Tuesday, November 30, 2010

justwrite 30 november

It takes Rob a long time to get home. That is, he takes the long way home on purpose. The way that he takes is so long that no one would ever describe it as the way home, in fact.
He’s driving away from Maya’s house, from Maya. He’s thinking without thinking, listening to the radio in that beautiful way where you feel the music without even having to recognize the song, the artist, the anything specific. It’s loud, and it’s good.
Summer’s gold in the air, green in the trees. Rich colors and smells haze gently through the view: parks with miles of ongoing walk-taking, snug little brick houses getting ready for dinner, wide roads roping through the neighborhoods of bike-riders and stroller-striders. He sees people he knows. He sees houses that have changed since he was little, and he knows what’s changed. Farther out, there are used-to-be fields, switched now into strip malls and grocery stores. Here are farms, there are orchards. He knows what grows, where to buy it. “I have traveled extensively in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau. This is true for Rob, though he does not live in Concord.
He keeps driving, heading nowhere. He ends up at the library. It’s a good place to go anytime, of course, but especially if you’re looking for answers. Is he looking for answers? Not really, but it wouldn’t hurt to find some.
I think the same is true for all of us. I’m just saying.
When he picks up his wallet from the passenger seat, he sees the harmonica. More accurately, he sees the light blue plastic bag in which the harmonica is wrapped. Picking up the bag, he flips it upside down to let the harmonica slide out into his hand, studying it closely for the first time. It’s a comfortable weight, smooth, and nearly irresistible. Somewhere between the red and silver shine there lurks some sort of magnetic power. Surely it can’t be too hard to play such an instrument, right? He glances around the parking lot, sees no one. Worth a try.
It’s a little harder than it looks, as it turns out.
A little red in the face, he picks up his wallet, pops the harmonica into his back pocket, and heads into the library.

It turns out that there are exactly no books in the library about how to play the harmonica. However, in Jonestown, there’s one, and if he’d like, the librarian will order it for him. She’s got a terrific smile, flashing bright with braces and the whitest, straightest teeth he’s ever seen.
He would like.

Monday, November 29, 2010

justwrite 29 november

You’ll be happy to know that Microsoft Word won’t let you—or me, in this case—pluralize those fine chocolate sandwich cookies incorrectly.
Another side note. Oreoes have arrived in Ukraine. It’s a big deal. They arrived just in time for Halloween, just at the same time that we were getting paid later than normal. Around this country, many of our nation’s finest were simultaneously discovering a familiarly packaged treat from home and recognizing that they had already spent their monthly living allowances—on what? It was a distressing time.
Actually, I gave a box of Oreos to one of my Ukrainian friends recently, too. Vika, star of the suddenly appearing and saying Preveet! scene, took them home to her family to share this new discovery together.
“Why’s it so black?” her dad asked.
“It’s got cocoa in it,” Vika explained.
“Our cookies in Ukraine that have cocoa in them aren’t so black,” he countered.
“Just try it.”
I didn’t question her about the method that each family member used to consume his or her Oreo. Suffice it to say, they tried them.
Her dad loved them. Everyone else liked them, too.
Now, when they see the commercial for Oreos—the one in which a child explains to his dad the right way to eat an Oreo—the whole family gets excited.
It must be noted, though, that this is not the same exact box that you might be eating out of right now in the US. The multiple languages on the side of this box are the real giveaway, but any red-white-and-blue-blooded American will tell you that there are two things wrong with describing this delicacy as “chocolate-flavoured sandwich biscuits.” Come on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

justwrite 28 november

but when you hang up you are wondering where am I plundering that kind of luck from that kind of bubblegum so often gets stuck in my hair where did that fall from which sky did I call glum clouds out of and shock all the proud shrouds off of the dancers we are looking for magic and sometimes it finds us easily blinds us and we are eating the rinds off of a different kind of day we play to our own strengths thanks to a thousand seeds we’ve planted we listen enchanted by the sounds of crowns throwing down challenges gauntlets not duels to fool others by but the kind of fight that will open the high colors from the rainbow and throw steel rods out the door no more such strict tricks no more such storage space wasted replaced by batting and cotton down the hatches lasting more than we can catch timewise we are waiting for surprises and when they come we are plum thrilled checking the bill and paying it twice just to be nice in that restaurant today no way could those people pull themselves together no matter what weather they are likely to be those birds those words heard from their beaks those squeaks of awkward protestation against the carrying-on of civilization well what is there to do and what can we all brew up to stew such a soup to throw such a rope a buoy a whatever hooey sort of rescue to say hey it’s okay just come along this way and you can shake it all off you can cough out that look and wipe it right away let the story play out with a different adventure chosen frozen in time with or without rhyme because there is crime and there is something less there is the kind of stress that makes waves the kind we save ourselves from with raw kindness the wiping off of blindness and the terror of a night but we will fight beside you we will write the real truth and when you read it you will see your face again a mirror a strand of sand twisting down the hourglass crashing into the shore and waiting for more waves to save you the brave few who swim are not taken in by such promises but the delicious bit is that you can swallow all you need to and then stand back up again no matter the rest it is a test and you are passing it is not a test but you are crashing when you burn it is with the light of a thousand moons and the stars swoon at their own reflections tasting joy and relief

