On "Happy Birthday!"s

Yeah, the 30 poems in 30 days wasn't happening. It was nice while it lasted but I shifted my creative attention towards recording and writing music over the last couple weeks. Big progress on the EP, I just need to get one more track down before I can organize this once and for all.

Anyways, that's not why I'm here tonight.

It's two days until my eighteenth birthday, and it's looking like a snow day on my birthday. This means that instead of going to school and getting spoken-word well-wishes, my "happy birthday"s will be restricted to my parents, relatives, and... well, this:

And so on to infinity.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Facebook deluge of happy birthday posts. Let's break it down as such:

- The influx of notifications is a nice confidence booster.
- You can reconnect with people that you may have forgotten about.
- It's a nice token of appreciation.

- "Who are you people?"
- Feeling the need to write uninspired "Thank you!"s underneath each and every post.
- For many, it's just an exercise in Internet courtesy.

Which irks me. If you're going to send someone well-wishes, make sure that it's wholehearted, not just a flagrant obligation.

And protip: if you care about the person enough, say something a little extra than just "Happy birthday!" Switch it up: put it in another language or anagram it, whatever comes to mind. Make it exciting! Sure, it's just a simple gesture, but it can be expanded into something that's highly entertaining.





Switch Lines

Lined up in two pretty rows
Cold restricts our dead bloodflow
One all red and one all green
Watch the smoke
Watch the smoke
Stacks of brothers burning through the sky.

Lined up in two pretty rows
Each and all with frozen toes
Children red and workers green
I am aged
I was once
Tall, but now reduced to sleeping in a sty.

Lined up in two pretty rows
Six-year-old with runny nose
His is red and mine is green
We will trade
We will trade
Tags, I will die, I will die.

Lined up in two pretty rows
The smell of death in gas and clothes
All is red and none is green
Close the door
Close the door
Now, and little one, o please survive.




Gabby, don't shut your eyes
this time. I know
that it's your grandmother's
birthday party and you'd rather be
off anywhere else,
but it's so rude of you to squint.
You're such a photogenic girl,
now let me see those beautiful eyes.

...Gabby opened her eyes for the first time.
Gabby opened her eyes for the first time.
Gabby opened her eyes.

Tiny victories.



St. Louis in a False Hope

Nature's the vacuum
unused in the closet.
Safety's its door
and we've chosen to close it.
Earth is but a dusty house,
and ours is the dust to compose it.

We pollinate
in our dusty state
and argue of who should control it.

We overeat
and undersleep
and busy ourselves to destroy it.

We shed our skin
aspire to win
and allow for the house to be broken.

We might as well bulldoze it.
Earth is but a vacant house,
and we, as ex-tenants, foreclosed it.




But when I lift my voice up now to reach them,
the range is too high, way up in heaven. - Conor Oberst

Y'know that old woman, Ethel from...
Oak Street, I think it is?
Her daughter was telling me about how
she wanted to join the choir
a couple years back:

Every single day, she'd lock herself
in her room
and practice for hours,
but her voice would always catch at the last "Amen".

She didn't stop trying (for a while)
but time after time
her voice would shift when she tried reaching
"that damned high note", she'd call it.

One night,
she finally gave it a rest:
put away the sheet music,
sat on her empty bed,
cried her brains out,
and popped too many pills.

She detoxed in the hospital for a week after.
Ethel's fine now, I assume, but
I didn't hear about it until the other day.
Oh, make sure to tell Cathy,
I'm sure she'll get a kick out of it.



Sequence 8

I was: thrown in a kiln
to crystallize, and then glazed teal
on the fifth day.
People from all over would come and
point at the Clay Man.
At night, I was laughed by
some jet-red guard dogs, whose
howls reverberated around my fragile ears.
I was: waterboarded for knowing
the wrong things. Drowning under a silk rag until my head filled with
clay. They let me out of my cage
later for recreation. Someone punched
me in the back of the skull and it fell off,
accordingly. (I was, after all, newly
escaped from the gallery.) You get tens
of fresh perspectives when your
head's being used as a
kickball. I was: the last person to
leave class. The robot with an AK-
48 pointed my way out, and so I left quickly,
in silent obedience.
I took one step into the hallway when a gun
roared to life behind me, and I fell through the trapdoor forever.
Those shots looped distortion, morphing benevolently into
alarm-singing: "it's 6:15, I love you, wake up"




Fuse this esoteric aperture shut.
The same twenty cross through its
cobwebs each night.
Less on weekends.
More rocks in the raft after every blink.
More rats in the rafters.
Their feet scratching rhythms
on the aging oakboards;

keeping time.

