this is from a year or two ago
Jean is a character in something that I'm writing. This is about her.
wanted to try uploading some photos. I took all of these along the Camino de Santiago, which I recently walked (from Burgos to Santiago de Compostela).
lost fields are coming back to me.
they were moors, where wind turned the brown grass
into a sea hidden between the docks of the trees.
I wore my red fleece that smelled like a damp sheep
and hay and the rubber boots from the bottom of the closet.
that path wound and circled and spun through the fields
and the clouds dimmed.
the path was frayed by stiff dry grass
and dying pussywillow along the sad edge Read more »
let’s write a story about cats
because we saw two cats today.
they were kicking up dust and running in circles,
chasing their tails in mobius strips of life.
one of the cats was old. its eyes were yellow
and cracked with dirty veins and years under the porch
and it limped in its infinity-sign run.
the other cat had pumpkin pie eyes and it was
spiky and wild like the scribbles on a seismograph. Read more »
I want to grow giant pumpkins, the kind that they show at the late-summer fairs.
I want to have a garden with a tangled wall of vines that are
layered into hedges and forests and walls, as if there was a castle nested inside,
a castle where everyone slept through the chilled autumn nights
while the wind blew leaves across their legs
and the moon was a pumpkin in the sky.
But there would be no castle, just a pumpkin, a pumpkin that
grew great and wide, a pumpkin that pushed and shoved and grew so big
and so bright that it could reflect the sun at night. And they'd say,
oh look, our earth has two moons now,
and one of them has fallen down.
I might take my pumpkin and carve it into a coach,
but then it would be hollow and the wind would howl through its windows
and dry it, break it, crack its ornamented edges as the nights wore on.
So I will leave my pumpkin as a castle-shape,
and it will rot in the autumn moonlight
and the ghosts will dream inside its walls, Read more »
so didn’t you feel a little lonely on the
fall afternoons when school was over,
when you sat by the edge of the parking lot
on the wet wood bench - the tears cut
cold and horizontal along the veins.
you could hear echoes of bells bells bells -
you know, the tintinnabulation that makes a
clamor and a clangor that so softly sadly swells.
there were dead leaves of poems, ripped Read more »
when I move
the cities will move too,
tied like puppets to my
I will stir up the plates
and mix the food irregular,
pour sun with water and
apartment floors and make
a soup of your pastry
smoky lives that are
run by clocks.
Read more »
I need to take a spice boat on the
winds painted yellow by an undiluted
orange sun and loose saffron and
scraps of cinnamon and silk.
there will be a dragon in my
hold and he will eat men and
he will be the color of rotting
kelp and have an eye like
faded silver fish, died and dried
on the flat wood. I want to Read more »
It's been close to two weeks since I finished, and I feel a bit twitchy, a bit unsatisfied, a bit lonely. You hear this from pilgrims sometimes – that at the end of the Camino, you just don't know what to do with yourself. That was how I felt, sitting at that cafe in Santiago with a young chaperone and a fifty-two year old woman from California and an old Spanish man with a cane. I felt like I had to keep going.
I still don't know exactly why I walked the Camino. It's too complicated. I walked because my school offered the opportunity, I suppose. I wanted to see Spain. I want to see the world, more than anything. I want to explore it and see all these little crannies and corners that are someone else's normal. I don't want to travel as much as I want to live in these places, to find the crowds of a city or the sound of a river normal so that I have really truly experienced them. I wanted to learn and speak the languages and live on a road.
I want to taste Finisterre but not
like a Lady of Shalott.
