Monday, December 17, 2012

Things That Glow

The red light on our kitchen stove when one or more burners are on, or something is baking in the oven.
The sections of glass in the Tiffany lamp under which our cat sleeps: buttons of amber, a butterfly with red and black wings, green leaves and white morning glories with yellow stamens.
The moon.
The tiny green light flashing in the lawn of an apartment building one night that caught Roberta’s attention while we were walking home from Café Vita. We were mystified. I bent down to look more closely. It turned out to be a warning light for a small lawn sprinkler.
The band of light on the CD player in our ’94 Subaru that flashes “reading” or “untitled” whenever we slide a CD in for play.
The Hall of the Eye at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
The colors in a dream.
Cephalopod luminescence.
Roof top cab signs.
The Christmas lights in the small glass jar covered with white lace that is currently situated beneath a large pine bookcase whose sides I carved in the front yard of a friend in the Santa Cruz mountains near Los Gatos and whose pattern I took from a book on Viking carving and consists of birds sitting amid foliage with berries in their beaks.
Traffic lights.
Motel signs, particularly the ones found way out in the desert, or great plains, in places like Kansas, or Missouri. The pop and ice dispensers at such motels. The silhouettes behind the curtains.
Streaks of orange and violet and gold at sunset.
The Nocturnal House at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo which housed fruit bats, a two-toed sloth and three-banded armadillo and had to close in 2010 due to budget constraints. I miss seeing the fruit bats hanging upside down, cocooned in their membranous wings, silent and still except for the occasional wriggle.
Bright yellow leaves constellating the sidewalk in late fall after it has freshly rained.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Coffee Foam

We entered the castle at dawn. The dim light feebly illumined an array of antiques and medieval weapons. Bats dangled from the high vaulted ceiling, enfolded in membranous wings. What were once chandeliers radiating light were encrusted with webs and the ancient wax of long dead candles. Our flashlights dazzled the walls. There were peacocks and angels, cherubs and robed women playing dulcimers. Reptiles skittered by. The strange predications of their skin displayed bright, iridescent colors and scales. A tall man in a black leather jacket, sunglasses, white cane, long shaggy hair and beard descended in a rickety elevator and introduced himself as Count von Zinzendorf, the legendary barista of Café Radis, who had long since retired and now spent his days reading old volumes in braille and feeding and stroking his reptiles. “How did you do it?” I asked. “How did you make those amazing coffee foam designs. Each one so unique, so spectacular, and you, a man who has been blind from birth.” “I feel a stirring in my blood,” he said in a voice so velvety it seemed itself to be the stuff of coffee foam. “I nimbly accept the toss of ocean waves. I feel the universe throbbing in my bones. I weigh the noise of my brain. As the world turns, I hear the calliope of our journey make its music in my wrists and fingers. My hands become birds, deft as the swallows that swoop the meadows of summer. And then the images come. I feel them as my hands trace their character and shape in the beverage. Would you like some coffee now?” He asked. I was breathless. “Yes, I would love some.” We entered the room where kept a number of espresso machines and samovars and jars full of tea. He produced two lattés and went to work, his hands quick as a magician’s making birds appear and disappear. “All my nerves shout summer when I do this,” he said. “I feel the glow of a thousand mornings and the deep peace of a Montana night, all simultaneously. Because this is the essence of coffee. It is morning and night in a single beverage.” When he finished, I looked at the images on the surfaces of the latté. In one was the face of a beautiful woman. In the other, was mine own face. Years later I married that woman whose face floated momentarily in that magnificent mug. Her name was Evelyn Lovelace, and she was a barista at the Café Mousse.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Green Tea Universe

A hover alters exaggerate. I drag a tricky orchid. Cloud at energize wallet. Palatable muse if oars twinkle.
The density clutches money. I see subtlety crack. Blister tray it compliments with sublimity. Rails walk shouting allegories of greed.
Paradigm wrinkles fiddle with language sticks. Biggest feather it hives is a locomotive. Evocation slips we alert the media. Nimble garments across breakfast yield color. Our sweetened robin turmoil. Our insoluble crackle. Our connectedness.
I smear stirring apples. Ultimately a teeming life attends an ablution.
Pin drink to jabber. Thumb phonograph we exult. Take adaptation to a door and open it. Chemistry makes us immediately Parisian.
Serious neck I buckle. The surface pullulates your chat. The taste beyond glide discharges frames. Bacteria thrash in the boat. The jackknife represents its squirts. The canoe extrudes cotton. Talk unfolds. We hurry to bewilder it with rags.
There is heft after the calliope ghost shows us death. Handsprings hunt the load. The tug is a form of configurational biology. Myriad predicaments hold my thesis. Triangles and fiddlesticks sizzle with value. The cloth ship has a pommel. The headland spins my bomb. I pounce on a quark and wedge it into a potato.
Rough appointment that a resilience beguiles. Butter your hope along. Throw the rumor. Reflect winter vertebrae. A linen is organic tea. Map skin with severity, as wrinkles house detail. A cloud they ponder in greeting is celebrated with machines. My bouillon cab is parked there. We strum our floats with raspberry wheels. Bend by pumpkin agreement. Tell branches we are discriminating. We collide. We carry chrome. We pack our grandeur with deformed bologna.
My feeling evolved from a Fauve palette. Scratch a gargantuan swallow and you will get a gargantuan transcendence. Muscle before flapping. Grow a caress. My shiver falls into milk. The play carries appearances of tickling. Chisel a lotus convulsion to go with the amusement of dirt. Urge wool. Suppose they pull a garish milieu and fly it into articulation. Suppose the stream accepts its own subversion. The blooms are busy selling ions. Age describes what I turn into. Peacocks are examples of eyes. Hills fulfill themselves in books.
Rattle the occurrence clean. They cut sawed cartilage here. I absorbed a pink scratch. Buffalo Bill emerged from the back room yearning for coffee. The office joined in a play. Toys consonant with power were strewn about the room sneezing sidewalk narratives.
My writing weighs noise. It is a dry argument I hold. The grammar literally aches.
Breakfast evolves vertically. Rattlesnake ganglions suspend the experience of thread. The Cézanne still life speaks to the stickiness of grip. Dirt accommodates sobbing. Faith accommodates necessity. The fantasy engorges with circles. Baltic amber stores the energy of an ancient blood.  Singing mimes insouciance in spectral bistros. Pulling blood will widen you. Expansion insists on elegance. We grow perturbed in our biology, creating a green tea universe.
A bikini eyeball shouts summer at a plume of steam. The gray sigh haunts a ganglion of sexual parenthesis.
Birds amid apples grow into Bohemia. Linger in a hectic parody. I perceive house paints. The library swims with architecture. Willow expands the potential of dirt. Reality shines among the rocks. The story burns into beards. A journey punches sails. We dream beside the nails remembering the construction of riddles during the time of the slow simulacrum.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I hear a man with a hammer in the fog of the morning. Electricians with drills. The grind of the drill. The elation of an open garage filled with the obduracy of rags and paint cans and odd bits of machinery. Why elation? A convocation of things is always an elation.
The fabric of time is sewn with minutes and hills. It gets hot around experience. Sand demands the song of the shaping wind. Behavior calls for movies. Behavior is strange and we need to understand it. We need to see it on screens. Animal behavior. Human behavior. Humans acting like animals. Animals acting like humans. People in the underground rushing through turnstiles. The ocean regenerating itself with fish and fire.
The fathoms below are black as velvet and punctuated with the drift of luminous organisms. I am lost in thought. Rails walk into Mexico shouting sunlight and steel. What is inside of us is outside of us and what is outside of us is inside of us. Skin is not a barrier. It is a medium. It respects the vigorous air of winter and longs for the heat of summer. The smell of a potato dug from the earth. Shoveled up steaming and subterranean.
Here is a totem of whales and seals. Here is Jack Kerouac in an attic in Los Gatos unleashing a river of words. Here is a garish symptom of language declaring itself to be a hippopotamus.
I drive a taxi. It floats on butterfly wheels. I hover over the traffic. I pollinate traffic lights. They blossom into green. They blossom into red. They blossom into yellow and cause brief interludes of ambiguity.
My skin is mapped with experience. Not tattoos, wrinkles. Folds. Can you hold this theme a moment while I go put on a sweater?
Supposition is the art of sewing abstractions to water. I toss pronouns into the museum to hear them echo. I write on a black table in a coffeehouse at the bottom of the hill. A setter looks up at a man in a parka with a fur collar while a bald barista makes him a latté. A velvety voice issues from the speaker above my head: Nina Simone on piano accompanied by a cello. The candle is an arm of light reaching for the stars.
Depth juggles space. Consonants are toys. Vowels are power. Or is it the other way around? Space juggles depth. Vowels are toys. Consonants are power. Syllables brim with tinctures of dream. Nerves flourish with the sparkle of a bicycle. One can perceive perception and sew it together. Sew it together with words. Sew it together with hammers and flares. A battle. An itinerary. A commonwealth.                                                


