In Medea res

I'm in love with the way I mishear your words: in Medea res I thought you said on that voicemail, and my heart burst. I played it back over and over. There is just enough difference in our voices, just enough sameness in our beings, that these delicious little moments of othering our mutual language happen time and again.

Once I had a professor who was Israeli. We students were all in love with her voice, her inflections. When she said 'desire' something in me burned so brightly, as if the pilot light to my soul were suddenly kindled and would provide enough warmth for days. Others in the class also thrilled at this word, as I discovered once we began confiding in each other our excitement (well beyond the excitement over the content, existential philosophy and phenomenology, already quite exciting in itself to our ears and hearts).

Another, too, at that time spoke to me with a tongue that was like my own responding to me but with a different accent, so perfectly different. It is a seductive and uncanny thing, hearing oneself othered in someone else, feeling oneself spoken in another mouth. The other speaks with cadences that could never be mine, that alienate me from myself in the way finding a home outside oneself can. Such a transformative detour of our language, little tongues of difference to remind us of the difference at the heart of it all.   


one drop rule

And I am going about my life, and here we go, and all of that. I make statements. They sound convincing; they feel convicted. Look at me: I'm moving, moving...already moved on.

Just a drop, just one: a full-throated swig. It could be anything: wine, beer, whiskey. Just one drop and I begin an internal dialogue that no church marm could shush. One drop and I'm lost; no loud and proud chorus to bring me back to the fold. Oh, you...everything about you. Every little step is one I swore I wouldn't take.

Look, I tried. My honesty was better than my sincerity. It feels like pop lyrics in my head, like pop rocks in my heart. I don't want it, this explosion. I don't want to admit this liquid defeat. I'm going down with this ship.


upon waking

A couple of mornings ago I was awoken by one of my children calling for me. I had been in the middle of a dream, but I was aware of the fact of my dreaming. When the little voice penetrated into my awareness within the dream, I said with a sigh, "that's fine, I am tired of this dream anyway." Immediately I was fully awake and I jumped out of bed easily (I hate getting up, easily is never a word I would use to describe getting up on a typical morning). I was grateful for the interruption.

Everything about me lately is encapsulated in that tired sigh, that feeling of being done with this, that desire for something to penetrate into one kind of lucidity and break it up by introducing another, stronger clarity. I want to leap out of this bed, and yet, I also want to stay asleep, unconscious, as long as possible. I can only face this kind of fatigue through a haze of one kind or another.



 I am in the city of verdure. It is not your city, and never was.  It was once mine, yet it's your ghost that haunts me now instead of any specter of my former self. My hotel room is voluminous. There are 3 full closets.  You could be, who knows, hiding in any one of them. Why not? Is that any more implausible than the fact that I am unable to imagine myself here without you? I go for a run and return to my room expecting to find you napping in the bed. A happy reversal for me as long as it ends in the same result: you and I entwined in smooth sheets, returning to each other from a place we've never gone, back to a home we've never had.


writing out

On tv shows featuring ERs and on those featuring zombies, you might hear someone shout, "He's bleeding out!". We all know what that means: he will soon have lost his life with his blood. How much blood is required to be out of the body before bleeding out becomes bled out, dead? My friends in the medical professions could tell me quickly and assuredly; this is a simple trivia question for them.

What if one is writing out instead of bleeding out? It has become clear to me that I must write my way out of this.  I must use will and force and desire and turn to my texts, turn this despair into something productive. Yet I don't feel like I can write my way out because I feel like I'm writing out.  All of my writing wants to circle back to this, to you, (to) my love. Every morning, as the idea of being awake slowly filters into my mind, I know I am fully awake when I am seized by two thoughts: first, he is there and I am not with him; second, maybe he wrote me? (No, the answer is always no; it's a futile question, but obviously futility hasn't yet worked its magic well enough to stop the question from arising, nor the dull hope accompanying it.)



"If I acknowledge my dependency, I do so because for me it is a means of signifying my demand: in the realm of love, futility is not a "weakness" or an "absurdity": it is a strong sign: the more futile, the more it signifies and the more it asserts itself as strength.)”  --Barthes, Fragments of a Lover's Discourse

Never before have I felt so starkly the strength of a futile desire. Recognizing impossibility does not lead to ceding the desire, but rather to increasing the demand. I feed off of impossibility; my love grows fat in proportion to my dwindling hope. My desire resists all efforts at starvation, and relishes an exquisite meal of dusty crumbs that were swept away weeks ago.


