Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Series of Underdeveloped Ideas

Journal Excerpts

The anonymous sea of faces I wade through each morning also wade through me.

Horoscopes are for those who get excited about their doing nothing.

"I have to get through that gate," vendor says to a girl.
"I'm sorry."
"Sit here, sit here, sweetheart."
New York is forgiving if you're polite and cute.

Having self worth is important. Thinking of yourself as important is troublesome.

The table legs have gashes where the chair seats beat them. The gashes are on the thickest section of the legs. The table was intentionally made this way.

He learned a trade and never gave it up, this was half of his dad's wish for him.

The edge of each subway step is worn where someone once fell.

I fear Berryman's boredom. DFW's last novel exemplifies ennui's toll on the soul. The tedium of living aides gravity in crushing a man.

Good southern food, greasy spoon, western griddle melting with death. Death is ubiquitous in my writing, but implies, hopefully, life's worth living.

Work is boring and a waste of time. If I ever feel this way about poetry, shoot me.

While lounging, I just had a glimpse of a beautiful evening, and then came back to my mundane one.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Her Life, Her Not

She strapped her breasts, diminished
her glory -- cursing undue attention

from women. Her wall was never high
enough to hide her garden. Barriers

are colored passion. Seeing was knowing
who we were meant to be. Kate sexed

none she loved. She saved this for those
confused. Remembering her gate down

Peoria Avenue daisy chains me: effervescence
of post-pubescence not yet devoid of hope.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Open Meandering Letter to a Kind Reader

"Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time."

-Theodore Roethke

Madness and brilliance are similar. If one is the latter, he speaks and is not understood for years; if the former, he speaks and is never understood.

On the year of his death in a lecture to Northwestern University students, Roethke mentioned E. E. Cummings' quoting himself as an answer to an interviewer's question. Roethke thought it bold and brash to do this, and wrote it off to Cummings' being young. But he later got it: if you spend so much time to say something concisely and correctly in poetry, why not re-say it as an answer to a question rather than going round in dialogue circles.

I'm obsessed with the minds and lives of geniuses. We're all obsessed with this. We celebrate Van Gogh now because he died decades ago and never sold anything while living, and created the most expensive paintings of the 20th century. We celebrate Zuckerberg for monetizing an idea. We celebrate Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, who was fairly recently called the "smartest man in television" because of his excellent marketing. What do Van Gogh, Zuckerberg and McFarlane have in common? They make a lot of money today (regardless of whether or not they are dead).

I often quote Keirkegaard's The Present Age to those who have the stomach to hear a quotation of Keirkegaard's The Present Age: "Our age is essentially one of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm, and shrewdly relapsing into repose."

It's easy to be smug in repose about the passionate.

What do Roethke, Van Gogh, and Keirkegaard have in common? Passion and brilliance. What do Zuckerberg and McFarlane have in common with the above? Money made off a brilliant idea, which is not the same.

Nietzsche romanticized the stoic temperament for whatever reason, but he was a wild, bombastic, mouthy genius who died of a disease that, if he stood true to the message he preached, he never would have received. But he was passionate, and is the the most read philosopher today. Passion combined with brilliance makes a famous genius, if he is lucky.

"Talent, luck and discipline" make a great writer, according to Michael Chabon. And you can only control one of the three. Neighbors of Voltaire said you could set a clock by his schedule: when he awoke, ate, drank coffee (apparently 70 cups a day), worked, etc. He was disciplined.

Genius can be lazy. Passion can make one jump off a boat (Hart Crane), or die of syphilis (Nietzsche). But discipline puts a roof over your head and food on the table.

The previous paragraph brings me full cycle (hopefully not full circle, which doesn't rise or fall). Roethke said, "Above all, I possess a driving sincerity, -- that prime virtue of any creative worker. I write only what I believe to be the absolute truth, -- even if I must ruin the theme in so doing." This letter is not a letter at all, but just an amalgamation of ideas. It has poor form, a poor broken theme. But it is sincere.

Will I be a genius spoken of 100 year from now? Who cares. No one can control that, and it's bullshit to aspire to it. But I'll always be sincere. Passion, I got. Discipline, I'm always working on. Talent and luck, out of my hands. All I need is a worm to be with me in my hard time, preferably not a Tequila worm.

