Termites make didgeridoos but they can't play them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Rei iki bomba, that sweet reek of gasoline, I know it doesn't make much sense, but that's all I am, all I am is the smell of gasoline on your fingers, with the green sun in your eyes and the smell of tomato green and tobacco hornworm floating over, and under--such an olfactory basement they made!--the solvent notes. But that's it. I'm sorry I don't have more, that I'm not a mafioso or an electric monkey who pees blue molten gold. Sorry I'm not an investment feaver banker with realistic cry and daily diaper wet. I'm the time between seeing the blood and covering your mouth. The space between the hearing of crying and the making it up the stairs and everything is ok but there was that awful space and I'm sorry but that was me. I would like to be the flavorful, vanilla infused space between the spatula and your tongue, and the notes and floats and vanilla waves of silly just your birthdays, I wish, but all I am is the taste and not the memories. Thank god, actually, that belongs to you. But gasoline, you can't, probably, unless you're my brother or my cousin, or one just like us, you probably can't know what gasoline means to me and that's the thing, that's the individuation of self that occurs only with old of old and old pick ups and tractors and ignorance. So.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bone butter

I can't lose the cobwebs, the bone butter, the delicate scaffold, that marrow comb. I should talk to the dead, to this party I host. One after the other and another again. It's not that I'm sick of them, the persons of the dead, but I can barely see what's going on around me. Clouds of perfume and old shirts, buzzing voices with nothing new to say, never again. What did she say, she’s said it again, and yes I’m ready, I’m ready to go to Wong’s, already out the door and gone, I am, on and down the way. Can't shake the dead. I've had to accept that lately. Can't get away from them. A boat full of bones. Bones and flowers and pain-hazed eyes looming before me. Horse teeth and china blue eyes and thick hands slapping the table, the slap and the wonderful laughs.

It’s got nothing to do with my gray hairs, with my squinting, all the little deaths I feel inside me.

It’s the eyes bobbing in the coffee. Bloated tongues and gravelly oil pans, his spoon in the coffee, clinking clinking clinking. OCD and the smell of old nicotine on glass. Brown rivulets and helping your dad and the lung-stopping Windex in that small airless space, choking with sunlight. Popcorn and unpopped corns on the floor mats, the sweet reek of gasoline. My father.

But there's the one I don't talk about, and why should I? She shot herself. Sneaky ghost. The absence of sense and wondering what the bomb was, from what direction the revenge will come. You don't want to open a can of chili beans and see her face erupt. Spiritual botulinum. There was a time after she died, there was a time when I would be riding the bus and see a woman about five-five, auburnish hair between the shoulder blades, I would see a dress full of flesh-air and freeze. Holy fuck with the prickling singing and the ruptured cells and the tingling, the heart cast loose and wondering if it would ever be good for anything again, this seeing-a-woman-walking-down-the-street-while-riding-the-bus? Mostly you wonder, at least I did, if she had fucking pulled a prank. It’s been almost six years and I’m still wondering, still dread hair dyed a certain shade of red.

It's kind of silly. And annoying.

Monday, June 04, 2007

No I don't have cable...

The second season of Weeds will be out on DVD July 24 this year. Of course this may be much less exciting for those of you with cable. You, however, can look forward to the 3rd season's premiere on August 13.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Straw and lead, peachwood and the perfect BLT, almost

All my thinking all tangled up in the bottom of a junk drawer. It occurred to me recently that if I ever want to write anything ever again I might have to write about the dead, even if only to burn it. One of those things. Enough people have written about enough dyings. I have no interest and no desire to be one of them but I might have no choice, just to get it out of the way. All these ghosts, even of the living, so maybe there's no hope of untangling the times. I warn you. Be wary of your basement. Be wary of the piles you make intending soon to return. Olive green IBM Selectrics and curling smoke and random riffs and too much Pledge and so many dirty ashtrays. The children’s books waiting, moldering with hope.

In the bubble space, I can't get rid of them, sticks in the river. Styrofoam and six pack rings and one curly haired black dog, dead in the Kings River. Ten pound mono, Pepsi cans, ivory satin deeply quilted, bad make-up, a rosary wound round waxen hands. One difference: when I die there won't be twenty mismatched decks of cards that someone will feel obligated to sort and divide and save despite missing the eight of clubs, jack of hearts, the five of fives. No bright jokers, crisp despite the tattered boxes, the rubber band shrapnel, or the odd buttermint frozen in a flash of hospitality.

I'm made out of straw, I'm made out of lead. An old man climbing icy stairs. I'm a leaf slowly on fire, down the sidewalk I go thinking I'm getting somewhere.

