Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Premier assignment....

This was my first assignment for cool Doc. Palakeel screens writing class. I had to post my top ten favorite screeplays of all time (or say just in the last fifteen years)....enjoy!

Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater 1994)-
A witty slacker talk fest transpiring solely between two twenty-something Gen-Ex wayfareres. Ethan Hawke plays Jesse, a heartbroken american vagabond zipping across Austira via Eurorail. He meets Celine (Julie Delpy) twenty minutes before his Vienna stop. Celine in en route to Paris and after terse flirtatious swap Jesse cozens Celine off the train inviting her to embark on an immortal night of self-realization, dreams and young-adulthood discovery. The two sojourners only have one night together before Jesse's flight leaves for the States and the entire film evolves entirely around philosophical dialougue narrowing in on those who are young enough to still dream and not get mired in the brink drudgery of a routine career-oriented existence. Linklater's script is as crystal and ephemeral as his movie--the elusive pot of rhetorical gold momentarily found at the end of the dwindling rainbow. The movie, as well as its recent sequeal (Before Sunset), serves as the best definition of true unalloyed love this writer has ever witnessed.

TRAINSPOTTING (Danny Boyle 1996)
Based on Irvine Welsh's International Bestseller (ten times better than his bleak book) the film adaptation offer a comical take on hardcore heroin abusers as well as hardcore Scotish Brouge. Ewan McGregor offers a superlative perfomance as Mark Renton who has a very operative choice to make. "Choose life. I chose something else." I saw this film six times in the theatre back in 1996. The scenes of London are hard to beat.

Babe 2: Pig in the City ( George Miller 1998)
This was one of Siskle and Ebert's best films of the year. There rationale being, it's the type of movie that inspires young writers to want to write movies. A picaresque, spasmodic romp. Little Pig traverses to the city only to discern that the it's a cruel world indeed. Visually very appeasing.

Sliding Doors ( Peter Howitt 1998)
A cross between Joseph Conrad's "Secret Sharer" and Bill Murphy's adorable GROUNDHOGSDAY. Gwyneth Paltrow misses a London Tube stop (or does she) and her body splits into duals. A soapdish philosophical anglophile gem!

Waiting For Guffman ( Christopher Guest 1997)
A docu-comedy that shines with hilarity when a small town endeavors to take their play "RED, WHITE and Blaine" to the lights of broadway. The narrative of this film takes place solely in "interview" sequences. A superb, portait of rustic american and their unfounded (yet absolutely tear-splintering hilarious) vizionary dreams.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (Damon/affleck 1997)
Unlike our beloved prof, I (to this day) still adore this movie. It captured South Boston and Cambridge academia PERFECTLY. The mathematical chalk board proofs extrapolated by the films protagonist almost persuaded this lil' writer to doff his word processor and don a pocket calculator. Backed by cool Eliot Smith guitar rifts, this is one film that rewards the viewed and somehow lulls them at the same time.

Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson 2001)
Optically, this Indie film looks like it could have been shot in the Vinyl vector of a Salvation Army thrift shop. It ranks with Babe 2 as a movie that compels young film writers into a full-fledged life in the arts. The film is about a lackluster father (Gene Hackman) trying to rectify his familial foibles by pretending he has cancer. Incidentally this was the first movie I saw after my father's swift death (from cancer) and I laughed so fucking hard I cried out all my grief. When a film hits you like this, it's nothing short of a divine aesthetic solace. I'll always be thankful for this film...it served as an emotional sleeve at a time when tears were cumbersome.

LEGENDS OF THE FALL (1994 Edward Zwicks)
I used to have dreamy long dreads just like Tristan. The Montana scenary is stunning. A brawny movie for those boys whose obssesions with Marlboro Men and horses lasted far beyond Trigger.

FIELD OF DREAMS (Costner 1989)
Purely a film for visionaries.

This film is brilliant because Tom Hanks relates to an inanimate volleyball WILSON as a fully sentient human being. I love the absence of dialougue and the lulling rake of the ocean smashing upon an isolated shore. A movie for the loner and lover burrowed in all our skulls.

Think of it as bubbles emptied from the cold lips of someone who has already drowned


The way your body curves
Into an humped fetal
Cocoon of lower case flesh
Bowing towards the east at

Your spine inside my spine
Curved one second
Erect the next
A beanstalk bearing
Cantilevered planks
Playground slide
Limbs I mounted and

Dug into the spinal rungs
Whistled up the side of your body like a flag
Being raised
Only to find your head already
Above the clouds, while the
Rest of your body drooped
From your neck, below
The hemisphere, I fell

Bungied to your ankles,
Looking up, dangling
The arched hospice,

Parabolic straddle, cul-de-sac
Half-moon rainbow potted
gold in disguise
of your saltine thighs

I sat alone under grandpa’s
Chair and cried

I grappled your elbow
An r-shaped boomerang that fell
flaccid every time I threw
it back into your lips

Every time my lips came inside of you
Your mouth contorted into the
Shape of the first traced vowel.

The letter that denoted
Report card prominence heralding
Academic hosanna’s.

I peeled you into me,
Zip-locked your flesh into my flesh,
Stepped into your torso

Adjusted the tongue of my zipper
Buckled the area around my waist,

Where I found your face
Where I found you

All the way inside of my body,

Akimbo limbs crucifix.
I laughed at
The sight beneath us,

Our body
Exhaled one lunar shadow,
My body, lower case,
behind your half-opened
horseshoe telling you that

I love

Taking deep breathes, pushing
Everything that has ever
Been inserted into you

Into eternal rest.


Monday, August 30, 2004

Glass Continent

Since this lil' cropped-hair writer is still chasing scattered breadcrumbs to go along with his crimson sunsets, looking for his words mashed between multiple muses and deeply throttled in a vortex of academic flux, anticipate reading excerpts from his book of poems Glass Continent, a Wayfarerer Utopia bestseller, published (or in the process of being published by his good chums at MLFPUBHOUSE....I'll try to post a few poems this week in the Recital blog. As always, thanx for reading and the pleasure, dearest reader, has been all mine!

"It's a sad day when a lad trades in his pixie-dust for a paycheck......"

"It has been said that the fish will be the last one to discover water."

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Stainglass Lumber

Stripped up all the bark from the Bodhi tree the last week. Spiritual lumber. I'm rubbing excess mulch over my eyelids and forehead. Trying to open myself up. Trying to find that vestigial part of my flesh floating aimlessly down the Gagnes of my spine. Trying to find that part of me I lost last week, when the tempest arrived and I juggled my limbs out in the electrical-sail of the storm. When I held up my middle finger and trimmed my own limbs and shuffled tears in front of my own mom. When I fell down on tattered kneecaps, hunched over in supplication like a wounded question mark. When I asked her to save me.

Prayed ardently before work tonight that God would allow me to see him; see him not through the lenses of a terse feminine smile or a musical paragraph or an ATM slip or posh dental insurance. Prayed that I would only be allowed to see and be allowed to serve... That whatever trunks I sliced and axed from this emotional rainforest, I could use the pulp the lumber into epistles of praise and joy....what it feels like to be a human being...what it feels like merely to be..........

Creative Stump.....

(Nuff said).....even literary loners are suspect to an occasional drought....Trying to find moisture in a spiritual sahara.....

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Thank you for calling me at work tonight, daniela!!!!!!!!!You made my night you crazy girl!!!!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2004


WHY DIDN'T MY SPIRITUAL SOUL MATES SLAP ME!!!!! "Jo, Your hair! Your one true Beauty!" AHHHHHHH! I even had the president, THE PRESIDENT of the University come up to me and ask me if I was Drunk when I cut it! The President!!!!!!

I feel that I've clipped off all my conficence and romantic mojo....once a witty, unfettered Fabio, I'm now a stuttering eye-lidded befuddled Hugh Grant!!!! I've come from Axl Rose to Axl Altar Boy......... Arya, Daniela, Cute girl who reads my blog and sends me weird e-mails.....HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Balding Epigraph

First day of classes and the sky is a hard-colored morose green swirl....like looking through an empty 7-up bottle in your basement or something. Dank, sullen, lachrymose, dated. Summer is suppose to eventually dwindle into a rushed autumnal gale with luminous nerf-colored sunsets heavily beating orange hymns across hard candy shaded leaves mottled in vacant overhead boughs. But no. An overcast green trenchcoat stamps an indelible punctuation mark for scantily clad (and scantily brained) sorority sweethearts worshiping the sun on Olin Quad.

After marshaling finances, quelling incubus-shaped emotions, playing a rather sadistic-inflicted version of Simon Says with the Registrars office, truckeling in front of Mother Mary Mama Bear and chomping off my six-year old identity tail as a co-signer sacrifice, I finally entered my first class this morning with equanimity and sharp poise.

Can't walk two square feet on campus without the inevitable comment on the absence of my pony-tail. My friend April walked past BR 227 twice and then jutted her head in to confirm. My Mom's best friend (she teaches Hebrew here at Bradley) came up and gave me a hug before petting the spontaneous mop that sits atop my head like demolition follicle rubble.

I always throught castrating my northern limb would be rather dramatic--like in Steel Magnolia. When Dolly Parton southernly sears Julia Roberts bangs, it's a tranistion into motherhood (god-I'm referencing a chick flick. I need help male help. SPORTSCENTER and stale doritos to the rescue!!!!!!)....

To my astonishment, the void of golden thread that faithfully served as Toto to my traveling Dorthy for almost eight years has not really bothered me all that much. When I was butchering my Bodhi tree a few weeks back I canned, actually threw away a 300 page single spaced novel I wrote last autumn called Book of Muses. 300 pages!!!-and I tossed it out because I had a dream where my grandmother came into my bedroom and yelled at me for writing such 'filth.'

"You're giving our family a bad name." Grandma said, in the dream and it scared the hell out of me b/c it was one of those dreams where its like "Shit, she's really here." Almost like Adam not only swallowed the fruit, he also knocked up Eve up as well and God is waiting at the garden gate with a blue-colored pregnancy test and a biblical versed pre-nup.

So in my dream I say the greatest name and liquid time freezes into dream cubes and I wake up. The book had to be tossed (It's not one of those scripts I want to be remembered having written--sort of a well-written handbook dedicated to lonely housewives everywhere) but also as an exercise in detachment.

So here I am in the library with short hair that'll grow back in a year. I remember hearing a Joseph Campbell on detahcment once.

"You cut your lawn everyweek. Suppose your grass would say, 'Now well what's the use!'"

Oh......and I had a dream during my turbulent lone-kayak-bracing-the- Atlantic-hurricane breakdown. When I get depressed I almost always have bad dreams about my underwear-model ex-girlfriend who I dated for thirteen months (my longest romantic rapport ever) and then had to leave town. Most dreams we're fighting and throwing things. Some dreams we're actually married and miserable and trying to conceive a child only we can't. Anyway, I keep having this dream where my-exgirlfriend and myself are having furious arguements.....only in this dream, to get away from my-ex, I delve into a bar and start doing cocacine. I'm shoveling little Peruvian mountain peaks of coke up my left nostril in a swanky hotel bar to deal with the loneliness and who do I see but my own mother, looking professional and wearing a bussiness suit. Mom is conducting a lecture in front of all of these (mostly persian) people and she's surrounded by all my relatives in P-town....and it turns out she's teaching the faith and that she's radically very ardent and passionate about it (she's a passionate Baptist in real life).....

