poems and a quick aside about eileen myles

November 20, 2012

I like Eileen Myles, even when I don’t think her writing is all that great and even though she is not particularly friendly to butches. Or she hasn’t been to me. I’ve gotten the old school butch rivalry vibe from her when I’ve tried to talk to her or get her autograph at readings. It sucks. When I saw her read at Tin House a couple years ago and approached her to say how phenomenal the reading was, she gave me a look, like “dude, step off my dick.” She didn’t want me to intrude on how she was charming the hell out of a handful of young and femme looking women. Still, Eileen is New York cool and bad ass. She’s a great reader. And it’s fun to watch her flirt.

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so many things

October 26, 2012

Feeling “thought out” today. Well . . . maybe not for the whole day but for right now.  So I am going to excerpt on of my own poems and hope no one steals it (which maybe wishful thinking anyway).

Still, there had already been a hand on the heart, which was soon followed by another one on the throat and then the two bonfires in the two different places.

Almost everyone at the second fire had on a tie. So many handsome Windsor knots, almost everywhere I looked, and all of them I imagined had been carefully tightened by someone, lovingly in some instances, but at the very least with deep appreciation for a fine square jaw and a strong chin.

Except for me, I kept my collar open and my
skin underneath bare, leaving
my pharynx and my
thorax and my
windpipe so
very exposed.

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a tiny bit about bach but mostly tony hoagland poems

October 19, 2012

Bach cello suites. It has been a looooong time since I listened to these. Remarkably they don’t remind me of my dad, who was a cellist, because unlike my mom and my sister, I have so little memory of hearing him practice. I think it must have been MTB talking about opera that made me think of putting these on this morning. They do seem kind of  perfect for the damp and dark.

Lat night as I was falling asleep I thought of 4 or 5 lines that would work together as a great poem. Who knows if that was true, about the great part, because I didn’t write them down. Lost to sleep. But sleep is good. Much less tossing and turning last night. Much less tired this morning. I did find some lines from several Tony Hoagland poems that I like (hopefully they don’t seem too orphaned without the rest of the poem). Also, there’s this whole poem of his, Lucky.


These lines from Romantic Moment

And if she was a Brazilian leopard frog she would wrap her impressive
tongue three times around my right thigh and

pummel me softly against the surface of our pond
and I would know her feelings were sincere.


These lines from the The Word

Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,

but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.


These lines from Grammar

we’ve all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap.


talking a little bit about writing and writing

October 17, 2012

Sooo . . . I put the word “emoticons” in a poem. I think I’ve definitely ensured that the piece is not going into some special poetry time capsule. Unless it’s my own special poetry time capsule. I  kind of wish I was the kind of person who would make time capsules. But it sounds so Wes Anderson and I am not a “Wes” kind of guy.

This is me practicing “writing” and /or me trying to bring you with me on my commute into work: Riding in to work at dawn I look up as I pedal over the Hawthorne bridge because I want to see how the tall glass buildings downtown shine in the half light of morning. I feel like I’m riding into a photograph. I notice fog is hanging over the west hills and I think about how OHSU looks like some modern midievil fortress when its surrounded by the mist.  I cross the river and head south to the the tram. I am riding fast, for no reason, except I like how good it feels to make my legs ache just the smallest bit. On a straight stretch of road without any traffic I turn to look east where the sun is coming up. I don’t expect the pink and orange I see at the edge of the sky, just above the mountains and under the ripple of clouds. I say a secret “wow” to myself.

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i am reading poetry again

October 9, 2012

Yep. Poetry. It is amazing. And right now Roger Mitchell is hitting the sweet spot. Also, it makes me happy that he taught in southern Indiana for a big chunk of his career, because then I can pretend to have a secret kinship with him.

Beneath A Cloud

So much of it is or seems (who knows the difference?)
transplanted, uprooted, dangling, frittered.
I like invisible, though visible
has its properties, proprieties, its strange
amazements. I’m equal to the bees, let’s say,
transparent, bespattered, rearranged, though not
without being first arranged. How or by what,
I don’t ask. Gathered, scattered, secret. Here
for a moment. In terrible, terrifying,
ordinary distance from matter and things,
from reasons I can’t see the reason for.
Lucid and fluid. I look out the window.
Do things in stages, leave them unfinished,
believing that nothing ever becomes
completely. Is always coming about, around.
Sometimes remembered. Remembered again,
but fragmentarily, or by someone else.
Ancient, delirious, wise, unable.
Shouted across a field. Fallow, hollow,
hallowed. Done in the dark, all of it. At dawn,
on a Tuesday or Friday. All of it
always arriving. Convinced, confused. Knowing
and unknowing. A cloud beneath a cloud.
A sky bringing all of itself along.

