babbling into the void
This morning, I woke thinking about Jesus, which is not something that I ever do. I was raised Catholic, Catholic schools for twelve years, but Catholicism is not something that I practice in my adult life for reasons which are ultimately uninteresting. But I woke, thinking of Jesus as scripture has him, in the garden of Gethsemane on the day he is to be put to death praying, “Father, if it is...
I cannot yet explain why (perhaps I will be able to in time) but this passage, from Mary Ruefle’s essay, “Someone Reading a Book Is a Sign of Order in the World,” just made me cry: We are all one question, and the best answer seems to be love — a connection between things. This arcane bit of knowledge is respoken every day into the ears of readers of great books, and also appears to perpetually...
Three short pieces in conversation with Anne Carson’s “Short Talks,” from Plainwater: Essays and Poetry (1995): — On my father In the dim light of his apartment, the moan of wind tunneling through back streets, he prepares his meal on the kitchen table. Eats there, returns to his room. The television on the floor muted, the black and white glow of it. He sits in a wooden...
oh yes, Ron Carlson.
Elements of Courtship Bring your beloved food. Bring food And put it there By your beloved. Take your beloved to The food. Go To places Where food is. Show your beloved food. Point to food. Bring it To your beloved Move food To where Your beloved is. Keep bringing Food. — Ron Carlson, Room Service, Red Hen Press, 2012
water is something you cannot hold
Where have I been? I wake from a dream of overgrown rosebushes to find that weeks have passed in silence. Strange days. Drift and tumble. In the dream, the branches grow wild and leggy. Thorns thicken to fierce points. How many hours and days have passed? What wild sweet things have gone untended? — Days of Anne Carson: first NOX, then Antigonick. Then, “The Glass Essay,”...
why not just like it?
Some years ago, I bought a bunch of houseplants at one of the big box stores and most of them have done well. Or at least, the ones I still have can be said to have done well. I don’t remember the ones I may have lost along the way. I don’t take particularly good care of them. I go for too long without watering. I am inconsistent with pruning. Despite my carelessness, a few have thrived. I attend...
you are the imperial guard
In the early morning mist, we walk across the street to the ocean. The sand is cold and wet. My son sheds his socks and shoes and runs toward the water. The piercing cold does not slow him. He stands still for just long enough to let me roll the legs of his pants up above his knees. That’s good, that’s good, he says, wriggling away as I try to roll them at his waistband too. He runs back and...
empire falls →
Thrilled to have my tiny fiction, Empire Falls, as this week’s featured post at the excellent Wigleaf magazine.
absolution in absentia
(for M.) there will be no cantata sung over our bodies as we breathe the stale air of your hotel room we brandish rage throw ourselves against these frail trestles the palm of your hand pressed flat against my white throat later we rinse ourselves in the thin trickle of grace left rattling in these unconsecrated pipes our lady of hotel bars our lady of anonymity our lady of perpetual sorrow
the brooklyn-battery tunnel is 2.4 miles long
I drive down to New York after work, in the dark. The trip is so familiar. The traffic heavy at times, although not unexpectedly so. When I arrive, it is late, but my aunt offers to make a meal for me, which I have to decline several times. I will stay with her tonight, then in the morning, make my way to Brooklyn, where I will spend the rest of the weekend on my own. A kind of bliss in solitude,...
There are times when in my peripheral vision, I will detect motion – blurred or a smear of light. How one might expect to catch a glimpse of a ghost. This ghost, unconvinced perhaps that it should reveal itself to you, inconsequential and mortal as you are. And so a test: A shifting of light. A breath of wind just enough to flutter through the loose pages spread across your desk. Clever ghosts....
