Saturday, January 31, 2009

History and Titles

So, when I began my college writing career, I was certain I would be a poet. And I kept that up until junior year when my computer was stolen and I lost close to 400 poems that I had stupidly not backed up or printed I decided to stop writing poetry. Then I decided to back up what little poetry I did have on here and shortly there after I began writing it again. All and all, I'm very happy I let poetry back into my life. The break was needed but it really is one of my life passions. But anyway, I recently began going through all my college notebooks because, frankly, I miss structured learning. I found a poem simply called, "Title Poem," which is exactly what it sounds like: a poem that consists of titles from other poems. It made me laugh because I remember writing some of those crazy poems but also sad because I don't have most of them anymore. So, here is that:

Fork tongs, warm
G.I. Joe is golden
Bestiality is best if weary
Sad records
Broken something
Between a heart and your head
She laughs freely
Swing me
Don't be lonely
From tree to limb
Can't fall, free
A real good cook (or look...I can't read my hand writing)
Painted socks
Bottles of pills
Flowers in trash cans
Skip me
Tidal waves
Strawberry honey
Relish fetish
Sometimes it moves
What's gone
Deeper hopelessness
Holding breathes like hands
Big eyed fools
Carry on on on
Over misters, under sons

untitled, found from 2005

Hitch a ride with any guide
as long as he goes fast.

I seek
new disasters
with you every day.

Nobody cares.

Every body wears
my sheep's clothes

but not as well--

their tints are too far off.

I opened my eyes
while we kissed


and you looked so sincere,

like a dog at my feet
during dinner.

My love for hope

made it's way--

a downward slope.

Does your hunger hurt?

I'm starving and surviving.

Not feeling too good

but I'm feeling a void--

filling is over-rated.

My pretty palm
holds your distaste
for, for, for...


Where's my generations Billy Holiday?

Make the river hear my pleas,

didn't mean to break your heart.
You ruined my day.

Stay river,
don't rise, river.

Sorry won't roll off the table,

so push in the chair.

You took off
your glasses
when we fought

so not to see me
see you


You were a silly
past time,
always good for a rhyme
but we went
way past
our prime,
even when
signs said stop.

It ended, it's bad
but I never stopped

loving where it started.

What's the difference


and wrong?



My eyes watch
the shadows
on cracked sidewalks--

He's been yellow.

I feel pretty blue.
All I see is

red, red, red, red, red.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Couples Therapy

You and your wife walk into the office and sit self-consciously on opposite sides of the couch. The plank above the therapist's head reads: "The roles of love are possessing and providing"

You hadn't seen your father in such a long time; your mother said he died in the arms of his lover. She never married again and you feel you're up for the same sort of fate.

Your wife says that you're hypersensitive and you prove her right with your silence.

Where did your desire go? There used to be pleasure in bed with you. There used to be crosswords and chocolates. Now you feel like love is missing all the vowels.

Your wife is indignant and irritable. She says you're jealous and harmful. You wonder how she can just throw words around like that.

This therapist gets paid $105 an hour, sometimes it feels like a certain form of madess, but most of the time you just want him, "hmmming" at you and writing down his hypothesis for a few more hours.

You didn't have to go from school, straight to a job, to a wife, then to instant fatherhood. But you did and now you can't tell who is the beast and who's the tamer.

"You've cut each other's wings off and they'll never grow back if you keep neglecting each other's search for divinity of the soul," this therapist says, then stands, "Time's up for today."

Scrabble (Or Nietzsche)

Nietzsche is my favorite scrabble opponent because he believes all words are lies and I get to watch him compromise in order to win. On Sunday, it's snowing--the kind that's too light and fluffy for snowball fights--and there aren't any good football games on TV so Friedrich and I play scrabble.

He places HUMAN on the board (28 points) then I spell NATURE off the A (7 points) and then he moves letters, one at a time, under the "H" to spell HABIT. I asked him about the difference between human nature and human habit. He says, "13 points." I think I gain the lead with TRUST on the double word score, except two rounds later he places M-I-S in front with the M covering the triple word score (30 points).

