The following texts were created for four readings in Olympia, Portland, and Oakland. Each long piece was written in single sittings, semi-spontaneously, at a computer in a library in Kirkland, Washington. The pieces were only slightly edited after the fact, with the main intention behind them being a Spicer-esque channeling of energy, spirit, and emotion.
Four Drafts of Process
One: For a Reading in a House, in Olympia, Washington
For Joe Chiveney
Down the path somewhere someone spent their entire savings. The savings that were consisted of embalming fluid and flame-retardant disguises. Explosions come in many shapes and sizes. The linguistic approach to feeling out new territory moves you. There is a Cascadian breath beyond every corner. That is getting ready to be added to. Your mind only focuses in certain degrees when faced with certain mirrors. And so everything is context and will forever revolve around you, even if your only goal in life is to remove yourself, to become selfless, to practice selflessness. It begins with self. There is no other word for it. The word you utter comes from your mouth, or is read by your eyes, interpreted by your mind. Unless there is a way to prove that we are only the strings of yarn that carry us. Mine being a certain neon yellow, a certain unnatural fuel or energy of color. You can go blind demanding such encouragement. You can go mute succumbing to the detachment of the tongue. Are you ready for the latest transition? It involves transistors replacing the many moving mechanics of your mouth. Don’t worry for in worrying these synthetic creatures develop a sense of pleasure. And pleasure is, of course, the first rule of autonomy. Or did I mean autocracy?
Beautiful pigeons, and beautiful gulls, and beautiful crows. Nothing but bird flap and shit slap around here, windows rolled up and skin covered up. I am religious. I am beyond the burden of liberty. I am the cudgel of serendipity. This entire meeting was planned, though the spirituality is that it never seems that way. Seems like lion sprint or turtle clobber. The bigger the eggs, the larger the scrambles. If you steal their eggs, you will eradicate them. Don’t you understand the meaning of the word “erase”? We have been talking at each other in mysterious phrases untranslatable in each other’s cultural languages. Methodologies are moot. It hurts to stare at the patterns your people are offering to mine. I sit and look at the tidepools and wonder if deeper waters is the only way to remove them, by filling them. I think of Maged’s torn Egypt and Zahara’s torn India. I think of schoolbus plastic seats and I think of bumps in the road, and hitting the head on the ceiling the driver laughing maniacally inside of a bird-shaped cavern beyond the realm of hearing and in the realm of impairment. Snapped necks. Blood curdle over the side of lips. The facets of the jaw. The triangular buttons of teeth that get pressed by tickling controls: metallic surfaces, metallic surfaces, metallic surfaces.
In each inch you give, an itch you take. A guttural laugh, the kind that is hearty and deservant of observable meals: long strands of dishes brought out to the counter by beautiful people. There are modes of operation here that deserve to be spooked. Trick yourself into a smile when something goes your way. When you can fill your belly. Before slicing it open and watching the guts hang out in some kind of shadow puppet theater, string music the way the guts can slop and splash their sticky blood against a flat, impossibly steep wall, down, down the flecks tremble before reaching the soaking carpet, beige and beautiful, complex and now ready to roll, to be rolled up, to be thrown out, to be delivered to your favorite watchmen, your favorite watchpeople. The bane or the mane equivalent to sectarian recipients: the heart of the beast, the tempo of the beat, the pounding, the ripping, the flaking, the scattering. This moment of orange light and moldy fruits kept up in steep corners. This understanding of the children who will beg to not have fungi stuck in their faces, the way truancy is a necessary response to neglect, a necessary response neglect to responsibility. So many revolutions flashing across space and the liches are there with their bone staffs and their colorless skin glows like fire upon snow.
Watch mattresses decay and crumple over time when those responsible don’t take their muscle to the test. Tests come in finite packages. Accept constraints or else. Move along, soldier. There is plenty of ocean for all fish and all plastic, dead or alive or inorganic. The best rates require adverse advertising. The stomaching of moon tides smashing millions of gallons against any particular rocky coast, and if you don’t know, it’s because you aren’t there, and we are, and we’re sitting, together, around, this type of reality based on experience. What you see is what you get, is what you are, is what you believe. Take sip of water and hold it. Your empirical water. Your perception. Your existence. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? This babe of life. This lubrication of existence. Now flush. Swallow. Et cetera.