.....and in the dream (which relaxed me because I had finally lost dream-periphery of my ex-girlfriend) I yell at my mom. I don't know why, but I yell at her. I scream at her. I tell her to stop.......

The next day my mother entered uncle Mike's house for the first time to co-sign a loan for her eldest child, still learning after all these years.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The last pugilist left in Stockholm

"Dave what did you do to your hair?"

"Where is David and what have you done to him?"




"It'll grow, David."

"Boy what the Hell happened to you?"

"That's what happens when you go to bed with Delilah."

"You finally look like a boy!"

"I hope you donated it to locks of love."

"Well, I think it looks sexy." (lone compliment outside my mom. thank you samantha. remind me to immortalize you in a book someday.)

Yes, beloved Captain Pony Tail holder is no more. For the first time in over half a decade, my beloved autumnal tresses no longer hug the back of my neck. I'm discovering how to re-apply globs of translucent gel again. No longer will I pad down the sides of my pockets and bitch about not having a pony tail holder on me. No longer will I be considered the cool hippie in the room. No longer will people honk at me offer peace signs from their side windows as I walk down the road. No longer will I saunter off into nocturnal oblivion with the cool wisps of damp hair slivering down my back as I think about the girl of my dreams.

No longer will I have beautiful, middle-aged females accost me in supermarkets check out lanes and tell me that they are envious, holding a brown stream of my hair, like a ribbon, a suspension bridge to my brain, in their paws.

It'll grow, David. It'll grow back.

Been the week from hell. Recovering from a breakdown. My student loans will finally come through in a couple of weeks, but I had to borrow cash from my mom. Long story. I was scared shitless about asking my mom for cash. Shitless. Mom's never been fond of my long hair, so rather than having to go through an additional lecture to accompany my already precipitous emotions, I pulled a Jo a la LITTLE WOMEN brandished the garden sears and took an earnest chomp from my ponytail this morning, watching with awed lips as the thick brown suitcase handle that once served as my identity, a social icebreaker (and an occasional chick-magnet) fell listlessly into the sink.

It'll grow back David. It'll grow.

This is how the concourse works. And just when I'm about ready to offer my fellow cyberbloggers a little self-indulgent sulk, the phone reverberates and it's Uncle Mike.

"I got the loan."


"Haven't you looked on the dining room table."


"Did you see anything."

"Well there was a dead squirrel but I threw it away."



"Funny Mike."

"Well now that your hair is short I don't think you'll be able to write."

"Funny Mike."

" Really, I don't think you'll be able to write with short hair. Your literary legacy is over. Your magnum opus might as well be your obituary."



Such is life. There was a pastor I really liked once who got his PhD (phD stands for Please Hand me more Debt) in Psychology. He used an analogy in his sermon I really liked once. He talked about that when he worked in this mental hospital in New York there was one ward that no one wanted to monitor. It was where the 'Mutants" were kept. It was human beings who were born with half-fledged skulls. Some would have tiny fins for limbs, but most had notable facial impediments.

The pastor (incidentally the same pastor who gave my father's eulogy) said that there was nothing more sad than looking at a viable creature that has for some reason stopped growing.

So that's my advice to you, over looking the carcass of captain Pony Tail holder (sniffffffff)....Times are globally pretty shitty. Human beings have been deduced to numerical statitics or commercialized as marketable commodities (yes, even on the realm of academia where this author likes to hide). It's so fucking hard sometimes to make something of yourselves esp. when you want to be creative and society sees you as a decimal point on your pay stub. Don't give up. Do whatever it takes, but NEVER stop growing.

Promise me that and I'll be your friend for life. No matter the length of my hair.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Heading Avenue Symphony--4th movement; 2000

You are twenty-three years old, half drunk, and you find yourself running down Heading Avenue at four-thirty in the morning. You have sloppily sauntered around Peroria all night searching. Your friend was supposed to be home but no one answers his door. You tried sleeping outside for an hour, using your book bag as a pillow. You have twelve pages of a novel, a work in progress tucked inside your book bag.

You are so damn proud of those first twelve pages.

It is late October 2000 and you are running. Your limbs are flailing, circulating, gyrating. You can feel sweat; little beads of bourbon begin to accrue on the top of your brow, lining up the way football defensive men line up at the line of scrimmage prior to the hike.

You find yourself running, thinking about her. Your entire body is pedaling. Every muscle tucked beneath your flesh is exerting a commanding forward presence. You pass the flower shop and the cemetery and for a moment, beneath the hushed dim glower of the arched streetlamp you see your shadow, an elongated fabric of joints that seems to spindle and bulge into a quavering blanket before it vanishes, between streetlamps, between increments, between silences and botched years. Between trying so adamantly hard to become that person, that individual, that man that you feel should be.

And you are running, sprinting. You've spent the entire night downtown, combing the hard sidewalk avenues named after dead presidents, seeking her face. On the corner of Adam's and Jefferson, across the street from the police station, a middle-aged man with a waterfall mullet and a jean jacket with his collar up-turned accosts you and inquires if you would like to "fool around."

You ignore him and continue to walk. Your ebryonic novel, all twelve single-space pages heavily fonted pages (the longest script you have ever written) is tucked under your arm like a flag after a military ceremony. You walk continue to walk You are looking for her. In between the snycopated-electronic din and butterfly flutter of strobe lights, between dank bars with tufts of cigarette smoke levitating into the ceiling; couples rhymatically biting each others torso, groping on the dancefloor, between old men hunched over the barstool like wooden question marks, dribbling beer off their cidert chins when they talk about their ex-wives; between all of this, you are seeking the outlines of her perfect face.

You run into Jenane and her girlfriend Jen inside a dyke bar. An aged Queen wearing mascera and pantyhose and talking with her wrist offers to give you a ride across town and for some reason you accept. You get into the vehicle with her and she begins to sob as she tells you about her childhood. She parks in front of a fire hydrant facing the opposite direction on a One Way street. She removes a bag of weed and begins to roll a blunt. You are in a neighborhood you have never seen before. You hear the cackle and authoratative squeal of a cop car zip past. The Queen holds out the blunt in front of you like she is at the make-up counter. She tells you not to worry. She calls you honey. She tells you that she used to work this section of town and that the cops know her, honey. You want to leave but you don't want to offend her. In a way she seems just like you. All alone in an overpopulated planet trying to find her identity. All alone with no one left to hold.


It is the year 2000. Things have not changed too much. Things have changed completely. You are a student, an internet adress, a bobbling Christian, a cavalier drunk, a lover, a philosopher, a writer. You are a human being. You are nine digits and three slashes on your blue social security card. You are sinner. An american, A world traveler. You are a citizen, a dilletante, you are in debt. You are an employee, a boyfriend, a bastard. You are the digits on your discover card, the digits on a cell phone number. You are a person who wants to change the world. A person who wants to be remembered after your remains are pocketed in a seven foot casket and planted into a fresh slant of earth.

You are arrogant. You are a smoker. You are a dickhead. You hurt people sometimes. Six months ago, when you found out that the love of your life was boning the roommate across the hall, you ran a red light and was broadsided by a cement truck. You should have been killed. Glass splattered all around your upper chest and forehead coating your upper frame with a chandelier bib. You were taken to the same hospital where you stayed at a week before you graduated from High school. It would be the same hospital where, in less than two years, you will watch life slowly drip away from the lids of your father's eyes.

You are lonely. You are searching. You are complicated. You are curious. You want to experience everything. You want to read everything. Drink everything. Smoke everything. Kiss everything.

You study Hinduism. You drink lots of coffee. You read Carl Jung. You worship James Joyce. You want to write a novel like Ulysses. You want to precisely capture what it feels like to be a human being in an age where everyting is marketed; where every covert kiss becomes a global commodity.

You get pissed off with your parents when they talk about their son like he has no future.

You work third shift. You entertain people. You hang out with bohemians. Your best friend, the one who isn't home, is a folk singer. You think his song "Merry Monday Happenstance" seriously rivals Bob Dylans best work.

Tonight you want to see your girlfriend. You want to see Brook. You want to see your own face in her eyes a second before she blinks and smiles.


After the car accident the love of your life, the one who left you for her roommate comes into the library and gives you an embrace. For a second you hold each other like lovers. For a terse moment you hold each other like you are one teething creature. You like the way her skin feels around your skin. You like the way her mouth contorts when she says your name. You still haven't had that talk indicative of closure.

She comes in the next day with a VON MAUER bag. She has it adeptly packed. Inside there is the quilt you wreathed around her shoulders the last time you kissed her goodbye in your old apartment. There are old videos and old shirts. The variegated autumn-colored sweater; the shirt you were wearing the day you kidnapped her from Creative Writing class. She is wearing her new boyfriend's jacket.

Everything you have ever given her, she is giving back to you.

You have almost died but it hardly seemed to matter. You seem to have felt already dead and draft cold for quite sometime now.


It is late October 2000. Either Armageddon or Jesus was supposed to accompany Y2K. The bookstore where you worked at for four Christmasses closed in early January. The Yanakee's beat the Mets in the Subway series. A vote for Nadar is a vote for Bush. Napster is a no-no. The World Trade Towers still salute the New York skyline. 9-11 is only something you call in an emergency.

Boy bands and glitter are seemingly sprinkled everywhere.


The night of your father's death two years later, your mother will tell you that she was grateful she still had two weeks with your father after he was diagnosed.

"Those people in the World Trade Towers never had a chance to say goodbye." Mom says. The room is white and circled with tears.


After your accident your mother filled out an application for you to leave. You find yourself in Normal, Illinois. Inside Manchester. None of your previous classes appear to have transferred.


You are running. Sprinting. Heading Avenue is a runway for your spirit; an emotional launchpad blasting your anchored spirit into the atmosphere of your dreams. Your mother works at the end of the street, in the catholic orphanage. 100 meters from where Brook lives. The nights you stay at Brook's apartment you park your station wagon four blocks over, in a different manor, so not to alarm your mother when she arrives to work in the morning. Your last night in Peoria before you left the two of you went dancing. You found her body flailed around your limbs at the Red Foxx Den, in between shots of single malts, Boys with short haircut and manicured smiles flame in front of you telling you how gorgeous the two of you look together for a straight couple.

On the dance floor her innate poisonous rythmic sway finds your animal rythm. Her movements find your movements. Your body is pressed up into her body and your lips and tongue find solace in her breath. When the two of you stumble out of the bar and get into her convertable you tell her "fuck it." You tell her that this is what you want. You want what you have next to you right here. Even though she is ten years older than you are. Even though she has more baggage than an international terminal at O'hare, you the want the girl with the velvet hair and smooth forehead and gemnii constelation smile. You want the girl, the woman, who stopped you after class and invited you out for Guiness. The woman who is ten years older than you are, the woman who is sheerly academic, who is the subtle clack of rushed heels stirring in the jaundice hallways of Bradley Hall.

This is what you want. You think that you are sure of it this time.

You get down on one knee and tell her this and swear to her that you will be there for her no matter what, swear that you will protect her, swear that she is the most important thing in your life right now.

Brook bats her eyes like she is changing the channel when you ask her to marry you.

"Do you realize that you just propsoed to a married woman?

