11:34 AM *
couple of weeks ago, the sun was in your palm, held, its sharp folding
brilliance creating a flower out of your hand. it made breathing gently
disappear, and completely opaqued vision, a thickened sense that turned
the light into a liquid, red and yellow oceans into sensation on skin,
ideas into order. a book you are finishing frays into nothingness, like
light propelling the day, the night, and the story begins to turn on itself,
the author describing how he began this work, coming into an ending begging
to be taken up again, as a writing. an artist revives a project you designed
long ago, designing being an ever-expanding map, charting new places at
every turn of the axis, but the way a satellite does, with clearer resolution
of the same planetary terrain, always marking places, always reminding
that there are specific material somatic places that one's body needs
to inhabit, regularly, completely, mundanely, before anything else can
happen, and as well there are places that seem completely familiar but
have never actually been visited, and so are surprisingly alien, and for
this project, the artist wants what you did long ago, but that action
done again now, the project itself longing to be reacquainted with the
present you, the way an old love kisses you again, after a long pause
in a conversation, in a cab.
9:41 AM *
knowing this, one is also reminded of the fact that the city is composed
of appearances, layers of effects and perceptions and reflections and
deliverance. yet we are unremindable of the truth that appearances are
deceptive, in that they can perfectly, seamlessly, innocuously prevent
us from knowing what we think we know.
the most reflective of our surfaces, the blue and the white over the
body's outline, fine back and thighs, shadow tank and shoes, and the
most brilliant images that they convey, can contain an interior of emptiness,
and act only to separate that emptiness from the street. this is not
poetry: it is a storefront. what else would be spoken of?
you rode the train. you always ride the train. you think on the train.
you always think on the train. about people, your days are full of motion,
and in that constant and asymmetrical fitfulness, it is a quietly hidden
gift to be able to study others while facing them. of one, about to
get on, you might say "takes up too much room and is loud, ready to
break my quiet" and discover, as they sit next to you, that they are
writers like yourself, yankees fans too, and whose sole business, like
you, the thing they live and die for, the thing they doggedly are fighting
for, is a collection of moments between coffee, shower, email, paper,
eat, dress, work, train, work, lunch, work, personal call, work, paper,
work, gym, train, eat, email, shower, and sleep. they are trying to
steal them back from their day, from their city, from all of the containers
of being that encircle little scraps of time and spirit them into the
perhaps it is this emergence of an unknown reality, of a person or
of a situation, in writing, that is what keeps you captured in this
perhaps it's the reason that you still love the film memento,
because the story emerges the way all those blogs do: in a reversed
sequence of forward-sequenced bits, where the sequence of time threads
around like a sewing machine throwing threads into fabric. their understanding
of you, their construction of you, is in reverse, from now to then,
made of spinning bits, which is coincidentally how you composed yourself.
it's not the best story ever told, but it's a marvelous instrument for
perhaps it's why you're always in love: the next kiss could turn out
to be your anniversary.
10:23 PM *
case in point, it never rains like this in july, not on hudson street. but july is almost over, and the street is suddenly cooled, chilled like a bottle, new and wet. carried along the ionized air is a nutmeg smell from the still-warm sycamore trees, as if air always smelled like this in summer. the city reminds you that although it is a hot greasy concrete container for the heavy air you must wade through, it is also the bearer of cool breath and pleasurably surreal snippets of the natural world. it never fails to surprise you, and to point out your foolish assumptions with glee. it will have no misunderstandings.
inspired, you take this around with you for a week, the picture on your camera, the patience in your gut, until you encounter an acquaintance so important to you that you find it incredible you would have a misunderstanding with her: the person who cuts your hair. you explain why you had to have someone else cut it five weeks ago (as she walks to prepare her chair) that the receptionist should have called to cancel before you got there (while she turns back because she realizes you are going to explain something longer than 'hey baby') that you could not do it any other night and that you are very sorry and would never cheat on her again (while she smiles incredulously because she had no idea anything at all transpired and could really care less). she smiles and says "you're so cute" and continues toward her chair.