Saturday, November 27, 2010

justwrite 27 november

and what I think of saying is hey I’m still around and I guess you are too but not here and not clearly within reach but that’s fine and there are no peaches on these trees nothing breezy left to blow nothing I wanted to say but oh well and that’s too bad it’s kind of sad to see that you’re still alive but what kind of thing would that be to say would I rather pay off someone to erase those pages from my memory is there any eternal sunshine possible for such a spotty mind I can’t rewind and there’s no need to remind myself there’s a different shelf to search from a hum-drum collection of rejections to look over but there are clovers too although these are truly hidden under the snow now and oh how carefully I walk home alone in the dark there are puddles that are slush in much the same way they had other intentions earlier there are blurrier views now and the truth southways would be warmer but honestly there are no dormer windows on this blueprint just have to keep on just have to sing songs of a new design too fine to magnify tomorrow I will wake up earlier I will have vitamin c to be less scurvier but I will not walk up those steps that’s a trap that’s a crap shoot and I’m in no such cahoots that I need to break a leg in conspiratorial solidarity compare the free and the costly I know what I would choose and it’s no use to pretend to defend such habits if she had any rabbits she would kill and eat them and if I had your number I would easily defeat them all in stopping calls or forwarding all thataway and you say it’s still the same one I knew the same clues you’re laying out are the ones I remember well between now and never I am trying to forget them I am chewing on the same gum and looking out the window remembering and turning away turning off scoffing at hope of that sort and purporting to believe in a different sort of style oh of course I say that’s how I thought I’d play it and the tray it fills with ice cubes and the words are ones we can’t use just yet but I can play that game without keeping score I can buy what I need without going to the store just a few more sips and a lunar eclipse ought to even things up I will lift my cup and toast to the moon soon enough it will be full again soon enough the night will be bright enough with snow to light the paths as we go our own ways

Friday, November 26, 2010

justwrite 26 november

I was late for the bus again somehow today I’m not sure how this happens but stepping out of the shower on time I remember an email and a form that must go out before five and then it’s after all after the fall of the wrong hand on the right number and I am standing with wet hair waiting for a bus from nowhere to arrive just on time and deliver me across town and through a darkened campus to where the rumpus ought to be a mid-day movie may be guilty but so am I and so I call and ask forgiveness I offer the bigness of a generous makeup whenever something comes up and then I take a walk and it’s not too far too long the other side of the street and I meet the request coming up like a test I promised to take and there’s no mistake about what I can say and we’ll play out the details later but there’s a no-fail call-out without doubt so yes I say yes and when I’m walking back home on the way to get ready to be late for the next bus whenever that will be I see a white plastic bag in a tree and already it’s poetry and I do my best as I walk I say// tonight caught in the nightsky tree a white plastic bag presses itself into the dark waits for its poet// and then I think or maybe photographer? because that would be a picture I would want to take that’s a break I’d like to have handed to me nothing tough about it and then the words rearrange themselves adding sound and more descriptive verbs rustling is suddenly what’s happening and now there is wind involved and I imagine how to keep it simple but already I am captured by capturing this captivating scene this white on black relief suddenly forced in my face as a challenge get this right! and I bite and keep chewing all the way home where I open the door to find moonlight spilled all over the living room floor and I sigh there is no end in sight

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

justwrite 24 november

today in yoga this is a true story I was the first person in the room with the teacher and at the very end when we were finishing our eyes-closed laying down corpse pose and then the eyes-closed kneeling finishing pose where taras always finishes by saying vcim dobre ranok good morning to everyone today he just said dobre ranok and when I opened my eyes I was surprised to discover that I was the only one and there was no everyone left and I laughed but really I was a little thrown off of course I heard people leaving of course I knew some were on their way to work or whatever but I I who had done the least and stretched the least and shown the least flexibility I stuck it out I muddled through the easy part the laying down on my back and thinking about how hard it is to think about nothing and then he said to me is it not hard to you? which is the rough translation of Ukrainian with an emphasis on the very common tendency here to assume the negative well in this case the negative is true and I said yes yes it’s very hard to me and I like to do it but it’s very hard and then he said do you have a blah blah? and I said do I have a what? and then in English he said diary? and I said of course before I knew why and then he said okay bring it in and I will write exercises in it and also you always should come and I said okay I just travel a lot and he said where do you travel oh to kyiv and chernihiv and to lviv and he said by car? and I said no I cannot drive here volunteers cannot drive in America I can drive but here no no I go by bus and he said don’t you know an acquaintance with a car? and I said no no but it’s not bad and he said well you can do these exercises when you travel and I said yes yes thank you and when I was leaving I said harnoho vam dnya which means you polite have a nice day! but I sort of flubbed when I said dnya and it sounded more like dinya so I wonder if he thought I was saying you have a nice melon! because of course this is what dinya means and I was shaking my head about this out into the cold cold light and suddenly I saw that the bus I wanted was right at the stop so I ran to get on and the driver started to take off just as I got one foot on the step and I barely got the second foot up before he shut the door the rear door I know he didn’t see me but I slipped into a seat and felt distressed both about narrowly avoiding a dragalong bus ride as well as feeling sort of like I was called out for sort of sucking at yoga and I know it wasn’t like that and it wasn’t in front of anyone else and really it was probably the best thing I could ask for because really I would like to be better and more flexible but so embarrassing to know that he looks at me and thinks oh dear she really is just not getting in really is just not able to do this stuff really can not lift her leg up straight enough to form a perfect Y with her other arm out really oh dear but then suddenly I realized that I wasn’t sure if he said the word exercises or vypravy which is the same thing in Ukrainian and I definitely knew what he meant but suddenly at that moment sitting on the bus I was aware that to me vypravy means the same thing as exercises to the point where upon later reflection I cannot tell which word was used to convey this meaning and finally I felt a little victorious from my safe seat in the successfully boarded bus this is a true story and I will tell it to you sometime in a better way but for now here is all of the information and you can elaborate as you need to for now just to keep it interesting for yourself

