Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Two days ago I wrote this as a final submission for my class:

Right now I'm staring at the spine of a book, The Devil's Teeth, that's sitting on a shelf at the foot of my bed. It's a narrative about great white shark researchers who live on the Farralon Islands in California. They spend every waking hour observing the sharks devour elephant seals. I told my dad I would read this book. I have not.

The things I have learned this quarter are things that have momentarily lifted me out of the dangerous waters, onto the privileged vantage of dry ground. I am sure that at some point in the book, the author draws a parallel between the jagged, volcanic geography of the islands and the serrated horror of a shark's jaws. But the mountains on my island are molar. Flat, reassuring. My footing there feels so sure. Then I'm slipping, have slipped, am once again shivering and terrified, surrounded by vague symmetries of monsters half-perceived in the murk.

I have learned that I have to start swimming, that rogue waves issued from the chance physics of the deep are not enough to keep me safe. I have learned that some people swim better than others. I have learned that my form is poor but that it improves with practice. I have also learned that treading water is easy. Easier than swimming.

It is a curiosity of humanness that the fear of challenge can overwhelm the fear of drowning, of great fish come to collect. Curious because it means that we are not indigenous residents in our own souls. The spirit is domitable. This is fact.

So what of the swimmers? What magic fuel combusts in their hearts to compel them forwards?

The answer is secret. It cannot be contained in self-help books, analogies, stories, therapies with names. The answer is unspeakable and holy and precious. But I have a feeling it has to do with selflessness. They must know that those of us content to bob listlessly in the tide are disturbed by their wakes. They must be more awake to the fear, because they remember more vividly the feeling of earth under the feet. They must be frenzied with self-preservation.

Some of them come back. Out they swim, to smack the blood into our faces, to coax our reluctant bodies into motion. And they do it again and again, for the rest of their lives. They become faster, more agile than the monsters. This is the definition of heroism.

In the past weeks, I have been touched by wakes. All I can do now is put one arm in front of the other, flutter the legs and start swallowing water until I'm strong enough to swim, dive, porpoise away from snapping maws. I hope I will make the return plunge if I am lucky enough to face it.

Here's a prayer, we floaters. Move.

This morning I found out that my friend Mathew has died. A fellow floater, lying on my floor at two in the morning, both of us drunk, both of us lost in morose reveries over girls not paying enough attention. I hope he felt something beautiful before he went. I hope that if he can still know, he knows that his rings will never really settle in my waters.

He seemed to know that he didn't belong. I can say of him what he maybe couldn't of himself: he was better. Smarter. Blessed and cursed with disappointment because his imagination was strong enough to make him know that there was more. Anger, America. He never got his chance. He felt the sting of your lifelessness deep in his heart. Anger for my dead friend with the big soul. He was better than you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Story by Corbin Smith


I am hungry and horny.


I ate and jerked off. Now I am bored.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Last year, I turned twenty with a ritual. It was kind of weird so I'm not going to share the details. I turned twenty-one tonight with a much better one.

I spent my last half-hour as a minor collecting significant belongings and stacking them in a pile next to my computer chair. Lots of books. And Superbad. Kenneth Patchen, Kerouac, a book of career-oriented personality tests my mom had to coerce me into reading, the Chronicles of Narnia, even my copy of Diablo II. Then I composed a photo collage of friends and family, took it in to get a sense of story as the numbers rolled by. And roll they did.

Now I'm an adult. It feels weird that it feels good to write that. Not to sound over-sentimental (I, of course, never do), but it feels like a new kind of childhood. Square something-close-to-one.

I'm going to eat a bunch of my words and start practicing Chinese medicine and eating herbs and having fun with myself, because to me, being an adult mostly means having humility and a sense of humor. Why not? It's an adventure. Everything's an adventure.

Monday, October 27, 2008


The day after tomorrow, I will be 21. Childhood is over. It's tempting to sublimate my alarm to thoughts of "21 is merely a socially constructed abstraction with little relevance to benchmarks of growth and maturity in your own life; only you get to decide when your childhood is over." But eventually, you have to concede to the rules.

One of my most vivid memories from elementary school was turning eight. At some point right before my birthday, I was at school (I remember the exact spot) and I thought to myself, "I will be twice as old as I was when I was four." That seemed astounding to me.

Now I'm throttling towards adulthood. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Like Drops of Slow Molasses

Some moments are so utterly, transcendentally adult as to be inaccessible after their passing. Some moments allow you to feel your place in your own narrative, can reach back and tap your fingers along the heads of selves past, smell the ionized air of deep time around you.

Moments like watching pornography after a four-month moratorium and finally seeing how utterly stupid and lifeless it is.

Asking my mother to pay for a weeklong seminar in Stanford about my chronic condition, having the honesty to know that I need help, that I'm not ready to flush the monsters from under the bed by myself yet.

Realizing that the retards don't have a Monopoly on the politics of human empathy, that a happier world is probably just as simple as people taking care of each other. Feeling suddenly overwhelmed in class by a desire to help someone, then sad and dizzy at the realization that that notion has an exotic flavor.

Going to bed thinking about the things that I have, not what's missing.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Code Red

I've been having 28 Days Later-related nightmares a lot lately. Sometimes a franchise rotates into mental prominence and I don't really know why. Like when I'll be obsessed with Star Wars for a week, or when I'll chew through an entire TV series on DVD in a matter of days. It's mostly that I become enchanted with the idea of whatever it is that's caught my attention; my whiskers brush along their symbolic core.

I just finished watching the sequel. I had seen it before, but I'm still jittery. Not just from the tension, the violence, but for the sense of distilled hopelessness that pervades its scenes. As I get older and see things change, I come to recognize what I have, to value it more. Unlike when I was fifteen, unmoved by images of gore, seeing things taken away is now painful. And these movies take everything away, ruthlessly. Society, family, the future, our own humanity. I worry that they are so popular because they reflect our culture's self-image: a world of cannibals, grasping tenuously at a century whose momentum is overwhelming. They're not haunting because of the blood, the monsters creeping in the dark. They're haunting because it all seems so much closer than it should. And why is that? AIDS? A global economy poised on the edge of catastrophe? A spiritual ache for a mode of human artifice that does not presuppose environmental self-destruction? All of that, partially. But mostly, I think, because everything seems to be slipping, and losing things hurts. It is the fear of total social regress; of falling off the pedestal we built to keep us from the screaming wildness below.

Friday, August 08, 2008

They Run Away

The day, chopped into little pieces by all these sympathetic diversions, had in fact crumbled in his hands, and turned to dust - and he would notice it now, either in cheerful amazement or, at worst, with a little pensiveness, since to shudder at the thought would have been inappropriate to his young years. It seemed to him that he was simply gazing, 'on and on.'

- The Magic Mountain

Holiness is a sense. The same as taste and smell. Holiness is sense of plot - assembling mosaics from the disparate fragments of life events. The sense of joy is intimately correlated to the sense of tragedy; they are essentially the same feeling, which is acknowledgment of the world's potential for beauty, whether in regards to its fulfillment or its abandonment.

But it doesn't stick. The fragments are mutually, magnetically repellant. Dwelling in holiness requires all of our faculties - it is exhausting. When was the last time you cried for more than ten minutes?

So what is left when my grip loosens is static, a severe ringing in the ears. What is left is feeling like a droswy, beached whale. I look around and I see slow suffocation - the neighbor who constantly has some van in his driveway, some piece of wood or marble set atop wooden horses being ground down to its appropriate shape, to be wielded against the degeneration of his perfectly-fine house in whatever new fit of rennovative zeal he has caught himself up in; the eternal shortening of the lawns; the slow breeze of lives passed in tedious routine.

The part of me that travels into mosaic land complains, like an old man with cataracts bent over some small province of a puzzle with infinite pieces. He knows that these assessments are wrong, are in fact an offense, because there is holiness in absolutely everything.

And so I trudge around feeling like my head is filled with farts and ghosts, fists full of cardboard.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Never Write Fan Letters

Dear Patton Oswalt,

Last night I had a dream about recruiting William Shatner, my neighbor, to combat a murderous cult that lived on our street. We rained righteous fury on them for hours while Satan drove around in a semi. Then I was exploring catacombs beneath Reed College, where I saved this girl from a giant lizard that spit poison. She thought I was a werewolf and we were totally about to do it when my alarm went off.

That was a pretty good dream. One I thought you could appreciate. But I have another dream you might be interested in (awesome segue). Keep reading, even if your psycho-fan-spider-sense tingles.

I am about to be a senior at a college where people have spent whole quarters studying Buffy the Vampire Slayer and making elaborate installation art pieces that allow you to stare at your own asshole while sitting down. Not hyperbole. A professor last quarter was telling me about a study contract proposal that had come his way from a girl who wanted to obtain a baby rabbit, raise the rabbit, and write nice things about the rabbit. For credit.

This morning I woke up and lay in bed for half an hour, gripped in a panic over what to do after graduation. With the economy being what it is today, the anal periscope market will probably have a grim outlook for the next few decades. So what am I supposed to do? Write papers about German existentialist literature and neoliberal reform in China for the rest of my life? Listen to Wu-Tang and eat Taco Bell until Judd Apatow gives me a job?

I feel like the options are to start listening to Sting and find some job that barely dovetails with my interests, go hitch-hiking and get raped and killed, or pursue one-in-a-million chances that will make for warm hearts, broadened horizons and fat Disney film options. I'm going to try the last one before packing my bindle.

What would I do if I had total license over the events of my life and the wills of others? Living in a house made of Scarlet Johansson vaginas is kind of beyond the realm of feasibility, so the next best thing I could think of was apprenticing myself to Werner Herzog. But he might shoot me, or declare war on my decadent images, or eat my shoes.

The fantasy that immediately followed was interning for the Comedians of Comedy. Yes, that's how high of a regard I hold you in: scraping your drunken, vomit-and-semen-caked carcasses off hotel room floors, fetching Mountain Dew and dressing up as a Kobold for you and Posehn to beat senseless in your LARPing manias is at the top of my list of life goals right now.

