Thursday, August 28, 2008

You Can't Argue With a Raindrop!

I was in Staples the other night doing some touch-ups on copies of my chapbook, "You Can't Argue With a Raindrop." I was just finishing one project when I thought I heard a voice speaking to me. I looked out and noticed a heavyset black woman near the fax machine looking my way. I replied, "What?"

"What does that mean, "You can't argue with a raindrop?"

"Do you have a set of keys? " I asked.

She nodded and picked up her keys off the grey formica.

"Ok. Throw them in the air and let them fall. "

She did it and immediately began laughing as she caught them in her hand.

"Do it again. Only this time let the keys fall all the way to the ground." I said.

She did it again, still chuckling. The keys fall all the way to the blue carpet.

It's my turn now. " OK. Nature didn't call a committee to decide how to do that. It didn't have to ask for permission or take a vote. It just knows what to do."

Her smile gets wideer and her eyes begin to twinkle.

"I'll buy a copy!" she says.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Haiku Erotic

Lovers speak nonsense.
Today is tomorrow. Yes?
I am not finished.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Structure Works!

I had the pleasure yesterday to perform at a reading in Venice sponsored by the Los Angeles Writers and Poets Collective. Over 30 writers read various pieces of prose and poetry. The format of the reading was to adhere to a tight schedule. Every reader had 2 1/2 minutes to read their piece. The leader of the group playfully admonished that if one was to go over time, they would be squirted with radioactive water from water pistols.

I had arrived late from the Hollywood Farmer's Market. Because of this, I was to be the fifth reader in the sixth and last group.

I had come to the reading with my self-published chap-book, preparing to read one of 2 stories. In the back of my mind, I knew that I hadn't timed them out. I realized once the readings began, "Should I default to a shorter piece?" I began to play with what I had...reading the chosen pieces silently to myself as the performers read theirs to see if mine would fit within their time frame. I flirted with editing with my eyes as I read. I saw two or three paragraphs that I could take out along with some other sentences. It became clear that this was a risk as I could not predict what I would be feeling/experiencing while I was reading in front of an audience. I decided to commit to the short piece. One that I had felt good in writing when I wrote it. So instead of trying to shoehorn a large piece in within a given amount of time. I allowed myself the opportunity to fill my time alloted.

The sixth group was called. The reader who was two in front of me was a woman who went on for six minutes. The woman in front of me, rather than reading, performed two memorized poems. She was heavily plasticized and made up and much "louder" then the venue called for.

After these two, I followed. Spencer Tracy's line became clear. "Hit your mark. Look em' in the eyes and say your lines." So I planted my feet, introduced myself and the piece and read what was written with a good, strong voice. I liked the decisions I had to make once I began, what I was hearing, the vibrations moving out of my body and the two times I heard soft laughter from the audience. I was thankful that I had the space to play. I finished within the alloted time. I thanked the audience and walked back to my seat.

It is interesting to observe what works and what doesn't within the reading format. I may not agree with the content but the context/structure within which the content is presented works. The 2 1/2 minute limit requires brevity and a natural elevated intensity, both on the part of the reader/giver and audience/receiver. And reading from words as written has a much different feel/texture than what one would feel performing them.

So, more than being a part of a master class. I felt as if I was a part of a master structure/orchestration. One that works. One that one can learn from. And THAT is poetic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I've Got the Self-Pity Blues

Wakin' at 2:00AM,
The first thing I think
Poor me, poor times, poor world/planet
It's all about stink.
Everywhere I turn,
I can find something to rue.
I get a lot attention
cause I feel so blue.

Sing the song with me.
No one can be free.
There's nothing you can choose
So sing my Self-Pity Blues.

It's such a cozy feeling.
And weirdly so appealing.
I get a lot of traction
From a negative reaction.
So it's the world to blame
That I don't have my fame.
I get a lot attention
Cause I feel so blue.

Sing along with me.
No one can be free.
There's nothing you can choose
So sing my Self Pity Blues.

