POETS IN SPACEand other stories
–a collection of poems and flash fiction composed between 2011-2013
The sun flickers behind the clouds.
I pretend it’s an omen
for the end of the world.
Hong likely never cared,
at least not for his fridge,
now resting upon another
dusty square in my bedroom attic.
I use his fancy umbrella in the rain.
It expands like a peacock’s plume
–to think Hong affords such things.
I mistook his dehumidifier…
for a postmodern water-cooler.
I placed it atop the mini-fridge
while asking his memory:
was Ohio air humid?
Have I mistaken your humanity
for a constant smile.
The air was less humid in soul.
I knew you most
as a closed door, a laughing phone
conversation in the room’s white shell.
His memory is the ghost in the empty
fridge, once behind the door.
Hong likely never cared,
so his ghost doesn’t linger like a kind spirit,
drooping over, protecting us
like his umbrella in the rain.
And I stop myself in the road
I’ve mistaken South Korea
Bradbury and the Speck of Dust
Astronaut dust particle
You may have been a spaceship
But I imagined you had been
Launched from your craft
Lost and now hoping for a wind
To send you home, into orbit
Around something not the sun
You’re small to me, but I can see
You’re thin as web when caught
In light, and I wave goodbye
The Last Ever Demon to Feel Love
There is no one in my world
But there is a way out
There is no one in this word
There is no way in my world
To say there is one
Are you a lone wolf? Do you find solace
In suffering alone, though
I find peace in the door of your suffering
I am an empty room
I am the only window in a room
I am bored and evil so let me hold your hand
Alejandro Go To Heaven 2
I want to sleep forever
And I think in horror
Tomorrow will be a morning
Where I’ll appear at the bathroom
Mirror to brush my teeth
I’ll make all necessary movements
I’ll push my hand to that way
And this way, until I’m tired
Until I want to sleep forever
And things go dark again and
I wonder what the point was of
That in-between place, where I’d been tasked
For no apparent reason to wash and rewash
And know and recall
Every little part of myself
I must be suburban dog
And slumber is stick
And devil owner
And his will forbade
dog from ever holding on
I Let Go
My cough has the smell of a wet dog behind it
my carpet is my laundry, my moment is
the threshold of sleep. Trilothon window
of my empire crevice, these are words
for their sounds and something
like a harp in a tired thought
The Narcissist Who Loved Me
I have nothing but my own angst to offer the world I’m the petty narcissist that loves you I’ve only just remembered I have a mother for I’ve been drawn close to how pretty Your face would look Right next to mine, my Complimentary color, I love the way I look at you, I love The way you look at me Look at me Me me me.
The War On Time
I am a bitter old man. I write about the tree in front of me So that I know there is Such a tree And days or years pass and I May have forgotten it had been There waiting, and I’d forget How long it really takes for A whole star to go up and fall If I hadn’t written that I spoke to a person and about what Then this day would have vanished Like all the others, but now this page is A tunnel to the past. I see people in the grass. Wind Cold for a sweater. Bukowski Book to my side And now this moment is real, a Brazilian samba in my ear, now I’ll remember This line means that time passing is Real, that it doesn’t just become Remembered, I am here For all time. I am the self abandoned by the whole That changes, that moves in time And space, I am in a dimension Of non-dimensional surface Now that I’m here, I’ll make a list Of all the evil in the world Starting with the stupid.
The Pages Will Keep Me
I’ve drifted too far from my journal
The pages will keep me stable
The page is space for water flow
For rain to run on, flattened
feelings to plateau
So that I may see
The secrets hidden
I’ve forgotten Neruda
and about beautiful things.
I’ve not seen much—of the beauty,
the Real Beauty. Sunshine and
trees and shit. Where is the sunshine hiding.
A fucking bird landed on a fucking branch.
And it went a motherfucking
Chirp chirp chirp
Something about my lover,
Dreams, clouds, birds
Fly through clouds
Wings, my lover, goes
chirp chirp chirp, my god.
I’ve married a pigeon!
Picture Pablo Neruda
Fucking some pigeon.
The lines he’d write, about
The feathery, squawking
He’d basically kill it. Then,
as poets often do,
he’d smear the stringy
remains, the ripped bladder-
torn stomach, the cookies
and cream shit playfully
dripping down the dry-river
of his trembling, Chilean
The guts marinating
O’er his erect proboscis, I mean
his nose, but—yes, also his penis.
The vile passion of Corinth
perched on the heretic pulse
of his Babeling Tower:
The man behind:
Signs of Life And other stories
Signs of Life
And other stories
Protagonist walks to park, horrified
to find someone more interesting
A park-benched protastronaut doing
nothing, successfully, and so
Not-So-Protagonist prods and ooh-
awes the cubist gleam of noon
on the dark visor, asks,
“inquiringly”: I’m writing a novel
about life, called “About life,
—but there is no response,
as the space suit is, in fact,
“Tell me what you’ve seen.
Have the down trodden faces
of brown people utterly
Have you fallen in love with travel.
Have you lost one too many members
early on, and has the divinity
of ninny-suffering obliged
the erection of bridges
from thought to thought.
Or was it the other kids?
—The kids at school called me names,
and so I began a scorched-earth
retreat into narcissism, hence
there’s no point or plot to pain
without being the absolute
But angels visit my absent night,
and they’ve said there is no center
in an abstraction, no “point” in an
infininnity, and that I
am really just another douche bag,
and that in the lofty
direction of heavenly logic,
my pain is punishment
for how I respond to my pain.
I’m not sure what’s worthy
or large enough to force
in the pages of books.
