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All Night Empires Posts

The resonance of a vented sphere

f-holes2

 

A BBb tuba is about 32′ long and averages 4″ in diameter
Easier to just fill it up rather that calculate, but
A one-foot section can hold roughly a quart – a carton of milk- so I’m guessing a healthy contrabass could hold about 10 gallons of milk
A one-foot section is also the saddest sound I know,
Approximately 29 hertz of  ‘Thanks for killing time with a loved one’
Practice is neither popular or noble
all I ask is you vacate high to low, and not hot to cold
Calculate the velocity of your favorite woodwind in the tuba’s voice,  and seduce the room
Buffeting cheek, brimming eye, and homorhythm-stuffed robes will keep the better drafts and revisions out
and your bare knee might amplify all the room’s privileged tones.

On broken fasts

shoe-anvil

 

I’m just like a flaky fucking biscuit, if a biscuit ever had cold dead eyes
Sitting here anticipating your calls and practicing I can’t help, no- quit calling me you grandstanding hag
as if ever  a biscuit could have such vocabulary, or resolve
This morning I moved all my recipes to a new spot in the closet where our shoes once mingled and got so engrossed
cataloging and obstructing
I forgot to water the plants and feed your cat
This afternoon I plan to rescue the cat who is not yet lost, or rehearse on the cat if it’s still not lost
My schedule has way too much cat lately
I find I do my best baking if I’m slightly angry, with thumbprints on my glasses and flour in my hair
Tomorrow I will augment my biscuit with rare salt and pancetta (the most intriguing of the ancient cured meats)
And wholly abstain at a sunny table deflecting all present and future responsibility, and imagine you treacherous and unsuspecting
and that you probably never enjoyed my biscuit in the least
But you are not calling me anything, or anymore

xxxxxx

fireweed

fireweed

After the fire, I kept a small garden in the mountains. I always tended to show up as things were dead, in winter, in time for the tallest light the day would get to halo the seed husks at the tips of stalks burnt in cold and darkness. Whatever meager light is left over is soaked up into the snow,  barely enough to parse the dull hues, more emitted than reflected, making the low chaos a simple binary gradient.

It was a long hike to see this, but it is still this; always more interesting than I remember and even the sexless weeds are bored with me and their place in my head. Who keeps a garden in a burnt strip on the shallow side of a mountain? This and other recent misjudgements hurt not unlike the cold air hurts to breathe.  I usually unpack my tools and supplies and hack mindlessly at the frozen ground and hollow stalks, making a grain bill that wouldn’t begin to steam for 10 or 11 weeks.

I would toy with the idea of building a cabin near this garden. Nothing elaborate- like something from the Whole Earth Catalog that could be made from windfall or the welded beer cans that were once so fun to throw out of car windows.  A potato radio in the kitchen and coffee beans busted with glacial erratics. A southern window made from greased butcher paper that the 2 AM zephyrs would buffet and the moon would write cyphers on. (Giggling notes: dimwitted moon.) And most certainly, a family dog escaped from the lost campers howling on the endless logging roads below would find me and be home. Many decades too late, we will appear in local lore.

The Dena’ina add fireweed to their dog food. The shoots, young leaves and flowers are edible raw. The buds can be cooked as vegatables. The stem pith can be used to thicken soups. But; it may act as a laxative if eaten in quantity. And the stalks do rattle woodenly, a dismissive heckle like an indignant samurai humiliating his disciples with a cane reed.

Rites in passing

thoughtcloud
Another of my forced-ambition therapies involves Billy Noe. I am to attempt a bio about his somewhat subconfirmable life. The visits have a feel of something imposed by the courts. It involves changing buses and signing logsheets, security codes, lunches of beans and thick whitebread.
Porn Behemoth. Ritual Chicken. Wrathbone.

He watched me up the freight elevator, had a cup of coffee in his hand for me. He nodded at the top of my head. “What’s with the hair?”
“I had a job interview.”
“Are men coloring their hair for job interviews these days?”
“I couldn’t say.”
He slid the gate shut. “What a disturbing trend.”

We sat in the kitchen of his eighth floor studio in the old tobacco district, in very severely perpendicular and tall ladderback chairs at a 12′ pecan plank table. Despite the attic heat of the downtown afternoon the 2.5″ thick tabletop was cool as polished granite. He sat very close to me, as he always does, trying to instill a sense of urgency that he feels is lacking in me, but it’s a freakish closeness, an odd gravity that reverses the investigative responsibilities of the meetings, especially within the enormous loft, half a city block of exposed beams and scarred hickory floors and obscure glass. At one end a rehearsal space & recording studio are set up, at the other living spaces and 20-foot interior walls that moved on casters and lighting stages for his wife’s photography business.
While we talked diffused flashes popped often but there was little noise except for an occasional whimper.
Throughout the interview Noe scratched his head violently & fanned the dust away. He matched me coffee for coffee and cigarette for cigarette and we shifted often in the creaking chairs to accommodate accelerating torment.