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

justwrite 23 november

Time passes, as it often does.
There’s enough time for the woman in the red plaid wool beret to explain to the hygenist exactly how she’d like her teeth to be cleaned. There’s time for Nadiya to nod, agreeing, as she always does, with Mrs. Pansyuk’s harmless know-it-all-ism. There’s time for me to nod at them from the sidewalk, only a few feet away, with a perfect walking-by view.
There’s time enough to see another pair of dental clinic employees chatting in a nearby frame: one stirring a small cup of brownish foam and the other drinking from a small cup of coffee with cream.
There’s plenty of time for dentistry, as it turns out.
There’s plenty of need for dentistry here, it seems, if it’s fair to judge need based on supply. The number of clinics and offices offering dental work surprises me. At first, I had the wrong idea about many of these places, mainly because the word used was stomatolog. So, naturally, I assumed that this meant “stomach-ologist” or, stomach doctor. This made sense to me—Ukrainians love to eat and drink heartily, so a stomach doctor would probably come in handy on occasion. But no, this means dentistry. So much for cognates.

Monday, November 22, 2010

justwrite 22 november

what would you do if you won a million dollars if you won two dollars if you won an overnight in a haunted castle people are giving away the darndest things kids say and making them into tv shows growing up on hype and inflation there’s not too much that could save such a nation from itself but we toast our own health and tune into reruns I have sunned my presence and taken photos of auras of a chorus of ahhs and ohhhs overexposed in the lenses the pretendings the lendings and the libraries these are the berries we cannot pick and these are the thorns that will not stick can not tickle their own fancies and paint their own dances with wolf-colored brushes we are rushing around and parading the ground over and under with digging ourselves we are lazarus we are the bad seeds and whenever you need a word remember it grows from your brain remaining a bloom to train the room out of sense what and what and let’s start again you can tell no pen was harmed in the making of this confusion there are letters appearing like illusions on this scene this obscenely erasable space the place where I type where the cursor does its blinking job I am robbing myself blind of ideas and my prescription can’t catch up this is a chunk that will not make it elsewhere this is a paragraph a collapsible segment of thought that ought to do its business and move along letting the white space pace itself wonder if the shelf is big enough to hold it strong enough to fold it backward into the scenery we are cutlery chopping the day into minutes with you in it and me besides we cannot hide our presupposing there’s much bulldozing of expectations but the saturation point isn’t likely to be reached it’s something we rarely even teach we suggest there are more stars although maybe too many cars there are big numbers and there are ugly hummers we can pick and choose which to use but there are easier answers but look just book just travel just use your vocabulary live extraordinarily and take notes let others know keep some sort of flow a flexibility we see in those with gifted joints the anointed ones the fun in such twisting lifting us out of routines and into blue jeans sensible in every scene but to see and be between acts is to track a barrel full of crackers and to sit out on the porch and rest a spell until the hash brown casserole is ready to stroll on outta the kitchen twitchin’ your toes and lighting your nose up right

Sunday, November 21, 2010

justwrite 21 november

now I will tell you a boring story no I can’t there are too many syllables between here and the other end of a clear line of sight the bright lights hit right in the middle of my ears and I’m steering clear of sense there’s a fence so high I can’t jump it I’m lumping all those cycles into a freeze-dried hydropark we are running through the dark and wearing wet hair on rainy days no one needs to pay to play but sometimes that helps along the way there’s a system and the way it’s written leaves me smitten with nonsense the light and the colors but we’ve got other fish to fry or to feed and indeed we have our moments but they add up to hours and I will shower you with reasons why I don’t want to try too much harder there are cans in the larder and gold under the floor but between north and south there are too many east-west fests to test truly to rhyme duly but what can I tell about the smell of such a story the glory of the candidates is lost in their election I have finished this series today and I can play it again but the story won’t change I can rearrange the angle but the view will still be true a piece of a different puzzle in a sideways-muzzled landscape traipsing around with trappings of a borrowed tongue hung out to dry and fried like a newspaper headline minutes before quitting time once the press has got to start once the surgery the open-heart has begun we make debates we take the cakes and we deliver shivering statistics measuring the ballistics and other details failing to flail and mailing each check before it can bounce we trounce all comers and we call all numbers waiting for the trace racing toward the space and praising each name we can spell on our own these characters those thrones we are going into business we are drinking honeyed tea and lemony words absurd theories and delirious weariness drifting us off toward wonder plundering our dreams for fictional themes we can lift to the page and rearrange in stages unlocking all the cages and seeing how they play together whether some other weather will flush out the gutters if the dialogue will flow or the words will all splutter in half-hearted mouths gambling with mixed development hesitant about development

