Sunday, September 20, 2009

After the Bowling Stopped

Last night,
this guy played guitar on stage,
and it made me think of you, because
you play guitar on stage.
So I spent the next fifteen minutes
running a mental slide show.
You gave me half of your egg salad sandwich.
You grab me, because
the smell of gasoline on my fingers
turns you on.
We play Ferris Bueller and
follow a kids’ tour group
at the Institute of Arts.
You bowl five strikes in a row.
Etcetera, etcetera…
I find this still happens a lot.
Someone’s wearing shoes, so
I think of you, because
you wear shoes.
You drink beverages.
You can see how this might be a problem.
Sometimes I just
blurt your name out loud in my apartment
for no reason
like a Tourettes outburst,
and I’m supposed to write this
poem about you,
because I keep saying I’m a poet.
And I’ve been trying
for the three years since you stopped
bowling in my presence, but it keeps coming out like,
I hate you, I hate you
I wish I’d never agreed to
date you.
The day you left,
the sun set for the last time,
the trees wilted,
and happy little creatures ceased to scurry.
My heart
is a block of frozen, solid, petrified, cold, really hard ice
without you.
I don’t need you.
Never did.
Oh, I can write volumes
about every little
I’ve tried to replace you, but
You’re drying up the ink in
all my favorite pens.
You’re hiding all my journals and
shorting out my keyboard.
You are the quintessential cock block,
if I had a cock.
You are the ultimate writer’s block, if…
No, wait, that one works.
The point is,
I know you can eat a whole egg salad sandwich,
but I appreciate the gesture.
And that stretch of 90/94
from Chicago to Rockford has
never been the same
since I drove it home from the end of time.
And when you stayed over this past spring,
you slept on the couch,
took a shower,
and left.
But it took me three days
to take your towel out of the bathroom
and five more to wash it.
I find I can’t really write about something
until I have a little
distance perspective, but you’re still
mashed up against me like a Siamese twin.
And the kicker is
I can’t even say I want you back.
You were all shades of fiasco.
I was only on your mind if I was
waving my arms in front of you.
And having sex with you?!?
I suspect you wouldn’t have known the difference
if I had been inflatable.
And you only gave me the sandwich because you were
So if you asked,
would I take you back?
Yeah I totally would.
And that pisses me off.
But if I was with you right now, I’d be
sitting in some hotel in New York,
getting my ass kicked at Scrabble, or
pitching a makeshift baseball game in
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
And my debt would be twice as ridiculous.
And I’d weigh a hundred pounds, because
you supplement eating and sleeping and
not in any good way.
But I wouldn’t be here.
I wouldn’t be
running my stupid life.
You are the rockstar me I’m
too impatient to wait for.
And you’ve got nothing to do with anything.
Most of my friends don’t even know what you look like.
So you’re all mine.
And a terrible kisser
and a really sore loser.
And I suspect you’ll
litter my life with
unfinished pages about the
empty spaces you
left in my apartment
for years to come.
And tonight,
when someone asks to borrow a guitar pick,
or uses the words,
I’ll think of you;
snapshot something somewhere
away from here and today.
Not much I can really do about that, just
thought I’d mention it, because
it was on my mind.

-Thadra Sheridan

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I've tried to say it a thousand different ways. I've tried twisting the words inside out and doubling them back over onto themselves. I've tried coming up with words in different languages, because maybe they have words for this thing (I couldn't say what it is) that we're missing in this one. I've tried saying the same words over and over again in hopes that this time they'll mean what I want them to mean. I've tried writing it down and spelling it out and stressing each syllable across intercontinental static. I've filled up pages and pages of paper with what I'm trying to say, but never with what I mean to say.

Maybe it annoyed you in the end. Maybe I should just stop.

-Loren Barnes


The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
-Dorothy Nevill

All great truths begin as blasphemies.

We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know. --W.H. Auden

While you weren't listening, all our love songs became sad songs.

Your absence has gone through me like a needle; everything I do is stitched with its color. - W.S. Merwin

No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous. ~ Henry Adams

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

"Out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field. I'll meet you there."
- Rumi

You remember and dwell on all the things you've lost and ignore all the things you haven't. Because your scars are like stars. Yet the night stays perfectly black.

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can't run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. ... As for the types of comments I make, sometimes I just, By God, get carried away with my own eloquence.
-George Patton

A moral being is one who is capable of comparing his past and future actions or motives, and of approving or disapproving of them.

A timid person is frightened before a danger, a coward during the time, and a courageous person afterward.

If my heart was a compass, you’d be North

No one should have to dance backward all of their lives.

Yet, no matter how accurately you write it or mumble it under your breath, it won't change the way things stand between you. A poem, let alone a paragraph, is not a magic spell. And the only people who can write those stay in padded rooms, listening to music no one's ever played.

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
-Oscar Wilde

Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible.
- Frank Moore Colby

And you keep whispering the same story to yourself "I'll be unhappy now because that'll make me happy later. Because that's how a story works." So your happiness will always happen later, never now. Life isn't a story. Life is chaos.