I don't know if you're looking for help, now or ever. But imagine the things I can do for you:

• Filing
• Data entry
• Chakra cleansing
• Read the 4.0 rule books so you don't have to
• Mail Carlos Mencia cash-on-delivery bricks
• Fetch you Christmas turkeys
• Paperwork
• Enforcement

And what qualifies me to do it?

• I am an aspiring creative something-or-other and am too diminutive to prevent you from appropriating my ideas
• Anal periscope
• I have a car with leather interiors
• Beard
• I own Turkish Star Wars, Turkish Spider Man, Turkish Superman, Turkish The Wizard of Oz and Turkish Star Trek
• I know this guy who knows Patrick Stewart

This is a serious offer, because I admire your work above all other standup, it's made a positive impact on my life and I would love to contribute my energies in your benefit in whatever way I can. I'm responsible, professional-minded and I write good. I would even consider taking some time off of school if it interfered, because I can't think of many adventures I'd rather have.

Like I said, one in a million. But the risk of embarrassment and rejection is far, far less dire than the risk of coming to enjoy "Desert Rose."

Horatio Alger

He read it and did not respond, which I expected but which has also been emotionally distressing enough to prevent me from viewing myself as anything but weird, gracelessly needy and over-sincere. This is the feeling that arises after writing in a congratulatory way to anyone I admire. I get the impression people look at me and think, "What the hell am I supposed to do with this guy with all the pathos? Go eat an ice cream sandwich and a Xanax."

I wrote earlier, "I feel foolish for searching for a way out. But is that what aspiration is? Looking for an exit until you finally escape?"

Just trying to find the right ladder to climb.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Exactly Why I Am So Viscerally Frustrated by College, the Dire Intellectual Presuppositions of the Liberal First-World in General

A human being lives out not only his personal life as an individual, but also, consciously or subconsciously, the lives of his epoch and contemporaries; and although he may regard the general and impersonal foundations of his existence as unequivocal givens and take them for granted, having as little intention of ever subjecting them to critique as our good Hans Castorp himself had, it is nevertheless quite possible that he senses his own moral well-being to be somehow impaired by the lack of critique. All sorts of personal goals, purposes, hopes, prospects may float before the eyes of a given individual, from which he may then glean the impulse for exerting himself for great deeds; if the impersonal world around him, however, if the times themselves, despite all their hustle and bustle, provide him with neither hopes nor prospects, if they secretly supply him with evidence that things are in fact hopeless, without prospect or remedy, if the times respond with hollow silence to every conscious or subconscious question, however it may be posed, about the ultimate, unequivocal meaning of all exertions and deeds that are more than exclusively personal - then it is almost inevitable, particularly if the personal involved is a more honest sort, that the situation will have a crippling effect, which, following moral and spiritual paths, may even spread to that individual's physical and organic life. For a person to be disposed to more significant deeds that go beyond what is simply required of him - even when his own times may provide no satisfactory answer to the question of why - he needs either a rare, heroic personality that exists in a kind of moral isolation and immediacy, or one characterized by exceptionally robust vitality.

- Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Saturday, July 19, 2008

World Without a Facebook

My mom has a gun or something. We're in a compound, in a gray dusk. I am trying to collect as many rare comic books as I can before the shooting starts again. Then she's gone, and I'm charging through rebar and fences, hiding behind crates, rolling back and forth and such. Everything is confused. I find her, except she's not my mother anymore. I've been looking for a love interest the whole time. She has a gun or something.

Aaaah, then I'm back with K, just the same as she was when we parted ways somewhere around ninth grade. Everything settles comfortably.

I wake up un-despondent. I've somehow moved into a place where kissing girls in my sleep leaves me not-depressed. That's a good place to be.

I'd tell you about how it is I believe in God (or some divine holy thing that makes life important) but my words have hairy, fumbling knuckles and God is easily tangled in capital letters. Think about mushiness.

This blog has been kind of embarrassing the past few months. Let's move on and return to consciousness with a pleasant little smile and a stretch.

I have a giant foam stand-up poster with shirtless Mario Lopez on it. This is some kind of meaningful allegory.

Hi everyone.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Deleted my Facebook today. Feels nice.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


This morning I woke up listless. One of those "I can't really be excited about my day because I don't know what I'm doing with my life and all my energies will probably be invested into non-returning enterprises" mornings. The texture of my world was drab, mundane.

Then I made the mistake of taking a mid-morning nap, waking after half an hour into a bout of sleep paralysis that was one of two of the most severe episodes in memory. For those of you who have never experienced it, give thanks.

My eyelids flipped halfway up my eyeballs, I lifted my legs up about six inches off the mattress and I was engulfed in electricity. This happens to me about once a month now, and it usually only lasts about a minute, so I waited for it to pass. It did not pass.

When this first started, I was about fifteen or sixteen and I had no point of reference for the experience. My first reaction was that something supernatural was attempting to pull my soul out of the top of my head while I slept. This was at around three AM, when I was overwhelmed by the fairly indescribable sensations of the paralysis and had not yet discovered I couldn't move, so it was more exciting than frightening. This assessment probably seems stupid. But the phenomenon is the genesis of the succubus myth; the feeling of submersion in Otherness is real.

So I waited and waited. Occasionally, I can break it by sheer force of effort, applying all my strength to forcing an arm or a leg into the air. It's a gamble, though, because when it fails the punishment is waves of ethereal fire washing over the body in incrementally more painful intensity. This happened of its own accord. Imagine the feeling of a limb falling asleep, only it's your whole body, and there's an invisible demon with its hand on a toggle, jolting you into submission.

Thankfully, I don't get the visions. Many people who have this problem also see manifestations of malicious entities roaming around the room, staring at them, sitting on their chests. I thought about this as the vibrations became more violent and spasmodic. I pictured a monster with a face covered in horns, gnawing at my foot. I then imagined how I would explain the missing appendage to friends.

"How did you lose it? What happened?"

"You wouldn't believe me. A creature from the fifth dimension rendered me immobile and ate it right in front of my eyes."

The thing is, you're still asleep. Logic operates in dream time; you are afloat in limbic twilight and all religious and superstitious proclivities are given free reign to play upon your imagination.

What felt like ten minutes passed. I was in agony, feeling now like I was being psychically tortured by some evil god for shits and giggles. Hanging within sight was an icon that holds special import to me, so I tried to wield it against my oppressor. Within a few moments, I was free.

The awakening is always strange. The mental space is so different that all the pain is almost immediately forgotten. It takes effort to remember exactly what happened, to recapture the feeling.

I am left with the impression that waking consciousness is a layering of lower consciousnesses, and that hypnopompic and hypnagogic (the transitions to and from sleep) occurrences are windows into this awareness. Sorry if that sounds New Agey, but I think it's important, because it means something as apparently fundamental as the overly-familiar sensational panoply of everyday life is to be treasured, because it is an evolutionary mechanism that puts us in control of our experiences. Sometimes it takes extended sessions of mild in-body torture to understand its sophistication, to appreciate the power it entails.

Monday, June 16, 2008


A mugshot of cynicism. Cynicism that is just weariness, like, SHIT, is all there is a bunch of people staring with necrose eyes into the searing luminosity of various capitalist supernovae, is all there is the yawning of the century's grave, a playing-out of all human passions to their dull, imitable, vacant generalities, is all there is a great David Attenborough beyond time and space telegraphing his final, dire assessments directly into hearts and minds that are too exhausted and weak by the end of history's abortive new morality play to reach for the remote? Fire? Brimstone? Robin Williams fruit bats and singing piles of primordial sludge? Hannity and Colmes and Abbie Hoffman and Carlos Mencia and He Who Refuses to Refer to the Police As Anything but "Babylon?" This? Is our dialogue? Is the vocabulary of our future?

Ugh. Ugh ugh UGH MUGSHOT. I am placing listlessness under citizen's arest and thrusting it forward in the sterile, halogen chambers of my soul's jurisprudence, to stagger and lift heavy eyelids in Noltean discombobulation towards the camera. Snap. The ugly ooze. The desiccated vampire. See it. The acquiescence is breaking all the toys, keeping passions imitable, tearing red suits off the overgrown elves of the world to reveal shivering, naked old men. The acceptance of ultimatums, saying things like "we are a virus spreading upon the face of the Earth," plunging curious fingers into the boils, dancing amongst the lepers and playing violin in hopes of a city to burn.

You are under arrest.

You will not allow the idiots, pretenders, charlatans, zealots, myrmidons, monsters, monsters, monsters, monsters, monsters, all of them monsters with gnashing teeth, words that are all violence, New Tomorrows Trojan Horses all, filled to the flaring nostrils and stamping hooves with death and misery and camps and mass graves, I AM ADDRESSING YOU, DIRECT-ACTION-TAKERS, GUERILLA-PROTESTING-SITTING-IN-PORT-BLOCKING-TREE-KILLING-FOR-WHATEVER-IT-TAKES-PROMOTING-SOLDIERS-OF-PURE-HUMORLESSNESS-WHICH-IS-A-TRUE-EVIL. Which wall shall we all line up against, fools, you fools?

You will not allow them to enter your mind and make hope a lie, make beauty uncomplicated, make virtue easy, keep you from saying frightened, unknowing, searching things to others. You will not tread within the fences of their rhetorical ghettos. YOU WILL NOT STOP BEING IN LOVE WITH THINGS THAT DESERVE TO BE LOVED just because banality has marshaled all its most gropingest hands to crawl all over them.

So I say it now,

I love falling asleep to the sound of a lone Mockingbird singing in the night and I want there to be Mockingbirds again and again,

I love the Eucalyptus trees swaying in the canyons, the rope swings that hang from their branches, the memories that clutched at their termini,

I do not love that they have been cut down, for safety, which is something like No More Mockingbirds Because They Are Very Loud,

I love the Earth, the growing things it invented to send breezes through, its deep waters, that which moves upon them, its menagerie of hungry mouths, its awkward, adolescent charge that is man,

I do not love false winds, those who blow them to drown out our senses, nor those who would send us out on an ice floe to die a stuttering, premature death for want of less-acned skin, a more confident stride.

