I skip through the passing sorrows of each day like flipbook frames; little losses:
I leave in the morning when the dawn has just happened; the silence from our
last night ends; the bird on the path is there because it’s dying. It dies in front of
us—color and maybe blood and a broken line, maybe the wing broken, the
abstraction of air and flight made once again animal, mortal.
There’s no such thing as a passing sorrow, though; they muck up, trap together,
clot. Each one imprints a trace upon a greater whole, carves a bit of a groove
out again from my ordered thoughts. Sorrow is sorrow because it cannot fix
itself into my world, into something I can make sense of: How should a bird die?
How should a love end?
Maybe I’d like a fine sorrow, a worthy sorrow, a sorrow with a trust fund, legacy
educated in conspicuously privileged, prestigious institutions. Or maybe, I’d
want a rough sorrow, one who forces my grip tight just before he guns the
chopper and flings us down the freeway, one who can down whiskey straight all
night and still keep his dick up. Maybe my sorrow will come to me in tie-dyed
cottons smelling of patchouli and offering a joint; we can sit and commune with
my grief at the midnight drum circle, as the waves of the Pacific sigh their
Of course, when I’m a bit older, I’ll want a sorrow who can offer something
more substantial. Maybe he’ll drive a near-luxury sedan between his banking
job and downtown walk-up; he texts me each disappointment from his LTE-
connected tablet, and live-streams all my pain in rich full-spectrum 4K video.
Maybe, next though, I’d want a down-to-Earth sorrow, with a hybrid or a mini-
SUV, a bit hipster, who insists that we document my tears on film because the
glisten and the shiver only come through on Kodachrome.
Really, though, I’ll end up with the boy-next-door-all-grown sorrow, with a
sensible engineering job, who still plays Dungeons and Dragons on weekends,
still practices his bass guitar in the garage; he’ll write the most beautiful song on
his lunch breaks, singing out every word I’ve ever regretted not saying; he
named his World of Warcraft guild “Brian’s Winter” in my honor, and they
reenact doomed battles on their server every Friday night.
You, love, of course are the worst of them all, the one sorrow I couldn’t live
with, couldn’t even curl up and cum with during an afternoon’s stand; I couldn’t
even get your dick pic off Grindr. And yet with this new message you’ve just
texted me on Facebook, I maybe just now realize…
…I can be someone’s sorrow, too, some burly poet house husband, who every
weekend fires up the grill and serves, on uranium-glazed Fiesta dinnerware, the
most exquisite emptiness—rarer than pure white jade from China—found only
in the suburban valleys of Southern California.
Uff. I have a poem. It’s quite an albatross.
I took it to workshop today; the workshop was great, but made plain that the poem is almost finished—there’s not much left to refine or take away.
Some of my friends at Upender like it, but I kind of want to try for somewhere else this time.
It’s about California.
Gonna be on Upender again, this time with some flash fiction. Details Wednesday.
So “Keep On Rockin'” got published at Upender today! They put my reading up on their SoundCloud, too. I wasn’t sure if I was going to submit to Upender again so soon—they just published Kyle 1979 a few weeks ago, after all; they’re already familiar with my work, though, and being online-only gives them the flexibility to publish things quickly. And this poem is about as current-events as I get. The “chorus” of my poem is:
To be American means
You survive in spite of America
Also, FUCK DONALD TRUMP
I’ll put up the details once it’s actually published; plus, I have to record a “reading” for SoundCloud now 😉
So at the end of last year, I got this HUGE PA on sale at Guitar Center; I bought it so I could run my own open mic nights. Maybe if I had bought the cheaper, smaller PA, I would have been able to handle it by myself. No, that’s not Brian at all, though. I got the 200 watt (600 peak) one. It has a digital power transformer on it (class “D”) so it’s not even super-heavy; it’s just not light + very bulky. I could probably handle moving it by myself, but not in a crowded cafe environment.