Sunday, December 9, 2012

An Alpaca Morning

When sensations are converted to words, they become iodine. They become cartilage and bone. They rattle. They dry into sidewalks. They extrude paradigms crackling with calliope ghosts.
Would you like a slice of sexual algebra? A piece of fruit? There is a Cézanne still life above the sideboard. It is full of fruit. Help yourself. Though you will have to eat it with your eyes.
Is there symmetry in space? I don’t know. How could there be symmetry in space? Space is not a thing. Space is a no thing. Or is it a thing indeed? Space is the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Harpsichord.  
Reflections on the surface of the water display the loom of the weather. The gray sky sighs with the dreams of birds. Picasso stirs a pot of beans. Autumn floats into winter. Winter is now ubiquitous. You cannot shoot winter with a shotgun. You can only endure it. Butter a hope with a long seclusion. Chisel a fiction out of the air if the air is willing and the chisel is real. And the winter is long and the days are short.  And all of your pronouns are harnessed to the syntax to a sparrow.
I admire the grandeur of the asterisk. Who cannot tremble at the sight of such a little star?
Structure defines. Chaos excites.
The bow of the violin apprehends the strings and seduces them into sound. It sings of beads of water on a black table. It sings of consonants pumped from a well of vowels. A wisp of incense unveiling a current of air. A blue van backing out of a 7-11 parking lot. The creak of an elevator in an old hotel. A tidepool loud with color. Buffalo on a voyage to the stars.
There is a charm in imperfection. Red hills perforated by a blue sky. A tug followed by the ghost of an atmosphere. Flaws in the ice of an alpine lake. A bit of blue plastic sticking out of a white drawer. The myriad predicaments of a gas station on Highway 99. Seeds. Pinochle. Topaz.
Palpitating secrets mark the beginning of indigo. The ocean washes over the wheel of the ship. There is a spectacle of blue at the end of this paragraph. No one knows what it is. It could be Hamburg. It could be headlights pinned to the night.
The bistro is imbued with rumination. Outside, rain percolates to the roots. Thin black branches silhouetted against a gray sky, tangled and complicated and delicate, like nerves.
Nerves are nervous according to the ways of the pumpkin. This is how art answers the enigma of sand. All those fine little ripples shaped by the wind. Mountains ablaze with an alpaca morning.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Warts and Toads and the Uses of Adversity

Necessity dangles from a peg of acceptance. Just look at it: those beautiful folds, those railroad lips. There are struts for the wings, and ribbons for the bagpipe. Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
Said William Shakespeare of London, England. Who can argue? Toads are stupendous. Different than frogs. Not slimy like frogs. Adversity should not be slimy. Adversity should be lumpy and dry with a jewel in its head.
Necessity is a form of adversity in the same way a hat is a form of wig. Both cover the head. Both offer some form of jewelry.

Necessity is what makes you do what you don’t want to do, and adversity is what you encounter while doing what you don’t what to do.
Say you want to get married and have to rob a jewelry store in order to get an engagement ring. You have to buy a mask, a gun, make plans, and bend some important rules of etiquette. In the end, it’s easier to go buy an engagement ring. Which requires money. Do you have money? Good! Go buy that engagement ring.
Marry adversity. Marry a toad. Marry a corner in a library. Marry an anonymous donor. Marry a hat. Marry a pleasure to a pain. Marry a pain to a pleasure. Marry a pair of elbows. Take the elbows dancing. Dance the elbows round and round the room. A room full of other elbows.
I like to reflect on the noises in a café. The modulation of voices, the ring of silverware, the crash of plates, the sizzle of bacon, the squeak of vinyl on an upholstered seat.
This is where adversity simulates the confusion of food. Everyone wants something different. Nobody really gets what they truly want. Which is to be free of adversity.
Adversity snores like a bridge troll in the catalogue of morals. You will have to pay him with the coinage of sweat and toil if you want to cross that bridge.
What bridge? The bridge does not matter. There will always be a bridge somewhere to cross. Golden dimensions incubating in the glamour of epic storms. Toads the size of lawnmowers pushing old women in wheelchairs. Medicine and travel and officious jerks frisking our bodies.
Weddings to attend. Funerals. Retirement parties. Lectures. It is endless. Buy some jewels. Visit a toad. Next time you see a wart, say a prayer, pitch forward, and catch that bracing ocean spray.