So count me in, in the dreaming, the amalgamating of unlikely hopes. They will not resemble much of anything to be recognized. And my gates will remain impervious to gifts.


You have been caught.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Did Somebody Say Enema?: Show and Tell Part 1

"If you felt our sketch needed a butthole reference, Jesus did have a butthole and it was bloody, just like yours."

Oh yes. Yes, yes, The O'Debra Twins. Lead us onward, your raggedy masses, misfits, weirdo’s, possible criminals. Lead us to our Big Glam Candy Mountain, where no one will mistake us for homeless people, where well shots are no longer three dollars apiece, where everyone wins the beer chugging contest and home is only one catatonic subway stop away. Or give us one night a week to feel like a family. A dysfunctional, rectally bleeding family.

They have just finished the opening sketch to my initiation, about a bible-based exercise program called Body of Christ. The storm encroacheth; the annihilating wind to disintegrate all my assumptions about art, human behavior, the constraints of public decency.

When my older brother, who has lived in New York for a few years, heard that I would be coming to the city to study poetry, his first response was,

"Oh my god, you're not going to be in the Bowery Poetry Club, are you?"

"Yes, I am."

"That place is like the Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars. Never has there been a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

I found out later that he had only ever attended one event: Show and Tell, where he had performed an unpracticed standup routine with poor results.

There are only three rules:

1. Do not put your genitals on the O'Debra Twins.

2. Respect the performers and they will respect you.

3. Limit your time on stage to six minutes.

Only one of these is followed with any kind of rigor, and then possibly only because to violate it would lead to police involvement. After reminding the variedly intoxicated crowd not to sexually assault their hosts and that they will be publicly humiliated for heckling too aggressively, the twins pull out of a water pitcher and the lineup is arranged. My two most emotionally schizophrenic hours ever spent at a performance were about to begin.

First came Rachel Parenta, a comedienne whose seemingly trumped-up and hyperbolic jokes about flying to the New Orleans Jazz Festival to stalk her ex-boyfriend turned into a disturbing, confessional narrative about flying to the New Orleans Jazz Festival to stalk her ex-boyfriend, annually. Laughs are scattered.

My antennae begin to tingle. The cantina band strikes up its opening notes. After a forgettable musical act and a self-righteous political monologue about censorship ending with the entire assemblage shouting "UP MY ASS," Gabriel Lockwood takes the stage. I am afraid of Gabriel Lockwood. Sometimes, before I go to sleep, I have my mom look under my bed to make sure Gabriel Lockwood is not there.

His hands are shaking from the moment he begins to read from his manuscript. The drone increases in intensity until his whole body is quivering, bent over the microphone, voice tripping over the unpunctuated stream-of-consciousness Kafka-on-Meth account of the unfathomable horrors of, well, something. He does not seem to be breathing. Just when I think he's going to start speaking in tongues, the timer buzzes. His trance disrupted, he offers a meek "thanks" and descends back into the audience.

And then there was Reverend Jen, leading us up the next vertical grade of the open mic rollercoaster with her bizarre ministrations. The first thing I notice is that she is wearing a full-body latex cat suit. The second thing I notice is that she is wearing elf ears. Wait, is she wearing elf ears, or does she have elf ears? I still don't know. My notes consist of one word: AWESOME.

"I've decided that I'm going to be a superhero all the time."

Her voice is indescribable, a kind of adorable rasp, like Tom Waits meets Dakota Fanning. She reads an autobiographical narrative about being taken to a party in a trailer park, where everyone is taking turns using a friend's unconscious body as a urinal as punishment for his lack of drinking fortitude. I cannot do the humor justice, but the whole club was rapt in spasmodic laughter.

I think this is the moment where my loyalties cemented. I was on board the good ship Show and Tell, and my trust in my captains to guide me safely through the salty tumult of outsider talent was unwavering.

One boring standup set later, a fourteen-year-old girl named Katherine was staring out at us from behind a pair of glasses, a porcupine puppet on her left hand. Not only was the porcupine never explained, it served only as a tepidly deferential, non-ventriloquistic commentator that mumbled encouragement to its visibly nervous host and pantomimed various actions recounted in the story she was telling. It concerned taking a train trip with a boy of the same age with whom she had been desperately in love for a long time. It was less than riveting and, as such, the bar lapsed into drunken rowdiness, incurring the wrath of one of the O'Debras. Then, I almost fell out of my chair for the fifth or sixth time that night. Katherine had abruptly launched into song and her voice was arresting. Not quite beautiful but alarmingly sorrowful and profound for someone her age. It was a song to her unrequited love, watching him sleep on the train. "You gather your hair in back like God was going to grab you by the ponytail."

Then we hit the bottom of a trough. I felt like I was going to start hemorrhaging grey matter out of my ears and would not have been surprised if the next performer unzipped their skin to reveal their true unicorn form and offered to grant our wishes.

Instead, a bald guy is screaming at us. Two people sitting at a table close to the stage had been having a conversation during his nonsensical screed about who knows what and he was clearly panicked and infuriated. Thirty seconds remain. He spends them explaining a detoxification program he's put himself on, whereby he drinks various disgusting undrinkable things in order to pass bladder stones, and he has here a glass of olive oil, and a glass of lemon juice, and a glass of tomato juice, and he's going to dri...BUZZ.

"Do it! Let him drink it!"

Time is extended; I count my lucky stars as I watch a grown man chug the ingredients of a failed salad dressing so he can fish crystals out of his poop. I look around the room for intergalactic ragamuffin smugglers and their wunderkind charges. One more act to go.

He looks seventeen, trying very hard to be a twenty-something troubadour. "I'm sick. If I shoot boogers on you, I apologize in advance."

He continues talking, then a guy who looks like James Carville saunters up the aisle and shouts, "I wanna see those boogers, GOD DAMMIT!"

Pause, Bob Dylan starts talking again.


He has sat down, is staring intently, completely serious, nodding slowly. It's time to go.

The break falls at around one in the morning. Since I had a half-hour commute to my Brooklyn apartment, I couldn't stay, though by that point I was fairly seasick anyway.

Diane O'Debra announced the opening of the beer-chugging competition enrollment, requiring us to submit creative suggestions to the question, "What do I have up my ass?" I scribbled "a smaller ass" on a slip of paper, dropped it into the pitcher and wandered, dazed, out into a strange and lawless new galaxy.

Iconoclasts in the Mist: Show and Tell Part 2

It had all started to feel normal, shuffling past a man wearing a sequin dress and a wig and an overweight and heavily tattooed woman in a Vegas-style cabaret bikini to find a seat. I recognized almost everyone. There was Jordan Carlos, friendly TV comic who was surprised when I could quote his jokes back to him from his Comedy Central appearances; there was John, willowy Lower East Side veteran with the grating voice; there was Angry Bob, obese, hateful Angry Bob; and there was I, the quiet kid with the Moleskine, sad to be amongst the peanut gallery for the last time. Of all the performances I had seen during my time in the city, Show and Tell still remained the most entertaining, the most challenging, the most genuine.

A new face sits down across from me and asks me if I'm performing. I tell her no, find out she is planning on doing a comedy routine and ask her if she's been here before. She has, only a couple times. "A naked guy" is the best she can offer in response to my question regarding the strangest act she's seen. Child's play. I tell her about the bladder guy and, five minutes later, he sits down next to me.

"Hey man, how'd the oil thing turn out?"

"It went well."

"Are you going to do it again tonight?"

"No, I'm going to do an entire standup routine with thirty-two stitches in my head."

As jaded as I had become over the previous six weeks, this crowd still found ways to render me speechless.

He removes a bandana to reveal a gnarled bird's nest of flesh and suture thread.

"What the hell happened?"

"Fell off my bike. Broke my collarbone, too. And got a concussion." He pulls his shirt to the side to reveal a massive bruise on his chest.

"But it's alright, I've got a pocket full of Vicodin."

He pulls out a prescription bottle and giggles.

The reading of the names begins. Jeff Dickerson is called; Diane O'Debra chastises him for the second time for his fart-based rendition of the national anthem. "Do you know how long it took to get the smell offstage? Weeks."

But it's not all scatology in this twilight zone -- Show and Tell, perhaps because of its character or its reputation, attracts fairly big names. Seth Herzog, a well-known comic, opened the night with stories about accidentally signing up to entertain troops in Kuwait.

The real comedy arises about halfway through the show, when Abbie, a middle-aged woman doing a routine about her failed relationships, makes a confession.

"Cocaine is the drug to give me if you want a running commentary with your blowjob."

There are a few moments of silence, and then the audience gradually erupts into cheers, groans and hysterical laughter of recognition. It is a revealing moment.

Most of the content is light fare -- mediocre to good standup with a couple of decent music sets interspersed -- which is both a disappointment and a relief. My mind was saturated and my astonishment muscles were sore from flexing. All but one of my friends had, at this point, stopped coming with me, whether from lack of interest or low weirdness thresholds.

Despite all appearances, the grotesque spectacle is not really the show's greatest virtue. What sticks out most are the moments of lucidity, when a performer reveals something genuinely artful, often more by accident than anything else. I saw film-score-worthy music, HBO-worthy comedy and countless snapshots in time that were just too perfectly strange to adequately summarize.

Show and Tell is a crucible and a Rorschach test, from which molten talent can be easily retrieved, forged, and upon which swims a blotchy and chaotic pastiche of human potentials. There are many things the show is not. It is not necessarily good, as it is an extremely inconsistently bejeweled treasure chest. Nor is it always enjoyable -- some of the rough bits are agonizing. But it is, above all, authentic.

