Monday, March 30, 2009

L'Avenir dure longtemps

I'm going to shrug this apparatus off
I will not be interpellated anymore,
to be hailed as your
I'm going to set the dancing table
on fire!

Take the life from your memory

Étranglez-vous à la mort.
I will not remember
I will not remember
you no more.
Revenez à l'humanisme!
Revenez à l'humanisme!
Revenez à l'humanisme!
What is uttered to
identify you
is in contradiction
to your lack of

You are a
Taking young fresh
you kill them with
decrepit oldness.
Throwback theatrical
delusional exploiter
leaving ruined lives
in your polluted wake.

Your head is stuffed with
I no longer care to read.
They were too
quaint for me anyway.
But I was
your willing
imprisoned myself
for so long
circumscribed by
under your watchful eye
in the

The journals that mention your name
the pictures that you stained
with your horrid image
(Bonjour image!)
have been disposed of.
(Adieu image!)
They should have never been preserved,
they festered.
Forcing the memory
to always remain.
And it turns itself inside out, over and over again, until it means nothing real anymore. It dances seductively in my mind. Commodified. I buy, and buy and buy and buy and buy.
You must be cut down
with the scythe.
зашнуровано вверх как чучело.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Murphy Moon

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni taught creative writing at the community college I went to a long time ago. I enrolled, and learned some things about my own style that I still use to this day. My writings those days, as they are now, are overly dramatic and infused with lofty notions of love and relationships that are transcendental. Thanks Rexroth, Sappho, et al.

Recently, some good friends sent me copies of old letters I wrote dating back to my days in high school. They are silly, quaint, petty, offensive – all the things I am now but to a greater degree. Attached to one of the letters was a copy of a story I thought I had long ago lost. Something I had no paper copy of…it had only ever been stored on some old and missing floppy disk (the big ones made of thin plastic that you could use as fans – probably the only thing they’re good for now). An individual I once knew brought up the "Murphy moon"from this story a couple of months ago. I hadn't thought about it since I wrote the story and I thought I’d never see the text again. But here it is. It’s so…embarrassing? It’s an amalgamation of high school and community college loves, I think. Reading it, I think about how some things in my writing (and life) still haven’t changed. OK, here it is – unedited with new superfluous footnotes in all its goofiness and sappiness.

I Still Love You

In the beginning she nervously gave him a piece of paper torn from her lunchbag that just read “Molly". The two connected sitting on the grass. Green thoughts under a green shade[1], staring at a white wall, talking for hours about everything. Molly and Desmond[2] continued on the phone until the dawn of the next day, trying to describe the sunrise. They wrote letters to each other, the long childlike essays on the mundane and the supernatural. Together they agreed the talk of music was pointless – music was better left to those who had nothing else to say.[3] During their breaks he read her Crichton and Clancy and she delighted him with Miller and Bukowski.[4] In the dark they waited for every premiere, chewing on Junior Mints. Molly took him to see Ginsberg and La Dolce Vita[5], he loosened her up to John Woo, Jackie Chan and Peckingpah[6]. She kept every box, every ticket stub. Every now and then they manic-panicked themselves and danced under a Murphy moon.[7] He promised to buy her a star; they would both go away to the unknown together. And Molly cried for Desmond when he could not. He punched holes in his wall. She was jealous of his innermost thoughts, because they were with him every minute of the day and she was not. Desmond sang to her on the roof and gave her a Snapple bottle full of rain.[8] Molly put a white rose in it, caressed him in her arms, saying so soothingly, “Nothing’s gonna change our world.[9] He looked up to her face, smiled and said, “I’ve seen everything under the sun, but only you have made my days brighter…”

During a stormy afternoon, Desmond traced the little lines along her palm.[10] They sat on steps, hail pounding the pavement just two feet away. “Whenever it rains, I think about you and always smile”, he philosophically said, trying to find a way to say it best. “Tell me, do you love me because you need me? Are we only here to keep ourselves from falling apart? Do you really still love me?” Molly had water in her eyes, he wiped them dry and kissed her cheek. I love you more than I ever loved anyone before or anyone to come[11]I love you more than words can say[12]…Those songs always play in the back of my head…Do you remember them?”, whispered Molly. They tried not to think about it. Molly and Desmond lie in their beds, lying to themselves, wondering if they’ll sleep[13].

