Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Out There

"Welcome home"
"It’s good to be back..."
The shuttle has entered the atmosphere, cutting through a thick layer of gray clouds… they are home…on earth. Welcome back… to everything you understand as "human," as "home." Our cities of concrete and steel and glass, our domesticated dogs and our oxygen and our shopping malls and warm beds that have awaited you. Here is gravity, here are fish and continuous waves and continents full of talking people that can’t understand each other and green trees that exchange our waste for invisible gold. Out there, in the vast blackness of a space that has no sentimentality, among rocks that spin just like ours, amid air devoid of oxygen, our planet is one of many. Our sun is one of millions.
Floating in the darkness, looking back at what you know as home, does anything seem relevant?
A lone astronaut fixing the side of a satellite, a glimpse of earth, of swirling green and blue and white… "we are so small," she thinks to herself. On that globe, there are battles for water, a baby cries for its mother, a handful of people die in a car bombing in Iraq. Does any of it matter?
Our sun continues to burn, sending fiery explosions our way, our moon orbits faithfully, waxing and waning month after month...how long has it cast its silver light? A man dies in the street, hungry and crippled. A young child walks to school with her friends on a sunny day.
The astronaut sees the swirling white, she sees the orb. She cannot see the woman being raped in the Congo, she is not watching the flood waters rise on TV… floating, breathing through a tube, she sees the whole, the one sphere where we know people breath and fuck. Where people die with a gasp and are born with a push.
Does any of it matter at such a distance? At that distance, is any death a tragedy? Or is every single action a hiccup absorbed into the greater blend of green and blue? Looking out…past home, into the true vastness of a space that moves past the threshold of logic and comprehension, does our home, does this one planet even matter at all?
Somewhere on an oxygen filled planet, a young woman sits in a small apartment on the crust of a complex system, she types diligently on a device invented just a little while ago, a blink on the watch of time. None of them know her, the astronauts, the sun, the comets that streak across what she knows as the sky, does her life matter amid the chaos of floating rocks? Do her tears matter to the moon? She feels the tie that connects one thought to the other, the thread that connects one small life to the system that spins around it; she is the spinning, she is the wonder, the lifetime of rocks, the wars that continue without end. Century after century, there is another conflict and stars flicker out and new ones are born and some planets merely turn half a degree and the century passes like a blink, a mere flutter.
From out there, does any of this even exist at all?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Tears come easily, like water from the suburban tap, just lift the handle, just sing the song. It’s a pretty melody with a tribal beat and a chorus of strong, pretty women chanting in unison, and their energy, recorded long ago, exploited for years, it comes through me like the dagger of something real. Raw emotion, communicated through melody, told lovingly by thick voices heard with a ripped heart. It moves through me, in through my ears, down to my chest, out my eyes, along the edges of my skin. The colors flash by and I know I must use it, to do anything else is neglect. Precious and fleeting, it cannot be bottled, but it can be channeled, funneled into writing, pushed in and moved around and reconfigured into a human language made of numbers. I grab a hold of the moment, unwilling to let it die beneath the florescent lighting, unwilling to let it evaporate in the night or absorbed into another bite of cake that coats me like a blanket of fog. No, the moment moves like a soft wind, easy to feel and enjoy, easy to dance within, and easily forgotten as a new thought immerges on the fringes of my mind. Is the training taking root? Has some small piece been remembered, internalized, a step towards a second nature…I wish for this. This evening, it can be blamed or accounted for, on hormones and built up forces of primal sex that have yet to spill, and now, I rush towards the tide. The waters come and I fling myself towards the white foam naked and hungry. My ass jiggles with each step on the beach, each narrow print is a plunge into the earth, a temporal dent of existence. Does the womb remember my birth? The