Tuesday, December 31, 2013

end/begin

It is the last day of 2013 and I am in Cairo, Egypt. I will be ringing in the new year when it is only 5pm in the states. It feels appropriate. I want 2014 to start as soon as possible.

My time in Egypt has been absolutely...magical. And everything. And beautiful, and eye-opening and just what I needed. It is an end and a beginning. I tug my words from the air and from my heart and the syllables just aren't enough. It goes beyond that. It is feeling--it is the known undefined. It is my gut. It is what I want, and it is my future.

May the next year be challenging and rewarding for all of us. Make it so. Do not tread in your comfort. Extend and risk.

All my love.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2


packing

This week might as well be the one that never existed. I'm here, sort of. But not really. I'm one foot in the airplane, one foot seven hours forward. I'm out the door already. I leave for Egypt this Saturday and the days til then shall be blurs.

I've been running around doing errands, crossing off items on the to-do list(s) and all the while my heart is thumping quick and heavy--swinging feet first from collarbone and kicking ribs. I am drum built under lake; buried far below so the cattails won't shake.


Earlier tonight Jocelyn asked me if I was ready. My eyes were wide and damn near shivering their sockets when I paused there, half out her door, and really considered the question. And my heart was all kick-out-the-jams in my chest. The pounding of it informed the rest of me. You better believe I'm ready.

haiku


banana peels &
gunsmoke, paragraphs that pull
from binding
like teeth

Thursday, December 12, 2013

in 9

This time of year is always a strange game of push-me/pull-me--on one hand, out of habit, I tend to hold my breath until the new year ticks over. I've always associated a sadness with these holidays--even as a six or seven year old child, playing with the baby Jesus in the nativity scene, that strange devestation would come sit on me(I remember blue lights from the tree & tears I shed beside them). I've had both beautiful and terrible memories from this time of year. I hold my breath, I roll my eyes at the strange energy of others while simultaneously shuffling my own low under the rug. There is the rubber band effect once Thanksgiving hits--it all slips quick out of our hands, under then behind us. Lines of the road; I'm sure I've noted the metaphor before.

I leave for Egypt in 9 days. Nine! People ask me if I'm excited and it takes all my strength not to throw both hands above my head and shout YES! YES I! AM! SO! EXCITED!


BECAUSE! I AM!

This weekend I scurry off to Ohio once more before my departure for an impromptu, early-ish xmas celebration since I won't be in the country for the actual holiday. I am sad to miss winter break with my family--there is no joy like the joy of Christmas morning for a 6 year old and 3 year old. I'll be sure to Skype in for the destruction of wrapping paper and hollering of new toys. Of course it won't be the same as being there. I'm sad about it, but this trip means so much to me, and will speak volumes about what comes next. Now, more than ever, I need to go toe to toe with my challenges. I need to seek them out. So much in life seems to be about timing. From the outside, my now might seem inconvenient in regards to logistics. But ah, that's the beauty of it. Timing is not about midnight on the last day of the year, and timing is not about being ready(when can one ever be, truly?) and it defies all coordinates. True timing might be the nonsensical alignment of heart, brain, and gut. That's the closest I can get to it--by saying might and nonsensical.

Whatever it is, it is now.

Friday, December 6, 2013

films lately

I've stumbled upon some darn good cinema over the past few months. Funny how much a mood or life change will influence what one wants to watch, even to decompress or escape the usual for a bit. Lately I've been into subtleties, and human connection(as always). A lot of love, some ache, some quiet moments between characters. The kind of massive, massive silence that isn't quiet at all. I thought I would share some of the films that struck me.

Take this Waltz
You have your couple, played by Michelle Williams and Seth Rogan. I like Williams. She can pull off a shit ton of emotion in one character(see: Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, Me Without You). Rogan's character is a bit flat in this, I felt, but he doesn't need to be much. He's her sweet partner. But then there's this OTHER fellow that Williams crosses paths with randomly on a plane...she returns home to run into him AGAIN because surprise! He lives right down the street. There's flirting, there's not-flirting which IS actually flirting and then there's the not flirting and REALLY not flirting. There comes a point where you are just waiting for one of them to lean in and make all of it a reality. Before we even go near that point, they have this conversation. I found this scene pretty intense. He tells her what exactly he would do if they could take it a step further(it's a little graphic, language-wise):


Yeah. Intense.

No spoilers here. All I'm going to say is that it includes "Take this Waltz" by Lou Reed at a really interesting point. It's on Netflix. I liked it.


28 Hotel Rooms



I'll admit it--I have a crush on Chris Messina. So there's that.

This movie centers on two people, both married, who cross paths on a business trip. Over time they maintain their affair thanks to the nature of their jobs(lots of travel, hence the name of the film). You're watching two people fall in love, have a relationship, that shouldn't be doing so at all. At first it felt awkward to me, to watch their meet-ups and their hot/cold. So in-the-moment and on fire when first meeting, but somewhat distant and almost business-like when it is time to depart. They meet up so often that you do start to see their connection unfold. I am a huge fan of the lighting and cinematography in this movie--most of it takes place in hotel rooms, so the lighting is usually dim or very exact with where it falls. A lot of their moments are intimate, one on one. There are close shots of the body, time lapse sequences of sex and the mundane.



This is also on Netflix.

Next up:
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus

This is on Netflix as well. I wanted to watch it as soon as I saw that Gaby Hoffmann played one of the lead roles. She's always been one of my favorite actresses, plus she grew up in the Chelsea Hotel(color me a little envious there). Her acting is top notch. This is a weird movie, but if you like ones that are about human connection and doing drugs you will enjoy.

Michael Cera's character is kind of a dick in this movie, and he plays it well. He's the American guy that wants to find the cactus, cook it down, and do the drug. He wants to trip, ASAP. He becomes annoying with his determination, even to his travelmates. He invites a girl along that he meets at a party named Crystal Fairy. He mocks her a bit to his travel companions and none of them feel very comfortable when Crystal Fairy comes out of the shower and is completely fine hanging out/standing around completely naked as they converse. She's comfortable with herself, plus she's a little out there, so no one knows what to make of her.

I'm a big fan of the cinematography in this one, plus I think they captured the essence of tripping quite well. I love when Cera's character starts to think his voice sounds funny and he just keeps yelling out to prove his point. I loved Crystal Fairy in this movie so much. Gaby Hoffmann nails it.

Trailer:



Frances Ha

The entire thing is shot in black and white, and I love Frances so much. It's a movie about friendship and finding yourself and being clumsy and giving shit a go anyway. I don't want to say too much about it. It's a really sweet film with great dialogue. Again, very subtle stuff.

Trailer:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

27/30 - poem

short one today...it's a short day at work and I'm hitting the road for Ohio in about 12 minutes.

27/30

(haiku)
Shuffled days: my deck
of cards slid in between those
homemade hand grenades

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

26/30 - poem a day


26/30


I suspect the rivers got the hint and now they flow like pulse to you.
I think my heart grew feet and kicked down some walls and moved some bones to make more room. There are hash marks in the door frame. She used to be a little thing.
Everyone assumes it is the cold I hate but really it's the quiet that comes with a bunch of snow. The quiet like when as a child I'd rake up all the leaves just so I could lay in them alone. That quiet. That loneliness. Stillness of the world still turning.
I talk about the body a lot. Hard to believe I'm still in one.
Prehistoric hurt like the dried fist of daisies hanging on the curtain rod. Disintegrates to touch. Looks tired and permanent. But this too we take down.
The pennies smell like blood. The jukebox still owns me. I may always be sorry. There's a current coming, leaves that need raked. There is this body, forgiving. Snow, still falling.

Monday, November 25, 2013

24/30 & 25/30 - poemaday

24/30
written with guidance from this prompt: click here


Run like heaven.
Count the tallied days
for a final number.
Comb redness from cheeks,
spiral out the spine.
Be tail-less, muddied,
on purpose.
Emerge
like you aren’t
fourteen days behind.
Grin
like you’re right on time.





25/30
poem based on this exercise: click here



To the one who deemed me trash
unworthy, not of her time
I send rookery alongside reptilian congregation
their sloshed waters spilling like
dark thread between teeth.
Every night may bed go soaked,
may sink be rotted and furred.
For the thief I gift belly of concrete
flock of tongues on hunt, arteries whipping
new dry air, old death.
May your rust
rust.
Make her saliva wept from stinger,
make darling bed fall through floor--how dreamlike
feathers from this tumble land,
how uncertain even ground may greet--
may perfumed skin now house bones of twig,
may smack of jellyfish electrify your meat.

22/30, 23/30 - poemaday

a few days behind...more soon.

22/30

poem based on this exercise: http://bostonpoetryslam.com/archives/4358


Go,
where you belong,
into the archives.
Leave behind the recycling,
full.
I’ll take care of it.
We’re ripping up the carpet
so stains don’t matter--
don’t let spilled wine weigh
on your mind--
the spinning room was worth it.


I’ll repurpose the splintered wood,
lumber splay of front yard,
tips of nail as rusted as blood--
doors and windows are all open,
wind will high-five you in the hallway
even the basement
immaculate--
all the covered furniture is gone
you are a heart full of pillows--


Days of you are underlined in thick red pen
warm wild months unplanned
these legs filled with miles
and porch light parking lot midafternoon bar crawls
and pools rivers rain
your months full of stumbling glory
unexpected destruction and the blooms
of a million swaying blue skies
I will go down knowing
how you felt
in my hands.




