09 July 2009
08 July 2009
07 July 2009
Well, I had my first reading in the City last night. A friend of mine was kind enough to record the reading for me.
I had to divide the videos up to post them on You Tube. I'll post them in order. Thanks for watching!
01 July 2009
30 June 2009
25 June 2009
To record. To record a thing. A thing that loses weight when you look at it, when you try and ponder its measurement, it shrinks. Something as elusive as dust on a chapel bell, as scripted as a North wind off a lighthouse that only pours light, not mystery.
To record. I try to speak a language of knots and nothing ends up happening but confusion. Nothing happens but an ache. And this ache keeps me anchored to the cause, keeps me in touch with carpet bugs, on my knees, searching for the equation between two sentences that were spoken before I was born.
I breathe forward into inches. There’s a light in the doorway. To record this light, photons or the electricity between a bulb and its current.
Today, for instance, I had a conversation with a friend of mine. How my brain needs shine! And so we set aside the computer screen’s work for each other’s thoughts. How, I asked, do we represent each other? My friend types answers and his voice, the memory and representation of his voice, gathers into neuronal circuits and fires. I read his text as though in his voice. Can we break through the walls of representation and actually know anyone?
The knots have been on my thoughts lately. I tell him so. Look at these equations, I say. He says, look at these wallabies in Australia, he says—they get high on poppies and make crop circles.
Somehow, this ties into the philosophical conversation. And the knots sit in the back behind me at the desk, waiting for a leap into my thoughts.
But I tell the knots, look! There’s a theory inside us all and I’m trying to uncover the dots, to gather the thought-geraniums so as to understand the grasses between one another, our thoughts, our desires, and our other-worldly-being-ness.
The knots are dragging today. I woke up in a mood. Worries down my back again, and will I have enough money for the autumn season? Plastic as it sounds, the worry of living is constant. But from my desk at work, I see an ocean. And my friend types words to me. We communicate from one desk to another 10,000 miles apart. Isn’t this amazing? My mood lifts when I type. I type of wonders. And wait for the answer.
I’d rather be outside, I think. I’d rather enjoy the sunshine. I’d rather unravel mysteries by walking in Union Square, searching strangers for their knots. But in front of us, a whole wonder waiting to be discovered. And my wonder is my friend, who talks to me of mysteries while we are at work.
Wonder at conversation! And conversation on the internet! The net that casts over all our lives. A net what leaves us connected or so estranged from another that the wandering in the world wide web can leave us hunting touch.
The knots are restless today. The tower today stands 2792 knots tall. Bundles, even. And some sit in the back corner, reflected in the computer screen as I type my longings into streams 10,000 miles away. The best thing about online communication is instant replies.
Me: it hit me the other day
mathematics (which I always hated) is like creativity and philosophy, it's working with abstractions
to try and explain things
Friend: yeah, when you get high enough in anything, it becomes abstract
Me: and when I look at it that way, I no longer hate math
I like theoretical anything
but I like to pull it back down somehow
like with a magical string
like theories are kites
and I'm trying to pull them closer to my body
Friend: and you have to ground them to dissect them
so they are like butterflies then, and you have to net them to put them behind glass
and when you look close enough at a butterfly, their patterns are way beyond what you expected.
one color leads into another color, but in zigzag
and how to define that line, you can't
like chaos theory
Friend: you have to break it down into small pieces, and that won't give you the whole picture
this is awesome
Me: like those high kangaroos or whatever they were
the lines they made
Friend: I know!
Friend: no one could have predicted that
but the anchor for all this is logic
it's pretty clear crop circles aren't created by aliens
therefore, it must be something else
but more complex than that
it's MANY things
and that's where chaos comes in
Friend: some are pranks; some might be weird wind patterns
in this case, high wallabies
Me: the weed
like in Wizard of Oz
man, the book of that is about a billion times better than the movie
I did not expect to have this conversation today
Me: I know, right?
chaos theory is insanely interesting
it is overwhelming
I feel like I'm flying just reading about it
did you see the pictures of the knots?
I love the III kind
that's such a cool pattern
Me: you know, perhaps we make our very own patterns each day and we don't even know it
like actual patterns in some sort of air
when you type
or walk each day
Me: and it affects the things around
like we're always painting something into being and we don't know it
Friend: well I know we affect air currents when we walk past them, or they have to blow
that's an idea I’ve long had
the things we do create... something
Me: expand on that
that you had
what did you think?
I went beyond just movement
the physical world and the mental world combined
let's say I say something mean to someone
and it puts them in a bad mood
and they take it out by slamming the front door
which knocks over their vase
which they throw away
Friend: you create these things
I call them demons for lack of a better term
Me: what physicists (the more metaphysical ones) are calling "The Field"
the idea of locality versus entanglement
Einstein didn't believe theory of entanglement was true
but we've proved it
we've been able to view the burning out of electrons, a proton and electron separated and the daughter protons are effected by the "mother," no matter at what distance
it's only after WE observe
that anything comes into being
Friend: before that it's Schrödinger’s electron
Me: Schrödinger’s Cat.
someone said to me the other day on gchat
"sorry I was invisible"
and I thought about that time you said it
and how I wrote that note about status updates and the new lingo and how we all sound like science fiction novels and we don't even know it
in our minds, we're invisible, sometimes
because we "are"
and we say we "are"
even if it's only on gchat
like your half man-half fish superhero
if we reflect "nothing"
Friend: no, the lack of reflection
Me: then where is that "nothing"
is the nothing something only when we "reflect" it?
like Schrödinger’s cat!
Friend: it is
for that moment, you did not know if I existed or not
applied to everyday life
Me: and your voice when you type as it's represented in my head when I read your font
I hear your font in your voice in my brain. how my brain recollects your voice
Friend: Electronic data and it's philosophical implications…
I hadn't given your opinion on AI the consideration it deserved, because instead of basing the amount of consideration on your perceived intelligence (or creativity, or capacity) like I should have done, I based it on your technical knowledge
Me: that's understandable
Friend: I guess when you spend 7 years telling people how to work a computer, you assume no one knows anything about them.
and that's just wrong
it's a scale
it causes problems
drives wedges into conversation
Me: creates breakdowns. Our representations of people need to be broken down before we can really communicate
It’s interesting that we create someone before we know them
it's a tricky thing
you walk a balance of open-mindedness and ... something else.
End conversation. To record. End. And the knots are sparkling. Inside their bodies: the known. The unknown casts things down occasionally, but in dots. Later in the day, the conversation from the afternoon on the computer, the conversation that happened over text, will be imprinted in my mind and replayed via representation when I read Heschel’s words….
“When the ultimate awareness comes, it is like a flash, arriving all at once. To meditative minds the ineffable is cryptic, inarticulate: dots, marks of secret meaning, scattered hints, to be gathered, deciphered and formed into evidence.”
And, earlier that day, on the computer screen, my friend said:
“you have to break it down into small pieces, and that won't give you the whole picture.”
Which I remember, as I read further into Heschel’s words:
"It comes when, drifting in the wilderness, having gone astray, we suddenly behold the immutable polar star. Out of endless anxiety, out of denial and despair, the soul bursts out in speechless crying.”
To record. I read these lines, interconnected with earlier recollections of a conversation on computer screens, and while I read, in my bed, the knots nestled by the lamp, wriggling into a sway, I listen to my iPod. The iPod lands on Laura Marling. The song bleeds into the web. And exactly as I read about speechless crying into the heart of the wilderness to find that God between the breastplate and dreaming, the song sings the words:
“You sat alone under billowing sky. If I feel God….but I fell into the water and now I’m free.”
