The Insincerity of Cliche

It’s unthinkable. the madman
massacred innocent children.
Recent revelations of an unstable
home highlight the
murderous man’s motivation
Hold on, a field reporter,
now nestled in the killer’s quaint
suburban surroundings
will respectfully read
the lurid details of
his unhappy hide-out
where he amassed his arsenal
of semi-automatic arms.

Consider several culprits:
careless gun control,
violent video games,
hostile home-life,
deepening depression,
inescapable isolation.

After the break:
can it happen in your town?

Mixtape

This is a new apartness:
we’ll work together, our eyes closed
in different rooms. You: the guitar,
me: the bass, Her: the drums. Together
at last only after recording separately.

Unwritten, this rules out orchestration
but in reconstruction we achieve singleness.
We were never art apart but together
we may be mixed into the roiling sea,
the new love, the sloshing bubbly water
of a child’s bathtub.

Combine unintention with intention,
record the sparrow, rewind the snare,
replace the ending with the beginning
of itself. We are all built of old things
and blood clots at some point: why not
build castles out of blood clot bricks?

Together, what aren’t we?

Stew
My mouth tastes like salt
the easy days are over.

Or fried food, someone said,
we can’t eat it any more.

Do you want the easy days
to end, someone else said.

It wasn’t a question. My heart
is older than it should be.

The creeping edge of the salt
on my tongue let me know
that you were no normal chef.

Stews had fallen apart--they
were as our conversations, even
and full of denial. We won’t
ever be, in this fashion, together.

We won’t ever be, instead fashioned
of leek and chunks of cheap meat
and potatoes and then something
abstract like regret.

You remind me of headlights
playing off the grocery store’s
cardboard displays in the front windows.

They’re shiny as you are but
you are probably not trying to manipulate
me--

I gasp and recoil, the meat falls off the
bone and like lovers we don’t smile
at the height of our pleasure but
peel back that grease on the top
of the stew and gouge it with our spoons.
Drawn Out

Inside of me, there is nothing. Whatever was there has been sweated out. Removed through stress. Self is a wrinkle in formal pants that has been ironed flat. The pants have no one to fit, though. There are no formal occasions. The tragic part is that this isn’t attire. When you run, you must go from and to. There is no endless run. The strain doesn’t go away, it simply switches forms. We happen to call it something different when you aren’t running. (Metaphorically you are always running.) The pounding of feet on pavement becomes a headache, becomes the even thump of tires against the evenly-spaced ridges that join sections of highway.

Everything proceeds apace, drawing you out.

Time is palpable. Time can’t be contained or filtered or siphoned, can only pass like an idiot as you writhe in a way that you dream is effective. But there isn’t ‘effective’ because goals are illusions you construct to justify wasting—but wasting is an illusion because you live to be consumed just as you are consumed by life.

The insufferable people you meet; the sufferable people you meet; The sufferable people you wish you’d meet; Who are these people? They are only mirrors reflecting. They are me, but outside. Or are they not me? Running is me. Or running becomes me. These other people don’t become me as running does, they confine. They perceive and think they know, thereby pinning down what I am. Their perception is limited. My time is limited. All runs must end. The strain must move to somewhere else.

Regimented strain can reward. Regimented strain destroys. Constructions: creativity, fitness, anything that you get better at. Strain becomes us. We exist only to strain. To breathe, eat, drink, walk. We do everything by sheer dint of will. Every individual heartbeat is a struggle. We aren’t supposed to be.

The Art of Watching Blank Tapes

Begin by inserting the blank tape.

You don’t need to start by inserting a blank tape, actually. You can insert any tape into whatever player plays the tape and render it blank as long as you have the appropriate materials or devices. Degaussers are pretty expensive, so perhaps you have an old camcorder that you can use to record over whatever was on the tape with blankness.

Even a tape with some content can be rendered effectively blank to you, the viewer, with the liberal use of eye-covering devices such as perhaps a bandana.

I’ve become emotionally disoriented. I don’t know why I am trying to watch blank tapes, but I understand that perhaps they will wear off on me and some parts of me will be rendered blank. I have given up on caring which parts. Blankness is amenable to happiness, or perhaps blankness is happiness in its purest form. No scrawlings, no attempts, nothing hurtful possible because there is nothing to hurt.

One day perhaps I will be pleasantly erased. Not erased like by force as an angry ex-girlfriend might do by flame to her ex-boyfriend ex-things that are now in her possession. I’m suggesting the kind of erasing that happens to an old man who dies of natural causes.