23/30



things i cannot stop thinking about


how have my hands remained my hands for this long?
same goes for ribcage
freckle on knuckle of knee


how did touch not burn them off
turn palms thin as the threads
that line them


how does the head fit all of the moments
how am i not dragging her heavy
how does she not permanently tilt
with all that sweet and bitter


all the ways emotion dictates muscle
i have no business glancing but neck turns anyway
bullets of my words flying from spasm in
trigger finger
how i run over pauses
to park my responses
faucets of apologies that follow


regret as a thing with teeth
cyanide-soaked button holes
callous of
sucked thumb


grip, in general--
her dove and devil
and never deciding

Thursday, November 21, 2013

20/30 & 21/30

20/30

storm

when you rolled in
i stood with screen door open
tongue ground out like cigarette
beneath skincracked heel--
heart out in the rain,
waiting--

ajar world with hip of wind
i feel it
whatever sky-riot marks us wanted;

and thread of static
come marching,
damage done
picked from the trees
our bruised fruit
our heavy mess
our sick bed and torn roof
wet
in emptiness

our story:
cutlass coiled around oak
downed power line
broken neck fence
legs crushed by thrown house
shoeless




21/30



fingerprint slid down side of egg shell--pause. hold that fragment of light just west of your page. put your shoulders against wall, like that. let me look at you. let me make you breakfast. let me leave you alone. i'll write it down and i'll scar the walls and i'll hand over tough. i'll douse whatever stings. i'll dig out the highways with my hands. believe. i'll drag this want through the paint.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

18/30 & 19/30

18/30

Today I miss my grandmother's pincurled mornings. Pancakes, pincurls, the framed picture of bread loaf and prayer to the left of my grandfather's seat. How the glass of curio cabinet rattled if you walked too hard through the kitchen. She watched us without complaint, always made whatever breakfast we desired. She would pour a wet bowl of Rice Krispies for me, knowing I couldn't stand the taste of milk. But I wanted to hear it, so she played it for me.



19/30

In third grade I had a crush on a boy named Robert. There was nothing remarkable about him, nothing I remember really except the name and his love for the Ninja Turtles. He was the one who piled all of the candy onto his pizza slice, reasoning that if it was good enough for Michelangelo, then it was good enough for him. I watched his teeth crush through M&Ms and marinara. How brave, I thought.

Five minutes later he picked his nose and broke my heart.

Monday, November 18, 2013

15, 16, 17/30 - poems

A few days late, but here.


15/30

As a kid
I never liked climbing fences.
I wasn't good at the balancing act
required when transitioning
from one side to the other.
Sometimes lip of sock or renegade shoestring
tangled in twist of diamonds
and I would crouch, caught,
fortune-telling my busted knees from perch
above concrete.
I never busted up myself getting down,
not once. It is the fantasy of scraped red
that kept me grounded,
my habit of vivid
beyond any sense.
Even in the grass,
on another day in a different yard
I could see the fall.
Every time I blinked
a raw palm,
a failed escape.



16/30
(haiku)
I am made of salt.
You must be the living wound.
I don't think we've met.



17/30

living will

i give the boy in red back that
aerosmith song and the novelty mirror
won by left arm toss at amusement park--
the one with rose and shattered glass.

give all my memories of roller coasters
to everyone.

on a cold night burn my journals for heat.
read a scrawled want and then warm your hands.

give my pain an anchor of brick;
send her to sea--whisper Never Again when
you roll her off the deck.

give cicadas extended summers and
longer blades of grass to cling their pasts to--

make my femur a drumstick
tell tolerance to wait by bridge, never show--
hand out marrow to those that traveled,
blend pages until weather appears.
give my ghosts plenty of room.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

14/30 - poem

14/30

Aiwa

If no
is a complete sentence
then
yes
must be
past paragraph, maybe
a short story
of elongated y
perched curling
past parted teeth
it is the novella of s
cliff-hung by your lips
caught lifting the tale
from my own

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

13/30 - poems

13/30


distance
(haiku)

took off my muscle
so our bones can slow dance this
boxstep of miles

11/30 & 12/30 - poems

I missed a few days of poems due to this migraine which refuses to die/leave me alone. I feel much better today though so I figured I'd write a few today to make up for the lapse.

This first one is in pantoum form(do your homework if you don't know what that is) based on this exercise here

11/30

excuses (pantoum)
I was busy thinking of other things.
The line felt busy,
I couldn't think.
Our carrier pigeon lost his legs in the war.

The line felt busy,
ink paused on tip of utensil, blood clot.
Our carrier pigeon lost his legs in the war.
Sleep through goodbye then you never have to go.

Ink paused on tip of utensil, blood clot--
tear through the page, trying.
Sleep through goodbye then you never have to go.
Aim for what trembles, shaken shivered shot.

Blame too much wine,
I couldn't think.
Roadblock, brakes cut, cicada plague hum--
I was busy thinking of other things.



This next one is a little off, but hoping I can edit/reconstruct it into something more at a later time. Based on the writing exercise here

12/30

Fingerpaint races, name plate--
Tara at the desk next to me,
and Tara tinyface girl who
found my love notes and tore them up
eye level at my front door.
Andy and the park, first liquor.
Kicking a vending machine, falling a lot
and the Billy who called me ugly but
smooshed his mouth to mine anyway.
Black and pink eye Misty,
her mother
prying sleep-encrusted lids open--
the only time I woke up feeling blind.
Matt faking seizures
all the Sarahs in the world
turning away, laughing, turning.

Monday, November 11, 2013

morning full of light

I keep thinking about Saturday morning, the way the sunlight fell in congruent shards across my knuckles as I typed up words to a new poem. Coffee, sun, coffee shop noise, a brief but noted moment of my kind of perfection. I felt reckless. With the manuscript sent to Dianne and off my plate, I feel like I have full wing span for my arms. I can stretch out; possibilities have lost their dead ends. It feels brilliant to have something complete, and it feels even extra stunning to already be working on what's next. Whatever that may be.

It's not that I forget why I love to write, or why I make it a priority in my life above most other things. I could never forget, not really. But oh how I needed that beautiful little moment for myself.

A thick segment of my weekend went to learning Arabic. I thought I might peek at some basics and be done with it but I couldn't pull myself away. The library provides access to this incredible program, Mango. I'm surprised that I'm remembering as much as I am to be honest. Languages are always so intimidating from the outside, such uncrackable eggs. But then you dive in and find yourself swimming hips deep in yolk.

I love that there is a way to respond when you say good morning as there is a way to say thank you(again and again) as opposed to just thank you. I love how strange my mouth feels around the syllables, just as I love how they grow familiar and soon I am singing them to my cat.

I leave for Egypt in 39 days. Yes, I've been counting. I've been counting for nearly a month now. I'm so very excited to experience life elsewhere, though I will admit I'm nervous about traveling such a distance on my own. I'm a person who is chronically early because I can't stand being late to something, or being lost. When I first started taking the city bus 12 years ago, I would draw ridiculously detailed maps on scrap paper so that I could recognize landmarks before/during/after my scheduled stop. Nope, not a fan of being lost. I'd like to think I've loosened up over time, but leaving the country is completely new to me(aside from Canada but c'mon that's Canada).

However, excitement overrules the nerves when all is said and done. It's important to do everything I can to promote comfort for myself--such as learning the language, keeping on the news, squaring away all that I can here at home before leaving. I've accepted the fact that the time change is most likely going to screw with me. But I'd rather face a little ache and tiredness for what lies ahead of me. For adventure, for love, for the future...it's worth it. When I think of it, I think of that bit of sunlight falling over the back of my hand. The warmth. The possibility, indeed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

haiku


haiku


trust, a house built


Water bit the lock
and keys built the groove--I say
once you're in, you're in.

10/30 - poems

10/30

hip-hop, columbus
(part 1 of something longer)


I remember sitting shotgun in Bobby's car
listening to Aesop's Bad Karma for the first time ever
mind cracking open and hands happily twitching
for utensil to scribble with--
or that night when the boys were three on the couch
each with a notebook on knee
burning verses
calling out their creations
head nod responses and crisscross of pen
in the margins

Saturday, November 9, 2013

09/30 - three poems

I missed a few days of poetry due to a migraine. So today I'll write a few to make up for it. Enjoy.


09/30 - 1

The moon on too much liquor grows infection, pulls away from us embarrassed.
The oceans, at a loss, spill their guts.




09/30 - 2 - I used a writing prompt for this, located here


Of course she was a mess and yes she was sweet. We overlapped one another in a thousand ways--the road map you can’t fold back into place; grass so trampled there is no single direction to take. A public display of wonder, our meeting. We did not touch. Her blues were big and water edged, following my lines as if she might be drawing me.

This is how it begins. Not with a bang but a promise. You only need one to get started.




