MOVING DAY

THE SPOON CAFE JOURNAL HAS MOVED!
JOIN US AT spooncafejournal.blogspot.com.

If you are an author, please move your stories over to the new Spoon Cafe Journal site by the New Year.

For a while now I’ve wanted to move the Spoon Cafe Journal blog from WordPress to Blogger.  Blogger is a google thing, and so is super flexible, free, and more reliable.  For instance this morning, wordpress is all jacked.  I trust they will fix it eventually.  But in the meantime, it is worrisome to wonder what happened to the 81 awesome posts on Spoon.

The old site on wordpress:  https://spooncafe.wordpress.com/
The new blogger site:  http://spooncafejournal.blogspot.com/

The only problem I’ve had is that I can’t automatically import stuff over to blogger.  Or rather, I can import it over, but since I’m doing the importing I appear as the author of both my and your posts.  So switching over to blogger, please resubmit your work to the new site.  Depending on the number of posts you’ve done, whether you’ve added photos, etc it might take you anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour.

When I got the new site all shined up and working well and looking nice, I wrote this as an ode to spoon.

Oh spoon, my delicate hemoglobin, my subtle scented flower, distraction from many important things lo these fourteen years.  I’ve taken a polish to your old surfaces, replaced the rotting floorboards, dusted behind the jukebox.  You are looking pretty and swell this morning.  Oh how I’d like to see you flourish. Ever the awkward, stumbly child,  how I’d like to see you soar.  Congratulations for always being you on this your 13-3/4 birthday.

Advertisements

Blackberry Jam

Ben confides to his friend Ash that he plans to commit suicide.  The two are in a neighborhood bar that they almost never frequent.  They have a lengthy detailed conversation about methods and timing.  Ash says his preferred method would be a pitcher of margaritas, a warm blanket, and a commercial walk-in freezer.  He’d die happily drunk and they’d find him frozen the next morning.

It’s too rainy for margaritas, so Ash orders another whiskey sour.

Ben says this kind of outlook proves that Ash would never do it.  Too focused on avoiding pain, when the pain comes from just living every day after day after day after day.   Ben says he doesn’t care how it’s done,  just that it’s over.  He is so so so tired.  He wants peace, he says.  So any method, really,  would do.  However, he adds, he’s not down with ending up as a vegetable.

A gun, Ash says.

Whatever, says Ben.

Overdose, Ash says.

Sure, says Ben.

Jumping off a bridge, Ash says.

That’s good.  But seriously, whatever.

Hari kari, says Ash.

Too messy, Ben says.

Ash suggests that if Ben is committed to doing it, he might get down to final matters.  They engage in a long inconclusive discussion about wills and other legal death instruments.

Lawyers, Ben says.  What do I got that I need to worry about?  Ash, in the event of my death, you get my car and its transmission problem.  There.

Thanks, Ash says.  Can I have your laptop?

Sure, Ben says.  No, that better go to my little brother.  He’s just starting college.  Can you delete all my shit off it first for me?

Sure, Ash says.

Ben scratches at a blob of varnish on the scared bar top.  Other people have scratched at it before.  Ash watches a delivery guy with a hand truck on the drizzly street outside.

Ben says he wants to swim in warm ocean water once more before he dies.  That’s his final wish.

Not sex? Ash asks.

No, warm ocean water surging around me one last time.  Okay, he adds.  Sex would be nice too.

Ash says he’d like to have a big sushi dinner before he dies.  With sake.  All his friends.

Ben thinks for a bit, his eyes fixed on the mirror over the bar.  He says he’d like to see West Side Story one more time.

Ash says he’d like to see Rear Window.

Vertigo, says Ben.

Eggplant Parmesan, says Ash.

Not just sex, says Ben.  Really good sex.  Really good, really open, really mindblowing sex.

With a sweet, wild woman, Ben adds.

A beautiful woman, Ash says.

Yeah, a beautiful woman, says Ben.

Not a beautiful dude? Ash asks.

Hmm, Ben thinks about it.  No.  Too awkward and fumbly.  For me.

Too sausage party.

No, Ben says.  I’m kinda down.  But I’d be an idiot.  Too shy, too stupid.  Ben says.  Homo-amateur.

Ben raises his beer glass to the bartender who silently gets him another.

Strong coffee at sunrise, Ash says.

Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, says Ben

Re-reading Grapes of Wrath, says Ash.

So sad, says Ben.

Uplifting at the end, says Ash.

Sorta, says Ben, Preacher Casey’s dead.  Driving a car through the desert.

A sports car.  A fast car, says Ash.

Any car, says Ben.  The windows rolled down.  AM radio on.  Warm wind on my face.

Why do you wanna do this?  Ash asks.

Exhausted, says Ben.  Tired of trying.  Tired of the phonies.  Can’t bring myself to get up and run with the rest of the rats.

Fuck it, Ash says and lifts his glass like a toast.

Fuck it, Ben lifts his glass.

My Nanna’s blackberry jam, Ash says.

Ah, I’ve had that.  Your grandma’s blackberry jam.  Homemade.  Fucking amazing.  Like a wack in the head with the flavor bat.  It always reminds me of eating a handful of blackberries right off the brambles along Bear Creek with my grandpa when I was a kid.

Ben’s eyes mist over.  You still have any?

No, but Nanna made a batch in August and is sending a jar at Christmas, Ash says.  Nanna’s blackberry jam.

I want some of that, some of your Nanna’s blackberry jam before I go, Ben says.

Teeth

Side View of Right Teeth by Laura-Elizabeth

Teeth.  My first two teeth are chipped from a generally adventurous life and most recently from foolishly stripping insulation from wires with my teeth.

Once my dentist asked me if I wanted to cap my chipped front teeth.  He offered to file them down and put what he called a prosthesis, a fake tooth cover, over each tooth.

“Will it protect the teeth?  Keep them from chipping further?” I asked.

“Not really,” he said, “It’s mostly just aesthetics.  If you don’t mind the jagged look of it right now, don’t worry about it.”

“I don’t really care,” I said and explained that I just wanted to keep my teeth in my mouth so I could chew my food when I’m old.

However, as my front teeth have chipped further — not seriously, but irritatingly — I wished that I had had my dentist at least file the edges smooth even if I had no need for the cap.

Driving in the car today, I was thinking about the teeth I never had filed as I ran my tongue over my jagged front teeth.  They were knife sharp.  If I hit my chin accidentally, I might bite my tongue clean off.

One thing that always strikes me when I go to the dentist is how similar the tools and process my dentist uses to that of say a sculptor or carpenter, just on a smaller scale.  My dentist’s files look just like the ones I have in my toolbox.  His grinders look just like some of the ones I use with my Dremel tool.

If only I had some way to naturally wear down my jagged front teeth, some way to accelerate the inevitable natural process of wearing off the rough edges.  Maybe chewing on wood would do it.  Or biting stacks of paper.  Something.  Lightly grinding on a soft metal, like copper maybe.

What did I have in the car, I wondered.  Driftwood, copper sheet?  The jagged teeth were so irritating.  I looked around the car.  I reached behind my seat as I drove.  I came up with 150 grit wet/dry sandpaper that I had used when refinishing the car.

