i often feel unfortunately listless
as if i didn’t have a list to attend to
i find it either sad about myself
or maybe sad about my condition
or maybe i blame fate that i have nothing but myself to worry about
i want to be a warrior for black justice
but i am not black
though i can and am supportive
i cannot speak from experience
it seems that i can only be supportive
but isn’t that the point
that i am not the center of attention
that i am not the one who gets attention
i feel that i am most responsible
by removing myself from the equation
by coming to understand my own absence
perhaps this is what strand was writing about
when he said he kept moving to keep things whole
he knew he needed to argue for his own absence
i want to believe that my presence is necessary
but i think that my absence is what is more important
but i must be present to ask for my own absence
and i believe it
i believe that i can walk around and demand that i not be allowed to walk around
someone needs to stop me
someone needs to remove me from the equation
i am nothing but trouble here
i am nothing but trouble here
in the end nature will agree
if you do not take care of me first
i feel a great burden lifted from me. i can’t tell you home much of a relief it is to take a moment and breathe out from under the rock of my thesis. though i do feel like it will return to it, i find myself pursuing other ventures (stageplays and, well, honestly, trying to find a job that can take care of the less artistic things in life (though i was at this tea ceremony the other day, it was in this unfinished room that was between unfinished rooms (it was perhaps the most liminal space i have even been in) and there was this woman who was trained in the ways of traditional japanese (i think) tea ceremonies, and we (all seven of us men) sat in resilient silence as she slowly washed the tea bowls out with hot water (swirling them about) and then she passed them one by one to each of us, from hand to hand down from one man to another, and all i could do was look deeply into the tea and lower my head into its smell and then just be overwhelmed by the simplicity of it. i mean i was kneeling there on a folded wool blanket thinking to myself that i had not taken the time to enjoy washing my spoons or sweeping or even the act of unlocking my door at night, and all i wanted to do was take the moment to enjoy turning a doorknob or be completely passionate (but slowly and methodically so) about opening my drapes in the morning, but all of this is to say that there is some art to our lives, or that i could feel the sort of attention to detail that i give to poetry in everything and in every way. i suddenly feel that if i spent my whole attention and method to how i stepped out of the car when i was finished driving, like i took a deep breathe and i really thought about what i was doing and how i was doing it and then gave my whole self to the art of stepping out of a car, then, yes, it would be an art.
life is good.
my family is doing well. i suppose the best way to describe how they are doing is to take a look at my wife’s instagram, and i must say, i loved the video of magda flying a kite. she looked so very pleased at the process. and i really do think that process is my new mantra. i have been telling people that i am not a progressivist, i am a processivist.
summer won’t pull me too hard. i am hoping to adjunct somewhere, but i may just end up driving lyft and taking whatever odd jobs i can through the summer, until i find a job. i did apply to adjunct at university of utah, westminster and utah vally university. i also applied for a position at university of utah as an acquisitions editor, but who knows.
i would love to meet. i feel more able to do that, and i could talk about stuff all day.
i am sad that i am not in your workshop, so, yes, it has been too long, just enough too long, not long overdue, i wouldn’t say, but just overdue, like freshly spoiled milk that is too tart to drink, but hasn’t yet swollen the carton.
sophie, hi. sorry it’s taken me a while to respond to your essay, but that’s exactly what i want to do. i felt the essayistic tones at the beginning of the essay. i’ve also experienced some of these raw teen mormon feelings (though your’s seem to be much more teen (i was a rather sad teenager (and i mean that both by saying that i was depressed, but also that i wasn’t much of a teenager, in that i stayed at home, was obedient, nerdy and without friends. i don’t think i ever did the teen thing until i was in my twenties and for this i feel rather behind in my life (socially at least))))) anyway, the second time your essay caught me on the inside like a branch that gets caught on your shirt-sleeve (you know the kind when you are hiking in a particularly ample sweater and the branch gets stuck in it as you walk through some brush and you can’t help but just stop and try to untangle yourself) well, i felt that when you said that you needed monkey jesus more, and to be honest i was talking with truedson, and i know how you feel about truedson, but he was talking about god as the tradition of the possible and i couldn’t help but think that maybe this is why i would also say i needed monkey jesus (as you have named him) more than american suburb jesus. i think monkey jesus returns me to the spirit of religion, or what i feel the function of religion is (at least this is where i am at this moment (and if life has taught me anything it is that if you put a tree in a field it will grow, and that life is not stasis) and so i find that i am invigorated by monkey jesus because he becomes freshly to me a symbol of possibility. and i suppose that i feel my world is so disparate from the images i normally see of jesus that that i am held off, that his features wash out in the distance. but as a meme, he seems very possible, even alive in our system. i almost find that he is resurrected by becoming a meme, that he is given new life, and i often wish that i could be given an extension of life, a way of being alive outside of my body, and i think this is why i write, to extend my presence, to give myself way in which to continue after my discontinuance. i also, very much, like your phrase religious kitsch (which may or may not be your phrase (which probably is a common phrase (but i had never viewed my upbringing as kitschy until you have pointed it out in your own life, which makes me wonder if this is not the purpose of the essayist: to self-indicated in order to inter-indicate (yes, the essayist is an inter-indicator, someone who spends their moments indicating the indications that connect our experiences, which is why i feel that the writer (and many others for that matter) are often seeking truth. truth, it seems to me, is a universal, and the wider the inter-indication the more lasting it becomes. but the difficulty arises in that the inter-indication is one that points (singular) like a single finger at one place, but in so doing that single indication invokes a large multifaceted thing. this is why poetry tries to bulid tension to be released by a single word, or why we hope our lives will accumulate into one dramatic gesture (such as most movies will ask you to believe). i really do enjoy the essay, and i think (if you haven’t already) you should find a place to publish it (or at the very least post it on one of your own publishing platforms).