09/30 - 3
Used another prompt, located here




fix me a plate.
fix my teeth so i can smile like i should smile anyway.
fix the distance between deed and intention.
fix the wet wood so this can burn,
fix the giggling valve of my heart--gum and twine.
fix her wrinkled brow, the split in her pants.
fix my thinking that you could fix it.
fix the missing scars--bring them back i need my evidence.
fix me a bone with marrow showing
fix disconnect by spitting wires--
fix smoking bulbs with lightning bolts
fix their reckless with blackened fingertips
fix tongue on curve, slight to unlock
fix them & those / fix that & this--

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

06/30: - poem

I used a prompt for today's poem, which is located here(click). This might also be a good time to point out that I'm posting these as soon as they fall out of my head/veins/fingers. No edits. Maybe edits after the month is over, but during November I'll keep it raw.

06/30

In your wake
the plants and incense headaches,
fishbowl of matches
from every bar going south on 75.
Scent of body and illusion
like earth herself
crowded in all four hemispheres
before locking the door.

Jewelry and beer.
Magic of photographs with
curved corners.
It fills the mantle and
slithers across floor.
I try to sweet talk a thumbprint
into staying,
loop of your identity
like pattern of lasso or
melted record folding into
grooves of infinity.

Your laugh
pressed in pieces
between pages of my books--
even when I dog ear their echoes
I lose
my place.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

05/30 - poem

05/30

In the elevator
I saw a man
who looked like one of
my favorite poets.
I said the name
and he turned,
but it wasn't him.
The man smiled,
polite, and said
"yes, down"
as the car descended.

In the stacks
my friend and I
share stories,
both of us still shocked
by the concept
of love finding us--
as if we were the lost ones
all along,
as if we were the ones
hiding in plain sight.

It might rain on me
when I bike home today.
The sky is that certain threat
of blue.
You, elements, may have me
to the bone,
go for it I say.
May our umbrellas
and hoods be slow on trigger--
may a drop of the river
fall on cheek--

may I never take for granted
the slowness
of this Tuesday--
how the unremarkable
is emerald,
I never cared for diamonds

Monday, November 4, 2013

04/30

04/30:

I look down at my legs a lot,
as if they aren't mine.
Tucked toes and bruise.
Hands, too.
Motor skill suspects--
stride of needle and thread,
cave drawing palms--sometimes
I side-eye my own limbs.
Sometimes
it slips my mind--
how much I can touch,
how far I could run.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

02/30 & 03/30 - poems

02/30:

in regards to news of mr. reed's death
(haiku)

most of your heroes
they will fail to outlive you--
a punch in the gut





03/30:


The 90's are back around again.
Is this how our parents felt when the
bell and platforms pendulum
swung low, fast, right at their children?
Younger ones now neon
acid-washed
big banged, or
middle-parts
tight-rolled and done before,
this skipped record world
hiccups on anthemic choruses
no
one
notices

Friday, November 1, 2013

01/30 - poems

Gonna go for a poem-a-day for the month of November. Here is Day 1. It's been an emotionally exhausting day so I'm keeping it simple to start with haiku




01/30

poured into the moon
is the stretch of your smile
illuminated

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

movements of the moment

I never really know what's going to do it for me. This elusive "it" refers to what might tripwire my spark and initiate fire; what might pull new verse out of me or get me painting or spinning around the living room by myself in a fit of new music. I can't point to one specific thing and say "this inspires me, every time, always."

My current inspiration is a reoccurring one. Photos of young Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson, together.

Anjelica Huston on her bond with Jack Nicholson:
"Jack is someone I've adored in my life and will continue to love forever. I don't take him lightly," she said. "As it happens, we had a really lovely conversation on the phone yesterday — a conversation that started off a little bumpy and wound up just completely wonderful. That's a real relationship. Real relationships have continuity, and Jack and I have a deep abiding love and affection for each other. I'm proud that we've gotten through some very tough times together."

Anjelica and Jack had an on-again, off-again relationship from 1973 to 1989. Here is an excerpt from Nicholson's interview with Parade in 2008 regarding the end of their relationship:
Their romance lasted until 1989, when Anjelica learned that actress Rebecca Broussard was pregnant with Jack's baby. "I was in a quandary," Jack quietly explains to PARADE's Dotson Rader. "I knew having a child was a boon to my life, but I was in a wonderful relationship with Anjelica. It was as good as it gets. I immediately told her what was up, and she made the decision for us." The public presumed that Nicholson had dumped Huston for Broussard, a younger woman. The truth is the opposite. "Anjelica's first response was, 'You have to support this woman,' " Nicholson says. "Her second response was to come down to my job and beat the hell out of me. She really beat me up, I tell you. Anjelica can punch! Meanwhile, Rebecca didn't want me to separate from Anjelica. Well, they both have good taste," he says laughing.

And now to the visual. These photos make me want to write every time I look at them.









Tuesday, October 29, 2013

in brief

My ultrasound, originally scheduled for today, was pushed back to Friday. The hospital called me yesterday to let me know--something about doctor's schedules, blah blah blah. Whatever. I want it over with. I'm trying to be patient. I'm keeping busy so I don't end up sitting around with it weighing on the brain. When I do think about it one of my hands has a tendency to go to my left breast and feel the lump(s) there. I've caught myself doing that on the bus and at work.

And the book. I did a lot of edits this weekend. There are more to do. I need to put up a stop sign, soon, and stick to it. I'm driving myself bonkers with the indecision, the exacto-knife manner at which I am going through each piece now. I try to stand on the outside lookin in on it, just as I get right in the middle and gaze out. One minute it makes sense, the next it doesn't. Will I find a place to be satisifed with it? I don't know. I don't think I'll ever be truly satisfied(hence the need for a stop sign). There is that thought that always happens with putting together a body of work--this sudden need to put in everything I've ever written, as if there will never be another shot. The truth is, dear self, there will be other books. There will be more written. This collection doesn't necessarily need another head or extra limbs. It's getting there but it's still not quite. And the not-quite part of it is driving me up the damn wall.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

lou reed

Lou Reed died today.

The news is a fist in the gut. Like when Johnny Cash died. Music is such a part of my life. Velvet Underground pulled me through high school and kept my pen to the page and saw me through love and its fallout.

Rest, Lou. You/your work is such a part of my life/memory/growth and I don't even know you.


Damn.

Friday, October 25, 2013

For years upon years I've had a lump in my left breast. I can't remember the moment of noticing it. The first doctor I mentioned it to listened to my description and nodded, immediately diagnosing it as fibrocystic breast disease(it's quite common and means the breasts are succeptible to cysts/lumpy tissue). I didn't think much of it. A few years passed and another doctor checked it out and advised I get a second opinion. This lump would become more prominent every month with my cycle--to the point where it hurt to go downstairs. It's an area sore to the touch at times. It stays in the same place. It can get aggravated with caffeine-intake. Signs point to cyst. As I said, lots of women have them and they are usually harmless.

About a month ago during a self-examination(yes I do them and yes you should too) I noticed a new lump. This one showed up on its own, out of sync with my cycle so it made me raise an eyebrow. It also feels a little different. More...solid? Bead-like? I don't know how to describe it.

In short, I went to the doctor last night and now I have to get a breast ultrasound at the hospital since the lump is new. The doctor can't determine if the new lump is a similar cyst or something potentially problematic. It's newness is a concern.

I left the doctor feeling pretty bummed. I was hoping that I could get out of there without having to subject myself to more poking/prodding/tests. I don't want to go to the hospital. I don't want to wait on more results. I don't want cysts in my breasts.

I talked to my dad on the phone this morning and told him, which I felt a little hesitant about. My grandmother, his mother, had cancer. I remember seeing her double masectomy scars as a child. I hate worrying him about anything, especially health-related. Plus I don't want to reveal the worry in my own voice.

The ultrasound is Tuesday at the hospital, during lunch. All will be fine. I'm hoping for the best.

Also, I've heard a lot of talk about Mercury being in retrograde, and how that has a tendency to fuck things up. I think I can work with it though. The past few months have been surprising, slightly wild. A planet going backwards while I'm falling in love and finishing a book? Sure why not. Moonwalk on, Mercury. I got you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

a name and a place

Book title, official:

ligaments of light tigering the shoulders

Also, I am going to Egypt in December.

More soon.

Friday, October 18, 2013

venting about writing

Poems. Prose. Scrawled & barely legible lines on the receipts loose leaf in my bag. I shake my fist smudged with pen at you. I shake the pen too until ink jiggles in its capsule. I am Seymour pleading with his Audrey II as he squeezes another drop of blood into her verdant maw.

Poems and prose and orphaned stanzas--I aim to buy a house with all that silver you shove into the blue hammocks slung under both eyes. I intend to spend it all on getting you right. You glare at me and clip your wings. Your hems drag on the floors until they are no longer hems. Until they are edges gone missing, two ankles swirling in bite marks of fabric.

You break all my plates. Fill my pillowcase with bees.

But nothing in this world can touch the veins strapped on the meat of my heart except you. Dear writing you pluck them until they threaten to break, until the color in their arched posing fades where tension grows exhausted. You with your jelly fangs and ridiculous wants. You who will not be calm nor satisfied. Your Rube Goldberg ways. Your hatred for the porch light.

I do not ever want to be satisfied though sometimes I could use a break from your boot on my neck. Your tail of a head and four thousand bodies all running different directions.

