Saturday, May 20, 2017

Adventures In Drywall Repair


I bought a drill today. I paid 40 bucks for it. It’s the first major tool I’ve bought in many years. I live in a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t use tools a lot. On occasion I’ll need a screwdriver or hammer but never anything like a power saw or electric drill. I’m not a builder. I don’t do construction. The last big job I did was to change out the fill valve in the toilet tank. I do own a toolbox and there are a few other tools at my disposal, wrenches, pliers, etc., and these items came in handy for the fill valve job. So why the drill?
Several months ago our building had a leak in the entry hallway. A slow drip. One of the members of our condominium scheduled some plumbers to come out and fix it. They had to make holes in the drywall in a number of places to get at the leaky pipes. The leak got fixed, but we were left with four big holes on the upper landing and a section of ceiling removed in the downstairs hallway ceiling. Contractors are hard to find for these jobs in Seattle because they don’t profit from it sufficiently to make it worthwhile in a city of such extreme affluence, and it’s the type of job that requires repeat visits to slather on the drywall mud. Fortunately, one of our neighbors with experience in construction, volunteered to fix the holes himself. He did so, and he did so with great aplomb and expertise, fixing the holes with such mastery that you can’t tell there had been so much as a scratch in the wall, much less a gaping hole. I was impressed. Inspired, in fact. How is this magic done, I wondered. I began watching YouTube videos about drywall repair. I almost wished that we had another hole to experiment on.
And then I remembered, we did. This was in the laundry room. A small square hole at the base of a narrow wall where we had been storing gallons of water in three big blue plastic tanks for an emergency, most likely the “big one,” a magnitude 9 megaquake seismologists have been predicting for the northwest since at least the 1980s, warning that the 700-mile-long Cascadia Subduction Zone is prone to big quakes in cycles of 200 to 300 years. The last big one occurred 317 years ago. If we’re still here when the next big one occurs, it will be a glad day when -  happily assuming any of us survive  -   one of us manages to dig through the rubble to find that water.
The hole in the laundry room had been there a long time. Years ago, there had been a leak in the apartment on the other side of the wall and the plumber had removed a section of wall to see if the leak was coming from a pipe. The leak turned out to be coming from elsewhere, but we were left with the hole. Our neighbor was just finessing the last smoothing and texturing of the drywall repair upstairs when I told him about the hole in the laundry room and that I’d seen some videos and was thinking about repairing it myself. I didn’t want to impose any further on the guy and ask him to guide me through it, but he was kind enough to glue a slat into the hole that I could use to foundationally screw the drywall into, and left some nails, some drywall tape, and a little left over mud. I asked one of our other neighbors if I could borrow his drill. He said he would do it himself. The weeks went by, and the work hadn’t been done, so I thought fuck it, I’ll buy a drill and do it myself.
The drill is a Black & Decker cordless 12-volt drill with a “smart select clutch” which allows the user to choose the correct power and speed appropriate to the work to be done by twisting a dial about the chuck with the icons of differently sized screws (the bigger the screw, the bigger the power), a 3/8 inch chuck and a motor delivering 130 foot-pounds of torque. It has a nice rubber handle that feels pleasing to the grip, a charger similar to the one I use for my laptop, 12V battery, and a double-ended screwdriver bit tip clasped to the base of the drill.
The first screw went in easily. Until it didn’t. That is to say, it went through the drywall plaster easily, but then hit something hard and stopped. The drill was unable to move it any further. I pulled it before damaging the motor. I tried screwing the rest in manually, but it was extremely tough going. I had to resort to a ratchet screwdriver we had had the good fortune to purchase earlier in the week to remove a stubborn screw from out DVD player when a disk got jammed inside and I had to remove the top to get at it. I was able, at last, to get the screw flush with the wall. It occurred to me later that the wood our neighbor had glued in there was scrap lumber from the ironwood balcony that had recently been installed on the front of our building. The lumber used for that job was ironwood. Ironwood is not a misnomer. I had wondered why our neighbor had glued the wood in there instead of screw it, in the usual manner. Now I knew.
The next three screws went in easily. Too easily. They penetrated the drywall but didn’t seem to get traction in the slat of wood on the other side. This puzzled me. I knew it was there. I knew I was drilling in the right place. But the screws weren’t catching.
Putting the mud on was easy. I added some pre-measured tape and smoothed it all out with a joint knife. Then I let it dry for a day.
I added more mud on Wednesday and let it dry. I needed to add another layer of mud so I went to the Five Corners Hardware store on West McGraw and bought a quart of lightweight spackling compound (I would’ve preferred joint compound but I didn’t want to buy a whole five gallons of pre-mixed joint compound) and a 3M Drywall Sanding Sponge. I lightly sanded the patch and then added the spackling compound which was a little gobbier than the mud and harder to work, but I managed to get it pretty smooth the joint knife.
On Friday I went to paint the wall, but noticed a tiny nail-head sticking out. I have no idea where it came from. I did a little more sanding, then dabbed some compound on the offending nail-head, and mushed it smooth with the joint knife. Hopefully that will keep it hidden. I began to suspect that there were things going on behind that drywall patch that bordered on the supernatural. What next? A finger poking out?
On Saturday, I decided to go ahead and apply primer to the wall. I got a small stepladder out of the utility closet and poured some of the white primer into a paint tray, dipped the smaller of two brushes into it, grabbed a sheet of newspaper, and went to work. I knew the space was small but it felt more cramped than I’d imagined it would be. It had also had several pipes bending this-a-way and that-a-way and I didn’t want to get primer on them so I tried slipping the sheet of newspaper behind the pipe with one hand so that I could slop and spread primer onto the wall with my other hand. This proved too awkward and the newspaper tore so I just went at it as carefully as possible with my right hand. Roberta came home just as I’d started which proved quite fortunate as I’d forgotten to apply painter’s tape to the sides and my hands, adorned with surgical gloves, already had paint on them. Roberta changed her clothes and came out and applied the painter’s tape. When she was finished I resumed my operation.
The primer stank. I had never used primer before. It’s quite different than the latex paint to which I’m accustomed. It smelled different. There was a faint smell of ammonia. It wasn’t long before I felt woozy and got a headache and my eyes began to sting a little bit. I looked up primer later on the Internet to discover what was in it. All the sites I found made reference to an ingredient called a binder, which is most generally a polyvinyl acetate. Perhaps that was the source of the smell. It might also have been a built-in fungicide to prevent mold, or an anti-corrosive pigment. None of the actual chemicals were mentioned. They might’ve been on the label, but I had already returned the can to our neighbor.
I poked, daubed, dabbed, smeared, smudged, massaged, fussed, and brushed until the wall looked evenly coated in primer. Then I stood back to take a look.
The final job looks pretty spectacular. But I know where all the flaws are. I can see them. A tiny, barely visible crease where the upper part of the patch would be, a seam the drywall tape was seemingly (but just barely) hiding from view. Those screws that never found purchase in wood on the left side of the square chunk of drywall were not there to anchor the loose section of drywall to keep it from revealing an ever-so-slight unevenness with the wall. That bugged me. It will continue to bug me. I can’t edit it any further like I might a paragraph. This paragraph, for instance. Words are forgiving. Until they’re in print. Once in print, typos, grammatical errors, bad ideas and clumsily expressed thoughts join all the regrets, blunders, misunderstandings and bad decisions of our life. The past cannot be edited. Every dumb thing I said or did is now a permanent sketch on DVD. My head is a bin for Blu-ray.
I enjoyed learning how to do drywall. The parallels between construction and writing are pretty strong. A woman who suffered depression once said that she could not find a match between her mind and her words. There will always be those screws that penetrate just so far, but never completely. There will never be a complete match between what I’m trying to achieve and the final result, between the ineffable and the clumsy efforts at making words try to carry that action.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

