Caveat: I carry a flower carefully

I was walking around Fukuoka two days ago.  I saw the words "I carry a flower carefully" inscribed like a very short poem on the side of a big truck.  I wanted to write an ode to the side of that truck.  Or, maybe, I wanted to write an ode to postmodern commerce.   Or, maybe, I wanted to think about writing an ode, and then stop, before the ode appeared, all wilted and unloved, like an uncarefully-carried flower.

Instead, I wrote the following in my little librito para pensamientos aleatorios.

I imagine that in the back of that truck, there is a single flower.  It is a bit limp, in the dark 200909_FukuokaJP_flower_p090909081857 strangling air and the stiffling heat of the back of that truck.   It is a single flower, strapped down tightly and carefully so that won't slide around in its tiny flower pot.  It is alone in the otherwise empty cargo bay of that truck.

We all carry important things.  Life has so many details.

Too many choices amid too much freedom can create its own class of suffering?  I shake my head.  The September sun is hot in Fukuoka.  There are no clouds.

It seems like I have no goals.  Isn't life, and growing up, supposed to be about process?   Sometimes the lack of goals can create feelings of anxiety, but I then try to remind myself that goals are hazardous.  They are hazardous because… well, not precisely… but, they lead to disappointment.

I think sometimes that such a goallessness must seem odd, or even bewildering, to others who see it in me.   I frequently make up goals and tell them to people, but these made-up goals are often shifting around like sand under the waves creeping up a beach.  Sometimes I carry a goal that I have made up around with me, carefully, for a long time.  But I never forget that I made it up to please someone, during some conversation.  It's an illusion. 

People seem to find me difficult to understand.

Is it really suffering, having so much freedom?  No.  It's maybe an irrational fear of emptiness.  I carry a center of loneliness.  I don't comfort it.   I simply carry it, carefully, and some day, in some metaphysical market, maybe I can trade it to someone who needs it more than I do.   That person might give me some strong, desirable currency, or a kernel of enlightenment or understanding, in exchange.

The details in life matter, but they are so easy to neglect.  Other people matter.  I'm not always very good at connecting.

Caveat: 장난이 아니게 비가 오네요

(Poem #1 on new numbering scheme – this is a somewhat arbitrary beginning, arrived at by working backwards from my strong poem-writing habit at the end of the decade. There are poems written that predate this point in time – perhaps I’ll give them negative numbers.)

Nostalgia in July

The sky was overpopulated by the wind.

I had no friends.
I struggled to carry a smile for strangers because happiness is the most important thing.
The green-laden branches of trees labored to lift the earth into the clouds.
The storm tore up its first draft in frustation.

So rain droplets scattered, like solitude in a crowded subway.
The dry spaces between the droplets shrank, afraid and consumed by the imperial splashes of water.
How trite. How tiny.

A twilight of car headlights lased the half-offered monsoon.
Triumph of gray, but it's only inside.
Golden, radiant joy of still being alive, if only I could convince myself.

Unjokingly, the rain comes (장난이 아니게 비가 오네요).

picture

Caveat: Notapoet

My longago friend, Colin (who is, apparently, an amazing visual artist), said in a recent facebook note that I should share some of my poetry.  And he insisted that I was a poet.  He knows my soul (or at least has read between the right lines in some bit of my confessional writing that's floating around the internet).  But I'm not.  Not a poet.   Maybe, just barely, I'm a writer.

Writing.  I style myself a writer.  I style myself poet, even.  But really, I'm just a "poser."  I don't do that much actual writing.  It's an ambition.  A destiny.  But it's far from a vocation.  Far from an avocation, even.

At least with respect to prose, I can say that I do, in fact, do some "writing."  Which is to say, I have a large number of self-generated texts swirling through my personal cyberspace:  on USB drives, uploaded to secured servers, or stored on my harddrive.   I once lost over 200 pages to a Microsoft Word fiasco, which is why they're now all in the form of raw .txt files.   But they're nothing I'm comfortable sharing, ultimately.  My perfectionism prevents me.

I'm desperately uncomfortable with the fact that basically, what I do, is write naked skeletons for complex but not particularly original fantasy and science fiction novels.  Some of my friends know that I have a fondness for inventing imaginary worlds.  It's a fondness with an aftertaste of obsession.  I think of my imaginary worlds as the possible spaces for speculative novels which, naturally, I never seem to get around to writing.  Another way I have often explained it, is that I am much better at writing the appendices to my novels than the actual content of them.  Imagine a written corpus that consisted only of Tolkien's appendices, without the main novelistic texts of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, etc.  That might be an approximation of what I have achieved, over the years.

There are two novels that have at least some germ of existence.

Only one has a good working title:  Self-reliance.  Despite the title, it's basically a space opera genre work, set in a very complex future history called, alternately, "Rahet," "Corporation Space" or "Rasf Sayan."  Unfortunately, it has yet to develop any kind of compelling protagonist.  I have some characters I rather like, but no one has leaped out to take charge of the narrative, the way that good characters must.  It's not really just one novel.  I have outlines for about six, which are interconnected in that they belong to the same universe, but not so interconnected that they constitute a single epic trajectory.  More like different snapshots on the same subject, where that subject is a future point in human history around circa 20000AD.  I suppose if you have to compare it to something, you could look at something like Dune, though that is a bit hubristic of me to say.

The other novel is utterly devoid of a good working title, but is actually much clearer in my mind.  A much more ambitious undertaking, from a genre standpoint, I guess you could say it is a bit "high-concept."  Littered with shifting points of view, odd Joycean (or Burroughsian?) turns and discontinuous narrative, it's set in a sort of alternate present / alternate past (with unclear connections between), a la Nabokov's Ada or Pynchon's Vineland.  And, like Vineland, it includes a fictional coastal county with fictional coastal college town somewhere nonspecific in California, which, for those who know me, will be of easy-enough-to-understand origins.  But my little town of "Onirica" in "Las Urnas" county has nods to lots of fictional otherwheres, from Lovecraft's Arkham to Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County to Pynchon's Vineland to Garcia Marquez' Macondo. Hah.  Sounds ambitious, indeed. 