After the last act, I gathered my things, wished Mr. Stitches good luck with his set, and wound my way through the seats to the exit. Of all the spaces I had occupied in New York, in mind and body, I would miss this one the most. The smell will linger for months.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


What we have in common, I think, is the same unspoken dialogue: overwhelmed by cackling strangers, overwhelming crowd, music, social constellations of the grinning and nodding, backs turned in a circle, ebbing and morphing, the overwhelming crowd a many-headed hydra, some meat beast or other, you wanting only to make the phone call, to that person who is so very far away and say "I had a dream about you last night. I hesitated when you said goodbye and I ran through every single car of the subway train, trying to find you so I could kiss you but you were gone, and you're gone now, and I want to run all night to find you and kiss you, because I love you, I love you so much" but they're very far away, and it's late, and it would somehow ruin everything to call things by their real names.

You wanting only to sit down on the curb outside the party, holding them, not needing to speak much, understanding, warm. You ending up with armfuls of nothing, wondering if everyone is quite so lonely as you are just then, even those piled one on another, at the sides of parked cars, that copulatory lean, hands on hips, are you lonely? Do you possess one another? Show me your receipt of understanding. Show me proof of quietness, wordlessness, hands passing over hands.

You wanting only something to be gentle to.

You running down the aisles, one after another, hour upon hour

upon hour.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


1. Starting to put change in the cups again

2. Cleaning up the first cat's vomit in the middle of the night so my landlady doesn't have to

3. Rushing out of the room, pillow in hand, to try to comfort the second cat in its epileptic spasms

4. Faltering, severely

5. Determination anyway

6. Funny things

7. Perspective from benevolent strangers

8. Having reason to feel terrible about forgetting to call my mom on her birthday

9. Hope

10. Hope

Thursday, May 08, 2008

First Aid

I once happened upon a word in the dictionary that was the proper term for the period of exhaustion you experience after crying. That was some amount of years ago and I've never been able to find the word since. It has since became one of my favorites.

Making that post was therapeutic. Writing it reduced me to an absolute mess but what followed was a weird kind of serenity that has lasted since. I make myself miserable with overthinking, with overpoeticizing, with distraction. Ultimately, there's not a whole lot more to analyze than "I'm overwhelmed." If I knew that word, it would be the title of this post, because I feel calm.

The past couple of years have been my two worst. Vicious insecurity has coalesced with a number of unresolved, undiagnosed physical pains and discomforts, a series of minor and major emotional traumas (crushingly bleak night followed by vitriolic confrontation with neighbors, dry ice bombs, moving to college, death of cat, Bryan's suicide) and a variety of domestic/academic frustrations to pound me into the most compromised state of my life. But it's OK, because I'm putting everything above board now.

If I was writing in the same cycle that I've used forever, what would now follow would be some kind of fabricated sense of grand perspective, a makeshift resolve to change. But I don't know what's going to happen, how I'm going to make it better or how long it's going to take. What I do know is that writing about this makes me feel like I'm unwrapping rotten bandages, cleaning the wound, drying it, exposing it to light and air.

I'm not going to say "this is the true nadir, the low point at which I begin to climb my way back up the ladder," because I don't know if it is. I hope so. I hope that I am ready to get better. I'm optimistic, though. This feels right.

Tomorrow morning I'm getting on a train to visit my Civil War re-enactor aunt and uncle in Vermont. They have a beautiful house on a beautiful lake and a beautiful garage full of canons. They're planning on taking me to shoot their MR-15, which is some kind of gnarly-ass assault rifle used for exploding Kuwaitis. Should also be therapeutic.

I will say that I am guilty of being too consumed by my own worries about myself to pay attention to the things that are happening around me. I've been cycling through old photos, which is a habit of mine, and almost every series makes me smile or laugh out loud, because my life is full of wonderful, hilarious people. Sorry if I haven't done my part to return the joy you all seem so ready to share with me.

I think things are going to change. Here's a wish in the well.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Truth

I have a confession to make, and I don't want to. Definitely not. It's awkward for everyone - sorry to dump an icky thing in your lap. But right now it's something I have to do.

Everything I have written is one thing. Everything I have felt is one thing. Six years of blog is preface to one thing.


I have so much pain.

Here arises the gatekeeper to assurance, sneering, mocking,

"What do you know about pain? You with your middle-class everything, moaning about trifles, you whiny shit, you whiny whiny whiny whiny shit. Waaaaaaaaaah. Waaaaaaaaah waaaaaaaaaaaaah waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah."

I have so much pain.

I have so much pain in my body and I don't know why. I have seen so many doctors and none of them seem to be able to heal me.

I have so much pain in my heart and I don't know why. There is no poetry here. There is no esotericism, which is anaesthetic. There is so much pain. There just is.

These are the same pains. It's one thing and it rules me.

Everyone has pain in their heart. Everyone has rejection, insecurity. Everyone has a friend who killed himself, or worse. Everyone has a childhood with darkness in it, is saddled with doubt, loneliness, longing for transformation. But some people have a valve. Some people are very strong and I am not. It does not evacuate. I don't know why. Maybe because I don't evacuate it. I don't know why.

I am not content trying to pass the wound off as some kind of intellectual leverage anymore. That's a lie. I am exhausted from trying to hide it with flippancy, gestures of superiority, with pretend nihilism. I am exhausted by running from, obscuring the pain out of a sense of social obligation. I am so very, very tired of channeling it into judgmentalism, vindictiveness.

I know that this is not everything. I have been filled with beauty and love, but not for a long time. Not for a long, long time. Right now, every day is such a challenge. I don't know what I'm doing, what I believe, why I am filled with so much sorrow, how to change, how to heal. I have simply run out.

No, I am not suicidal, am not even Depressed really, just so god damned lost. So god damned lost and bewildered.

Sometimes I feel like there's an overpowering force at work in the world that seeks to destroy that within us that allows for happiness. And right now I feel overpowered.

So to know it, I am naming it.

I am naming it Enemy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I should not be allowed to listen to Vangelis late at night. I am given to mental cinematics. Memory, viscous, drools through every crack.

I am feeling a recurring moment. Lying on someone's floor, at the beginning of a new period. Coming back to college. Coming to New York. Feeling the vastness of potential, like some passenger in a caravan across a desert, awake all night, listening to the silence. Falling asleep swaddled in promises, of new beginnings. Waking smothered in familiarity. But it's still there, twinkling obscurely.

I am making myself re-learn imagination, having consistently missed the point every day of the past years, years, years. I am making myself re-learn everything. I have not acquired the skill of living well, not being able to feed myself (today Fruit Loops, more Fruit Loops, a croissant, a vendor pretzel plus Gatorade, two slices of pizza, more Fruit Loops), not being able to do anything with my time but waste it (learning to turn off the computer, BREAK hypnosis cycle, the pornography of memory that is Facebook), finding nothing to put my eyes on but reminders of banality.

So I take my landlady's advice and start reading Interview With the Vampire, being swept away by the fiction, remembering what it's like to lose oneself in story.

I think about Endgame, our culture's obsession with its own death, memory ejaculated backwards, against the flow, rupturing the vessels, the ligaments stretched to snapping point from too much reaching behind us for answers, visions of huts, wooden boats, dances around fires by which to damn ourselves. Dreaming impossible now, like laying down track leading to a brick wall WE'RE ALL FUCKED NOW KID, and if you want to talk about hope the only option is the Great Big Handhold. We'll all sing We Are the World and buy spirally lightbulbs and after we've vindicated ourselves of any possible connection to anything bad or scary or uncomfortable then kid you go ahead and think your little thoughts about unicorns or whatever the fuck, but watch out for walls - be quiet in the presence of bricks, SHH...

Severed limbs are placed carefully around the sandbox so the children are sure to know their luck in being able to play. Let's all feel AS BAD AS POSSIBLE now, give ourselves guilt enemas, eradicate all signs of ease, and maybe then our insides will be clean for God.

Then I write something about getting stoned and going to see Harold and Kumar, then don't post it because it invites well-deserved mockery and I have said so many mean things about the hippies, but it involves the first bits of my new learner's permit of the soul. These are the guttural consonants that become words about nice things (just a piece, the whole thing is too stonery even for me):

I am beginning to understand why dogma unsettles me, even belief. Especially that of socialist tooth-grinding, globe-worry, the great, throbbing NPR headache. Because it does not allow for the hilarious beauty of encountering the divine on the way to see Harold and Kumar after getting stoned in your friend's dorm room.

That I could, in the bathroom at the theater, be caught breathless by a vision of my own mind, absolutely true: I am perched at the edge of a vast and dark wilderness, filled with illusion and undiscovered wonders, the trees and grass blowing in a slow wind, waiting in quiet expectation for the explorer to take his plunge. And I see the rewards. I see what I feel accomplished mystics must feel: the vibrancy, the urgent, indescribable worth of the experiences and the understandings to be culled; like unfolding toys made of holy jewels, the most splendid machines ever invented, more spectacularly important than anything material and mundane, though the wilderness spills out over waking life. I am filled with a sense of transcendent pleasure, privilege in having the opportunity to adventure into it.

Remembering that what is constructed of invisible fruit is real, because we are all at wander over those umbral fields and forests. That I realize this is all more important than notions of cheesiness, worries of smoke damage.

And oh God, what is more unpardonable to the grinders of axes than the rejection of axes? What is more unpardonable than the escaping trick, the Grand Neener, saying no? "You can come up with as many fantasies as you'd like to justify your passivity but ultimately you live in THIS world, Matt," seeing only reminders of banality, forgetting that SHIT IS NOT SO SIMPLE AS JUST LABELING THINGS 'OPPRESSION' AND 'RESISTANCE,' forgetting that cell phones would not be cell phones if it wasn't for the communicator on Star Trek, forgetting that we would have nothing if someone did not divorce themselves from the mundane.

So I am requesting you do not come near my playpen with your dripping meat things. Keep the hoses to yourselves and stop getting so mad when I don't feel like finding more space in my heart for sadness.