Friday, November 23, 2012


It is one of those things that bothers me, that should not. Should not bother me. Because it is something over which I have absolutely no control.
I am, of course, talking about gravity.
It’s all those Star Trek and Star Wars movies. It’s the crew of the Nostromo and the crew of the Starship Enterprise. It’s the crew of the space station in Solaris, and it’s the crew of the Death Star in Star Wars. Why are they walking around as if they were on a cruise ship in the Pacific? Shouldn’t they be floating, slowly tumbling, hair shooting out form their heads, like the crew of the International Space Station? And really, isn’t floating a way lot more fun than walking around like everyone else saddled with a stupid job in the military or corporation? If I had a job that meant floating all day and night, sleeping weightless in a cocoon and waking up and unzipping myself from my cocoon and easing into the waking world without my feet touching the floor, I’d be utterly devoted. I’d be Employee of the Month every month.
Kubrick got it partly right with the shuttlecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when Dr. Heywood Floyd, played by William Sylvester, carefully reads the instructions for the zero gravity toilet. But then we have Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) running laps aboard the Discovery. Where did the gravity come from?
According to Wikipedia:
A rotating spacecraft will produce the feeling of gravity on its inside hull. The rotation drives any object inside the spacecraft toward the hull, thereby giving the appearance of a gravitational pull directed outward. Often referred to as a centrifugal force, the "pull" is actually a manifestation of the objects inside the spacecraft attempting to travel in a straight line due to inertia. The spacecraft's hull provides the centripetal force required for the objects to travel in a circle (if they continued in a straight line, they would leave the spacecraft's confines). Thus, the gravity felt by the objects is simply the reaction force of the object on the hull reacting to the centripetal force of the hull on the object, in accordance with Newton's Third Law.
I get dizzy reading this explanation, but I’ll buy it. All I need is a little suspended disbelief to go along with the action in a space drama anyway.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Phase Shift

I sometimes awaken to my staggering ignorance of anything technological and immediately go to YouTube in a panic to fill my head with tutorials. I wish I could plug a program into the back of my head like the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar and learn Kung fu and quantum mechanics within seconds. But what kind of learning is that? Doesn’t learning require effort in order to become true learning?

I learned very early in college that learning is painful. Frustrating, demoralizing, disorienting. And here I am on that path again. The path of unknowing. The path of frequency oscillation and bandwidth and amplitude and sine waves. In other words, I don’t understand radio. I vaguely remember building one as a Cub Scout and I probably knew more about it then at age ten then I do now at age 65.
It all started with Stephanie Miller. I positively cannot stand that show anymore. I remember the early days of Air America, when they featured cutting edge pundits and comics like Mark Marin, Sue Ellicott and Mark Riley, Sam Seder and Janeane Garofalo, Cenk Uygur and Richard Belzer. There was humor, satire, honesty, truth. This was, admittedly, during the Bush administration, so everyone was pretty much on the same page. And then Air America went bust, Obama got elected, and the left crumbled into miliquetoast apologies for the atrocities of the Obama administration, which in reality had expanded  -  not diminished  -  the atrocities of the Bush administration.  But since Obama was popularly perceived as a good-natured, Harvard-educated constitutional lawyer whose rhetoric was stuffed with progressive values, what could go wrong? What went wrong was everyone went back to sleep. And talk show hosts like Stephanie Miller became cheerleaders for an administration that has proven to be far more abusive than Bush when it comes to civil rights, environmental abuses, the endless prosecution of war, maintaining a deregulated and predatory banking system and saber-rattling at Iran. Not to mention what will be a continued assault on social programs like Social Security and Medicare while Wall Street gets more bailouts, no imposition of regulations, and no arrests. All to be conducted quietly, and peacefully, under the auspices of Mr. Obama, and his winning ways, and hugs to Michelle, and occasionally shaking the hand of a courtroom janitor.
I decided I would return to KUOW. I gave up on KUOW during the Clinton years for the same reason I am now giving up on Seattle’s KPTK. But at least KUOW runs programs like Bill Moyers and David Barsamian’s Alternative Radio. Their news continues to be a little biased toward corporations, such as a report I heard yesterday about WalMart’s commencement of a shipping program, which framed it in such a warm, positive light it was practically a commercial. But the kicker is waking up to the BBC in the morning. Our alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m., so it’s nice getting those beautifully modulated British voices with crisp diction and shiny Sterling syllables, even when the content is horrific.
The whole country has now moved so far to the right that progressives like me are mocked by people like John Fugelsang who calls the more radical progressives who accuse Obama of betraying his base and core principles as whiny idealists and dismisses our grievances as childish, unrealistic wishes for lollipops and ponies. No, John, we’re upset because Obama has accelerated the drone program, has not restored habeas corpus, and has signed the National Authority Defense Act, robbing everyone of legal defense in case we are erroneously arrested as so-called “terrorists” during a protest. Just for starters.
Returning to KUOW is a little like returning home to parents you don’t entirely get along with, but you still love them, and they still help give you a modicum of comfort and stability in a world on its way to mass extinction.
The problem is, we can barely get KUOW on our radio. You’d think it was one of the strongest signals in Seattle. It is one of the strongest signals in Seattle. A powerful 100,000 watt signal originating from a transmitter on nearby Capitol Hill reaches east to the Cascade Mountains, west to the Olympic Mountains, south into Pierce and Thurston counties, and north into Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties. So why don’t we get it nice and clear? We’re lucky if we’re able to hear it all. I’ve tried moving the radio to different locations, none too far from the bed, of course, so I can reach it, without appreciable effect.
And so it is that I have entered into the domain of the radio and attempting to understand just how it catches those waves out of the air and converts them into voices and music. The BBC recommends that the best solution is an outdoor aerial. But we live in a condo. Where would we put an outdoor aerial? And don’t they make radios now with some sort of digital capacity? Whatever that means. I just hear digital and think that that will take care of everything.
Today is Thanksgiving. So the radio adventure will have to go on the back burner for a while. Meanwhile, I shall regale myself with baffling YouTube videos about carrier frequencies, kilohertz, electromagnetic waves and high voltage oscillators with adjustable frequencies.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fire and Pearl

You know that moment when your car breaks down and you pop the hood and you don’t have a clue as to what’s wrong and you’re not even sure why you went to the bother of popping the hood because you don’t know diddly about cars to begin with?

