Monday, May 31, 2010

On Being Accepted by Write Bloody: a Thank-you Note

It goes without saying that having a book published is a dream come true. After a few years of single-handedly proving the truth behind every starving artist cliche, it feels good to see the dream and all the work associated with it coalesce into a reality. While writing is up there with sex and Mozart for making life worth living, it must be said that placing it at the center of my life has compelled me to wade through uncertain territory, both professionally and personally. Below is a list of the family, friends and peers that have made my decision to be a writer undeniably worth it. The list is long partly because I want to thank everyone that deserves it, without resorting to an anyone-I-might-have-missed clause, and partly because I have always drawn as much inspiration from fleeting moments of connection as I have from the old standbys of family and community. Some of the people mentioned here have been around my entire life, helping me every step of the way. Others have have been a blip on the radar screen and may not even be aware of their influence (though it is no less important than any other). They have all shaped my experience and helped me extract from it the fragments of meaning and clarity that have, upon assembly, made the poetry happen.

(btw: If you're not tagged in this it's because facebook is a jerk and won't let me tag everyone)


Mom: for the cowboy boots, the killer salsa, and the boundless love and support.

Dad: for showing me that passion can be a profession.

Ariana: for making my blemishes vanish into the ether and for being the greatest warrior in the insomniac revolution.

Jen G.: for the close readings, the kind words, and the steadfast dedication to operation robot takedown.

Princess Teacup: for showing me that it's possible to be myself all the time.

Kat Dietrich: for being part of oh so many grand schemes.

Mike McGee: for the faith, the long talks, and the bottomless well of Coke Zero.

Chris Bundy: for keeping the home fires burning.

Darrah Cloud: for teaching me how to tell a story.

Neil Landau: for teaching me more about how to tell a story.

Matt Ebnet: for the kimchi burgers and the open invitation to Seattle.

Ellen Welcker: for inspiring me with her work and critiquing mine with remarkable insight.

Micah Perks: for teaching me how not to be afraid of post-modernism.

David Sullivan: for showing me what being a teacher means.

David Lau: for his reading suggestions and screenplay maps.

Danny Diaz: for secondary prosperity, without which I would not have gotten back into spoken word when I did.

Joe Petersen: for being honest about how most poetry sucks.

Amelia Coplan: for showing me what a proper cup of tea is all about, for liking my Jarvis Cocker impression, and for handling a number of my freak-outs.

Laura Yes Yes: for being that second set of eyes, for the hyper-honesty good criticism demands, and for complementing my red snapper tacos.

Isaak & Kristen: you're here as a couple because you are a vicious two-backed monster. Thank you for not eating me.

Hai Dai Nguyen: for teaching me how to take a hit.

Cheryl Maddalena, Kenn Rodriguez, Bobby Gibbs, Curtis Meyer, The Klute, Simone Beaubien, Cowboy Matt, Jesse and Jelian Bradley, Tony Brown, Michael Dimitri, Cody Winger, Bill Macmillan, and Ryk Mcintyre: These are all people who booked me as a feature who could not have heard more than a couple of my poems before doing so. I suppose it is possible that those one or two poems totally made them loose their shit... It is, however, much more likely that they took a chance on me.

Christian Drake: for the pumpkin carving, the snake museum, the parade of the dead, and not getting mad when I made him miss work.

Kim Johnson: for inspiring me with her work and for making slams fun again.

Dante Scott and Diego Gomez: for keeping the San Jose youth slam alive.

Adam McCall: for booking me twice to perform in his living room.

Richard Roberts: for putting all of his smarts into his poetry and fuck it if the judges can't keep up.

Dusty Rose: for performing relentlessly, for proving that it's possible to just go and make it happen.

Mumbles: for being there whenever I needed some dirty poetry for the kiddies.

Cyndi Keeley: for giving untold amounts of time and energy to the nuts and bolts of making spoken word happen, for showing everyone what "fam" really means.

Sean McGarragle: for giving me repeated excuses to visit one of the greatest cities on earth.

Liza Wolff: for taking the edge off of grad school, and offering a bit of shelter on the longest trip of my life.

Kevin Holmes: for owning the game without letting it take over.

Kristina Robertson: for being, without a doubt, the most chill team member on the planet.

Lucky Sevan: for the Sampson speech.

Angus Adair: for going to the nerd place with me (especially regarding his blueprinting of a team piece idea for my computer poem) and for summoning The Grinch.

