Monday, September 27, 2010

how it feels

A September sun sets and I am a crumbling crooked bolt of lightning
Flashing and panicked in the arms of a wide world
Knowing I am impossible to contain, impossible to hold
Impossible in the dead of the night when the sparks in the sky 
are brighter, everlasting, more sure than I
Too thin for the work of a steady soul
I am a snapshot, a flicker in time
Something to tell your children, if only in horror stories
I am deadly and inescapable, a static cling on your fingertips
A rumble in your inner ear

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The online literary magazine,  The Writing Disorder, has published my pieces, "It All Comes Together," "The Nihilist," "Bienvenue, Summer," and "The Architect's Daughter."

Please go check it out here!

And, as always, thanks for reading and for your support :)


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

one last quote (sorry)

“It’s never the middle that I can’t make work. It’s never the beginning that I can’t make work. It’s always the end. Because what is the end of a story? What does that mean? What is a story? To confect some sort of plot “ending” seems very artificial to me. I’m just not interested. I used to have a friend who was a carpenter and I remember watching him make a bookcase once and there was like, it was like this sort of plank with all these other planks sticking out of it at these crazy angles, you know. And it looked like a porcupine or something and I said, “That’s a bookcase? What are you talking about? That’s not a bookcase.” And he said, “Wait a minute.” And he grabbed this other plank and he sort of smushed everything together and went wham wham wham wham wham, and it was a bookcase. (laughter) I cannot tell until the last minute of the final draft whether the thing is going to work or whether it’s just going to fall apart and it’s nothing.”

--Deborah Eisenberg, in an interview with Bomb magazine

no free will

a quote from Reading Autobiography by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson that articulates my ideas much better than I can:

“That is, they have ‘false consciousness’: they collude in their own lack of agency by believing that they have it. It is not enough, then, to say that people exercise free will. The concept of ‘free will’ is itself embedded in a discourse about the Enlightenment individual, a historically specific discourse through which subjects understand themselves as intellectually mature and free to make their own choices. To claim that all humans have something called ‘free will’ in this way is to misunderstand an ideological concept as a ‘natural’ aspect of existence.” (43)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

great words

"And yet it was for me a time of great learning. As I think of it, it was the most common and essential kind of learning, purely natural and irresistible. Life itself is the object of such learning; it is not so much the achievement of study; rather it is simply the construction of an idea, an idea of having existence, place in the scheme of things."
-The Names, by N. Scott Momaday

and also...

“When I was a kid, I used to wonder (I bet everyone did) whether there was somebody somewhere on the earth, or even in the universe, or ever had been in all of time, who had had exactly the same experience that I was having at that moment, and I hoped so badly that there was. But I realized then that that could never occur, because every moment is all the things that have happened before and all the things that are going to happen, and every moment is just the way all those things look at one point on their way along a line. And I thought how maybe once there was, say, a princess who lost her mother’s ring in a forest, and how in some other galaxy a strange creature might fall, screaming, on the shore of a red lake, and how right that second there could be a man standing at a window overlooking a busy street, aiming a loaded revolver, but how it was just me, there, after Chris, staring at that turtle in the fourth-grade room and wondering if it would die before I stopped being able to see it.”
-"What It Was Like, Seeing Chris," by Deborah Eisenberg
(This is just one paragraph from it, but I highly recommend reading the full short story, because it's incredible. So much power and restrained emotion. She reveals thoughts I thought I was the only one thinking -- an awesome ability of a writer.)

Friday, September 17, 2010


Read my piece, "Summer Work," on the Young American Poets blog at: 



the sun is going down and i'm left in the arms of a wide world.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Things We Did to Make Up for Who We Were

     I ran my hand across the smooth metal bars on the window, trying to remember what it was to be new. 

     The gothic October sky had darkened hours ago and it would soon be time. In the little window above my desk I could make out the abandoned shops and streets. All the people were gone and I didn't blame them. I'd have been scared, too. From above, I could see a drunkard stop and talk to two young girls on our front stoop, then stumble away. 

     It was a small, brick building with no distinguishable features besides its barred windows and the sign above the door, thick with dust, which read "Old Street Asylum." You could barely make out the broken letters beneath the aging grime.