I want to throw my arms
wide on the rocks and scream
and cry into the ocean tears that
this world is mine and now I will
wear bright painted wooden bracelets and
rings and earrings over
my washed-out gray skin and eyes and
I don’t want to pull rue and Read more »
The top floor of this wide church is tall and
soft and echoey and haunted, bare stone cold
except for the curly haired woman in the
corner with the clink clink keys.
she smiles kind of bored kind of wistful.
the ceiling is wide arching big cracked sky blue
curled coiled twisted overdone, and there is
air in the lonely vacuum pockets
in the room’s clouds, but the
real clouds are on the ground, Read more »
Yesterday, I was in a little supermarket just up the hill from where we were staying. We were in a town in Galicia called Portomarín that leans over the reservoir that flooded its old buildings, but the people moved the church up out of the old town and put it at the top of a new hill. It seemed that everything in the town was up stairs or up a hill, away from the water. My feet hurt. In the mirrored wall of the supermarket, I paused to stare at myself. My hair was a long fizzy frizzy cloud, brown and curly, not styled but uncontrolled, like sheep wool. I wore a purple-pink dress from the sporting goods store, and under it I wore puffy olive green pants. I wore several necklaces and wooden rings and the same earrings that I'd worn all month. My face was red - my nose was burnt and peeling - and my arms were tan. I held a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo, and a box of granola bars. On my feet were pink plastic flip flops. I had vicious white blisters on my heels. I thought that I looked like an adventurer, a traveler who could cross the wheat fields where the sun broke across my face like a shattered egg and left me burnt and angry. I thought that I looked like I could walk for thirty kilometers and then go out shopping for food and soap. I felt tough and experienced. And then it rained today, for the first time. If my flip flops could talk, they'd resent that I wore them for the last few kilometers into Astorga on the sharp rocks and dusty soil. I wore them down and stained the bottoms gray. Read more »
so we need cherries.
lots and lots of bursting cherries in big broken
wooden boxes with bone marrow pits -
and we need crisp cut bright apples
and dark dark grapes that bleed thin
wine on our fingertips - and hot food
from far far far away that burns our purple fingers - and jars
of layered jam, blocked and locked in bubble glass -
and we need children that
grab for sun-colored peaches and streak
juice down their chins and smudge
ice cream on their shirts and stick
to the walls and soccer balls
and dogs - and we need
trees over the apples and glassy
jam and sticky children, planted
at odd intervals to speckle the
sidewalks with sun and bits of
spilled stars at the right season -
and we need snow in the summers,
powdered sugar piles on the pastries -
and tangly irregular posters near twisty
tunnel bookstores, the kind with
cats, and places that sell cookies
and coats and cellos and songs in
other languages, humming out in the streets -
so we need music, the soft guitar and
violin type, with lyrics that twist
like poetry but fast enough
that children can dance and run in circles -
and we need new red red cherries when the
old ones turn burst brown and cracked in the sun.
you didn't drink from the gray-black iron fountain with
two handles, one red one blue but
the blue one didn't work and the red one sprayed
ice water everywhere. you didn't drink on the roadside by the
rocky wide field, where they sang quick songs in French, the
four women and a whitebearded man bent by their
packs. we ate candy and spilled it in the sun
and my red glassy gummy bears
drowned in the muddy dark chocolate soil and
it boiled and cooked like our skin and
our day-burnt legs were sprayed by the
soda fizz water.
we knew people and
everyone came past, through, near the fountain.
the Spanish man with the full white beard and the
red red face waved as he passed and
the Australians stopped to talk and drink and
kick dust on our ankles, and you
didn't drink on the outside of the
little town with cracked pastel murals and
mud walls and the word "bar" painted in
big black letters on the pavement. I was
as dry and tired as the crisp cracker-colored wheat
and my throat was cracked and songless,
graham cracker tongue and the candy was
drowned but you didn't drink because the
ground was dirty and the sun that
fried the gummy bear and our burnt faces
paled the music, you said, and the wheat was
too wide and the fountain too simple small hardly
mattered at all, just a lost broken oasis
gone to seed and broken by too many different
blistered footsteps and songs.
Note (would be italicized if I could figure out how): I am spending a month in Spain currently, and I'm spending most of that month walking 300 miles across the north of the country on the Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James), which is an ancient pilgrimage road. I've been doing a lot of writing along the way... I've brought a notebook that is slowly but steadily filling. In the next month, I'll probably post some of that writing (mainly songs and poetry) upon occasion.
