Monday, January 31, 2005

move the sound silently with all your broken strings

a violin tragedy
ushers patience into place
with a slow distant
that shivers air into sound

cello drones rumble
like cautious midnight masses—
dark hums that make men
and shake the frail with might

bow-draws wail with broken hair
and ghostly horses screaming
resound through the shrill
of strings
shaking high-pitched pull

winter songs descend like leaves
falling silent after death’s
soundless shimmers close
not for dreams but nothingness
When I was a kid, I had a dream that someone smashed a red wheelbarrow on my forehead. It was full of spark-plugs and fingernails. The barrow’s contents flew into the air and drizzled down on the outstretched fingers of a smiling, reaching crowd. Then my father and I rode down a lilac, lace, and orange-tree lined street in the back of a stretch white limousine. Staring: me, outward; him, not quite at anything. His eyes were frosted over and when he blinked, crystal flakes would chip off and float down into his open palms. Someday this will all be yours, he said, offering me a handful of snow and fingernails and orange peels.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Something real, for a change

There is a ballroom next to the Chapel of Silence. In the Chapel you can write notes on small pieces of paper and leave them in the Prayer Box. The Prayer Box is really just a shoebox with variously-colored paper and a slit, like a 2nd grade valentine receptacle. Why people pray to a box, I won't understand. Perhaps it's all a ruse to tempt the viciously nonreligious out of hiding and into sacrilege, breaking the sanctity of the prayer box by reading the stupid little notes inside.

Next door, there are two quite elegant, quite Victorian-seeming rooms. One a ballroom, one a lobby. Tonight, I’m in the room with the single steel chandelier because it’s cold out and there is a fireplace in here that’s as tall as the bookcases, as wide as a small, wide car. I am the only person in this room.

But in the room with ten crystalline snowflake chandeliers, a man wearing white tails sings at the top of his lungs, howling some spirited song in Spanish, hooting oooA as might a dancing ninja. The man in the black tails joins with whistles while he enthusiastically polishes silver platters. Two men, dressed to the T’s, getting ready for some elegant ball for which they will have to carry and pour things. One of them shouting oooA, the other smiling and scrubbing. And I’m just sitting here, listening, typing, and thinking about driving a car into the fireplace.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Residual Life in Basements

"So the great affair is over, but whoever would have guessed
It would leave us all so vacant and so deeply unimpressed
It’s like our visit to the moon or to that other star
I guess you go for nothing if you really want to go that far"
-Leonard Cohen, The Death of a Ladies' Man

There is a strange vernacular floating around the stroke ward. Mostly spoken in slurs and wild arm gestures: the clutched throat, late night groans, fingers jabbing at numb cheeks and flesh— different types of hospital slang that all seem to say, “why am I still alive?” to which I smile, point at myself and say “me.”

The ward is really just a room in my basement. “Single? Depressed? Had a Stroke?” the ad asked, followed by a colon and the letter ‘r’ to mimic their paralytic smiles. And from what I’ve come to learn these past 3 months, stroke victims love bunk-beds.

“I call bottom bunk,” number 7 might have said. Or maybe he’s hungry. Or dying. Possibly frowning, number 3 1/2 struggles to climb the ladder with one arm. These are the only two residents I have living in my basement. Their numbers were chosen arbitrarily, but I’ve come to believe it was an unconscious estimate of how much I value their lives, 100 being the highest.

3 1/2 chews on my old Leonard Cohen t-shirt. The words “Death of a Ladies’ Man” are now illegible, mangled by molars and slob. I’ve gathered that it keeps the working side of his mouth busy, but each time I see it hanging from his loose face, he just grumbles and moans and keeps on destroying my Leonard Cohen t-shirt like a zombie that feeds on folk memorabilia.

It was somewhere in the fifth month when 3 1/2 choked 7 to death with the Leonard Cohen t-shirt, which, I must say, was quite impressive. It takes great ingenuity to choke someone with one working arm and a tattered t-shirt. Now he wears it everyday. I sewed it up for him and presented the mended shirt as a badge of honor. “The Death of a Man,” it says across his chest as he boastfully sleeps on the bottom bunk.

