Saturday, February 18, 2017

landmines in a living room

the ashtrays make their presence known

a hand clutches the neck of a wine bottle

a man screams as he makes love to a broken-string guitar

balance is lost after one glass too many

bones settle into their place, complete

with their aches and pains

and rain slams into glass with

the guilt of a hurricane

that has torn apart towns

we remember the drought

we remember when the roots

of the grapevine broke free

they were so strangled by the soil

that they forgot how to breathe

old ground was broken here

in the way that relics are unearthed

where least expected

but always, there are holes

Fuck, I Forgot "Word Count Wednesday" Saturday

The Process

I don't place much stock in writer's workshops because it tends to be a room full of people jerking each other off over their writing. There are so many moments where I want to say, "That poem isn't as great as you think it is!" but I won't because I have no idea how I would improve that piece and my own work probably sucks too, so me saying that just wouldn't be constructive. 

With that being considered, I did take a workshop from poet Brendan Constantine, a writer who I very much admire and have seen perform multiple times. He had us do a few exercises: create a list of unmentionable things (not necessarily because they were offensive or taboo, just things that were difficult to put words to), a list of sensory experiences within the last 24 hours, and 2 imagined sensory experiences.

With these, I wrote "Landmines in a Living Room".

The Library

"Part of Eve's Discussion" - Marie Howe

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem t still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.

The Work in Progress

  1. Narrative piece
  2. Alyssa's poem
  3. Detoxing

Monday, February 13, 2017

the facebook

I don’t like seeing you on my news feed
it feels a dart in the heart
tipped with a little bit of nostalgia
enough to make it hurt
but not enough to leave a wound
I don’t like remembering
drowning in you
as if your arms were waves
and I lost the life jacket
as if your eyes were rings
around Saturn

I had never felt like I had any gravity
until I attracted you
oh, beautiful
with a heart like
the dark side of the moon

I had never felt so centered,
not until you decided
“fuck the bed”
this couch is good enough
and we put the love
in love seat

and now that you’re not here

now that the fire has left the furnace
run out of fuel
vacant of your heartbeat
hotter than molten iron
against my chest

I can only miss the burn
not kiss the back of your neck
with the tenderness of settling butterflies
of leaves falling in autumn
with the careless abandon of cigarette butts
flying out windows

I unfollow
and not unfriend
because sometimes
I am a creature of regret
and maybe
sometime later
when your name
and what you’re doing
or who you’re seeing
doesn’t create the pressure
of far beneath the ocean
sometime later
I can stomach statuses
about your goddamn cat.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fuck, I Almost Forgot "Word Count Wednesday" Wednesday

The Process

This has been a difficult week with not much writing done, as I've spent most of the time adulting. I did, however, get after all, the poem in the previous post done. For me, a decent way to stimulate the inkflow is writing with people. The way I go about it is to have one person, the other or I, start off the piece with a stanza. Then we go back and forth at it, varying stanza length and building off one another. That was how after all was completed. Over coffee and cigarettes.

The Library

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
A book so beautifully written, it makes you emphasize with a pedophile. Humbert Humbert, protagonist, is the most unreliable narrator I've ever read but is also so magnificently crafted as a character. Nabokov has an excellent control of the English language and the entire story is one long moral dilemma and you finish it with a pit in your stomach but a sweet aftertaste on your tongue.

The Work in Progress

Lit Mag. Poems. Waiting tables. Making drinks. Selling my soul for tip money, only to be spent on wine the same night.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

after all

(ft. S. Rozan)
His were speeches that ended without message
Or beginning
And troubled were the steps of each
New challenge to the victors
They trembled as leaves in a hurricane
Wet with the memories of yesteryear
Roots growing into the soil
Still unsure of their future
No fragment of a notion of attraction
In a dive bar of no-shows
Subdued by the charge, or lack thereof
A battery’s one resting percentage.
Here, bolt-cutters to strip the wires
of their copper.
Here, gasoline to pour on the fire
of our discontent.
Break the bones and rob of their marrow
so with it, we can flood new ground.
Then the pipes that were supposed to
Hold back the future rusted
And all the reset bricks buckled
That devil never agreed
To meet here, I sank, on no
Ouija board would fate exceed that grip
An angel fallen victim to the hand
of gravity, no longer winged,
just melting.
Light trapped a thin veneer
of apathy and a loss of conviction.
“Dear G-“ he whispered, unable to wrap
his tongue about the sound.
From heaven, he fell.