It’s like that. Anguish, the mind, the ultimate inefficacy of theory regarding important existential questions. How to peel a potato. How to get a job.
Getting a job is the worst. It is the ultimate conundrum. Because you are looking for something you really don’t want. What you want is money. You don’t want a job. That’s why I get pissed when I hear politicians declaim that they are going to be bringing us jobs. Fuck jobs. I don’t want a job. Do you want a job? I want money.
So rolls the mind and its catfish religions. I live in city full of noise. Pain falls through the body creating sentences of fire and ice. I write them down and discover air and rain. Turmoil is my middle name. My first name is Keith. I play lead guitar for the Rolling Stones.
Which is a lie, of course. My name is Walt Whitman and I am a load of underwear tumbling round and round in the dryer at the local Laundromat.
I like the eccentricity and irritations and grouchiness of old women at bus stops. I like cars, too, even though they stink up the world. The highway is liniment for the wounds of description.
Description kills things.
Or does it?  Perhaps I am wrong about description. Show me a waterfront and I will show you a feeling. What that feeling might be is for you to decide. Or feel.
Here is what I know: blood circulates in the veins. Unless you’re dead. Then it doesn’t. Doesn’t circulate in the veins. Doesn’t circulate at all. I suppose it eventually evaporates and and goes back to being clouds and rivers. Or goes up in smoke after cremation.
The secrets of the blood gossip in the Louvre. The universal wound of existence smolders in a cave. A lobster crawls among luminous rocks. It is a mosaic of seductive rhythms. The sweetest sound in the world is Picasso slicing a pot roast. It is a worm writhing in the shadow of a wall. It is the sound of a word carefully inserted into a sonnet. Bach stirs in me like a destiny. The clackety clackety clack clack of Kerouac’s typewriter in Neil Cassady’s Los Gatos attic comes to mind as a form of inspiration and cosmic comic sewn with a piano and a nocturnal emission. As for me, I don’t like to travel. No “on the road” from me. I’m just happy if I can find a seat to myself on the bus.
I used to enjoy travels to North Dakota to visit my grandparent’s farm and sinking my hand into a giant pile of grain. Right up to my elbow, and beyond. To my shoulder. I loved the smell of that grain. It was woody, and a little acrid.
Then when I got older I used to enjoy lounging in lounges sipping martinis and thinking of Shakespeare. History doesn’t move forward. Quite often it goes backwards. Think of Shakespeare. Think of the Elizabethans. Think of those heady plays full of ideas and questions about existence and power and seeking the love of a father or falling in love with the wrong woman. Now think about people today. They can barely carry a conversation. And when they do, it’s generally about the latest iPad or Smartphone. So no, history absolutely does not always move forward.
The key to success is in finding the right kind of camouflage. And cheap entertainments, like going for rides in elevators. Or luxuriating, à la the Big Labowski, in warm water in a bathtub surrounded by votive candles and incense listening to the songs of whales. The dude abides baby.
Sink your eyes into Corot’s landscapes. Jellyfish floating in the sound shimmering and fat with translucence. Big tired horses. Gallantry and steel.
I feel radical and silver. Send me a dollar and I’ll send you a packet of space for the treatment of asteroids.
Are animals attracted to you? If the answer is yes, your life is an amazing triumph of feeling and compassion. Don’t spoil it by seeking a literary award.
The ocean is a big emotion smelling of fish and crustaceans. I feel the heft of a loud fat cloud. I meet Mick Jagger at the new Ferris Wheel and we go for a ride. The little car sways. Below us the bay glitters and people gather in clusters and lines.
This is another lie. It wasn’t Mick Jagger. It wasn’t anyone. It was the lap of waves on small smooth stones. It was warm cat emerging from sleep. It was a sentence in uneasy equilibrium. It was thousands and thousands of nerves translating the murmuring of the world into fire and pearl.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Dream World

I don’t mind being dead. It’s ok. Really. I’ve discovered a whole new way of being based on non-being. What else can you do? I like being invisible. I like groaning and rattling chains. I used to be a writer. Still am. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that it’s not me that’s dead, but literature. It was killed by Facebook. It was killed by Twitter. It was killed by poorly funded public schools. Look at me now: opium greets the brain with a hug. I live in a dream world. There are many other artists and poets and writers here. I’ve met Keats. Can you believe it? What a nice guy. And Shakespeare. We had a blast. Now I know where Falstaff comes from. I’ve ceased thinking of writing as a mode toward pedagogy and social change and more as a total, unabashed indulgence. A pharmacology. Pennies tossed into a fountain. It’s tempting to squeeze it, but what’s to squeeze? There is nothing to squeeze. The realm of writing is an abstract, Hegelian sort of place or non-place for beings or non-beings. A non-place for non-beings. Former residents of Planet Earth. Who are now forgotten except in little books that get published occasionally and then set on the shelves of a small press distributor like still born babies in jars of formaldehyde. I used to hit the bars on Pike Street. Now I cook, and sew, and manufacture little embellishments of language. Doilies, I guess you could call them. Remember doilies? Nobody uses doilies anymore. They went out of style sometime at the latter end of the 20th century. My favorite coffee mug has a picture of the Beatles on it. How twentieth-century is that? It’s the Beatles as they appeared on their Rubber Soul album, the one with “Norwegian Wood” and “Nowhere Man” in which they resembled the romantic poets of England’s Regency period. Cry on the debris, I say. Let it happen. Nothing is ever truly dead. This is a proposal of snow. It falls, turns the world to a monotone of white, then goes. Sun comes out and it’s gone. It is our veins that carry that indispensable burden of ourselves. That red liquid working its way round and round. Can that be dead? Yes. But meanwhile, bank your grace on a laughing smell. Embrace a peacock. Dance your candy into accordions and coins. Dimes and silver dollars. Dig a hole. Drive a cab. I know what it’s like to be dead. I know what it is to be sad.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Elegy for a Dying Profession

 It is an odd, somewhat pleasant, somewhat painful sensation to discover that your so-called working days are over. First, the assumption itself could be wrong. Maybe my social security will be destroyed by Republicans. Or Democrats. Maybe the cost of living will force me to go groveling for work once again. But for the sake of argument, I’m going to say it’s over. Finis.