I don’t think I love you. I’ve forgotten why. I’m not sure if I have been watching too much romance on small screens and listening to too many love songs on bad speakers. My love for you could be an artifact of my perception. Maybe I’m having trouble seeing a horse, or something, and in my mind’s desperate attempt to piece together the thing it has conceived of an emotion aimed at you. Don’t be offended, you are mostly likely a good-looking horse who perhaps can still race convincingly in some small horse-racing circuits that only enthusiasts would know about. Maybe you are a black horse to symbolize mystery and your name is something vague and forboding like Honor’s Fall or Corruption’s Lament. (No one would really give a horse such a silly name, though, in any world I want to be part of. You should name horses after dead generals or living clever cliches turned on their heads or perhaps after a kind of deliberative body high in communist governments.)

Maybe we’ll have lunch some time, I suggest. You aren’t open to suggestion. Like a blank tape, you are only interested in the kind of things that can record, not suggest. Suggestion is weak. Suggestion is like an unfertilized egg.

Maybe we’ll sit across from one another at a table on a street corner and we’ll be too scared to talk. Silence is like a vase or something really fragile that old ladies with small heavily-veined hands adore and young people break by accident. We’re just scared like we’re at the edge of an old map and it turns out there are dragons.

Maybe we’ll sit across from one another at a table in a nice italian restaurant and we’ll just be awestruck by the awkwardness of being so close together on purpose. Perhaps you are attached to someone already and I’ve committed some terrible faux pas. Perhaps our relationship is an excuse to find reasons to use borrowed phrases from French. “Foix Gras” can be ordered, “coup de gras” can be coup’ed, though I hope that there won’t be any “coup de etat.” I wouldn’t mind our entwinement being a “tour de force” in my sexual history.

Now I’ve fixed it perfectly in view. You are sitting cross-legged before me tapping your fingers against the table in a non-rhythm, but in a cute way that makes me want to hold your hand. I think of holding your hand and remember that it is not my hand to hold. I can’t say anything particularly clever because my wit has been dashed against the jagged feldsparic surface of your physical magnetism. But you aren’t particularly good looking. You cut through to some soft part of me, though, and it sounds disgusting but it makes me want to hug you.

I imagine the blank tape, soundtrackless, whirring in its playback mechanism and think how much we don’t have in common with the tape. How much we are totally different. How much we are disconnected from whatever mechanism plays us. Then I, in a eureka-like-though-more-depressing moment of realization, grasp the bud of the notion which is this: We are one another’s playback mechanisms. I live as a private screening of myself for myself.

Sometimes I choose to close my eyes and on the backs of my eyelids play the scenes I would like to have on my own tape. I wish the camera would see this when I record the lens cap to overwrite the next soon-to-be-blank tape.

The last camp which we fell back upon was in a hollow near the village of Florida, where I was born - in Monroe County. Here we were warned that a Union colonel was sweeping down on us with a whole regiment at his heels. This looked decidedly serious. Our boys went apart and consulted; then we went back and told the other companies present that the war was a disappointment for us and we were going to disband.
Bridges grown of tree roots.

The root bridges [of Cherrapunji, India], some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten  to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they’re extraordinarily  strong - strong enough that some of them can support the weight of  fifty or more people at a time.

Bridges grown of tree roots.

The root bridges [of Cherrapunji, India], some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they’re extraordinarily strong - strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time.

Sex in modern music? IMPOSSIBLE.

Sex in modern music? IMPOSSIBLE.

Don Juan Pond, Antarctica.

In so many ways, Don Juan Pond in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica is one of the most unearthly places on the planet.  An ankle-deep mirror between mountain peaks and rubbled moraine, the pond is an astonishing 18 times saltier than  the Earth’s oceans and virtually never freezes, even in temperatures of more than 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. (http://geology.com/press-release/don-juan-pond/)

Don Juan Pond, Antarctica.

In so many ways, Don Juan Pond in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica is one of the most unearthly places on the planet. An ankle-deep mirror between mountain peaks and rubbled moraine, the pond is an astonishing 18 times saltier than the Earth’s oceans and virtually never freezes, even in temperatures of more than 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. (http://geology.com/press-release/don-juan-pond/)

Processed

I feel processed. Every interaction is bureaucratized or sanctified in some ritual. Or there’s someone around who will find a ritual that I’m contravening. Everything has a conspiracy to fit into. No movement is original. Every last twitch is precipitated by suggestion from an advert, friend, leader. Nothing new can happen. The morass of information presses originality out of any bit of content I produce. The originality seeps into the ground to be diluted into oblivion. If you look really hard with perhaps a microscope you may see it in the groundwater at a couple of parts-per-million, far outweighed by chlorine or just shit.