Will these mythological spaces ever see "light of day"? My mother's record as a novelist does not bode well for my own progress.  Not that I'm that much like my mother, nor am I specifically imitating her in any way, but nevertheless it's worth observing that she's written some half dozen novels, all more publication-worthy than much of what's "out there."  Yet she seems for the most part utterly uninterested in putting her ego on the line by attempting to publish.  And I understand that, viscerally. 

There are risks the fragile ego does not crave.  I write plenty of garbage for this blog, but when it comes to things close to my heart, like my novels or my mostly virtual poetry, I have too much ego invested to risk sharing.  I don't dare face the potentially deafening indifference.  So I guard it close.  I don't talk about it much.  And in fact I don't actually dedicate much time to it, for the most part.

Caveat: The Line 3 Show

seoul subway.  the old lady got on at apgujeong.  she had two enormous duffel bags strapped onto a dilapidated two-wheel baggage cart, with some plastic bags on top.  it was almost as tall as she was.  it fell down on the floor of the subway car.  one of the metal pieces of the baggage cart's frame had broken, and she was struggling to improvise a way to connect the two ends, separated by 10 cm of bulging black duffel.  she had a jar of something… and was pounding on one end, while trying to hold down the bulge.  a tiny, well-dressed woman began to help… then a kind-looking man in a brown suit jacket got involved… then a tall man in a nylon pale green ski jacket started helping too, and he was talking in soft, gentle tones to the frustrated old woman.  here in the vast city, these people were showing a unwonted kindness to the old woman, and to each other.  others looked on:  in bemusement, amusement, or sheer pleasure at seeing such an odd drama unfolding.  various solutions to the problem of the separated metal parts were tried, one after the other.  people were offering advice or suggestions… it was so interesting.  there was a point when the problem seemed solved.  i exchanged grins with the kind-looking man in the brown suit jacket.  but it was a false finish.  the woman began tugging her cart, and the pieces separated again.  second round… the man in the ski jacket used a key from the key-ring attached to his cellphone to widen the aperture of one of the rusted metal ends of the cart, and successfully forced the metal part in, again.  the small well-dressed woman sat forcefully on the bulging pile, to get the two ends closer together.  the old woman pounded on the bottom end with her jar, while the kind-looking man held things in place.  at last, the cart seemed well-fixed, again.  they stood it upright, while the entire subway car barely refrained from breaking out in applause.

Caveat: Ragged Point, 1998

The following is a fairy tale.

He parked the maroon Pontiac on the side of of highway one just north of Ragged Point, California, facing the setting sun and the vast, swarming, grey Pacific.  He'd driven it down slightly into the bushes, so it wasn't entirely visible from the highway.  He'd bought 100 tablets of diphenhydramine and a liter of vodka.  He began swallowing the pills with swigs of vodka, and watched the sun sink into the banks of fog rolling off the sea.

He managed to swallow more than half the tablets.  He went lightly with the vodka, because he didn't want to throw it all up, like that other time.  This was meant to be the end. 

There was a very quiet period.  There was crying.  Impotent anger at the world.

Then it was dark, and he felt his heart accelerating.  Had minutes passed?  Hours?  "This is it," he muttered.

He perceived his heart beating very strongly, he began to black out, feel dizzy. Nauseated.  "Shit."

He felt his lungs laboring.  He was burning up.  He saw nothing but blackness, he heard a buzzing.  And his banging, angry heart, leaping in his chest.

He started to scream.  Or would have been screaming, but his lungs were out of his control.  Was he even breathing?  This really was it.  Death.  Such a vivid experience.  But… oh, and there's the white light.  Let's analyze this, he thought.  Let's think this through.  The heart has stopped.  It has?  It really has.  The chest is tight.  He felt numbness creeping up his limbs.  Shit, no heart.  Really. 

So what's the white light?  Perfectly logical, he reflected.  The brain is losing oxygen, right?  So… the part of the brain farthest from the heart shuts down first, right?  And that's at the back… the visual cortex.  The center of the field of vision is processed at the part of the brain farthest back, farthest from the oxygen-supplying blood.

And, so… what if, logically, the "default" signal is "whiteness"–light–not darkness?  Then, as the brain "died," the whiteness would spread out in a circle from the center of the field of vision, as the neurons in the visual cortex went "offline."  The white light, the tunnel with the light at the end, approaching the white light… these are merely the brain trying to make sense of the fact that the visual cortex "dies" from the center outward. 

Yes, he was really thinking exactly these things, as he lay dying, in the driver's seat of the maroon Pontiac parked in the bushes off of Highway One at Ragged Point. 

And then he felt some kind of seizure… it was remote from his "self," because all his limbs and body felt numb.  But some kind of banging.  And the heart still not beating.  Hasn't it been an awfully long time?  The white light is so big.  His brain was dying. 

Always a fan of black sarcasm, he decided on his last words, to himself, as a committed agnostic.  "Unto you I commend my spirit," he quipped, to a god who'd never once answered him.  And only a stunning silence, at that moment, was the reply, too.  But he himself spoke the next words, instead.  He himself answered, "aww, fuck this.  You're not done yet!"

And he felt his heart start beating wildly, and he felt his lungs gulping air, and he somehow managed to pop the door open, and roll out of the seat of the car and onto the damp, dewy grass outside and bang his head on the gravel.

And time passed.  And stars were whirling overhead.  And the journey began.  It was the night of November 17th.  He was… nowhere. On Earth.  Alive?  He began to walk away from Ragged Point.

