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
if i think about it
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


2 april

the stance resuscitated
palms open like eyes
arrows drawn back in lines
still is energy, potential
still goes the clock hands
when batteries are done
still are the legs
before the race is run
still but turning
smack goes the heart against the lungs
without direction
even the gulls take motion
thru wind not wing
even the eyes see
beneath the lids of a blink
& with black ink or graphite
or a knife to a tree
even i could live
without standing
with no need to breathe


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

call it fate, call it the swarm

Late October, they hurry in

just before the rains begin

and they make themselves obscure against a wall

flattening in place like onion skins

or glassy flakes of coal

split off in sheets of fossil darkness

Furred brown or opalescent 

seeking heat but not your heat

they pretend to be dead

until one day they are

more dead than pretending

folding in on themselves in a gesture

we recognize as a kind of clinging

to the consolation of form

— The Moths, Camille Norton

the last restroom of the rounds— a square, grey cinderblock hut sitting along the evergreen tree line, the most remote of all the point defiance restrooms, visited almost solely by trailrunners at this time of year. a september crisp had crept into it all, through the fir needles, the puget sound eddies, the narrow dark pavement, the surely rotting picnic tables, the vertical clay cliffs, the chain link fence failing to keep the cliffs from bootprint erosion. the sun rose, but more shyly than in august, and the lookout was a hideout, a territory of solitude. i was alone with the white parks truck and box of blue gloves. 

this was routine, of course. five a.m. sundays used to greet me with sunrise, but with the turn of the season, the leaves too wanted to turn, and the sky strained to open. i’d start the rounds turning the truck through black woods, spraying down the walls, wiping porcelain, sweeping, mopping, freshening, until i reached that final restroom, that farthest point like an iceburg’s summit, where dawn finally existed. the sun, the silence, and finis. 

only weeks were left of this job, and then i’d be onto the sandwich shop nearby. stretching out the blue gloves, i already felt myself missing the moss air and sponge dirt beneath my boots, the solitude followed by a meet-up with ross, who may have a quick project before my five hours were up. i had a short walk to the restroom door, which i unlocked, swept open, and stepped through. there was the welcome of white tiles and concrete floor, the fluorescent lights. quiet. 

but that one morning, something else held a presence in that square room, some unfamiliar movement, something soundless. 

i walked into a swarm of moths batting mint wings. dozens on dozens, all of them caught in their own floating eddy. the tiny silhouettes created a flickering effect under the fluorescent light, patterns of shadows rippling over the walls. like a flurry — green flakes of snow caught up in a restroom wind gust. i stood still, beneath, trying to count them like stars, until they slowed their flight and fell to the walls, muted, all of these little candle flames steadying their dance after a draft, the draft being my sudden presence. 

where had they come from, & why settle here, in this dingy park restroom? and why had i, out of anyone who could’ve fallen in on such a scene, witnessed their spell?

they had cast a net, something intricate spread out over the simple square room, and i was caught in it: an eclipse of color among gray, beauty among grime. a sacred flurry. a web of still motion. 

a swarm of moths.

the first sign of moths found me in corruption, a skinny volume of poetry by camille norton. i had picked it up in missoula’s bird’s nest bookstore, where a smiling golden retriever, rightfully named “gloria alleluia”, meandered through the maze of shelves. i was aiming my life towards spokane, but had stopped in missoula to visit kinsey, who transferred there the year before and thrived among like-minded friends and days filled with theater courses. with her schedule keeping her occupied, i wandered downtown beneath the overcast, read gregory corso in a cafe, and contemplated if i should finally commit to my first tattoo. 

the rebellious allure of tattoos hadn’t evaded me, though they’re so common now i can hardly consider them that rebellious. i never believed i could pull one off until summer 2017, when i clenched my focus around the words & music of patti smith. i was reading m train, a collection of patti’s memories and, more memorably, a collection of dreams. it was her dream that coyly introduced me to sam shepard.

I had another dream about the cafe in the desert. This time the cowpoke was standing at the door, gazing at the open plain. He reached over and lightly gripped my arm. I noticed that there was a crescent moon tattooed in the space between his thumb and forefinger. A writer’s hand.