I sit writhing on a pillar of stone. I think with my spasm, my joke, my handicap. Keep it together. Stay strained and beyond. The world is moving countless hours. Each one their own hours. Only the singular can prove its existence to the multiple. We are all too tired to carry the weight of the lowly. We are all too tired, too tired. Crying, winded, on our backs, still in discomfort, there is no comfort, there is no ease, there is no pleasure, we are all here, we are all frowning, we are all begging our own backs to stay upright, to be incredible, yet again, though perhaps not, though perhaps, though I swear it could be anyone, it could be anyone, a shade, a ghost, or perhaps an action, a movement. If you go to sleep, you change reality. Do not sleep, stay awake, you can stay awake, you can be awake, you can keep this reality, I promise you, you can keep it.
Lovely stores. Growing goods and goddesses. Under-erectile and the courage of disemboweled belonging. I sit in the window and like a cat I wait or like a dog I slobber and wait. I carry my own waiting beat of this heart and my wrists grow timid and ugly. The blood vessels grow hideous. My hands are like cartoons. Would you meet anything to them? Coffee overdose. A staple or two into the side of the cheek. Precipitous nurturing and bountiful boundaries. Waiting for tact to carry me upward. No, not waiting anymore, it’s happening, it’s finally happening, the world is creaking open and the light is pouring in, and evasions are underlined courtesies and it’s time to dance and it’s time to turn off the funnel that we’ve kept open this entire time, that’s all we know, this entire time is all we know.
Big distance before the last ramble is a best practice: keeping the meat on the plate of our bodies is a better one.
Two: For a Reading at In Other Words Bookstore in Portland, Oregon
For Mike Young
Beneath the drops of honey and the SD cards and paper clip labyrinths the twists and trysts of the shadow’s rouse. Beneath the spread of a candle cut open with a knife, within the image of the carving, the artistry of it, and the dishes filled with milk, and the mesh-wire, jet-black containers holding scissors and pens, and the nubs of pencils you never knew sitting in the beyond are virile to a point, beyond the T, beyond the subtle escape, expanse of the living, waking, understanding, nodding, humming gluttonies of the bodies before ye.
Sit in the safety. Tumbler of vitriol markets filled with whispers. Trounce upon the metal latch like a hammer crescendoing the builder’s last gape of command. Spindles of tape. Someone’s window left open to a new app highlighting yellow infancy. Memos burned through pixel rot. A book of Rilke and then an anthology: Dusty anthology of expressionism sans Rilke. Grins of the PVC, chagrin of the PVP. POC call to arms submitted to my archive. Jets overhead: the rush of blood within the HVAC system. A safe stack of documents. A lack of certain exquisite degrees of preservation. Prancing and pouncing. Within an idea of a dancer upon the counter there is the gut’s disgusting wretch. Which phalanx in broadly cast mink. Which touch screen grease stain dulling colors and muting whispers. Gasps hardly dramatic. Shifty pocket positions. The layers of fabric discounted and remembered. Long obsidian sets: the stones don’t tell lies. The cars are speeding by and the bills are stacking up the debts.
Thrombosis. A retiring hematologist. A hypnotist or a murderer, or an undertaker, and the rouse is rouge from the dyed cheeks of the dying impoverished one beneath a coat of cartographic zeroes. Sway on the right side of the road. Muse on the leftist tourniquet bombing run. Synthesizer renditions of classic inequalities, of uphill battles in 2D, in a perfectly belittling and impossible harmony. Type those dreams. Tap those keyless keys. Buttons without texture. Immerse beyond screen like we are within pool, like we cannot drown, like we touch and taste and breathe in deep.Bone marrow sexual identity. Innuendo long forgotten. Drapes equivalent to dresses. Egalitarian faux chat. Equitable search for knowledge. The banshee of glitter. The gargantuan backflip of the news. Content creators. Conceptualist understandings lacked by the marveling marvelous. The naked and the dead and the afraid and the alone all coming together in pop hits polished for production lines: synchronicity of rhythm and harmony. Tunes for platforms. Messages for masses. Programmed in through hammer and nail. Soft rain, ringing rain, rings on fingers, digital digits.