Pressed into the sides are the knots, now weighing 4920 worth, sat on my chest, which breaks, as I cry. Something about this. About alignment and chaos. To record this. And the known in the belly of knots have a brief communication with the unknown. Three words, and a black out. Joy! Joy! Joy!
24 June 2009
How do I expect to settle into stillness when the vibrations tumble out of my drier each morning? When I stumble over the peaks of things like jetting rocks down the stairs?
When I wake, there’s a melody waiting for me in a hidden place. I haven’t called on her yet. The known is speaking to the unknown in another language in my dreams. Until I smooth the length of worries down my back, I’ll keep buzzing around, disturbing any chance that stillness will nest next to me.
The known are in knots and my body contains many of them. Like a tower, I stand 29740 knots tall, give or take a few. Sometimes, when I hike a hill, one will topple into the soil. And if I crawled against a carpet, a couple might try taking root there, bedding up with the carpet bugs.
The known hangs on inside the belly of the knots, which sometimes circle my head. When one knot passes or beds up in the carpet or hops down the street while I walk in a crowd, another one will wait by the lamp to talk to me. The unknown are like stars and stare down into the belly of the knots, trying to converse with them.
The language is strange. Catch one or two words, sometimes, yes. But this is rare.
Stay in a corner. Listen for a movement inside like a melody.The drier tumbles the known into the unknown. A melody stills into twists, vibrates then quiets, waits for 29740 knots, give or take, to listen from within me.
23 June 2009
22 June 2009
How even in a dark room there's a memory of reaching for a hand.
Searching, it was late. My eyes hurt from reading.
The knots said, come nearer.
I always knew they were vibrating orbs in numerical bodies, but I refused to look so many nights. Come closer, they said.
Look, and I create their lives. Look away, and they pass, almost as though lightning bugs were their other shells.
Entanglement, I thought, weighs more than a spirit, much more. And so I turned out the light.
20 June 2009
I was reading this on the train. Or maybe it was the subway.
Maybe I had already gotten down to 14th street. Maybe I was listening to Brahms, it doesn't matter. What matters is that I felt like I was turning a corner on my eyelid and pulling it out, methodically, like when I was a child. So much to hold onto, in one eyelash.
When I feel like coming to the center of something, almost like jumping in front of god-knows-what, or falling from the last thing hunger made you do.
I could have been reading something else, but I wasn't. It could have been
raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining, raining
in the desert. And I could have had to pitch an A-frame tent. And I could have spent the last 25 hours lying beside a water-trail, waiting for animals to pass before seeing my chest rise up and down. I could have been leaving bruises on my shins.
Burning a cigarette into the arm to see what it felt like.
I could have been learning to make a fire from wood and stone.
But at this time in my life, I was just reading on the train, listening to Brahms.
I don't have to know why I run from learning stillness. Stillness is learning me.
And circling inside this, what I said I loved before, and forgot.
16 June 2009
Once, I wrote some diary entries in the voice of a divorced man who liked to drink bourbon, so I'd drink bourbon at night at my apartment on my porch, and then write his diary.
I still think about him.
More of this later. Perhaps I'll even tear out an old entry or two, post it on a wall somewhere or at the Public Announcements board at the courthouse, if I can find a courthouse around here.
tie one sailor to another--
see this field? all points merge
without ever touching, he said.
I think: so if my heart
is comprised of five orgasms
that never happened, the thought
of it happening, once, could
create quakes separate
from itself? a whole
universe of pigeons in flight,
carrying messages between
the trenches, in this field,
however small, there is no count
for size-- what is there but
one moment, then the next,
and besides, perhaps we
already loved one another
long before continental drifts,
time's hallows sunk your eyes, or
we sat down to breakfast.
15 June 2009
I have, for the first time, attempted to sing on a track of poetry.
Once, a long time ago, I used to sit on the corner part of the roof, above my little brother's room in the house I grew up in, writing to imaginary beings, and watch the sun go down over West Texas. When the pink was kissing orange, when I was barely able to write in the blue-haze of dusk, I'd put down my pen and hum. As a kid, nothing was not sacred. As a kid, the ineffable was where I put my hand against my thigh or forehead, in the beat of my heart, which I assumed was really remnants of my wings I had before I descended. And there, across the dust-sky, in the heat of August or cool crisp of autumn, whispered my other-soul, freely flying about above me. Wait! I'd say. Remember me? And on I'd talk until the dusk grew heavier and darker on my back, wait for childhood crickets to crackle a reply, an invitation to leave the roof and lie somewhere below on the grass among the trees my father planted. In West Texas, stars are giving and abundant, much like my heart, willing to believe in that-thing-beyond. As a kid, my humming glittered just the same. And perhaps it will, again. As where we begin is where we arrive, someday.
And so, like my inner kid, I let myself sing some words to something. Maybe a hum because I miss home. Or home misses me. Either way, even if it has nothing to do with what I just said, I have a new wordling out there. Check it out, here: Shannon Hardwick Poetry.
P.S. this gorgeous photo which I chose to go along with the poem is by my lovely, talented friend, Becky McMath. It's titled: Bird, Sleepy.
the body of sound passes through it.
Because I cannot spend 30 days in the wilderness
in silence, I listen.
This was handed to me, in a note, in the sound
of your voice, once, asleep,
having had nothing to eat all day but doubts;
so slim, ribs broke, gutters
opened, in the sound of your voice, in a note
handed through a window
doubts, so slim, asleep--
body of silence, gut open.
10 June 2009
09 June 2009
Neuroscience and Milton! Well, my bath couldn’t have gotten any better, no, no. It was bliss right then and there.
Mixing things up, together, swirling them around. Doesn’t the day seem odd when it’s the routine of this and that, of work and TV, of Facebook and stalking things to their tiny little core bodies? Doesn’t it get old, treading the old path, day in, day out?
I stay secluded a lot. Mostly, I try to get on a fixed schedule and keep such and such in order. However, as I find in my layman’s study of neuroscience, the brain just isn’t functioning properly if we tread the same path each day. Someone said that if the world was a room, most people stay in a tiny corner their whole lives, and if the brain was a forest, we’d be a dog, walking in the same circle, pushing the same ol’ rock. Or, at least, I feel I would be like that dog, getting very little real estate in the vast amount of space the brain inhabits.
The brain gets in ruts just by our mental lives as well. Not just our routines dull our day, but our mental life as well, unless we look for pathways outside the circle, something to do other than pushing that rock. The actual foundation and mapping of our brain shifts, when we decide to stand on one leg, instead of two…
In The Mind & Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, Jeffery M. Schwartz writes:
“The brains response to messages from its environment is shaped by its experiences—experiences not only during gestation and infancy, as most neuroscientists were prepared to accept, but by our experiences throughout life. The life we live, in other words, shapes the brain we develop.”
I was sitting at my desk this morning, woken up by thunder and lightning. CRACK! My power strips flickered. The lightbulb gave a sigh. I sat there, dazed. If the lightning had not cracked, would I have felt my body this way, in this moment? I don’t know why I had this thought, but it was this thought that brought to mind a friend of mine and how he represents that “kick” out of the everyday that I experience while at work.