     As I moved my line of vision away from the bar I saw that the two girls out front were conjoined. Freaks, they would call them here. They liked freaks here. Would they come inside? Would they end up like us? Everyone deserved to feel the way we did. Everyone was just as crazy. 

     The lights began to go out in the halls and a guard would be coming around soon to check that we were all in bed. We weren't allowed to have locking doors for fear of what we might do. It took the suffocation away, at least. There were times when I stayed up talking to the walls, talking to the shadows, talking to anything that moved. That’s why when I first heard about the ceremony, I was intrigued, all for it. 

     When my hands dripped blood I had been throwing myself toward anything that would justify this new life; I wanted to have a constant reminder that this would be my home for a long time. I tried to make myself feel like it would be all okay. Even though it never would be. But it was only a defect of the brain that made me felt the yearning, not the dark hallways of the building or the coldness of the bars. Those were not cause for alarm to me.

     Soon enough, the guard outside would be dozing off to the noises in his headphones. I would be free to go. Not that there were many places to go without being totally horrified.

     I snuck around the corner and into the shadows. It was always important to remain in the dark. Never be seen, never be known. The rest would join from their respective corners like spiders coming to the center of a communal web.

     There were exactly fourteen corners to turn. Six flights of stairs down. A heavy door with chipping paint marked “Do Not Enter at Any Cost.” It was written in thick paint that had faded with time. It was the cellar to nowhere and everyone knew there were ghosts of forgotten patients there. Whatever, every asylum had one of those. But it took time, cunning, to try to find it. I remember the first time I saw it. Stitch had led me down blindfolded and we went down to begin the initiation. It was just us then.

     I made my way down the thin, wooden steps into the darkness. My tiptoes made no noise, there was no creaking. At the bottom I stood in complete darkness but could imagine everything around me. The large boxes of paperwork, the files strewn about, the chains of cobwebs that were a foot thick on every wall. I lingered for a minute, enjoying the privacy, then lit a match. It sparked and quivered. I knocked softly on the wooden rail two times. From somewhere in the darkness a voice whispered, “Come in.”

     Dean sat cross-legged, rocking back and forth. I didn’t know how long he had been there. It would have been useless asking him, anyway, since he never spoke. Except those two words. He thought he was a living dead. And looking at him, you would have believed it.

     He was a scrawny kid with a pallid face and bony arms. His large, black eyes hovered over the flame. I sat down next to him.

     “Wonder what this one’ll be like,” I said.

     The match went out and we sat for a few minutes in the stillness. I was terrified of mostly everything, so this place was like an eerie home to me. Fear was familiar. It reminded me of a past life. Of course it bothered me that I could hear low noises from the corners like voices, distant snickers. But it kept me alive, not numb.

     A soft light appeared from above. The door was opening, then closing. It was time.

     Moments later, we heard the two knocks.

     “Wait for it,” I said.

     Then two more. Stitch was bringing the new patient. The initiation was about to begin.

     “Come in.”

     Two small flames shot up from the darkness. Stitch was holding two red lighters in his hands and gave them to Dean to hold so that we could see.

     In the light you could see his large, hardened face. He had thick cheeks with scars running down the lengths of them. That was how he had gotten his nickname. No one really knew what had happened to him that he needed that many stitches, or better yet, what he had done to deserve them. He had been there longer than any of us.

     “What are you lookin’ at, Ash-Face?” he said to Dean, who was driving his gaze into him. Dean was a starer. It made Stitch uncomfortable, angry, enraged. He once had to be taken away for a few days for punching holes into the wall because Dean “wouldn’t stop looking at him.” We never knew where they had taken him. I didn’t want to know.

     Well, Dean got the hint this time and looked away, back into the flame. 

     “That’s what I thought. Now, gentlemen, today is a special day. We have a new guest here in our charming, loving home. In order to be an approved member, our new friend, Alex, here has to undergo the rituals. Alex, do you want to proceed with our dastardly ceremony?”

     “I do,” answered a deep voice in the darkness.

     “Then step into the light.”

     I heard Alex shuffle to pull off the blindfold Stitch had tied, probably very tightly. Then a face lit up in our small circle. I had expected a boy shaking with fear and a look of intense concern. A look that asked when he would see his family again.