But I have peach wood and a woman's hair. Bright frenzied marbles from the garden and worn out beats from tapes I won’t throw away. I saved the Marshmallow King, deep in the bubble, deep underground mining for time, making a bed between the mites. Odd pan of used motor oil and bag of sulfur, a row of slightly ragged teeth-- how they shined! Everyone, everyone is beautiful when she smiles. Sincere, thoughtless happiness is so, so hot. The warmth of you when suddenly it was night. The eyes of you when you once, just that once, smiled with your whole being. Some of these things are hard to fit in blue plastic boxes.

That damn memory, damn bubble, the hospital bed and the monitor and the parted mouth and the eyes. The catheter and the dried skin. Relentless beat, skin drum of eyelids and the hurting. I would rather think of the almonds and the figs. I would rather think of carpeted trunks, extracting fishing rods and Styrofoam coolers from that clean steel oven of a 1978 Dodge Aspen. I would rather think of miracle bacon and the dynamite mayo blowing minor holes in the burlap and muslin, dropping stitches in time. Aluminum foil, weeping tomatoes and cold Pepsi.

Then, you know, there are just those days you wish, you wish you could step outside, step outside this life. Just sit on a bench in the warm shade of an easy tree, sit and smile and pass the time with a beautiful girl.

I spent some time living in the hot, faceted bubble of that granite spine, smelling the breath of water striders and cottonwoods. Another bubble. Aborted embryos each one, each mnemonic sac of fossil love. Born again and again and again and wondering how we got into this mess.

Of beginnings there was the mud, the clay. Dogs quickly given names, grocery bills growing and paid, the planting of figs, the planting of vines. Of pomegranates, there was the thin wrinkled red leather, glossy lance shaped leaves, spines of surprise. Of protruding stamens and puckered sunrise, of bright nacreous pout, bold flesh pebbles and hair sentries, I can’t say what they knew. Children were born though, and grew warm and grew cold, brown skin drifting in heaps and rolls. Eventually we burned them, or buried them all.

I wish we left something behind more than corpses, besides photographs and nicotine stains. Not Rubbermaid bins full of papers and change. Not an oak box of ashes or a rusted tackle box, though tackle boxes are nice. Not Oxford cloth shirts and jaundiced underwear. Something small and new, but big enough to have weight. A dimple, a ripple in the surrounding space. Something you damn well won’t forget. A kidney stone. Maybe something you could hold in your hand till it grew warm, shining with curiosity, with uncertainty and unfocused, loving grief. This stone you could lose but never give away. Something new. There one moment: A corpse, my loved one, the death sigh and the grieving. The next: Here, I’m holding a stone, a living stone, a stone of the dead.

“Who was that,” you’d ask me. Maybe you’d stopped by, with the coffee, for the time. “This?” I’d look down, surprised myself by the glowing lump of malachite in my palm. “I don’t know. Must be something I picked up in Mictlan.”
“Yes, yes,” You’d say, impatient with the lack of bacon, the lack of coffee, the lack of today, “But who is it, that stone?”
“My father,” I’d say, or my grandfather or my friend or my aunt. What do you do with your pants falling down from the weight of the dead?

There would be fights over who might hold this stone of no forgetting. Promethean probate. It would be beautiful, but maybe it would show the stain. Inclusions and pits and striations, yellow zebras and mink eyes and cobalt veins. All at once the beauty and the shame.

Mine, I hope, will smell like coffee, or lavender, or tomato leaves. Lemon on fine hands. Hot pavement and new rain, cool freckles and blue cat skin. The wrinkles in your shirt, the sudden air conditioning and the smell when it somehow turns out all right with no hearts broken and no souls stained. If nothing else, I hope my stone smells like a window left open for the blue hours. Your feet on the clean floor and the smile you didn’t intend.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blooming today

Prairie phlox above and dianthus below. The phlox has a beautiful, sweet smell but--and I can't believe I am saying this--I wish it smelled more like old fashinoned cultivated phlox.

The darker pink dianthus has returned three years running. We haven't had a normal winter since I planted them, still they certainly deserve their reputation for hardiness. The native Rudbeckia below should be blooming in about a week. Monarchs have laid eggs on that milkweed, but no caterpillars yet. What I neglected to photograph this morning is all the native spiderwort. From one six pack three or four years ago we now have volunteers everywhere. Good thing too, one of my favorite plants. One last thing while making garden noise...there's a male red-winged blackbird in my neighbor's backyard calling for all his worth as if he intends to stay. I've heard they visit feeders but I would hardly call our yards a normal territory. Strange sound to feel in my head up here on the bluff, in this house and year.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Perfect pair of shoes

And if it weren't for the word, I don't know where I'd be. Not that word. Any word, though some are better than others. The word of velvet the word of stone the word of brittle yellow pages. The dust and the bone ash and the fine root hair. You think someday the sun will break, it will blow out, rain shards of egg-colored Bakelite. This sun of broken green bottles and clear glass, the dried up Wild Irish Rose, smelling of angry bees. This sun of enormous slides and swings and filthy chained tires under 395, the highway. Brick and algae, mold and slate and slugs, the things that give deceitful comfort in memory’s hard-spiked box, this shattered sun plinking and rattling, cooler than you'd expect, a dirty yellow hail slowly turning black, tumbling us into blindness, drifting under ten thousand typewriter keys, nothing but word dust after all.