I sit at my desk, a lot. If I’m not working, I’m trying to write, or I’m just passively cruising the internet, wondering why I’m even online at all…wasting my day. Online. Which line? Not sure. So, I’m at my desk a lot. Usually, I’m working and though I love my new job, of course I’d rather be eating strawberries or something watching Wimbledon or reading George Herbert. (What, is it weird that someone ENJOYS reading George Herbert?) Anyway, so he pops up daily on gchat. And the thing is, I never know what we’ll talk about. Today, he told me about a Russian Villian Mythological character. A whole interwoven idea of a short story based on a painting, and why, exactly, folklore employs witches as wise sages. If it’s not this, then it’s how he’s actively contemplating the logistics of how to craft a laptop casing out of wood. Not only this, but the basic outline of the engeneering of why laptop casings are plastic, how the flow of heat works and dissipates, etc. Sorry, he says, am I boring you? NO! Not at all. Here I was, feeling sorry for myself that I’m stuck in my office, and now I’m learning about Russian Folklore and artistic computer casing matters.
See where the brain takes you when you let other people in?
And this is a running theme with this friend of mine. I’ll be feeling sad, and he sends me a picture of some strange looking animal he just happens to be researching on the side, or a funny comic, or how and why computers could never form “creative thoughts” and thus become AI. I disagreed. I thought, since God created man in his own image, perhaps now humans are becoming God and creating computers in their own image, which will thus turn around and destroy us, (assuming we create AI robots who then turn on us). And the cycle will begin again once God steps in and repairs the damage man and machine have done…Big Bang…perhaps that was simply the last human race blowing themselves up.
But what I mean is, this train of thought would never have been ingaged without his help. And links. And amazingly witty status updates.
There’s the thing. The “thing.” The New Thing about Today. The lingo. Status updates. Who would have thought we’d talk about such things as “status updates?” Sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, doesn’t it?
Just today, my friend said “Sorry, I was temporarily invisible.” And I had to laugh.
But here’s the thing. Neurologically, friends like this are beneficial.
My paths from day to day, are pretty much the same, once I get on a routine. I don’t often think about things “outside my realm” unless they are on my own terms. And, as I have been reading, this is bad for my neuronal circuts. They get bored thinking about the same things. Taking the same steps. Listening to the same thoughts inside the same head.
And so, everyone should have a brilliant, creative friend on gchat who will go into very fine detail on all sorts of topics.
Because, when you allow yourself to converse with others, I’m sure the brain is appreaciative.
I mean, who would have thought I’d hear a hypothetical way to build a wooden case?
The rain was pouring. I was drinking coffee, wondering if I’d write anything later on, after work. And my friends voice jumps in, describes his newest project:
i would have to built the trunk from scratch
and i am just a little too lazy to do that when i can buy one prebuilt for a reasonable cost
so all i need to do is move heat out of the case faster than it accumulates (or at the same rate)
9:36 AM for this i need two things
2. a heat conducting material
the ventillation will obviously be fans
and for heat conduction i will use small copper pipe, which is cheap and plentiful at the hardware store
9:37 AM since hot air rises, i will put the larger exhaust fan at the top and run the pipes near it, and it will pull the heat off them at that end
9:38 AM that causes a temperature difference in the copper, which means they will try to equalize, which means heat will travel toward the exhaust fan, which in turn means the copper will absorb heat from the surrounding air
9:41 AM etc, etc, &co, ad nauseum
Indeed. Whole lives open up, whole new worlds, when we look beyond our own brain, and invite other’s to join in conversation.
07 June 2009
Yesterday should have called. There were two days before this one. And the same chirp in my chest as in yours. Ignore the social constructs. I should. Perhaps I should take hold of Your t-shirt sleeves, press my ear to your chest and listen.
Kind of like sleep. Coming back. Coming to the place of noticing the chip, hankering for a talk and a bit of peanut butter. Mind, mind at all if I call this second? Knock, you said, I'm already on the other side.
05 June 2009
Let me know what you think.
I also wanted to add that most of the photos on the songs are taken by my younger sister, who's a great photographer!
check them out here: Shannon Hardwick Poetry
June Bug Song 1 and 2 are the same but the pt. 2 has layers. Like numerous voices in the head. Or a Saturday night, in my case.
04 June 2009
It is up to us to actualize the divine potential in the world.
Morning passages begins.
Waiting for train,
Too much movement to jump,
to stop, step out of the swirl.
In one breath,
thousands of unrealized poems.
Kabbalah confirms this thought,
since I was a child.
On train; “Something She Has to Do.”
One fly in the bathroom lantern,
golden belly-globe, body
against the side of my ear drum, stuck.
In a trance by passing trees.
How glitter is made
between branches, drunk
swimming my eyelid.
Now, graveyard passes
train tracks. Bones
clink, steel boards.
June 1, 2009:
Union Square subway station:
woman with a pamphlet under her arm:
What Happens After Death, a scientific perspective.
Women handing out pamphlets:
PRAYER: WE WANT TO PRAY WITH YOU!
We believe prayer changes things.
“...and verily, it is not truth that rules the world, but illusions." --Kierkegaard
June 2, 2009:
train running 75 minutes late;
someone had the waves take them
the grind and the breeze.
Oblivion--"Happy is one
whose eyes shine
from this secret in the world
and the world that is coming." Emerson
The node of being as it begins to emerge
from nothingness into existence is called faith.
jumping into the above
begins in terror, at the tip, terror.
Pencil skirts make it harder
to concentrate on the task of dissolving completely
apart from materials
such as dodge trucks and fundraising events,
begins with the thought:
each realm loses credibility.
D Minor Trio warm up.
Life whirls into a strangeness
unrecognizable but so much at home;
the lifting is home,
the swirling is the doorstep,
that essential beginning,
traces of original threatened joy,
disalarmed by what will come,
01 June 2009
28 May 2009
I was stuck on a train, wanted to reach out, but kept moving.
Another man's face, older, about 60, had eyes that joy can't help
but reside in, like a light, like angels took shelter when too much
wasn't enough for the god in us all. He smiled, too.
And at once I was lifted to something other than my dwelling,
something more like ours.
As a landscape of One thing. For a moment,
I wasn't down like when I woke, how sad I was.
For a second all that dribbled onto tracks,
into the passerby's shoelaces and God was the warbler
calling for its lost mate. It called. I waited
for the train. It frantically paced, couldn't even fly.
Even in the small engines of life sadness soaks its body.
The bird called to nothing. To station-house beams housing
blown apart nests. Nothing there, I thought. Nothing. But
the weight of my heart would crush its beak. Nothing. And still
that man, walked past me, our shoelaces geometric
jolts in time speaking in tongues to each other, listen.
The warbler vanished. Trains come, one and then another.
Blurred. As when, sitting in the bath, crying, it could be yesterday
as much as today. Small engines carry even the heaviest
weight when God lives.
27 May 2009
Wanting to know God is the road that leads to God. God will meet you everywhere, he will appear to you everywhere, at times and places when you don't expect it, while you are awake and while you are asleep, while you are speaking and while you are silent; for there is nothing in which God does not exist. And don't think God is invisible. Who is more evident than God? That is why he made all things, so that through all things you can see him." --Hermetic Writings (3rd cent.)
Five knocks inside the stomach. Bathtub hugs water, as though it's inside an ocean, but singular, stoic, hands hanging off the edges. Five knocks.
Stravisnky would lift the corners of my roof. If hope is lost, do this, he'd say; play God into being-- whether bitter or joyous, let air decide.
And foxes will navigate thoughts into thieves.
When the thought to paint bruises across your thigh hands herself to you, love her.
Stravinsky knew, a long road to spring meant burning through a page, getting caught among the wires in a field, twisting the shoulder out of socket to taste wild onions.
The barbed wire fence cuts, yes. But inside the bone, silk, cotton-webs.
Five knocks inside the stomach.
Foxes navigate thieves into thoughts.
