dear broken friend

Publicly fund your elections.  Alpha children wear grey.  Publicly fund your elections.  They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever.  Publicly fund your elections.  I’m awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard.  Publicly fund your elections.  Most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and never consider revolution.  Publicly fund your elections.  Think different.  Publicly your elections fund.  What’s in your wallet?  Wait, that’s not right.  And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas.  Elections your publicly fund.  Gammas are stupid.  Publicly your fund elections.  Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children.   Your elections publicly fund.  It melts in your mouth.  Epsilons are still worse.  Not in your hand.  Your fund publicly fund.  One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.  Have it your way.  Fund publicly your fund.  Can you hear me now?  Elections fund elections.  A diamond is forever.  Don’t leave home without it.  Fund your fund.  Fair and balanced.  Like a good neighbor.  Wait.  All the news that’s fit to print.  Impossible is nothing.  Don’t be evil.  Please wait.  No more tears.  The best a man can get.  I’m sorry.  I’m loving it.  It’s everywhere you want to be.  Just do it.

a dream within a dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand–
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep–while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

-Edgar Allen Poe

i went fishing with my family when i was five

I can tell you what good art isn’t: it’s nothing pro-forma.  It’s nothing rote, or trite, or usual.  It’s not hollow, or false, and good god, it isn’t easy.  Is it this?  I don’t know.  He’s obnoxious, I’ll say that.  Also weirdly compelling.  It took some nuts to stand up there and continue droning into the silence after the second wave of nervous laughter had passed.  After a while you have to accept that the message isn’t in the words.  Have a gander, I’ll wait:

So, then, what is the message?  Maybe something is wrong, hidden beneath the drone, something that can’t be said.  Maybe it’s a zen koan, a repetition that breaks the words down to their component nonsense, which is important, here, because…?  I mean, it’s effective, playing on discomfort in an Andy Kaufman manner, but after the novelty fades, is there anything behind it?  Form trickery without substance is a hallmark of onanistic academic poetry, and it really fucking bothers me.  Was this poem successful art? Was it good?  Man, I don’t know.

Did it make everyone there uncomfortable?  Yes.  Does it have value beyond that one-off discomfort?  Eh.  Is bald discomfort, in and of itself, interesting?  No. Yes. Shit, I don’t know.  Would I enjoy seeing it live?  Not particularly.  Did I post it on the bindle and write about it?  Yes.  Does something generating discussion mean it has worth or merit or is successful?  Not necessarily.  Did it make me think about the meaning and definition of art?  Sure.

But hell, look, here’s the point: It’s okay to giggle!  It’s okay to smile!  It’s okay to not be so gravely serious and competitive about art all the time!  It exists solely and exclusively to explain and enrich our lives.  That’s it.  Art’s not about money, or fame, or critical acclaim; it’s about solace, and the thousand roads to joy.  This entire droning poem, more than anything else, is first and foremost a very silly joke. Just because they stopped laughing doesn’t mean it’s not funny.

Was it a good poem? God no, it was an awful poem.

Was it successful?

Oh, art.  You make my head hurt so good.

Next Time Let’s All be Landscape Architects or Something

Being a poet has nothing to do
with writing poetry. To be a poet
you just write poems, any poems
and there you go. All that’s left
is finding your adjective: Trite
or amateurish or pathetic or sad
successful or forgotten or unknown
or vain or desperate or the best
poets know this is subjective
and irrelevant but also too that
there is something objective here.
First you must write, that’s true.
Second you must fail (in public
repeatedly, I know, I’m sorry).
Third you must quit and live again
with new eyes. Now I wonder
if she still gets out of the shower
without drying off and leaves a trail
of wet footprints — Who can follow
such vanishing points? All I know
is being a poet has nothing

mexico-091

to do with writing poetry.

the dancing of the lumps

In all the wends and winding ways
(the castles of our pride)
we used to bend and bind the days
the past we sent won’t stay away
__and coming home it sighed.

