You were empty, and I was misguided, but we wouldn’t know that for a longlong time.
I spent my days making you King; I licked the years and sealed them shut in your honor; We had big plans. You asked for my swooning heart, and I delivered it. Whose new ego could resist such pure teenage girl worship? Not yours.
Your weeks were spent being an 18-year-old boy. And who could blame you?! Weekends, though, you put on the crown I made for you. But the game was catching up to us.
During one trip to see me, you were all burden and brood. I couldn’t make you happy, and I tried everything a 16-year-old knows to try. It makes me sad for her really - all that desperation to please, the subjugation of self that begs for water from someone who has none to give.
You talked incessantly about taking us both out. It would be romantic, you said. But I couldn’t understand why. I wanted to be old and wrinkled somewhere with you. And you couldn’t explain the urge to destroy us without outting yourself, all the sad lies and betrayal. I chalked it up to boy-rebellion-angst, and let it be.
Weeks passed. There were rumors, of course. But you were King, and I dispelled them.
We woke up in your lakeside tent one Saturday morning, had perfunctory and unsatisfactory sex while daylight angled in. Afterwards, your brow was a dark knot, and neither of us spoke. On your knees between my thighs, you leaned close, kissing me and wrapping your hands softly around my neck.
My eyes flew open. I knew exactly what you were thinking, and you stared back at me flatly.
It was a game of chicken: You had immediate strength, but I had definitive will.
I resolved to hold your gaze; to stop fighting you. I think I even held my breath, because… fuck you. In those silent and still moments, I understood the immense scale of sorrow waiting on the other side of this (whatever it was). I knew I was the breathing symbol of your failure. Every time you looked at me, you knew it would all be gone, that you would suffer. How you feared being dethroned more than anything; how it was too late.
My eyes flashed defiantly back at you; I’m sure I even smirked. You had become so small and pitiful so quickly. And I knew then that I was stronger than you, that no matter what happened, I had already won.
Your hands tightened momentarily, and then you released me to roll gasping and heaving from you.
The apologies soon bloomed in your throat, but I was already farfar away.
Re: Messages about “Men” poem
Look: I adore men.
And: I know there are many of you who want to love women, travel with us, talk with us, create with us, make real and authentic lives with us. I get that.
It’s a poem.
It’s a powerful little poem, evidently.
It’s a powerful, little, bitter poem, evidently.
It’s a powerful, little, bitter, sexist poem, evidently.
So, there’s a bunch of new tumblrs wandering around here, and I just wanted to say hello. I should warn/inform/delight you, though, that my tumblr is not really thematic, as so many are. I use it mostly as a commonplace book, a sketch pad, a bookmark, a vessel. Some days are more, ahem, poetic than others. Some days I’m obsessed with ONE thing. Some weeks, I’m ravenous for all of you. Some weeks find me an abstinent shadow. Depends.
The tumblrs who stick around are the same as the pets, plants and people of my daily life - hardy. And independent. They are usually also avid (and busy) creatives in their own right.
That said: Welcome! So many of you have messaged me saying lovely, generous things. For that, I’m seriously thankful, and I will reply. And though it may take a minute, I’m looking forward to delving into your tumblrs as well.
he survived in order to find me, in order
to arrive here, sober, tired from a long night
of tongues and hands and thighs, music
on the radio, coffee— so he could look up and see me,
standing in the kitchen in his torn t-shirt,
the hem of it brushing my knees, but I know
it’s only luck that brought him here, luck
and a love that had nothing to do with me,
except that this is what we sometimes get if we live
long enough, if we are patient with our lives.” —Dorianne Laux, excerpt from Music in the Morning
want to fix you
or fuck you
I can’t be fixed
and I don’t care to be saved
The whole book is like an enchilada of goodness. Loaded with fantastic ingredients, but a little unwieldy. Somehow you manage to get it into your mouth.
It’s dense, like being in the Dean Young National Forest without a compass. At first, I thought the material was leaping from his brain to page with little editing or crafting: It seems so stream-of-consciousness. Of course, now I think perhaps it’s both un- and uber- crafted. Even so, his is a good consciousness with which to interact. Almost every line seems a thing to remember.
