25 April 2006

This poem was going to be about the dog's
copper-gold hair and the old
man petting it. Two days ago
I paid $400 to my dept consolidation
program--a 3rd party that manages
my past lack of understanding or
awareness. In three and a half years the
car will be paid off and my dept
too. Friends ask, "why Tanzania?"
I can't just say "real estate" and anyway
that would be a lie. So I say "uh, beauty,
desperation, a different way of living."
A friend is grading papers and swears
and I say "what's wrong?" but I know:
parry, parry, etc. I can't just go to
Tanzania, not with these debts,
and there are even more substantial reasons.
Can't even be homeless. Children march
around a California court-yard. It's not
paradise but I know no place is. It rains.
Step out of the plane or now more
likely airport anywhere in South East
Asia and the air is sometimes nearly liquid.
My Beat Reader toting x-boyfriend wanted
to go to India with me. "Beat is for boys,"
I might have said, but Dad left Bombay
before I could visit and Beat boy dumped me.
I got fat. It's too bad I didn't understand
my major abandonment issues. Moping
around reading Paul Bowles.
I'm healthy now, though. Mark can't read
anymore and I can't concentrate. I say
"let me finish this," but I can't. My
stomach hurts from donuts and coffee.
"Good company," says the man of his dog.

17 April 2006

Airplane Poem (written with Mark)

making a buck on passenger safety info
and the sleep keeps growing
and defining the pre-conditioned responses
this not talking was taking up space
the shame of dancing around the maypole
--a code for precise description in compound sentences
no more pseudo-witch intercom cackle
as fast as, as green as
lounging in the sun below a dot-com high rise
we wonder about new found fear like new
you looked, you looked, I saw you look

09 April 2006

The squirrels are all California squirrels.
They keep asking me how I am, hoping
I’ll like it here, too. I’m becoming less something,
more other things, but not because of the beach, and the
highways don’t induce mellowness,
so I don’t know what is induced or why.
It rains a lot. We crane at each new
accident. I’m using language
carefully, trying not to be too precise.
I’m a sucker for hostility.

08 April 2006

As always, location is difficult. I’ve already mentioned water and doorway.

Some heroes have four eyes and four ears and breathe fire. This is infuriating. Still we get sliced in half to form the world.

Fair skin so strong that it could be used for making soles of boots that would last three years or more. Sometimes we forget that we cannot breathe underwater, because we do so in our dreams. Usually we drown and are eaten.

06 April 2006

I walk upright and have excessively many human features: too many fingers or none at all, no bones or no skin. Perhaps I have several heads. There is something about my mouth that is alarming. A feral tale. Intense heliophobia. Taloned feed as a hawk or a parrot, yet interested in the subaqueous--a castle, for example, entered via lake or river. A subaqueous castle of unbaptized baby spirits is one explanation, but we would have to borrow men to propagate.

05 April 2006

Water contains vast supernatural populations. We come from water and we drink water, or else it floods us. For all this to be true, one must be protean and indwelling, about the size of a microbe or the size of a grandmother. I thought I might be all of these things, I thought that I'd like to lurk around a portal and defend with overprotective, retaliatory gestures: a tornado watch in DC, for example. For all of this to be true, I'd have to reason, love, be compassionate. Such things melt us.

04 April 2006

It was spring, and we were eating almond croissants. Why would she go into a room alone with a man she didn't like or really know? Because she didn't know if she liked him or not. Because she wasn't confident enough to not go in. I went to the beach with a man I didn't know. I was finishing my tea and chatting with a sunburned English boy at my favorite kedai kopi. Our conversation was faltering. A man swaggered up to the table and said. "I will take you to a good beach." I smiled at the boy and said, "Perhaps I'll see you at dinner?" Wrapped in my blue sarong, I went.

The man was a Malaysian fisherman, and his red motorcycle was in bad repair. But we got to the beach and it was a very nice beach. Small and undeveloped, with clear turquoise water and white soft sand, a few large rocks to climb on at low tide that were mini islands when the tide came in. The fisherman stripped to his underwear and we swam in the ocean and held hands in the blue blue water while waves broke over us.

"What is biting me?" I asked.

"A fish," he said. He cupped his palms together in the water and then held up something pinched in his fingers for me to see. "When it is big it will have hard skin, and it is good to eat."

The shrimp was not as big as his pinky nail, which was long.

After three hours, we rode back to the cafe. I kissed him before he asked me to and then he left. The sunburned British boy was still there, drinking tea. So I sat with him and ordered tea.

"Can you pour the tea and make it fizz?" I asked the girl who was minding the tables. I gestured with my hands to try and communicate. I looked in my dictionary. She waited. "Uh, terbang?"

She nodded and left and came back with two jugs, one full of malty Assam tea and condensed milk, the other empty. She poured the tea back and forth between the two jugs until the tea became frothy. Then she poured it into two cups, even though the British boy was not finished. The girl waited until we had tasted the tea to leave.

"It's very good," I said. "Thank you."

Later that day I went swimming with several Bhutanese economists. "We are old Bhutanese bureaucrats," one told me, "but we like to have fun."

03 April 2006

In most ways she was crazy. "That football player almost raped me in Barcelona," she said, and you winced. They'd met at a club and her friends tried to hook them up. They spread rose petals all over the hotel bed. The room had a balcony. "But I didn't like him, anyway." You drank your coffee and stared at the sidewalk. What always disturbed you about her stories was the fact that she was constantly getting into dangerous, awful, violent situations, but she never seemed aware of this. She was indignant. When you're feeling kind you suppose that her indignant reactions are a kind of awareness.

02 April 2006

You'd broken up with him, but you wanted to do more damage. Your friend was in love with you--this is why you hung around her. In most ways she was crazy and unbearble.

01 April 2006

A lot of people go to places no one can go to. For example, the woman yells at her dog, "you fucking crazy bastard!" The dog is drunk and she knows it. She arrived before we did. She knows that a starlet is short and her bodyguard is always mafia gone legit.


"I always sided with the Zulus," he said. Me too. Not that they would have had me.


We love to bounce our babies in front of mirrors and say "that's you that's you" until they laugh and then we tell them to kiss the pretty baby.


I don't want to be a parody of me interrupting myself, at least not exclusively. A confident young woman just doesn't interest me. The woman yelling at her dog yelled: "you fucking crazy drunk dog, you're lucky you have me as your mama!"