Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CIRCULATING

by rae armatrout from just saying

see something, say something.

jotting in a notebook.

carrying oneself
in a defensive posture.

pausing before shop windows.

half-hearted
self-surveillance.

say something.

“purpose-driven.”

“normal circulation pattern.”

rate monitor.

jotting in a notebook.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

trapped

***i am so incredibly indebted (reparations yes) to the many many folks of color who have challenged and continue to challenge me from every angle: those who have held my ignorance while holding my hand, shut me down when i needed it, drawn detailed maps of whiteness as presence (as racism), turned my gaze back, generously offered tools, frameworks, stories, compassion, patience, anger, grief... these are such enormous labors of transmutation*** 

from white supremacists with torches murdering and severely wounding people in charlottesville to madison police chief koval rounding up poor black folks throughout the city, on his equally supremacist and fascist "mission" ::: the continuum of white supremacy shows itself starkly 

the grief and anger spinning, our communities reeling

white supremacy culture isn't simply packaged in torches, nazi insignia, police badges, donald trump... it implicates the "nicest" of white liberals, the "fiercest" of white anarchists, the "smartest" of white radical leftist intellectuals, and includes deeply embedded and vigorously defended expectations:
-for everyday environments that bend and shape themselves around white people desires
-for interactions that assume white people should possess the constant presence of both safety and comfort, exploring/ expanding/ appropriating or withholding/ shutting down/ giving up at whatever whim
-for material opportunities, paths towards achievement - property, jobs, relationships, accolades, education, wealth, political power - that concede to an entitled "normalcy" of whiteness
-for ceaseless explicit and implicit control of "intangibles": narratives, aesthetics, rhetoric, emotional well-being, dialogue, manners, critiques, etc etc etc

... that fucked up whiteness of the mind. it is poison

Saturday, August 12, 2017

45. APPLAUSE

from antwerp by roberto bolaño

she said she loved busy days. i looked up at the sky. "busy days," and also insects and clouds that drift down to the bushes. this flower pot i leave in the country is proof of my love for you. then i came back with my butterfly net in the fog. the girl said: "calamity," "horses," "rockets sliced open," and turned her back on me. her back spoke. like the chirping of crickets in the afternoons of lonely houses. i closed my eyes, the brakes squealed, and the policemen leaped out of their cars. "keep looking out the window." without any explanation, two of them came to the door and said "police," the rest i could hardly hear. i closed my eyes, crickets chirped, the boys died on the beach. bodies riddled with holes. the brakes squealed and the cops got out. there's something obscene about this, said the medic when nobody was listening. i'll probably never come back to the clearing in the woods, not with flowers, not with the net, not with a fucking book to spend the afternoon. his mouth opened but the author couldn't hear a thing. he thought about the silence and then he thought "there's no such thing," "horses," "waning august moon." someone applauded from the void. i said i guessed this was happiness.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

i feel more lonely when i am with people than i do when i am alone looking at the internet

by mira gonzalez from i will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together

in social situations i hide specific parts of my personality that i think
other people might perceive as unappealing
i don’t feel like i am pretending to be something different that what i
am
i don’t feel like i am anything really
i am very tired all the time
i don’t identify with most people
i don’t think highly of myself
i am too passive to create a situation in which i convince another
person that i am valuable
that i am someone who deserves things
that my physical presence in the world should induce positive or
negative feelings
everyone is growing apart from me
i am letting them do that

Monday, August 7, 2017

the valve is language

excerpt from the literary conference by cesar aira

i have often asked myself how i got into this situation, what happened during my formative years that increased the speed of my mental flow so excessively and made it stick there. i have also asked myself (what haven't i asked myself?) what the exact measure of that speed is, for the very concept of "mental hyperactivity" is approximate and must contain gradations.

to the first question, regarding the history of my malady, i have responded for better or for worse with a small and private "creation myth," whose modulations have been all the novels i have written. i would be hard put to spell this out in the abstract because the myths' variations are not specific "examples" of a general form, in the same way that specific thoughts that are always flashing through my head like lightning are not case studies or examples of a type of thought.

that myth of the ideal myriads, that little drama without characters or plot, would be shaped like a valve. or, in less technical terms, it would have the characteristic baudelaire called "irreversibility." a formulated thought does not pass back through the same caudine forks of its birth, does not return to the nothingness from which it came. which explains not only the fierce overcrowding but also a quite visible feature of my personality: my bewilderment, my imprudence, my frivolity. the withdrawal of an idea to the conditions of its production is the necessary condition for its seriousness.

in my case, nothing returns, everything races forward, savagely being pushed from behind by what keeps coming through that accursed valve. this image, brought to its peak of maturation in my vertiginous reflections, revealed to me the path to the solution, which i forcefully put into practice whenever i have time and feel like it. the solution is none other than the greatly overused (by me) "escape forward." since turning back is off limits: forward! to the bitter end! running, flying, gliding, using up all the possibilities, the conquest of tranquility through the din of the battlefield. the vehicle is language. what else? because the valve is language. therein lay the root of the problem. which doesn't mean that once in a while, such as during those sessions at the pool, i didn't attempt a more conventional method, by relaxing, by trying to forget everything, by taking a short vacation.

but i have no illusions: there's something phony about this effort because i don't believe i'll ever renounce my old and beloved cerebral hyperactivity, which, in the end, is what i am. despite all our plans to change, we never voluntarily do so at the core, in our essence, which is usually where we find the knot of our worst defects.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

variations on lostness

if someone
does not want me
it is not the end of the world.
but
if i do not want me.
the world is nothing but endings.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

she asked
'you are in love
what does love look like'
to which i replied
'like everything i've ever lost
come back to me.'