Love them for the path they chew, for holiness stuck in the teeth of devilish things.
24 May 2009
23 May 2009
Dread, in the Kierkegaard sense, taps it's words against my collar bone.
If particles are always moving, uncertainty is certain and God has a favorite number, I'm sure.
Someone asks if I'm feeling alright. Did a bad feeling pass through me? No, I say. I'm fine.
But longer things live in corners, bundled like a snake-coil in their own mistrust of themselves. So, leaning forward in an airplane seat, 33,000 feet above You, I'll let it out that it feels like Dread, unraveling the mistakes I've made, containing myself this way.
I will write:
A field is a region of influence.
Standing aloft above the second, the feeling of seeing beyond what is normally seen.
Messages of other worlds move into the Self. Flashes reveal moments of great weight and importance to ones projected action--that is, one's future. For the field of projection is already in motion (one's future vibrates in spacetime) and so there exist moments where something unexplainable is able to reach past the deaf walls contemporary concepts of time have built around the psyche, and, at once, projections and lines of projection into the "future" are in the same plane as Now, circling the Self in swirls of energy.
Messages can come through. One feels dazed by a sort of emptiness and connectedness, both present, passing away and eternal--both fixed in a destiny and multi-dimensional in possibility. How open one is to the field determines recognition or simply a queer feeling of malaise and momentary confusion from what has been imprinted in one's mind as "reality."
After writing this, my blackberry hums with a message from Prince Edward's Island, picture in JPEG form, attached:
"I'm hiking here tomorrow. The formation on the end is scoured by intense current. How it looks almost like stone henge. The rock is basalt so it's very hard. As you can see from tree on cliff top, the cliff is 200 ft plus. Every year or two "somebody" gets too curious and topples over the edge."
There's a section of my brain that stores images like this. Each sentence is a new born world, opening JPEGs.
I'd tie a rope to each end of a language of stones. Islands are themselves because of the surrounding water.
Energies are fields best bet we're even here at all.
Someone asks if I'm feeling alright. Did a bad feeling pass through me? No, I say. I'm fine.
18 May 2009
I feel I'm struggling to hold onto the vision of things. I am an impatient wheel, distracted.
You are in my thoughts. You're not a light that is going out, but one that is reaching further beyond where you thought you would--so the fireflies feel strained, but their only growing in their influence.
Hold on-- the door to weightlessness only seems ages into the dark.
What the brain takes in, it can only transcribe--you think doors or the weight of bodies / thoughts are petticoats to the brain? No, the transcription is a letter the brain hands itself in the dark, having forgotten what was written.
13 May 2009
Glenn Gould / Bach / Einstein
Or, rather, according to New York time, TODAY is his birthday.
I was listening to Glenn Gould this evening, wondering what was going through my mind, wanting something tangible to wrap my excitement around, kiss, but lacking the proper shoes, I didn't walk out by the waves. I am lucky, however, because when Gould quiets, the waves from Long Island Sound can be heard outside my bedroom window.
Once, a young woman poured over her journal pages because she was sick of gardening. Once, even if the clouds hid the constellations, a lawyer's son dreamed of charting the stars. The young woman had nothing in her hands but clots of dirt from too many pansies. The lawyer's son hooked things on his ceiling each night, trying to get signs out of his head.
And when the young woman gave writing over to her body, leaning somewhere in two worlds but neither holding herself or a plot of land, something in her brain boarded up windows.
And when the lawyer's son tore the plaster off the walls, numbers knocked on his forehead. There, even walking among the hallways at college, equations wrapped up parcels of percentages and sprung numbers about his feet.
Walking, life swirls around the waist, letting all that was in ones head come up slowly--first, in the tiny bones in the feet, then, the hips get a feel for what-happens-beyond-expectation; finally, the bits of what-one-thought-was-forgotten reaches the forehead like the falling numbers off plaster, and, ignoring this brings a heavier weight than any previous anxiety.
And now, for Glenn's piece that gave me what I wanted but left me feeling distant, even still--
12 May 2009
10 May 2009
How dread can both hinder and help us along in our creative process. Or any process which requires a deep-searching, a chance for truth.
I got the idea from
a) feeling anxious about performing my monologue tomorrow
b) a conversation with a friend about being anxious in general about both stepping out of my creative comfort zone added to the pre-existing writing struggle
c) just like always, some hand of Fate or Coincidence had me reading a book on Wittgenstein on the train the other day. But specifically the section of the book pertaining to Heidegger and Kierkegaard's writings on Dread. "Dread is the possibility of freedom." How a man must strip himself of all socially re-enforced pretensions and illusions he harbors about himself. "Learning to dread is an adventure"...how we must free ourselves from the comforting reassurance from the crowd.
Now, why Dread? Dread is that deep-searching. The springboard for it. And the dread of ourselves, our power. Of failure (which must lead to success if we allow it) and other such things one can face before creating and recreating oneself. The binoculars for truth, or something of the sort.
I also got a bit into Gregory Bateson, the usual stock of writers, waiting to chime in when I am feeling down.
I kept scribbling these notes, knowing that I should have been preparing for my monologue...knowing the Dread is dancing with newly painted shoes. Knowing my body wasn't just a lump of something, but a entire circuit board, waiting to be lit up by dread.
And so, I bring in a poet, too. Two poets. Rilke and Muriel Rukeyser. Oh, my usual crowd of books. Sitting at my computer, I can hear people way back in the peanut gallery of the bookshelf, saying:
Shannon! No one has original ideas! Let us help you find what you want to say!
Even Dante* needed Virgil
*Sidenote. I recently read that Dante may or may not have had some sort of seizure disorder. Either that or he was just mildly psychotic. Love them poets! Love the neuroscience books that tell me such things!
So, yes. Rilke.
What could he throw into the conversation?
I chose this, among his other chimings, specifically because he uses the word "dread."
"I realize with a sense of dread that one grows numb with regard to even the most wonderful things when they become part of one's daily interactions and surroundings"
My notes after this quote read:
--Shock us out of the everyday, not in strangeness, but in newness, in that cracking electric feeling that makes up the edges of things when a novel, often strange and uneasy sense passes through. Like ghosts from a world we've forgotten, dread is a gift that we don't quite have the eyes to see or the neurons to understand.
And so we need this in the realm of the unfamiliar--but with that comes apprehension, naturally.--
What I mean, and what I hope to show is that this need for the unfamiliar is exactly what that "Dread" provides.
As far as Rukeyser, I was able to gather a few tidbits from her book "The Life of Poetry"--
"The fear that cuts is off poetry is profound: it plunges us deep....
Then, for the first time you wonder: what should I be feeling? instead of what am I feeling?"
(The second statement particularly parallels well with Kierkegaard and Heidegger's Dread in that the fear of the dread "causes us to be cut off from large parts of ourselves and we believe ourselves less and less." (Rukeyser) )
Dread breaks those defenses down. Breaks us until we are able to once again ask, not the socially appropriate "what should I feel" but, rather, the independent, Dread abiding "what AM I feeling?"
(Keep in mind, there's a difference between fear and dread, at least according to the examples given by Heidegger and Kierkegaard)
"What is the fear of poetry? To a great extent it is a fear produced by a mask, by the protective structure society builds around each conflict." (Life of Poetry)
The mask is our social-norm-mentality. Dread forces us to move past this. To, as the previous example said: "free ourselves from the comforting reassurance from the crowd" (Kierkegaard)
So, my fear of Dread has been keeping me in a holding pattern. Dread swoops in and gets to the root of things, doesn't it? A painful getting-to-know the self by, ironically, forgetting the ego. Who do you write for, someone keeps asking me in my head of heads. Who, not the New York Times, not even my lovely professors, but for me, for you, You. That's a scary thing. Not that one refuses suggestion, exploration, learning...but that one strives to be accountable to the highest of standards....the Truth of the Self.
