summer standing still

May 28, 2009

summer meets me





 I walked in on new summer when she wasn’t
expecting me:

just as she woke in the morning with a hint of drool still sticking to her chin while her face glowed radiant, refreshed by sleep. She was in her element, envisioning no audience:

I paused to watch her through the kitchened chaotic remnants of a last night’s toying with life’s movements, where two glass doors stretched like arms open wide to embrace me from across the room, framing summer’s substance:

on a back porch, old speakers stacked projecting lighthearted tunes in the ears of two porch inhabitants:

one a skinny boy with scruffed curly hair slouched like comfort in a wicker chair, legs crossed, shirtlessly wearing decaying brown corduroy cut-offs. And the other a skinny boy with tousled blond hair that speaks of inattention, blue cut-offs hanging from his waist, leaning purposefully careless along the doorway’s side, and eating an apple.

I saw backs:

faces were directed silently to the same uneventful place:

green. Green of every possible shape and size growing from stems or branches covering the back yard’s wooden fence. They watched it captivated like a movie. More green than the eyes still stuck in spring could understand. And to the right, bright red growing from a bush. The scene frozen in sun-filled warmth:

the stacked speakers, the skinny boys, the apple, green, the red:

summer arrived.


the morning’s words

May 26, 2009

If you’re ambitious you’ll have a career path set by your 30s,” the kindly retired man offered in response to my verbalized indecision. His voice had a rambling tone that nearly disguised the knowledge burrowed deep inside of what he said.

He winked his next sentence toward me with new clarity: “Of course, there’s no law that says you have to be ambitous.”

If was liberation to hear aged advice from an older adult that resonated with my now: it’s okay to have an unconventional life’s plan; it’s worth devoting time to poetry if the prospect of it makes me fall in love with mornings; it’s important that our ways to live keep us actually alive.

But the important decision isn’t whether or not to shirk ambition, but to choose what to be amibitious about. Even if it’s something abstract, undefined… ambitious for a feeling that comes from something like sleeping inside warm rain or for a carefree attitude that sings summer or for forgetting about boundaries (like time, like routine) that can’t control as much if we give them less credit. 

definitionOur ambition’s directedness creates for ourselves a something to be known.

The morning was a bit more frigid than I’d hoped.

But I shoved the covers aside in an attempt to force my body to turn itself vertical and consequently awake.

The chilly greeting of life after bed.

The sunny forecast for the day had put my plans into motion to reinstate my summerly bucket showers. These involve a bucket half-full with warm water and a cup to distribute it over my head and body.

I stand naked in the still tub and dump the first cup over my head. And I remember. Remember the four months I spent doing this daily in Uganda. How the dorms at the university where I stayed had installed showers that offered only too-cold water for the American students who found trouble considering cleanliness apart from a constantly flowing stream from above. But the Ugandans knew better and taught me to warm water in a bucket and make my own streams flow.

Something I can never forget.

a bucket of water for bathing


May 21, 2009

In honor of the haze through which I’ve encountered today, I found a definition that best fits it from the website Definitions, where Jon Fried decided that he had better things to say about words than a dictionary. I agree. His run-on style is endearing.

Today’s word defined:

Sleep Deprived:

I need more sleep. I need more sleep. I am grouchy more and more of the time and cannot always concentrate on what is in front of me. I have less patience and take less pleasure in my routine in fact most days I take no pleasure in my routine although I love the moment I go to sleep I hate the clock reminding me that again I will not get enough sleep. I have things I like to do and things I need to do and things I am expected to do and things that I can’t not do, plus the dayjob, and now there my eyes were closed and I felt better then I was driving no not in a car I was driving myself and drifting in to other lanes and into oncoming cars and through lights and just by myself as I am with no sleep even around all the others I am by myself because there’s not enough sleep to be alive to them and no one is hurt as there is no collision but I don’t like it.

To further expand on my sleep deprivedness, here’s my extended definition:

Curled on the kitchen floor which is covered in dirty footprints and people banging pots and appliances around my head I could just pass out but the noise and the dirt and the fact that I have to be somewhere important in seventeen minutes. I’m waiting for the day to play although I forfeited it yesterday but it has to run its course while I sit unable to be really in it like going back in time to re-live a mistake but unable to do anything but again make the mistake the exact same way. And eyes clamped open like the terrible scene in a clockwork orange it feels like it looks like it feels.

soundless words

May 19, 2009

Saturday granted me a mandatory task: spend 5 hours in alone silence.

Saturday granted me the perfect placement for such a task: a strange, new spot on a lake surrounded by trees

dandelion sky

I set out to explore silently 5 hours.

Wondering through a cracked-open gate, I moved into an opening where brightly colored shapes sprouted to towering from the ground: an empty carnival. Rides stood eerily still as laughing kids and bustling crowds who once filled the space floated down ghosts in the beginning rain.