You are Aceyalone's Love and Hate. The compact of my Medusa. You texture my lungs and keep me alive. Writing, you wear me out but I can't stop dancing, can't let you quit leading. When you leave you never slam the door. It stands ajar in your wake, a mouth wanting to say something. That pressure before you blow in again, heavy with bags and travel. Your hair color changed, your hands the same. Together we tape up your postcards that I've torn in two.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Last night I worked the door at an event downtown. Took my manuscript with me after not even looking at the thing for nearly 2 weeks. The break started as an accident and continued due to being too sick to care. Then I realized the break was needed. Last night was a welcomed surprise--more edits done, I read through everything. I feel better about the work. Confident, even. After feeling like absolute death for days on end I needed a good thing like that. A reminder--the work is necessary.

It was nice to work an event last night--it forced me to be social(again, needed). I tend to hermit like a champion, especially after a drawn out migraine. Reality doesn't fit right for a few days. Working the party granted me access to random small talk and lots of new people, but being stationed in one area of the room gave me enough downtime to breathe and observe. Observations: lipstick can be really red, almost blue. A boxer came in post-fight with his entourage. His champion belts sat on a table in a pile, until someone posed with them looped over each shoulder, grin in the flash. I had to do the math on an index card to figure out the cut off year for our 21 and over crowd(it's 1992--HOW OLD YA FEELIN' NOW?). J cut me loose the last hour so I could get on the dance floor, which I had been wanting to do all night. A rum and coke cost 8 dollars(when I winced, the scrawny guy tending bar nodded and said "yeahhhh...they're pricey here."). I drove home after 2am laughing along to a comedy podcast.

I've been thinking about timing--how a lot of things seem to depend on it, how a lot of things couldn't give two fucks about timing or right place/right moment/shortest distance. Some extraordinary things are happening in my life right now--on one hand I believe these things extend from proper timing; on the other hand the timing, logistics-wise, might not make sense. I suppose it's all in how you define it. There is a lot that I do not talk about in this space, on purpose--I find that I cherish privacy more with each passing year. For now these extraordinary things might best be left to the unsaid, the not described. For now I will say I am happy and hopeful. I'm intrigued by the current, and curious about the future in a way that makes the heart beat faster. It is mighty wonderful.

More soon.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

of nothing particular/thoughts on a heart

1.
My heart must be a bug light.

2.
Heartache is a word for a reason. That sucker gets sore. Panged. Stretched delicious and curled like conch.

3.
The doctor puts his stethoscope to my chest. Listens, nods. You click, he said. Mitral valve prolapse is also called midsystolic click or click-murmur syndrome. The most common of heart valve abnormalities.

4.
Too big, a fist? Clown or scientist? Terrain of branch and meat.

5.
Scars, teeth marks. Marbled.

6.
My hand grenade trembling. My internal outlaw, my home of all wants. My diamond in the rough.

7.
Pulse quickening. The echoes of my living on pillow crest. The start of slowness. Metronome's muffle and shift lulls me right, soft measures.

8.
I drift off to my drum--each hit a spill of ink, a flash of light.

Friday, September 27, 2013

time missing

I am becoming obsessed with my lost time. The many swatches of time(at the minimum in hour increments, sometimes days) that I lose to migraines.

Today I woke up and I was tired, but alright. Packed my messenger bag and slowly prepared for the ride into work. I was walking from the bathroom back to the bedroom and boom--pain in my right temple like a bomb, ripples of pressure. Like the white of the egg flaring out from the yolk once it skydives into pan. As sudden as a punch; I wasn't ready for it so I felt for the wall with one hand and leaned to it for the rest of my walk. Within 20 minutes I was too dizzy to walk around anymore so sprawled on the bed I dialed numbers for work and called in sick. Aside from pain I know I had shock to my voice, I know I did. This one came on like a rush. Usually I wake up with them already full grown or they require a steady incline to fully reach potential.

Anyway. I forced myself to eat just enough to swallow some melatonin. Then I slept and slept. This is what is required. I check out; I leave the reality I know because there's no longer room for me there. Pain makes sure of that. Sleep is the only safety. So I go to sleep and I lose time. It is evening now and I am just getting around to checking the news to see what happened in the world while I was gone. Extreme-sounding, yeah. But that's how it is. I don't know the day in a migraine state.

During my first round of sleep I lost about six hours. The pain dreams found me. I had a dream I was laying around with Rihanna and she said she loved me, only to leave for another concert and in her wake I learned she used me all along. In the second dream I was carjacked by 2 brothers. I was saved by a giant bearded man, a biker in black tshirt stretching over his giant gut. He breathed heavy and he loved me, so he showed up to save me. On the back of each hand perched a hawk, and he flung them after the two criminals who took off running. Each hawk grabbed a neck and slammed them down to the earth.

Then I woke up.

I bluffed my way through the afternoon, sliding on sunglasses and shuffling to the co-op for sustenance. I made salad with shaky hands and observed everyone around me in the middle of their routines, or so I assumed. I felt like I usually do in the midst of a migraine--fuzzy, transparent. The sun was shining. I could move as slow as I wanted.

Came home, ate food, swallowed supplements. Let a movie play while I pressed the right side of my head into the pillow. Fell back asleep, another dream. This time a grasshopper flew into my sock and in the dream I was too disgusted to properly remove it. I smashed it with the corner of a book while it wiggled in my sock. I woke up waving my hands, completely grossed out. But the migraine was gone. I could tell. The finally strip of storm clouds migrated, my sky going clear.

Immediately I bike to the coffee shop to check my email and read up on the news. I read the headlines and feel that I've fallen behind. Don't know how to explain that feeling. It sinks in me, this realization that the world will keep turning, shit still happens while I am removed. Removal. Where do I go?

And even more pressing: where do the hours I miss accumulate--is there a final resting place for hours and days spent far away? Does that lost reality gather somewhere to create something that looks like my life but better? Does it create a reality without pain--is missing time painless? By term it sounds painful, or lacking. And if it doesn't exist, why do I miss it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

i was a boy
out of your hands and hanging
in the sinew of a still-soaked honeycomb

or a fish slipped
in caught grip
bear-boned,
picked clean--
undetected
peaceful, even,
in my rotting

legend of don pablo parking lot: the 48 hour tour (part 3)

[for part 1 & 2, see previous entries]
[also, pardon the lapse in updating this--gnarly migraine stole me away for a bit]

It's time for my set at Kafe Kerouac. And guess what? Looking back, I honestly don't remember much of it. I was stuck in the depths of delirium brought on by my stupid cold. I really can't remember what poem I even started with. I do remember stopping midway through and apologizing for sounding like an adolescent boy in the midst of "the change." I was cracking and squeaking all over the place. I wish I could get that time on stage back. All of it is lost to the ether of fever.

JB went up next and he was amazing start to finish. I think the previous evening's gig was a perfect warm-up and by Columbus he was in his stride. When I hear him read I think: testify. He's telling it, all truth. He caught all the eyes and ears of the room. From the back of the room I looked around and noted all of the heads turned toward him, the slow grins and small nods. It's magic, watching a room get transformed by words.


this still photograph does not do his set justice; the electric fails to translate

I was really proud of him. I've seen Jason read a bunch of times but I think he really shines on the road.

Matt Connelly read next. He is local to Columbus and knows our friend Andrew, who set up the gig. They are both graduate teaching assistants, so a good deal of our crowd came from their classes. Someone refers to Matt as the "heart-throb" of the scene. He's handsome in the all-American way--he reminded me a lot of Fred Savage. His work reminded me of Shakespeare. Romantic, precise, almost melodic in delivery.

Then Andrew read. Andrew is amazing. My favorite part of his set was when he prefaced a piece with "Now my girlfriend dared me to read this..." Angelle, his lady, was right in the front row. From my perch in the back I couldn't see her face, but I could almost feel her grinning, noticing the way she was leaning forward completely riveted. Andrew proceeded to read a fairly graphic sex poem, but it was of course much more than that. He's got the biggest guts of all of us--not only did he share such an intimate piece about an intimate moment with his love, but he did so with a gentleness and respect it deserved. It's kind of hard to explain. The moment he described were so intimate and beautiful, almost fragile in words...it was exquisite. I can only hope to have that much bravery, to have such an observing, sweet eye for my own moments and loves.



Other things of note: At one point during the reading, I went back to the bar side of the coffee shop to get a refill. I overheard someone say "What's going on in the other room?" The response: "poetry reading." The person answered with, "Oh word?" And immediately went into the other room to listen. I love that. More people need that love.

Also, there were two love birds in the audience and I caught them holding feet. They would look over at each other now and then and grin. True--this made my big heart flip-flop.


After the set, I continued my slow(and not so quiet) death by cold. I made my way to the bar and ordered my first hot toddy ever, complete with apple/cinnamon tea. Bingo. Just what I needed. The whiskey and heat gave me a bit of room to breathe. Breathing is great! And because I could breathe, I was interested in sticking around for a while instead of beelining it back to Andrew's place. I think this was a relief to everyone--the atmosphere was so lovely and I crave conversation after a reading. A group of women from the audience surrounded JB and started asking him about his pieces and travels. It was nice that most of the audience wanted to come up and talk with us afterward instead of just shuffling out awkwardly. That does happen sometimes.

