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?
Amidst all the strum und drang lately, I’ve been keeping my commitment to my Google Video Chat prompt writing group. As a matter of fact, a song that I often meditate on came to mind and I got a prompt from it: well we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun…
One of my friends in the writing group really liked the poem I wrote from it and suggested—since it was spiritually themed—to submit it to Tin House for their Spring 2016 theme, “faith.” So I edited it, and got it in by the deadline! Yay! This is literally the first time I have submitted to something besides a local anthology or online-only publication. I’m not even sure I’ll get in, of course, but I’ve learned it feels better to be a confirmed loser who gave it a shot than a potential winner who will never actually be validated.
EDIT: I had decided to just let this all go, and suppress this post. That was until “someone” fucked up the outdoor remote to my garage door opener. At this point, keeping this information public is important to my safety.
Apparently, sending someone a nasty email six weeks ago gets me this:
To be fair, she did build her entire LIFE around Twitter, and when I spent 3 minutes at the Twitter analytic website confirming my suspicion that all her followers were spam accounts, and included that fact in my nasty email to her, well how could she HELP but trek across half of San Diego county with a prop clipboard so as to not seem out of place wandering a residential bedroom community in the middle of the afternoon. Of course if she had waited for her Uber—or whatever—at Santee Trolley Center, which is about a mile in the other direction and is a legitimate transport hub for the county, she’d have plausible deniability. Like everything in her life, I guess though, she’s not very good at stalking.
So a good literary friend—a good acquaintance, a very good/close friend vis-a-vis writing—has finished his novel and started an online lit mag. Unfortunately, he has some really good ideas and some compelling contributors (like me, I ‘d like to think), which means of course that it’s even more all the heartbreaking—all the more harder to ignore—when it doesn’t make the splash I feel it should. I’m fairly sure my friend is running head-long into the issues I’ve had with this blog—there is still no clear path for writers online, and your popularity on social media isn’t always commensurate with the quality of your writing (see here for further discussion); as such, the old media vanguards still serve an important function.
And yet, TC’s lit mag is as good as—or better than—many of the bespoke, academia-driven ISBN-bearing “anointed” literary journals. TC is a pioneer, this blog is a pioneer, but what no one wants to talk about is all the glory is in hindsight; most pioneers starved, died from dysentary.
I really hope Upender doesn’t die from dysentary.