After your mother dies, you will learn to live on the edge of life, to brace yourself like she did, one hand on the dashboard, the other gripping your purse while you drive through the stop sign, shoulders tense, eyes clamped shut, waiting for the collision that doesn’t come. You will learn to stay up all night knowing she’s gone, watching the morning open like an origami swan, the sky a widening path, a question you can’t answer. In prison, women make tattoos from cigarette ash and shampoo. It’s what they have. Imagine the fish, gray scales and black whiskers, growing slowly up her back, its lips kissing her neck. Imagine the letters of her daughter’s name a black chain around her wrist. What is the distance between this moment and the last? The last visit and the next? I want my mother back. I want to hunt her down like the perfect gift, the one you search for from store to store until your feet ache, delirious with her scent. This is the baggage of your life, a sign of your faith, this staying awake past exhaustion, this needle in your throat. (via ecstasis)
As far as having intercourse with words, no thank you. They have sharp edges, many of them, and carry grudges and knives. I long ago left feral, who is wild and stalking me, I fear noise is all we’re making, but here I go, grinding the gears, the coffee, my teeth. Were we painters and you said, fuck paint, I would orange, I think for a while anyway, then yellow, then the whole night-sky romance would kick in, I suppose we both swear too much that we love the moon, when who doesn’t look up from time to time and wonder, did we really zoom there, and why didn’t we build a gingerbread house and stay?
In the Belief That Things Are People Too, Bob Hicock
The angle of light, its quality of perception against the buds of the maple, a beginning brought to an opening, was on his face when he put his head between her legs, a record of the morning on his skin against her skin, the warmth of a star brought to the warmth of dreaming flesh, “I was running toward a well with a minnow in each hand to set them free when you woke me,” she said later,
drawing a hair around her ear as he scraped the last bit of egg with the last bit of toast, both of them full, the dishes still honest on the table, a different light from the same star pouring in, a house made entirely of glass, the nails and the doors, the sinks, the pipes all glass, he once dreamed out of town and went to the window, opened the curtains as a helicopter landed on the hospital beside the hotel, people running, he told her on the phone, like I would want them to run for you, this has been a story
about waking up to a tree waking up to a star waking up the Earth to spring, with a man in it I wouldn’t correct you if you thought of as me, though he is only how I felt about an angle and force of light, which is gone now, these clouds a completely different story I don’t have time to tell you, though it would begin, he was about to propose when the waiter dropped his tray, though as I wrote that, the clouds started to give way, so that thing I wrote that I would write about the waiter if I had time, I take it back
The deep-driving, limbic smell of spring reminds me of a friend’s mom’s lingerie drawer years ago, Easter coming and the white flowers of the pear trees more likely to be Jesus than the word Jesus is. I just now
thought of women wearing April, birth covered in rebirth, her slips especially brushed like blooms across my lips and dick after I snuck them down my pants into the bathroom, ignorant even of what a vagina was. I can almost smell the woods fucking. This was long before spank and spunk
and love, desire had no course to run, was everywhere and everything in those moments full of garden, full of soft and sweet and unknowing what to do after caress and breathe but return to making plastic soldiers go bang and boom.
some afternoons you come to try the music, Pam Brown
this is a usual afternoon. in the shadows. drinking wine. someone has been to the clairvoyant. i no longer wish to fix my future. you have come on a borrowed bicycle. you have sewn patches on your elbows.
we turn to talking romance. this is a usual afternoon. i reveal my passion for singers. i have scratches on my heart. dust on my heels.
piano boy. coming down the hallway. see your new striped denims. see your mothers fair isle vest. see you suck tequila. see you mexico your accordion. piano boy. rolling off to europe.
this is the longest telegram i will never send. we are both waiting for the angels.