— How is it that we stray away from one another, then always come back?

— Do we really come back to one another, I answered, or just come here and lazily collide?

He didn’t answer.

the image melted into me— the sprawled hand, the dark ink, the sliver of moon. a collision of thought. a writer’s hand. 

i’d considered the moon ever since i eyed the line, and then again after i read just kids, where i discovered that the crescent mooned cowpoke was in fact a real man— sam. his name led me through a maze of research, of interviews and biography pages, of scanning bookshelves for collections of his plays. i was peeling into his life, collecting shells of fact. sam played the drums. he loved horses. he wrote plays. he settled in midway, kentucky, a certain small bluegrass town i dreamed about as a nine year-old. i was tracing lines between our names, not necessarily digging for coincidental constellations, but coming across them naturally. i was a little of him, he a little of me. our separate lives intersected within a given name. 

sam shepard wasn’t the first sam to make me wonder about my own name. my mother named me after her late brother, a painter and piano player, a cook with assertive wit. as kids, he and mom bickered often, although with age they grew closer, a truth evident in a basement treasure chest filled with letters he wrote, pressed flowers from his last rented room, a painting he gave to my mother. she dreamed of his death the night he passed away. all of my knowledge of him i’ve collected slowly, second-hand, through her and family. she says he lives in me, she sees him when i’m sautéing at the stovetop , laughing at gene wilder’s antics in young frankenstein, writing by the window, saying something sharp. 

there’s a third sam i met as a coworker in a small montana grocery. he studied architecture, and with a steady hand, would write with the cleanest, almost mechanized handwriting. i worked several closing shifts with him, the winter sky fading into candy gradients, and he’d stare out the broad windows, blue eyes beneath his baseball cap, and ask me funny questions. i always feared that he found me boring with my blank stare, when slow stores hours brought me to a thoughtful stupor, swimming laps in daydreams. he would pace and move constantly— i see the swing of his feet as he sat, the tapping of his fingers on the counter. sometimes his energy found no escape, and i would grow restless too, taking pennies from the spare change bowl and testing how many i could spin at once. usually, five or six.

over the course of several shifts i noted how he, too, loved mint chip ice cream. he grew up with step-parents and step-siblings. we both compulsively rearranged and organized — i would re-organize the lotion and candle stand to give myself something to do, and later, i’d spot him rearranging the same stand. little similarities i’d find with him, although any two people uncover bits like this. pieces shared.

i remember a handful of conversations with sam, most of which are stories from his life. but one i turn back to more than others. 

the market was empty, save for us two, and i sat barely fitting into the plastic bag cubby. beyond the glass threshold was navy night, that montana winter ink. sam stood across from me, beside the register screen.

— so, what do you really love to do?

i guess a lot of things.

— but what really… brings you joy? if you could do anything in the world right now what would it be?

i like to write, play music. i’m saving up for a camper van, so after i graduate i can travel across the u.s.

— why not just do that now?

well, i’m here, i have a scholarship. i need a degree for a job, don’t i? that’s what everyone says.

— who cares what everyone says! you should do what you love, now.

how will i pay for it? my parents won’t be throwing money towards it.

— find a job, you can find a job anywhere, and save it up.

his urgency took me back. 

— just think about it. why wait?

i nodded. it was strange, everyone else offered me the same bullshit whenever i said i just wanted to get school over with: that’s smart. get a degree, get a good job with it. you’ll be set that way. and sam rarely asked me a question like that. the end of the shift loomed, so i stepped into the back cooler to stock drinks, music in my ears, thinking about what he told me.  

i think of sam when i think of sam shepard, and then i think of sam, my uncle. all the sam’s. oddly i’ve fallen upon traces between them all, like finding a worn trail beneath my feet while wandering the woods. for instance, when i first heard joni mitchell’s coyote, the afternoon sun illuminated the browns and faded yellows of the market walls, and sam was playing music through the speaker. i knew the voice, one i’d listened to dozens of times, but not the song.

hey, it’s joni! i said. 