I have stinging nettle tans today,
scratched red and blotched like
spilled raspberry tea, and I am
sunburnt to the ankles and walking on
white numb ghost feet. I am
scraped and needled with pink
ink, I wear these tattoos all the way
through to my blood. I have
this grass burnt into my veins
and there are wheat-prick
twists on each full wall,
graffiti in my muscles, dirtied
words and dirty roads in my
bones, but it's bright but it's light like the
sun like the sun like the sun.
I am going to miss the blueberries this year. They're
green and hard on the bushes, angry tart little
eyeballs. They are watching the chickens,
beady sour buttons.
I'm going to miss the blueberries this year, when they
turn blue (veined with purple blood) and smear their mashed
green insides all over our hands,
ripe eyes watching the chickens,
very heavy, very tired. I'm going to miss the blueberry eyes
rolling across the floor this year,
ground into the carpet and our feet,
sticky splatted eyedrops.
The blueberries are going to watch me from across the ocean
this year and the grass will grow high and wispy and weave
through their bushes but I won't see.
When I get on the plane tomorrow and
the grasses wrap around my ankles, I'm going to break them and
they'll be waving, lost in the ocean's kelp, but the blueberries will follow me
out across the north of Spain, glaring as they
turn to cold-blooded blue and
asking where I am.
and this is how life should be spent,
talking about magic until late at night and
making wishes on the clocks
and writing stories.
when the world ends,
I want someone to think
just for a second
while the earthquakes crumble
and the skies collapse
that I lived in a dance
and I danced on rooftops
and major chords
and slow slow minor chords in a
and I danced late at night
when the clocks broke
and the stars were wild through the ceiling.
I'm a ghost guard on all our memories, my dear,
sitting up late with my fat warm glass of pink lemonade
and your name in my eyes and your songs in my voice, flaking onto the pages.
I'm going to stand sentinel on all these years, way back
through orange crocheted circle moons on orange buses that
burnt us, matted music knotted through our hair and eyes and lips and voices,
crisscrossed chords dyed together, all the same smudged blurred colors
that we painted every thread.
I can timeline our knitted lives, way back to that one October night
when we met, snaking through second after second after second until
now, the time when it all knits together and unravels, all at once in
frayed loud songs across the graduating sky and you
right behind me, singing again. I will stand sentinel to these years because
they happened, my dear, they happened.
We are molting tangled yarn songs because we have sung a lot of them.
There's nothing wrong with a little dissonance,
rasped wrecked throats sandpapering ghost
songs that break necessary glass bottles like
splatted spiders underfoot on the streets,
run flat and ground in by the cars,
fossilized into the pavements, made to
bend and break – like Jacob Marley's
miserly Christmas hymns, because he
paid with all his money. There's nothing wrong with
violins with the tuning pegs screwed off,
screwed screwed screwed tangled bent
strings in a tumbleweed nest, rolling down the perfect
plastic shopping aisle and grabbing for the cereal with
wire octopus hands.
There's nothing wrong with a little
dissonance, banged up broken up
hammered up smashed organ strings
still singing underfoot like
the fautlines placed a call
and ordered something shook
up and off-kilter and surreal. Let's
let our skies be run by mixed up music
and plate tectonics.
Some nights in the bow of the lilac tree
my love on the wind-breath comes to me
he asks, why is the world so round and so wide,
marred by the voices and scarred by the tide
and scarred by the pull and the grin of the moon
and the fanciful dance of a dish and a spoon.
He sings me a poem of a traffic light
and the moon and the star-sky lost in its night.
Some nights in the bow of the lilac tree,
a dance in a party dress comes to me
it asks, why are their arms so loose and so tied
and why won't the bridegroom dance with the bride
and why are there lyrics ground into the mud
and why won't the microphones spell the word love
and why don't the girls in the lilac trees
go scream to their song and make it change key.
Some nights in the bow of the lilac tree,
the first of a snowstorm comes to me
with words of betrayal laced in its tongue
with kisses in gardens that rip things undone.
Why do the nightmares live in the roofs,
why do the dead leaves live in the truths.
