This is where you saw women sing to reenact their suffering, and men who wore wooden swords taught you valor. The costumes are still behind the curtain, so are the masks worn by players
to perform the heart’s madness. When the girl on stage wore god’s many faces, you wept in relief. How long have you waited to be shown your own disfigured faith? How many years have you waited
to return to what you feared, like a child who hides from the monster of its own making? Stage right, a brutal wonderland. Stage left, the torn century. Watch now your girlhood as it enters
with abundant despair and the ribbons you wore to your father’s funeral. Under the dust, you find the sets of predictable tragedies: the star-crossed balcony, the castle where the king banished
his firstborn, then searched for him everywhere. Return to the dark and listen for the moan of the orchestra’s shy beginning. When the curtains rise for the third time, you will see a casket inside a cradle and the feast
of shadows. The music that rises is alive with strings and vowels. You won’t understand what it means, but it will sound like salvation. In your brightest hour, you’ll forget the fourth wall. You’ll become
what you see now, and what your hear. The ideal shines beneath the stage lights—the immaculate one, with a burning heart and a broken rib. At the final bow, the ingénue—her dress still torn, her arms burdened
with the ghosts of roses—bows for the clamorous audience whose cries she hears but who she cannot see.
like leapers to bridges, like lepers to certain islands of which men know nothing of being, the plunge took everything like seagulls like spires like jesus if he had remembered to show. let the whole soil clamor on about the precious nature of redwoods, their weight in gold. doesn’t anyone know how to party anymore? like scansion so scarcely taken seriously we should put on something sexier go climb a tree branch a bit, take a dive, cave limply to our doom or swoon into the big black bodies of trees in which we can curl & kill all the bluejays that pass just for giggles
Old wives, I wish I could be one of you. Instead I am the born old maid.
Old maid emeritus, let’s say—the squid whose erudition hugs too many clams at once— heart full of ink. With my verdichter’s digits, I could practice
having crushes. But appetites for permanence
went whirring on. So did the ring of close calls (all collect). Even the elders wrecked their roadsters, just to have one date with the tow truck. Drivers loved their doctors into deep intensive care—ah, why go there—old wives! I did remain intact,
was checked, rechecked, racked up, A-plus— that’s better than perfect, right? That much, let’s say, is understood. (I’m speaking Old Grammarian, you’ll recognize, where something understood
Through shattered glass and sheeted furniture, chicken wire and piled dishes, sheared-off doors stacked five to a wall, you’re walking like cripples. Toward a dirty window, obstructed by stacks of chairs.
And once you move them, one by one, palm circles through the grime and cup your hands round your faces, finally able to see through—
Charged night. Sheet-flashes of green, threaded with sparks, the pale orange pan of the moon—
Finally, what turns the wheel: the moon ghosting a hole through a rainbow, the rainbow’s rage to efface the moon, which the moon sails through slow as a ship, in the shape of cross-legged Buddha…
Lotus-folded, a figurine. The kind you once found in the Chinatown markets, for a dollar and a dime—
Saying you’re dying, you’re dead. You can withdraw from this orbit of mirrors.
“AMONG WAZIRISTAN’S RESIDENTS, “I will drone you” has by now entered the vocabulary of day-to-day conversation as a morbid joke. The mysterious machines buzzing far overhead have become part of the local folklore. “I am looking for you like a drone, my love,” goes a romantic Pashto verse I’ve often heard the locals recite. “You have become Osama; no one knows your whereabouts.”—My Drone War - By Pir Zubair Shah | Foreign Policy
you have a hundred secret names & I am the world’s worst shoplifter. you know what I mean? it’s like it’s 1992 & we’re so happy for cigarettes & de la soul & lightning bugs & shit like that. sometimes I wish you knew someone exactly like me who wasn’t so obsessed with your knuckles. they make me hurt like alligator teeth. I want you to be all fists & bruises like tiny sparrows on my face. I want you to be a handgun muzzled into my gut.
