished tradition
as the days spill forward as brave and holy spasms.

meteorology

“Sanity is our power of perception kept focused. And it is an open ended endeavor.” — Etel Adnan

Jenny Holzer, Jesse 2, 2005, Polaroid, 33 x 22 in

Even starlight, and its perceived distance,
holds darkness longer
as these new days grow shorter.
Shadows spread. It’s their time of year
and we must learn to adapt under revised conditions.

The trees have begun shape shifting through color
and through ritual loss. We leave each other
in the waning dark of morning. I make the bed,
still holding warm from our collective sleep.
Our dreams now embodied and out walking in the world.

Physicality isn’t always an obvious feeling
like love or violence or how Earth’s atmosphere
blends, eventually, invisibly into outer space.
But here, now, I want to think about low-strung colored lights,
long-distance horizons, and desire lines back home.

call to warning, or a prayer

There are easier ways to say these things, but some things shouldn’t be said easily. —Octavia Butler, Imago (1989)

SMILE FOR ME….., April 2022, Oakland, CA

The first season’s snow dusted the highest Sierra peaks.
Much later, I heard the falling morning light beg for attention.
In this origin story, and its evolving landscape,
the changing trees become the loudest voices.

I learned early that submission requires indulgence.
They called it grace, which was also a sympathy.
I remember there was laying on of hands.
At the edge of town, someone advertised a rummage sale.

Within this temporary interval of speculation,
fate feels systematic. I carry absence like an autopsy,
an examination as method towards truth.
I know how to hold time as a promise.

comfort zones

“And now I see that I am sorrowful about only a few things, but over and over.” —Mary Oliver

July 2011

In June, I dreamt of New York City: the subway, tucked and nested shops,
sand dunes, snow drifts on the beach.

In July, at 6:47pm, so much light still.

In August, I prayed the cadence of life would find me awake and wanting.

Suddenly, it is October. It feels like beautiful trouble, like tasteful nudes,
both a precipice and an orientation towards receptivity.

For the first time in a long time I’m not worried.
I know how to wait for the giving to begin.

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.

I’m retraining my algorithms to understand me

“Absence is harder to accept than death.”  —Etel Adnan, Sea and Fog

TECH DESTROYS, Portland, OR, June 2022

August is a month of dedication.
Be like the cloud-burning light,
and ask yourself, was it on purpose
or an accident, and then try to decide
which wrong answer is easiest to forgive.
Is your faith in the disembodied voice of unlearning
or the recollections of a still life, untouched?
That’s the kind of sensory deprivation I echo.

You must assume there is truth in this translation.

maladaptive daydreams

summer avoidant
sadder than green oranges
—not yet

March 2012, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, DC

Diminishing returns on man-made misery:
take drinking water to put out wildfires
then create full-color murals of mercurial martyrs
underneath burnt contrails that suggest messages
of conscriptive curtailment. There is some hope
as we begin the slow pilgrimage towards autumn.
But, last year was a mast year. Abundant loss.
What should we barter for an underdog future?

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.

shadowbox

Paradise, Oakland, CA, July 2022

Summer funerals, holiday funerals, GoFundMe™ funerals
become parades of divinity serving a false purpose:
time progresses. Thrust takes the shape of a noun
and a verb; slow entry
repetition is seduction is violence is compliance.
Mutilated men archive intimacy inside avarice
and finger the crumbs left behind.

summer testimony (no. 7)

That things “just go on” is the catastrophe. — Walter Benjamin

Gil Rigoulet, England series, 1970-80

The poppies were still asleep.
Cats, the ones who never let me pet them,
stare past me as the sun migrates west.
It is summer. I am feral, again.
Or maybe this rumor wants to be about withdrawal,
an urge for a substance being withheld. Within,
there can be acceptance, resistance,
and something possessed delicately in between—
unknown, suggestive and loose like spontaneous prayer.
The atmosphere, thick with notes of jasmine and rose,
wanders around my morning shadow. It traces vintage memories
swarming unsolicited and holy: 4th of July rodeos,
tomato sandwiches, shedding cottonwoods, and parental neglect
so pervasive it remains material witness to all those lost summers.
Of course gravity is physical, but who will study its somatics?