Or what calls on all idling
Addl-escents to write the same
and over, since all my life amounts,
not to the numbered miles
of newborns longing at last
to be heard, but to
the contents of a single sign:
I dreamt a man on the moon’s base. A rocketeer on a mission to new worlds, saying to his love, I will be right back, I just need to get something from this spaceship,
but he got preoccupied with re-sewing a rug at the rocket’s door,
because he’s action driven, and over-thought prevents most from living,
and he spends the rest of his life making it look nicer, until at last, he suffocates of old age and so does she, and she stood there waiting and watching for him to finish. He never began his voyage to new worlds. Another Greek Myth.
I look at the ceiling, I say to mission control:
I’m going in deep,
Deep space, I’m so far down
Into the ether of thought, mission control can hardly believe
I’m still able to communicate, but that’s why I’m the best.
If you ever want to know who you are,
Fall to sleep
I accidentally took the tweezers from my sister’s bathroom a few days ago, as they are identical to the one’s I brought from my apartme
nt. I put hers back behind the mirror, and afterward, while eating peanutbutter breakfast cookies made for me by my sister’s maternal roommate, was confronted in my deep imaginings by the official tweezer-tribunal, who presented—or rather charged me—with a most meaningless Catch-22: When I brought her tweezers to the bathroom, which were far cleaner than mine, I casually allowed myself to use them on my overgrown-Argentinean eye-brows, as it was more convenient than to also bring my own tweezers, which I’d then have to repack in my backpack-pack. The tribunal charged that by returning the cleaner tweezers, which were of course my sister’s, I took advantage of the opportunity to use them, thus dirtying them, and that conversely, if I would have returned my already dirty tweezers to her bathroom mirror, and then used those to pluck my eye brows—I would still be in violation of the tribunal’s laws, as I would have stolen my sister’s actual tweezers, as opposed to just dirtying them.
In response to all these shenanigans, I cried out, “Who the hell even cares about a pair of tweezers?”—because at the time when I said this, I had mistakenly thought that the officials, with their white robes and pope-like hats, represented a higher ranking, and therefore more intelligent members of the “Interior Spaces and Materials” governmental bureaucracy of my sister’s apartment.
But I then realized that a third party had changed the symbols of the tweezer-tribunal’s tall helms with those of the other, wiser rank! No wonder they were so cross and indiscernible with me and my situation. I immediately shifted my rhetoric:
“—Oh, em, my apologies, I can think of nothing more important than tweezers—of which, of course, indubitably so, my sister’s is of optimal value and prestige, perhaps I could honor this most reasonable tribunal with a peanut butter cookie—“and they immediately frowned, so I recalibrated, “—or I mean, honor with a selection of shining tokens of my many hygienic utensils? Precision tweezers? Multi-purpose toenail clippers?”
Let me specify, that these officials had no other or higher purpose or passion than the maintenance and glorification of tweezers and all in that range. I basically committed a kind of unforgivable blasphemy in their eyes. Is that tautology? Is blasphemy inherently unforgivable? That’s also my first time using the word tautology. I’ve only heard smart people say that. Am I smart yet? Where am I.
The eldest of their oracles eased up, his gray beard sank a tad lower, his staff no longer a threatening spear. I used my cunning language to palliate the tense situation, but now I had to find out who was really behind all this—who had switched the hats of the tweezer tribunal? And what on earth did they want from me?
Something tells me this is huge.
I don’t know how people hold on
To the surface of the earth
In violent spin
I just can’t feel
This “gravity” that everyone
Is on about. I can’t feel a thing.
I cling to the grass at the side
Walk’s edge for dear life
For I can feel the depths
Of uncertain space pulling
Me away, and the earth
Rioting in a silent orbit
Like it’s whispering in my ear
To let go.
The Magical Life of Tombert the Bear
One upon a time, there,
Was a forest,
Was a socio-economic-nothingness, there was teddy bear, his name was Tombert, and Tombert believed in magic, magic was real in his mind, and consciousness was only just brief moments of psychosis. Language and metaphor was controlled schizophrenia, caused by his brain growing too large in the smallness of his skull, over millions of years. He tried talking about it with the Frog Princess, but she did not understand. And Tombert was sad because he loved the Frog Princess, and so he considered suicide. He had boner-dreams about the Frog Princess. But she only paid attention to Kevin Chameleon, because he could assimilate into the appearances of the external, superficial world. Kevin could be anything, and he was going places, perhaps to New York. And so Tombert continued considering suicide.
“I need to get out of here” said Tombert the Bear. “Why do I exist, why do I exist when I cannot be close to anyone, when I am not free to love and to feel loved?”
“I hate consciousness,” pouted Tombert the Bear.
Frog Princess so beautiful, said Tombert, her eyes so big, the reptilian contours of her face, how her eyes recede, magic-like into the wringed wells of her oozing sockets, and then bulge outward again, glass orbs, hollow and filled by iridescent lakes with golden centers, how he wanted to see them closer. Frog Princess was so beautiful, but she was kind of a bitch, but it only made Tombert like her more. Tombert Longed for more money. With more money, Tombert could impress the Frog Princess, and if he could have money to dress up as nice as Kevin Chameleon, perhaps she would grow to love him. But Tombert could not find work, because he did not look nice enough to succeed in the world. Tombert’s brain continued to press against the boundary of his skull, and voices came to him in the pervasive night. There’s always a way out, they said. The dark texture of being will never leave you. No one will ever touch you. Who you are in the inside does not matter to anyone. What we feel gathers like dust in the rotting corners of the bear-bedroom. Open the only door, there is always a way out. The world is hungry for your fear. The womb of being is lined with magical acid, is a stomach, so hungry for poor Tombert. As he falls to sleep, he tries hard to think that he is following a light, and that perhaps the lights have come from the eyes of his distant Frog Princess, and he believes in it enough that it becomes real to him, and he is no longer afraid to let go of the cruel world.
Tuesday: Happiness is Over
It wasn’t a season for happiness.