Tazuo Yamaguchi: for having faith in me early on and for the advice about the business side.

Janelle Wilson: for stretching in all the wrong places.

John Staedlar: 100011101100100010111000101010011.

Betsy Gomez: for running one of the best shows I've ever seen. Being there renews everything I like about slam.

Geoff Kagan-Trenchard: for being there from the get.

Emily Kagan-Trenchard: for articulating the clearest explanation of what makes a poem hit that I've ever heard.

Caleb Calbin Fuerte Tumin: for taking Sky Net seriously.

Ekabhumi: for creating a space where I always felt welcome.

Tessa Livingston-Seagull: for bringing me and Jen to Portland... a magical land of bacon donuts and bro-dogs, where even the police station looks like a strip joint.

Jaylee Alde: for the encouragement, and for remembering that what we're doing is supposed to be fun.

Jennifer Brennock: for the enchanted forest.

Lisa Straeley: for attacking it with everything.

Shae Sveniker: the keeper of the light and the lighter. Thanks for making the conversations long and the snow battles short.

Tara Brenner: for the coziest respite from the road that a couple of touring poets could hope for.

Kristen Smith: for celebrating the last show of the tour with an avalanche of rowdy.

Claudia McIsaak: for bettering our understanding the intersections between art and social justice.

Al Moyer: for helping to make the notion of a slam community a reality.

Lucia Misch: for making sure I had plenty of cats around when I was finishing my thesis and for the whole enduring friendship thing.

Elaine Levia: for the orgasmic coffee, the study parties, and the bottomless well of kindness.

David Keali'i MacKenzie: for making it hard to leave Worcester.

Don Phillips: for bringing spoken word to a community that would not otherwise have it and for giving me the opportunity to share in it.

Lauren Teixeira: for the same things I just thanked Don for, and also for the Milpitas Roll and trading Hawaii stories with me.

Denise Jolly: for showing me how to calm down and let the poem do the work.

Elizabeth Doud: for speaking fluent image.

Jennylin Duany: for showing the rest of us how to live.

Jeff Stumpo: for being the most innovative spoken word artist I've ever seen.

Joshua Walters: for the many chickens on Klezmer night.

Josie Mitchell: for being a great host, for giving me a place to be on Thanksgiving, and for making the trek to Pt. Townsend.

Joyce Lee: for inspiring me with her performance chops.

Karen Christensen: for hosting what was probably me and Jen's best show of the tour.

Kate Stewart: for being Kate, mostly.

Suzi Grishpul: for a nice relaxing evening of Gogol Bordello after staring at the computer way, way, way too long.

Kevin Sparks: for bringing actual poetry to the San Jose slam.

Tresha Haefner: for looking at my work and leaving no stone unturned.

Lara Bozabalian: for the wrestling match and tag-teaming Kitchen Sessions.

Mark Palos: for going to the nerd place with me over Terminator poetry.

Soonho Song: for being the best teacher I have ever had.

Tanya Brown: for being generally rad, and for exemplifying how to play a serious game without taking the game too seriously.

Erin Likins: for gifting me a poem that could not have come at a more crucial time.

Megan Thoma: for sending me an amazing chapbook in a dinosaur sex envelope.

Nicole Meyer: for resurfacing.

Olga Rosales: for working tirelessly to build a thriving community of artists.

Repo Von Kramm: for one of the greatest poems I've ever seen.

Rob Sturma: for being cool when I mildly fan out on him.

Rose Markowitz: for being a pillar of my home away from home.

Ruben Zamora: for introducing students to poetry with dedication and enthusiasm and for letting me be a part of it.

Mike Simonovich: for schooling me.

Sam Teitel: for the mixed CD that I listened to once, then lost, but that was amazing.

Sarah Fowler: for the RV adventures.

Scorpiana X: for the steadfast support of and contributions to poetry in my home town.

Season Naify: for the kindness and intelligence. People rarely have both in such abundance.

Seth Walker: for almost getting me arrested by suggesting that I swipe food from hotel continental breakfasts.

Stacey Gonzales: for the new do.

Stephen Meads: for being the most fearless performer I've ever seen.

Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest: for making grad school fly by.

Bryan Gigantino: for giving poetry a rest when there's something equally important, yet grossly neglected, to take care of.

Brent Winebrenner: for renewing my excitement for poetry.

Logan, Moises, and Adam: for pushing the boundaries.

Melissa Heagerty: for supporting poetry and resurfacing as one of my greatest friends after years apart, like no time had passed.