- both by nayirrah waheed

Sunday, July 30, 2017

the numinous

excerpt from the essay "woolf's darkness" by rebecca solnit from the book men explain things to me

this is the kind of criticism that does not pit the critic against the text, does not seek authority. it seeks instead to travel with the work and its ideas, to invite it to blossom and invite others into a conversation that might have previously seemed impenetrable, to draw out relationships that might have been unseen and open doors that might have been locked. this is a kind of criticism that respects the essential mystery of a work of art, which is in part its beauty and its pleasure, both of which are irreducible and subjective. the worst criticism seeks to have the last word and leave the rest of us in silence; the best opens up an exchange that need never end.

. . .

the tyranny of the quantifiable is partly the failure of language and discourse to describe the more complex, subtle, and fluid phenomena, as well as the failure of those who shape opinions and make decisions to understand and value these slipperier things. it is difficult, sometimes even impossible, to value what cannot be named or described, and so the task of naming and describing is an essential one in any revolt against the status quo of capitalism and consumerism. ultimately the destruction of earth is due in part, perhaps in large part, to a failure of the imagination or to its eclipse by systems of accounting that can't count what matters. the revolt against this destruction is a revolt of the imagination, in favor of subtleties, of pleasures money can't buy and corporations can't command, of being producers rather than consumers of meaning, of the slow, the meadering, the digressive, the exploratory, the numinous, the uncertain.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

the labor

we have failures that amount to less than
fingertips which carry and drag a torso across
a kind of unkind floor studded with sharp but
tricky smooth edges like rocks picked into
pockets when undone hands could not help
but scrape and pour and sometimes bleed

this all sounds hard in that way where
edge meets edge and means cut or clash
yet who is the aim and why target when voices
sink under and others rise buoyant while
the weight is not ugly nor wholesome and in fact
language of the body and otherwise is where
the tell or text pulls and quietly whispers

did the words catch

fingertips. carry. smooth. pockets. hands. pour.

if the blood is
or the sharp is
the edge or
drag or scrape
is

across this there is a weaving:

how can anyone arrive intact or alone when every layer follows
the same surprise

pulling together or tugging apart grasping tighter no now loosening
out bringing in cutting off tying up starting over and over and over and over
giving out
giving over
holding steady
letting
up

thank you for a face so close waking up unguarded
thank you for a picture at a distance and i'm in it

all each one every glance
totally free

7.25.17

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

democracy

by laura sims from practice, restraint


one verdant minute

after the next, the love of the people

eludes him.



what does it mean? one thing unfolds



as a chain of things: the failure of making

a fantasy park

out of war



in an armchair,

the passage of hundreds of years



the loss of perpetual motion, the line

that proceeds

"a dark sky, and nothing but fire"

in his absence, the absence

of millions

Sunday, March 12, 2017

one or two things

by mary oliver

1
don't bother me.
i've just
been born.

2
the butterfly's loping flight
carries it through the country of leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes

for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft talk
of some ordinary flower.

3
the god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, i lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,

and never once mentioned forever,

4
which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.

5
one or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning - some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.

6
but to lift the hoof!
for that you need
an idea.

7
for years and years i struggled
just to love my life. and then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
"don't love your life
too much," it said,

and vanished
into the world.

Friday, March 3, 2017

nineteen eighty three

by ray a. young bear from the invisible musician

1.
it is january--
and simply because
the rain failed to change
into snow
the quiet river
has risen to flood stage.
half-frozen rainwater
fills into a nearby pond
where once the sound
of frogs, crickets,
mosquitoes and birds
permeated the humid
summer night:
narcosis through
the sound of an open
window. tomorrow
young children will
pretend to skate
over the thick pond ice,
but each day their figures
will slowly descend
into the ground,
reminding us
of mythical rolling
heads playing hockey.
the rainwater will evaporate
and ice will succumb
to the daily game.
winter’s indecision
makes us feel safe.
an elder, however,
would say, “you’re
basically unprepared.”
no matter how balanced
one’s mentality,
one’s physicality.

2.
the gentle appearance
of the female death light
from wisconsin
takes place
in the center
of a soybean field.
two times, a slow fire.
inside the hollow wall
a mouse takes a chance
during our rumination
to weep like a human.
throughout the neighborhood
the four-legged sentinels,
especially the all-white ones,
signal each other of this
incongruity: a shadow
of an unknown tall being
stands in the flash
of lightning.

Monday, February 20, 2017

aubade

by louise gluck from the seven ages

there was one summer
that returned many times over
there was one flower unfurling
taking many forms

crimson of the monarda, pale gold of the late roses

there was one love
there was one love, there were many nights

smell of the mock orange tree
corridors of jasmine and lilies
still the wind blew

there were many winters but i closed my eyes
the cold air white with dissolved wings

there was one garden when the snow melted
azure and white; i couldn’t tell
my solitude from love --

there was one love; he had many voices
there was one dawn; sometimes
we watched it together

i was here
i was here

there was one summer returning over and over
there was one dawn
i grew old watching

Friday, January 6, 2017

the first thing

by jean valentine from little boat

the first thing this guy takes
is happiness
        the faint light of the stars
        in spring:     leaping!     lambs!

next thing he takes
is your skin

where it was, you grow ten more

--- a lifetime learning
you could take off your skins
and just talk out of flesh, to flesh

to lamb    to sleep    to wake