"A friend asked yesterday if this blog is addressed to anyone in particular? I said yes– it’s a love letter to someone I haven’t met yet."
People Who Eat in Coffee Shops
by Edward Field
People who eat in coffee shops
are not worried about nutrition.
They order the toasted cheese sandwiches blithely,
followed by chocolate egg creams and plaster of paris
wedges of lemon meringue pie.
They don't have parental, dental, or medical figures hovering
full of warnings, or whip out dental floss immediately.
They can live in furnished rooms and whenever they want
go out and eat glazed donuts along with innumerable coffees,
dousing their cigarettes in sloppy saucers.
Myself and My Person
by Anna Swir
There are moments
when I feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.
This comforts and reassures me,
this heartens me,
just as my tridimensional body
is heartened by my own authentic shadow.
There are moments
when I really feel more clearly than ever
that I am in the company
of my own person.
at a street corner to turn left
and I wonder what would happen
if my own person walked to the right.
Until now that has not happened
but it does not settle the question.
FORMS of LOVE
I love you but I’m married.
I love you but I wish you had more hair.
I love you more.
I love you more like a friend.
I love your friends more than you.
I love how when we go into a mall and classical muzak is playing,
you can always name the composer.
I love you, but one or both of us is/are fictional.
I love you but “I” am an unstable signifier.
I love you saying, “I understand the semiotics of that” when I said, “I
had a little personal business to take care of.”
I love you as long as you love me back.
I love you in spite of the restraining order.
I love you from the coma you put me in.
I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone, except for this one
I love you when you’re not getting drunk and stupid.
I love how you get me.
I love your pain, it’s so competitive.
I love how emotionally unavailable you are.
I love you like I’m a strange backyard and you’re running from the
cops, looking for a place to stash your gun.
I love your hair.
I love you but I’m just not that into you.
I love you secretly.
I love how you make me feel like I’m a monastery in the desert.
I love how you defined grace as the little turn the blood in the
syringe takes when you’re shooting heroin, after you pull back
the plunger slightly to make sure you hit the vein.
I love your mother, she’s the opposite of mine.
I love you and feel a powerful spiritual connection to you, even
though we’ve never met.
I love your tacos! I love your stick deodorant!
I love it when you tie me up with ropes using the knots you
learned in Boy Scouts, and when you do the stoned Dennis
Hopper rap from Apocalypse Now!
I love your extravagant double takes!
I love your mother, even though I’m nearly her age!
I love everything about you except your hair.
If it weren’t for that I know I could really, really love you.
"I know that the real things in life, the things I remember, the things I turn over in my hands, are not houses, bank accounts, prizes or promotions. What I remember is love - all love - love of this dirt road, the
sunrise, a day by the river, the stranger I met in a café."
by Craig Arnold
Of the many reasons I love you here is one
the way you write to me from the gate at the airport
so I can tell you everything will be alright
so you can tell me there is a bird
trapped in the terminal all the people
ignoring it because they do not know
what to do with it except to leave it alone
until it scares itself to death
it makes you terribly terribly sad
You wish you could take the bird outside
and set it free or (failing that)
call a bird-understander
to come help the bird
All you can do is notice the bird
and feel for the bird and write
to tell me how language feels
but you are wrong
You are a bird-understander
better than I could ever be
who make so many noises
and call them song
These are your own words
your way of noticing
and saying plainly
of not turning away
you have offered them
to me I am only
giving them back
if only I could show you
how very useless
they are not
"Some women let you kiss them, while some kissed you back but *just*. Others kissed with enthusiasm but you felt it was the same kind of enthusiasm they felt for a good meal, a Bette Davis film, or a lovely present they'd just received. She was different; she was hungry. Hungry to kiss you, hungry to hear what you said and hungry to tell you what was on her mind. This abiding hunger defined her. It was the greatest compliment he had ever received from a woman and he never tired of it."
There is a profound difference between genuinely loving someone and loving certain specific qualities about them. Confusing the one kind of love for the other has probably caused more failed relationships than can be counted.
On more than one occasion I have been ready to abandon my whole life for love. To alter everything that makes sense to me and to move into a different world where the only known will be the beloved. Such a sacrifice may be the result of love … or is it that life itself was already worn out? I had finished with that life, perhaps, and could not admit it, being stubborn or afraid, or perhaps did not know it, habit being a great binder.
I think it is often so that those most in need of change choose to fall in love and then throw up their hands and blame it all on fate. But it is not fate, at least, not if fate is something outside of us; it is a choice made in secret after nights of longing.
… A man or woman sunk in dreams that cannot be spoken, about a life they do not possess, comes suddenly to a door in the wall. They open it. Beyond that door is that life and a man or a woman to whom that life is already natural. It may not be possessions they want, it may very well be the lack of them, but the secret life is suddenly revealed. This is their true home and this is their beloved.