Here I am so selfish I only remember my reaction. Each fact loosening falling away like icicles along the eaves. I once saw one so large & the earth so soft that it pierced the ground below it. I once walked through a spider web so vast, I felt its tug as I pulled through it. I once drove 30 miles at night through pitch-black counties without headlights using only my cellphone light to guide me. I once was so high I wrote a paper backwards and since it was for 20th Century Avant-garde Lit got an A. You know second winds? I got a fifth wind once during a swim meet. As the fish grows increasingly long, life accumulates like a US Ironworks slagheap. Once my date dropped me off at the front door and I ran through the house out the back into my boyfriend’s car waiting in the alley. Once I lost control in the middle of northbound 95 and somehow spun across the median, arriving in the shoulder of the southbound lanes, and just kept driving, direction’s pointless. I once bought an $80 cab ride because I couldn’t remember where I was—simultaneously building a bed in a refrigerator box stealing gas from the Racetrack flying to Denver to marry a stranger. I once strangled my boyfriend at 65 mph on the freeway until I started laughing so much my grip loosened. Once I wrote the most erotic sex fantasy I could dream got paranoid that someone would read it, chose a password to protect the document, promptly forgot the password and let that define my sex life for years. I once sang Swing Low in a cop car and felt like a coward. The only secrets are forgotten ones. I once told a man I didn’t want a boyfriend and a week later admitted to him I had gotten married. Who said biography is a story true enough to believe? Who told me they once ate a joint before getting pulled over, but at the last minute the cop car flew past them, worked in a gas station and stole all the money, painted a donkey with zebra stripes, danced on stage with Bootsy Collins, who told me that for one day he was the best whistler on the planet, could whistle any song in the world perfectly, rivaled the skylarks and finches, invented gorgeous sonatas whistling them into the sunset, into the blushing dusk and by morning forgot how to do it?
What does any of this matter on nights so hot we can’t sleep, somewhere else the rivers spilling banks, pouring in, and somewhere else still, drought spreading out the once rich land into a layer of silt. What does it matter these nights, our backyards of trains, our turning to dust, even as we’re more saturated than we’ve ever been? We’re tracing routes of the maps hung above our beds, not sleeping. We’re creasing the atlases held in our laps, folding over the corners of another city gone, another place we’ll never see now tumble-weeding, now washed away.
Because I’ve become too lazy to lip-read in noisy rooms, the other night I heard, He said he’s going to make a city for all of us when we visit. He said he’s going to make a city for us so we’ll never want to leave. Instead of asking for a translation, instead of trying to clarify, I said, I would live in any city that man made, and I meant it, and when everyone stared, when everyone tried to adjust their sense of what they’d heard, I said, Think of the light there, that pulse. Someone corrected me, annoyed: He said dinner, not city. And I said, Oh, though I wasn’t hearing the revision. I was thinking about where cities go when they’re gone. I was thinking about the roads out of here. About how no one seems to leave this place with any grace. I was thinking about the bowl of my body, dusting over. About predictability. About expecting something even as we can’t. About any city my friend would make, any city whole enough, where we could live. I was thinking about our poor, damp hearts, and the ground torn up by wind that might carry us all away.
