Tuesday, September 20, 2011

His ear was strangely hollow.

There's a fascinating case of a missing man - a found man, more precisely - discovered on the beaches near Adelaide, Australia. (full details showing here) The long and skinny (hairy, pointy, meaty) of it is that the man could be a spy, could be a soldier-deserter, could be a vagabond, could be anyone or anything. Who likely enjoyed reading the Rubaiyat.

From this man, whose identity is nothing except for anonymity par excellence, a preliminary investigator wrote that he carried "an expression about his face as though he might have been an educated man."

I wonder if the same comment would be made if he had not been a well-kempt Caucasian found.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Celestial Vengeance is approaching."

Then there are these moments. I look across Adelle's, to a young woman talking to another, perhaps her mother. She cradles a newborn. She rocks the child. She never looks down, and she never ceases the rocking motion. She was there before the child's consciousness, her touch present before his nerves had catalyzed their connection. There was someone holding me, and the child could become me. And the mother could have been my mother, and at some point she was her son -- a stoner moment of contemplation that opens the universe in its inanity.

Then I was driving out to Fort Stark, and a chipmunk ran in front of Neutron Star. Then I saw a boy, a blond boy, a lonely boy, sitting at an empty tennis court. He must have been a wealthy boy. I thought: If this were a novel, I will kill him the next time I drive down this road. Fate might let a baby chipmunk live, but a novelist would not suffer the life of a random kid.

There was a family on the beach. I walked by them to an isolated rock on the jetty, and lay down, and turned off my iPod to listen to the waves, to think. They began to shout and whistle. A little girl came near me and started shouting, "Hey Dad! Dad!"

He was swimming away from shore, near the buoys, towards the riptide and the rocks and the ocean.

"He can't hear you," said the mother. "The high pitch of my whistle might be audible, but..."

He wasn't yet in danger. They wanted him to pose for a picture. This family stood on the jetty all around me and I thought about the typical response, about anyone's response to them: They should leave. They should not exist and be bothersome to me.

Yet it struck me, lying there as an intruder, a stranger, on this family-claimed public beach, that they weren't going anywhere. Their right to existence was quite clearly established. I was the one in danger.

Questions for discussion:
I spent all my Moscow time in bars and cafes, reading and drinking and writing. Why is what was acceptable there seemingly inappropriate here?

Corollary: I wrote so much but there isn't always a clear point in my head. There's always a point. ...Right?

Could Camus have written L'etranger, or would it have been so important that he had done so, had he not been Pied-noir, but a Parisian?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I remember we were driving, driving in your car.

A year ago, when The Animus wasn't yet The Animus, but still an independent woman, I had gone out of town to sit at a roundtable discussion in DC for Dr. Faustus and all his friends. I came back on a late flight, forgot half of my things at my parents', doubled home, set out still later. I might have been speeding along the major route numbers.

When I got to Portsmouth I would have calmed down, slowed down. I would have been excited. There would have been a chain of cars in which I found myself, a police cruising the other way; no matter, we drove.

The police turned around and pulled me over. "Are you aware of how fast you were going?"

"I thought I was going with the flow of traffic."

"Why are you out so late?"

"I'm returning from out of town. I was at a conference in DC."

"Where are you going?"

"A...friend's house."

"Were you drinking tonight?"

"Not at all."

"Not even one beer?"


"Are you sure you haven't had any alcohol?"

Her tone had grown more incredulous yet less aggressive as the conversation wore on, as it became clear to both of us that I hadn't really been speeding, that I hadn't been drinking. As it became clearer to her that there was something, certainly, on my mind, something I didn't want to reveal to anyone, something that, then, still seemed like a Secret Never To Be Told. Not drugs. Not drink. Just the phenomenon of the closet.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It was raining in Portsmouth, like condensation and coffee staining my shirt, and I thought, "This is meant to happen, this thirsty August maritime wet, the hailing of our winter's discontent." Poor sumering yuppies ducking for cover underneath the eaves, straining away from the soaked handrails.

I've been working two jobs and I haven't written. I'm not sure of cause and effect: I'm not writing about them because they are the two jobs, or because they are what they are,I have not been writing. Double shifts and sycophantic smiles and taking it like a man from the Man and enduring cold sexism and hot capitalism and the dewdrops of cloth drenched in sweat and grease.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Man's Garden is his Panopticon

[A post promised to The Wrathful Poetess.]

I write myself into narratives of paternity and dependence, of piquant sorrow and solvent despair, of silences and sunflowers.

The cucumbers are restless. And the tomatoes bloom.

I think next year I'll hand-sculpt a trellis for some grapes to vine.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Translated from, as I wrote it then, "that bizarre form of drunk garbled Russian that is my native tongue."