I may be cynical when I say that very rarely is the beloved more than a shaping spirit for the lover’s dreams. And perhaps such a thing is enough. To be a muse may be enough. The pain is when the dreams change, and they do, as they must. Suddenly the enchanted city fades and you are left alone again in the windy desert. As for your beloved, she didn’t understand you. The truth is, you never understood yourself.
by Kim Addonizio
Some men break your heart in two…
—Dorothy Parker, “Experience”
Some men carry you to bed with your boots on.
Some men say your name like a verbal tic.
Some men slap on an emotional surcharge for every erotic encounter.
Some men are slightly mentally ill, and thinking of joining a gym.
Some men have moved on and can’t be seduced, even in the dream bars you meet them in.
Some men who were younger are now the age you were then.
Some men aren’t content with mere breakage, they’ve got to burn you to the ground.
Some men you’ve reduced to ashes are finally dusting themselves off.
Some men are made of fiberglass.
Some men have deep holes drilled in by a war, you can’t fill them.
Some men are delicate and torn.
Some men will steal your bracelet if you let them spend the night.
Some men will want to fuck your poems, and instead they will find you.
Some men will say, “I’d like to see how you look when you come,” and then hail a cab.
Some men are a list of ingredients with no recipe.
Some men never see you.
Some men will blindfold you during sex, then secretly put on high heels.
Some men will try on your black fishnet stockings in a hotel in Rome, or Saran Wrap you
to a bedpost in New Orleans.
Some of these men will be worth trying to keep.
Some men will write smugly condescending reviews of your work, making you remember
these lines by Frank O’Hara:
I cannot possibly think of you/other than you are: the assassin/ of my orchards.
Some men, let’s face it, really are too small.
Some men are too large, but it’s not usually a deal breaker.
Some men don’t have one at all.
Some men will slap you in a way you’ll like.
Some men will want to crawl inside you to die.
Some men never clean up the matter.
Some men hand you their hearts like leaflets,
and some men’s hearts seem to circle forever: you catch sight of them on clear nights,
bright dots among the stars, and wait for their orbits to decay, for them to fall to earth.
Why is the word yes so brief?
It should be
so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,
so that upon reflection you could stop
in the middle of saying it.
by Rick Agran
On a rainy day in Seattle stumble into any coffee shop
and look wounded by the rain.
Say Last time I was in I left my black umbrella here.
A waitress in a blue beret will pull a black umbrella
from behind the counter and surrender it to you
like a sword at your knighting.
Unlike New Englanders, she'll never ask you
to describe it, never ask what day you came in,
she's intimate with rain and its appointments.
Look positively reunited with this black umbrella
and proceed to Belltown and Pike Place.
Sip cappuccino at the Cowgirl Luncheonette on First Ave.
Visit Buster selling tin salmon silhouettes
undulant in the wind, nosing ever into the oncoming,
meandering watery worlds, like you and the black umbrella,
the one you will lose promptly at the day's end
so you can go the way you came
into the world, wet looking.
by Charles Bukowski
the drivers of automobiles
have very little recourse or
when upset with
they often give him the
I have seen two adult
florid of face
giving each other the
well, we all know what
this means, it's no
still, this gesture is
so overused it has
lost most of its
some of the men who give
the FINGER are captains of
industry, city councilmen,
accountants and/or the just plain
it is their favorite
people will never admit
that they drive
the FINGER is their
I see grown men
FINGERING each other
throughout the day.
it gives me pause.
when I consider
the state of our cities,
the state of our states,
the state of our country,
I begin to
the FINGER is a mind-
we are the FINGERERS.
we give it
to each other.
we give it coming and
we don't know how
else to respond.
what a hell of a way
Would be writers-- here's a really good list of things to look out for from Janet Fitch, author of WHITE OLEANDER & PAINT IT BLACK from an article in the Los Angeles Times:
1. Write the sentence, not just the story
Long ago I got a rejection from the editor of the Santa Monica Review, Jim Krusoe. It said: “Good enough story, but what’s unique about your sentences?” That was the best advice I ever got. Learn to look at your sentences, play with them, make sure there’s music, lots of edges and corners to the sounds. Read your work aloud. Read poetry aloud and try to heighten in every way your sensitivity to the sound and rhythm and shape of sentences. The music of words. I like Dylan Thomas best for this–the Ballad of the Long-Legged Bait. I also like Sexton, Eliot, and Brodsky for the poets and Durrell and Les Plesko for prose. A terrific exercise is to take a paragraph of someone’s writing who has a really strong style, and using their structure, substitute your own words for theirs, and see how they achieved their effects.