I will say this, categorically, unequivocally, and with extreme prejudice: I hated every job I ever had.
Something went gravely wrong in my employment history. Was it my attitude? Could have been. I never actually wanted a job. It’s not that I’m lazy. There are some forms of work that I enjoy. I always loved writing. I wanted to be a novelist of eccentric books with eccentric characters, eccentric ideas, and eccentric events. I wanted to be next Richard Brautigan. But by the time I really got serious about becoming the next Richard Brautigan, Richard Brautigan stopped being Richard Brautigan. He took a shotgun and blew his brains out in Bolinas, California.
I’ve never met anyone who truly enjoyed their job, no matter what that job happened to be. Everyone I’ve known has hated going to work. Hated the stress, the bullying, the boredom, the dull, demeaning, repetitive tasks, the pettiness of office politics, the withering looks of disdainful superiors, the insomnia caused by having your schedule constantly changed and the festering wounds made by the digs and cutting remarks of a perennially understaffed crew. You don’t need to be a writer or poet to hate these things. But the passion to write does put you in a peculiar relationship with the world because you’re producing something nobody really wants. It was once considered a high calling. People used to respect that ambition. Not anymore. Tell someone you’re a writer these days and you’ll get a blank response, as if you’d just farted, or scratched your crotch.
It is not infrequent to hear, at the reading of a famous poet, particularly one of the edgier bards a little out of the mainstream, how do you survive as a poet? How do make you a living? How do you support yourself? The sensible answer, which is the one most frequently given, is learn a trade. Become a carpenter. Become a veterinarian. Go to med school. Go to law school. Attend a heavy equipment training school. In other words, don’t be a poet. Be a carpenter, veterinarian, doctor, lawyer, or heavy equipment operator. Everybody wins. The future poet earns a living and the famous poet goes on being a famous poet with less competition.
Poets who offer this advice mean well. They really do. They know what it’s like to be poor and hungry and work at a craft that is roundly unappreciated and unrecompensed. There is a luxury in writing without the constraints of courting conventional taste in order to make money. But after so many years go by, perhaps they forget how exhausted one feels after a day of work, how terrific a beer tastes and how easy it is to turn the TV on and the let day’s stresses melt away while Bryan Cranston cooks another batch of meth or Olivia Munn engages in spritely repartee with Emily Mortimer. The eyes close briefly and the next you know it’s 11:00 p.m. and time to go to bed. Maybe there is time for a haiku, or to tinker with a sestina before crawling under the sheets.
William Carlos Williams was, as everyone knows, a doctor. He managed. He wrote a lot of poetry. My hat is off to that guy. I don’t know how he did it. Between patients? So I’ve heard. A line or two at the typewriter, then go take a look at Mrs. Pelagatti’s psoriasis.
Of course, the above scenarios all pertain to poetry. Nobody expects to make a living at poetry. You’re making a product for which there is absolutely no demand. Nobody wants poems. Handing someone a book of poetry in this day and age is tantamount to handing someone a paper bag full of dog shit.  
Writing is different. There is a far better prospect at making a living. What do J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and Suzanne Collins all have in common?  Crappy, inane, mediocre books. Yes. But apart from that. That’s right. They’re all fucking rich. So how do you, dear reader/writer/blogger, also become rich? I wish I knew. I don’t know what the formula for writing a highly marketable book is. Mediocrity? Perhaps. But there are a number of books that are actually pretty good that also command respectable sales. I would ask someone really smart in the business who also makes a lot of money. The writers of HBO’s Deadwood, for instance, or screenwriters like William Monahan, Diablo Cody, or Tony Gilroy.
Writing screenplays is an option I let pass. I never gave it a shot. There were two reasons for this. One, I don’t like competition, and I can’t imagine anything more fiercely competitive then getting people with pull to read one’s scripts. And two, I wanted the quiet, secluded life of the novelist. I love movies, but drama has never been my forte. Nevertheless, if I were a younger person with a passion to write and an aversion to poverty, I might take a shot at the brass ring in Hollywood. Though I would also have to imagine myself as a completely different sort of person. A louder, brighter, more aggressive person. A person who does well in social circumstances, parties hard, works hard, networks with the dexterity of an air traffic controller and kisses ass with relish and moral abandon.
I was always drawn to the novel. As Jack Kerouac and Virginia Woolf and Margaret Atwood have all amply demonstrated, there can be poetry embedded within the scope of the novel. The novel is a have your cake and eat it too situation. You can write poetry, put it in a novel, and provided you don’t put too much of it within a novel, you still have a chance at some marketability and paying the rent without having to serve dinner to petulant assholes or gaze at spreadsheets in a cubicle.
Novels demand time. Poems are small. Novels are big. Poems are born almost entirely from the imagination of the poet. Novels require research. Hours of proofreading and editing. And if novels aren’t your cup of tea, there is also non-fiction. Writers such as John McPhee, Jonathan Raban, Diane Ackerman and Barry Lopez have made pretty good livings at it. The question is: is this still a sensible career choice for someone who loves writing? The prognosis, at least from my bruised, disillusioned point of view, is not good.
There was a time when the demand for good writing was high and paid well. That time has gone. Not even the Huffington Post pays its contributors. Good writing is no longer valued.
I know. This is depressing. There are people, and I count myself among them, who can’t do anything but write. Here is a list of things I cannot do: quickly understand instructions; follow orders; make change; be polite to idiotic and demanding customers; practice fundamental math skills; remain concentrated on a boring task; fake enthusiasm; tolerate stress; perform routine tasks in a brisk, able manner.
What’s left? Writing, of course. Writing you do in private, at home. Preferably at home. If you have a home. If you don’t have a home, à la Jean Genet or John Keats, a temporary home will be provided in the form of a couch, or prison cell.
There are jobs such as teaching that provide a half-way measure. It is preferable, for some, to at least be able to talk about writing when you can’t write than serve espressos to impatient yuppies or caddie for the Wall Street crowd. That will require a degree, which will require a loan, but if you’re willing to take a chance on that avenue, go for it. It’s better than washing and manicuring poodles.
I’ve often wondered if being a late night security guard wouldn’t be a good job for a writer. After you’ve checked all the doors and rest rooms for malefactors the time is yours to dream and reflect and get some paper out and write.
My strategy paid off pretty well too. Just stay alive long enough to collect social security. If it’s enough to live on, or can be compounded with a few literary awards, then you’ve got 24/7 to write to your heart’s content. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Pound of Consciousness for the Production of Suds

Step respectably through your sleep. There is a cure in the curve. Rattle a dream. Let us talk as the propeller churns the water and pulls down movement. Figure a lip. Ask the man of bitumen if he can heal a cow by fondling a velvet button. The aluminum sweats. The river sighs among its ensemble of rocks and argues prospects of old lumber with transcendental nails. The canvas flaps and hammers at the pink horizon and cuts the sky into folds of Byzantine undulation. Proposals of French simmer at the thermometer and although the moose is monotonous the amber is mean. I sob to consider the ravages of age and demand a pound of consciousness for the production of suds.

