Monthly Archives: May 2012

What’s on your mind?

I like to answer this question that nobody asks.
Repetitive sentences that elevate my self indulgence
The Internet was created for me
And only me

And I love that I can hang up on a recording of Tom Waits in New York,
My telephone is bringing me into this wave, into this limbo, into this lost sea,
Of meaningless progress,
Because we’re all still starving in some way or another.

What’s on my mind?
I woke up with a heartache on my temple
And a slight twitch and ache in my eye
That I suspect is a young aneurysm
Hiding in that throb behind my skull

What’s on my mind?
When I was seven, I wrote a letter to my father
I told him I was planning to run away
I don’t think he read it but all I remember was his speeding palm.
I nervously craved for the palm of your hand because it was the only way.

What’s on my mind?
That “feminine mystique” that I lack
Because pale is in and thin is in
And I’m brown forever
And I’ve been thick since I was a kid

What’s on my mind?
I wrote out the letters that sent this message:
Happy Belated Birthday.
Because I am stubborn and a fool
But I didn’t respond to your: Thank You.

What’s on my mind?
That all the stories I know
That all the stories I’ve met
That all the stories I will meet and know
That I know how they end.

What’s on my mind?
How everyone falls in love but me
This immunity that I posses
Can easily break down when The Ronnettes play
But then I think, weddings built on songs, expire within 3 years.

What’s on my mind?
The photographs on my wall are dead
There was a picture of you
There was a picture of love now defunct
There were words from D.C. now meaningless

And there was a picture of a seventeen year old me
Without a phone. Without a credit card. Virginity still in tact.
A photograph taken by a camera with film
Exposed in a dark room and processed and given to me.

There are dead words on my wall
There are dead philosophies on my wall
There are dead technologies on my wall
There is dead love on my wall.

Whats on your mind?

i <3 nyc

We only lived in New York for two years. We arrived just before the 1 year anniversary of 9/11. I had never been there before we moved there for my graduate school program. We were broke and we had free vouchers on Southwest Airlines, so we used them to get there from California. Let me tell you this. Southwest does not fly directly to New York. We made something like four stops and landed in Long Island, exhausted, with another hour wait for the train and an additional hour ride into Manhattan. Our total trip took well over 12 hours. We had everything with us–two large suitcases, two overstuffed duffle bags, and one or two guitars, I can’t remember. We met Ryan’s uncle in Midtown and then we ate grilled cheese sandwiches in a diner and I felt like I was in a comic book. It was so late but light and noise were everywhere.

Most of the photographs I took while we were living there are gone. I kept them digitally and those hard drives have long since crashed. I was too stupid to back them up.

We worked so many jobs while we lived there, often simultaneously. We did New York things. We went to museums (the free nights, naturally), ate giant slices of pizza, went to free movies in the park, and ice skated in Brooklyn. We got depressed and wasted time and got drunk too often. We had strange encounters with The Strokes, Wyclef, and Sigourney Weaver. I got sick of it there after awhile, and I missed being alone on a sidewalk and seeing mountains and having space.

Our time there was both amazing and difficult, and I’m still paying off my student loans. I’ve got a lot more to say, but too much grading to do at the moment. In any case, I’m grateful for that time, and I miss it.

Here I am at Coney Island:

Gays, Bi’s and Orgiers: A found poem.

I was recently treated to a video of a Nebraska woman (later identified as Jane Svoboda) who gave a speech to the Lincoln city council about the pernicious influence of homosexuality in American culture and entertainment. At least I *think* that’s what was going on.

Of course I had to turn it into found poetry. Duh, you guys.

Gays, Bi’s and Orgiers

found by Geoff Sabir

Winter Wipeout T.V show has broken bones

And manslaughter every minute.

Winter Wipeout show is produced

In Holland by Gays, Bis and Orgiers.

Why do Gays like to see people Perishing?

P

E

N

I

S

Goes into the anus to rupture the intestines.

The more a man does this, the more likely

He is to be a fatality

Or a homicider.

Getting pleasure while the other man passes away

Reverberates another homicide later.

UNESCO United Nations has gender & bioethics conferences

Combined.

Only gays go to gender studies.

Gays are the bioethic genociders in hospitals

Children can be eliminated

(The feds stated In this Decemper 11th article)

(The Lincoln General Star page 6)

Gays should not be employed in hospitals or any health occupation.

Whitney Houston was found without clothes

In a Bathtub.

Every corpse found without

Clothes

Had a partner that did away with them.

Lesbians and Gays rarely live past 40 years old

Because it’s common for partners

To do away with them.

Or they self inflict.