people of stone push back and I stay above the crust’s edge. I run naked, covered in the salt of waves and the hope of a virgin. Thick clumps of matted brown hair cling in streaks to my pink cheeks and thin neck, my hammer is by the fire, and the smoke rises behind me like a signal to all those that can see and the very few answer back in thunder and small sparks. Black wisps turn into colored messages, delivering them to the beauty that rests on his bed. Does the conch cry for me? Do the lips that press against it know the value of its sound? The mermaids will be arriving soon, in time for tepid tea and limp cookies and wet kisses from a devoted mouth. On the waves of the coming storm they come, in the arms of dark clouds and hanging on to the earlobes of mighty tritons that tower beyond the clouds. I run towards them, to the crashing black waves, to the shells that rain like pointed drops of hardened semen. The desire for life scrapes across my skin, leaving streaks upon my arms. My breasts are painted in lines of blood, my hips are etched with the marks of their descent. I feel each stinging line as it comes, it enters, it crosses, it falls to the sand. I feel it as I run and I notice it all, the sand which enters between the gaps of my toes, a cool wind nearly pushes me back, but I charge forward again, and here… they come, my ass jiggles as I run. The necklace bounces on my neck as the teeth and shells that conform it clink against in a music of escape, the feathers in my hair dart back and forth in geometric patterns on an invisible canvas. They arrive and the tea is poured, the cakes wait for their mouths, my breasts await their curious hands, my ass hopes for the tritons sword. They come on the blackened waves, they come with the salty tears upon the cheeks of a round mother, it comes with a song, a simple melody that ignites fires among the waves, they surround us, holding the energy in place, and the song crashes towards me with the shell soaked wind.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Before I had a language to describe them, long before the nature of the Pull was described to me, and years before I began to understand the savagery of my eternal habit, I lived in the hole for a couple of days in early spring. In the waning months before my degree would be awarded, in the tautness of a rubber band about to break, I smoked from the crinkled hands of demons.
The house was always bathed in a yellowish hue, but it couldn’t be blamed on the light bulbs. It was the inhabitants of the chamber, the vermin clothed as humans, the sticky sludge that resembled normalcy, the fluttering shadows that projected life. The colors looked like a couple, it acted like a pretty girl with school books and thin tank tops, it seemed like a skinny guy wearing an oversized suit, and they were that, and they were not. I tried to conceal it in the corners of my heart, in the caves where secrets lay and rest, where they spin their wool and catch blood-filled mosquitoes with eyes that have long ago been sewn shut. I tried to hide them away, but blood always found its way below the door. The gray cloud above my head shaded the perspective, the steel ball shackled to my ankle ate away at my voice and jingled with each step on the pavement. The pain was written on my face and the disease dressed itself up in purple spots and lay quietly on his skin and the house smelled of vinegar and burnt tin foil and the books absorbed the smoke like the thick leaves of a jungle.
I did not know the language, then, I could not describe the pull, but I smoked from the hands of red demons. Disguised as the glass vase for plastic roses, hidden in the product of water and fire and metal and coca leaves that combined into a surge of power, it was a brief full body orgasm that colored me green and left me wailing without tears, hungry with no need for food. I smoked from the bumpy skin, I heard the bells of their choir and I sat still while the earth spun and my stomach took a ride on the roller coaster that always ended twenty seconds later. And I stood in line again. I called for the conductor, I looked for the tubes and the white rocks and the dirty spoons. And again I took the ride. And when it was over, when I was on my knees and drooling and looking for the foil, I took it again. The same rusty car, the same plastic seat, the eternal loops that held me by a plastic belt. I called for more in the shower and spun as the water beat my body. I sat on the patio, surrounded by dying plants and a created world that made no sense and under the night sky that felt more ugly and brown than I had ever seen it. I sat and heard the bells.