Saturday, November 20, 2010

justwrite 20 november

If I could write about anything, don’t you think I would? Don’t you think I’d break free of cookies and photography and books and books, and all those stories, the people I know who’ve lived and all those who’ve given attention in my direction? I’d make corrections to what did happen and what should have been. I would win all those wars, those games, and certain names wouldn’t make me twinge/ cry/ try to wonder why too much. I would touch no sore spots; I could trot like any good fox. I could box like any fighter, a good day a good knight or two coming around the bend to defend my honor, but your honor, I swear on something I believe in: there’s nothing left to grieve over. And under the couch I found today a pile of pictures in a red-tied ribbon. We delivered ourselves from evil and the pizza came right to us. There’s trust in what we say and I can trace back each word to some absurd story that was mentioned in my dream, that came true down the street. I meet stories all day long, but the ones that stick with me, that trick without a fee, are the ones that really happen—the friends I have and their tragedies, the colors and the sounds of the canopies under which I walk, the talk so cheap and the words so cross. I am waiting for a letter that I don’t want to arrive. I am wondering without asking how this task will be carried out There are doubts too strong to voice and there is space in which to rejoice, but for now I’m leaving the batter in the fridge because it’s still too early for opening day. Gotta stay cool, keep those fools in the dugout with their spices and their catch and release programs. The dough’s never enough to go around, to spread across the pan and flash like every picture taken, every life mistaken. When we say always, we wish we meant forever, but just another letter or two makes the play turn to never. Nowadays we don’t even know the colors of each others’ numbers and we certainly don’t call, but what is the fall without such sharing? What is the future without such caring? Well, we’ll see, so it’ll be, but in the meantime, please be kind to these pages. We rearrange all of our words into misheard syntax. We listen to new music and create solo albums. We advertise for surprise and we say yes to invitations, saving the nation and uniting new leaders, electing the readers and asking for generosity. I was afraid and I still am, but there are different jams to try, different breads to slice. Sometimes it’s nice to think of when, but then I can’t keep at that, can’t keep those details flowing—they’ve got to get going in a different direction. So when you catch sight of some night rewritten with different names, you can nod just the same and remember with tenderness, but you never need to say so, you never need to let go of those pieces, but we see how they fit different puzzles now. Whatever we’re making, there’s no faking those ingredients, but how expediently they’ve turned into new tunes, with the same moons and star far above, stuck in tar like love in your hair.

Friday, November 19, 2010

justwrite 18 november

Ever since the age of five, Adrienne Patterson had been trying to change her name. Her first efforts included refusing to write her allegedly more appropriate “official” name on worksheets, drawings, and other creations. She preferred, at that point, to sign her name—a combination of careful printing and a few extraneous loops cleverly designed to mimic cursive—as Josephine Golden. This, clearly, was her right, correct, true name. Her teacher—somewhat misplaced within the school system, it might be said—insisted that this “fantasy” name be erased and replaced every time. Additionally, young Miss Patterson was made to write the odious sentence “My name is Adrienne Patterson.” dozens of times to drive the point home. Her friends tried to play along, most often calling her Josie, as Josephine doesn’t really trip off the tongue of most kindergarteners. She insisted on the full name, though: Josephine Golden. After a while, only her closest friends continued to oblige her. Still, the harsh campaigning of Mrs. Scarmeas expanded to the punishment of Josephine Golden’s friends, at which point she decided to nobly defend and protect them but taking her identity underground and printing the odious false name on school-related work. This basically meant that Josephine Golden existed while playing alone with her dolls or when practicing writing at her desk at home.

Mrs. and Mr. Patterson, it may be said, were puzzled by their daughter’s decision to adopt a new name, rather than the if-they-may-say-so-themselves very beautiful name that they themselves had bestowed on her not too long ago. Still, they loved their daughter, and occasionally indulged her fantasy, while still trying to curry favor for the name Adrienne Patterson. It even rhymed, for goodness’ sake!

A few years later, Mrs. Patterson gave birth to a baby boy, who received the name Samuel. Sam Patterson. Adrienne was struck anew with how horribly unbefitting her name was, especially in comparison with such a reasonable appellation as Sam Patterson. It was truly absurd. In retaliation, she abruptly—and, completely, coincidentally, at the same time as his christening— adopted the name April. She graciously kept her given surname intact, both to show her parents that she meant them no disrespect and also so that her teachers would be sure to know which turned-in work she had done. Although she was still only in elementary school, grades were starting to matter to young April Patterson.

April lasted off and on until fifth grade, when a certain April Riley moved in down the street. Miss Patterson hated her immediately, not only for her exquisite first and last names, but also for her cherry red ten-speed bike with the rainbow beads on the wheel spokes. A scant few weeks after Miss Riley’s arrival, however, Miss Patterson could be seen taking turns on this glorious vehicle, and could be heard calling herself Adrienne, albeit reluctantly.

The pressure to fit in hit hard in middle school, and Adrienne decided that this was not the best time to try to stand out for any reason. She had no desire to be referred to as “Who? That girl with two names or whatever?” When her family moved at the end of her seventh grade year, though, she found herself in a new school with a new opportunity to reinvent herself.

When her new homeroom teacher read the attendance list and called off “Adrienne Patterson?” in a suitably questioning tone, she was prepared to answer, “Here! But I go by Emma.” He shrugged, made a note. A few repetitions of this routine, and all of her teachers knew her preference. Not all of them proceeded to call her Emma, of course, but a few did. To the other kids, all full up with the pride of having made it to the top of the middle school pile and not yet worried about starting the whole process again as freshmen the following year, she said, “My friends called me Emma.” This was clearly a perfect set-up for someone to respond, “Well, I’m not your friend, so I’m calling you Adrienne, if I ever even talk to you again anyway.” Luckily for her new-girl-in-a-small-town ego, she didn’t get too many of these responses. Throughout the following months, her parents were surprised to find the few adolescent girls wandering into their home or calling on the phone referring to their daughter as Emma. What to do? They wondered. Where’s the harm? They reassured themselves.

