Thursday, November 27, 2008

At Table


My God, how long

has it been?

Drinking strong


thinking wrong.

Let me cut you a

deal. You take

this hand, I'll pay


But listen: next time,

warn me. I'll fold.

Do you know, how long

it has been?

I've been taking small

doses, getting rich

fat elbows.

Probably they're


with this table's edge.

This wine's a good

vintage, have you seen

the grapes?

Bigger than life, been growing

in this hothouse


My God. How long

has it been?

If you're going to dig up

this seed,

you might need

a thicker spade.


Concubines. Ever thought

of those?

What is this, why do

you give me this—smell it, it's

fragrant.....Taste it,

it's good.

What did you expect--


Charity loaves. You rub it in

our faces, and what can we do

but eat?


All right, I'll pay. But don't think

you own me;

nothing's free.

Oh, no. You're not unearthing

old wounds tonight,

I said I'll pay.

It doesn't matter how long.

I'll pay.

You know how

this will end,

don't you.

I'll go to bed with you,

next morning I'll

be back here.

What does it


to break a heart?

Think about it:


Friday, October 10, 2008

Emily in sleek Shakespeare, intertwined with tufts of Blake

O Emily
of fire

veriest haven

of contentment

To be
O Emily
that does not question

whether 'tis nobler in the mind
but sleeps--perchance, she dreams

and, unsupposing--ends them
aye, there's the rub
the consummation Emily, too, has wished

When we have shuffled off
she licks her paws. There's the respect--
that makes her portent Emily of life

when she herself might our quietus make
with a mere shifting

Now is the winter of our discontent made summer by
this Emily--a spark, a sprite
in the closets of the night

But Emily is shaped for sportive tricks
O Emily--a wanton ambling nymph,
O Emily, fur-tailed, of fair proportion

what,immortal Emily
thou framed in gleeful witchery

who spied
her shadow
in the sun

and made of it imaginary puissance
that did affright the air

admit me Chorus to this Emily

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

We are blood and

Jesus, firstborn, loved

................and hated

You were first--tempted, untainted
Sorrow-filled--with grief acquainted

You were first...Innate
Weighty call
..............................too distant

Darkness threads our weave
my brother
Broken-tied to grief
my father
Soak it with your sleeve
my lover


Here we flee
..our revolutions
Of redemption....--all for nothing

(Cursed, I never tried own it.)
Cursed and
Atone it--Firstborn, make your love pierce...We
crave your bloody,

Monday, June 09, 2008


It matters, here
On this crowded bus
where humanity touches
and is of necessity

It matters, these nights I
do sleep,
when I do not leap at slight
when I--breathe,
and softly.

It matters, in the dark
when you--forgive me
By day, when I
am not tormented

By this which matters,
and that matter which--
and matter, matter, madder---.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

a sample

And how sweet it is to subtly


and from behind the scenes

scent the warmth

of the unaffected, undirected, unassuming

And how warm it is to forget


and blended with the wall

pen in hand

watch the kindling flames of my living kindred

And how many years to gently


and gentlier remake

paper ties

those first-born, pre-forged—into this bond of

(burdened, burnished)

death and life—how

full of burning glory and

sweet-brimming mercy

love, God; enough,

Enough! for

the world

and you pour

a sample into

my own, poor, withered, sullen,

heart. It beats. And what--

Did I say—did I say---O!

I told you it was worthless, this love

that it was wasted on worms

that you should take it

and bleed on another's grave

to make them clean

and thus, succinctly, effectively


my birthright

Did I say—did I step—O!
With my unholy shod feet

on your ravaged dead body

to pretend it never happened

that I was not responsible,

and therefore could not profit

like the rest

of the world

Because, naturally, you did it for love alone

There was no obligation. Did I sin?

Well, I can't help that. Don't love me, then.

Didn't I tell you they tortured me?

Aren't you to blame for that?

Or isn't that to blame for everything?

Didn't I tell you--

that I was not responsible,

and therefore could not profit

like the rest

of the world

Did I—Did I say—O.

You hold that foot of mine

Like Jacob, like Achilles

So that when I turn away (perpetually, invariably)

I twist and spin

Back to you at the zenith of tension

With a dislocated hip

and untold blessing

Friday, May 09, 2008

Relic of my Reclusive Friday Delvings into Postmodern Philosophy. Nature of Delvings: Flann O' Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds

It's bloody difficult, I think

to think postmodernly,

with each translucent blink

of life-hypocrisy.

all intellect is only ache

preponderous with lies

so gentlemen, partake

my cake of sophistries.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bemoaning Insufficiency

Yesterday, on a whim,

Off the oft-beaten path,

I met a bohemian crew.