Maybe not alive.  He walked through a tree.  He saw bench, but could not sit on it. 

"I'm a ghost," he decided. 

He saw some approaching headlights on the highway, and so he went down and stood in the middle of the road.  The car went through him.

Definitely a ghost.  Like Pedro Paramo, in Juan Rulfo's tale, he meditated.  Pedro went down into Comala, and didn't know he was a ghost.  He talked to the spirits he met there, including his dead father.

The man climbed a hill, passing through brambles that he didn't notice, and noticing the spirits of other dead people around him.  Spirits?  "Are we all dead here, together?" 

Somewhere in among some trees on a hillside, he found a spaceship.  And down the steps of that spaceship, he saw his uncle.

"So you're dead too?" he asked.  His uncle shrugged.  Said nothing.  Offered nothing.  Walked away down toward the highway again.  He followed.  It was an arduous journey.  Just a month ago, he'd been on his uncle's land in Alaska, but that hadn't been the right thing to do.  The wilderness was very lonely, and loneliness… oh, loneliness.

He walked for a long time.

The stars whirled in the sky.  Cars and trucks passed through him.  He was a ghost.

He found some other ghosts, living in a hole beside the highway.  They did not talk.  They were ghosts.  He did not talk, either.  He lay on the cold pavement and waited for something to happen.  He watched the sky, and began to wonder about the voice that had spoken, so angrily, in response to his hubristic sarcasm.  "You're not done yet."  Done?  It had been his own voice.  Full of strength.

It was at this moment that he realized it was true.  There was no god.  It was all illusion.  Wishful thinking.  Having become a ghost, he ceased being agnostic, for there was no longer any need to hedge bets.  A nihilistic certitude gripped him.  It was a warm, comforting nihilism, such as he'd never felt before.

He remembered he'd been following his uncle.  But… where had that man gone?  It was hard to stand up.  Hard to peel himself off of the cool pavement.

The stars whirled in the sky.

He fell down and felt a moment of pain.  A moment of doubt, about his ghosthood.   Ghost.

He cried, for a long time.  He couldn't find his uncle.

He was a ghost.

The stars whirled in the sky.

But… the sky in the east was turning pale green, the hills of the California coast.  Was he going to spend his eternity here, on the edge of the world, as an atheistic ghost?

He sat on some gravel beside the road, but no cars came by.  The sun was rising.  He felt cold, but not terribly.

He saw a convenience store.  Because he was a ghost, he decided to go through the wall.  But the wall… was solid.  He sat down on his butt, and laughed.  Not a ghost, after all?

Then what?  Where was he?  He sat on the curb in front of the convenience store, which appeared abandoned, now, in the clear morning light.  There were no more spirits wandering the empty highway.  A truck barreled past.

"Shit," he muttered.  Still alive.  Not done yet.

He stood up, and brushed dirt off his shirt.  He stood beside the road, and stuck his thumb out at the next car that went by.  Several cars later, a pickup truck stopped and a man asked if he was OK. 

"No," he answered.  "I need to get into town."  He didn't make too much conversation after that, but alluded to an imaginary car problem.

The pickup truck driver dropped the man off in Cambria.  He realized he'd somehow covered more than 30 miles from where he'd parked his maroon Pontiac at Ragged Point, but only 5 or so of those miles had been in the man's pickup truck.  Had he walked 20-something miles among the ghosts in the night?

He called his father collect, and explained what had happened, elliptically.  He bought a bus ticket to San Luis Obispo, with the last of his cash, and his father collected him there.  His father took the man to the emergency room to make sure he'd survived his ordeal more or less intact.  Then the father had the man committed to a "mental health facility" in Alhambra. 

The man descended into a catatonic depression, then.  He kept dreaming he was back at Ragged Point.  But he wasn't done, yet.   The November air in Southern California always smells of honeysuckle and asphalt.   That's the smell of… not being done, yet.

A series of ECT sessions broke the catatonic depression.  Six years of therapy and antidepressants mostly banished the darknesses that had always haunted him to the corners of his mind.  He had a semi-successful career, even.  But he was restless.  He kept wandering.

Ten years later, he dreams about Ragged Point.  About the stars whirling in the sky.  Sometimes, he speculates that he is, in fact, a ghost.  Still, he's not done yet.

Postscript.

I think he managed to swallow about 60 tablets.  That would make well over a 1000 mg of diphenhydramine.  Doses above around 800 mg are generally considered potentially fatal, and combining it with another CNS depressant such as alcohol increases risk considerably.  It was not, perhaps, the simplest or most painless way to try to go, but it had been well-thought-out.  A previous attempt, at a motel in Maryland, had been ill-considered and unsuccessful… too much alcohol, and not enough sleeping pills, had led to vomiting and unconsciousness, but had never had much of an actual risk of death.

The wikipedia article on diphenhydramine points out, regarding the "recreational" use of the drug, that "people who consume a high recreational dose can possibly find themselves in a hallucination which places them in a familiar situation with people and friends and rooms they know, while in reality being in a totally different setting."  This correlates well with the man's experience at Ragged Point.  Regarding the actual potential of death… high overdoses are generally accompanied by symptoms such as tachycardia, hyperpyrexia, and seizures, all of which the man remembers vividly.

Speculation on the part of the hospital intake staff the next day was that he'd induced a minor heart attack in himself.  Whether his memory of his heart actually stopping was a hallucination or a real experience is anyone's guess, but it does match well with the expected profile of an overdose at the level he attempted;  wikipedia says, "considerable overdosage can lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack)."