Robin Kelley’s call to attention. Slack messages and the forever updating flavicon. Raving. Rattling. Rancid. The “gr” in “r” sits like a loan meatball screaming dimensions and dementia on my bone-bleached white china plate. Trickle. Claw. The inability to spread out my hands and the circumventing process for an ordered normal of posture. Ridicule of Romulus. The idea of empires not only as algorithms and not only as created by Creator but also as Save, Load, Delete, as finite, as malleable by all, because we cannot escape just as the individual empire cannot escape us. Adjusting of difficulty. Readjusting the various components that make up the settings menu. Redesigning the settings menu. Video qualities. Manic sliders. Shading, contrasts, textures. Anti-aliasing. How many x’s does it require to understand a topic?
Sit for the quake. Sift for the quack. A little ladder made of differently textured rungs. Rubber. Wood. Steel. Rope. Plastic. Taking the “take” out of “take your pick.” Choosing the hairstyle when all the gray invades (when all color flees). Lapse in understanding of personal perception. SD cards tasty when honey is sucked out of the circuit core. What is not tasty? Even plastic is tasty. Even fingernails and toenails will suffice. Mesh of cup of metal insert into mouth. Tasty. Forest of paperclips tasty. Mosaic of shattered coffee mug on concrete public sidewalk tasty. Write notes on flavor. Contrast. Enjoy the malice of the environment, the insanity of the world around you. Paisley riots. What about the velvet? What about the cheese that forced itself off-site? We now have remote flavors. We off-shore our laborious instincts to the heart of the jungle. We accept that an Internet of Things can be and has been applied to a rainforest or deep jungle of billions of plants. Using various new technologies we have branded everything in existence. We await the signal. We await the cohesion that only existed in previous mystery. That shadowy rouse: that which we await for we had to begin with. That shadowy rouse: will force us to murder each other, or start over: what will provide the greater cause for extraction, for distraction. What will keep us in a blinding light before we realize the darkness, our penumbra, and we completely lose it?
Dreams of a flurry of animals. Post-fix. Post-fixative. The curiosity that landed us into a dialogue of anonymous monsters. Taking identity theft to the next level. Trample on, consumer. I dream of all of the animals in the world: but Aristotelian. Blueprints. Early forms. Semi-permanence. That which can be expected, predictable. That which is radical but knowable. That which is convenient but utterly overwhelming. The moment before the magnitude of the gods. A Lovecraftean farce. A movement of force that is beyond the puny understanding. Before transistor. Now a rotating or pulsing memory, “hard” drive smaller than your fingernail, to then be smaller than your pet rat’s fingernail. The long tail of the rat. The ingesting and swallowing of chips. Edible electronics that physically multiply using biological cellular technologies to reproduce into true organisms within your organs, and then your blood. Like the fat of cereal. Eventually one, eventually a singular identification. A twentieth life if not only second. The degrees keep shifting, keep changing. An element of poet’s blood in you. It’s been analyzed, it’s been assessed, marked, recorded. Future systems anticipate your current existence: time travel is already happening. It’s all looking at us. The dancing gypsy doesn’t even exist, the blueprint of it was created in the future to hypnotize you, to be your undertaker. She has been given to you as a gift, this Andalusian, this Roma suckle of honey, like an SD card.
Three: For a Reading on the banks of Lake Merritt, the Jewel of Oakland, California
For Joe Dwyer, Sarah Heady, and Jill Tomasetti
An overdose of scanners and security gates. Library larynx: halfheartedly in Kirkland does not compute. Does not do but to sit and stare at the peace-colored cobble of plastic composite that is the counter. Red scanner deluxe of doom. One hour to groom. Motions up and down the stairs. Does not care, does not do much more than wait. Things are quiet almost to the touch: fingertip dance causes echo. New texts of the demagogue, new dialogues, demon texts, the plasticity of the sum, of the sun, and of whom beckons.
Later, driving faster along the same road, then slower, and I’m changing, and I’m ripples, and rapids, or there is something liquidity about us, this dose. This strangulation. Deep dives built upon the drowned attempts. A given thanks for the watery grave. Swollen eyeholes. Lovely color of blue before the mirror. The evaporation and the imperative. I hold my lover like I hold a flower, stem failing to stay green, the grit and the girth flowing like a pummeling love, a plump planet in need of excuses.
