Tag: prose

M train

I’m sitting on a train watching the night pass by, punctuated by glowing street lamps and the glittering, anonymous bodies of water reflecting them.

Reading excerpts from Patti Smith’s M Train. Is that meta? “It’s not so easy writing about nothing,” she proclaims.

A life is such a short time, and yet when he tells me to take it a day at a time the end of today always seems to be eternally far away. Some days I try to believe him when he tells me that there is something greater to it all, but this attempt at trust is not without a rising feeling of catastrophe. As Ben Lerner writes: “I felt, amid a general sense of doom, that other worlds were possible.”

I’m quiet in the mornings, thinking about how we will never truly land together. Not the way I imagined things would land. They warn me about it still: the sudden dropping, the letting go, the inevitable aloneness.

Do engineers plan for the details of exactly how the outcome looks? Or do they plan how to get there and stand surprised yet still admiring of the end result? Is there some disappointment? Most likely.

I remain in a state of anticipation (preparation?).

But I guess the moment we learn about gravity, we’re thinking again about how to achieve flight. And when already in midair, we’re looking for the safe fields in which to set down and tuck in our wings for a night.

The train is late arriving at the station. I was never meant to overstay.

Theory in practice

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.

If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.

– Albert Einstein

This morning, listening to blues. I know what you’re thinking about the blues. But I mean the kind that makes you want to dance with slouchy legs and melting hearts across dim rooms. So I’m dancing across the wooden floors at the office. And I can see him start to grin, wanting to dance with me. And I nod slowly, grinning back, playing air guitar to the music.

In the kitchen, she watched me grab the almond milk from the fridge. “Wow, I was looking for that. I feel like I am always looking for (and never see) the thing that is right in front of me.”

I laughed, “I think that is a general human thing.”

Today’s random tea mug has the silhouette of a wild deer, stately despite its inherent vulnerability, with antlers cradling the sky. These mugs are in rotation, and I choose one daily according to how I feel. That’s a theory, anyway. Maybe the selection is really just subconscious and doesn’t mean anything at all. More on this later.


There were the colors of Rothko and what I saw as the sea and the reflection of color of the sky when it is dark. Not black, necessarily, but something that doesn’t impose a color at all so that we may fill it with our own hues. My friend has a tattoo on her wrist. It’s a Chinese character that means “emptiness” but it’s idiomatic because it connotes “a space waiting to be filled,” which is arguably different.

There was you — afraid (or preferring not) to be alone, or maybe just overly accustomed to access and affection, or maybe just as a matter of coincidence, or maybe existing in another life or universe, or maybe just doing without thinking, or maybe really wanting something different — holding another woman. There are always theories about these things.

I hardly ever understand theories in practice. How things should (in theory) be possible but aren’t, or even more so, how things have never seemed possible but suddenly become so (in practice). Like how if someone uses the same ingredients as my mother does in her cooking, the end result should taste the same. But it doesn’t. Like how, even before now I should have always been able to wake up overwhelmingly sad next to someone on a Sunday morning and yet talk rationally, with love and respect, about matters of the heart. And then by the same afternoon, risk delight. Risk falling deeper into the space waiting to be filled.

There were empty highways. Rain, the kind that makes the temperature drop 30 degrees in a few hours. The kinds of blankets and the kinds of looking-into-eyes that make irrelevant the potential (and temporary) discomfort of things, like inclement weather. Like vulnerability. Almost makes them beautiful. In an absolute (because you claim not to be a relativist) way.

And at the end, there was you, grinning, because we got to dance together to the blues. Proclaiming with the kind of excellent danger in your voice that has tried to warn me since I met you: “Well, at the very least it’ll give you something great to write about.” And there is me, writing in run-on hopefully-lyrical phrases. Paying attention to the facts. Being joyful in spite of them.

But if I paid attention, really paid attention maybe I could ignore the mountain of sadness and she might entertain and distract me and I would think this is life. The romance and the sadness. I am in it now.

Poetry is just the performance of it. These little things, whether I write them or not. That’s the score. The thing of great value is you. Where you are, glowing and fading, while you live.

– Eileen Myles

Just in time, Stevie Ray Vaughan croons in Texas Flood:
Well it’s floodin’ down in Texas
And I’ve been tryin’ to call my baby
Lord and I can’t get a single sound
Well dark clouds are rollin’ in
Man I’m standin’ out in the rain

don’t be a fool for the sweetest nights

i breathe out, watching the sun go down because it has no choice. i can’t tell if the slowness in tempo and the fading of color are due to hopeless surrender or calm dignity or both at once.

that’s how i feel most days – it’s been hard to tell the difference.
i don’t keep count anyway. measuring has never been my forte.

i hear my head as it faintly warns my heart – “don’t be a fool for the sweetest nights.”

of course i end up the fool anyways.

sometimes the most important things are the ones that end up undetectable in memory: brushes of skin, glow of stolen glances, reaching of hands, sounds of bedsprings, texture of skin the morning after, matter-of-fact advice on the removal of candle wicks, the attempt to stay quiet, the song that was playing before you stepped out of the car.

they turn off the lights in hopes that you will forget. you end up following each other’s steps, touching and kissing harder to claim those feelings back. feeling invincible while swallowing darkness whole.

hope settles, quivers. and lifts its eyes. shakes its feathers. i crouch close by, waiting for it to take flight. gravity keeps it near.
regret puffs out its cheeks as if to say, “hey, i’m an emotion, too.”

the music rises, crests, soars with you. beneath you. carries you. when it lets you drop a day later, you are spit back into the darkness you had so willingly swallowed and then–

his voice, armed with Jack Gilbert, cutting through the hushed night: “The heart in its plenty hammered/ by rain and need, by the weight of what momentarily is.”

and so mine breaks, from all the weight of believing in what’s not really there.

“you fool,” the candle reminds.

i blow it out

in the most hopeless surrender.
with the calmest dignity.

i place the darkness in my mouth. i swallow it whole.


a side note on writing.
WordPress crashed as i wrote this, and i lost everything i had written. it’s always kind of gut-wrenching, even if what you wrote might have been shit. i was tempted to reach out to writer friends and ask what they do in these moments. i searched for the words again, then thought i shouldn’t write anything at all, and finally decided to let it come anyway in the form that it wanted the second time around. there is a lot of fear in writing, and i just read Brain Picking’s post on Cheryl Strayed’s advice. so, i dusted myself off, and i was like, i’m gonna write like a motherfucker. that’s what it takes.