And then it seemed that life should consist of more than chewy brown loogies, like lung dust wetted with worm jizz and worked into a gritty paste, so I quit smoking. It's Saturday afternoon and my wife is dreaming. Paint her with cinnamon and paint her with oil. An accident of limbs and breath. Pile her high with rabbits, the deep fur and bright eyes. Bring her the fresh, sharp sheets and smoothed off regrets, I wish I could. I wish I could bring her, right into her dreaming, bring her a dolphin riding a manatee. I wish I could bring her the perfect pair of shoes and leave them where she would find them. I mean the perfect pair of shoes.

Of course they will have style, style too fresh and original for my words to describe. But these shoes will also make her feet smell like fresh strawberries and feel like liquid satin on clean, soft skin bathed in spring sun, rolling, limbs akimbo just after. These shoes will match every item of clothing in her closet. These shoes which I would sneak into her dreaming will be on sale. There is only one pair and it fits her--both feet, each shoe. Every other pair was destroyed by funky dream fire. These shoes she will find and bring home from her dreaming to flaunt, these shoes will make me eat my words. "You did," I will say. "You found them. You were right. The perfect pair of shoes." "And they were on sale," she will say.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mary and I got married

I can't remember if I mentioned that. September 29, 2006. Small, as we are. Cloudy, bit of rain. Grateful for all the folks who made it. Some pictures...


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Went to Mexico just for the McDonalds

Slowly loading a few other images here....We actually didn't take many pictures.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dead Bigots and A Brief Vacation Reading List

Just took an hour and a half to get my hair cut...heard an old man commenting on the mystery of white people adopting "colored" children. As I writhed uncomfortably, thinking about all the razors in the room, my barber caught sight of the smoke starting to seep from my ears and changed the subject to the recent death of the Great Fat Bigot Himself, Jerry. I was able to talk about how the old intolerant, self-serving, hypocritical fucker will not be missed--now grant that I have no idea if Falwell was racist, but he was certainly intolerant--and hope that got the message across. I was afraid for a minute I would be finishing my haircut at home.

So, the books I'm taking with:

Dress Your Family in Courduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez--and no I haven't read that yet, really!, why no I haven't, so piss off--but I am looking forward to it.

Some Cicero, On Moral Ends, as I was supposed to read it for a class years ago

A blank journal, huh.

I may well find some awesome trash at the airport or in Mexico. What I especially look forward to is reading local phone books and neighborhood papers once I get there and yes I can read enough Spanish to get it on. God help me when I speak though. Terrible accent and mind-lock and every tense ever invented fighting for primacy and leaving old squid paste on my tongue such that when I open my mouth horrifying clouds of disarticulation pour forth. Anyway, yeah.

Got this habit of reading phone books from my dad. I don't travel often so it doesn't much come up, but Larry, if we found ourselves in a sterile motel room in some warmed over vacation town would prop himself with phone book on his lap and do strange things...not depraved, but definitely strange...the kinds of things an anthropologist or geographer might get away with, but he was neither. I suppose an urban planner had every reason to do these things without embarrassment, but who even knows what an "urban planner" is? Anyway, Larry would read the yellow pages, giggling and sighing and saying, "Son of a bitch" in quiet tones, blowing smoke and flipping pages and possibly wishing his son were not sharing the room with him. Still, here was Larry, giggling, "Twenty-four gun specialty stores, holy shit." Pages flipping, "Oh ho! Bill's Taxidermy on Montero Ave., established 1927. More taxidermists than the last town I was in." Smoke and silence and air conditioner peace eventually stillness leading to something about maps and rail yards rivers and orchards and time, always time stalking us both, though I can't remember Larry ever facing time.

"Owen, there are more grocery stores in this town than car washes...Son of a bitch."

So I'm looking forward to reading the phone book, if they have one and I'm sure they will, when I get to Mexico.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Irritating blogger

Ok, blogger is slightly irritating at the moment. Was trying to change photo in profile. Won't accept anything. So this was the one

or maybe this


One of these days I have to post something that makes sense. Something with a beginning and an end and a good bit in the middle. Maybe even read it before posting. No, seriously. That might not be today. Today will mostly be cleaning, fretting, running around and, in some way, sweetly grieving. Mary and I are going to Mexico just as Minnesota is fatly and sweetly and brightly and richly rolling out spring. I hereby dedicate the last five minutes of my life to the adverb, its long legs and whimsy.