As he spills coffee on the dog's head and rants about words being merely signs that point to things I spell DEPEND vertically (14 points). Friedrich laughs, writes down my score and says, "Wouldn't have figured you for one of the herd." I raise my eyebrow as he makes his next bold move: I-N in front of my DEPEND and E-N-T after (15 points).

"In order to know what it is, I guess you have to know what it's not," I mumble. After several minutes of rearranging the letters in my mind, I finally see it. Using his T, I complete my last word: METAPHOR. I get an extra 50 points because I use all of my letters, so I'm out of my seat laughing and dancing.

He says, "You win. But I still mistrust the source of truthfulness." My lips curl into an even bigger smile and I say, "That's fine because one who finds virtue also laughs at it."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

JSI's 5 Words


When the whiskey is flowin'
there's stories to the rafters.
Simple slices of life swirlin'
around the smoke and shot glasses.

A familiar stranger saunters
in--catchin' the end of a tall tale
so our laughs crackle and their
echoes fill the space
between the stools.

Outside there's snow on the ground
and we're all hidin' from it
but holdin' onto
things we can't touch:
the blues, shadows
and that fresh feeling
of learning who someone was,
is, and can be.

We'll share a cigarette
with our fingers touching
with every pass.
I'll say, "Through all our conquests
and queries we get a few moments
to relax." And you'll say,
"And a few more to regret."

We will smile until long after
the irises sprout and bloom--
what a journey that must be,
from seed to vase.
And we realize how different
we really are from flowers.
We're lucky to not be as lonely.

*ball is the 5th word, I couldn't fit it and I'm disappointed with myself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Character Sketch: H.

is unfavorably humble.
He has all the things to please a woman, except the looks and know-how. H. is rich but obese. He lets his pin-straight dirty blond hair grow past his shoulders into a greasy split-end mess. He sleeps all day and wakes up just before night fall.
H. is an avid reader and he looks down his pointy nose trying to play the piano. He can hear the pitter-patter of a pair of feet above his head that belong to the girl of his dreams while he plays Beethoven. When his chubby fingers clank two keys at once he grows frustrated and moves to the couch. There he will eat entire bags of potato chips with tubs of sour cream and chive dip, an entire bucket of chicken and finally he reaches for the pint of soft Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey--then slurps it slowly. All the while watching reality TV; on any given night H. will see the face of Derek at least six times. H. obsesses over his chisseled features, his pointy nose, his abs that go on and on. He wants to be Derek but without the humilation. H. watches the elimination dating game show and Derek's skin is more tan than usual and H. focuses on Derek's eyes, there's something more than nothing there tonight, some sort of aching and H. thinks he can understand it. He thinks, "We've both given up on something far greater than ourselves." The TV screen acts as a mirror when H. looks into Derek's eyes.
Then H. hears the creak of the stiars outside his apartment. He heaves himself up and waddles to the peep hole just in time to see Breanna saunter by. H. breathes her name into the door.
When H. was younger his father called him a tub of chub, then fatty and finally just useless. All the while his mother left him cupcakes on the counter and whole roasts in the oven for dinner. She would rub H.'s hair flat on his head and say, "Shhh, I know, it's okay," when she found endless bags of cookies under his bed. "I won't tell your father this time," she would say.
When H.'s father left for a business trip and never came home. A month shy of H.'s 18th birthday, he answered the phone to a woman crying. She said his father had been swept under a current and after a three day search he still hadn't been found. H. pushed the hot slice of pizza further in his mouth, then began cooling it by blowing air out and sucking the cool back in. This woman said, "I'm sorry." And H. said, "He never loved me anyway." And she said, "I'm so sorry." And she said, "I'm pregnant." And H. said, "I don't care." And she said, "You were going to be a big brother." And H. said, "My father wouldn't have loved it either." And she said, "Then I'm not sorry anymore."
So H. became a millionaire that day and now does nothing. He gets his food delivered and his laundry picked up once a week. Even then, he won't mutter but a little thank you.
Every morning before he goes to bed, he puts crumbs out on his fire escape and waits to watch the pigeons feast. Thinking that it won't amount to much, but at least he's giving something. He lies, thinking about not wanting to spend forever there and when he wipes away the tears he closes his eyes. H.'s body aches in his sleep, his breathing slows and he wakes up in a cold sweat, feeling worse than death.
He topples off the bed and crawls to the phone, without pride he dials 911. His heart attacks his body. H. recovers for months and months after his open heart and plastic surgery and lipo suction in a room with a beautiful woman in a coma. Finally, he walks out of the hospital a different man. A little less unfavorable. H. set out to gain some know-how.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bankrupt: Paying Dues to the Muse