Caveat: Polysyndeton

I got off work early because the middle schoolers are preparing for mid-term exams and I have been excluded from teaching the exam prep given how Korean-language-intensive the test-prep curriculum is, and so I walked home, and the air was humid and the streets and sidewalks were more crowded than they usually are when I walk home, and there were two cats staring at each other from the bushes on either side of the walk, ignoring the people, and there was a truck selling tomatoes, and there was a cart selling a large variety of unidentifiable fried things on sticks, and then I got to the main intersection that I have to cross and there were three tow trucks and a police car congregated but I could see no accident, so I gave them a wide berth and finished walking home, and climbed the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment and got in and turned on the air conditioning, and that is the first time since last September that I have felt compelled to do that upon getting home.

Caveat: Englyns

I've been experimenting with writing englyns – these are complex, rigid Welsh poetic forms – not in Welsh, though.  This is a small englyn penfyr I made:

nobody sees sky's glimmer, the sun falls,
-nobody feels the summer-
nobody sees air's shimmer.

Sometime back I tried writing one in Spanish, too – probably not as good.  And this one is about being angry:

a veces siento enojo de perro,
ira de piedra, un rojo
enfado de hombre cojo

Traditional Welsh poetry is fascinating to me because of its demands for such highly structured forms – almost like Japanese haiku, for example.  And, as Georges Perec once pointed out (and probably others), it is constraint that leads to truly innovative artistic expression, and not freedom

I remember as one of my most productive periods of poetry-writing the time when I was experimenting with highly constrained forms such as the alexandrine sestina, with additional non-traditional constraints on such things as "characters per line" (thus I could produce completely justified poetic lines using monospace type with no additional spaces).

Caveat: Dust and Silence

"The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular.  The silence."  This is the ending of a paragraph near the end of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which I just finished.  In some ways, a very typical bit of postapocalyptic fare.  In other ways, more spare and unprogrammed, maybe.  A gloomy, depressing book, though.

Oddly congruent with the current fall of yellow Mongolian dust – a seasonal visitation not uncommon in Korea, but rendered more worrisome now that it comes laden with the unquantifiable atmospheric  toxicities of Northeast China's vast industrial effluence.  All the cars were covered with a fine spattering of rain-patterned pale dirt, as the yellow dust had come accompanied by rain.  All the piles of snow have melted.  The cold, damp air tasted like sand.  It was easy to imagine McCarthy's world, as I read while riding the subway into Seoul to buy my Sunday installment of English-language magazines.

The last time I was so profoundly affected by a post-apocalyptic story was perhaps James White's Second Ending novella, which sometimes still haunts my dreams even though it's been thirty years since I read it (and I had to spend 30 minutes with google to figure out the title of it).  But overall I have always felt James White to be a vastly underrated sci-fi author. 

And speaking of underrated, I found myself thinking of Alasdair Gray's Axletree for some reason, recently too – the tale of  those men who build a babel-like tower to heaven, only to damage the surface of the sky and bring the deluge down upon Earth when it shatters. 

Then there's John Lucian Jones' story of the Protagonist – a robot-sentience from a machine civilization called in to solve the mystery of an extinct primitive civilization that seems to have stopped in its tracks just as these robot-people from a distant star were about to make contact.  We gradually learn that the extinct civilization in question is none other than Earth, as the Protagonist obsesses Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius-style over the ruins and artifacts. The stunning truth is that the robots themselves have inadvertently destroyed everything on the planet due to sheer ignorance of the possibility of carbon-based life.

Caveat: It’s raining helmets… and the Mexican snowplow squadron

I looked up at my television a while ago, which I had on on some Korean channel.  I saw a man on a motorcycle, he looked like a zombie.  He had a passenger riding behind him.  Suddenly it began to rain a large number motorcycle helmets from the sky.  The driver of the motorcycle was struck by one of the falling helmets.  The television had my attention.

It was apparently the scene from a movie – the show was some movie review show, where they show clips of movies and talk about them, but, since it was in Korean, I didn't really have much ability to capture what this movie was.  But the scenes were pure magic realism, and I was captivated.  There was a scene where a woman was reading a white book that fell on her from the sky.  And a scene where an immense number of empty plastic bottles and containers (ie. trash) was growing into a giant pile in the center of some huge city.  It grew to such large size it towered over the skyline of the city, like a mountain.  People went and climbed and had picnics on it, enjoying the view.  And could throw their empty containers over their shoulders – so convenient!

So.  I had to know what this movie was.   Hmm… how to search?  Google.  I typed in "falling helmets" and "movie".  I found a blog about movies – some woman in Minneapolis, of all places.  And lo, there it was:  Citizen Dog (Mah nakorn) – a Thai movie from 2004.

That, and yesterday's snow, has me thinking about a story I started once – my own little foray into magic realism.  Like everything I've tried to write, it never got finished.  The story is set in my familiar haunts in Mexico City.  It starts on a morning I actually experienced, when I emerged one chilly morning from the Casa to see it snowing.  Of course it quickly changed to rain – it doesn't really snow in Mexico City – except on the higher elevations surrounding:  Desierto de los leones, or Tres Marias.

But then my little story diverges:  in the story, it never stops snowing.  Partly, I was influenced by headlines of a freak snowstorm in northern Mexico – Durango / Chihuahua / Cd Juarez, which had recently received several feet.  I had been obsessing on the concept of hardworking squadrons of Mexican snowplows.  I thought 'the Mexican snowplow squadron' might be a great name for a rock band.

Back to the story.  For forty days and nights it snows.  Of course, this means utter social chaos and human tragedy writ large across the hyperinflationary, delamadridista Mexico City of the 1980s.  And meanwhile, snowbound in some small non-profit casa de huespedes, the main characters find friendship, love and meaning.  Really, I was trying to write this.  Once.  Several times.

