Tag Archives: journal

Paper Maché Identity Sonnet

The remnants of my dreams cling in fragments

Like the torn strips of wetted news paper

Soaked in Wheatepaste and glue to be pliant

I’m only a paper maché cover

The pasteboard mask that I present to you

Made up of the finest linen paper

Is a simulacrum that is untrue

Made to help me pull off this bold caper

Who is anything more than a puppet

Strings leading up to the bold puppeteer

(Or a hand reaching up to control it?)

Once we know this we can play without fear

The script that we are performing each day

Was written long ago & far away


Make America Good Again Sonnet

Hats Read: “make america great again!”

To sell mythical historical lie

Of colonial racism’s given:

Made it easier to be a white guy

“Make America Good Again!” we said

To point out the half truths in the red hats

America’s greatest with unions red

Coal miners, uneducated, earned lots

Our country is being let by its id

Brutally consuming its memory

We’ve become like some six billion ton kid

Rampaging back through bleakest history

Rest assured many will be sent to God

To assuage our damaged egos: that’s sad

Sonnet as a Plea for Freedom

I must escape the media maelstrom

The vortex of virtual violence

Where the ideas of the basest are shown

For the bottom line wealth’s prurience

From the right wing I get primitive lies

Parroted by the mainstream media

Obscuring their white supremacist ties:

Equivalence: hypoglycemia

From the left impotent sanctimony

Dribbled keystrokes from a million iPhones

“Being Right’s” the vapid patrimony

Of people who forgot how the knife’s honed

So if you want to save me, send a letter

To a politician: make him better

Morning’s Victory Over Sleep

Desperately try to fight my way back 

To the dream of life I was enjoying:

Day, in a flanking maneuver, attacks

The remnants of youth I was reliving

This Morning’s Thoughts

So much has happened! Where to begin. Today I am up with S_______, she slept over for L_____’s birthday celebration. We went to BareBurger for dinner with C______, S______, L______, Linda and Stafford. We came home and had the patented pink cake I made. I went to a meeting earlier, and it was actually the second day in a row I made a meeting. I think I should make more meetings. I would also like to go to the gym more (I’ll stop shoulding on myself now).
Furthest in the rear-view mirror of my recent life is the fight I had with Deneene over facebook. I could include the details, but I will distill it down to the fact she feels aggrieved over something and we got into a back-and-forth “FUCK YOU!” battle over email. I lost sleep over it and wrote a poem or two in the angry insomnia. I have to say that I was feeling pretty low regarding all of this. I mean, I do think that Deneene is being a bitch and working out some sort of something in her life. But I’ve been sober long enough to know that when someone is vexed at you you might have done something wrong, even it it isn’t as calamitous at their anger says it is.  (On a related note, Linda has been vexed with me about me and I think that that is also related to her other outside feeling (which is not to say I am not a living nightmare for the well organized). I wrote a poem about that to to help me muddle through my thinking.
The thing I need to talk to someone about is the fact that I came back in contact with B-19. I saw a picture of her sister S_____ in a yoga pose as B______ B___’s girlfriend. (First I want to say that she dated a guy in ‘88 or ‘87 that I really didn’t think too much of, so it seems Gay [with B______] is a huge improvement.)
So I explained that I didn’t want to be some sort of stalker or “relic” that haunts her. Her response was really sweet.
B-19 wrote “Relic? No way. True friend from the past is more how I think of you.” I have to say that this positive recollection from 30 years ago is the balm that I needed after the ‘Neene thing. I was at a meeting yesterday and a young woman shared on her first anniversary and it brought all of these things together: Feeling like an asshole because of ‘Neene’s noise, feeling low because of how thinly our family nerves were frayed by the kids’ holiday visit and somethings unresolved.
I saw in M_____, the 1-year-speaker, the trajectory of the life I had when B-19 and I broke up (I guess I was readying myself for Linda, whom I’d meet a year or so later). I also saw my older daughter in her. Of course Thing 1 hasn’t manifest any of the shenanigans of the active alcoholic, but she has the determined will of someone sick with this disease, and I don’t look forward to her acting on the “hiding” with something besides overachievement.
So if I wasn’t a creep picking on Teen-Agers, but a man trying to love a woman, no matter how imperfectly, then who am I now? At the meeting I remember meeting B-19 in the hallway of a tenement next door to St Marks, she on her way to a party with Alcohol and me on my way back to the St. Marks “HOW Club” New Year’s fete. I was part of her crazy youth, but I wasn’t a controlling domineering asshole. I wore (& wear) the world like a loose garment. I want to keep strengthening that “mellow.”
I guess if I could change anything I would work harder on getting more things done. This brings me to the iPhone I lose myself in creation with all of the time. I have to say that I like the memes I make and the poems I write and the photographs I take with my gizmo. I don’t like the time I spend checking “likes” and “comments” from people with whom I am not terribly close with. There is a pleasure that seeing people’s lives unfold brings. (Just slipped into FB gossip for 15 minutes because I was looking for a picture.)
I am an imperfect man who enjoys his life as it is rather than trying to build the towers of respect (academic publishing, more long form thought.) I would like to get a little more of my James Baldwin “essay self” on. I would also like to write more fiction (Finish the Kiko story, Life before the wheels, etc). Lennox is up.
Two hours later
While I was washing the dishes I was struck with something else. I can’t remember it right now. This is why my iPhone isn’t all bad, because had I tweeted a note I would have the insight to work on.
I am reminded, trying to remember the thought, of an epiphany I think I first had at St. Malachy’s one Thursday night: “I gravitate towards -and favor the opinions of- people who dislike me: we have one thing in common, we both hold me in utter contempt.” I don’t know if this is self hatred or part of my open-minded desire for self improvement? I think I can make that a haiku:
Agree with haters/
We both think that I’m stupid/
(Only I am right)/
I think that my next “corrective scheme” is that I should dedicate some time to writing on my blog every day. I don’t want to just post poems there, but get into writing some of the thoughts I have when I am walking my dog and spacing out.
I should also find a way to free myself from my iphone.