By the time we shifted to beer we hadn’t established much. I went over my notes, essentially doodles superimposed over multipractic nounverbs like ‘crank’ and ‘waste’. Unfathomable abstractions. The whimpers from the studio were becoming more frequent, in litany with Mme Noe’s hushed whispers, as if cored from cathedral stone.  For our part it became difficult to keep the conversation from turning to aging, as if the whimpers were the incidental music of bad teeth, digestive foibles, depreciating hair and bowels. And then he opened the inevitable can of beans, baby white cannellini today, and began to search for the texas toast, freezer bagel, or some other such legendary white bread.

“Food,” he said. “Christ but I can do extraordinary things with ordinary food. I never had a unusually bad diet, but now. The things I can do with a morsel of ordinary cheese.”
“Dairy… You plead, you try to negotiate…”
“The horror,” he whispered. “And if you’re married you have to suffer quietly.” He hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Because the wife’s waiting with the drastic greens. My wife’s not a health nut, but, I don’t know- it’s like the whole gender is some thunderstruck witness to the history of gastrointestinal holocaust. You deny, evade, but they stand there, gaunt eyed and somehow judgmental and inconsolable at once.”
“‘Do it for me.’ Personally, I no longer use the bathroom at home.”
He looked at me, weighing the inconvenience of this. He shook his head, fanned the dust. “You’re slipping in my eyes, Wim. I could shit syringes and nuclear waste but I’d have to do it at home.”
We fell quiet. It occurred to both of us that I had taken the fun out of the subject, somehow robbed aging’s consolations of its demonstrative or territorial bent, compromised its maleness. As if the process was gender-specific. On my notepad I wrote resume crapping at home.

Hemispatial neglect

selfiewithrat

 
cold civil war

Shaving just one side of my face
while ignoring the hotwater tap
Missing your friend, or my father
and prime numbers

At 9 and but not 3 o’clock I’ll check in
for left- or rightward errors
and hack off this imposter arm
but keep the watch your friend’s father gave me

 

 

Mimicry


 

Even as the vines grow up your walls we weave them into wreaths
As the roaches and moths overwhelm your abandoned house we block them into morality tales (with maybe too much comic relief)
And as your uneaten fruit festers and your closet molds we will get drunk with the crows within,
and slur and roar with the local sirens and brinksmen about your alarming decline
And likely as not while the cool night air struggles with your busted lungs
we observe this information’s age
until the stars can no longer resist the mordant vat of all this cold dry dark about
Yet we practice within your nodding absences all the while

 

 

 

White trash heroes (Compass pt 2)

Blue begins the morning. This light comes into alley well and then the rain. The light there like a zoetrope.  Strobic, bruising. He thinks I can’t start here and then he sleeps again.

He’s dreaming and the smell is bad. As if happening upon no small, petty or trifling foulness, but some deeper oozing and keeing of glands and orifices or maybe of time itself. A candle by the bed wavers and thrusts and leaps, like a hand is passing through, or a gas. In his dream hags ascend, merge, become one old white-eyed woman. Frightwig’d, classically hatchetfaced. Bluemilk skin and bugeyed in a hue hardly distinguishable, upper lip stuck to a lone tombstone tooth. Her hair and arms flailing as if caught up in her own unharnessable repugnance, some forgotten ancestor or maybe his own woman within. He screamed and she screamed. Up her legs and bare gut black veins swilled some unholy phlegm, she says Rub my belly for a quarter. He considers, then Wait: my quarter or yours? They fell together. Shush, kwicherbitchn. He thrashed, panicky, immersed in something neither solid or liquid. With her oldness and foulness growing multifold in its furies she at once calms and chews gingerly on her blue tongue and coos deadpan Yours, but I believe your wife dropped some change when I pushed her down the stairs.

Money changes hands, and then this vision in her belly:

You see your mother-in-law downtown. She is laying flat on the sidewalk but seems to be involved in a discussion with the businessmen that surround her. At first you stand outside the circle, but you don’t see her small, savage. savage toy dogs. A woman stands watching in the doorway of a gallery where you have shown recently. The door is off the hinges, the woman’s cheek is cut. A man takes out his checkbook after she declines a hotdog. The other men gesture with hotdogs in their fists. They now seem to be discussing strategy among themselves. Cell phones emerge. They all turn outward, as if to align themselves with indentured polestars. You crouch through them without being noticed. You mother-in-law lays there with a hotdog clutched to her breast. She looks at you and  squeezes the hotdog but that is the only sign of recognition. Bright yellow mustard oozes.

White trash heroes, she says.
What? you ask.
She nods slyly. That’s what I must name my hotdog stand.