200801_ilsankr_jaredinsnow

Caveat: The Weather

The season changed abruptly, and too soon. There was a week of snowstorms, and great piles of snow were everywhere. But it was clearly springtime snow:  the way the ground was a bit warm underneath, and melted the lowest layer, which refroze to a crust of ice that the snow could sit on, creating these little continental shelves on the edges of the snowbanks that lined the sidewalks. And then it got warm: a week of above-freezing temperatures, windy, chill, but spring-flavored. And now this:  it would be cold if it were August, but it's late March, and it feels humid and hot and the snow is completely gone after the rain last night. There are buds on the trees and the squirrels scramble on the branches with a sort of distracted optimism, like brand-new meth-addicts, no patina yet on the edges of consciousness.

Caveat: Six Cats In Trieste

Six cats in Trieste

in the blue wind off the cold Adriatic,
off the snow-covered Alps
weirdly visible on the northern horizon,
I climbed the Scala dei Giganti,
up the hill to the castle,
around the back of the cathedral San Giusto,
past the monument to the dead of world war two,
down the stairs behind the ruins
of the foundations of the roman theater;
I saw six cats:

one in the sun in a window;

one on some grass,
looking up at the first one;

one on an abandoned,
ratty-looking suitcase in a vacant lot, behind the stairs;

one colored brown,
hunting the blades of grass,
staring at ghosts;

one mewing in the dark shadow of a crumbling stone step;

one sitting high up on the top of a wall
that was covered with spikes to keep the pigeons away,
but the spikes where broken off
and the cat was comfortable.

[I wrote this in 2005. I cleaned up the formatting and gave this poem its own "post" on 2011-07-31]

Caveat: 10 ways of looking at a city bus

A sensuous mother's hand strokes her daughter's brown back, a sort of innocent, pure eroticism, unconscious, formless, concrete.

10 ways of looking @ a city bus (after W. Stevens which I just was reading)

1. A boy is kissed by his girl
@ a bus stop on Figueroa St.
By the taco stand. A bus pulls up.
And struggles away in a cloud of exhaust.

2. A child watches the red & yellow bus,
all angular, be-wheeled giant,
irrelevant to his life
He watches from the window.

3. Rural, inter-city county bus,
bound for the university
A column of eucalyptus trees flips past
College students look out at the lumber stacked in rows

4. 11 pm on Washington Blvd.
A man waits, stomping to stay warm
Almost dancing on the icy sidewalk
The 16A doesn't come.

5. Two yellow and brown buses
careen down Avenida Insurgentes @ 2 am
their drivers are racing.
The passengers doze, or are drunk.

6. The newspaper headline says
the buses are overcrowded.
The state orders the transit authority to buy more buses
one man asks "Where's the money going to come from?"

7. An old woman clambers onto a bus,
Somewhere along 6th Avenue – the 50's, I think.
An impatient young man flicks his burning cigarette into the gutter
And reaches for the handrail to climb aboard.

8. Somewhere near St.-Germaine-des-Pres
a bus disgourges its passengers
The rich, intoxicating smell of diesel fumes
Still makes me think of Paris in January.

9. Accelarating passionately
the rural bus swings into opposing traffic
To pass a donkey cart
An old woman who boarded @ the mercado hugs her chicken protectively.

10. Sgt. Jones was impressed, when I knew
which bus to board – I decifered the hangul.
We went to the modern art museum
South of Seoul, amid luxuriant green trees.

I went to a meeting this morning – early, for the thing on deep ecology. I talked more than I expected. And after, two ladies & I talked about Quaker schools, & the decrepit situation @ Pacific Ackworth. No sé.

Yesterday, after counseling, where Jeffrey was the dominant subject, I drove to Pomona, walked around in the desolate desert, hot. Saturday morning ' closed. Decrepit 2nd tier urban core. Then I ate lunch at Dennys, which reminded me of Michelle and her cravings.

Then I came home. My pen ran out of ink the end…

[The "retroblogging" project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2013-06-08.  I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big project.  But there's no time limit, right?

The above was written one Sunday afternoon – my journal entries of this time period were very precisely dated and time-stamped. I was probably in a Starbucks in Pasadena or another in downtown Burbank, or else a Java City location in Glendale I was hanging out at a lot during that period – I tended to migrate around these places depending on what other errands or tasks had me doing at the time.]

Caveat: Obsesión en romance

Verde, que te quiero verde,
Verdes ramas, cabello verde
— Federico García Lorca.