-Roger Mitchell

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keeping the music on and a poem i read today

October 3, 2012

Some songs kinda kill me. I’ll be sitting at work with my headphones on and be trying to get shit done and all of the sudden I have to stop because it feels like birds are flying away in my chest or my brain is going melt a little. It’s kind of magical but not always sparkly or fun. Still, music is my secret weapon to opening my heart and I’ve been listening to more and more of it on purpose, ever since I said to myself this summer that I wanted to be more open hearted.

Before this summer I had been in a long phase of not listening much to music, a sure sign that I am closed down. Sometimes, I wish one of my good friends would tap me on the shoulder during these turned off stretches and ask me to make them a music mix; it would shake things up a little for me and crack open whatever I’ve shut away. I need some help like that. Because even though I intellectually know what’s going on when I’m not listening very much to music, I can’t undo it by myself.

Here’s a poem I read today that I thought was pretty brilliant.

Stories Have No Manners

I’m listening to the words, but as usual,
watching something else. I hate myself for this,
but who could not watch as the tip of his cuff
nicks the top of the egg yolks smashed in the grits.
Some day next week he will take out the coat
and see the yellow scab and think how little
keeps us from drooling, even in a tie,
drooling when we should be driving, drooling
when we should be keeping the crazy bastard
at bay. It’s the crazy bastard story again.
He doesn’t want to tell it, but, like listeners,
stories have no manners. They track mud in
no matter how much you scrub, down on your knees,
and remind them, this is my tongue and groove,
my bunched little rug in front of the fire.
Is that running water, a bird up the flue?
You start making noises behind closed doors.
Friends think you probably ought to be watched
or at least let go. Though no one knows where.
There’s no pasture out here for horses who
break down and cry. Horses who say on the sly,
I’m expecting a call tomorrow.
Horses who just want to sit under a tree
and look at a cloud. Horses who think too much.
You’ve decided to eat your grits and not
smash up the eggs and leave them dead on the plate.
And you’re watching your cuff, for the first sign
that the story won’t lie down, won’t stay told.

-Roger Mitchell

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capitalizing on a good streak

October 1, 2012

Goodbye, September! I say that kind of wistfully, because it feels like it’s been a special one this year.

I recently wrote a poem titled, “I’m trying hard to be more open hearted, but its complicated and that’s not my fault.” I read it on Saturday at our Thank You Writers reading. It was meant to be both funny, in an absurd way, and also very real about how everyday, stupid things shut down our hearts. I love reading/performing and making people laugh (if I was actually into astrology, I would say that’s b/c my moon in Leo (also I just quickly read up on the moon in Leo and there was something about being tender hearted that almost made me tear up)), so it was an immense pleasure that I kinda knocked it outta the park with that poem, but I do hope that people also picked up on some of the real part too.

I have been writing more poetry lately, which is kind of unexpected. But unlike essays and stories, I am willing to write a shitty first draft of a poem and then edit it. When I write essays and stories, I write and edit at the same time and then write and edit some more, which I know is like a cardinal sin for prose writers. But fuck it I already know I am sinful and twisted. Oh well, right?! Also, the more I write poems, the more I think about how RU told me I should be a poet and I told her I thought that was just about one of the most masochist things I could do. Because you’re just kind of doomed to toil in obscurity. Sorry, to all the poets out there that I love and that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing read out loud or on the paper or both. You rock and I wish there was a NYT best seller list for poetry, so you all could rule. Anyway, maybe I will keep writing poems. Actually . . . well I’m not gonna say it out loud right now.

Also, I am having one of those unbelievable productive streaks of making music. Re-working melodies for bits and pieces of old lyrics. Last night, right after I ran through something new, I immediately got another idea for a tune for a different song. Luckily, I keep my little hand held digital recorder around all the time, so I can get that shit down before I lose the tune. I almost forgot how much I love writing melodies. That’s what worked soooo good for Matt and me with FIP. Matt gave me a big ass stack of lyrics, every couple months, and my job was to come up with the basic melodies. I loved, loved, loved doing that. I was good at doing that. It was challenging and gratifying and so satisfying and pleasurable. I’m kinda trying to set up a similar situation, except without Matt (if I did emoticons, I’d insert a sad face). I’m also thinking I wanna find someone or some people to play with – maybe a bass and/or violin and/or stripped down drum kit and who can harmonize.