Bankrupt: Paying Dues to the Muse
*This is a poem I wrote in an old check book. I put some pictures in so you can get the idea of the layout and concept.

Pay to the order of: Interruptions, for the muse.
Interruptions become wealthy, with and always, because of the muse.

Pay to the order of: The crow, for philosophy.
The muse feats on crow with philosophy, we choke on them.

Pay to the order of: The (fe)male, for the muse.
The muse is male and just as importantly, female.

Pay to the order of: Shakespeare, for characters.
Shakespeare wrote to the love muse, yet we have characters like Macbeth.

Pay to the order of: The mind, for December.
December, my mind's all cooped up, let's go make love, muse.

Pay to the order of: The professional, for the muse.
That's just what I always wanted to be: A professional muse!

Pay to the order of: The re-run, for missing muse.
That re-run is on, will we miss the muse?

Pay to the order of: The goldfish, for memories.
I am the muse and goldfish have no memory.

Pay to the order of: the coffee shop, for a mocha grande.
I go the the coffee shop, my muse is not a cafe mocha grande.

Pay to the order of: The morning, for tea.
The ice cubes in my tea melt, I wait until morning for my muse.

Pay to the order of: Declining mind, for lipstick and leather.
My declining mind applies lipstick and my muse poses in leather shorts.

Pay to the order of: Napoleon, for feathered hat.
My muse wears a large hat with a feather, one similar to Napoleon's.

Pay to the order of: The blind muse, for smokes and drinks.
I smoke, I drink, every time I blink I am worse, but I have a blind muse.

Pay to the order of: Rippled pond, for two stones.
I throw two stones in the pond, my muse ripples and I fall in.

Pay to the order of: Existence, for tomorrow.
If I don't exist tomorrow, all is not lost if my muse cries for me.

Pay to the order of: The muse, for grilled cheese.
The muse cometh--will we eat grilled cheese and drink kool-aid?

Pay to the order of: The lap, for sitting.
I am the muse, will you sit on my lap?

Pay to the order of: The post office, for love letters.
We want more love letters to arrive, my muse knows not about the post office.

Pay to the order of: The wind, for fly strips.
The fly strip waves in the wind and all I can say is fuck you, muse.

Pay to the order of: Warm nights, for crystal lights.
The muse is a crystal of light, it disappears on warm nights.

Pay to the order of: Dictionaries, for soft hands.
Lotion softens the hands of my muse, dictionaries do not define me.

Pay to the order of: The forehead, for thoughts.
We are frozen together, muse, and to bring one of us to the forehead will bare the interior of our thoughts.

Pay to the order of: The bed, for vagina.
I wait on the bed for my muse, with a finger in my vagina.

Pay to the order of: Preschools, for prisons.
Prisons fester muses, but so do preschools.

Pay to the order of: Thinking, for the muse.
I see we are both perplexed, muse, the fan says, "Yes," what will we think of next?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Character Sketch: G.

