I see you in the light of the table lamp, switched off.
Sprawled on your back, chest to the sky, arms open,
I am filled with a sudden rising anxiety that you might take off,
A vessel in flight over swelling waters.
I crawl to you like a fish sprouting legs,
Evolution guiding my fingers over land,
Skin and bones and meat and heartbeat shocking my tendons.
One nail in front of another other other, No longer starved, they simply linger.
Dancing shadows across your face,
Watching me from behind your lids,
Fashioning your limbs into a trap -
I volunteer myself, a nubile victim,
In your sleeping ear: "Tie me up."
Coffee and cream across a lacquered table.
Your wheels are up.
In one motion you slide from your seat to share mine,
And in my pouring ear: "With you, silence is not so bad."
Browned on the griddle,
So I've got a guest post up today over on Una's blog, The Sassy Curmudgeon. I wrote about my recent STD testing (serious) and how it interwove nicely with the release of a Weezy song named after an STD (not as serious). Hope you like.
On that same note, my coworker/friend recently pointed out to me a massive oversight on my part. Weezy and the predator look just alike!!!! How have I never seen this? Really, y'all. Really.
A strawberry and a honeydew were in love and wanted to get married but none of their friends or family were supportive so the strawberry suggested eloping and the honeydew said, "We cantaloupe! They'd think we were bananas!"
She is thinking about him a lot lately. Waiting for December, wondering again what it will bring, wondering why that month in particular always holds this magical promise for her. Last December she wanted to kill herself. She thinks this one will be better.
Wondering if she will be less pretty or prettier than he remembers, and if his body will feel different under her hands. If they will fall in love or start anew in January. If he will have an apartment full of Bibles and other books she's never read, movies she'd never watch on her own. Wondering if that matters.
She asks, what is love? Is it the way someone makes you feel when he walks through the room where you're sitting on a couch twisting your hair? Is it knowing what he means when he says he's never been much of a poet? Or knowing and not caring if the only writing he's done is your digital exchange. If he's graduated from college, or not. What the fuck is love? It's making her angry, this debate of deserts. She considers that maybe these things keep us from love, not help us find it.
There's this song she likes that always reminds her of him. It goes if you're partial to the night sky, if you're vaguely attracted to rooftops. It's fast and light and bubbly and there is this line in it about martinis and then a line about lemon Now-and-Laters. She thinks, that's what love is. A lemon Now-and-Later. Sour, sweet, timeless. There's no reason this song should remind her of him. She's known him only two days and there was no music. It's a song someone else would have put on a mixtape for her two years ago, but that's not why she likes it.
She'll know she loves him if he tells her a story while they are naked in bed together and it doesn't seem long but she wishes it was.
I've seen three movies in the past five days. There's something about fall this year - the way it's pouring onto the city in wet puddles and cold winds, instead of spreading from the top down with leaves red, then orange, then yellow - that's making me want to sit inside in the dark and hunt for inspiration on a screen. I've not been disappointed so far. I saw The Social Network Friday night, the day it opened, and the theater was totally packed. Then yesterday Stephen Elliott, increasingly becoming my favorite contemporary writer, wrote about the film in his daily Rumpus e-mail. He talked about what touched me most about the film - whether or not Mark Zuckerberg is tragic, or an asshole, or neither. I wrote him back, which I do a lot, and he asked me if he could post my response to The Rumpus. I was thrilled. I said yes.
Last night I saw Howl and Never Let Me Go. Never Let Me Go was beautiful but ultimately bleak and it made me want to be in love. I liked Howl, mostly for the scenes depicting Allen Ginsberg's interviews with the Paris Review, which you can read here. He talked a lot about his writing process, and a few things stood out to me as a prophecy for my own experiences with writing. Here's a snippet from that interview, and my response below.
"Usually during the composition, step by step, word by word and adjective by adjective, if it’s at all spontaneous, I don’t know whether it even makes sense sometimes. Sometimes I do know it makes complete sense, and I start crying. Because I realize I’m hitting some area which is absolutely true. And in that sense applicable universally, or understandable universally. In that sense able to survive through time—in that sense to be read by somebody and wept to, maybe, centuries later. In that sense prophecy, because it touches a common key . . . What prophecy actually is is ... that you know and feel something that somebody knows and feels in a hundred years. And maybe articulate it in a hint—a concrete way that they can pick up on in a hundred years." -- Allen Ginsberg
When Allen Ginsberg first read Howl at a bar in California in 1955, he was 29 years old and unpublished. I find that comforting.