you needn't wonder so much. you needen't tell others so much. you just need to listen. you did it right the other day. you listened patiently, calmly, enjoyably, even though it had been you who was insousciant, you whose heart attacked when he made a pass at you in the steam room, you who cannot resist a guy who looks like popeye's nemesis brutus except taller and more muscular, you who always scopes a guy who is a giant compared to you, with an italian accent. you were the one who gave him your phone number, unasked. yet he was the one, weeks later, who despite being someone you have barely spoken twenty sentences with, felt the need to interrupt your workout, pat your behind with a towel, and explain why he didn't call, that he had just started seeing someone, that he didn't want you to think he was a jerk. and all that while you had not even noticed the lapse of his attention, because your attention had been on others more captivating than a steam-room trick. but you were pleased to see the other side emerge, a man like yourself who would and could precisely explain how he wanted to stand with you, at six feet four be small and sorry and hoping you would be his friend.
your first impulse is to say that the explaination is redundant, and unnecessary because the situation is already understood. but you'd misunderstand that, too. appearing unsophistocated and childlike is the only sign that will complete the message, revealing that what others see of you is intentionally fashioned, and that your hidden self is thinking somewhere else, about them.
9:23 PM *
however, you're not thinking about them.
you're thinking about how the air smells like nothing but corn flowering.
fields of corn surrounding you, like fragrant walls in an outdoor pen,
narrowing the expanse enough so you may perceive how infinite it all
and others, some of them, love you dearly, even when you're lost in
this reverie. you're always lost in a reverie. you see a rural place
where you're mother was a child, and went to school, and you're playing
bingo on your thirty-first birthday with fifty year old cards, and the
others, some of them, shock you with an opposite observation when they
wonder aloud how you must find this all so oppressively mundane. they
cannot believe you find it so gorgeously mundane, like speaking with
you know what kind of beans are in the low fields. you know the difference
between fields that have field corn and those that have pop corn and
those that have sweet corn. you know that fields with vines have pickles,
or watermelon, or squash, or tomatoes. somehow the knowledge was passed
on, subcutaneously through Time Spent, and now it is something that
is known to you. but not everyone has been taught these things: when
you least expected it, someone asked you what kind of beans were out
and you are made to dream of so many things, because of the scented
air, because of silence, because of the whispering wind, because of
nothing to do. you dream of the farmhouse attic, and the attic off of
that, a carpeted staircase that exists as perfectly when you are sleeping
as when you are awake, the honey doors, the stale chest, the lawn outside,
a windstorm, a darkening sky, you looking at the weather and thinking
this is not right, this is not right and the air advances, whines
like a machine, and suddenly a pair of crashing fighter jets, the horizon
replaced by an advancing cloud of fire and smoke, and you know what
to do, because this has happened to you once before and you won't let
it hurt your family, you don't stand around you shout for them to run
when the explosion continues your way , you get your family to get out
of there, your anxious mother by a pond, crying and somehow in her twenties.
the dream makes you know you are alive, and you awake to advance your
misunderstandings some more, catapult yourself into their midst, and
take them over in turn, both sides of a story, encouraging you to uncover
the multiples of contradictory truth that surround you, the bingo, the
air, the others in the dream, and in turn choose among them.
10:17 PM *
pleasure comes not from choosing, but from being able to choose, from
collecting the pieces and setting them next to each other, forming an
equivalence between them. it's the pleasure of ambiguity: that one may
multiply truth and have it resonate.
you allow your indifference to simmer. a colleague began talking about
a memorial, the first of a series of memorials, and began to talk about
honor, and struggle, and patriotism. but you could barely let him finish.
the deaths were catastrophic, sudden, and without struggle. the act
was one of cowards, the weapons quotidian democratic machines, and the
emotion felt was not heroic but the sadness of not having been able
to fight back, the false fear that we were cowards for not being able
to prevent it. there is no terror, only a long anger born from frustration.
there is certainly a way to memorialize that would be different than
the commemoration of a war. but the debate would heighten, and your
ambivalence to one solution concealed the fact that you were suggesting
alternatives, alternatives that your colleague would be better suited
to discover for himself.
the indifference, passionately cultivated, even allows for ideas beyond
hubris. it makes you give, and it is this giving that keeps you in love.
there are so many loves, so many people who are yours forever, that
you can simply hold them all close to you, and give them as much as
they will receive. over time, the loves connect, like a constellation
of multiple brights, and the figure spawns myths, because it looks like
something you might call your life. it's your one true love at the moment,
the one you're willing to believe in.
some prefer to have answers, a single line of truth. some prefer find
many, parallel, non-intersecting truths, skew, and are content with
the resulting ambiguity, because it means there are overlapping joys
in the world, multiple horizons that flow the same direction, all under
the same light, sometimes crossing each other but only because they
are collapsed by perspective.
