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Blacktop Ecologies: Los Angeles Poetry and Poetics was a one-day symposium of writers active in Los Angeles November 21, 2014. (“Though largely drawn from the interaction of poetry and teaching, the poets range from highly experimental, even “conceptual,” writers of lyric, narrative and political poetry, as well as translation and performance writing. There is no “subject” for the symposium — it is not concerned with Los Angeles or even its poetical history — but a snapshot of poets in Los Angeles today, how they think and make their work. Each poet will make a short presentation of their recent thinking and read selections of their work; each “lane” will be followed by a question and answer (for passenger loading only) period.”)
Brian did the work. Thanks Brian Kim Stefans.
It’s 10 PM Rocha, in a cold wind you stand guard, sentinel from the old days,
standing in the shadows on the front steps of City Terrace Elementary,
but I catch your silhouette from the street light on the corner of CT & Eastern, as I drive by like I usually do, Rocha,
I see you like I always do, Jack in the Box drink on the top step, all chubby (the same age as me) now, your face taut and thick
your ponytail gone thin, gray and straggly down your back, it’s cold staring at the Eastern Avenue traffic in the dark—
but you got a thick black jacket and a steely look on your face, as if to say, “Yeah, they shot me and so what? I’m still here.”
They shot you, Rocha, and so what, you’re still here—but does your mom know where you are? She was our hostess,
“den mother” to our cub scout troop when Sixto and my brother were both still alive—I doubt you’d remember
that later you sold my brother angel dust when you were dealing out of that house, and we never saw your
mom again after that—did you tear up her last dreams and throw them in her face? Or is this her last dream:
you standing in the shadows at 10 PM Sunday night, with that look on your face like, “So, your brother died last month from this shit, so what?
You ever bump into my mom, tell her I’m still standing here.”
GOODBYE (A JOKE MY FATHER TOLD ME)
It’s weird being sober—for me, I mean… it’s like getting a brain transplant. or something kinda weird. There’s a thought… There’s another one… Where’re they coming from? It’s kind of trippy… like when you first get high. it would be cool if you could get hooked on being sober.
Then the feelings start coming, bubbling up inside… what is that?
Maybe I have to fart.
Maybe I’m in love with that girl over there.
I don’t know.
I’ll figure it out.
My father is hopeless alcoholic. Not because there’s no hope, not because we gave up hoping he’d come home someday and be okay, but because he gave up hope for himself. One day my sister called from way up north and told me the doctor said dad was gonna die soon if anybody wanted to see him they should come soon.
so I went, got really drunk and went to see him. When I got there I looked at him, this brokendown old man who hardly looked like my dad at all.
And he was drunk and he looked at me.
I told him, “You motherfucker, I want you to know that I forgive you for everything.” And I gave him a big hug and he hugged me back and we both cried and cried.
Some years later I happened to be going through that town again and I decided to visit my sister. When I got there, my dad was there, I was drunk, and he was drunk and I said, “Hey—I thought you were supposed to be dead.” and he thought for a minute and he said, “If I die, I can’t drink.” and I thought for a minute and we both started laughing and laughing.
That’s how powerful addiction can be.
This intelligent, powerful dynamic man wasted his life leaving behind three wives from three countries and 10 kids that I know of.
Ben Wright: JUST DO YOUR TIME
Ben had snitched on one of the new young punks for messing around with Jill (one of his “girlfriends”). at first he was happy about it “i got them” but the security-tech guy had been really rough on Jill and the guy and afterwards Ben got depressed and just stayed in bed for hours during the next day and missed his classes and wasn’t being his usual playful self at all.
I pulled a chair up next to his bed and I told him the story of Steve Earle in prison, his radio having been stolen “because you missed the meeting I’m gonna tell you a story about a buddy of mine…”
(Ben: “I see where you’re going with this”)
“…and so he got out and now he’s a famous recording artist.”
Ben, walking up the steps to the cabin.
Paul: “Hey, Mr. Wright.”
Paul: “There’s some fine women looking for you.”
Ben: “Where are they?”
Paul: “They’re out there looking for Mr. Right.”
At my goodbye Ben came up and gave me his favorite tennis ball that he had been bouncing around for four weeks.
—The waves crashing on the rocks
—A Harley that doesn’t run right
—A cow stuck in a barbwire fence
What did you do today?
be an outside kitty?
Were you a good girl?
Bhudda eyes reveal nothing.
She never says.
10 years ago a young girl,
Marrianne told me
“there’s a kitten living in the bushes
outside your window.”
I told her, “No, I would have seen
it by now.”
“Yes there is!” she said.
I gave her my digital camera
and I said, “if there’s a cat out there
go take a picture of it.”
I still have the photo somewhere.
A grey and white face staring up through
juniper bushes and a boxwood hedge.
One time she brought me a live
mouse, dropped it in my bed in
She was a hunter. We loved
watching birds & squirrels from the kitchen window.
I started putting out food
and water for her.
One day she came to me,
she knew I was her friend.
She rubbed her body on my leg.,
I smoked my cigarette and
looked down at this little thing.
Grey and white puff ball
skittish, afraid of everything.
Where did she come from?
How did she get here?
She never says.
After months of hanging out
together on my smoke breaks
she decided to come inside the
apartment. She ran under the
couch and stayed there.
Sometimes she’d peek out, or
ask to be let out. She was terribly
afraid of Pam.
I’d come home from work and
she’d be waiting outside under
the window. She’d roll around
in the dirt while i smoked a
cigarette. Sometimes she’d follow
me into the living room.