I When my dreams showed signs of becoming politically correct no unruly images escaping beyond border when walking in the street I found my themes cut out for me knew what I would not report for fear of enemies’ usage then I began to wonder
II Everything we write will be used against us or against those we love. These are the terms, take them or leave them. Poetry never stood a chance of standing outside history. One line typed twenty years ago can be blazed on a wall in spraypaint glorify art as detachment or torture of those we did not love but also did not want to kill
We move but our words stand become responsible and this is verbal privilege
III Try sitting at a typewriter one calm summer evening at a table by a window in the country, try pretending your time does not exist that you are simply you that the imagination simply strays like a great moth, unintentional try telling yourself you are not accountable to the life of your tribe the breath of your planet
IV It doesn’t matter what you think. Words are found responsible all you can do is choose them or choose to remain silent. Or, you never had a choice, which is why the words that do stand are responsible and this is verbal privilege
V Suppose you want to write of a woman braiding another woman’s hair— staightdown, or with beads and shells in three-strand plaits or corn-rows— you had better know the thickness the length the pattern why she decides to braid her hair how it is done to her what country it happens in what else happens in that country
You have to know these things
VI Poet, sister: words— whether we like it or not— stand in a time of their own. no use protesting I wrote that before Kollontai was exiled Rosa Luxembourg, Malcolm, Anna Mae Aquash, murdered, before Treblinka, Birkenau, Hiroshima, before Sharpeville, Biafra, Bangla Desh, Boston, Atlanta, Soweto, Beirut, Assam —those faces, names of places sheared from the almanac of North American time
VII I am thinking this in a country where words are stolen out of mouths as bread is stolen out of mouths where poets don’t go to jail for being poets, but for being dark-skinned, female, poor. I am writing this in a time when anything we write can be used against those we love where the context is never given though we try to explain, over and over For the sake of poetry at least I need to know these things
VIII Sometimes, gliding at night in a plane over New York City I have felt like some messenger called to enter, called to engage this field of light and darkness. A grandiose idea, born of flying. But underneath the grandiose idea is the thought that what I must engage after the plane has rage onto the tarmac after climbing my old stair, sitting down at my old window is meant to break my heart and reduce me to silence.
IX In North America time stumbles on without moving, only releasing a certain North American pain. Julia de Burgos wrote: That my grandfather was a slave is my grief; had he been a master that would have been my shame. A poet’s words, hung over a door in North America, in the year nineteen-eighty-three. The almost-full moon rises timeless speaking of change out of the Bronx, the Harlem River the drowned towns of the Quabbin the pilfered burial mounds the toxic swamps, the testing-grounds and I start to speak again.
First having read the book of myths, and loaded the camera, and checked the edge of the knife-blade, I put on the body-armor of black rubber the absurd flippers the grave and awkward mask. I am having to do this not like Cousteau with his assiduous team aboard the sun-flooded schooner but here alone.
There is a ladder. The ladder is always there hanging innocently close to the side of the schooner. We know what it is for, we who have used it. Otherwise it is a piece of maritime floss some sundry equipment.
I go down. Rung after rung and still the oxygen immerses me the blue light the clear atoms of our human air. I go down. My flippers cripple me, I crawl like an insect down the ladder and there is no one to tell me when the ocean will begin.
First the air is blue and then it is bluer and then green and then black I am blacking out and yet my mask is powerful it pumps my blood with power the sea is another story the sea is not a question of power I have to learn alone to turn my body without force in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget what I came for among so many who have always lived here swaying their crenellated fans between the reefs and besides you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck. The words are purposes. The words are maps. I came to see the damage that was done and the treasures that prevail. I stroke the beam of my lamp slowly along the flank of something more permanent than fish or weed
the thing I came for: the wreck and not the story of the wreck the thing itself and not the myth the drowned face always staring toward the sun the evidence of damage worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty the ribs of the disaster curving their assertion among the tentative haunters.
This is the place. And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair streams black, the merman in his armored body. We circle silently about the wreck we dive into the hold. I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes whose breasts still bear the stress whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies obscurely inside barrels half-wedged and left to rot we are the half-destroyed instruments that once held to a course the water-eaten log the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to this scene carrying a knife, a camera a book of myths in which our names do not appear.
Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old cure for fever or melancholy a tonic for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.
Today I was reading about Marie Curie: she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness her body bombarded for years by the element she had purified It seems she denied to the end the source of the cataracts on her eyes the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil
She died a famous woman denying her wounds denying her wounds came from the same source as her power.
