30 November 2010

Not sure I had put these up yet or not...

"Portraits"

"Vespa"
Vespa was a natural born thief. She pulled off her first successful heist in 1994 as a 7 year old in the great raid of Mother's jewelry box, a masterful success if she did say so herself. She felt no remorse, held no guilt for her wandering morality. It was the thrill of swiping the banana from the fruit car that built her high as a Tibetan peak. When other preteens dreamed of dancing with a movie star or being a plastic pop darling, Vespa had her eyes on the big time con life.
Some kids know from the beginning their destiny will be laced with greatness - find the cure for cancer or win a Nobel Prize or something like that. Vespa was no different, though her definition of greatness likely clashes with those of our most moral and guiding fathers. Our priests who squeak in the confessionals. Our politicians wedged deep in pants pockets.
Vespa had an affair with crime, or rather, she has this affair. It never leaves in the morning. To elevate it to "relationship" would imply love. I'm not sure love is anywhere there. It's just sex. Just stimulation. Vespa's justice is dying to get into crime's pants and it is always wary to try and screw her. But in the morning they are together, intact, and Vespa ponders how to steal a John Deere hat atop a plaster mannequin, one of the Northridge mall's most eligible bachelors. She would steal a raccoon stuffed, in a shelter, or roadkill outside the Szechwan Palace.
It should come as no surprise that Vespa is unfaithful.

"Tito"
For about seventeen years, Tito had a seat at the end of the bar close to the jukebox. He arrived each day, coming from God knows where, before it got dark. The vampires arrived after dark. He wore a Dick Dastardly handlebar mustache, painting him as the tie-your-niece-to-the-train-tracks character of the bar, but perhaps more in a tongue in cheek, vaudeville, kiss from the past kind of way. The image was not ironic. Just of itself, it was it.
The opening riot takes stage as the sun disappears, the masks coming out one by one, a dystopian orchestra of gnarls and skids storming in from the wet confusion of our imperfect atmosphere. The office lunatics have changed their ties out for disguises, a masquerade of styles and fashions flooding in, the palm reader and the astrologer share a moment over Jack Daniels. Tito observes, a spy to their conversation, a stranger to their banal forms of contemplation, merit, and value, philosophical in the least, dependent on an opinion on a controversial Chinese diet. He taps his foot to Tom Petty, a staple of his jukebox repertoire. An L.A. legend. Nickels clang like cymbals in his shirt pocket, meeting to the beat of life's performance.
Tito drowns a Pabst Blue Ribbon, a favorite of Frank Booth and a squadron of Echo Park hipsters. Fife the barkeep follows the script and grants him another as a stray torpedo reaches the jukebox outside Tito's vision. The coin intake swallows Thomas Jeffersons like bullets retreating back into the gun barrel. A hack melody rings true in ten minutes time and the vampires dance and Tito drinks and the curtain tumbles down.
Tito is dying. He's been dying every single day of his life.

"Claudia"
Randy Newman sings a song about how two different kinds of people can live on the same street in L.A. yet be polar opposites in every imaginable way. Wealthy Malibu movie stars share Sunset Blvd. with bums in the gutters outside Echo Park. This is, of course, before it becomes Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. and shuts its eyes and bites its lips and wanders into East L.A. Fancy Victorian mansions in the west give way to cardboard villas in the east. Dumb dolls in fabulous penthouses to drunken neighbors kicking a Vietnamese liquor store owner in the back of his skull. I think they sing this song after each victory at Dodgers games.
She was a librarian, this Claudia Fuerte. She could tame the most vicious delinquent, silence the thoughtless joker, spring the chronic underachiever toward a higher spectrum of being. She once got a White Fence gang member to read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." He liked it.
That windy Thursday evening there were no heroes on the 3600 block of E. Olympic Blvd who could save her, lying like a bum in a gutter, thrice shot, twice rolled, her golden hair stained with a mixture of fresh asphalt residue and fresher blood. The crimson flows out and never stops, four men's worth of blood from this tiny little woman. Her killer never knew her. She never knew him. He had the choice between the scythe and the machete. A garden or a gun.
She was walking home from the market, fresh tortillas and fresher salsa mixing with her blood. A mixture of elements, a marriage of being. She remained, Claudia Fuerte did, in that gutter for an hour, as a 7 year old boy 17.5 miles west blew out his candles before saying goodnight.

