Monday, December 17, 2012


A whole tubful of water down the drain and yes people are thirsty in Africa. Can we stop pitying Africa long enough to acknowledge that it's full of some great people and some shitty people just like everywhere and meanwhile elementary schoolers are being shot and we lament lament lament and never talk about the fact that kids die every day in Africa.

What I mean to say is that it matters every day. Today it matters just as much as it does tomorrow and four days ago. My heart squeezes squeezes works to keep, as their faces play across the screen hung from the ceiling while I run and go nowhere on a conveyor belt that goes nowhere it is surreal, blood pumping through.

What I mean to say is that it matters everywhere. What I mean to say is that love is important. I should love a man if he dedicated his life, the whole of it, to loving.

I have straightened the apartment, except for the dishes. This seems to be the way of it. It is growing late and my hair is wet and I am typing on someone else's computer. I will lie down soon, on the mattress, and my hair will be wet on the pillow and when I wake up the fabric and my cheek, whichever one I was lying on, will be damp. 

Once I awoke with twigs in my hair. Once they grew into a bird's nest. Pigeons fought there. I screamed, and plunged my head into the lake. Bloated feathers floated to the surface as I drowned. I dined on marsh grasses and green foam bubbling up from the sea.

Contort me blue crowels hammer ducts slamming into alpine poles and cumming. Crist my limbs and saw through half of my torso. Leave the rest to the birds.

Monday, December 10, 2012

(here is the only thing I can know)

Here is the only thing I can know: What I am experiencing, right now, in this moment.

Even that can be somewhat nebulous.

Right now there is a man wearing a flat brim hat that says "hustle". There is another man bent over tomato soup, toast, fried plantains. Still another man bows to me with makeup smeared across his face. Clothing dries on the rack. I finger a piece of plantain between my teeth. I have started flossing again.

A small boy is rolled into an Oriental rug. Men make jokes about molesting children. My mind works to determine if their tongues tip their cheeks.

What is my moral prerogative. There is a large hole in the right knee of my sweat pants, and also the left cheek. I am talking about my butt on public television.

We cut snowflakes out of construction paper. He coughs. We make popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave. His parents will ship us a tree.

Doesn't that require a lot of energy? Constantly I am assessing some thing versus another. Ecology versus Christmas spirit. I stand with both, though some days for one or the other.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

(I bite liquid and own your flesh)

Vodka takes to my veins. I eat grapes, roasted zucchini, chunks of ginger. I hold your face in my hands and I kiss it, squeezing. We were born from spiderwebs and the foam on the sea. Rivulets. Eddies.

Remember when we were walking. Stopped on bridge stone muck beneath our feet. Egrets once stepped here. Soon the waters will rise, footprints dissolve, mud fill our boots. They will take four days to dry on the cabin's porch. Even soaking in sunlight.

You ready the vapor. I hang scarves from the sofa, tuck plants into jars. I am not wearing underwear.

I am the believer. Vodka soaks through my canines. I bite liquid and own your flesh, the soft skin on the inside of arms.

I fell once, into the river. I had crossed four times with shaking success, heart spilling through my teeth, muscles clenching. Three feet from the bank the slipping, first the branch then body submerging, currents pack soaking through. I walked six miles to camp, laden with fishes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

(I take off my shirt in the light and stand naked in darkness)

I take off my shirt in the light and stand naked in darkness. It's because my elbow flipped off the switch.

I shower in mold, shaking.I don't care what you say I'm a writer. What do I know. I am wracked with ivy and dusk. Pigeons feast on my toes.

His hands, pumas, underneath my shirt. Claws retracted. This is the season of love.


Yesterday I was a pillar of bees, swelled with the confidence of stinging.

Today I ran four miles in the pouring rain for a moment faster than rivers decades beneath my feet.

I will write her a love letter.


He understood. The only way to rise is to first go down to the deep. He coughed on his back on the sidewalk, cocaine spit up on his lips.