Your ears register the gnawing bark of her huskie when she answers the door. She seems nonplussed that you are here. You want to ask her the status of her dwindling marriage. If her husband is considering moving back in after all. You want to ask her about the "other man." She is wearing your old Pearl Jam t-shirt and panties. She invites you inside and sleepily invites you back into her matress and when you try to hold her your body titters and cowers and shakes and you tell her that you can't. The thing you have sprinted towards is in you arms and you have never felt more lonely. Never felt more disparate and empty than you do right now at this moment.

This is how you fall asleep. Your body spooning her body and then shaking and then holding her and freezing.

"If you don't like what we are then why did you come back to me." She says.

"Because you were the only thing inisde my chest I could hold and believe in." You say, only it sounds differently when it escapes your lips. It sounds like a tear.

It is late October 2000. You are twenty-three years old. Nothin' changed brother.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Or Lose it in the Sun... Heading Avenue Symphony; third movement...1996

It is 1996 and you are all alone. You find yourself fueled by copious amounts of caffeine, flickering cigarette's into an ash tray, staring out through a windex-tinted translucent reflection of yourself across the desert of the dashboard. The velocity and confusion of youth has manifested itself in front of the toll-booths of adulthood. You grasp the wheel so tightly that your knuckles seem to crack free from your tenacious grapple as you harness the curved reins of the wheel. Your hair is cut short and stylishly gelled. Your girlfriend Kristina is in the passenger seat next to you, smoothing out the bottom hem of her denim skirt with her smooth palms that look like twin doves. You have just graduated from High school, spending the last week of secondary education tucked into a hospital bed in Methodist Medical Center; plastic tubes threaded through your supine posture, offering your enervated, dehydrated late-teenage body nourishments.

High school was an emotional-taxing four year sty that swelled and inhaled and eventually festered, spreading juvenile puss on a four year period that you have successfully blocked from your memory. Like most people you admire, you never found your niche in high school. The school you attended had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the country you live in and the lowest standardized test scores in the state that issued you your Drivers license. You got in trouble for writing an article about a teacher who manipulated grades for athletes. You got praised for publishing a poem on a teacher who died; an old aged English teacher who accused you of plagiarism sixth months before his death. You got lonely and depressed. You listened to more Morissey than is both humanly sane and salubrious. Your parents tell you to do what their notion of God wants you to do and then they ferry your siblings across state to compete in musical competitions. Your GPA bobbled and dipped your senior year. Once an athlete you quit running altogether your senior year to work on writing, but mostly found yourself bussing tables and discussing your foibles in front of a Christian psychiatrist who's been telling you since sophomore year that "you have a bad case of senioritis."

You battled an emotional incubus, an empty academy and searched for meaning, scribbling out ink-chipped stanzas of poems, reading everything, imbiding any libations sealed in bottles that scream of non-mathematical proofs. You quadruple your valium intake and wake up days later, the word POET vertically carved into your chest, a broken bottle of Jack Daniels shattered around your bathroom floor; shiny shards of glass that look like diamonds strewn around your lap and shoulders like crystallized New Years confetti.

But that is in the past. That is sealed. Two days after you are released from the angelic white sheen of the hospital-wing you don cap and gown and find yourself surrounded by strangers. When you receive your diploma the principal (the one who edited your articles for the school paper; the one who impregnated a student teacher) gives you a hug.

But now you are free. You are emancipated. You are reading Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and you can feel your thoughts stretch out heavily in front of you, like the strip of road you plough your vehicle across; like that bullet-hole sunset you strive inside for. You are nineteen years old and your body procreates creative thoughts; your body produces exertion; your body aches to not be tethered to the past, to that hollow place you have just escaped from, that place you will never go back to again.

Every muscle in your body has an impulse to action, you think, as you adjust the nub on the tape deck, grope the clutch and breeze off into the orange shafts of light. Every muscle inside of you body has a purpose. Every thought that fleetingly tugs at the creative reels and pulleys inside your skull has a significance; has an predestined place reserved in the orchestrated diagram of the inscrutable cosmos.

The world has changed since your freshman year--each year of high school contained a decade worth of personal growth and self-actulaization in themselves. Buildings are being "wired" connected; the elusive stream of invisible traffic has formed a global goassamer known as the world wide web. A staticky yawn like morning breath grouses from the top of the modem when agitated. What once was Alternative rock is now mainstream commercial fizzle. Coffee stands are everywhere. Human beings are seemingly engrossed in a rushed string of motion. Life is one bussiness transaction. A receipt sloppily printed out for a rash, unexpected purchase for an item that no longer fits.

You work. You stock empty shelves at Barnes and Noble. You get phone numbers of females with their i's doted in little hearts. You make car payments. Fish out rent. Hook up the occasional bag of veggies.

You attend classes at the local community college, where you feel ashamed to have gone, mostly because it seemed that your parents, who never really took an interest in your own endeavors, are now completely divorced from your dreams.

Your write. You study your ass off. You dream of leaving. Leaving and not returning ever again to that place you have already left.

Then one day, in mid October, you leave and everything you have leaves with you. There is the napsack with the poems and images. There are three shirts and two pairs of jeans. There are socks punched into a tight white fist and boxers and a vial of JOOP. There are four packs of cigarettes and there is the impetus to fly. There is the impetus to see the bald spot on the ground where you are currently standing.

You find yourself at O'Hare and you find yourself boarding a plane with her head heavily sifting inside your chest. You find yourself flipping open the plastic drapes for miles above surface and watching as the winged vessel leaves; abandons everything you have ever known. Jettisons every background set you are all to familiar with.

The sound of an airplane is the sound of sex. It is the heavy aerial-gruff of mankinds technological procreation. The swift still-life strokes. The feeling of anxiety. The feeling of being wedged in a heated aisle with total strangers. The feeling of being above and knowing you could die. The feeling of putting trust in the palms of a navigator whom you have never met. And the landing when you wake up in that golden palce, exhausted, adjusting the plastic limbs, peering out only to see her reflection. Only to see her--the person whom you have abandoned all categories of logic to meet; that person whom you have come to see once again, that person who will add meaing to your life...you see that person know, behind a giant tint windonw and from where you see her she appears golden. Like her smile could generate an entire thermnouclear planetary systems that orbit around her unblemished countenance.

You read her poems. You meet her parents. You take pictures. You show her pictures of your family and ex-girlfriend. You sit under a golden tree next to a pond and read Rumi. You feel her body gravitate towards your body and then slowly slip away.

She shows you a picture of her boyfriend who lives in Minnesota. She plays songs for you on the piano. She tells you that it would never work out between you. That you went out to find her for all the wrong reasons. That you went to this place wielding too much expectations.

Then see tells you to kiss her every part of her.

Then you leave.

She stands in line next to you at the airport. Stands next to you. When you embrace her before you get on the plane there is no kiss. There is only a slight tug; the paws of a child yanking the unsuspecting pant leg of their guardian.

Back on the plane your body falls apart in tears. You find out only later that she left without watching your plane slowly skirt of from the runway. She had a prior appointment.

Your heart is a loose brick that has just broken off some place inside your chest; someplace inside of you that you never realized totally existed until now.

You will find her again at a moment when you least expect it.

You will find yourself, in a moment you least expect.

It is autumn, 1996, you are all alone. You vote for Bob Dole because both of your parents are registered Republicans, mostly because of abortion. When you arrive back home you find another job at another book store, just in time for the holiday rush.

You walk out to the courtyard of the mall where you work during your lunchbreak. You watch all the old people walk very fast. They seem to be doing laps around the mall. They wear cheap rockports and pants that come up to their chin. Some have bee-hive hairdo's seemingly constructed from bolls of cotton. You watch as the old people navigate their collective years around the courtyard of the commercial mecca where you are employed and you wonder to yourself "Is this all? Is this all that life has to offer?"

They have hard-candy flavored foreheads bearing cardboard wrinkles and they continue to orbit your thoughts like plastic ducks in a childhood swimming pool. They continue to walk around the center court of the mall. They move their limbs and huff their gait until eventually one day death plucks them; fingers them off of this corporeal carousel. They walk until finally, there are no more hard tiles to strut across and no more shops where they can exchange their rash purchases.

It is 1996 and you've been dreaming cognitively for almost two decades.

"As the days fly past will we lose our grasp
Or fuse it in the sun?" -Neil Young, "Harvest"

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Heading Avenue Symphonic Cycle--Second Movement- 1992, still-life second person sonata

It is autumn 1992 and the world is opening up. You slumber out of your bed at 4:30 am every morning, streaking down a.m. arteries of Moss and Sherman Avenues in sweatpants and sneakers, inserting inky headlines into the unsuspecting sleepy screendoor hinges shielding neighborhood door knobs, beneath the pre-dawn buzz and insect whorl of glowering street lights. A bloodshot sun reminiscent of the Japanese flag lumbers heavily in the East and you find yourself toating a brick-heavy backpack across the ammonia-scented tiles of Manual high school, in the south side of Peoria. You stand in front of an faceless jambed sentinel and finger a combination near where his navel might be located. The nasal harsh shrill of the tardy bell escorts flocks of flannel-shirted students into wooden doors. Your day commences early with p.e, followed by algebra, Coach Mannioni's World History (which you excel at), Slacker Thomas's Biology where the acidic and ill smell of formaldehyde is never far from your nostrils. Your favorite class is English, where rubicund-faced Mister Wreents (who rumor has it is gay) plays classical music, jazz and opera and brews coffee and sits on the front of his desk jiggling his legs, smiling, relating the antics of Edith Hamilton and classical greek mythology to the pending '92 election, where Ross Perot has just re-entered the race.

Your afternoon consists of one study hall and one French class. You scale the hallways between classes, your shadow looming amidst a sea of bodies and clicks and swirled dialects. You smell the faces of the popular girls, their hair long in back and sprayed into a crimped bow above their foreheads. Their bodies attired in short-skirted cheerleading uniforms on the Friday of football games. They huddle in an amoebic mass, floating, nonchalantly, pass homecoming banners and no-names, into the fleeting confetti of juvenile identity.

The day begins for you at two twenty-five, after your palette has skipped through a verbal-swoop of French conjugates, the final bell of the day alarms your body into motion. You find yourself in the heavy-sour athletic stench of the locker room. You peel off your jeans and unbutton your shirt, conscious not to look at your fellow unclothed athletes, less you be labeled a "fag," although it's hard for you not to stare with open lips the first time you see Joe Lontippi naked. He was born in Europe and is uncircumcised. It looks like there is a deformed clamp dangling between his thighs and for a minute you consider pulling him aside and inquiring if he realizes that his body possesses such a deformity, naive that he uses his gentalia as an optical magnet at the age of sixteen.

The heavy prattle and towel thwaps echo deeply in the din of the lockerroom. There is boisterous chatter about girls. Which cheerleader puts out. Which cheerleaders parents are never home. You step into your shorts and lace your sneakers into double-loops and jump and stretch. You are an athlete, a runner. Last year as an eighth grader you clocked the second fastest mile time for your age category in the state of Illinois, skidding just above the elusive five-minute mile barrier. Now, as a Freshman in high school, you already are the second fastest on a varsity squad consisting of mainly Hispanic and African-American athletes. They give you shit about your age. They tease you about being a virgin. But overall, they give you long-complicated "gangsta" handshakes at the finish line.