------

"to Anywhere"
The small Mexican woman had come to pick a ticket, passage on a train to anywhere, wrapped in her shawl so that her shining green eyes pierced through like the light of a supernova. So bright. So lifeless. There was no future for these twin supernovas. Dust invaded and she shut her eyes with a cringe.
She remembered the events of the past week, She had narrowly avoided the horrific fates of her sisters. Esmeralda was kicked by a donkey and lay in bed, her mind incapable of clarity, her thoughts awash with the sterility of light gray and off-whites. Her sister Gloria was the victim of assault, the assailant - a complete mental collapse - robbing her blind of any sense of reason or feeling. The sight of her dearest elder sister as a vegetable with nary a cultivator. It was too much. It had been too much for far longer before then. Clara, the youngest, managed to choke on a grape, perhaps focusing all her attention on her unfortunate sisters and none whatsoever on her own unsteady matriculation. Her funeral was Friday.
Now it was Monday, and a slender sugarcane body leaned on a column for support. With Clara gone, Gloria without her mind, and Esmeralda simply a shell of her former self, the small woman was completely overwhelmed. She had nothing left at home. She had no home. The night before she had dreamed of a white hunger, lean but rigid, meeting her on a train and promising her a red bicycle on a southern California ranch with oranges and grapefruit and six chickens. She awoke in a sweat, her hair still a mess, her dress stained with the pea soup from the previous night's dinner, a meal she couldn't force into Gloria's mouth. The ghost of Clara was in the house, she knew, perhaps hiding behind a column of concrete. She packed her bags and began walking. Clara would want her to escape.
Poor Marielle needed liberation. The harbinger of freedom arrived at 2:43 p.m. that day in the form of an orange steam locomotive. It faced west.

"Balcony"
My balcony looks out upon the plaza. The flash of sunbeams beckons me and I step out. Just for a moment, I tell myself. Just for a moment.
Twilight is nigh and soon the boys playing ball on the grass below will have to retreat home, defeated by nature's dark streak, a cruelty atoned only by the smooth softness of morning - a softness too many of us miss out on, I think.
A behemoth of a youth, a simply massive kid who would give Babe Ruth a run for his money in a hot dog eating contest, lets out a mighty swing and sends a small comet toward my building. I can count the rotations of the little white sphere as it grows toward me, growing and growing like a beanstalk aiming for the clouds, pushed by magical forces underneath. A small boy takes chase.
The ball begins to lose steam, slowing and slowing in its advance as its apex comes nigh above my eye-line. It falls. And falls. And falls still. I hear the clicking of the boy's cleats below followed by a massive thud - his shoulder stopped in its motion by the building's brick façade. I hear as he cripples down into a pile, whimpering, but trying to keep from tearing up. I cannot see his face but I can hear his crumble. He is fighting the urge to run the water works. The infielders call him a faker. They tell him to get up and throw in the ball. The massive kid is also massively slow and only now rounds second base. The young outfielder struggles, my ears sensing the red-mud image burnt into his retinas - the last thing to pop into his peripheral vision before the collision.
I choose not to see how the play ends. I turn and re-enter my apartment. I reach for a bottle of alcoholic cider for an alcoholic and collapse on my futon, legs upon my coffee table. I don't drink coffee. The remote control calls my name and I turn on the Food Network. Then the Travel Channel Then ESPN. A magazine begs me to come home to Scotland. I've never been to Scotland. I'm too young to go to Scotland. Scotland is my drink coaster.
I stand gingerly, the creaks in this old body popping in the sterile air. I walk to the kitchen to prepare a TV Dinner.

24 November 2010

Streetwrite- I dreamed poem

I dreamed of lava red bulldozers in a crowded room
I dreamed of a red sensation in tune with your mind
I dreamed of time moving through a swampy soup
I dreamed of my own red desires and deemed them to be true
I dreamed of red crimson and red maroon
I dreamed of pastel reds on Easter egg heads
I dreamed a crimson met a maroon and shook hands and said my dear sir, how do you do
I dreamed crimson killed maroon, and said, "Not so good now, do you?"
I dreamed of red past midnight and into the day
I dreamed of King Crimson and the red that got away

21 November 2010

11/21

I started keeping a fiction journal.

For close to 17 years Tito had a seat at the end of the bar close to the jukebox. He arrived each day before it got dark and the vampires came in. He wore a Dick Dastardly handlebar mustache, painting him as the tie-your-niece-to-the-train-tracks character of the bar, but perhaps more in a tongue in cheek vaudeville kiss from the past kind of way. The image was not ironic, just of itself, it was it.

The opening riot takes stage as the sun disappears, the masks coming out one by one, a dystopian orchestra of gnarls and skids storming in from the wet confusion of our imperfect atmosphere. The office lunatics have changed their ties out for disguises, a masquerade of styles and fashions flooding in, the palm reader and the astrologer share a moment over Jack Daniels. Tito observes, a spy to their conversation, a stranger to their banal forms of contemplation, merit, and value, philosophical in the least, dependent on an opinion on a controversial Chinese diet. He taps his foot to Tom Petty, a staple of his jukebox repertoire. Nickels clang like cymbals in his shirt pocket, meeting to the beat of life's performance.