Shortly after a group of us claimed a table and talked shop a bit. JB and I found a Connect Four game to play. The bottom was broken but after setting up my box of tissues beneath it, all was well.

Between the toddies and some Nyquil, I was ready for bed. Angelle and Andrew set up the living room for us--JB had the air mattress by the window and I had a futon. A fan was put in the open window and we had a peaceful night's sleep complete with a steady breeze, sounds of trees swaying and even a train whistle. I woke up with my nose still clogged--Andrew had a fever and Angelle had a sore throat. We were all brewing a little something.

Before leaving town, we went to breakfast at Jack & Benny's. Perfect little spot. Breakfast served all day, right on High Street. Hash browns just how I like 'em. Afterwards I was feeling nostalgic and had to run across the street to grab some french fries from Rally's. Rally's was one of my favorite fast food joints as a kid growing up in Ohio. I couldn't taste them, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We stopped in Records Per Minute before heading back to Andrew's apartment to pack up.

Truth--I think I slept for most of the ride back. The sun was shining and the music was good. It was nice to be back in Pittsburgh(of course I woke up in time to come through the tunnel and see the city), but by that evening I was already daydreaming about being on the road again. JB is a great buddy to travel with. All of our hosts were amazing and went the extra mile to make us comfortable. I can't wait to do it again.

special mention: On the way to Columbus, JB played Can, and this song became somewhat of an anthem/something to yell out randomly when things were quiet:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

legend of don pablo parking lot: the 48 hour tour (part 2)

[see previous entry for part 1]

JB and I were pretty stoked to check out a thrift store on the road. But I don't think we were fully prepared for MCC. As we started to poke around, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms(of the Lord)" started playing over the speakers. This was our soundtrack. The clothes were grouped by color, which I'm always a fan of. The shoe racks were an amazing array of...black and brown shoes. All closed toe, all modest--only a pair or two of high heels. The clothes offered a better choice for color but all items were modest. I didn't see a tanktop.

The thrift store also offered amish hair bonnets and hats. There was a sizeable underwear section with THE biggest pair of mens briefs that I've ever seen. I kept circling around to confirm the sight of them hanging there. When I went looking for JB, I ran right into a giant end display of frightening baby dolls. In the corner somewhere, I could hear the babbling of a synthetic brook, but couldn't locate it visually. I found JB in the book section, squinting at a shelf. I think we should go, I whispered to him. He agreed and we did a fast walk out of there.

Perhaps if we had been prepared, then the interior wouldn't have been such a shock. We knew we were in amish country and respected that, but I couldn't get past how the girl had described this thrift store to us before we saw it for ourselves. "Oh it's AMAAAZING," she said, "I always find something there." It was sensory overload inside of there--the giant briefs, the modesty of EVERYTHING, the invisible babbling brook, the hymns on the speaker(oh Bob FM, how I needed you).

But an experience is an experience. It was time to move on.

Honorable mention: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Massillon. It looks like a giant citrus juicer:


Sidenote: JB has an impressive music collection. My favorite from our time on the road, Irma Thomas:

Ruler Of My Heart from AngElla on Vimeo.




On the way to Columbus I told JB to tell me his secrets. And then boom--we were in Columbus/Clintonville.

We showed up to the wrong apartment. We were due to crash at our friend Andrew's place. The two children who answered the first door were kind enough to tell us we were at the wrong place and said maybe we wanted the place around the corner. We backtracked one turn and ta-da! Made it to the right place.

Andrew and Angelle greeted us with open arms and a guest parking pass. After about 5 minutes I excused myself to lay on the futon. Vertical stances were driving me nuts due to being completely congested and feverish. They were so sweet and accomodating. We talked for a good while. Andrew's apartment was absolutely wonderful--high up with a tree right in front of the large living room window so it felt like you were hidden away. After settling in a bit, we cleaned up a bit and went to High Street to find food. I was babbling a bit incoherently about soup or thai food or fries or hot sauce. I have no idea. I felt partially delirious and was losing my voice. Despite this, I sucked it up and got fancy.

We had dinner at an international cafe. Our journey there was littered with way too many undergrads wearing OHIO shirts. The Buckeyes game had just finished up, and High Street is a crucial location to campus. Part of me kept forgetting and quietly wondering: how do SO many people love Ohio? JB and I tackled our tofu pad thai and, once again, I fought back tears when I realized I couldn't taste anything. I am not a fan of that sensation--to be doing the work of biting, chewing and swallowing and yet not receiving and signal of taste, satisfaction or reward. My mood was getting funky and I tried my damnedest to keep it under wraps around my company.

Location for reading number 2? Kafe Kerouac. Unfortunately I didn't snap any pictures of the place(aside from during the reading), but here are some I found online to give you an idea:

The entryway. So many gorgeous records:


Also a nice little zine collection, with copies of the amazing "Henry & Glenn Forever" which I've only read about. So awesome to thumb through in person:


Drinks named after authors:


I loved this place. Loved, loved, loved(and still love). If you're in Columbus, make sure to stop in and have a drink. They are located at: 2250 N. High Street. Everything was wonderful and cozy. Records(as mentioned), shelves of books to pick through, mismatched chairs and a stack of board games under a lamp. I felt a little envious of everyone on campus--how lovely to have such an establishment! Nothing like it here at Pitt. Hemingways doesn't count.

Everyone there was awesome, and happy to have us. Sometimes when you walk into an already functioning building/coffee shop for an event people will give you the side-eye of annoyance--unexpected events can affect one's ability to, say, study in peace. I get that. However, Andrew did an amazing job with making flyers and promoting the gig locally, so people were ready to receive us and more than happy to help us with microphones and sound check. This was also the kind of place the held events pretty regularly so I think customers were used to it. There was a group of guys playing a game of Archipelago, and I was amused listening in on their conversation/game plan on how to continue the battle without having to stop. I think they agreed on a friend's apartment--they packed up a few minutes before showtime. JB and I set up at a circle table in the back with our stack of books and drinks.


a mini-merch display

We opted to go in alphabetical order--I would go first, followed by JB, then Matthew Connelly, then Andrew finishing. I was more than happy to go first--after downing a large iced coffee I felt ready to tackle the business at hand, despite a hoarse voice and clogged nose. As I said before, it's damn near impossible to pass up the opportunity to read and share and connect. I would figure out a way to breathe through it and make it work.

Next up, Part 3 to cover: the reading, the groupies, the most delicious hot toddy I have ever had.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

legend of don pablo parking lot: the 48 hour tour (part 1)

When JB picked me up on Friday, I came shuffling out of my apartment with my merch suitcase, messenger bag, rolled up blanket and my beloved body pillow.

"I know it looks like I'm moving out," I croaked, "But I am sick and need my comforts."

Indeed I was a bit of a hot mess. The stupid cold busted in on Wednesday and grew into the weekend. We had a reading in Canton on Friday night and another in Columbus on Saturday. I sounded like a frog with a whistling nose but hell--how many times do you get to travel for what you love? There was no way I was going to miss out.

JB was a great traveling companion. The basics: he volunteered to drive. He had all of the directions ready to go. He also put up with being exposed to my plethora of germs(in the car I had a plastic bag full of an absurd amount of used tissues).

Perhaps the best thing about traveling with JB is that he hates the highway. He uses an actual map--one to be folded and unfolded, finger tracing projected routes. He'd rather roam the side roads, the long way. It's a simple thing yet I've managed to avoid this method when I travel alone. Usually I am driving to see the family and I want to get there as soon as possible--I go the highway. I take the same way and, if I can help it, I stop at the same gas station to refill the tank and use the restroom. I relayed this information to JB, as it is a reasoning that makes sense. However, I was still blown away by how much MORE sense taking the long way makes for someone like me. JB does it right.

Our first show was Friday night in Canton. It was a fairly quick trip. I blew my nose a lot. JB and I searched for dinner before we were due to be at Karma Kafe, which was a coffee shop on the edge of a line of multiple stores(me: We are reading in a strip mall, Jase). He got a kick out of me yelling out store names on reflex. Best Buy! Target! OF COURSE THERE'S AN APPLEBEES! We were in the middle of strip mall hell. To our left, to our right, in front of us. But I squealed at the sight of Red Robin--they have a vegan burger option AND limitless steak fries. Sold. We sat outside and I tried not to cry when I realized that I couldn't taste a damn thing on my plate. I mean it. Not a single thing. This is also where the initial spark of our Don Pablo jokes/references is born.

The gig itself went fine--not a huge crowd, but fun nonetheless. A lot of the actual reading from this night is a fuzzy sideways mess. I was a fidgeting frog full of discomfort. The cold made me feel like I was crawling out of my skin. JB had a killer reading--his set was strong from start to finish. I opened my set with a new, mostly unfinished piece and it sounded right coming out of my mouth. It was scrawled down 3 days before the show on a found-again notebook on my living room floor/yoga mat. Sometimes that's how the good shit happens; you just roll with it.