You wait for Joe Lontippi, the other white boy, to suit up and the two of you gallop your limbs into a steady jog, gliding behind the football field and the abandoned baseball dugout. With your elbows and forearms indented into geometrical right angles, the two of you mount the "HILL" that separates social and economic classes, arriving at Madison Golf course, where coach Ricca awaits, along with Jose Munoz, team captain, Randy Peacock; gang-bangers Quaynar Thomas, Leatric Spires and Gabino Martinez. Many of the athletes are on work-study so they get off early in the afternoon. Only yourself and Lontippi will later attend college.

Gabino smiles and makes vulgar gestures during squats. He dates Corinne, a girl who just graduated with you from junior high three months ago. In another month 'Beano will leave her when she tells him that she is five months pregnant, claiming that the child isn't his.

The group of athletes kick down Sterling Avenue, onto Heading, where Coach has instructed the boys into 800 meter drills. They do seven rotation. They sprint in a single-file locomotive burst. Each rotation a different member of the team leads and each rotation is expected to get faster and faster until the last one is an all-out ass-surge. Joe Lontippi leads first, followed by 'Beano. You lead the sixth of seven and by the time your rotation has arrived strips of sweat coat your forehead and back like a shower curtain.

Coach Ricca has just pressed the pause button on the timer. The electronic lashes blink 2:05. The team is worn out. Leg and calf muscles are beginning to gradually stiff. Beano and Laetric fall over at their waist and inhale thick tufts of the early autumnal atmosphere. The group forms a pyramid near St. Josephs grave yard, where two green-tents are pitched in the cememtary today. Across the street is a flower shop, the same flower shop where last summer, you stopped in and purchased a rose of Dawn-Michelle, your girlfriend.

Dawn-Michelle was a reigning State Speech champion. She was a senior and attended Richwoods High, by far the most opulent and academic-oriented of the four public high schools in Peoria. You met Dawn last summer, doing community theatre. You had the part of Charlie the anvil salesman in THE MUSIC MAN. Dawn was involved behind the scenes, doing make-up. The first time you sat in front of her blonde hair her entire face squinted in a puzzle.

"You know who you look like?" She said, to your dismay.


"That guy off of Blossom. Not Joey Lawrence. The other guy. Blossom's older brother. The alcoholic."

You look back at her wondering what she has just smoked. It's not been the first time someone has made this comparison. Later in the year in Chicago, when a "fan" accosts you on State, you will learn to smile and say "Thanks for watching." But for now, your attention has averted totally to the short haired blond who wears cool hats and pantyhose underneath her jean shorts. She listens to the Cure and Concrete Blond and only dances at Stage Two when they have retro night and play "Just Can't Get Enough" by Depeche Mode. She sounds like a harp every time she speaks; the acoustic of her mouth rivaling that of a European concert hall.

"Ready," You look at Jose and Joe and Justin on Heading Avenue. It is your turn to step ahead of the locomotive burst. It is your turn to lead.

Looking back, you think the early 90's was the greatest time ever for music in your life. In the summer of 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, U2's Auctung Baby, GNR's Use Your Illusion's and Metallica's "Black" album were each under a year old. You have a copy of a little known pianist named Tori Amos album called "Little Earthquakes" in your CD player and feel emotional riveted and sentimentally flushed everytime you listen to a song called "Winter." You first bonded with Dawn Michelle with enya's "Shepard Moons" tingling falsetto organic chimes in the background.

"She has the most beautiful voice," Dawn Michelle said to you, in between button kisses at Nortwoods Mall.


Your play was directed by a feisty, smooth skin African-angel named Pam. Pam never called you David. She only knew you as Charlie, the part you played on stage.

"CHARLIE." Pam would screech. "Sugah, baby. You've gotta give the audience a lil' sugah. Give 'em a little something sweet!"

Pam never disses you when you stutter across your lines. She never chides you. She encourages you to be crazy. She encourages you to let loose. In the big scene where Marilyn, the Madame Librarian flirts and kisses you so that the antagonistic Charlie doesn't sully and trump the antics of Harold Hill, the musical's hero, Pam interrupts you on the dress rehearsal.

"Cut!!!!" She screams. "Charlie. QUIT LOOKING AT HER BUTT!!!!!"

The cast and company immediately erupts in sprinkled giggles.

"But I'm suppose to be checking her out." You say, very honestly, propping up the scrolled annotated script from your back pocket and pointing. There is more laughter.

"Yes," Pam cackles. "Your absolutely right. If this was a solely adult production it would be different. But this is a CHILDREN's production and the park district might not be too happy if we're portraying leerers and oglers on stage."

More laughter. You remember the meeting when rehearsals were going late. The set seemed to be crumpling. Before you met Dawn-Michelle you were in love Ambra Haake who was grounded for staying out late in a parked Chevy driven by Harold Hill himself.

"Why do people come to the theatre?" Pam asks the question. There is a gravid pause. The husked-dusty smell backstage props mingles with the intermittent still-life buzz of stage lights. There is silence.

"People come to the theatre to escape." She says. " You all might not realize it now, and I hope you never fully do, but it's a HARD world out there. A hard world. People come tot the theatre to be entertained and to escape. Escape the harsh drudgery and sadness of their lives."

Pam says, before going over notes, not realizing that she has formed what will later in life be your literary aesthetic.

That summer Pam instructed a poetry class at the high school where you will attend earlier in the fall. The high school where you are expected to be a top athlete. Ironically, Dawn-Michelle was in that poetry class.

"Poetry, I hate poetry." You say. "Hate everything about it."

"Someday you might not say that," Dawn says to you, pushing up her glasses as she thumbs through a copy of Leaves Of Grass."

"Let me see that," You say, snatching the tattered sleeves away from her light grasp. You adjust your voice to a high-pitch squeal and begin to read."

"I celebrate myself and sing myself,
And what I assume you must assume
That every atom belonging to me
as good belongs to you."

"Don't you feel it?" Dawn-Michelle tells you. "Don't you feel what the poet is trying to say to you. Can't you hear it in his voice what the poet is trying to say to you; to your soul?"

Being a smart-ass, you lift the collected volume of Whitman's life works to your left earlobes and pretend to be listening attentively.

"What the hell are you doing?" Dawn says.

"Shhhhhhh." You respond back to her in a whisper, your ear pressed against the tome. "I'm trying to listen to the poet speaking to my soul."

"Give me that," Dawn says, snatching the book from the side of your face before she swats the book in your direction.

"You men have no culture whatsoever."

"What's that honey," You say, as she flaps the book open. "I was just going over baseball stats in my head."

"Pmfdffffff." Is Dawn's reply, wiggling her chin in contempt.


Coach Ricca sets the timer and presses the plastic nub. It is your turn to lead the runners down Heading Avenue. The group bunches up close. As was expected, Peacock ran the last rotation too fast and the troops are exhausted.

"Suck it up boy!" Leatric yells from behind. " Man, suck that shit up."

At the corner of Heading and Waverly, Beano and Quaynar begin to drag behind followed closely by Poynter. The men are slowly being sliced apart from the boys.

"Fifty-seven" Poynter yells out, reaffirming the 400 split before falling behind even more. You lead the group in a steady gallop. Munoz and Peacock seem to be riding your shoulders. Lontippi lags not far behind.

"Come on, bro. " Munoz says. "Suck it up."

The world around you, that golden habitual place where you have spent fourteen previous autumns elevates past you in a tugged blur. You can feel your chest and lungs begin to burn. Your limbs continue to excel, continue to thrust.

"Almost there yo!" Peacock hammers out. Lontippi lags further back. You can feel Jose, the team captain, continue to push.

"Don't worry about the split just focus on running through the finish line. Just focus on breaking through that."

At the corner of Heading and Sterling there is a gated fence of a house you will one day live inside of and there is Coach Ricca, blinking at a timer in his palm. With forty meters less it is just yourself and Jose, stretching out the legs, headed through the finish line."

"Damn." Coach said, clicking the top of the stop watch with his thumb. "You really butchered that split, didn't you."

"The harder I train, the better I run coach." You say not looking your coach directly in the face before hawking and then allowing a loogie to fly. You see the tail end of your fellow teammates scrabble across the finish line. Beano is last, walking, holding his side claiming to have a cramp.
There is a hard slap on your sweaty back. It is Jose. He is up next, It is his turn to lead.

"One more gentleman." The coach says, clearing the digits on his stop watch. "Just one more round and then we can all go home."

"And do what, Coach" Quaynar says, " Die in our sleep?"

About an hour before the first production of Music Man Pam shepherds the entire cast and chorus (about seventy kids, ages 8-19) into a giant circle backstage.

"Now is time for us all to take a deep breath and just relax. " Pam says. Everyone in the circle grasp hands and squeezes.

"Clear your mind." says Pam. "Clar out everything that's in your mind and just focus and relax." Pam says, her eyed welded shut. See seems to be breathing on a very metronmic caliber.

There is silence. The entire cast of your production looks like a crop circle from overhead. You are flanked between mayor Shinn and a Townsperson and the next thing you know Pam is praying.

"Hello God." Pam says, with her brown eyes still melted into their respected sockets. She prays. She asks God "The fingertips guiding the artist's touch."

"No matter what denomination you are from. No matter where you are on the planet. No matter what you have been through or what name you address it--everyone, at some point in their lives, believes in a greater being. In a force greater than themselves as individuals. To this force we pray."

Pam continues to pray. He face glows. there is an electric current that swooshed between the clasped limbs of the cast and the chorus.

The first night of the play went smoothly and we received a standing ovation. The next day all the kids formed a circle but were not allowed to pray. Word had gotton around via a 'concerened' parent and protestant mother called and complained that she didn't want any New Age crap to interfere with her childs notion of faith.

That was the last year ever Pam conducted the summer musical for Children's Community Theatre.

As you get older you realize that Peoria is the type of town that slowly masticates dreams before swallowing youthful ambitions. Two weeks after coach lines you up on Heading Avenue Jose, your team captain, would be kicked off the team and would later drop out of school.

"I gotts myself a family," He says. "My girls pregnant. I gots to work, yo."

Slowly your teammates would gradually dissipate. A ziplock bacg of cocaine would be found in Quaynar's locker; Peacock would get in trouble after school for slapping a kid with the bill of their baseball cap switched to the wrong direction. At the end, only you and Lontippi, the kid with the fleshy anchor between his legs, would be the only to members left from the original squad.

At the end of the season, Lontippi comes up to you and shakes you hand.

"You know Dave," He says, in his towel. "Even though a lot of shit has happened and we didn't make it as far as we thought we would as a team this year and everything, it still hasn't been that bad. The two of us still have had a pretty good season."

"Yes," You say, nodding your head one time in an empty locker room that smells like old socks.

"It hasn't been that bad at all."

It is autumn 1992 and you are fifteen years of age.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Heading Avenue Symphonic Cycle -four year cycle composed in five discrete movements...overture 1988

It is 1988 and it is autumn. The world is changing like your body is changing. The temperature of the planet drops off considerably in mid-October. The gym-shoe squeaky, prepubescent rasp of your own voice begins it's steady tonal plummet towards the baritone verbal pluck of near adulthood. Oily bushels of hair have begun to foam whorled islands across your body. Sprinkles of hard acne dot your forehead with feelings of self-conciousness. And dreams....spangled slips and subtle nocturnal gyrations...you can feel the bubblegum breath and feral movements of fellow classmates Holly Lidell and Angela Passages, girls who all but ignore your pulse at the lunch table now comb your entire body, cartwheeling limbs into a moist orchard of eternal spring.