And This?


The autumn wasp acts as an airborne filigree, a mechanical pedestrian dressed in seaweed. What this tells us about cheese is sticky. Gold holds the soft roots of tonality, the élan that draws species into cabbage and bulldogs.
And this?
This is an aggression, a rubric of plumbing that comes to give us musk and music. Who knows this will place it where it belongs. I'm going to guess Colorado. The unknown sugar of life approves an arena of eggs and so opens the eye of the mountain. It makes sense. The humidity has muscle. It will lower the sky into our hearts where enough fog still lingers to climb into our pennies and exert a little sturgeon on our nerves.
Denver, meanwhile, sparkles at the base of the Rockies and chews the sun like a bas-relief on the side of a leavened dialogue.
With China.
Create an honest mimosa, my friend, and yesterday will sting on Wednesday. For this, it is necessary to overflow reality and steal the grimace of dark matter. The stars wear rubies. But music creates a space for scorpions and books.
Polar man kisses his girlfriend in the Hall of Coleslaw. The kiss is full of blood, as one might expect, considering the nature of grout and the difficulties of dark energy in an itchy sweater. We whistle at the Door of Light and put things in perspective when the hills shout their trees out of the ground. Structure is a rocking motion aroused by words. We pull ourselves into writing. We use binoculars. We use language and diesel. We tell timeless stories of regret and ejaculation. We foster the enigma of creation by waving fragments of gravity at a yo-yo. We deposit words in a greasy paragraph and participate in holes. Winning an organ is a cuddly banana if you can find suitable employment for it in a bubble bath. We have ears for the canary kit, but no nose for the analysis of exclusion. If you would like a sample of assimilation, intimate the unction of a buzzard in a tiny white felony. Please include your phone number, fallibilities, and a crystalline substance. You can find yourself in the auction over there by the barn. Look for the red wheelbarrow. The structure of cosmic voids is embedded in the silences of dirt. Ask for Worm.
Tired of shaving? Would you like a catastrophe to go with your coffee?
Here. Have a sheaf of sauerkraut for a wilder life of Friday enticements and a raw unsettling sandwich of Bavarian airplanes. The beverage of Polynesian bricks has arrived and it’s already sparkling. We’ve put some thoughts on paper, potato catapults, broomstick bubbles, a dictionary of shivering sapphires and a junkyard goose, a sad wad of deduction, broken gods of cause and effect, close shaves with Toupee the Tornado and three hundred cathedrals flooded with infinity. The clouds float by beneath our feet. Listen. They sound swollen, like limousines with tinted windows and a gargantuan pulse. The hummingbird gum is cold with blinking. But the shore is a clean equation. Shake it little baby, shake it like a willow tree.
Pearls glitter in the membrane of a necktie as a pendulum swings back and forth in the package by the door, accompanied by a late night song. Think of this as a sample of cognition, the pollination of an idea of cheese by an errant quadrilateral. Not so much salt as a cardiovascular igloo immersed in thumps. How does one satisfy a craving like this? The propositional sign is a fact. The wall searches for an apricot, but cannot be expressed as a proposition unless it’s coated with primer and then lightly sanded. A name has meaning only in the context of a delicatessen, or shoe store. We are tangled in one another’s arena. The espadrille is tinted with the dreams of walking. Shadows sleep in abstraction. A layer of languorous dress floats in a kind of swimming pool in which a moss accomplishes an idea of birth. All this makes me feel a little extraordinary, like someone who writes with immoderation and memory sauce.
Can you blame me? The hours are in knots and the foundry caresses a moon overflowing with mist. I feel the wings of a dragon begin to lift the body of a paragraph above a bohemian melody. How to describe such feeling? With tourniquets and paper.
With sapphires and pipes. With toads and heat. With foliage and undulation. With anything that can become an actuality of muslin or oak and thoughts adrift in their own birth and development. If the paragraph is an embryo then Baudelaire is a gynecologist.
Said the postman just as he was leaving. The parcel has an electric mustache. This sometimes happens in the post. The mail begins as a treasure of possibility and commerce and ends as a badge of dusty resignation.
All things monstrous are eventually addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Outcome. The narrative is pushed forward by wildlife, elephants and cactus and squirrels. The cactus do most of the work. They use a form of telekinesis called needling. They needle and needle until something moves.
A logical picture of facts is a thought. A bottle of squirts is an interaction. The surf is ratified by drawing. Orchids grab the light and make it appealing, a juice in which colonnades of hosiery rupture with 12:30 p.m. and Ecuador finds a parking space in my heart.
It is essential to a thing that it can be a word, a group of words, or a small intestine at twilight. It’s pretty hard to think of an object apart from its connection with other things. The highway arouses cruising. Feathers solicit flight. A blast of imagined dynamite reveals a face of amber. The shoal is a Möbius of brooding solidarity. Diamonds blaze in the glory of velvet.
So you see, if there is a picture, the elements of the picture will behave in a certain way with one another. The picture will walk out of its frame and shiver until someone drapes a blanket around it.
The silence is gorgeous. The indigo is providential. There is no snow. There is only fire. The wood spits sparks at the moon. The vertebrae of an engine of ice enlists drums of water. The water corresponds to the dictates of rain. The thinness of time in the streets of Paris make one’s sneakers swell until the puddles become drawers full of push-ups and flirts. Ears wander the sounds of Mercury. The feathers are dry as ever at the scarf foundry. The sugar plow is available for viewing between 11:00 a.m. and posterity.
And so on, as if the general form of proposition had to face itself in a boxing match, and the fog rolled in and made everything a form of baptism, a renaissance dripping with sweat. Are opals gems, or hints of paradise? The nouns grapple for meaning, and the sentence pushes its words to the end, where they become Tuesday, and smell of benediction.