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.

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

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 are 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.

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.

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.

wish you were here

“I find it easy to admire in trees what depresses me in people.”
— Marge Piercy, last two lines of “The Doughty Oaks” from The Moon Is Always Female

ART PEOPLE, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, March 2021

Spring finds us haunted. A seasonal feeling after witnessing winter’s passing, but it is acute this year. Blue skies expanding. Nests of birds explode in sound. Time is the fulcrum. I love you fills the past, present, future. Now weightless, light cracks through early morning clouds.
I thought about the scam of resurrection. Some never fully accept death
as loss, permanence unchanged. They believe death can be cheated.
The obvious irony is you’ll suffer from wanting what is not possible.
Time is the fulcrum. Flexing, palming, sucking off temporal attention.

Through the eyes of a non-believer, the sharpened edge of dilution,
I miss you.

this is the best time of year to be a futurist

Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out.
Let it all pass. Let it go.
— May Sarton, from Volume One: Journal of a Solitude (Norton, 1977)

Photographer: Harry Gruyaert

As evening’s frantic pink light slips into a lavender twilight hour,
gravity continues to hold us in place like constellations.
We string and loop lights around the apartment to project
hope’s fractal reflections everywhere. Yes, we really do
have to keep going and salvage tomorrow’s fragile glittering promises.
Predictions of our survival will be found in the how of our doing.
When oranges begin to ripe on the West Coast, that’s the signal
to gather for the next new beginning. Heed tradition’s clairvoyance
and pull on the shiniest threads to prepare for a better future. Pop! Fizz!
Incite! Even in the expanding darkness, prophetic renewals
of mutual liberation trend as lack rages on. Hope brings so much to want,
manufactured and genuine, next year no longer waits.

going nowhere fast

“All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.” ― Blaise Pascal

BOARD IS AWARE, Westlake, OH 2012

I was told salvation is coming. It could be any day now. My earliest memories integrated this knowing as a worried occupation, equal parts faith in and fear of the odds. Much later, I learned trees share similar survival stories. Expressed urgently as generosity, with occasional pause to report danger, trees communicate through elaborate, networked underground comms systems. This year, they’ll wait for a response not aware their friends and family didn’t survive wildfire season. We all wait in this sense of unknowing as predictions of unimaginable loss dampen relentless holiday sales pitches. Our cumulative temperament is tuned towards intermittent reinforcement, an addiction to hope. 

Lately, as a ritual of escape, I wander between landscapes of turning Japanese maples and persimmon trees, flickering reds and faded orange, as palms stay evergreen while limes and lemons transform sour. Take this lust and ride its crest. I want to believe this could be a new beginning as waves of survivor’s guilt swell, then spread.

Poetic principles like allowing for improvisations and diligence of testimony guide my guarded thinking these vanishing days. I create deliberately, in curious inquiry of being in a state of suspended exile. Forgive me as I loop.

go in pleasure

“There is a sense in which we are all each other’s consequences.”
—Wallace Stevens, All the Little Live Things

DTF, July 2018, Oakland, CA

Every day has been a chance
to live within the margins
that remain and maintain
the rigor of keeping it together.

Some normalized themselves
to a saturation point when
conspiracies’ realities are
unconfirmed real threats.

The calendar says winter is coming.
Where is this god that so many claim?
The one that protects and loves us or
that other one that enjoys mercy.

Queer as feelings, speculation has left
us wild. Go ahead—we might as well
make our own temporal decisions.
Loud, quiet, loud. Fringed dynamics.

The greed of men. A sagging breast.
Haphazardly adjacent as ecstasy.
Our animal consciousness seek
what we recognize, warm refuge.