Hmm. why not?  I ran my tongue over the serrated edge of my front teeth.  Would it hurt?  Could I feel it?

So I began sanding my teeth like a carpenter sanding down a rough edge on some cabinetry work.  It didnt’ hurt.  I couldn’t even feel it.  In fact, it was strangely pleasant, smoother than you’d expect.

And it had an effect.  I could feel it with my tongue.  It was less rough.  Teeth were neither harder nor softer than I’d expect.  It took about as much effort as I’d expect to sand down mildly jagged teeth.

I sanded my front teeth until my tongue was more or less satisfied with the smoothness of the tops of my teeth.

A good day, with pleasing experiments in do-it-yourself dentistry.

At the Scene of an Intrigue: A River Before Dawn

Sleepy sleepy eyes creaking
Open barely a caper
Creeping a long coat,
Hat pulled over eyes before the sun.
Barely four hours sleep tucked
Into my breast pocket
Another hour borrowed time.
A pre-dawn rainy-day
Middle-of-the-bridge
Hostage swap that didn’t come off.
A cell phone in one pocket, a
Cup and a packet of graham crackers
In the other.

I can’t read the stylized writing at all.
The scrawl on the bridge that says, I was here
A shout to the universe: I exist.

A note delivered early the previous day:
IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR CELL ALIVE AGAIN
BRING MILK TO THE SOQUEL BRIDGE AT 6AM
NO FUNNY BUSINESS OR THE CELL GETS IT!
DON’T CALL THE COPS!
COME ALONE!

My adversary is not there doesn’t come stands me up
Or didn’t receive the note in time.
No matter and no excuses.
No milk and cookies this AM.
I’d rather do this than be safe in my bed
Asleep for the rest of my life.

Plish.

The quiet sound of a phone finding its place
at the bottom of the San Lorenzo River.

Hurt and Gladness

Today, I rode through an autumn snow flurry of falling leaves on my way to work.  A single leaf separated from the flock and slapped me sharply across the lips.  I can still feel the place where it touched me.

Yesterday, I hurt my shoulder while tumbling on the grass.  The insistent throbbing has diminished, but I can still feel it when I lift my elbow or reach back.  The pain today reminds me what it means to be alive in this body.

Today, I decided to get a tattoo.  A narrative of my life and those who came before me,  shoulder to shoulder, head to toe.  For the fierce pain of it, of course.  And to remind myself that I am here.

love and pie

Husband and I went on one of our urban hunting and gathering missions, as we like to call them, last weekend. There is an apartment complex near us that was built about 15 years ago on old farm land. They left two of the farmer’s apple trees for landscaping, and I don’t think anyone who lives there has ever wandered over, picked up a dirty apple, wiped it on the leg of their trousers, and taken a big old bite out of a tart, old-timey apple. They all just rot on the ground, so much worm food. So we go over every year to confiscate a big bag full, and this seems to be an extraordinary year for apples. Sure, they’re small and buggy and bruised, but that in no way affects their eat-ability in our eyes. We collected about 15 pounds of apples. It’s like finding treasure. Urban pirate booty, ours for the taking.

I’ve just finished baking the second apple pie this week for my beloved family, husband and number one son, anyway. Number two son doesn’t eat fruit in any form. I keep telling him some day he will grow up and try a piece of homemade apple pie and realize that he has missed years of homemade apple pies and he will weep at the thought of it. The first pie, I cut the slits in the top and a tiny heart in the middle. Made with love by yours truly. Tonight, I was tired. I rode my bike five miles to work. I worked all day. I ran at lunch. I pulled a calf muscle. I rode five miles home in the heat with a pulled calf muscle. I made dinner and I cleaned it up. Dead tired. So tonight, where the heart was last time, I cut a small dollar sign in the middle of the crust, just to remind my dear ones: you can’t buy this kind of love ;)

A Recipe for Perfect Lemonade

You’re sitting on the front steps of the little two bedroom place that you and your new bride rent — your charming little cottage with the big picture window and the hardwood floors recently refinished — and the baby is expected but not arrived yet, so she still pays attention to you, especially today that the warm sun is coming through the lemon tree and warming the cement and there is somehow, miraculously, nothing to do.

You lean to the left and there is warm sun, almost hot, openness, and laughter.  You lean to the right and there is cool shade and secrets not yet revealed.  Hot and cold.  Yin and yang.  And together they form perfection.  What could possibly improve all this?

What if in this scene, the two people previously pictured, you and the woman of swollen belly, your lover and wife, were sitting in the falling sunshine with glasses of cold lemonade in your hands and the tinkling of ice cubes in your ears?

So you get up and wrestle the ladder that leans against the house.  You climb precariously to the loveliest lemons near the top of the tree standing on the sticker that says, “This is not a step.”  You pick three lemons and realize you have no way to gather more, nowhere to put them, and of course, the ivy at the foot of the tree swallows anything dropped without a trace.  So you tuck in your shirt doing a funny dance at the top of the ladder, your audience laughing from down below.  You drop the lemons down your shirt and continue picking, looking increasingly comic as the lemons make you look pregnant too.

You climb down and disappear into the house, the cool house.  Chop, chop, chop.  Cut each lemon in half with the Chinese clever.  Work each lemon over the glass juicer you found on the Saturday garage sale outings until your right arm hurts, then switch to your left.  Fill up a bowl, and get another.  Juice every last lemon until you have a few quarts of juice.  Taste it with a finger.  Oooo, sour.

Don’t forget to strain the seeds through the cheesecloth you keep in the drawer on the end.

You put a few cups of water on the stove to boil and sit down at the kitchen table to wait.  The cool dark of the house sucks at the warm brightness just outside the door.

You look around this kitchen that you and she put together from the total of both your stuff.  Your knife, your wok, your cookware.  All the pink plasticware that her mom gave her little girl when she moved into her very own place.  And you remember again that you are criticized for thinking in terms of yours and mine.  “Its all our stuff now,” your wife says.

When the water boils, you drop in several cups of sugar, enjoying how it puts its fingers to its lips and shushes you as you pour.  Dissolve the sugar and add this solution to the lemon juice.

You pinch in just a tiny bit of salt.  Yes, its true, your wife thinks that’s weird, but you know it makes perfect lemonade taste even better.

Adjust the amount of sugar in this concentrate.  You want the sweet and the sour to achieve a perfect balance.  Yin and yang again.  Put this mix in the big juice pitcher.

Now if you weren’t wanting to go back out on the steps right now, you’d put the mix in the fridge until it cooled.  But you can chill that warm concentrate with ice.  Fill up a couple big glasses with ice cubes and pour the warm concentrate over.  Not too much now, you can always add more if it’s too weak.

Add just enough ice water from the fridge.  After a little bit, you’ll get the hang of “just enough.”

Don’t forget to re-fill the ice trays.  You usually remember, even though your lover usually forgets.  There are unresolved issues of protocol here.  Each one of you has his or her definitions of considerate.  You’re slowly re-learning what’s right and what’s important, according to her.