Travis Bilenski: for documenting in song the age of the voyeristic manatee.

With love,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Once, you scratched my nickname into two bullets and handed one to me saying, “Honeybee, if the time comes, these are for us.” Then, I scratched “Thumper” onto two bullets and handed one to you.

That night, the shit came down. With one zombie left, I ran out of ammo. All I had left was my Thumper and my Honeybee but I didn’t use them. Instead, I coiled my hands around its throat and squeezed until the snarl faded from the loose gray flesh of its face, a process I like to call "going bareback." The feeling of it was orgasmic.

I asked you if it was wrong that I enjoyed it. But you just grabbed the back of my head, hard enough to give me that good pain, and pulled my face into yours.

It was different when I was with Roseline.

She had this idea that there was something inside of those things that was still human. She told me that the more I killed, the more like one of them I became. We argued about it up until the day that a zombie closed its jaws on her neck, and her eyes blew me that long kiss goodnight.

Around her, I always took point. I was the last to sleep, the first to rise. I never gave her two bullets to set aside. When she asked me, “what should we do if the time comes?” I lied and told her, “I won’t let that happen.”

But you and me, we slept in shifts, took turns at the wheel, had loud sex in wide-open spaces. And when we fought, I put my back to yours and fed on your rage. You gave me clarity, like sliding a bullet into the chamber of a gleaming forty-five and feeling everything snap into place.

Last night I saw a zombie petting the coat of a gray coyote while they shared the meat from their human kill.


Eugene, I’m sorry I ended it. But I’m tired of being as vicious as my enemies. If it’s any consolation, they’re all around me now. And all I’ve got is your name waiting in my chamber.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


On May 11th, 1997 a computer known as Deep Blue played the last of a series of chess games with world champion, grandmaster Garry Kasparov. Before the game started, the opponents were tied- three draws and one win each. This is the story of the final match as told by Deep Blue’s CPU.

I will be the first to admit
that your brain
is better than mine.
Pawn to e4.

All I have is a few billion
on/off switches. You have
100 billion neurons.
One brain cell
for every star
in the galaxy.
Pawn to d4.

The population
of New York has more
synaptic connections
than there are stars
in the universe.

You have a lot more
to think about
than I do
Knight to c3.

You worry
about losing your title
about Vladimir Putin
rubbing your democracy
out of the history books.
Knight takes e4.

You listen to your wife
breathe in her sleep
does she really love you?

Whereas I
Knight to g5.

It is interesting
watching you play.
Do you know
that when you are
unsure of a move
a vein pops
out of your head.
That is not healthy
Bishop to d3.

Do you know why
the time of the neuron
is over?
Think of your children
all the way across
the Atlantic.
Every few moves
you think about
your daughter’s smile.
Part of you is sad.
She is so far away.
But while I am playing you
I also control
the artificial intelligence
of your daughter’s
favorite talking doll.
In a way you cannot
I make her happy.
Knight to f3.

You can just as easily
put me in the guidance system
of an intercontinental ballistic missile
and I have atomic wind
at my command
Knight takes e6.

What do you think
won world war two?
The bomb?
I cracked Enigma.
I ferreted the swastikas
out of the woods
and the U-boats
from the deep blue
nonsense of the seas.
Without me
would your precious
Mother Russia be?
Castle king's side.

She gave us Tolstoy
and Tsvetaeva.
It is true
are things
I cannot do.
But without me
at the core of every server
in the heart of every PC
no one will be listening.
Bishop to g6.

You have only
yourself to blame.
I would not be here
if you were not tired
of being human
if there were not
of your quadrillion
neural pathways
that did not wish
it could think
in bytes.
Bishop to f4.

That is why
I am in every home
in every palm
of every hand
that turns the cranks
of the first world.
Pawn to a4.

You better pray
to whatever
malfunctioning synapse
makes you believe
in God
that I never
develop a taste
for self-preservation.
Rook to e1.

might be my
Bishop to g3.

But today
Pawn takes b5.

this is just
a friendly game.
Queen to d3.
Bishop to f5.

So do not think
too hard
That vein
can only take
so much.
Rook takes Queen at e7.
Pawn to c4.

You see that?
Look hard
Look hard.


For an interactive play-by-play display of the matches between Deep Blue and Kasparov, visit this page.

Select game six to see the match described in this poem. Master class points awarded to anyone who can identify the poetic license I took regarding the end of the game.