I dreamed I called you on the telephone to say: Be kinder to yourself but you were sick and would not answer
The waste of my love goes on this way trying to save you from yourself
I have always wondered about the left-over energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill long after the rains have stopped
or the fire you want to go to bed from but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down the red coals more extreme, more curious in their flashing and dying than you wish they were sitting long after midnight
Now rock the boat to a fare-thee-well. Once we suffered dreaming into a place where the children are playing their child’s games where children are hoping knowledge survives if unknowing they follow the game without winning.
Their fathers are dying back to the freedom of wise children playing at knowing their fathers are dying whose deaths will not free them of growing from knowledge of knowing when the game becomes foolish a dangerous pleading for time out of power. Quick children kiss us we are growing through dream…
The good and bad that are in human nature, the joy and grief that are in fate and destiny– do not attribute them to the movement of heavenly bodies; for according to the path of science, the stars are a thousand times more helpless than you.
The Burning of Paper instead of Children, Adrienne Rich
I was in danger of verbalizing my moral impulses out of existence. —Daniel Berrigan, on trial in Baltimore
1. My neighbor, a scientist and art-collector, telephones me in a state of violent emotion. He tells me that my son and his, aged eleven and twelve, have on the last day of school burned a mathematics textbook in the backyard. He has forbidden my son to come to his house for a week, and has forbidden his own son to leave the house during that time. “The burning of a book,” he says, “arouses terrible sensations in me, memories of Hitler; there are few things that upset me so much as the idea of burning a book.”
Back there: the library, walled with green Britannicas Looking again in Durer’s Complete Works for MELANCOLIA, the baffled woman
the crocodiles in Herodotus the Book of the Dead the Trial of Jeanne d’Arc, so blue I think, It is her color
and they take the book away because I dream of her too often love and fear in a house knowledge of the oppressor I know it hurts to burn
2. To imagine a time of silence or few words a time of chemistry and music
the hollows above your buttocks traced by my hand or, hair is like flesh, you said
an age of long silence
from this tongue this slab of limestone or reinforced concrete fanatics and traders dumped on this coast wildgreen clayred that breathed once in signals of smoke sweep of the wind
knowledge of the oppressor this is the oppressor’s language
yet I need it to talk to you
3. People suffer highly in poverty and it takes dignity and intelligence to overcome this suffering. Some of the suffering are: a child did not had dinner last night: a child steal because he did not have money to buy it: to hear a mother say she do not have money to buy food for her children and to see a child without cloth it will make tears in your eyes.
(the fracture of order the repair of speech to overcome this suffering)
4. We lie under the sheet after making love, speaking of loneliness relieved in a book relived in a book so on that page the clot and fissure of it appears words of a man in pain a naked word entering the clot a hand grasping through bars:
What happens between us has happened for centuries we know it from literature
still it happens
sexual jealousy outflung hand beating bed
dryness of mouth after panting
there are books that describe all this and they are useless
You walk into the woods behind a house there in that country you find a temple built eighteen hundred years ago you enter without knowing what it is you enter
so it is with us
no one knows what may happen though the books tell everything
burn the texts said Artaud
5. I am composing on the typewriter late at night, thinking of today. How well we all spoke. A language is a map of our failures. Frederick Douglass wrote an English purer than Milton’s. People suffer highly in poverty. There are methods but we do not use them. Joan, who could not read, spoke some peasant form of French. Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor’s language.
“Everyone around us exists for our salvation. The world I exist in is for me only, and when I die, so do all of you. What appear to be others are illusions which populate each individual’s afterlife. I know you’re reading my mind.
The sun is the most important part of me. The goal of the universe is to no longer exist as separate being, as such, the selfish (like myself) will compose the skin, muscles, and other thoughtless viscera of the reformed deities and those with hearts will congregate there, sending message through its body as it phases through the final hell of history.
Satan, the adversary, is the idea of an enemy, the body, mortality, gravity. Christ, who cares. Humanity is a testing ground for the wheel and other demons in a battle that was once between work and boredom and which is now between faith and sociopathy. Skyscrapers are sacrificial altars and sociopaths are autarchic souls with the ability to create religion without bindings.
