Tuesday, September 14, 2010

sunflower sutra

A few weeks ago I woke up tired and hungover and walked down the road to a field of sunflowers and by the time I got there I was sweating and tired. I found a lonely tennis ball in the grass halfway there and I picked it up and bounced it against the uneven ground as I walked forward. It was a mindless act, something I needed but couldn't achieve. I wanted mindlessness. I wanted mindlessness and beauty. And I thought a field of sunflowers would be beautiful. And I thought a hollow tennis ball being beat against the ground would displace thought process. Neither turned out to be completely true. As I looked upon those enormous flowers, and felt the crickets bouncing off my thighs, and felt the felt of the tennis ball in my fingers I felt no different than I did waking on a couch fully dressed and wincing at the morning sun, no different than I did sitting on a street corner wincing at streetlights waiting for a cab. It was, by all reasonable definitions a beautiful morning. It was warm, I know that. The sky was most likely clear and blue, though I can't say for sure, because I never looked up. But I saw people in the beginning of my walk, before I wandered into the wilderness. They looked pleased. Children playing in sprinklers. All of that. There was no reason to feel the way I did. I knew that. There was no reason to gaze upon those flowers and not be lifted up. But I was static. The flowers were beautiful. There was no doubt about that. But even they hung their heads in sadness. And there was nothing I could say to change it. It didn't matter how many times I told them they were beautiful, they never looked up.

I tossed the tennis ball into the abyss of sad flowers, and walked back.

The truth is that I've been happier these past few months than I've been in years. There's a fine line between joy and sadness. And I think the sunflowers know something we don't.

"Under the eaves of that old lime tree I stood examining the fruit
Some were ripe and some were rotten, I felt nauseous with the truth"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter

sometimes I wish life was more like the movies; I don't mean I wish every life experience had a third-act flight-or-flight sequence or that we are all destined to become dynamic characters and either walk off into the sunset or commit suicide, but rather that we all had an audience, because even the most vile characters are felt deeply, given an audience, and the most beautiful ones are applauded or cried over; it's the audience that makes these people important - but we just go through everything with only a few people noticing and even those that do have no real insight into our own moral dilemmas or greatest achievements and so we have to try and imagine what somebody would think of us given everything that we have done and I think we all do that for a little while until we're left with nobody but ourselves to be our own jury and we wish somebody would come and burst into that courtroom and deliver a speech on par with Al Pacino's rant in Scent of a Woman, but that shit isn't going to happen

i was wading neck deep in a river today my toes barely touching and struggling to wrap around a slippery rock as to avoid being carried away by the current so i could keep looking forward at the tall trees and crumbling cliffs that wrapped around perfectly framing the sun falling down the skyline casting shadows across the water and at that moment i felt totally at peace despite today's decision and i felt blissful and a little stoned but entirely balanced and i came home and felt even better because i think the smell of sun-stained skin in the evening is a beautiful smell that incites feelings of youthful abandon and pantheism and then one phone call shattered all of those feelings and replaced them with self-doubt and knee-jerk mechanisms of anger and sorrow and i tried to speak in a way that reflected my thought-process but it was lost and i was meant to feel bad for something that was good and it ended so quickly and i just want to be back in that water and stop wrenching the muscles in my calves down to my toes and pass over that rock and be carried down into the sun

Thursday, July 22, 2010

try lying for a change, it's the currency of the world

*When I started this entry I had been speaking to my dear friend Hags and he said something about wearing his heart on his sleeve, and how that is his downfall, and I said something about how that's bullshit because that is actually a venerable quality in a person, and that the world makes you want to feel silly for being truthful about all the bullshit we feel on a day to day basis, and that it's only reinforced by how easy it is to hate characterizations of people like that, like the "emo" kid or whatever, but that wearing your heart on your sleeve only means you are honest with others and yourself, and an upstanding, beautiful person, everyone else's delicate fucking temperaments be damned. A little later I started this entry without knowing where I was going, and the self-revelation that ensued as I was writing proved too much to bear, and I abandoned it, saying something like "I'll be damned if I'm gonna hit publish on this atrocity." At any rate, I talked to that friend again this evening, and decided, shit, I have to put my money where my mouth is. This kind of honesty doesn't really belong on the internet, but oh well. Thanks for making me look like a douche, Hags. I love you.*