He finally fell asleep and I felt the pull calling the deepest holes in me, I followed my body into the yellow room and found the spoons and the powder and the carton of baking soda. I wanted to make rocks from powder and hear the choir and shake with the bells, I tried ‘til 4 am until the small bag was empty and every ill-cooked rock traveled in wisps of smoke to my lungs. It was almost dawn when I looked in the mirror and I saw a strange woman from a bleak distant land. A woman in the clutches of a force she had no language for. A stranger from a parallel world, a whore, a student, a woman…all could be possible, all were before her for the choosing, there were some of each in her eyes. The bumpy hands were tight around my ankles, the choir sang without rest and I decided then, this would not be the path. I closed the door. I felt them call for many days, the demons kissed my ears and played in the corners of my mind, but I buried myself in books, in the one clear goal that was only a couple of months away. Working this way, I washed myself clean of the powder.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dirty Laundry

When the piles begin to tilt and flirt with toppling, when every sock is missing from its wooden bed and I go pantyless for days, its time for a good soak. Bubbles and soap and lint, they come with the task. And I arrive home, to the small home I have carved in this city, and I take the piles of still-warm clothes to the small closet and the five drawer dresser that I’ve had since childhood and the steel file cabinet I have begun to use for storage. But there is no room in the closet for all the clean clothes. There is no room in the drawers or space on the small shelf above the hangers or in the filing cabinet stuffed with dress-up clothes. I stack the jackets without homes on the floor, I leave the piles of sweaters in trash bags next to the closet, there just isn’t any space to hang them. My closet spews freshly washed pants, it vomits the scent of sunshine and the memory of a day beside the whirl of spinning machines. The hamper is empty, but I am left with another sort of mess. Overpopulated by jeans and T-shirts, I have broken a cycle. There is nothing dirty, nothing soiled that waits for later, nothing that hopes for a rendezvous with water and detergent and piles of quarters that I exchange for energy. At this moment, I am caught up, and because of this, there is no cycle, no in and out. Right now, there is only in and there is not enough space in the room to contain it all.
And the people we crumple like stained socks and throw in the corner? People with brown faces that never turn white, not after a thousand scrubbings, people with black faces, one of every three of those faces sits in a cage, rejected machines that eat Doritos and drink soda and live in the cracks of this paved city and eventually find themselves lifting weights behind barbed wire. These are the people of my hamper, the ones going out, the humans that stay out of circulation, making room for the "fresh breeze" of folded skirts. In the ecosystem of this small room, the accumulated matter of my life, the dirty laundry gives me psychic room, space to feel clean even while the white shirts and delicate sweaters lay at the bottom of the plastic hamper. Those forgotten faces make room for the rest of us. They sew lingerie and assemble cars on barely more than a slave’s salary and they keep the parking spaces of this community free and housing available and health services a little less crowded. Hidden from the world in a cement hamper with bars and electrical wire and watchmen that delight in their extensions of power with guns and a ring of keys, they are there, off the streets, the eternal output. We need them there, this particular ecosystem needs almost two million exiles packed in dim warehouses. Out of cars, out of jobs, out of schools. Their bodies are property of the state, their tattooed bodies are used in the name of legislation and morals and their bodies are used by politicians and their bodies are used by corporations to feed the hungry closets of consumers like me. They are the skins that no one wants, but also, they are what some recognize as a necessity. In the ecosystem of America, in this land founded on ideals of freedom and dead Indians and stolen land, they are the cargo, the dirty laundry, out of circulation. Their void is quickly filled and only a number remains. And while their girlfriends cry and their mothers pray and their children turn hard and angry, they roll in the waves of necessity. They perform the duties of those without tongues and those without hope. And as they roll, tattooed tears form at their ears and spider webs grow across their arms and men in business suits champion safe neighborhoods and stock markets continue to rise and men continue to sit in cages, their shirts a little more dirty each day.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fast Edits

The car is vibrating softly, a muted whhhrrrr fills the small cab as the seat jostles my thighs. The motor runs and I wait in the bright light of mid morning. I am surrounded on both sides of the street by nearly identical three story apartment buildings. Their colors vary…cream, pale blue, golden yellow, white, brown, and so do the materials that compose the sparse balconies, stucco, metal, wood. While I wait, I try to look for other architectural features that diversify the cookie-cutter construction, but the diversity comes from the occupants, not the builders. There are a cluster of satellite dishes clinging to a wooden balcony. A large blanket dries over its edge, painted in the bright colors of a peacock. Telephone poles line the street, an abundance of thick, black wires come from each one like an electric waterfall of plastic tubes. Pigeons line the wires, pigeons perch comfortably on the rooftops, pigeons fly above, coasting low to pick up pieces of food, then back up high, back to the flock. I have sat with this view, with this eternal, unchanging street many times. Usually I sit in silence, preparing for the force about to arrive, but today, I turn on the tiny white Ipod and put on the good morning song, a musical piece of beats and electronic rhythms that always sound so, so good in the morning, when the light is bright and the possibilities of a new day are still silver in their whispered promises.
