23 November 2007

Time to Go...

There are two distinct views on the meaning of Time.

One view is that Time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence, and Time itself is something that can be measured. This is the realist's view, to which Sir Isaac Newton subscribed, and hence is sometimes referred to as Newtonian Time.

A contrasting view is that Time is part of the fundamental human intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which we sequence events, quantify the duration of events and the intervals between them, and compare the motions of objects. In this second view, Time does not refer to any kind of entity that "flows", that objects "move through", or that is a "container" for events, but that Time, rather than being an objective thing to be measured, is part of the measuring system used by humans. [1]

He needed the fuck out. Not out of this room, or this town, or even this state of mind, but out. Just fucking out. He could feel the urge to leave seeping into every pore of his being, not because he wanted to run away from something, but because he had for too long run away from himself.

He became a narrative voice dictating to my fingers, the one speaking for me. I stared at the words written out before me. He had only just written them, but I was barely able to remember their origin. The feeling of urgency he felt, the quick glances over his shoulder to make sure he wasn't being followed, the nervous twitch over his left eye, these things became my feelings of urgency at the lateness of the hour, my quick glances over the shoulder and into the dark corners of the room. I felt a twitch above my left eye that had only moments before been words. Was I being followed? Had I had this feeling of urgency moments before? Was I not now feeling the urge to flee from this self I had become, to flee away from this place that I, and in turn, he, had come to call home? Did I not shake with fear at familiar faces I could not recall, or hear the sounds of someone calling a name I might have once been known by?

I could not remember the day or the hour that this urge to flee had come upon me, or if it had been my own or someone else's. I could only recall something I had read, though could not remember, which only strengthened this resolve, made my decision seem sane, at least to my mind. I had to go, get the fuck out and not look back over my shoulder no matter how strong the urge to do so made me shudder as though cold, and made the spot above my left eye twitch uncontrollably. Suddenly, it felt as though Time had become an enemy I could no longer ignore. Time became something I must court into the small hours of the night, holding it close to me though I could feel my flesh rotting away, feel my teeth falling out, and all that I held dear turning to dust. Time told me to get on with My LIfe, away from this and you, away from all that I held dear to me...

and I had no choice but to listen...

29 August 2007

The First Law of Thermodynamics (I Stole This Poem From A Drunk Guy)

Ah, this place or this
moment, or maybe
this self I've become-
who is always in love
and miserable...

Lonely, ecstatic, tired, so tired-
wired into that suicidal survival trip,
restless, relentless, unrepentant,
and sad, always sad...

Not about Fate, or the world,
or all the lovers who were more
than lovers, the friends
who were less than friends,
all those who wouldn't or couldn't
live up to my expectations.

(I can't even live up to my expectations)

...but sad! sad! because life is beautiful,
yes, but also horrible and tragic and stupid-
and it's a fucking mystery what the whole
goddamn point of it is-

Or if there is one,
or if, by asking the question,
you create the meaning,
or the lack there of...

The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Life feeds on Life) or (Why I Am Not a Vegetarian)

You can steal my work
call it your own, do whatever
the fuck you want to with it-
You can fuckin' have it.

But if you think I stole this or that,
"Go fuck yourself!"

Everything is stolen: this life,
the next one, the air you breathe,
the food you eat, the life you take,
the one you give, the one you receive-

Stolen, all of it stolen!!

But I wrote this and those other things,
whether you like them or not-

And don't tempt me 'cause
I'm liable to write some more,
which will probably be
even worse than this.

The Third Law of Thermodynamics (Ennui vs. Entropy)

There are laws for everything-
of sines, cosines, the jungle, averages,
particle pleasures (I mean partial pressure!);
a law of parsimony, which defeats poetry
only to be conquered by poetry and vice versa;
the law of means, a law of refraction,
reflection, of nations, motion and thought,
which states:

"Any of three basic laws of logic,
including the law of contradictions
(nothing can be both true and false),
the law of excluded middle
(everything can be both true and false),
and the law of identity,
which says any proposition implies itself.