It is autumn 1988 and the world is golden . Everywhere you look there are wooden stems, political placards sprouting up from the patches of thoroughly groomed lawns. Signs trumpeting the antics of Dukakis and Benson. Bush and Quayle. It is 1988 and you are in fifth grade. The world is opening up the way a book opens up; with a stiff spine and sticky pages. You attend a Lutheran school where God exists above the hard-yellow ceiling lights. Where the world is six-thousnad years old. Where you were born a sinner. God is a Republican, according to the beliefs espoused by your parents and your church.

Cedric Dockery wears hand-me downs from the mission. Part of his house was torched by a fire last week. He raises his hand and requests that the class pray for Greg Louganis the day after the Olympic diver hit his head twirling off the high-dive in Seoul. Mrs. Reinhardt assents her chin and complies, praying ardently for a man with tainted blood.

There is DARE and there is BOOK-IT. There is learning how to just say no and there is learning how to properly install a filmy, oval-centered diskette into the classroom Apple. The thick white-handles of the soccer goal in Logan Field is stapled into an earth littered with golden sheafs; leaves skirting, dancing, swirling into a thick spool; the dance of time.

Your best friend's name is Patrick. He lives down the street from your sister's friend Shannon, a little cul-de-sac called Downs Circle. His father is a professor at Bradley and in mid-august, the two of you staddled the thick pedals of your BMX's across campus hurtling water balloons at college girls who worship the sun with their cinnamon skin, poofy hair scrunched in side-pony tails in bikinis flanked by boom boxes.

After school you follow Patrick into the woods behind Heading Avenue. Patrick fires up a cigarette he filched from his mother's pocketbook earlier in the week. You take turns firing his BB gun at posum's dangling upside down from dead-tooth limbs. You skip rocks into the orange-rust that slivers through the SKIPPER, where the names of heavy metal bands who purportedly worship satan are spray-painted on the gravel siding, next to expired initials of high-school couples.

"Some day V.B" Patrick tells you. "We'll be shooting the shit down here and we'll find a body of someone really famous and then we'll get allot of cash for it and be set for life." Patricks says, between copious drags.

"Some day V.B., it'll just be the two of us. And everything will be alright."

The two of you marshal the bb gun back and forth between your grasp. The sun is a heavy nerf-orange nucelar glow that burns almost 100 million miles above your heads. Burns and burns and then when it finally sets you realize that everything it once gave life to is no longer here.

I was the wife of an acrobat

Crazy week. I should've been a one-armed circus juggler since everything is up in the air. Only this circus juggler is also blind folded, riding on a unicycle with a banana-peel for a bicycle seat, trying to precipitously pedal his way across an olympic size ice rink while tossing up knives, chainsaws, electric eel, whatever, with his one free arm. Ahhhh...such is life.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Svelte brushstrokes on a Friday Afternoon

Saw beautiful friend (she's on the unattainable "blogger-babe" caliber) Anita this afternoon. I have no memory of ever vivdly meeting Anita. She's half-hardcore Irish, half Italian with a long-silver drape of hair that slinks down to her waist like interior-decorating inside an exotic brothel. She studied her undergrad at Notre Dame and lived in Italy and Taos, New Mexico and now teaches art here at Bradley. She's just had her first son, John, and when she was pregnant she used to lumber into the library and left up the bottom her XXL shirt, ushering my shakey palm around the fleshly kiss of her navel; guiding my hand above the dome of womb.

"Here," She said last March, guiding my tentative fingers tips over the mound of her lower abdomen. She then gently pressed my hand into her body; into her warm flesh.

"Do you feel that?" She said, with a half-moon smile. I nodded.

"That's his butt," She said laughing. "Isn't is huge. My child's gonna have a fat ass."

But I saw Anita today (yeah-duh-should have garnered the connection with the whole 'a' thing). I hadn't seen anita since March and I had trouble recalling her name at first (must be a platonic guy thing. If I have a sporadic connection with a girl and then don't see her and then see her I remember every aspect of her body and persona except for her name). Hence she was the recepient a "Hey girl, how you been," and a "awww, look at that," when she dandled her four-month old out of the carriage.

"Here," She said after giving me a hug. "He's fat. He's four months old and he already weighs as much as a twelve month old."

She placed her child in my cradled biceps. I'm always scared shitless when people put their infants in my arms. Scared shitless when I realize that, nestled in my limbs is another human being; a coddled, curious creature seething with life as much as it salivates with fluid.

"Are you gonna be an artist like your mommy?" I asked. John giggled. "Are you going to paint post modern vignettes that capture the human condition?" Anita laughed. John let loose of an achey squeal before his portly potato-sac body jiggled into a curlicue, into a question mark in my arms.

I've always had a bond with Anita, who just appeared one day and smiled and was kind and grabbed my hand once after she read one of my short stories (I wanna use her and jasna art on my book covers=artists supporting artists or whatever) but this afternoon, when I was conversing with her and she nudged me to go to Taos ("You could live in your station wagon there! No one would care. The energies SO good there!!!) when I told her about Mary-Mary, the art teacher I intermittently see, when she told me about forming the syllabus for "drawing class" and I told her that I just sent out manuscripts in a last-digit effort to tame my accumulating student arrears; it was almost like I was talking to daniela and arya in their own impeccable, timeless beauty.....don't ask me how. But when anita tucked John into his carriage and stopped by my workstation to say goodbye, I told her very candidly, dearest friend, that the pleasure was all mine. Her body transitioned into an exclamatory mark and her face ripped open a smile that shown across John's carriage like the thick September moon reflecting the light of the hidden sun on to a quiet autumnal pasture---everything perfect and serene.

She then said that I was wrong. That the pleasure was hers and I said the greatest name over and over again as she steered John's carriage out of the library. Said the greatest name as a blessing for Anita's child; said the greatest name as a blessing for those who have found me, said the greatest name as a curtain call, as a bouquet, as a thank you, as a lullabye for those who have held us now and those whose limbs we will caress in years to come.

Passion Rules the Arrow that Flies

Hung out with fellow writers Nick and Shannon Moore this morning. Nick forgot the name of someone I tried to set him up with. Shannon talked about throwing back a few pops with brilliant poet Staci tonight. I applauded Shannon with a row of smiles when she did her snooty-impersonation of my ex-girlfriend at the Estee-Lauder counter.

"David and I no longer talk as of now." Shannon says, conducting her nose up in the air like a light-switch, miming the thick-lip anglophile uppity condescending lilt my expired-angel sold (sullied) me on for over a year. I laughed. Nick laughed. Thank god for our own art and thank god for the art of other people. The three of us pretty much came to the general consensus that "this" writing activity serves as our own personal storage for hurt. An attic for loss. An unearthed capsule where the soluble self, though tattered by the day to day discourse and stress of modern day living, is somehow salvaged in it's search for pure truth and unfettered feeling. Where do we put all those stale bruises; all those forlorn, empty embraces; all those timeless ambiguities and one-night rashes? Where do we stash all those dreams; where do we hold that one girl for seemingly forever outside of the blurred staccato fleeting calendar square of physical existence?

We pour it all out on the page, that's where, draught after draught, day after day, for the reader to sip and sozzle.


My friend Valerie came back from Germany, tantalizing my innate wanderlust with photographs and stories. I gave her an old story (blogg) I wrote about her the day she left yesterday and inquired a couple of hours ago what she thought about it.

"No, I haven't read it yet, it's still in my purse."

"Val!" I said.

"I know," Valerie said, tapping a few smiles over my workstation like feminine glitter. "Have you seen how long it is?"

"Val-or-ree!" I chided, laughing. Story of my life. Write someone special a sonnet and she bitches about the length (always bitches about the "length"). Valerie and I discussed what she called the 180 male.

"It's a male you date and then he starts to act like a dick and completely for the most part ignores you and then, the moment you show just the slightest bit of interest in 'nother guy, he becomes Prince Charming overnight and puts you on a pedestal and makes you feel like the most important viable substance this planet has ever produced."

"Why just not date a guy like me who'll always put you on a pedestal?"

Val looked back at me with a slight cardboard ruffle vexed into her forehead.

"Uhhhh, cause your crazy." She said, lovingly and calculatingly.

'Nough said.

"I've heard it before," I lament to Val. "180, 360, everythings going fine and then the next thing you know; BAM, there's someone from the past who's just in town for the weekend."

"Oh, not 360," Val snapped.


"If the guy pulls a three-sixty he's right back where he was before. All he's done is form a circle." She says, in a very look-ma-no-hands-girls-rule-boys-drool paralance.

Val, she's gonna make one a helluva prof. someday.

"Oh, time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies,"
-Bob Dylan

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Huckleberry Jam

Fell asleep behind the blogging dashboard today. The campus network was dormant for most of the morning and afternoon which gave me ample time to re-read THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. AHHHH.....nothing beats slumbering down those rough coils and lazy banks of the Mississippi with Huck and Jim steering the cedar helm.

In 1989, the summer preceeding sixth grade, my best friend Patrick McReynolds (or Pat Mc Crotch as we called him) and myself decided that we were going to "get away" from the emotional mancales of parents and siblings and curfews dictating typical junior high histrionics and travel "cross-country" as Pat called it. Only traveling cross-country entailed "riding the rails." We had no clue how this was done, but we knew that if we packed lightly and waited attentively down past Dry Run Creek, near the abandoned Go-Kart tracks where all the drop outs drank beer out of brown paper bags and smoked pot and made out with their tongues, we would eventually hear the shrilling hoot of a pending locomotive and know it was our cue.

"Picture it V.B.," (Patrick always called me Vee-Bee like I was a col. in the military) " The two of us. Together. Just riding the rails. A harmonica. Lots of Dr. Pepper. A few fellow hobos to keep us company with stories of yesteryear. And a can of beans."

I think it was the can of beans in Patrick's verbal brochure that sold me.

Indebted always to his throughly gruff, blue-collar perpetually pissed-on Irish geneaology, Patrick talks about the future promise land with a sad glint of eternal promise stashed in the dual clover-green of his pupils. The ever evasive leprachaun jigging around the transparent pot of gold; both rapidly fading by the time the potato-tooth, perennial brick layers spotted the rainbow and watched, weary-eyed, as their incumbent treasure is snatched by some overtly protestant Noah who in all likelihood is inevitably British as well.

We spent a week assaying the territory and stocking up on provisions; purloining cans from our parents pantry and mapping out a precise time when the locomotive was to arrive.

"I don't see any box-cars, Patrick." I said, concerned.

"Don't worry V.B. We just scale the tracks and hop on the nearest rungs. Eventually we move from car to car and eventually we hook up with all the other bums, traveling cross-country."

'Where will we end up?" I inquired. Afriad of what my parents might think of my random departure. Patrick looked at me for a second, squinted before responding.

"I dunno," Patrick said. "Patagonia?"

"Argentina?" I quizzically responded.

"Yeah, why not. If not that we can go anywhere. The road is ours V.B. It's ours." Patrick pulled a Benson and Hedges he filched from his mothers pocketbook earlier in the day, while she was in betwen soaps. Carefully removing the menthol filter, Patrick continued.

"You see V.B., say, a hundred years ago--hell, say even seventy-five years ago, we'd have no trouble picking up and just gittin' the hell out of dodge. If we didn't like were we wuz livin'--shit, just get up one night and git."