So, the dread is allowing the self to be the self. The dread calls for this. Honestly? If performance is for the "crowd" then the mask never need be taken off.
Dread keeps me up at 3 am writing this. Is there a purpose?
I read this, before sleep, which compelled me to write all of the above....
"Uneasy, uneasy, uneasy--
Because--when opportunity gives you the obligation to create, you are content to meet the demands of the moment, from one day to the next.
Because--anxious for the good opinion of others, and jealous of the possibility that they may become "famous," you have lowered yourself to wondering what will happen in the end to what you have done and been. How dead can a man be behind a facade of great ability, loyalty, and ambition! Bless your uneasyness as a sign that there is still life in you." (Dag Hammarskjold, Markings)
Uneasyness = Dread.
Dread, such a brown little ducking, waddling around like it's a swan...perhaps, soon, it will be your most beautiful fowl. (Ha! did I just create a pun?)
And somehow, this made me feel as though the above was possible this morning:
I close my eyes when I listen to Brahms, or sometimes, if I'm on the train, I look into people's faces.
08 May 2009
07 May 2009
Brahms in the drum of the bedroom,
piano prays to ceiling-beams.
It's just now 11 AM
And you're crying?
Hair clutters more sinks
than you realize. It's OK,
wash the body; thousands of red things
turn on themselves in the dark.
To want to wash clean
in a stoneless river, to want nothing,
not even Brahms, think:
drains would be less your star-dust, skin.
It's OK, it's just now 11 PM.
The essential thing has been stolen.
A monk crawls into night,
Worships a moon
in secret. He knows
You are missing.
The field awoke
in him a tree, hope-
birds wet, tangled,
out of nest. He forgets
how to bar the door with his whole weight.
06 May 2009
If I caught course syllables, I'd iron them in summer heat against my beetle back.
And if I carried things on the outside, the inside would turn into a whirl of beetle-tongue.
Sometimes the ticking you hear is me, whistling about God, waiting for crumbs.
04 May 2009
I slip back into solitude like skin of bathwater.
The importance of coming back to the center of things, like a small curling inward, a soft flutter.
Because isn't my heart broken each time I walk out the door each morning? Having left my sleep. The echoes inside a brain as in a cavern.
There is a song I'm listening to: "I forget myself when I'm not with you."
Seems funny. It's the opposite with me. Unless the you is You.
God / I am the center. Synonymous
with myself, having a touch-stone into my ribs.
Rilke seemed to get it.
"Think of the world you carry inside you--be attentive to that which rises up in you...What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love; you must somehow keep working at it...Only the individual that who is solitary is like a thing placed...
So it is again. A cycle.
I leave and come back, shift. How else would I wander out into the distance, gathering things on the hem, skirting like a wild, and lost man ray?
Jellyfish of the mind, a blue-drift,
as though aimless. But even a clown fish, unanchored to a reef, cannot drift, not really, in that purely aimless way--the tide has its hand in things.
As does the cosmos have its hand on me, though I think I'm wherever a map has been shredded.
God, I would love to break through one of those geological maps, or the cartographer's graft. Just to prove my point.
"For do you not see how everything that happens keeps on being a beginning, and could it not be His beginning, since beginning is in itself so beautiful?"
I look back and think I've had more gathered in my arms than I do now. Perhaps that's not a bad thing--emptying is necessary to take in newer dust-babies / dustlings.
My older ones glisten. Glitter stuck to backs -- it does not fall, the dust from the other world.
The bliss of this moment. Body warm from the bath, books like yellow boxes, lit up,
ready at my side--Just this. Where I am alive,
no matter what point in which cycle I'm in, isn't it still generous?
Even the deepest sadness that keeps me far from realizing joy. Even then, when I'm sunk in a self-deceptive blue, even then.
How that is necessary--to feel, reach out to You.
Do you know I love that in you is my other eyelid, closing? And somewhere, in me, a hive of Yours and yours.
So I ponder the cycles, or accept them and
embrace the body and restless mind, wandering jellyfish that it is.
I will write, will be under white space,
looking up, again.
01 May 2009
My dream: in two parts:
1.a god told me in a dream to pull a string from a bundle of sticks...but only when the moon is red and women let down their hair, dancing...then, words will come to you, spinning in on themselves, creating light.
2. the god came back: it said, talk to the voices in your head, they will tell you more of their story. write that down. sleep in the grass after it rains. listen, all the gods have stars inside their bones.
And now, a poem by a wonderful poet, George Santayana
The Power of Art
NOT human art, but living gods alone
Can fashion beauties that by changing live,--
Her buds to spring, his fruits to autumn give,
To earth her fountains in her heart of stone;
But these in their begetting are o'erthrown,
Nor may the sentenced minutes find reprieve;
And summer in the blush of joy must grieve
To shed his flaunting crown of petals blown.
We to our works may not impart our breath,
Nor them with shifting light of life array;
We show but what one happy moment saith;
Yet may our hands immortalize the day
When life was sweet, and save from utter death
The sacred past that should not pass away.
27 April 2009
So, the blog is about how I'm going to stop writing for a while.
This is how it is.
Listen to music, now. Actually listen.
Read something without a thought of regurgitation.
Enjoy the day without analysis.
Divorce my need for validation via writing.
Why is the ego so wrapped up in it?
Why did Rothke repaint the same picture over and over again.
I was told I was writing the same thing over and over again.
Same form, same images, same ideas.
I'm a broken mixed tape.
I found a form and now it's overdone. My form is a cliche. I need to break out.
I don't even know what any of that means.
Perhaps it's because I have begun to hate writing.
Perhaps it's called being burnt out.
If I don't have a novel, stacks of pages, by the time I'm 26, I'll certainly throw myself out the window.
Or, that's what you'd think by how much I have become dependent on work.
So, I'm going to try and STOP writing.
No more attempts at poems.
No more attempts at blogs.
No more attempts at weighing my day's productiveness on the page.
But I'm scared.
What am I supposed to do now?
Find a new form, she said. Break out. I've overused my current form.
What does that even mean?
Jackson Pollock, essentially, painted the same thing over and over again.
Why can't I write the same poem?
I'm done. Need to see a movie or read.
No, reading is off limits. Too much in the mind.
I need to get out of the mind.
We'll see how long this lasts.
I should be excited about the day. I should walk as though I'm only here now.
Something reminded me about the idea I read in "One Year to Live" which said,
Practice "dead days." Walk around as though you've already died. Accept and see your reactions to the idea that everything moves after your death.
Everything moves. Is this comforting? I feel an anxiety smog through the door at this idea. Anxiety married to my desire to leave something here. Place something on the hallway buffet table. Words, works.
But something tells me this is just the ego.
So I will wash my hair and, in the mirror I will repeat the serenity prayer and tell myself to love others, to consciously live today in love.
Though all I really want is to read John Cassian in the library.
26 April 2009
I don’t know…what I have to
say, who’s it to? I’m still trying
to figure it out. We write into
Later, the man I’m sleeping with leaves a sticky note on my car,
One word, blinking in my face:
The next morning, I text the man
I’ve never met, again:
What can I do?
I don’t want to be here.
OK. If not here, then where?
There is no nowhere.
I think of the nowhere where there are long baths, and sound.
Where nothing is eaten like honey on a spoon.
