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All Night Empires Posts

The flight of small birds

I build mobiles. I dabble in the articulation of lifeless things, not always profitable. Shore birds are on special this month. I’m taking a loss on everything. Yes, taking a huge hit; on the thinly pigmented colors that fade after one summer, on the lidless eyes. On the eye-hook joints, on the whirligig inefficiency. On the discretionary maiming of small birds that get too close. On the predatory preference for brightly colored males. It’s not a blowout so much as Total Inventory Holocaust. I’m taking a huge hit, but there’s the excitement of unconditional ruin. Failure without reservation or limitation- total fucking nonsuccess.

It’s a leap of faith, but inspiration will save me. I’ll be thunderstruck by my own genius. It’ll be difficult to function in the brilliance. All-in-all, a comprehensive gobsmacking. The streets will run purple with the telling of my legend. Observance is compulsory, even the feeble and infirm shall not be excused.

Non-articulation comes in cycles, but the leverage is massive. There is great, patent-able potential in any mobile, as well as in any ignorant thinking. Balance is key, and physical phrasing, as are other notions not conducive to my talents. Still, every client gets a questionnaire. Environment, desired effect, weight, structure, materials (post-consumer, exotic, etc.). Exposure. Propulsion (wind, magnetic, superconducting loop, insect, etc.). How funny to see how little I’ve learned about all of this since I left the flies scurrying all over your inner windows.

I can’t help but think how much easier this would all be if gravity wasn’t dressed in duct tape and plastic bags. Fucking gravity. The ragpicker of physical law. Newton’s anal beads. The thyroid of the known universe. The typing exercise, the individually wrapped cheese. The stage laugh. The bean skin in your teeth. The unrecognizable drip down your inner ass. The dark ‘ that’s just sweat, or…?’ thought. The emergent anal bead now utterly removed from any remembered event. Everything comes full circle, eventually. Even the things you’ve since forgotten. Now it’s all capillary bowl. I still put my pants on one arm at a time, but my hat never comes off.

Name-dropping, after hours



I have bad teeth. Otherwise I am fine condition. I’m so optimistic in fact that I just bought new boots. Leaving the mall I did a survey and I instantly got FOUR FREE GIFTS: an almost new regulation-sized Barbie Princess Styling Head. Excellent toy for the average small girl.   The hair is still really clean and yellow though the deep black pores and skin tone can look weird under the porch bug lamp.  The other bonuses I got are: a NASCAR Needle-point Jewellery Kit. And also a new Troutmaster Microwave Extension Cord. So you can move your microwave anywhere in the kitchen, even to the porch windowsill for popcorn during the street fights.  Anyway, the boots are size 13 and pinch in the toe. I am actually a really narrow 14 so I may have to return the boots, though I may be able to stretch them out like last time with wedges and lots of steam. I won’t say what the 4th gift is because I need you to like me just for me.

But speaking of gifts, I heard a late night kick on my door and went to look and there you were, all tuckered out after the Logger pride festival. I went out to investigate and it was like God had opened your head like a Pez dispenser and filled it with whiskey, ecstasy, and racial slurs, then booted you from Heaven directly onto my porch. You were surrounded by a golden light or pee.  I really wanted to talk but you seemed dead. Dead or stuck-up, not sure which since you wouldn’t even react when I hot-waxed my phone number into your luxurious calf hair or poked you with my BBQ tongs. If you happen to see this blog and remember waking up on my porch this morning, please email me if you felt something too like I did.  Just tell me what your legs smell like now so I will know it was you and not some impostor. I spent at least 15 minutes rubbing 2-stoke oil on your now completely hairless calves and ankles (oops sorry about the hair, that was was my ex’s phone number). Oh shit I just gave it away. Anyway, the oil was only meant as a little waterproofing because I though it might get cold and I stood at your feet looking at you for so long the pee started to flow back towards you and I was out of Crisco.

Anyways, I have seen you once before. You were on the number 14 bus, eating Chef-Boy-Ar-Deeout of a can. You were using a fork. You got manners, that’s rare these days. You left the can on the floor in back and I spent the rest of the ride watching it roll around the bus until it finally got stuck under the brake pedal near the Goodman Mainline.

All night authority



Pound: Although I have not yet met her, my wife will occasionally murmur before sleep, not a single voice but many, like the grumblings of a parlor of thieves with less than a pound of rare coins to divide among themselves

Once acquainted with the math they will scheme for life, and this will either move through the closet’s tones, or our children’s bones

Or, not many opposable voices but rather a layer-cake fugue, the musical rumors of all my bored ambitions,  annoyed from lack of sleep and all these parasites sipping from their red brimming eyes,

one taste of sleep and they are tone-deaf for life


Outside in the dark yard, a horse reaches for the low fruit between yawns, but the wind lifts it just out of reach


H.D:  Apparently, the universal feature of night terrors is inconsolability:

like any self-loathing imagist,  wide awake with all available commas already at play in manuals and contracts;

like any bouquet-bound gardenia, forgetful of all true associations, or unsupervised arrangements, with Freud, God, or otherwise

and no nights’ empire shall have authority over any who sleep here

The resonance of a vented sphere



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



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




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

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


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





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.