This evening I came across some photographs of an old girlfriend and I, and started to reminisce. There's a danger in that sort of thing, which was probably why, years ago, I disposed of all such materials. But facebook proved itself a sly son of a bitch, and while browsing pictures of a mutual friend I came across some relics of a love I had almost all but forgotten. I don't say that as if I had completely erased this person from my mind, but I realized as I looked at this picture of us kissing that I had erased the real parts of that relationship. I barely recognized either of the people in that photograph; I was looking at a reflection of a reflection cast in a puddle of water that once was an ocean. Neither of us were tagged in the picture anymore, we removed our respective associations long ago, but beneath it were some comments that remained. Perhaps it were those silly words written underneath that truly made me remember, that brought back the way she used to speak in reticence, a language I learned quickly to decipher, and love. Or maybe it was how I then remembered the taste of her tears when she kissed me out of joy or sadness; how she'd latch on until she ran out of breath, holding tightly the sides of my face, and then move her mouth away slightly to gasp in the air, and then come back, trembling, without diffidence, breathing her worry back out so it washed over our cheeks.

These sentiments opened my eyes a little. I came to realize that I have put up some huge walls in my life because of the negative emotions I've faced at the closure of several relationships, the aforementioned being the most recent, at least the most recent relationship that was a real relationship; where upon waking we spent the day together instead of parting ways. I've created a world where I don't have to really feel anything, because I don't really get close to anyone. Yep, I'm painting a picture of a walking cliche, but I can't think of a more honest way to put it. It only proves that we (or maybe just I) can't avoid becoming what we never thought we would be. More disturbing is that I suddenly realized that the disease is spreading. I find myself meeting cute girls and dismissing them instantly based on their first few words. Somewhere in my mind I was thinking that I was being smart, guarded, that I'd hold out for something really, really good. Absurdity, really, considering I found myself in intimate situations much more frequently than when I was open to meeting someone great, without preconceptions or immediate judgment.

It seems as if I have taken all of the anger and hurt from my bullshit baggage and created a wall that I convinced myself was to protect the fragile tissue of my fragile heart, but really only served to marginalize it. Because as much as I can recollect feeling hurt, and on some instinctual level angry, about the aforementioned relationship, that isn't everything I felt about it, but until just now, it's all I was able to remember. I think it's because I was forced, at the end of that particular relationship, to continue to love and be hurt, or despise and be hurt. I had a good reason for feeling angry, and not, as I saw it, any reason to love. So I chose the latter, a kind of self-preservation, one that took months to solidify... and apparently quite some time to dissolve. So I set up faux relationships that didn't have to actually exist: a little flirting here, some lovelorn sentiments there, the occasional copulation sprinkled on top and Voila! a self-justified-way-of-self-flagellating-while-feeling-poetic-or-some-bullshit. The cherry on top is all of the wonderful women who have actually showed interest in me since then, but who I've turned down, because I'd be much happier being miserable, thank you... god, I'm an ass.

But, achem, there probably needs to be some resolution to this post for those unfortunate souls who are still reading through my emotive purging. I guess my only resolution is that putting your heart out there without thinking of consequence is absolutely fucking terrifying, and probably mostly fucking painful, but that's necessary, and if you can survive all the beatings you might get to a place where your heart can swell and shrivel, and flutter and skip, and eventually rest knowing it's full. It don't always end up good, but yea it does. (that's my impersonation of a redneck saying what I was thinking but couldn't say without a redneck impersonation, both because those are the words that came out naturally, and because a fictitious redneck has much more authority on the subject at this time than I do)

And... here's one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs that I've loved since the first time my heart started to hurt in the schoolyard, when I first thought I understood this "Richard" character, and felt, truly, as though this were the most honest thing ever written, as if it encapsulated so many people who only wanted to be loved, but couldn't... the truth is this song is not about someone who wants to be loved, and can't, but about someone who wants to love, and is incapable of doing so. And maybe I always knew that, and maybe that's why I've always loved this song... I'm Richard... but I'm way too young to be cynical and drunk and boring someone in a dark cafe, and though it's true that all good dreamers pass this way someday, I need to remember the bit about the butterfly.

(sorry it's not a real video. There is no such thing in this case, and through browsing, this is the best I could find. This idiot messed up the lyrics, so don't even bother reading them - errors in both context and punctuation - so my advice would be to ignore the video, and just listen, if you feel so inclined).

Last Time I Saw Richard from Mike Baker on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

curse god, but do not abandon him

I still cry every damn time I read this poem. Sometimes I weep.

How to Watch Your Brother Die
by Michael Lassell

When the call comes, be calm.
Say to your wife, "My brother is dying. I have to fly
to California."
Try not to be too shocked that he already looks like
a cadaver.
Say to the young man sitting by your brother's side,
"I'm his brother."
Try not to be shocked when the young man says,
"I'm his lover. Thanks for coming."