My favorite movie in this entire world is It's All Gone Pete Tong. He punched that rabbit right in the face.

This violence was the most powerful expression of love his life has ever known. It will save him. Do not tell me things are "good." Not "bad."

I make my rhythms on the sea and ride the coattails of doves.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Here is the epiphany I had on the train, late, two nights ago. Sometimes I feel so connected to everything that I feel I am carrying every single ache suffered by every person and leaf and blind shrew shaking on this planet, and it is heavy heavy heavy and I am drowning. I carry these pains and they weigh on me, claw at my ankles, swallowing my lungs. Here is the epiphany part if I am the whole world and all of its pains (if I am not just a mass of ego and narcissism) then if I could figure out how to be happy even while feeling it all then I would be on to something truly revolutionary (and sometimes I am already; I am happy a lot of the time; I am a revolutionary). Then I got to thinking maybe that's the ticket: If every person on this planet could figure out how to be happy despite all the pain that they feel (we all feel), then we'd live in a world full of joyful people-- a joyful world.

It's overly simple, perhaps. It's not a new idea and it's one I've had before, but two nights ago it felt all over again like an epiphany. It all comes back to personal responsibility, as I've been thinking for a few years now. But then of course there's the small issue of being human, the fact that humans contain within us anger and filth and vicious, drunken outbursts from the gutter-- and this is no less who we are nor is it any less worthy of our consideration.

At any rate this evening I dined on rice cakes and salsa and cleaned the apartment but stopped before I washed the dishes. They will wait for another day.

There is a bug or perhaps a family of bugs (I have yet to determine) living behind the stove in the kitchen. So far I am slightly nonplussed when one or the other of them crawls across my fry pan where it sits on the front burner, but invariably the little critter makes the trek back behind the stove before I can find anything with which to entrap it. Besides if I put it outside will it die in the cold? Will it merely find its way back indoors, this time with a vengeance? Is there really anything wrong with sharing my kitchen with a bug or perhaps a family of bugs?

Monday, December 3, 2012


I do not understand on the level on which I take things personally. Beyond that I get it.

There is a fleck of melted chocolate on my left ankle, on my right wrist.

A teacher you've never heard of is changing the world.

I want to be less fluttery than I, often, am. than I often am.

I will take my courage from Nicholas, who bows his head and places his hands in prayer and says, with gentleness and conviction, thanks

someday I want to work in prisons and domestic violence shelters and elementary schools and I want to teach people about poetry. I want to bring people paper and pencils and say, let's go exploring.

somewhere, over the rainbow

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I am hugely disturbed by TV babies designed as if they spoke like adults. "We don't know how to talk about children any more." 

Today was a good day, whatever that means.

I would like to learn to play the harmonica. I also want to stun people with my voice and a guitar. Sometimes I am driven by ego. Then I feel proud of myself for being aware of the times when ego drives me. Then I have to laugh because this pride also comes from my ego. If I keep breathing for long enough I will touch for a moment that place where I do not feel pride or shame, only love.

When I was in Guatemala I was very sick with a lot of things and I lived in a small concrete room with a thin hard mattress and no windows. I didn't go out late at night because of the men who followed and grabbed at me as I walked faster back toward my room, so I went home after school or after meeting a few friends in a cafe or at the place that sold large bowls of papaya for less than three dollars. I would close the door to my room so people couldn't see me from the courtyard and then I would read and when I couldn't read any more I would write. As I wrote I would grow more and more aware of how sick I was, how scared and alone, and so I would write, over and over again in that paper-blue journal, that I was immersing myself in the river of lovingkindness, that this river is the truest part of this world, that I was surrendered to it and embraced by it and that there was no need to be afraid because I was part of the river, and the river is nothing but love.

