trust messages

This despite appearances is a straight up love song. Wink, wink, say no more, as the fella says.
There's a reference in chorus 2 to a scene in Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, in which the main character, alone in the post office at night, has an overpowering vision. All the undelivered mail with which the building is stuffed cries out to be--literally--delivered. I hope it's an image I'll get to refer to again and again in many works, because it affected me profoundly.

pain is a message
that something's broken
pain is a message
you have to open
sometimes, true
you have to wait for
it to get through
to get what you paid for
get what you paid for
what you paid for

cry it out loud
you don't have to be nervous
or frightened or proud
it's just customer service
customer service, customer service
customer service

love is desiring
your lover's freedom
if they hunger for feedback
you get to feed 'em
sometimes, yes
the answer is no
that is your test
how will you say so
how will you say so
will you say so

we tremble to write
down the message love gives to us
letters at night
they all whisper, deliver us
deliver us, deliver us
deliver us

trust is a language
two minds make slowly
in tongues of fire
in pain made holy
what you give
does not reduce you
our love lives
you let me choose you
you let me choose you
let me choose you

body's electricity
run through dust
we are all that we see
laid on all that we trust
baby, whom do you trust
do you trust, do you trust
baby whom do you, whom do you trust

ode to Chicago 2.0

Version 1.0 of this poem had the same first half. The end is completely different, and it's much better now.
The older version was meant to be read aloud, too. It may hark back to the days of my callow youth, when I delighted in the Old Testament prophets as my principal source of poetry. Those guys really knew how to personify a city and whip the pants off it. Metaphorically speaking.
I'm not so hard-nosed in this one.

with your Parade cake makeup
and your bleach-blonde
dried up, double-tongued
harridan of a city
shameless, straddling a river, riding high on
commerce, baby, the starch-pressed minds
of billionaires and all their filthy
politicking, how you dote on them.

you lift your skirts up to them
like a napkin; they wipe red hands clean
of old men who shake Dunkin Donuts cups at passersby
of beggars who lack even strength to prophesy

but look as cool as you, baby,
when you pull the sheet up over
another still, small, face, and light your
slow cigarette.

I love your pigeonshit train tracks
and your crew-cut sidewalk
activists, I love
your rust-riddled bridges and the buses
that run under them all night,
the harmless little restaurants that change hands twice a year
the callous that the slicer handle left
right here

and you love me like a January sidewalk loves my ass, a fuel tank loves the letter E, leaky taps love insomniacs and rotten meat loves flies
I can see it in your eyes, baby,
baby, you love

open mic night postgame

This waketime was my second-ever trip to my local poetry open mic. Which as I've learned since is actually the birthplace of the entire poetry slam movement, and as such attracts traveling poets as well as skillful people from around here. It's not the poetry big leagues; more on the order of a respectable AAA affiliate.

Let me briefly explain to you how awesome this place is. In a four-person poetry slam competition (grand prize: $10), I came in 3rd. Reading "composition" in the first round and reciting "residual categories" in the second. And that was a completely fair verdict! I know that I am a good poet. As the book of Proverbs says, however, iron sharpens iron. And finding a whole scene full of other poets who are themselves good in many different and magnificent ways gives me the opportunity to aim at becoming great.

This makes me inexpressibly happy. There is a place in the world where I fit in, even if I don't really know anybody yet. Where people do the stuff I do and care about the stuff I care about to such a degree that despite all the work I've put into it I'm just. about. normal. Best of all this place is not merely out there in the world somewhere, but just on my doorstep, on my bus route, within arm's reach. All I need is the occasional night off work, and the discipline to work the modest expense involved into my budget.

Oh yes. Also the nakedness of spirit to start learning to write again from scratch. Which I don't mean in the negative "ahh I'm doing everything wrong!" sense at all. It's more like the transition from classical music to jazz, or (here's where i read it) as Bruce Lee said about martial arts: "Learn technique. Practice technique. Forget technique."

There are a whole host of habits, necessities, little skills which go into writing "on paper" poetry which must apply differently to "live performance" poetry. They're still useful tools--but you use a screwdriver one way when installing a set of shelves and another when assembling a swingset, say. And there are a whole host of basic, basic things about live poetry regarding which I've just recently become aware of the depth of my ignorance.

Which, again. Awesome.