Right now, I have to re-learn. I have to take the food, heat it and put it on a plate in front of me.

I have to unfold the toys.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Maybe I shouldn't be so excited about having a nemesis. Perhaps I should take not so much delight in finally knowing someone I can despise without ambivalence.

Fool drafts an anti-Matt manifesto in response to the below piece, calls me a "closeted anti-intellectual bigot" and such things, posts it where everyone can see it. I try not to let it turn into a flame war. It turns into a flame war. I come to class with the intention of resolving things as peacefully as possible. I come to class willing to admit that I am perhaps too vocally contentious and invite confrontation. Professor obliquely raises topic of the flame war, which apparently everyone had been watching, before I have a chance to talk to Fool privately. I remain silent because I don't want to fight with people in class. Professor pushes issue, eventually declares in front of everybody that my piece offended him so profoundly that he only finished reading it out of professional obligation. Fool starts in with his infuriating, smug, fatuous drawl about how his screed was all a grand satire and really quite funny but he wouldn't expect me to understand. This is when I go off the deep end. What came out of my mouth was something between the frequencies of loud talking and unbridled, epileptic fury. I don't even remember what I said; basically that he was a bully and was incapable of being forthcoming/brave enough to just insult me without couching it in "this bullshit aesthetic, like you're providing a service by revealing my ignorance."


"If you're going to look at me and say 'fuck you,' I want you to look at me and say 'fuck you!'"

"Drawldrawldrawl something something I enjoyed every moment of writing that review and I think I could do a lot better than 'fuck you.'"

I'm not communicating this well enough. Imagine you are hopelessly, transcendently in love with someone. You have spent months and months together. You have plans to marry and have devoted everything to each other.

Then, one day you come home to discover the love of your life splayed out, naked, in some unspeakably compromising position. Standing next to them, with a lit candle and a cat-o-nine-tails, is your worst nightmare of a snide, patronizing yuppie/carnie who is also your boss. He puts down his implements, calmly walks over to you and starts explaining that "s/he just wasn't satisfied, sexually, emotionally, spiritually. Maybe some day you'll be mature enough not to be so attached. Anyway, you're a grownup and I'm sure you can put this behind you. Someday we might even be friends."

That is roughly how I felt having to endure this goon's condescension in front of everybody. Luckily, a lot of people in the class went out of their way to defend me. One even called the guy a dick.

The conclusion was, basically, "OK, we hate each other."

As soon as the dust settled, I rushed over to the professor and made it very clear just how badly he had fucked up fomenting the fight, that I did not appreciate it, that he had forced me into an adversarial position that precluded the possibility of reconciliation, that the pieces could no longer be picked up, class-wide battle lines had been drawn and it was his fault. All in calm, lucid tones, because I am a fucking professional. We came to an understanding.

Now I've got distance from it and one thing sticks out. Usually, when people attack me, especially on the Blog-a-Log, it really affects me. Some big part of me is drawn to consider myself on their terms. This did not happen. Because I AM A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL and I feel more like an adult than I ever have.

The woman from whom I'm subletting my room in Brooklyn took me aside, detecting some crossroads in my life and prescribing about an hour of spit-and-nails New York wisdom as the remedy. After telling me to read Anne Rice novels about a hundred times and giving me a book about astrology, lecturing about the trials of parenthood, the travails of modern life, cigarette in hand, she told me, "Ya gotta figure out what it is you wanna do to make yerself happy. That's all life's about. Makin' yerself happy. You're how old, twenty? You don't know shit about how life works yet. Just be yerself. Ya gotta just be yerself and do what you do to make yerself happy."

I wish everyone had such a landlady in their lives.

I'm being myself. I am twenty feet tall.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Under Glass

Everyone in my class is supposed to publish two reviews a week on a forum the professor set up. We're supposed to review either poetry books or poetry readings, but the lines are blurry. This is my first contribution.

My Day in Art: Of Curators and Light Bulbs, Violins in the Subway

Where is Jasper Johns?

Not here, nor there. Not behind the samurai swords; not between the Gustave Courbet self-portraits, regarding each other with onanistic awe; nowhere near the Roman busts or New Guinean death masks. Somewhere on the floor above. Somewhere that takes twenty minutes to reach.

I am in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I am irritated, all elbows and glares. I have written two poems in my little diary so far: one about pants (Most of them just cover the meat / Some of them are glazed, pointing to this month’s shoes) and one about feeling overwhelmed by history, which I am finding a jolting reminder of transience and this museum something inappropriate in a way, unwilling to let the thing DIE. Scrawled: I am surrounded by dead people. / We have been over this. / These are my limbs, I use them to move. / This is my heart, I use it to fear death.

Which is easy to do, having the cumulative progress of the millennia laid out before you. Here we sprayed some berry juice on the backs of our hands. Here we drew a pretty picture of a horse. Here the horse stands forever in polished marble. And here Picasso examines a woman from twenty angles simultaneously. These are all gone moments, now, and suggested price for appreciation is twenty dollars ten with student ID.

So I commence the Goodwill litmus, favorite tool for dispelling snootery and illusions of immortality. It goes like this: the best way to gauge the merits of a particular piece of art is to imagine that you happened upon it in a thrift store and it is selling for five dollars. If you would buy it, it is worthy. If you would not, it is just a very expensive smear.

Monierre Dawson: Statement, Meditation
Drab messes of dark lines, pastels on small canvasses.

Helen Torr: Crimson and Green Leaves
Looks like Ikea overstock.

Fernand Léger: The Bargeman
Someone’s Montessori eighth-grader flipped through a book on Cubism and broke out their My First Paint Set.

Henry Matisse: The Young Sailor II
Looks like Walt Disney was painting a male nude by flashlight under the covers, his mom discovered him and made him superimpose baggy clothes as punishment.

But there is still something askew. A thought persists: We have been over this. Why are we dwelling? And then counter-memories, of the agony of all street theater, the inanity of Bansky and all others attempting to extend the museum beyond its walls. Still, I am mostly unmoved by visions of the past, somehow redundant; even the Pollock seems very still.

But where is Jasper Johns?

Whether from too much time on my feet or not enough street vendor pretzels, I am weak, headachy and nauseous. The feeling is one of entombment – trapped with the squinting, nodding, sweater-shouldered, bored-child-dragging effluvia of the Looking On world, forever treading in circuits through the relics. I want to leave but am going to find this exhibit, god damn it.

I ask five different security guards. Second floor, down the hall, turn right, all the way at the back.

When I find it, a sweat breaks and a new poem enters the diary in under a minute:

Saying No to Jasper Johns

I spent twenty minutes
walking through this
labyrinth of a museum
to find this?
Cool, texture.
Awesome, art devoid of color or life,
just sap the fucking life out of the clay.
This whole building is vulgar, somehow.
This building is a series of fine graves.
Fucking gray.

The pieces are soupy with pretense. We are asked to examine the nature of art, or something. There is only the monochrome, meant to reveal the brush strokes, the creative structures underlying the spectacle of painting. But how joyless. Like eating a cake made of flint and cardboard. Somewhere, a superior baker is fattening a jubilant many. Somewhere, Those Who Do Not Squint are awash in sweets; somewhere that takes more than twenty minutes to find.

In the subway, a man is playing the violin for change. At first, it is only novel. The underground is usually the territory of bucket-drummers, gospel quartets bellowing golden oldies for tourists, homeless men wishing you a “PROSPEROUS DAY” at the top of their lungs. He plays two pleasant songs and I give him some quarters, not expecting to have my life changed.

After applause from the sizable crowd he has gathered on the platform, he plays the opening notes to a piece that is so profoundly remorseful and beautiful that I am frozen where I stand. Tears begin to well. I am having that experience. Oh Christ, it’s so trite. But the notes. They wrench.

I walk away in under thirty seconds, winding through a dozen people, so I don’t begin to openly weep.

This has never happened. I don’t even like classical music.

But something becomes so clear, riding jumpy-throated back to Brooklyn, held together through force of will alone. This is the only litmus necessary. This is the meaning of great art, the true immortality that has nothing to do with polished floors, expensive cafés that smell like your grandma, with gray or samurai swords, with the embalmment of academia, the obscenity of squinting. Simply,

Do you have to turn away?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boy On the Block

I still don't have an apartment. I'm sleeping on my brother's floor and may be moving into a room in Harlem temporarily, starting tomorrow. I went to the neighborhood today. It's just grim enough to make me feel like I can be all like, "Yeah, I lived in Harlem. It was kinda sketch but whatever, y'know?" Without actually fearing for my life.

I can only stay there two weeks at the most, so I've been a slave to Craigslist. As in, I just sent out over thirty emails at one in the morning to various people across the city.

I went to look at a room today in Brooklyn. Being unfamiliar with the area except for the ultra-gentrified island of Park Slope, where I am staying, I believed the guy when he said that his area was "one of the safest in Brooklyn."

Wish I had a picture of my expression when I walked out of the subway tunnel. Imagine every Wu-Tang video ever made, then subtract the music so the setting is just muted, decrepit and ominous. I walked down the street. Oh, a playground. That's nice. Wait. Marcy Playground. That's a song or a band or something. And that's a project. Holy shit. Marcy Projects. Ashy Larry. Jay-Z. Holy shit holy shit holy shit.

My first impulse was to flee back to the subway without even calling the guy I was supposed to meet. Instead, I called my brother to make sure I wasn't just being all white-flighty.

"What streets are you by?"

"Uh, Marcy Ave."


I met with the guy. The apartment was nice. The view from the windows was literally the urban erosion of what looked like five decades. The buildings were literally melting or something. Piles of trash everywhere.

It's the only place I've been that rivals rural Hungary in terms of decrepitness. But Hungary was funny, because it was like being in a country full of shirtless Marios. Living in Grand Theft Auto is not acceptable, though; even if the rent is good.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


New York is going to rule.