I love how lonely it is out on this ocean: On... →
week ending 2/22/13: Ana Bozicevic, Ronald Dworkin, Henri Cole, the 2013 RISCA Fellowship Exhibition, and “all my poems are love poems.”
intrinsic luminosity: About the vastness of the... →
week ending 2/15/13: Ross McElwee, Our Place in the Universe, The Quest for Permanent Novelty, Mary Ruefle, Jack Gilbert
On the morning of the last snow day, I stay in bed late, let the sun come up without me. All night, strange dreams of riding trains. Fitful sleep. I wake thinking of my father, who has been gone for many years. I am thinking of him, riding the train to see him in my dream, although this is not something that ever happened while he was alive. A palpable absence. The shadowy outline of a man...
how close can you get?
On the first morning after the storm, I sit at my desk and try to remember a line from a dream. My son is playing in the next room. His voice rises and falls. He says: “I’m creating a game that will see how much knowledge you have about Star Wars.” I say: “I should tell you that my knowledge is limited.” “Well, we’ll see,” he says and returns to his play. I can hear my husband outside shoveling...
Take Five: How can we not fall in love with this... →
mkatakefive: <essay> One Warm Line, Nat Case for Aeon Magazine, February 1, 2013 Nat Case asks: “How can we not fall in love with this life we pass through?” Case is a cartographer. His fieldwork allows him to capture bits of territory, record it. Offer up tools so that others can find their… This week: Nat Case on the small arcs of life; Flaneur Society’s Guide to Getting...
in all the liminal spaces
My friend comes over for dinner and while the ragu simmers, I pour the wine and she reorganizes the contents of my pantry. “We do not do conflict well,” she says, as she stacks the canned tomatoes. She is talking about the man she is living with. “We had a fight about a sweet potato.” My son runs in, breathless, to report something that he has seen on television. “Do you know what?”...
so small and so quiet
All the rain and wind. All the dark hours. All the cold mornings. After work, I walk down to the new bar that has opened and sit in the corner by the window and wait. I am meeting friends here. There is much to catch up on. R. is thinking about moving out of state again, and L. is in the process of buying a house with some land. We talk about what it is like, living here for so long. The smallness...
Take Five: Each of us a tightly wound spring: Week... →
mkatakefive: <essay> Diving Deep into Danger, Nathaniel Rich for The New York Review of Books, February 7, 2013 issue Commercial diving is the third most dangerous occupation, with a fatality rate of 180 deaths per 180,000 divers per year. Divers go deep to maintain oil lines – repair pipes and bury… Week Four of my tiny documenting project.
I wrote about Tina Brown Celona's poem "Untitled"... →
Here is an excerpt: In the end, I want to say all that should be said. That we have lived and we have loved and we have been reckless and we have held ourselves back from the brink of recklessness and at times, our feelings have overwhelmed us. “They are only feelings,” I read in the self-help books, “and feelings will not kill you.” But who is to say how it is that we...
Poetics and the Limits of Binary Thinking, Thomas... →
Can you sit still on fire?
away I am / out there
We drive back from New York in the snow. Or I should say that M. drives and I sleep and when I wake, disoriented, I see snow flying at us, the sky white with it, before I drift back to sleep. The week has felt long. The stunning cold. A frozen pipe has caused domestic distress. — At the office I am sad and tired, and so I walk to the museum at lunchtime and wander through. There is...
travelogue nyc: nostalgia machine
We enter the city on the west side. It is a bright afternoon and the Hudson River shimmers. Once at our hotel, we set out almost immediately. We don’t want to waste the light. We are on 25th street between Sixth and Seventh. We head west for the High Line. “You are telling me,” says our son, “that this park floats above the ground?” We laugh. “You’ll see what we mean,” I say. “It’s not that it...
Loneliness and Joy: Olivia Laing, Henri Cole,... →
Five for this week.
Anonymous asked: I stumbled upon your blog after seeing it referenced in the Toronto Star one day. I read it when I'm at work (when the monotony of the office environment becomes too much) and it takes me some place different and reconnects me with the thoughts I can't usually linger on while at work. Sometimes I feel like your entries articulate my own thoughts, or just characterize my state of mind....
you do not seem to have aged at all
There is a new bar downtown and we gather there like moths. The artists, the event planners, the fundraisers. The real estate developers, the graphic designers. The couple that owned the dance studio but have just sold it. Some of us are falling in love. Some falling out. Some of us are planning to move away any time now. We are all in various stages of waiting. There is a man I have seen around...