Tito drowns a Pabst Blue Ribbon, a favorite of Frank Booth and a squadron of Echo Park hipsters. Fife follows the script and grants him another as a stray torpedo reaches the jukebox outside Tito's vision. The coin intake swallows Thomas Jeffersons like bullets retreating back into the gun barrel. A hack melody rings true in ten minutes time and the vampires dance and Tito drinks and the curtain tumbles down.

19 November 2010

Mehr

magical conception
admirable lady
political minimum
hypersensitive
farseeing throng
abuzz
parallel hiatus
without photographs
bating pretense
into anesthetic

All those zealots who promised you some sort of magical conception of afterlife were lying through their teeth.

Death isn't that bad. It's not too different from falling into anesthetic sleep. You end up not all that sure where life ceased and death began. It's inaccurate to say death begins though, because death, or at least the act of being dead, doesn't really begin or end or have any sort of middle. That's how I see it anyway and I should know, since I see everything.

When you die the happenings of the world go on permanent parallel hiatus, societies that had been lively and abuzz stand silent and frozen like photographs without photographs, an entire civilization stuck in a moment waiting for a flash.

You can wait. Wait for it all to start up again. Wait with bating pretense. It's not moving.

The farseeing throng of Earth's intellectuals couldn't foresee this. I imagined heaven or hell or reincarnation or a basement card game with my great-grandfathers. I got loneliness. I got the privilege to be privy to the personal split-seconds of six billion people. A sleeping policeman parked outside a convenience store. The brilliant geophysicist in his study reading Archie comics. An admirable lady hitting the bong.

When you die your senses disappear. You don't need them anymore. What you're left with is the ability to move throughout the world, perceiving things as a movie camera would, able to travel up and down and all around the Earth. I tried to go to space once but I guess there is an end of the universe and it's only miles above us. The Mariana Trench is far too dark to navigate.

Your body remains in hiatus. The first thing you see when you're dead is you. Dead. The final breath dancing above your head, ready to disperse into a vibrant world. That breath has been dancing above my former head for quite some time now in Room 345 of Glendon-Krantz Memorial Hospoital. It's never going to disperse.

I was never hypersensitive to the actions of others, but I have to admit that it kind of smarts that my brother was partying in Vegas when I died. And that my sister was on the beach in Santa Monica applying an extra layer of suntan lotion to her already burnt skin. My ex-wife was too busy fucking her boyfriend to ring me and see how I was doing.

I had hoped maybe I'd see Mom and Pop when I got here. Instead I'm just stuck with all the people I had already been sharing space with for 34 years. What's another eternity between friends?

It was interesting for a while to explore snapshots of the lives of top Hollywood celebrities or sports superstars or senators who all appear to be doing the political minimum up in Washington D.C. That feels like eons ago. It might just be, though who knows how long an eon is. I'd check but the books are all frozen in time. I can't measure my time here in days because days depend on the rotation of the Earth and this ball hasn't spun in ages.

It's been forever.

17 November 2010

11/17

capacity for self-reliance
mannish woman
light-heartedness
dangerous skies
puzzle-solver
became a spot
kink and curl
conjures
but gently,
city intensely

The god of hate conjures dangerous skies above anything he sees as good, as joyous, as beautiful or satisfying in any way whatsoever. These are to be detested, for the god of hate knows only rejection, only discrimination, only the painful power of turning away. Only time, miserable truths.

The land under these dangerous skies became a spot on the map of relevance for the first time, for this was White Bird, Idaho, population of 106, a town that referred to itself as a city, and a city intensely focused on the pursuit of anonymity. It needed not be a speck, let alone a spot of any sort on any sort of map.

The mayor of White Bird, Idaho was Karla Gross, a mannish woman of forty-six, mother of five of White Bird's 106, broad-shouldered and intrinsically blessed with the capacity for self-reliance, as well as the ability to entertain the hopes of reliance of 120 other White Birdians. A light-hearted woman by nature, she became a titan in the face of danger, a general in the face of atack, a puzzle-solver in the presence of quandary. The only thing not mannish about Karla Gross, aside from her breasts, was the kink and curl of her tumbling blonde hair, cascading down from her head as a painter would construct a family of shooting stars fighting off gravity.

Karla Gross sat on her porch every evening between the hours of 4:30 and 6 p.m. and watched her children float on tire swings and construct palaces from tree branches. She smoked a pipe, as any self-respecting mannish woman from White Bird, Idaho, population of 106, would. But gently, carefully, softly did she smoke that pipe. Meticulous in the creation of her smoke, shapely and pregnant clouds of grey rising to meet was was quickly becoming a dangerous sky.

