the rat who (tried to) steal christmas

this year -- 2020, the chinese year of the rat -- has felt like a pest swept through 
and upended everyone's preparations and expectations for the future. christmas feels 
no different, and so a story unfolds. the rat who (tried to) steal christmas. 
through 16 postcard scenes, the story of the rat who (tried to) steal christmas 
depicts the rat's curious yet mischievous antics and santa claus' reaction to the chaos.
1 the rat peeks out of his hole on christmas eve.
2 the rat eyes the christmas tree.
3 the rat notices gifts pleasantly wrapped.
4 the rat imagines that the christmas gifts are cheese.
5 the rat investigates the christmas gifts for cheese.
6 the rat finds no cheese after unwrapping.
7 the rat sniffs something sweet.
8 the rat scurries to the table with cookies.
9 the rat eats santa’s cookies!
10 the rat feels full + fat after eating santa’s cookies.
11 the rat hears a jingling sound.
12 the rat scurries to hide after hearing a jingle.
13 the rat sees santa claus, who sees the rat’s mess.
14 santa claus chuckles in jolly cheer.
15 santa leaves a tiny gift for the rat.
16 inside the tiny gift: cheese! what the rat wished for all along.
ps the back of each postcard features a scene description and year of the rat stamp


i'd strung you up in twine and fine branches and
imagination fragments
your voice followed suit in feathers which i tied to
that crooked ring hanging up
how ridiculous to chain compression waves
when they are in fact like wings
in your throat

to pin you down in dreams was a fucking waste
like taking life from a gull
or serenading the soul of some captain
hoping he'll stay and listen
and peer through the torrents of rotating face
and open his lips to sound
like water

but your voice cast open webs
capable of trapping my lids so i could
drift off in something immense
something wider than wind and sharper than spit
i saw you in those depths as
tides realigned and i casted the net
i listened

third vow

may 2020

no kidding
i'm as big as this earth
big as the wind
in locomotion
look at the teal of the sea
it never ends
end has no end
and the seals play along its edge

if 6 was 9 that'd be fine
or if heaven were hell
it was an angel that fell after all 
to create their own paradise
gabrielle and lucifer are brothers, sisters
and blood runs deeper than sin

i close my lids, its all the same
this edge is as holy as a summit
a thin transition line
between the elements
i am a rock!
it's where i stand
nothing quite as sacred as land
its infinite disintegrations
like when the pine trees slide into
the sea
i will be ready
to be swallowed whole
macerated and shit out clean
like rain escaping heaven
only to turn back
tracing circles on a plane
shaped without time


september 2019

goodbye ocean!
my voluptuous lover! 
lay off the sodium, it makes you bloat
or do whatever you want
i’m only joshin
until i’m back soak the verse 
& when i do step back in 
you’ll know my head
follow me on this velvet gradient
the salmon’s dimming pupil about to dip
leaving us indigo
lines in threes
we descend this jacob’s ladder
submerged to salt water

when in the hills i fucked the land
now there’s the sea 
she’s back — life, my lover
praise the gods
hollow belly running off unalloyed joule 
under gray satin ripplings
enigmatic stitches liquid
salt water wine dry in my throat
eucharist mists
scrub over my veins
hemoglobin rust chains
the moon near the moon near
i match it face to face on the aqueous face
clasp limbs over the whitecap rim
sink to my toes
catch my breath

to feel her breathe 
to break surface like slick fish
she a mirage of hands combing over sand 
over over tracing land’s epidermis 
wearing down skin
i love you now just as then
even when i’m not here
even when i’m sleeping
even when i’m leaving
even when i’m dead

the villain

the villian
has legs that extend
walks first on the heels
wears a hat with thread
breathes deeply
beats a snare drum chest
blinks the eyes
traces the sidewalk web
listens to the blues
takes a pack of cigarettes
likes gas station florescence
talks to empty heads
stalks only the stars
ties the day into nets
is slipped the green to dream
rewrites alphabets
has no anatomy
is shadow: arms ears leg neck
reads corso
curls the lip's edge
evades the sky's pellets
faces no constellation
holds the apple won't eat it
finds the top of a hill
feels full & unfed
swears to god
witnesses the bereft
stares into lit houses
reaches into your ebb
wishes for the best
unafraid of the dead
unafraid of the dead
unafraid of the dead

the narrows

tacoma — gig harbor
the edge of july

such green 
teeth — the 
bridge gaping wide.
i walk
the divide 
sewn by 
cement and 
the towers.
i stalk
cathedral at sunrise. 
here, genie—
swim up from
the depths,
swim up with 
silver eyes 
and dreams 
where the roads intercept. 
below the black ashes run 
on and on — ashes run 
on tracks, run fast
on iron wings.

rail laid
out— your hand beckoning
some thing 
some thing 
every thing 
found dunked 
in that blue throat drunken—
i saw smoke 
simmering all around — faces                
and friends 
and unknown towns— tan 
      brick buildings— 
city brooding city thoughts—
a single

but nothing 
and no one —
only alone blue horizon.
the fiery 
ring sighs 
slow in the 
face of that 
yawning bridge with such 
green teeth
infinite blue,
above the infinite
soul, the eddying 
sound, spinning
where the roads intercept.
below the black ashes run
on and on — ashes run
on tracks, run fast
on iron wings.


