Archive for June, 2012

I was always confused
by the idea
people could walk
around with
hearts in their

That is, that something
so fragile could
survive roughed up
against the
wool and cloth and

Or even that kids
would compare
them, like ornaments
meant to adorn
hands and wrists and

I could not comprehend
their size, or
their dimension, or
the way young
children protect

Most of all I was so
shocked and warm
that someone would
dare to ask if
they could, might carry

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I’ve always loved David Byrne for his ability to make the most beautiful love songs out of cardboard boxes and shoe-strings.

It’s hard for my generation to think about much besides underwear and perfume, tweeting and vomiting on cars. Everything we do, sometimes, is directed purely at the loins of people we can’t really bare to know.

That’s why we’re so keen to hook up with people over our interests. Zadie Smith famously suggested Mark Zuckerberg categorized Facebook via his interest in informational openness – in collecting things by data and organization.

Fitting, then, that we always want to be categorized. By our faith, our fandom, our bodies, our sexuality. Always in line with other humans, in conjunction with the spirit of the other.

What I love about Byrne, and what he captures so well in his strangely (often crudely) drawn pop-songs is our unusual artistic relationship with the world we utilize.

What I like best about the Talking Heads song “Naive Melody” is that when played live, Byrne would dance with a lamp. Instead of projecting his feelings onto another human being, he would share intimate moments with a piece of furniture. A body, really, made of light and metal.

Sometimes I feel that way about the things I write, but never about a chair or a desk. It must be comforting, I think, to feel so attached to a piece of cardboard, or shoe-strings. There’s a lot of strength in finding the courage to love something that can’t love you back.

“I’m just an animal looking for a home.”

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Nothing is ever easy, it seems.

And beautiful is rarely perfect, I know.

And sometimes I need to remind myself that a wonderful thing can be a wonderful thing and not the thing I think it will be or has been.

I’m so wary of the perfect, and the ideal, and at the same time obsessed with making something into everything.

I realize these are facets of my journey. Facets, in most complicated fashion, aligned fiercely with my desire to protect myself.

Keep pushing – there is, you know, a story I always tell to myself. It’s about a boy who built his shell and refused to leave it because he thought his most noble distinction would come from living in it so long everyone would give him gifts and cherish his strange house.

It is a fable for a reason. Children believe they can never grow into the adults they admire and despise.

But everything is more complicated than it seems and, of course, I will return to that old (shimmering) mantra of mine.

Waking up tomorrow is the surest way I can signal my distrust of a world that does not want me to keep learning to Love.

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Sometimes if you take a stone
palm to palm,
moving your fingers past
the ebb and flow of the
grooved years, thin like
her hair, you get some
thing completely new.

It is not alchemy,
I promise.
That is, unless
all love
is alchemy.

Just to know our eyes
become different stars
when they meet is like
the moment, concrete,
when lips touch
and make one being.
I know, these things
are foreign as the
hour passing, swollen,
across your chest –
but each touch is
an act of magic
and transformation.

Did I ever tell you
I always wanted to
work my own magic?

To make them laugh
and smile and wink
for just a few days
or minutes.

The greatest trick
of all, besides your
shoulders, is one the
old man never showed
me how to perform.

He said it was
making a You
and I into
an Us.

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Painting – always painting. That’s what I usually tell people I do with my spare time, and I think it confuses them because – of course – I’m not a visual artist (expect in that “collect cans and make a robot out of them” sort of way).

But painting always seems to me the best connotation for what I want to do. Even with words.

(I want to explain this concept to someone I like, so bear with me…)

Let’s say you want to paint an image. There are so many ways you can do it! It’s the same with expressing yourself in written communication.

If I want to relay information factually I might take a photograph (this, of course, may set some people off – photographs have entire layers of art/bending/technique) BUT they are also (as Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov pointed out) an EYE.

“I am the eye that reveals to you the world as I alone can.”

Right? The lens can show you the world as it IS (amongst other things).

So this:

Is a sunflower.

But painting, with the fragmenting of perception, opens up a world of options.

Suddenly – if I want – I can choose to represent things more abstractly.

