Thursday, July 17, 2014

In the margins I’d written, *Trees have trunks
to move away from us.

Us: the plural collective.  

* I wish to live at the level of the trees,
with the birds—
away from the grit
and the faces.

Easily I’m amused by the weight of a laugh—
in decibels of light,
and the masses. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

writers take to the beach.

As we move into mid-summer, spoiled by these pristine days, I wondered about other writers who in their time put off work days for a little beach bliss.

Here is a collection of some of my favorite seaside depictions:

Virginia Woolf & Clive Bell
Studland Beach, Dorset 1909
Jack Kerouac, Peter Orlovsky & William S. Burroughs
Tangier, Morocco 1957
Sylvia Plath
Henry Miller
Sylvia Plath
Jack Kerouac

Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, July 3, 2014

untitled.

In time, we'll be old as ferns,
silver spoons buried in the yard with the Forget-Me-Nots.

I think of the widower Ed, who's lost a day,
shuffling in and out of his sadness;
as if his sadness alone was a platform for a train.
Binging on beer and sugared lemons,
he pays his debts in Bermudian seashells,
because he can't afford the change.

And here I am, happy,
evenly-spaced:
with nothing but time to work,
and time to love--

Making my daily toasts:
to an inalienable life,
your Spanish mouth,
and the myths we essay into command.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

it's better to be like a ball with no edges.


I’d forgotten what it was like to put time into a longer project. Following the wrap up of graduate school, I optimistically deserted my thesis (and its many incarnations) knowing that it was in the best interest of my sanity to let my first manuscript stew in a drawer, out of sight, out of mind. And if I ever felt so inclined, dried up, or nostalgic, the one-foot draft pile would be there where I’d left it.

I honestly believed that there were bigger and brighter ideas to tackle out there (in the figment of every writer’s world). Things that people really cared about. I already knew some things, and could certainly write my knowledge into the broader spectrum of things.  And so it was the end of a proverbial relationship, my manuscript and I were taking a break, and surprisingly I didn’t feel a morsel of remorse over how it all went down.

I joked, It will be my first written, last published piece. Posthumously, of course. Since we all know how the ego loves morbidity.

I’d also forgotten what it was like to be in a relationship with another human being. Not another artist, not another project, but another person who made time for me and deserved my time in return. During the occasional bout of rationale, it seemed essential to shift my energies to what was budding between me and my new love interest. Someone actually wanted to be my partner! I didn’t know what to do with that sort of evidence. And once we got past the I Feel Worthy, You Feel Worthy insecurities, our shared sentiment to let our love run freely and evolve naturally, restored my faith in the organic matter of things. I didn’t realize how regimented I’d become in my personal life and routine, and how much I actually beat myself up over not creating or not producing enough/smarter/profound material; how much I aimed to be better at everything I attempted to an unhealthy degree.

It’s better to be like a ball with no edges, a friend reminded me. You just keep rolling with it, bumping along even the rockiest of terrain. Now, when you find you and your lifestyle are more fashioned like a box, you quickly become stagnant or sedentary, sometimes requiring a forceful budge to get momentum going again.

In less than two weeks, my partner and I will be beginning what we hope is a sustainable, cohabiting future. I confess there were years and years where I questioned if I could ever live with another person. And if I did, how would my art be affected? I worried about falling into one of those scary “comfort zones” in relationships, where self-motivation is muted, and passion gets squeezed out by obligation and the constant proof that unfulfilled individuals seek. I think about that line in the movie Reality Bites, where the character Vickie (played by Gene Garofalo) says, “My parents have been married for 26 years. They’re like brother and sister at this point. She goes to the bathroom with the door open… [Na-ah, I don’t want that. I want passion the whole way through]” And who could blame her?

So, the true test will be finding the balance of honoring the passions I know fulfill me as an individual (because I’m damn good at doing it alone) and melding together with my partner in a sharing of experiences and interests and dreams, and also being able to draw inspiration out of the places I never even thought to look before.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

They became lovers in the midst of naming things for what they were:
Latin labels, thymus serphyllum, creeping wild thyme.
The moon: Luna, feminine, a lambent pearl.
He stroked her arm and told her about The West,
sucking cold air through their imperfect teeth,
she was impressed by what he was not.
That's how it began really,
challenging the other in what they knew,
or could never be.
They were not allies—
would never be,
because they were frustrated versions of themselves.

She bought him books she knew he wouldn’t read,
he quoted Russian poets he knew she’d never heard of.
They looked to the written word for the answers they did not have.
They threw terms around like loaded dice: transcendence, superiority complex, 
magnanimous.
Either one of them could’ve fit the bill.
Later, she wrote him about the cobblestone streets,
the meandering snakeskin of rocks,
the bodegas she passed,
the places she thought he would enjoy.
It was assumptive,
she didn’t know him that well.
At night, she would recount the memories backward,
only to impress him with her keen observation skills:
the rarity of a half dimple,
his soft pronunciation,
and etiquette in pouring one’s coffee.




If you only knew as well as I,
then perhaps I’d be telling a different story altogether.
The men in the smoke shop know me as the writer with a vision.
“Where the hell are those pages?” they holler in my direction
from open doors and entryways.
And they listen.
While they want a taste of simple verse,
few can comprehend my technique.
Not everything computes.
Some things fall through the cracks,
some are too delicate to hold.
When my stories don’t sell, they become poems instead,
since there’s nowhere to hide in a poem.