Why are there poems to the young and the old
and none to the touch and the eyes of the cold.
Some nights in the bow of the lilac tree,
no person, no person comes to me.
Tell me why the newspapers cry,
tell me where all the footsteps lie.
Why does the end of the sky melt away,
carrying hours and carrying days.
And the wind whips the leaves and the limbs and they bend
and no one explains when love stories end.
my clarinet is how I scream rhyme, I choke up on heavy hard
reedy low notes and I make them wail, I make them dance dangerously
out-of-control in the wild mist by the fields in the summer dusk,
feverishly foreshadowing like when Tess sees Angel Clare, that
uncomplicated man in the dizzy starry bare feet on grass – but
they don't dance, they don't dance and we all know what comes next,
we study and the pages flip and rip and careen out of tune, out of step.
my clarinet accompanied in the dark echos of the hills stretching
through the pages through the darkness to the end.
I spit sharp staccato, I will wail all the stories I've ever read
over the break up into the sound of screaming birds and beyond,
down, down, arpeggios breaking across my fingers my clarinet is
my voice and I will ask you questions, I will echo to the echoed room
why do we live on a blighted star, why do we live on a blighted star
ears beat notes heavy with words unexpressed unpossessed
empty from the books I read in school,
empty with ripped up music in the crow-voice I can't write can't sing.
This is what heartbreak tastes like:
like flat dripped dust dirt road under
bare brown feet calloused crisped by sun with
open window ripping tearing
lion hair wild as car climbs flies
down dizzy twisted roads beating wind back,
slices of lovely lemon cake leaning four layers up
collapsing with cream and
(showing off their
green insides like lobsters).
Tennyson tripping tightrope on the tongue
segmented school-learned puzzle-piece punctuation
singing ringing ringing.
This is what heartbreak tastes like:
too many words all too long all too lonely,
glasses under night sky so the sharp stars pinpoint like a science
licorice wind leaning on the window with
a wandering train ghost wailing as the people fly by, sail by,
leaving haunted hills behind.
This is what heartbreak tastes like:
(moldering maudlin memories mutiny)
empty hallways squared into segments,
paper snowflakes serene sad sliding into
summer so the sun can see them,
lovely lemon cake
smeared sad cream collapsed, blueberries
inside out left on a yellow paper plate
(not a snowflake).
I live in a rainforest on a ripped dirt road in a
cloudy mountain bowl.
The edges are spilling over with cotton candy fog,
sweet and hot and sticky. It clings to my hair.
The canopy hugs the road in a twisted tunnel of raindrops
and tiny muddy rivers
and broken branches, bright light vibrant green leaves mosaiced in
layers and layers of levels, brushing, whispering complexities and untruths. I can
hear the feet of birds, I have stumbled out of the tumbling arches where
trees breath tears and fresh leaves into a jungle of wet grass and
white heavy fog that settles in my eyes and hair. I live in a rainforest where the
sky leans down and the ground reaches up and the people have limbs that tangle with
leaves. I live in a rainforest on a ragged dirt road that wraps around the gray-hill bowl.
There are clouds in my eyes and dreams in the sky and leaf-like birds in my hair.
time is a flighty shaky wreck
and the glass years break over our heads and we
dance in the shards of what could-have-been-
so now we fall off the edge of the world into the stormy
windowpane unknown, diplomas and loose ends,
that edge that never comes never comes never comes –
and then it comes.
Let's burn bridges as the days
like a broken clock with
tangled round and round your feet,
wiry tumbleweed twisted up in
knots of hours.
Let's dissect the clocks,
pull the minutes apart by the gears and
play frisbee – watch out for
Did you know that
clock slices are aerodynamic?
When you kick them apart, you can make them
fly like the paper planes you fold.
Let's burn bridges and
take apart the clocks,
broken tick tock,
halting seconds fading yellow,
bright wire all tangled up in the
firelight and blue light,
unwound clocks and sunlight.