Last night with the dog and the stars and an unsteady Earth spinning too fast while I breathed in tide pools from oceans never visited, suddenly a nighthawk. Something about those birds. The first, at least my first, this year. Maybe later I'll sift around in my head and try to remember every one.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Fish heads, rotting chicken and the Most Beautiful Smell of Sexed-out-Linden

Here she is here is that May 7, 2007. Here she is and finally I can smell the pollen, the limpid, languorous plant-sex on the air, hot and heavy. But she isn’t, not this air, not this pungent, olfactory soup of beguiling sweetness, she isn’t that hot or heavy yet. Is it a boy or a girl?

Ambiguity is ok when it’s not even the same kingdom. I can’t discriminate what wetly commandeers my nose. But. I can’t believe it, there is linden already. There are cherries and Siberian crabs and real cherries, these wild women growing on the banks and slopes of the railroad cuts, the Virginia cherry and the pin cherry, mad women smelling of cosmic cheese and elf breath. There is the sun, just enough, and the heavy breath of water, and she knows what the fuck spring is about. I can’t believe it.

I tasted her this morning, outside the Comcast building, which isn’t exactly, but we’ll call it that and at least the owner had the sense to plant these rose family matriarchs, hardly native but hardly caring, this is their light, this mist and twilight light at noon suffused with gelid lead light, this is their gravid space, this space of ageless lust and wonder. This, and the low river crying for water. The pregnant air teasing.

Come! Come! Waiting for the rain, another day, and I can’t believe the lindens are blooming. They call them basswood around here.

Walking with Donny, I think I was about ten, god knows, he says, he says. I say, I love the way the lindens smell. He says, “Jesus Christ, it smells like a French whore.”

Well, I wish, I wish I’d said, “Jesus Christ, I’d like to meet that whore.” And who wouldn’t?

But I didn’t say that. Besides, I don’t think that even a sophisticated gay man such as my uncle Don would suggest Linden, the blossom alone, smells like a French whore. If it did, lord, I’d still like to meet that woman. He must have been smelling spring in my city, that Washington, D.C., and we were a half block from Hayden’s, on 7th, just before Independence, and you know what’s coming, if you’ve been there, you know you can already smell the crepe myrtles, you can smell the rotting chicken in the 55 gallon drums behind Eastern Market.

The spring, the spring in Washington, Jesus. They shouldn’t let men be teenage boys in D.C. That just shouldn’t happen. And god help the young women, I’ve no idea how it hits them. The cherry blossoms and the hyacinths and the lindens and the sodden maple blossoms red and spent and swollen and blown in drifts along the bricks. The electric green grass ready to wilt already. The marble sweat and the moldyc copper roofs the steaks burning at Mr. Henry’s the old beer and fine scotch pissing on the sidewalk from the Hawk and Dove, the sodden newsprint from Trovers, come on, come on, the junipers and the yews the limestone and the moldering ghosts at the Library of Congress and your nose is in there, in the perineum that is 2nd St., S.E., there is St. Marks--it welcomes you—and there is the space shuttle and there is fifth grade and there are women and women and women you’ve known. What are you supposed to do with them all, with every bobbing breast and perfect thigh just misted with sweat and spring heat clung to by batik and patchouli and lemon and there, at the Tidal Basin, with the crabs and the cherry blossoms, where even the breath of the earth, the cool musk of the soil itself for god’s sake, even the heart of the earth is a dark eyed woman, a woman of blinding light, a woman of ripe simmering heart and just baked bread, a sweet child’s kiss and another funeral you missed. Jesus, what are you supposed to do with a city like that?