The man I’m sleeping with tells me it’s ok to cry and not talk as he’s listening on the other end of the phone.
A dog howls in the neighborhood while I’m sitting in cold bathwater.
The howl seems to come from the deepest part, so deep I do not want to listen, but I am sitting in the water, not wanting to move, ripple things, so I listen.
A girl wakes, crawls out, shudders.
She’s been roaming for days,
I thought, inside.
Shut me away,
Go back inside, shut up, stop
howling, I can’t make my arms be her arms.
As my friend read her poetry to an audience, I dug my nails into my forearm.
I want nowhere.
As I write this, a girl wants blood.
Still, the howling,
Hanging in the air, in the heat,
Missing a fan, sanity.
I called the voice in my head.
There’s a train out now. The dog’s
Not howling anymore. There’s still
The heat pressing on me.
The voice says
Fuck the poets. Why write for anyone?
So I text the man I’m sleeping with after he reads this poem and says
It’s shit. And I have no fan. And
My landlord won’t get it out of
The attic. And I’m going to
Fucking throw my phone out
Then, an ex professor sends me an email:
I always considered writing to be the “unnatural” equivalent of a hard on.
While the man I’m sleeping with sends me the serenity prayer,
A girl wants blood.
23 April 2009
Sometimes I wake up with so much doubt, I don't want to get out of bed.
The boulder won't move.
And on into an ocean I go,
Words drowned out by waves,
As they will be by an energy
Bigger than me, lasting.
To be honest with you,
I don't know why I'm here at all
But to be one long praise.
22 April 2009
I will come back to you.
When I was working the 8-5, finding my way through the excess, I fell back on speaking to you.
Who are you? A you that I know but have never seen.
And I've missed speaking directly to you.
Help me, help me gather my thoughts. Where did you go today, for instance? What were the paths you walked?
Did you notice how your body felt, reawakening into the world this morning?
I laughed, once, so hard in sleep that it woke me up into night. It felt like a beautiful shock. A shock sweetened by joy. Have you ever woken to laughter, as though some voice inside passed their hand along your belly, like a smoothing stone or as your parent did to put you to some calmer state?
Lovers do that, too.
As does the grass.
I wondered, if I stopped writing you, would you fade? Would the tree-house we climbed together, crumble?
Wait! You think,
We never met at a tree-house,
but we did. Or maybe under a rock-face.
Watch me, I say, jump off the dock into the lake!
Oh, I remember an evening near to a voice,
near a skimmed lake.
And you never stopped, faded,
And even, I remember, today I called your name.
It was raining and the grass reminded me of England.
It was raining and the smell of pine drifted me to New Mexico,
It was raining and the wet is the wet the voice tells me about sometimes,
How, underneath a rock-face or in a tree-house,
What was uttered once will be uttered again,
Even in the words we use to undo each other,
In the text messages and emails,
In the little notes I write to myself, on place mats,
On the back of someones hand, on a lamp-post,
Or the pillow where things unsaid tremble against the weight of my body.
I will come back to you, laughing, high up in a tree-house or under a rock-face.
What / Who speaks to me--
How do I move through these voices, do I stop and listen, really?
Kierkegaard has something on double-mindedness.
"Is it not double-mindedness: to be ill, to put oneself under the physician's treatment, and yet not be willing to trust the physician, but arbitarily to break off treatment."
I need more focus--faith, patience, silence.
No words this morning. I do not even remember my dreams--but if I wake and start the day writing, perhaps that will help.
So, I try and examine this pull, need.
Do not explain me! It wants to say.
But it breaks me. Sometimes, I wake and it has walked into the morning, silent. I sit and stare for hours, abandoning the stillness by panic.
Don't tell me I am erratic! Don't tell me I am wild for myself.
Yes, OK, for myself, for something out there that holds myself.
The voices are inside, somewhere, teasing me.
They are standing on a cliff, somewhere, holding my heart-creature above their heads, in their hands, threatening to hurl it into greater silence.
If I move wrong into this day, will my heart-creature be another month in silence?
I was going to say, don't tell me I work hard enough,
But why waste energy worrying what others think,
It is the door, against my forehead,
that will not open, that I worry will never bang
on its hinges. Don't tell me to stop kneeling here,
Go on, I don't want anything but this door and
The voices to step closer, my heart-creature in their hands, unharmed,
Rambling off into a morning sky.
21 April 2009
When I try to grip the world and fight against my ego,
That's when I come closest to loving
So I thought I'd jot this down on the back of my hand,
Thought I'd walk for a while in God's spit,
Watch it wash away, say,
But in order to keep my words true,
I have to stop writing for a while,
And in order to live more fully,
I need to be dead for a couple days.
Yeah, I need a little bit more of you...
More from the man who calls me Hannah,
More of the days where I'd walk in God's spit, singing.
Does he know how long Hannah waited?
I don't mind,
When I was having an anxiety attack
Last night, when I was punching my forehead
To feel a sting, he said, Think of something
I thought about the time I rode my horse for six hours,
Got lost in a storm,
Called out to no one, held on to her mane--
19 April 2009
I wanted something to hold on to, write down.
Later, we walked around the city, worried
About not writing poems, then decided
To live was a better choice—
Get lost, browse books and skirts
Instead of the right words.
17 April 2009
In the stage of becoming
I have been thinking a lot lately of the ties and relations between my spiritual faith / journey and my faith (and lack there of at times) in writing and the journey I am on as a writer.
There are times where I am on top of the world. The words come easy, the muses are by my side….and then. And then.
It’s as though something has left through the back door. I cannot write anything that remotely sounds like my voice. Each time this happens, I despair and assume I will never write again. However, somewhere in a tiny cell with one candle lit, sits the part of me, whispering, “you will write again, have faith. Be patient.”
What quiets her? Fear. Fear and perhaps pride.
Pride because my body is useless without the walk-through of thoughts. Fear because my pride hangs on the hook of brain waves that conjure the words into the air, through the skull-cap and into my belly. From the belly, I hope it rises, again, through the chest and up toward the skull again. There, I pray it reverberates and sounds its song until I record it.
But when all is silent, I am left with nothing but my worrying thoughts.
I believe very much in cycles. Nature has taught me this. So have my notebooks.
Years and years, I’ve kept record of my thoughts. From a small girl questioning God to a teenager questioning herself, her writing, her worth…and one exceptional gift that that recording has given me is the chance to see the cycles, the patterns, the wading in and out of hope, despair, fruitfulness, mini-deserts and long grasslands—the great expanses of time that hold out its hand as though to embrace and I only see what’s immediately missing or immediately available, but not appreciated.
And so I’d read and re-read my old worries. My depression, sadness, my dancing and holding grip of joys that seem now only like shifting sand that I only faintly recall now, here, at a desk in New York.
Worry. Up, around, inside the gut. Writing, not writing, torn between singing and violently silencing myself.
And so I’d say, Look, obviously you’ve been through this before. Look, it will turn out, it will open up again, the words will fill the belly and float to the top, again, again, like seasons.
Easy, isn’t it? To study patterns, make prediction, calculate when and where and how it all ends.
But no matter how many times the girl inside the cell whispers “this too shall pass” I tremble in fear that perhaps THIS TIME it’s different and I won’t write again, I won’t fall in love or feel a burst of joy walking from my car, singing in the shower, crawling off the treadmill and onto back to breathe.
Faith, sometimes, is something altogether unknown.
So, I go back to the stillness that I fear. The exact quiet that makes me afraid.
Reading the journals, I see myself doubting the universe, which is myself.
But where do I turn when I recognize the very place that holds me here is the place I call my own heart? The hand that writes this sentence?