So basically, I had essentially abandoned it—along with the analog enlarger, it joined the pile of “stuff I need to be able to walk/stand” to do. Until tonight… I’ve drafted my poor husband into manservant duty, and he’ll help me lug the thing to tonight’s New Poetic Brew. With handicap parking, it shouldn’t be too far.
Wait, what’s that you ask? New Poetic Brew? You thought it had been shut down? Well, it was sort of; Ebert is no longer able to host it. Chris Vannoy and a couple of other San Diego “scene fixture” poets (Bosworth?) have taken over in a very anarchic, poet kind of fashion. And, in the spirit of that anarchy, I’m going to just show up with the PA tonight. It’s got an EQ, which means I can boost the lows so they can beat out the espresso machine, but keep the highs soft so people’s ears don’t hurt. YAY! 😀
Autopsy Of My Empathy
for Micayla Milne
It’s easy to doubt yourself
when you’ve been badly deceived—
the worst con artists don’t work from greed or vanity
but from their Mark’s empathy: don’t you
want to help? Don’t you want to help make
a better world? Haven’t I touched your heart?
There’s a problem with being that kind of
con artist of course…well, it’s easy,
I’m sure, to not feel so bad about taking money,
getting attention, when you got it all because
they wanted something for nothing; no one really
feels guilty for a cheat. But if you
honestly stop caring about others, if you
can trivialize things like rape and violence, can wheedle
empathy with a snake oil promise…just forget
that you lack whatever makes us human
—empathy—because for you,
Micayla, empathy is a weakness,
something you exploit.
And you don’t mind, once found out,
that good people now will be
less good, less willing, and less empathetic
—if only for their self-protection—
You consume humanity like
a parasite that feasts on flesh
red and rotting and dying, feeds
off the flesh of sympathy, of that delicate human reality
where we are not just pack animals, blind mammals.
All of this begs the question, Micayla, because
while the greed and vanity con artists are easy to get,
while they do it eat, to live, to make their way,
what are you getting out of your con? I mean, I know
you’re a coward—all stalkers are—so I guess then
that you lack even the courage to face the same
existential void we all face, the same tedium, the same
relentless time. You need to steal people’s care, to replace
what you lack:
“I’m having an off day, hey everyone,
I just remembered another repressed rape!
The fact that my stories keep changing, that the names
keep changing, well, FUCK YOU that’s what!”
That last man you dated had to get a restraining order after
he broke up with you and you decided—instantly—that he
was the true rapist from your high school.
—And who would fucking date their high school rapist anyway? Exactly no one.
But maybe that’s it, maybe that’s the first crack that proves
you’re losing your long battle with gravity, with reality—like
an addict, each lie needs to be bigger, needs to give you a greater hit of
—outrage—just to get the same high. Which explains, finally, how you’ve
transformed from touching my heart to sickening it.
You are sickness, Micayla, nothing more, nothing human
at this point at least. I’ve never felt insane except to the extent
I misjudged; I never felt reality didn’t make sense
until you, and then it all made sense again when
I finally admitted to myself I’d been conned, admitted
what I didn’t want to see: the only monster in your life
is you, the only “evil” that pursues you
is what’s left of your fragmentary humanity,
its weak gasp occasionally whispers in your ear, and
you know—know—that people better than you would
have been better off if you had never been.
It’s been awhile since Micayla Milne has tried to play “gotcha” at the traffic light near my house; it’s been at least a week since she’s been to Santee (that I’m aware of anyway).
I know for a fact that she’s been in my house and that she stole the spare key to my husband’s Civic. If I could prove it, of course, she’d already be in jail. The fact is, even if she is done for now, I’ll never feel completely safe in my own home again. I regret all those years helping her, and I most certainly regret helping her find therapy while she lived in Virginia; if she’d just killed herself, I wouldn’t have had to put up with any of this.
And by the way, I’m fucking disabled—not just “a bit of a trick knee,” disabled, either; I can’t use or (mostly) feel either of my feet, and I have to wear huge braces to support myself when I stand or walk. A cane’s required if I want to walk beyond a slow loping shuffle. Fucking disabled. What kind of person fucks with someone like that?