Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our obituary writer is an extreme, pedantic gossip. He gets things wrong, but he gets them in detail. I had just started working at the paper. He thought I was an alcoholic; he told it to a man on night rewrite, who told it to all the people in the newsroom, who told it to the people at the culture desk. It is not so troubling to be thought an alcoholic; still, I preferred not. When he asked me out to lunch, I gladly went. His parents are from Poland. His name is Standish Hawthorne Smith. We went to a Greek restaurant. When we sat down, he held my hand. He asked whether Will has his divorce. I did not know quite what to say. I asked about his work. He smiled. He asked what I would like to drink. Nothing I thought. Then I remembered that nothing would be the order of an alcoholic on the wagon. My normal Scotch and water would not do. I asked for an ouzo. No alcoholic in his right mind, I thought, would have an ouzo. I had two. Standish walked me home. He said he wrote, and read, a lot of poetry. When we got to my door, he asked whether he might use the phone. He made three phone calls, going to the kitchen now and then, to poor himself another vodka. I sat in the living room, with a glass of wine. I had altogether lost my sense of purpose in the situation. After his hour or two of phone calls, he came to the living room. “Do you know,” he said, “three things are said to be true of every Polish houseguest. First, he raids your icebox. Then he reads your mail. Then he fires the maid.” He walked to a window, pulled the curtains, asked whether I would like him to fire the maid. He finally read some poetry instead. Anyway, Will’s gone.

--Renata Adler
(from Speedboat)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

could scream all evening & not change a thing. i love when the details seem set, in place, then, a lose thread. oh unravel me baby. fuck me flatly when im drowsydeadout & cannot defend. finals & moving out, so stressed i don't know. packed all afternoon. a maze of boxes lines the room; the cats race them for fun. water was cut off around one. wearing a skirt simplifies the act of peeing in the backyard. four times already. wish i could just sit & scratch my own back, yknow, relax. beer & cigarette. on the front porch, my feet propped up, watching the neighbors watching me through the shade trees.

Friday, November 23, 2007

if i paid attention i would have stopped. walked into the other room, sat facing the wall. the overlooked details say everything: his head turned towards a friend, whispering; her raised hand in mock exclamation
well, hot damn!, glaring my direction. given the chance i’ll talk all evening. mouth hung, cranking up & down with mechanical precision. riding horses, dr. pepper lipgloss, i hate girls who pretend not to care about. talking like this, i could forget everything. close my eyes & see the room empty. the windows open themselves, wind wheezes through. a stream of syllables only i can wade overcomes the room.