You grab a box of crackers and balance the two glasses and step blindly out into the sunshine.  “Here, Honey,” you say as you hand one glass over with a bow.  She reaches up, mumbles a half-hearted thanks and continues reading.

There is a moment of waiting.  Did you expect applause?  By now, you realize the little kindnesses are seldom recognized.  But is it worth making a bit deal about right now?

You make your way to the porch swing on the other side of the house, not quite as idyllic, full shade rather than dappled sunshine.  But you have a glass of lemonade and the ice talks gently against the side of the glass.  And you’re alone and its okay and the journey matters more than the destination anyway.

button down shirt

     Howard only wears button down white shirts $22.95 a piece at Sears. Buys them individually wrapped in plastic packaging with cardboard in the collar. Black slacks and matching socks. Keeps a pack of Pall Malls in his breast pocket and never uses a pocket protector. Drives a Buick and trades it in every three years. His home is on the edge of town, though he grew up closer to the heart of the city, which is now a run down crime ridden area his mother refuses to leave because it was nice when she moved there and it’s all she knows. His two story McMansion is one of many cookie cutter structures in a neighborhood run by a council of homeowners who all agreed on artificial turf instead of lawns.

     He drinks black coffee but never had an espresso. His life is filled with ‘have nevers’. The woman he married, and Howard, ‘have never’ taken a vacation together. They ‘have never’ paid more than twenty dollars for a bottle of wine. ‘Have never’ dined out anywhere but a buffet. ‘Have never’ had sex more than twice a month. ‘Have never’ watched a movie together. ‘Have never’ had a fight, or a kind word.

     Howard is depressed but doesn’t know it. Assumes everyone feels the same, and spends his days trying to rationalize the dualities he is certain governs the laws of his universe. Like how he feels ashamed that his favorite actress is Mia Kershner, but has never tasted the vodka-besotted lips of a stranger at two in the morning.

     The grimy window to his air-conditioned office looks out over the shop. Howard can see the workers all day, and they can see him. He seldom walks the wooden steps down to the shop floor because it can reach one hundred and twenty degrees down there; the workers are sweaty, tired, and mostly embittered. He knows this because he was down there for the larger part of his career, looking up at the prick in the window having an easy day in the coolness, going over green ledgers on a dusty computer monitor, and reading the newspaper at lunch.

     Two fingers on each of Howard’s hands are permanently turned inward from endlessly grinding small flame cut flanges on a noisy disk sander. Most of the nerve endings in his thumb are dead from nibbling burrs off larger pieces of metal. He can still taste the grit in his mouth. The production halls are poorly lit and resemble a cave filled with dead air that has never seen sunshine or felt rain.

     Each day he remembers the voluptuous blonde girlfriend from his youth, his best buddy who moved across the state, the Christmas of his youth and the red Schwinn with a banana seat, and when Howard’s father said, “I love you”, the day he passed away.

Feathers, driftwood, old photographs, love notes

I’d like to live in a house on the water, a homemade houseboat, with a small engine that can move it slowly from here to there. A water squatter. A place with tin roof and tin walls, insulated for winter, with a wood burning stove for heating and cooking.  A porch, a porch swing, a lookout, windows, a banjo on the wall.  Wood piled up in a wood pile on shore.  A bucket shitter behind a curtain.  Big and wide for a boat, difficult to capsize, made of scrap and scavenged things. Feathers from a hawk, phtographs from a garage sale, letters from home.  A big wide bed with a dense down comforter and a homemade quilt.

Parts into a sum

It is indeed winter in southern California, the sun low and blinding though warm and bright. My companions laugh; this resembles nothing of their winters, this farcical spring in a land that never pales. There are no seasons here, they complain. They hate this place. They don’t see what I see, and it’s obscured even for me.

But everything changes, even here, and not just a new shopping center in the place of the last strawberry field. Some changes are so slight that it takes a sixth sense to realize them.

These old friends of mine, faces from my past life, barely notice the changes: thin, slight perceptabilities. It is not because they are incapable of the awareness but because, like the rest of us, their lives move fast with few silences. They take me to a bar, where one of my old friends spins vintage soul music on vinyl against a backdrop of drinkers and hipsters, not-so-starving artists and lonely souls hoping for someone to take home — a social haze that is unusual for me now. Half of the people there are old friends of old friends, the same friends have been meeting up for years, longer than the whole time of my absence. Some changes are imperceptible.

I drink with them, knowing I can’t afford enough liquor to break down the walls that separate me from them, my oldest friends. I’m thankful for them, these boys surrounding me once again, protecting me from bar vultures that keep looking at me, trying to catch my eye. One of these strangers, drunk enough to be brave, or maybe just from a more bold subculture, tells me it’s his birthday. He looks deep into me with his dark, soft, unfocused eyes while my friend puts a song on the turntable for him. He asks me how old I am and I ask him back. He says, how old do you want me to be? Then he tells me I don’t look a day over 26, which is how old he is as of today. Would I ever mess around with a 26 year old, he wants to know. I tell him it’s not about age. When he leaves the bar, alone and with a loud flourish, I think: there goes a person who will never remember meeting me. We could meet again tomorrow and he would not remember my face.

But my old friends surprise me with their remembering. I hear one of them, one I was never even close to, call my name from a car outside the airport where I’ve been anxiously waiting for my ride. The friend who was supposed to pick me up, my best friend from that period of my life, is himself stuck on a plane between here and Portland. So this person, whom I barely know and haven’t spoken with in at least six years, takes me to his house and we renew a friendship we never shared. But the shock of him being able to pick me out of a crowd, in the twilight, sits with me throughout the evening. I think that I’ve changed so much, so many times. I mention it to one of my old friends later and he dismisses it. “You haven’t changed that much,” he says. Really? Damn it.

The whole visit is a memory game: remember this person? Remember when we did this? Remember when that happened? Exercising parts of my brain I rarely use. These memories are some of the furthest I can recall, and even then only when I’m here, it seems. My old friends, who never leave this place, must be able to recall every moment of their lives. What would they do if this place no longer existed?

My friend gives me his usual litany of excuses for not leaving, and I give him mine for not visiting. I’ll be better this year, I swear. He doubts it. He tells me he’s going to move across the country. I doubt it, but I tell him I’ll visit.

We see a performance by a woman who sings heartfelt jazz-inspired songs she writes herself, backed by a band of people that have never played together before. They all grew up here but now live in New York; they are playing together because they all returned home to visit their families for the holidays. The music wraps around us in our seats, something deep in a shallow pool. My friend is deeply touched by the music. He says “it is rare that I feel so connected when I go see live music.” I don’t tell him that, in my present life, it is rare if I don’t feel that connection.

I connect to him in almost the same way that I used to, except with less sexual tension. It seems we have grown up, that sex was more meaningless before it was really part of our lives. Or maybe I’m remembering it wrong. Though we connect as adults, it feels like something is missing, and I wonder if it would help if we kissed in that careless friend way I always thought we could when we were young. I usually miss feeling connected when I’m here and I miss being touched, the way that my friends now hug so easily. Everyone here barely touches each other, only briefly hugging hellos and goodbyes. In a comfortable, lazy moment on the couch, I consider reaching out and hugging my old friend, wondering what would happen. Would he be receptive or repelled, as if I’d broken something? I keep reading my book instead.