I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a bird, and observed its quiet movements in the small keep of twigs and leaves. I cannot remember the last time I stood still, but maybe this isn’t the season for standing still. But maybe all that kind of peace is over. Maybe happiness is over. It’s like the memories have mummified, and my skin’s unraveling from my gnawing gargoyled hands, as though happiness were over—and so am I. I look back to the blue walls of my bedroom, where all my little airships would hang, and the walls like a secret, pretend sky–how they absorbed layers of sunlight and music, and in dark moods I could press my ear against the little pores and hear the lost sounds and feel the warmth of captive light.
But those walls have been painted over. Some Indian man has become my mother’s tenant, and as I once did, he locks himself away. I look back, a bit closer, to the drunk, pounding beat, and my slow anticipation, walking forward as my hands part the straggling people, the excess fragments of party lights. I remember. I remember walking into the dark rooms, the smoke and lost people. Some retreat into the corners of ownerless bedrooms, slouched to the floor, everyone admits how much they really love everyone. And the smoke weaves between the moving legs, the atmosphere becomes infinite, and all those doubtful and aimless students are like ghosts in a ceremony, resurrected to drink from the inebriated temple. The living room lasts forever, with its chairs pushed to the wall, the night is an endless world, memories are eternal for as long as they are happening.
But life is not an endless coming of age revelation. You’ll never be this happy again, you’ll never feel this connected. But then people go missing, and you get the sense that as they go home or pass out, or graduate, that they’ve completed the ceremony, and their spirits have been released from the curse, leaving you behind in the purgatory of unhealthy attachment.
Until you get to the front door, and walk out into the cold, and trace the footsteps through the snow, but the slush makes its way into your worn sole anyways, And you wonder how a single door could be the only barrier between that memory and the rest of your life. I’ve opened so many. I had no idea, I had no idea what I was doing, every new room I’ve wandered into, every other I’ve left behind, like light bouncing in space, like an exhale making its way from the small cracks of a cave. Everything is so far away. I am so far away. I cannot stay here, all rooms and times, like dreams, must end. And here now, I’m looking for another do
Friday: We can start by staring at my shoe,
at least that’s where I reminded myself to start after a shot of makers mark. I was bent over, retying it in order to brace myself for a brief yet satisfying show off session on the dance floor, where talented black people had begun to make noise. But I was drunk. I’d had more than a shot, and some flaming cunt making completely boring moves at a pool table bumped his ass into my face as I knelt down. I took way too long tying the leather laces of my hipster boating shoes
But I suppose this day begins earlier, again with my shoes, or rather, my right shoe. The sole had come lose at the toe, flopping like a helpless amphibian, and every time I would lift my right foot in my gate, he’d gasp for air and for help, but I’d crush him immediately to the floor. By this time, I’d strung myself out on caffeine, as I’d spent the previous night writing an insane and frivolous midterm paper on early modern painters. The Friday before spring break, in the fifteen minute limbo before class, and I’m pacing around with an animal I cannot tame, so I begin sliding both my feet like a child against the smooth cement floor, because the crunch I feel when I step down, of the grooves of the soul and shoe refitting into each other, is too aggravating. I imagine myself as an ice skater. Or maybe I did not. I’ve learned that memory can’t be trusted. Sometimes when writing you remember things just for the sound of them, for the idea that it was there. I think in narratives because I’m a sad twisted human being. I got drunk and felt sad thoughts one night, many nights, and so in those times I marvel at the sadness of myself, and I think that if I could only belt out the true vibrations of my being, I could be happy. I immediately dismiss it as petty narcissism, because if I don’t , I will hate myself for being so narcissistic. If I don’t hate myself, I cannot love myself. But really, all I want to do is sing.
I want to be like one of those large black ladies. Not large in terms of fat, I swear, but in terms of soul. Sometime in this night, this most depressing and meaningless night, we went to Carabar. (It began in a deserted campus, listening to my peers say nothing of any real value to each other in the studio hall way. And I suddenly regret ever making friends. You’re all worthless and never forget it.)
If I could sing, If I could play the saxophone, then I could release my soul, I could be happy
I keep getting drunk and thinking the cleverest most beautiful things, I need to hold on, I need to remember
I need it, I have nothing else, I’m so alone, I think my sculpture teacher is a goddess
I think that our projected personalities are coping mechanisms for who we really are in the inside.
If I were writing poetry, I’d have called my shoe an amphibian
Right from the start.
And then I’d say how I drenched the open flap outside of kinney hall
with a tube of “ultimate” glue I’d just purchased from the supply store for five dollars. And then I’d mention how I stuck my foot in it and quickly applied several strips of duct tape, thus securing my handy-work and then for sure I’d have gone into detail, in the most brief and eloquent way, of how a short while later, while tossing and turning in the seat of my early modern art lecture, I would realize that the layers of leather in my shoe were quite thin. And that I’d super glued my foot to the soul of my shoe. Dr Knotts went into passionate detail about how the frail lines of Matisse’s “Red Room” was a satire of the illusory depiction of space. And I think, this man really feels it—and so must I, because just then I wrestled my foot from the dry glue with my other foot. I felt how deeply it had crusted into the fibers of my sock, and I bent my toes forward, completely aware that I’d super-glued my sock to my foot as well, and that it would not release as easily.
This is called “Thursday”
This must be a hundred times,
I don’t need paper for this, as I’ve known it
For so long like I know the color of my hair,
And the smell of lotion
But I can’t tell you the title of this poem
Or what it’s about, until after you’ve heard it
There’s a brief lag when I close the in-cognito
Firefox window, and the audio
Of moaning internet dolls will linger
Like waking from dreams
of falling to my bed
And in this wretched buffer, I ask
What the fuck am I doing with my life,
As I force the grooves of a ziplock
Closed, and place the mess in even
Another sandwich bag—as many
Layers of plastic as it takes to distance
Myself from the excess of semen
And when I throw it into the cylinder
Under my screen, the contents begin
To beg to rot. We’re rotting, alejandro
We’re rotting and we smell and you’re broken
No one can ever come here,
And I’m suddenly aware, as I often am in the thick
of dramatic, sad poems, that I am alone,
And that none of my unrealistic crushes,
Currently flashing before my eyes
Have ever worked out in any way.