And the beat starts, the delay of an engine roars into the soundscape…then creeps in the steady boom of bass. A car crosses my line of vision at 25mph, it matches the tempo perfectly. A handful of pigeons take flight and my eyes go to them and then my eyes move back to the perpendicular street ahead of me and another car paints the street red just as the music hits an extended delay and then the beat starts in a little faster and my eyes dart to a patch of grass…my eyes move with the rhythm…a gated door…a window… a man on a telephone… a car goes…one, two, three beats. My eyes conspire with the song, editing the neighborhood in fast cuts and smooth delays. fffuuahhhh, a blue car goes by, precisely when it is needed, the birds take flight again, just as the song begins it crescendo and then I look to the ground, to the birds, to the wires, here comes another car and I hold the stare for 2 beats, then bam, bam, bam, my eyes dart again for every beat…one, the road, two, the pigeons, three, the grass…door, man, balcony, laundry on the line, faded stucco, a trash can on the street, a woman pushing a baby…tap, tap, tap…my eyes continue their edit…..fffuuuuuuu….a blue SUV passes by…tap, tap, tap, tap…the sculpted cypresses of the cemetery, tap, tap, tap…the wire fence, gravestone in the distance, street, pigeon, the elements cycle and the song continues, beautiful in its collaboration with the entire Universe around it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Built A Wall Around My Self

A thick wall of mortar and stone and cement and glue, an amalgam of parts and substance, encrusted ideas and fossilized bones. Part wood, part stone, part metal…affixed with barbed wire along the steep edges and stuffed with body parts and memories and the collected refuse of so many lifetimes. Like the builders of the great wall of china, this wall is composed of forgotten flesh and metal hammers and the silenced stories that were swallowed and with a single final breath.
And the wall, it was constructed without plans, without consent or even a crude brainstorm sketched on a crumpled napkin. Its ongoing construction has lasted more than twenty years, the ongoing project that never comes to a close…the workers in orange vests continue to show up, rain or shine, as they have for years, each bearing my face and my dirty hands, yet I have no memory of digging the foundation. There are no pictures that shed light on its beginning, no memories that flutter in my fragmented mind, reminding me why there are piled bricks and shovel handles and femur bones protruding from the great walls.
Its erection must have begun before my first memory congealed, perhaps watching helplessly from my crib as my mother left the room, perhaps when I cried unattended in the shadow of the forgotten moon. This wall began without my direct knowledge, and yet, it was I who built it. These hands who I look at with a stranger’s eye, these rough hands put each piece in place, each stone dug from the ground, each row of brick, each scoop of cement in place, this work was done by me, me alone.
Perhaps each smooth stone was inspired by an event, an interpreted stare, a defeat, an imposed darkness…inspired and then, because I remained asleep at the wheel of this four limbed vehicle, I gathered my stones and I mixed my cement, like a one eyed witch stirring a pot of some foul smelling potion, and I placed those hard rocks firmly in place. With thick resolve, with renewed wrath, with victory playing in my ears, I watched the substance harden by the second, gray mush to thick glue to unconquerable solid strength and, surrounded by stone and brick and metal, I basked in the solitude of my defense, my fortress, my singular city.
I awake for a second from this chamber, and clearing the sleep from my eyes, I see the walls have spawned another life topped with sparkling horns of fire, and a beating heart and they have grown beyond my control, beyond the thickness of my desire, beyond my understanding…I put them here, but I cannot get them down. The walls are so thick, covered in spikes and razor blades and blood-covered thorns and I want them gone, I want to step outside these walls and taste the air of freedom, true freedom from self imposed exile, but I cannot climb them, I cannot scale them, no ladder is tall enough and the helicopters do not come this close.
And then, as I sleep, I retreat into the cave.