Faux salut

Podcasts are a wondrous godsend. Podcasts are a terrible hell. Who would have ever thought that I would think "que tu viennes du ciel ou de l'enfer, qu'importe" about voice recordings archived online? What hyperbolic twaddle, I know, I know.  But what I know doesn't stop what I feel; I'm a Rousseau through and through.


multiplicity of symptoms

The talk was about Deleuze and Badiou. It seemed quite interesting, but I wouldn't know because I zoned out early during the Badiou section. Or, rather, you zoned in, distracting my attention and fixing my pen into a doodle holding pattern that started to morph into ever larger interlocking circles and ovary-like appendages with the odd shaft or triangle. My mind flitted into the talk from time to time, my ears pricking up like a dog's whenever a concept dear or familiar to me sounded.

But mainly it was you--mostly it was us--walking arm in arm down all the streets of all the futures we won't have. Your wool and my wool, always winter, always requiring a cuddle against the outside world. For fuck's sake, I came *this close* to writing you a letter instead of haphazardly noting down snippets here and there. A crush note: "Dear M., I'm fucking crushed. Send help (in the form of your eternal love and whiskey)."

Can someone conceive a real pregnancy in place of what should have been a hysterical one? Is the repressed that potent, like a succubus arriving in the dead of night to dupe us all? Is my unconscious trying to live out one last tie to the Post Card, the child, the child. What to do with the doubly bastard child of the future. Darling, can't you see that I'm burning, I want to scream in the wake of your good-bye.


intermittent rain

How many post cards would I have written and hidden amongst your things if only I had no limits (on time or on sentiment?) Your bags and clothes would be littered with them. Cards in sleeves, pockets, and pants legs.

Endless greetings. We never stopped greeting each other, even at the end, did we?


Fall back

Fall back. Spring forward. These phrases encapsulate the memory of how to move the clock for daylight savings time. It's on, and then it's off. You move the hands back or you move them forward (assuming you still have a clock with hands--what a relic). We manipulate time and we end up with a barely perceptible jet lag effect.

The lag between us is mismeasured, though, because from here to there we don't quite match up on hours. Your body shook involuntarily from jet lag, exhaustion, and I don't know what else as we sat on that nondescript couch tightening the tension of a ten-year span. I couldn't reach across the missing time to smooth stillness into your limbs with the pressure of mine. (That intimacy spoke of a different kind of falling, of a possibility we wouldn't let cross our lips, let alone cross the Atlantic.)

Fall back, you wrote: "fall back in love with your life."


our own private cinema

Some days I don't feel like I can write. It's all glued up.

Baudelaire wrote "dormir, dormir, dormir plutot que vivre", but I am no poet. This line used to offer me some consolation. I want to sleep in order to dream. Sleep in order to screen the memories I don't have of you, the stories I've never been told. A movie screen flickers above my head, but I'm awake. I must invent what I don't have; it's not easy. It's a fool's chore.

I'm dreaming of the time you didn't tell me about some incidental childhood detail that somehow manages to encapsulate a whole sliver of your present way of being.

A long train ride is needed for 40 years of telling, especially since some moments in my life seem to last years in themselves. Other memories have disappeared, unaccounted for in narrative. You stop talking, squeeze my hand and turn to look out the window when that kind of lost memory flits by, loose in the wind or stuck to a post. You can watch it go by and I can witness your watching. That would be enough.

But how would I know? I'm just a fool wakefully dreaming in writing, trying to crank out a screen play of memories left untold. All of it is impotent and hollow. You have more sad memories than if you'd lived a thousand years. I'm suffering from reminiscences. The only real thing between us is literature. I can't invent our private cinema on my own. Foolish dreamer, you can't write in the place of the other.


Rilke does it better

Oh, Rilke, what haven't you been to me?

Awakening desire,
make a place where pain can enter.
That's how we grow.
Along with their laughter,
lovers bring suffering
and longings that had slept and now awaken
to weep in a stranger's arms.

From The Book of Hours II, 10

"live better stories"

It's happening again: that awful feeling of nausea. I haven't been on this end of the equation in quite some time. It's just as terrible as I remember to hurt someone who wants to love you by no longer returning that love, or at least not the in way it ought to be returned. Even if it was never a fireworks display, that love was alive and had its own kind of vibrancy. Will I extinguish it?

What is bearable? What is a story that can be lived and borne in this context? What kind of endings do the stories being written and unwritten across my heart hold? "I don't know" satisfies no one, and perhaps isn't even true.

"I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay."


living, loving (she's just a reader)

If you would let me write to you I would say such things that you would recognize as your own, once removed; re-find them through me across an ocean of discourse that pulses like the remnants of a Led Zeppelin tune still buzzing lightly through your veins an hour after you've quit jogging and resumed regular life. They'd be your own, and also our own, because we're readers in common, of a certain sort, although not entirely (you are your own unique thing, after all, and something that I want to come to know).