flora flora flore elixir kids’ menu corn dogs august rush illuminated thru scrawl follow the greats not intuition therein lies the flaw that the saints refuse sunglass man folding his arms with a slight lip curl stone postures belligerent content marvelous chisel with my arms bent pebbles and sand fall from the polished form voyage of the ships pilgrimage of the crescent flight of the pigeons path of the comet all rushes into now without event or agenda like goosebumps from the wind taking over the garden arenas canvas bag guarding my trinkets four tickets left and an unused pass to giverny coconut balm marilyn monroe divine would you love a faceless god would you want a faceless hope gold plated slip to abyssinia coins echo across the doors cracking thru the tundra’s nose are the trillions of wicks and flames robes all wrapped in fame and he would be enraged flipping the pews and busting mosaic glass skipping the coins like shard stones across the marble water surface walking across the marble like us kneeling at the dome like us looking up at the wings like us and he’d be barefoot no comb open eyes and heart hallucinating the effects of a certain destination a sacred certain state          — paris

freckled highway slopes yellow with vein vessels goldenrod soleil sleep the great parade of cobblestone meandering thru this continent beers on the river rats scurrying to us shop windows and soap silk pillowcases white plaster attic residents in aesthetic contrasts of verdure and blacks painting of a nude woman concrete full of nude women i am a nude woman nude woman new woman like this country so new facades medieval just mind fucks to me another life regulars in the cafe with strange sounds from their throats tabac following you around routines cycles i’ll never know the fruit that lines these german grocery shelves me among the swans craning necks knowing each other’s tongues scooping the same water which i tread with human lungs like reaching for the next waves all heat cool salt miscellaneous odors not big enough for power but scraping thru those aquatic muscles for froth for wind for a shot at a stance i’ve never stood out this cracked window a finger awaits my open eyes for prodding and interrogation on all that they have endured for perfect recordings and renditions which are never possible and slip on thru like silver fish and bread crumbs white wine and beer bubbles kaffe and tee all so particular and all the same to me when i think back on all the gold i’ve found golden round euros golden thread sewn golden mangoes under summer lickings golden lashes behind glasses golden beverages shimmering in my stomach golden hands golden eyes they call green golden night that seems yellow golden wrapping golden necklace with an elephant chain clinks that mimic golden edges cascading to a tile floor bounce back as laughter from the others from strangers from blood from me from melodious bums         — berlin

q-tip stuck in my head the sun sets church bells rest reverberations of artists’ labor liberating stone whole clans sitting on the lawn some tuba down the path playing a do-wop tree-lined sand and the trees are cut in france cubes the european concrete exaltation short bench nap with my mouth agape O what to do in the fading blue pipes of summer leaves begging for memorials just starting to turn a disc just leaving the wrist two shirtless shoeless men here in the palace park and finally familiar timbres of r&b music aretha maybe temptations whitney not so much english or american but simple bassline crooked notes what i’ll probably play in the morning before work don’t think about that quite yet         — dresden

reapers ink smudged and raven above singing it must be the gloom or else this rhythm kept up by my feet as light goes not waving voice of zoltar three wishes in the attic pub exemplification all right purification all right wrong dedication all right levitation all right no destination all right asphalt predation all right slick-haired sensation all right geometric elation all right that sacred G in the stones in the wood in the work in the bones in the dust in the tire in the wheel in the fuel in the oil in the fire in the us beneath the birch trees paying to piss gotta run to the atm damn the public WCs can kiss my all peace now green grass grown long church bells swinging bug on my chest postcards laid out cicadas sweat dehydration after three sips fresh orange book that mentioned patti smith roach in the terrace pressing down the piano keys the people are out but they don’t listen rust edge leaves won’t stay but your print will leech off the page and our eyes until we lay under with the worms and debris the one suit that fits skeleton threads they will leave roses and my hands empty save this pen this blank page         — prague

think i’ve befriended time our palms clasped over a round table negotiating nothing me knowing looking thru its glass how i knew weeks ago i’d be here wondering the film pixels slipped came and went this flight will end and i’m onto another subliminal tick wax accumulating in my canals made my deal took the hands like felt like rose petals up to my cheek didn’t ask questions now here twenty-one but thirty scalp stubble reappearing strands gone after eons of sun touch water brush still there fallen onto the moon’s freckles tricky fingers pulling the tides over and over i only notice when i need to go nowhere         — halle

fresh reflect past commentary fool’s lens all that you remember was worth a month of presence commencement and return journey and settle did i settle don’t think past it into those trees lose the context in thought “mr nigga” a cigarette but better feel asleep on the porch post-party popped his ears in the full house some current in the back a the head rolling out the ears rather than in soul rather than throat that’s what is rattled that goddamn soul not quite blues no rock and roll spiveying up the and’s and sitting out here the first night vapory ask sashaying around askin you to dance am i where i’ve divied up thoughts between now and future until now and future becomes past i sent those things fast precipitation aggravation and i looked back to nothing but future you see how it goes in your head night-step imitations who’s that talking is he walking on good leather shoes a top hat frisking it around at me don’t know how i’m feelin feel my lips why do songs always rhyme it with kiss the knowable end green grapes i was sleepy hours ago and now dream awake         — astoria