The internet lost & found

lostfound

 

Lost;

Nights,  some weekends

Self-mobility and drive to climb out of  my own descending
focus, sub 16″ and counting

 

Found:

(excluding porn)

A thirst for contesting insignificant details
Benign Essential Tremor/ Blepharospasm
Actual terms where benign and essential are used together
Most of my best friends are aliases
Most of my best features are  ailments
the symptoms for everything
The cure for nothing
(the updated ‘cost of everything but the value of nothing’?)

Hey- how many sphincters do I have? 50 (I think- only checked the 1st of 3.8 million hits then lost interest)
89,300 hits for ‘rhymes with sphincter’ (but no actual good rhymes with sphincter)
[Note to self: add ‘Interest’ to Lost column]

But as long as were on the subject ‘sphincter’ is neither ailment, best feature, nor insignificant detail
and mine aren’t yet lost, or found, on the internet

The dead need women

deadcrop

Party indoors, out, then back in.
Music so loud it postpones the sense, re-patterns the heartbeat
At one point someone gets stabbed, but there is no blood on the knife

The bouncer storms in looking for people that haven’t paid up front
No cutting in without a chit I told you fucking guys

The one stabbed throws out his hands as if to say Hold everything
he has on a cravat but he’s really not a cravat guy
he loosens it pending collapse with a dry wheeze and he says
Lunged me, that really smarts oh you precious cocksucking Son of Erin
I really wish I had saved the ice from that big platter of oysters
He takes a slow bend at the waist, exhaling Jesus Archie Christ,
This is still the best party with no women ever

Fuming a latent image

 

Dear –

Foggy again this morning. Considering taking my camera down to the coast to take some dim romantic plates but the thought of you stopped me. For that I am grateful- I have enough dim romantic photographs as it is that can’t stand up to the light needed to print them. Plus, shrugging landmarks in the ambivalent local gloom are just too similar to the cramped and vague notes in my daily journal. Incidentally, I’ve taken to calling it a ledger over journal, dairy or even log because the overall impression is of inventory more than expression. A record, catalog, of sums of experience, but thoroughly lacking any numeric discipline. But the word ‘ledger’ does have the air of a verb which keeps me expecting some helpful mechanical tug, an axis of time; some sort of inexorable physical term that is both fatigue- and complicity-proof.

All that out of the way. I’m writing to you because I’m out of cigarettes. I’m not asking for money again- it’s early Sunday morning anyway and the stores are all closed. I keep getting up much too early. I’m not sure I want more cigarettes because lately I pace vigorously whenever I smoke; tight regimented circles that betray my casual loafers. And ranting. I can distract myself with coffee but no matter how many different blends or roasts I buy it has been very bad all month due to weather, possibly regime change. Sickly, tasting of acid rain and the civet’s digestive failure, a small rot behind the warm inviting scent there in my cup like the camouflage of brand new thick twill socks and a warm shirt (still very cold here)  but I see that I remember a half-smoked butt from 3 a.m. so I will be right back. So easily sidtracted. (that’s dyslexia, but I’ll pretend it was intended as clever coinage of sidetracked and distracted.)

So I’m editing this letter even before I finish it; whether because I don’t want to continue or I want to reign myself in before I get carried away is anyone’s guess. The last several letters I haven’t sent yet. I will. With polish. But is it better to send several letters in one envelope, or play the ridiculous game of sending one every few days to give the impression of spontaneity and prolificacy? If you knew how I agonized over these letters. Obsessive? Well, surely; the last updates the eternally previous, a conditional expedition. But I still need to insert in the letters a curiosity of you actually out there, because you’re out there: no spam bot, no mere haiku algorithm,  nor nOOb156948.

But speaking of me- my condition is back. Probably exacerbated by all the caffeine and nicotine. It feels like a hand around my throat. By turns cool and sinewy or strong and warm. Always high on the throat, just under the jaw, like a portrait collar. My expression is of something endured, like the long exposure of a daguerreotype. Dour, not sure what to do with the eyes. The lens’s focus on the tip of the nose a palpable itch. There’s a slight unbidden pulse at the carotid, like the tick of the metronome the photographer uses to count the time.

This metaphor only because I just had a dream about sitting for an antique portrait. My neck braced and eye to eye with a giant wooden box draped with a long velvet darkcloth that obscured an oddly anthropomorphic tripod with tiny clawed feet. The camera itself was fitted with a elegant and slender brass probe instead of a lens. There was a general throbbing overall; of metronome or pulse in my neck or both. The framed samples on the walls hummed. For every second endured the rate would be cut by half, the portraitist clearing things out of the studio even as the plate festered in this exponential agony, cautioning me to hold still or the aperture and thus time itself would constrict further. This time was dilated against the pulse in my neck, and an orange-green nausea would swell whenever the ticks did not align. I then realized the odd anatomy of the tripod was actually a writhing scrum of toothless orphans huffing the mercury pot. ‘Fie!’ hissed the portraitist, dragging the whole fuming mess out the door by the area rug that staged it.

Actually I’m lying about the last bit- no toothless orphans. But I did expect more out of the tripod. More on all this later..