So, either by for now or by till later!
This week's topic was "Writing and other Writers"
Woo-wee. It was so much fun. I'm exhausted!
Here are my students working on erasures:
When the wall came down, we bathed in the thin liquid we had feared and rejoiced for so long.
She has a day planner. Each night she writes in it the events of the day. Everything always after it happens. Sometimes she tries to write things in advance. These things she rarely does and must cross out. Write in new.
She does this for self preservation. So as to not forget. Misplace. Lose entire days.
Every Saturday evening, she writes in “farmers market.”
Today is Saturday morning. She is at the market. Stands face one another, create a lane. Many people bring their dogs through with them. The girl doesn’t have a dog, only her basket and vegetables.
Perhaps the dogs or some scent from one of the stands triggers the memory. Or a feeling.
The dog had been lying on his stomach when the little girl walked over. Short legs bend and she’s down, on her stomach. Sneakers and arms inch forward until her tiny nose against his nose. Touching, but soft, probably. They lay that way for a long time.
It happened in the country market, in front of produce bins. The girl remembers the cracks in the cement floor where the squares met. Dirt and pebbles.
The first time the girl recalled the memory with the dog on the floor was after her mom recounted it to her at the same market years later. The girl thinks she remembers that the market clerk asked her mother if this young woman was the same little girl who had lain on the floor with the dog and hadn’t that been so sweet?
Why is this memory so important to remember, other than it’s preciousness? Because of what it may mean. Another memory, but one of the girl’s mother. This dog had not always been in the market. This dog had belonged to the mother for a long time before the girl was born. In fact, the mother gave the dog to the market just before.
While pregnant, the mother had lain on the bed. The dog, Fred, lie on the bed with her. The girl in her belly, the dog on her lap. His head, nose to her navel. And that is how they would lay together for long stretches. As though Fred knew the little girl was in there. Or, in fact, he did.
Did the girl and the dog know one another in this moment? Did each somehow “remember”?
Is this the opposite of knowing a face and being unable to place it?
This memory, the girl realizes, may or may not be a memory, which is not so much a memory as it is a recreation. Phantom memory. Because she didn’t remember until her mother told her. If not a memory that is, a memory that should be. She hopes that it is.
She read that if a person remembers a memory and can see him or herself in the memory as though a camera shot from an outside angle, that it is not a memory at all. It is a memory of the retelling.
When she fears that it is a phantom memory and not a real memory, she tries hard to validate it. Force it into real. Retrieve. To the point she believes. Yes. And she remembers it. After the image, the feeling of it. Through the eyes of the young girl.
This must be a real memory because she cannot see herself but sees out of what would be or were her eyes. She looks into brown eyes at the end of a snout, blurry from proximity. Cold of floor through her tee and shorts. Dirt and dust. The door across from her and wooden legs of stands. Cold nose slowly warming. This moment.
She imposes memory upon herself.
The girl has this in her head and she tries to tell herself, this is it. The memory. But she still is not and cannot be sure. Her mind is clever enough to outsmart her.
(Why is it so important to remember? Does she remember the floor as being cool because it was or because it often is and has been? Should be.)
And when she’s uncertain she thinks of this: it must be a memory the way that the time Fred escaped from the house and ran downtown is a memory. When her grandfather saw the dog near the town square, slowed his car, and yelled out the window, “Fred, you better get home or you’re gonna get beat!” and Fred ran home.
A memory of the retelling. She imagines it perfectly as though she’d been there, hears the timbre of grandfather’s voice and the volume. Can see the dog’s legs, two at a time hit pavement. The tail. White gazebo on the square. The imposed setting, which she knows and has seen for years.
The superimposed image, the dog and her grandfather.
She thinks about the touching noses. She read that olfactory is the strongest sense and most powerful memory trigger. The olfactory impulse to the brain connects to the limbic system which is where the brain deals with emotions.
If it were a memory, couldn’t she remember what the little girl on the floor with the dog was thinking? Did she know who the dog was? What emotion did he evoke? Did she recall the memory or the emotion? Or does the emotion recall the memory?
She wonders if that little girl, too, was trying to remember but of the womb.
lori sent me her manuscript of poems, utmost brevity, which included the phrase when the clairvoyant pauses
after writing lifeline and city, i sought out a "frame" at the local thrift store, saw these, had the idea to sew
as some of you know, i have this thing for trace/translucent paper
the pieces printed
at the paper store at grand central, i ask don't you think that one looks most like a séance?
what was left out
i watched my dog try to run into his crate holding a stolen baguette that was longer than his door was wide. spatial reasoning challenge, little friend.
overheard at the market:
elderly gentleman buys a quart of milk, the fancy unhomogenized milk in the glass bottles that make a satisfying sound when they make contact with one another. his female companion asks, "you want me to drive so you can drink milk?"
why do tennis balls need to be "sealed for freshness"?