Monday, May 15, 2017

A Tatter Of Patterns


Is there a cure for history? You will need lots of rags to soak the blood. Perhaps a harpsichord for the raft. Meaning for the sake of meaning. Narratives for the brain.
As we descend the river, we see a theater of the stars floating in the unknown. Exotic luxuries embarrass us with their arms and planetariums. Morning arrives in a fire of golden light. The perfume of a thousand flowers exhausts our senses and leaves us feeling the full weight of being alive.
What happened to the people that painted the horses and bulls and cattle and bears in the caverns of Lascaux? Who were they? What did they look like standing in the dark, holding stone lamps of animal fat? They looked like any artist absorbed in what they’re doing. Amazed by what they do, frustrated by what they cannot do.
What did those mornings and afternoons feel like in Rome circa 411 AD? Were the streets full of garbage? Beggars? The disdain and disconnection of the rich? Was it chaos? Noisy? Blow jobs in side streets? People shitting anywhere they felt like taking a dump? What did it look like after the Goths got done killing and maiming the population? Were the streets littered with corpses? What did it smell like?
And who, exactly, were the Goths? They were a northern people from Scandinavia and East Germany. There were two main branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths. They spoke a language that is now extinct but whose roots were East Germanic. They wore brooches in the form of eagles encrusted with gems. Iron helmets with decorative gilded copper skinning. Lamellar armor: overlapping metal plates sewn together.
The population in what is now called North America was roughly 112 million before the first European contact. The population of Native Americans now (May, 2017) is roughly 2.9 million. Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide among all ethnic groups in the United States.
The empire is falling. The collapse is evident. The president is a thug, a criminal who daily breaks the laws, who doesn’t read, who doesn’t attend briefs, who chooses to live in a luxury penthouse in midtown Manhattan rather than the White House, driving up the cost of security. Security for the Trump family is roughly 183 million per year and includes protection for his son and daughter to go on ski trips to Aspen.
Meanwhile, 43.1 million Americans live in poverty. 17 million homes are food insecure.
Why does it seem that time moves forward? Why do I have that sensation? That a chronology moves forward, evolves, develops, matures? Is this an illusion? Is time an illusion? Does time even exist? My clocks seem to think it exists.
The roar of the gardener’s chain saw trimming the building shrubbery adds to an illusion of progress, improvement. Nature goes wild but we hire men to come and shape it into orderliness and pattern, formations pleasing to the eye. Things are done in sequence. There is a pattern to the way the objective of the gardeners is achieved, pattern leading to pattern.
There is the combined smell of gasoline and freshly cut shrubbery. I don’t see them, but I hear them, and know there is work being done, and that the work is being performed efficiently. How do I know the work is being performed efficiently? I have no idea. I just do.
When the day is over, there will be a series of events left behind all with all the tree branches and detritus in the bed of the gardener’s truck. Food eaten, words written, ideas exchanged, plants trimmed, dishes washed, movies watched, noises heard, showers taken, faces shaved, legs shaved, cats fed, laundry done. Phenomena, for all its complexity, turns quickly to memory in the same way fine particles of earth turn to silt in the bottom of a river. Much of it is lost. Sensations are felt and usually dismissed, if they enter into our consciousness at all. It’s hard to catch a phenomenon in the act of being a phenomenon and getting it written down, described with the fumbling implements of language. Phenomena is always in flux. It comes in a cluster of subtleties and nuance that is so exquisitely singular that it will never be repeated. It comes in waves. The reflections in the sand are memories. You can write in the sand with a stick. When the events are small we call it a thing. When the events are big we call it news.
Today in the news tempers at a town hall meeting in North Dakota boiled over when a man confronted Representative Kevin Cramer demanding to know whether the rich would benefit from the repeal of Obamacare. He tried shoving a wad of cash into Cramer’s shirt collar and was restrained and escorted out of the room by police. Trump, meanwhile, spoke at a Christian evangelical university, lashing out at critics as “pathetic” and describing himself as an outsider besieged by what he calls the “fake news media.”
There is never any one history. How could there be? There is a general coherence to an overall narrative, some of which is true, some of which is not. Some of which is exaggerated, some of which is omitted. There are symbols and flags, monuments and cemeteries. There are paintings and movies, tyrants and myrmidons. Ceremonies and massacres. Palaces and barbed wire. That’s history. Screams and explosions. Medals and dead children.
What is left of virtue? The highest virtue in the United States is work. The lowest is intellect. Intellectual work is considered an oxymoron. Wealth, power, and property are valued above all else, including compassion, charity, and leisure. People in the United States have an odd relationship with leisure. If leisure is squandered on television or golf it seems to be ok. But if it is spent reading a book suspicions rise.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Dear Work