Money convulses under the strain of a massive torrential paragraph. The predicament is various and writes itself into a wilderness of boundless speculation and leaves fluttering and odors exploding and siren songs drifting from a region where there appears to be a lot of water doing what water does best. Create moss and apples. The words pull themselves into a fiction. A fable of woven silk. They evolve into a large butterfly with diabolical colors and fangs drooling rabid ideas of language. It takes wing. The landscape below is patterned with the labor of farmers. Money convulses in the bank. The sound is twitching. It is fat and violent.
Yesterday I saw hundreds of crows fly south in a loose formation. They appeared to be in a party mood. The world seemed incidental, like the shadows in a cemetery. A place of epitaphs and memory and stone. I’ve always thought of bas-relief as a form of pronouncement in stone. Crows are more like omens. Ghosts denote loss. Locomotive abstractions boiling with solitude.
Words are ghosts. They play absences like characters in a play. They enlarge the sovereignty of existence. They’re placentas of meaning that evolve into huge civilizations. Moody turns of thought that jerk and argue against the thunder and waves of the ocean. It’s why sideboards differ from belts. In the house of language the rattle and squirt of hot acetylene words solder stories of heavy frame and recognition. Railroads ape the fight for conquest. Saloons enhance the character of spurs. Angels scratch themselves feeling the nascent rub of warm and garrulous wool. The hills are folded into oddities of rock and grass. Swallows thread the meadows. Spring flexes its muscles. A stream of people escape the drudgery of a sleeping expressway. Sometimes it helps to swim. Consider space as a diagnosis of hats. The result is a buckle. The sublime is washed in rain.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How To Build A Drunken Sandwich

Things You’ll Need 

1.      200 pounds of burning circus

2.      Charcoal passions glistening with rain

3.      A large oak barrel full of rhinoceros warts

4.      The tibia of a snowman preserved in a freshly frozen haiku

5.      A beautiful agony wrapped in tinfoil

6.      A splendid enthusiasm for playground slides

7.      A hawk, a horizontal perspective, and a grapefruit

8.      Mini peanut butter cups

9.      A hard day’s night and a flock of syphilitic cherubs

Here’s What You Do 

1.      Place your materials on a work board. Strum the stars with supple speculation. Notice how everything applauds a buffalo.

2.      Be athletic.

3.      Attract chickens.

4.      Write a letter to your favorite surrealist poet. Be sincere. Most everything in life is beyond our control. The perihelion of Mercury heals the blindness of descriptive geometry. Kick your employer in the ass. Emotions are strange experiments in honesty. 

5.      Draw a hospital with a pencil of dust.

6.      Rescue a bank. Let your fingers walk on a quiet dollar. Polish the pennies with brass polish. They must be shiny for the solder to stick. Repair the damage caused by language.

7.      Spin the wool of resolution. Nothing is no longer nothing. The universe is vast and old and rare things happen all the time. Steep your senses in mute redemption. Say to yourself: I’m alive! Go on a long journey. When you return, hammer each nail with the deliberation of a mallard migrating to China.

8.      Say something enormous and wintry. Avoid adjectives. Space ruptures semantic stability. Inflate a pink balloon and shine like a soda. Pack description with flashy horizons. Go to war against banality. Let your words carry the sentence to the end of the universe. Notice how the planets conjugate gravity in naked space. Be flexible. Remember: color is to paint what meaning is to pain.

9.      Take off your clothes and burn them.

10.  Create a baby universe in a laboratory. Mingle among its various moods and choose one to cultivate.

11.  Build a cabin on the Snake River.

12.  Play blackjack with a Russian janitor.

13.  Rob a planet with a waxed and luminous thighbone.

14.  Honor a bug with fervid approval.

15.  Parody a color with a talking sponge. If the color talks back, imitate your emotions with a sidewalk and a sparkler until the larynx of a pizza tray shoves its pepper at a peacock and laughs.

16.  When lightning sweetens the breath of Wisconsin, and density accelerates the hug of the sublime, ride an elevator to the top of a pea and smear ketchup on a landslide. Cut the sky in two. Crash into walls. Velocity is proportional to distance. Avoid fractions. Put a bead of meaning on each syllable. Explode your head with sunlight and clarity.

17.  If the firmament rattles with inexplicable tokens, bring a tiger to an October wedding.

18.  Your sandwich is finished. All that remains is stone and string and a few paper cups. Fire charms the sway of the wind.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gravy Scribbled On A Table

I like the romantic idea of an inner blue fire communicating with the outer world of reality and worry in words of molten gold hammered into a shield of poetic reverie. I see a limousine on Willow bend into sense. I see an algebra of clouds plunge into menstruation. I see a testimony of rain fall through itself. Details happen to meaning like hit songs encapsulating segments of time and space in a jukebox. And look: my pockets bulge with change. That could mean a lot of songs, or a moment of reverie alone in a booth. With a martini. An imagined martini. Would an imagined martini be better than an actual martini? My roots are soaked in alcoholic Technicolor. I am like an orange peel abandoned to the candy of pure energy. All things flow. This we know. And yet I stumble occasionally as I roam this planet. And just when I think I’ve got it all figured out I see a splash of paint on a canvas and wonder what the fuck. Look at those circles flip and rise. You know what, I need a new hat. I still haven’t found the right hat. This is where so many of my problems arise. Not having the right hat. I abhor nothing so much as the wrong hat for the right head or the right head for the wrong hat. I envy thunder. I wish I had a voice of thunder. I know when I’m losing someone’s attention, like say at a poetry reading, just before the reading begins, and someone new enters the room and that’s it, my interlocutor walks off and the conversation dies. I live in Bohemia with whispers and lips. I arise and go look for news in the Paleolithic morning. Later I sit down to write and apparitions appear on the paper. It is hard to adapt to this world. There are so many assholes. You’ve got to elbow your way through them. Elbows are underrated. They’re more than just hyphens. They have the innocence of a prostitute’s tear. An old house ripples through my memory like a languid breeze sifts through a forest and I pull my toolbox out of the closet to fix the toilet seat for the umpteenth time. Our apartment is a ship. Wood cracking in the sea. But this is not my address. Think of this as a gardenia in the mud, or just another wad of irresponsible language. Language is inherently weird. Language finds its source in sky talk. The drift of clouds, the flight of birds, the clash of winds. I appoint you chief architect of a dangling espousal. Shakespeare sitting alone in a booth. Muttering an astronomy of words. Canadian maple. The unspeakable, the untellable, and everything that can and is and isn’t. For instance, we all know that fire translates mass into energy. But if we see a suitcase on the floor tangential to a spot of grease why should that give rise to thoughts of Emily Dickinson writing about death? Because she did. She wrote a lot about death. Perception is ceaseless revelation. Toss that load in the washer, brother, and lean and loaf and study a spear of grass. Take up boxing. Start a blog. Each burst of feeling is a propeller churning the water and moving our boat forward out into open water. It is remarkable how much never gets said. Everything’s happening everywhere. It’s morning at the Rio Tinto Zinc Mines. It’s Jack Nicholson grinning broadly in his umpteenth movie. Structure is a refuse from chaos. A pair of gloves on a porch railing. Somewhere somehow there is always a way to answer the hop of a sparrow with a cry of mute subconscious bullet, even if it’s just a blog entry, or gravy scribbled on a table.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Melted Language