verde poeta que escribe
verde poema de amor
verde, dulce, sin sabor.
verde que no puede ver,
verde violencia boreal
verde nieve me cae un copo
verde. es agonía de mártir
verde: niñez de montaña
verde, y yace sobre tierra
verde y fango verde y lodo
verde. un caminante anda,
verde calor de alma sola y
verde, porque la mía sufre
verde, porque el aire que es
verde respira cabello
verde de amor. soledad
verde, invierno lluvioso y
verde, como animales
verdes. besos verdes. bailes
verdes. niño verde, niña
verde. el dios es ondulante y
verde. un mar, que es increíble y
verde… enojo… suicidio
verde, me tiro en frente de un
verde tren, tren rápido,
verde, oscuro, poderoso y
verde todavía. mátame,
verde, aplástame ya que yo –
verde – no quiero vivir.
verde es odio del verde amor.
verde es la revolución.
verde, que se desangra, roja y
verde. la odio. la odio tanto,
verde, como rojo, pero
verde, más bien es color
verde que me asalta la nariz,
verde como una máquina
verde y poderosa: el alma
verde. nos perdona la ira
verde, nos antagoniza:
verde faz completamente
verde, cara de sangre – la
verde sangre – de nuestra ira.
verde en el suelo que es
verde, escarcha de la estrella
verde del cielo porque la
verde redentora dice
‘¡verde muerte, verde vida,
verde muera, verde viva!’
verde ira, que nos enoja,
verde grito en la noche
verde pierde, raudamente,
verde sentido – concepto
verde – que conceptualiza un
verde signo: Verdenada. es
verde, nada, tras celeste y
verde infierno, pide fiera
verde, ¡oh, bestia!, come carne
verde y podrida. pudor
verde no perdonaría el
verde espíritu claro,
verde, ¿cómo conmover un
verde apocalipsis? ¿qué es
verde? es pérdida de amor
verde que me es personal,
verde, tan íntima. ¡huida
verde hacia retrobución!
verde me seduce tanto:
verde de roja madera
verde, aquel locus amoenus
verde, es un espacio aterior.
verde dentro verde. fuera,
verde, una mera sonrisa
verde… él vende el violento
verde viento, va, devora,
verde demonio, una momia
verde, que padece el amor.
verde estoy aquí esperando,
verde te espero sin nada,
verde, en el corazón mío.
verde, blanco y azul soy,
verde poeta con temor: el
verde enojo me controla
verdemente con verde ojo…
verde ojo: te odio todo.
verde es todo, resentido,
verde que es resentimiento,
verde que no es un dolor.
verde, oh, ¡verde!, ¡no me digas!
verde peso. verde sol.
verde idiota, no te quiero.
verde sube. verde baja.
verde héroe en ascensor:
verde bajando, subiendo, el
verde nos sube, bajando.
verde no nos puede ver,
verde no ve verde nieve: es
verde, o sea, que me dice esto:
‘verde vida vale nada.’ el
verde enojo duele tanto,
verde dolor, ¡la alienación
verde no implica valor! es
verde espacio, aterior.
verde magia. verde amor. la
verde pregunta no tiene
verde calor, no responde
verdemente, no responde. es
verde salida: un razor
verde… como mi dios.
verde es existencialismo,
verde captura la guerra. el
verde suprime un vector de
verde escape mayor, porque
verde no me es nada más que
verde. no quiero saber el
verde nombre, tetraletra
verde, diagrama letal:
‘verde, verde, verde amor.’
verde es un cuerpo sin órganos
verdes, veo como película
verde. verde joder, o hacer pajas,
verde coño con coñac,
verde verga rosada de un
verde ojito singular y
verde, me escupa semén
verde y blanco. no tolero
verde, es reinvindicación.
verde es todo un universo
verde, peregrino soy –
verde – y me identifico con:
¡verde abismo, verde caos,
verde desesperación!
verde demonio locuaz,
verde con conocimiento
verde, y con olvido audaz.
verde y rojo, desconexos.
verde reina y verde rey.
verde… sé que ideología es
verde, y que encapsula
verde vegetal y bestia
verde (maniquea visión),
verde miembro perdido por
verde, como manicomio
verde, con su corazón
verde, explota en pedazos
verdes, destruye el alma.
verde pubis, … mejor, ¡chocha
verde!, que come como la
verde diosa de la isla de
verde costa y verde mar.
verde nos explica que lo
verde es la masturbación
verde, y ¡tan intelectual!
verde puta con vestido
verde, con carne podrida,
verde. Oh madre, madre tierra,
verde tierra se cae (y cae
verde) hacia abajo. un trabajo
verde con verde cerebro.
verde, anda adelante como
verde caballo o caballo
verde. yo tengo apellido
verde, y dios tiene apellido
verde: verde, como el mar.
‘verde’ describe la crisis
verde ambiental del tercer
verde disco, suspendido –
verde – en cielo negro, solo.
verde cerca, ver de lejos,
verde loco, no me importa.
verde onanismo de loco…
verde obsesión sexual.
verde demonio con pelo
verde, y ahora llora un mar
verde de lágrimas, … bellas.
verde es la inocencia, o sea
verde la es mi amor. ¿no ves? un
verde helicóptero alegre…
verde choque de suicidio.

[The "retroblogging" project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2010-11-28.  I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big project.  But there's no time limit, right?  The above entry was written leading up to and during a hospital stay.  It's not perfect, and it's quite strange, but I feel it's the most "literary" thing I ever did in Spanish.]

Caveat: lo q me pasó una vez por donde metro Tacuba en 1986

Cuando vivía en México una vez conocía a un muchacho de nombre de Epifanio.  Éste fue uno de estos llamados panchos banda.  Pero él me explicó en su voz ronca y sibilante q su banda era mas una "anti-banda", a causa de q en lugar de ser drogueros y marijuaneros, y de andar medio desmayados por oler cemento, andaban todos todavía en escuela – unos de los cologios UNAM, a veinte cuadras de la casa por ahí donde el metro Tacubaya y la colima de la Sta Cruz.  Se habían juntado para protegerse a si mismos, "pus, poqui,… sabes… nos sempri fregando y haciendo la mera madre, pus, cuando nos ibamos pal colegio."  Era un joven muy listo, y pasaba sus tardes en alguna estación del metro, leyendo a Platón.  Pero se vestía de puro pancho, con un largo abrigo roto de color negro, de estilo punk y tenis dibujados, y aretes y saftys y q había escrito sobre el abrigo "pink floyd" y "anarquismo," pues.  Su padre era un albañil se llamaba Gonzalo, creo, y q le conocí una vez, muy orgulloso de su hijo por haber sobrevivido en el barrio y seguido con la escuela a pesar de las presiones sociales y de la droga y de la banda.  Salimos Epi y yo y un grandote se llamaba Joaquín una vez, pasabamos "la Quinta" en la esquina, donde nos compramos unos "quesadillotes" de hongos y requesón, y después nos metimos en el metro por donde Revolución, iyendo para la casa de Tony, q era un "gelatinero" destos q venden las gelatinitas en copitas de plástico de los carritos en la calle ahí donde Tacuba.  Salimos entre la bulla de allí y caminamos de ahí por donde la calle Ontario, y salieron una bola de tres-cuatro muchachos, panchos, a vernos ahí.  Y Epi estaba fuera de su "rincón," o sea su territorio, y siendonos solo tres, y uno de estos imagínate, un gringo (q soy yo) tuvimos q correr, dando vueltas por ahí hasta q nos podimos meter de nuevo en el metro Tacuba, donde habían unos azules (policías) así q nada pudiera pasar, aunque me explicó Epi, "hubiera pus importado por nada q nos metieran hasta la misma madre con chingazos mero enfrente destos puercos."  Hasta me explicó q en su barrio por ejemplo muchos de los policías pertenecen también a banda, solo q andan con uniforme y arma, "pa mejor joder a todos y sacar a los pobres la lana."