I love you. I hate you. I do not know who you are. Are you the one who oppressed me for so many years and made me feel like a turd squeezed out of a sphincter after an eight-hour shift doing work that a robot could no doubt do better than me? Or are you the one who fulfills me, the one who makes me feel more alive, who keeps me distracted from the corruptions and treachery of the world, who helps me transcend the limits of my little ego and attain triumphs in the realm of the sublime? I mean, who are you? Are you the poetry that I write, or the obstacles that keep me from writing poetry? Are you the brain-deadening, soul-killing hours spent processing mail, washing and folding hospital laundry, driving a mail route, washing dishes, bussing tables, sweeping parking lots, cleaning bathrooms, painting apartment buildings and spreading manure or are you the one who lifts me on the shoulders of giants and reveals vistas thought and speculation? The one who causes ecstasies of release? The one who brings salvation and food for a hectic mind? Who mitigates depression and lights the nerves with the breath of angels?
What do I mean when I say ‘work’? Do I mean cleaning the grime from a stove, which is vexatious but rewarding in the end, or do I mean the hours spent at a desk putting words together in ways that make me rapturous and wild with possibility? Do I mean the humiliations suffered at the caprices and stupidities of supervisors or the hugely gratifying moment of holding a published book for the first time? A book filled with my work.
Work. Yes. That’s the very word we use. Work.
But who the hell are you, work?
Writing never actually feels like work. It feels like play. But a serious kind of play. An immersive form of play that absorbs your attention so completely you forget who you are or what you’re doing.
I imagine professions in which the joys of one’s creativity and aptitudes are brought together, in which the work is stimulating and absorbing but which also provides you with a paycheck. Acting, for example, or stand-up comedy or acrobatics or magic. I don’t know. I’ve never come close to anything like that. All my jobs have been really stupid. Brutish, deadening, menial shit-jobs.
My father praised work. All forms of work. There was no form of work too low that did not bring honor or build character. He was wrong. Dead wrong. No job I ever had built character or gave me a sense of honor. They made me feel low and powerless and insignificant. The need to make money for someone involved in a creative medium that is marginalized by the public is a very hellish situation to be in. A tough row to hoe, as they say.
If you’re a spirit reading this in some waiting room in heaven, waiting to be born, choose wealthy parents.
Do you see what a louse you have made of me, work? You have both crowned me king of an infinite domain of books and ideas and you have also denied me the means to be a fully realized, dignified human, much less a king. Maybe you’re not the one I should be writing to. Maybe I should be writing a letter to the real cause of my confusion and distress: money.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Finding Empfindung


Ants in eccentric seaweed. Exultation in the waves. Thought furnished with burning winds. How many senses? Five? There must be more. Reconciliation in a car, old questions boiled into limestone. Knowledge is green. Sometimes beige. 
A dry highway undertakes our eyes. Dazzling bandage of swamp art. Mahogany is a hard noble fact. Old agitations entangled in the unidentifiable substance that is music. Buoyant memories provided with lakes. 
Others just sink.
Into oblivion. Or rise to the surface like methane and fill the night air with a beautiful blue glow that smells a little of something gone bad on the stove. 
What am I doing? Where am I going? What am I writing? What is it that wants to come out? What is it that wants expression? What is it that wants to come alive in the sad starry snow of darkness? 
And trudge forward like Frankenstein.
It is a subtle but not entirely clumsy refrigeration of time. The absence of Asia deepens Asia. This makes the nebulae of vague corresponding lights win catastrophes of space in our sleep. It is not surprising that poplar emboldens the honest. The veil undulates and thus helps the wind to realize oneself. And this is what nourishes the cure for percussion. It makes it thump with greater deliberation and less exposition, it crashes out of its own being and becomes the one activity in life that doesn’t require explanation. It is swimming. It is talking. It is the ceaseless employment of sticks on a taut surface of paper. 
Is everyone happy now?
Probably not. I don’t know. Who is to know? Do you know? 
Reanimating the dead is always a serious matter. But so is writing, which is driven by letters rather than body parts and lightning. But aren't they, when it comes down to it, the same? Writing, by its very existence, has an ideological aspect. In this respect, it is similar to money. Much of the inherent chaos and brutality of life has been rationalized by monetary exchange. The conversion of wealth into securities gives it a giddy insensitivity to the vagaries and sorrows of life. Meaning money isn’t wealth. Money is a medium of exchange. Securities are fungible, a cruel hoax. Real wealth is the loyalty of a friend, a good stand-up comic, and a shelter -  however crude  -  to protect you from assholes and blasts of lightning. King Lear learned this lesson the hard way. 
Real wealth is spirit. The strength to endure, and the means to do it. Art embodies what is wild and unmanageable. It reduces nominal wealth to the noxious and grotesque. 
The ludicrous is what saves us. The comedic spirit is our best guarantee against authoritative sclerosis.
Which suggests that writing may not be as serious as we think. 
Or I think. I can’t think for you. I have enough trouble as it is thinking for myself. But hey, I’m not the one who invented language. Especially this language, with its funny pronouns and prepositions. 
Where was I? Oh yeah, desire. When we can’t quite reach what we want, we use words. Isn’t that what they’re for? Turning water to wine? 
Nothing gets in the way of desire when it begins to objectify what it desires. Quite often we have it in hand already without realizing what we truly have. 
Remember that scene in 2001? That really excited ape guy tossing the bone into the sky, which then becomes a spaceship docking with a space station to the music of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra? Who didn't enjoy a conflagration of ideas seeing that?
2001 turned out to be very different then the way we imagined it. Controlled demolition, ash billowing in the streets of lower Manhattan, people fleeing in panic, warrantless surveillance, ethnic profiling, indefinite military detention, torture, body scanners, the beginning of endless war.  
No, the Big Lebowski did not come to our rescue.
But what am I saying? I always get lost as soon as I start using the royal ‘we.’ 
Shall we turn to something more Gothic? Molecular squeaking on a library barge? Chains clanking, memories rubbing against the brainpan? 
Juicy evening desires ignite the nerves. Scarves hang from a kite of Meissen porcelain. Niccolo Paganini does more for my head than cocaine ever did. 
Beatitude is an elephant. But what’s a diving board? Can a diving board be a symbol of something? And what’s up with symbols, anyway? Are cymbals symbols? Are symbols an indication that everything has a transcendental aspect? Or are they just a convenient strategy for keeping the brain warm and occupied while empirical reality gambols about elsewhere? 
The bones of the paragraph rest on a bed of paper. Meaning overflows with perfumes and rubies. Time leans against space. Space relies on gravity. Gravity walks through Egypt in a trance of opulence. The heart forgets its store of pain. Nails of carpentry tinkle in their bags as the searching winds of a blue neuron groan through the wood of a trembling abstraction.
Anything that deviates from the ruling consciousness is going to seem bizarre because it’s trying to break free of a petrified reality. Or at least get out of doing the dishes. 
Or not. I mean, is doing the dishes so bad? It can be soothing. The sound of running water sounds like the word ‘essence.’ Doesn’t it? When you turn the faucet, do you hear essence? Someone else might say it sounds like dress, or stress, or evanescence. Dishes are their own truth content. Except for spoons. Spoons are magical. 
Existence precedes essence, or is it the other way around? I always forget which is which. The motivation behind most objects is clear. I know why certain blues aficionados might have reservations about George Thorogood, but I find street offices everywhere with splendid reflections and a morning wind dancing on a plumber’s nipple. The problem is precisely this: there is in everyday reality a sense that there is something else, power or divine undercurrent, that may or may not be related to a religious or mystical unknowable. What I do know is that we  can find the embrace of being in ourselves, and most objects would congratulate us, if they had arms, and were in a cartoon. 
My original solitude is beyond my reach. It exists on another plane. I may or may not find it in GeorgeThorogood, but I will most definitely get a sense of it in John Lee Hooker’s cover of “I Cover the Waterfront,” a popular song and jazz standard composed by Johnny Green. I might also mention the noumenon behind Kant’s Empfindung. Let’s look there next time and see if we might also hear Bo Diddley. 
It is in the past that I am what I am, but it is in the present that I am making progress toward the multitude that I might be, the warp and woof of weaving a moment together is rhythmically soothing, I must admit, but the pattern seems to be taking forever, and the cat wants to be fed, and I’m getting restless myself, maybe now isn’t the time to go kicking an Empfindung down the street. 
It is with more difficulty that the words are detached from the motherboard and tossed into whatever mutinous environment best suits them. 
Articulation stubbornly extends an arm towards the border, and convulses with fields of lavender.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Blackwork


