The tracks uncross, uncoupling the stars in our eyes. It is late and the light won’t train toward the alley by the liquor store on Broadway. Saturday night leaks greasy blues against neon signs for lotto prizes and fast-food payday loans. The discount tire guy waves and falls, to be raised again, a blow-up Lazarus. Alive.
The buzz of broken streetlights reminds that everyone is hanging as you are, by the thread to which we’ve tied some whispered prayer. Give us this day, our daily bread––no, never mind, take it back. Regrets fur like smoke at the crosswalk, teasing, Go. Not Yet. Hurry. You’ll miss it again.
My eyes hurt. Show me one thing blooming. Here they are, cellophane-wrapped with other plastic-plated symbols of significance, ready for purchase, bright tokens. Pang of grief, but you work with what you have. The hungry eye learns to make do. The gas station oasis lit to magnify the lines on the faces in line, we avert our eyes in respect for one another’s naked needs.
If not this day again, give me something. I pay to spill back onto Broadway. Beneath the glow of a No Vacancy sign, I wait to cross, sated now, the stems in hand. There are others on foot, and we stand at the banks. Not yet, don’t go. You can feel something hold us by the words we still won’t speak, nudging toward the next chance to give it all away.
Anyone can be an expert, when keeping is the point. All it takes is rejection of a sense of the disaster of being full up, and a guiding hand to fear how the space of its reach might indicate some lack––of anything but the capacity to Figure it Out.
By the science of keeping, one can make lists and keep intentions. Retention’s methods always have some Master eager to Proclaim the next Solution to loss. To capture a place, there are itineraries, photos, souvenirs, but none so lasting as a scar.
The body, in the end, can only hold a record of its wounds. It returns the bones and teeth to the earth or the next collector. In the end, it can only offer what flies from it, which is a concept the experts have yet to explain.
Inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art. Playing with the negative image.
Some mornings when I have a strong hunch about being not up to reading the dispatches of certain outlets of official News, I go to Craigslist because I want to be reminded that someone, somewhere, is finding a lost tabby, taking her in, and taking time with the announcement, she is here, and that someone else only wants to hearof your ghost story, your art, your interest in beingfeatured in an indie film, your interest in timespent over coffee, talking questions and making use ofsome ideas you never knew where to put, findingwhat one calls other creative spirits and a way to beunited toward a sea change and to return––this time––the tabby, the golden, the rabbit, the parrot.
To be clear,they stress no offers, list their numbers in the ads, and beingwary, write out the last four. Please call, they say, and it must becomfort I find in this chorus of suspended invocations, awaitingsomeresponse––as though nothing has yet happened to sever the heartbeat, hoping, as though what seems to be for the time being, utterly––
may only have strayed,gone dormant or been temporarily misplaced. That itwaits somewhere, calling here and please call.
Hi friends. I am trying a new thing. Often as I do these daily posts, something emerges that tells me it is part of another thing. When this one came up, I decided it was “The Unknowing Project.” Here’s an early iteration. As 2023 unfolds, I intend to do a few more. With love, Stacey.
You had some nerve, some told you, to speak love into the war, to flaunt that voluptuous hope in all her fullness, wearing not a stitch of modesty. Not even cynicism, or nihilism; neither was she utopian, and although they tried to call her ignorant, her brilliance shone.
They urged you to cover her up, but you wanted to let her dance. You gave her new songs and the earthquake moved you, the way every atom of life and its killing was suddenly known in the leaning faces of strangers.
Coming clean in a disaster is still a possibility, you insisted, and dreamed a blues to meet the moment when the ground breaks itself open, dreamed it a birth breaking open, a mouth to catch a final breath and release––and what came forth from that exhalation? They asked you about your aim and you told them. I aim to make love a reasonable possibility.
Inspired by Josh Kun’s (1995) BOMB interview with June Jordan, discussing the libretto she wrote for I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky (with composer John Adams).
She explained that none of this will offer any useful defenses against death, health, or inclement weather. That it has nothing to do with a feeling of faith, that the time to stay often happened when faith was shaken. On the task at hand, she said hold. She said, create.
By way of encouragement, she said no, you will not get over it and no, you will not decide that you can go on.
Why, then? one of us asked. She laughed. I invite you and now you need a reason?
Shaking her head, she turned and walked out, leaving the door open.
There is the event, what occurs after, and what will be remembered; what is in the frame and what beyond it, who stands beholding, and what presents itself, as composition. The artist tries presenting Time as concrete. For example, here’s a calendar and it can repeat endlessly without naming the century. Following these questions out, and out, and out, she creates a dizzying array of images, depicting a history. The effect is a sense of overwhelm, a sense of being tiny by comparison, crushed by the scope and depth of it all. Some will retreat immediately. For those that remain, there are other effects to come, and one of these is a certain euphoria of spirit, suddenly released from certain presumptions about its individual weight.
You asked how to survive in a ruined world. Your answer was a series of confrontations: with experience, with history, with the paradoxes of humanness. You would hunt these, not to eat but to offer as food upon your return. If writing is faith, how can you do it amidst the screams of the tortured, the imprisoned, the babies? You meant to answer, keeping witness with your pen in the faint light of your constant faith in a city without a name, writing a song for the end of the world. In times of crisis, you said, everyone becomes a poet.
You can see them in Goya: the cannibal Time eating his children, the hooded sisters pointing to the door, bodies swallowed by the earth. In the end, he was exploring the color black, not as an abstract idea, but in earnest, to know its texture. In its light, he found the spirit to move his brush.
Rothko called them performers, the dark shapes standing by, alternately actors and choral elements in a tragedy. Out of the quarrel, we seek some calling into flight. Lorca would wait for the ghost and when it came, let it harness him by his own words.
Oh death. How she insinuates, with her senseless black strokes, some corkscrew in the guts of our continuance. She’ll have your eyes first. Here is the danger in being willing to follow. You become a walking sepulcher across sacred grounds as the somber eagles look on, poised to carve wild chasms through what moves.
What to say on these occasions? It may be this or that, but preferably both. Let only the delirious and lucid speak here. The written page is no mirror, but a way through the hall of mirrors, to these shapes that linger just beyond.
The title alludes to something Stephen Mallarmé once wrote, attempting to explain his “new conception” of poetry. I came across this in reference to the work of Robert Motherwell.