Where the greys of the dangerous sky met the face of the barren land, a specter upon a horse bolted into view, peeling away with no stop in sight, as if stop were a figment of life's imagination.

Karla Gross squinted to the horizon as the god of hate laughed to himself.

16 November 2010

Reflecting on "Are We Not There Yet"

I'm currently enrolled in what the LMU English Department calls StreetWrite, which sounds like some sort of far-out urban scribe class but really just happens to be a student teaching program. Interestingly enough, next semester I'll take RoadWrite, which just so happens to be some sort of far-out urban scribe class.

The fellow who teaches the StreetWrite class is Chuck Rosenthal, a rather respected author who has written several books and has his own Wikipedia entry, though he has to compete with some district attorney from Texas on the disambiguation page. He's a cool guy, which is more than just an offhand compliment from this California kid.

My first impression of Chuck came during the first class meeting in August when his 6'1'' frame lurched into class, his silver hair a medium length on the cusp of where you could describe him as "long-haired." He wears a broad goatee that covers his weathered face, a weathering that reveals much more experience than age. I think he resembles a drunken, haggard pirate, but in a good way. I think he's 50-something.

Our class meetings only lasted a month, the time spent working on poetry exercises we would eventually take out into the community and teach ourselves. Since then another student and I have been trekking to Port of Los Angeles High School in San Pedro Tuesday mornings and teaching poetry. I emulate Chuck's approach as well as I can, encouraging creativity over substance, fun over desire, silly phrases over brooding truths. One of the poems calls for the writer to experiment with metaphors. Chuck loves the ones that don't make sense. His favorite of mine was "I am a daft lunchbox." I think it's much more interesting than "I am a silent wind" or something like that. The best we came up with as a class was "obdurate lemon."

Chuck (it feels weird calling him that but I feel he's much too amiable to want to be called Dr. Rosenthal) recently had a book published about his travels with an LMU study abroad program (he was in charge but not in control, as he says) for four months in the Himalayas. I came across it in the library (one of the benefits of working behind the desk is you become very familiar with authors and titles) and decided to give it a read. I have to admit part of it was "this guy's my professor and it might impress him if I read his book." Another big part is my interest in travel memoirs, one of which is sitting in raw form on my nightstand back in Castaic.

Ever since reading Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram, India has fascinated me. Traveling India is to find yourself, to be on an adventure, to explore the great unknown. It's romantic and courageous and eye-opening. My buddy Trevor and I dream of taking in an afternoon cocktail at Leopold's in Mumbai, inhaling the essence of the other. I want to experience as many "others" as I can in my time on this Earth. India is near the top of that list.

I just finished the book and what I liked most about it was the perspective Chuck took in telling his story. He's skim on the exposition - we know he's there with the study abroad program and he gives a basic layout of where he's traveled, but most of the nitty gritty about his characters and the nature of his stay are unimportant in the long run. What is important is the experience itself, the knowledge and understanding that goes along with being, whether it be being in West Bengal.

I recommend the book - there are plenty of little quirks and insights similar to the Roberts book, although tweaked in a very real and human essence. It makes me want to really pursue publishing my journal from Europe, though there are probably some chapters I'll want to leave out.

14 November 2010

Im Jahr 2020

Im Jahr 2020 werde ich 31 Jahren alt sein.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich wohl verheiratet.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich perfektes Deutsch sprechen.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich einen Magister Artium haben.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich wohl nicht in Los Angeles Leben.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich vielleicht einem Sohn oder eine Tochter haben.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich ein guter Koch sein.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich in einer netten Wohnung leben.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich einen guten Job haben.
Im Jahr 2020 werde ich noch die Dodgers lieben (auch wenn sie immer noch nicht die World Series in meinem Leben gewonnen haben).

Nietzche was one angry mother______

According to Nietzsche, Christians are vermin whose religion brought about the fall of the Roman Empire, inhibits man's abilities to pursue true value and good, and serves vampire priests who suck on society like leeches. Martin Luther killed the Renaissance, sin was invented to control the masses, and Muslims have every right to hate Christians because Christianity was responsible from keeping the wonderful Islamic culture form blooming and showering the world with intellectual gifts.

My opinions on the arguments of The Anti-Christ vary, but I'd be a liar if I saw Nietzsche didn't make it entertaining. To borrow a phrase from Duke Nukem, he basically rips off the heads and shits down the necks of those he despises.

I think it was the publisher who ultimately decided on the title of the book. He probably felt the original title was too harsh: The Comedy Central Roast of Christianity.

I'm thinking of making my final paper for Rhetoric of Religion be about the shock and awe type of rhetoric you see from characters like our boy Friedrich and modern nuts like Glenn Beck.