"I know Patrick," I said, trying not to wade in the second hand smoke. "But that was a long time ago. Besides, what's our parents gonna say. They'll flip out and ground our ass forever."

Patrick took a contemplative drag from the smoke, offered it to me. When I declined by using my palm as a stop sign, he continued.

"The world ain't changed that much and you know it. Besides, I've seen my old man. All he thinks he is is what comes in the mail that he has to pay back. He's just a number on a bill. That's all."

Patrick then looked back at me. It was junior high. I was wearing my Batman '89 t-shirt. He then told me something I still reflect on from time to time today.

"Is that all you want your life to be, V.B.? Just some number. Just some name on a manila envelope that people mail you to milk you out of everything that you've worked for?"

I didn't say anything. In junior high Patrick and I, along with out friend Hale, were the loners. The outcasts. The nerds. I wore thick glasses the size of tennis courts, Hale was the size of a young brontosaurus, only with manners and a high-pitched voice and Patrick looked like he could easily pass for an acne-riddled extra culled from Goonies. We were teased almost incessantly. I had a shitty jock strap crowned on my head before a basketball game by the Pastors son. McCrotch had fake love letters and phone calls sent to his house. Hale, well, lets not go there just yet...

"All I'm saying is that this is our chance V.B. If we don't get the hell out of this shithole now we never will." Patrick took a drag, the lit cherry from his cigarette seemed to be winking assurances in my direction. "You're gonna end up just like your old man and I'm gonna end up just like mine--working all the time with some boss over us who don't know shit. This is our chance V.B. This is our chance."


The next day we packed our bags and waited for the train to arrive. It was scheduled to arrive at five-fifteen and we waited and we waited. The electric lavender-hue that accompanies the endless summers of youth began to paint the siding of the sky with promises of dusk. Patrick looked at his watch.

"It'll come. It'll come V.B. It may not come at the time when we thought it would. But it will come and when it does, we'll be on that train. Just you and me. Best friends forever. We'll be on that train and we'll leave. We'll leave and never come back here again."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

You Broke My Heart 'Cuz I Couldn't Dance

Since I obviously can't say goodbye to blogger, (I brandished an axe and sliced down the Bodhi tree, had to pulp it for paper) here's an all too sweet and sentimentally saccharine fartheewell's dusted off from the archives of Little David's ever wandering escapades with the opposite sex; that elusive beatific eyed immortal Queen reigning over my keyboard prancing fingertips--the female genus. This angels name is Kristina. It's an ugly entry because it deals with my sins and with a person that I hurt. Feel free to skip this putrid slice of nostalgia and mull over Daniela's all-too vexing riddle, instead.

Ahhhh.....nothing like a shot of life to give you a little something to learn from.


We broke up over the phone. It was one of those long gravid pauses where you feel obliged to comment and to realistically examine the situtation and yet, for some inexplicable reason the 'dumper' and the 'dumpee' feel compelled to instigate a quiet contest instead, blathering back and forth late-teenage drivel such as, "Yeah, honey. I've been feeling that way too."

Kristina was coy and quiet and with moist lavender eyes and a Book of Ruth biblical modesty about her. She played trumpet in Marching Eagles and she even called me (collect) from Paris that summer. After we broke up she spontaneously appeared on my doorsteps a week later (My Mom of course, was 'thrilled' to see her) . It was an ugly goodbye. When I embraced her for one final time, "For nostalgia's sake, honey." Her limbs just sort of drooped and hung listlessly on the side of her body; as if her joints were connected to the collar of a noose rather than fastened into warm sockets of flesh. Nothing is quite so hollow as an unrequited hug.

"I had an appointement in the area and thought I'd stop by."

She handed me back the ring my grandmother had given me for confirmation five years earlier. The ring my mother warned, "Was not to go on the finger of some girl."

Kristina handled herself with the delft aura and timeless grace historically reserved for silent film stars. She cupped the ring like a dibbled nugget in her palm and planted it into the soil of my hands without saying a word in recompense. When I told her I was sorry for my philandering's her lips remained reticent; a still life hyphen. I couldn't even get her chin to wobble out a nod.

"I'd also like my story back." Kristina asked. She had written a story. She was heavily into Jane Austen.

"Alright," I said. "Let me look for it."

I propped open my closet and fished through bushels of stacked manuscripts. Kristina stood up, erect, in perfect parrellel posture; like a flag pole lamenting at half-mast. She didn't drum her fingertips along my bookshelves itching for a spine to grope. She didn't recline on my bed. She didn't look at the framed photograph I had of us from her "prom" three months earlier, the photograph where Kristina wore the impeccable burgundy dress that hugged her thighs; the photograph where her forehead glistened as if it was just watered by a campus sprinkler, the photograph where I stood behind her, my arms buckled around her waist, as if I was holding on to her for something that I needed; buoyed to her polite grace, but afraid to sink like an anchor in the pond of seasonal solitude.

"Every girl wants to have a prom picture like that." My youngest sister Jenny said.

"Here," I said to Kristina, handing her her manuscript back, a dried bouquet of inky images, far better than anything I had ever written.

Kristina turned around without saying a word. I shouted out her name I asked that maybe we could perhaps talk. I chided her for stopping by withoug calling first. She was silent. As she clacked don the apartment steps she turned around.

"I had an appointemnt in thre area." She said, again slipping into her vehicle and grilling the gas for effect as she sped out of my driveway.

"What appointment? You don't even work." I yelled out, watching her windhsield reflecting against the sun glaze and vanish. A week later I would realize that her "appointment" was a date with my best friend, Patrick, who always talks like a surfer.

"Dude, man. She's hot. Good thing I tried to reel her in since you had trouble grasping the pole."

Patrick smiles. I smile. Kristina met Patrick just that once for coffee and then gradually dissipated. Never to be heard from again until she got married last June.

"You should have stayed with Kristina," My dad said, that Thanksgiving, when I was drunk.

"Why," I told him. "What the hell was I going to do, marry her?"

"She was faithful to you," Father retorted, helping his only son into the passengers seat. Snatching the heavy jangle of car keys away from his son's biting grasp.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Perils of 'Pop', Prayer and hey--let's not forget Decaf!!!!

Once again Lil' David's endeavor to brew Bodhi Blend (Decaf mixed with regular-grains; a puportedly titled 'half-caf') seemingly faltered and, after a courtesy swig that stained a sour expression on my lips, I found myself, once again, inevitably, in line at JESTERS, Rosealita having my order ready for me as I walked in, wondering why I'm an hour late. Calling me boy.

"Boy where you been? Sheeeeeeeet. Been wondering about your ass. 'Bout ready to start combing the Illinois river lookin' for you thinkin' you might've jumped in."

Growing up I wasn't allowed to guzzle soda (So-dee, as my Dad's midwestern latent-Lutheran family called it. 'Pop' as my mother's working-collar Chicago family nasally noted) because, as Mom would always warn, "Soda has caffeine and too much caffeine isn't good for you."

Here's a simply radiant poem by Rodney Jones.....

First Coca-Cola

Maybe a sin, indecent for sure--dope
The storekeeper called it. Everyone agreed
That Manuel Lawrence who drank
Through the side of his mouth, squinting
And chortling with pleasure, was hooked;
Furthermore, Aunt Brenda,
Who was so religious that she made
Her daughters bathe with their panties on,
Had dubbed it "toy likker, fool thing,"
And so might I be, holding the bottle
Out to the light, watching it bristle
Watching the slow spume of bubbles
Die, I asked myself, could it be alive?

When the electrocuted Edwin Dockerey,
He sat there like a steaming, breathing
Bolt, the green muscles in his arms
Strained at the chair's black straps,
The little finger on his right hand leapt up,
But the charge rose, the four minutes
And twenty-five hundred volts of his death,
Which in another month will be
Thirty-five years old. So the drink fizzed
With the promise of mixtures to come.

There it was. If the hard-shell
Baptists of Alabama are good and content
That the moster has died, so am I.
I swallowed. Sweet darkness, one thing
Led to another, the usual life, waking
Sometimes lost, dried blood in the ear,
Police gabbling in a strange language.
How else would I ever gauge
How pleasure might end, walking
Past midnight in the vague direction
Of music. I am never satisfied.


Though my own father faithfully abandoned what little he knew of barstools, lottery tickets and the occasional cigarette when he got down on one knee like a clumsy shoe-salesman and proposed to my mother, Dad still swigged rather copious amounts of so-dee. I remember him holding the glass bottle like a scepter in front of the television screen taking intermittent swigs. The concealed carbonated fizz squirting up to the top of the bottled orifice like a brown mushroom. When I was sick, grandma gave me 7-up or "white so-dee," to settle my stomach as I languished on her "davenport." If I squint back long enough inside my head I can remember trotting next to my father in the vinyl attire that coated the early-80's, crossing Western Avenue, my father toating an empty crate of Orange CRUSH bottles, exchanging them at Thompsons Grocery.

A solid portion of what spirituality I have folded inside my flesh arrives like a Stork on full-moon from my mom. Growing up mom prayed. Mom comes from a big Polish/Czech family in the south side of Chicago and her dad was a bit of a drinker. To this day Mom will never drink beer because when she was young her father poured a little copper stream of beer into her glass of milk at the dinner table and laughed when she threw up an hour later.

My grandmother (mom's mom) started attending church and bible study because the Lutheran church in Argo-Summit offered free day care. Her youngest inncocous-eyed daughter Linda (my mother) becoming by far the most pious progeny in the household liter.

I remember waking up in the morning and I would see Mom, in her green house coat with the optional monastic hood, sitting down with her feet bare and fetus-posture limbs hunched into her bosom, her thoroughly inky-annotated NIV bible nestled open in her lap like a shot dove.

She read the bible and she prayed. She had prayer partners. She had bible studies. When Dad first accumulated the fledgling romantic-courage to take my mother out on their first date, he took her out into the country to watch the sun tuck it's seasonal head into the pre-dusk dip and pastel atmospherical swerves of the planet. Outside of Chicago, Illinois is a vast sheet of vernal corn husks and soy patches and out past ol' Smithville Road, the gravel streams bends and exhales offering post-glacial tithes in the golden formation of sylvan dells and cradled knolls. My father lived out on Smithville road, taught for thrity years in a small classroom out on stunning Tuscoroara road and my father lovingly 'kidnapped' my mother on their first date, to watch the sunset, near the bluffs surounding his old house (attaboy Dad) where most of the surronding conifers and evergreens were planted by my Granpa Lloyd only, in a fashion all-too stereotypical of my father's foibles, the car got stuck in a heap of mud, leaving my two very overtly concious Christian parents alone to cower.

While their future cavalier son (who never would have gotton the car stuck in the first place) would have instantly placated the soul of his new found damsel by setting up a campfire and plucking out unveiled constellations (and finding some way to get brew hot of coco), my father and my mother (who were approximately five years younger than I am now, and who had just met) did the only thing they new how to do. Mom turned into the direction of my gaunt father and told him, "Arthur, I think we need to pray."

And pray they did. The two of them. Together as one squashed palm. Out in the rustic Illinois country side, down the roads I used to drive down while chain smoking after I broke up with Vanessa, thinking that I wanted to write books whose sentences streched out infintely in both horizons like the Illinois country side; like I was driving down the center of my book that would leak out of my finger tips if only I wasn't so caught up fixing leaks for the collegiate plumber.