     But instead, I saw the sunken gray eyes of a strong and wounded creature. Shoulder-length curls the color of old rust shimmered in the soft glow. This Alex was a young girl, maybe seventeen, who looked as if she hadn’t slept in months; a girl who didn’t mind being strapped into the funeral gear of this place, the dingy blue uniforms without pockets we were to wear. She was awfully beautiful, in a dark, dangerous way.

     She caught my eyes for a brief second and looked at me as if to say, “What is it you want from me?”

     “Alex, the first step of the process is to unleash all your demons unto us. Please list, in broad strokes, why you are joining us here today.”

     “Murder. Theft. Thought crime. Incurable sickness of the mind.”

     Suddenly, I found myself whispering, “LIAR.” 

     “What was that, Sargeant? You think you know everything? You know the rules, no speaking during initiation. You’re just as messed up and it ain’t no secret.”

     “Look at her, Stitch. She didn’t kill anyone. She’s just a kid.”

     Dean was staring into me. I didn’t know what I believed but I didn’t want to believe that I loved a murderer. 

     Alex laughed and her smile was wild.

     “He’s right, you know, Stitch. I’m sorry and all. I couldn’t kill if I tried.”

     “So you are a liar?”

     “A compulsive liar.”

     “A compulsive liar,” he repeated. 

     I thought he would rip the lighters out of Dean’s hands right then and shove them in her face. I thought he’d smash his fists into her small skull and we’d have to watch the brains ooze out.

     But instead, he said, “I like it. Demons freed. Good. Now it’s time to take the oath.”

     The oath was like a spell. It was an incantation to the ghosts and spirits of the asylum, to have them watch over you so that none of the workers would harm you or experiment on you. After it was said, Stitch took out the small piece of plastic knife he carried around in his shoe. It was just a few inches of the tip, the serrated edge.

     “Give yourself over to us,” he said, “and place the blood of your hands into the flame so that its smoke lingers here with the airy essence of the spirits and you are not forgotten.”

     Weird, right? God, I loved that part.

     And she did it. She took the half of the plastic knife that had been steaming in Stitch’s shoe all day and dug it into her palms. First the left, then the right. A few drops of blood trickled down and Dean caught them in the flames of the lighters.

     Then, she was no longer new. She was just as settled in with the demons as we all were. I caught the last curl of her smile before the dim light flickered and went out and we stood once again in darkness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


"I've waited so long and now I taste jasmine on my tongue, and I feel so proud to be alive. And I feel so proud when the reckoning arrives."
-The Mountain Goats, Heretic Pride


The voices of the seagulls are the whistling breath
of some resting god;
a senile deafness lumbers its way home;
I hear the panting of a jumbled soul

and a bell that strikes time in the stillness.
The colored words under our hands
fall through the cracks,
And we lay in the dirt;
the dust is so new to our form.

And he awakens with a shallow puff,
this massive god,
this prince with a falcon's skull,
And he collects me and my elders
beneath his wings.

There I undress in the dark and holy space
until my time has arrived,

until a new bell rings for me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

belated new year

"Our origin is dust and dust is our end. Each of us is a shattered urn, grass that must wither, a flower that will fade, a shadow moving on, a cloud passing by, a particle of dust floating on the wind, a dream soon forgotten."