There was extra time at the end ("we didn't run long, we ran short!") so they had the band play while people randomly stepped up to the mic and said whatever they chose. As opposed to the open mic, wherein people are called up one by one according to an order the MC decides on his own.
Anyway during this last part I improv'd a thing which I attempt to reconstitute here. XD Mostly so I can give this post the "poetry and lyrics" tab.

these are the same streets
I used to go get lost in
just to figure out where the hell I was,
and I found my way
I stumble out onto a sidewalk that smells of banjo music
and barbeque sauce,
glance back over my shoulder at a long low room
full of better poets than I am

and I say, "you fool! how small your world,
how small the circle of yourself!
you dared to think that poetry was dead,
when it was you who could not see
beyond the lip of the grave you dug!"

oh let me catch a smooth round edge
on a sharpened piece of someone else's mind
and dash out through these streets, laughing, naked,
unraveling the borders of my old, small self
at a time.
what's a prison is a cradle,
and hands on the bars
will grow.

shiny things: not shiny at all

All right.

That's it.

I've had enough.

It is time for another edition of shiny things.

Today's theme: shiny things which are, in fact, not shiny.

squid hat by obeymybrain of etsy

Awhile back Pearl let me know about a funny YouTube series called The Guild. It is now apparently a Thing which people watch. I can only approve if it involves the wearing of such hats. Apparently some squid hats were specifically designed for the show; there are many varieties available. This particular one is my favorite, and while I can't conceive of likely a situation in which I would wear it, it makes me wish that I could!

I think squid, especially cartoonish blue ones, are inherently happy-making to contemplate. However, it certainly counts as fluffy rather than shiny.

There is such a thing as a liger. Think about that when things seem frustrating in your daily routine. Somewhere--perhaps nearer than you think--is a magnificent, impossible half-lion half-tiger, and it is not impossible that someone is petting it. It is also very, very unlikely that someone is being mauled by it. Petting yes; mauling, no. The classic win / no lose scenario! Which I just now made up.

Humans do all sorts of crazy things--some of them awesome, others downright terrifying--but occasionally something ridiculously unlikely to have occurred in nature turns out downright cool.

Raise your hand if you want a pet one of these!
And, ah, lots of goats to feed it.
Perhaps a vet on call with a fully paid retainer.

Unregardless! I want one.

I sincerely hope the inherent blurriness of cameraphone pictures does not prevent that nametag from being legible. It says "HELLO! My name is Superman!"

The guy in the pic is one of the courtesy clerks (read: bagger, mopper and cart patrol) at my store. He is a pretty smart and nice guy who has come up with an ingenious way to compensate for the fact that his limited English robs him of what I read to be customary eloquence. On that one you have to trust me. I talk a great deal and listen slightly more than I talk. And what people are about to say, most of the time, is at least half of what they're saying. Sometimes you can even tell what it is!

And this guy has a running joke that despite its simplicity never fails to amuse me. Or him, either, which only raises my opinion of him.

Most days of the week, he greets all coworkers by saying "Hello! I'm, today, Superman." Witty responses are encouraged but not required. The comically exaggerated expression on his face makes it virtually impossible not to laugh or at least smile.
Then, whenever someone gets on the PA to call him for bagging assistance up front, wet cleanup in aisle 2 etc., I can think "aha, they are calling superman to the rescue!"

Sometimes he'll switch it up and say, "I'm, today, Manager!" On Fridays he used to be Dracula, which lent an element of danger to the first of the ridiculously busy weekend days and gave me an opportunity to use the phrase "stainless steel scarf" in real life. Alas, one of the actual managers told him not to say he was going to be Dracula anymore, as it might creep somebody out. I say that's a shame. Anyone creeped out, rather than uplifted, after meeting Behrouz is most certainly not paying attention.

Shiny, no. Fluffy, only in the hair department. Awesome? 100%.

If you have ever washed dishes, this is something I hope you've had a chance to experience. If you've never washed dishes in a commercial sink, let me tell you, it makes an everyday chore a pretty dynamic experience. Properly appreciated, a sink such as ours can make even a day full of ridiculousness more fun. Who can say no to a high-speed jet of water, its temperature almost infinitely adjustable? Sure, it's inadvisable to spray it on floor, coworkers, salads in process etc. Yet there is a certain amount of visceral satisfaction involved in just spraying the living daylights out of stuff--have I mentioned there is also hot and cold running soap solution?--until it's clean enough for food to be eaten off of it.

This pic is from last winter, but trust me, this is a very, very important part of my day. Surfing lolcats is an occasional--very occasional--pleasure and/or vice. Surfing the internet generally, even if it's just to play KoL, is something best accomplished with the cat leaning her head over my wrist and demanding I pet her instead of the keyboard.

She may not be a liger. But she fits on my desk!

home no more

This will definitely not end up on the album tentatively titled "where home is." It is sort of off in the opposite direction from the sonnets. Used to be I'd write poems about grumpy things and songs about uplifting ones; lately it seems the other way around.

Started out thinking abut all the prep myself and the roomies are doing to clear out an infestation of what turns out to be only grain beetles. Which is what I'd been saying for weeks. They're not roaches, fleas, ticks or bedbugs; I've seen all those and these are mostly harmless. Prep continues tonight and bombing is tomorrow.