I find myself making copious notes in the margins, underlining sentences, bracketing paragraphs and ideas to come back to, expand upon, argue with. Keeping an annotated bibliography that is quickly turning into a “Notes On” file.
If that’s any measure - and my engagement with a book on poetics is so measured - I’d say buy it. And if he’s your favorite, well, then you must buy it as means to moving through Young’s body of work as comprehensively as you can, right?
Actually, this whole Graywolf series on process and craft is great. (Doty has one, Voight has one, etc.) I’ve a small stack at the ready now.
In any case, I’m not finished with the book yet, but I’d say jump in. :)
You want to know how your love felt? An obscene question - like asking a burn victim to describe a fire you set.
(Meanwhile, my internal auto-correct keeps trying to make obscene into absence, a word I know; and yes, by heart. )
Put your trust in the inexhaustible nature of the murmur.
Raccoons waddle in the wetwarm Sunday morning, fat from the fat of us, around the muddy edge of the canal. Rain pelts the pelts. Drops fall into drops until it’s a goddamned habitat, a bayou. Without you, it’s still a bayou.
Marooned in the middle, if I stretch out my arms, I can touch both seas at the same time.
The Gulf is a windswept roar of stormcloud and wavebreak, and the sand is sucked to sea. If you stand at the edge, eventually it’s pulled from under your feet. You have two options here: Seek higher ground or swim. And I always swim.
My liege, my liege. My abdication is total, utterly complete. Which… almost always a bad decision, you know. [Did you see that almost? Because Oh! how we want it – I am a sideways glance at myself, a ptttttfffff!, an incredible believer in the face of evidence that refutes]
My liege, my liege. Why the need to surrender so completely? Why the urge to kneel?
No king is ever benevolent.
Some names are charged by distant thunder.
Last summer, I wanted to yell obscenities at the ruins, everything you’d sworn me to secrecy about. The whole damn decade of loyalty was a howling-and-vulnerable bruisedbundle swinging between us. Precariously perched. Swaddled and slung low from the sky.
Like those gypsies who throw their babies at you in the train stations of Genoa, you relied on my innate desire to save and shelter the smallest good thing.
When that baby falls toward you, it’s a slow-motion descent. You know you will save it; you have no choice. As you reach for the child, your arms spread, you lunge forward. And you also know, at that very moment, a thief is pocketing some valuable thing you’ve exposed.
That’s how your love felt. And I’ll just leave it there.
Poetry is an art of beginnings and ends. You want middles, read novels. You want happy endings, read cookbooks. Not closure, word filched from self-help fuzzing the argument. The ever-grudge of love and endsville. I believe in scars and making scars shine. Kaput. Form is the shape of the selecting intelligence because time is running out. Form enacts fatality. To pretend otherwise is obfuscation, philosophical hubbub. A lie. We die. We go to art to learn the unlearnable, experience the unexperienceable. Art reports back. Form is the connect, primal haunt, carbon chain end-stopped. You can tell it’s late because we prefer the songs of Orpheus after he’s torn apart.
- Dean Young, The Art of Recklessness
When the floor drops out, as it has now,
you cannot hear the squirrel on the wire
outside your window, the wheels spinning
on the road below. You want only pity
and are presented with the unbelievable
effrontery of a world that moves on.
But wait: this is not the person you are.
You’re the kind of person who
sits in dark theaters crying at the collarbones
that curve across the dancers’ chests,
at the proof of a perfection they represent;
a person who goes out walking in a four-day drizzle,
sees a pot of geraniums and is seized, overcome
by how they can bring so much (what else
can you call it?) joy. You love the world,
are sure, at least, that you have. But be truthful:
you only love freely things that have nothing
to do with you. You’re like a matchstick house:
intricately constructed but flimsy and hollow inside.
You’re a house in love with the trees beside you -
able to look at them all day, aware of how faithful they are -
but unable to forgive that they’d lie down
leaving you exposed and alone in a large enough storm.
— jenn habel
“Don’t ever write about me”
“Just promise me that we won’t become fodder for each others’ art”
But I was much younger then, and I didn’t know I was dealing with a penis so small.