— yeah, it’s a good song

months later, i was flying through david yaffe’s biography on joni, where i read about joni’s run-in with sam shepard. the coyote in her song is, supposedly, sam.

Coyote was jumping straight up and making passes

He had those same eyes just like yours

Under your dark glasses

Privately probing the public rooms

And peeking thru keyholes in numbered doors

Where the players lick their wounds

And take their temporary lovers

And their pills and powders to get them thru this passion play

all of this harbored, anchored in my mind in missoula, as i passed the blaque owl tattoo shop. i had just dropped school the day before, let it fall like pennies onto the pavement. the volvo was packed full with my old dorm room. all of my friends were crammed in windowless rooms taking exams as i walked alone on gray sidewalk cracks. i was going to work behind counters, save my money, fly to undetermined cities, reach my hand out to strangers, write. the blaque owl’s door opened.

the plane window, an oval of polished opal, peered over my shoulder. spokane was only a forty-five minute flight from seatac but offered enough time to sift through camille norton’s corruption. of all the poems, i dogeared only a few pages, the moths being one of them. it reminded me of sarah, a girl i knew in high school, who harbored a particular adoration for moths. turning to that page now, i see i’d written two identical annotations on that flight. ghosts.

the plane landed in spokane, my city of experimental venture. i wanted to plant roots somewhere different, without parents, to find a job to fund future travels, walk the streets, soak in the array of alien faces, pavement, and verdure. that past august, as we were rolling towards bozeman, my parents and i had stopped in spokane to visit the stewarts, the family who’d rented a room out to uncle sam. on their sprawling porch, they welcomed us like old friends — heaped spaghetti onto our laps, refilled our wine glasses, spewed off stories. their voices bounced off the stars. dusk closed around us, and i listened.

sam had died in that house. jobi led the story, remembering that day as the first time her future husband met her family. it was bloomsday — runners filled spokane’s brim with spring ardor. jobi thought it odd that sam hadn’t come downstairs amidst the commotion, so she opened his door, tried to wake him. 

— but i knew. i looked up and said ‘oh, you’re gone sam!’

he’d dyed his hair violet just before he died. all of the stewarts knew him for his cooking, his take-no-bullshit personality, his sturdy gait. he’d throw ornamented dinner parties, facilitated an impromptu “three-hour vacation” involving scarves and a convertible car ride. i could see their love for him, still alive, swirling in that singular house above the spokane river.

that was the house i moved into april of 2018. i unpacked in the teal-walled room, across the hall from sam’s. it felt strange, cooking at the stove where he cooked, sleeping two walls away from where he passed. but it was a comforting strange. the stewarts treated me with incredible kindness, always looked out for me, like they’d found their long-lost cousin. i’d bike around the city, ingest the high desert sun. i’d write and draw a fair amount in my room, or at st. john’s cathedral on the hill. moths were everywhere, upside down on my ceiling, sideways on a fencepost, flying crooked on the porch. little felt angels.

still, despite all the good fortune that fell into my hands, i stressed about finding a steady job, grew withdrawn without making many new friends. after a month, i decided to repack, drive back to tacoma. 

a few nights before i left i sat in sam’s room for a while, listening. the french doors opened out to the tree talk — nothing but little whispers between leaves. the rectangle opening out into the night was so perfectly indigo, like raven hair, black but not black, but blue. i had lit a slim white flame on the bedside table. the breeze would slow and outside would fall so quiet, not even the street cats would shout. only, every once in a while, there came the air drifting with joyous coyote quips. i listened for something, i don’t know what. pulled a few tarot cards, which told of oversea travel.

maybe sam was there, telling me something too.

maybe he wasn’t.

grandpa’s dining area i know so well, with the fireplace brick, rickety rocking chair that’s been replaced by a cushier rocking chair, doors of sliding glass with a view of the green grass hill, oval wooden table, chairs with woven backs. the mantle homes photographs of our cousins, aunts and uncles, josh and i growing up. 

i sat at that table last may, telling grandpa about my move to astoria. as always, a baseball cap topped his head, his glasses magnified his eyes only slightly, and he sat in the corner by the sliding glass, nodding at my words. he perked up when i talked about working at a butcher. 