Yesterday I went to renew my library card at the University of Washington. I urged Roberta to accompany me because I wanted to visit the special collections library and get a look at Minutes to Go, the collection of cut-ups put together by Sinclair Beiles and including work by Beiles, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso and Brion Gysin. It is Gysin who is credited with developing the cut-up technique, which he discovered by accident when he was cutting some cardboard with his knife for some pictures he wanted to mount in his Moroccan apartment. There were some newspapers beneath the cardboard and he noticed that the knife had sliced them as well and that when he rejoined sentences and paragraphs surprising new images and meanings emerged. Thus began a whole new way of composition.

Although it wasn’t that new. Gysin was quick to point out that cutting up and collaging sentences and paragraphs is a technique that had been in long use by painters. George Braques and Picasso, for instance, liked incorporating everyday fragments of wallpaper and packaging, bits of wood and cardboard into their earlier Cubist paintings. Gysin also argued that T.S. Eliot’s seminal modernist work The Wasteland used collage, and the Dada poet Tristan Tzara had produced a recipe for creating poetry that involved cutting up words and putting them in a paper bag. Burroughs found the cut-up technique hugely exciting and called it a way to alter reality. Cut-ups lead to a pluralistic perspective obeying an unknown logic. They make explicit a psychosensory process that is going on all the time. “You remember Korzybski and his idea of non-Aristotelian logic,” Burroughs observed. “Either-or thinking just is not accurate thinking. That’s not the way things occur, and I feel the Aristotelian construct is one of the great shackles of Western civilization. Cut-ups are a movement toward breaking this down. I should imagine it would be much easier to find acceptance of the cut-ups from, possibly, the Chinese, because you see already there are many ways that they can read any given ideograph. It’s already cut-up.”

I would love to own a copy of Minutes to Go but the cheapest copy I’ve been able to find to date on Amazon is $164.97. And it’s a very slim volume. So I opted, at least for the time being, to go for the more economical route of reading a copy at the library.

The special collections library is located, appropriately, in the basement. It has a nice subterranean feeling to it. One is in the realm of the dead. The buried. The nearly forgotten. The ancient and rare. And added to all this Gothic ambience is the ritual of getting into the library. You have to fill out a little form at the desk in the entryway asking for your name and address and phone number. Then you are given a number inscribed on a piece of folded plastic, such as they give you in buffet style restaurants, so that the person who goes into the archives for your item will know where to find you. You must use a pencil, which they provide, not a pen. After you’ve filled out the form and left behind any valise or purse you might be carrying, the gate is buzzed and its latch released and you may enter the inner sanctum.

So it’s a bit fun to go view items there. A young Asian woman was sent to get Minutes to Go and returned a few minutes later with the slim volume encased in a plastic sheath. I felt a little nervous removing it because it was so fragile. The publication date, 1960, isn’t all that remote in time, but long enough for paper to begin to deteriorate. Why, I wondered, hasn’t this little book been republished a gazillion times since its initial release? What is it doing in a special collections library? Why isn’t it readily available at bookstores?

I love the work in this little book. One of my favorites is Brion Gysin’s “Open Letter to Life Magazine,” which was a cut-up of the article Life published on the Beats in 1959. “Sickle moon terror nails replica in tin ginsberg,” it begins. I love that. Don’t ask me why. I can’t explain it. The full letter is available online (click the title) and is one of the few works from this collection that I’ve been able to find published elsewhere. There are also some excerpts published in The Third Mind, a collection of essays about the cut-up technique by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin published in 1978 by the Viking Press.

Corso is the one contributor/collaborator who evinces some ambivalence over the technique. Because it is a technique. Putting together a cut-up is not unlike working on a car. You’re using source material you’ve chosen, but apart from that, the material does not emanate from you. If you think of poetry as the residual artifact of a visionary experience, this would be the opposite of that. The material does not come from inside you. But then, neither does language. What you find in the dictionary is a cut-up. A collage. All language has a mechanical aspect to it. Words are parts working like so many gears and cogs to provide movement and meaning. Each sentence is an engine with the power to raise the dead à la Frankenstein or animate a universe of cable and pulley in a cacophony of delirious trigonometry. Like it or not, no one ever wrote a poem that streamed out of their being with the purity of a spring. Not unless that poem wasn’t a language at all but a consortium of sounds with no meaning attached, a form of phatic communication similar to the caterwaul of howler monkeys or sorority girls.

That said, I do share Corso’s ambivalence. I enjoy doing cut-ups and fold-ins and exquisite corpses, I love collage, but there comes a point where you feel detached from the material. I like the romantic idea of an inner blue fire fueling a poem of soulful wholeness, a living entity of words that cannot survive disassembly and reassembly because it’s not a machine but a living breathing organism. A poem, in other words, that is genuine and sincere and writes itself with the guidance of angels and cosmic intuitions tied to a brilliance of deep down soulful effluence of myriad being. “The individual poem stirs in our minds,” Robert Duncan observed, “an event in our language, as the individual embryonic cells stirs in the parent body. The beginning of the poem stirs in every area of my consciousness, for the DNA code it will use toward its incarnation is a code of resources my life pattern itself carries; not only thought and feeling but all the nervous and visceral and muscular intelligences of the body are moved.”

Corso no doubt felt Duncan’s articulations when he wrote in the postscript to Minutes to Go: “… and so to the muse I say: ‘Thank you for the poesy that cannot be destroyed that is in me,’ for this I have learned after such a short venture in uninspired machine-poetry.”

I tend to shuttle back and forth, sometimes preferring the stream-of-consciousness, visceral outpourings one finds in Kerouac or Joyce, and sometimes preferring to get out of myself altogether and assemble something using chance strategies in an effort to tap into a larger universe than the one cooking in my brain. For what is a cut-up but a fondue of melted language?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Not So Sweet Emotions

Emotions are weird. It’s like having weather inside you. Strange, erratic weather. Lows, highs, pressure gradients and heat lightning.