justwrite 19 november

I would like to write about doubt. I have been shouting this from the mountaintops, the high-tops, the converse all-stars and the steel guitars in summer-wet meadows. Where is the knowing, when is the certainty? Looking for a different day, I find this one staying in its place, chasing other numbers from the calendar. Stay summer, find another season to replace those months we cannot face alone and the times that home seems like somewhere other than where we are. I would like to write about questions for which we already have the answers, or think we know, but are afraid to ask. I would like to write about how hard it is to be really awake, to take the cake and eat it every day, to play the fool and to rule from the throne in the same zone with alarming frequency. We please ourselves, we drink to our healths, we contemplate wealth on the distant horizon, but it’s never surprising when tragedy strikes. It’s a plot device, it’s character development, it’s life in a more dramatic sense. We can tensely watch the sky for the other shoe to drop, we can not plant our crops for fear they won’t get harvested, just devastated instead, or we can just slouch on each day’s couch, knowing that we’ll die tomorrow, and drown in the sorrow of our own loss. We toss aside the wise suggestions, we learn only our own lessons. Who can tell us what to do but ourselves? Who can know our pains, who can measure our gains? Surely, when we’re gone, our names will be remembered. We’ll have tender-eyed women speak these syllables with mouths full of tears and joy. We can plan our funerals, or we can live our lives. Striving for arriving means never getting there. Stare in the mirror, bake clearer cakes. I would like to write about writing things that don’t make sense. I’m too tense about this to miss the chance to say something, but there’s no one here to say it to and I can’t brew myself another cup of it. We fit our hands into gloves and we clap more quietly. When writing is in the plural form we can be not just ourselves. You stand beside and hide those flaws with an arm around our shoulders. We are older than our bodies and younger than our ideas. We have ideals that steal our time and invest it in flippancy. We can not take ourselves seriously enough. We are looking for tattoos to use to introduce ourselves. Pleased to meet you. I am see-through. Clearly she/he knows. Clearly we’ve gone through this before. Clearly fear steers. Clearly rejection is a method of protection. No one sleeps at night. No one wrongs the right. If we lived in novels we wouldn’t have to solve our own problems.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

justwrite 17 november

and then what happened when she got older was that she crinkled as much as she could just to make up for all those years when cellophane was clearly forbidden a punishment deriven from grandmother to mother and no other questions asked none of the paternal pieces of the puzzle picking off the childcare muzzles they’d been fitted with at early points not daring to disjoint the careful balance that kept it all together that kept the weather calm enough but really not once no slipped from the pocket piece of candy on a faraway afternoon no bag of chips eclipsing the view of a child who would never have reported it never never thwarted this effort at conspiracy and you can clearly see when she tells it is that she smelled it out as hypocrisy from an early age but never engaged in serious espionage to discover it never hovered outside of her parents’ bedroom door or the kitchen to see how smitten with packaging they were how they purred to the allure of the crinkling sound so it’s true she never found any one of them caught in the act of contracting crinkle-itis which was really what her mother called it really the debt to sense she didn’t see she found in this freedom some sanity from commercialization she found no fascination in the marketing the packaging the brands stranding sense from nutrition on a silver-tongued island no lining in those gray clouds just loud and bothersome wickedness twisting the truth from the youth and tempting them with ease of delivery shivering with righteousness the matriarch of this clan would clap hands and stand and deliver her thoughts having bought up the innocence of her daughter an only child like herself and here determined to share the wealth in equal parts but in this case the chase ends too loudly and the granddaughter sees through at a crucial moment and becomes a proponent of reality balanced with health and wealth and wise she is early to bed instead of flying too high and mighty with the right hand of salty sweet deliverance plunged into a rustling packet tracking its contents straight to her mouth while no one’s there to advocate for the hate of unwrapping crackling not quite snaps and pops but even copping to rice krispies would be like copping out like hippies making friends with The Man and cutting their hair and wearing ties and watching the sunrise and then going to work on wall street if you see what I mean

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

justwrite 16 november

you think you’re caught up then you get caught up in some picture you never saw before and you’re wondering was it there or more often than not you’ve got something that comes right to mind you can’t define it in words just a feeling that the healing isn’t fast enough like crashing through the trash and picking out something clean then looking down at the scene and finding you’ve barreled into dirt and the worst of it is there’s no time to change no clothes to rearrange into because company’s coming and they’re not going to listen to this kind of talk again you had your time to get over that and it’s a scatterglorious game to play to wave away those reflections into other directions with different letters it matters it splatters across the mirror each time you look and the note from a friend lending greetings and a mention of meeting he’s looking well she’s happy to tell and it’s a crushed piece of garlic stuffed into your cheek and have another and put this lemon on your tongue while you talk in the meantime smile it’s been a while but it doesn’t matter all those mad hatters keep drinking their tea and playing old music you saw the truth in it at one time but now it’s just rewinding and you’re hoping to find some misheard tunes there’s a half-empty moon and someone’s got to fill it there’s too much cost to bill it to just one duck but there’s a platypus ready and waiting in the wings to bring that check to plant that wreck in the middle of the camera and stammer out apologies for the trees and how the light can’t get right into the frame we’ve rearranged our viewfinders and I don’t mind taking the time to learn the new words but at some moments absurdly fresh slaps in the face chase down some perfectly pleasant event sent to defend me against relapse the fall into a trap we always we used to we would say we we but now it’s me and you with spaces and without collectivization there’s no farm we couldn’t harm with that sort of neglect and if you recollect those senses that you planted no doubt something good will grow something richly sown with time will vine up to the clouds and you’ll be allowed to play that harp and goose that gold and all the giants will let you go with a pat on the head and a bean to grow so you can always come back can always attract another look though meanwhile I cook up metaphors to restore sense to sentences but slip through dimensions at the slightest bite of the past remembering how long it lasted and seeing how the roles were cast wondering how that blast could have a different star because that’s the deal ferreal and nothing to steal nothing to buy just a half-eaten sandwich that I’ve got to wonder who will try