I think we can all agree that sleep is a kind of knitting. Kiss the descent and watch the sparkle of knives. Flu sweat in the kitchen. Sullen troikas that fill the arena of the eye without causing conversation. These are phenomena that echo in prose with the tenacity of air-raid ulcers. 
Inflammation is undoubtedly a more visible kind of achievement. One might infer here a gastric juice specially organized for life. Thinking is an activity but let’s not exaggerate it with biology. A buckle of smoke completes the career of northern pans simmering in the ironworks of the mind, but it does so without a special diet. Instead, it uses E minor like a lullaby to a dying friend. The exultation of a tiger roars out of the night of science. We are at the mercy of our own understanding. A storm of the mind that wanders the head in a country of eyes. 
The welder is hidden by sparks. The King of Oil recedes into the fog. 
Carpentry causes the clocks to wander out of time and the carrot crickets are lazy as we pilot the birth of the sea. It is immense to speak and play at lavender. It is musical to walk the tarmac with a silver mustache. Amusing and graceful to help the cats catch fish on the opposite shore. 
Does any of this shake the gum of vivacity? Do politics stick to the mouth? Is the moon a rock?
Yes, yes, and no. The moon is neither a rock nor a thing of rats and policemen. The moon is the moon. The moon is a torpor of dough on the glowing shore of a dangerous awakening. If the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore. If it does not, that is the reverse feeling hardened in the discipline of science. 
Meaning particles are vibrations in the subatomic world. This makes the moon appear very large when it is standing next to you in the subway. For example, country music can manifest itself in a confusion of intentions depending on which way the wind is blowing, or the stars might be leaning down to kiss the mountain-tops at the very moment Mister Love stumbles out of the bar. 
Every day I hammer at the daily material of canvases and time and the nuclei of Wyoming in order to make sense of the cathedral gently clawing at the door. 
There is beauty and satisfaction when the roots of our memories are painted with chaos. 
I crave a solitary puddle. If it creases, I am amazed. If it does not, it does not. The iron is only as good as its objective, which may go untreated until there is a general insurgency of older fowl.
But must I apologize? Adaptation is always a special concentration of effort. I have in my pocket a little context that will flex itself for the regatta pen. At the time of tunes and faucets the plumber swarms with a blue shirt, and this makes me certain that the poultry would like their freedom like anyone else. Vision bursts from the queen as she fills her clothes with meanings. “My hip is not a flying tiger but a casserole of bone,” she shouts. The affairs of the gnarled are always a tale of knives.
It’s an elastic and exquisite skill to make pills of exultation. Boil the whispers floating at the border of Iran and Afghanistan and the breath of a rogue will offer you the appearance of a bandaged face. This will further confirm that E-minor is a map of agitation combed with a winter horizon. The roots of this language go deep into the woods of Persia, where cinnabar and kiosk are joined by needle and thread. 
Rumi once said “silence is the language of God, everything else is a poor translation.”
This is a pure aggression. Not even a translation. It is, in the place of silence, the fall of snow on the mountains of Afghanistan. The frayed edge of a neglected carpet, a drop of water on a mahogany table. And in the place of signs and omens, a hum in the bones, a woman with a golden voice, the weight of paradise in the tongue of a mute. We stand in a foundry trembling with a redeeming love, and wait for the metal to congeal into words. 
There is a strange velocity in wishing for a road and then seeing that road and getting on that road and going wherever that road goes. 
Be a windshield and shovel your thoughts into words. Make a sausage of words that is tenable to float in a paragraph of hands and pocket money. Pile the light against the sorbet. Thinking will harness these thoughts to a road in the woods and ride them into the moonlight like a team of mattresses. 
Philosophy means living among ice and high mountains. It’s different than, say, a quilt or a moment of road rage. It is here that our carriage acquires new meaning as a roller skate.
How much truth does a spirit dare to endure? Cemetery plot on a marble knee. Glorious thunderstorms in a swimming pool of the heart. A clock for translating time into mirrors. Green rake for the stomach of night. Agile toes on a crazy shore.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Everyday Cravings


