all, prose & poetry

Past the pieces

He was a blur of faces, shapes and identities, familiar and half forgotten. His hair, dirty blonde and long, like the shy drummer she met online years ago, whose friendship she lost when they tried to become something more. His eyes and nose like the older all-american boy she knew in college, who flushed his drugs down the dorm drain one day and found Jesus in Connecticut.

His way with words and music, driven but scattered, like the teacher she had an affair with, who threw himself into every creative pursuit, as if desperately trying to draw or compose or write or fuck something out of his soul, always failing to connect that art to other people.

The way he glided out of conversations and spaces, so solid and present one moment, then gone the next, like an old roommate she had a short-lived crush on, who left a tangible, painful void when he disappeared, suddenly feeling so necessary, as though gravity itself no longer worked without his presence.

His voice, calm and thoughtful, with a touch of amusement, a bit like her former boss whom she had always aspired to sound like, and saw through the facade it was for a deeper storm of playfulness and fire within.

She thought about the endless permutations of people crossing each others’ paths, their layers of familiarity and strangeness intersecting to connect for one brief moment or a lifetime. She’d met him before, or pieces of him, liking and loving and hating them, losing them, only to come across them again on another body, in another space and another time. Their kinship happened before and would happen again.

She didn’t know what the universe wanted, throwing her past back at her in this human shape of roads taken and lessons not learned. She tried to see past the pieces she knew but never fully understood, into this abstract of a man, a stranger with a life lived and his own stories to tell of women who came and went, leaving traces of themselves in everyone he would encounter since. But the pieces of others wouldn’t part, his soul hidden safely beneath and out of reach.

“Good,” she thought. “Good.”

This was for the best. She wasn’t one to romanticize the past, painting over anger and regrets with sentimental lies and a varnish of what-ifs.

She closed her eyes and shook it off, all of it, the recognition and the memories he’d brought, the magnetism and the temptation to fall in. She centered on the now, this moment of music and fog and 2 A.M. beers and friends nearby. She let the melody take her over and danced, laughing and spinning. And when she opened her eyes again, there he was, dancing like no man she’d ever met before.



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all, inspiration

What on earth

“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.”

— Alice Walker

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all, prose & poetry, thoughts

Take me

….to the old library in your home town. We will leaf through frail pages and trace the faded photographs of your ancestors with our fingers. We will sit down in a fort of books and journals pulled from the shelves and search through forgotten family trees and piece together untold stories. We will imagine what our lives would be like in those sepia tone years, how our days would be filled with work and fresh air, and our nights — with candlelight and barefooted siblings and freshly baked bread. We will find your namesake in a crumbling tome.

….to the bridge above the city on a moonless night. We will rise above the traffic and the taxis darting through the dark like so many fireflies among sleeping skyscrapers. We will watch the water of the river below us ripple and fall still in the breeze. We’ll look up at the stars and make up constellation names the way the ancients used to, connecting mythical beings to human fates born under their dim glow. We’ll write ourselves into the story of a star and float upwards, stretching our hands out until we touch the sky.

….to your windowsill, both of us breathless after a kiss so long and tight that all the air leaves our lungs. We will wrap ourselves in blankets and climb up into the window, nesting in that portal between the entirety of the world outside and your bed, still warm, where our shadows now stretch. We will share a cigarette from a pack your brother left behind, dangling our bare feet, our toes touching, unable to let go. We will feel innocent and young, like high schoolers drowning in new love, all the roads and possibilities still open, twinkling ahead of us and calling forth.

….to an island in the north, where fir trees and winds rule the landscape and the sea is onion-green and wild. We will come by boat and gather driftwood for a totem pole you want to build, and make a fire out of bark and pine cones. You will take the dog out for an early morning walk in the fog and come back hours later with a new song you wrote among the pines. I’ll make the coffee on a rusty stove and curl up on the porch, a ball of wool and fleece and notebooks on the mossy logs, writing a story that can only be told in a place like this, where the air is cold and filled with smoke and seaweed and your music drifting in the morning wind.

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all, inspiration

Obscure Sorrows

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by graphic designer and editor John Koenig.

“Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language — to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for,” Koenig writes.

He has coined dozens of words since he founded the site in 2009, pinpointing and defining emotions many people have felt but haven’t been able to communicate.

“Each word actually means something etymologically, having been built from one of a dozen languages or renovated jargon.”

Find more words at The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. The Dictionary is also on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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all, inspiration

Expressing lightly the unbearable

“Writing is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable.

That we age and leave behind this litter of dead, unrecoverable selves is both unbearable and the commonest thing in the world — it happens to everybody.

In the morning light one can write breezily, without the slight acceleration of one’s pulse, about what one cannot contemplate in the dark without turning in panic to god. In the dark one truly feels that immense sliding, that turning of the vast earth into darkness and eternal cold, taking with it all the furniture and scenery, and the bright distractions and warm touches, of our lives. Even the barest earthly facts are unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death.

Writing, in making the world light — in codifying, distorting, prettifying, verbalizing it — approaches blasphemy.”

― John Updike, Self-Consciousness

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Not for us 

Writing and deleting. Minimizing and re-opening programs. None of this is worth it. Neither you nor I. Just a spec of dust on a spec of dust on a spec of dust on the great open plains of the universe.

3,000 years from now, when the nuclear-enhanced cockroaches evolve into a highly civilized society, some rogue team of nuclear-enhanced roach archeologists is going to dig out a couple of badly erroded database servers labelled “WordPress” from one of the great ancient pre-nuclear-cockroach-era craters. They’ll spend some 20 years more figuring out how to decode the binary code into ancient English and that into Modern Nuclear-Enhanced Cockroachese. And then they’re going to collectively wonder what on earth we were thinking, recording utter drivel on those silly primitive discs. Especially on April 17th, 2015 of the pre-nuclear-cockroach-era, when our efforts could have been much better spent offline, preventing the inevitable extermination of the species and overall-type apocalypse. And then they’re going to have a good, hard, nuclear-enhanced laugh, and thank us for that nuclear part of the deal.

Just remember who you’re writing this for. It isn’t for us.

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