Monday, November 15, 2010

justwrite 15 november

at another concert a show a performance not just a song delivery device but a collision of color and sound this is what culture looks like here takes all year round to show off and to cough up the price of a free ticket is the stickiest way to play that off although I would have paid I would have stayed out later than I’d bargained for and I did and what’s more I bid up higher firing up my thoughts caught up in rhythmic clapping the kind that no one seems to mind starting even seconds after any sort of cue internal or from you up there on stage all the rage to leave the cage open and go hoping after inspiration in the drama theater named after some leader of cultural import and behind the statue of another of a similar sort square in the middle of the center depending upon reliance to be carried on and these are the songs we hear these are the songs that fear and pessimism can not stamp out and sometimes these are what the songs are about but also love and music and Cossacks Cossacks the cowboys of Ukrainian hearts departing from no steppe but stepping into the modern era with un-equaled style mild in no way but playing their own drums marching to the strums of an oldtime chord storing up and letting out energy in the air with swords and on the floor no words can tell these kicks from tricks sticking out with red billowing pants the legs begging to dance to bend to defend memory and here this is where the country is again standing straddled between the past and the farther past the present somehow vague and the future even murkier the jerkier timeline seems suited just fine to perpetual display but would make a more religious person pray for deliverance of these colors into future strength for we see these leaps these bounds kept surrounded by heavy velvet curtains and the uncertainty with which the moves from the past are wrapped cripples and topples the adoption of pride in what will be and an end to any dependency on purely historical characters just bring these leaders we will be heeders of their words and their unsung hair their jaunty care but their passion for freedom and the will to fill the sky with song

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

justwrite 10 november

and when she woke up she found the note she had left herself, scrawled in blue pen across an open notebook: SO LONG---
Unlike many other night-dashed notes, she remembered the meaning of this one. It was a directive, a command to be followed, all the more important because she asked it of herself.
She closed her eyes, unwilling to begin.
Before long, however, the images flooded her mind, the items to be listed.
She opened her eyes, rolled out of bed. Always stepped onto the floor on the right side of the bed. Always opened the curtain before anything else. Looked out. Remains of rain.
Physically, it would be easy to sit down at her desk and begin. She just wasn’t ready. Not quite.
Stretches, breakfast. A load of laundry in and whirring. Straightening up the living room.
Hours passed this way, scattered into categories like Cleaning, Cooking, Washing Dishes. Each category more correctly titled Avoiding.
Nearly noon.
With a deep breath, she sat down at the table in the living room, stared hard out the window, then began to write.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

justwrite 9 november

Sitting at this table I remember all of the tables before, the restaurants where you held my hand, and when you were a different who, and the table that we bought, the bouquet that was caught by some other hand. We planned and we saved but you raved about logos and pogo-sticks ticked me off. I scoffed at the outrage in your eyes, but no surprise came knocking when the clock stopped tocking. No talking to tick you off, no cameras holding pieces of resistance—we clicked them shut, we tied other knots. I remember some other November, the minutes pressed together and the breaths honey deep, sweet in the blankets of a stolen evening. Heaving breaths into cold dark, there were parks a-plenty and reasons never lacked. We collapsed with contentment in tents meant for summer, hovering hands into the invisible night. Catch this image, remember it, even as you turn away, away. We stray from each other even now, there are too many yous and too many Is. We try and we love and we shove ourselves away, closet space at a premium and nothing left to save. We paid debts and made promises, we have glamorous visions of the future, and we pass them away to other hands. Here, have this, keep it safe. We will never meet again. Sitting at this window I look out and I can see farther than I need to. We built trees out of mirrors and we found ourselves so tall. We found colors in our eyes and ideas in each others’ ears, listening closely and mostly understanding. Still, no one can have it all. It was never yours to give all of you. I was giving all of me and more that I found hidden in the dresser, in the garden, down the river, up the mountain. Here is more, in my hands. Strawberry jam and city parks by the lake. We made mistakes and we gave them back. I’m sorry I told you they didn’t exist. I’m sorry I pushed far and you couldn’t resist believing I was right. The night comes again, the day’s the same way. I am eating dinner and I am growing thinner, but the rainbows still are rumored to come true, with headlines and captions pointing toward the rapture—we’re so sure to find each other in the cave in the park then. We planned this from Colorado and also from right here, but the fear is bigger than the emptiness and the island has its own name, mainly existing unto itself. We imagine health is the opposite of disease, creation the suggestion that there is more and there can be much but we cup our hands together, me alone with my mirrored pool and you alone looking into someone else’s eyes, saying yes. There is no surprise, there is distance. There is a chance, and there is romance, and still we gamble for a seat at this table, able to let go and to flow where needed, lessons heeded and thanks given, driven toward motion and dying when still.

Monday, November 8, 2010

justwrite 8 november

dreaming of other people fills the space erases the chase scene and there’s nothing in between these two beings just now but that space getting deleted instead just to bed with other ideas the clarity seems so clear the fear brushed away while reading some other poem today and being glad to be settled nothing mettled nothing gained just strange floating away this is the kind of thing to pray for If you’re into that sort of thing but no fling stays long and that calm is long gone seeing such ideas a few clicks away the curiosity stays while the pain burns up calls forth crawls north to the back of the throat then settles cold in the heart part of which closes for the day a clenched hand of tools that can’t be used for now I cannot imagine I cannot think through that straight earlier I played simple songs stretched and caught up and waited to sigh with the pleasure of recognition and the disappointment of neglect the necessary retraction but finding none but finding this message undone I cannot but wonder I cannot but plunder these pages wondering over phases and the phrases that are dear now on that side of the gulf which pump your blood which line your shelves and cover yourself in the dark I am parked here and clear away but not as clear as I thought it’d stay just a reply missed a sidewalk kissed with unnecessary ardor falling out a car door and rolling to the ditch stepping up and over myself and into the next bus pressed with must and animal sounds against the humid aisle-standers we are looking for the next stop and maybe you have found yours already no reason to go steady alone into the elsewhere it’s not fair to anyone it’s not unfair to you to me too true to be believed at this point at this joint I am out of sorts and ought to contort to a harder pose I presuppose will give me focus I have nothing to notice and nothing to offer I am afraid to say hello I am afraid to think nothing and I am tired of this balance I thought would tip again today and even without those words there’s still a sway out of sorts and I cannot help but wonder what spelling words you’re under which channels you’re channeling and what challenges you’re handling and I wish all the best with the rest but it’s a test I’m still taking.