So country singings so right
Don't even put up a fight.
Melodrama what's in.
Religion's got mortal sin.
Got a whip? Yes, I say
Do your penance today.
So dig your grave now. Have no hope.
It's so much better than some soap.

Sing that song with me.
No one can be free.
It's the in thing to choose
So sing my Self-Pity Blues.

So I get to say my bye now
Cause I have to do my cry now
Don't attack my poor sad sack
He wants to focus on his lack.
It's the song that I crave
To be a sorrowful knave.
So won't you give me a shrug
While I imbibe in my drug.

Sing along with me.
No one can be free.
It's the thing that I choose
To song my self pity blues.

All the Right Things For All the Wrong Reasons

I've done all the right things for all the wrong reasons.

I stopped drinking in college when I realized that something wasn't write in the fact that I needed alcohol to get me into a different social space to have a good time. Why couldn't I do that on my own? I stopped dealing cocaine in college as soon as I began because, while I did it because I needed to make money, I was doing my own profits. I left production work because I didn't like to take orders and I stopped becoming a professional actor as I felt it to be an affront to a deeply held sense of worth.

The side effect of this is a social chaos as the orbits of friends and compatriots change either by decisiveness or by evolutionary attrition. I left my 2 best friends from high school because of this. We had all come to Los Angeles to make our mark. I saw their alcohol intake increase and I realized I did not want to go down that road with them. I said to myself, "We need to part." And I cut myself adrift.

You see, I have a hard time looking around something that's obvious in front of me. To do this means that I have to "go blind." I'm not sure if there is any compassion in this, but I mean, can't one argue about having compassion for one's self? My body is innocent. I will fight to protect this body. And I will fight to win.

"We're thinking of expelling you from school."

The school is St. Mary's. Now, Marian themes have run throughout my life. My mother's name is Mary. I had an ongoing series of dreams that I would be working with Madonna and did become her first yoga teacher. I had a profound dream with Mary, mother of Jesus, in which she saved me from the Ticklish People, grotesque looking people who would drive in an old Packard jalopy similar to the on in the old TV series, "My Mother, the Car." To me it seemed to move at the speed of light. They came only at night and would torture me by tickling me to death." Praying wouldn't stop these nightmares. Disciplining myself to think of them twice a day did though every now and then I would slip, think of them once and they would show that night. The weird thing was that before the dream in which I was "saved" I would visit the Ticklish People where they lived. They lived underground and across from a cemetery that was a mile east of the farm and in which no one had been buried in a hundred years. Here underground, I felt at home with them. They lost there grotesqueness, were very sweet and loving, and were highly sexual, warm and welcoming.

Mr. Carido says this as Mr. Singer stands nearby. Dean of Boys and Assistant Dean of Boys. Varsity Football coach and Varsity Baseball coach. Squat Filipino with glasses from the streets of Los Angeles and tall, husky Caucasian from the nearby cowtown of Hanford.

They are the authorities. I am the school spirit commissioner. I have been called in during E period to be faced with the decision about what was to be done with me for having caused a post game on the floor melee/riot after a pivitol varsity basketball game that took place the night before. Saint Mary's had won and events had finally gotten out of control.

The three of us stand in the deans room in the admin building. the door is to my back. The filing cabinet with student records and Carido's desk is to my right. Behind the desk is the large window that looks out onto the senior lawn. To my left are chairs that line the wall. It's administration is non-chic. On Carido's desk lay some student files. A pen. School stationary with a green letterhead of St. Mary's school crest and it's latin term, "Veritas." E period is almost over. It's 12:55 and it's obvious that I won't get back to Miss Lewis' religion class.

Carido's words keep ringing in my ears. I know they don't like me. I have fought a pitched battle with them throughout the year. I am the spirit commissioner of the school. I do my job of building enthusiasm so well that while his authority and order are threatened, there is nothing they can do about it.

Until now. They don't know I'm shaking inside. Or maybe they do know. This school is my life. The position I've been elected to is the penultimate. For four years, I've counted down the years before I graduate because after I graduate I don't know where I'll go. I don't know what I'll do. I've seen where my brothers and sisters have gone. This year, I see where my classmates are going, applying to colleges, getting scholarships. For some reason, I seem to be out of the loop. What I am holding to be true, important and of value doesn't seem to fit the models in front of me.