We want everyone to live as long as possible

To be 80 years old instead of 40 years old.

Don’t go gay, It’s not healthy.

Anus-licking causes sepsis.

If not given antibiotics within a half-hour

They perish.

Have no gays in Education

A high percentage of gay men

In school grounds

Molest boys.

Partly because they don’t have AIDs yet.

Be on the side of innocent boys

Who get Fs and Ds

A year after being molested

Don’t allow hundreds of molestations

A year.

Where are our school teachers who

Should be speaking

About this

Today?

Continue reading

God’s Eye

I don’t care how many times Christians say it’s a metaphor.  There’s something incredibly disturbing about Abraham agreeing to murder his son like an animal sacrifice in response to God’s voice from on high.

I went to church last week as a favor to a friend, and the pastor heralded Abraham as an example of a righteous man. I have a problem with this common tribute to blind trust, for more than one reason. My mother repeated this story as a mantra whenever I asked her where she had been when my siblings and I were randomly raised by a series of families who charitably took us in when we were growing up.  She professed that Abraham was the father of God’s chosen people because he was willing to trust God in all things: “God will never ask of you more than you can give.”  She explained the classic Pauline epistle, how she respected our father as her bridegroom, as Christ loved and lead the Church, but she sacrificed her attachment to her children as God had commanded her. In His infinite wisdom, He asked her to donate us to the Sacred Community, so that we would belong entirely to Him.

I don’t know how she interpreted the part where the angel of the Lord “stayed Abraham’s hand,” took the knife, and Issac was spared.

This idea of sacrificing something weaker for the greater good of a righteous cause is a legacy we promote as a culture when we emphasize the value and importance of obedience to authority. When voices from on high compel us to act violently (or coercively) to prove our allegiance to God, I take the position that it is more human (and heroic) to look at the face of Isaac and put down the knife.

At summer camps all over the nation, children are taught to make a talisman out of yarn and popsicle sticks. They say this “God’s Eye” is a magical object, that this cultural  icon helps us to see and understand what is inherently unknowable.  They say at the center is the eye of God, which protects the health and well-being of children.

I don’t know what popsicle sticks and yarn have to do with God. Or why anyone thinks that God protects children.

Children are vulnerable little people who are victims of a host of natural and human disasters across the globe, from famine and war, to crime, domestic violence, abuse and blatant neglect. Yes, many adults willingly go out of their way to protect children. But if God is omniscient and omnipresent, clearly He could protect, and clearly He does not.

I know by all observable criteria, my mother didn’t love me, not then, not now, but I also know she believes God does. In our nation of religious zeal, she may be extreme, but she is not denigrated for these beliefs, and even I understand her vantage point.

I know my mother prays for me.  I know she believes in a power higher than her own, that all things work together for those who love the Lord.  Our pastors and our politicians promulgate this to people who eat it up.

But when all is said and done, I would rather have a phone call than a prayer.

dia de las madres / mother’s day

I get a text from my stepmother today. She wishes me a happy Mother’s Day filled with relaxation and she tells me she loves me. I am confused at first, but then I remember that it is Dia de las Madres in Mexico, where she is from. We see each other two or three times per year during obligatory holidays and birthdays. We are civil. I give her a present even though she tells me that it is not necessary. I tell her I love her even though I don’t feel it. I call her Mom even though I resent it; we were forced to call her that as children, to replace the biological mother with her, at least semantically. It’s been too many years. Why change now? That would only cause further hurt.

She married my father when I was five years old. He was twenty years older than she, poor, with five children. My eldest brother was only three years her junior. She spoke no English. It was a marriage, I believe, of convenience, a business deal, and I imagine that was very hard on her. She raised me and is the only mother I really knew. I spoke Spanish fluently as a child, lived with her family in Mexico for weeks at a time on trips that taught me what poor really means (no running water, tar paper walls, tin roofs). I was raised with her culture, even though I was a tall, blue-eyed, white girl. Several years ago, when she and my father divorced after nearly 25 years of marriage, she told me she never wanted to see me again, that it was too painful for her to be around my siblings and me.  She did not mean this maliciously, and given her selective memory, I doubt she even remembers saying it. That is simply how she felt in that moment, and she saw no reason not to tell me. She was emotionally and physically abusive growing up, but I do not think she was capable of more. I don’t justify her actions, but they don’t make me angry anymore.

I text her back: “Thanks, Mom….Love you, too.” There is no vitriol behind it, nor is there affection. There are just words. I am grateful that I no longer feel the need to buy cards with neutral language (“hope you have a nice day” vs. “you’re the greatest mother alive”) and attempt to scrawl something that sounds genuine. I am an adult now, and a mother, too, and I do what I please on Mother’s Day. I have no obligations to either of those women who once loomed so large, not on Mother’s Day, not on any day. And there is something really freeing about that.