Somehow this will comeback to boxwoods, or maybe it will come back to lavender, or maybe it will come back to Yoo-Hoo, I think it will. I think it will come back to rotting children, I meant to write chicken, and chlorine from the natatorium. I think it will come back to Old Sam pissing in the shrubbery and the zoo smell of metal railings and the old pee smell of alleys and the pure psychotic death smell of protein in hot sun, that smell of chicken in the summer. Cause before you know it this spring will be gone. And sometime soon Eastern Market will be repaired, rebuilt and restocked and re-loved and re-walked and somewhere, at least I pray to god, somewhere there will be a child with tiny sandals, there will be a child wondering at the awful reek of these extra bits rotting in the sun, the chicken and the fish, there will be a hand so small holding in wonder and fear, there will be a brief journey into the sun, through the forest of knees and swaying hips, the broadcloths and polyester, the flowing prints, the black skin and cocao butter the white thighs with blue vein crepe, these knees and thighs and crushing brush, that hot rancid breath breathing the cheeses and the crab cakes, please Jesus bring that on back and don’t change a thing, bring back those tiny fragile fingers and that love bring back that love of sidewalks and raucous voices. Bring back the summer and the grocery sack bring back the magic in the bricks and fumagatory green paint and heavy brasses. Bring back the breath of a dead snapper's eye and the hot delicate, cool-genital-tingling sheen of a reclining scallop, bring back the Christmas trees and that was where Christmas trees came from and bring back the Virginia and the Maryland and the tidewater accents bring back the coveralls and the fish heads and the strange nasal speech that was so at home so much more at home. That was home, there with the homemade bread and that was just where the bees lived and the red wine in plastic cups with the fundraisers, that was where we'd buy our bananans and there everybody wanted to tear it down, and yes Rosalie, yes my mother, I do remember, I do remember that day in the VW Bug and the standing down of the mayor and the Jim Mayo, god rest his soul, and so many souls to rest, but there was the red wine and the summer nights and there were the dances and the plays and the fragrant leather feet, the making of a community art space, the black paint and the white paint, the folding chairs and that is how it's done I guess, you were always there to show me that, there is always a way to get it done so I don't worry about it, I know they will build it , the South hall again, and probably flush with cash and without counting a single penny, mostly that seemed to be it, red wine and hungry people and folding chairs and the white and the black.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Eastern Market burned yesterday


I found out when I got home this evening that Eastern Market burned last night, or early this morning. Quite a blow. An electrical fire I guess. Everything destroyed. Every chicken wing, spider mum and block of aged Irish cheddar, every rat turd and mouse hair and beautifully painted, perfectly aged sign. In other words, everything that made the market look and feel timeless, everything that made it feel worthy of the products it carried, all gone. Anyway…I am glad my father Larry didn’t have to see this happen.

I’m not sure what he would have felt but I can’t help but see him running from the house in Fresno when Bongo died. That bizarre, high-pitched wail, “Bongo, oh Bongo no, no.” No, seriously, it was really high-pitched. It was kind of creepy to tell you the truth. If Larry were here I would tell him that. I would tell him that I kind of wondered what the hell was up with that. If there were an element of the put-on, of the I-am-not-sure-what-to-do-or-to-say so, I am going to over-act my role. I don’t know. It seems like a lousy thing to accuse a guy of, but it is not as if I think that he wasn’t really upset by what happened to Bongo, it is more that—and as I said, I would kid him about this if here were alive—shit, I understand, I accuse, and maybe only myself, because there is something in that defensive, self-conscious action I know too well. I can relate to that bullshitter. My beautiful dead dad.

But how can you claim that someone is full of shit at the scene of traumatic death. Bongo’s death was awful. There was the burning asphalt, the blond with the cat eyes, the one I loved at the time. There was the blood, but not so much, coming from his still mouth. There was the collapsing bubble of the school bus’s passing. There in the hot sun, in that awkward space between normal and seriously fucked up—and one day we really have to get used to the idea that seriously fucked up is normal—or maybe we don’t…But there the blond and the suddenly motionless, suddenly-without-light Bongo and I knelt in the road and here comes running Larry with that silly cry.

I have mentioned before, though I doubt you would have heard or read, but I have mentioned before the elaborate burial this dog received. So, I won’t elaborate much now. There was the six foot hole in the orange orchard and there was the royal red blanket of his and there was the burning of pine needles in the cool, sandy hole. There was the self-conscious, self-indulgent self-importance of the living overdoing it for the dead. And there was Larry, Larry of the peculiarly effeminate cry, going to a meeting and missing the burial altogether. Of course Bongo wouldn’t have minded. He was a dog. And, he was dead.

So somehow when I imagine Larry hearing the news about Eastern Market, I see him running across the lawn in Fresno these eleven or twelve years ago crying out, “No!” But then I imagine how pissed off and worried he would be. Where would he sell his photos? And I am so glad he didn’t have to know this. I feel horrible for the vendors, and for the employees of Market Lunch and the various inside businesses. They are just screwed for a while.