My parents prayed. In the country. Before their mouths tasted the other's scent, they got down on their knees like Mary and Joseph in a Nativity scene and they prayed. Helped arrived shortly after and my mom taught my dad how to jut his thumb out and hitch. The car dropped both my parents off at my grandma's house where my mom first met her future inlaws in their nightgowns and curlers. It was the first time my mom stepped into the house that would one day be hers.

Growing up the one prayer for me that my mother possesed and verbalized (in addition to praying for my future spouse and for good teeth-mom wore braces until she was thirty) was that her son be like David in the bible. Though rifts have greatly severed the Mother-to-son bound we once had, I feel that, in all possibility, mother's prayer has been heard by the concourse. Like King David in the bible, I've noted my Goliath and shoved my sling full of words and images. Like the biblical king, I've had more-than-my fair share of Bathesheba's (funny-her name ends in 'a'), like the biblical King I've longed to find God, to really find God, and I even abandoned the search only to have my longing discover me.

Like King David, I can't, for the life of me, stop writing Psalms.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Making out with Mara and Lil' David Does Decaf

So much for being a cyber recluse. So much for serenity. So much for being a dot.com luddite who refuses to lose his elbow-grease blue-collar lunchpail writing antics in lieu of a week brimming with the possibility of Thoreau-like Tranquility. So much for Starbucks House Decaf Blend which I bought in bulk from Sam's Club yesterday in an ill-timed endeavor to gradually wean me away from the knee cap-jittery-pyrotechnic nerve-imploding potion commonly refered to in the North American cultural arogt as a cup-o-joe and, after freshly percolating the decaf grains and taking a half-swig of my morning ersatz ablution I rashly dumped the pot over and abruptly sprinted to JESTERS coffee where I took formidable pleasure ingesting a bona fide cup-o-joe with an extra shot of espresso before logging on to my workstation this morning.

AHHHHHHHH......life is back to normal.

Made out with Mara this weekend which was the impetus of much social peril. Mara's real name is Lilith the Librarian. Lilith likes to toast a few wine coolers by herself around happy hour and then call up her co-workers drunk and harangue them for pulsating. She's been doing this for quite a while now and for some reason the faceless corporate shadows upstairs have grown innured to her antics and continue to pardon her. Last month she went on her weekly binge and really hurt a dear friend of mine. (Called her house. Said that her daughter was a slut. That sort of thing.)

Working with Lilith is like opening the passenger door for an acquaintance after a company party and watching them still take pleasure in vomiting on your dashbaord. Ever since Lilith hurt my friend I've remained amicably aloof. Yesterday it festered. She snapped. I snapped. And then, suddenly, little graphic novel POW and BLAM signs were popping up everywhere. Holy Non-Detachment Batman.

I hate losing my collective cool and I totally did yesterday. I got written up for saying the f-word. She went to her office and poured another peach schnapps. I threatened to file a grievance charge if she didn't apologize for always hurting people. She went home early.

Ahhhhh....life is back to normal.

Of course, as with any tiff, things blow over. Find that narrow channel of co-worker equilibrium ( or toleration?) and the jarring emotional straight navigates the Atlantic into the Pacific. Lock two diverse-sexed gorrilas in a cage and before that take a sincere jab at pecking out HAMLET they'll either mate or hit each other over the head. Same is true with the marriage of two mara-oriented minds. THWAP!

Of course, it wasn't a dud. I slumbered home defeated (Mistuh D was Mistuh Disconsolate) and this segued perfectly into a lecture from Uncle Mike on Detachment.

"If you don't detach yourself from the problem, you're never going to be able to harness the solution." He said.

And of course, I don't detach. When Joseph Campbell comments on detachement he talks about Christ in the Garden. When Christ was betrayed by Judas his disciple Peter un-sheathed his sword and ( in a manner that only mirrors the notorious 'ear' scene in Tarrentino's Rez' Dawgz) severed of the earlobe of a Roman assailant. Christ picked up the ear-lobed, healed his enemy's side visage and then turned back to Peter.

"Put down your sword," was what Christ told him.

I should of just sat on my sword or swallowed my tongue, but no, I brandished my blade and thrashed into battle. I was out for blood, or at least a scalp.

Uncle Mike told me the story about when the Master was in Hafai he had a men spit at him everyday for Twenty-three years. The Master would give him money too, and then man would still spit at him.

"You don't think that didn't require detachment?" Uncle Mike inquired.

SWOOOOOOOOP! (That's the sound of my graphic novel sword that I'm about ready to re-sheath.)

Thank god for little tiffs and thank god for friends. Talked with daniela last night (she was graceful receptacle for my angst) and she even chanted a very kind prayer. Have you seen daniela's blogg recently? All of a sudden her blogg's become the universalized mystic social hub (and I feel like I'm only a spoke in the wheel).....wow, guess when you emanate forth with so much light, everyone wants proximity; everyone wants their skin to turn gold; everyone wants their spirit to transition into an auburn tan.

Time to go, but not before I make more Holy comic book sounds, Batman.

THWAP!!!! FAWHIZZZZZZ!!!!! SHACKLE-JACKLE!!!!!!!!!!! FWOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 06, 2004

Faretheewell Fell 'o' Eternal Wayfarer's (and Take Real Good Care of my Bloggin' Babies)

After two months plus, Little David is taking a break from the Bloggsville Shire in order to trek and extinguish his own Mt. Doom ( I'm taking a break from a lot of things in order to find a lot of things).....I'll be completely Net-free until next Friday, so, in emergency, plug into Bradley's campus and hit ext. 3315 and someone should be able to tell you my whereabouts--but hopefully there will be no such cause and your next week shall be as serene as mine.

Those who visit this blogg will be 2x blessed if the visit the bloggs of Mrs. arya badiyan (who lured me in to all this) and Ms. daniela kantorova (who lured me somewhere else). Both names are synonymous with eternity's Beatrice for surely they have led this particular wild-hearted Dante into the lips of paradise.

I'll be spending next week cleaning Uncle Mike's mansion, working on my huge book, doing laundry (first time since...well..icky male gross get away).....I'll also be praying, supplicating, dreaming, reading Juliet Thompson, preparing to get a good jump out of the gates in preparation for this pending semester, a senior year long overdue.

Forehead kisses all around for the experience. If you need me, you know where to look....



"I Never Did Find You and I Guess I Never Will"

Implore both members of my benevolent-hearted bloggin' ensmeble to squint out as far as they can, out past the contours and fuzzy-glare of the computer square, past the room where they are currently squashed, up through the aqua-windshield atmospherical tint of reality (while your squinting--trying doing that ankle-number six rotation thing daniela devised which I still can't master).....look out as far as you can. I'm starting to believe that if we squint hard enough, we'll be able to see the hand of the author that's composing this spasmodic tale of interconnected glory.

If the 'He Who Lives in the Moment...' blogg were a seasonal novella dashed with an additional espresso shot of intrigue, this would be the climax. The moment of suspense. The moment when the reader shifts their bottom and crosses their legs and inches their chin closer to the line of print.

Big pending week ahead of me. Can't go into extreme detail as of yet, but next week is a week of meditation and service and prayer and self-actualization. A time for me to tidy-up Uncle Mike's pad. A time for me to sift through boxes; a time for me to wade through all the emotional detrirus and joy that has gunked up inside both spine and stomach.

It'll be a week of meditation. I'm getting ready for a pending school year and as always, things are academically dubious. Perhaps that's part of the joy. Part of the suspense. Nothing beats being the lead protagonist in a novel that you are writing about yourself and being completely uncertain about what discourse shall inevitably transpire next.

The first time I ever heard of Rumi, the program was called 'Love's confusing Joy,'.....Coleman Barks gave a formidable reading. Here's the quote:

"If you want what visible reality can give, you're an employee. If you want the unseen world, you're not living your truth. Both wishes are foolish, but you'll be forgiven for forgetting that what you really want is love's confusing joy."

I go deep into the woods last night, found a clearing and shouted prayers at the beaded illuminating stars that squinted back at me with cat eyes. I saw a 'vision' of concourse J.T. (hallucination--imminent feeling in my chest that I wasn't s'pose to blogg that...alright then; it was probably just the light).....I make a covenant with myself that next week I'll work out; that I'll exercise, that'll I'll (first since '92) GO A WEEK WITHOUT COFFEE, that I'll flush out my system, that I'll be continually kind to people; that I'll become a luddite, that, after arguably four years of being perpetually on the go, I'll apply the emergency screech breaks to halt the emotional stagecoach.....

Dreamt last night that I was kickin' it with LeBron James (only LeBron was HIV+) and that I had to get to GreenLake only I couldn't because I had to work (as is true this year with this years GreenLake) and then I started making love to my Best friend's fiance who I honestly can't stand, b/c even though she's engaged to my friend she's (in real life) "fooling" around with some of my other friends and I found this out earlier in the week and almost became Vesuvius and erupted at her but then chose to live by the mantra "You've got to let people live their lives; you got to let people rake up their own mistakes and fumble through their own foibles" and last night in my dream I am making love to the girl I despise, brushing up against her and she is smiling and I can't stand looking her in her face. Can't stand having her stale-cottage cheese thighs wreathed around my torso; can't stand sweating as one integer with her. Can't stand her devious pumpkin smile....

And I wake up this morning in a puddle of nocturnal dew dripping from my forehead and the phone rings and it is Mara, Mara herself. Mara is outside my apartment and she is smoothing our her dress and her tongue is a twizzler and her breath is ambrosia and every time she bats her eyelashes it is the season of spring.......

Thursday, August 05, 2004

First Writing Desk and B.S. Eliot

My first writers desk was an aged stump of varnished oak that hunkered in the center of my room, brushing it's bulky girth against the wall of the bedroom that was once served as my nursery a decade before. The desk was a creative anvil; a wooded cutting board where every afternoon after track or cross-country practice I labored and peeled sliced syllables into pruned sounds; chaining egoistic thoughts together on very cheap lined paper.

I started writing in autumn of '94. The earth was a leafy nest of foliage the color of wet candy wrappers. I was just commencing with my Junior year at Manual High school. It was sixth months after Kurt Cobain dished a solitary anguished bullet inside his temple. I was romantically tethered (as seems to happen) with a girl I had met in Europe who wanted nothing to do with me.

And I started writing.

I come from a family of musical prodigies. "We're not the Vonn Traps, we're the Von Behren's," I would tell people in high school. "Although I feel 'trapped' in a symphonic cacophony sometimes!" Both my sisters coasted through youth and college tightly strapped to polished-wooden instruments. Beth sawed a rosin-laced bow across the frontal spin of her cello. Jenny whistled her limbs nightly across the bridge of a violin. From ages 8-12 all I remember is a tautly stringed nasal-suzuki squeal that somehow spelled out 'Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star" in a variety of contorted key changes.

My parents also possesed a zeal for music. Mom directed handbells at the Old Lutheran chruch we attended and played the organ. My Dad used to scribble and record christian folk songs on our front porch. My parents also (?) were dilettante dancers and even into the first years of college I vividly remember hearing my father galloping in his socks, swiftly trotting syncopating shuffle-ball-change steps across the kitchen floor.

I don't have a musical bone in my body and just last night, when I was driving around with Uncle Mike under a beautiful cholrine blue pre-autumnal sky and I started orally chiming out the refrain from Greg Brown's song "China,"Uncle Mike turned to me and wryly inquired what I did with the money.

