Friday, February 27, 2015

Breaking Emergency


Our view of the Alps presented itself
like an orangutan's inflamed pudenda.

Downwind of all that, a sad last gasp
of the galaxy's huge agenda

stood as a monument to our works.
My imaginary wife put it this way:

"Let's ditch this morbid atmosphere
and hitch a ride with Paul Revere."

I could see her point, and many others.
I saw the point of basketball, and of hoop earrings,

and how the two are related—how nice!
Then I surfaced from the jellied sea of time,

only to be reborn as an electron on the lam.
Thanks for that are due on Monday, so come

here and help me get down and debunked
before my faculties expel me.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ways Away


Early one evening we parted company
at a junction of diverging dialects.

Forgetting how to speak wasn't easy
until the speeding traffic did it for us.

Assured of death's promise to endorse
the remainder of our happiness,

we strode into perfect silence.
Tomorrow's static turned erratic.

Its weather, childlike, was barely credible;
it taught us dissipation, indelible.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marigold


I found a little feather
It had a strange name
I think it was "Donny"
I ate it and thought about clouds
At the bottom of Lake Michigan
That is where clouds originate
One time I tried originating at the bottom of Lake Michigan
But it didn't work
I came out looking like a rheumy eye

Unfortunate lake! On the other hand I did
End up meeting on its surface
A beautiful and talented young stranger
Whose specialty was growing
Flowers out of ship decks
I picked out a marigold
And handed it to her
She informed me it was a dandelion

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ideology


Tickle your ideology; you never know what mutant futures may come tumbling out. To wit: A woman polishes off a banana post-apocalyptically. She wants what it represents (success in business). Yes, it's tempting to insert one's own innocence into this ribald narrative, but that's when the death of history wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and cries, "Tag! You're it."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Nothing


A selfless plunge into desuetude is a form of self-defense, but try explaining that to your desire to be used. Nothing matters, so it might as well matter anyway. This is why solitude eludes me when I'm alone; longing my way out of time, I'm yoked to its endearments. Memory won't shut up, but its echo says what I want to hear.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On Second Thought


One unreliable minute later, the captive disquiet
I was nursing a little too lovingly for mixed company
took a breather—took it too far, in fact, before any
new feeling like home could be brought to bear.

A swelling of dead-eyed absence began to tell,
in tones of majestic indifference, the origin story
of our smoothed-over tacit agreement, abandoned
when duty called to say I love you. How artless

the whole thing was, remember? It was beyond nature,
lacking only an answer to what might have been but wasn't
reeled in in time or pulled from the proper context to be.
So there you were, clutching a highly specific detail,

under orders to keep moving. Stumbling on this torrid scene,
or slinking away from it (same difference), one may yet
see the point of its deliberately flimsy construction,
the beauty of a forgetfully imminent collapse.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hurricane Placenta


Rinse a nonstick Neanderthal and watch his head get examined
per the advice of a statuesque actuary, duly hirsute,

aboveboard to the utmost, almost a lamppost. But wait—
I didn't say "Simon says." I did hold my head high

in a last-ditch chipmunk's boudoir ambience; my
fever was beached there, whipped into wrinkles by

decisive greenery, a climate curated in a belief no
soon-to-be-jizzed-on jam band was more than sweet

revenge for. The bachelorette was out of smokes—sad enough
in happier times, downright laundered to shreds in these.

What's needed on the record's an omission of whatever
one is, in ham-handed retrospect, most proud to regret.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Unforced Marches


Destiny tends to ship out before it shapes up,
leaving nothing to chance, least of all the
harrowing stares one can't help disowning
in the natural course of a drowsy commute.

The end is insight, that fatuous old news.
Any leftover magic you'd like to unload
may cost more than mobilizing in support of
your least ideal metric of success is worth
once your silence's essential truth is exploded.

Now there's a freak accident I can get behind,
miming an act of footsie as I go; all night I
imagine myself into a more flattering forecast
spun out in lieu of a sight best left unseen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sucked Dust


Relax while you can, married to a good score
for yielding temporality, durably alone
in palpably overripe malaise—
the kindest ever, according to a pleasure
I never heard of until it pleased the court
to drink from a tainted well, the better to
surprise us, getting a jump on our own
escalating drama, the sheer scale
of which was nearly embalming,
yet gave hope to the frowning millions
asleep in their cribs. Word came
that slipping under the prevailing
wind went a panoply of colorless fears.
All new motion was suspended, sold off
in harmonic virulence, the pretty past
setting out to prove itself; enter the
shattered class and take a seat.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Books I Finished in January


Dancing in the Dark by Janet Hobhouse. This one is about yuppies in New York in the early eighties. It was published in '83, so I trust its faithfulness to the zeitgeist it depicts—more, that is, than I would trust a book written about that time now, decades later. The sentences are incredibly sharp and smooth, by which I mean they articulate highly nuanced and complex ideas in clear ways, not a word too many or too few. The author is a master observer of interpersonal relations. The characters are richly drawn and have what I value most in characters: specific individuality. Hobhouse seems to be largely forgotten now, which is a shame. If she hadn't died, she'd still be alive today. Her final, unfinished novel, The Furies, is available from NYRB Classics, and it's on my to-read list.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. This is a suspenseful, intense page-turner about whose plot I won't say too much, because it's fun to discover the whole thing gradually as you go along. Basically, this young woman and her widowed mother in 1922 London decide to rent out part of their house to help pay off accumulating debts. A young, vibrant couple moves in. Trouble ensues. That's all you need to know for now. Just read it. A reader faster than I will probably devour it in two or three days.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July. I've been a fan of July's since the day I saw Me and You and Everyone We Know at its NYC premiere at the IFC Center—and then saw July herself taking questions from the audience afterward. This is her first novel. I was into it from page one. I don't want to say much about this plot either, for the same reason mentioned above. The main reason to read this book? It's very funny and strange. It has a lot of quotable lines. (Which I won't quote here, since it's better to come upon them yourself.) Not just funny, it's touching in a very idiosyncratic, non-sappy way. It sort of reminded me of a Todd Solondz movie, but less bleak.

Friendship by Emily Gould. I've now read two Emily Gould books, for some reason. I actually kind of enjoyed her memoir, but this novel, not so much. It would be an unfair oversimplification to say that it's partly a book about a snarky former gossip blogger who loses everything and then, by the end of the book, learns valuable life lessons about humility by volunteering at a soup kitchen. But yeah, that is partly what it's about. Mainly, it's about the friendship of two young women of the educated middle-class persuasion in New York circa now. I truly, unironically, unabashedly am fascinated and intrigued by such subject matter, despite what you may assume, but when the prose—especially the dialogue—is as lackluster and unimaginative as in this book, my interest fades.

The thing is, though, I know that if I were to write a novel, I would be prone to the same flaws. I'd write something that sounded a lot like this book, probably. Which is why I hesitate to criticize. I think part of why I finished this book at all was the ego boost it afforded me in relation to my own writing. For a would-be writer, there's something heartening about other writers' mediocrity. If this mediocre novel got published, then even I might have a chance!