This is a horseshit effort at explaining even a fraction of what that market has meant to me, of the central role those worn bricks and silly pigeons have played in my life. But honestly, the first thing to mind when I heard was the image of my dad squealing strangely.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fast moving that spring

So fast. Grackles one day, robins, juncos. House finches, then kinglets, suddenly a kingfisher. There were great blue herons and double crested cormorants. The goldfinches have been here all along, progressively putting on their colors, chickadees calling with sweet relaxed excitement their two-tone whistle. Unlike the psychotic cardinal pimping his territory at half past three in the morning. And yesterday the first chipping sparrows. A week ago the first brown creeper though I didn’t know they left. God, I wish spring lasted ten years. Spring, for me, needs to be a mighty epic. Books and shelves of books of days and lifetimes spent in the moist light of wilting pink blossoms. Ceremonies and processionals, months devoted to the muttonchops, chestnut no less, of the chestnut-sided warbler. And he would wait, everything would wait, every drop of rain and every malignant mass and every dropping cherry blossom. I just want ten thousand years with cool wet warm sun on my knees, a girl’s hair, worn, happy perfume, young anxious fingers and silly smiles of gladness. Tired feet and tired eyes and thrilling heart resting tenderly in the explosion. I just want another ten or twenty thousand years in that easy afternoon. Spring, even the air tries to sneak a finger along your ribs.

Meanwhile, these confused tulips with frost-burned tips bloomed so furiously their petals almost exploded. At the very least I think their thin, curiously wide and flat necks are broken, splayed, sore, but not unhappy it seems. So quick and here already my tulips look spent. No idea what happened this year. I really have to plant daffodils this fall to extend the storm of color.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, my native plants wake up like long-legged, gentle mad-women, fierce as badgers and soft as the fat cheek of a two year old sleeping, eager as new water through the breach. Follow the light, follow the light through the dust country. That was your toe print, that was the stone that bit you, that is the love of your brown eyed dog, patient, intelligent and gone again through the breach. These plants I set loose. I think, "God bless them, please."

Please. We're lucky these plants don't come for us in the night. Maybe they do. Maybe it does all come back to the nose and the electric beetles. Brains of dung and scratchy chitinous feet croqueting us back to heaven. They take over this yard fast enough, but not fast enough for me. Will I ever enjoy that eternal moment of volatile oil and blistering sun again? So ephemeral, so silly I won't even share that moment. I haven't yet, not even now, not even with you. But there is something in these oils escaping into the sun, there is something in these plants waking up and dancing brightly against the crumbling wall of bleak, blank idiocy.

Anyway, I found out when I got home this evening that Eastern Market burned last night, or early this morning. Quite a blow.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thank god for the bob and the dip.

The years, the years you spend with them, with their hair and their furniture,
with their earrings and their chipped dishes, their tattered photos and dog-eared books,
Rumi andRimbaud and Faulkner and Atwood and Jean Auel and Stephen King,
with the books they couldn’t throw away from the classes they finished and almost finished,
with the Monday underwear, the worm-holed lace and polyester, the sieve-ed cotton,
with the broken elastic, the worms of square rubber, and the stains too obvious to mention,
with the blankets their grandmothers made for them,
with the sour plum stones of decisions digested before you existed.

You live with these things and they mark you. This is normal? To love some stranger, someone you’ve never met until you’ve met her? This person, this person who has opened your mail, tossed your socks in the dryer, this person who has cried for you, for you, she is not even related to you. Sometimes, sometimes, you turn around and she’s dead.

What are you supposed to do with that?

Sometimes it will happen before anything happens,
before you are granted the right to bear a title,
before you are qualified to be widowed. Sometimes she will go,
in the day, in the night, in a car, an ambulance, a bed pan,
in a hospital bed, bed pan, but she’s gone.
Sometimes she will go down the drain in strawberry swirlies,
down the drain of a hotel bathroom in Mexico.

Sometimes, silly, she will have survived that and
you’ll not only know about it, you’ll be dumb enough to think it won’t happen again, but,
Sometimes it will.

Sometimes, on a Friday morning,
the week you broke up,
that week you finally had to go
—see, that happens, and it should be some kind of ok—
but it’s not ok, not ok,
not ok. She, will sometimes check into a hotel
in a picturesque river town—not quite Mexico, a nice enough town this one, but too Republican—
sometimes it will happen that on the way to this hotel along the interstate,
there will be a Fleet Farm, and at this Fleet Farm they will,
Sometimes, sell her not only a rifle, but ammuniton.

She might drive back to your town and kill you,
her heart.

But this time she didn’t.

Sometimes, she’ll continue on to that charming, minor resort--really minor--resort town hotel and she’ll get a room. There, she’ll finish what she started in Mexico. A rifle this time instead of bloody vomit. No hospital, no recovery, no shrinks, no meeting you, not-this-time. And I really do have a problem with time.