I see adaptation in drinking chocolate. Temperament is a grass like you favor forks. I say these things not because the means are there but because the fabric of consciousness is romantic and vague and scratches at the thesis of ownership like an immigrant eager to come ashore and begin a new life as a rock musician, or forest. Chocolate is singular and therefore fulminates a kick. Neglect damask and meringue is the birth of legend.
Gelatin cabinet for archaic soap. Pillow craze slipping into Hume. The electric car includes buttons. Humming tibia of Rembrandt brown: the sting of the text is a pure can of everyday cravings. A blood vein propels the thunder of the onion to its destiny as a world of buried illumination. 
And we are on our way.
Here: have some chicken in a lighter chair. The swirl of the plow drools earthly sod. The mushrooms leave their scarves. Harness the horses and load the propeller. The shade of an island is a percussion in the pool, the heaviness of time in a crude sample of logic distressed by the blush of the abyss, life curbed on a canvas of bleak thematic candor. When it bubbles to the surface it means that the plumber is done with his chaos and the camels are free to enter the fabric of our existence. 
And yes, it’s true, I like the word fabric.
I also like getting undressed. I like removing the burden of display. There is a real universe beneath my clothes. Tiny beings at work inside my cells (mitochondria, centrioles, organelles, symbiotic bacteria) weave a syntax of skin and bone that seems to fit me ok. Together they create a front of tenable subjectivity. I get traction in the world with these little brothers and sisters. We have festivals and events. Toothaches, headaches, heartaches. Life wouldn’t be the same without them. Life wouldn’t be life. I would go on non-existing as I non-existed before this mess I call an identity was pulled into this world. And what are any of us doing here? In a word: chocolate. I exist to eat chocolate.
You can improve the varnish of things by moving to a place of better varnish. The phenomena that is knees enjoys a certain closeness. Cartilage caressed by money. The shine of bodies after a shower. Agates in the rain. The marsh entangles its vines like letters written to the Black Angels of Austin. Equations tattooed on a shoulder of gold. 
For example, the shear stress in a torque equation is perpendicular to the radius.
Radius of what? Let’s say the rear axle of a Jeep Cherokee. Because that sounds good. 
Rear. Axle. Of. A. Jeep. Cherokee. Essieu arrière d'un Jeep Cherokee. Eje trasero de un Jeep Cherokee. Cùl aiseil de Jeep Cherokee.
The camber of a melody in E minor suggests flagellation and lace. Rifles, ivory, nutmeg, and gum Arabic. Breath rising from a man awakened by language. Things float. Distant storms marble the far horizon. The genial regatta exults in chickens. Events occur everywhere agitation drinks its way toward disorientation, but they occur in a special light, they follow the wasps to the land of the Jeweled Canary. And at the junkyard is a sink filled with the dishes of a lonely man. 
The improvement of a shade of beard depends on the amount of snowballs available to the armory of a radical subjectivity. Being lonely is a small part of that. The availability of snowballs is purely arbitrary, and therefore copper. Metaphors are generally trumpets, long bright scruples filled with Minnesota. 
And yes, there are junkyards, and they are sad places, mournful destinations outside of town, old cars rusting in a dream of black interiors and torrential rains. It sometimes happens that people become strangers to themselves. There are drugs for this, and those for whom the threshold of sensation is suddenly gathered in a Shoshone chant, or a sudden light breeze across Lake Mead. There’s also that first time you touch the warm skin of someone for whom you feel a strong, overwhelming desire to bring into your life. 
The Sioux believe that the stone is the truest condition of creation. It is silent and solid and relentlessly specific. That which exists through itself is what is called meaning, Olson once scrawled on a blackboard in Berkeley, California. 
Other beverages might include cherry soda, root beer, or gin. 
To drink tea is to create drapery. The taste of squabbling that languishes in the bright lips of radar is modulated somewhere near the area of sailing in the mind of a Stoic. Saturday’s rakes play at Saturday. The result is smoke. The willow by the river is moody, yes, but it also recommends propulsion as a source of rebellion, which is something to consider, given the status of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which a young woman drowns. This is not a tender world. When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions. Adjustments will be required.  Objectivity hardens into a mask and life becomes a defensive ritual. Eccentricity shimmers through an unreconciled life. Even the insects seem nervous. 
A more thoughtful debauchery requires helicopters, but who can afford that?
Another thing sugar does is claw the unknown. Tomorrow we’ll have jelly. Life on the lawn can be annoying without a few jars and spoons and something to maneuver on the table during conversation. 
Leaves leave results of themselves in lacy decrepitude at the bottom of the creek. It is the substantives of the field that forget to incarnate description in the proper stratum of rocks when the terrain laughs and the hills accomplish the border between forgery and toad by a rapid broom of lightning. There is nothing anthropomorphic about a hill that hasn’t already smiled upon the occurrence of noon at midnight. It is glorious when a full moon deposits samples of itself during an inundation of language and the nomads stop to gaze up at the sky. 
And sometimes I’m so happy that a light comes on in the refrigerator when I open the door that I think of André Breton. Who said: we gaze at the unbelievable and believe it despite ourselves. 
Amen.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Hummingbird Of Gerunds