Going to try to write away the nausea. My gut is churning from lack of sleep, a house full of someone else's party, sitting in a room containing furniture, an empty bookcase, this computer, full of uneasiness, one part dread, many parts uncomfortable reminiscence. I'm going to have to go to the airport tonight and sit in the terminal for many hours. Maybe I'll Spill it all onto a page to be unburdened for my six weeks (this is the advantage of writing). Maybe I'll just play Pokémon until the sun rises.

There are no such things as clean breaks. Change rolls in on cogs of rejection, fear. Huge departures have never made me excited in the way they should. Just removed, itchy, amoebic. Everything is pulled in every direction. I am a blob. I don't see the linear construction of life events; I see a ship listing in curly-cues. And as such, I'm fairly seasick.

I could assert some navigatory conviction, falsify an inspiration to star plotting, release some rhetorical homing pigeon. But the truth is that I am not at all sure what is going to happen or how I'm going to react to it.

Swirly, swirly, swirly.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


At three in the afternoon I am in my bed, face-down, deciding just to fall asleep with the lights on, savoring the texture of Here. I can feel little hooks catching in the fabric, pulling it east. Everything will move - nothing comes with me but clothes and books containing poems. No bed. No posters.

This bed, at which I crouched and prayed, hands on head, on which I prayed again, unable to sleep, on my knees, arced into the mattress, prayed for stillness, retrieval. This bed, containing strangers. My bed, too small, possessor of one hundred, one hundred more waking hours, of more than two prayers.

I say "Excuse me God who is no bearded man with bearded sons who is formless and unknowable excuse me God that is the understander of narratives, who, what is greater than words good and evil who, what makes us hunger for something we've never possessed, grace, Grace, please help me with it, please God let me have Grace, let my body heal, excuse me please Open the Fucking Valve Please."

How small shall I make the instruments of my autopsy? She walks towards me down the hallway, pretending not to see, eyes a thousand miles away. Gleam. Sneaking into an abandoned house to see my first Playboy, age seven. Seven. SEVEN. Gleam. Watching my family drive away for the first time, finding myself alone, staying that way. Seeing the rain begin to fall, fall, fall. Gleam. The pain in the legs, absolutely relentless. Gleam. They gleam on the tray. They gleam tinily next to my bed.

But there is really only one tool. There is only How.

Waking, laying for half an hour, feeling How? How?

Why is too easy. Why has an appropriate answer, which is "nevermind." How has six and a half billion answers, none of them correct.

Walking to the bus, knees aching, How? Riding the bus, seeing the cragged, weathered faces, How? Seeing them walking by the lake, clutching each other, How? How?

This is everything, I am one word.

Knowing always the standard reply, which is to turn the ? into a . Albion Moonlight seeing his own face staring down at him from the house of the divine.

But the question stands:

How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How?

I pray for periods.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sisters of Mercy

Come over, rub your toothy skin all over my sensitive life. Come over and help me wrap things in barbed wire.

Come over and drink, having never seen me before, rubbing my head, grabbing me, pinning me on walls. Give me enough rope for noose-making, asking for walks out to your cars and then just getting into the cars and driving away, hands under arms, me like a rock hurled at so many pigeons.

"Matt, girls don't like your posters. What the hell do you have on your walls? Commando? Funny pictures? The Kiss. That's alright. That shows you're sensitive. We want you to change your posters, please. Why didn't you make out with that girl? Give me your phone, I'm going to call her."


"Matt, untuck your shirt. You look like a boyscout,"

swarming, untucking my shirt, goofy mannequin,

someone grabbing it, ripping all the buttons off in one movement, shrieking,

rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrupture, tipping, inhaling acrid bullshit in the garage,

stranger hugging me, all grabbing at each other's elbows,

saturated with the frustration of it, the obscenity of desiring,

waiting for the sharp grain to rub in the right direction,

watching her truck disappear down the street,

needing a thing,

needing a new shirt,

needing a new life,

waking with aching head, reading Bukowski in bed for an hour,

remembering tests,

"What's my name?"

"Uh, L?"


"Well, I don't even remember my own parents' birthdays. I don't even remember my own name. What's my name?"


"Oh, really? Ha ha."

never seeing them again,

having failed their test, having shown them my silly boy's wrong objects,

now summoning the truck back, reversed, the door opening, passing it, heat moving to wooden limbs,


of the crucible,

the variables,

finding nothing in my kitchen but buttons and empty bottles,

finding in my heart reasons for tears,

hoping that somewhere

she is filling my room with honey,

keeping my wings still,

wrapped in amber.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Watched a movie that is one of those that I don't doubt has changed my life in some way. Usually hate these types, go out of my way to despise them. This one sticks to the ribs; I may lose sleep thinking about it.

Ive never seen a more honest piece of art.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cue Ball

Shaved my head. The kind where every strand of hair is a centimeter-long cliché standing at attention. New Beginning whatever.

A nice little analogy pooped into my head while I was trying to take a nap at 8 p.m. My life is like a cruise ship. Plenty of opportunities for merrymaking, but completely intolerable if not moving forward.

Now my head sheds water. I'm feeling all hydrodynamic. I'm going to sleep at four in the morning not because I can't bring myself to close the book on a day in which nothing was discernibly accomplished but because my cerebral cortex is itchy with visions of the future.

I love and hate the night before travel. Ever feel like a pellet in a slingshot, stretched taut?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Greatest Told

Pushing the exhaustion margin again, riding the crest into a weary tomorrow (today). Have lately been feeling like I need to write something but the waters are murky and I am having trouble connecting the dots. I'll just see how this goes.

The night before I flew to San Diego, I did not sleep. I was too excited by the discovery of Inferno, a book by my favorite sci-fi/fantasy artist. Not since early adolescence had I experienced as inflamed an imagination - fleeing into alien worlds. When I was tween, I would read Aliens vs. Predator novels and become viscerally involved. That place was real to me. I had the ability to transplant myself into it. Then, there I was, for hours, until my alarm woke up, the sun was on the floor and I was still treading in solemn caravans across the ashen expanses of Hell.

It makes me wonder about lots of things. Like why my mind can be wholly elsewhere, why I'm not involved with excitement, at what point between dropping to my knees, six years old, and tearfully praying that a vivid dream of love (I remember her name, for some reason I don't want to tell you what it is - she kissed me in absolute understanding; among the most beautiful moments of my life) be real to reading the Chronicles of Narnia a few months ago and being deeply moved I stopped believing in awesome powers. At what point I lost track of my holy narrative, which I maybe believe everyone has. At what point the fiery bazaars of Dis became so very interesting.

I try to retrieve things from myself and it results in confusion. I try to retrieve things from others and it results in rejection. I have not tried to retrieve things from God since I was a child, since retrieval started connecting dots with chemical vacations, dumbass haircuts, dumbass books with clouds on the covers, dumbass cults with their dumbass leaders, dumbass esotericism, symbols, heiroglyphs, ciphers, costumes, all the trappings of dumbass, tryhard, dimestore enlightenment. But this idea of God is bigger than the New Age section of Barnes and Noble, bigger than C. S. Lewis, bigger than churches, beyond good, beyond evil, part and parcel of both, stirring its fingers, shifting its weight massively between the atoms.

Trying to escape back into my own story, because I have definitely lost the page.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The lens is focusing in. We are passing the skin, the muscles and ligaments, the bones, the various squirting masses, down through the brain with its confusion of heat lightning, through the stomach, behind the heart, beyond the body whole, to the swamp, the icky bullshit, which is where music comes from but also poison. Little hippie kids on furry dragons fly around battling Nothingness. The view reveals a mess, That Which Spills.

I know you didn't ask for this uncomfortably intimate vacation. But this blog represents what is important to me, and I can't believe I am the only person reading this who has a hard time dealing with the invisible organ's painful emissions.

At another party, after another rejection (it was impossible, was completely expected, was still kind of heartbreaking), she insists everyone Spill, a gameshow for the intoxicated. She points at me.


And I spill, about needing too much, projecting too much, various too muches (you don't get to hear if you don't Spill yourself). Everyone pours it out. I walk to the bathroom punching the walls so my Lil' Bow Wow picture falls to the ground.

But my gut still sloshes. The noise kept me awake all night.

I must now organize part of the mess, or I'll be staring at sunlight through my eyelids again.

Let's pull at the biggest thread, which is that I am not happy with my life and have no idea how to rearrange its elements to make it work. I don't care anymore, about sounding whiny, about seeming morose, about the impulse to self-censor in the presence of more painful lives. I grin ear-to-ear, sing to myself and clean my house. I watch caddisflies crawl along the silt at the bottom of the river, little gems of life, watch a pair of mergansers waddle awkwardly up a rapids. But sometimes a hand reaches up out of the swamp and grabs my head and pulls it down so I can do nothing but breathe foul water.

I am not depressed. I am not the Sad Kid. I knocked down a Lil' Bow Wow picture for God's sake. I'm also having a hard time finishing this post and not listening to R. Kelly and going to bed smiling. I am also not a victim. I'm just allergic to enzymes, overly sensitive to certain squirtings, like, "Why is it so hard to fall in love with someone at the same time?" and "Why is it so hard to dance with the hipster people?" and "Why is it such a challenge to be by myself in my room in the middle of the day?"

Next quarter I will probably be in New York for six weeks, writing and performing poetry in Manhattan. This is a thing I have to do and want to do, very much. It'll be nice to be doing something I know I can become very good at. The reason I write is to focus my own lens, past the clay and into the invisibleness, to retrieve some sort of order. To hell with esoteric ramblings in books; the mouths live.

I am going to sleep now.

Spill it out.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I spent most my time in the backs of cars,
inhaling the dark behind the stars.

We wandered while our parents slept,
tallying slow the hours kept

charting maps before the dawn
of holy places between the lawns.

Was it only I who saw it there,
gleaming faintly everywhere,

one ragged strand of angel's hair
wound through the mornings that we shared?