— hey! i used to work at a butcher. or, well, a grocery store. that’s how i met your grandma.

i’d never heard this before. tell me the story, i said. 

all drenched in a west virginia timbre, grandpa’s voice flowed with memory, with love. he was the teenage delivery boy for the town grocery, and one day, as he unpacked the simmons’ delivery in their kitchen, a young lady named dorothy walked in. 

— she shook me up. all along the drive back i thought about her. i forgot to deliver the next order, and had to turn around. 

he chuckled.

the image of it endeared me: young grandpa behind a truck wheel, aglow with captivation in a small west virginia town. what if he hadn’t delivered that day? would he still have run into grandma, eventually? and what about my own two parents — did they find each other, or was it written in stars?

how comforting it is to believe in celestial direction, to feel that every moment is precisely placed, to reassure myself that i’m not alone and adrift even when i am. when i started writing this in the kitchen nook, a moth rested up above, wings still on the ceiling. a sign, i thought. and i had recently read a particular line from the qu’ran:

… they ask you [Prophet] about crescent moons. Say ‘They show the times appointed for people, and for the pilgrimage.’

i underlined it, drew a star on the margin. but i also shake my head. moths aren’t a rare creature. a crescent moon is a popular symbol. sam a common name. am i drawing lines between invisible dots?

last january, my grandma and i attended a psychic fair, which i approached with curiosity and slight skepticism. genuine psychics exist, i believe, but so does this trend for astrology and the occult — anyone could try to profit from faith in divine circumstance, especially if that anyone has a knack for reading body language or reading people in general. how easy it must be to “foresee” an answer for someone who approaches you seeking an answer, any answer. the first two psychics seemed to hinge on my obvious intention to talk to my uncle, my over-explained introductions. but the second two specifically said i would move by the end of march or beginning of april, that this decision would bring me fulfillment, room for growth.

of course i decided, on a whim, to relocate to astoria on march 23. i had visited emma, ris, and maddie in astoria for the day, and something told me to stay. before they arrived, i wrote in my black notebook, cornered in the blue scorcher bakery. 

return, i have to 

return with a board in arms. 

a promise to myself i manifested. was it this promise, a conscious objective, that prompted me to move? or was it the subconscious messages of the oracles? 

real shit, bullshit. psychological evolution, god’s design. i can’t deduce down to one or the other, and i can’t completely believe in either. again i’m at this window table within the blue scorcher’s mustard walls, and two girls behind me discuss their sun and moon signs. i keep startling at moths creeping on my bedroom windows. crescent moon still sinks into my hand, and i swear i see the sam’s i’ve never met. looking out for each other, or just passerby’s. the pattern of this chapter — being twenty-one — repeats in rows of golden thread. 

— Do we really come back to one another, I answered, or just come here and lazily collide?

i read about camille’s ghost moths over a year ago, moths dead and frozen in imitation postures of life. but all of the moths i run into beat their wings, fast, like leaves flitting before a storm, the consolation of form futile in their movement. and i’m caught in their gale. the swish, wave, air tide of breath. i don’t see ghosts in them anymore, but instead, a joie de vivre. seeking light.

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 irritatingly annoying 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.

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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.

journal excerpt: 28 april

salt, salt, salt & bulbs of blooming anxiety lit from the fingertips, circling the arteries, igniting the brain. trichotillomania, the trick that i’ve played. no ideas, the ocean drives me electric mad as a rabid dog, a bad dog, a dog spazzing up on fourth of july’s eve. to feel the sun, an underrated heavenly bitch born for life and murder, smiling down on us sardines dressed in seal costumes playing, soon to be consumed. i knew it, and the water reflected azure. a wave a million molecules, spitting out ice. a hushed crunch between my teeth wanting no sand. a thread of dark heads bobbing, all facing ocean. what are they waiting for? slit eyes beneath the sun, all in search for one precise moment of parallel times — the mind time, the earth time. deceivingly metric intuition — some call it coincidence, some call it masterpiece. (master the movement’s pieces.) congruent fingers meet & merge in perfect form, leaving no escape for scintillas of sand. but somehow, a few grains find gravity.