There are also bits of napkins, which will be recycled after recording them here, that say:
"The ink came from the veins of my mother"
capturing two would
lessen the larger threat"
"I have to get out of here.
I am grateful for my new home, I however have come to the realization that I must get rid of everything. I have been living in a fantasy world... I have amassed a collection of objects, art, tools, clothes, musical instruments, creative materials, and media that I really have no place for in whatever it is that I am moving into. If I could just walk away and never look back... I would.
The fact that I am in contact with these collections, that I am forced to sever my physical connection with that which has become my historical connection to reality has rendered me all but completely paralyzed. People get rid of shit all the time. It's just stuff. What, I wonder, should I do with a Barbeque bicycle, or a bicycycle powered television or a flock of mechanical seagulls, or boxes of ceramic sculptures that took me months to create? Not to mention the photos, the books , my extended memory, my breadcrumb trail.
I know I need to let it all go. To be free. And I could just walk away, like Ive walked away from so many other things. It is really helping me to realize how many life "projects" I just never really dealt with.
I'm not pulling up the anchor.... I'm severing the chain...
I hope I don't float away.
And writing is always like that: an investment of time in order to distill a moment. Distilling, yes. Like making mezcal. A maguey will take six full years to slowly raise its spined arms closer to the sky before the palenquero comes by––one morning just after dawn––and chops off each and every one of those arms, and then the roots, throwing the corazón del maguey into the back of a waiting pickup. The corazón will be buried and roasted, then mashed by a stone pulled by a burro walking in circles. The mash will then sit in its juices for a time, then be put again to heat, sent through the clean copper distiller, and out the other side comes a fragile stream of pure mezcal blanco. (As an aside, the only mezcalero I've had a long chance to listen to assures me that the only good way to seal the metal of the distiller is with nixtamal ground into masa––corn meal. A tortilla seal.)
So I am the burro walking in circles, taking the harvest of moments and distilling them down into [while finishing this sentence I was beset by the craving for a good mezcal, which luckily, is sitting right next to the desk. Served, I continue,] an unnaturally potent account. Acuteness. Sharp at the first, smooth after a few. Clarity. A process of noticing and exclusion: pruning away the spines, getting at the heart of the thing, and laying it clear to be consumed.
But the calaca of the pegasus is still out there in the sky, above the fist-sized raindrops that have begun to fall, avoiding the racing helicopters of the super-rich. Collecting plastic shopping bags from the gutters & allies, building a multicolored altar for the next Día de Muertos, just around the corner. Though I've never asked, I do think los muertos build altars to the living just as the living build altars to their muertitos. It would seem congruent with everything I know about the mexica cosmovision & general Mexican idiosyncrasy. Six weeks is a reasonable amount of time to spend edifying those on the other side. Especially for the living, whose time seems to pass so much quicker than for the muertos.
Point is: my pegasus is an undead installation artist of miquixtli, the rain has begun to fall along with the night, and this mezcal is delicious. Bien suave depués del primer sorbo. The neighbor is listening to a piece of classical music and the thunder is debating something I can't get my head around.
And among all of this, the search for clarity, for the story, the foto, the poem, the moment to highlight, to hold aloft screaming look at this, chingao! Among all the spines, el corazón del cuento. (Not the fact of the matter, the heart of the matter. As matter of fact, fact is not matter, it is theory, and it matters to me very little.)
I have been the writer that can't swear off watching the clouds to come inside off the roof and write the damn story. I'd tell you that if I looked away, the pegasus would cease to exist, and I write too slow to get the details anyway. I'd like to think that I've been planting magueyes and that some day I'll sit down to share a mezcal of my own vintage, distilled with my own vision of clarity. But there are so many things happening in the sky, it's been heard to put on the yolk and to begin to walk in circles. The burro needs to get to work. Or the pegasus needs to land on the damn roof and let me ride it, chingá.
Briggs had fought, as he called them behind closed doors, those “fucking pelican-saving treehuggers,” throughout his adult life all the way through the recent crisis. It was a fucking disaster. Briggs would spend meetings, in a room that smelled recently vacuumed, stuffing his face with donuts covered in colored candy like rabbit pellets. He wouldn’t just eat one or two either. He’d eat three or four. It made me sick just looking at him.
I’d sit there in my tall-backed chair wondering when it would be appropriate to slip out of the room. Many a morning, I was developing an intestinal emergency myself. But I wanted to give the impression I was low key.