There is a permanent sense of a vague loneliness, surrounded by the almost sexless flirtations that always made me feel equal, in this group of male friends. It is odd, these are my friends, so I know how they can talk about women — the senseless, sex-filled ideas that have popped into their heads — but I never feel objectified by them. Instead, I lulled into the security of being surrounded by men who are not trying to sleep with me, the safety, the comfort of harmless flirting. There are few men I feel that way around anymore, I realize with a slight shock.

Now we are at a different bar, a dimly lit Hollywood dive that’s playing excellent old blues on the stereo. We exchange fluffy conversation filled with bits of Hollywood trivia, old tv shows and movies, dead hip-hop artists, things I never think about but somewhere in the back of my mind I still know, my B-ticket into this conversation. I enjoy it, the same way I enjoy the fast food we eat later that night. No one asks me about the other things I know: how to identify plants, the shortcomings of capitalism, how to knit feather-and-fan lace, what it’s like to hike from the forest to the ocean . . . And I don’t offer them this knowledge either, because sometimes it’s just more fun to eat fast food.

I never used to blend my social spheres and I still don’t. I don’t introduce my new friends to my old, barely mention them to each other, in fact. But being here reminds me that I don’t want to lose all of my past, having lost so much already. Maybe not lost. Maybe buried or thrown away with both hands. But I’ve been so many people since then. Possibly they were more similar than I give them credit for: people in different locations, all looking for the same thing.

Grand

WaterWe walked down to the great meadow, your dancing hands accidentally bumped into mine as we navigated the steep terrain. At the bottom, I turned to you and touched your round cheek in my outstretch palm. Dragonflies and small winged insects hummed in the still, warm summer air, swimming in circles, catching the light. If I looked closely, I could see my face reflected in your wide eyes, and in mine I could see yours shining back. Gentle mirror, growing and reshaping the tools I had given you, and the crutches.

Your skin smelled of jasmine and candy as I swooped in for a quick kiss behind your moist ear, where I paused for a breath. You giggled out loud, teaching me again the precise expression of girlish laughter. I echoed you, and you in turn echoed back. We went on like that for what seemed like hours. Laughter pealing through the grass, growing and evolving on itself until finally the joyful noise completed full circle and sounded the same as the very first laugh. With that you turned and ran across the field, a sly eye turning back, daring pursuit. I submitted and felt my feet leave the ground, fine strong muscles stretching and exerting against the bone, against the air, against time.

Dropping our pace, we made our way down the bank, toes slipping in between the muddy reeds. You squealed as you dipped in your feet, and then a leg, into the freezing water. Lotion melted away from your skin making swirling rainbows in the water. Your damp, sandy hand reached up to mine to steady yourself. I was taken back to a time with your father, when we stood along the Bay in the rain. Fresh in love, he slipped his wet hands into mine slowly as we began to kiss. The smell of his wet dog that accompanied us filled my nose, a scent that mingled with his, an etched moment. Your exclamation about a swiftly skimming water bug pulled me back into reality.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” I said, taken with the beauty of the moment, skirting the gravity of what I was to share. Your silence communicated readiness, but you wouldn’t take your eyes from the water and the playful insects.

“My grandmother died.”

“My grandma’s dead!?” you yelped, shocking me into weight of my statement.

“No, My grandmother’s dead,” I replied, feeling a sudden rush of possession, childish pride swarming through me. She was my grandma. She marked the passage of my tender youth. It for me she made crochet angel ornaments, weaved blankets, knitted stuffed animals, dragged to countless auctions, church fundraisers and square dances. It was me who she faithfully sent annual subscriptions to the World Wildlife Federation, pressed leaves dressed in fall colors, and maple sugar candy from Vermont. My grandmother, my grandma is dead. Maturity tapered these thoughts. This moment was being recorded by your fresh young mind to echo into eternity, I was sure.

“What I mean to say is your great-grandmother is dead. She was my grandma. She was an amazing person. Your grandmothers are still alive.” You were already mourning the loss of a grandparent you never knew, however. Within moments you came to realize that one day you would loose your grandmothers as well. I tried my best to reassure you that would be a long while off, feeling helpless and stupid for not telling you more carefully. Your first glimpse of mortality.