Sometimes I am in the middle, wishing for a door, yet finding the bed is all too warm and comfortable. All too familiar in its smell. Which way is right? Is there a wrong way? Is there black or white or red? Or are all these colors merely shades in an illusion of rainbows that peak in the height of my delusion. The walls are thick, and the sounds of music flows through me like a ghost, the heart within me accepts its message and I search for the door once again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The Rabbi looks down upon his followers and says:
“You must build a wall. With this wall that you build, you will separate your altruistic intentions from your selfish intentions, your selfless transcendent center that yearns for God will thus be separated from your ego based desires that only yearn for pleasure and fame and power and sex. By building this wall, you will begin on the path.”
I look around myself, at the wide desert that surrounds my little city of dreams, and I can plainly see that the construction of such a wall is impossible, such as it has been described. For the desert hides its depths, and in its depths there are caves through which the masked inhabitants travel, and there are deep secret rivers full of forgotten beasts, and there are great mythic birds that fly overhead in translucent silence, and there is a heavy burning rain that comes down from the skies every so often, and carries with it news from other lands, and there is an ever evolving sickness that travels through the open mouths of all of those that talk, and finds its way into all those that listen, and there are sounds that no wall can stop, screams from distant places and distant times, anguished screams that still yearn to be heard.
Far from the city, the ancient walled city within which the Rabbi speaks, there are people being killed, people being tortured, people being banished, people being thrown away like yesterday’s garbage, pushed away to find their misbegotten lives among the refuse of a thousand bloody wars. Can it then be said that the city is safe from this, as long as the pain and the screams and the tears and deep lakes of blood don’t touch the city walls? Does the Rabbi not know that the quest begins here, from the heart of the city, but it extends far beyond its gates? If the men that kill and torture come from the streets of this protected city, is the city then safe from their guilt? Are the city’s own intentions not corporealized in the sound wrenching missiles that tear through hot air and mud wall and fleshy membranes? Maybe the Rabbi does not know of this. Maybe he is simply quiet and blind, aloof from the madness around him, centered on the true God above. But if he is, then can he not be blamed for his own blindness? Is it not a self imposed exile that ultimately betrays his own stated intentions?
Why has he chosen to remain quiet in the face of so many atrocities? Why has he chosen to remain ignorant of the pain that travels in bits of dust through storms of pebbles and sand? Are these the altruistic intentions that remain hidden within the city walls? Or are these the other intentions, the ones that have managed to walk past the checkpoints, past the interrogations, past the security police, past the careful eye of the guards, and they have penetrated deep into the heart of the city, ready to unleash chaos with a single flicker of a switch?
I am that I am. I am One. There is no Other. I am the Rabbi. I am the soldier. I am the killer. I am the bomb. I am the baby blown to little red bits.
How can we then build this wall around our inner city, when we can’t truly distinguish the good from the bad, the true from the false, the right from the wrong, the image from the real?
Within each step of my strange robot, the fleshy machine that I currently ride into extinction, lie a million electrical accidents, free in their randomness, wild in their flight. They flash like little lost torch lights in the middle of the desert night. Some of them, in their wild run through my body that is a world, may in fact look up to heaven. Most of them still stare into the bloody heart of the Void, and, as they stare, they yearn for power, they cry for revenge. They are all enmeshed, like spider webs around other spider webs, like the pages that you may read on a network of light, pages like this one, that make no sense in themselves and don’t even have the intention of clear communication. They swirl and they crash, they come to bursting bubbles of orgasmic supernovas and then sink into themselves to become eternal black holes.
Above all, they don't reveal themselves easily. They may look friendly and hide a bomb beneath their coat. They may look righteous but pull out a boy’s fingernails when the lights are down, and the walls are thick.
As above, so below.
As below, so above.
And if they hide from me, these strange wild intentions that roam within the electrical network that makes my fingers move across this keyboard, they will certainly hide in the endless desert of deeply entrenched resentment and hatred. And if they manage to get past a hundred checkpoints, and a thousand vigilant eyes, they will surely get past mine, my single pair of eyes which fall asleep recurrently and only come to a clear place of attention but a few times per day.
To start by building this wall, then, is a path to certain disaster. Or maybe just a path to blindness. The blindness that is willful, the blindness of the eye that can see but can’t rise above the very wall which its own hands have built.
We start from where we are. As evil as our intentions may currently be, they are the only ones we have.