I had known them before—

no, not them, but their like—

in those days of the corner-hid you.

You were quiet, reserved,

Unobtrusive, resigned

That this transient, lucid array

Would never admit you

one sliver of gold

Would elude your perception alway

Sweet the laughter, rung clear

through that house once a year--

So you stretched a pretentious domain--

I had known them before

You had known them, and o

even since, we are awkwardly plain.

Tell the grand happenstance

Feverish Spain romance

of the boils of pestilent sleep

she is searching, and see,

it is piercing for me,

one whose plumbings are not very deep

I can see her espy

through one half of one eye

Every twist of the pencilate curl

I deny for the nonce

that she knew me at once,

she the faraway intimate girl.

Could we face her again

Face the crew of them, there

Having nothing so little as we

Track their fingers through dust

Of our mindless mistrust

In which lock we have broken the key...

And unsure, o unsure

how to ache and endure

the exposure of infinite lack

all my life all my song

is invalid and wrong

no such person as you, take it back--

take it back--

take it back.

Take it back.

I want somebody new.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some thoughts should be thought more than once in a lifetime...

I recently re-read this little thing I wrote back in the summer of 2003. I need that perspective again...

"I knew you to be a hard man..."

Is it possible
To be at once ambitious
And idle?
To dream of glory
And to do nothing?
What is a dream
But a longing for
Some tangible change for the better,
Some possible or impossible ideal?
What is ambition
But the energy of dreams?
How does this fit with idleness?
Somewhere beneath the dream
Is the knowledge
That the ideal is impossible,
That betterment is unlikely;
And this is
The object
That quells the force
Of ambition.
Thus am I doomed
To waste away
My precious breaths
And hours
And days
And years.
I encounter
An irresistible force
That shakes the foundations
Of the knowledge
And speaks anew truth:
That the ideal is accomplished,
That betterment is eternal;
And overthrows the object
And propels me
By its limitless energy
To high achievement--
But only if
I surrender the dream
And the glory.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


A mournful note
from the spirit i wrote
in the dark of the deep sunken mildewy boat
that's no longer afloat, no longer afloat
i knew it, i watched it, i sunk it with--ugh,
No--I pulled out the plug.
and blug

()I'm angry, regressing
()and burnt-soul depressing
()I feel like undressing
()unveiling my flaws
()But give me a minute
...just give me a minute...
one palpable minute!
One infinite pause--
To hell with the cause--!
I wanted applause.


Grapple, beloved,
to the pain
of dislocated
thoughts in brain
and dislodged selfish
longings ache
But grapple, love,
this life at stake
not flattery, pitying,
nor scorn. ()()()()-- I
need reason with love,
towards which we die.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On Processing Uncertainty

Well, this is what my professor called a "stunningly good" paper, which categorization she loosely defined as a n"ineffable fusion of author and topic." Essentially, it was me writing through my own terrifying mental block when it comes to writing essays of any sort. Its hard for me to have to admit that I'm not an intellectual. I'm too darn emotional to think logically about anything. There is some standard of clear thought and expression, somewhere, I am convinced--and I am convinced I eternally,invariably fall short.

Thus prefaced, feel free to dive in...

Rough, Bitter Prelude to Thought: Far too Freely-Written Perceptions of Personal Motivation, Inhibition, and the Illusory Goal of Perfection

So this is me. An awkward way to start a paper, I agree, and wholly unprofessional. Still, it is a rough draft, so perhaps I can temporarily get away with an ounce or two of informality—or whatever is the equivalent weight of two pages. But I digress. I intended to lean this introduction in the direction of this complicated writing process we will be discussing throughout the quarter. This is my recent last resort to initiate thought, when I can no longer assemble a competent outline from my shadowy, elusive jumble of oddly-associated thoughts--free-writing. Getting out the jumbled ideas in my dysfunctional brain, throwing them onto the paper, and sorting them out, piece by piece. Somehow I always get caught, though, in the sorting stage. As the apt and thus too oft-applied metaphor describes, I can't see the forest for the trees. Or to take a different view of the matter, I find myself, anchorless and compassless, attempting to navigate an ocean of undeveloped ideas. The concepts of perfection and motivation we touched upon in our class discussion prompted me to write about this struggle in an attempt to explore and identify the inhibitions I face whenever I participate in the writing process, and—perhaps—begin to identify possible remedies.