Then this girl at the next table says
she was a stripper for one night,
had quit and never went back-
I think she's lying, but then again
that's my opinion, neither true or false.

Only moments before she'd condemned
a man who had never left this town,
which is a million miles away,
or seen the world or other cultures-

I had to tell her that even people
who have traveled the world sometimes
only see what they want to see
and never change, or grow or know
why it is you have to rail against
the stupidity that infects us all.

And she shut up for a while,
seemed slightly humbled-
but here she is again talking about
being a stripper and I still think she's lying,
either nervous about the moments
of silence between words, or too afraid
of letting anyone else sound as sure
and smart as she thinks she is.

No wonder I hate her, she's just like me-
God! What an Asshole I am;
oh well, fuck it. She's either terrified
of life or herself, or something else
and I shouldn't waste my time
or my words.

27 August 2007

Far From the Madding Crowd

This is the thing you have to do:
you can never give up your dreams,
no matter how depraved they or you
become; even when they tell you that
you have to grow up and become some-
thing you are not, and never could be,
even when they tell you what you're
doing is killing you, is killing them,
because in truth they are the ones
who are killing you; they are the
ones who stab their knives into your
hopes and claw out your eyes with
their honest concerns and clich├ęd
fears of what people will think of
them if they ever knew you by name,
or had once called you their friend;
and this fear, the fear of what other
people think is the long, slow death,
the poisonous crawl towards cancer
of the soul; one must always be weary
of the ones who have your health and
sanity in mind, and are not intimately
concerned with their own, for these
are the truly mad ones who will drown
in the shallow waters and not make it
to the deep end; that is their ultimate
fear: to die alone, never sure if there
is a god or if there is a hell, too afraid
to cut the rope they hang themselves by.

But you must also be weary of your
self, because all the others, the addicts,
the freaks, the lepers and martyrs will
count you as one of their own, call you
a fellow, a brother, one of them, but
they will never amount to the demon
that possesses and consumes you,
who is also frightened of dying alone,
and who will take you with him; this is
the creature you must always, always
keep an eye on, who is hunting you while
your back is turned to the mirror, who
opens his eyes when you close yours
and seeks to pacify the far madding
crowd that calls alternately for your
blood and your salvation, those whose
shadow is your own and what is bred
in the bone...

That which is taken for truth shall never
amount to much, and neither will you,
but that isn't important; the thing to do
is never give up your dreams, even when
they begin to dream you, this is natural
and unnatural, what is written in the blood
and across one's face: the truth, simple, complex,
deep, shallow, what is lost in translation
and what we think we understand; even
the moments we think define us, which
are nothing more than moments.

24 August 2007

Love Poems are for Weaklings (3 am Love Poem)

y'all become conversations in my head
and constellations in my night sky,
i see your faces etched in stars moving
away from me at a hundred, million light
years a second, and when I blink,
you're gone, and only the supernova of my
memory tells me anything has ever happened.

another sip of wine and I can't remember
what it was like to hate the dawn so much
that it would burn all my bridges,
break my heart or leave me dreaming
of the last night on earth we spent
together before the world ended

I have no discretions anymore,
can't even tell myself when to say no
to the voices in my head, or when
to shut the fuck up. I chain smoke
my suicides to death and dream
of the next time I fall into the same trap
my heart has layed for me a thousand
times over and that I will fall into
a thousand times over again.

I can smell you on a Tuesday morning
when I haven't quite woken up from that last
dream we shared, but the lingering odor of your aura
hangs about my bedside table making
curly-ques in the lamp light well past dawn.

08 August 2007

The Old Man

Here I am in this loud, crowded bar, sitting, listening to this weathered soul expound his own greatness, his modesty on display elsewhere. Part of me doesn't want to be here, wants, in the way the soul aches for itself while still doubting its existence, to be free of, and from, something. I drink my beer and listen to him tell his stories, a spark in his eyes. He's been here for a while, he's cheerful, still full of vitality. He's drunk.