Thank the heavens no one is here
To see who I really am, thank god
No one’s here to count the number
Of wrinkling Kroger bags in my trash–
Except the sound ends, and I behold
The indefinite glow of the rectangle
And the soft scape of grass and blue
Sky As I’ve not bothered to change
The default windows xp back ground.
And I tread left footed steps
Into this field
And its like I’m a new born
Just naked, covered in peculiar goo
An amnesiac who
Elysium, except its not
And I feel the swivel of the chair
And the dirty laundry, and I detect
The forms of all small objects piled
On the unmatching furniture
I awaken from the spell
Without any feeling or recollection
Of who I was before, or where I am going, a second morning
but from this sudden amnesia
I know what day it is, and I know
This is called “Thursday”
I can’t sit still in the class room. Faces glow—and this portion of the text has disappeared from all reality, as I trailed off the pager of the journal and on to the back of some other loose scrap that I cannot find.
But I continue…I’m a poet, and so there is something burning inside of me.
It’s Thai food.
And the teacher’s voice becomes an abstract texture of verbal hieroglyphs, which aren’t meant to be abstract. I really can’t begin to describe how she sounded. Like a broken house wife? Not even close. Like her throat was receding, and she didn’t really feel like she was talking to anyone, more like reading the thoughts in her head out loud. Do I have the free will, can I wake from the lecture and walk away. I don’t often punctuate questions, because most questions are fabricated, just there for rhetorical purposes. Answers are far too scary and precise. These words cannot approach the anxiety I felt, and the feeling has gone.
But I remember the mantras in the bathroom sta;;. I’m in the right place. Everything’s going to be okay. And I could hear another person waltz in like a phantom, and they filled the stall beside mine like a gaseous entity, an essence of grunts and buckling. I told myself that we were like brothers, soldiers in the struggle against struggle public restrooms and the uncomfortable, in-class squirm.
I look at the metal slide lock. The lock is locked, I try to look at solid things, This lock won’t unlock until I’m ready, I’m safe in here. This is where I should be. In here, I am most human. I could feel a weight leave me. I knew there was more, yet I returned to class like a lemming. I call myself an artist, but I’m not free enough to poop when I need to. I get up from the stall and its like fire ants were burrowing into me. Clinging to the walls, because their instincts told them that more was to come.
What are these trivial words
By the time I walk back, maybe my asshole will feel better. Maybe it won’t hurt to sit down like any other person. Maybe a lot of things. Maybe grandma didn’t have to die. But no such like. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt a long time. And I waddle like a penguin into purgatory and I have to sit back down on my tail bone, so I’m sinking into my chair at the angle of yaw.
My head locking upward, like a dentist chair. I cannot move, the projector lamp invades my slightly gaped mouth. The light and dust will find a way inside of me.
My body is full of holes, the outside
Gets in, and the inside gets out
I feel the gentle weight of recycled curry
Like loose play-do, just hovering
Before my secret passage
If I sit on my spine, I won’t sandwich
My pants between my ass and the chair
Sitting straight would stain my pants,
I have to get out of here. Take control
Must take control.
(insert monologue about penguins and New York)
This is my life. And the room’s light becomes a mirage of blue, all those monitors, All these moments, all these moments, I disappear into the cut-out prism of the door, my hands in front, my hands to the side,
then forward, walking is consciousness
Walking is a rocking gallop
From whence I cannot return
I cannot return
To the same restroom. I dare not close that wooden door
of the stall behind me again
I have to believe that the nightmare of that moment
Is behind me, so I walk down the stairs,
Letting the people I pass Be accessories
to seats along the wall.
I can’t stop smiling,
No, I mean, I can’t stop, I really can’t
they’ll kill me if I stop
I’m not trying to sound self absorbed
It just all comes out of me
Ever since I started drinking coffee
My days have been one long
Enema after another
This is real life, this is mine.
And though it smells, and though
It is so eager to escape me
I love it
I love my shit.
Is this how poets rationalize their inner sadness?
I haven’t been gaining any weight. I keep gorging food
But it’s like I’m pooping it all out.
My ribs show in the mirror
And my hips have sunken in, as if my waste
Had been literally stored in my waist, and the more I poop
The more I take on a disturbing, hour glass figure
If this continues, I could be a model. I could go to New York.
That’s what it takes, that’s how you make it.
Somebody help me, I don’t want to die
Someone take me to the poop doctor.
On the toilet Is the only time
of the day that I’m still
Or alone enough to
Without being fed some irrelevant snap
Of information. I go there now, not just
To relieve myself of fluids
But to flush away all the broken
On the right side of the sink
On the floor, the tiny corpse of a spider
Has been on his back, mummified
By the Clorox I sprayed on him
Several weeks ago. He’d grown too
Large for sympathy, just as I have.
I recite the first half of Hamlet’s soliloquy
Into the mirror, To be or not to be,
Though I have no answer, I imagine
That weeks from now, I’ll have it all memorized
And when I stand up before my thesis preachers
For my final presentation
That is all I will say to them,
And with tears in their eyes, they’ll understand
At long last, what I’ve been feeling.
What I’ve longed to feel,
Let’s make art that’s grounded in the world
Stay informed and make art that’s relevant
Refresh the page of the New York times
And also, look outside the window, and blink a lot
And close the curtains, and then open them again
To check if anything’s changed
Has the sun gone down any
Have the street lights turned on
Maybe a bird’s landed on a power line
Maybe there’s a dog being walked
Maybe it’s a puppy, and if it is
You get to run outside and ask
The owner if you can play with it
And they say yes, because owner so lonely
That’s why he got the puppy in the first place.