o. i do like this. is this the school you were accepted at? are you going? what’s the update on schools. also, hello. and then i am thinking that such a class would be interesting with the juxtaposition of the other arts and music and just the space of new york. i hope that we are doing the same here in provo and salt lake city. and i think there is potential for some history to emerge here (because what is history except emergence, things that live past their due date (like the lemon that doesn’t rot but instead desiccates (yes, i hope i don’t rot but desiccate. that would be my wish for my continuance, for my afterlife. i don’t think the afterlife is anywhere but here, and i don’t think it happens except with books and histories and things that can contain a semblance of sentience. at that point i want to create something that continually recreates me. i want to become a recreation (in the sense of recreational hikes (i want to be something that can be hiked through, and i think i can do this with my writing. yes, there it is, the hikable self. walk with me . while i am gone.
why did i feel that i was not enough
that the moment i woke up there was all this body that has to be done
that i was a worship waiting to be made
that i was a meal meagered by the kitchen window
there were moments i went for walks
that seemed the most sensible thing
to please the body
to make it sound
like a voice unrolling into a river
do not autocorrect me
do not take my voice and clean it up
i want it to be there as it is
spoken with lines in between
gaps in my teeth and red pink mouth flapping all the gorge and length it can muster
but there is the body again
hoping it won’t turn inside out
with all that it is turning into out
there is a lacewing stuck in my window. how often i’ve wanted to feel stuck between two panes of glass so i was not left with too much freedom, left with no sense of direction because there was so much around me. i worry at times that i have left myself behind, that the greatest iteration of myself was some day in the past, or maybe not the greatest but the truest, that i am past my prime, that i am not old or dying but just getting further from my self. though, i wonder, at what point am i an apotheosis to myself, at what point do i hover about the rest of me.
i have memories this is true, and maybe the only things that are remembered are the truth. i mean that the truth does not include the past, not at all. not the truth only includes the present, not even what is to come because the future is so unpredictable that we could never really guess it right all the time and they are really guesses. but i mean to say that the past is not true at all unless it is remembered, in which case it is there as it is, a memory and only a memory. i don’t mean to say that the past didn’t happen, i just mean that the past doesn’t exist, much like the dead are not alive. i mean to say that the words i am writing remain as they are, as long as they remain, but if i were to erase them, or they were to be lost, then they would cease as words and only remain in my mind and the minds of those who have read this, in which case that is the purest or most existed form of this writing. and when i die, so too will my body have been lost and yet i will remain in the minds of those who have met and seen and held me. and that will be the most that i will be, that will be my truth. and if i am forgotten by time, if i am no longer recorded or remain in any way, they at that point i cease to be true. to cease to exist is to cease being true, and i find it important to remain true for as long as i can, even after my death.
i often conflate what is real with what is true, but i take a wider sense of what is real: i believe what we imagine is real, because when i shiver at the horror of being frozen to feathers (i mean frozen to death, but my computer autocorrected to feathers and i had to leave it there) i find that imagined idea so real that i am viscerally moved to shiver, and that shiver is real, and if i can remain real by what i write even beyond my life, then i take that as remaining real.
it was not until i recorded myself
that i learned how soft
the river has been
speaking to me this entire time
let him rot
unlike we've ever seen before
like lazarus into living
let him come forth
a woman unmarried
an apple unpolished from the tree
that was grown without a sound
and let also the trees be made
to have a larynx, let us at least modify
a few trees genetically with lungs
and let us hear them speak
we fear to create a monster
that only knows suffering
a tree that has no idea
how to use its lungs
a man in space that doesn't end
a space that doesn't echo
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i found three allegories in my cupboard last night,
while i was looking for a midnight snack,
and i ate one, and for a week i had similar dreams.
tall redwoods stretching,
ciliating the atmosphere—
hardly twigs in the glimbion.
the euphoria of ondi ahman settled on me like a mixture of mist and sunlight that soothed my blood with effervescent callings. / to present my chest to a gallery of trees showing them that my heart was open to roots. / oh the paradox of purity: touch it and you die, touched and it dies: god. i cannot capture an untouched nature, except through a glancing mirror or glancing in the mirror.