Monthly Archives: November 2010

Two Poems (because I was out of town last week and you deserve it for waiting patiently)

I Wrote This One On Paper

I am not very political.
To me, socialists are those who go out
on Friday nights, as opposed to we who
sit at home updating our Netflix queues.

Nor am I particularly earthy.
I don’t date girls with dreadlocks or refuse
ham hocks or trade in my Cherokee
because it doesn’t get the right mpg’s.

I am, however, a child of the
mid- to late eighties, raised since I was a
baby to respond to visual cues,
most at home in a dark room lit dull blue.

In fact, I half-expected while writing
this to see red lines noting my spelling errors.



Upon Discovering That it is Now Virtually Impossible for Me to Write on Paper

What the hell? It’s like I’m a fucking
trained dog. Apple-N for a new doc.
Title (bold), enter, enter, gold.

As opposed to flip, flip, find a page,
find a pen, lie in bed or on the floor
or on the couch or outside in a hammock

on somebody’s farm staring at butterflies
in the trees and smelling the grass
or some shit and oh isn’t it all so inspirational

until I run across something I need
to look up on Wikipedia, then I’m back
inside, ass in chair, typing, cutting,

pasting, Apple-I. I can’t write italicized
in my own hand. In my own hand?
We need new words. Penning, scribbling,

can handwriting be used as a verb?
I should go google that. And so what?
I’d have to type it all up later anyway.

Quarter Century Crisis on Infinite Earths

Today is my 25th birthday. After losing $160 at the casino this weekend, I am presently suffering from a 101 degree fever. Furthermore, there is water leaking into my apartment from the unit upstairs.

I ain’t writin’ shit today.

The Economics of Longing

Lisa, one night Marc, Seth and I went to the below mentioned bar/restaurant to see Brad (now very bleached hair) do a one man show (a very degrading experience for him, I believe). Anyway they have great pizza and Brad’s bass patch sucked. That doesn’t account for this shitty cover band playing Senior Night and, more embarrassingly, the crowd’s enthusiastic response. Oh well. They’ll never learn & we’ll always be different, and know better. We are going out tomorrow, but if you’re reading this in the future (the mother of 20,000,003 smelly children), remember, I’ll miss the times we had and I hope you weren’t too scared when I hit that snowbank (oops). Well…we’ll be famous, right? & we’ll outbid each other for Elvis Costello’s underwear or something. Good times? Hell, no. Fuckin’ great times. love, Jude
– from my high school yearbook, squished within the borders of an ad for a place called “Poopsies.”

I wish on the moon, the star that turns out to be Venus,
anything up in the sky that’s not an airplane.
I bargain. I whisper that I will give up all my little
plans and machinations for at least the knowledge

of your whereabouts, to at least know that you’re okay.
I’ll trade my revenge fantasies, the dozen play titles for plays
I haven’t written, the entire Vanity Fair interview
I’ve created in my head. The moon can have my dedication

page, the acceptance speeches, the back jacket photo.
In exchange, I want you back. I lost my half of our mizpah
coin, and then I lost you. So I’m giving these things up
to the stars, and even the planes. It’s a fair trade.

The Friend

She is walking to the café to meet her friend. Her friend is there already because she walked from where was getting her haircut. Her friend sent her a text message that said, “OMW” for “on my way” and then “Here!” two minutes later. Her friend is probably reading a book because that is what she does, or fiddling with her bangs and wondering if they are greasy because that is also what she does.

She has taken the wrong turn to get to the cafe and backtracks. She sends a text message relaying her delay and bumps into an elderly woman while she punches in the message. She is pretty sure, but not completely sure, that the old woman glares at her, probably thinking something about her generation and its disregard for others and arrogance. She hears this in her grandma’s voice even though this old lady is a stranger.

She apologizes several times to the old woman: The first two are sincere apologies while the third is defensive, a bit angry. Why must the woman hold a grudge?

She is thus flustered as she approaches the café, which she has finally found. Her friend is sitting at one of the café’s impossibly small tables, she sees through the window. Her friend is reading a book just as she suspected her friend would be doing. It is a small book with a bright orange cover. She thinks it is probably a book of short stories — her friend is always reading short stories, which she thinks is a waste of time — nothing meaningful can be communicated in just a few pages. The authors are just lazy, she believes. But these are things she would never say to her friend because her friend would take it personally. (Her friend is always taking things personally.) She stands at the window a while, watching her friend, who is still reading, leaning forward as if having trouble seeing the book.

Her friend has been waiting a while but she begins to think her friend really doesn’t mind. She begins to fear her friend would rather sit here alone with a book, leaning forward that way. She tries to remember the last time her friend leaned toward her that way while they had a conversation but can’t.

A large woman bumps into her before entering the café. She thinks the woman is breathing hard. She watches the woman walk up to the counter, in her friend’s periphery. Her friend, still reading, pauses and looks up at the very large woman. But her friend does not just look up the way a person might look at anyone passing by. Her friend looks up with expectation, as if to say something. In recognition. But immediately after, it is clear to her that her friend does not know the enormous woman. It occurs to her that her friend has mistaken this morbidly obese woman for her.

Her face flushes when she realizes this, and she wants immediately to go in and confront her friend about it. Her friend — who is always talking about fresh foods and how people who eat cows are more responsible for the state of the earth’s climate than anyone else — sees  her as overweight and unhealthy. She always — since college when they met — felt like her friend looked down on her, and now she feels it is clear where they stand. Her desire to confront her friend has dissipated and she pulls her jacket closer to her body and walks back home without making a wrong turn.