I burst into tears. It feels like a submission. The pressure is too much. And Frank Carido, Dean of Boys, Football Coach and pseudo-Cholo has pressed the button. With Dave Singer standing at his side. My face is stinging hot with embarrassment. In front of men who preach the word and virtues of toughness, I'm nothing but a crumbling little pussy.

Carido then says, "We're not going to expel you. You're suspended for the next month from attending any school function that takes place on campus."

Mr. Carido did me a favor that day. He showed me that no matter how much of my heart and soul I gave to these people and this institution, they were not going to be on my side. A certain hypocrisy became clear and a door began to close. I subverted their order as much as I could that month because I knew how to. I also knew that they couldn't watch me all the time. And that day when school was let out, the burn of embarrassment had transformed into the burn of anger. The decision I made was so white-hot and clear it scared me. I knew what to do. I drove my 1969 orange VW Bug to the Bijou Theatre, paid my $3.00 and walked into Stockton's only porno house. I walked in the end of one feature. I didn't know the title of the film that was playing. I didn't care. I stayed through the second and stuck around to see the first film all the way through. I sure knew the title of the film by the time I walked out. And the meaning of it's title didn't click for me until 20 year's later.

"Mary, Mary"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

We feel Spirit!

We feel spirit. We feel life force. We feel beauty. We feel love and caring. We feel know-how and experience. We feel risk and how to risk for love. For beauty. For the divine. We are verbs…pattern integrities of exquisite design. We love being here now. We cry in the joy of being alive. We are unafraid of power and are well at peace with our own. We are learning what it is like to be alive. We are syntropy

80% Bullshit

“So Ana tells me your 80% bullshit!”

Marshall wasn’t holding back. I had been at his place for two days so far, sleeping in the teepee I had helped erect the day arrived. It was located outside his mobile home which was located in the forest on Orcas Island and surrounded by bowling balls half embedded in the earth. I sure about the bowling balls. I wasn’t sure why I was there. I was aware of what was happening and what had happened on the way here to Marshall's…..the being emptied of money by the time the bus had reached Seattle, the hitchhiking to Anacortes at night and being picked out by archetypes large enough that I knew I was being guided by unseen hands; the Innocents, the Man seeking Redemption, the Carpenter. I had arrived to Marshall’s empty and in a quiet terror. I was to stay with him for four days.

We met by surprising each other. He was in Los Angeles to do a drumming workshop at Ana’s yoga studio. I was at her house picking out some recyclables to take away. We both ran into each other on the walkway turning a corner of the house. Marshall burst into a coyote like grin and his eyes shone the words, “No coincidence.” I knew something was going on. When he saw me at the workshop, the ante was doubled. He and I both knew it. By the end of the weekend I was in tears, him telling me I had died a shaman’s death……a description I could and could not understand.

He was half-Irish, half Nez-Perce Indian. A Viet-nam vet and medic who felt the spirits of soldiers as they died move through him as he held them in his arms. It was to much for him and on his return to the states became a cocaine addict. He pulled himself out of it, got clean and elder of a tribe not originally his own. In Potter-spak, he was a Muggle, a half breed, not a full blood. So his elders told him he was to be one of the one to bridge the gap between the native and wachisu, the whites. He was catching a lot of shit from the full bloods for doing so.

I can’t believe what I am hearing. Even worse, I am stunned by my own behavior compounded by the fact that I cannot stop myself from acting the way I am. He is so present. He literally tells tells me to walk in one direction. I walk in the other. He shakes his head and laughs. I tell him I am a dreamer and that I can read dreams. He shakes his head and laughs. I tell him I am this horrible human being. He shakes his head and laughs.

I continue to throw what I realize to be psychic punches at him. They keep coming back and hitting me in the face. This is not a metaphor. I feel my words bounce of him and hit me. I can not stop. I feel possessed. In this mobile home, surrounded by evergreen trees, Washington state dampness, embedded bowling balls in the ground and a palpable buzzing outside everywhere that I can only describe as energy, here sits Marshall Bliss, smiling that coyote grin, ripping me a new asshole.

