We who have each other’s backs

Here’s a little thing I wrote this morning, a silly-sweet ode to my friends. To friendship, I suppose. (maybe fiendship, haha.)

Comrades in arms

We’re a cartoon parade
a platoon
volatile and jolly.
A second line, a peanut gallery
sporting rotten things—
vim and vitriol,
endless collaborations
of mockery and
gentle mean-spiritedness.
A swirling whirl,
bright splinters and barbs;
elaborate scenarios
that populate and escalate
’til we start to believe
and reference—
like realities, histories.
So clever,
our double-edged laughter.
Ballistics and armor;
one stop shop.

Nooks and crannies,
foxholes fill with casualties.
We toss grenades
and broken glass
to make us squeal,
delighted.
No longer aware
what we were tearing
down, or why—
strangers overhearing
think us bloodthirsty and awful,
and we are– but
not in the ways they think.
Deadly fictions, yet soft.
Inflated and flocked.
Anyway they’re for us, not you
so fuck off.

When it gets late
our pack thins to a pair.
We sit in the glow of one lamp.
Ceasefire;
that other mode,
the one where you feel–
lowers the wick
so you can hear better,
listen closer.
The laughter
(our secret language)
is a bond—
but more important
are the pebbles
we remove
from each other’s boots,
when the killing’s done
and the blood is drying on our blades.

Change, spare and otherwise

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Like some day in early January, it’s one of those days I want to delete half of what I own. Easily half of of it wouldn’t be missed; things in closets, stored away in boxes. The boxes themselves. Things collected against a possible future use.

But so much of it is pointless. A strategic purging is required, and more time-consuming than the initial hoarding. The sorting, deciding what stays and what goes. Editing always takes longer than the initial act of creation.

Sifting through the past— evidence of erstwhile trials and triumphs. Manifestos are easily written or memorized, but not so easily absorbed. Adaptation is slow and happens day-to-day.

It’s boring.

Few things become ingrained that were intentional. Most patterns are the result of things repeated thoughtlessly, and repetition is the way things become elemental or inherent. Change takes discipline. Deliberate awareness and deliberate practice. Constant reminders.

It’s hard.

Before you know it a third of a year has gone by, and everything is still scattered. The call to arms is buried beneath the sound of the coffee maker, traffic, overheard voices, whatever’s on your screen. It’s drowned out by distractions— you have to want to hear it.

Distractions steal focus. I start a million projects and finish few. I finish ones with deadlines, mainly, and almost none are deadlines I set for myself. It’s too easy to ignore those ones anyway. Therein lies the problem: lack of discipline. It’s partly rooted in fear. Friends are sweet and remind us not to be too hard on ourselves, but there can be such a thing as being too forgiving of one’s self.

This is where the desire to purge comes from: a desire to eliminate noise; destroy everything that was started then left as an ellipsis for some other [fictional] time. They pile up like the things in the closet, everything fitted together in an impenetrable wall of Tetris blocks. You don’t even know what’s in there anymore, and don’t want to look for fear of being crushed by it. Fear causes inaction.

Maybe just lay some explosives and blow it up wholesale.
(But that would be too easy.)

A walking tour: Chelsea to South Slope

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Work took me to the isle of Manhattan today. As the meeting was in Chelsea, I availed myself of the opportunity to walk the High Line. A fine afternoon for it, though I wished awfully I had dressed more appropriately for the [delightful] heat. Happy tourists; many languages overheard.
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003004I took a lot of photos. It’s what I do anyway, but at this point I’m practically a tourist myself in the big town. I tend to stick around Brooklyn a lot.

Everywhere is under construction. This city is forever shedding its skin.

005A long stroll south on Hudson Street, then inland, and through TriBeCa.  (Avoid the hydra of traffic all round the Holland tunnel; 3:30 is rush hour on a summery Friday; mass exodus.)
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City Hall. A tangle of angry motorists with their fists on their horns. Cacophony! A thousand arguments for public transport right there.

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009The perennial wind crossing Whitman’s beloved bridge is welcome today. And, observe: this curious Parisian custom has followed Lady Liberty across the Atlantic.
010012Ten or so miles to arrive back in my neighborhood, with slightly aching feet. (Why spend 45 minutes on the train when you could spend three hours on foot, seeing so many neighborhoods and people out and about?)

More empires and ruins

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I’ve been absent here recently! I was working on a piece about composition (generalized ideas that relate to any art), but it’s still scattered. So here’s a different thing I’ve been ruminating on.

A friend and I were volleying poems to read, and perhaps a week later I dashed out the skeleton of this late one evening. Like all art, it’s never finished, but I’ve decided to stop editing it (for now).

 

Noble Rot

Something in the air shifts,
and I lie down with the cows before the rain arrives.
It isn’t barometric.
I think it came from my parents
or my brothers; the farm—
the horses, the fields,
maybe the silent scheming cats.

It cuts things up in my head
before they’ve fully formed.
It’s some soothsayer who wasn’t invited,
holding out an empty glass.

I sense the falling of empires
before they’ve finished laying the roofing tiles.
Or maybe I cause the falling.
Or maybe it was rain, ill-timed.

Sometimes you meet people who are fluent.
When that happens things get built, or repaired.
It’s rare.
(The building is my favorite pasttime.)

Ruins are more common; procedural.
Diplomacy can exacerbate it,
but rarely speeds it.
Noble Rot, then grey rot.

A few stars wink into the sky,
I see them in the shapes between buildings.
Hints at some other brightness.
That’s an optimistic way of seeing;
city people are familiar—

Small spaces breed optimism,
like the hidden room we’ve all dreamt—
You find some overlooked part of the apartment,
filled with space
or whatever you’re missing.

Then you wake up.
And you make the coffee,
and get on with what space you have.

 

(And, naturally I’ve edited it twelve more times since I pasted it into this post.)