“Haunting was the language and the experiential modality by which I tried to reach an understanding of the meeting of force and meaning, because haunting is one way in which abusive systems of power make themselves known and their impacts felt in everyday life, especially when they are supposedly over and done with (slavery, for instance) or when their oppressive nature is denied (as in free labor or national security). Haunting is not the same as being exploited, traumatized, or oppressed, although it usually involves these experiences or is produced by them. What’s distinctive about haunting is that it is an animated state in which a repressed or unresolved social violence is making itself known, sometimes very directly, sometimes more obliquely. I used the term haunting to describe those singular yet repetitive instances when home becomes unfamiliar, when your bearings on the world lose direction, when the over-and-done-with comes alive, when what’s been in your blind spot comes into view. Haunting raises specters, and it alters the experience of being in time, the way we separate the past, the present, and the future. These specters or ghosts appear when the trouble they represent and symptomize is no longer being contained or repressed or blocked from view. The ghost, as I understand it, is not the invisible or some ineffable excess. The whole essence, if you can use that word, of a ghost is that it has a real presence and demands its due, your attention. Haunting and the appearance of specters or ghosts is one way, I tried to suggest, we are notified that what’s been concealed is very much alive and present, interfering precisely with those always incomplete forms of containment and repression ceaselessly directed toward us.”—“Introduction to the New Edition” - Avery F. Gordon, Ghostly Matters: Haunting And The Sociological Imagination effusionofbiopower (via thewww)
I’m the one in the back of the bar, drinking cachaça, fingering the lip of the glass. Every dream has left me now as I wait for the next song: Drag and drum. They’ll be no humming in this room, only fragrance of sweat and fuel. To make the animal go. To make it Hungry. After that there is Thirst.
I danced in the border town until it wasn’t decent, until I was my grandest self hitchhiking, my slim arm out like the stalk of a tired flower, waving, silver rings catch the headlights. I’m not sure what I wanted as we rode on his motorcycle where Chinese signs blurred past, flashing red, then blue, and I breathed in the scent of fish and plum. My hands found their way to his pockets as I rode without helmet, careening toward the cemetery, the moon dripping light onto avenues of tombstones.
If the Tunisian black market was hidden within a maze. If I couldn’t find my way, I asked. The wide eyes of the boy who led me to the Mediterranean Sea. If I took his kindness as a version of truth and stood posing for a photo in front of bicycles leaned against the sand colored walls. If I arrived at the center of the market, women in black muslin sold glazed tile on blankets. When I bent down, the men surrounded me. If they asked for money I had nothing. If they threw their bills around me, I recall the purple and red faces crushed on paper.
Attempting to cross the border with no passport, no money. The contents had fallen out of her pocket as she ran for the bus. She made promises to the officers, bared an inner thigh until their eyes grew wide, until they stamped a sheet of official paper with tri-colored emblems. The man’s fist was large though it twitched as he pounded the stamp onto the translucent page. The little money she had inside an orange handkerchief tied to her hair, coins rolling to the ground as she fled.
Perhaps it was chance that I ended on the far side of the earth. Atrocities of our entanglement not on the bed but beside it. Using our mouths as tools for betterment, for seduction, for completion. The vertebra twists into a question mark to conform to another’s.
In the Patanal, the cowboys steadied the horses in the barn, the animal’s labored breathing, the sigh as the coarse brush worked through the mane. The owner’s daughter learning to move her hips as she practiced her samba before the steaming pot, and radio clicking, and lid drumming.
Of the men I’ve known, you were the most steady, reliable one near the window killing mosquitoes, gathering cool water to press to my scalp. One-sided heart I was then. Selfish one. I wanted everything. Macaws flew past in quick flock, pushing outward toward the earth’s scattering filament and mystery.
I don’t ask myself questions anymore (but it is not a question you ask yourself), rather it was born, rather that the statement was peeled like a film of dirt, (rather the words were meaning) wrapped inside a scarf, stuffed into my carry bag, rather that the camera caught all of it (the hunter and the kill).
When danger itself was restless, (it had four legs and it ran with speed & vengeance). Though there was no purpose, (though the past had nothing to do with the chase now). This grand state (pumped from its own engine of blood), centuries of evolution, first as a red-eyed embryo, then reptile, then mammal, then man, pure racing, push of muscle and tendon, the tongue loose and dragging as the body made its way forward. Each time more powerful, a new version of waking until the species grew great wings and lifted.