Briggs called me Ice. I could lay it down all cool and rational, and people wouldn’t realize I’d told them to fuck off until they were two miles down the highway. When my daughter would call on the phone, she’d point fingers at guys I’d been working with for 25 years and would call them worse names than I ever remember using in front of her. Her mouth was as filthy as my drowning lungs. I made an executive decision then not to tell her about my health.
I wasn’t going to Biloxi. I was out here, and that’s the way it was going to be. Though I do miss the horizon.
Marissa brings in a tray. I hear tea cup clanking against the spoon. She draws back the curtains. With her back to me, I look out the window. I want an orange. I can imagine eating one so clearly that my mouth begins to water.
For the 300th time since we moved here, I sit there wondering with all the money we had, why I’d settled on this place with a bedroom that looked out over a cell phone tower and power lines. My wife always hated it, but she never said a word. I think it’s because she knew I loved it before I did. It’s been late for me, just recent days, to learn all these things I loved. Semi-abandoned antennas, the smell of air’s first hint at fall, the delicate texture of afghans between thick fingers.
I lay here with my eyes closed because I don’t want Marissa to talk to me this morning. She’s negotiating all this pity. To throw it off she chats a lot. She asks me a lot of questions—not about long ago, but recently. She wants the story of the rig, the explosions, the cover ups. She wants the inside scoop.
The last time she asked me questions, I felt like throwing my bowl at the crucifix on the wall I’d not taken down since my wife’s death. I’m not a heavily spiritual man. I’ve gone to church on the important days of the year. I’ve said prayers before a meal when I have company. I’ve said god bless to friends at appropriate moments.
Pragmatic is what I am. My life was built on underwater lines of geology. Then it became a life of managing things. Layers. A figure sitting in shadows rocking. Marissa’s hovering above me now like a bobber on the surface of one of those ponds I’d fish as a boy. I shouldn’t cry.
Power, I mutter out loud. I stare out at the lines that look all of the sudden like cables under the ocean. I feel something electric like a charge move through me. I’d like to play a saxophone in the wind.
Briggs, that goddamn idiot: “we made a few little mistakes early on.” We made a lot of goddamn mistakes the whole way, I’d say.
I was glad I had Meyers draw up another will yesterday. I worry about the birds. When Briggs gets wind of it, he might well have a heart attack. I start coughing in a fit of laughter until I finally stop.
Marissa comes back in and takes my hand. I look over at her and smile. I won’t be long, I say in an odd voice, like I’m stepping out for a smoke. She pets me palm to forehead and back across the head’s crown repeatedly, until I fall asleep.
I watched 4-Mile Canyon burn from a seat in the plane. The pilot consoled us, don't worry, the smoke isn't from the plane.
xo, Boulder, xo.
To their horror, they were bathed. They smell fresh. Snoop smells like blackberries, and Sampson smells like oatmeal. My cuddle bugs are fresh.
Coming from a one-story county, I've always been obsessed with the roofs of this city. Unitedstatsian houses are made of wood and debt, Mexican houses are made of brick and cement and debt. The roofs of Mexico City are the only place where one can encounter the sky in any meaningful quantity. There does also exist a possibility of horizon, but generally that's too much to ask.
Laundry dries on the roof. The tinacos––plastic tanks––sit in mediation on the roof, storing water for when the pipes fail to deliver, which happens everyday depending on the neighborhood. (People here would consider living without a tinaco complete foolishness). We grow an occasional tomato and strawberry on the roof. I hang my audio recorder over the street side and record the yelling of daily life––sounds that don't let me ever sleep deeply now, but sounds I know I'll miss when I'm not here.
I've written all these poems about the roofs, over and over. I was in Guatemala when I first realized that the rusted rebar left sticking out of the walls of every house (and capped with plastic coke bottles for safety) are antenna for the lesser-recognized frequencies of faith and optimism. That is to say, the rebar is hands in prayer, a latter-day cultural custom meant to express the hope for expanding the house someday. Expanding vertically.
From my small desk here all I can see are roofs, an empire of tinacos and abandoned antennas. I do miss the horizon.
I seem unable to make any order of anything. This blog is beautiful and completely overwhelming at the same time.
I'm not sure what I'm creating, if anything.
A black and gold snake with fresh skin having just shed. Cool and slick, wrapped around my arm.
A series of lakes full of fish interconnected by waterfalls.
A figure sitting in shadows rocking.
The dreams were not bad, just big with no time for narrative and connection. Somewhere in the night/early morning, after a particularly startling wake up, I was patting the bed beside me and thought, "Where is Mr. Lacey?"
And then there is Ms. Defoe's video where Lacey is in the wind.
And so the interconnections are coming today in waking time.