is desperately guarded.
She was born with hair so blonde that she looked bald on white backgrounds. That never changed, even as she grew into her adult skin. Her breasts are large and her eyes have enough yellow in them that people tell her they look like sunflowers. G. is obsessed with windows and loves how skylights do nothing but serve their own purpose.
As a little girl she jumped from swings and for moments at a time she felt like she had wings. Once, she landed too hard and fell to her back, knocking the wind out of her lungs. She gasped and looked into the wide faces of those circling her. G.'s smile crept over her whole body and she got right up and back on the swing.
At 18, G. moved to New York and she learned to run for subways and watch people cry and do nothing because. Strangers shared her air and she would scream inside but make eye contact and smile. As often as possible, G. walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and sat on the court house steps in downtown Brooklyn. There is the most captivating wind tunnel to watch from that spot. She envies any newspaper stand owner who dares to take post near by. Their papers take flight and swirl around like ballerinas caught in an invisible tornado. The newspaper peddlers scurry for the "Arts" and "Economy" sections and G. leans back and sucks on her blue lollipop.
To say she is lonely is an understatment but G. knows herself better than anyone ever could. Her voice is soft yet unclear.
G. often asks her brother, Evan to visit and he has his own reasons not to so she feels her sadness with every fiber of her being. Maybe it is that she had intense crushes her whole life. Maybe it is that every time she looks in a mirror she is not the same. Men absorbed her beauty where ever she went but none pursued. She always thought, "I'm much, much better off. I wouldn't know what to say to a gentle voice or a harsh cry for affection."
Evan once told her he needed the sea and G. understood because she felt weight like the sea when she walked down streets and stood in coffee shops. She just wanted open space, open and fierce like the wind. She wanted to sail through the sky and feel the silence on her skin. G. met a little graying woman in a bodega once. This woman said, "I'm not sorry for anything." And G. said, "Nothing, not ever." And she said, "Not even my son who I gave up on before he was even born." And G. said, "That's a size I don't need to try on." And she said, "Oh yes, I'm not sure if it's too big or small." And G. said, "I need to get out of the city." And she said, "Go to the prairie and watch the wind catch up with the tall grass."
One sunny winter day G. woke up and the sun was shinning through her window and the tops of the bare trees cast shadows across her bed. She dressed slowly, even matching her socks. G. put on her last clean pair of underwear, her thinnest pants and her tightest coat. She got in a cab and told the driver to go until she said stop. Somewhere on the B.Q.E. between downtown Brooklyn and Bed-Stuy she told him to stop and he actually did. She stood on the edge of the overpass until her nose and toes were numb, then she jumped.
Time passed and sometimes she could feel her childhood sitting next to her bed in the hospital room. Time passed and sometimes she could feel the nutrients in her body. Time passed. Time passed and she finally felt the urge to be grounded--but not in a grave. On the nightstand next to her bed was a black and white photograph of a shadow falling. Her body flying.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A place for words:

Character Sketch: F.