He's made for himself a profitable little rag of a newspaper, "serious journalism" he says, and I don't dispute him. Harry Bright, by dint of his ancestors, bears strongly his Scottish heritage, his simple beginnings in Oklahoma amidst the poverty and ignorance of the rural South. He bears the scars of Vietnam, the failed dreams of an entire generation that has become the thing it despised. He's almost itching to kick off, not wait around for what comes next, how far the mighty will fall, or what will be left.

He sits and talks of all the great books, the great writers, the great politicians and how the world should work -then he sits back, momentarily sober, the sanity slipping back in and out again, an ebbing tide allowing him to weather the storm of life for another day, another week, another month, another year...

As he talks, I sip my beer and dart my eyes around the room and back to his face. His eyes, though bright, are duller than usual, sunken into his face, his cheeks red. He shows his youth and his age in the same gesture, though he is a pale imitation of the young, idealistic fool he once was. My beer becomes an empty glass I roll between my hands, unsure if another wouldn't hit that magical spot between divine intoxication and drunken foolishness.

Birght seizes the opportunity. A lull in the conversation and the juke box causes him to stand, a bit wobbly, and point to my empty glass that used to be a beer.

"How 'bout another," he says.

"Well, I probably should call it quits for the night..."

"What, now?" He seems startled, his face pulling up into a whince, his shoulders rising to meet his confusion. "Come on -have another. I'll buy. What do you want?"

It was decided -another beer would come, I would drink it, and this night would join the rest somewhere between eternity and tomorrow, never as clear as it had seemed at the time, only a vague recollection of what had been said. All the nights of my life, the lonely ones, the drunken ones, the ones forgotten for their wonderful simplicity, the ones that only seem like a dream now; all the nights of my life are recorded somewhere for the blind eyes of God to read. And somewhere, in all those thousands of nights and days there is a lost portion of my soul that believes tonight has happened only for the first time.

29 March 2007

Another Day

The fog had crept through his window before he had time to notice. It settled around his thoughts and reminded him of lonliness. He sighed and stared up at the ceiling, rubbed the sleep from his eyes and wondered why he had woken so early. Even the sun had not come up when he opened his eyes, but he knew he was awake and not simply drifting in and out of consciousness. If there had been dreams he could not remember.

He lit a cigarette and exhaled, trying to force resentment and anger out with his breath. He only succeeded in making small eddies of smoke curl their way towards the ceiling. He sighed again, smoked, crushed out his half finished cigarette and grabbed the bag containing his dirty laundry. He slipped his shoes on and trudged down the stairs through the hallway he shared with his house mates. They were still asleep. He went down another set of stairs to the laundry room where he put his clothes in the wash. Another exciting day.

He thought about breakfast, then thought again. There was no reception party in his stomach and the prospect of food made him sick. He gave up the idea and shuffled back up the stairs to his room. He looked around himself at the cluttered mess he had made of his life, the overflowing ashtray, the discarded articles of clothing littering different parts of the floor, the random stacks of books piled here and there. A gently wafting layer of smoke coalesced against the wall, which pushed back with the surity of mountains. He sighed again. Another day.

Me Too!

me too.

me too. me too. I make it a matra and wonder if you say it because you miss "me too" or if you liked the video and wanted to say "me too". me too, you know. I liked the video, and I miss you. Me too.

I woke the other day in the back of the bookstore, staring up at the ceiling, but now I am listening to bob and john sing about the girl from the north country. Yesterday and today. I don't even know about the future. I thought...and I wanted...and I wished...and I want...

It's funny, this neurotic feeling, how I thought I knew what the answer was, and then thought again. I thought about how pained I felt, how inconvenienced I made everyone else feel. I thought I knew what I wanted for myself, but I don't know. I don't know.

Me too! I started reading Maxine Hong Kingston's "Tripmaster Monkey" the other day. All about San Francisco. It was a random reading choice, one I picked up for the "fuck of it.' But the "random" nature of it gave me pause, time to think. I use commas too much. It was funny to start reading that novel, by a woman who teaches for Berkeley's graduate program, but that it would be about San Francisco, would be set there, would describe to me the place my mind seeks out when I cannot bear the present moment. And when that moment comes, I seek out some place where no one will see me and I break down and cry because...