I have been reading a lot about the movement and seasons of Faith, of voice. Of the Voice. Of my Voice…and it has brought me back, again, to my writing life. Or perhaps my writing life is informing my spiritual life, I don’t know.
But in the chamber of doubt and suffering, I try and remind myself to listen to the whispering. Sometimes, I cannot hear her at all. Sometimes, I sit on my floor and cry for hours, not knowing why I am so desperate and sad. There are no reasons. But both joy and desperation can lift the spirit to something other than its self.
Within the doubt is a gift, too. It keeps me going back again to the desk. Back again to the journal. Back again to the little girl who said to Angels, FRIENDS! Speak to me, I am listening!
And I’d record even that.
As an adult, I block their voices. I say, I must be my own poet, must climb toward an adult way of writing, of singing, of keeping record.
And so I lean too much on a mirage of self. A mirage of perfection that I try so hard to keep controlled.
I go to the gym.
I read at the library.
I expect results.
So when the silence happens, when the writing abandons me,
I bang on my own chest.
Perhaps if I tell myself I’m failing, I’ll find some outer force to punish me back to writing again. Back to production and output and perfection.
What do I deserve if that’s the case? And still, I do it.
Instead of embracing the pause, the silence, I spit in its face. Never mind Faith. Never mind trust. Never mind the cycles.
Of course, this is all part of the cycle, the rejection of the cycle is part of it, too.
“Hate myself for being lazy. For writing crap. But I read Emerson, who said:
‘To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, -- that is genius.’
Still, I judge myself too harshly, against what others think and most of all, what I myself think. What I wish for myself. What, exactly, am I doing? I have nothing, know nothing, and if God…I cannot say that, I cannot.”
Reading Emerson. He keeps going on and on about self-reliance and trusting the movement within ourselves.
Have been desparate for something to emerge. This tug of war gets me nowhere—then the self-doubt comes in and, slowly, the anger. And I try to write myself out of it, but that fails and makes the cycles even wore.
I need to remind myself that it’s OK if I don’t produce. It’s OK if I write nothing but whiney journal entries. Someday, the words will come back to me—they always do. It will not abandon me. I must keep that faith tucked away inside me, lean back a little more, berathe. Know that my destiny is already written, that I have little control, that the control I do have is to keep heart, to continue growing my passion and stay true to my love—faith in muses, that my brain is always working.
And so, I kept on. Though, the doubt still bites. And what was happening here other than the pouring in of words through the skull-cap and down into the belly. And silence came, yes, it did. But in that silence, in the struggle, was a tilling of the words in the belly, was a tearing away of old ground and a getting-ready for a new under-world of churning words, their bodies growing and vibrating inside.
What is the anxiety, the heat, other than the new words pushing through the soul, ready to pass up through the chest and into the skull—ready to make the trip the room where I would feel their whole strength, once they were ready. And through the skull, eventually, they will leave me again and out into the wide-world. On they will fly to find their way into some other body—where they will wait to germinate in the belly of another.
This is the conversation between us.
To trust the exchange is to open our whole body up to being receptive. To have faith in something bigger, more far reaching, than our body.
And so I will write:
I should sit in silence. Allow this. Sit in faith. Maybe then my words will ring truer, as I will have allowed moments to pass through me. If I can relax in the knowledge that what has come will return, then the confidence will then being to grow—not overbaring but humbly, and nestled in its place.
To have faith in the wholly other—as my works are said to be, risen out of a dirt that is not my ground, not my making.
And why not communicate with others? Would I always keep my words from them? No. My words are just as much theirs.
Why can’t I trust this, why so anxious?
So it never ends. Never, never ends. Walking back and forth between remembering my Faith and abandoning it. Between hearing the whispers and drowning in white-noise.
But, like today, when I climbed out of bed and into the sun, when I read of the desert fathers and their patience, when I lashed out at a loved one, when I felt humbled, when I remembered the kind smile of the pine trees….
Between the moments, a breath. And then another. And I’ll re-read lines from a journal. And I’ll scour my body for light. I’ll turn up with hands full of ash. And perhaps, for once, I’ll remember Faith, I’ll remember the cycles and I’ll take the ash, smear it on my face, and dance.
Perhaps. I'll remember the Other-than-myself.
And then. Perhaps.
15 April 2009
Read in a book "today is a good day to die, because it's here. I'm here. Now let go."
Of the idea that the ego rests in accomplishment,
Of how small we are, in this world,
But how our spirits are, in fact, the whole universe.
I love your shell, he said.
And everytime he says that, I smile,
because I told him, once, that I read a meditation about how the body is simply a shell,
And when we pass through, our Easter eggs break open,
On into a lighter place,
where a cell is a galaxy,
and atoms are light years apart.
In me, a galaxy, I said, as I woke up, dreaming
about a horn through the skull.
Good morning, I said, to the morning,
teach me this is all that is promised to me.
So, I let go into the current, walked out the door.
If I see you, how my chest wants to sing, to embrace you and say,
14 April 2009
I am sitting at a desk thinking about my body.
My body, which rose with me this morning and is settled with me now.
But nothing escapes into another realm,
even when my mind takes to the field
or folds its body into a corner
or jumps into a wide canyon
or laughs into a starless oblivion,
my body stays put
even if I'm stirring to escape myself.
So, I am sitting in a desk, trying to breathe into a space,
wanting to think about sex, not wanting to think about sex
and how I miss my silent space,
my long spine, or book, sliding into a yield,
a yield where I wrote about God
and dust, about you and how I miss your emails!
So, I'm sitting at a desk, reading essays by Roethke,
wondering about my contemporaries
and how the man I've never met, texted me that he felt separated
from what? I texted back
from God, he texted. From you.
But we've never met but I know what he means,
I know what it means to want to be a bit lighter,
just a tad, just a lifting off the window
or a sliding about the edge.
How my brain works and doesn't work
even when I sit for hours in a bath and tell myself
"but you couldn't sleep with women"
No, I can't sleep with women, but I sleep with voices,
like when I was a child in a bunk bed and in my head the kitchen sang out.
It sang out and I felt lighter, I felt power within like a source where God stood and said, Yes, Child, I have spoken to you.
And there wasn't a doubt, and if I walked to the kitchen, there would be angels.
I wonder why God has to be in a business suit.
No, really, he's in a business suit.
Last week, a man was doing Tai Chi in the middle of Grand Central, his suitcase against the wall. I had to stand there for four minutes and watch him, because I didn't believe it.
There's another man I've never met who wrote me an email, just now, about how, when hope fades, maybe the intellect is a threat.
Maybe, then, it's most dangerous when we know there's an exit.
An exit as is Glenn Gould's piano was an exit.
As though a lover's curved side is an exit
and the pull on my mid-section when I see the red dessert in pictures, when Utah is a drive away,
but, the man doing tai chi created an exit in grand central.
And if I don't weep, right now, at my desk at work, books around me as though God is found in its words, as if my center lies in their spine--
if I don't weep right now, I'll pull at my body in fear of breaking,
I'll scream in the car, driving home,
because I watched a video of Gerald Stern, I watched him dance through his words a kinder man for his honesty,
and what's keeping me from weeping but the world of the body,
not the spirit. Not the spirit. It's not the spirit that keeps me here.
I remember they took away my shoelaces. My favorite American Eagle sweater is now missing its hoodie drawstrings.
You can’t write with a pen. Here, use this, the nurse said.
I was sitting by the bay window after they had taken away all of my
shoelaces and various other objects deemed dangerous in my bag.
