19 October 2009

Why isn’t the slave master considered part of your
family? My uncle with the Confederate belt buckle is
wrong, but he is still family. My grandmother always
used to say, “let the darkies carry that for you, dear.” I
am one of many white people who claim

they have native American blood, but I really do. My
maiden name is Livingston and I was born in
Barbados. “You girls stay out of that terrible sun,”
Great-grandmother Livingston would say. “God
knows you're dark enough already.” When I first
moved to

my oddly-named little town I was excited that it was
named after an Arkansas Indian, because I am one-
eighth Arkansas Indian, too. Just like Jim Thorpe. He
died with an accent. A truly American one. Not like
yours, I promise. This one was authentic. She’d say,
“oh, he

really Jewed him!” or something like that. She was
German and because of her accent and also because I
had no idea what she was talking about I always
thought she was saying “chewed” him. As in nibbled
him down to size. I think I was well into my teens
before I

ever knew about the stereotype, and that was because
of reading the Merchant of Venice in English class.
No, I am not everything there is to be in the world. I
have no Zambian ancestry, and I am not directly
Asian (via the Indians, I suppose I have indirect Asian

ancestry). But I am a profound genetic contradiction.
I have said this before, and I am fiercely proud of my
ancestors ability to bravely “mix it up.” My great-
grandfather used to say to his wife, my great-
grandmother, who in turn told her daughter, my
grandmother, who

repeated it to her daughter, my mother, who used to
remind her daughter, my own sister, that he had never
washed two pairs of pants at the same time, meaning
that if he ever had an extra pair, he always gave them
to someone else who needed them. I know this
sounds a bit

wishy-washy (I can't be bothered to route out the
source I got this from) but you only have to count
back a surprisingly small number of generations
before finding a common ancestor to everyone else in
the world. Based on our record collection, I know
Stevie Wonder and

Ray Charles owned my parents, and the next thing we
know, I'm related to Strom Thurmond. Let's not go
down this road. We need something else to flesh out
this plot. Maybe sunken confederate gold or vampires
and pirates, and plenty of explosions. We’ll get

Nicholas Cage and Eddie Murphy to give this thing
some legs and then New Line Cinema will have
summer blockbuster on their hands. Is this that irony
thing all the kids are so into? Strom Thurmond looks
like he was crafted from cottage cheese. That is all I
have to add to

this conversation. Their existence is certain, as is the
fact that the common ancestor is human. The
existence of genes for human abilities (e.g. language
acquisition) in all humans is proof of this. They
suggest, for example, that everyone in the West is
descended from

Charlemagne, c. 800 AD. Quite likely the entire
world is descended from the Ancient Egyptian royal
house. c. 1600 BC. Quite likely almost everyone in the
world descends from Confucius, c. 500 BC. Quite
likely everyone in the West descends from the

Muhammad, c. 600 AD. If you have a line of
descendants that doesn't die out, eventually you are
the ancestor of the whole future world. Through this,
you affect all future world history. If the humblest
Ancient Egyptian peasant had done anything different
(even just had

sex five minutes earlier), there would have been no
Jesus, Muhammad, Copernicus, Newton, Darwin,
Marx, Freud, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Christ, Mao,
Buddha, Confucius, Ts’ai Lun, Gutenburg, Columbus,
or Einstein. There may have been no Holocaust.

Humanity might be extinct.

18 October 2009

“Are you tired of it yet?” Can’t hear the answer through the waves.

The weather is done with our sanctity. Pacific. California Pacific, precisely: southern California when the sun leaves. We don’t have fingers to count the illnesses, injuries and deaths of people we know. If there were a bus or a train, I’d throw more parties. If you’d throw more parties, I’d take up surfing, be more gracious with small talk. Nothing is discrete—number, person, house, poem—sitting on the balcony as the sun goes by, bus goes by—not enough people on balconies or buses.

I don’t understand you, so I think you’re making fun of me. Write until we throw up, or only write at stop lights. I don’t understand you, but I see you’re anxious for connection. I’ve forgotten my phone number, my phone.


Potential poems: Of. Oh! If. To.


A person who coughs long enough begins to sound like they’re coughing on purpose. Persistent itch. A second, third, fourth or fifth language, almost understood, partially heard.


I love now. Kinds of sleeping and kinds of ritual. Standing on your shoulders was too—almost together we’re moving with crowds but no crowds here except in cars; a postmodern paining of cars looking at the greenbelt the train what else smashes?—small organic growing what opens?—hip (sockets) chest (sternum)—a whale watching cut free. Watching itself be cut free.

Love naps. Cold mornings and warm ones. A headache, an inability not to say oh! When someone says something interesting. Half a nose, clogged, lower backache vs. middle backache, standing on shoulders, on someone else’s shoulders. Falling off them, on to your back, my back, to a floor without mats, the day before an important holiday or ritual. So much joy I just might.


“Daddy’s little helper needs a break.”
“That’s a funny thing to say.”
“I know. I thought it would be funny”


From: Blank stare. Modern man’s current
address: wall to wall precarious over
limit texting to share this inexplicable
exaltation: “at one point I thought ‘we’
would be ‘different’ from” co
workers peers partners: many-sided progress
to point to find pleasure in blood (Dostoyevsky):
Mantle of apartments with no mantle
or fire—look at this: slip the social: a military
ship used to moor there.