Do you know what’s happening in the world
I don’t know, have you heard what’s happening
They found traces of water on mars
They found traces of ammonia on Neptune
In fact that’s all they found
Let’s go to Neptune, because
Everyone there is probably dead
They found traces of life in New York
Only traces, but there is still hope
There’s a theory that California is really
Just a black hole, or that the coast really starts
At Nevada, and that all those people, who go
To California are just walking out into the waves
Like enlightened cows, stoic, brave,
Slow And full of faith.
And California has been a code word for death
This whole time. No one in California
Ever leaves. A small child might ask,
When is mommy coming home.
—Mommy went to California, sweetie, she’s never coming back
And someday, when we’re rich enough, we can go to California, too
And see mommy. In a better place..
I can see the bodies standing up right, dotting
The simmering waves, like navy blue dots in the sun
and they continue, in a caravan
Upright even past the horizon, where the sea floor
Must be miles deep, how enchanted, how cult like
Now, any time someone mentions California,
I can feel the divine aura. “I’m planning on moving out west,
To California. I hear San Diego is beautiful this time of year.
The people out there are just so kind.”
I place my hand on your shoulder,
If only I had such courage.
Saturday: Coffee Bird
Please I am Drinking
Coffee Bird flaps by my ear
I miss being beaten tired
I miss feeling wide awake
My tooth keeps inching backward
And I press it with my tongue
The light refracts though the plastic pen
Making little worlds
Glow in the whaling shadow
Of my hand, I find
Beauty in small dying moments
Harvested like unicorn blood
Helps me stay young
And alive forever
I’m not sure where to go or what to do
I don’t think I can be happy anywhere
I bought coffee and I wanted to scream,
How does my mouth feel, how does my hand
Flick the pack of sugar, and how gracefully can I
Tear off the corner and let it drain into the cup
We inherit these motions.
But it’s hot, they’ve run out of sleeves, my neck
Stiffens to my body. I’ve got a spine of blocks
And an absent voice box.
What if I scream, what if I make a scene
What if I knock food from the shelves
What does organic mean anymore
The doors open automatically,
And I become:
I walk to the topiary park
And remember that the old and homeless people
Who sleep on the benches, don’t deserve
To be old and homeless, yet it’s sunny, and maybe
They’ve learned a lot, like Epicurus
But maybe I could help, say hello
I can help someone in my tangible tangency
With simple conversation
Silence is a fragile plateau
A tour guide explains to a Latino family
That the shrubs, trimmed in the form
Of human creatures, depict the
Famous scene of Seurat’s painting
Maybe it makes me a bastard, but I feel sorry for these people, and yet I envy them, for appreciating what has long since bored me. I live right across the street from this park. I could come here and watch the ducks any morning. I could carry myself away into so many places and unseen times. I could become a duck scientist. I could put paper hats on all the humanoid bushes. If I knew Spanish better, I could talk to that family, currently having their picture taken, I might go to Miami to learn, to learn to drive, to work for my father, for many things.
The tour guide walked away. The park is dotted with random, separate people. I think someone called my name, but there is no one there. Two girls from my school are playing Frisbee. Make a scene. I feel the wind on my neck. The bushes haven’t fully grown to the forms and some metal, green framework of the lady’s umbrella is exposed.
–I keep hearing someone say “Alejandro”. I turn my head to look from the slightly elevated bench where I’m sitting, but there is still no one nearby.
I just want to be heard, like everyone else. Everyone wants to know if their world is in orbit, or if the whole thing just spins without us, the grass in the park slipping under our feet. A young father throws a ball to his son. Ducks quack. Wind blows. The universe continues to augment in infinite horror. It’s billions of many things, and who even has a clue. But I still feel it pulling, in the inside.
The ducks burrow their heads into their feathery bodies to sleep. They look like mounds of fungus on the grass by the pond’s edge, like stromatolites on the shore of life.
–there you go, says the father, his son hits the black bat to the ball, sending it quickly to the ground
What is this place. What are the lines of my notebook.
There’s an old school for the deaf on the other side of the park
–nice hit, he says
–nice hit, he repeats
All birds are just sounds, like light stubbles of paint in the corners of landscapes. My hair tickles my nose. Writing helps calm down, keeps me still. The slanted roof of the haunting school has little rectangular windows, aligned strangely, like spider’s eyes. The windows of the brick building are like eyes and teeth. The bush people are like unsuspecting prey.
I’m lost now. The sky is blue
The sky is wide
Birds are chirping,
This is the earth
In all my reflection, my one unresolved pain
Is whether or not I should be bored
Or fascinated with everything
If the universe is fascinating
Then how can life be so boring.
I’m going to leave the park now.
And now, it’s time to put my notebook into my backpack, and then I will walk home
And I am just relieved to have this short-lived
but concrete sense of direction, \
and soon, in the room,
when alone, I’ll exhale.
These are not thoughts
These are not thoughts
These are not thoughts
These are not thoughts
These are learned motions
Inherited by the
porcelain gape of our
Of our dishwashed mouths, these are not
If I found nirvana, then why
would I ever leave
What if it stumbled into being
Just as I keyed the front door,
Would we be one, for all time,
Half way through the frame
Neither in nor out, with skin
Like canvas of a painting
In four dimensions, I have found
Nirvana, and I will never leave
Place me on the carousel
Put me, put me in the microwave
In your mouth,
In circles of delight. Everyone dizzy,
And listen to the buzzing hum
Of the all knowing machine, place me
On the stove top, listen how I sing
I’m a little tea pot, and when I get sad
And tin-can-loud, pour me into the cups
Of society. I remember at most a few
Years ago, how green the floor was
Outside, and how no one had moved away
And all we recall—and we all recall
Is springtime. Friends sat down, with palms
Outstretched like the legs
Of trebuchets into the grass, you just don’t
See this kind of weather anymore, Where
Do people go, when moments move on.