That night in your hotel room:

"Le langage est une peau: je frotte mon langage contre l'autre [toi]. C'est comme si j'avais des mots en guise de doigts, ou des doigts au bouts de mes mots. Mon langage tremble de desir. L'emoi vient d'un double contact : d'une part, toute une activitie de discours vient relever discretement, indirectement, un signifie unique, qui est 'je te desire', et le libere, l'alimente, le ramifie, le fait exploser[.]"


10 years' time

I've been thinking about the things that happen in 10 years' time: degrees received, births rejoiced, deaths mourned or denied, a slew of bad movies, a nearly infinite multiplication of the real housewives franchise, tenures awarded and denied, books published and celebrated (or overlooked), weight gained and lost, and lots of cats.

In 10 years' time, in this temporality that is now both its wholeness and a loose set of blobs and fragments, in that time (but what is that time?) I see us. Now (when?) you are sitting on a bench with a memory of me spread between your hands, like a book lying in your upturned palms. Your head is bent but your gaze is not downcast.

You are weaving so many threads that you will carefully undo every night, a penelope who weaves without waiting (because there is no awaiting the future that couldn't arrive). Your firm step guides you home in another direction.


how did I know it would go down like this

It's not unexpected that this is where I am. Certain things ended up up-ended, and that's what you might predict if you were a social scientist laying down odds.

 It's a big book that never gets written but I read it over and over in swathes stored in little corners of my mind. It's on somebody's bestseller list even though most critics find it risible. You can't laugh this kind of story to the bank, though. You can't write yourself out of it, either, if that's what's stopping you from leaving off.

Fading in the text, probably accompanied by a very softly played soundtrack by Modest Mouse. Something like that, anyway, seems right for a clumsily killer thought, a dumb, aborted post.



It is in liquids that I think of you today. Heavy, syrupy time crawls down my throat, choking me with crystalline clots. As soon as one chunk is passed, I seem to breathe more freely, find myself once again in the world without the strange sensation of being entirely bereft.

But then again, so quickly comes the reversal of fortunes, and, to reverse the saying, what goes down must also come up. Never have I felt such a need to expel.


It is now certain

I am not to be trusted with my own life.


grape leaves

Amidst all your bounty -- and it was bounteous, the way you always had homemade goods to distribute, bottles of wine to share, a smile and a limmerick for drunken friends and strangers alike, sharing of your sweet bread and mellow wine -- you were the stingiest man I've ever loved.

You masked your withdrawal in droves of generosity, you drowned your guests in welcome, and you made me feel the most welcome of all. At the same time, you obfuscated with your eyes, circumnavigated with your words, and did everything in your power to appear open and willing while doing nothing in your life to be so. It was the perfect ruse, and you wore it as well as you wore those sexy cutoffs you gardened in (a spectacle appreciated by neighbors and friends of mine alike, who always seemed to stop by when you were outside glistening with a light coat of sweat and orange dirt accentuating your tan).


dating professors

Me:  It's not fair that so much in a small supposedly
neutral midwestern town reminds me of you ...I miss you.

a) Nothing's fair.
b) I'm very, very happy that you do.
c) Me too.
d) You give good pocket.

naive diatribe

A snippet of a naive but heartfelt diatribe in response to a friend's query today:

I guess my response to the student who thinks poetry is a waste of time could be some diatribe about the value of human expression and how human cognition is closely related to our modes of expression, so we learn so much about what it means to be human when engaging with fiction and other types of cultural products, even if we don't find personal interest or beauty, etc., etc. Or, that the thorny problems of being human are often best (most interestingly? poignantly?) addressed not in a documentary (although those are valuable), but in a piece of writing that seems to do something other than tell a story.


invito lectore

I'm not sure why I've stopped writing my blog. At first sign of the slow-down, I raided my own past and stole posts from less bloggy (and more social) spaces, migrating them slowly over to this, "the blog" that was to be my means of expression. The space that was to serve as the anonymous locus of my meandering mind, the poetic wrecks of my love life unfurling, the beginning of my fictionalized autobiography, even. I've let it go silent.



a short list of things I'm not afraid of:

--Choking on grapes.
--Cat scratch fever.
--Foreign films.
--Bad TV.
--Leap years.
--Wardrobe malfunctions.

Ok, maybe I'm wrong about Surrender--but I'm working on it.



I've tried all of my life, in myriads ways -- unconsciously and consciously, painfully and precociously -- to be beguiling. To beguile. To create beguilement.

I have no idea if I've ever succeeded. But wait, is that disingenious? I mean nothing deceitful here; nothing deceptive in my guile -- as if the word is stripped of its stronger origin and only carries the charm instead. Like a love elixir you drink freely but whose precise effects you can never determine. Is it working? Maybe? Well...yes! But then, possibly, maybe not....