I think if people have great things inside of them that are meant to be shared with the world, they will be shared. God doesn't operate on human timeframes. It's quite the opposite. Ideas will emerge in their own time. Before he wrote Howl, Allen spent eight months in a psychiatric hospital trying to '"rid" himself of his homosexuality. I think he was around 21 years old at the time. Do you think he wrote during those eight months? I don't know, but it seems unlikely. I wonder if he tortured himself about not writing. That seems more likely, but still improbable. I imagine it's hard to find time for either writing or self-injury when everyone around you is getting shocked with electricity and lobotomized. The act of brushing one's teeth becomes one's poetry.
Allen shared Howl with the world when he was 29, and I find that comforting. Self-injury is mostly just a waste of time. At my most self-injurious, I never really produced a piece of work I felt proud of. Mostly I just laid around and cried and struggled to find words to describe what I was experiencing and ended up submitting myself to my wallowing. But when I've found my path again, which by the presence of God I've always found a way to do, I've felt invigorated and filled with words. Even if on that path lied sadness or fear or grief, I could find the words for it. Spending a night watching television is better for one's poetry than spending a night hating oneself for wanting to watch television. God is, for the most part, very forgiving about television-watching.
If you were born to express something, do not be afraid. It will be expressed. Just keep writing, or whatever it is that you do. God will carry the rest.
And if you were not born to express something, also: do not be afraid. That too will be revealed in time. You can still lead a happy life and love and make the world better by living through your heart.
George Wallace, a friend of mine and talented poet responsible for organizing a lot of the readings I've been to in the city, e-mailed me a poem this morning. He maintains PoetryBay.com as well as the Long Island Quarterly. The weather in Manhattan is rainy and cold and dreary today and it has been for a week and it's going to be for a week more. I've been feeling hints of depression and lack of inspiration, my insides mimicking my outsides. I haven't written a decent poem in weeks. But I really liked his so I wanted to share it with everyone. Sometimes things just happen and the reasons escape us and we go to bed and we wake up with headaches and we take the train to work and we don't know how any of it was possible before coffee.
biggie smalls is rapping on the radio
biggie smalls is rapping on the radio -- biggie smalls that’s his name – his name's wallace too – that’s right wallace like me christopher george latore wallace -- but everyone
calls him notorious
B.I.G. & he's got a
cousin named Lil
Deceased or something
close to that -- which
& i know it's a little
obvious but I like
that name too & I
like how biggie spits
out his words -- drawls
them out -- a brooklyn
kind of loose easy action
he spits out his words
like broken teeth or
pieces of cement
& i like how
he tells a story
i mean not in the
usual way -- o & by
the way biggie smalls
is dead – shot four times in the chest in southern cal
in ‘97 -- that’s
thirteen years ago -- it’s a shame -- it’s a mystery -- like wikipedia says the murderer was never found – o & by the way last week a college kid jumped off the gw bridge – he was gay he was from new jersey & his roommates played a trick on him & now he’s dead – people jump off bridges a lot -- never make a splash -- but this one makes a splash & the world sits up from its big stew of nothingness & says something -- & now everyone’s saying something even ellen degeneres who cried about it on national tv – every
body has an opinion & for
chrisssake the college kid
had a name -- tyler clementi
– nothing big nothing notorious -- just tyler & nothing’s ever going to change in this world –
christopher george latore
wallace was just trying to
make some money for his
daughters -- tyler clementi was just trying to find some love – & me I’m trying to make out the words to this song – there’s words for everything – this world’s a big stewpot of words – this world’s
I've been really busy recently, with a friend in town for a week, dealing with my ear infection and subsequent antibiotic-induced illness, and trying to combat a depressive writer's slump commonly known as "block." I've just been feeling sort of uninspired, like I'm not sure where to focus my energy. What I have been doing: reading a lot and writing a lot for work.
I wrote the culture page for Gotham's October issue, which drops today. Our cover star is Jon Hamm (Don Draper FTW) and I interviewed Galt Niederhoffer, one of the screenwriters for Prozac Nation and more recently the author of the novel The Romantics, about the film coming out based on her book. You can see the page here.
My latest column in The Local Voice talks a bit about my recent brief visit to an NYC emergency room, unwanted touching from strangers on subways, and the mystery of being a human being. You know, the usual stuff you talk about with people while The Price Is Right plays in the background.
PS, Happy October everyone! My favorite time of year is soon approaching. Scarves and coffees and boots FTW.