I’m a little a tea pot, and tea pots cannot talk
These are not thoughts, These are not,
I’ve written it all down, albeit
Mere speculation, before the magic
Of this metamorphosis
Having learned all there is to know
About human toiling, let me fill
A different part of you.
I was sitting in a coffee shop at an open mic, listening to people expose their inner tragedy in the same “poet’s” voice, like they’re barely able to speak, just croaking on the purity of their feelings, and the earnestness of what they mean to say. “Someone I love is dead, someone I love is dead”
–a hundred poets in a line, all ready to declare
That somebody I love is dead
In our chairs, we share the same
Downcast head, we either don’t know
Enough, or know too well to care
You’re not alone—my sadness is also trivial.
pass through me
I am a raging lunatic, I am
A pretender among
Pretenders, I am
An animal, Let me remind you
I fuck my hands
My own two hands,
I man a diving bell through the horrors
Of alien flesh, in dark space with a thickness
Like honey and quick sand, like a wonder
That keeps dragging.
Last night in a cloth sack, in a sweating
Wintery fever, a few limbs and I
heard about the damp layers
They hold, its hot, and its cold, and I
Sit on a tall metal chair. Without any sense
Of time passing.
Every new space fills the light
Of my brain’s tunnel,
The self is an empty room
I am the light in this space
I am the only window, my arms
Like hinges to a door, my lids
Like panes by the glass
Lashes like shutters that comb
Light for microbial dust
Did you hear about what the truth is?
I am mostly water
I am mostly bacteria
I am mostly empty space
I am mostly the DNA
Of a garden potato
I want to sprout, and spew,
At least, a single grounded thought
I am the artist, so I will decide what goes
Where, and when, let me arbit the orbits
More about my center.
Dearest smoking hot sculpture professor,
When you called my work
Typical, I cried myself to sleep,
And I assured myself
That my emotional influx
Was extraordinary, and I spent it
Waiting, half-working in
The ant-hilled ruble of my studio
Waiting for you to pass by and see
How serious an artist I was,
Before telling me
That I was doing a good job
–because I am a raging lunatic,
tracing the dark textures
of being, the beadlike-mounds
of building walls, alone in the room
of all the other people who
secretly also think of these things.
I’d will your reptile eyes be placed in orbit
With all the other beautiful planets,
Gosh they’re big
But then without them, how would you see
How great I am, and yet
I don’t believe in individuals, because I’ve never seen one.
We are connected, and so I see a room
As a single being, breathing and blinking,
A classroom is a monster with many eyes,
And when they draw upon me
My soul awakens the little
Inward terror of all childhood battles
And it’s like the whole world matters
And I’d then burry my small forehead into the back
Of my mother’s leg, to soak her dress with my
(Every line is like a new person,
And maybe we’ve lost me
just a few diatribes back
After a while, I just make it up.)
Writing does not hold me to the world,
Only to the paper, and against
The bed-sheets, I cling
In the desperation of all
My childhood nightmares,
And together, we drift off to sea.
The tides grow tall, dearest white rectangle
Dear paper friend, I am afraid
We neither know what the world is
I don’t know how to sail
The world has many eyes
Each eye owns a leg, each leg
A jarring joint. I am a
Horrifying creature, and five fingers of flesh
Around bone, bend from my bulging base
I can feel the machines at work,
Broken inside as they pump and whistle
Over chewing my sandwich bread
In a bleeding motion, inside I am
All oozing and cavernous.
But I’m at the crow’s nest now.
Sailing away—it’s a sinus head ache
Nothing I think matters
Nothing ever thought makes it
Out of my head, all will always wash out
In the convoluted torrent
Of human narrative.
So what happens to all the thoughts I think.
All the feelings I’ve felt, and people
I have been.
Where do they disappear.
Where in the white noise have they sank.
Where is the bottom of the self?
Someone tell me where I dispose.
Somebody point to my bottom,
Somebody touch me
Who Am I?
I wake in the morning to God’s Laughter
Which Opens up to more
The floor ends at the door
The table on the floor
The paper on the table
The pen is on the paper
The hand upon the pen
The mind commands the hand
But then who am I?
Still dissecting tinker toy words
Looks cautious to right, then to left–
Said the first time poet,
Small words are whispers
I poop. I fantasize about murder.
I am too lazy to throw out
Days old bags of semen.
When I was four, I day dreamed
About pooping on supermodels
I pretend to have autism
So that people will love me
And give me wiggle room outside social conduct
One time my mother accidentally broke the backs
Of two puppies out of nowhere with her Honda civic
We were going to steaknshake,
But just stopped for a while in the parking lot
Staring into each other’s souls.
Now, while she drives me to therapy appointments
We talk about how worthless and fat and dead
All the Fat Americans are. We rejoice
In our hatred of this piece of shit money driven country
And the worthless fat dead people in it.
She turns to me and says “I’m not fat
Like them, am I?” No mother,
Not at all, I reassure.
(Again, I fantasize about more doors to peek
Into, more dormant ants to squash,
There is no such thing as mini-murder
Because what is too small to see cannot be,
And thus I can’t be constabullied
For its abrupt and metaphysical decomposition.)
I called my therapist a faceless simpleton.
I pity the hippy poetry preacher.
If what’s good is God, and God is truth,
What’s most beautiful in this world
Is what’s ugliest to say.
One day in the third grade I peed
All over my sister’s pillow, and waited
For her to smell my prepubescent urine and waited
In tectonic angst for her to burst into my bedroom—
And I waited
For an entire week before I decided to just wash it myself.