Life continued, many emotions passed on.[14] In the street, when one or the other wasn’t paying attention, they gave wayward glances to the opposite sex.[15] During long trips away from one another, saying goodbyes were so much fun. Amongst friends, they saw each other as vague memories, fading pictures in their pockets. Walking through the front door, they no longer rushed to a ringing phone. Sitting with Desmond’s friends, talking about the past, Molly had nothing to say or add. Two races never to live in harmony.[16] The letters written are filled with blank lines halfway down the page and over to the back.[17] In one letter Desmond wrote: “Sorry there is so much empty space, but I have nothing else to say to you”, but he threw it away.

Nowadays the only sounds made are the changes of channels on the television. In the car they drive around aimlessly, the sunrises less familiar than the TV glow. Desmond and Molly Jones are voyeurs into happy lives. In the Mission, past the 475 Valencia[18], the couple eat in silence at La Cumbre[19]. They look only at their super burritos[20], the seldom rubbing of their legs underneath the table only accidents to be corrected. Their little arguments are no longer so cute; their offbeat eccentricities not as appealing as they once were before. He asks her for a light and she holds the cigarette with just her mouth, gently touching hers to his, a nicotine kiss. Old habits that they wish would die.[21]

Desmond looks away and says, “I still love you.” Molly smiles and replies, “I still love you, sure as God.”

“No you don’t.”

“No I don’t…you know I’m just kidding!”

“There’s always some truth to ‘just kidding’.”[22]

Molly laughs. “I’m just joking.”

“Mmhmm. You know what…the saddest thing about the past is that it has no future.”[23]

“Make it last then.”

“Make it last.”

T H E * E N D

[1] From The Garden by Andrew Marvell.

[2] These characters are one of many musical references in this story. Molly and Desmond are the protagonists in the Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

[3] This is a story with nothing to say.

[4] In high school, I read more Crichton books than I care to now admit. Clancy’s books, however, I never read. Miller and Bukowski satisfied prurient desires and punk rock fixations.

[5] Every budding literature and film buff in high school has to start somewhere. I find Allen Ginsberg absolutely dull and almost detestable now. In fact, I have no more patience with the "Beat" writers at all. So unimaginative really. With the exception of Burroughs - and he has a tenuous connection with them anyway.

[6] I was such a guy moviegoer back then!

[7] Manic Panic was the go to hair dye back then. Quick and easy. A [Peter] “Murphy” moon means many things to me, but I remember that in the context of this story it specifically refers to a Black Moon: the second new moon in any given month. My high school girlfriend was a death rocker (before the term “goth” became so ubiquitous), we both liked Peter Murphy and Bauhaus and she practiced Wicca (a Black Moon occurrence is a significant event).

[8] Oh boy, I really loved Snapple in those days. And I actually did these things for someone.

[9] The Beatles’ Across the Universe.

[10] Jawbreaker’s Chesterfield King.

[11] Jawbreaker’s Jinx Removing.

[12] Leo Sayer’s More Than Words Can Say. A soft rock classic. Schmaltzy stuff we always liked to listen to on the easy listening radio station when the mixtapes got boring.

[13] The Replacements’ Skyway: “You take the skyway, high above a busy little one-way. In my stupid hat and gloves at night I lie awake, wondering if I’ll sleep…wondering if we’ll meet out on the street.”

[14] Bad transition!

[15] This sentence makes me wince because it is so heterosexual and exclusive. I’m embarrassed by it.

[16] This is an awkward sentence struggling for profundity.

[17] I used to write her so many letters, I got bored with them and never did it for anyone else again.

[18] The Epicenter Zone started by the late Tim Yohannon of Maximumrocknroll. Record store, community center, hangout, Food Not Bombs, the 90s. Lovely place gone like the personalities that volunteered there. The late vibrant Lance Hahn of J Church (wearing the flannel in the picture to your right) used to give me lectures on English peace/protest punk bands that I should listen to. R.I.P. everyone and everything.