I looked down at the stubby pencil, missing an eraser, dull, rounded at the tip.
How am I supposed to write with this? I thought.
We can’t have erasers, a girl sitting by the other bay window said. See that boy over there?
She pointed to a boy, hunkered down into his knees, shaking his feet side to side, shuffling in place, curled into a ball.
He’s a burner. We used to have erasers until he decided to rub them
into his skin. Stupid. I don’t get it. Now I can’t fucking erase
anything. Hey. My names Sarah, by the way. What are you here for? Took
pills? You look like a pill taker, she said, smiling.
What am I here for?
No, no I’m here because I cut myself, I guess. I said.
You guess? Well, do you or not? I took a lot of pills, but you know,
that wasn’t the real problem, I mean, I just drink a lot. And don't
eat. Oh, I mean, I used to drink a lot. We have to practice seeing
ourselves as someone who doesn’t drink or whatever, she said, putting
ellipsis up around “used to” “doesn’t drink” and “whatever.”
Sighing, she stood up and walked down the hall into what I supposed was her room.
Keep the door open all the way, Sarah, said a nurse by the fichus.
Do I or not?
I looked down at my last effort. They had bandaged it when I checked
in. At this point, I’d usually take the band-aide off, keep it from
But I knew I had to keep it on.
What am I doing here?
At night, for an hour, family members could call us.
Hey sweetie. Is everything all right? My dad said into the phone.
Is everything all right? He knows he’s calling me at then mental hospital, right?
Hey. Well, I guess it’s getting better, I said.
My dad continued to make sounds….
I shifted from one foot to the other. My tennis shoes looked silly without shoestrings.
I just don’t understand why you’d want to hurt yourself, sweetie, he finally said.
Well, I said, why did you drink, Dad?
What do you mean?
Why did you drink, when you used to drink?
I didn’t expect a response, so into the silent pause, I continued.
It’s my coping mechanism, I said.
I see. Well, I’m glad you’re getting help.
Why are you smiling? The girl in the blue hoodie said later that night.
I don’t know, I said, looking up from my journal.
This isn’t the kind of place where people go around smiling, she said.
How old are you? I asked.
Eleven, why? She said, trying to look taller.
No reason, I said.
Why aren’t you in the adult program, she asked?
I don’t know. I’m seventeen. I guess you have to be eighteen to be in the adult program.
God. I know, I’ll be eighteen in two weeks. TWO WEEKS! And I’m stuck
here, said another girl who looked like she hadn’t washed her hair in a
while. She sat down next to us and started pulling out her hair. She
looked up again and said,
I mean, fuck. You know, they get to have smoke breaks and shit. I’m fucking dying for a smoke!
If I hear you curse again, Sarah, you’ll have to leave the common room! A nurse pointed her finger at Sarah and continued,
And stop pulling out your hair…I could write this down, and you know what that means.
The nurse spun around and walked toward the front desk.
Fuck, Sarah said, whispering.
What does that mean? What happens if she writes that down? I said.
It means, the eleven year old said, that she’ll get free time taken away and have to go an hour longer in therapy.
The food here blows, said Sarah.
Like you’d care! Said a boy, sitting down across from us.
Fuck off! Sarah yelled, throwing a pillow at him.
I noticed her frame was tiny.
I could break her in two, I thought. Suddenly, I had the urge to throw up.
The boy caught the pillow, laughed. He had burns spotted over his arms. He stood up, walked away.
What are you doing? Said the eleven year old.
Writing, I said.
I see things, she said.
Yeah. That’s why I’m here. I see math problems floating around. Give me a math problem! I’ll solve it!
I’m not very good at math, I said.
She’s fucking lying, said Sarah, still pulling at her hair. She’s just got behavioral problems.
The eleven year old looked down at her hands, picked up a pencil and started drawing on a piece of paper.
I can see things, she said, under her breath.
The calm came into the room like a buzzing hive. Around me, the lights
started going in and out, breathing like starfish and gold flakes,
Perhaps I’m seeing things, I thought.
I wanted to tell her that I used to see things, too, but I caught myself.
You don’t say things like that in the hospital unless you want to stay longer.
Maybe I do want to stay longer, I thought, smiling.
Later that night, a nurse came in every hour to take my blood pressure.
It’s ok dear. I’m just checking in on you. We have to do this every hour. You’ll get used to it.
The light outside the window seemed neon. The cinder blocks poured into my eyes like a holding pattern.
The nurse took my blood. I watched in a sleepy daze as the red went up the wire.
I’ll only do this at the beginning of the night, she said.
Strange, I thought, that this is so comforting.
I wanted to cry because I was happy she was there, sitting by my bed.
I’m OK. I thought, and went back to sleep.
The showers were cold.
No hot water.
I have to stay here while you shower, said another nurse in the morning.
I’ll stand outside while you dress, she said.
I lied down on the tiles. The cold felt good.
The lines stretch on forever, I thought.
Later that morning, after cereal and orange juice,
No fucking coffee. No cigarettes and no coffee, said Sarah, her razored-hips pushing past me to the cafeteria table,
Later that morning, after cereal and orange juice,
Eleven year old sat next to me on the couch in the common room. We watched the adults stand outside on their cigarette breaks.
I see butterflies, too, she said, so quietly I could barely hear her.
I know, I said.
You see them, too?
No, I said, but that doesn’t mean you don’t.
She looked up, cheeks wet from the tears I didn’t notice.
I don’t want to leave, she said, grabbing hold of my hand.
Later that week, at the family therapy session, before they let me go:
Shannon, what do you think you’ll be able to do now, instead of fall back on your old coping mechanism?
The therapist leaned back.
I listed off the usual responses, but secretly I had no idea.
What do you think you’ll do now?
Seven years ago, I would have gone into the bathroom and
Why do you hurt yourself?
Not that the lines go on forever, but that they don’t.
This morning, I woke up and held a pair of tweezers to my palm.
No, read something, I said aloud to myself at 7 AM.
So, I chose Thomas Kempis:
“When you rise in the morning, think that you will not see evening; and
when evening comes, do not be too certain that you will rise in the
morning….Wise and blessed is he who, during life, strives to be what he
would like to be when death finds him.”
I got down on my hands. I breathed the carpet bugs into my lungs. I said:
No one is this blessed.
I thought about the girl in the hospital, seven years ago, who saw things.
Gather around her, I said. Gather the grass around her and be something solid.
I am something solid, I said, thanks to this.
I pointed into my chest, a pen.
I pointed it into my chest, just a bit more.
The tip almost called out to me.
It almost said, “stop!”
But I knew not to go too far.
I knew to feel through the spirit, not the body.
Why do you hurt yourself?
Sometimes, passing through me, a list of things.
And the lines go on forever.
That’s the point.
Forever, they go on, and through me.
I drove to campus and lost myself in worry.
Why haven’t I written anything?
I texted the man I've never met:
I see visions but don’t even know it.
What visions? He texted back.
Things like how I’m just a long line or how I want to kiss
girls legs or tell everyone I love them.
Too many trying to speak at
once, I texted, but I need one clear vision at a time. It gets jumbled.
Later, at work, while I’m writing about the mental hospital, I read from Dag Hammarskjold’s journal:
During a working day, which is real only in God, the only poetry which
can be real to you is the kind which makes you become real under God;
only then is the poetry real for YOU, the art true. You no longer have
I feel separated, he texted again.
Visions are a licking of the tongue. Or something under the length of
how I feel, floating each morning toward the carpet bugs, singing in my
lungs as I kneel.
Do you see them, too? She asked.
No, I said. But that doesn’t mean you don’t.