Archive for November, 2012

I come back to you like the very first sunset.

Like four days in heat,
a rippling glance
caught in the haze
of accidents.

Like I tried to walk away. There is a postcard somewhere with secrets which might break us. There is work to be done in the shop. This is why I will not call for you. The words I mumble inward are Om, that is, my own breath. There is that much of you inside of me. There are pieces of you inside of me. There are voices inside of you.

I ask you to let me hear them.
I ask you to develop them, softly –
make your larynx into the rope which
could finally pull us together.

There are not enough moments in a life, I remind myself. There is a sunset waiting for you. There is the seizing of the moon. There is the collision of ribcages. There is the look in your eye. There is the first snowfall. There is learning to master away.

I am always being pulled away.
I am always cutting the thicket of verbs –
always too busy for you, always prepared
to trick time.

I am back again, a perennial accident
of the heart grown still –
on your neck.

We become marks we can’t wash off.

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We fell into each other.
The only way I could possibly explain it.

I made a pact with myself a few weeks ago.
Like falling out of the internet,
or cleaning up your diet,
or waking up on time.

I told myself I would never look up a thing about you. That I wouldn’t read a word you didn’t tell me yourself. I left behind old jealousies, only so far behind, and headed out west.

I don’t want to know anything about the people in my orbit that I can’t experience for myself, or without their blessing.

I am not a detective, I told him. I am not searching for your scattered pieces. I do not want to assemble your narrative.

I want you to tell me the story yourself. I want to be your audience.

I looked for myself in too many narratives, broke open my skin on splintered stories and pieces of dead history.

You are a beautiful mystery,
escaping like the wind.

Let’s keep you that way,
I know you’ll run from me.

I only want to hear what you have to tell me.

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I saw myself, in that moment, aligned at the easel.

My skin stuck upright, my body curved slender like aching hills.

My fingers had become the milk of paints. They twisted, still twist, to make the shape of your face. Charcoal, color, vivid. You are so very vivid to me.

I can see the camera in my hands. In the eye, reflection, the lines of my face. Older, always, visions of experience in my lens. I no longer worrying about capturing the perfect face – the thing that has always alluded me – simply capturing each eye through my own satisfies.

Sometimes I paint running water. More often, tape running film. In one old strip, the river runs through seasons – turns new to glacial. Eventually it melts out, replaced by a naked body discovering itself.

We run dry for each other, it says.
All of me dried up the day you left,
I murmur.

This is all I know how to do. To miss you through these moments and my work.

They’re the same thing, always.
If you’ve seen it, you already know me.

Please keep reading.

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Because sometimes you get in that groove that says you just need to work. Finish something. Do it right. Lose yourself.

Because I ran around all day and didn’t even want to move.

Because she was underwhelming.
Because he seemed needy.

Because you wanted to make art after you saw it.

Because you have reading to do.

Because it was nice of her to listen.
Because you felt disconnected.
Because you write things and don’t send them.

Because ultimately, you’ll remember the things you didn’t say. And the people you didn’t meet – pale visions of those you did. Don’t think about S., how you’ve always wanted to say hello. Don’t think about A., who doesn’t think about you. Don’t dwell on dreams.

Because there is much work to be done. Much heart to be taken. And the art is between the pages, and between your fingers, and the good writing you did today.

You did good writing today. It matters, and you earned that sleep. For today, at least, you earned your spot at the table.

For tomorrow, at least, because you’re not quite there yet.

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I always knew I’d get there eventually.

I’m still not there, thankfully.

I’ve been doing this project for nearly a year now. That’s really hard to believe, honestly. There’s never really been a moment where I thought I’d quit, frankly, but I also knew I was signing up for a strange little beast of burden by making this thing.

Recently, I decided to cut back on my social media usage. Those who know me even a little bit, or have read much of my writing about technology / issues of the robot and self, know that for me – technology is one of our most complicated facets. It’s the story we haven’t told just yet, and the reality we’re waiting to face.

Twitter, facebook, tumblr, youtube – they’re ubiquitous. A few elements came together in my exit. One, is an essay by Zadie Smith entitled Generation Why?. It’s excellent, and brought up a lot of my central concerns with facebook. The performative nature, my own thorny bout with addiction, an old Huffington Post article I read last year about a guy who met his significant other on an elevator and realized he’d already creeped her on facebook, and the nagging sense that I was becoming a clump of data.

A box of figures. Less me vicariously. It was ugly. It made me feel weak, and ugly.