justwrite 7 november

Again, this is a conversation without much purpose. Probably it should be going somewhere, but this is what happens in real life: people make unnecessary comments, offer unnecessary replies, create unnecessary tension, counter with unnecessary jokes to alleviate the aforementioned unnecessary tension…

On the bus last night, the last leg of the day’s travels, it was completely dark, occasionally punctuated in spots by the screens of cell phones and MP3-players. Crackers crunched, plastic bags crinkled, carbonation signed in relief at its escape from twisttop plastic bottles. Then, somewhere between Rodehiv and Horohiv, I heard an unrecognizable sound and then figured out its origin by the smell that followed. Someone was eating oranges in the dark.

justwrite 6 november

His name isn’t Harry, or King Phillip, of course, but he’s still thinking about tattoos. What to have done? Will he really follow through on the idea, or is this just one of those impulsive sort of thoughts that she often accuses him of abandoning at the first sing of something more interesting? Truly, this occurrence is easily justified to himself as flexibility, the more presentable and marketable cousin of fickleness.
“If I was in a novel, granting your assumption that this would necessarily make my life more interesting, and if I had a tattoo, what kind of tattoo would I have, and then where?”
Never being meant to read the long-suffering worn orange book in any sort of sustained manner, she peers over it to look at him closely.
“I can’t tell you what it would look like just at the moment, but it would definitely have some good kind of story behind it.”
“Like some wild weekend in Vegas kind of story? That sounds pretty promising.” Sometimes it’s hard to tell if he’s being sarcastic.
“No, definitely not that kind of a story.” She seems extremely certain about this.
“You seem extremely certain about this.”
“It would be something carefully planned, with lots of flashback and foreshadowing potential. You don’t have to be an English major to know that.” A certain look at his face. A pause. “Not a name, though. That’s too obvious.” Another pause. “Probably a symbol of some kind.”
“Like a Chinese character, maybe.”
“No, you say, ‘You’re a Chinese character, maybe.’”
She ignores him.
“The fact that you’re a guy definitely narrows it down, though.” The book is still open, but now waits open-faced on the coffee table, hoping for an end to this ridiculous series of hypothesis. Her knees pulled tight, she looks up at the ceiling, the source of endless inspiration to students and real people throughout the entire world.
Unreasonably serious about this consideration, she doesn’t hear him. It doesn’t matter, though; no response is really merited.
“Something tribal, maybe?” he offers.

justwrite 5 november

Irynka asked me what I would write next. I said that I needed to think about it first. She said that I should write about a hotel, and that I bought ice cream and cappuccino there. Irynka says that she will write with me. She also wants you to know that today we went for a walk in the park. We also ate borsch today. “Look how much we wrote together,” she points out. Her mom and dad point out that it’s time for her to go to sleep. If Irynka wrote a story, lots of interesting things would happen in it. Going to a hotel and buying ice cream and cappuccino there does sound extremely glamorous, probably. I don’t think that she’s ever stayed in a hotel. Once she did go to the circus in Lviv, though. I’m not saying it’s the same thing. Anyway. Having past a certain point in my life, however, the hotel scenario just doesn’t feature in my fantasies. When was this point? Age 10? 20? I’d hazard a guess that it was some stage at which I had enough money to make this ice cream and cappuccino situation come true, but also knew enough to realize that a hotel is one of the most expensive places to buy food. Mozhlivo, meni shkoda, but maybe it’s not actually a shame to me. I’m free from paying outrageous prices for dining on opposite-temperatured foods, but I’ve outgrown some of the freedom to make such ridiculous choices. I over-think, over-plan, over-worry way more than is necessary in most situations. Don’t misunderstand—I consider myself a fairly creative person and pretty open to trying new things in general. I’m working on balance. In the meantime, I consider going to a hotel and ordering cappuccino and ice cream.

justwrite 4 november

It’s not just the characters, is it. It’s not enough for them to have claimed the right names and have shamed you into offering theme attributes, but there’s more to compute. It’s under dispute to refute all advances in such a direction, but it’s true that protection in a bubble is a troubling development to have sent to any character. There must be some trouble, some sharp edges instead of down comforters. What’s worse is the fake conflict, where no one cares about the outcomes, where we’re run around to collect details, but we still fail to be interested. Getting fed up with getting fed nothing is easy enough to fix if there’s a spoon in the broth. Be willing to cough up a trouble or two and the truth will get set free or a remedy will rudely brew itself into health. Maybe it’s internal, that infernal sort of worry that can’t be hurried and can’t be explained, only renamed as hunger or fatigue, or some other known entity. These are the darkest parts in which to park the focus, where the hocus pocus don’t shine, where the invisible lines chime in with those sink-or-swim whims threading in and out of thread, with doubts we’ve all met before on scores of occasions. External is the boiling-over into action and reaction, gaining traction with each snag, knocking down a dragout flashdown, the crown and the belt being felt to be deserved by the hardest-hitting champion with the steeliest of nerves. And I will tell you, friend, if by the end, these issues are not handed tissues and dealt with through fists or some other twists of fate, of late-to-arrive solutions with gently foreshadowed contributions, then may you be helped by some generous power in an omnipotent hour, heeding your needs and riding a white and noble steed to rescue you from your readers, those sweet bottom-feeders who only get to see what you’re pleased to share from thin air to the charity that seems to be writing fiction—feeding others’ addition to living lives that are not their own. We cannot own each and every fact of these lives collapsed into convenient relief in the known-to-be-mistaken belief that these beings are only existent between these covers, that any number of them instantly perish when the page ends. It’s not a deep-end sort of jump-in to realize that we love surprise and also the inevitable sometimes but our hearts tend to chime at seeing problems solved. I can’t resolve my own situations, but through some fictional conversations I can draw enough connections to reckon that my deals could really be salvageabley approachable, too. I don’t need pancakes or panache to catch all my mistakes, but it takes a lot of dashing hopes to scope out a low point from which to gather advice from some character named after a spice, or even a country, as far as that goes. We do our best, but we only suppose there are too few options—fiction offers alternate theories up for adoption, should we choose to subscribe. But if there’s no issue to which to ascribe a solution, there’s no identification with a simply not-to-be resolution.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