When we the lumps who want & dwell
(within the sad inside)
upon the stumps of trunks that fell
dance and sing again we tell
__the fire that we lied.

Because at last we had to look
(when hope at last had died)
into our glass with hands that shook
(with eyes that hadn’t cried)
we saw the love she came and took
__and somehow
we survived.

sometimes i get so tired of staying home

so i went and stood out
there under a streetlight
by the graveyard wearing
my blue shirt and khakis
as i said i would

he pulled up and idled
i got in and we drove
aimlessly for a while
talking to be honest
i was having a hard time
making eye contact

eventually he parked
in collegetown and said,
“alright, now i’m going
to walk you just walk
behind me.”

and so we walked
like that weirdly
far apart and silent

it was collegetown at night
so we passed a lot of people
and he stopped a few times
and just stood there all crazy
waiting for them to pass

then again at his house
he froze all fucking crazy
as a housemate appeared
at the front door he ran
instead around back
motioning me to follow
to a door to the basement

and it was a fine offer
but i dunno it just
didn’t feel right

so i said, “psst, hey!
psst, hey! i’m going
to keep walking.”

and i kept walking
past his house
down the hill
and home

all in all somehow
it was a pretty good night.

princess and the pea

“Upward, but not
northward.”

-Edwin Abbot, Flatland

something’s not right
princess and the pea
it keeps me up nights
something’s bothering me

please turn off the lights
please close your eyes
find me with your hands
we’ll climb the night sky

i don’t care if it’s real
’cause i got to love you
but sometimes it feels
nothing human is true

something’s not right
it’s not what it seems
this life in the light
is too pretty to be

 the weight of each day
waking up to the dread
all my awful mistakes
i’m alone in my head

in this beautiful world
i only want to be kind
you can lean on me girl
i’m not losing my mind

but something’s not right
princess and the pea
it keeps me up nights
something’s staring at me

please turn off the lights
please close your eyes
find me with your hands
we’ll climb the night sky.

on remembering to look up

So the bindle is two years old today. How about that? When it was born I was living on wasabi peas, drinking myself to sleep every night on a mattress on the floor of a bare room. These words and sounds and images were a desperate attempt to communicate with a world that didn’t particularly care.

But life is a wild thing. Perpetually shifting and uncertain, each fading sunset could be replaced by absolutely anything. It’s so god damn beautiful — casually, constantly, like it’s nothing. Whenever I remember to pick my head up out of myself, there it is: So vivid, so bright, so saturated with light and sound and sensation.

Sandwiched between billions of years of darkness and endless nothing, this tiny riot of existence is unbelievable. Some days it’s so much I can’t stand it.

Some days it’s hard to be a cynic.

Joshua Clark Orkin

Listen, Please Listen — It’s In There With You

Oh little one, locked away
with such lovely distractions,
in the bone box you built
by yourself. You’re not safe
in there anymore, can’t you
understand that? You can’t
hide from the world inside
your own head, it doesn’t work
like that. There’s still time, love,
and light, love — Come outside
yourself, please.  It’s not safe.

“The devil said, ‘I’m a dream, and you’re alone…'”

to my wife – with a copy of my poems

I can write no stately proem
As a prelude to my lay;
From a poet to a poem
I would dare to say.

For if of these fallen petals
One to you seem fair,
Love will waft it till it settles
On your hair.

And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.

Oscar Wilde

Alfred,–

[…]Secondly, I come to the more painful part of this letter—your intimacy with this man Wilde. It must either cease or I will disown you and stop all money supplies. I am not going to try and analyze this intimacy, and I make no charge; but to my mind to pose as a thing is as bad as to be it. With my own eyes I saw you both in the most loathsome and disgusting relationship as expressed by your manner and expression. Never in my experience have I ever seen such a sight as that in your horrible features. No wonder people are talking as they are. Also I now hear on good authority, but this may be false, that his wife is petitioning to divorce him for sodomy and other crimes. Is this true, or do you not know of it? If I thought the actual thing was true, and it became public property, I should be quite justified in shooting him at sight. These Christian English cowards and men, as they call themselves, want waking up.