To My Friend, Who Happens To Be My Son

Letter to my dad, but not my father figure.
To my friend, who happens to be my son.
Dear Son, Dear Dad,
There’s a moment in your childhood that I still have both the photograph and the photographic memory of.  You were standing beside a chain link fence near Tehachapi looking at me, humoring me and my photography, with your curly blond hair and beautiful brown eyes.  How old were you?  Maybe seven.  Maybe eight.  We were on a rare camping trip alone.  Rare, not because I didn’t want to spend every minute with you, but because… well, because… really, this is where story breaks down.
I am awake and heading into town. You were right about writing early. Beautiful thoughts are filling my head this morning, giving me sway to write (now I am not so sure they are beautiful, but it feels good to have them in my head). It would be nice to see you, even if just for a moment. The coffee will be extra strong if you agree to come see me.
(he agreed) (he agreed)
In retrospect, we fold under the raw parts and comb up the nap on the handsome memorable parts. We mellow with age and our stories get dull and dishonest.  We establish detente with those we fought tooth and nail.
A drip of water drops next to me this morning. I am outside, and there are no lampposts, overhangs, or trees near me, so I can’t understand where it came from. Maybe just a lone raindrop? That seems unlikely. I am completely stumped over this single drip, so I look up.
A true life of insurgency – of constant social conflict – is hard to maintain.  And the youth, with their bitter urgency, know this all too well.  Someday, they too will find themselves on the other end of a phone call with an old hated enemy sharing the worried fate of someone they both love.
Powerlines
Of course. Of course. There are powerlines constantly over my head- so often in fact, that their presence has ceased to register on my mental radar screen. This morning a drip of water drops from some powerlines, wet after a heavy rain the previous night, whizzes right past my face, and for the life of me I can’t figure it out. If I was focusing on the powerlines, hanging dangerous and flaccid above me, all the time, would I start to go insane?
I never felt the role of a parent is to keep you out of danger, to constantly parcel and to measure and to weigh and to judge and to allow and to disallow and to set on the straight and narrow. It exhausted me then and exhausts me to even think of that now. Watsonville and Santa Cruz do not exist on a map. They are not related to each other by any miles or compass directions. They only exist as two ends of a lonely busline that I take every day. An hour there, and an hour back.
Do not say that I am not a morning person. I hate that. You say “geez, you’re not much of a morning person, are you?”
You’re not much of a morning person, are you?
And I will say, “Just because I don’t enjoy blithely socializing with everyone I know the moment I wake up doesn’t mean I’m not a morning person. I love the morning, but I prefer to spend it differently than you do.”
I felt that, especially in your sometimes surly, sometimes contentious, sometimes inexplicably angry adolescence that one of the best things I could do for you is to stay the fuck out of your way. But it starts well before this.
I came up with that before anyone had said anything so that when someone did I would seem quick-witted, opinionated, and ready and maybe for that moment I would transform into a comic book character.
Of course, there were times when I sensed you just wanted me to be with you, to be present, to listen.  I could have, and I didn’t.
Dad,
It starts earlier, the time of climbing trees, camping in the desert, walks in the woods.  An opening up, our lives interwoven like fingers holding hands.  It was around then, that you were taken away.  And even when things got better, when things got more then better, when they turned around completely, there was something in me that was never quite fixed.
you told me that when you were a kid you spent a lot of your time coming up with good comebacks. Comebacks that would penetrate your bully’s deepest insecurities- something that would cut to the quick (a phrase I’ve always enjoyed).
The sharp edges of words, of the tossed barb, the cutting comment that can lodge and fester.
Something so devastatingly true that it would cut the conversation clean off. The jack of trump of all 5th grade squabbles.  Is that really what you wanted, dad?
I lived with a woman once who could kick my virtues, one by one, out from under me, leaving me contemplating the rope or the car?  The poison or the sea?
Is that really what I want? To be the best undiscovered retort writer in school, brooding in secret corners, spilling over with brilliant quips to which their conversational counterparts will remain only imaginary?
I caved in my heart to conform.  It left a solid little dented thing.  I haven’t looked people in the eyes quite the same since. Or is the goal really just the private satisfaction gained from playing these idyllic scenarios out, over and over in our heads, being convinced that for them to actually take place would be contrived and unnecessary so that we can do our best to refrain from steering every casual conversation to that impossible desired setup?
The cutting word. The cutting word.
I always wanted, you point out, to be master of these weapons.  But
Honestly Honestly
I didn’t have the heart or the inclination.  I never wanted to hurt anyone enough to use the clever, stored-up, devastating truth that cuts to the bone.
Even if I had it. Even if I had it.
Dani and I talked about teams the other day. You know the kind. Your special, secret, private team of people you know, for the hard times, for the good times, for when the shit finally and climactically goes down.
I feel that rage in you sometimes and it scares the hell out of me.  Not in the usual way that parents are scared for their kids.  But for me. Everybody has a list in their head or on paper of at least the first few people, if they don’t already have the whole list pegged.
If you didn’t think about this before, you’re going to now.
When we break a window in a fight, or bust a door, I want to get into my bed and pull the covers over my head and come out in approximately 4 to 5 years when it’s all over.
We talked fondly of our teams, naming names. I admitted that my team’s first slot was private, but that I had a terrible feeling that even though the person was at the top of the list, they would evasively never be on my team.
I want to turn in my fancy bronze parenting star and trade it in for a little modest friend patch that I can sew on to my favorite shirt,
the one I wear only when I’m feeling strong and worthy enough. Dani told me that she had the first three people (at least!) solidly down, and
I was under the impression that they had even all talked about and agreed on this.
We camped in a gully and cooked and ate pasta and slept in the car. It was one of my best memories from your childhood.  It was one of your best memories.  It was perfect, or retrospect paints it so. And that’s the way we tell those stories. Maybe we can do that again sometime.  Or we said that, or we always wanted to. It’s chilly today, but not a deep chill. Chilly like it’s supposed be chilly- chilly breezes, but everything’s dry and the sun’s warming me a little. I had a smell in my nose a couple of minutes ago like chicago or a smell like waiting in a trainyard. It didn’t smell like chigaco or the trainyard, but like the experience of it. It smelled good. Really good. I think I am smart enough in my life now to understand what that means.
Of course everyone has a dad story, and a mom story, and we tell these stories and everyone understands. Some are heartwarming and some help explain where we came from.
Dad, this is not a nostalgic letter- don’t get confused now.
Nostalgia, I guess.  But the stories we tell about our children have to fit a certain mold. We, the grown-ups, are forbidden to tell stories about suffering, and the stories that we are left with are all so boring we forget them as soon as they are told.
But when you hug me, you pull on the hair on the back of my head, just above my neck, so hard that it hurts and I know that you love me.
And after a while, they’re no longer heard, and we no longer tell them anyway because our hearts were never in it to begin with.
This is not a love letter either, but when you write to me you say “I love you so much, I can’t even tell you,”  you of course, keep to your word on that.
If truth be told, you were homesick and mad at me on that trip.  I fought your mom for weeks to take you and she almost made me cancel.
Sometimes we only tell the whole truth, when we cry alone.  But I need you to know, that in spite of everything, when I secretly devise my team, you’re on it. Dad, this letter is for you, but for fuck’s sake, don’t read it, because neither of us wants you to know that when I secretly devise my team, you’re my number one.
I have your back, come hell or high water, come whatever.  Your anger and frustration, the way you spit “You kept your word,” notwithstanding, I hope you know that.
You were always on my secret team, and yes, I’d thought of that before,
even when you didn’t think so, even when I was stupidly hopeful, even when you were an eight-year old kid believing the lies of a jealous parent. But you kept your word, and since you love me, you damn sure ain’t tellin’.  And if you love me, I sure as hell will be the last to know,
so when you come in for your coffee, you better expect it to be cold because you took too long to get here and I got tired of waiting and went back on home.
I hope it’s not too late to tell you that I love you.  My number one slot is open for you when you want it,
This time, my busline is some other number.
but not until then.
An hour there, and an hour, and an hour, and-

night sounds

Like your Aunt said, I want to hear the night sounds.
I want the kind of sounds one should hear at night.
The sound of crickets,
The sound of my lover’s breath.
Perhaps even a little wind or
Rain in the Spring and Fall tapping my roof and trickling down my windows.
These are the sounds you should hear at night, not –
Not the sound of racing taxis,
The tragic siren of the ambulance,
The screams of womyn who I never see when I run to the window.
These are the sounds that never move through your body.
They knot into the back of your neck and along your spine.
These are the sounds that clench your teeth.
I want to hear the night sounds that move through my body like blood.
The sounds that are so much mine and yours that we hardly notice them.
The sounds that transition so easily from one to another,
From the crickets,
To my lover,
To the wind passing over us as we sleep.

Letter to my dad, but not my father figure.

Dear Dad,

I am awake and heading into town. You were right about writing early. Beautiful thoughts are filling my head this morning, giving me sway to write (now I am not so sure they are beautiful, but it feels good to have them in my head). It would be nice to see you, even if just for a moment. The coffee will be extra strong if you agree to come see me.

(he agreed)

A drip of water drops next to me this morning. I am outside, and there are no lampposts, overhangs, or trees near me, so I can’t understand where it came from. Maybe just a lone raindrop? That seems unlikely. I am completely stumped over this single drip, so I look up.

powerlines.

Of course. There are powerlines constantly over my head- so often in fact, that their presence has ceased to register on my mental radar screen. This morning a drip of water drops from some powerlines, wet after a heavy rain the previous night, whizzes right past my face, and for the life of me I can’t figure it out. If I was focusing on the powerlines, hanging dangerous and flaccid above me, all the time, would I start to go insane?

