The Uninvited

November 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

Every time I look at my brother’s photographs, I’m more in awe. Go to his site. 

I was going to say that my mood was bleak, and that’s true, but what I’m really feeling is hostile. And just behind that—who the fuck cares? Well, you’re reading my blog. If you don’t care you can trundle off to your own life like a good little wabbit, never darken my door again.

Actually, you can. I have no bouncer, though I kind of wish I did. Wouldn’t that be cool? Learn a little code, embed a virtual bouncer on your site, and then whenever the wrong person showed up they’d be automatically redirected to a grainy surveillance video of a laundromat in Queens. The second time, the video would be a turkey’s eye view of a turkey farm in the weeks before Thanksgiving. The third time, well, that would be special.

Have you seen the new Twilight flick? Would you want to fuck a 100-year-old sparkly vampire virgin? No, me neither. I didn’t see the movie, but I did read the book. I wanted to know if I could write for teenage girls. I was one once, but I was more Lady Chatterley’s lover, Cat’s Cradle, In Watermelon Sugar. And far too much of Yeats.

Yeats was a great poet, and he knew how to be a great poet in every aspect of his life, so he could afford to believe in fairies. I didn’t believe in fairies at 17, but I believed in magic. As a result, I wasn’t paying attention to what I’ve come to accept as reality. Nature was the highest good, where the magic lived, if it lived anywhere; dogs and cake were very fine. I loved books and wanted boys. Paper and pen. Not much else. Not a career, not power, not making a difference in the world, not children once I really understood what children meant. I wanted to be a published writer, but if I’d known what that entailed, I’d have stuck to reading. What I thought ( and don’t ask me how I could have thought this because I don’t know) was that I’d exist in the book, and the reader would come to me privately.

Artists don’t want to grow up. This is not a surprise. Making art is like OWS: we don’t like your shit; we’re not going to play by your rules; we’ll find our form and direction when we fucking feel like it. And the simmering anxiety: will we find it? Or will the whole thing fall apart? But it’s better it fall apart than become what it doesn’t want to become. Let the energy return to the source. It’s difficult. If I could write about sparkly vampires and make all that money, I would. But my sparkly vampires would inevitably find themselves jumping out of a cake at a gay bachelor party.

Lisa said, “You’ve always talked about depression.”

“It’s different now. I don’t go into the details because I figure it will just bore people.”

She didn’t dispute that, but we talked some more, and as always, she seemed mystified and sad that I don’t embrace “strength” as she does. If I was in her life, I would be strong too. The structure and people and responsibility strengthen her. But I never wanted a life like that until recently—and now it’s not what I really want, only something I envy because it works. Where I am is on a strange island with my emotions like great prickly probes sticking far out to sea.

I dream of death as a language. I don’t go there because it won’t say what I want it to.  I think and think, but it never will. I have to stay here to speak. There are days when that really pisses me off. Some of you understand. One minute you feel like the most pathetic loser, and the next like a plucky heroine the villain has injected with a deadly poison. The doctors come with their bags, and leave shaking their heads. “We can’t remove it from her body. It’s entered all her cells. She’ll survive, but she’ll never be the same. Keep her warm. Give her plenty of fluids.”

No, I think they said chocolate, and to open the window.

Writing’s like death. It transforms experience into something inanimate that’s packed with nutrients for whatever comes next. Hear, hear, my lovely flies and beetles. Dinner’s ready. Even the uninvited may attend.

I Give Up My Identity

My name is smaller
than it sounds.
I work & polish it
until a light
shines through.
I thrust a thorn under
my tongue.
I drop the little stones
behind me. Striding
I can feel my height extend
up to the rafters.
My voice is thin,
still thinner
is the space between
my footsteps
& the earth.
I do not want you
calling me
except at the allotted
times. I scratch my head
because I know
it's empty. Hot & cold
are equal terms.
I give up my identity
to write to you.
The notice on the board says:
Stay at home Be vigilant The aim of medicine is medicine.
I can hardly wait until
Signals everywhere
are fraught
with terror.
In the deepest
waters spread around
the globe
there is a sense
of life so full
no space exists
outside it.
I will go on writing
till I drop
& you can read my words
beyond my caring.

--Jerome Rothenberg

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