Sometimes it’s all about the hips. There are hips and there is a beat and there is the heart of the world, what can you say, but-help-oh-Jesus-fuck. Thank god for the line of her, cutting through the day, keeping you above the tide line. Those hips and thank god for her, the thighs and the slim rondure, the arc and the sway, the precious cresting of god’s imagination that is, sometimes, a woman, ringing the bell, the bell of denim and taut chevrons, the bell and the spool of dreaming, the line of mysterious, tricky thought from navel to ankle and back to chin again, the line of cool cheeking left behind, if only in the mind’s eye. What does that skin smell like? What does that skin taste like? What is that, that kite of one life cracking in the ions before you? A butterfly mated to a rabbit, the grace and the softness and the airy pure, lemony-sex as she floats by, ringing that damn bell. How could you not love that? How could you not want that, the skin of dancing shadows?

On the quitting of smoking

How many times have we done this, but this, now six, seven weeks in, it feels like the last. Too tired and too many stakes to start again. One hopes.

Trying to write without smoking is like taking a musk melon, a bag of weeping, badly rotted muskmelons to the prom. And they’ve got a nasty yeast infection, plus the clap, so even if….Similes are forced, like cement through your piss hole, or worse yet, like hot pepper diarrhea through your tear ducts—actually those work too well. I’ll try again: Similes are forced, like a dead sandpiper in your milkshake. Ok?

Even drinking strong beer at nine in the morning, that siren of tumors and metastases, that curling blue, gossamer goddess, that muse of suicides, that doctor before time, your slim white lady with reeking breath, she calls to you, even now, she holds the key.

Well fuck, if not the key, she holds something. After all, we go back to her rank sheets time and time again. Millions of us, kneeling before this dominatrix. No, I have no idea why I’ve cast tobacco as a woman. I think it is just because I am a man and the smoke, she seduces me. If I were a woman, I think I would write of smoking the hot blue smoke-pumping pole, or some such, but I’m not.

In the quitting of smoking there are lessons. Mostly that quitting smoking sucks. Not because you quit some drug, some specific chemical, some brain-wave interloper. You quit yourself. Some idea of you, it wears the clothes you remember, its face is familiar, its eyes you don’t want to meet.

Comfort the shadow hunched on the rock, comfort it and it will go away. Follow it and it will run. Turn and be overtaken.

I want to write about that brittle edge of forgiveness, that stone Jesus, maybe a bench, sheltering and pouring forth hyacinths. It always comes back to hyacinths, and then to number ten sugar fine dust and roots of magnolias, scrub jays and pine duff, thin air crackling with magical intensity and the death of dreaming.

The best advice, the best, so pay attention if you need to know. The best advice I ever got on the quitting of smoking was, "The only way to quit smoking is not to smoke."

No shit. No laughing. That phrase has been, and may be, the only thing that keeps me away from the sweet weed. I only wish I could remember who told me that.

Make it a journey, the recounting. Risk it, risk losing your memory. The life doesn’t seem as bold. We’re all afraid to die. Threaten with sudden twisted evisceration and just about everybody will blanch. But this risk of self murder, this risk of leaving behind what you thought you might be, this hanging out your tender peeled penis and soul and bald eyes and flayed heart, handing it out for the magpies and the jays, your lovers and former lovers, your enemies and the people you despise, this killing the self tastes a little off. Is it supposed to taste this way? Buttermilk kissing underneath the bleachers with mildewed rags and shellfish in the sun. Should you spit it out? A ball of pine-sol burning the tongue and nobody, not one soul, gives a shit if you eat it, not one.

This writing space is a cave. Possibility crawls up the walls, leaving bright green, wet shinings behind. In the weak light we can almost see our fingers as we wash our hands. Reading patterns in bright green stars, these hearts tacked to the stone. The lack of smoke is noticeable in a small, wet cave.

I’ve never known where I stood, she said, so I guess I’ll stand next to you.
Ok, he said. That’s ok. Stand here. I’m sorry my feet stink.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Medlar or Michigan banana, too many names and too many ghosts

Here we go again, she said, she said, that goldfinch, with her spring speckle, with the downy confusion, the panic and the heat, the world turning all on a thistle seed.

What could you say about that? You know which that, that that. The marble, the blood, and the long, long, leafing through fine soled shoes, the thick heels and the bell, it’s all about the bell, denim-wrapped, the perfect curve, god’s own smiling bow, the crest and the swell, swinging dipping, belling--sound me, sound me deep all I know anymore is that thin space between the bell and the strike, if only that were all there were. If only lifetimes were fifteen seconds, I’d love to live again and again. In that space between her hip and the faint air dimple of her passing, yellow threads stitching fire, rivets, the tug, double up and kiss, that’s all it is, all it is, it is. But isn’t that something?