Listen to the doctor with a steel face on.
Sign the necessary forms.
Tell the doctor you will take care of everything.
Wonder why doctors are so remote.

Watch the lover's eyes as they stare into
your brother's eyes as they stare into
Wonder what they see there.
Remember the time he was jealous and
opened your eyebrow with a sharp stick.
Forgive him out loud
even if he can't
understand you.
Realize the scar will be
all that's left of him.

Over coffee in the hospital cafeteria
say to the lover, "You're an extremely good-looking
young man."
Hear him say,
"I never thought I was good enough looking to
deserve your brother."

Watch the tears well up in his eyes. Say,
"I'm sorry. I don't know what it means to be
the lover of another man."
Hear him say,
"It's just like a wife, only the commitment is
deeper because the odds against you are so much
Say nothing, but
take his hand like a brother's.

Drive to Mexico for unproven drugs that might
help him live longer.
Explain what they are to the border guard.
Fill with rage when he informs you,
"You can't bring those across."
Begin to grow loud.
Feel the lover's hand on your arm
restraining you. See in the guard's eye
how much a man can hate another man.
Say to the lover, "How can you stand it?"
Hear him say, "You get used to it."
Think of one of your children getting used to
another man's hatred.

Call your wife on the telephone. Tell her,
"He hasn't much time.
I'll be home soon." Before you hang up say,
"How could anyone's commitment be deeper than
a husband and wife?" Hear her say,
"Please. I don't want to know the details."

When he slips into an irrevocable coma,
hold his lover in your arms while he sobs,
no longer strong. Wonder how much longer
you will be able to be strong.
Feel how it feels to hold a man in your arms
whose arms are used to holding men.
Offer God anything to bring your brother back.
Know you have nothing God could possibly want.
Curse God, but do not
abandon Him.

Stare at the face of the funeral director
when he tells you he will not
embalm the body for fear of
contamination. Let him see in your eyes
how much a man can hate another man.

Stand beside a casket covered in flowers,
white flowers. Say,
"Thank you for coming," to each of the several hundred
who file past in tears, some of them
holding hands. Know that your brother's life
was not what you imagined. Overhear two
mourners say, "I wonder who'll be next?" and
"I don't care anymore,
as long as it isn't you."

Arrange to take an early flight home.
His lover will drive you to the airport.
When your flight is announced say,
awkwardly, "If I can do anything, please
let me know." Do not flinch when he says,
"Forgive yourself for not wanting to know him
after he told you. He did."
Stop and let it soak in. Say,
"He forgave me, or he knew himself?"
"Both," the lover will say, not knowing what else
to do. Hold him like a brother while he
kisses you on the cheek. Think that
you haven't been kissed by a man since
your father died. Think,
"This is no moment not to be strong."

Fly first class and drink Scotch. Stroke
your split eyebrow with a finger and
think of your brother alive. Smile
at the memory and think
how your children will feel in your arms,
warm and friendly and without challenge.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

while outside birds building nests in drainpipes knew nothing of the coming rain

i have nothing to say, but some things to share that I was pondering while thinking about what I should say.

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful---
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Priscilla Ahn » Benji Hughes from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

Rain by Naomi Shihab-Nye

A teacher asked Paul
what he would remember
from third grade, and he sat
a long time before writing
“this year sumbody tutched me
on the sholder”
and turned the paper in.
Later she showed it to me
as an example of her wasted life.
The words he wrote were large
as houses in a landscape.
He wanted to go inside them
and live, he could fill in
the windows of “o” and “d”
and be safe while outside
birds building nests in drainpipes
knew nothing of the coming rain.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Remind me to write about how I feel in the morning. It'd be great if I could breathe out the things floating around and weighing down my heart right now, so you should probably remind me to place this somewhere in the morning. If you could remind me how important it feels, I'd appreciate it. I can be so forgetful, you know. But I'm sure once you mention it I'll remember and write for days and days.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

fair and balanced my ass

For the past month or so I've kept my car radio tuned to the Fox News Radio Station because I wanted to hear some things "from the horse's mouth" so to speak. I wanted to get some insight into the voices of the mainstream republican party. And, honestly, I was hoping to hear something that would create a picture somehow different than the one I've had in my head through reading and watching left-ish oriented news sources.

And after over a month I have come to this conclusion: I genuinely feel bad for level-headed republicans if they have to endure the ravings of these fucking lunatics on a regular basis.

It's almost comical that this sort of thing passes for news. But mostly it's horrifying because millions of people listen to these personalities and believe their incomprehensible bullshit. It'd be unfair to say it's all bullshit, but even 90% is being generous.

That's all.