Our host for the night was amazing. He had a DECEPCON license plate! "Someone stole the Darwin fish off the back of my car," He explained. JB and I had a good chuckle over the fish-shaped glue mark left in its wake. Another example of how amazing: he set us up in twin beds in the basement apartment at the house he shared with his father. He set out towels and soap for us. I found him to be tremendously detail-oriented. The beds were dressed in his childhood sheets--JB took the Ninja Turtles and I had Transformers. Before konking out in my Nyquil-induced slumber, JB and I traded Don Pablo puns. I was laying in bed and he was standing in the dim light of the doorway and we were cracking each other up by simply rhyming things with the word "Don." Don Pablo's traveling cousin Gone Pablo, and his musical aunt Song Pablo, his pothead brother Bong Pablo. Afterward I crashed and JB did some reading. It was a bit surreal waking up in a dimly lit barely furnished basement in cartoon bedsheets. And gosh bless 'em for setting the alarm and getting up to see us off, despite being a serious night owl. Kindness and care on the road must never be taken for granted. We made our beds, checked the map, and hit the road.





We checked out Das Dutch for breakfast. I saw the word buffet and that's all I needed to see. I made JB test out the mystery condiments at our table since I couldn't taste a damn thing. Their containers were like miniature bee hives. One was caramel and the other was apple butter--also known as the one we couldn't stop eating. Even through all of the congestion I found my hints of cinnamon. That damn apple butter was incredible.

We pecked our way through the General Store area of the restaurant--at the counter I found myself staring at a box of "Inspirational Buttons" that were all God or scripture related. I asked the cashier if they had some kleenex and she said no, but there was a stack of napkins around the corner. I passed on the offer and held out for the Dollar General where I scored some sweet, sweet aloe-infused tissues.

We were just about ready to leave Amish country, but not until seeing a horse IN a tiny covered bridge and a horse and buggy passing us on the road. Oh, and that strange roadside religious propaghanda involving a giant crucifix and one GIANT hand nailed to it. One slightly bloody dismembered hand. This was leaning over the road to our right and we both had a solid shiver about it.

Before our departure, we decided to seek out the local thrift store, described to us as "really awesome" by an audience member at our show. And if "really awesome" translates to "will scare you a bit," then her description was spot on.



This is where I'll end part 1 of our weekend tour. Part 2 coming soon...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Crunch time. 12 days until my self-imposed book deadline.

Phew. 12 days.

I have a title. I have poems. The Acknowledgements are taking shape. This is coming together under my own fingers and I can feel a part of me refusing to believe it. But here it is, this collection of work I can hold in my hands...I can shuffle it around and tuck it in a binder or in my messenger bag and bike around town with it. It travels. It goes with me to work. It comes home with me. I take it to the coffee shop. I get coffee stains on the hard copy(it happens). I've paced circles around it and spread all the pieces out on the floor. I've caught the cat sleeping on it if left on the couch. It has quickly become a living, breathing thing. A beloved artifact. A creation. My Edward Scissorhands.

I am both in love and petrified.

But isn't this the truth for all things worth doing? Frightened, enamored. Haunting and bliss. Descriptions of opposites, internal tug-of-war that best friend splintered rope. I'd take it all again and again if it meant that page and grapple, if it meant forever telling it. I must love hell and romance. Cuz this is me, perhaps at my happiest.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

briefly

Every night this week has ended in the same fashion: sitting in front of my poems and then shuffling off to bed with my eyes dry and nearly crossed from all the words and lines aloud. Tonight is no different. A backseat(though sometimes driving) force has been my "to listen to" playlist on Spotify, which is essentially piles and piles of songs to listen to. Finding new favorites. How did I go this long without The Raincoats? Joe Cuba echoes through the apartment. I come home and I clean while I cook dinner but then...all end the same way. Right here, in front of my work.

I'm sure I'll say more soon. But for now I go back to the grindstone and rest my face to it with a grin. I am following what I love and boy does it feel good.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I've had the wind knocked out of me, but never the hurricane.
- Jeffrey McDaniel

Friday, August 16, 2013

some state of things

Last night I talked to Jon on the phone for the second night in a row. Jon is a dear soul & friend I've known since high school. He's about a month in at his AP post in Cairo, Egypt. Before that he worked in Nigeria for about 4 years.

When we talk on the phone, sometimes he pauses to check out the sounds of gunfire or to comment on the sight of a person in the street after curfew. When he talks to me he is relatively calm. He tells me about some day to day things in Cairo. You can have groceries and other services delivered to you. There are stray cats. Just about everyone smokes. A lot of the bars are strange.

Currently, it is also a place of chaos. In summation, from the live Egypt blog on Aljazeera:

Mohamed Morsi became Egypt's first democratically elected president on June 30 last year, but 12 months later, millions of Egyptians were back on the streets to protest against his rule. The army stepped in and deposed Morsi on July 3, appointed an interim president and outlined plans for a new constitution and elections. However, Morsi's supporters stayed in the streets for more than a month protesting against his removal. Security forces finally moved against their Cairo sit-ins on August 14, with deadly results.

Today is being called a "day of rage." Again from the live blog:

Crowds supporting the return of deposed president Mohamed Morsi have filled streets on Friday in areas including Nasr City in Cairo, and the port city of Alexandria, as the Muslim Brotherhood called for a "Day of Rage" days after hundreds of protesters were killed as police cleared sit-ins two days earlier.

The Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque has become a makeshift morgue for all of the bodies injured in the current clashes.



From Aljazeera:

Wrapped in shrouds and kept cool with blocks of ice, most of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, but a number were charred, making them hard to identify for family members....Many of those at the sit-in wrote their names on their hands at the time of the attack so that their bodies could be identified. Their names were listed on cardboard signs at the end of each row, where they lay waiting to be buried.

Sigh. I could keep posting quotes. Pictures. Death tallies.

Due to the time difference, a lot of the violence/action kicks off when I am still asleep, or just waking up. As soon as my alarm goes off I've developed a habit of checking the news first thing. I read my friend's updates via AP, as well as Aljazeera. And every morning this week I've been stunned and gutted by the amount of violence that continues there.

There is nothing to be done here in Pittsburgh. Nothing except that thing where I try to push my heart outside its chest as far as it will go. All my thoughts and hopes and love...I throw it to the wind and hope it makes it. I don't know what else to do but worry. A few times I have gone to the bathroom at work to shed tears out of frustration and worry. Obviously for my dear friend. But mainly for all of Egypt--shit--all of the WORLD in general. Sometimes I am so confused by this being human business.

I've had the privilege of living in the United States for my entire life--I can only wrap my head around this sort of urgency and movement so much before it is lost on me. I educate myself as much as I can but I can't imagine having to go to the streets to fight for basic freedom/justice. I have no personal reference for that. I have the privilege of not only having a job, but I can get to said job without witnessing bombs or clouds of tear gas in my way. We have it so good here--too good--so few of us recognize that. We get caught up in paying bills or complaining about coworkers/traffic/gossip/gas prices/paper jams/tv shows. It's all so stupid. Our stupid privilege to complain, to not have to see outside of our own shit because it's all-consuming.

I am full of worry today. Full of worry and the realization that I cannot protect anyone really. Ever. That this is the world and this is life and it's brutal and confusing. I don't mean for this post to be a downer, but I don't really work with anyone who cares enough to have this conversation, and it's already in all caps in my journal, and I already talk with Jon about it. I don't know what else to do. The world frightens me. I know I'm not supposed to let it, but it does. I don't know what else to say. I want peace. I want it for Egypt. I want it for everyone.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

odds/ends

I rush there to write--to my home or the coffee shop down the street. I go there enough to be a regular, to know some names, which is so nice that I can barely contain my joy over it. Small and simple. Just enough to matter. I remember my hours there.

This, right here, is the constant. My scribbling. Crumpled receipts scrawled on and tangled in my bag or in the glove box. Oh and in my wallet, next to a horrific bank statement. To stagger somewhere between missing events to dismantle poems or staying out until the birds start again and the sky goes light. I haven't been sleeping well lately--this is true. In unrelated news I've kicked my soda habit.

And just now I looked up at the mantel, saw the birthday card made by my niece, how she spells "Ant Nike" and it fills me with so much love that I want to cry. The physical distance, at times, plays tricks on my mindset. Some days I seem to forget about all that love and it pains me to say that. Routine on a cloudy day. I don't think I want to be in this city anymore.

Currently listening to Will Sheff & Charles Bissell sing "Ex-Girl Collection."

Since returning from the retreat early last month, I've been pulling all the boards off the entryways on this big heart of mine. I've been attempting to trust instinct--true, genuine-me instinct as opposed to a trained response of defense. I don't have to be a fist. You get what you give, and lately I've been giving all the love I can to the process and progress of connecting with other human beings. It's not always comfortable, but it's so much more living than the darkness. I've learned so much by simply being open. I know I'm late to the game on this but that's alright. All this to say right now I'm really, really enjoying myself. More soon.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Yesterday looked like a beautiful day weather-wise. I could only give it a barely-wave from the other side of the glass--stuck in a migraine for the duration of it. I dragged myself around from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen and back again. And drag is, in fact, the right word for my movements.

I knew it was coming I guess. That strange panicked/helpless feeling I get at work before I even get home...I had that on Monday. I get frantic thinking about the solitude I face when I will arrive at my apartment door...and then boom the feeling goes away and in its place a migraine. As if something in me knows that something is coming. Sometimes animals go wild before natural disasters...maybe this is similar.