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

talking, for some, is filling time

self-portrait in Mother’s Day Daises (Dorothea Lange, 1934), Oakland Museum of California, 2018

confirmation is a need
during Steinbeck summers
lifting up prayers
by day and profitable hour
just one way to count time
while Siberia and Los Angeles burn

a poet said truth is a promise
is conspiracy
is part of the weather
is a chain of events
an affect of algorithms
our unconscious

this wanting desire to influence
counterfeit double consciousness
divergent as sonic traces
bending poetics of disaster
to experience thinking out loud
together   on a mesoscale

yielding

Barbara Kruger “Don’t Make Me Angry”, 1999

volume won the day

what was said
had to be abandoned

because more was coming

this universe was not built
to accommodate more than one sun

Betty Danon, I am, 1978

call me when
the Afghanistan war
is over

Black Lines 1, 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe

 

fog obscures the depth behind it

 

Richard Barnes, Murmur, 23 December 2006

from my side of this wall
I am only a body
& the sky is a milky blue

I quietly compose performative debts
unchecked — they form treacherous habits
when written they  s t r  e t c h  smooth

I’ve ritualized these (now) ceremonial feelings
& marinated in their bone-heavy broth
as panicked days continue to pace themselves

salvaging

“but i am running into a new year and i beg what i love and i leave to forgive me”
— Lucille Clifton, from I am Running Into a New Year

“your dream is my nightmare,” (trans. google) Berlin 25 Oct 2019

Always, an airplane in the sky. Our big, beautiful world is dying. We string colored lights in windows. This time of year requires letting go of what cannot be undone. The freeway flows forward, always. Birds sing in tune with worn out brakes of city buses. Today I will laugh. Where does the grotesque fall away and where is the real? Knees. Ribs. Pelvis. Hips a spacial reference to another’s manipulation. My body woke me in the middle of the night. I wasn’t sure if it was fair to tell you this truth. I disassociate enough to protect my sensibilities and made myself small to accommodate your vision of a world that owed you. I kept my mouth shut for fear of casting a shadow on your carefully carved out spotlight. I need new vocabulary to describe this headstrong ritual. Joy and excitement is replicable but they won’t be to scale. Yesterday I watched a woman kiss pigeons. Gently and respectfully, she kissed the bravest on their greedy beaks. In a sea of bread crumbs and feathers, she shared her love with those who surrounded her. Come back into it. My body won’t relax. I pick up the slack. Evening’s receiving light follows me home.

slow blink to xmas

Always to shine,
to shine everywhere,
to the very depth of the last days…

-Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky

Arnaldo Pomodoro, Untitled, 1984-85.

Celestially speaking, we all belong to a restrictive social class.
Cumulative in our longings, we render dependency as emergencies
[how romantic to feel each other’s interdependent commitments].
We take our love-starved coordinates and plot collective orbits.
Moving at the textured pace of gravity’s grace, time fragments.
Do not worry. This scattering happens every year. Remember?
What will you pick up and carry into tomorrow? The new year?

morning shadows

Do me a favor this morning. Draw the curtain and come
  back to bed.
Forget the coffee. We’ll pretend
we’re in a foreign country, and in love.

Raymond Carver, last stanza of “The Road”

Helen Lundeberg, Islands, 1986. Acrylic on canvas, 127 x 127 cm.

There’s an urgency when you wake up in darkness. Instinct tells you to trust that light is coming. The sky opened a hazy lilac. Morning shadows sharpen. I’ve misinterpreted the danger inherent in matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Navigating productions, stilted formations misunderstood as lyrical responses, becomes a performance. Often, soothing a distraction.

I learned early that soft touches were to be saved for moving someone to confession, then towards salvation. For all those end-of-days Sunday warnings, I am not prepared. This is a special kind of denial, an abject version of faith.

“We should have known” has signaled subtle shaming. Didn’t you hear all those rumors?

The moon is new. At the moment, there is no wind. My body remembers this fear. My sense of distance expands in the pink layered light.