Clarice Lispector

     Ah, had I but known, I wouldn’t have come into this world, ah, had I but known, I wouldn’t have come into this world. Madness is neighbor to the cruelest prudence. I swallow madness because it calmly leads me to hallucinations. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, Jack fell down, Jill kissed his crown, and they lived happy-unhappy ever after. The chair is an object to me. It is useless while I look at it. Tell me, please, what time it is, so I’ll know I’m alive at that time. Creativity is unleashed by a germ and I don’t have that germ today, but I do have an incipient madness which in itself is a valid creation. I have nothing more to do with the validity of things. I am free or lost. I’m going to tell you a secret: life is lethal. We maintain the secret because in utter silence, each of us, as we face ourselves, because to do so is convenient and doing otherwise would make each moment lethal. The object chair has always interested me. I look at this one, which is old, bought at an antique shop, and empire chair; one couldn’t imagine a greater simplicity of line contrasting with the seat of red felt. I love objects in proportion to how little they love me. But if I don’t understand what I’m writing, the fault isn’t mine. I have to speak, for speaking saves. But I don’t have a single word to say. I am gagged by words already spoken. What does one person say to another? How about “how’s it going?” If the madness of honesty worked, what would people say to one another? The worst of it is what a person would say to himself, yet that would be his salvation, even if honesty is determined on a conscious level while the terror of honesty comes from the part it plays in the vast unconscious that links me to the world and to the creative unconscious of the world. Today is a day for starry sky, at least so promises this sad afternoon that a human word could save.
     I open my eyes wide, but it does no good: I merely see. But the secret, that I neither see nor feel. The record player is broken, and to live without music is to betray the human condition, which is surrounded by music. Besides, music is an abstraction of thought, I’m speaking of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel. I can only write if I am free, uncensored, otherwise I succumb. I look at the Empire chair, and this time it is as if it too had looked and seen me. The future is mine as long as I live. In the future there will be more time to live and, higgledy-piggledy, to write. In the future one will say: had I but known, I wouldn’t have come into this world. Marli de Oliveira, I don’t write to you because I only know how to be intimate. In fact, all I can do, whatever the circumstances, is be intimate: that’s why I’m even more silent. Everything that never got done, will it one day get done? The future technology threatens to destroy all that is human in man, but technology does not touch madness; and it is there that the human in man takes refuge. I see the flowers in the vase: they are beautiful and yellow. But my cook says: what ugly flowers. Just because it is difficult to understand and love what is spontaneous and Franciscan. To understand the difficult is no advantage, but to love what is easy to love is a great step upward on the human ladder. How many lies I am forced to tell. But with myself I don’t want to be forced to lie. Otherwise what remains to me? Truth is the final residue of all things, and in my unconscious is the same truth as that of the world. The moon, as Paul Eluard would say, is ├ęclatante de silence. I don’t know if the Moon will show at all today, since it is already late and I don’t see it anywhere in the sky. Once I looked up at the night sky, circumscribing it with my head tilted back, and I become dizzy from the many stars that appear in the county, for the country sky is clear. There is no logic, if one were to think a bit about it, in the perfectly balanced illogicity of nature. Nor in that of human nature either. What would the world be like, the cosmos, if man did not exist? If I could always write as I am writing now, I would be in the midst of a tempestade de cerebro, a “brainstorm” Who might have invented the chair? Someone who loved himself? He therefore invented a greater comfort for his body. Then centuries passed and no one really paid attention any more to a chair, for using it is simply automatic. You have to have courage to stir up a brainstorm: you never know what may come to frighten us. The sacred monster died: in its place a solitary girl was born. I understand, of course, that I will have to stop, not for lack of words, but because such things, and above all those things I’ve only thought and not written down, usually don’t make it into print.

(from Where You Were at Night, 1974. Translated by Alexis Levitin)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

a slowing, steadying of pace. i look ahead with straight-face. try to be good, turn to you with that straight-face, almost blank; no tear streaked cheeks or hands raised, waving violently. i’ve slowed to this predictable gait. watch as i move through the room: arms hung, hips tucked, legs a forward motion without the indulgence of skipping or side stepping. a clear path. i move only to arrive somewhere, not to stir the air around my body or yours. stir us into a frenzy ending finally in bed, backs turned cold, thinking could go on like this forever. i must keep in time, the slightest falter could have me rushing forward again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

mostly sitting, eating raw green beans split at the seam. in bed i pull muscles reaching for a glass of water, cigarette, pen. try ten times to write a letter to andrew. ten more times tracing & retracing illegible print to be sent to a man in tennessee whose name is josh or jon or here is a picture of me & my wife. i dont look at the pictures. i dont reread the emails once they’re on their way when they are on their way which is rare. how to say today i did when i missed the train, in my sleeplessness haze, waltzed into class late, to the glare of an assistant professor you look glazed. leave & smoke in the tunnel with the parking attendant who thinks my name is evelyn. the letters dont get sent. i pet the cat till she smells like my hand.

Friday, October 5, 2007

ive been in a bad mood for two weeks. to celebrate i bought a party dress. black shot silk, straight to the knee. wearing it, no one should be surprised if i act like a bitch.

this morning, smoking on the porch naked beneath my coat, a woman approached wanting to know about the house for sale. my daughter wants to live here. i mentioned the leaky faucets, poor insulation, windows that refuse to open. when she asked about the neighborhood, though, i didn’t know what to say. this was not the conversation i wanted to have smoking on the porch, naked beneath my coat.

in developmental psych, we talk a lot about prenatal care. the dangers of cigarettes, alcohol, inconclusive evidence re: weed. basically, researchers agree any smoke is negative. i raise my hand sincerely wondering vaporizers, cookies, brownies? to which the teach corners me after class something you wish to tell me, elizabeth? as if not skipping class was already not difficult enough.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

alone all day at school, all night at home. m's been away eight days & im too proud to call friends or accept my roommate's invitations you can watch that out here instead of on my tiny t.v. in bed. this afternoon i got irrationally angry at the goth girl sitting next to me on the bus who kept telling her father how wonderful everything, everything is. then i got irrationally angry at s. whenever i arrive at her apartment, im surprised to find five, ten other people present; i rather be alone than discuss politics with her backwaters republicans. to calm myself after the ride, i made a sandwich with an unreasonable amount of cheese & watched sex & the city.

