He: Accidental harm & love are not unlike time. We can look back & ahead only so far or so wide. Pleading anything more, successfully or not, is pretense, unavoidable though it may be.
* * *
I originally read your note in the dead of night, having awakened at 3 or 3.30 in search of a glass of water, and have ever since been toying with the notion of what happens to silent compliments — the ones stowed for later in the pocket, or under the hat for safe-keeping, or even under the ground for memorialized forgetting. The words not said, don’t the poets & mystics talk about how they’re the ones with the most power? But do words need to have power to act? I’m not sure.
Clumsiness, awkwardness, trains of thought that’ve skipped the tracks and emptied their cargo — compliments regrettably given, praise painfully accepted — these are the moments, the silences that aren’t the terminal sort for which poets & mystics clamor or yearn — that occur along the way … to what, exactly? … frustrating all our noblest intentions and greatest efforts — such as when you excitedly read aloud the most ‘beautiful thing ever’, whatever it is, to a kindred, and hear their coldness & inattention as you do; and, oh, you’re loathe to continue, but you do, and somewhere within (but not identifiably because) the persistence something happens — perhaps to neither of you — for you may remain disappointed and she bored — that redeems the frustration and inattention — that doesn’t change a person or circumstance so much as affirm and allow both — doors thrown open and welcomes met with wine — and upon reflection, maybe, sometimes, one of you, maybe neither, maybe somebody sitting nearby watching, is pleased to have bore witness.
* * *
Continue reading “Serialized Short Story, Conclusion: “I count myself as lucky if even this letter should find its destination.””
It began, this game of ours, innocently –
Did it not?
A private humiliation,
This, our affair, it lacked reciprocity.
Only the give, never the take, shall we say –
Of erotic provocation.
This was not ours.
We inhabited our little injustices, our fears and fucks,
Like they were bodies –
Never so much piled high, these, as they were flung low –
To the dingy proud and impoverished gluttons waiting to set upon
And devour them.
You say –
I left you alone.
I say –
I let you be.
The distinction, you claim, is more sadistic than a slap,
And this, I agree, may be so –
But no less true.
* * *
Continue reading “Serialized Short Story, Part 4: “I oblige, with needlessly reserved happiness.””
There is also a real need for the work one shares with others to be about more than the one who shares? For some this motivates political poetry (about people & systems). For others, religious verse (about practices & signs)? Or, still for others, like me, & I think you, to the necessity that a truly memorable writing is one that is so stylized & intentional that the author herself is lost within, but by no means vanished by, the language?
No, none of this should come necessarily at the loss of the writer, her identity, or luggage of issues, etc. When done well, shouldn’t it deepen their significance beyond the mildly therapeutic, if nevertheless flatulent, confines of “expressing yourself”?
* * *
Continue reading “Serialized Short Story, Part 3: “the mildly therapeutic, if nevertheless flatulent, confines of ‘expressing yourself’””
. . . the complexity of movement, and movement requires the sort of friction that will always rub somebody wrong. If there’s to be a real peace, of the sort you’re looking, surely it is as tentative as a handshake deal. When, whether as an achievement or a goal, has it not come without a boot on the back of somebody’s neck? Our sense of an ending comes too easily. Mourning and remembrance end long before our bodies do — our ashes burn longer. Even if your fundamentalists are right, it’s because our wicked ways are as fertile as our bodies, the wages of sin a hand-me-down prize, for the earth and its beasts. Even when these bodies and all that they carried within, . . .
* * *
3. an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
* * *
Continue reading “Serialized Short Story, Part 2: “the vicariousness of another’s remembrance””
Autumn fell into winter alongside the leaves, each shaken from their limbs, of time and trees, by a seasonable urgency few in these parts could recall. Winds that had upturned collars and hiked skirts outside shops soon broke branches in the park as a bully might twiggy arms. A pop overhead, and you had time to run for cover; a crack, but a moment to curse. Earth and leaf chased each other in circles, until they mounded in exhausted heaps along walls and fences. Office windows shut fast rattled erratically in their frames, sounding unscored compositions unfit for dance. But the city, from top to toe, it swayed; and the homes, they moaned and creaked, like a honeymoon suite.