is terribly flamboyant.
His jet black hair clashes with his navy blue flight attendant uniform. His nails are shiny with perfectly rounded edges and clipped cuticles. F's an itinerant person. He shaves his face every day in airport restrooms. If stubble grows he thinks his smile lines look like small streaks of granite.
He lives each day for "Hello," but by the end of a flight he's ready to say "Goodbye." Another city, another lay over. F. watches herds of people and misses his boyfriend, Jeff. L.A.X used to be F's least favorite airport but now it's the closest thing to home.
F. sleeps at Jeff's house when he's not in the sky so he never stops living out of a suitcase. One night, he was on the toilet, shitting and reading, when the shower curtain moved and startled F. He slowly pulled the curtain back and there was a cat. Jeff never had a cat before. F. eased himself through the crack in the bedroom door. He heard mumbles from the closet and stood silently next to the nightstand. "I couldn't," said Jeff. "But I will. He'll be devastated," said Jeff. "I'll see you when he heads to Atlanta," said Jeff, "I love you too."
F. felt like a mouse, in a dark room, avoiding that black cat who has long since slipped out the door. Vengeance grew in him as if he were a child again and a bully broke his favorite toy. The next day, F. went to the pharmacy and bought the darkest, cheapest off-brand of self-tanner he cold find. While Jeff was out tailoring his slacks, F. poured out all of Jeff's expensive lotions then replaced them with the tangy tanner. He took permanent marker to the bathroom mirror: "You were never a good lover. You were never even a good friend. You are self-absorbed and I hate myself for having adored you." F. also left the front door open when he walked out. He watched the bathtub cat claw her way up a tree as he got into the cab.
Somewhere between Iowa and Indiana, he joined the Mile High Club. F. had flirted with a dark black man in 16C and this man actually flirted back. After the sixth or seventh complimentary vodka, 16C got up from his seat, shuffled down the isle, winked at F. and entered the bathroom. The green "vacant" never clicked over to red "occupied." F. poked his head out of the snack cubbyhole and saw the other flight attendant in first class, then scooted into the bathroom and slid the lock over. The two men filled the space and it wasn't a fairytale, it wasn't romance. It was raw and quick.
F. flashed back to his first crush, an ugly Puerto Rican senior who always smelled amazing. He would scurry across the crowded high school hallway just to take a deep whiff as they passed each other. F. flashed to his father's fist flying toward his face after finding him in bed with Rick, the Puerto Rican. Rick screamed that he wasn't gay as he came and again as F.'s father slugged him. The two avoided each other's black eyes in the hall.
16C finished on the wall next to the toilet paper dispenser and F. cleaned it. After all the "Goodbyes" and "Thank yous," F. made his way through the Atlanta airport and found a close-to-empty restroom. He took out his shaving kit, released the blade from the razor and stood holding it in his shaking palm. He could feel his ears pop and his heart pound in his finger tips. F. went into the handicap stall and pulled up his sleeve. Just as the silver blade touched his skin, his cell phone rang. L.A area code. F. hit silent and breathed in the bleach smell of the clean restroom. Three small beads of blood ran down the staircase of scars that climbed up his arm and dropped into the porcelain bowl. They spread in the water like cream in coffee--more like a negative exposure of the cup. F. cleaned his perfect cuts and opened the stall. The toilet flushed automatically. He still had an hour before his next flight.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

quick intermission

okay, readers:
so i'm sure some don't know what the hell is going on. i don't half the time either, but that's the luck of the draw and most of the fun of it. but anyway, this character sketch bit is a new, and personally exciting project of mine.
most know i've been an aspiring hybrid writer for as long as i can remember and this new thing i'm embarking on is the most organically hybrid as i've come. okay, so i'll back up: when i begin writing a fiction story i do a character sketch as part of the planning process so i can get to know a character before putting them in fake situations. this time i said fuck the fiction story, i'll make a bunch of character sketch poems (because poetry is more instantly gratifying and who doesn't love that?!) but really, i wanted to make these character sketches strong enough so they felt real. then i realized that i like constraints, so i decided the characters wouldn't have names and that i wanted them to correspond with the alphabet because, well, i've always been kind of obsessed with it anyway....and then.....i decided that i wanted the characters to connect...their lives, you know, like how all of our lives connect. so in essence i am writing a story on the fly with about 2 poems a week through these sketches. I really, really am begging for criticism, i need someone's words to tell me, "no, it's terrible, you have to rethink it all" or "well this works and this doesn't" or "i see what you're doing here but this part isn't working" like a critic, or a work-shopper or an editor or someone. just give me some thoughts.

Character Sketch: E.

