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How a body lights on the ass end of everything

You’re always off and away in the airy confines of your skull, like a sparrow trapped in the tiniest cage—that keeps burrowing deeper into the subatomic field in its effort to escape this unfortunate cage—and in general always searching for another crack to crawl into within that fifth wall delineates the back end of your brain. You got hands behind this aforementioned backdrop of your mental operating theater and they’re messing around with the flickering remnants of your dreams while your one sweetest hope is just to see the light over the hilltop at the end of this long night. You erotic ornithologist you.

Because here you are flying, but where you flying to? What sun are you angling your wings towards my pet? When here your lungs burn from breathing in all these freshly brewed carcinogens and your hands ache from holding on to things best left where you found them back there in all those unforgotten yesterdays from before this particular instant and its many evaporating limbs.

Limbs herein meaning the parts that twist off of you while you walk through your day. Sort of like that sparrow I mentioned previous, except that thing of it is that you got so many sparrows inside your head and they’re all burrowing in different directions at once, and sometimes you see them and sometimes you don’t. But when you catch sight of one flitting through the distant past like it’s the most perfect sunset ever, and you sigh—Yes. That was me, you think—or through an alternate future, or in a make-believe person you believe to be actually your girlfriend’s mind. It’s all just the same story being played on different instruments. Not unlike these many articles of mine. The scene, same old moonlight. The time, same old June night.

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What spirit’s hidden in this unraveling brain

I’m sitting in an abandoned department store on a Thursday night and listening to the Bee Gees and Danny Elfman and feeling very confident of the future that keeps rolling around and around before my eyes like a perpetual motion slot machine. The future is a snake trying to walk backwards. And in the eye of this storm of second sight, I can see so clearly how I will be married and go back to school, and my wife and I will have children, but will I become a warlord in the Middle East at some point in my later years? This has yet to be determined.

Because I am not more than a grown child myself, and so I need you to tell me. What is happening here? Is it possible that I might actually see this thing through or am I just going to continue falling away from the earth till there’s nothing but nothing everywhere I look?

Sounds kind of nice, and maybe we all got to go for a dip into the stratosphere, because when you fall into yourself it is very much like falling into the sky. Right? Am I right? Because just as the sky keeps going past our atmosphere and into the endless reaches of the starry abyss, my mind also will keep on going for as long as I am willing to fall. It will unravel into stranger and more magical and more alien realms for as long as I am willing to fall away from my grounding in the everyday, but to do this right, you really honestly got to let go of everything and allow yourself to fall down the rabbit hole, and it’s also not always the case that down is the new up either. Sometimes down is really down and there is no rabbit hole, but just the ground, and you’re splattered all over it.

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The heart is a sphincter of the mind

Have you ever truly lived, my pock-marked asterisk of a friend? Have you ever walked into a room and made out with the leading lady of your dreams? Or dove into the darkness with the eagerness of an action hero? Or been there to save the most important person in your life from what would otherwise have been the worst mistake ever? Have you ever openly wept? Or looked out from your hopeless meandering moment to instead be filled with awe when facing the incomprehensible absolutes of your life, that all who you love will decay and die before you, and that you will be one of these people? Unless of course you feel nothing, and then it’ll all happen behind your back while you’re always rummaging in corners looking for shiny objects to distract you from this ever-expanding horror. So. I’ll ask you again.

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An inexperienced life

1. If you could only hold onto one memory, which would it be?

There is a memory which comes to mind. It’s of two people falling against a door in the middle of the night, their lips more than linked, like a fish could survive in the cavity of their conjoined mouths. This woman, who was small and quick-tempered, who was from a funny little island and spoke in a funny little way, who loved Gaston Bachelard and print-making and poked at this man who was me once when I believed myself immune to time and its more irritating effects. I’m not proud of the boy I was then, but we did make each other laugh.

We were drunk and had just stumbled in from a cafe round the corner, and I had just slipped into my parents’ bedroom to announce my return – she’s an exchange student from England staying with us through the winter, who I had taken to go in search of a basement bookstore in a blizzard before sneaking off to Maryland to work in a bird clinic only to hide out in the forest and weep my way through two cigarettes, this being just after she’d come to visit with my family and the two of us had stayed up all night long blatantly flirting with each other even though I was too dumb to notice. Then I made up some excuse to get me out of my internship, took a train back to Boston, and proceeded to haunt her bedroom most nights while she worked with printers’ ink and made the off-hand off-color joke or simply exclaimed by her radiator, “Oh, Gaston,” as if the two of them were the best of friends, until that particular evening, when I took her out to see a friends’ band and she snuck me beers all night long, and we played footsie under the table before making our way back to the house, and I slipped in to my parents’ room to announce we were home right off the bat because I had always been a conscientious son. This was on April Fools’ Day, and she was to return home two weeks later, and now most often when I pause to reflect on my first love and love in general it is this memory that I see, this memory that has been reduced to that single instant when the two of us fell against the bathroom door.

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World death, what do you have to say for yourself?