The reason I find drugs so seductive is because I don’t like the way I feel most of the time. My emotions have a tendency to migrate toward the dark. I know euphoria. I have felt euphoria before. I love euphoria. But finding euphoria as a feeling that I can have inside my body whenever I might want it to be there is as elusive as finding the Hope diamond in a Crackerjack box. It just doesn’t happen. Not like that. Not like turning on a light switch. If it happens it happens and I’m thrilled and surprised and hope it lasts but it doesn’t. When it goes it goes and I can’t bring it back like changing a light bulb.

The emotion I’m most familiar with is dread. Angst, and its close cousin despair. But is this a feature of my personality or the product of a realistic view of things? A predatory, sociopathic, treacherous and completely unregulated criminal class of bankers and investment brokers are stealing money from the American public while the President and the Attorney General stand by and do absolutely nothing. There is a large group of people passionately committed to the removal of Medicare and Social Security. The president, who promised to end war, perpetuates war. There are thousands of weaponized drones murdering and surveilling innocent people in the name of fighting terrorism. Glaciers are melting. The oceans are rising. Drought and overpopulation are creating impossible conditions for people to survive much less live happily. Potable water is disappearing. The environment is full of toxins. Fascism and illiteracy are on the rise in the United States. And so on.

I don’t like feeling anguish and despair. I really don’t. They're ugly emotions. This is why I like it when, on rare occasions, I might be prescribed codeine or given an injection of morphine. I find all the woes and evils of the world much easier to accept. If there is a way to induce these feelings naturally, I am all ears. I’ve heard that meditation and breathing exercises help. I’ve tried them. They don’t. Vigorous exercise helps, but it’s still not quite the same as 25 milligrams of Valium, or the sweet persuasions of codeine.

I have no control over my emotions. I don’t know anyone who does. The Dalai Lama, maybe, but I don’t trust him, not since seeing him shake hands with George W. Bush with a big, fatuous grin on his face. What would the Buddha have to say about this? Show compassion for all people including war criminals? For obscenely wealthy elites who contribute to the destruction of the environment, the loss of social support networks, the health of the economy and exploiting the health and labor of those who are less fortunate? Probably. The Buddha would probably smile beneficently with a hint of underlying sadness and acceptance of evil and say, Yes. Show courtesy and compassion to people who do bad things. I’m not sure I’m on board with this. I’m definitely not on board with the Pope. His idea of showing compassion is to ride around in a Popemobile waving sagely to the madding crowd.

Whatever happened to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi? He passed away in 2008. He may have been the real deal. David Lynch, who is no stranger to the weirdnesses of evil, remains enthusiastic.

One thing I have noticed about holy people. Their concern is directed outward. They might meditate, or live ascetically in mountain retreats, but there is always evident a willingness and visible effort to help other people. The sick and dying. The hungry and abandoned. You never hear of saints committing suicide, getting drunk or shooting heroin. They’re generally to be found among the suffering, working in hospitals in desperately poor countries. So there is an answer to the crippling effects of anxiety. Go help other people. It’s simple. Unless, of course, you’re a selfish asshole addicted to writing.

I hate regret. Regret is one of the worst. I have thousands of them. The practice of writing promotes the illusion of going back in time and correcting things. This is because revision is a natural part of writing. But you can’t do that in real life. There is no time travel. There is memory, but that’s not the same as time travel. That’s not the same as going back to undo a stupid thing you did, or unsay a stupid thing you said. How nice that would be. Show up right after you said something gauche or just plain hurtful and awful and erase it. Delete it. Or say you insulted someone but the insult was weak. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back and sharpen it up. Put a little more wit and edge into it. A little more steel. And then twist.

Imagine having the opportunity to go back and rectify a bad decision. Get a law degree instead of a useless bachelor of arts degree. Become a radiologist or heavy equipment operator. We inherit the decisions we make in our twenties. This is clearly fucked up. Maybe at one point in history people were able to admit to themselves that they’re not going to become a script writer for a popular TV sitcom or the next J.K. Rowling and at the ripe old age of 45 go back to school and get a degree in medicine or law but you sure as shit can’t do that now. I can already hear vociferous disagreement in this quarter and I hope I’m wrong but I know of few people, no one in fact, who was admitted into graduate school in their late 40s, incurred a massive debt, but then went on to get a tenured position teaching contemporary literature at Harvard or Princeton. Besides. I’m 65. That clearly ain’t gonna happen.

It’s hard when you discover that someone else is leading the life you had mapped out for yourself. For me, that person used to be Richard Brautigan. He wrote a quirky, highly eccentric and imaginative book which sold millions and made him millions. But that didn’t last. The person currently leading my life is named Tom Robbins.

I could not be a J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins. I can’t write like that. I wouldn’t want to. It’s just too stupid. The money is a lure, but there are limits.

My favorite emotion is resignation. Resignation is as close as you can come to codeine. Or Valium or Xanax or Ativan or Seinfeld reruns. It is non-addictive and has no side effects, but it can take some effort to obtain. Sometimes it’s easy. There are certain inevitabilities that are easy to accept and for which it is easy to relinquish all pretense to control. I can easily resign myself to winter. I can’t control the weather. I can argue with the calendar and refuse to flip the pages forward to December, or go around outside in a T-shirt and shorts, but I can’t argue with the cold. I’ve tried arguing with the cold and it doesn’t work. I just end up looking like some old vain crazy person, a shaggy-headed King Lear shaking his fist at the heavens. There is drama there, and possibly some catharsis, but King Lear and his fool can tell you there is nobody up there who could give a flying fuck what some disgruntled mammal on earth has to say about inclement weather, treacherous family members, or gout.

The kind of resignation I find most useful but hardest to obtain is when something foul or untoward occurs on a personal level. I publish a book, but the book is a flop. The book doesn’t sell. No one reviews it. It is ignored. I must, then, resign myself to the fact that the book is a failure and let it go at that. But how? I must admit that I’ve either written a bad or mediocre book, that despite my hopes of stunning the world with my literary genius the actual work might have merit, but just ain’t that great. Or, the book really is a stunner, but hardly anyone reads anymore, and those that do read or already overburdened with material and suffering from a bad case of option fatigue. In which case it is vain and silly to write anything with a view toward publication. Just write, enjoy writing for the sheer pleasure of it and nothing else and then stuff your products in a drawer à la Emily Dickinson. Or post it on a blog.