"When you trust your point of view, that's when you start taking pictures." - Annie Leibovitz

Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.

When a woman behaves like a man, why doesn't she behave like a nice man? ~Edith Evans

A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students.

You constantly look for a sign and when it's given to you and you don't like the answer, you call it a coincidence. There are no coincidences.

"Who has never killed an hour? Not casually or without thought, but carefully: a premeditated murder of minutes. The violence comes from a combination of giving up, not caring, and a resignation that getting past it is all you can hope to accomplish. So you kill the hour. You do not work, you do not read, you do not daydream. If you sleep it is not because you need to sleep. And when at last it is over, there is no evidence: no weapon, no blood, and no body. The only clue might be the shadows beneath your eyes or a terribly thin line near the corner of your mouth indicating something has been suffered, that in the privacy of your life you have lost something and the loss is too empty to share."
--Mark Z. Danielewski

In case you touch me by accident. In case you don't on purpose. More hope than heaven (more sadness than soil).

"Call no man foe, but never love a stranger." - Stella Benson

You could ink yourself until everyone knows all the things you love. You could wear uniforms that gave you all the authority in the world. Lose weight until there was nothing left. Paint the face. Suck in your gut.
But in the dark, stripped down to your bones, all that remains is you.

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can love. - Zelda Fitzgerald

"Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling it to other people." - Spencer Johnston


Mid-Term Examination


Name the three aspects of beauty and give three examples of each.


Integritas, Consonantia, Claritas
Wholeness, Harmony, Clarity

These three are whole:
A note of music
An uncaught trout
A single stone.

These three are harmonious:
The breath of two sleepers
The colors of wood and flame
The pull of muscle on bone.

And these are clear:
Bird song over water
Light lancing from waves
The edge of the moon.

-Paul J. Sampson

Friday, September 11, 2009

How To Watch Your Brother Die
For Carl Morse

When the call comes, be calm.
Say to your wife, "My brother is dying. I have to fly
to California."
try not to be shocked that he already looks like
a cadaver.
Say to the young man sitting by your brother's side,
"I'm his brother."
Try not to be shocked when the young man says,
"I'm his lover. Thanks for coming."

Listen to the doctor with a steel face on.
Sign the necessary forms.
Tell the doctor you will take care of everything.
Wonder why doctors are so remote.

Watch the lover's eyes as they stare into
your brother's eyes as they stare into
Wonder what they see there.
Remember the time he was jealous and
opened your eyebrow with a sharp stick.
Forgive him out loud
even if he can't
understand you.
Realize the scar will be
all that's left of him.

Over coffee in the hospital cafeteria
say to the lover, "You're an extremely good-looking
young man."
Hear him say,
"I never thought I was good enough looking to
deserve your brother."

Watch the tears well up in his eyes. Say,
"I'm sorry. I don't know what it means to be
the lover of another man."
Hear him say,
"Its just like a wife, only the commitment is
deeper because the odds against you are so much
Say nothing, but
take his hand like a brother's.

Drive to Mexico for unproven drugs that might
help him live longer.
Explain what they are to the border guard.
Fill with rage when he informs you,
"You can't bring those across."
Begin to grow loud.
Feel the lover's hand on your arm
restraining you. See in the guard's eye
how much a man can hate another man.
Say to the lover, "How can you stand it?"
Hear him say, "You get used to it."
Think of one of your children getting used to
another man's hatred.

Call your wife on the telephone. Tell her,
"He hasn't much time.
I'll be home soon." Before you hang up say,
"How could anyone's commitment be deeper than
a husband and a wife?" Hear her say,
"Please. I don't want to know all the details."

When he slips into an irrevocable coma,
hold his lover in your arms while he sobs,
no longer strong. Wonder how much longer
you will be able to be strong.
Feel how it feels to hold a man in your arms
whose arms are used to holding men.
Offer God anything to bring your brother back.
Know you have nothing God could possible want.
Curse God, but do not
abandon Him.

Stare at the face of the funeral director
when he tells you he will not
embalm the body for fear of
contamination. Let him see in your eyes
how much a man can hate another man.

Stand beside a casket covered in flowers,
white flowers. Say,
"thank you for coming," to each of seven hundred men
who file past in tears, some of them
holding hands. Know that your brother's life
was not what you imagined. Overhear two
mourners say, "I wonder who'll be next?" and
"I don't care anymore,
as long as it isn't you."

Arrange to take an early flight home.
His lover will drive you to the airport.
When your flight is announced say,
awkwardly, "If I can do anything, please
let me know." Do not flinch when he says,
"Forgive yourself for not wanting to know him
after he told you. He did."
Stop and let it soak in. Say,
"He forgave me, or he knew himself?"
"Both," the lover will say, not knowing what else
to do. Hold him like a brother while he
kisses you on the cheek. Think that
you haven't been kissed by a man since
your father died. Think,
"This is no moment to be strong."

Fly first class and drink Scotch. Stroke
your split eyebrow with a finger and
think of your brother alive. Smile
at the memory and think
how your children will feel in your arms
warm and friendly and without challenge.

Michael Lassell