The dread! I learned that day, never do evil
For the shock of it. Let the act
Of harming others speak. Let what
Evil become real, lead poisoned letter
Writing placates the “catharctic” tundra
Washing completely over me. This eager, charging glacier
Will be the end of me, stretching miles across the horizon
And for many years, the birds circle
Me as I helplessly moan the monotone:
Legend of the Dark Parallel
My mother always told me
Money is the only thing that matters
In this world. My mother
Says, to this day
Never speak your mind
Or the government will take you
When I was young, I saw Forrest Gump
And I remember hearing him say
I am not a smart man.
There’s a magic way of living
When I was young, the world had done
Its marginal best to impede me
I remember telling my speech therapist
That I was allergic to her, how she made me feel sick.
I was only four, but
it was the longing for it
That was my voice
In my first attempt at the first grade
I could not spell a single word
And instead, I cried
and pissed my pants in front of everyone
So I became a writer,
And it was the longing that gave me words to speak,
The weakness that gave me longing
I could not befriend any people, or make sense
Of what I could say
So I decided to befriend the universe
And at night, I would speak, and listen
To the vast and unnamable sinking whole
Now, with this monitor in front of me, and the comforts
Of life, the morning coffees, and nightly beers,
The influx of factoids, and small greetings,
—this I cannot overcome.
At night, these days, I imagine myself as rowing
In a one man boat down a lost river
Underground with a single paddle,
I know what it means it feel ready,
And when I reach the river’s end
, I’ll find the light that’s woven
Through the columns and rusted pipes.
I see the turning machine, lined with its buckling doors
And as the panels crack open, the metal arms poke through,
It turns and turns, there’s a thousand hands hanging
Aiming at me from the abrupt wall, the shadow
Of the ceiling, and they open like snap-dragons,
But they linger like sea urchins, and I follow the forearms
To their dark middles, everything turning
From the center, and the light goes on again
This time brighter, from blue to white
I am ready for these fractals,
To slow down, and may the hands
Rearrange me into dirt, I am ready,
I’ve been this way since birth,
The light is roaring, and calling me
There is only one thing I want to share
With the world, I want to harness the light
And tear it open, I can build nirvana
I want I want I want,
Let me dig the underground river,
I will brick each unseen arch,
I’ll wire every finger tip,
Carve the geared latches, the indents
Of every door. I will lead the people
Down the tunnel, down the dark parallel
Of this pervasive texture.
The bed is a machine, and at night
And at night, and at night
Everything turns, the arms prod,
Everything goes around
Like an alien has possessed me,
In the bathroom mirror,
I see the other
Whether my arms, heavy or numb.
Whither how light folds against the couch.
Sometimes, my mother reminds me
That I’ve put her in debt
Because I want to be an artist.
And this cause has indebted her, because
Banks have monopolized what it means
To be an artist, and the thought
Makes me want to die.
Sometimes my mother reminds me
That her twenty five year waste of a marriage
Took her far from Colombia, and her family
Who are slowly being killed off by cancer
And age As we speak
And the sun shifts a polaroid
wash over the unliving room.
We are caught in the white walls of home.
Someone says be happy, be thankful. Be kind.
The still furniture holds
The still plants in their pots,
Like my thoughts, caked in dirt
The roots suckling at the dry pours of clay.
My body drained into the leather,
while mother reminded me
not to dwell on the past, to be kind.
It would appear the world had ceased
to move, as though my growth had been
Her last remaining center–
Since, once I left, Mother went one
even colder, and an ice age quietly fell upon the house.
And then, on my return she stood by
to describe how all small things were big
Look, she said, remember the pool net?
Yes, yes, I half nodded, half
Wandered off, while she recounted the tale
of somehow fixing a pool net with part of a broken fan
because it’s the little things, she says,
but the other fan shook its head in slow agony No,
No no, for the rest of time, I
measured the passing in the interval of its calm bite.
The little home-maker-victories
Lift her just to the surface.
Then, she must have spoken,
sort of passively chimed in from another world:
Cancer had not killed her mother,
that she had actually committed suicide
a month after my untimely birth-
Though mother never learned how,
and would never seek out the horror.
–Grandma studied philosophy, like you,
Mother reminds me, and then I wonder
if the life unexamined was worth living
after all, if thought is the flesh
of skeletal misery.
I imagine her alone and lit by candles,
looking lost over a desk of disheveled paper,
unable to find, nor place her own body in the world,
Her wonder and cries echoing in
the small vestige of her photograph on the fridge.
After people die, they crawl into small boxes called words.
And Heaven is a gentle curve on the page
From the muddled cloud
of the dining room, more wind disturbed her.
–your grandfather wanted to be an artist,
but then came the Depression in the thirties
Then came the depression in his soul,
We still have some of his drawings, somewhere
But he had to give up
To become a banker, and in his mystery,
In his noble way of living, and his
Shoulder to shoulder suit, he drank
The entire marriage. He smoked
His whole lung, as if the suicide that no one spoke of
Had left him gasping for air.
I emerge beside a broken fan,
the culmination of their sleeping visions
A prophecy, an answer. Some one
hand me a broad sword, a horse and crown,
call me the second coming. Anything at all.
Box of words,
soil of my soul.
It was all very sad, I thought, but at least
Now I’ve left the manure of my boredom
I’m a different kind
Of sick, newly uprooted and reminded
That civilization makes harvest of the people
Who cannot see, who cannot see
That death is the pursuit
Of safety, and I imagine
That I’ve taken the long way home,
That I am already dead, as though
My grandmother’s death had been
My own, and though my mother
Has wandered far from home,
And I farther still, something wakes
Inside, and the reason it seems a constant
pain to be alive, is that grandmother knew
quite wisely, to dismember me from fire:
So that my every gesture might
maim another angel. May I feel the unspoken tons
of civil-dunce-hood, May I fail in life so brightly
and inflamed that I see through the dark
end of the world, to the shattering edge
of form itself,
As we have no vessel for happiness, to hold us, to call our names,
To anchor our weightless thoughts in the shower
On walks to work and school,
We cannot be filled, We cannot return
To small, tactile joys that still dot
the false urgency of living. Yesterday I assimilated
and discarded more energy from the universe
and it was boring.