Haiku Journal DMV-Manhattan-Subway Edition

new york sattelite 1

Yesterday I went to the DMV to get a New York License. I was dreading the waiting, but optimistic about finally getting my bureaucratic life in some sort of order. (Next I will try to get a passport!) I write my journal haiku or senryu throughout the day and today’s rhythm gave me a lot of time to reflect on events. There were three things that happened yesterday and I think this is a good “haiku journal” entry, so I am vainly sharing it. (Sorry I can’t format this into columns this Morning)

39. Computers are out/
Metrocards demand money/
At #woodside station/

40. Tollbooth clerk covers/
Window with impotent signs/
Backs them with ennui/

41. Most are just angry/
Ancient immigrants can’t know/
“Why no traveling?”/

42. Clerk tries to explain/
To ancient Himalayan/
Of “system failure”/

43. Palms up and head down/
The clerk gives up on language:/
Universal sign/

44. Mercifully my/
Soggy cash is accepted/
By god in machine/

45. Kindly Latina/
Money’s rejected by god/
Of electric eye/

46. She’ll be late for work/
While desperately begging/
For a crisp fiver/
47. DMV start time/
For attempt at an ID/
12:20 PM/

48. Bureaucracy makes/
Life together easier/
(Not always nicely)/

49. Pallet of people/
From which DMV’s painted/
Beyond the spectrum/

50. I love New Yorkers/
In their peculiarity/
While being tested/

51. Done with first window/
At a painless 12:50/

52. Alpha-Numeric/
Computer-read tickets called/

53. Slow but efficient/
Workers execute their functions/
While we demand more/

54. Man with pompadour/
Speaks formal Urdu to wife/

55. New Americans/
Seem more adept at these lines/
Then those born right here/
56. Subway ride back home/
Walked vanishing Manhattan/
Past places ʇɐɥʇ were/

57. Manhattan changes/
It is no longer my place/
It’s for others now/

58. City Landmarks go/
New places: new memories/
Mine Evaporate/

59. Walking those same streets/
Without friends I once walked with/
I’m slowly erased/

60. Memories miss me/
Youthful, lustful, desirous/
I’ve outgrown ʇɐɥʇ self/

61a. That city belongs/
To ambitious desirous/
Not contemplative/

61a. That city belongs/
To ambitious desirous/
Not the satisfied/

62. Lovers on the train/
Hungry hands kept to themselves/
Eyes feasting on eyes/

63. Thus it’s ever been:/
Youth revels in its beauty/
While the old look on/



The Prophet Redux


8/22/12 7:48am

I woke up late (at 6) and washed the dishes I’d left from last night. I had wanted to wake early and go to the Y, but I did not set my alarm.  After I washed the dishes I sat down and read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet while applying the heat pad to my ankle. Very nice except where I chose to sit the rising sun was shining directly in my eyes.

I have always loved The Prophet, ever since that day (well it was a late night) that the messenger (Oscar? Ben? Bill? I can’t remember his name) sat me down and explained why this was the life of all life, book of all books. I think he thought it was a secular bible.  There was another book that he was obsessed with, something new agey (this being 1981, it was an outlier) that he also liked, it might have been RamDass or something that stupid. In any case he spent an hour or two after midnight evangelizing this text as I drained a 40 of Ballantine Ale (or three). As I said “I’ll be right back, I need another,” he confessed to me that he was a heroin addict. I’m not so sure why it mattered that I knew that, but I definitely filed that bit of intelligence away (people not to be trusted any more) he became even more passionate about The Prophet.  We stayed in Washington Square until 3 or 4 in the morning talking about that book and the ideas that it provided.

I have very few clear memories of Ben after that day. I saw him once on Madison in the 20s and on 5th below 14th (Funny how early in their addiction addicts can be found in the Village). I last saw him in midtown, near triple-six-Fifth, the DC building. He was looking run down. I wonder if he survived. Most addicts from ‘81 died of AIDS.

I wonder why people have always wanted to talk about books with me? I was a simple drunken messenger back then. But still people wanted to talk books with me. I’d been pretty good at avoiding the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious fanatics who want to talk about “Their Book.” But when I was in early recovery in Harlem and in other unusual places people have always come up to me and wanted to discuss philosophical texts. I must have a bookish mein to myself.

I’ve always considered that night in Washington Square and the book by William James The Varieties of Religious Experience that an Addict at Gracie Square gave me in ‘86 odd. But somehow I felt like Siddhartha, someone with a huge destiny because people brought me books to read in unlikely places (these are not the only 2).

In my paper journal I wrote about The Prophet, but I don’t have time to retype that here now. Sad, really.  Previously I had loved “Marriage” because of the idea of separation and love: “For the pillars of the temple stand apart.” But now, these days, with teens, the passage “On Children” really moved me. I am comforted and tortured by the passage that says “For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

Thing 1 has proven herself to be a totally independent thinker, who suffers instruction unhappily.  However she does follow rules, like most older siblings, and has made her trajectory towards the future clear. Thing 2 -TACITURN youth- has little communication with us, though he seems to know that we are excluded from his future.  He suffers our interruptions unhappily, knowing this. Thing 3 has become prematurely knowing.  She is the tween sister of two teens and has started salting away their mistakes for her future use.  Clever, she is.