another conversation floated to the top of the sensations, over the
salty barky musk skin accrues from the day at the beach, over the ache
in forearms from a beach sport, over aching feet, over the lingering
sadness of leaving friends, over the anxious sadness of distant loves,
over the the intrusive brightness of a long nighttime LIRR train, over
the aches of creative projects left unmade.
an old man was mumbling. his back was to you, and you could not hear
what he was saying. he was speaking fast, senile rhythms that were unintelligible
except to the daughter sitting across from him. she was facing your
direction, and her words were very clear:
"papa, i didn't STEAL from you!" she was your age. she was rough.
reply from papa. he had a perfect hat, and a perfect suit. but two
different, bright, colors.
"i said ronnie may have grabbed it and brought it with him. don't say
i STOLE from you! don't ever say i stole from you!" this last she said
"don't ever say i STOLE from you!"
she was disturbing you: you smelled good, your hurting forearms echoed
the fact that you had revealed that you are secretly an above-average
athlete, the feet that you can jump and run, the lingering sadness that
you have friends, the anxious sadness that you have loves, the brightness
that you anticipate good dreams if you were able to fall asleep, the
creative ache that there are more ideas in the air than you have time
for. but her repetition of this line, an unnatural one if you were to
continue believing that she was simply insouciant, demanded to be listened
to more carefully. her voice never got louder, loud enough to make one
believe she was angry, or unreasonably violent. it was the repetition
alone that had gathered attention.
"papa, don't ever say i STOLE from you!" many times, no matter what
it emerged. she was pleading with him. she wasn't shouting him down,
not drowning him out with volume or threat. she was asking him to believe
her, fully uncertain that he would acquiesce, a judgment based on long
years of difficulty together. there was a past: she had never stolen
before, but other transgressions of a different kind gave him reason
to believe she might steal. she shocked that he would not believe she
could have one weakness but not another.
she was pleading for the multiple truths. he was insisting on one.
he stopped replying at some point. she was on automatic for a while,
but quieted herself.
quietly. "papa you know i love you."
9:46 PM *
was a pause before she said it.
you can't help counting the number of relationships you've put this
pause into. innumerable are the instances of an indefinite pause.
it is your only real fear: interrupting the quiet ambiguity too soon,
because you never know what someone will say in return.
a little later, on the train, after a different kind of pause, one
that involved a lot of talking about no particular subject, there was
"but what did she ever do to you" the father was clearer suddenly.
she had said something that sparked him.
"maybe you don't see it like that papa, maybe i see it differently.
i notice people's facial expressions, and everything about them.
it was just how she looked."
"look you can't judge people like that. don't do that. she's always
looked like that no matter what, and you know it. it don't make no difference
what she's saying."
the problem stems from the fact that works, and any intentions, although
never authorless, are equally resistant to conveying the multiplicity
of self. and to complicate matters admirers try to pursue a singular
persona, and this pursuit becomes the artwork or intention itself, and
for some gives it its sole meaning. and so it is those mute and soundless
selves not captured by a work that are the ones disregarded (or falsely
constructed) by those interested in an author: it don't make no difference
what you say.
your father tape recorded you. he asked you who you wanted to be when
you grew up. you wanted to be a character from a science fiction show
you were following on television in 1978. when he played back the tape,
you were shocked to hear your silly voice saying those silly things
in a way that bore no relation to the grave seriousness of the reply.
the recording was not you, but now it was real and apart from you, could
be saved or transported overseas and would always answer for you, despite
the fact that you had already changed your mind.
years later, it was this flexibility that you sought to capture when
you made the first recordings of your self. these, of course, were of
flowers, and the sun: not your voice (silly device) or your body, but
what you saw and smelled, what you could not draw, but looked upon every
you distinctly remember making your father drive you to the hill's
store so you could buy a small and inexpensive kodak camera out of your
meager savings. your parents mildly suggested your money would be best
spent elsewhere. yet you yearned for the device, the way some people
yearn to have children, and in return it required you to see through
it. you had set out to make the representations more like your selves,
quickly learning that that also entailed making those selves compatible
with the lenses producing the work.
a short dip in the conversation, on the train, and it happened again.
"but what did he ever do to you" the father said, repeating a sentiment.
"nothing, i just don't like him s'all. that's just me"
"he look a'you funny"
"no, i just don't like him"
"i don't know, just-don't-like-him"
that answer was thoroughly unsatisfactory. the father launched into
a painful campaign to elicit an answer. he repeated several things.