[19] Of course, Pancho Villa’s around the corner is a better taqueria! And then there’s El Farolito and Taqueria Cancun right around the way…

[20] I think if I were to write this now, I would not use the term “super burritos”. It's not very romantic.

[21] I still really like these last four sentences and the imagery they conjure up. Especially since I’ve quit smoking.

[22] Unfortunately, I still believe that to this day. It makes one suspicious of everything, and is no good for anyone.

[23] I made a note of this stating that this was from Jack Kerouac but not entirely. Funny, I hate Kerouac now.

March 28, 2009

I keep busy. Occupy my time by myself if I'm not walking the dog. Wander PDX on the weekends, looking for fun and free things to do. Walk walk walk and take it all in with the sun in my eyes during the day, and the moon over my shoulder at night. This was yesterday.

Eagle's Lodge rummage sale special find - Canada Royal Mountie salt and pepper shaker ($1).

Not pictured: two wonderful Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee folk records ($4) and two 45s: "I.O.U." by Freeez and Run D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way b/w King of Rock" ($1). The Sonny and Brownie records are great - Sonny was a talented harmonica player and these records showcase his work with Woody Guthrie and Lightin' Hopkins. Sonny's style was often imitated (e.g., listen to the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A' Rollin'").

Freeez is another Arthur Baker produced band (see also New Order and Planet Patrol). He is assisted on this record by Jellybean Benitez and John Robie! Needless to say, this is an electro powerhouse record from 1983. The dub flipside is phenomenal, and a DJ's dream. Baker freely lifts synth bass lines from his production work for Planet Patrol and inserts them into Freeez's "I.O.U." Same bass line from Planet Patrol's "Don't Tell Me". Since I now have both these records, I can DJ the ultimate dance party now. Still sticking to the only play vinyl credo. I haven't been able to convert the Freeez 45 into a mp3 yet, so here's the Planet Patrol track instead:

And then I watched the John Cassavetes classic A Woman Under the Influence at the Art Museum (for free). I've never seen it on the big screen, and it was interesting to see a washed out, and sometimes grainy, copy of it. Overall, attendance was sparse, considering the stature of this movie. Where were all the young people last night? Not watching Cassavetes - that's for sure. The audience consisted mostly of retirees - the Museum members and benefactors.

Although Gena Rowland's depiction of (questionable) mental illness is dated and hammy, she does give an awesome performance that was worthy of her Oscar nomination. If you've never seen A Woman Under the Influence...what's wrong with you? Go watch it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kenneth, I have always believed in it too.

I am a man with no ambitions
And few friends, wholly incapable
Of making a living, growing no
Younger, fugitive from some just doom.
Lonely, ill-clothed, what does it matter?
At midnight I make myself a jug
Of hot white wine and cardamon seeds.
In a torn grey robe and old beret,
I sit in the cold writing poems,
Drawing nudes on the crooked margins,
Copulating with sixteen year old
Nymphomaniacs of my imagination.

The Advantages of Learning by K. Rexroth.

Musical accompaniment: Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt (for those who won't know what they're missing by not listening).

Friday, March 20, 2009

They say it's spring and a New Year halfway around the world...

There will be sun, rain and revelry. Something festive, for a change. Around here. Come and get some love.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Oh smear this man across the walls like strawberries & cream!

Today I took the bus downtown to sell some things off and make some money. I listened to every Cure album up to Disintegration during my trip (but mostly The Head On the Door on repeat). I was in high school all over again. Except now I am not ashamed to hum, sing and dance along to the Cure on the bus or in the street. The bus cut through the rain and zipped past old haunts like a speeding spectre.

Hustled my way quickly through the U.S. Bancorp Tower lobby to get to Burnside. I felt like a spy in the house of love. Sold some of my worldly possessions for $40. A king's ransom for me, in times like these. Saw Joe Pass' "Virtuoso" on vinyl, but had to 'pass' it up. Quite distressing to have to do that.

