left to right we read
printed lines on law or
script dull or scintillating, spam-gibberish or textbook-rigid;
it is all distilled to twenty-six symbols and steamrolled horizontal
across pressed pulp or flashing pixels—
let’s kiss, i say,
forget it all, what do you say, i say,
take a car—mine, i suppose, since yours
could go clean past el paso, all the way to oakland
but was still deemed junk by the rubber-stamped judgment
of an insurance company, somewhere
they did the math, you know—we’ll
take it to the beach and make plans to sleep through
we can argue over the color of my eyes
or the sound the sky would make
if it could laugh at us (& it would laugh, if it knew
of all the poems it’s been crammed into;
it didn’t ask for this)
we can embody the things that can’t be written
all those things outside the twenty-six symbols—correct me
if I’m wrong but
i count at least four things outside of them:
your mouth is one, and
you’ll have to guess the others, dear
(I’m too shy to say)
left to right we read
i love you the way
sleep tugs at your eyelids and winter
strips green from the trees;
the way plump dumb babies grow
bony and tall, with
report cards and first kisses and other
secrets to keep from you;
i love you like that place where you bit your tongue
heals, or like the toenail turned black last september
falls off in the shower—the way
milk goes sour, or melted snow
drips from the porchlight down your nose,
putting out your cigarette;
far from fated—nonetheless
i love you like i can’t say no.
i put things on tumblr when i have nowhere else to put them.
anyway. this is hypocritical in a sort of hilarious way. but i mean what i’m saying. so. for what it’s worth:
i believe in gun control and i think it’s silly to allow civilians to own assault weapons for any reason. a handgun should be plenty good enough for self-defense in the rare case that you might need it. ain’t nobody upstanding got armies coming after them.
that being said, i think the most pressing problem here is not the availability of assault weapons. i think it’s media coverage. first off, america has been a violent nation for centuries. this isn’t new. school shootings aren’t new. they just got rampantly popular in media coverage starting with columbine, for no real reason other than that it made a good story, and maybe it was a slow news week. remember that summer when the media was all about shark attacks, even though there was no actual statistical increase in the number of shark attack incidents?
the people who have committed the deadliest shootings in america have all been disgruntled men, people who feel invisible or betrayed. some were people who were trained by this very country to kill others in the military, and when they returned, they returned broken, forgotten, isolated, unsupported. they are seeking glory through violence—the kind of violence that seems the most unspeakable or shocking. they want to die notorious. they crave the power and the larger-than-life status that comes along with committing the deadliest, most horrific killings. and the media gives them exactly what they want. they leap on the stories that have that “hook” to them, some novelty that they know will appeal to the public’s fascination with the grotesque, the unbelievable. we love stories about monsters. we always have. the types of monsters we love to hear about change over time, sure, but the american public has always eagerly devoured any and every seedy story about violence. once we loved stories about young and innocent (white) girls being raped and murdered. once we loved stories about affairs gone wrong. once our favorite stories were about scandals of the rich and famous. and it’s always been true that the more gruesome the mutilation, the more famous the story.
and now, ever since columbine, we’ve loved the spree killings. the deranged loner who lost his job or his girlfriend or his mind in the military. the type of man who craves nothing more than being remembered. i’m willing to bet that this dude today chose a kindergarten classroom in a wealthy white area because he knew that this would grab headlines and be remembered for decades to come. he wanted to be the embodiment of pure evil, of terror, of monstrosity. but evil isn’t monstrous. evil is human. it should not shock us anymore. it should not draw all of our attention, because that is all that these men want.
we may not commit these crimes, but we love hearing about them. look at your facebook. how many statuses are about anything other than this killing? 1 out of 10? 15? 20? and that’s how it always is. we love talking about it. we love hearing about it. i’m not saying that we WANT these things to happen—of course not. we are also appropriately horrified and disgusted. but we feed the beast with our attention. and that, i think, is more dangerous than an assault rifle.
in coves carved soft-edged by skin
under covers, in between the lengthening days
of solitude and stillness
I’ve felt, in my core, the warm and heady pleasures
of hands and cocks in the dark
in the daylight, in backseats, on floors
tasted mouths still thick with smoke
of cigarettes or of that sweet dark moss of spliffs
let you show yourself, the sharpness of a full presence
usually dulled by persona and pretense
let you pull my hair
and say things you’d never admit
I’ve tried men just to know, more curious than earnest
let my mouth travel across tracts of skin,
held lobes between my lips, teeth teasing them into thinking
of how many ways a body can blossom,
told them things I’ll forget if I yet haven’t,
and felt like I could know them, the men
who whisper my name until they’ve lost their language,
til they’re overwhelmed with the senseless joy of release.