"he touch you?"
"NO papa i just DON'T like him!" again, as before, never shouting,
but pleading. he did not believe a thing she said. she had made a decision
and did not want to discuss it with someone unwilling to accept it.
this happens to you, and it involves words and photography.
but you also do it to others. you saw a movie about your favorite band,
and it supplies your dreams with the emotional footage you need to be
in love with the singer, especially when he appears to need a friend.
as in the long minutes after his show, when in the green room, he is
asked, repeatedly, if the next album will be like this one or that one,
the accidental insult of never accounting that his work would be like
nothing else, ever. you were there with him, the one who would finally
impertinantely laugh at the impertinant question, further complicating
error, mistakenly believing that you know better.
the point is that others have opinions about you, complicated opinions
born of misinterpreted selves, that you cannot control, and they really
should be taken in kindly. because there is another quiet ambiguity
being interrupted: your life, the life implied by your work, which is
beginning to intrude on the life you actually have. the fixity of the
one only appears to deny the flexibility of the other.
6:47 AM *
x x , o o
9:48 PM *
the questions are addressed to you, and they involve your skin.
"what do the stars mean?"
it's asked of you all the time about the other ones, the flowers, the
heart. but this was the first and only time of the stars.
you were in a bar, once interesting, now stupid.
she had interrupted your conversation by asking, and the initial annoyance
dissolved into a flood of answers. her little excitedness triggered
a new world of meaning, because you had never considered a why for these
little black motes. they just felt right.
and yet, after a minute of intense thought, in a bar, with a stranger
awaiting an answer, you wished to present only one, natural answer.
it was, of course, the one you could not give because of other present
they were for a double love, two in a row, on your favorite body part,
a hidden constellation, distant and unrequited. and it was one of these
loves, not stars, preventing you from answering truthfully.
star and love, twice, four little words and you muted. they say so
much, because they ask and answer the question, pose and solve the problem,
define and erase the limits. yet they are also symbols, not words, and
so really say nothing, even as they are capable of saying much more
than their words. if writing tells you anything, it is that there are
so many things you cannot say.
a little later, in september, they became something else. since you
got the heart you were prepared for the shifting meaning of ancient
icons. this was no different, a temporary shift, but one like the others,
one that would have you prepare words, many words. it makes you realize
that mirrors make big things small, that inexorable destruction, by
being paired with helplessness, somehow needs to happen twice. it is
not enough to destroy one, but both. you are shown what happiness might
be like not just once, but twice, and twice painfully denied. you have
been made to discover that an object of affection, who will never feel
the same, is paired with the pain caused by them requesting you to be
one set of words in particular would be written, but never posted.
they were prepared while holding the same star's hand, a little later
in september, while a friend sang what was your little-song-on-the-sidewalk.
you squeezed his hand while crying, crying because of double griefs,
but you stopped crying some time ago.
that september's anniversary was spent conceiving a new city. there
was a great deal of clangor, because inexorable creativity is paired
with optimism, and everyone has a great deal to say. yet the surfeit
of words was also mute: your group never thought to ask the first question,
never spoke of why they would ever undo what had been done last year,
even though there may be perfectly good explanations for this question,
just as you never conceived of completing the logical end of the train
of thought a year ago (the building is on fire, the sprinklers are certainly
destroyed, there is no firefighting that high, and structural steel
weakens in that kind of blaze, and therefore). the double x and double
o are in perfect, opposite, symmetry.
and so yesterday you asked yourself, naturally, under an impossibly
full moon, in the middle of another state, in the middle of the woods,
blue-gray light spilt over the water's gently trembling surface, the
hypnotic criss-cross of ripples, the disappeared stars, the misty gray-blue
air that spoke of you never being alone, even when alone: "but what
is the double-grief?".
over, and over, the question was yours, of and for you. you were posing
your non-answer for your non-question was you repeating the words to
yourself, as the white disk shone in your eyes and the water. but you
have learned well what the delay in reply means. it's how silly your
strange electronic emotional life seems at times, and that the singular
beauty of this planet is how its night atmosphere is lit by its sole
orbiting moon, with reflected light, giving the air its fullness, the
night's gift from the day.
8:49 PM *
lazy drive codicil.
"that road is named 'addendum'"
there was a little shower
an oak leaned over water
it was twelve palms reaching
and i was their piece of paper
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.