It's a new year outside and the air tastes like
treetops and laundry and wind and cotton clouds. Can you feel
all the escaped shadows that climbed out of their dusty cardboard boxes
and were beat into breeze with a broom on the porch? Their eyes and their
cloudy gray skin wash across the winding cities, draining down pipes and
between concrete cracks. The wind's hands will pull their crumbled shadow arms
in the dizziest dance they're ever known, around trees and boys and girls with
sun-bright hair. It will be a mad frenzy of dusty feet and frayed notes.
The wind breathes light and clean and warm, and let's forget,
let's forget, let's cut up cardboard shadows and fall in love. Let's pick up
a ripped brown leaf and a dead green leaf and let them fly, let's taste the sun and
breathe the sky.
So we know each other like rain knows rain –
it runs together and drains across the sad slanting streets
and slips under black shined shoes and red sharp heels
and black skies with black umbrella flowers sparking over
brisk words and slapslap shoes, unfurling like pop-up book pages.
We are old cold rain showers that bring up bent spring flowers in
white cracked plastic window boxes against flat cold windows.
We know the cracks in the bricks like our fingernails – we hold hands
with the brick too and we soak the flat cigarettes and crumpled papers with
blurred and crying names, playbills for forgotten love stories and
echoed songs. We are the late winter smell of melting snow and dirty earth
and automobiles that spray the streets with mud and bleary horns in the early morning.
We know the words of the old playbill songs with the smudged-out names
and we sing them to the foundations of buildings. We have disjointed, whisper voices,
whisper voices, ghost throats and ghost eyes. So we are the streets that fold back and forward
and soak up tears and soak up screams and soak up sun and soak up dreams,
so we are the anachronism of the year because we crawled out of the gutters when they were
laying them down and asked for stories and the sky said no no no
and rained on us. And we melted into snowdrifts and back again, curling like book pages
through the rains as wars fought and wars fled. Our voices are soft, we don't need analysis,
we are sharp gravel and soft rainy laughter. We are the ghosts of ghosts.
I'm in a technicolor world,
and all I've see
and all I've heard
are bits of painted photographs
and tie-dyed hair
and tie-dyed laughs
with all the paints and faces swirled.
And all the fates come running in
and all the tie-dyed, plastic grins
with sung and painted words and dreams
make a discontented din and scream and scream and scream and scream,
violin screams and scratched photo dreams,
dear dear –
and did you hear and did you hear
about the tissue paper storm with
big long words and all those forms – lets
call them up and leave a name and
tell them we are not the same, tell them
we will come to claim the fragments of the
open stage that we will raise and we will raze and
paint with all our glory days –
and did you hear and did you hear
that love is now a little part,
the sum of all our tie-dyed art and we will make a statue now
from paint and trees and boughs and bows and tape it to the
theater wall and sing to it until it falls and call it
Icarus, dear dear, let's be profound so they can hear,
let's leave our statue on the floor before it's Art because it's more
because it's Love, it's Love, it's Love
it's walls that break and walls that shove – the scrap of a pretentious
scream, the scrap of a pretentious scream.
dear dear dear dear dear dear dear
so did you did you did you hear
that all our deadlines are coming soon and then we'll have to
build a room out of our bits of paper art, with
harpsichords and painted hearts, drowned in technicolor ink
and dancing shoes and kitchen sinks. Let's paint our film with Read more »
So the dark sky swallows my arms and my hair as I step outside –
the air is the temperature of inside or of my thoughts or of my blood and so
I belong in it. I belong in this mess of darkness,
this black fog that tastes like watery ground, almost like I'm out on the
romanticized windswept moors – but I'm not, I'm not. The rain is warm – the
same temperature as my blood, as my blood, and the trees are tangled talons,
clawing the sky, crying, because there are no stars tonight, no stars tonight,
and the moon has fallen off the murky map. Tonight is black as
those creeping corners of your conscience that you lock away; pure, liquid,
mad mad memory – warm, like your blood, tucked away inside your
veins. Tonight is the wild spring night that I wrap my arms in
lovely lonely wind and think – I think about everything and everything because
nothing is real and it's one of those nights when you remember all the
little snippets that you meant to lock up forever.