I suddenly realized, and not long ago, that it is all about the pupil. God has been knocking at my pupil’s door, as it were. Of course, it has always been about the scent, nothing can change that. It has always been in the nose, the space where I exist, but that one eye I saw, that sweet face of god, that one eye of aquamarine tissue, blown tissue, fissures and fjords and seeping black, the fuzzy uncertain iris in that otherwise implacable stare, that pupil said to me, one Thursday, it was Thursday, and parted brown hairs warm air rising, in that rising column, the elegant, sacred, furry space, in that warm bowl of becoming, that ocean, that slippery otter flashing across my mind, right there, there was this thing, this blown pupil, this bending of blackness that made me pause, just for a second, and remember all the rest. There was that, and there was freckle.

I don’t mind a woman. I don’t mind to see a woman stretched out, a bright wire, a thin tight line between the ground and the sky, the hard edge, and her nipples spitting fire at the moon, no I don’t mind that so much. I don’t mind the custard bowl, the risen loaf, that Michigan banana of cresting sweetness, the bowl and the bell, the rhubarb and cream skin, the rosy cleft, soft down and cotton memoirs, the sticky and the sweet.

I know, time is a problem for me. I have a problem with time. Just this minute, when I was picking almond skin from my teeth, there was a question as to whether I was up north, whether it was a field trip and we were all pretty young, the women with the taut, high-pitched areolas, bright and shrill. We were pretty young, young and full of shit, shitting full-barreled medlars, not the same as the loquat, loquat. Were we up north for god's sake or were we out west, in Fresno? The answer was obvious but somehow it all is smelling the same.

Loquat! It’s a cry, a scream, a world brought low, torn wide open. How dare you live without the loquat? Of course, here, I have no choice. I’ve left behind all that behind. The loquats and the fig. The persimmon and the pomegranate.

No, you have no idea how sick I am of these ghosts. Ghosts, like snot clinging to everything. The toothbrush covered with webbing, the forgotten grocery lists of dead people, the guilt and the pee-soaked shame. I am tired of these lists. Of course, I wouldn’t be very happy to be covered with fleas either, so there is that. At least I am not currently covered by fleas. See, you have to keep these things in perspective.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dulles airport in summer about 1998

I like garbage bags, a lot, the smell and the cool slick slicking unfolding, the roar and snap, but I can’t stand your plastic forks and your hair styles. Your television makes me want to gouge out my eyes with a dull shoe horn, so I think I’ll just wait over here.

So, for fuck’s sake, I’m sitting over in the corner on this cat-piss-stained corduroy ottoman, it was mostly tan, waiting for the eighth or the fifteenth or the thirty second coming of the coming of the coming of the spiraling toward some beginning, and I’m waiting for when it was ok to smoke again, cause I kind of liked it then, and the cat piss is smoking up all my dreams, but still I’m waiting, and I’m in love with the black vinyl and it’s Dulles all over again putting in a quarter to watch Bob Barker and buying Pep-o-mint Lifesavers and they really did save your life in those days, not like today, but it was okay there in the melting light with the terrazzo pressing against my hippocampus, it was ok in the thin vein of satiny steel, I liked that metal, that curving cement like the arching back of a horned-out lover, humid mid-Atlantic atlatting somewhere between solar plexus and spine—it’s pink ninnies on ice—but that was where I was waiting, in the moist “O” space between her tongue and her teeth, just behind the wall of silence draped between her lips. I always liked that shadowy space and it was not uncomfortable to sit on the black vinyl slowly drying despite myself.

"Thank god for air conditioning," was all she said, as she sat down beside me. The cotton pimples and the blue puckered remembrance of you. I liked the smell of her powder. Thank god for the powder. She never told me, but it was a yellow jar with a white lid.

"Dry your thighs or you’ll get the rice," is what it sounded like, when her wrinkles parted and the bristly short hairs which had become her lip issued that advice. I liked the pleats and the seer sucking better, so I focused on the wrinkled blue toes of her shoes instead. Not wanting to offend I tried not to breath and we waited, waited again.

But I did love that Dulles and if I ever see her again, what swell might I find to shine, that Dulles once in the sun dress in the weighted air in the heavy light, atomic parking spaces and just on the blinding side of thirty, the nipples and the weft.

Thank god the planes had to go or I’d be sitting there still, and maybe she too, dead and rotting inside her wrinkled blue shoes.

Careful what you quit, it might be the only thing holding you together.

Don’t quit her, whatever you do. She’s a tide pool, a cool and bright cauldron of gametes and shining wet skin. With the pain and the fury, but still with the fine hair in water and the black rock, don’t let her go. Hide hide, wait for the water to rise. Waiting while the goldfinches swim nervously by, gold gold, presto he exclaims, again and again for several days. Anxious black jewels with the darting and darting, watching for the death that never comes, until it does.
Here they are! The goldfinches, having found their feathers, and all the colors of summer. Having found the swing and the pendulous dips, the sizzle and the kiss.