Black gravel and red grass, wandering a closed circuit television in a patch of woods by the roads, pine needles, red grass and needles, wandering television as men nearby discusses the corpses of the women they made in war, forgetting they were ever in love. Speaking a red language, throwing black gravel into a truck to repair a washed out road. “My God, My God,” watching TV, and red prisoner tongue born for religion wondered doubly in his blue heart, the father of 3 dogs listening to African music, building shelves and never, never lying.
Salvation is the end of shocks to the heart, steady as she goes, riding a dog headed man and his red tongue under her apron, and his funny tender hand, and her noisy tan grip. Satan discovered black holes not due to new equipment but due to the mass production of sin, Lie, every morning the sun tries and fails to heal them. Don’t wear panties under your dress. God wants me to make you cum. Maktub, it is written. Red language in the bathroom where I wish your hair, not in the pine forest with the red grass and needles, don’t look into me, her body is not for you to fight. Don’t ever wear panties, I love your hands, the end is near.”—compeldium (via thewww)
I used to hate sitting in my apartment,
night after night, hearing murmurings
in the apartments around me; now
I stare at the endless, sunshot blue
and try to imagine walls.”—Jason Koo, from Man On Extremely Small Island (via ahuntersheart)
“Everything that Richard Nixon did to me, for which he faced impeachment and prosecution, which led to his resignation, is now legal under the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).”—Daniel Ellsberg (via socialuprooting)
all day staying inside listening to a podcast discuss how particles over the Pacific might drift I knew thinking whenever cloud scares me I am not alone my umbrella slept in the closet I placed a few nouns in beautiful cages then let them out touched with my mind the lucky cat asleep in the deli I always scratch his head he slightly raises to meet my hand all over the remains contaminated shadowmen in blue suits that seem ecclesiastical now that science is a religion crawl the emperor everyone has forgotten is speaking no one knows how to be loving and also hope the wind in a certain and not another direction will blow
When I woke up I was in a forest. The dark seemed natural, the sky through the pine trees thick with many lights.
I knew nothing; I could do nothing but see. And as I watched, all the lights of heaven faded to make a single thing, a fire burning through the cool firs. Then it wasn’t possible any longer to stare at heaven and not be destroyed.
Are there souls that need death’s presence, as I require protection? I think if I speak long enough I will answer that question, I will see whatever they see, a ladder reaching through the firs, whatever calls them to exchange their lives—
Think what I understand already. I woke up ignorant in a forest; only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice if one were given to me would be so full of grief, my sentences like cries strung together. I didn’t even know I felt grief until that word came, until I felt rain streaming from me.
If I had the power to command landslides, the annual rate of landslides would increase significantly and give rise to a new period of theorizing—a thousand hands deep in the wild anxieties of geographers, who thought they understood stone but now are challenged at their core.
I predict resistance. I suspect some might refuse to accept the evidence of their senses, rejecting the unexpected turbulence disturbing the smooth curve of their established graphs and finding comfort in denial, in a steadfast reiteration of the “rules of landslides,” as if by making a mantra of former knowledge they could scare off new and inconvenient data.
I suspect some would simply be offended.
In others the call to action would be irresistible. I like to imagine them careening around in a new valence of excited activity, vomiting on their own shoes and demanding to speak before congress, rushing to publish, sick with the desire to be first, carrying a little knot of nausea about with them as they nervously check and recheck their instruments.
If I had the power to command landslides I’d bury someone under a landslide every day. Maybe I’d bury a geographer. Who knows. It’s hard to know things.
If I had the power to command landslides I’d make certain to bury unlikely animals underneath it (ex. predaceous birds) so that later excavators would wonder how they got there and have their sense of awe and mystery renewed.
If I had the power to command landslides I’d bury at least one human person per day because it is important to be relentless.
Sometimes I would bury lots of people because I am ambitious. Also, impatient.
If I had the power to command landslides, I would practice making landslides occur in unexpected locations (ex. a busy international airport) because I think it is important to be creative, and because it is important sometimes to interrupt.