Read for hours in Powell's, using their inventory like it was my own personal library. "The Origin of the Work of Art" from Basic Writings by Heidegger kept my synapses sparking. I have a copy of Basic Writings in San Jose that I neglected to bring to rainy Portland. Hopped into our favorite kaiten-zushi and got lonesome watching the calamari go round and round on the conveyor belt. I grabbed the only remaining mackerel nigiri and was saddened that I did not have to share it. Total tab = $15 w/tip. I splurged. About $8 to $9 less than when having dinner there for two.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The sun is shining & it ain't so cold...

Dear Norma,

For you, it is Christmas 1938 and your daddy wishes you a happy 1939. But for me, it is Thursday March 12, 2009. In Colorado it must have snowed on Christmas - was it lovely Norma, do you remember? It has been a beautiful day here in Portland, OR. Yesterday's job search was pitiful (no postings) and I didn't expect today to be any better, so I left early this morning to go hike and have a picnic brunch at Mt. Tabor. I thought of you and Colorado as I trekked and made my way there. I listened to Townes Van Zandt to feel closer to you somehow. Norma, he lived in Colorado for a bit. It was really quite nice at Mt. Tabor, and for a little while, I didn't feel so lonesome.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Guilty Have No Past

They stop talking; they take on the aspect of beings of a different order of creation - conjuring themselves at will an instantaneous coat of bristles or assuming the bland passivity of some form of plant life. Their rites are obscure, inexorably secret; calling, we know, for infinite cunning, for ordeal by fear and torture; requiring victims, summary executions, human sacrifices. The particular mysteries are impenetrable; the faithful speak a cryptic tongue; even if we were to chance to overhear unseen, we should be none the wiser.

From Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's Gonna Be Alright

March 10, 2009
AT 11:45 am,

Dear Norma,
I am at the OR DHS Adult & Family Services/Self-Sufficiency Center. I am here to apply for an "OR Trail Card". Otherwise known as food stamps. They're electronic now - little debit cards with scant cash value. This is the modern world, Norma. Seventy-one years in the future. Could you still be alive? Me, I am barely existing. Can't complain, though. Yet I always do.
The skies are grey
And almost never blue
I wish you were still around
I'd like to speak with you.

Your Friend AR

Dear Norma,
It's still March 10, 2009. But now it's 1:25 pm. I'm still waiting at DHS. I think an "intake meeting" is what's in store for me next. Unfortunately, bureaucracy is still as inefficient as ever. And more people are in need in this recession [what did you and your family do in the Great Depression - can you remember, Norma?]. So many hard luck stories to be heard. Norma, I'm eavesdropping. I should stop! Oh wait, I'm being hailed. More later...Norma, I was denied food stamps because I make too much money on unemployment. At this age, do did you understand irony? I need to go again and walk to the coffee shop. Norma, the skies are the color of pumice...

Your Friend AR

Monday, March 9, 2009

From Los Angeles to Portland to Los Angeles

This morning was all snow.
But it didn't stick.
Later, hail
The wind blew the hailstones
at a 45° angle,
it hit my eyes
and caressed my clothes
as I walked to the DHS.

I daydreamed
of warm nights,
of driving on the I-5
speeding south,
through the Grapevine.
Driving into purple dusks
going at least 85 mph;
windows rolled down
music colliding
with the hot, dry wind.

Driving alone, then,
I remember listening to
"It makes me cry to see love die"
But I only thought of driving
to be with you.
Just to be with you.

Now as I walk in this cold
I hear again
"It breaks my heart to see us part"
so sad
to watch

And I think of walking
later this evening
to save a couple dollars
of bus fare
to return to
no one
in particular.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Yip yip yip yip yip yip

we both used to laugh
at many things together,
laugh and be as one.

Here is a mix (if you want to know what's in it, you have to download it):

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Today I purchased
2 forks and 2 knives
from the thrift store
total cost of 'silverware' = $1.00.

I cashed in my customer card at the coffeeshop
total cost of coffee = $0.00
(tip not included and not given).

I went to the Dollar Tree
and was reminded of
the 99¢ Only Store on Pico
where we used to go.
Where I always made sure
to buy
corned beef hash, tortillas, canned jalapeños
and 50¢ PBRs.

We always competed with
one another
to see
who could spend the least
and buy the most.

I never slummed it, honey dear.
That was my life then,
and it is
my life again.