We harvest rubies in darkness, study our desires when inflammation is needed. Tongue shards make it soft. Percussion suggests the trumpets are burning, and the seismograph is fondled. Frog Woman shoots lightning at the void. I rub the faucets for fog. The velvet air puts itself into a pair of roasting pants and sifts the rafters for semantic assemblies of osteopathic snow. Thematic octane is the pell-mell of things. Alpine weather provided with bones and iron thinking.
Fold it pop pop. The box flirtation is also broke. Fingered incarnated fingerboard lumps. Subversive verse feelings on the finger of wavy nuts. I hold the world in my mouth. Energy fences of abandoned horses that arouse the luminous hills.
Raw brown arena supported by exultations of ginger. I feel the cosmetic drool of a shaken raft let’s elect a hibiscus to be the queen of spring and eat a bag of onions. Supply me with an awning of squirting sherbet. I feel a storm is coming. I can see it in your eyes.
Here is an enigmatic Renaissance food dagger. It breathes with plausibility. It takes swirls of falling geometry to place a whistle on the snows of Pluto, but this is no whistle, this is a trickled ambience of pancake philosophy. Some things make better sense as a flutter of vanity. This is why I spend time with a handful of electrical indecisions while mechanical basement emotions crash into an agitated cauliflower chair. I come out shooting rays of sunshine and slide  on a reverie of pure immodesty for the sheer hilarity of discovering the insistence of ice.
Afterwards, my life combs itself with a sea cruise.
I support alpine art with old offices. I wear hemoglobin to picnics and swoon in gnarled carpentries overflowing with correlatives. The roots rain mountains and the mountains rain roots. The gymnasium bathtub package certifies our sequoias. The benevolence of membranes respond to the nails and I hum with raw assumptions about the gloom of pottery.
The world is about anything, really, including itself and volleyball. I have fat medium teeth. The knife thinks it balances my arm. An embassy of fog makes brown look spread into lutes, and the colors that engulf the sewing of genitals reaffirms the complaints of the helicopter warehouse. The clocks gush their own shapes of time. The almanac rises into sorbet.
Thus, I lend my lungs to dropping off rhapsodies at the center for radical ear pants.
Plastic has strength for manufacturing attention, but not the rags of shadow that adorned the cast of Hamlet one day and then went their merry way into the open plains.
Correspondence is my hiking carpet and is opposite the meaning of spit. I undecidedly play at paradise. Matter is my tray of geometry, the great aromatic highway of undisclosed destinations. Plow, noodle, plow, for the dawn of astronomy is artless in its shirt of unsewn stars. Palpate this, my friend, and tell me it’s not a capstan. This is bitter, but smoky like wood. I feel the mass of a nuclear face move over the prairie like a question.
But did I tell you? I have harpsichord work tomorrow. The dazzling hair of a placental rapture offers a perspective we can use later for the eggnog. Meanwhile, it’s time to power up the forest thermostat and give the lawn the support of some crocodilian arteries. That’s how flaky our eyes feel.
If I have the right materials I think I can complete what the ice started. My tongue is a moment of butter. Frenetic ink games and beauty with ears on purpose. I don’t worry about the sorbet but I do worry that the birth of meaning will occur without me. I can taste the embarrassment of meat.
Cloud Tooth says his distress is drooling. Go, let the boiling south go swarming around its swamps, its orchids and keys. The horizon’s benevolent kettle whistles on the stove of the turbulent sea. The distance undresses and whispers to the crickets. Our old Alpine silverware has been rolled into scorpions. We ask for a ticket to Australia and climb into our opinions of form.
Immense lightning and the memory of absence. The goodwill of the north with hills in the middle. The effulgent oil of sleep balanced in the understanding of wind. To lift the solitary is to grow satiated with poles. The hummingbird of gerunds is even now digging out its wings.




Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bathtub Math


Math fascinates me, although I don’t understand any of it. I don’t mean addition and subtraction, multiplication and long division, I mean those bizarre symbols and letters. I think what I’m talking about is algebra and calculus, those fancier manifestations of number and quantity. What do those symbols mean? How are they supposed to work? It’s like looking at Arabic script. Beautiful symbols, beautiful writing, but apart from that immediate visual appeal the meaning of those symbols, their parabolas and proofs, their vectors and functions, roots and probabilities, vertiginous theorems and prodigious trajectories, transformative powers and constructions in space, are an utter mystery. Not of a magnitude such as the origin of life, but a throne in a clearing of the forest, circles of titanic stone, or an ostrich at a strip club.
According to what I can glean from YouTube, a number next to an x means that it is to be multiplied by x. So that if you have 9x minus 3x minus 20 equals 10, what is x? Ok, so here’s what you do, you “combine like terms.” Subtract coefficients: 9 minus 3 is 6. That gives us 6x minus 20. We perform an inverse operation. We give 20 a plus sign, add it to ten, and get 30. 30 divided by 6 is 5. So the mysterious coefficient (x) would have to be five. 30 divided by six is five.
Ok, but what about something weirder involving a lot more symbols and mental gyrations? What, for example, are some good stress equations for the flying buttresses of Gothic cathedrals? For this we need to resort to continuum mechanics: the behavior of material as a continuous mass rather than as discrete particles. Continuum means that the matter of the body in question is continuously distributed and fills the entire region of space that it occupies. In Chartres cathedral, for example, ribbed vaults are supported at regular intervals and the piers themselves are supported laterally at the level of the clerestory by flying buttresses that lead to high exterior towers topped by pinnacles. The pinnacles aren’t merely decorative but serve a structural purpose, maintaining the integrity of the buttresses by overcoming local tension.
Complicated stuff. And done without math. Medieval builders used, at most, Roman numerals.
Astonishing.
Stress analysis is an amazing field. It even applies to staples. Anytime things are joined together there are stresses and strains. Stress analysis applies to solid objects. Stresses in liquids and gases are the subject of fluid mechanics. But what about the stresses and strains of daily existence? Of getting along with other people, a lot of them total assholes? And what about slammed doors and explosive emergency room tempers? Drug-induced elations? Caught zippers? Revolving doors? Stained glasses? Blister packs? Impossible-to-open-clamshell-packaging?  
Moose antlers? Lyrical daughters? Extraterrestrial probes?
The house of math offers an immoderate bed. Its equations are springs in a mattress of hyperbolic functions. Human truth is everywhere in all desires. Empirical desire cannot be conceived in isolation. What counts is total involvement. The decorative is abandoned. The book asserts its own burning. The hibiscus is a talking pan. The broom twists its tibia and the toads wear glasses. The world becomes a place of breath and melodies of sweat. Mathematics becomes more dependent on algorithms, on tattoos and coffee, on rules without reason, on improbable probabilities and castles made of sand, on camels drinking in a crowd, on the leverage of thundering algebra, on the breath of angels speaking in the fog, and declares itself to be primitive, graffiti and scrawlings on walls and sidewalks, on the cold raw elements drooling trinkets of eccentric iron.
What might a stress analysis reveal about my current emotional state?
My current emotional state is a blend of rattle and hum, cyclonic vortex, debris clouds, exquisite anxieties and blunt, nihilistic depressions. The sky is an arena of cumuliform anvils and troughs of beaded lightning. My life, any life, is a never-ending song of fevers and looms.
There is always a vagrant story waiting to be born.
Is there sometimes a generality to these things, a mathematics of charcoal, of chiaroscuro? Of storms and flapping tarpaulins?  
In general, my state is characterized by rising currents and downdraughts. On a good day you can see Paris. On a bad day you would want to cover your head with a newspaper and avoid the freeway. I could not be a flying buttress. I have the personality of nitroglycerin.
Buddhists refer to our inner life as a bitter ocean of life and death, a constant churn of internal clashes and contradictions. Is there a polynomial for this? If so, it should not be a feather or foam cushion. It should be a low center of gravity.
I have to be what I am, or think I am, which is temporarily untenable, at least as a solid, or a pyramid revolving a footstool. This would be a situation in which the given force is rolled into a cricket of transparent quartz and plunged into language where it assumes a life of squeamish predicates and furious oratory.
There are no stress equations for emotional distress. Perhaps I could write one. Let us say that the sum of the pressure for a non-viscous, incompressible emotion in steady flow will be constant at any point, until it begins to boil, and overflow into curt behavior, and become a shape like tragedy, a mask with a downturned mouth and two ruby eyes glowing with inner fire. Then if X equals sand, and sand equals dune, finding the value of seaweed will require a sandwich and a little seclusion.
If the ellipsoid is sufficiently oblate, the rest of the formula will be simple as a road, a mailbox leaning slightly westward, and a roll of thunder coming from the east. Otherwise, the answer is feeling, and may be furnished with words, including sleep and sequoia, penumbra and yolk.
The spheres are beautiful and when the emotions are entangled there is a mathematics that holds the camels away from the carpentry during combing, for the camels must be combed, and houses must be built. I feel a snow within falling, numbing, a wonderful thunder pushing it into number, numb number, and I cry tones of neglected cloth, and embarrass the greenery with abstract fogs. Equations in shining muslin give their grace to the nettles of life, our parables undertaking the shinbones of the hummingbird and calculating significations of a widened purchase, odors trimmed with reflection, shovels eating mirrors of silence in a derelict garage.
Therefore, if density equals squirrels and knife is a function of life, St. Ives will appear in the mirror, and dishes and spoons will quake with quadratic reciprocity, particularly at dinner.  The sum of a hat is carried by integers of hat. Hat is integral to hat. The obtuse angle implies a sleuth or Walt Whitman. Nothing times nothing is anything at all. Think of it as the wings of a butterfly in Brazil whose gentle flight in the Amazon basin will result in a hurricane off the coast of Australia. The world is a nonlinear tablespoon. Sooner or later the trees will multiply the sky and the goldfish will compute their bowl in erratic circles, implying a sphere of glass in a one-bedroom apartment in Poughkeepsie, New York, and this will turn out to be another equivalent of parsley, which is photogenic and coincident with thought. This is proof that there are infinites sets which cannot be put into one-to-one correspondence with Limoges porcelain, but must be preserved in the cupboard, until they are needed to serve Leibnitz’s pi.