To be interested in poetry is not so much to be interested in a thing like sodium or statuary. Poetry occurs between primaries, the page and the mind, the world and the word. More than a thing, it is transference of energy between poles. Poetry’s task, if it has one…IS to mitigate but to mitigate by way of accelerant: it too becomes primary in a range from rivaling the world to near exclusion and/or creation of it, to a humble transparency that adds nothing but clarity, the way a very clean window can add luster to a gray day it looks out on and frames. Some impurities can make water clearer.
Poets are excellent students of blizzards and salt and broken statuary, but they are always elsewhere for the test.
- Dean Young, from The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction
A. If you can get me a gig at U of C, I’ll bring you hot drinks every day. :)
B. Some of my best professors were billed as notoriously horrible. (Also some of my worst)
C. This has been a rough week (teacherly speaking); I’m so grateful for this little sweetness.
Many thanks. I do. (@poetbabble)
It’s woefully unused. For the most part, 140 characters feels like an academic exercise, an Alcatraz of language. And I’m too deft a swimmer (and verbose!) to stay happily in that cage day after day.
But you never know.
I have students who make it to every class and turn in every assignment. These students are from all walks of life, but many have real obstacles. I have students who have 3 jobs, 5 kids, kids going through chemo. I have students with debilitating and even terminal diseases. I have one with ALS in a wheelchair for whom it takes hours to type one paragraph with assistive technologies. I have students who are dealing with divorces and bankruptcies and custody battles. I have students dealing with dying parents and children and lovers - the worst situations possible…
Yet this guy thinks he’s gotten a raw deal because he missed a test and can’t make it up 4 weeks after everyone else, despite extensive efforts on the parts of many trying to help him prior to this point in the semester.
But now he’s filing a formal grievance. He doesn’t want the “F” he’s earned, because he’s a “paying customer” who has a “lazy liar” for a professor. I mean, srsly.
I’m moving to Thailand. Or Norway. or Alaska. I’m going to open a Taqueria/book store, and swim naked everyday. Or hike or eat bananas. Or stoke a fire. I’m just going to write and have sex and paint.
I am. I am. I am.
Does anyone know of a site (like OxFam) that is geared towards (or includes) children-friendly applications/design so that they are able to donate money to many different causes or projects?
I’d like to get my nieces some “dollars to donate” at one such site and then help them choose projects they love or believe are worthwhile.
Does this even exist?
to pick up our feet with a purpose other
than to examine the pattern of tread.” —Gillian Kiley, from “The Barrel is Surely Coming Down the Hill” (via hypocrite-lecteur)
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
- William Butler Yeats
Today, I took off my pants and bent over a bed for a strange man. It’s been awhile, I admit. Years, even.
I never get sick.
He gave me 3 burning shots in the ass/hip.
“Ah, you’re a bleeder…” Nurse Ryan massaged the points of entry, applying pressure for a few seconds.
“Don’t get it twisted: You’re a stabber.” I pulled my jeans back on gingerly, and cut my eyes at him.
“True”, he said, “but I could make it up to you with dinner - when you’re feeling better.”
Besides his obvious ethical and professional gaffe, Nurse Ryan was direct, AND he had already talked me out of my pants once today. Still, I was a horrible mess: congested, aching, fevered, exhausted, coughing up blood. I mean I could barely walk in on my own feet.
What on earth would prompt him to ask me out? What is wrong with everyone?!
Now I’m lying in my bed in the dark, feverish and achy, angry at my body, rocking gently in the blankets, thinking about that inappropriate man, his large warm hand on my ass cheek - how it wouldn’t matter, given the state I’m in.
How all l want is to not hurt anymore.
I think a good novel would be where a bunch of men on a ship are looking for a whale. They look and look, but you know what? They never find him. And you know why they never find him? It doesn’t say. The book leaves it up to you, the reader, to decide. Then at the very end, there’s a page you can lick, and it tastes like Kool-Aid.
- Jack Handey
The first fear
being drowning, the
ship’s first shape
was a raft, which
was hard to unflatten
after that didn’t
happen. It’s awkward
to have to do one’s
planning in extremis
in the early years -
so hard to hide later;
sleekening the hull,
You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods—
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house— , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Tengo hambre de tu boca, de tu voz, de tu pelo
y por las calles voy sin nutrirme, callado,
no me sostiene el pan, el alba me desquicia,
busco el sonido líquido de tus pies en el día.