Watsonville and Santa Cruz do not exist on a map. They are not related to each other by any miles or compass directions. They only exist as two ends of a lonely busline that I take every day. An hour there, and an hour back.

Do not say that I am not a morning person. I hate that. Someone says “geez, you’re not much of a morning person, are you?” I will say, “Just because I don’t enjoy blithely socializing with everyone I know the moment I wake up doesn’t mean I’m not a morning person. I love the morning, but I prefer to spent it differently than you do.”

I came up with that before anyone had said anything so that when someone did I would seem quick-witted, opinionated, and ready and maybe for that moment I would transform into a comic book character.

Dad, you told me that when you were a kid you spent a lot of your time coming up with good comebacks. Comebacks that would penetrate your bully’s deepest insecurities- something that would cut to the quick (a phrase I’ve always enjoyed). Something so devastatingly true that it would cut the conversation clean off. The jack of trump of all 5th grade squabbles.

Is that really what you wanted, dad? Is that really what I want? To be the best undiscovered retort writer in school, brooding in secret corners, spilling over with brilliant quips to which their conversational counterparts will remain only imaginary? Or is the goal really just the private satisfaction gained from playing these idyllic scenarios out, over and over in our heads, being convinced that for them to actually take place would be contrived and unnecessary so that we can do our best to refrain from steering every casual conversation to that impossible desired setup?

Danny and I talked about teams the other day. You know the kind. Your special, secret, private team of people you know, for the hard times, for the good times, for when the shit finally and climactically goes down.  Everybody has a list in their head or on paper of at least the first few people, if they don’t already have the whole list pegged. If you didn’t think about this before, you’re going to now. We talked fondly of our teams, naming names. I admitted that my team’s first slot was private, but that I had a terrible feeling that even though the person was at the top of the list, they would evasively never be on my team.  Danny told me that she had the first three people (at least!) solidly down, and I was under the impression that they had even all talked about and agreed on this.

It’s chilly today, but not a deep chill. Chilly like it’s supposed be chilly- chilly breezes, but everything’s dry and the sun’s warming me a little. I had a smell in my nose a couple of minutes ago like chicago or a smell like waiting in a trainyard. It didn’t smell like chigaco or the trainyard, but like the experience of it. It smelled good. Really good. I think I am smart enough in my life now to understand what that means.

Dad, this is not a nostalgic letter- don’t get confused now. But when you hug me, you pull on the hair on the back of my head, just above my neck, so hard that it hurts and I know that you love me. This is not a love letter either, but when you write to me you say “I love you so much, I can’t even tell you,”  you of course, keep to your word on that. Dad, this letter is for you, but for fuck’s sake, don’t read it, because neither of us wants you to know that when I secretly devise my team, you’re my number one.

But you kept your word, and since you love me,  you damn sure ain’t tellin’.  And if you love me, I sure as hell will be the last to know, so when you come in for your coffee, you better expect it to be cold because you took too long to get here and I got tired of waiting and went back on home. This time, my busline is some other number. An hour there, and an hour, and an hour, and-

Double life

Can I feed my child?

Simple enough request to ask the goddess when I was pregnant. I did not think this would end in a battle of stealing from trees/property (apples and lemons mostly). I can recall these recent years of struggle well. It was when I was most connected with my spirited no ties to government bondage ideals. Now I ask myself daily how do I know that I have not sold my counter culture desire to live freely. One very recent year I grossed 13K. I have a kid… pressure to stay a few steps ahead of being homeless always chases my sleepless soul. I was homeless before I had my pretty little boy. I am constantly reminded that I must stay on the up and up (I mean a little home, little food). I miss being homeless. I miss being able to wander as my heart felt the pulling desire to move against the soft earth or rough cement. I miss having a pack of smokes in my pocket, a few small silver coins, a back pack and pan handling for an 89 cent chicken sandwich and then wandering into an abandoned house where others would be painting and writing on the walls. I miss opening a can of beans with a dull knife, and using my fingers as a fork/spoon. I miss finding tossed aside ovens and taking the metal racks out of them, digging a good hole, marinating some meat we stole from the back of a grocery store in budweiser and cooking it on the oven rack that I put over the hole filled with fire. I miss pieces of chalk in my pants that I would write the name of this place in my memory map on fences or rock. I miss sitting outside at parks with no where to go or be and slipping into the sparkling desire of being a physical part of the black night sky. And now what do I do. I raise a beautiful child in a little home by the ocean with my gorgeous partner. I love these parts of my life, coming home and my true love is playing with my 10 year old child or my son is taking apart some old record player we got for free from a dumpster. We have food on a regular basis, I pay my rent with out juggling grocery money and paying pge one month then water the next. I can live a modest life. My son has had to go with me garden hopping to extract lemons, tomatoes and apples for our dinner when we had nothing in our pantry. We have eaten rancid govt issued mac and cheese. Two years ago we had a performance routine for the local bus drivers. When the bus would come we would pretend to check all our pockets and bags for our buss pass… they would wave us on (my son was 7-8 yrs old and had this down pat!) A couple of heartless ones made us get of the bus were I would watch my child cry from rejection of public transportation. In the last two years I secured employment in one the few machines in this town where I knew I would raise my child- ( I decided this when I was 10 years old). Now I can afford to buy him a bus pass. I can afford to make his lunch, pay for daycare and not have the county document my 40 hours every week. I am not rolling in the cash flow…but I make enough to eat and sleep. Just 3 years ago I was in a long term relationship with a raving trans woman who drank her violence to the nearest city with a 22 year old feminist studies major. Now I have beautiful partner who helps me do house chores, reminds me to go for walks when I hide in books for too many days in a row. She nurtures me with this sweet slip of the skin touch that makes me shiver into her warm neck. I am at peace… but I am missing something… where is the social activist that pounded on doors to advocate for myself and my peers to attend a university while on the state rolls. I am not struggling as much (I mean my debt is swollen, but I cant change that so I don’t think about it). My job is a calculated process of paperwork. I enjoy the group I work with, I am glad to be funded to push paper for researchers who are committed to good not evil… but is it radical enough to keep my passion from leaking onto the kitchen table? I need something more than this rote policy and procedure process that happens every day. I am not complaining at stable employment when clearly I am blessed with a home, a son and a woman. How do I create space that is based on what I have now? It was easy to create a space when I had nothing because it was apart of the survival mode of willing myself to stand in one more line to get some rice from the food bank. Now I need it but where do I find it? Where do I find a a space that will embrace the young woman who had lice in her hair and chalk in her overalls… while still embracing who I have become on a secular level to provide for my child! How to reconcile to rebel with the complacent office drone. I resent the office drone because:

I want to go the sea with a ripped quilt, tuck into a book and eat black berries, with moldy cheese and cheap wine while smoking a cigarette.

catching a thermal

A hundred or so Turkey Vultures moved onto my street, behind my neighbor’s house where there are some very old trees and a thicket of undergrowth. They roost in large community groups and often stick to a certain spot for some time–they’ve been there, now, since early Autumn. They feed on carrion, and I have to say the roads in our area have been exceptionally clean of small dead creatures this winter. They are gruesome looking when hunched over on their branches, these two-feet-or-taller birds with their wrinkly naked heads and creepy, crooked beaks–a fine homecoming to our road on a gloomy winter evening. But in flight, they are a different matter all together. They have a five foot wingspan with a beautiful fringe of silvery flight feathers on the underside of their brown-black wings. Watching twenty or thirty of them riding thermals over the tall pines, over the snowy landscape–gliding, still, unflapping–is the essence of calm beauty. They lack the normal vocal organs of a bird, and so they don’t screech or call out. They simply float, silently, with their silver fringe fluttering in the breeze.