Sunday, April 9, 2017

I'm Telling You



I’m telling you there’s a strong wind coming so you’d better wear a wool hat. Don’t wear a broad brimmed hat. A broad brimmed hat will blow off. You’ll have to keep your hand on your head all the time to keep it from blowing away, somersaulting flippedy-floppedy into traffic and getting crushed by a truck. Wear a wool hat like my wool hat. Not like that hat I took to Paris. That was a broad brimmed hat. I had to tuck it under the seat on the plane both going there and coming back and worry about it the whole time. And when we were in Paris the tips of my ears froze. You wouldn’t expect a beautiful city like Paris to be so cold but it was fucking cold. It was like fucking Moscow. It was like the Russian winter that decimated Napoleon. I waited in line to see the inside of Sainte-Chapelle, wishing the whole time I’d worn a wool hat instead of a broad brimmed hat. I didn’t need a brim I needed wool over my ears.
Would you like to hear more? I’m nearly 70 years old so I’m full of advice.
Always keep a can opener handy. Or at least a jackknife.
If you can handle alcohol just stay drunk all the time. Don’t do what I did and get sober. Just stay drunk. If you use heroin that’s even better.
See as many movies as you can.
If you see things darkly you’re seeing them as they are. If somebody complains about your pessimism or your cynicism tell them to go get fucked.
I recommend the following books: Ulysses, by James Joyce; Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; The Book Of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa; Visions Of Cody by Jack Kerouac; À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust; The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia; The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson; Voyage au bout de la nuit by Louis Ferdinand Celine; everything by Shakespeare; everything by Montaigne; everything (including letters) by Arthur Rimbaud; everything by Gertrude Stein; everything by William Blake; Thing Of Beauty: New and Selected Works by Jackson Mac Low, edited by Anne Tardos.
Anne Tardos.
Also, Clayton Eshleman, Michael McClure, and Jack Spicer.
Tarantula, Chronicles, and Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan.
To be, in its purest sense, is to have access to all the representations of power. To understand their workings, their permutations, their mythologies.
Wherever you go always have a book and a bookmark handy.
Aquariums are fun but a little creepy. Zoos are horrible.
You can learn a lot about writing by playing with a cat. You’ve got to make the prey look truly enticing, unpredictable and alive. This keeps the cat interested and you can tire her out eventually and she’ll stop bugging you while you’re trying to read and listen to Vivaldi.
Be wary of ideals. Submit to nothing. You don’t have to resist loudly. You can resist quietly. But resist. Resist your own ideas of things.
Don’t rub your eyes if you ride a city bus. You’re liable to get styes and pink eye.
Try not to take yourself too seriously. Identity is an illusion. It’s like having a ghost climb into your body and plant ideas of ambition and power there. Who needs that? Life is hard enough as it is.
Avoid doing work that doesn’t suit you. Jobs are largely stupid. You will be subjected to the whims of petty tyrants, backstabbing coworkers and the thousand humiliations that attend the drudgery and weights of submission.
Life should have purpose so be on the look-out for anything that might look like a purpose. If you find it, consider yourself lucky. Purpose is a rare commodity. Life is mostly brutish survival. Having a sense of purpose about it is a real luxury.
Always have a few lightbulbs handy. A flashlight is especially useful. As the empire decays, power outages will become more common. That fact that I’m writing this on a computer and not by candlelight on a wobbly table is rather astonishing.
If you are required to work, try to do it somewhere warm and pleasant, like Portugal, or Uruguay. Chew your food well. Keep an eye on the railroad. If you like music, I recommend Bach and Robert Plant. Lucinda Williams. Linda Perry. Joan Armatrading. Brittany Howard. Alison Krauss.
Be puzzled. It’s ok. Don’t break your brain on worthless shit. Focus on the sublime. We’re surrounded on all sides by mysteries. Necessity necessitates necessity. But the growls and murmurs are free. “Everything belongs to me because I am poor,” said Mr. Jack Kerouac.
Stay fit. Keep the pounds off. Keep your narratives simple, and close to the heart.