Friday, February 20, 2009

Manhattana

Manhattana! I hear your spirit's song,
though it’s weak, it shudders me.

Manhattana! How long will
Brooklyn Bridge be the torch
of what was and is to come?
It's fall
will bleed ears for the lamenting.

Manhattana! your veins of trains
and worn rags of men are crumbling.
Your sun never rises nor sets
but in reflection.
Your birds screech in the ramshackled
steel racket of your mane.

Manhattana! you bastard
born of Jerusalem and Babylon!
Where’s your heart?
I can’t taste it anymore.
Where’s your womb?
Has it turned to dust?

All your poets tore out their eyes long ago!
Their eyes are still alive, and even now, roll together
into a fist that opens and closes on your genitals.

Manhattana! How long can you
bleed your streets overflowing
before your towers fall impotent?

Or are your clumsy spires
already stalactites dripping
into the void?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wrestling

I wrestled competitively for five years. I quit after my freshman year of high school, picked up the guitar, and began writing songs.

Before and during a wrestling match, I'd create a great pressure over myself. I'd never meet my expectations, even when I won, and the release I felt after the match had ended would often break me into tears. Which was endlessly embarrassing for a teenager.

I later realized that the pressure was created by my eliminating all distractions but the opponent. And then I'd still have to center my energy toward him in order to invade him, inflict pain, and force submission.

This is the reason I didn't enjoy competing. But I still loved practice for another reason -- pushing myself beyond exhaustion. The temperature of the wrestling room was always set above 110 degrees (to facilitate weight loss) and would only increase when 20 to 30 men sparred and trained throughout a 2 hour practice. After wind sprints and sparring, after 50 takedowns and 50 escapes, 200 push-ups and 200 crunches, my body was rubber; but I felt euphoric as the sweat pooled beneath me -- knowing that I'd given my all.

Competition was too much for me and I finally quit. The pressure disappeared after I quit wrestling and started writing songs. I thought it was because I had traded conflict for harmony, but instead, it was because I'd finally eliminated the last distraction, the opponent. Now I was alone with the conflict.

I was ecstatic to discover that the energy needed to pierce through the dissonance, to gain the clarity necessary to write creatively, required greater endurance, training, and dedication than wrestling practice. My favorite aspect of competitive sport had returned, heightened.

Without an opponent, I could never win. But after the coffee cups and the grief, after the red eyes and sleepless nights, after the cramped hands and disheveled hair, after the broken soul, after my mind turned into rubber and the pages gathered around my feet, I would again feel euphoric when I made something true on paper.

Friday, February 13, 2009

First and Last

This is the first, and likely the last, post that will direct you to another site. I like to challenge myself to strictly write about personal and intimate ideas. But my first impression of this man's work was: "It's comforting to know that such a mind can still exist in this world."

Enjoy!

Click on image to visit artist's Web site.



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thoughts

I've been thinking about thinking about thinking and it has stunted my writing. I had my writing on a strict routine in order to lose fat and gain muscular definition, and some how it ended up anorexic. So, this post is likely going to contain all the flaws I've been trying to exorcise (yep, not exercise but exorcise) out of my writing: self indulgence, incoherence, loose styling, rambling, sentimentality, etc. This is a Polaroid of a fat and naked post. It's not one of those high art photographs that makes ugliness attractive. After saying all that, it could be pleasant and interesting, too. I won't know till I'm done 'cause I'm just thinking on paper (blogger).

So back to the thinking. I've always done the thinking-about-thinking bit. For as long as I can remember. It's not going to change. But I can modify my approach to it.

Here's my last disclaimer: this post is likely going to be a list of thoughts, memories, images, scenes of everyday, with no throughline.

Idea for a poem:

(journal excerpt begins)
When I do something out of my weekly routine I'm hyper aware of NY. I can see it as an outsider.

I'm the only passenger w/out headphones and likely the only one enjoying the romance of a 9 p.m. B train ride from Prospect Park to the Lower East side. Suddenly, a wave of nostalgia washes over me in the memory of Ginsberg's "My Sad Self" -- likely 'cause my journaling is mimicking his rhythm/locale. Now I'm borne to the sky and lights over the Hudson, where cold rain shines over Brooklyn bridge -- always Christmas in the NY night of lights. Now diving into the bowels of China Town -- expanse of river cut by buildings, cut by streets, cut by loud howl of subway tunnel darkness...
(journal excerpt ends)

I've been meditating on the idea of longing for quite sometime. Recently, I thought: "Shit! It's back to the ole Buddhist 'Desiring'". And I guess it is. I like James' take on it, though. He opens his book/letter by saying, "Hi, I'm James. Be happy when life sucks." He goes on to say that the trials of our Faith develop patience, and if we let it, lead to "wanting nothing." I prefer this to the Buddhist take because, we don't transcend suffering but are improved by it. I do think both takes are true.

But my thoughts on longing are less spiritual. I was thinking about how we spend our life in longing for something -- a movie, success, happiness, friend, mate, sex, car, vacation, spiritual enlightenment, freedom, alone time, release from pain, release from insanity, release from guilt.... It's not all for material possessions. A lot of it is good longing.

This reflecting on longing made me think about love. Here's an unfinished thought: Is it possible that humans were not made to hold love, but were made to simply long for it? Longing, over a lifetime, takes many forms but doesn't become love till the body and mind no longer encumber it.


I have a memory of a party on a river with high school friends -- a lotta tailgates, ice chests, mosquitoes around the campfire; a hot and sweaty night with a lotta stars and beer. A brilliant guy with long hair, who was a jazz bassist, valedictorian, and later became a scientist, was joking around with one of his friends (a really tough, really small wrestler; one of the toughest guys I've known, who later in life got the prongs of a hammer smashed into his face -- broke his nose and jaw-- and fully recovered). Well, they got in a little argument. The long-haired bassist was making witty jabs, and the wrestler was taking it lightly. They were both plastered drunk. Finally, the bassist said he was going to throw a can of beer at the wrestler; the wrestler said go ahead. The bassist stood as if he were on a pitching mound, shook his head to a couple bad calls from the catcher, then hurled the can of beer. It was a full can. It bounced off the wrestlers head; the bassist and others roared in laughter. The wrestler was dazed but shook it off and rubbed his head. They hugged and made up, and the wrestler said that if the bassist did it again he'd have to hurt him badly.

In writing this just now, I thought: stupid scientist; compassionate brute.

Midtown Lunchbreak on a Cold Day when I'd Rather be at Home with Lap Quilt, Book and Tea

Bare trees.
Fogged windows.
Heavy coats.
Cars pass in silence.
Empty cafe.