[The "retroblogging" project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2010-11-28.  I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big project.  But there's no time limit, right? The above entry is about events that happened when I lived in Mexico City in 1986.  It's not fiction, and it is not perfect Spanish, but it captures the tone and dialect of the street gangs there.]

Caveat: Character Development

His circumstances led him to make that choice and that alone – but that does not mean that he had no choice.

I remember Beth Renolds, the girl who was killed by her family because of the TV. You probably saw about it once, on TV. It was years ago when the Renolds family lived next door to us and me and Beth were in the same grade at school – the old Park Elementary, the one with the weird Flash-Gordon spires and stuff that looked like King Kong had stepped on the Empire State Building and made it just two stories tall – but it was a nice school except for the heat was not too good in Winter and the solidified September sunlight shining into Mr. Logan's third grade classroom where I would sit staring at Beth's shoulder-short auburn hair moving as she laughed still makes me wake up sometimes right before my alarm goes off, all tingly inside, sort of shivering with regret or nostalgia.

Anyway, I was telling about the Renolds and the TV. One afternoon me and beth are lounging around languidly in their backyard, kind of both wishing we were a little older or braver so we could declare our undying pure burning yearning love for each other – or at least me for her, I didn't really know how she felt, and afterwards, well, I never found out. That's maybe because she was a year younger than me – an accelerated student – but likely I just figured something was wrong with me because I was so young but I loved her so much; it was a kind of sexless fiery passion like some gnostic Christian visionary escaping his body – me just looking at her – you know – God! 

So we were sitting – not really playing – maybe talking, I don't remember, I just kept looking at her hair and her lips because  they were very beautiful, and we heard Mr. Renolds call for Beth to come inside and see what he had bought. Mr. Renolds had got one of those new Korean sets – with computerized tuners and the hi-res screens. Beth's older brothers were impressed, especially Bobby, who was about 14 I think – anyway, that very night the Renolds were watching the new TV and I was watching Beth because they had invited me and my brother Silas over, Silas who was Terry's friend because he was always better at everything than me and could be friends with Terry.

[The "retroblogging"
project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2013-02-18. 
I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big
project.  But there's no time limit, right?  The above germ of a short story was written in a
journal I was keeping while at the University of Minnesota in 1988. There are themes in this story that I found genuinely surprising, given when I wrote it – I guarantee I didn't not add in or alter the references to Korean technology or the pop culture of crimes of passion, etc. – they were present in the original!]

Caveat: Okey, ya vamos

The day dawned raining grey beauty, and is fading with oppressive luminosity. Zoom-bunny skidded still tight against retro-contextuality – the MTC was of course slightly responsible for it all – ¿did I care, even? Нет. Okey, ya vamos, cansados del vivir de lo todo que hay, ¡güey!

[The "retroblogging"
project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2013-02-18. 
I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big
project.  But there's no time limit, right?  The above was written in a
journal I was keeping while at the University of Minnesota in 1988.]

Caveat: Buy now, at discount

Mikkerbauk fantasie Joe – Ah, blue hills of quiet paradise. The captain-people will take it all away in fancy flying rocket-planes of self-individual, hallucinatory love of masses – squalid suffering folk with homes of cardboard, you see, don't you, the danger?! (Buy now, at discount).

[The "retroblogging"
project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2013-02-18. 
I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big
project.  But there's no time limit, right?  The above was written in a journal I was keeping while at the University of Minnesota in 1988.]

Caveat: A Rotated Rose

P1050999 Un-Rhymed Sonnet.

A rotated rose is nothing more than
Some reconsidered kiss, intractable;
Love creeps like cats, like lawn-mowers across
The green summery suburbs of my heartbeat,

Who tug mercifully passive, all alone
To evoke the blood of reptiles beneath
The scattered rocks of over-civilized spirit
To drain into the corners of my room.

Lovelost.  Your face as if beyond recall,
Memoriam:  As if black / cupric seas
Did separate two serpent-blue-green isles.

Lovelost.  Lost love which clings to my conscience
While I wait like zoo-monkeys in a cage
A hop and step distant from my desire.

And Rhymed Sonnet.

What's lost?  I may die tomorrow-matins
While metamorphic metaphors fly blind
Through the lonesome corridors of my mind
To leap 'gainst these fearsome, scaley satins

Which clothe a cowering lust.  Somehow your smile
Can drag old bears from under winter oaks
To shed carelessly their black hair cloaks
On the floor:  rests a love note all the while

Discarded by love-green-romantic fool;
With the ruby guts of a lizard-king
Spattared on my innards by silver knife,

Parabolic precursor to blood-pool,
Inward-facing stone, little pebble-thing.
The fool must be fool;  I must try at life.

And prose-poem.