The Ten Commandments (of Men’s Public Bathroom Etiquette)

Thou shalt wash they hands. With soap, as well as with water.

Thou shalt leave at least one urinal between thy neighbor and thyself.1

Thou shalt keep thy head in a locked position, focused intently on the wall in front of thyself, or directly at the ground beloweth.

Thou shalt not engage in verbal communication with thy neighbor.2 If thou must engage in verbal communication with thy neighbor, thy conversation shall not relate nor pertain to activities reserved specifically for the space in which thou art presently inhabiting3

Thou shalt not dilly-dally, solicit, or otherwise increase the length of one’s visit to the facilities beyond the minimum time required to engage in the specific bodily functions for which the location has been previously designated.4

When thou is forced to wait thy turn before utilizing the facilities, thou shalt leave ample physical space5 between thyself and the present user. Whilst waiting, thou shalt not impatiently hover over, beside, nearby, or engage in any other manner of prepositional relationship to the present user.

Even when thy physical waste is of a sallow disposition, thou shalt not let it mellow. When thou must engage in the 2nd bathroom option6, thou shalt twice flush thy water.7

Thou shalt not engage in any form physical contact with thy neighbor while occupying the designated facility space.8

Thou shalt not drop thy pants all the way to the ground and attempt to releaseth thy urine in an arc-shape by leaning backwards and aiming upwards.9

Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s poop.10

    1 Thou art excused from this if there exists a wall to separate the urinals, or if thou art urinating in a trough, such as that which is commonly found at sporting events
    2 Unless thou hast entered the designated premises of the facility in the middle of such a verbal engagement*, in which case, the third commandment must be strictly observed.
    3 If you’re gonna talk, don’t talk about poop. PLEASE don’t talk about poop.
    4 Bathroom reading is a fantastical pleasure, but one that is reserved only for the comfort of one’s home. Please do not bring a newspaper in to a public bathroom with you 4.5
    4.5 Unless it is for wiping. Hey, it happens.
    5 This varies depending on the bathroom, but personal space is never more important than in a public bathroom. This isn’t the Greyhound bus.
    6 Only in emergencies.
    7 And make sure you cover the seat, either with toilet paper, or a seat cover. You don’t want to vicariously kiss butts with the large sweaty banker who just exited the stall.
    8 Even if you’ve washed your hands. A guessture as simple as a pat on the back can interrupt a user’s concentration and ruin his aim. Plus, it’s just uncomfortable.
    9 Only little kids can get away with that one, and that’s because it’s kind of adorable.**
    10 Dude. That’s just gross.
      *Or if you’re at a sporting event, and watching/discussing/cheering for the game. You can’t tell drunk sports fans what to do.
      **Even though you shouldn’t be looking at anyone ESPECIALLY CHILDREN in the bathroom, but c’mon, you know what I’m talking about, because we all did it. And it was awesome.***
      ***It’s not awesome if you’re a grown man and still do it though. Grow up.****
      ****It’s funny, ’cause we’re talking about poop. Hee-hee.

Mother Knows Best

Another piece that isn’t worth $2500, $1000, or even a set of steak knives.

He could’ve been lighting a cigarette and at first, that’s what I thought he was doing. I had begun going deaf in my ear that winter, so the pop of the bullet leaving the gun, the already muted sound of it hitting my flesh, the squish of its burial, my own gasp or the scream right after, could all have been louder. There are things to be grateful for.

My mother told the reporters that my stepfather wasn’t normally a violent man. A statement that wasn’t true and that they did not believe. “Normally?” they said. “How often was he abnormally violent?” they’d ask right before going to a commercial break.

She never changed the channel, even as they berated her with their clever, legally-advised and subtle accusations. She’d sit resilient through the commercials – her thirty to sixty seconds of reprieve.

In the mornings, she made me breakfast – sausage and eggs, chocolate chip pancakes, biscuits and gravy. I knew these were not her apologies so much as her way of showing me she did not blame me for being involved in my stepdad’s imprisonment. “Grandma’s recipe,” she’d say after I complimented the biscuits, her world suddenly revolving around family and its preservation. Eventually I started getting up before the sun rose, leaving the house before she woke. I tiptoed more out of habit than necessity; she rarely budged before noon from where she was splayed out, her bottom lip loose, mouth open, her frame gaunt except for the pop of a stomach underneath my stepdad’s t-shirts that she’d taken to wearing.
She met my stepdad at a bar years before she left my dad and – she says – years before anything happened between them. He’d spilled a full pint of beer on her and made her buy him another one. She obliged – she tells me, repeating the story when she’s drunk like some old family legend – because of his eyes. “Like dark pools and I, in need of a swim.” She shakes her head when she says this, nudges me with an elbow as though we’ve ceased to be mother and daughter. As though we’re exempt from any parent/child code of conduct. She knew then, she tells me, gripping the pen as she signed the credit card slip for her bill, that it was the beginning of something.

“His nickname was Bukowski,” she says, slurring and spitting, proud of that man as though she’d given birth to him herself. Each time she tells me this story, my shoulder burns.

She forgets her keys in the ignition, forgets my birthday, but she always remembers to talk into my good ear when she recounts that night they met.

“He was an asshole, you know,” I said once.

She slapped me then and, more than the sting, I remember the dullness of not being surprised.

“And he was a damn good writer,” she said.

“Not a bad shot either,” I said when I was out of her reach.