2. Pick a better verb
Most people use twenty verbs to describe everything from a run in their stocking to the explosion of an atomic bomb. You know the ones: Was, did, had, made, went, looked… One-size-fits-all looks like crap on anyone. Sew yourself a custom made suit. Pick a better verb. Challenge all those verbs to really lift some weight for you.
3. Kill the cliché.
When you’re writing, anything you’ve ever heard or read before is a cliché. They can be combinations of words: Cold sweat. Fire-engine red, or phrases: on the same page, level playing field, or metaphors: big as a house. So quiet you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes things themselves are cliches: fuzzy dice, pink flamingo lawn ornaments, long blonde hair. Just keep asking yourself, “Honestly, have I ever seen this before?” Even if Shakespeare wrote it, or Virginia Woolf, it’s a cliché. You’re a writer and you have to invent it from scratch, all by yourself. That’s why writing is a lot of work, and demands unflinching honesty.
4. Variety is the key.
Most people write the same sentence over and over again. The same number of words–say, 8-10, or 10-12. The same sentence structure. Try to become stretchy–if you generally write 8 words, throw a 20 word sentence in there, and a few three-word shorties. If you’re generally a 20 word writer, make sure you throw in some threes, fivers and sevens, just to keep the reader from going crosseyed.
5. Explore sentences using dependent clauses.
A dependent clause (a sentence fragment set off by commas, dontcha know) helps you explore your story by moving you deeper into the sentence. It allows you to stop and think harder about what you’ve already written. Often the story you’re looking for is inside the sentence. The dependent clause helps you uncover it.
6. Use the landscape.
Always tell us where we are. And don’t just tell us where something is, make it pay off. Use description of landscape to help you establish the emotional tone of the scene. Keep notes of how other authors establish mood and foreshadow events by describing the world around the character. Look at the openings of Fitzgerald stories, and Graham Greene, they’re great at this.
7. Smarten up your protagonist.
Your protagonist is your reader’s portal into the story. The more observant he or she can be, the more vivid will be the world you’re creating. They don’t have to be super-educated, they just have to be mentally active. Keep them looking, thinking, wondering, remembering.
8. Learn to write dialogue.
This involves more than I can discuss here, but do it. Read the writers of great prose dialogue–people like Robert Stone and Joan Didion. Compression, saying as little as possible, making everything carry much more than is actually said. Conflict. Dialogue as part of an ongoing world, not just voices in a dark room. Never say the obvious. Skip the meet and greet.
9. Write in scenes.
What is a scene? a) A scene starts and ends in one place at one time (the Aristotelian unities of time and place–this stuff goes waaaayyyy back). b) A scene starts in one place emotionally and ends in another place emotionally. Starts angry, ends embarrassed. Starts lovestruck, ends disgusted. c) Something happens in a scene, whereby the character cannot go back to the way things were before. Make sure to finish a scene before you go on to the next. Make something happen.
10. Torture your protagonist.
The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.
File under “What are friends for?”
“Everyone should live to be 92 years old, have an orgasm, and immediately drop dead.”
I wrote this sentence in one of my books although I don’t remember which one. A chum of mine sent it this afternoon and said it appeared (with proper credit to me) on a porno site beneath a black and white photograph the details of which were very, uh, graphic. Little did I know way back when those words marched out of my pen that they would end up with that distinction.
Long live art!
Two silences are given to man:
The one surrounds him,
The other fills.
Man becomes the third one,
Listening as his words echo in those two.
Two words are given to man:
Yes and no.
He becomes the third one—a verb of time,
Flowing between the one and the other.
Two times are given to man:
Before him and after.
He is in between and follows the both.
Two lives are given to man.
He is the difference.
I read an article in a UK newspaper about a burglar who is going around stealing clothes off peoples’ backyard clotheslines. It reminded me of when I was living in L.A. in the mid-90’s. One day I glanced out the window of my house and saw a skinny, creepy looking guy stealing all of my just-washed laundry. Eventually he must have sensed someone was watching. He looked over and we made eye contact. I thought damn, if you’re down to stealing strangers’ *laundry* you need it a lot more than me. So I gave him a double thumbs up. He nodded unsurprised, continued taking my clothes off the line and then walked slowly out of the backyard. He took possession of a nice new pair of jeans that day although I doubt they fit him.
from an editorial by David Brooks in the NY Times:
The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.”
But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher.
Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.
It’s better at distinguishing the important from the unimportant, and making the important more prestigious.
"The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create."
"The hardest-learned lesson: that people have only
their kind of love to give, not our kind." Mignon McLaughlin
"She loved like a 17 year old: volcanically, temporarily."