I was watching them one day, and a thought occurred to me. These creatures are so beautiful when they are doing what they do best–flying, floating, circling on an invisible current of air. They are so lovely and free looking, even more so than their frantically flapping, tiny friends who are blessed with comely breast feathers and melodic voices. And I wonder, when do I look that free? What am I doing when, if observed unawares, I am a shining, peaceful thing? When do I slip out of everything physically unbeautiful about myself? I know that when I’m elbow deep in pots and mulch and dirt and new plants, I am free. When I’m picking basil and chives in my garden, chopping fresh veggies from the market, a glass of red wine at my elbow and a warm summer evening coming in the windows, I feel glowing. When I am walking in the woods through filtery sunlight, or making love to my partner, I am floating on my own personal warm current.

A dream

Northern Lights

Sarah picked me up and drove me to seattle, which

seemed so much quicker than 14 hours… we drove

up these STEEP roads lush with trees all around.. it

was beautiful.. she said “do you want me to take you

to the water’s edge?” and we went to her house that

had a beach front. while walking up i gasped

because there were northern lights! “Oh

how beautiful! I’ve never seen them before!” i

exclaimed. I walked closer (they were a green/wispy

hue) and these figures of old Eskimo men were among

the lights. It was intense and beautiful. We went back

into the apartment where she and matt lived and they

were both wearing shear night gowns (him too) and

matt was wearing red shorts underneath. Then it was

time for me to go, but they left instead. There was a

man in the apartment that was a friend of theirs

maybe? I asked him for help with directions back out

of seattle to santa cruz. He helped me and cooked

me 3 sets (two each) of fried eggs then put them in a

jar with a lid. A guy  walked in and sat down and

opened his mail. One was a brochure from my mom!

and her theater group. I thought how weird! in

seattle? In this apartment? And I had heard his

comedy before.. it was strange. Then a few people

were around now and this guy (detective/reporter

kinda guy) opened the fridge and there were two

women in there (as if they had no legs) and the one

was an online stalker to the other and they were

meeting, but the stalker got her in the fridge to try to

eat her and she said, as she was pulled away by the

authorities “mmm how I’d love to eat her hair” so then

it dawned on us that she was trying to eat her… it was

crazy! i crossed bridges heading back home and then woke up.

25 Random Things About Me

You have been tagged in this note.  Now you are obligated by the law of chain letters to respond. I was going to tell you about this guy in Peoria who didn’t pass this on, but I won’t tell you about his tragic misfortune.

Here are the Rules:  Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you.  At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. You have to.  If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.  Really, I do.

  1. I was born in Inglewood, in the heart of the ghetto, but so many years ago, its ghetto future was still on the horizon as the last of the old white World War 2 generation was slowly creeping into their final years.  There was an apricot tree in our front yard in which I spent days at a time high in the branches.
  2. The rest of my time I spent reading.  I’ve had the same three favorite books — past Conrad and Tolkien,  Salinger and Morrison, Bowles and Borges, Rushdie and Delillo, Orwell, Vonnegut, Faulkner  — the same three books at the top of my list since they were introduced to me in 5th grade.
  3. Looking back, I am pretty sure that all my best friends from earliest grammar school onward have been gay.  But as a young sheltered lower-middle class white kid, I genuinely didn’t think gay was something ordinary people could be — only a derisive name made up by kids. I was an overly-friendly mamma’s boy with oddball social skills, and inevitably other kids incorrectly concluded I was gay too.
  4. I was gay.
  5. Well, not really.  Sort of.  Let me explain.  I liked some boys, but I mostly liked girls.  Even if I lost my virginity to a boy.  In church.  But they tell me that doesn’t count — everyone has their early experimentation — this is not a score in the race to deflowering.
  6. I am an anarchist, which means I think I know better than governments, better than corporations, better than institutions, better than you, better than anyone what is best for my life.  I believe that our communities know best what’s good for them too.  On a practical level, I don’t believe in police and jails and military force.  I don’t believe in your laws and representatives and electoral politics.  I already cast my vote in the street.
  7. I got your back.
  8. I’m an anarchist, but not that kind of anarchist.  I am less bigoted than anybody I know.  This may be the result of early and extensive product testing of Sesame Street on my young mind.
  9. When I first heard Indonesian gamelan, it was like a musical orgasm.  I thought, “Oh, of course.  There it is.”  It immediately felt right, like the music of the spheres, or the sounds made by the turning of the gears of the Universe, divine, particulate and yet inseparable.  It was the music I’d always longed to hear, the music I heard hints of in every beautiful chord, in every inspired melody, in every inexplicable, untouchable rhythm all my life.
  10. When I was twelve, I used to tell my parents I was going to visit a friend, and then secretly ride my ten speed across LA to the ocean and spend the day bobbing in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. I have secret lives, thousands of secrets I’ve never told anyone.  I’m not sure how this is, since I feel like all I do is tell stories constantly.
  11. I tell stories constantly.  I believe in stories.  I believe human beings traffic in stories.  We ooze them out of our pores, exude them around us.  Let me tell you about my day, or my life, or something that happened to me once upon a time.
  12. I’ve been accosted numerous times by people who thought I was a long-lost friend.  Each time it leaves me off-balance and wondering if I am leading a secret life, part of a witness protection program that I’ve forced myself to forget.  One time a motorcycle repairman in Visalia named Marlon was sure I was his long-disappeared brother, and quizzed me skeptically about the details of my life.  This is not just a story.
  13. I often feel that there is something that. we’re. just. not. reaching.  I want to touch that thing that moves just below the surface, just beneath our perspectives and symbols and abstractions and bullshit and hang-ups and distractions.  I want to get to that impossible, anything-but-comfortable, just-beyond-the-edges frightening place.  Where is that?  All my life, literature comes closest to touching it.
  14. Those three favorite books are the Phantom Tollbooth, Kon Tiki, and Never Cry Wolf.  The 5th grade librarian of Harbor City Elementary should be held responsible for disemboweling the brain of an eleven year old and filling it with adventure rage humor desire and whimsy. Thor Heyerdahl fucked with my life.  Someday I will spend months at sea, a blue dome of solitude from horizon to horizon, on a raft at the mercy of wind and sea.  I’ve longed deeply for this everyday of my life for the last thirty years..
  15. My only regret is that life is so short and there are so many things I’d like to devote my full attention to, that I will probably never be a midwife or a sailor or a writer or an outlaw or a terrorist or a full-time vagabond or a thousand other things.
  16. As it is, I am a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.  But I once made a list, an inventory as it were, of all the things I could do competently.  It exceeded four pages small print, and included build a house, perform CPR, identify wild plants, program any computer language you can give me, complete a triathlon, hop trains, acquire almost anything for close to free, bake bread, build a homemade raft, make radio, make love, make wine, make a bomb, and weld.
  17. All my life I’ve considered myself a poor dancer.  Scared, shy, self-conscious, awkward, all things that do nothing to contribute to dancing well.  Years ago, a friend invited me to contra dance, something like squaredancing, where I discovered to my surprise that I am an excellent dancer.  A dance like the wind, me, my partner, turning like a top, with precision, with procession, faster and faster.  The middle-aged ladies vie for an opportunity to dance with me.
  18. I have to be honest with you.  I don’t really think of myself as gay.  But I believe sexuality is a spectrum.  I ask you.  Who is completely straight or completely bent?  Who doesn’t fall in the middle somewhere?  While shyly, I consider myself queer, I haven’t fallen in love with a boy in a long time.  Though I was thinking recently, why not?  The boys I know are unbelievably dreamy.  But I think in my boy-boy fumblings, that I’d be too scared to initiate one goddamn thing.
  19. I stole this, but its still true: I am a secret bottom, waiting for a worthy top.
  20. I don’t eat the critters.  Floating on the Missouri River on a raft made of trash, my fishing attempts were rewarded by two large catfish.  I realized in that instant that I had never killed and cleaned a fish.  Never killed an animal.  Not personally.  Not with my own hands.  Looking into the eyes of my captives, ending their life with a knife, and taking their energy for my own was an experience sublime.  From that moment, I didn’t want to eat anyone with whom I didn’t share that connection.  A conversion to vegetarianism that took me completely by surprise.  By that same token, I don’t hurt the peoples, who after all are just critters.
  21. However, I can see the necessity of a bullet in the head of the slavemaster.  Meant with all the love and compassion I can muster.  A recognition that every animal has a context and a nature and acts out that destiny according to its programming.  And perhaps my oppressor is only an animal trained to dominate.  But perhaps I am an animal that has learned to resist.  Nothing personal, you understand.  I will mourn your passing this world and, at the same time, celebrate the possibility this creates.
  22. I often hear poets claim words are a weapon.  But I don’t see words being used to stab, punch, pry, and destroy.  If you were wielding words like battle axes, you wouldn’t have to tell me.  I want to see Shiva in everything we create.  A frenzy of creation and destruction.  Tear down what we build, and build up what we tear down.  The inexorable need to stomp the sandcastle we painstakingly build.  And then build it anew.  Or better yet, just let the ocean take it back.
  23. I want art so dangerous that merely creating it may cut us.  I want art so dangerous it creates irrational, instinctive, intuitive panic in the hearts of authoritarians.  Art that doesn’t talk about revolution, but art that spawns revolutions.  Not merely challenges, but rips down the status quo.  I don’t want revolutionary artists, or artistic revolutionaries — I want to abolish both words, smudge the lines until they are one and the same.
  24. I’m no longer an apocalypse fetishist, a radical that hangs on to the idea of a post-rev paradise.  I see revolutionaries that remind me of the Seventh Day Adventists of my youth, with tracts of a similar flavor:  Awake!  Alert!  Alarm!  ATR wishes and plans and schemes.  Dreams of life that only begins in a post-collapse world where the lion will lay down with the lamb. But from what I see, the cataclysm means the rich get richer and the poor and the black an the brown and the crazy an the very old and the very young get fucked.  And too often the revolution is bloodier and more brutal than what it replaces.
  25. But still.  But still.  But still I crave disaster because it opens up possibilities.  The usual rules are off.  The established relationships no longer apply.  A chance to breath, a chance to stretch our arms and fly.  I want everyday to be a revolution.  I want to practice disaster in every moment.