Because I don't know what I want. I want...so much. And I give so little. What do I want? What do I want?

I don't know, but I do know that I miss you and the idea of a life without you makes me look at the spring and all of its charm, all of its flowers and warmth with hesitation, with cynicism. All I know is that I miss you.

13 March 2007

Waiting for you...

I wait for you at the bottom
of my bourbon but you don't
come so I have another-
and another: still no sign of you.

I'll stumble home now, remembering
what it was like to find you
there waiting for me wearing
nothing but a smile.

You don't wait for me anymore
or even slow down -and besides
I'll only worship you while dreaming
or when the wind whispers.

We've made too many mistakes
to turn back now and put
the world back on its axis-
and I rather enjoy this lonliness.

09 March 2007

I can't shake this feeling. It follows me all day into the night. I sleep and have strange dreams I can't remember, don't want to. The gray sky overhead weighs down on me, but I still can't find any one thing that makes me feel this way. Perhaps, it's the feeling of staring at the typewriter and wondering what the hell I'm doing, who am I kidding?

Fingers cold and unsteady, shaking with anxiousness. Goose bumps up and down my arms. Heart rate going fast enough to stop the band. Am I having a heart attack? Why can't I relax, enjoy the day off? Instead, feel nothing but confusion and doubt. I feel like fleeing, but to where? Why?

Read the newspaper. Feel sick. The only thing that changes from day to day is the number of people killed, who's sleeping with who. I don't care. Fuck the world. But I can't say that, know there is beauty somewhere and that someone is trying to change it, make it better. Not me. I sit here and shake from the cold that seems to come more from inside than out.

Chain smoking cigarettes. Coughing. I don't even want to die. Stare off into space for a while. Blink back tears. What was I thinking? Can't remember. The ghost of myself haunts me, whispers in my ear snippets of conversation taken out of context.

"What did you say?" I say.

Only silence and the droning of traffic outside my window. I'm using incomplete sentences. Fuck it. "Did you say something?" No answer. I watch a dust mote float through the light. Where did I go just now? A part of me wants to jump up and laugh hysterically for no reason. Another part wants sit and watch with a quizzical look on my face. Can I be in two places at once?

"I said, "What the fuck is wrong with you"?"

"I don't remember that," I say. I don't. Who said it? Was that me? I listen, but there's nothing there. A car drives by. It drones off into the night going somewhere else. Did I just smoke a cigarette? I can't remember.

08 March 2007

All Roads Lead to Rome...