I buy the discount meat
red, green and brown
in the bin
the old crusty bread
that cuts my gums
the mushy fruit and vegetables
most pass over
(even in these times),
total cost = a portion of my unemployment check.

But I am dignified
(like all those others, allthoseothers,
that I never saw at the Farmer's Market, that can't
buy organic, whose chicken for dinner was fed with
the shit and bile of more chickens).

I interview for jobs
and they say
I'm overqualified and they are
as if I have airs.
Yes, I am dignified,
because I always do what must be done
(in the end, right?).
Nothing is beneath me.
I have no station, no lot
in life.

And still I live on the goodwill
and charity
of others.
Soon, I will be left alone with my own devices.
Rube Goldberg machines for
each step
I have to take
to make myself
As it always should have been,
I suppose.

And still I will be dignified,
when I have retreated
to the seclusion
of journals newly written
and waiting to be mailed
to anyone who will read them,
who care to laugh
at melodrama created, mocked and rejected.

Will you correspond with me when I am dignified and old?


while the body prowls
the soul catalogues each step;
while the unconscious unbridles feasts
the flesh knots toward the shore.

From I Have Walked A Long Time by Sonia Sanchez.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

John, I'm only dancing...

My feet float in solemn glory.
And I, I am
Dancing too.
Freed from the burden -
Into the dark, into the void.
Rooms full of past times,
Spaces traversed
And solitudes lost,
Are beginning to dance, to dance.
And I, I am
Dancing too.
Ironical rashness
I have not forgotten.
I know the void,
I know the burden.
But I dance and dance
In ironical glory.

- Hannah Arendt.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"What is an adult?"

"A child blown up by age."

From The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir.

A long time ago, when I was a young man and my body had the stamina to take such abuse, I was beat up really badly. The worst beating I ever received (hopefully). My hands were so pristine and undamaged, as if I never even got in a punch. That’s how badly. It began with my fellow pugilist saying, “What are you gonna do about it?”. For all I know, it ended with me saying, “Whatever it takes.” But it didn’t end there. It ended ignominiously, with me trying to crawl away on my hands and knees. And then I was kicked in my rear, directly on my tailbone. I remember screaming. The pain ran up through my back and my spine felt as if it were going to shoot through the top of my skull. I immediately bolted horizontally in mid-air, suddenly, like an ironing board, and collapsed. But still I had to continue crawling, to get up and limp away from all the taunts and laughter.

I recount this story not to sound tough, for false bravado in defeat, machismo, nor to glorify fisticuffs. Clearly, there is no glory in being humiliated like this. I recount this story to illustrate the fact that I know life can sometimes be a frightening struggle with many difficult moments that seem impossible to overcome. But getting through them...that is the ultimate goal. You don't have to tell me any of this. I know more thoroughly than you can probably imagine of me.

Fighting, and becoming ensnared in these situations, is foolish. This I also know. But it's also all I know. My psychiatrist said I like adversity and conflict, that I create it. Supposedly, it's a self-destructive impulse. This is the difficult situation I have created for myself. So be it.

So bring yourself forth, step into the box and put your fists up. I don't back down. Even if I will get beat up in the process. I would like nothing more than to collapse that jaw of yours.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

There Will Be A Happy Meeting

you are the audience
you are my distant audience
i address you
as i would a distant relative
seen only heard only through someone else's description

neither you nor i
are visible to each other
i can only assume that you can hear me
i can only hope that you hear me

From Audience Distant Relative by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha.

Two Feet In Front

The night before it happened it was very cold. I sipped tea in the coffee shop and waited. Feigning impatience, I was thankful for the time to write. I had written many things to do. To better myself, to resuscitate, to communicate and create dialogues, etc. I had not been back long, but I knew that in this time I had procrastinated too much already. Not one task accomplished. After all the previous week’s discussions. Good intentions don’t mean a thing if not given substance with action. They start off as apparitions, dead already. I always seem satisfied with just this mere hollow manifestation. To (re)vivify takes effort. I had given very little to nothing; lazy, like my father who could not stand without holding my mother down. This gives me tremendous shame.

In my focus, I forgot why I was there and who I was waiting, and ultimately, writing this to do list for.