No matter. It's over now.

I feel like my insides are turning and turning upon themselves--the ultimate ice cream maker filled with guts and thoughts and love. I've been pressed up against my writing for a few days now, pressed up close and breathing heavily on each stanza. I want this. I want this next collection to represent what cannot be said but what sits in me like a fat irritable orb. I am still working hard to figure it out. It isn't about being nice or clean but honesty. If there is venom then I show the poison and if there is weakness then I reveal the tremble. I have spent hours trying to describe the emptiness within me where my mother should be. I have spent days trying to write out my hummingbirds and tree trunks and mistakes and whole notes. I keep stretching to explain it. I sweat on this til I start to rust.

Keep the tough work coming though. I love every bulletbloated minute of it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

draft (1)

dog heart

in the bowl of your hands,
some teeth.
wanting and waiting added
to the list of criminal activity--
a feeling stitched with
bowtie and bone.
i clamor to know how good
the gone was,
rush of pickled blood to cheek,
gallop of your breath
in the brief of screen door,
bag bumping kneebend but
it's no secret.
i mean
you leave so frequent.
there must be a whistle
that buries its pitch
in your pulse.
there must be a howl
devouring all direction--
there must be a reason,
a magician,
an end to arrive to.
there must be something thumping wild
under that thick chest.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

thoughts as a result of thinking too much

To work on what I love. It is sometimes more difficult than I could've imagined. Or at least it isn't my instinct to call it work, to be tireless. It is, sometimes, simply this thing I do. As certain as brushing hair out of my eyes or bending my knee when I walk. A reflex. A necessity.

What I love is writing. Whatever it is in me that's all trigger. However that flint might have been formed. I think of a lighter, the kickspin of mechanics, that tiny wheel with thumb kiss and eventual callous. Call it a flame or a fire and if you do, be sure to feed her. It's a part of me I can't work around or bullshit my way past. Just gotta walk through.

To work on what you love. Living is part of the work--living and doing and saying yes to more of the things that petrify me. Another part is reading the works of others--studying those writers that speak to us. I do that as well. I write, definitely. I read my poems and stare at them, shuffle them around and tap the backspace key with slight hesitation. I work and rework the one line that will never fit(until I crack its neck and lop off appendages). I get frustrated--I walk away from some poems and vow to never give them the time of day again.

I worry that my relationship to my work is not always the nicest. But aren't we all a little Jekyll and Hyde about this sort of thing? Nothing angers me like writing, yet there is no joy or amazing to match it. I don't mind. Shit--there's a reason why roller coasters aren't built in straight lines.

With this manuscript of mine...of course I can't be softshelled about any of the work in it. Each piece needs a reason to be there. In the words of Parliament, "If it don't fit, don't force it." If it doesn't belong in the collection, then it's okay to let it go for now. The poem can go back to stretching in the wings. It's going to be what I want it to be if I put in the work.



[Think about what you love to do more than anything. Think about what it pulls out of you, the line it will drive you to then shove you over. Think about all that you've learned by tending to it, all that it's given you(opportunity, freedom, relief&release, perspective, courage, on and on). Feel fortunate; be in awe of it. ]

Sunday, July 28, 2013

untouched

Those stupid days when you're pretty tired and all you really want is someone to hold you and smooch you for a while but there isn't anyone to do it so you line your entire body with pillows and the best you can do is close your eyes and imagine it. I'm alright on my own but sometimes I pine for that affection like a ghost limb.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

questions

How does memory assist in survival?
Is the memory an actual surviving thing or not a thing at all?
Is my survival the proof of once-moments?
What does living do to remembering?
Did the turbulence serve to sharpen the images?
How does dimension of memory change once it is written about? There is the memory, the memory of writing, the memory of remembering. How many sides to this object?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today, when I've been awake, I find myself reading poems almost like prayers. I keep reading them, digging for meaning, taking in the lines slow and speaking them under my breath. When something rings true I burst into tears. It takes me so long to get through one piece. I keep crying and putting the words down to shove my face in my hands.

I fought a migraine for most of today and during all that sleep I kept dreaming. Intense and true dreams, all about Will. I had to keep sleeping to fight the pain but those dreams keep kicking me out of it. The pain broke around 3pm but those dreams are still rattling in my memory. Friends keep posting their stories and condolences on Will's facebook page and I watch the old footage of his bands and tear up when I recognize his voice. News of his death has hit me like a mallet, soaked into all layers of my earth. Crushed and question marked. Just.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Will.

Stunned. Just found out that Will passed away.

I first met Will Dalgard when I was 18 years old. I was driving up to Dayton once a month to compete in poetry slams held at Canal Street Tavern. Sunday evenings, without fail. Will was the door guy at Canal Street. The first time I saw him he was wearing a black tshirt. I remember that because I instantly had a crush on him. He exuded that perfect amount of bored/smart/asshole. That's the only way to describe it.

He was 31 years old and I thought he had the coolest job in the world. He kept whatever book he was reading tucked under the register and read it in between checking IDs. He advised me to read Bukowski, was proud to be in recovery, and always had a kind word for my poetry. I developed a habit in the early days of looking for the shadow of his head when I was onstage. Sometimes he was half-lit by the small lamp at his post by the door, and it was nice to know he took the time to listen.

I had a huge stupid crush on him. It was kind of silly. I was a young college student, diving into my first real poetry scene. Canal Street became my home away from home, my most favorite place. I was there every weekend for shows. I would get up from my seat often and talk to Will. Cigarettes and book talk.

We hung out a few times outside of the bar. The first time I went to his apartment on Wayne Ave, this great triangular building on the corner. We sat on his couch and listened to music. He pulled out a copy of one of his published poems, The Junkie and the Italian Princess. He read it to me, filling my head with scenes of a strung out guy on his knees in a store, begging his italian princess to forgive and return to him. He wrote from the heart. I noticed a giant Italian flag hanging on the wall and I asked him where he got it from. The navy, he said. I couldn't believe it, responding with: you were in the navy?! He nodded. I was kicked out. I asked the question cautiously: what for? His answer: Being an asshole, doing drugs.

When I left that night he hugged me goodbye in a way that was new to me. He pulled me close to him and rested both hands right at my tailbone, as if considering. A small peck goodbye and I left, confused as to why he didn't try for more(but over time understanding/appreciating that he didn't).

I went to one of his shows, showed up foolishly early to his apartment where he was loading equipment with bandmates. I sat at their table at the bar and a few of them chuckled and gave Will a couple looks over my head. It was obviously that I was way too young to be there, pretending that I belonged and it was totally normal. I don't know--looking back it felt normal, and that's what drove me then...whatever I felt. I cared about Will tremendously. I pinned his show flyers to my mantel in the bedroom and daydreamed about being something more to him. In class I wrote poems about him, terribly smitten. A girl in my class knew him and cautioned me against more hang-outs, reasoning he was "trouble." Other times we got together to watch X-Files or I would just hang around by his post at the bar door, talking literature.

Seeing him fall off the wagon was scary and confusing. I approached him where he sat slumped over and he seemed to stare right through me. To see him go from one extreme to the other was shocking and sad. In sobriety he told stories of scraping together pennies to buy a drink, rattling off the details matter-of-factly but seemingly at peace with it. When he fell he fell hard, disappearing for a while, coming back. He stopped working at Canal Street for a while...came back to leave again. I started waitressing there and I distinctly remember the night he had to body slam an unruly customer. Another night he came in so completely out of it that we were able to serve him water with a straw and convince him it was booze, in effort to appease his demands. Again he sat there, sipping and staring straight through anyone that tried to talk to him. One night he showed up to the Co-Op and played a song called "Too Much Blood in my Alcohol." I remember him strumming that guitar as if trying to catch it on fire, yelling out the chorus. I lost track of him briefly when he quit the bar again and I moved out of state.

Will had an issue with booze, a serious one. He was an addict. I guess I kind of gloss over that in the previous paragraph...I met him sober and always held onto who he was as that. He was still an asshole but he had himself together. When he started drinking again he wasn't that person. That switch left me so confused and hurt. I'm not sure what else to say about it...

We kept in touch on and off over the years. Will headed for the west coast and started playing music out there on the streets. The man loved playing. That's all he wanted to do--play music. And he did. He said fuck off to the system and meant it--becoming a street musician. He was part of a documentary project on street musicians in Portland/San Francisco...here are some clips from that. Will shows up a few times--the first at the 2:00 mark. I'll know that voice forever.

'Artbeat of the City: Select Scenes from Mary Anne Benner Ailgif Studios on Vimeo.


He wasn't perfect. He wasn't always nice--in fact he pissed a lot of people off, and burned a lot of bridges. But he was human, and lived how he wanted to live. He stuck to his values when it came to steering clear of The Man. He lived hard and fast and full of rock n roll. He was a great door guy because he didn't take any shit. He wasn't shy about his mistakes. No matter how many years have passed, I still remember that goodlooking stubborn fella in the black tshirt. Or the guy reading me his poetry on the couch in his efficiency. I feel lucky that I met him when he was sober, that I got to know a bit about his heart. I'll always think of Will as music, the true and tough spirt of it. Presence unmatched. May he rest in noise.

