You

Can smell my own breath’s gin so
maybe’s time to stop

Simmer, moveness, pulse––
half-light signpost brights and
roomfuls of this amber dark;
Shadows curling toes.

My head so full of you

She says I look like hurt when
I blink but
that’s not it;
only pushing out
what went into trying
––
  See how the
  neon’s pirouette
  balances on a
  point

 

 

Advertisements

To My Junior Intern

I watch you sweat through lines of ice
Keeping you set, clean and nice,
On your knifely edged path.

I see you more than words can know;
I hear you plow through yards of snow
Piling up on the neighbor’s lawn,
Negotiating prices

So when you trudge back to that cod
You call a car
To drive so very far
Down these silly roads,
I find myself feeling
Like something fell away

But I don’t regret a thing.   

 

Hair

I don’t remember exactly why I decided to grow out my hair. I don’t remember how or when I started doing it, either. My best guess is that at some point, my hair got long enough to cut, and I decided not to. I imagine then that I just kept deciding not to until at some point I found myself consciously aiming for that most fickle and highly coveted of male style choices: the man bun. The decision was imitative to some extent – I’ll admit that. But there was a personal choice involved somewhere in there as well. At least, I think there was.

The first thought I do remember having about my hair is opportunistic: I wanted to make the most of it before my government took it away from me. I suppose this was sort of rebellious, though I never really specified exactly what I was rebelling against. Because actually saying that – actually declaring oneself to be in rebellion against the capital-G Government, is sort of like saying that books aren’t interesting: both statements stretch so broadly in scope, content, and possible interpretation that they turn out not to mean anything at all. It would be more accurate to call my decision a personal stylistic choice: something intended to set me apart from the crowd – to designate me as special in some way.

If that sounds repulsive, that’s probably because we as a  society have an ingrained sense of normality–we naturally have a distaste for the different and the odd. But I think this actually makes the decision to grow hair even more noble. Because choice of hairstyle isn’t like other personal choices: clothes, hobbies, personality. Those things are in large part mercurial, and you can change them with relative ease. Deciding to grow your hair, on the other hand, constricts. It requires planning around. It’s hard. But that’s why it’s so valuable as a means of proclaiming selfhood: its very difficulty demonstrates that your choice of style has tested the inside of your head for a long time.

But time, as it turns out, is the problem. Because trying to take intellectual nourishment and pride in your hair, for God’s sake, for an extended period of time, is enormously difficult. Almost every day, you consider cutting it. Every time you wipe a stray strand out of your face, or wake up with it pricking you in the eyes, or when you go to the store to buy hair ties and in the process get judgmental looks from all the middle-aged ladies around you, who are always somehow sharper and more hawk-eyed than seems humanly possible, and also vaguely reminiscent of Susan Sarandon post-Thelma and Louise, you reconsider. Your willpower, if it ever really existed in the first place, becomes hazy and indistinct. And above all, you wonder if maybe during this process you’ve changed. If maybe you’re not even doing this for a reason anymore – even a flawed or indistinct one. That at this point the only reason you’re bothering to persist is that you’ve entered into a sort of mental game with yourself that you can’t ever win, because if you give in and cut your hair you’re letting them win (the thought of which is unbearable), and if you continue on like this you’re always irritated and self-conscious because, let’s face it, you really don’t find this that cool anymore. And talking to the family is getting annoying because you’re acutely aware of the fact that the only thing keeping them from straight-up mocking you and ordering you to cut your hair is a combined lifetime’s worth of accumulated wisdom and kindness, shining like a lighthouse flame in the dark socio-political night in which you’re utterly convinced the world roils. Even if it doesn’t, necessarily. Roil, I mean.  

My Favorite Things

I miss long train rides and passing fields
And sunwashed picnics with long delays
and light blue meadows filled with snow,
With paw prints, on a hill
Leading to a sunrise–

I miss home.

I miss softness and the way your hair smells
When you come out of the shower,
And watching movies and never
Getting to the end, because they’re not as real
as waking up next to you.

And I miss the way the world alights
to stop for a moment of joy
Before speeding up again;
To let you live a moment, without
Seeing all these things– reflections
Of reflections–
All coming in
Too fast
Much too fast

 

Korean Rose

Hibiscus syriacus has been a garden shrub in Korea since time immemorial.
Though it has no fall color
and can be stiff and ungainly if badly pruned,
H. syriacus remains popular to this day.

It blooms lavishly, as they are sterile and set no seed.
Varieties named for goddesses include ‘Diana’
‘Lady Stanley’, ‘Ardens’, ‘Lucy’, and
‘Blushing Bride’.

The species has
Naturalized very well in suburban areas, and
might even be termed invasive, so frequently does it seed.”

      –Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’m not Fitzgerald

…but I can sure as hell try. What the hell, right? Imitation is flattery after all. So here goes: this is my F. Scott. Fitzgerald impression. The first sentence is the only one used directly from the text. Speaking of which, see if you can guess which book this is (it’s pretty obvious)!  

 

Myrtle pulled her chair close to mine, and suddenly her warm breath poured over me the story of her first meeting with Tom. The two had locked eyes across a busy day at Grand Central Station.

“The rest,” she said, “is the most delightful history.”

I needn’t have said anything at all. She launched into her narrative with a vitality that bordered on violence. She was very close. I could smell the peppermint on her breath, and the artificial scents in her hair. She was like a woman made of bubblegum, an impression only strengthened by her incessant love of pink. Her story, to which I was no longer listening, swelled and popped, punctuated by random spikes of absurd, drunk laughter. I maintained politeness, though to tell the truth I wanted nothing more than to leave. I wanted to look up at all the bright apartment rooms, and wonder absently about the lives of romantic girls, whom I would take by the hand into some fantasy world, where flowers would spring at our heels with each passing step.

As Myrtle rambled on I perfected the art of feigned interest, managing to look away from her for extended periods of time. This could be done as long as I maintained a look of contemplation, and nodded once in a while, turning to smile at Myrtle as I did so. This allowed me to survey the room, whose color had only sharpened with the passing of the night. Myrtle seemed convinced that I was totally engrossed in her story, which she was now retelling from the beginning, with exaggerated details.

“… and so I tell you, Nick, the carriages were out in full force. Three–no, no–four carriages arrived to shepherd us out to our date. And we were–we were like the lambs of God out there!”

I looked over at the supposed lamb of God, who was still drinking heavily. His muscles bulged through his shirt. His jacket lay crumpled in a chair across the room, haphazardly thrown there in a bygone moment of hilarity. He looked over at me, and he must have found something he wanted to say in my face, because at that moment he stood up, thrusting his drink up into the air.

“I want to declare a toast.”

The women all stopped their conversations to look at him. The photographer–what was his name–made a point of finishing his sentence, and only then turned to look at Tom, a little rebellious flame burning in his eyes. I think Tom would have been irritated, but at this point even he was drunk.