I am, of course, the one to call you at two in the morning; after all, you call me at eight to remind me how the sun rises, but I'll always be that person in your life studiously contemplating the past in the middle of the night so the rest of us can go on living the lives we seem ascribed to by fate. I was thinking of you earlier today while driving and I remembered another time I had been driving to see you to resume, if only briefly, the mantle of a lover. It seemed to me then I had always been driving to see you, that there was no moment before or after, but always the feeling of being somewhere in the vague, not too distant past, and that I would continue driving forever thinking of you. It seems absurd to me now, since I am obviously not driving to see you, but I am worried that we're stranded in the present and that we'll never reach the future or be able to turn around and find our way back. I'm afraid the past is lost to me now, and I with it. "Omnia mutantur; nihil interit," says Ovid: All things change; nothing dies. I wonder if that's true, or if he said it to comfort himself and ally his fears. There's so much in this world, and God knows what beyond; it seems impossible to me something shouldn't be lost.
I wonder if I'm not telling you this at two in the morning because I feel the need to tell you all the things I could never find the words for, or if there isn't something else I'm trying to say, but still don't know how to go about it. We had a great run at it –life, I mean. I remember feeling both wonderful, and awful; we loved each other and despised ourselves. I suppose that's the way it goes –life, I mean. I've done some bad things in my life…and I've done some good things, too, but sometimes I can't separate the two. In the end they'll say: "He wasn't a good man, but he wasn't a bad man, either." He, of course, is the one who calls you at two in the morning from a pay phone just off the highway somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Without fail, just when you had almost forgotten him, or just when you had finally slipped off to sleep, he shows up at two in the morning. And when the phone rings at this ungodly hour, when you're pulled from the bliss of sleep, you can count on it being one of two things: either someone you know has just died, or it's just me calling you at two in the morning, drunk bemoaning the fate of the world and the state of my soul.
“All roads lead to Rome,” they say, but the way it looks to me right now, all roads lead to Hell -maybe there’s no difference. Besides, there are no roads to Heaven, only imagined paths through the clouds that trail off into nothing. There is only tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…maybe a hundred days before it’s all over. Maybe I’m already half way there, maybe less. Maybe I’m still driving to see you, or else we’ve already parted ways and I’m off to some further destination. Time is an enemy we covet, hold close to our hearts when there’s nothing under our feet and only a cold, night sky and an infinity above our heads.
I have a feeling this intermission is almost over, that a new chapter is eager to begin but I linger on a handful of moments…the way your eyes stared back into mine, the softness of your lips, the way your hair would catch on a few day’s stubble as you turned your head into the crook of my arm before falling asleep. There are more, perhaps a thousand or so, or only a handful; I’m not sure anymore. Maybe I never was. Over time, all their faces blur into one another and I can’t tell them apart. They become one face, with one set of eyes staring back into mine, one mouth from which one voice calls out my name. I remember all of their birthdays, the way they make love each separately their own special way, but I can’t remember exactly how one led to another, how one lover became another and one memory led to another memory.
Memories are so many pockets of change, so many pennies for your thoughts. I’m gathering them up, saving them for later I suppose. I keep them in a jar on a shelf where they are gathering dust and forgetfulness. But there is a danger to collecting all your memories like so many pennies in a jar and I watch as it falls off the shelf and all those practically worthless coins and pieces of glass shatter across the floor. As a whole, they had weight, substance –alone, they are just so many fragments of memory, single moments taken out of context; walking arm in arm down the street trying to chase the cold and the blues away; limbs entwined in a gentle, violent dance of love and lust frantically trying to bridge the distance between hearts; final pleading looks into eyes so familiar, yet strange and foreign before walking away into the future.
A penny for my thoughts hiding in a corner of the room, reminding me of the day we drove to the ocean to watch wave after wave pound the shore until it was too cold and dark to stay longer, though we did. I found this one in Half-Moon Bay after making love to you in the sand beneath the stars, watching you later run down the beach naked and alive and happy. This one from 1987, discolored by so many remembrances we found in the gutter off Valencia while the Mexicans walked along in their Sunday best towing three or four children to or from church or the taqueria. I found this memory casually discarded by some errant hand at your feet when you picked me up from the train station and we had not seen each other for a year. This one we found in North Beach while the ghosts of so many failed writers and beatniks flitted about on the winds of Time, marginalized by the very culture they had rebuked; now just translucent stereotypes, caricatures of what they had espoused.
There are so many memories, so many pennies for all those thoughts. We think they have value, still deserve to be remembered so we save them for later and fill jars up with parts of our lives to be put on a shelf and taken down occasionally and sifted through. We are quietly marching down the hallway of History towards the altar of our discontents, never realizing the futility of our lives. We are being groomed for something, and sometimes I have a sickening intuition of just what –the future perhaps.
There are moments when the innocence of my feelings runs against the grain of my being, and I wonder how I acquired this hard shell, this bright, burning cynicism. Life seems to me to be a series of interludes from birth to death –the first labored gasps of air in a newborn’s lungs fresh from the warmth of the womb, to the cold, sterile air of the cancer ward where so many breathe their last, labored breaths before passing away into the unknown, that undiscovered country from which we all struggle against with so many futile labors. I suppose I am still driving towards something, though I don’t know what –maybe the chance to write my own ending.