"Money, what money?" I volleyed my nonplused response back into his ear lobes.

"The money your parents gave you for singing lessons." Michael said, smiling so I could see his silver fillings. Uncle Mike loves doing this. Everytime I think I say something witty or quote "profound" Uncle Mike triumphs himself in annihilating my ego; quashing my own menial wit as easily as one might obliterate a pineta on Cinco de maya.

But growing up there was always music. Translucent bulbs stuffed with rococco shaped key- signatures, slim horizontal black rungs, pear-heavy whole notes ushering the flagged stems of the saluting half-and quarter, all delicately levitating up, through the ceiling, into the bedroom of an earnest young writer whose body was hunched like a question mark over his writers desk, flogging out sounds in either blue or black ink--the color of a bruise.

I was a 'Poe-it' (dual-syllable) I wrote 'Poe-ems', I devoured Whitman and Emily Dickinson; I tackled Ezra Pound and James Joyce. I wore vintage coats and smoked cheap cigars rolled from sweetned cardboard and sauntered around my neighborhood at dusk quoting T.S. (B.S.) Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by heart, feeling all too certain at the duplicitous age of seventeen that surely Eliot had penned that particular poem with me in mind.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

Still to this day, Eliot's overly-antholgized literary offering still crackles a cordial nostalgia inside my ears, chimming British bells within my chest, reminding me of a confusing time when a young man decided to chase the smudged lavender coattails of autumn into the dancing flicker of a homecoming bonfire.

In my late teens and early twenties, I sailed off on my writers desk, leaving the port and drama of late-teen histrionics (and the the musical squeaks that innocently tapped through the walls of our house like mice) behind me, steering through the sewage of the english language with honest (though pretentious) elbow strokes, using cheap plastic pens for my paddle.

I wrote in spiral notebooks. Each notebook I would write the month and the year on the cover. By the end of my junior year I was convinced that verse had cosigned me with the moniker of immortality and I fully expected to see my painted viscera posted above the Cafe in Barnes and Nobles invovled in a candid critque between Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.

A decade ago I honsetly arrived at the rest stop of the english language for all the wrong reasons, namely to stroke my ego like a quill and to get people ( namely females) to acknowledge that I had a pulse. I was a failed athlete and like any high schooler, craved guidance and attention and an over all cultivating sense of purpose and life-orientation. I found that sense of purpose ( or at least sniffed it) in the inky drops those late teen age years offered. I found my minimum wage; found my freshman orientation, in those indulgent, overweight poems.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.


I began to tack quotes by other writers above my desk. Little 3 x 5 inch postcards. I had Joseph Conrad's famous Heart of Darkness proverb concerncing work antics, " No, I don't like work--no man does, but I like what is in the work, the chance to find yourself." I had Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD infamous bee-bop mantra staring me straight in the eye every time I squatted:

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say an uncommon-place thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles."

I had Plato's, "Know Thyself", Had an 'emotional epiphanic' quote from Ginsberg where he sanctify's the literary intergrity of my city in his poem 'Howl' by saying "HOLY PEORIA"... I had the last verse of Dylan's "Times They ARE a Changin" which, although it's intrinsically a folk song, is probably one of the ten best American poems that completely harnesses the feeling of change in twentieth century.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'

I had a little known quote from Anne Sexton thumb tacked next to a picture of Walt Whitman. The quote was from a letter she wrote to a young poet in which she encourages him to quit behaving like a poet and concentrate on the craft of writing itself. "Just write every day and let the publishing aspect worry about itself....fight for the poem!!!!"

To this day that's by far the best advice I've ever received on writing and possibly on the craft of living as well.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.


The oak desk began to get full with chopped slices of papers. My writing became more and more indulgent and so--called 'erudite'. Everything I wrote was planetary heavy. I took sick pleasure in exhausting the reader in a basin-vortex of blurred imagery. My vocabulary was riddiculous; ingesting copious amounts of James Joyce and glorifying the fact that my avatar Kerouac, also, was rather clueless when it came to punctuation, didn't help matters. My writers desk became a guillitone-- a syntax slaughterhouse where, all too-sure of my own genuis, I bludgeoned through sentences and storylines as fast I could, lacerating the eyesight of my diminutive (often imaginary) audience with sprinkled blisters and the occacional sty.

In 98, after four years of writing (drooling) black and blue-ink ponds my grandmother died. I watched as her wooden rectangle slipped into the earth (two patches away from where my dad is now) and I watched my relatives swindle and cozen my father into purchasing a suburban brick oven, that, in a period of less than two deades would roast two grandparents, one great-grandparent and eventually incinerate my father himself. I'd like to think that if my relatives knew that Dad had less than a half-decade's fuel left in him that they would have granted him what should have been rightfully his gratis; but knowing them, they still would have hoodwinked him and milked his very Ned Flanders modesty for all it was worth...one of my Aunt just purchased another SUV.

"It's VENAL!" I adamantly screamed at my dad, six years ago. "They're trying to market grandma's carcass. They're trying to make a profit off of her death. If they really wanted to "keep grandma's house in the family" they'd just let you have it. Besides, you're the oldest."

Dad was modest. His siblings resided in areas of affluence, near my grandmothers brick hovel. Our house, though it contained music, was located near in Peoria what is known as "THE HILL". The Hill overlooks the south side, poverty, crime, destitution. I can't entirely blame my father for moving. We never had a car stolen or had to refasten the rim of a basketball hoop since we moved into Grandma's. There would be no gang traingles spray painted on the back our garage or loud sub-woofers heavily thumping outside our house at three in the morning. But ever since we moved, part of the music that once coated the inside of our house like fresh paint, moved as well. I can't blame my father for moving, but I can give my avaricious relatives the finger for making a commodity of my grandmothers corpse. Money is perhaps the worst exchange to happen between mammals since dogmatism and politics entered the realm of religious discourse. Contrary to the adage, money sometimes buds within the bark of a geanological tree. Blood changes color as it passes through the membrane of flesh; the color of money is somehow always stained green.


And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”


In 1998 my writers desk got shoved into a side corner in grandma's basement, surrounded by moldy carboard squares with my Grandmother's name written on them. From early 1999 until last month, I've moved an estimated (count 'em) twenty times. I've lived in co-ed dorms where my room was always the designated smoking lounge. I've lived in boarding houses where my roommate was an ex-con and harvested psychedelic shrooms on the side. I moved back into my parents basement, lived in a historical 1844 Mansion (for 13 months!-note year of mansion), lived in the country, in between green sheets of corn and crakerbarrel dirt roads. I lived in a caretakers house in a run down Jewish cemetary that's ironically on the same street where Uncle Mike and I live now ( damn four year cycle,) I lived in a dilapidated house with God-knows how many cats, a Playboy pinball machine and numerous 'transients' who would come in and crash, eat all the chips, slurp all the soda and spend countless hours monopolized in front of my roommates playstation while me and a few others labored to make ends meet and afford rent.

Come 1998 I was completely indecipherable as a writer. I was purely a James Joyce sycophant; a verbal toady who somehow got off on belittling other human beings. I hurt many people in the name of "literature." I was exactly like that undergraduate professor we've all had who got off on publically correcting your grammar and took great pride in slathering blood-red comments in the margins of your thoroughly rehearsed term paper.

This happens to writers all the time. One truism that somehow slipped out from the final draft of The Artist's Way (along with 'Frugal Living for the Wayfarer Artist Tucked in You' portion) is that trying to market your art as a product TAKES TIME. A really good novel may take four to six years to complete and an additional three-four years trying to get into print. We live in an acclerated Starbucks-locomotive dot.com driven society where fifty percent of all marriages end in the first ten years. Pardon my candor, but if most people can't commit at least a decade to the purported 'Love of their lives'-how the hell are they going to rededicate and discipline themselves to serving the global literati?(Grade school kids even have "accelerated reader.")

Realize that most of the great writers (think Hawthorne, Whitman, and Mellville) never really made it in their lifetimes, but they never stopped writing. Being an impecunious chronicler of the human condition myself, I don't think it was " Posthumous Literary fame" or pedagogical pretension that madly drove them back to their writing carrels on a nightly basis (although I'm certain it drove the sporadic snootiness of Joyce and Pound). I think the writers whose corpus transcends the realm of literary conventions had simply fallen in love tinkering with their hobbies; and that personal joy culled from stretching out that perfect sentecne or polishing that serene image rivals any accolades or award that I know.

After slobbering fulsome sentence after fulsome sentence I realized that I never really wanted to write, as much as I wanted to be known as a writer. My hero Jack Kerouac was purely an image writer; he looked like an erudite fifties-greaser who'd debauch your daughter on his Harley outside the sock-hop inbetween gulps of Proust. I honestly don't believe the literary hoi poloi would have devoured his 'hi-brow' hedonism had Jack Kerouac been middle-age, over weight, slighly balding with B.O.

So I behaved like Jack Kerouac, emulating his so--called literary lifestyle. I fingered cigarettes. I twisted my syntax to elevate my own solipsistic view of the world. I volleyed my professors theories back into their faces. I coveted the english language to my own whims and madly scribbling vulgar xeroxes of life, which, like Kerouac's. were almost 100 percent autobiographical and sometimes stale.

When I finally did fish out my writers desk from my parents basement, it was moved into the 1844 mansion, where, with my new laptop, I would slap assaults and inquiries; turgid, feeble images into the brow of Microwsoft Word.

For a long time, my writers desk, the simultaneous manger and bridal-suite; that stump where I saddled my eleavted thoughts, became nothing more than a bar stool; it's author; it's sole inhabitant, the biggest lush on tap.

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

A few months after my own father's death I moved out from the mansion and lived itinerantly. Mother had already denied me access into her house "I still want to know you Dave," although she allowed me to store my broken bookcases and what little furniture I owned in her (grandma's old) garage. A meeting with mother meant an appointment with failure. I love my mother very much but she's never once supported or encouraged my writing. Blithe Baptist that she is...it means very little to me that my mom doesn't support my hobby (or art, or writing) but it means quite a bit to me that she doesn't support me. I couldn't tell you what it would mean to me if mom would spontaneously drop by my work tonight, ask me how things are going and take me out for a cup of coffee. It would mean more to me than anything I've blogged or written this summer (even the bloggs I refuse to post!!!)

I haven't had a writers desk or a "conducive" writing area for over three years. I've learned to flourish around noise and studious fracas; learned to write in computer labs where no one speaks english. I've been blessed (Greatest greatest blessing) to have a job, where, inbetween calculating time cards and scanning out Reserve materials, I can slip into Microsoft word and drain myself empty. Even though the job pays shit (basically just pays for food and schooling), I honestly can't beat the benefits.

Most importantly I've learned (and continue to learn) as Stephen King says, "Life isn't a support- system for art. It's the other way around."

"Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." Is a golden Baha'i proverb. My wish for those reading this is to never stop chasing that elusive autumnal sunset from that moment when you realized in youth, that a lil' bit of gold, a lil' bit of longing, a lil' moment of eternity, yearned to leak out from the tips of your fingers. To never stop dreaming. Never stop giving. Art serves as a catheter for life when we need spiritual nourishment. But Art, in all it's beautiful timeless facets, is subserviant to the needs of human beings. You yourself, my friends, are vehicles of the light (God knows you've helped me to see) and, in the words of my former mentor Kerouac, don't be afraid to burn, burn, BURN!!!!!!!!!!