A ghost of memory not yet whole,
perching briefly in my soul,

of a new day our hearts extolled,
for both to keep but which you stole.

Somewhere out there you lost your way,
burned the map and kept astray.

Now your mother is awake,
watching moonlight bend and break.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Charles Bukowski used to talk about how most poets are incapable of writing "true things," that they are "fiddling assholes waiting for immortality that never comes because the poor fucker just can't write." They are incapable of producing simple lines like "the dog walked down the street."

I feel like only recently have I had enough humility to write things that represent anything beyond my own self-involvement. True things, like pieces of the first poem I've written in months and months:

I sometimes think the popularity of coffee is a conspiracy
perpetrated by the same people who pretend that tea
tastes like something other than leaves in hot water
(and carry it around in glass jars like little backstage passes
to Zen heaven where Ginsberg eternally masturbates and
bald men pace flowingly on hemp sandals)

The test is something along the lines of the Goodwill Litmus, a device I came up with wandering through art museums in Europe for judging works I knew nothing about: if you encountered whatever painting is in question on sale for five dollars at a thrift store, would you buy it? The Poetry Litmus is thinking about whether or not you would be embarrassed to speak the lines out loud in front of people.

I saw Kimya Dawson perform at my college. She was all adorable and whatnot, sang songs about farts and butts and people drowning in floods. I love seeing people who have found their genuine thing and are not pretentious about it. I also love seeing them making livings off of it and being able to connect to hundreds of people at once, revealing something that is actually themselves. The best art is neutral, reflecting many places at once. The best art is also simple, contained, true.

I recently encountered a piece of art that has since become my favorite, maybe ever. It's a short book of comic strips about a cat doing adorable things, called Cat Getting Out of a Bag. The following is a MySpace correspondence between the author and I.

I see that you list The Blow under your favorite music. I saw her perform recently. She is, to trot out a tired platitude, a force. After the show, I wrote her a rather gushy MySpace message about how much I appreciate sincerity in art because it is so rare and valuable. Apparently, this is becoming a habit for me.

My gushing will benefit from context:

Tonight, I had dinner out with my parents, who are visiting me at college. I ordered a boca burger. I hate boca burgers, but I've been a vegetarian a number of years and after a while you learn to settle. Halfway through my meal, I realized that I was actually eating beef. It was the first time since Junior year of high school that any meat had made it far enough to be swallowed. I was stunned, and sunk into lasting malaise.

The issue was not just dismay over having compromised, even if by accident, my values. I was upset, deeply, because I didn't know if I really WAS all that troubled; whether the past however many months, even years, of adherence to my diet was just out of force of habit. Was I just too lazy to come up with a tenable enough justification to start eating meat again? Did I care at all?

We went to a bookstore because my parents thought it would cheer me up. I was going to buy the new Onion book, "Our Dumb World," but some guy swiped it while my back was turned in defiance of his ambiguously European wife, who was loudly denouncing it as trashy, distasteful, and gauchely American.

"Cat Getting Out of a Bag" was on display. I opened it and thumbed through half of it.

By the time I came to the sequence of Misty summoning you to turn the light on in the basement so she could use her litter box, I was on the verge of breaking into tears right in the middle of the shop.

I settle for boca burgers because sometimes animals look at you and there is a moment of recognition, maybe even understanding.

I bought the book. Your drawings helped me to renew my conviction when it was most threatened, so thank you.

Thanks very much for the message, it's truly appreciated, and it makes the art making all worthwhile.
I have yet to see The Blow live... I did mix some song titles and lyrics into a comic I did that comes out later this year, I'll be interested to see if anyone catches it
Best to you,


I want to learn create things that are exactly what they are, that are of use to people, that are true.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I have been in this library staring at words for over ten hours solid. Next to me sits a six-page outline scrawled painstakingly in green ink. It constitutes the rough sketch of what is to be the most fruitful implementation of my analytical energies of my entire college career, perhaps barring a 20-page biopic about metaphysics in The Journal of Albion Moonlight.

It took me over ten minutes to write that paragraph. I am trapped here for another half hour. Girl with the magic purse is asleep on a couch.

Sat down at this computer to start writing the introduction to the essay proper. What came out in giggly delirium is the following:

Dragons dragons dragons poopy poop dragons.

Right now, that's the funniest thing I've ever produced or seen written by anyone ever.

Girl with magic purse is giving me a scalp massage. This is the best thing ever. I am about to pass out. Not fall asleep. Pass out.

Girl with magic purse finds her nickname vaginal. I can't tell if I agree.

She wants to know if she farted in her sleep. I can't tell. She also says she is so sleep deprived that she's going to go home and "fuck a bunch."

Instead of writing this essay, I'm going to gluestick some cookie fortunes to an orange and throw it at my professor's head.

Now I'm filled with glee because GWMP just materialized next to me holding a slice of cold pizza and let me take a bite. I demanded she recognize my status as "the best girlfriend ever." This guy keeps walking past and I flash him the Wu-Tang sign and I can't tell if it's funny.

GWMP is making toy police officers have sex on my keyboard. She also put a felt mouse on my shoulder. I am living in a David Lynch movie.

I swear to god I'm not trying to sound dazed. This was supposed to be a narrative. Art transcends.

Wu Tang.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


I was supposed to be continuing my ten-some hours of reading about China things for a constipated 12-page political economy research paper that is scraping its way through my intellectual bowels with all the ceremony of a kidney stone but was instead jittering around my room yelling John Denver at the top of my lungs. Nobody was home.

Then I got way too into "How Soon Is Now," playing it three times in a row, arms, legs, hair akimbo, hoping to Sweet Jesus I would hear the front door open if somebody came home mid-shriek. I got to thinking about all the times I've watched family members start projects they didn't or couldn't finish, how used to mediocrity I had become. I started to think about what if I got good at this, what if I'm almost there, what if I am approaching, have approached, the moment at which the ball is dropped or carried over the wall?

"Adam Smith In Beijing" called from where it sat on my couch. But the throat kept going and I found myself cycling through most of my back-catalog of practice songs until I was crooning an a capella Country Roads and totally hypnotized by how melodic I found my own voice all of a sudden.

"Holy shit, can I sing now?"

Only science can tell.

I retrieved a digital audio recorder I had left over from a previously abandoned venture to become the school paper's only gonzo reporter. It now contains: about two hours of life soundtrack from being accidentally activated in my backpack; some hippies talking about their organic kitchen compound in the woods and how people need to rise up and take back the power; two voice samples that roughly approximate how Denver would sound if he reprised his greatest hits as the plane was crashing, and he had chugged a bottle of Drano minutes before, and there was a raccoon mauling his face.

But what's the alternative? Compiling theory about the dynamism of the Chinese market economy? When Guitar Guy still lurks the city streets and youth hostels of the world, unchallenged, laid? No, friends. I can't let that happen.

Fucking Jack Johnson.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Oral History

My lesson today included "Take Me Home Country Roads," which, in a moment of delightful synchronicity, we discovered was co-authored by the guy who wrote "Afternoon Delight."

There are a few benefits to going to school two thousand miles from where you grew up. One is being able to get sentimental listening to John Denver when the lyrics have absolutely no relevance to your life beyond a general feeling that somewhere there is a dusty road leading up to the old homestead. Your favorite cow idles up to you as your boots kick up dust and snorts a snort of recognition right as the screen door swings open to reveal your whole family, wearing aprons, leaning against the door frame with the exact same cross-armed posture. Why is everyone wearing aprons? Because you're home. Country roads.

You get to picture your city like a fishbowl filled with the smiling faces of everyone you know, unified in mutual consciousness, content in shared presence. He who has funny mustaches and talks big-heartedly about Socialism bobs in quiet revery next to She who pierced her tongue for a day just to prove she could. Wearer of late-night speedos streaks by Carrier of way too many fragrant, earthy things in her magic purse. A parade of the femininely demure floats indignantly past a chorus of the damned shouting gleefully about buttholes. The disembodied heads, still smiling, roll across the floors of places you keep remembering.

And even though most everybody's on different continents and maybe have always been there, it's nice to think about bowls and roads sometimes.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Education

It's hard to tell, sometimes, whether I stand for very little or very much.

Maundering, quasi-poetic, autobiographical narratives. Certain lines in certain paintings by Klimt. Anticipatory thoughts about the future. Calming down. Not pretending to understand much of anything. Turning your back on prophecies and the apocalypse.

It's hard to buy a t-shirt for Waiting To See. It's hard to write about it so that people will know quite what you're talking about. There's no club to join for There Are Things to be Reconciled Within You that are Ultimately Larger than Men in Helicopters and the Declining Value of the Dollar, Maybe, Maybe.

Secret taboo thoughts I share with myself, like, maybe it's more important to be kind of baselessly in love with her even though she didn't know what the devil-horns hand thing was and you've only said maybe fifty sentences to her and she didn't show up to your party anyway than to read esoteric scribblings in your room about imperialist American wars and the economic fallout of globalized capitalism like tracing the shadows cast on the ground by silhouetted giants boxing millions of miles away, somewhere around the moon or maybe Jupiter, and going to rallies to let the starving people know how sorry you are to have stood in the darkness. Forbidden things like talking about my friend with the startup company being possessed with a good soul and treating his workers like people and keeping some sodas in the fridge for them and having the professor later stand up in class and say "Matthew knows a friendly capitalist, maybe you should get his autograph" and later having the professor laugh in your face chuckling "I mean, how is that relevant to anything?" and all the time wanting to say Fuck you fuck you fuck you with your crude hieroglyphs of men in top hats holding bags with dollar signs on them and pyramids and dire proclamations about all these goddamned gadgets 'WHAT IS AN IPOD ANYWAY, am I right? Am I right? Ha ha ha.' like the world was so simple and the beauty that is inside of people could ever be captured in your stupid algorithms and the only way to make space for your unborn children is to lock arms and resist, resist, grassroots resist with your slogans and sexy, sexy molotov cocktails and bless yourself with the tears of the oppressed and FIGHT, KILL, FIGHT, KILL, BLEED, BLEED, BLEED and your killing will be vindicated by the purifying glory of righteousness.