Friday, February 3, 2017

in lieu of dessert

match strikes surface
explodes, dies out
leaves a drifting ghost

she ignites
thunder meeting driftwood
leaves the taste of menthols
on the tongue
familiar, chemical
goes well with coffee

ember fights darkness
until flame withers out
leaves a corpse of ash
no friend to the wind

some days
smoke drifts from her mouth downwards
carried by the weight of letters

some days
she just wants fresh air
some days
it is easier to breathe than others
some days
there is a river beneath her skin

and she reminds me of glacier water
so very cold
but still liquid, cleansing

smells like the first candle
I ever lit, sits comfortably
in the back of my head
like fingertips on the
nape of my neck
or a thought hiding behind loose lips

a storm is borne at the bottom
of my stomach, air rushes out
the path of least resistance
refuses to come back in

and I am going
blue in the face
with yearning

unsure if it is for
the way freckles decorate her cheeks
the same way that snow sits on church
steeples in Zurich

unsure if it is for
the way her hair falls
the same way
scent rises from incense
she is a slow burner

simmers under a glance
with a smirk like an icicle in
March, melting
but still sharp
still tough enough to leave holes
in my papier-mache chest

and some days
I am not so sure
what this frame is
supposed to form
not sure if it can dam
the reservoir of consonants
and vowels waiting to fall
from my mouth into her tender hands
like wilting rose petals
or oak leaves in autumn

meet me at the path
that ends in the cemetery
remember that there are separate
tombstones for the head and the heart
remind me that worse things
have happened to better people
and that matches
can still start wildfires

Fuck, I Forgot "Word Count Wednesday" Friday

The Process

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone but they've always worked for me."
-Hunter S. Thompson

While I plead the fifth considering the specifics of Mr. Thompson's quote, I think he does have a very good point. While artists and authors tend to have vivid imaginations, I believe the best writing and the best art are rooted in truth. It is one thing for a person to sit at a desk and create worlds in the form of poetry and prose, but, in my humble opinion, the best work comes out of experiences that deeply impact us as human beings. The best pieces I've ever penned have been a result of fractured relationships, unrequited love, soul-crushing grief, etc. I've always found it difficult to write about happiness (or anything positive, really) because happiness is so subjective. Despair, on the other hand, is universal. We can see a situation and see how it would traumatize a person, how it would shake them to their very core. However, events or people that bring joy... tend to be relative. 

The Library

  •  The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Fictional memoir written from the viewpoint of a Communist spy rooted within the South Vietnamese Army during the time of the Vietnam War and the years following. Relevant to my life especially, considering my grandpa served for the South Vietnamese during the war, and it is due to his service that my family and I were able to immigrate here. SPOILER: There is a scene where Nguyen describes their escape from Saigon that brought me to tears. This is the only book that has ever done that.

  • Los Angeles Stories by Ry Cooder
Anthology of period pieces set in the decades of the 20th century, in Los Angeles. Cooder captures the emotion and the social strife of each decade quite well, from pre-Great War, the civil rights movement, up until the 90s. Incredibly immersive.

  • "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats
Romantic-era poem written by a titan of poetry with many interpretations, mine being that art is eternal. I'm taking Jeffrey Baker's Intro to Poetry M14 class, and have a four page paper on this due. Also: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty-- that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." *snaps violently*

The Work in Progress

All my interpersonal relationships are really just breeding grounds for poems. I like writing about people. They fascinate me. I have two poems fermenting in the back of my head. One is about a coworker, who I now consider one of my best friends, and about how committed he is to his principles and his vision. The other is about a girl I'm not sure if I'm interested in necessarily, but we had dinner and I like the way she chain smokes and giggles.

Also, running Moorpark's literary magazine is an incredibly frustrating experience.