It was thanks to a very forthright friend that I called it quits. That I helped myself, in a really profound way, to begin to engage with the tangible world. That I would force myself to connect with the people I really wanted to meet without buffers or safety nets – and critically – that I would share things with individuals rather than groups. A return to dedicated communication I cried, and blissfully, nobody had to listen.

About a week ago I stopped eating meat. It was a choice I’d intended to make for a while, and finally owned up to when another very important person in my life encouraged me to take agency in my dietary concerns. Something I’d intended to put off for about two more years rounded the bend and, here I am, eating the way I’d always imagined.

I had a really crazy semester. I carved out a future for myself – two projects in the next seven months. Travel, adventure, exhaustion. I ran rampant like a wild beast at the beginning of the semester, I reigned in like a monk for the last act. I met people, I missed people, looked in the mirror sometimes. My face looks older. I recognize myself better. I know the steps to this walk so much better than I ever have before. It’s liberating, totalizing, terrifying.

I’m about ready to be done with school. I realize I have 1.5 years left, and I’m not upset about it. I know the projects, Speech, the people – will keep teaching me. There are still steps to pick up. I’m still teaching, which means I’m still learning.

I started decorating my room. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes. Making my bed every morning, the things I don’t like to do, remind me so intrinsically of the cyclical nature of our existence. Discipline, for all the ragged wood, feels like home. Losing control, for all the tense wires, feels like opening up. Room for both, and for living.

And the strangest wildflower – that I’ve done this for nearly a year. With almost pinpoint precision, and seen the blossom. I always believed fervently that life would get better after my dad left. And it did. In a million different ways I’m still discovering. Every year should be so filled with change and growth, or I should be so perceptive to notice.

I’ve gotten so much closer to the man I see myself becoming down the line. And will continue to discover things about him, positive and negative, that make personal development a life’s work. I’ll never be done, and for that I’m tremendously thankful.

The blog was the right choice. Making me pay attention to the little details in a day was the right choice. Giving me a place to combine the beautiful with the ugly was the best choice. The choice I hope to keep making even after daily expression is no longer compulsory.

I wanted, in the dim strains of communication, to carve out a space to communicate better. To listen to stories, and the wind. To look people in the eye. To be bold and brave, to say – I want you, need you, desire your space within mine.

That person is worth becoming. And he will love you better a thousand times over.

I am sure you have similar aspirations for yourself. Unturned stones, faded memories, aching desires. Achieve them, please, I beg of you. Make choices that allow your ideal to become your reality. Exercise your humanity through choice – a part of your spirit – and continue on.

You will remember every choice you didn’t make. I will remember the first time we met – face to face – as a blessing.

We will be better than dead time. I will keep writing to the next breath.

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Back when S. and I used to talk about love all the time, he once told me a very peculiar thing.

He had been with his girlfriend for a while at that point, and as relationships do, it was ebbing away from him. He wasn’t discontent, he told me, just mildly indifferent.

All of this is fine, I suppose. Relationships wax and wane, and S. and I had the sort of easy-going relationship men sometimes develop where, for better or worse, they can levy the horrors of their relational discontent on one another with relatively little fanfare or casualty.

It’d be just another story of two guys bullshitting in diners if he hadn’t said this to me:

“I mean, really, I’m just not sexually attracted to her anymore.”

And for whatever reason that always struck me. I kept it in my back pocket, a little fragment of wisdom from some other dimension.

I never really knew what to do with it, and was so confused to find that someone presented with a (presumably) beautiful creature – could not feel the warmth, the desire at least to reciprocate. That someone presenting you with love – embrace, should be rejected in the simplest, quietest manner.

That the relationship was still going and he was still in it.

It took me a long time to feel the same way. And a long time to realize what her touch did to me. To want out, and away, is clear ugly. She turned the boy who wanted everything inside out – and through no fault of her own.

It’s the most minor story in my catalogue. And yet the horror of distance, of pushing away, hangs over me like a crucifix of my own feeling.

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You used to love the boy in black socks.

When you’d wear your hood like an inuit pilgrim, hazy like old polaroids. A beautiful exposure.

The boy in black socks walked out of a movie you used to watch when you were lonely. He was drawn from the margins of beat up paperbacks, written by a tender hand.

Fragile as a wisp, and so strong, he loved you like the newest breeze. All heft, all weight. No boy had ever been so careless with your spirit, your body. But he knew just where to push.

He’d bike to school every day. And when you grabbed his hand one day, after he’d said something bold and enticing about art, you felt like you’d hold on forever.