Neu Neo-New

some recent CDs, all great reading/writing music. Most new albums, except the GYBE!. Back on rotation, a Godspeed EP too often neglected. Enjoy, because you must, you can, and you would:

William Basinski - The Disentegration Loops (ethereal drone)
Dirty Three - Horse Songs (contemporary classical)
Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air (avant-garde shoegazer synth)
Prefuse 73 (the illish, house, glitch, beatfreaks bonanza)
Songs: Ohia - Didn't it Rain (I slit my wrists in arkansas)
Califone - Heron King Blues (acoustic folktronica)
Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada (Orpheus + Eurydice as post-rock)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Albums on Rotation

Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles (avant-pop)
The Dylan Group - Ur-klang Search (instrumental)
Blind Melon - Nico (folk)
David Bowie - Diamond Dogs (theatrical genocide)
Leonard Cohen - Death of the Ladies' Man (swoon rock)

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Remains of 1828 Isabella

Dead sunflowers show signs of lives
lived like broken stems.

Bits of catchers’ mitts
dissolved in soil, like cracked
wicker picnic baskets

A defeated tin spigot,
face rusted like a heartless
fairy tale failure
half-buried, beaten
by time.
Canary bones unearthed,
pet graves are gone. No more
blackberries, petals or tennis nets.

Only some rotten things
still trying to fade:
an unraveled wire
on fractured slab—
concrete split as if smiling
at its own uselessness.

Nothing has seemed green
since we shined
with sweat or dew.

The walls patiently crept off
into creaks, sleep
then rubble.

An unhinged screen door
with sliced spider web
windows welcome dirty breezes
or just traces of wreckage
that remind me:

I was a child
who longed for fur coat closets
empty corridors
and the calm of dark places.

The turquoise tiles and bathroom
grime, dust scented pillows
and pleated peach drapes,
a grandmother’s fingers
and all our great depressions—

pipe tobacco memories
linger in the green-gone-brown:
a faint scent of flavor
to be ignited, tasted,
breathed and carried away
by winds that verge
on a colder season.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Firing Squad

Derby’s blindfold was much too tight, forcing his eyebrows down onto his eyelids. He tried to force his brow up, but he could just barely manage a peek. The sash around his face was, ironically, red, and he wondered if that shade of red will change, assuming at least one of the three bullets will hit him in the face.
Derby had once heard that one gunmen in firing squads was given a blank, apparently it provided a shadow of a hope to the executors that they, in fact, were not executors. The life of a legal murderer must be terribly burdensome, Derby thought, but it must be nice to have people looking out for your welfare. Sympathy aside, none of this really mattered to Derby. Getting shot by four simultaneous bullets cannot be any better or worse than three, or so he thought as he waiting for either outcome.
Eyes strained open, the sash forced his eyelashes into his eyes, so he closed them as not to experience any pain before being shot to death. For this same reason, he kept his hands very still, so as to prevent any rope burn on his wrists. Though he wasn’t quite sure why his wrists need be bound- it was his legs that could do the escaping- Derby wasn’t thinking about escaping, only his tied hands, the red sash, the executors and his eyelashes.
The too tight blindfold muted most external sounds. His own breath sounded like a wind-filled tunnel or a dried conch shell, and the muffled sounds of air reminded him of his childhood near the beach and being hushed to sleep by the sea. Hush, hush, hush. And through hushing, Derby thought he could hear someone speaking, perhaps at him. “Do you have any final words?”
“Excuse me?” he replied. But the lack of response let Derby know that it must have been some conversation between gunmen.


Again, Derby thought he was being asked a question, but he quickly realized it was a command given to executors.


This time, there was no room for confusion. Derby thought to close his eyes, but they were already closed. Not knowing what else to do, he replied to what he knew was not asked to him. “Yes, I’m ready.”


The sound of three bullets whizzing by his ears answered all of Derby’s questions. How nice of them to give that bit of hope to the gunmen, and how sad for them that they are forced into this job. To kill for money, and to intentionally miss so as to spare what bit of dignity they had left. Derby knew nothing of dignity, and he envied the gunmen for their humility. These feelings of envy and pity muted any sensation of gratitude that they prolonged his life, even if only for a moment. Though Derby had never been grateful for his life, and during this slight extention, he felt no different.

The silence sounded louder now, in the echo of the four fired guns. As things seemed to settle, Derby swayed from side to side and began to wonder why he was still swaying and not bleeding into the sash or the dirt. And in the distance, Derby heard the sound of four men weeping, and he began to wonder when he would finally die.