Through people and teddy bears who are dear to me.
I am waiting for my snake friend to show up and remind me of the power of shedding and transformation.
Today, I wear gold and black.
Selah and Bo, could you please give Mr. Lacey a kiss for me? Tell him, thanks for helping me to navigate dreamspace and sorry about making him smoke all those cigarettes the last time I was in Denver.
It is a beautiful day here in southwest Michigan-- sunny and chilly, a bit windy, what we call "winter" where I'm from-- the cyborg glue on my finger is slowly dissolving, I've only banged the wound like three times and had to yell "FUCK" it hurt so bad. Weather like this makes me want to smoke cigarettes, which I mostly don't do anymore, but I am going to go into town and have a fancy coffee drink and figure out how to be a writer, possibly looking melancholy and mysterious slouched over my laptop. Or not.
I want to participate in security, I say to Ariel
who has called to tell me about sex robots
as I wait in La Guardia.
We laugh about America.
America, America your legs are too long for your torso
your feet too big for your legs you outgrow pants on a weekly basis
your backpack is too heavy and you feel strange things in the night
a loud longing that clangs in your ears your bones ringing slightly
with a vibrating sourness from downstairs,
the aftershocks of the bomber that flew over
your mother soothed
don’t worry its just an airshow this is America you are safe.
I take off my long johns nowhere, over this country of mine
this country there is something there in my heart, or I want there to be
a bird behind the breastbone: a seagull a pigeon a sandhill crane
I am learning to love my country, admiring my biceps and my armpit air
in an airplane bathroom. agua no potable.
This land that was made for you and me.
At the Baltimore airport
they take the pocketknife I forgot I had
didn’t expect to feel so safe
waiting for my flight to Detroit.
On the plane I sit by the propeller, worry
about birds. Slept against the window,
dreamt that you lived in a police state
you were not careful about what you said
and it was everywhere.
I’m suffering now because of an event, a mundane event, that took place on June 14, 2010. It was the day my father checked into the hospital for the last time. He was bleeding, so I wanted to take him to the emergency room. He would not go. I said, "We have to go now." I said it over and over and over.
When I got him to the kitchen, he stopped and sat down at the table. He wanted an orange. He said, "Please get me an orange." I said, "We don't have time for an orange." He said, "I really want an orange." I said, “We really need to go now.” He stared at me and I stared at him. I went to the refrigerator, hastily opened the door, flung open the fruit crisper, and reached in for an orange.
I dropped the orange on the ground.
My father said, laughing, “Well there goes that orange.”
He ate the orange and then I took him to the emergency room. It was the last orange he ever ate.
Now, may I please have that lollipop? That hurt like hell.
My boyfriend, Kristian, (seen fishing on the left with his best friend John) grew up on the west coast of FL, and I grew up on the east coast. We met in a corporate and concrete version of hell, Orlando, and somehow, thought it best to stay. Now, as we revisit our respective childhood homes, and hang out with decade-old friends, fish off rocks, smoke blunts, laugh, play video games, eat cheap but well, and love on our families, we find that going back might be better than best.
There are places like this in FL. Where you can sit underneath a bridge and watch the water hit rocks. There are places that are privately public. As we hit pipes, I could still hear children laughing and cars passing overhead, but we were yet to be seen. I could have sat under that bridge all night with my lover; let the tide come in and wash our feet.
We are a particular kind of silly. How children are silly. Vulgar, scummy children with wanderlust. Wild babies.
I can't keep myself from hating the florescent lights I am now under as I write. I'd rather be under that bridge, soaking up the day glow, the kind that hurts my eyes in a good way. I squint, but out of frustration due to being displaced at my work (I am asked to move from spot to spot depending on if someone more important than me needs the area, which, by my last count, was everyone.), or confusion about how I am supposed to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THIS MESS.
Working a 9-5 job is killing me. I don't mean to be dramatic, but I mean to be dramatic because this is my fucking life. I don't like to be called selfish because a steady 9-5 is not enough to keep me happy, as if simply having my basic needs met by going to a job I don't like should be all I need to say "I love my job!" I don't like to be told I won't find anything else. Those are the things people tell themselves so they can't feel bad or sad about not finding their reason for living. I don't care if I have to wait tables for the rest of my life, mark my words: I will never work a 9-5 again. As soon as I find a way out of this place (this city, this job) without deepening my debt, I will be gone. So gone.
Recently, I talked with my hairdresser about her relentless wanderlust. She is 50-ish, and still fighting the need to wander. She has lived like that: off the grid in an RV, in small towns across America and Canada, and she says she always goes back to being steady and smooth, back to hairdressing and living in a house with cable.