I’m on a good creative streak here, and whatever muse or muses I have are being generous, but also I’m willing to put in the practice time. I’m thankful for the combination. Also, I’ve been opening up and sharing my enthusiasm and heart felt encouragement with anyone else I know who is undertaking similar creative endeavors. Keep at it, keep at it, keep at it and when you hit a good streak, capitalize on that mother fucker. Seriously, capitalize!


day five, wherein i took a walk and thought about writing

August 25, 2012

Today, I did not write first thing after work. Nope, I took a walk  first, and then I cleaned out the fridge with Remy.

On the walk I tried to think of things I wanted to blog about – like how I wish I was more open hearted and what I’m growing in my garden and whether or not I had anything I wanted to say right now about being butch. Those lines of thinking lasted for maybe 5 blocks. The other 35 I spent thinking about things I’m not writing about on my blog, like these poems I’m working on: one is about self delusion, one is about mobile devices, headphones and the end of the word and one is about the stages of funny falling in love. I also thought about a character in a short story that I’m writing. Or more like not writing because I  got so stuck in an endless cycle of rewriting page one over and over that I stopped working on the story and started writing poems like the ones I just mentioned. I’m curious if thinking about the character will loosen up the cycle’s grip enough to try working on the story again. I’d already given the character a name, Connie. And last night I decided Connie knits and cans and probably makes her own soap or at least has tried.  Today I decided she sometimes shoots bb guns at tins cans in her back yard and that she also has a fire pit back there and twice a year she makes a big fire just to burn down for coals so she can bake a cobbler in a buried dutch oven.  She thrift stores, but she’s not really into vintage clothes as look in and of itself. She’s into fashion, actually, but she doesn’t talk about it. Also, she’s a vegetarian but when she’s drunk she’ll eat bacon. Now that I’ve written all that down I can’t decide if I just made Connie too Portland and maybe too easy to make fun of, at least in my own mind. I don’t want a caricature or a stereotype. Well, we’ll see how ti works out on paper.

I looked outside an it’s 9pm and it’s dark. Street light dark. I think that means that summer, or at least high summer, is really done and over.



an experiment and some links

August 24, 2012

I’m experimenting. Instead of staying up and posting at 10:30 at night, which means I’m actually up writing until 11:30, I’m trying posting first thing after getting home from work. Well, it’s not really first thing because I had to feed the cats, who will not be put off, and there were some dirty dishes to take care of and the trash can to bring up from the curb. But I haven’t even open up Facecrack yet, which is my new name for both Facebook and the nature of my relationship with it. Anyway, I’m hoping that writing right away might be a way of having a meta conversation with myself about making writing as important to me as I claim it is. Instead of just professing how much I want to write

I do believe that the end of summer has begun. Dusk is happening closer to 8pm than 9 and dawn closer to 6:30am instead of 5:30. Already, I am nostalgic for last week’s heat wave. I know the sunny days might stretch into fall; we ight get an Indian summer. But the days will still get shorter and probably won’t be 100 again. I go through this every year – my end of summer lamentation. If you regularly read my blog, you’ve been putting up with it for years. Let me just preemptively say, I will miss you summer. I wish you would be regular date.

Where did the term “Indian Summer” come from anyway? I just looked it up and it’s a longer story than I want to post here. I thought I might get some clever quips from that, but no you’ll have to read it yourself. In the spirit of linking, though, I will pass on some links to some other things I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to lately.


day two – same as it ever was (and now the sound of talking heads is looping through your brain)

August 22, 2012

Day two of my 10 day blog challenge and I already wish I wouldn’t have challenged myself.  Its kind of an old story and very much like day two of not eating chocolate or day two of doing sits ups every night or day two of going to bed early or day of writing every day. There have been many days twos that have been immediately followed by starting over at day one again. Except for smoking and thank you RU for helping me with that. If I add it up, I bet I’ve put together at least 3000 non-smoking days, and they would have been consecutive except for a few isolated incidents, like going to this bar in Indy with friends the week I went home when my Dad died.

I think the the difference between me and many ambitious people is not only that they get more things done, obviously, but that they have more day threes, fours and five hundreds than I do. Also maybe ambitious people pay other people to do some of the shit they don’t want want to do, like dusting or mopping the floor, so they can do the shit they feel ambitious about, like writing a book. I feel like I have this worth ethic-long suffering thing about house cleaning, like we should all have to do it and no one should be above washing dishes or running the vacuum. But man, housework really can eat up one’s time. I guess the trick is to live in smaller place with less stuff to take care of and then there will be less time you have to spend on upkeep. Or there’s always the Phyllis Diller philosophy – “Housework can’tkill you. But why tae the chance.”

So I’ve successfully tricked myself into completing day two of my self imposed 10 day challenge. Maybe next time I’ll trick myself by writing about how not writing is one of the hall marks of being a writer