I wrote it until I believed it, and then I would fall asleep.Sometimes I remember this river, swimming in it, but I have never been so aware of it as when I lived in that small concrete room with no windows and a thin hard mattress. Also in Guatemala I bought a colorful tapestry from a small Mayan woman and taped it to the concrete wall, the nearest thing to sunshine. I saw her at least five more times while I lived in that country, each time in a different town, an unexpected corner of the city. We would chuckle and smile and shake our heads in disbelief, unorchestrated companions.

Yesterday for the first time since they were put to sleep I cried for my two old dogs, for how young they once were and how young I was when I first held them. They were good dogs, loving and loyal, who would sit with me on the stairs every time that I cried. And such personalities!

Now I am drinking seltzer with fat hunks of frozen mango in it and I am writing after a whole day spent outside, and really I am leading a wonderful life; I am grateful; I am awash with love.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I will leave you all behind, and then where will you be? I will enter this here growth of weeds and disappear forever. -zz packer

I go walking. It takes the first forty minutes for me to remember that I like my own company. I haven't been alone in so long.

At the bank, the man standing in line in front of me waves me ahead of him. At first I am touched by his kindness, then worried that in truth he was avoiding the teller with a shawl wrapped over her head. He chats heartily with the other teller as she counts out his cash; perhaps they are old friends. I deposit my check and leave, purposefully winding through the display of christmas trees on the sidewalk, inhaling. 

One mile to the park. A man stares at me at the intersection, says hello with an eager, unintelligible smile. I say good morning and step onto the grass. This is where people bring all of their leaves-- black garbage bags stuffed and swollen, lining the paths. I wonder whose job it is to open them.

It is a miracle that in this over-populated city I am alone in this park. Or at least that I am alone in this section of this park, which is enough for me. It is enough that my eyes pass over mounds of grass and sparsely planted trees and that I see no one, not even the squirrels, and today I do not miss them.

I pass close to the trees and then of course I walk downhill to the water. The river runs high, not angry but anxious, waiting to see if it will storm. I press my hands into the cold metal railing and lean out as far as my body will follow me, feet rising off the sidewalk. Thick layers of broken glass cover the bank's pebbles, greens and blues and browns clanking rhythmically against the large concrete barrier extending from the bank up to my feet. I lock eyes with the seagull standing on a wet rock beneath me. It looks away, regally, and moments later takes flight. I watch as it loops under a pack of its squealing counterparts, ready to catch whatever is dropped in the fray.

An aging man has joined me at the railing, perhaps a body's length away from me. We both watch the water, the sky, the bridge shaking as a train rumbles over it, an airplane flying away. I do not resent his company, nor encourage it. So many times have I thought I was sharing silent companionship with an unknown man, some depth of understanding, only to have him say something about my ass and what he wants to do with it as I walk away. I do not want to make assumptions.

I pass back under the trees. Someone has left seed for the pigeons. Hundreds of them, perhaps, beaks snapping at the dirt, so absorbed in feasting that few even register my footsteps as I pass by. I am grateful; I am, not entirely but to enough of an extent, scared of birds. Not birds themselves, perhaps, but their movements: Unpredictable, dirty wings thwacking. Earlier I watched as a sparrow was grabbed by the wind, caught and twisted and nearly thrown against my cheek.

I walk to the pharmacy. I tell the man I am from Pennsylvania; he asks if I'm Amish. No, I say. But I get asked that a lot. How many children do I have? he asks, nodding at the bottle of baby lotion on the counter. None, actually. I just have sensitive skin. Then he tells me that on account of my childbearing age I should get a flu shot that doesn't contain mercury. I do not tell him that I have never had a flu shot in my life, that I do not intend to. Instead I say Huh, I wasn't aware that traditional flu shots did contain mercury. He nods his head emphatically.

I am cold, finally, and not at all hungry though it has been hours since that bowl of oatmeal I microwaved this morning. I walk another mile to the apartment and take my boots off inside the door. I open the bottle of baby lotion and rub it over and over again into the backs of my dry hands, and give thanks for still being alone.