Wasteland maybe, but hollow, no
We cannot be filled, because we do not begin,
We do not fear the repetitive passing of the days
because we do not end,
but carry on this mystery of learning
to let go while still holding on.
Kitchen Nightmares And other stories
And other stories
It’s time to make it real.
I got nothing. Cut the hoola hoops in half
While the hoopers are a hooling
Well timed dry humps to the sky
Cut the hoola hoops in half, I have
A vision, for the awakening
Of a true artist, perhaps a pair
Because they’d need to feed
From each other’s chi, as well
As from the air,
I’m a fan
Of bumble-bees. They’d begin the kitchen
Hammering through dry wall, burrowing into the insulated world of pipes and chickenwire,
Homeless spiders huddling in the corners under silk blankets
Life is different after college and coffee. They say it’s worse
But I know better. I can become nobody
And fill the sidewalks with wonder, but
I’d have to kill my parents so they stop bothering me
With institutional worry, things I could conquer if only
They let me love the world
Cut the chicken nets with your teeth, do not make
Become, learn to play chess while widdling pawns
From the walls, adhese their bottoms
To the ceiling, where kitchen utensil-catapults
Have jettisoned various sandwich condiments
In a well calibrated pattern of checks.
Ketchup mustard, ketchup mayonnaise, check
And it all took hours and seconds,
Just to play the game upside down
How we get the rooks and kings to stick
Is another mystery
Various experiments in Velcro
Quantum occurrences of suspended
Animation, a sudden and inexplicable loss
Of gravitational force, all science we’d studied
On the morning’s whim,
Columns of spiral bound notebooks
All filled with idea-webs and formulas
That only half work
Knight to me too
Night of me and you
And we turn to the kitchen window, where the pain’s rotting away
Peeling white paint, lined in dirt, leaves that disregard the insect-chewed screen, leaves made like beds for stink-bug carcasses—we arrange the leaves and dirt into huts and battlements, a network of trenches that might take generations of bug-slavery to construct—where the mummified crawl and gamble their cosmic bets. We can break this army here. Why don’t we invent a new way to eat eggs while the war simmers down? I undo the sharp, untied ends of the chicken wire and tighten them around my arms. I weave the wire under my skin, and it’s sort of magical, like snakes under the sand, eels tunneling the sea, And the wire pokes up in a wave, dives back into me, the metal spirals around, becomes part of me, I cut the string of the window curtains by letting them drag on the sheer’s open mouth. The blinds fall to the table, and in the brief rattle, I recognize that all color, form, sound—all sensation, have been mistakenly separated. Dear sound of broken blockers of the sun, may you sing to me once more, I ask. So I grab them from the table and toss them about the room, to hear all potential versions of my new musical measure. I strap a ladle to my shirt’s collar, I tie a string in the middle of its arm, and the other end to my hair, so that the ladle hangs behind me at an agreeable angle, so that while I continue my remaining kitchen discoveries, I may jolt my head back at an unseen surface and behold in complete surprise whatever vibration the universe wills into being. With the metal already protruding, I stitch the blinds to my fingers. It’s as though I’d begun a metamorphosis with my angelic tapering pincers, they begin to drip blood all over the skillet, and I can feel the slight increase in weight as I lift my hand to the ceiling, where I gently nudge a pawn forward. A drop of blood that had previously run down my glorious pincer fingers has suddenly lost its grip to the plastic and landed below my left eye. Pawn to before. I can barely hold the spatula, gotta cook these eggs, gotta transform these eggs into a new world. Opened flame, speaketh from a frequency of its blue core, melt me to your wrist, I prayed to the powers at the center of the earth, to show me all that could become, and all that could be felt. Form is function, and form is infinite, all things become infinite through me. We let the egg whites run flat, arrange the yolk in geometric patterns, triangles, four triangles spread them in four corners, and repeat, stab them with tooth picks and build additional columns that reference the glory of ancient Greece, but perhaps reminiscent of the paperback columns we’d built earlier—so upon each layer of egg yolk I lay down a small square of paper, on which I inscribe a series of mathematical instruction about the egg’s construction, and the historical context,
Chapter four, article three, reads: “…it was rare for these times that not one but two architects be hired to work in collaboration—or in this instance, as is often said, in collusion—not against another third party but against each other, for, while the insect war waged onward, these visionaries, both of noble families, differed on the methods and aesthetics of the proposed, “egg-yolk monument” that would at last rescue the economy of the kitchen, and finally restore its image, symbolically and superficially, as a super power among the other rooms [of my apartment.]”
We modeled the structure after the layout of a cathedral, destroyed in the last world war—no, build the Louvre, paste strawberries to its scaffolding, and after months, the yolk’s dried to perfection, the spatula’s infected on my fingers, that balloon at the ends in a blue not unlike the gas fire. But when I nudge them at all, they send these pulsing messages back through the rest of my body. Glue a tooth pick to your nose, and use its point to carve the hieroglyphic myths of our kitchen’s history into the surface of the egg yolk art museum. Study the chemical transactions of the ants who come to eat the corpses of the stink bugs, study close, take notes on the skin of our chests, upside down and backwards—like Da Vinci. Read them back in the mirror, upside down from the ceiling, where we, like the chess pieces of long ago, have learned to float and stick without explanation—wait wait, we say. And we stop everything.
Because there is so much left unseen and unknown in the world, so much to explore, to be felt,
For the infinity of my blood to manifest. Let the gas run, we say, let the sweet, dull edge of this aroma fill all rooms of our utopia, for visionaries have no more time for rooms or the small-time combinations they allow.