is unnervingly eager.
He has full lips and blond hair, rough like Brillo pads. Most women thought him to be attractive but his laugh scared everyone. It is heavy and terrible, like his cricked teeth have shredded it to pieces. E. even had braces as a boy.
He was raised in Iowa, in a little house that wasn't broken. His father never hit his mother but his little sister always wanted to fly. She begged, "Higher, higher," on the swing, on the trampoline. Once D. and Gwen were jumping when a tree branch got stuck under the wire of D.'s braces on his way back down to bounce. Two of his teeth were yanked from his gums, then his knees buckled and he ricocheted off into a bush. His bottom jaw chomped down on his remaining top teeth--chipping most to sharp points. The blood swelled and oozed from his mouth and he can still taste the metallic iron of it to this day.
At 17, E. bought a motorcycle. He rode it through the dessert toward the West. He watched the sand turn more rusty red with every mile, as the heat sucked the moisture from his skin. There was a car on fire one night while the sun was setting. He could see the burning body as he passed. He never told anyone about hearing the screams but not stopping.
When he got to California, he slept on the beach and had a love affair with acid. Sometimes, E. thought he could hear under water and sometimes he even listened to the fish singing.
He rented a room from an old lady. She gave him a mattress, which laid up-right against the wall the entire time he lived there. He, instead, filled the space with sea things: shells, stones, sea weeds, vessles of foam and sand, exoskeletons, and drift wood. He dyed his hair sea-foam green and tattooed "The Birth of Venus" on his torso.
When his sister moved to New York and begged him to sit on the Brooklyn Bridge with him, he said, "I'll have no sea." And his sister said, "You'll have to see." And he said, "No, I'll need the sea." And she said, "Oh, you need the sea the way I need the wind." And E. said, "Yes." And Gwen said, "You're lucky you can put your feet in it." And he said, "But the wind is every where." And she said, "I will fly."
E. did make it to NY, but his sister couldn't walk anymore, so he put his sea in galleries and sat by her every day at the hospital. He told her about colors, vivid and dull. He told her about all the things she wasn't missing out in the world and all the things that made people sorry they aren't. He never told her about his guilt over not saving two girl's lives. But he did tell her about waking up once with sand crabs festering his his mouth. He said, "They weren't scared of my teeth."

Character Sketch: D.

is famously dejected.
He thinks he's bigger than he really is, but most people have slight Napoleon complex anyway. He has a pointy nose and could be funny or sexy or sweet or smart or tricky. D. is a reality show circuit whore. Parading himself all over MTV or Vh1 and magazines and finally, the last frontier: the internet. Always with his pants down, holding a deceptive grin on his face. D. says there's nothing to hide, but he has agony in his closet. Under his Versace and Dior, way in the back is a box of old letters he wrote to his birth mother, but never sent.
D.'s last foster mom brought them to him after seeing D. on TV getting tied up to a chicken coop and then painted, smiling with feathers being thrown on his bare body. D's foster mom said, "You're a disgrace." And D. said, "I never said I was perfect." And she said, "You think people like you, but you're a fool." And he said, "I'm only human." And she said, "I'm done with you, Jesus is too." That was the only time D.'s conscious was checked.
When D. gets nervous, he pokes his middle finger in the dimple on his arm. Years ago, he was terrorized by a college roommate's question. D. would never have said that he survived an abortion, that he's never been wanted by anyone. But when Andy said, "Conversation starter," D. almost threw himself into a mirror. Since then, D. has conned his way out of every problem, but really he wants to surrender.
He has yellow fingers yet keeps smoking. D. forgot about summer and winter and day and night, he just learned to ignore the camera stuck in his face. D. became a bad impersonation of himself.
D. dated a girl from a show called, Feed Me or Eat Me, where the contestants pick a number that corresponds with either decorating their body with food or eating it off another person with their hands tied behind their backs. D. ate turkey slices off Penelope's ass so their relationship never really had a chance. On their two month anniversary dinner, Penelope's eyes shifted from his collagen-filled lips to over his shoulder, in a way she didn't want him to ignore. When he turned around there was a man sitting alone in a booth. This man looked like an orangutan with manicured facial hair. During dessert she said, "I'm going to walk away from you." And he said, "I will do nothing but let you."
Later that night, he sprayed his arms, legs, and face with self-tanner for medium skin tones. He reached in the back of his closet then left orange finger prints on all those letters that broadcast his little boy lost words, the ones he never sent. His face became streaked like reverse tiger stripes and his tight white t-shirt became spotted with Cheeto-colored tear drops.
Near the end of the stack, there was an envelope addressed to him. The woman's name didn't register, the handwriting made his look like chicken scratch. D. knew it was her and he fondled his arm dimple. This letter didn't tell why, it didn't tell him, sorry. It didn't say, "I want to meet you," it didn't say, "I love you" or " I think of you often." One sentence sat in the middle of the page: "You can never tie things into a neat little bow." He threw all the letters away.
He never did stop being a bad kisser and there are always things for him to vilify or swig down like gin but D. never really wanted to laugh.