What kind of ship?
“What kind of hawk?”

of street to walk on at
night to the club in shoes that
gave us shin splints.

Wake up in love with each other, with the rat on the carpet.


Irony/outer voice of critique as principle affectation—a demonic tendency to marry and divorce, to turn off the new phone. Everyday perversity: don’t eat breakfast until headache, nausea. Breakfast as universal ruin. Hello! Solitary bee, where is your hive? A mob of bees at my door. A swarm around the administrative building. Trying to live in an administrative building.

I’d like to love you at the expense of the poem. I’d like a new watch.


“Uh huh.
“I said, ‘uh huh.’”


Inner vibration object out spinnaker and cormorant never expect to answer the phone one the beach sand makes what kind of a world gulls as bears as government ranger power station annual replenishment some shared abyss out

places love entire continents neighbors’ horrible music habit drugs healthy pelican hatchlings in the fake lagoon not fake but constructed water

to Australasia and Asia grounded as able to move backward bend so the front of our body is open: tops of feet shins, quadriceps, lumbar, stomach, lungs, sternum, chest, throat, mouth, eyes,



Forced upon challenge as if employment.
Choice as choice or street as don’t
sit on the grass Traveling alone through
landscape and inevitable birds friends fight.
Brought the cloud cover with us.


Tell me every unexamined emotion. Sincerity doesn’t matter on the battlefield.
Game over digital groom and bride t-shirt. Big squid washing up on Oregon beach.

Tire of hair to dry, autobiography, this way then this way then this way, “but this
poem is not a conversation.” Word as breakfast rib

bacteria as daily food chain you are
the so and so that started everything

late on the bus road closure and
I heart cities and Europe and can’t hear
The grass scream quiver quiver quiver quiver quiver quiver etc
Da da Da da Da da across the plain.

Kind men in high rise pants fill
up my heart with job. For I
have always wanted to be a kind
man in high rise pants with a steady
income and a cell phone and a long

The man is etcetera.
They really are friends.

I think I was just made fun of. I am hot.
Opaque entrances and exits----- good places to meet or not
I think I was just flirted with When I was made fun of the person who made fun of me was flirting with someone else.

Artistic people wear scarves and sometimes baseball hats.

Watch my pronouns. Consistent elephant for element and Aegean for aegis.



Actually, the gravel roads. Fossils
in layers by the road. Road as riverbed/canyon and river when it rains

It rains every day. Fools gold and real gold.

Kid says, “I forgot my mustache.” I hear him say it, nearly hit by a car on his skateboard, helmeted.

Nausea, commutes & sun. What yoga says about repetition and pattern and habit. Sometimes I throw up everyday. Someone says “Bakersfield.”

A field of bakers. Together.


He says he doesn’t understand railroad accidents in California. He says that were he’s from, even drunk men don’t fall asleep on the railroad tracks.


The water contains more bacteria than the health safety level for bacteria, but I am sick from food, not water. Bodies, machines, plants, and the universe on repeat. Someone says you can be what you want to be here and I am suspicious, unless that means that here is home in which case: tear/scratch.

I have a little parrot. The parrot followed my bus to campus one day. My peers and professors thought that was hilarious because they didn’t expect to see me with a parrot. You see, I love that parrot very much.


“I want to work for the State Department.”

“What does the Department of Homeland Security Do?”

I’m not careful enough with gesture or language how rejecting something requires loving it probably loving trees, temples, factories, America, Europe, babies, real estate, genre, parents.

Energetic and optimistic in a way that defies feeling fact a picture of you isn’t you a picture of me isn’t me lower backache head on the desk live in the desert but dream of the jungle.

The tree we cut down for Christmas, even though we weren’t Christian, almost looked like a pine.


Bored. Sweating. Smoking. Going through withdrawal.

“It’s no good, I shall have to go.” You should bring your field glasses

Watch in hand, or compass. When did horse racing begin? Animal racing in general: rather more than a natural rivalry. “It’s these damn gypsies, wandering all
over the moor. Get out of the car before it’s stopped, expect
a miracle, growl back at the god, eat curried mutton, engage in business

that could put some money in your pocket, like
business is supposed to.


I looked it behind me sir, I swear it. He was dead, sir, his head all bashed in. It was horrible. I am a man of excellent birth, reputation, and the occasional flutter; I have the very flutterings if you’d care to see them: a dark-colored silk costume with ostrich-feather trim. I have extravagant taste, but I never had such a dress, sir. What a pleasant evening. I think I’ll take a walk! A horse is a most gregarious creature. But, as you know, the dog did nothing in the night. Of course I would recognize him. Good heavens, sir, you take my breath away!


I am supposed to keep a record, throughout the day, of anytime I feel a certain emotion. I am supposed to keep my emotions simple, for example: "glad," "sad," "mad" or "bad.” I can also include “afraid” or “guilty.” Anytime I feel one of these emotions, I’m supposed to note the time of day, the emotion I’m feeling, and what was going on when I felt that emotion.

Later, with my partner, trusted friend, or therapist, I am supposed to go through my list and share what I’ve written down. I should try to describe how the emotion felt within my body. Finally, I am supposed to talk about how it feels to share my emotional feelings with another person.