Friday, July 19, 2013

a tale of (two wheel) commuting

Yesterday I rode home from work, sweating from every pore in my body as I came down the final stretch to home. I've been able to commute on two wheels all week despite this wretched heat wave. I don't stop pedaling once I start. The humidity is thick and I rode under many heavy clouds--even caught thunder rumbling in the distance--but only found myself rained out of riding once. If anything, the heat forces me to focus on my pace, one rotation after the other. Yesterday I noticed something felt...odd on my back tire. At the stop light I glanced down and noticed that a rock(too big to be a pebble, not as impossible as a boulder) was stuck on my tire. Ah the culprit, I thought as I tried to brush it off the tread with my foot. She didn't budge.

The light turned green and after passing under it, I pulled to the side to give the wheel a good onceover. The rock wasn't a rock after all. What I thought was a rock ended up being the bent head of a comically large nail. It plunged vertical, directly into the tire and through the tube. I was impressed with the exactness of its stab. Pulling it out was kind of hilarious--more nail kept appearing(how long IS this thing?). Finally she was out and my wheel ssshhhhhhed to flatness. I hoisted the frame over one shoulder and walked the rest of the way home.

I can only assume I hit the nail in the bike lane while flying down Forbes amid a corridor of trees and cars going over the speed limit. There is so much shit that ends up in the bike lane: roadkill, storm debris(so much storm debris--entire limbs of trees and busted bits like shrapnel). Yesterday I noticed a fancy paper lantern straight from Ikea laying on its side. Apple cores, bungee cords, lone tennis shoe. Things one would certainly miss if they were in a car.

Today I brought my bike to work so that I could venture to the bike shop and have the wheel replaced. I put her in the bike rack on the front of the public bus and hopped on board. The bus driver grinned at me, winked and said, "If you keep hoisting that bike up like that you're gonna get muscles!" I kind of nodded and took a seat, immediately wishing I had responded with "I HAVE muscles, thanks." I'm sure he was just making small talk but there was a cutesy bite to his words. How older males do sometimes when they see a woman who is totally capable of doing something badass that requires strength. As if to caution me against growing biceps. Or something. It threw me off a little.

My wheel was replaced in no time at the shop--the new one is a bit larger than the old one, adding a surprising weight to my light-as-a-feather darling. It's going to take a little bit more grit to haul myself up the hill but I'm looking forward to it. Even better: it's Friday. Happy ridin'.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

draft

You told me that when you were born
all fists halted their travels to curtsey.
When you screamed the lights flickered,
the windows looked away feigning interest in garden.
No one wanted. You took all of it--body a
paperweight starfished on top of so much craving.
The want stuck to you, seeped in
filling each stitch of your skin until
you were towel in swimming pool,
grieving handkerchief,
soaked follicles and foam.

You told me about your first love,
the mermaid unrequited--
how her thick waist plummeted when
you threw a diamond into curls of salt.
She liked the shining, popped the stone
into empty socket. When she bit into you
the gift tore muscle from bone, left
you precious from the inside out.

You told me your lungs were their own
sort of jewelry--a collage of mold and moss and pearls.
A breath sworn to be both rotten and sweet--
with one sigh I see you mend a fence, kill a dog.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

this

If You Really Love a Writer
by: Megan Falley


"How vain it is to sit down to write
when you have not stood up to live.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Everyone wants to give a writer the perfect notebook. Over the years
I’ve acquired stacks: one is leather, a rope of Rapunzel’s hair braids its
spine. Another is tree-friendly, its paper reincarnated from diaries of
poets now graying in cubicles. One is small and black as a funeral dress,
its pages lined like the hands of a widow. There’s even a furry blue one
that looks like a shag rug or a monster that would hide beneath it—and
I wonder why? For every blown-out candle, every Mazel Tov, every
turn of the tassel, we are handed what a writer dreads most: blank
pages. It’s never a notebook we need. If we have a story to tell, an idea
carbonating past the brim of us, we will write it on our arms, thighs,
any bare meadow of skin. In the absence of pens, we repeat our lines
deliriously like the telephone number of a parting stranger until we
become the craziest one on the subway. If you really love a writer, fuck
her on a coffee table. Find a gravestone of someone who shares her
name and take her to it. When her door is plastered with an eviction
notice, do not offer your home. Say I Love You, then call her the wrong
name. If you really love a writer, bury her in all your awful and watch
as she scrawls her way out.

poem draft


Maybe it was the lock
extracted,
an opened mouth,
paralyzed
permanent O.
Or Mikey
falling backwards
into the empty box,
beer aloft
not spilling a drop.
The blender,
the pile of clothes,
decayed love still gasping
in the sheets.
The marigold
crushed
on my doorstep,
the torn picture,
the clicking in my middle
when you run back
to serpent me
in the street.
Starburst of forearm
admissions on crossed legs
the funk of your shoes,
tear in the suitcase.
Or that Sunday
when Leonard Cohen came on
and you outwept the speakers;
you turned my chest
into lake
and my heart couldn't swim
so bloated she drifted
dark on bottom
and nobody
searched
for her body.

Friday, July 12, 2013

When I can see what I couldn't see before,
through the glass of my most battered dream, I watched a dandelion lose its mind in the wind
and when it did, it scattered a thousand seeds.
--Andrea Gibson

Thursday, July 11, 2013

new/draft/exercise

This is a poem I wrote at the Pink Door Retreat. Here is how it came to be:

We all took turns busting a pinata and in the pinata were squares of pages--fairy tales cut up. We each gathered a stack and took time circling words that stood out to us(at least 20). Then we were instructed to write a fairy tale using a ghost line(a ghost line is using a line/statement to kick off the poem, but it doesn't appear in the actual work...kind of like a title). The ghost line was "Of course you had to survive." We were encouraged to make 20 lines, 8 syllables each in length. Rachel McKibbens is always awesome about letting her writing exercises be whatever they are meant to be in the end, but I wanted to challenge myself with these perameters. This is what I came up with:




The oranges would not eat themselves.
You, the neighborhoods miracle,
devoured them as if nature
herself promised riots in the tongue--
half-penny monster with pockets
brought a cake baked in bonfire.
All the loves were dead around
his neck, brief jostle of sockets
that bumped your mouth blood when he lunged,
who cried when you crawled in his drum
and there a heart shoved in thick moss
and to it rose a mountain of
citrus, beyond that stray segments
like glistened boats sailing curses.
After this risky feast the seams
of your stomach grinned big and split--
the tailor loved your loveliness;
mending your broken strands with her
fingerprints, so head over spool
she stitched to your lining a moon.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

post retreat

I get as far as opening my mouth; I get as far as shutting my eyes and smiling. This weekend was tremendous. And even tremendous is too microscopic for it. I have no words.

I am completely drained. Everything out of me leaving only the basics. I am taking my time returning. Oh this retreat. Oh these women, our words, our strength. I am changed.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA Defeated!!!



Gay marriage ruling: Supreme Court strikes down key part of DOMA

By David G. Savage
June 26, 2013, 7:06 a.m.


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.


The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.

At that time, no state permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.

Full coverage: Prop. 8 and DOMA

Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.

"By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute" violates the Constitution, he said.

Dissenting were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

The ruling means that more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples.

Four years ago, several gay couples who were married in Massachusetts launched a lawsuit to challenge DOMA, arguing it denied them equal protection of the laws. They won before a federal judge in Boston and before the federal appeals court there.

Their win prompted the Obama administration to switch course and join with the challengers, who said the law was discriminatory. House Republicans voted to take up the legal defense of the law.

When the issue reached the Supreme Court, the justices voted to decide a case brought by Edith Windsor, a New York widow who was sent a $363,000 estate tax bill by the Internal Revenue Service after her wife died in 2009.

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.


HUGE DAY! So happy. In tears.







Change rooms in your mind for a day. --Hafiz

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


This might be the best moment. The moment before departure, when the top layer of action is all about getting things done and running around like an idiot to cross things off the to-do list. A frantic churning of instruction and preparing. However under that madness is this amazing mixture of calm and electric...half radio, half bath water. This layer of knowing what is ahead no matter what--it's just a matter of getting there. Like the night before you are due to spend an entire day riding coasters and being free. The prefix of pure excitement. I'm all about it.

I leave for Rochester on Thursday. My only nerves orbit the logistics--making sure I don't get lost on my way, putting up my tent in the dark. The cat is being watched. Bags are being packed. I feel almost sick with thrill to leave my routine for ten entire days. It's the appropriate time to step away, I believe. I'm tired. I'm quite obviously going through the motions with some things. Likewise there are some wonderful new things that require some distance to fully appreciate, I think. The best thing, for all of it, is space. Space, adventure, and new experiences.

After the retreat I'm going straight to Ohio to spend a week with the family, and to see my dear lovely Jon who will be in town visiting his own relatives before heading off to his new post in Cairo, Egypt. I have missed him so very much. Then 4th of July with the kids, and then...

And then indeed. I don't know what is next, really. I'm perfectly fine with not knowing. I'm not in a rush to get there, to the unknown. I want to enjoy every inch of this build up--this moment before the moment. When you can feel change building its arrival, like a wave slowly/surely gathering its breath for the big curve and push to shore. All of it deserves attention, care, and enjoyment.