Over time, she gave him examples of what she didn’t understand:
how flight was possible,
lost languages, shibui,
how one could both desire progression and yearn for the nostalgic,
genocide, "the mainstream",
where our souls go after we die.
To him, she omitted nothing.

So, when she stumbled into that bookstore on a rainy afternoon—
the one around the corner from her West End apartment,
it was in search of a selection they could channel together,
a juncture of where they could meet.
The title was so clearly named for them both,
an arrangement most intrinsic in clever ways—
function absorbed by text,
and all laid out there for their taking.
And she readily saw it for what it was,
the doctrine they would never write themselves in.

Then she picked lint from her money and purchased this item,
and went on with her usual day.
I think she must have had a drink after that,
and surely sat down and wrote a few hundred words about:
What IS the nature man?
And thus, kept this secret to herself,
because she loved him once,
if only for that summer.
Because she wanted to protect him from what she’d just found.
Because she was taught still young:
Too much truth can ruin a person’s appetite.
But mostly, because she knew
the only thing she could do for him,
was keep giving her non-answers.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

steering into the anonymous possible.

In the afterthoughts of a catkin rain,
you said, there’d be cherry blossoms in Virginia,
about this time of year,
when youth is remembered as the sweet-tasting fog
crawling carelessly over your shoulder blades,
and the swales of the Blue Ridges.

I alter inward like loved hips,
speeches coughed from bourbon mouths:
of tuning clarinets,
artists,
and of decent men.

Where nothing is distinguished—
Foundation or pillar.
Or joy,
as an extension  of our being.

Whose heady principles
cower in the smallness of a grand scale. 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I want to build a house with you
of cedar and sod;
to sweat us into the winter months,
and keep the moths out of our wool.
At the thrift stores, we'll mull over
colored glass to break with hammers, and
reconfigure in windows and doorways. 
Is this proof we seek?

Have we the frame?
 Now all we need are the
blueprint inner-workings.
Wind and rewind those clocks--
out of this inertia. 
Purpose bends with age.

When I grow up
I'll have figured out how to hold a moment like an egg, 
and sorrow will be left in the chicken coops
to be shoveled out
on rainy days. 





Thursday, April 24, 2014

wallace stevens and martha's vineyard

"Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
They never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set the pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weaving of our afternoons." - sunday morning, wallace stevens


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On Martha’s Vineyard there is a great thrift store that is unique and not ubiquitous to those I frequent when I’m home in Portland, ME. For those like me, who enjoy picking through second-hand and consigned merchandise, you know the smell of worn clothing and loved furniture. It’s a musty scent, like the inside of a tent after a camping trip.

However, on the island, my favorite little thrift store is a converted garage just outside Vineyard Haven, tucked away near a dead end road that leads to the salt marshes. On nice weather days, the air circulates from the street where the doors have been pulled up and open, through the building of racks and boxes and shelves, and out to sea.

And the finds that can be dug up! Abandoned paintings and drawings of visiting artists, enough cookware to fill your kitchen, clothing for those who care about labels (and not the price tag), tennis rackets and golf clubs and roller blades, tools of antiquity, and books, books, and more books. I now know to leave extra room in my suitcase, because it is likely I will be returning home with new reading material.

During my latest trip, I lucked out and visited the store when all books were ½ off. This was a real score for me, since my literary budget has been overextended in recent years. I have to say, if I have a sickness for anything, its spending money on books. I just can’t help myself, especially when I come across excellent writing. It’s the equivalent of finding a piece of art hidden or forgotten in a bin, then discovering the $5 sticker. For a moment, I’m saddened by how under-appreciated the work is, but my faith is quickly restored when I know I will find value in absorbing and savoring what the opportunity has afforded me. Acquiring knowledge and being grateful for the beautiful things brought into this world holds a different weight than material gains. This is a truth I know.


All and all, I spent $3 and got three wonderful works for my collection:


Monday, April 14, 2014

When he stopped recognizing his wife,
he conjoled her behind the wood shed,
wearing a blue bird dress and a string of cowries.
And him: the suit he'd be buried in. 

With his finger on the trigger, she asked 
"Did you happen to set the kitchen timer?" 
And he didn't have the heart to tell her
it's been 10 years of extracting things from the oven--
tools
and shoes,
and the manuscript she believed
was plagiarized by another,
in her own hand. 

It occurred to him in a flash of clarity,
that his wife could be like an octopus;
able to detach a part of herself at will--
exhausted of her faculties,
reasoned in their age. 

Then over them, flew an osprey
and she looked up,
and she looked up.

And he followed her eyes,
and he followed her gaze.
And,
 he followed her. 




Thursday, April 10, 2014





















My veins have pitchforks in 'em—
hard, blue blood work ethic,

MOTHER, FATHER, LAND.

I could prune an orchard with a look.
Identify carving wood with my teeth.
Erect a wall
by finding permanence of mind.

I can’t think of mulch, without
remembering the squeal of a rabbit.
In a shoe box, is where I kept the bunnies safe inside a storm drain,
with a nest of newspaper.

It was a milk snake or fox
that got to them, eventually.
My mother called this, LIFE.

When I pray I stand in fields
and estuaries,
or rejoice in mountain springs
among the fecund ferns.
And when I mourn, I look
to the icy bath of the Atlantic,
reminding me that I have

veins,
with pitchforks in ‘em.