Secret taboo thoughts I keep to myself, like, tying up the demon of blame-casting, scapegoating, adherence to anything but that which fills you with love or oddity or wonder or tolerance or memories of things that mean something to you in a burlap sack and filling it with rocks and tying it closed with a dozen knots and throwing it into the river so it sputters and dies a watery, silent death and stays dead in your heart forever, and ever, and ever.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether I stand for a great deal or nothing at all. But other times, it is not so hard.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Middle Distance

I smell like strangers.

Ended up dancing because I opened myself up for long enough to be swept into it.

I smell like the prettiest girl in the room, who agreed to dance and laughed as we spun, among other strangers. Sometimes something invisible transpires. Then sometimes you get all cocky when she doesn't know what "Padawan" means and you're trying to be funny but just seem like a tool.

Somebody important told me I need to learn how to quiet my mind when it gets carried away with itself. But it's impossible when the heart complains in concert.

After the dance, after an incomplete goodbye, I detached, exasperated. Wandered around staring beyond things. I've been there lots. All fingernails on chalkboards, hunger heaped upon hunger. Treading the perimeter of familiarity and kicking at the walls.

Tonight I realized something, really learned something, not in an artificial poetic device narrative way, really had a minor epiphany.

These moments are rare, but they're among a very few breeds of moment that make banality tolerable, make life livable. I mean that. It's my greatest love.

I do not love drudgery. I do not love the morose. I FUCKING. HATE. THE MOROSE. Know this, please.

Buoyancy comes with new things, new people. The heart quiets.

This is my greatest love.

My singing coach (I have one) called me to ask me if I wanted to learn Space Oddity. I explained to her that I associated the song with a very close friend who died and it would be too emotional for me to handle. So I walked into today's lesson prepared to sing "How Soon is Now." Yes, Padawan, much less emotional.

"Y'know what your trip is? You need to sing happier songs."

We had been singing Suzanne by Leonard Cohen.

So I found "Afternoon Delight" in one of her songbooks, turned it around to show her, grinning, still heart. We belted that shit and it was glorious.

There are so many chances to bring wonderful things into your life. And I am just so poorly equipped to rise to that potential. So the moments are rare.

Authoring memories out of nothingness. Rivers of alien faces. This is my greatest dream.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Lost in Space

This beautiful girl is glaring at me witheringly over a 40 of Steel Reserve, her eyes completely empty. She turns away to talk to her friends. "Let's go find the hot guys at this party. It's gonna be hard."

Five minutes later,

"Let's go to Jake's! LET'S GO TO JAAAAKE'S!!!" (a gay bar downtown)

Yes, please go to Jake's.

It's farts in the dark, the little rejections that lump up in the arteries. Repugnant but ephemeral, passing.

Then they are redeemed by moments like Steel Reserve's friends, who are nice, having a minor argument interrupted by a dreadlocked guy wearing a parka doing a magic little pixie dance.

"What the fuck are you doing, hippie? Get the fuck out of here, man."

But he keeps dancing anyway and eventually blisses off somewhere else of his own accord.

My house is full of strangers. Requests for the wandering band of Woody Guthrie junior folk musicians in my living room to put down their tambourines long enough for people to dance to an Outkast song or two are met with more absent, withering glares. A guy from my class, gone, is talking about how much he loves Hitler. A couple is making out in my garage while a girl takes pictures of them.

Then I think about the handful of times in my life I have held the same feeling in my heart as someone else, simultaneously.

It's all farts in the dark. A gaseous nebula lingering in space, dotted every million light years or so with a few bits of dense matter and a whole lot of fire. Marbles jangle loosely in the belly's expanse.

Then you get loose and send them hurtling towards collision. Which often destroys things, but sometimes makes bright new constellations to guide you, out in the salty tumult.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Unlikely Elephants

Go to bed. Instead of writing about things that will make you excited and think about dinosaurs and Jericho and resurrected woolly mammoths piloting flying cars around the Eiffel Tower.

That first audacious crazyman to say, "We will carve this unmovable boulder into a wall, that will stand in the desert with other walls, and we will live inside."

And now the audacity is holding up a plastic cup and feeling like a skydiver with a malfunctioning parachute masturbating until he hits the ground. When did we stop being thrilled over the fact that we have the power and the resources do whatever the hell we want? We threw stones, then we threw spears, now we have WALKED ON THE MOON.

The future is taboo. Don't have hope, kid. You're killing everything. The story is ending. Buy some wheat grass at the co-op and tuck your race into bed for a long, long sleep.

One of those things you can't really let anyone stamp out if you don't want to is thoughts like supercharging silver linings, expanding them, setting up a lemonade stand in the fucker. Thoughts like "The human story is beautiful and frightening and unpredictable and is leading somewhere none of us can even imagine so let's pop some popcorn and see what cosmic dramas we get to enact before we die."

Let that rattle around down below. It feels so strange, to have hope. To have confidence? In this enterprise we've been steamrolled into dismissing as the death rattle of a golden order and the dissolution of all things, forever and ever, anon anon? To hold up a piece of plastic and see something that will stand testament to our existence thousands of years after we've all eroded back into the ground?

How absurd. How thrillingly, thrillingly absurd.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


I got a comic book for free once, an illustrated guide to keeping an art diary. On the first page it references most diaries as being "filled with longing for a transformation." I've repeated that phrase in my head hundreds of times. Longing for transformation. Being dissatisfied with what you have but unable to capture that which you lack.

And it's not grass is greener. It's the blessing that becomes a curse - our birthright as thinking, emotive, self-aware creatures: absolute freedom to create your own life. It's horrifying.

I go to the gym every morning to try to work my way through accumulated injuries and the body-based insecurity I've been fermenting in my gullet since fifth grade (big goddamned surprise, everyone).

Well, who really gives a shit about that, Matt? You're right.

So I go home and look at all the books I haven't read, ostensibly containing some vast revelation that will dump itself into my soul and catapult me into the driver's seat. Then I push a few keys on my music keyboard, peeking timidly from behind the corner into rockstar land. Then I think about maybe I should be writing something profound, or should be doing homework. But I usually end up consulting the oracle for a while, thinking about how things could be.

Could be if I said "I love you" every time I felt it and meant it (I will be bringing up the topic of loving people frequently, so if this makes you uncomfortable, ask why, but I don't apologize), could be if I had been true to my birthright from an early age, could be if I could learn to pick up the reins NOW and get on with it, could be if I weren't so self-aware all the time, a cup pouring endlessly back into itself, which is a line I just found in my journal, which is filled with longing for transformation.

But really, Matt, who gives a shit about that?

You're right. Really, you are. Just keep driving.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Or wishing well, whatever few things you thumb through on the internet when you should be going to bed. Pages with pictures of people you miss, people you'd like to sleep with, people you don't know. Flipping out coins, staring, measuring the parameters of yourself against the traced lines of friends and strangers.

Their mouths live. Sometimes they burp and keep on talking obliviously and it's adorable. Sometimes the lines solidify, in scratches, in being awed by how beautiful she is when she cries, in drawing pictures of unspeakable things all over your friend's homework. In graduating. In seeing his head shoved down so it doesn't hit the top of the police car.

But the tracery - of gameface pictures, of names of things, of glib glibness - is the lattice empty? Maybe not. A bookmark of time spent with various presences. This person you miss because the words "I love you" actually came out of them and they meant it and sometimes it helps so much. This person you want to sleep with even though you know better. This person you don't know but think about telegraphing because their names match yours.

You can look at the thing, make wishes, construct the future, see yourself reflected back in dim lines. Because finally, you thumb through your own names, your own pictures, your own carefully assembled nexus in the web. And then you see all the points coalesce into what you made for other people, truth (both the happy whole of the part and the ugly concealments) wriggles somewhere between your diaphragm and your kidney, and you think,


Then you drop another penny in the water.

Monday, January 28, 2008

One fast move or I'm gone.

Made my whiteboy pilgrimage to City Lights in San Francisco this weekend. I told myself I wasn't going to drop money on books, as I never read any of the ones I buy. But it's City Lights and I'm a whiteboy with seriousness in his heart so I picked Big Sur by Kerouac as my memento.

I open it in the motel room later and it's like going home and visiting a teacher that believed in you; like talking with closest friends at night, on a cliff, staring out over the place you grew up in, remembering why you're doing what you're doing. It is remembered, that Kerouac writes things that are true, that I am not the only person ever to spend too much time rubbing their fingers over the texture.

Awakening from a three-day binge, hearing bells in the mist, seeking refuge from himself, he writes, "One fast move or I'm gone."

I put the book down and think about tattoos.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spend a lot of time with my fingers stirring around in the past, rubbing them over the texture of things. Trying to get my bearings. And there's nothing to bring back. So much to resolve. So little assurance there will ever be a chance.

Yes, here we go, right back to the back. This way, friends. Never left anyway.

You spend so much time wanting one thing, etching out a slot for it, staring into the space, filling your head with want. For years, maybe. Then a few simple words pass, a simple barrier or two overcome by a breeze of momentum - Really? That's all it took? - and it's gone. You're outside of it. Staring at this useless hole you dug for yourself, wondering how many hours you spent shuffling around in the dirt at the bottom. But it's not sad because you never filled it with the Thing. It's sad because the Thing was in your head the whole time.

How much can be devoted to "I love you, oh, I love you, love you, I love you so wholly that it hurts me, physically hurts me in the morning first thing upon waking, is how much I love you." How little we really want the labor of actually loving. How easy, in comparison, is the hole in the ground.

Stirring the fingers, touching the rough spots, pressing, finding them give way into little depressions where a body should have been, but, instead, there is just morning aches.

Imaginary friends don't make good company.

Go kiss someone on their living mouth. This business is so much harder than wanting.