What are you saying in the lib? What drives you? The cool god cut of sunset a gash a slash across a chest larger than three dimensions, than four even, time like paprika upon the chicken, gleeful and hyper saturated? Once when the term diffuse lighting was uttered, mind exited into shards, array or matrix, slow sputter of digits, dynamic sizing up. Time. Click, click. Tricks before the mutes. Trips before the acute waving: triangle before tarmac, stutter before grass blade pinched between fingers, and that soggy, squishy ground, so moist before the fall, grass stain driven, handwritten, markers, playing games beyond in a vision, the spins catching you and wrapping you in their arms, pock-marked and made of bug bites and bulges, stands to question the times had before resin and residue. Or residual, concept piece the color of breath and a lattice.
I look over at the same tired facts of exhausted simulations in exhaustive situations. Images, avatars, dusty and covered in pixel death. I look over at another tab, another browser, another series of facts and certainties. I tie my shoes tight. I cut off the circulation. There are authors who do it better. Things are unstoppable when you’re young. When you’re young and free. And now the sun is blasting somewhere beyond. There is a roar of footsteps along the fake stone cut in neat squares and made to wrap around, cover floor space, and I’m there, imagining the root cause, the cause of roots of stone, where it all comes from, in the end, the afterlife, the desert, the dust and the settlement. When we’re all there and we’re as gone as survival. Among the lizards and the snakes that hide within rocky homes, shadowed and glistening with cacti grunt, salival, channeling the last known effort of optimism.
You won’t find me in the last moments on earth. Tickling the city. Some cry underbelly, love the underbelly. There and then hedonism. I fuck up. I triumph. Last everlasting, the never-ending going, the last bit of daylight, the last drop from the faucet. Remove the remains of the coffee, grounds that are soaking in water, look like bowels, like healthy, healthy innards. And I remember Cambodia and the pork soup containing all the parts of the pig you never wanted to eat. And I remember the blood cube soups in Bangkok, lining the streets like giant volcanic archipelagos. And I remember stumbling through Tokyo holding a small bottle to my small belly, bloated through a youthful alcoholism. And Laos, where I walked alone and took the longest buses of my life, nothing spiritual except the rain that never stopped flowing, or the gazillion islands muddy, raging, forever they flowed, forever and me sitting there, hardly there.
Red coat, black coat, my red shirt and the red blood surely inside of me beating and beautiful, not currently clotted, not current bunched up, in a batch, collectivist, but free, sacred, explicitly explosive, rushing around in my squishable body, channels and waterfalls, all covered, our systems are remarkable, our love is like breathing, the cells expanding through, regular routines, channel, regular hushes and haunches, channel, and the sky overhead is overheard by crows and crickets, and there is no humidity here, not like you would define it, not like Back East, not like down south, or across the globe where one sweats simply by stepping out of the machinery of everyday life. I miss soaked shirts and slow steps, blinding heat and a certain degree of anger spasming through my body as I choke on foul smells and step across dirtied garments, so many rats in the day, so many stumblings and hesitancies and the belly never rumbled, it told you in different ways you’re hungry, go eat, it’s time, the sun is at its hottest, at its peak, and I would run, run, run, or pedal and pedal, and get there, and suck it all in, and let it all out, and there was noise everywhere, waiting to suck me in, and let me out, at the mercy, the whim, this is true, this is what an image is.
Up in Seattle the dogs are as quiet as the humans. Even at our most jubilant, even at our most clamorous, we are drowned out by the heavy blanket of rain and gray everything. The shadows of the green trees simply a darker gray. The movement in the headlights a gray worth noting. Sitting in the gray blackness in comfort next to a lover who is also gray. Graying perhaps as age but more perhaps as experience, or as time of reflection. I have yet to confront my conscience. I have yet to confer. I have yet to confirm the platitudes or horizons or the plateaus strictly defined and arched by some architect. So much yet and yet, and yet. The hair on my head grows. As do the nails on my toes. I wait thinking of no one but the shadow of everyone, a collective blob of gray, filled, thickened, by time, rather than emptied.