Thursday, September 9, 2010


When we were born we just found each other that way. We didn’t have a choice to be anything else. And then when we arrived, cross-legged, jagged-brained, blowing out smoke on a stranger’s stoop, we had no choice, either. I didn’t know if we were something beautiful or not, something evil or not. I thought about how awful it must have seemed, the way we passed around the cigarette from one hand to the other, both of our hands, making two in all, stretching up arms that led to the same human torso. We were skilled at being one, but knew in our hearts that we were two.
I had never seen our mother before, only knew her. I knew the plotting, shrieking, ugly thing inside her but never the outside. Born blind and split, I was. Couldn’t see. Not whole. And she reminded us. Reminded me so bad that it made me happy that I could make my whole world invisible. I would never know how evil we looked. Reminded me so much that we cried every night until she couldn’t take the wet tears, the dripping sniffling dirty tears anymore and drove us away. Far. And we were scared and I couldn’t see where I was. We found a stoop, rough and large. And the first thing we did was pray.
We knelt down together, in sync like clouds, and touched together our shivering hands to make a whole pair. We sent up silent words. Words that would hit somewhere and reverberate, echo and send a response. Words that would propel something toward us, to save us. Save us.
We huddled ourselves tightly in our loose sweatshirt that had stringy holes on the ribs. I tried to imagine what it would be like to see us there, to see us at all, then to see anything but us. All I saw was the empty space; my body’s doing. It had done many unforgivable things; it made me the way I was.
What was a man then? A dark voice, a long body. I had heard that a man was defined by a grin. I had never seen a grin but the word sounded dark. I had felt the course baby hairs on a man’s hand before. He was older, stronger, by the weight of his palm. He was something called my father, all those years ago.
But I heard your voice like soft clay molding delicately, like soft clay gathering dust. You were a man. A man walking down a street with a jumbled shuffle. The dusty winter voice in you told us we were divine. You called us pretty. You said you wanted us. Wanted to have us. To keep us in a basement and do things to us. You told us not to be afraid. And you grazed my bulging cheek with your hand and I felt the baby hairs of what they called my father who was a man and you were a man and it felt good and I just --
We said no. I didn’t, at least. The other part of me, the more reserved part, the part that kept quiet until it needed to be stern, the part of me that could see, declined you. That part of me said you grinned at her and shuffled on. A drunkard, she called you.
And I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to stand up right then so she would have to stand, too, and I wanted to yell. I wanted to chase you down the street, wrap my arms around you, and tell you you could have me and my hideous body because it wasn’t going anywhere else. It was wretched; it was stranded, mutilated, cut in half, alone, ditched, defunct. And you wanted it. And I wanted you to want it. But I remember that you just grinned and walked away and that I should have known my place. So I sat in silence.
I heard your uneven footsteps grow softer and softer and vanish. There was no sky for me, I felt the material things. I felt the rough concrete on my palms. I felt my half of my body aching with hunger. I knew no one was going to come save us. I heard a million people walk by us. I heard them gasp. The cool dusk voice lingered in my ears and I felt the want in it.
And I remember how beautiful I felt then.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

nothing something whatever

breaking highwire and snapping skin;
my body is your vessel
take it where you will go behind words
let me heat your hands with bubbling words
so you can take them to sea before you react.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

okay, i lied

since i decided i will most probably minor in creative writing, i'm now taking creative writing. i may have lied about the lack of posting in the near future, but we'll see. anyway, today was the first day so here are some thoughts i worked on digesting (awkward disgusting mix of bodily functions?). sorry. okay.


Black hard shadow of a wall draping and sneaking around me and it's all straight lines straight faces straight buzzing above me behind me and an open window with a draft of wind and words that erupt in scribbling shock from darkly clad people in their putrid yellow metal chairs but not yellow of the sun but yellow of something dark as well and they look down look away erase and taste their places.

A furied piece of person with my hands and hair rips away the solemn metal of the iron chair so that the desk cracks down into the dirty pores of the carpet and she flings the yellow seat up high through the slivered window so that it makes lightening erupt in the sky where it has now become the sun and the girl laughs at her own power, the shivering of her fingertips and she sees the yellow chair mingling with the clouds and it is suddenly the sun, she did it and it's a bright yellow fiery blaring hard chunky piece of art.


coarsely ripening rain fingers through the spaces in the leaves and you want his fingers to touch you and break your skin.
but it hurts and you don't know why
and suddenly you smell the musty smell of your grandmother's home but it's only the clouds
because they're ancient and watching you!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

a meditation on no one

maybe i'll feel the warm fat kiss of a thick protruding tongue,
but no one is coming up the stairs for me
maybe i'll be shoved and scraped and mindwatched and
never know this body
that drapes over me and collapses into yours.
the people in the sea; they're dying, they're dying
and that is why no one is coming up the stairs for me
because you're out rescuing them,
brushing your opened palms against
their skin, their bony pale skin, the wet pale skin
that drapes over them as they melt
and you follow them down,
floating in rhythm to their finely tuned song
and i know not a soul
is coming up the stairs for me.