Take Five: An exercise in documenting my cultural... →
Prompted by the profusion of end-of-year lists, I wanted to start tracking the images, texts, and sounds I take in and note my responses. The books, articles, and interviews I read, the music I listen to, the films I watch, the museum visits - all of it becomes part of my cultural vocabulary, often unconsciously. I wanted to be more conscious of my influences. So, I started this little tumblr....
Sometimes when I am alone in my room, I see eyes staring at me in the dark. This is what my son says, at three in the morning when I go to him. He has been whimpering. And before that, sighing loudly and turning over in his bed. He has been awake for some time. The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night is playing in his room. He has taken to falling asleep to music. After reading together, after saying...
Anobium's Grand Alchemical Amalgam of All Things... →
I got to talk about my personal top 5 albums, films, and books of the year for Anobium. Here are mine. Read the rest of the staff’s picks here. TOP 5 ALBUMS 1. Perfume Genius: Put Your Back N 2 It (Matador, 2012) – Mike Hadreas’ haunting ballads travel deep into the dark lands of trauma, abuse, and personal struggle, and emerge offering moments of light. A short, searing record that...
The streets are quiet. The week seems endless. This morning, at least, there is sun. The writing is halting at best. A few notes before bed or an image on the way home from work that I jot down on a parking receipt while idling at a stop light. This waiting. For the new year to begin. — We returned from Rochester late at night in the cold dark, carried the sleeping boy to his bed,...
travelogue: rochester, ny
We spend most of the day driving. The long, gray roadways. The cold winds are fierce. By late afternoon, it is dark. Snow swirls in the headlights. This time last year, the sky was so clear. The stars so bright. When we arrived in Geneseo, I looked up the names of the constellations and wrote them down. But there are no stars tonight and a year later, few things remain the same. We sleep...
"the next big thing," in which questions about my...
It’s like a literary-meme chain letter and it’s called “The Next Big Thing.” I’ve been tagged by Eric Raymond, whose book CONFESSIONS FROM A DARK WOOD, is just out from Sator Press. He talks about it here. Growing up, I would never pass on an opportunity to participate in such things. I would painstakingly copy the letter with its promises of good fortune and the catalog of ills that might...
Ed Park's A Year in Reading at The Millions →
So very honored to have been included in Ed Park’s list. Thank you for reading.
this is for you
I locked into you this morning before first light, your back to me, your knees bent. Slipped into the hollow your body created and once again, marveled at the fitting. All night, a cold rain fell. A cold dampness settles in on our skin. — It is the fear one thinks about, returns to. Through the weekend. Through the errands and the busy things. I think most about the fear. Those children. — We...
It feels a bit presumptuous to try to write about such large-scale tragedy, but it is what I do now. To try to make sense of pain. To try to find a way to go on. To resist the immobilizing fear. I read the news on twitter and through the afternoon, obsessively refresh my feed, which is at turns shocked and angry and sad. I say nothing. I read the updates from the news outlets as the death toll...
Come back you are not better off without me →
I loved Julia Cohen’s Triggermoon Triggermoon and I got to write about it for Anobium.
land of morning calm
The guidebook says that older people can be easily spotted by their light-colored traditional clothes. They travel in groups, it indicates. I imagine a slow-moving horde. “They have amazing energy, always travel in groups of all men or all women and spend their time sightseeing. They particularly like vacationing at mountains or hot springs. After a lifetime of following the strict rules of...