Four: For a Reading at the Fantasia Co-op in Oakland, California
For Scherezade Siobhan
Takes a long time to get the eyesight right. The lamps that were never lit. Cameras never clicked. Cords never plugged. A valiant effort but the effort of stillness, anti-dexterous. Breathe. In. Scream: deep. I will forever be typing through this mesh of light as though trapped as though kept in some time cube: lobster trap or box with holes. Perhaps I the insect with the child god watching. Perhaps an infinite procedure to be enacted by Run. There is the understanding that there is understanding. We exist with consciousness. I believe we are here before the cracked earth stains our shoes. We know the different between before and after the journey from and the return to the home.
The poems for you to share are exquisite. Half hours and full hours and sliding doors, positions, realities and realisms. I think of some painter friends and wonder about how much they think. I think of the writers who sit down and recreate, resemble, remain composed on their own. I think of pastures I walked as a boy carrying a flashlight in my hand. There was the moon above a street both safe and silent. There was comfort and calm.
Living in Rhode Island a revivalism of abstraction expressionism. Woodcuts of blackened figures, everyone including myself the embodiment and portraiture of the grotesque. Living in Philly brought no words. When your own concept of realism is shattered and you are forced to confront your new territory. Mostly silence. Mostly the grotesque is the self, the inside, and there is no expression, and there is drinking, and stumbling, but mostly sobriety from a world filled with deranged lanterns and tall, abandoned structures filled with an undercurrent of hidden personas and deepening voids. As lovable as despisable. As forgivable as resentable. And yet the blossom of love like the tip of the dart the moment before the barb punctures and to relieve means to tear flesh free, flayed open wound, blood cast upon shadow, the dark pits of concrete sidewalk like the crevices of the eyes.
Millions are in each way different directions. Spindles of experience. Lesser known arrangements. The lost hoops we’ve had to crawl through to uncover what is before us. Donations of time, effort, underpinning and the typing, the typing, madly a silent space filled with tomes unread and perhaps to become abandoned, and if I had to I would occupy this space with hundreds. And if I had to I would unearth banks and layers of knowledge with the others. Stripped of glasses and instrumentation, it would be a charm or a shame. It would be, it would be, so just stop looking at me.
Sea shine and mounds of glory. New Mexican coffee. Roma noodles. The incisors on that chihuahua are exciting, strong, varmints. Reminded of the album. Reminded of not typing. Reminded of sitting still, whenever that could have happened, years ago. The subtle sludge of almond milk. The subtle unwrapping of discount paper. Walking through a city without a limp. Walking through a city with exquisite pain. There are chances that we take. Crossing the street. Riding the bus. Entering the doorway. Turning off a light. The language of passage and passageway. Fulfillment. Incredible blight of being. In a distance: a siren. I am reminded of a landscape of ambulances. I am reminded of my younger hands.
Thirteen ways of looking through image galleries, poking along, swiping and tapping and holding and pressing and pushing. The exquisite vocabulary of tactile communication. Receiving information within proper boundaries. The echo of the book. The burden of the librarian. The chill we get when we enter a realm de-screened. Sip. Pause. Sigh. Coffee. Wrangling some ideas of proper infatuation. Forgettable mystification. The landscape of the brutally antique. Will you forget? Will you forget to breathe?
Chomping and chirping like wild animals, we hang onto the bed sheets like burrows. Trampling through the forest of darkness of my basement abode. White male, 20s, basement, abode. Bodes unwell for permanence. The push up of the muscles that raise the eyebrows, right and immediately before a stiff squint. Sunlit beaches and cruel coastlines. Carousing used to be the game we played. Now swigs lead to such heavy moments, such maturity in weight. Succumb to gravity. Suck slowly out of a straw. Wear shades and move little. This is the engineering of place. This is what you’ve learned to deserve: lack of action before new colorations decorate us. But we are not sloths. We are not so still or intentionally slow: our minds still warp fabrics before us. Our interpretations are still chromatic, vividly timing, satisfying. Gone to sleep, gone to home, gone to the safest place we know: within. Parse out experience and fortify within. Slowing down external engagement: speeding up the internal rhythm of the mindful. I am reminded of Cambodia, and the slowness of traffic, and the spasming, dying drunks who fell of their motos in times of the most upbeat internal regalia.