Sunday, September 29, 2013

of nothing particular/thoughts on a heart

My heart must be a bug light.

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

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.

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

Scars, teeth marks. Marbled.

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

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

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
picked clean--
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 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 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.