Your disgusted so-called father,

Queensbury.


Father,–

WHAT A FUNNY LITTLE MAN YOU ARE.

Alfred

sometimes life is a sad mess

she left him and met me
when i was trying it alone
freshly sober and healthy
badly needing a friend

she loved him but instinct
told her he was an addict
and she needed to escape
what he was and she did

how could she have known
hard drugs and his cancer
as we kissed would agree
to at last stop his heart?

山中問答

Question and Answer on the Mountain

You ask me why I stay on the green mountain;
My heart at leisure, I smile and make no reply.
As peach blossoms drift downstream into oblivion,
I have a world apart that is not among men.

-Li Bai (701-762, Tang Dynasty)

3-li-po

山中問答

問余何意棲碧山
笑而不答心自閒
桃花流水窅然去
別有天地非人間

                    李白

                 (it’s not that i don’t like poetry
it’s just that i only like
a very few poets).

i only ever dreamed of you

how would this world appear
if human sexuality were only
an annoying itch to scratch?
what would we aspire to?
what would our incentives be?
would we have ever built
the pyramids? notre dame?
rome? would we have had
an inquisition? a holocaust?
an apollo program? a mozart?
how are these things related
to sex? how is this shitty poem
related to sex? will you fuck me?
do you want me yet? wait don’t
pick him please i’ll do better
than this i promise here i will
distinguish myself here look!
fancy plumage! there! can i stop?
for fuck’s sake i never dreamed
of building pyramids anyways.

for we are so clearly delicious

when the aliens land at last
to ask humanity honestly why
we deserve to exist here why
we shouldn’t just be removed
from our verdant kingdom why
we wouldn’t be better served
with wine for we are so clearly
delicious done correctly why
we shouldn’t be kept in cages
too small for bodies from birth
in darkness shot with steroids
genetically altered for growth
until we’re pressed to the walls
of our cages and our legs break
beneath great bulbous bodies
and we collapse but can’t fall
so we scream please release us
and pray waiting for the light
at last blinding then followed
by the slaughter sweet escape
into freedom from a life grown
worse than death when the aliens
land at last to ask honestly why?
what have we added to existence?
in our panic we’ll say compassion
and they’ll cross their squid arms
and we’ll show them efficiency
and they’ll eye the strip mine
we made of earth unimpressed
so in desperation we’ll come
to what’s beautiful and lacking
means to explain it we’ll turn
to our artists help them up
brush the mud from their eyes
and say sorry we’re so sorry
and ask politely to be saved.

give it back

i remember my first question
at the eye doctor’s was,

“is there a chance
it could get better?”

and he looked at my mom
and they both looked at me

and then at 8 years old
they told me the truth.

this has something to do with capitalism

i was on your side so why weren’t you
on mine? oh we’re adversaries? fine
art will stay zero sum if there’s only
enough space in our people’s collective
wallet and attention for one i pick me
oh don’t give me that look that thing
to review that work of not-yet-rejected
-a-thousand-times freshness that gasp
for praise when what you need is bitter
medicine to swallow for me it’s a lose
lose either way if it’s terrible i become
the bad guy if it’s good i’ll resent you
your effort and dedication your talent
is a detriment really resting laurels
so often catch us staring it’s the doing
the failing and the doing and the dying
to do it until it happens there are zero
child prodigy writers get wise i worry
that we like being artists affecting art
more than actually making it markets
set our values ranking pieces against
pieces turning artists into rivals for
what? fame? praise? the prize is to live
this life like a dream like a fairy-tale
creature who’s not forced to concede
the summation of a life in market value
my value makes me eye all you assholes
with dreams with suspicion why is this
so complicated? why isn’t there space
in our people’s collective why don’t you
make your thing and i’ll make my thing
and then we’ll have two pretty things.

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