After the theatre, we walk through the damp tunnel to the parking lot. The concrete walls are stained. We avoid the inexplicable puddles. You take my hand, but we do not speak. Hollow sounds. — Nothing is as we imagine it might be and yet we persist in imagining. A table by the window overlooking the river. High white moon throwing light on the dark water. We linger for hours. Your hand...
all this burning
The harried waitress inflates a red balloon and ties it with a ribbon around the thin wrist of my son. At home, he lets it float up to the ceiling. Each day falling, diminishing until it is a small puckered thing on the floor. They lose interest. They run hot and then so cold. I hold the diminished thing in my hands. Everything that could have been something else. — We are at the...
still life with roses, orchids
There are five of us around the table. K. has made lamb. The small apartment is warm, the scent of rosemary, faint trace of mint. The table is set in browns and reds and golds. One of us offers a toast. We raise our glasses. We talk about our work, our friends in common. M. tells us about her ex-husband, forlorn. How she meets him for breakfast and he tells her he is sad all the time. She says: I...
The businessman tells me: You must also consider the opportunity cost. While you are doing one thing, you are not doing others. What are you not doing? What progress could you be making on another endeavor, were you not spending your time this way? We are sitting in a coffee shop in the lobby of a hotel. Beyond the window, the street. Cars and trucks speed by. Look, I’ll give you a simple...
all's well that ends
Here is a story my aunt tells me. A woman becomes involved with a man she works with, works for, to be specific. He is of course married. She is a bit indiscreet. She lingers at the office, in the hallways, in the parking lot. One evening, she follows him to an off-site work meeting. He pulls over on the side of the road. She pulls off behind him. “Go home,” he tells her. He says you cannot keep...
petitions of the faithful
I spend the first few minutes of my writing time dithering. I open screens and close them. Open books and close them. I am aware that time is running out. I want to understand what I am trying to do, although the poets - or at least the ones I love best - say that no one knows, really, what they are doing. I know that I am here, and I know that I am constantly putting words down and thinking...
song of the king
I am distracted. The mind wanders. I lose focus. I am thinking about fragility, about brokenness. Once, I saw a performance in a small black box theatre in which one dancer drew long chalk lines across the stage while another followed several feet behind, writing fragments of text between the lines. The man then drew a chalk circle downstage and stood in it. Then, he bent at the waist and...
to get the board on to standing
I take the boy out for pancakes and at the table, he draws in his notebook while I read. It is early and for a time, we are alone in the cavernous dining room. Then, men come in in yellow jackets from the construction site. They sit at a table nearby. They order steak and eggs and bacon and potatoes and toast. I have never seen anyone eat steak and eggs for breakfast. It sounds delicious. They...
this is not a love story
I stay up too late - sleepless, thrashing. The heat sputters on through the old pipes, a hiss and cough of steam. I think of all the things I had hoped to accomplish, so few of them done. I consider rising, descending the stairs, switching on lights, making tea. In the end, I force myself to lie still, slow my breathing. When I rise it is still dark. The room is cool. I wrap a blanket around...
we'll just have to wait and see
I am falling behind. It is difficult not to panic. The hours pass, the days. Weeks. I don’t know what I am doing or why. I add songs to my playlist. As if that counts for productivity. I print out pages, staple them. I carry books around and when I read them, I underline passages and make notes in the margins. I write: danger in disguise; violence at the center; does not reflect well on...
The unseasonable warmth renders the day untrustworthy. It raises the level of expectation: Think of how disappointing tomorrow will be. “Why do you always anticipate heartbreak?” my friend asks. It is a fair question. I say: “Why do you not?” — I run errands. I drop my daughter off at rehearsal. I take a pair of pants to be hemmed. I pack a box of books to take...
my spooky horoscope for this week
MADAME CLAIREVOYANT’S SPOOKY SCOPES (via the Rumpus) Libra: You’ll have to make a decision this week and it’s probably going to seem a lot more important than it is. It’s going to feel huge, though, and you’ll see signs everywhere telling you what to do—a dead mole in your garden, a crumpled letter in the laundromat, clouds shaped like sigils. Whatever language of symbols you make up for...