I’ve told myself that’s love,
when I ache and forget everything but you pressing into me
and your hands in my hair, on my back, on my ass
and the world is just sweat and muscle,
I tell you I’m yours, I want you, you’re so good,
yes, I want this forever, you, only you—
my trick is it could be any of you.
it is pitiful, really
how the fool fancies herself a magician
but my act is just that, and no more,
save when I tell myself at least I’m left unscarred.
at night I dream of firing a gun
into a dark and frigid sky empty of stars.
hey tumblr i don’t have anywhere else to put this really but i need to put it down somewhere that feels lasting so it can feel actually SAID, you know? this is vaguely in response to lots of irritating criticisms and misinterpretations of my writing that i’ve had to field lately, but mostly it’s just something i wanted to say. well, for reasons probably explained herein:
Why I Write
Writing is what I know in the truest sense I can think of. I don’t remember a time when I thought in images or sounds—it has always been words for me. My childhood obsessive tendencies were all centered on elaborate games in my head based on the alphabet, or keyboards, or spelling, anagrams and palindromes. Those close to me have often remarked upon how rarely I seem to be outwardly struggling, or ask for advice, or cry. If I did not write, none of those things would be true. It is how I translate the world into an endurable and comprehensible place to live.
It is really only by the grand chance of finding sanctity in words that I escaped the allure of fatalism. I am far too agnostic about any sort of knowledge, let alone the knowledge of God, to be capable of the certain assertions of absolute truths made daily by most everyone else alive. But it is in the promise of advocacy—in the capacity to believe with all of my heart in whatever I deem a personal truth of mine—that I find shelter from what would otherwise inevitably be a mindset of despair and purposelessness.
If you are inclined to disagree with me, I welcome it. You are not the first and you will not be the last. I have given up on the idea that I can write to please an audience, but I will never give up on the hope that I may write to persuade at least a few to my position, not because I believe it to be absolutely true, but because I believe it to be the best thing that I myself have found to hold as true. I thrash wildly against the concept that the rejection of absolutes necessarily dilutes a belief in truth. The idea that there must be only one true answer to any given question in order for any answer to be true is pure nonsense to me. Truth is in advocacy, in the power to persuade, the tireless will to analyze and proffer, the declaration of self we embed into any argument worth having.
We are each born into a body and a name, a time and a place. These we do not choose, but they are specially ours for the rest of our lives and each set belongs to only one of us. Not a one of us is any better than any other, and whosoever says otherwise says so on no more authority than I have, so I suppose it’s a stalemate. (Right there is your proof that truth can exist without unanimity. What’s more, unanimity is no real indication of truth!) The existence of that self can only be affirmed by the words and actions of its owner—all other externally imposed characteristic descriptions such as birth and death dates, strength of jaw line, decency of reputation, etc., are merely adornments. And so we are left by some measure to live always alone, insofar as no one can access our own consciousnesses but through our own assertions, displays, and explanations of it. I do not mean to downplay my fellow human beings when I say that such a state of affairs inevitably dooms us to the realization that all forms of communication (barring perhaps touch) are marred by any number of poor translations between the formation of the thought in the brain and its expression to another party. But I am hard-pressed to believe that it could ever be possible that the charade of meager impressions we’ve drawn up of centuries’ worth of opinions and ideas of dead people could amount to something we could call absolute truth. Nor could the things we say and write to each other, today, approach a real and substantial consensus.
Imagine saying that hearing a song through the static of a distant radio station amounted to understanding how to play it yourself, the way the guitar strings might feel against your fingertips, how to keep the pace just right. This is what you might as well be saying if you come away from reading this imagining that I have fully transmitted what I am thinking to you. I care about writing for this reason and this reason only: to me, it is essential. This is how I have always known who I am, and will continue to know who I am, no matter how many people come away from my words with an understanding of them more badly distorted than the first line in a game of telephone. Nitpickers abound; I am one of them. But I have resigned myself to that—it is, I suppose, our genetic predisposition, as is our tragic relentlessness to say something universally true. I just try to say what I mean in a way that makes sense to me. That, I think, is the best I can hope for.