At work, though, I listened to one of my co-workers break up with her boyfriend over the phone. (He was a lying fool unworthy of her and the breakup was long past time, in my unsolicited opinion. Details will not follow.) It got me thinking about problems, issues and situations and so forth. Thinking, in other words, about those times in life where I've had to wrestle with things that I really, really don't like to think about. It was hard enough for Fay to tell that louse that he was the one who screwed up, while still retaining the self control to finish out the rest of her shift. We all have to do tough stuff like that from time to time, and the feelings we want to feel about it have to be dealt with very carefully!

The musical sound was partly inspired by Jenny Owen Young's track "Clean break." Which I really, really like, and if you have YouTube you should go check it out. I had some chords worked out this morning, but they were weird and dissonant and I'm'a have to reconstitute them from scratch, alas, for I have forgotten them.

Jenny O. Y. got her start through Kickstarter, which Myke insists is a viable option for me & various willing accompanists. I feel my foster brother's estimates of time and cost involved are, shall we say, optimistic, but I do still think this thing is doable. Eventually.

now I'm moving my chair
and I'm moving my desk
pile 'em up on my bed
till there's no place to rest
there was something
scuttling across my floor

knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
cause I ain't home no more

I pull all my novels
down off of the shelf
got to find role models
some freakin where else
guess I'll pick some up next time
I go to the store

knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
cause I ain't home no more

I washed all of my clothes
with hot water and bleach
hung them up in the yard
to keep them within reach
but soon as I put some on
it started to pour

knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
cause I ain't home no more

I won't unplug the phone
in the back of my skull
but I'm tired and I'm mad
and my mailbox is full
can't one thing happen that I
get to ignore

knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
cause I ain't home no more

why don't you all come in
I will leave on the light
work it out 'mongst yourselves
if it comes to a fight
I'll be back to soothe you when you're
beat up and sore

knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
knock, knock, knock on my door
cause I ain't home no more

five sonnets on interior design

Now God, we say, is infinitely wise.
I pray he'll stoop to spread a dab on me
as I rub sweaty palms along my thighs
and wonder why I act so foolishly.
A word's a sword, and to the wise, enough
to unlock doors which can't be battered through.
It edges slice out calloused thoughts, grown tough,
long pressed against old frames, turned like a screw.
We fasten habits to a mighty name,
then pace round boarded corridors of "ought",
lock all our doors, and wail that no one came
to see our works and cry "what hath God wrought?"
I ask, for aching feet and empty hands,
a sword, a lever, and a place to stand.

I ask for aching feet and empty hands--
to go far, and give everything away.
Replace the dragons on the map with lands
whose scents I treasure, though I cannot stay.
Let me learn each thing's name in its own tongue.
I'll keep those languages inside of me:
a rack of balanced weapons, gently hung,
drawn only to deter, to heal, to free
a pathway through the hedge of every keep
where, shaded by some wide, green, timeless tree,
the hearts of friends, like spellbound princes, sleep.
Let me then sheath my sword, and bend a knee.
This too I pray, let me remember this:
in secret places, silence is a kiss.

This too I pray, let me remember thus:
what moves the world is moved by it in turn.
Why Christ's a gentleman is obvious--
why trample what he paid so much to earn?
Whom you can grasp, you'll lose without the right
to hold them, if their true consent you lack.
That voice which forged the universe with light
poured itself into flesh, to bring light back.
So do no less. To move, you must be moved;
to change a mind, permit yourself to doubt.
To earn trust, demonstrate what can't be proved.
To exorcise--first let the demons out.
Release your fists; let all you hold go free.
What fills an empty hand? Infinity.

Release your fists; let all you held go free.
What's left is where you've come--and here you are.
Knit branch and leaf together; that's a tree.
And every man and woman is a star.
Sing out, however gnarled and bare your perch.
Breathe gently on new-blooming wisps of flame.
Three friends around a table is a church--
a grin, flashed up through blood and tears, a Name.
Transform your mere location to a place
where death's defied, and all things are made new:
where nothing's lost, though much may go to waste.
The power to create resides in you.
Leave all you touch more holy than before.
Where ground gives out beneath you, build a floor.

Leave all you touch more holy than before;
become someone whose every word may bless.
I've made my watchword stewardship, not war.
Inside me is the Earth's last wilderness.
It stares out of my mirror, shadowed, vast,
and dares me to make more than what I've been.
I will dig deep, and build myself to last,
to write upon the world what's wrought within.
I pray I'll have the strength to still my spade
when some green seedling interrupts my eye.
Let me throw over everything I've made
to leave that center open to the sky.
If God is love, and all these things are true,
then make yourself. Then make yourself anew.