I remember a cafe near the spectre of a medieval tower in downtown Moscow, my head wrapped around medieval monks and definitions of sins and punishments. I wonder; What was I trying to get at, there? What does the timbre of that cafe represent, that sense of Moscow's cold and early spring? I convince myself that I can reinterpret, and renegotiate, those meanings. I convince myself that a sincere writer can't worry about what is en vogue (a question for the opportunist and worst kind of literary critic).

I can't fill in all the gaps of the void. There must be silences while I still decide upon which side the divine hammer's (Tolstoy-is-God-construct-the-writer-is-dead-Tolstoy-is-dead-God-is-dead) blow must fall. There can't be synthesis, can't be ultimatum, only --

He asks, "What will you write about today?"

I say, "Probably I'll put her through the same situation I'm in."

He says, "That's a horrible thing to say. That's doubly hurtful."

The Wrathful Poetess said her poetry workshop became sick of love poems. I'm scared my workshop will be sick of discontented male aesthetes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meanwhile, a tabby cat stalks chipmunks in the backyard.

A moment in an argument last night. He says,
I don't want to be analyzed right now. I just want to say how it is.
I have, since, realized that I have no need of the previous manifestoeses with which I've sometimes populated this space. Rather, a simple tenet that has been informing all of them -- the categorical refusal to accept anything without analysis, to allow it to be "how it is."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When they ask me what I'm writing, I'll point them here.


She wasn’t a beautiful woman
Though grandmothers so often are
Pale daguerreotype vixens staring at the man
(It’s always a man)
Caught spiriting away their souls
The devil’s in innovation inspiration inhalation --

Was it a violet gasp or ancient sigh
The morning she realized
I wonder: How long did she remain
(Willfully) ignorant
Or how long did she curse the bun
The devil maims independence intoxication inhibition --

She wasn’t a happy woman,
My mother whispers to me: White River Junction,
For a society baccalaureate from Smith?
(She held me, once, as a baby)
Smokey, whiskey breath in a chest full of journals
The devil’s incantations inscriptions exaltations.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Word is No.

A Sesame Street throwback:
No teeth, no biting
No Mexican, Thai, or Indian
No dates at 2 am.

No rumors, no discretion
No laughter at a stupid joke
No flash of recognition at an allusion
No double entendre.

No comfort on granite rocks above the surf
No shivers behind texted innuendo
No cliched absolution in the shower
No palliative for desire.

No reconciliation. No rehabilitation. No respiration.

Monday, June 13, 2011

57 Years of Combined Life Experience Trumps 1 Year

Recently I have discovered that babies are illogical. Galinda and Scientist Joe had a Meeting of Scientists™ to go to last night, and the Animus and I put on our babysitting caps.

Two thirds of the charges went to bed without a whimper, but Castor (of Castor and Pollux fame), who saw Galinda leaving, freaked out. Not wanting him to keep Pollux up, we let him play for a half hour before engaging the BATTLE OF THE WILLS. OF DOOM. ™. .COM

When an infant is distressed, the following will not work to coddle him:
- logical argumentation according to classical formulae
- continental logic
- reading a signed copy of Ann Williams's Down from Cascom Mountain in a soothing tone
- reading a signed copy of Ann William's Down from Cascom Mountain in a dramatic tone
- the Animus using Dog Whisperer methods
- a change in diaper
- the "sleeper" hold
- the "cholic" hold
- almost any reassuring hold imaginable
- marching up and down stairs in any reassuring hold imaginable
- letting him scream in a playpen while you hide in the dark eating dinner around the corner, pretending that if he can't see or hear you he'll eventually forget why he's so hysterical
- a bottle of water he is too hysterical to drink from
What will eventually settle him down is
-wedging him between two adult male bodies on a couch with a blanket over him so he can't move, B-rated movie (we used Wanted, for example) playing, until he flops down on the Animus's lap and shuts his eyes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I live in my pasts.

Yesterday. The cafe. I work the espresso machine when The Wrathful Poetess comes in. I try to restrain myself - the customer comes first - but a grin splits my cheeks. She gives me a hug.

Later, and I had described my housing situation. She says, "Oh."

She says, "I suppose you could always crash on someone's couch."

I ask, eyebrow raised, "Maybe in someone's bed?"

She pauses. She laughs. "Yes, I'm sure someone would let you into their bed."

Later, I ask how long she and Man-at-Arms have been going out (seven weeks). She says, "You just came back too late."

She says, "We met through an online dating service."

She says, "The girls and I were just talking about how big your dick must be. One of us was going to scoop you."

Later, she finds the necklace I put in her tip cup. "Thank you," she says. "I love big things."

My eyebrows should just stay raised forever and ever, amen. I say, "It's just a gift. Gift qua gift."

She asks, "No ulterior motive?"

No. It's not a hair comb. It's not a pocket watch.