Now, a photograph of a teddy bear:

Tagged ,

Gary Went Missing

Gary had a bad day

so he went into his locker

and he pulled out an old picture of a saint

named Francis of Assisi

who had all sorts of diseases

and thought people were God’s

animals to taint

who made all these

funny speeches about

miracles without leeches

and pretended he had never been to Spain

so he’d get all sorts of free stuff

mostly men and plastic flowers

that he’d throw away and never see again.

-

Gary liked the window

on the far side

of the kitchen

where the earth held all

its sunlight in his brain.

He would dance around

in nothing

hoping someone saw

the something

of the places that his saint

could never take.

-

Don’t be a sad boy!

It’s a shame that you’re still living

in the clothes that you first wore when you were born

made of your old life in the room that still surrounds you

where your angels always hang you at the door.

-

Continue reading

Tagged

Image

A couple of weeks ago, we went to see Jeff Mangum play at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. It is a beautiful venue, ornate and very old. We had terrible seats, but it didn’t matter. I’d been waiting for over a decade to see him play. After the 1998 release of his album In the Aeroplane over the Sea, Mangum basically had a nervous breakdown and withdrew from society. A 2008 Slate article called him “the Salinger of indie rock.”

This is about where we were sitting:

I have been obsessed with this album for so many years, which probably means that there is something wrong with me. The above-referenced article succinctly describes it–the album is “about Anne Frank in which vocals about lost Siamese twins and semen-stained mountaintops mingle with the sounds of musical saws, fuzzy tape loops, and an amateur psychedelic brass band.” Now do you think something is wrong with me?

So I was unsure of what to expect from a reportedly fragile man singing for an hour or so about a little girl who died a horrible death. I did, however, know what to expect from the audience. Oh, there were handlebar mustaches. And very tall men in high-water skinny jeans. Beards and glasses and blazers and broaches and lensless glasses and suspenders. There is nothing like a crowd of aging hipsters. (I fully implicate myself.)

The show was scheduled to begin at 7pm on a Monday night. The very fact that I was in downtown L.A. on a work/school night speaks to how much I wanted to see the show. When we got there, a line wrapped around the building and the marquee announced that the show would now begin at 8:30pm. I began calculating how much babysitting money this would cost. He probably didn’t have an opening band. We’d be home by 11, at the latest. I could still get 6 hours of sleep.

But, no. There was indeed an opening band and they did not begin until 9 and their music, like the music of most opening bands, was tedious. I was getting impatient. I was falling asleep. I was too old for a show on a Monday night.

After a brief intermission during which several acoustic guitars were propped on stands, Mangum took the stage around 10pm. He wore a button-up shirt and brown corduroys and a newsie hat. He sat down and began playing and while I do not remember which song he sang first, I remember thinking how beautiful his voice is even though in many ways it is not what many would consider beautiful. I guess beautiful isn’t the correct word. The right word would be emotive. It’s kind of how I appreciate John Lennon’s voice (and pretty much everything else) so much more than Paul McCartney’s. It’s thinner and rougher, but it is more honest.

Mangum repeatedly asked the audience to sing along, and at first people were hesitant. First, his lyrics can be complicated. Second, they can be morbid. An example:

And here's where your mother sleeps
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets 
Where their bodies once moved but don't move anymore
And it's so sad to see the world agree 
That they'd rather see their faces fill with flies
All when I'd want to keep white roses in their eyes

So about a third of the crowd hesitatingly made their way through singing a long with this. About 15 minutes of the way into the show, Mangum said, “I’ll be back in a minute” and just walked off stage. Ryan and I looked at each other, wondering if Mangum was okay. But he came back and continued without explanation. After a little banter with the crowd and some obnoxious people yelling song titles at him, he told us that he would sing us the song he “lost his mind to.” A handful of people nervously laughed. I froze. “You’re laughing at that?” he asked. But there was humor in his tone. Then he played a song I had never heard, “Little Birds.” It is not about the Holocaust, but it is about dead baby birds (literally, at least), and it is very disturbing.

At first it felt strange to sing along to songs about death and mental illness. By the end of the evening, a little crowd of about 20 dancing hipsters had formed behind the final row of seats. And by the time Mangum sang “On the Aeroplane over the Sea,” we were all standing together fervently singing. Mangum told us that he wrote these songs for one person, and he never expected them to reach anyone. He seemed truly grateful and humbled by the crowd’s response.

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