Estoy hambriento de tu risa resbalada,
de tus manos color de furioso granero,
tengo hambre de la pálida piedra de tus uñas,
quiero comer tu piel como una intacta almendra.
Quiero comer el rayo quemado en tu hermosura,
la nariz soberana del arrogante rostro,
quiero comer la sombra fugaz de tus pestañas
y hambriento vengo y voy olfateando el crepúsculo
buscándote, buscando tu corazón caliente
como un puma en la soledad de Quitratúe.
- Pablo Neruda, or in English.
and called me a Plath fish
which rippled the lake
the moon, a light to strike
my metallic scales
glinting silver and exact
from the dark depths
in a sudden rush
Stunning, Tobias. The quick turn and ironic handling of a slippery idea… Such fatfatworms of happythanks for this…
But also, see ref: I Am Lake In which the fish first surfaces this latelate night…
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.
- Edna St. Vincent Millay
There’s courage involved if you want
to become truth. There is a broken-
open place in a lover.
- Rumi, from “Not Here”
luck is this:
watching your soft smile in sleep,
your small blush
luck is this:
waking up soft cheek to chest,
your deep breath
The artists I’ve known intimately have no problem receiving pleasure - even while in manically-productive states of creating - and creating. The problem lies in its giving. In fact, receiving pleasure and internalizing/transforming the pleasure, as Burgess suggests, helps create work.
While not the first to draw the implicit comparison of creative and sexual energies as being comprised of the same “coreprimalstuff”, I’d go further to say that an energy outlay is often the real showstopper. The release of sexual energy into/towards another being is problematic for many artists.
Consuming vs. being consumed.
Sanity at last. (via fstonenyt)
Thank intelligence! It’s terrifying that these issues are even issues. But/and also, the Anti-Immigration Senator from Arizona just got ousted. What a night.
Around noon, I waited in the devastated palazzo until the families left - their books and audio guides and questions finally exhausted - to tip the guide, a thick-tongued Italian with ropey muscles and a mess of dark curls falling around his face.
Adriano gestured for me to follow him around the crumbling arena through a sloping hillside grove of olive trees.
Shortcut, he explained. You are Australian?
I should know. Only American and Australian women travel alone. But - he paused for dramatic effect until I turned, eyebrow raised - Americans usually smiling.
Oh? I smiled weakly. He was the kind of man who didn’t need charm. It was overkill. Are you from Naples?
Bologna. I go to University there. Classical Architecture. Here, I work in summer. You said you are teacher, yes? You are here many days?
I thought of his sweet, overworked game, its obvious gaffes. His English, too almost-right. His smile, too performed. And I thought of my own, too almost-right, too performed. My backpack in bag check, and the train rocking toward Naples to take me to Rome and Fiumicino Airport. I could be, I replied. For one more day.
He stopped short on the dusty ancient path, a hint of surprise pulling at his lips, crouching in his brow. The air between us fresh lemons and sea salt.
Then no shortcuts, he grinned and offered his arm, as if the idea had been his own.
All that old ruin behind us; and Vesuvius looming quietly, benignly ahead.
A dream of claws and teeth. The insatiable, primitive urge gutting you from afar. You’d roll around in that sticky, slick mess all day, just hair and skin and bones and flesh - but.
Rules and right angles and schedules demand.
Were he here, no contest. Instead, you finger the leather messenger bag. Your thighs grip a hot tumbler of coffee. You cage her in slacks and paperwork, in to-do lists and return calls, in professorial duty.
It’s a half-assed mask, and they will see. But they won’t know what to call it. All day, they’ll walk uneasily around the cage, heads craning to see what it is, the nature of the beast.
But no one, not even you, will know what to do with her.
If I love you, I always keep your lastleft voicemail - and probably some of the more engaging messages as well.
But it’s a purely selfish and entirely morbid act.
I can imagine your death, but I can’t imagine knowing that I erased my only way to hear you again.