Reading some essays by Adam Phillips an hour or so after typing in the above, I come across this: "'You know what charm is?' the narrator of Camus's The Fall asks. 'A way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question.'


Come. (while we're doing repetition...)

Two things under this heading. Both old. Unrelated as to context and to address.

“Come to me” he used to write me repeatedly, even if he was a stone’s throw away. One needs space to make such an invitation – one needs both certainty and uncertainty. One needs to feel it is a real request. At least, that is what I imagine. How much space does one man need to be able to make that request? How much distance is necessary for that traversal? I have tried to measure out that distance repeatedly since then. I have tried to find the spot in the course when the firm ground gave way. I have paced and paced, marking the territory, trying all the different metrics available.

I don’t have the answer. I don’t have the response. It isn’t mine to have. “Yes, yes,” is all I have. But what good is a yes when there is no question? Useless, pitiful yes--that’s what you tried to hide in that jeep, in that other man’s mouth – but your yes is too loud, even muffled by another’s kiss. S’s ears are blocked to that yes; his Odysseus sails past your siren’s call unimpeded, ever forgetful that he initiated the question, that your yes is his response. Stay silent, impotent siren, stay silent, damn you. Why can’t you stop speaking and writing? You fill the world with your disgusting lamentations.

promises, gifts (re-posted)

This is from elseblog as well -- it's at least 2 years old -- but I want it here now.

promises, promises

I promised someone I would write. But after a night of dreaming (preceded by so many dreamless nights) I can only wonder at the narrative thread. Why is it so easy to read? I would have wanted less temporality, less careful unfolding, less story; I would have preferred to approach it like a child ripping off the holiday wrapping paper -- only there to create invisibility and to titillate -- and surely nothing exists with certainty until it is seen framed in a box with air and tissue paper as coating. But, of course, it isn't an easy dream to read, only to follow, like Theseus follows Ariadne.

I didn't want a story, though. I have enough of those.

Sometimes we stay alive for others. (yes, I know that's a main theme of _The Hours_, but bear with me). Nameless others. Others who don't fit into our narrative threads. It's a gift. And yet, we blame our living on those to whom we call out when we feel the burden of it.

It is hard, nearly impossible, perhaps entirely futile, to give someone a gift he doesn't want. That is a story that doesn't unfold neatly the way a prim lady opens a gift without surprise, even in not-knowing she finds a way to create distance (because surprise is vulgar). That is a story that can only be written on the inside of the paper.

I have too much writing on my side. I'm tired of narratives that loop, I'm tired of what S. calls my "trapdoor memory."

dear you

Don't believe you've won the game of who can push the other further away just because your arms are longer. Only a fool would play without understanding how magnets function. Don't believe, furthermore, that it's a game one can win. I'm already resigned to losing, but that doesn't mean you won't lose, too. Perhaps even moreso.

Don't believe in cardinal directions, your own certainty, that there's such a thing as too much mirth, or that anchors always hit bottom.

A personal note to your heart: do believe in rationality, just don't believe it will save you from anything, least of all yourself.

good cleaning, bad poetry

I keep finding things as I clean out the cobwebs of the new mac (Clio), leftovers from the transfer of the dead mac's data (Glinda the Good Witch). By things I mean writings. Little poetic nibblets I try to place into some context. Given my melancholic nature, I could have written them at any time, but combined with my need to close doors in verse, I would assume they all bear some sort of date-stamp of my comings and goings. The "you"'s are likely direct addresses, even if, like all such attempts at addressing, there are many addressees, many receivers, and the wonderful chance of destinerrance.

They are all bad, in any case, these little things: that's certain.

when is enough enough?

No, really: when?

Is it when you get hit on in a bar by someone 10 years your younger who asks, ever so sweetly, "Now that you know I'm 25, do you think I'm too young to date you?" and your first, internal and guilty-feeling response to yourself is, "Given the summer I've had, you may be too old!".

The question isn't age. That's an easy question, or rather, the answer is easy on a case-by-case basis. The question is why. Or what. What are you seeking? Wouldn't it be easy, indeed, too easy, to say that you are trying to recapture your own youth? And don't we all know from a thousand movies and a thousand cliches that this always fails? But no, that's not it. But then, what? And again, why?


the bearing down

This is an old one, taken from elseblog, delivered here, almost exactly one year later.

And you want to believe in the why and the wherefore, if for no other reason than wherefore is a comforting word, like an antique chair that has endured countless moves and messy children and pets and drunk mothers and formidable dust accumulation, among other ills that may befall a chair; but it is comforting in its thereness.