It is not a nice thing to do—no one likes to be interrupted—but it might be a necessary thing to do. It’s difficult to tell.
I am a son of the world. Cool and clear the diamond that scratches your eye. I am the great abhorrer everything in the world is alien to me and only I know my fear as only the tiger knows his cage. The gold whose fire tears me apart has nothing to do with the world. I was thrown in here with a fire by a scream. Always down and beside myself because nothing can touch me in my bell jar. I ring out of time blow up watches with merciless vision. My laser eyes electrocute everything. Like a cast stone I now break your bric-a-brac joy with words. Our life is the dictatorship of language and I am the terrorist of hearts. Our sight is a virgin veil of neuroses let me make it clear: nobody gets away with a mind unblemished by inkstains. I shatter all talk of meaning and purpose. If you start waving pictures of youth I gun you down with my blinding sight. Unpleasant and true: I have only dreamt of earth’s white-hot core but now I have nothing to lose and the glaring madness in my barren bleeding brain is sent out through my eye’s projector. You are what I see is it a lie? Forget it but remember: in the pain that sticks to death and begs for a kiss there is only one truth: the white pain scratching the eye until everything is black.
Your mother’s maiden name was Dexler. My mother’s maiden name was Dexter, and we remarked on this coincidence, our secret handshake. It felt breezy, sharing Dex with you. Secretly we each liked our ending better—your ler, with its drunken waltzing; my ter, with its sequined tap dancing. I met your mother twice. The first time was an accident. I was holding your place in line while you went back for something you’d forgotten. A woman stood behind me; I helped her unload her basket. Then I heard your boots and turned around. I asked for her name. Gladys, she said. I introduced you to your mother at Madison Market. Later I realized what the resemblance was: the way you shook hands like strangers to love.
1. Offer the wolves your arm only from the elbow down. Leave tourniquet space. Do not offer them your calves. Do not offer them your side. Do not let them near your femoral artery, your jugular. Give them only your arm.
2. Wear chapstick when kissing the bomb.
3. Pretend you don’t know English.
4. Pretend you never met her.
5. Offer the bomb to the wolves. Offer the wolves to the zombies.
6. Only insert a clean knife into your chest. Rusty ones will cause tetanus. Or infection.
7. Don’t inhale.
8. Realize that this love was not your trainwreck, was not the truck that flattened you, was not your Waterloo, did not cause massive hemorrhaging from a rusty knife. That love is still to come.
9. Use a rusty knife to cut through most of the noose in a strategic place so that it breaks when your weight is on it.
10. Practice desperate pleas for attention, louder calls for help. Learn them in English, French, Spanish: May Day, Aidez-Moi, Ayúdame.
11. Don’t kiss trainwrecks. Don’t kiss knives. Don’t kiss.
12. Pretend you made up the zombies, and only superheroes exist.
13. Pretend there is no kryptonite.
14. Pretend there was no love so sweet that you would have died for it, pretend that it does not belong to someone else now, pretend like your heart depends on it because it does. Pretend there is no wreck — you watched the train go by and felt the air brush your face and that was it. Another train passing. You do not need trains. You can fly. You are a superhero. And there is no kryptonite.
“They’re quite joyous occasions,” she said. “It’s very liberating, not using money.” At one market, she said, she approached a woman who had come along with three large trays of homemade cakes and was selling them for a unit a cake. “I asked her: ‘Do you think that’s enough? After all, you had the cost of the ingredients, the electricity to cook …’
“She replied: ‘Wait until the market is over’, and at the end she had three different kinds of fruit, two one-litre bottles of olive oil, soaps, beans, a dozen eggs and a whole lot of yoghurt. ‘If I had bought all this at the supermarket,’ she said, ‘it would have cost me a great deal more than what it cost to make these cakes.’”
What rules the system has are designed to ensure the tems continue “to circulate, and work hard as a currency”, said Christos Pappionannou, a mechanical engineer who runs the network’s website using open-source software.
No one may hold more than 1,200 tems in the account “so people don’t start hoarding; once you reach the top limit you have to start using them.”
And no one may owe more than 300, so people “can’t get into debt, and have to start offering something.” (via)