Tonight, breaking shells from boiled eggs, my thumbs are red-tender. Beyond this kitchen window the moon fills with blood, grows heavy like a plum as it falls. It is no longer a moon, though that is the closest name left. All we have are names. Moon, snow, egg. I say thumb, but when I hold it in the light, what I am saying to you is see how tender I have become? Even the eggshells undo me.
when I overdosed the doctors at the hospital force fed me charcoal the cruellest antidote to a bottle of vodka and fistfuls of smooth white pills my body spewed black dust when I got the bill from the hospital there was an itemised line for the Carbon Tax I wanted to be baptised in Ash Wednesdays but I couldn’t find the right form to renounce my confirmation name so I put my name down on a list of people Mormons will baptise after they die now they pump my stomach for stars I buried inside why aren’t any journalists asking the right questions which are why are we mining our shame backwards and who will get the Southern Cross constellation in this custody dispute we call leadership because real leadership would be cyanide pills in cups of Flavor Aid for the government and opposition so I can throw a party in a soft white room I will lay down all my kitchen knives at the Australian War Memorial open the borders and the sea levels will rise and joy will flood in close down our suicide factories and free the refugees the only war I will declare will be on sunburn and you’ll say baby this complexion looks good on you I bought you this lipstick called happiness it has a grenade pin this time we will keep dying until we don’t have to die any more
Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice. You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom. Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
“Tireless pro-democracy advocate”… What is it like to be a tireless advocate for not thinking too hard about the status quo? Or does “pro-democracy advocate” just mean carrying the torch of Western Reason and burning fuckers with it, i.e. imperialism?”—@Unhaunting (via hungryghoast)
“I think a certain amount of time and experience and pain have helped me — somewhat — with respect to the immature and selfish stuff. I think IJ is less self-indulgent and show-offy than anything I’d done before it, and that the stuff I’ve done since finishing IJ is even less ego-hobbled. Part of the improvement inside me, too, I think, is starting truly to “Respect” fiction and realize how very much bigger than I the art and enterprise are, to be able not just to countenance but live with how very very small a part of any Big Picture I am. Because I tend both to think I’m uniquely afflicted and to idealize people I admire, I tend to imagine you never having had to struggle with any of this narcissism or indulgence stuff, to imagine that the great gouts of Americana hurled daily at the page in the stoveless apartment of wherever you wrote it were as natively Disciplined and Respectful and humility-nourished as Libra or The Day Room. But now I rather hope that isn’t so. I hope that in the course of your decades writing you’ve done and been subject to stuff that’s helped make you a more Respectful writer. I would like to be a Respectful writer, I believe…though I know I’d far prefer finding out some way to become that w/o time and pain and the war of LOOK AT ME v. RESPECT A FUCKING KILLER.
Maybe what I want to hear is that this prenominate war is natural and necessary and a sign of Towering Intellect: maybe I want a pep-talk, because I have to tell you I don’t enjoy this war one bit. I think my fiction is better than it was, but writing is also less Fun than it was. I have a lot of dread and terror and inadequacy-shit, now, when I’m trying to write. I didn’t used to. Maybe the terror is part of the necessary reverence, and maybe it’s an inescapable part of the growing-up-as-a-writer-or-whatever process; but it can’t — cannot — be the goal and terminus of that process. In other words there must be some way to turn terror into Respect and dread into a kind of stolidly productive humility.”—
David Foster Wallace in a letter to Don DeLillo (Thank you, illllllllllllli)
A pink dozen sunshine trapezoids— It’s good to be breathing says an array of rosemary shrubs. A field of illicit rocks, shrapnel, bees, germs unknown. Hands held. Back seats checked for sleeping.
I have made a Tuesday monument of a baby’s toothbrush lying on the sidewalk alone.
The far lake no one knows about, bitching its ripples.
In this case it doesn’t matter what other people need in measures of solitude; You need a few years, a few more years alone. And it’s such a popular slur to hurl: You will always be alone. I’ve been told that— (Eight years ago.)
(And knowing slowly as I go how to hold a garden here.)