I am easily frightened. Some would say this is an unfortunate trait to have. I may or may not agree with these people, but this does not keep it from being true that I am easily riled up into states nearing panic concerning the future of our species, the future of our earth, and the future in general. That I live in China currently only fuels my fears of complete global annihilation. Collapse of Europe? Collapse of America? Earthquakes in Oklahoma at a record high? Particulates in the air create a constant smoke-flavored haze? My teeth have turned orange? I broke a glass this morning? All bad portents.

So, tonight my thoughts turn to potential end of the world type stuff and I muse on these things with an unnatural relish. Or when passing a trash-strewn lot and the KTV bar just beyond with its facade strewn in neon and I wonder about people having their teeth kicked out in these lots or why there are wild dogs everywhere. I look around corners. I think about potential alternate exits.

China always seems like the end of the world to me. More so each time. More and more China seems to be the world and what happens here is what will happen everywhere. I watch for something to come down from the sky. I hear rumors. I wonder whether Philip K. Dick was a prophet. I think perhaps he might have been.

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New home, china. old home, vagina.

I’ve been having too many dreams lately. The sorts of dreams you wake up from at 4 in the morning and spend an hour browsing independent poetry presses. Of spitting cobras facing off with girls I used to love and spitting cobras biting me in the heel. Or children in libraries clinging to my shoulders with a desperate need while I argue with their parents, the shelves filled with brightly colored instructional manuals from forty years ago, and all the furniture distinctly utopian. Dreaming of women attempting to kill themselves over and over until she’s standing on the prow of a ship and facing a cartoon rendition of the afterlife. And dreaming of smoking cigarettes while hurrying down stone steps in downtown Boston and bodies smeared together messily and someone I almost know loitering at the periphery of my vision and near our table in the middle of the night. My brain’s trying to tell me something, but what it is I don’t want to hear. Might have something to do with that not so remarkable afternoon last month when it seemed absolutely necessary to move to China to save money so I could move to Chicago, and two weeks later I’m on a plane exchanging small talk with an executive from Sesna headed home to Beijing. Then I’m off to Yantai, then Laizhou, then Zibo.

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Do not silently turn your face to the other side of the world

So here I am. Just a couple weeks later and everything’s different. I’m going back to China today, where perhaps I belong more than this place. This place being suburban California and specifically a trailer park in Mountainview. I am drinking Boston beer. I have on a single sock. My bags are torn apart. I long to be a dainty tree, but I am no dainty tree.

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This question has been breeding

Let’s say we’re all friends here—that here we are—at a little party on the patio—and maybe a guy starts to get the sense he can tell what’s going on inside everyone’s head—and some other person has the distinct impression that all of this happened before—and you think you know what’s going to happen tomorrow—and someone else can’t shake the feeling that there’s something seriously wrong here, but she can’t put her finger on it—and then there’s me. These days every time I try and smile it always comes up looking hateful largely because I spend so much time alone with my computer that communicating face to face feels funny.

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Maybe I’ll get to smoke cigarettes in heaven

I have pleasures. You do not know of these pleasures. This is the way it should be.

However, there is a place where pleasure breeds, a place that is neither what I want nor who I am, but the memory of the thing. What you see as the unfortunate aftermath, I see as an amorphous sensual starting point from which everything else is seeded. My passions and my hopes. My dread and what satiates my dread. Memories are where everything else is born. The woman I love comes from a memory of another woman who comes from a memory of another woman and so on all the way back to my mother and perhaps even a woman before her who is no woman I ever met, but the woman I was thinking of when I was still lost in the cozy confines of the womb’s amniotic fluid. There is nothing before the memory of the thing.

A particular park I visited in Hong Kong would become heaven. There was no heaven until I visited this park with its maze of manicured oval-leafed bushes, or the first time I felt the pressure of another tongue against mine like two sluggish tentacles holding hands. Or playing with my batman figurines in the silence of the afternoon. I had to know heaven before I could begin my many visits into the many hells wait in my many empty rooms.

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The god of pornography

I’ve always associated God with pornography. From when I first discovered glossy reproductions of female reproductive parts, I associated these idealized versions of womanhood with the godhead. And although my thinking’s changed on this issue, I can still admit that somewhere hidden beneath our mothers’ many clothes is a library of lives that could have been.

But when I was younger, I was too arrogant to accept the power women would have over my life, and instead worshiped only the pornographic reproductions of them. Perhaps because whenever I came in contact with an actual bared vagina at that time it was more an agony than an ecstacy. When women slipped into my bed, I’d become paralyzed by the aforementioned possibilities, and now sometimes I wonder what happened to that youthful moment when everything was possible—the one I squandered on an on-going internal narrative that seemed more important than breath at the time but that now seems about as worthwhile as a brain in a jar.

There’s a time the world was made of water, and we were all splashing everywhere we went, but now it’s all just embers of the thing, and I’m hoping to stand up to people I haven’t met yet. And I got this strange feeling that I don’t like. And I’ve decided to blame it on you in the long tradition of arrogant entitled ruling classes everywhere.

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