“Have you thought of joining the Army?”

Marshall sits in front of me in his worn, blanket covered Barca-lounger. His cat purrs on his lap. A small fire burns in the fireplace near us, fueled by wood that I had split that day and providing enough warmth for the three of us. At his feet are 3-4 flat, round drums he is making by request. The mobile home is dense with stuff for craftmaking….bison hides, beadwork and other accoutrement. It also has a well lived in and practical feel with all weather plastic boots on the floor alongside his cowboy boots, jackets on the rack near the door to my left and a bookshelf full of more craft supplies….leather straps, sticks, paints and smaller hides. Behind me is the kitchen and the windows that opens to the view of the forest, the dirt road driveway, and Marshall’s motorcycle, a second-hand highway patrol Kawasaki 1000 with a bison hide covering the seat. He sits in his lounger. I sit across from him on a wooden stool. It feels bright and warm here. I want to cry. Join the Army? Am I this hopeless? It’s my worst nightmare. Nothing moves. Not even the cat. I can’t look him in the eyes. I don’t know what to say. What can I say? Either way, I am screwed. I’m screwed now. Helpless. Hopeless. And there doesn’t seem to be any way out of this. Am I that bad? He sits there in his grey wool socks, blue jeans, plaid red and black long sleeved Pendleton shirt. His hair is jet-black and braided, the braids dropping over the sides of his head. He is thin, wiry, unmoving and so fucking present. I want to crawl somewhere, anywhere, into the nearest hole/whole. I’ve got another 2 days here and then another 4 til I go back to Los Angeles. I came here to stay here. I cut all ties and then had all the ties cut for me. I wanted his power. Instead, I feel like the ½ dead mouse being batted around by the cat.

I’m here. I’m now. And I’m fucked.

“You’re not as great as you think you are….and you’re not as fucked up as you think you are.”

I panic. There’s a reprieve in that somewhere. I don’t know how to take it. Brain spinning. Palms wet. Palms fucking wet? My palms don’t get wet. I have nothing left to respond with. Nothing left. Maybe that’s it……

When you’ve got nothing left, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sinatra and the Orange

This morning I woke from a dream that was taking place in Larchmont Village during Christmastime. I had walked into a store on the west side of the street and purchased on large naval orange in a white paper bag. This was to be a thank you gift to Francis Albert Sinatra whom I just recently met.

Since that dream, I've felt a little scattered. Some of that time has been thinking about what I am going to write today, usually monologuing a paragraph or two in my head. A lot of territory has been covered including why do I want to write about things I've already lived/experienced once before, Warner Brother cartoons, how energy fields seek their own harmonies, Les Paul playing guitar at 93, and will a joyful, robust life meet the criteria of modern dramatic narratives.

Presenting Francis Albert Sinatra with an orange interests me. It's also challenging and, above all, fun. i consider him to be a yogi as I've read that in his early years of developing his voice, he practiced his breathing technique swimming at the "Y". He would hold his breath and sing a song to himself swimming the length of the pool underwater. He would also watch Tommy Dorsey play trombone and observe how he would "sneak" breaths as he played, (essentially doing circular breathing) and incorporating this into his singing style.

I like stuff like this. Especially about breathing.

The line, "Don't wait for inspiration." has been on my mind the past week. Someone is telling me, "Don't breathe." Which to me implies, "Don't live."

I stop. I stop writing, thinking of the next step. I write "don't." Then I begin to think, "don't." And I stop. Don't care. Don't love. Don't breathe. Don't advantage others. Live in hell. Live in sin. Find others you can despise. Hate and blame and, above all, don't breathe.

I want to write about my experiencing. I want to write about what I've learned and the know-how gained from these experiences. This is wealth and I am very wealthy. I know what I walk with. i see this wealth around me and in me, in the classes I am involved in and the markets I work at.

And I've known this since I was a child.