The wind had the effect of making a jumble of things. Sixes toppled into nines, nines resigned to sixes, zeroes always the same. Addresses were renumbered or reduced to Cyrillic-seeming gibberish. What to do when numbers fail us? When jotted notes don’t match the present, scribbled memorials become inscrutable memories? Because we write these things down for a reason, and this reason is thought to survive the breath of thought more readily than it does the gusts of a gale. The page, though, turns out to be of sturdier stuff than we often imagine. It endures even when its sense is that of scattered letters, such as those blown from a desk to the floor: correspondence wind-swept and signed into the address of characters.
Continue reading “Serialized Short Story, Part 1: “Loose leaves fell together and scattered apart.””
As I mentioned in a post a few months back, I’ve been working the past couple of years at a independent bookstore in Oakland. While this has done wonders for keeping me up on new books, released & forthcoming, I’m becoming a little concerned my eyes for older titles — the stuff of dusty library discovery — is not quite what it was. Something to address, perhaps, in 2015.
Onward to the books! Continue reading “Annotated List of Books I Liked in 2014 (in no particular order)”
Unsurprising to the nice round number of zero, Adam made it known this week he is wary of protests. His post indicating as much is one-half cheek and the other half teeth. As it happens, his (& a good many of your) reservations squeakily hinged on the fact that protests too rarely work. We Leftist-intellectuals are a busy lot, after all, and good time management requires that we cut out the ineffectual fat from our schedules, to make way for retweeting memes and attending committee meetings. I popped up in the comments of Adam’s post, a resident, tolerated troll, objecting in my own opaque way. I thought I might elaborate with a short post. Continue reading “Should the spirit of protest occasion a crowd, far be it from me to be its exorcist.”
For the past year and a half or so I’ve been employed in a kind of noble profession, if such exist: selling books at a local independent bookstore. This is my story of things learned along the way.
Truth told, I was a little surprised I got the position. The job advert emphasized previous book selling as a prerequisite. While I had a year’s worth of such, it had been nearly fifteen years earlier. Following that, my job experience got a little weird & deeply unhelpful in terms of placing me professionally.* One of the owners was born & raised in Glasgow, Scotland, so I suspect my time spent there, conversational affection for Alasdair Gray, & anecdotes about getting in a fight following a Partick Thistle match helped. The lesson: embrace your odd-ball affections. Continue reading “Adventures in Bookselling: A Few Lessons Learned”
Hey, San Francisco Bay Area AUFS-ites, perhaps you’ve read my previous plugs for Allen C. Shelton’s book Where the North Sea Touches Alabama, and you thought to yourself, “My goodness, this Allen C. Shelton character sounds interesting. I’d sure love to meet him.” Well, August 18th will be your lucky day! He will be at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland, discussing said book — taking questions, telling stories, and maybe hints into his newest work — at 7 pm. Do come out. Yours truly will be there, and hopefully others. Adam K. will be there in spirit, fresh from his reading of the book (that makes it bona fide, right?).
Haven’t read it and are unsure if you’ll get a chance to do so before then? There’s always the wonderful book trailer for it. (I’ve never before, and don’t imagine I ever will again, be able to say that without soul-deadening sarcasm.)
This is ordinarily something I’d keep to my own private haunt, Departure Delayed, but today is too special a day for my understandably minuscule following there. The 90th birthday of a man, William H. Gass, whose writing I perhaps too slavishly adore, requires eyeballs, even if they are likely set to blink and quickly flit away.
I recorded a while ago this small section I still read, perhaps too often. It’s from Omensetter’s Luck, arguably Gass’ greatest novel, and is where Henry Pimber walks into the woods and names the trees, like the first goddamned, depressed Adam, bound for a hanging high, improbably high, in the trees.
And in that spirit, I re-post it here:
Should you feel so included, other Gass-related excerpts and adorations can be found elsewhere.
Oh, and yes . . . should you indulge in the vanity of Googling yourself, Mr. Gass, Happy Birthday.