in other news, i waste a lot of time trying to sleep.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

i quit my job at target because i cried. at ten am, my manager calls to discuss the incident. the incident: i made a mistake, three to be exact the entire extent of my employment. for starters, yr hair is often dirty, you infuriate the other employees by reading constantly; plus, as far as i’m concerned, you hardly live up to yr personal potential which bothers us all. us all is never specified. i begin to cry, mumble yeah an unidentifiable amount of times. yeah is all you have to say? i ask to be let go, fired even. the shame of facing her or any other disgruntled staff looms over my next shift. the shame intensified by crying. & when she says im willing to give you another shot if yr willing to step it up i sob okay then hang up. twenty minutes later i call the studio sorry pam i dont think ill ever improve. tomorrow, i return my nametag & keys.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Monday, July 9, 2007

hipsters wearing gun holsters. they shoot blanks all evening. moon hot & shining. is it my fault i squint at everyone who addresses me? i dont wear cowboy boots. i offend three girls by referring to the vagina as 'beaver'. rum punch! shouts a boy in cowboy hat. rum punch! licked eyelids, hair stiff with grease: i try to work 'beaver' into every conversation, i try to 'feel it.' later, my friend danny face-down in the front yard. when we pick him up the next morning at the station, he is still swaying, says want to stop & get some eggs? yeah, some eggs.

my head ached all goddamn day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

tell me if there's a tackful way to say no you cant have any champagne cause i bought the bottle for myself & the porch & staring up at the sky till the stars sink into their own light. in the new house, there's never enough booze. wine sipped with enthuse, six packs extinguished in seconds. am lucky to get a sip. its just saying no sounds like saying never when what i mean is not right now im trying to stumble.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

we sweat through our shirts on the front porch. night is pollen-thick, yellow silt slicking our skin. sitting on the second step, i fear my bare feet may stick to the cement. & when k. wipes his forehead, his finger glistens, in the moonlight, is the only thing shimmering. t. has a headache, remains silent save a single dry-mouthed so sleepy, man. they leave an hour after
midnight, leave in the same state as they arrived. some time last week, i began missing them. they way, when together, nothing shifts. the air’s disturbed none my our movement through it. my mind remains dim-lit as before, though we may talk twenty million minutes. & its not a state of calm so much as an absence. of time passing the same as if i were alone with the key difference being not alone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I don't write to you because I only know how to be intimate. In fact, all i can do, whatever the circumstance, is be intimate: that's why I'm even more silent.

--Clarice Lispector

Strange Roads Before Light
Frank Stanford

At midnight I am alone
And my love is with someone else.
The moon is like a woman in a red dress
Standing on the beach.

I listened all evening.

All I heard was a one-legged boy
Looking for his coon dog.
He was looking at the moon, too.
It was like a plate with no supper.

And a route salesman in a saloon
Was looking at the moon.
It was a clock with twelve numbers,
But he had no arms to hold her.

And the child who was supposed to be
Practicing the piano
Was looking at the moon.
He was already thinking of a woman.
He wanted to sleep beside her,
Not with her. Odd, but not bad,
He thought the moon spilt the key to her room.

The woman blowing smoke in the dark,
Her fingers looking for the ashtray,
She thought the moon
Was a piece of stationery
In a drawer she would not open.
She would have written there was no moon,
That I am screwing somebody else,
Trying to remember your telephone number.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

why the hell am i majoring in a social science? enrolled in some bullshit fem class so fucking floorboards i skip to keep from getting pissed? yet the teach takes attendance, forces me to sit in a rickety desk biting my motherfucking lips. today's lecture: gender roles in media. & belligerent girls with braids raise hands god, i never realized! how terrible the t.v., magazines, oh my! their faces streaked red! they chomp bocca burgers with intent! & all the while im sitting, spitting stop watching that shit! to which the teacher scolds elizabeth its not simple as that. we've been programed to accept. & i guess i dont get it. the twenty-million slides she shows depicting scenes from tomb raider: the movie. by this point, ive already packed my knapsack, pulled out my camel pack. teach sees, turns to me how can you deny media influence when you smoke? personal attack, no? rise from my seat, mutter something about kate moss's marlboro addiction being my hero. leave.

p.s. will stop bitching about school when i stop having to attend a public university in the south.