Dream:  A rose is your cliché – an expression of horizontal love that's no love at all but just like some simple multicolored leaf – pretty but irrelevant to the soul which is more like some dead leaf.  A rotated rose is the essence of cut summer grass – moribund like the subjunctive, lovelost.  Trees throw leaves down in angry disgust, "you're too beautiful, and look:  winter comes!"  I want you more than any silly rose because, somewhat as the cupric seas of mythic green, you trace magic on the retina;  a residue fluttering downward from your eyes like rusting spring leaves – caught in a late winter drizzling.  I guess it's more your face, traceries of sea-foam on the somber, pensive rocks, which danse irreverent of the genius of mother earth.  Which, of course, evokes further souls, more, more, than silly, shy, mine.  Supose it's best you ignore this, as an angel properly should, but remember to dream at night about the saintless ocean, glycerine panic, and that muddy path along leaf-strewn, yellow-pink, cavernous cliffs – your name has become my most sacred prayer, and I don't even know you.   Calm the injunction now, the heartfelt fool, under post-priori cobalt skies, romancing a ghost within his own imagined kingdom.  But you're real, aren't you?  Paragraph.  Nevermind.  Neanmois.  Maybe it's just that you're Parisian in spirit:  kind-of-inconclusive.  But even dark satan brightens when you blink.  Your smile brings only bleeding, ecstatic lesions of joy; romantics turn away and laugh, but only at myself.  So what's funnier, this poem or this man-boy?  A nasty wasp of something cupid hath stung me.  Unsting me or not;  ice cream at the beach in July and now the leaves fly, now thinking thoughts about you – because now I've seen more in the wine-blue waves than just cold Aphrodite.

And.

If in some further time removed, fate could act as sea waves to wash, for one brief mote of singular time, your lips nigh mine, I would fall within that mote as someone from a bridge towards…

[The "retroblogging" project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2010-11-28.  I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big project.  But there's no time limit, right?  The above entry is clearly, obviously, about unrequited love.  Her name was Rosalie.]

Caveat: On Forgetting Having Seen the Cornice of a House

On Forgetting Having Seen the Cornice of a House

The group of people I find myself with
That night as per the howling fugitives
Dana, Kray, yourself, others — perhaps dan,
In vaguely snow-strewn streets dwelling
The Darkness somewhow uninterested in the commitment
Which is inevitably involved in introspection
We did walk and laugh as per the
adjourned party of this dream, perhaps
hoping, or at least hopeful.

Inevitable, perhaps again, that Kray & Dan
should take the stage, a wall along
the sidewalk bearing the hasty, sublime
imprint of white which has
its origins in this Minnesota winter.

That stage I forget. But, when if moved
to a framed window at the brown
forgotten cornice of a house, A framed action
which jumped through the window tho' the
picture was indeed still — The actress
my young mother, whom I've never known,
Tilted in misery, — Who appeared (after
Kray's antics as the carefree dog on an
elevator — which that boxed cornice became
through some trick of photography which I once
knew in some philosophic context, but which
given the retrospect of those pews I now forget.
More on the pews later. Kray swallowed
the spittle in his throat and danced,
blinking wildly in the droplets which excaped
his mouth to dance the blowing gusts of
The open window on this cornice accelerating
so rapidly downward.) in that aquamarine
flourescence of the bottom of the ocean seen
in a black and white film which must
be seething with imagination or at least the
unwarranted indication of things
outside the realm of a black and white reality.

It was fine green workshop lighting,
as If Jacques Cousteau had wandered in
to film this depth, the nascent,
Yes, oedipally so, nascent sun filtering
downward with those discouraged probability functions
which Max Planck may or may not have understood,
but which the fish understand without
asking — perhaps that is their key. A fine gold
key it must be they possess, an ancient one
as they swim within the metaphor which
My motionless child-mother evokes as she bends
foetally upon herself, framed like the light,
within the cornice of that house
above the wall upon the street, wreathed with
the heavy winter taste of night.

The funeral, the man who entered talking loudly
as if he himself were the dead, the discussion
of his purpose on the gravel outside the whiteness
Of those pews, with mooning.

The arrival at your house, the… the decoration,
the food. Your athletics. Your "father."
the ensuing days. The shoes,
The car trip. The black place, the nukes, & John.
The terminal, taxes. writing. sleep.

[The "retroblogging" project:  this is a "back-post" added 2014-06-19, but originally written at the date posted.  I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big project.  But there's no time limit, right?

The above is from an undated journal entry, but the journal itself is from the years 1983~1984 (based on the inclusion of math-class notes that I can confidently date from that period) so I have guessed that the above was written during the fall or winter of that year and estimated a date here based on the reference to snow, which means it has to have been after the first snowfall of late fall, 1983 since before then I had never lived where snow fell. It is a record of a dream, clearly, but also there are many indications (unusual line-breaks, capitalization and punctuation, and clearly intentional mis-spellings) that it was meant to be the germ of some kind of poem such as I preferred to attempt to write in those years.]

Caveat: Memoirs of the Architect

-> . . . )  Memoirs of the Architect ? {Post title}

When the calico cat on the couch fades
    in the slanted rays of the wintersun
And when the streets outside the window
    reach not for home but for their origins
Gentle, gentle, do my tears come.

Without the calculus of my memory to guide
    those tears
Without the nurture of my once heroic
    imaginings
Quiet, quiet, the pain slips heavily.

    Toward anger                .    Time
        the                            .        out
            Knife                .            of
                slips                            time
                    home.                    lost,

    Cannot,
        for whatever reason,
That these viscous drops of blood are mine.
And so bloodied a knife in my trembling
    hand
Call me to mind,
        A japanese garden I once
saw in a photograph which I perceived
with an ambition to become an architect.

    A designer of my struggling end.

Little pebbles, little pebbles
                            meaning
                            .    for
                        .            nought
    Quiet    .
        11/17/83 JARED

    There's no eagerness here.
    Nor will it ever come to pass
        But in the thick, timid soul
    of the non-architect.
There.
    It is irremediable.  ( . . . ->

[The "retroblogging" project:  this is a "back-post" transcribed from paper on 2010-11-28.  I've decided to "fill-in" my blog all the way back.  It's a big project.  But there's no time limit, right?  The above entry was surprising to find.  It appears to mark the very specific moment when I gave up my childhood dream to become an architect.  I'm not sure explains why, though.]