lemon drop

believing I have good ideas, how grand
even great
imagine it there
a face you can forget of course
black cat has crossed my path
come down the metallic ledge
wait in vain
red thread in a sunburnt palm
damn cat damn sam
ego of a man
it was nice for a while
concrete trumpets
singing in lines
imagination tall
leaning on telephone crosses
evergreen beats and two pinkiless hands
strike the stars
d’amico metropolis made of three green lights
strap the back, no weight
freight lines grappling
woven pavement stone
real estate open
little crushed scorpion
(was only a sock)
playin drums
drum drum duh drums
give you my gentle fingers
sprawling out
white slippers to try
without numbers

still motion

the fog burned, and i feel may through a thin sweat sheen. windows tempt me with abundant greenery, with leaves upturned and moving.

the last time i climbed up here, i shifted between reading karl ove knausgaard’s fifth book of my struggle and staring through the glass that faces the columbia river. a cyclical ritual i’d developed: look down, scan a paragraph, look up, scan a skyline evergreen. my eyes sorted out the still motion — the spring leaves staggering on the hills, the white semi’s rambling beneath bridge beams, the outstretched statuesque crows hitching wind rides. the wall-mounted clock with spinning needles, ticking. almost one p.m.


i’m two thousand pages into this norwegian man’s six-volume autobiography, every word of which may be a complete lie or partial fabrication. scenarios range from slightly boring activities like frying up onions and potatoes to completely maddening descriptions of young girls (cue “breasts” and “thighs”). but the words feel honest. and it’s reassuring to discover how mundanely, yet sometimes fantastically, this stranger’s life unfolds.

2019-04-23 18_00_17.648.JPG

however, the irritating thing about absorbing just one author’s work over a long period of time is finding that my own thought structures mimic his. (even these previous paragraphs draw heavily from his style.) what’s worse, i sometimes grow an appetite for fried onions and potatoes, which i cook, and eat, all of it bland.

but the fifth book has grabbed me with different fists. karl is in his early twenties, hesitant but sure that he is on the brink of something grand. restless. which reminds me that i’m twenty-one, in brain osmosis, with a body itching for movement.

yesterday morning, while scheming for my day off, i decided to continue reading book five, really read it, just sit down, let the pages open. don’t buy anything, don’t eat. focus on a certain consumption. this usually troubles me, as i typically grow distracted or anxious about my what else i could be doing. i’ll stop reading, glance out the window, notice the familiar pavement and white house across the street. couldn’t i be out? couldn’t i be creating music? couldn’t i be savoring time? am i missing something good?

liz once told me i’m “always looking for the next best thing”. i know it’s true, she doesn’t bullshit. even a simple evening walk may set me in a loop of thought: imagine that brick covered in ivy, it would look mystic. if there were clouds out now, the sky would be cotton candy. no street corner may be what it is, only more. transformed, yet the same. surely if i improve what’s around me, something will improve within me — that’s the loop. of course, it doesn’t always play out this way, and this thought process is exhausting.

the same exhaustion seems to circulate in karl’s twenty year-old mind, half-foreboding, half-exuberant. it wears him out, the longing for ephemeral beauty by happenstance, for a notion of fate, for divine caesura in the rhythm of commonplace. always keeping eyes out for a sign of reassurance. how helpful it feels when, in the midst of his clusterfuck youth, he encounters some environment that harbors symbolic comfort, or some sense of celestial guidance.

i can’t say i don’t stumble upon similar scenarios — a number 9 on a lamp post, three deer grazing, owls cooing in the night, silhouettes of bare tree limbs, a street walker with known brown eyes. poetry and literature, too, can pause my thoughts. karl’s reflection on the orpheus myth, for example:

the utmost is that which disappears when it is seen or recognized.

reading this, i thought of past favorite moments, recollected in alchemized golden light, surviving for mere seconds. within them, i was within it: still motion. stillness being no action, no state of being. it is a mood of illusions. all around you moves, earth and life and time in spin. like driving through evening countryside, basking in the violet sky, noticing how the fleeing sun turns every shadow sacred — every time you try to capture it, to remember a certain arrangement of slanted country houses and barns, a certain scene like a post-impressionistic painting, it blurs by, and another scene emerges, which you struggle to memorize.

2019-05-04 20_34_06.416

the clock reads forty past four now. my eyes want to close after an afternoon well-spent, but the sun still rests high. how did i blaze through those four hours?

i think of nick drake’s time piece, not exactly a song, not exactly a poem, but a rhythm and reminder:

still it’s time that grows in my brain

still it’s time that calls me here

still i scream when time ticks

still i cringe from time’s tricks

still i groan for time’s loves

but still i’ll try for time perhaps.