Sunday, July 31, 2011

Poem: El Cambio

El Cambio

Viva Gitano, you say, Living Gypsy, and the taste

of Turkish coffee has never been so strong, cups boiling

as our fledgling necks stretch

over the edge. Pájarita, the roof will always be hot.

Beneath our spitting tongues streetlights hum

with dog throats, out-of tune instruments barking

birds that burst rainbow sand, a city where everything

is music. Somewhere, a bottle breaks,

and the lawn chair acrobats roll

their smokesweatsalt into papers so thin they could be dying

leaves. The only tree in our concrete

hookah camp is a browning hand, over-ripe thumbs uncurling

like the fist of God. Rumi sang about a religion

my parents didn’t belong to, and I swallowed

his magic lanterns until fireflies

rattled my wrists, bones blooming not with seasonal

bulbs but with a single banana tree whose undying

leaves were never smoked. A yellow page swooshed

me to the rooftop, attic stairs rotting to New England

mulch, a front porch. Ivy League graffiti scrawled

Change; I memorized which way was East.

Dog throats sing without mouths, walking

flutes puffing musicartphilosophies that rise

over the rooftops, a grape leaf unfolding. You give

me a piece of paper: El Cambio:

As I wrote this sentence, someone threw a chair

into the street.


look out the window and listen to this song:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

black horses

I painted a horse skeleton on a slice of tree.
Spiders poured out of the wood. I hate spiders but love horses so I sucked in my skin and slopped on the Burnt Sienna.

The oil paints were skinny and wet. I suggest acrylics.

I'm designing tattoos for friends while postponing my own. I want the bone of my left forearm tattooed on my...left forearm.

The image means a lot to me, but the absolute Thingyness of it comes from Thoreau's Walden:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life..."

bone sketch. Photo by Shelby Ursu

I want to wake up and see my marrow. I want to remember that I'm dying.

Another bone sketch. Photo by Shelby Ursu.

Supporting this Thingyness are lyrics from The Antler's song "Two":

There was glass in my feet and raining down from the ceiling
it opened up the scars that had just finished healing
it tore apart the canyon running down your femur
(i thought that it was beautiful, it made me a believer)

The song is from Hospice, a record I still write about because the time of my life when I listened to it never ended; I changed, but the feeling was folded into my marrow. Communicating this experience has been the main objective of my creative work, and will be for a long time.

In Soviet Russia, bone sketches you! Photo by Shelby Ursu.

As usual, what's stopping me from getting a tattoo is the damns people give. Tattoos are the new statement T-shirts. I'm afraid of seeming fescious.

Then there's the generation of people I see only on Christmas and Easter, the ones whose parents brought home Slinkeys and who were already in graduate school when Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire. I love these people dearly. That said, getting a tattoo for them can mean only two things: (1) A pledge to the Black Panthers, the KKK, or the U.S. Navy, or (2) A way of upsetting your poor grandmother.

I don't know if I'll get the tattoo. I'll decide tomorrow, or the next week, or two years from now. As long as my furniture is ugly and my music is good I don't mind waiting. I quoted this song earlier, but in the words of a fictional Bob Dylan, "A poem is a naked person; a song is something that walks."

Two by The Antlers (Excuse the background babble, but the live version really is the more beautiful) :

Friday, July 15, 2011

"That's not writing. That's typing."

I still write about hospital bands chafing your skinny trees, the forest in your marrow, a winter--oh my god it's winter for a year----the song plays as I steal your ipod cable, an exercise in futility because, my dear, they all look alike.

Every house is the same, every headlight; every poem is a cat in the window licking the milk, I mean words, I mean agonized butterflies from her paws. "I will now talk about kittens" is the name of a post-structural poem, but I will not talk about it now.

I will now talk about New York.

The city is imaginary: 47,000 more dollars would have gotten me into art school, but no one pities the bourgeois. I knew I couldn't afford it--not in real life--but the city was always imaginary.

I live in an imaginary skull. The skull is wired to white, imaginary hands typing imaginary words for imaginary critics. Their reviews:


"The word bourgeois genrefies."

"That's not writing. That's typing."

To the first: undoubtably.

To the second: maybe, but I had to type "bugwise" into the Google search bar before knowing how to spell the word.

As for Mr. Capote, the high-pitched lisp from the last row: Your prose is tucked in the mustard tweed of your Imaginary City. Looking over my shoulder, Breakfast at Tiffanys is an overcoat scribble on the side of the road. I walk into the desert, and every book rewrites itself in my voice.

We all write about deserts. Negative space intrigues us. Beauty is two bell curves almost kissing. Statistics sing haikus from skinny trees---

Here I want circularity. Here insert your hands, two hospital bands corseting bone forests; but, like an extra i-pod cable, this falling apart has no explanation, only a cold wind in summer, I mean hot winter, I mean song--