I’ve kept this on the tip of my tongue, at the rim of my mouth, inside my lungs sweet like a curated secret. I tried to write around the noise but this is the silence that found me.

enter

Out One, 1971, Jacques Rivette

“Variety, multiplicity, eroticism are difficult to control.” — Barbara Christian, The Race for Theory, 1988

the world has been ending
since humans monetized time
selling stories elegant as tree rings
interrupted only to loop

together, attention affects gravity
softly gathered in quiet
found in the folds of endurance
atoned — we focus on the migrating season

elegant in its infinite chase
an autumn sun rose ripe
peachy explosions
light bloomed dandelion bright

take my hand, let’s walk
to the edge of town
I promise our sky opens
if you listen to its longest shadows

moving diagonally in a blur

Lill Tschudi (Swiss, 1911-2004), Venetian Lines I, 1950. Linocut, 26 x 28 cm. Number 16:50

god is absent these manic days
and still, we try to be our best selves
(even my plants have grown inches)

find your lazy gaze focused
there is forgiveness in being temporary
(pink light burns morning fog)

abstract detachment feels like coping
dreamy summer days tumble us smooth
(bone white clouds break open)

difficult knowledge

Below Zero (Fahrenheit), Lake Erie, Pennsylvania, Josef Hoflehner, 2015

as perennial pipelines heat prairie homes
I dream of drifting oceans & waves of snow

effluence      affluence

I have been told so many times & so many ways
this  world   is  ending

omen        amen

I’ve taken to stealing lines on borrowed time

censor       center

somewhere in this self-immolation is discipline
the denomination of need

paradox of desire

October 2018, Brooklyn

I almost never buy in bulk, although I appreciate the expression of commitment. My lack of bulk desire is rooted in one of those childhoods funneled through scarcity politics, of all kinds: spirit, body, voice, resources, access, stimulation. My earliest taste of cultural politics were synthetic extractions grounded in epic narratives of fatherly protection.
A practice endured through sacrifice.

There was a seduction to all that nurturing, an attention and encouragement to focus on one’s most intimate self—the soul.
If followed correctly, there would be saving.

In all that repetitive redemption, there was a sense of safety—
false as it was. I ache for those early feelings of learning about abundance. When the simple was profound, like the sound of snow falling.

These days are starting to feel retrograde, astrologically speaking
an illusion. My dreams are looping, again. I’m taking all these memories, the bulk of them, and feeling nothing but an offering to grieve for what was taken, withheld, starved. An invitation of acceptance, a different kind of suffering.

 

conscientious imposter

‘I see’ ‘with my voice’ — Alice Notley, from The Decent of Alette

Note by Anne Truitt, April 1965

our learning is from the news
a nurtured condition

⁄ it is eclipse season
shadows are light  ⁄

our call is to imagine, to conceive
defend against performance-enhancing speculations

visionary blight
= fragmentations

our hands worn from self-caress
please see management

it takes a lot of energy to kill a god
Δ long division

tautology, as a fault of style

“with the evolution of awareness came the possibility that existence could be more than survival, or that survival could be more than a response to fear, and could include the encompassing of joy” — Jeremy Wolff, excerpt from the essay Thots on Pot

April 2018

Northern Plains’ cottonwoods spread their seeds this time of year.
Thick as snow, their white progeny coats lawns and 4×4 pickup trucks.
A soft blizzard similar to the way Saharan dust reached Texas this week.

Both are dramatic—all that settling.

When adoration and permissions share the same open mouth of devotion
it is recommended that you consult your prophesies to justify blanket explanations. Only then should you transpose your unknowing
into thoughts and prayers. A crash disrupts into eventual silence.

rosemary

“But your pleasure understands mine.”
— Clarice Lispector, The Sharing Of Loaves

Betsy Eby (American, b. 1967), Rise, 2017. Encaustic on canvas over panel, 35 x 48 in.

At 39,000 feet, clouds rose like mountains
fading to dark as the blushing sun set
to black as the thinnest winter ice.
Ice we learned to turn our wheels into,
and when done correctly, such surrendering
was proactive evidence of a survivor’s effort.

In spring, we plant rosemary to remember
our deepest buried beliefs. We harvest
and revise our most shadowed secrets like wanting nothing
but distant empty horizons and bodies that do not betray.

We sculpt these altered thoughts and declare them working dreams.
In trust, our shared wishes for a braver future were coming true.