He showed up at your house one night out of the blue. After his mother’s diagnosis, he cried in the shower for two hours. You wouldn’t find out about that for a few years. He slept at the foot of your bed, and your parents didn’t know, and by the end of the night you were at the foot of the bed too.

He kept the black socks on. That’s just who he is.

The boy really cared about you an awful lot, and could always feel the pressure of your palm slipping away. He hoped, against hope, that life would inextricably wheel the two of you together.

Maybe it did. And maybe it will.

But you will always have the memory of the boy with black socks. The pair you keep tucked away in your dresser for long nights.

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I pull a stack of records off the wall.
When my arm stretches out the thin white shirt falls, a tattooed wrist snaking out.

You should buy these. You’ll love them.

A plume of white hair. Still big. The glasses are thicker. The skin slides. I’m still that man. Seventy years. I’m still that man.

Yeah, these too. Have you ever heard their first one? Oh, it’s great. It was based on this book by Saramago – mhm, very forward thinking. Draws on a lot of stuff from the early century.

It’s 12:30. After he leaves, with a shiny new record, I put up the “Closed – next door with the girl” sign.

I put on the coat she likes so much, decades old at this point, and go next door.

She’s eating at the table. With a new book, of course. She runs the shop adjacent. We don’t talk about our past – my books, her films. She looks up and smiles.

The lines on her face carve out the most madonna. Her glasses, a recent addition, frame her beautifully. So much, little has changed. She has become so gentle in the last few decades. She smiles so much, the most I have ever seen. I am still in love with her smile. I am still enamored of her eyes – shining in the dimly lit shop. Today we have the time we’ve wanted for so long.

Today we are much different. With so many more scars. And, improbably, though we have hurt each other – leveled hearts on days – we are still here. The game, which nagged at us when we first came together, was who would forget first. Whose heart would burst?

We are better because we love more deeply. We are better because we smile every day. We have the love we waited for – that holds tight, survives tragedy, returns like dawn.

I sit down and take her hand. Her fingers, always a bit smaller than mine, spindle. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and more beautiful years later because she has bloomed into the most elegant flower. With history, and strength, she is still that girl. My woman.

There are still adventures ahead of us. And we face them together. There are still days ahead. We spend them together.

Van Gogh said our life is a very long walk from here to heaven. And we are far, far away.

Today, I hold your hand in the coffee shop. You let me. I look out the window at the earth, and all the seasons unfurling.

And I realize, quietly, that this is the most important moment in my life.

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In the sweater, draped in snowflakes.
Everything around us is dying.
I know your summer, worn
on your skin, I hope
it reminds you
of me.

The first snowfall reminds me of her, and winters ago. Walking the streets like bobbing coats, hoping our hip-bones would freeze together.
When I was younger I prayed for the snow to blow us away and leave us beneath cracking ice. I hoped more than anything you’d find me some day, your fire always roaring.

You’re not a thing like her, and that’s what I mean.
When you take that scarf and wrap it around me.
When I take the scarf you gave me
and wrap it around me.

She is buried beneath so much ice.
She doesn’t even hear me.
I think sometimes
about our snow

If you hear me, I hope
you will lay down
by the pond and
dream awhile,

All of this snow is just too much
for me.
All of this strangeness is like
the first
snowfall, your coldness
against me.

I promise you,
you’re not a thing like the
first time,
just a dream.

When we walk in the
front door, pluck
off our clothes
and remember
the first

Please don’t think I could
love anyone else
the way I remember

So I stand there in the snowfall
white cascading
from my hair and
in my beard
hoping you’re
dreaming of me.

All of
me will
always be

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All of our mistakes play at 180 RPM.

When the dust from the great plains shook into your bones I knew you were my red cherokee. A twisting feather, wrapped like a dream gone feverish in my arms.

This is the most we will ever share.

You are a shattered photograph, and so picturesque. I will spend a fragment of my life thinking about the exploding stars smeared across your stomach, bodies turned liquid, the pinwheel rainbow in the long, fiery strands of your hair. How much you hold in such small hands.

How we are all friction. How you are a serpent coiling from the mouth of a dream I must have made. If we drove to Texas I’d find you in the patterns and coyotes out west. In a pueblo we forgot until the moment we touched.

Yes, it’s that real. No, I’m sure I made it all up. Yes, you feel like forgotten. No, we will never listen to this song again. Yes, we were both pushing. No, we will never make another photograph.

When we sink into the sea, I need to know we’ll be swaying to something soft and hummable.

I’m sorry that this is all we are.
I’m sorry, this is all we are.
This is all we are.

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