Confidential Richard

He always entered the room with his nose. Smelling people. He didn't have a big nose. One man had eaten beef. One woman wore something expensive. Some one was confused. This story will only have periods. Commas matter.

A cupboard was open. It had peanut butter in it. The confused person was behind the glass, with the peanut butter. Someone was dead but not in the room.

The best way to get something out of one's mind is for him to close his eyes or leave the room. He could do neither. He guessed the murderer. The person smelled chunky.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Journal Excerpts

I'm too happy today. I look forward to the weather glooming my mood.

According to drivers education, streets are most dangerous before a rain, but that's when they smell the best.

Her swinging spritely around her last limb of sanity, whether strangling sobriety or holding with meat hooks onto family, somehow makes her sensuality powerfully magnetic.

Lifted my head, looked out the window of Leli's bakery and felt like I was in Tulsa, maybe on Peoria Avenue, fun disorienting nostalgia.

God couldn't care less about your obstinancy. He can make stones sing.

"Dearest: I was in the mood for sneering last night that I wouldn't write you for at least a week." -Hart Crane

All human tools for recording understanding are impotent. The mind itself can't capture and hold the real.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Benefits of a Lying Boy

I lied about where I lived when I was around ten-years old. I lived with my parents and four siblings in a three-bedroom double-wide modular home, but I told some delinquent classmates who road my bus that I lived in a big house, "like a mansion".

One day they came over on their bikes. They lived in nearby trailers ("nearby" can mean miles in Oklahoma). They both were muscular boys who cursed a lot. I lied to them because I was scared of them. I wanted to be impressive so they wouldn't beat me up. Mom and Dad had recently decided to stop driving us to school, which turned out to mean they had decided to stop sheltering us from public transit.

So Bob and John showed up at my house and asked if they could see it. They were obviously being smart asses because they could see it already, and could see it wasn't a mansion. I said, "Sure, but it's really far away." They said, "Okay. Let's go." Though my family lived in a modular (many just call it a trailer -- the primary difference between the two is a trailer's wheels don't come off), it was on 60 acres. There was a creek that ran through our land and a bluff with caves on the back 20. I picked the least bike friendly path to my fake house: on top of the bluff. They said, "Okay. Let's go."

We started walking toward it. Bob was tall with long blonde hair and a boxer's build. John looked like Jesus from The Big Lebowski, but with worse facial hair. They were both 12-years old.

We were getting close to the bluff where I knew I was going to be caught, made fun of, and likely beaten, when I realized I was taking them to the best place to hide a beaten boy's body. Luckily, I was good at being nice and began talking to them about sports, school, and fireworks. They especially liked talking about setting things on fire. We crossed the creek at the foot of the bluff, and they dropped their bikes to begin climbing. I thought: "What the hell am I doing?" and then I thought: "God, I'm sorry for saying 'Hell'".

Bob and John did poorly in school because they didn't pay attention and were easily distracted, which worked out for me because they quickly became excited to search a small cave for snakes. It was late fall, the ground was covered with leaves, and we were near a creek. I apparently wasn't too smart either because Copperheads are the notorious poisonous snakes of Oklahoma and they loved these conditions.  In fact, a friend of mine was recently hospitalized because, after sun down one night, he chased what he thought was a frog along a water's edge, until the "frog" bit him.

It was getting near dark and I knew my mom would be angry if I were late to dinner because I was out after dark on a snake infested bluff with two strange boys who could grow beards and beat up people. So I told Bob and John I was lying. I said, "Well, actually our mansion is in Texas." They didn't hear me, so I had to repeat it, "Guys, I don't have a big house on top of this bluff. My mansion is in Texas." They said, "Okay. Well . . . this was fun." I still don't know if they were stupid, or if they were just used to getting hints that they should leave.

We climbed out of the cave, down the bluff and back to the bikes, and we all went home. I had lied to try to impress them out of self defense, and it worked. They left me alone. They likely knew that I was full of shit the whole time, but luckily searching for snakes somehow saved me. And the two biggest 12-year-olds on the bus never bothered me.