I want to get at all of my thought. I want to touch the innermost recesses, scrape the last details out of mildewing cracks and crannies and bring it under the scrutiny of daylight—I want to know it, own it, understand and impart it.

I think my largest mental obstacle has ever been a paralyzing fear of failure. I learned to confront this once, using my fear as motivation for my best desperate effort—and I grew to love the process and invest myself personally in the resulting satisfaction that I had done my best, and that my best wasn't bad. After receiving my GED, I became initiated into public school for the first time in twenty years. Spokane Community College soon became my burdensome blessing, as I struggled through English 101 discovering the painful fact that excellence in writing takes more than an extensive vocabulary. Construction is but the frame for content, and I felt as though I was missing the picture. But before I could learn to smear in the basic watercolors of content, structuring an argument with strong thesis, supporting points, and sufficient evidence, I needed to have an argument to prove. I needed to know my own mind—and I didn't. I held my opinions but gingerly, ever ready to give them up if they encountered criticism. In addition, I was terrified of failure, and choked on every essay I was forced to write in class. I wanted perfection, and I knew it was beyond my ability to attain—yet the fear of failure motivated me to continue trying, seeking help, and growing in my ability to communicate thought on paper. And it happened. I remember the day of breakthrough, when a fellow student reported to me that my paper had interested him enough to want to read it, despite his usual passive indifference to peer essays. I had at last received the belated revelation of writing's communicative nature. It was not a mere product to be graded, analyzed for its adherence to composition criteria; it had a higher purpose, that of social interaction and the exchange of ideas. Somewhere between my discoveries at SCC and my drudgery at Eastern, however, my apprehension and panic at the thought of failure began to derail my confidence. My introduction to literary criticism in Binney's poetry class revealed to me the shallow depth of my understanding of literature. Rather than seeing this as an opportunity to learn and grow, unfortunately, I felt a desperate need to force myself to understand concepts that I found incomprehensible in my mental panic. I was comparing my performance to that of others, striving to force myself up to their level of comprehension and meet my own definition of their expectations. I judged every paper I wrote by the grade it received—adequate, average. I took every instructional comment as a personal assessment. “Avoid [this stylistic or logical error]” became, to my mind, “You are a pretentious fool; you fail to understand the basic concepts you treat in your papers and superimpose your own definition of another's work.” I still believe this to be true; rather than seeking to understand completely in order to write honestly and competently, I assume my own inability to understand and compose a weak definition that partially engages the topic but invariably fails to do it justice. Every work I complete is unsatisfactory—after I read the final instructional notation, taking in only the negative, I file it away as further proof of the garbage I compose when I am neither personally invested in nor completely committed to the process. I may receive adequate grades for these papers, but I am constantly discouraged by the knowledge that it was a hopeless, half-hearted effort.
A second mental inhibition I have recently identified may be a contributing factor to the initial fear, and can be summarized in the statement “the more I know, the more I discern how little I know” or similar words to that effect. I understand the writing process less now than I did when I began my exploration, and it intimidates me more. I cannot write, because I know I do not know what I mean. Even after study and research, I only have a general grasp of the concepts I learn—not the deep understanding I feel I need for a competent and confident discourse. There is too much that is unfamiliar and vague, too much that I question, and the sheer volume of information and possibilities of direction often overwhelm my weakening resolve. I have come to the conclusion that my every thought is insufficient, and I must learn to think clearly before I can learn again to clearly write. It is an uphill battle of lost confidence, and I am never entirely convinced that it is not a Sisyphean effort. Having only a vague understanding of the information I receive, I get lost in the information itself without a controlling concept. I flounder and flail through my composition, grasping for the least flotation device. If it is full of air, it is still better than drowning.
Or is it? One of my fears, in composing an argument or interpretation of any sort, is that I will embrace an incorrect opinion or position with which others might disagree. Strike that; “incorrect” is a misleading term and does not describe my actual fear. What I fear is offering an opinion that is worse than “wrong,” of presenting an argument that is not even worthy of argument.

I think I may have identified a diagnosis: My problem is that I focus on my limitations rather than my abilities. I should stop worrying about what I fear I cannot do and attempt to do what I can. As we discussed, perfection is subjective. I should focus on my own abilities, not the abilities and expectations of others, and work toward improving what I have. I ought to take responsibility to plan for each assignment rather than approaching it with timidity and hesitation, and refuse to define myself by the results of the process. Finally, as Professor Wichman wisely impresses on her 201 students, I need to learn to trust the writing process, and to trust myself.