I entered the ancient tilt-a-whirl ride, pulled up the metal bar and sat in the car untilting, unwhirling, but curving to protect me from the rain. And me, giddy and giggling at the stillness of a ride most people move through quickly as rain tapped my feet.

I ran barefoot across a nearby field of white dandelions and collapsed in the middle so my sight contained only knee-high dandelions and sky.

I wondered into the woods and found a clearing furnished with carpet, chairs, lamps, a toaster oven, an old merry-go-round horse named Mike. And on the outskirts, an ironing board.

I climbed on a fallen tree dangling over a stream and wrote about everything. About my memory of years ago discovering an impressive treehouse in the woods behind my sister’s house and about my comrade during that exploration which contrasted my current aloneness.

I stepped into the cold stream and splashed all the way along its current to where it found the wide open lake. I was crazy-laughing as I and my clothes grew increasingly drenched and the stream restored became pure lake.

I sat by the lake on a log and read poetry out loud to the waves hitting the carcass of an enormously decaying fish.

After the 5 hours of silence ended, I re-met eight people who had similarly spent the same time in silence. I discovered that other people had stumbled across the same scenery I had; one had traveled almost exactly the same path as me.

And then I knew.

That we’re never as alone as we think we are. That things happen always with the power to change everything if only we were aware. That life at its most right involves a balancing between climbing inward and stretching out.

That the bare-bones potential of any day is that there’s always something new to explore and contemplate and say and create.

five hours

good for a laugh:


poetry by obliteration

May 14, 2009

obliterated poems
The Idea:
Cut the bindings off of books found at a used book store. Find poems in the pages by the process of obliteration. Put pages in the mail and send them all around the world. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I like the idea of transforming anything into poetry. Especially if it involves recycling beautifully aged words.

colors collide

May 13, 2009

KaleidoscopeI started writing a poem with kaleidoscope imagery yesterday. It made me realize that it’s been too long since I’ve held a kaleidescope in my hands, pointed it up to the sky and spun colors around for exclusively my eye, consented to let mirrors trick me into seeing glimmering patterns change when I look at a rolling pile of beads.  


clinging onto words

May 12, 2009

Front-page news in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
The price of stamps increased two cents due to the fact that post offices have been hooked up in too many unsuccessful blind dates and are now suffering rejection from everyone.

The editorials inside offer an altogether different but related story:
Printed journalism has been stabbed in the stomach and watches while its stomach acids flow out the wound and slowly devour its skin.

What we can conclude from this:
People have secretly consented to an implied boycott on tangible information sources. They are pandemically forfeiting the writing skills they learned in kindergarten for the typing skills they learned in middle school (possibly because this is the only memory worth hanging onto from middle school).newspaper nostalgia

I’m a desperate romantic when it comes to words. I want familiar pages to wake up with me every morning and friendly packaged papers waiting faithfully for me next to the door when I come home. The internet keeps intruding on my affair with words and only offers a one-sided relationship in its place: it never waits for me and makes me do all the work.

I prefer words to come to me in containers that I can smudge with fingerprints. I have an overwhelming need to spill my milk on words, circle points of interest in them,  make origami out of them, carry them with me for a bus ride, rip out pieces of them to save or share, doodle on the spaces between them, use them as floor shields when I paint, roll them up and hit someone over the head with them, crumble them up if they make me angry, kiss them if they make me fall in love.
Or at least have all of these option available.

I suppose this lament stuffed inside a computer screen does little to help. The internet has that obnoxiously useful boyish charm that I can’t escape.

But letters and newspapers are irreplaceable. They constantly advocate for slower and more intentional movement through life. I support their cause.

“I know a secret road that I think might probably take us to Penn Ave,” my housemate said. “It’s just a little steep at the beginning.”

So we pedaled after him on our bikes until we approached the steep incline of the “secret road” which increased our eye width and confronted our legs with the necessity of exhaustive pedaling.biking uphill

There’s nothing quite like pedaling a bike uphill. The forward progress slows and requires clicks to progressively lower gears while increased leg-work feels proportionately less productive and body heat rises too high regardless of outside’s temperature. If the hill is long and steep enough, the body inevitably encounters a point where it seriously contemplates stopping. It would take much less effort to slide on the ground than it would to rotate the tires one more time. But legs keep pushing, inching the bike up.

Eventually I get to the top.

The path flattens and soon turns downward and suddenly I become best friends with strength as it covers me with confidence and relief. Nothing compares to the spinning down the hill that follows, letting wheels plant me in acceleration and wind grow me into fast as I effortlessly stretch up to touch the sun.     

Every time I find myself contained in a scene of wind pressing on me as I fly forward with absolute ease and maybe have a couple people forming a bike gang accompanying me, happiness chews me and swallows me, wears my eyes in a way that makes them in uncontrollable love with everything they see.

Life is better when hilly.