crying

i felt like i couldn’t cry.

i thought, what is it going to take? will it be like this forever? this god damn sadness has just been building and building up in my heart and it’s easy to ignore until the next bit of it comes. i’ll tell you that it’s getting so bad that when i hit a pothole in the road on my bike, it shakes me up so bad, me and my weak little heart, and i just want to cry there in the middle of the road.

but i couldn’t cry. i sat at the bus stop thinking about how great it would be to do it. that feeling of release and validation (because crying validates emotion, as everybody knows). i sat on the bus and resigned my eyes to being dry, which is a terrible feeling, as you must know, because it makes you want to cry even more.

i was making tortellini. the house was dark and deathly quiet- a tableau blanc for my introspection. i started thinking about my dad and i had all these memories that came up, so i wrote to him, when i called you today, you caught me off guard when you said ‘hey! i love you…’ in such a plaintive way that it was like you were sad about the distance between us too.

i was making tortellini and i caught hold of a whimper that came involuntarily from my lips. it was comparative to a tiny opening into some other dimension in some science fiction, where you have to put your little finger into it (before it closes) and then rip it open. and it fucking ripped open.

standing there in the kitchen over the tortellini with a wooden spoon in my right hand, sobs began to wrack my body. my bottom lip was tightening (i didn’t know it could even do that) and quivering in a cliched sort of way. inch by inch my body was tensing up as i lost control. my face contorted and contracted, my mouth hanging open with no chance of closing it, drool trickling out the side, it was as if i had never cried properly in my whole life. it was as if i had been holding back, willfully controlling the crying fits of my past – now my whole body paralyzed and shaking with violent small-wavelength tremors. i felt like a fucking sponge. tears were flowing out my eyes and right back into my open mouth. i tasted salt. i couldn’t do anything – couldn’t even put down the god damn wooden spoon in my right hand as my body just crumpled. i thought of god. i wish you could have seen me. i’d have bet anything that every single tiny crease in my face was five feet deep, that my usually modest dimple looked like a horrifying chunk taken out of my face, that my eyes were clenched up so much they retracted into my face, replaced by something like Mono Lake, and just as salty.

at the end my heart feels like my head feels when i drink slurpee too fast. my face is sore. these feather-soft cough/sobs are coming from somewhere in my throat. fuck! i want to do that again! or am i going to have to wait another year for it to build back up again?

The great flying elevator

2009 greeted me with a harsh winter cold that made my voice deeper and hoarser than normal.  I bought a dungeness crab and a bottle of champagne and proceeded to get more drunk than my health would have preferred.

Last night I saw the girl off to her father’s and went straight to bed, covered in a mock bearskin blanket we call “Horse-ee.”  The old bear and I snoozed the winter evening away and dreamt of riding elevators that could perform trapese tricks and giant tidal waves that were both invigorating and terrifying.  I awoke, washed the sand from my eyes and set out to buy a calendar.

The new year is like standing on a precipice where it’s unclear whether I’ve just climbed up or I’m about to tumble down.  I have more opportunity then I know what to do with and more alone time than I feel comfortable about.  The cold in my head, however, whispers just one thing.  “Sleep, my dear.  Sleep this one out.  I have an elevator in mind that can show you some new tricks.”

So I submit, curl up with Horse-ee and wait for the frigid air to break, the days to grow longer and sunshine to return and warm this tired, cold soul.