(I should clarify that I am forwarding techniques associated with mediums, not the mediums themselves to suit my expression. I don’t believe one medium is superior, but some better align themselves with my goals. Shutter techniques, for instance, can capture the same beauty as an e. e. cummings poem.)

This is a park on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone is dressed fancily, but the most beautiful touches are the swirling colors and the sense of time created by swooping shadows.

(^ Ah! My description has changed to adapt to the complexity of the work. To emphasize what is unique.)

But here we arrive at what I enjoy. The best part, by far.

When I tell people I am painting, I am writing to write. Like my good friend Jackson Pollack:

Here, things are messy and confrontational. Pollack, of course, was masterfully controlled. Sometimes, I am too. But other times I want to swing wildly at the moon.

For instance. When I was thinking about someone I like the other day I transcribed the words exactly as they came to me. Here they are:

“You alone reflect the compounds of my heart and she and she and she”

Which, in tangible words, means very (very) little. But in the sense of PAINTING – of capturing an object as it should be versus how it is those words mean a great deal in that order.

They are the lines that make up the picture of her as I see her. As an overwhelming emblem of femininity – and the repetition creates the brush strokes that give her color and shading.

When we write to say something (purposefully, which is its own goal) we sometimes become reportage. We forget to organize our world to create the most beautiful image (or even, though you might doubt my intentions, to create the best story) and – I add – to make something new.

So I paint every day. Not because I want to want to reproduce – because I want to make landscapes, and stars, and swirl colors. I want to hurl words against each other and watch them explode angrily.

Most of all – I feel most human scribbling my words against each other. Our communicative language (which, I think, also needs a booster sometimes so I rarely make my thoughts less angular if I can avoid it) represents something askew from our poeticized language.

Regardless, it should be our goal to gnash some traditions to find flowers inside sealed envelopes.

(At least I think so!)

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Seemed to be the only thing I could imagine this morning. His beautiful face, and the wishes we’d never shared sooner.

I was painting with him somewhere – painting because we could both paint, and love, when we tried. I was thinking of us on some far off planet clinging to each other in the sunlight.

We were fading in and out, of course, because he was gone.

That’s what I was thinking, anyway, when the minister gave us time to pray. I bit my hand and it was covered in my own drool and I was scared – but not about him.

Just about the silence. And how we’d all forget some day, and mom would need to sleep eventually.

And I read the poem – because they’d asked me to – and then everyone wanted to talk about it. And I was like a bruised peach – too fine to be eaten. I realized why hearts are so temperamental in the sunlight – it’s hard to be yourself and a pearl.

What they didn’t see was me crying in the room before we left because I felt so lonesome. Playing Smog because that thin piano line reminds me sometimes how to paint – all the while I just wanted to sink into oblivion and sleep for a little while.

Same thing after we’d been drinking. I drank too much anyway, because I always do when I’m trying to hide myself from something. I went upstairs and fell asleep for a while and was thankful to see something that wasn’t my eyes.

And all the while I missed him, and wished he could still kiss me. Just the quiet, and realizing I was falling for her a bit. Life and death, the minister said, have to be the same thing.

I guess that means when one person leaves your life, another is allowed to enter.

Still, I felt all angular. I guess I missed fitting in with people.

“People thought my windows – were stars.”

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I was standing in New York City at the corner of some streets, and then in a shop, and then by the counter.

And all the while I was looking at trinkets and things, just to entertain myself. My companions were laughing about their gifts – they had to buy them for their partners.

Today, funnily enough, my mother and her husband were sitting in a diner in Connecticut while I was comparing their silverware. Their knives were the same. My step-sister and her boyfriend had the same forks.

We’re drawn together in pairs, pieces, wholes. And it isn’t until you’re in the midst of connection that you start to realize how perfectly the pieces fit. And if you’re me, not to sound too hum-drum, you realize when you don’t have anything to compare with.

Remember when T.S. Eliot talked about being etherized on that table? Or the lobster scuttling on the ocean? Or when Richie crawls into the tent in Tenenbaums?

We are always seeking connection. And finding it, too, beyond our wildest imaginings and subverting our human expectations. That’s beauty of the pattern of human experience.

If we’re lucky, someday a new pattern appears. We call that becoming a part of the tapestry.

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