Friday, July 31, 2009


When asked the secret to Judo, founder Jigoro Kano said:
“When the enemy wants to come, welcome him.
When he wants to leave, send him on his way.”

The first time I asked what this meant, no sooner did I utter the question than I felt a pair of arms fold under my chin and shrink the space around my neck until I could swear I heard angels singing, “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.”

And the distant voice of my teacher, Master Song, saying first, learn to grip, then, learn to let go. Strange teaching methods considering that the word “Judo” translates to “the gentle way.” But it makes sense. To get the arm lock, you don’t grab. You rest your hands, like he's made of eggshells you’re afraid to crack so that by the time he wants to leave, he has to wait for you to send him on his way.

It’s true that wrestling is awfully erotic for an activity shared between two straight men. Like the way lovers convey themselves through contact, you only know someone so well until you’re knotted into them.

I never had to learn things like this, by the language of the bent wrist and the pinched artery. Some people are born pressed into the ground. But for someone who grew up in quiet safety filled with words and books it took some time for the wisdom of hard, cold floors to rub off.

But on the night when two gentlemen in a 7-11 parking lot cordially asked if they could come on my girlfriend, I thought, when the enemy wants to come, welcome him.

This [snap] is how long an unplanned fight lasts. How long it took them to split my eye and swell my lip until my face looked like the bottom of a starfish. How long it took to hear police sirens around the block. How long it took one of them to flee the scene as I tangled myself around the other and hear his voice shrink to a whisper in my hands.

How long it took me to understand, through contact, how hard this kid’s life had been. You don’t roll on someone in this part of town unless you’ve grown up pressed into the ground, the wisdom of cold, hard floors hardly an option.

I could have held him for the sirens, but by then something I once heard about a gentle way took hold.

When the enemy wants to come, welcome him.
When he wants to leave, send him on his way.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Someone in my screenwriting class is writing a screenplay about an apocalyptic future. Before you balk at the idea, there's actually much more to it than that. I'm being vague because I'd hate for someone to steal her premise. We all know how much Hollywood is clamoring for fresh new, unrecognized talent these days.

The point is, I found myself getting way excited about her idea, following her from the class room to the dinning hall just unloading ideas on her. She seemed to be cool with it. But I realized that I get excited in apocalypse as a general rule.

Isn't there just something about apocalypse? A blank slate. A vast silence. An oceanic solace. It's not that I sit around wishing for it to go down. It's just, I can imagine myself alone, maybe with a few other survivors, each of us with a floor of the Waldorf Astoria to ourselves.

It's not that I want apocalypse. I just want to hear a pin drop in the middle of time square. I want ivy to engulf the sears tower. I want to take time lapse photography of a freeway and have it look like a still.

I wonder, if the shit ever hit the fan, and I was spared, would I still write despite having no reader, no audience? What if I did, and it was my best work ever?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


One of the best artist blogs I've ever read was by Amanda Palmer from the band The Dresden Dolls (who if you haven't heard, you need to reassess life). When I say "best" I guess I really mean "honest." The posts had lots of what you'd expect from a touring artist -- highlights from shows, artists she hung out with, the wily shenanigans that ensued, etc. What struck me was how blunt she was about her own feelings of inadequacy.

One post admitted that she had felt that much of her writing was "trite" and that she often felt out of place when hanging out with contemporary artists who the general public thought were on par with her but who she saw as, somehow, more legit. I'm paraphrasing something awful here.

Point is: here's an artist that I adore saying in so many words that she sometimes feels like she sucks. I mention it because I feel like I see this all the time in creative people. We have to be so good at being self-critical and self-honest in order to do the work we do. These abilities are great but so easily become a run away train. Bad metaphor. I know. (But, see what I mean).

I want to know where the obsession for improvement comes from? On second thought, maybe I don't give a shit. Maybe I just want to know how to harness it. It's not that I want to get rid of it (all we need in the world is more apathy and mediocrity). I want to use it. I want to make it into a tool rather than a personality trait. What's that saying.

You have to be able to see yourself with brutal honesty. But you also need to know that that honesty is medicine, not a weapon.

I'm sure that tomorrow I will look at this and it won't sound as good to me as it does right now. It will seem preachy and verbose. It'll be old news. I'll be over it. I will have moved on. Then I'll do something else. And that is a very, very good thing.


Monday, July 13, 2009


I wish I could stay up forever.
When I stay awake I explain amazing things amazingly.
There are lots of differences between conversations
over coffee at five in the morning
and over beer at three
The main difference is that coffee at five makes you want to kill.
It makes you want to wake up
and build something with sharp metal edges
like a lawn mower
but for people, a people mower.
Beer at three makes you want to draw pictures
of people mowers
and people escaping them.
It helps you explain amazing things amazingly.
One time I went to sleep and then woke up and explained something
and no one got it
and the more I explained it
the more people squinted their eyes.
They looked like finless gold fish in a washing machine,
They looked like they were trying to find the aurora borealis
with the sunroof closed.
I want to stay awake forever.
I want to empty enough beer bottles to trap the aurora borealis
so that I can show it to people
rather than explain it.
When I make people look like finless goldfish by saying things I think are amazing,
I feel like drinking coffee and pulling a ripcord
that will make a silver gleaming death machine roar to life.
Sometimes I don't communicate
and I can't let go of wanting to
and then I sound angry
but I'm not
and people ask me to calm down
and then I tell them I am calm
and then they tell me if I were calm I wouldn't have to say that.
And I want to tell them that if they weren't as clueless
as a finless goldfish in a washing machine
I wouldn't have to explain myself.
I wouldn't want to stay awake forever.
But I do. I want to stay up.
I want to stay up until I'm on a first name basis with the aurora borealis.
Me and aurora.
And aurora would teach me things and touch me in many places I have forgotten
and beam moist light into my eyeballs.
I would learn to hover.
and to shine.
and how to be high and stay high.
and to appear
and how to disappear.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Today finds me tired of paralyzing myself with thought.

I am tired of describing the weather.

So a mist blows through the open gate

of a derelict Barn in Iowa

like the sigh of a forgotten god.

Fuck you.

I want to be at the Barn,

far away from people who say things about things.

If the talent of pointing out what things resemble

were an animal

it would be a chihuahua.

And I would pick it up and punt it over my barn.

I would turn it into a dot on the horizon.

And then I would sit in the hay loft and open my skylight.

So barns don't have skylights

Fuck you.

I made a skylight with broke-backed labor

of your poetry friends who use words like, "problematize."

And I am going to sit under my sky light

and feel the mist.

and the mist won't be anything but mist.

it will be wet and cool.

And I will be alive and the hay will smell like mold.

It's too bad god has been forgotten

and that he's done breathing

and that we don't capitalize his name anymore

that's kind of sad

but not as sad

as an empty barn.