I can number it all through my evaporating memory, still.
From the first drink,
to the mass of regulars lined up outside,
to '75, Lawrence's halcyon year,
to the gang violence that
bled over soon after
(to Warwick, rest his drunken soul),
to the notice tacked to the portal
and the corresponding rally/savior to get it back,
to Larry's last inhale.
40 years condensed into broken glass.

Now, now, son.
You're just a victim of circumstance,
and the circumstance is time.
The circumstance is generations.
The circumstance is failed nations
that surround us as I'm sat here for the last
It's not you.
It's not.




Nanga Parbat

Sleet cuts patterns into our deadened faces.
These are the hours.
An abrupt torrent of frozen cloudbursts
has rendered us speckled white.

I hold your hand as wind
gusts peripheral invisibility.
My ears are purple and chipped.
Your terminal "I love you so much" will be, lip-read
instead of heard: as a hushed symphony.

So, dear. Let's plummet
to the top of this mountain.
Headfirst, in a dream. ||




You're That One

The drive up.

The white/yellow dashes flashing under your Prius.

The music playing in your car:
The Killers.

The end of I-95.
The end of Route 101.
The end of Route 108.

The sight of your car at the top of my street.
The cautious maneuvering up my driveway.
The heart scribbling twohundredwordsperminute.
The incomprehensible literature it's producing for.
The mind to make sense of.

The doorbell (the dog's barks),
the door that creaks to life,
the quiet footsteps up stairs,
the pause (why the pause?) and then
the triumphant resumption,
the incessant barking,
the saccharine sound of some celestial being: "HELLO!",
the final corner that has kept us this separated,

And here, you, are!
I kiss that dream face
that I've missed for weeks,
and we melt
the couch,
to watch Toy Story.




Deconstructed Ours
I will throw your dust out the window
To let it breathe in better chambers,
You of narrow faith.
Happy new year!
You of deprivation arachnid.
Happy new year!
You of count to seventeen forever
Taking lethargy steps towards the lighthouse
That warily presses its rotating nose towards dying sun.
Happy new year!
You of explosion.
That walks among the seventeen ladders
Of my former being, my former
Existence, you of the one and only
Watering hole in North Dakota,
Of "soundness" in Bismarck,
And I contain dark, until I hear light:
Happy new year!
Then comes the slow burst.
Because of the illness and the then-and-what-is-now and
The new;
The emptiest promise of insufferable business'rs
Who, somewhere amid the confines of a dusty street,
Perch themselves atop a black penthouse:
Seventeen yells from one room,
And seventeen more yell from another.
They meet together in a chorus of
Auld Lang Syne and a glory-swell of
Happy new year!
amid the ball drop.
And the tick of the paramount clock.
Seventeen cries for a paramount begin.
Seventeen cries out in paramount anguish.
Inside the door, there's How-bout-that-Weathertalk
of a single bedbug who still roams white sheets.
"I know a fumigator."
"Ha; Don't let him bite..."

The dust.

I will throw his dust out the window
To let it breathe in better chambers.
Him of narrow faith,
Happy new year!
Happy his year;
Deconstructed ours.



The last three:

3. Cerulean by Baths (electronic, glitch)

2. The Monitor by Titus Andronicus (anthemic indie-punk)

1. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter (ambient, indie rock)

There it is. I couldn't find time to write reviews for these as I was finishing up applying to colleges and trying to enjoy a relatively stress-free vacation. I'm admittedly 0/2 for completing ambitious blog projects this year.

It's not this year anymore.

It's next year.

Tomorrow, I'm starting in on pulling off a 30/30, or 30 poems in 30 days. That, in addition to recording the final song for this EP that I've been shelving forever. I aim to get the EP out in March: after I'm finally finished with collegiate encounters of the third kind/when school calms down a little bit. I originally said this would be done by the end of October 2010. I wasn't considering the typical, mama-said-stress-you-out duties that I had to get out of the way first.

Hindering. Sometimes that's all academia feels like. Other times, I'm immensely grateful for it.

Anyhow, I've been listening to what I've recorded over and over and over again, about 15 minutes of solid stuff. It's sounding better and better with each tweak. Positive.
Other news, I found some lyrics that I wrote back in '06. I should have posted them here, because they're laughably awful, but I opted to throw them in the fireplace.

Sometimes it's best to leave your past burning.

Welcome, 2011.