justwrite 3 november

There is no book I'd want to live in instead of my own life. Literature is stuffed with themes, seemingly more than real life—and it's real strife that makes those happen, that deliver our minds to the author-defined goals. We suppose we'd be better off sometimes if the right mind guided us gently and laughing down the right path, but it's just a trap—no way to say that the right mind is someone else's. To test your health, abandon wealth, fall in love, shove to the top of some shaky ladder: what matters is left in your own hands, your own commands press down the enter key, keeping free those vital seconds ripe for wrecking the rest of the plan. This business is the bliss, the life that wouldn't survive a writing workshop—a freak motorcycle purchase, a streetcorner trombonist, the worst haircut in the hit parade and the accidental friendship that results—all these catapult life forward, not forewarned or prepared in any way, but to say otherwise is to surmise that mystery is reducible to a crucible of plot plans, that scanning the twists will straighten them out, shake off the doubt and tangle the chords. Out of tune with the moon is no way to be, but if you can't break free of the track, you're getting sent back to the scrap pile. We all file for returns, but he who doesn't earn doesn't get paid in cash to play in the trash, just earns interest on the laughs and a lax attraction to action that's hardly foreshadowed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

justwrite 2 november

but what will her name be I ask and I squish my right eye in a sort of wink more like a think but too slow to be noticed he doesn’t look up from the screen the magazine the text and says next and only argentina and I say what but he doesn’t say anything else it’s like he was waiting for the question to be asked had been preparing the work for this task from early on preparing to share and acutely aware of the timing when the moment finally arrived I wait for something like a joke but nothing follows and I try well you mean like then someone can say to her don’t cry for me argentina well I guess that’s no I just mean her name should be argentina you asked and I told you only after saying this does he look up he takes a sip of coffee and raises his eyebrows at me for two seconds before returning behind the curtain of certain immersion in text and finding that there’s nothing next I am surprised and I type her name was argentina and when I write this I know he’s right there’s no other choice whatsoever and anything more common would seem trite how many nights have you looked at a book where the main character is a woman named sarah a careful name keeping you blameless from assuming assigning traits of alisons and samanthas you’ve met of late sarah is safe enough it’s not tough to imagine she could be anyone from anywhere sarah plain and tall sarah curly and sassy maybe some variation with or without an h at the end but no need to pretend she’s someone you know instead she’s everyone you’ve said hello to at the grocery store and walked away from without a second glance wearing pants and a gray sweater but argentina exists in novelty in a novel a novel idea and this is what makes her work he looks up again seeing that I’ve stopped writing am looking through the window at nothing at the leaves and he picks up his coffee cup again am I right he asks you’re right I say I pick up my cup too touch tea to coffee and toast to argentina

justwrite 1 november

suddenly an incantation without reservations sends a flash invitation to the mindboggled mix pulling happenstance from circumstance and flashdancing a hit parade of lemonade stand memories and the willow trees of three different scenes plus two from dreams and it’s hard to tell what will fare well from the beginning to the end but it’s easy to pretend that happy ever after is worth much more than laughter that this creator won’t throw tomatoes onto the stage enraged and confused by now we’re just used to this sort of cabaret the ear by which we play it the sword by which we slay it and lay it out to dry just like that catfish wish come true dried straight out of the biology room we are zooming in and out of focus on these plot points but once the score gets added up and the pickup truck bed gets slept in instead based on simple confusion the language of illusion the bananas are bruising but not fast enough I truly feel wounded but don’t call that a bluff I can only cook so many looks at a time can only book so many crimes without appointments it’s too intense to live fruitlessly the free and empty scene with inbetween despair may offer plenty of air but it’s a scarecrow’s world view that offers you only the loneliest stake breaking hearts and feeding crows composed of crafty designs but budgeted down to some more basic lines the prints not blue and the crops more or less uncouth we are useful and our lives are true developed in color negative

justwrite 31 october

too much pear in the peach pie there’s a reason why we buy treason at such a hefty price a Chinese restaurant without rice is not one I would vote for a remote store is out of channels and too many buttons are getting pushed I have shushed each listener and turned over the compost hoping the most roasting moments will be raised by the glaze the fictional stew I’m brewing up to ease along the stronger songs of myself I sing the spirit eclectic an existence unsymmetric I have wrecked this expectation I have saved no nations in the past fascination a complex worth crashing the boards with the myths of height and long hair and it’s a cold stare slicing those ripe round riches down their seedy bellies don’t get too ahead of me too far afield to yield even the most meager of crops stopping until dropping the egg rolls keeps the napkins folden and the fortunes beholden to he who eats the cookie and she who pays the bill and the duck who made that happen the mirror that will gladden with the triumph of November but also the fingers that pre-remember the hours of typing after year-long hyping this is how the record plays the story stays hidden as the characters are ridden out of the stable and into the sunrise the sudden surprise of discovering their habits the rare tricks they pull out of space and time and perhaps my mind but I’m so unsure of where they’re stored these details still to be pulled