Eventually she felt at home
inside, sitting & watching & waiting
for dinner. She was quiet, rarely
speaking, except to go out or
say that she was hungry. She’d sit on my lap and watch
& listen to everything.
i’d sit at the kitchen table,
she’d sit on the kitchen table,
preferably on a newspaper, and
watch for the birds and squirrels
that come to the avacado trees
outside the window
at night i’d lay on my back
and she’d lay between my thighs.
when i got up in the morning around
5 or 6 she’d join me on the porch,
on the top step, while i smoked a
cigarette. We’d look out at the
day slowly opening up. Watch for
signs of life.
- at 5 AM my body tells me to get up. I don’t want to get up. It’s dark. There’s nothing to do. I have to be quiet.
- I go outside and sit out on the top step to smoke a cigarette. There is the conspicuous absence of a furry little buddy at my side.
- 3 windows of the apartments that encircle me are alight.
- Lenny from downstairs quietly closes his front door and heads out on his way to work.
- A man is running down Ransford Avenue in the dark.
- There is a strange orange glow low in the western sky behind the apartments before me. It is the security lighting from 8 Arkwright Court, the largest apartment complex in the area, where my friend Alba lives, where the police often go.
- There is the conspicuous silence of two giant seagull chicks that have grown enough to move away.
- The guys at the Bagel Bakery are banging their pots around. Their language has improved over the years.
- A sliver of moon hangs low over the western horizon, although the stars are obstructed from view by the wet air.
- The cypress & pine trees, the older ones, stand tall and motionless, silhouettes in the dark, dripping fog.
list of things I like at work (for Sesshu, March 28, 2014)
- wild turkeys wandering around the abandoned barracks with broken windows at ford ord.
- working with Jose from guanajuato who gave me an excellent recipe for chicken enchiladas.
- waiting in the dark, in the rain for the 6:30 bus to work with the lady that doesn’t speak and marches in place.
- my supervisor, stephanie’s beautiful laugh coming out of the break room at lunchtime. I always eat outside.
- fernando cooking flautas at lunchtime, the smell reaching all the way to me and my bologna sandwich.
- waiting for an hour at monterey beach after work for a bus to pacific grove, watching the boats (two small sailboats playing with each other in a strong wind) and the people.
- Learning patience and tolerance and other things from the other G.A.’s (workers like me) like lola helping me get ViaCare and Medical, which had always been denied to me. (not old enough, not young enough.)
- All the birds in the wetlands wooded area in laguna grande park. (saw an egret and a heron this week.)
- Being able to do a job with tools and job requirements that I like and understand.
- crossed out: Mark (public works boss)
10. Being outside all day
no matter what kind of weather
going to a lot of different places.
Memories of Grandma —a list
- i think this is the right incident that led me to live with Grandma: i was living at the highlands inn in carmel with my father. he got fired (through no fault of his own, he was doing a good job. it was a power play on the part of another employee.) i continued to live at the highlands inn and attend carmel high school. sometimes i hitchhiked home after school on highway one, across the street from the school. one afternoon, a highway patrol car pulled up and the cop came out to talk to me. he asked me, “how old are you?” i got scared & said, “18.” then he asked me, “what year were you born?” i couldn’t figure it out. the officer drove me to the juvenile hall in salinas where they put me in a room with one other guy. i asked him, “what are you in for?” he said, “i stabbed my father.” he asked me what i was in for. i told him, “i couldn’t do the math.” i remember thanksgiving came up while i was there and we had turkey dinner on trays. a yoga guy came and tried to teach us a different way to breathe. i think somehow i ended up at grandma’s house after that.
- grandma lived on the corner of rice & roni in vallejo, in a pretty big two story house. there was a big back yard and a garage, although grandma didn’t drive a car. she kept her pickled fruits and vegetables in the garage, in mason jars. we never ate them. i never saw her make any but i know she did it.
- vallejo seemed like a very depressed city at that time. Things seemed run down and not much was happening. Somebody told me it was the heroin capitol of the area, which was believable. There were some pretty scary people walking around. i went to an alternative high school called “people’s high.” i don’t remember learning much there but i did develop a fear of black guys who might fuck you up, just out of boredom maybe, or because they didn’t like your face.
- one thing i did learn was in english class, the teacher really liked this author, jack kerouak. I read a couple of his books and learned about his friends and experiences. i liked the frank informal character of his writing. its nonelegance.
- i met a girl there named Dusty Rhodes. she was wild and sweet. she lived in a foster home, where we would go to make out. Once i brought her to grandma’s house and took her upstairs to my room. a loud voice camew booming up the stairs. “there’ll be no shacking up in my house!” i had never heard heard grandma raise her voice before. i never brought dusty back there. later i would learn that she had given me gonnereah.
- at school i also learned where to get drugs. i used to smoke pot and take LSD. grandma wasn’t really a great cook, but she did cook for me and i was grateful. one evening she made spaghetti and i was high on LSD. i sat down at the table with grandma, who really didn’t smile that much, but we sat together eating dinner. The spaghetti noodles were swirming all over my plate. I liked being with grandma and i did smile and tell her how much i liked spaghetti. When i tasted it though, it seemed so wrong. I looked across the table at grandma and she was chewing her food, looking as happy as she usually did. i kept eating, wondering if i was just having a bad acid trip, or what? i didn’t want to show disrespect for grandma so i ate it all. Later she told me she made the sauce with wine but it was really wine vinegar. That was the sourest spaghetti i ever ate.
- grandma kept all the shades closed. her living room window had an awning that came halfway down the window. there was a bush that came up below the window, leaving a four inch view of vallejo. This was her usual view. Grandma didn’t go outside much. I used to do shopping for her. If she went outside and worked in the yard sometimes she’d get a big rash and her face would swell up. It was like she was allergic to the outside world. She stayed mostly in her big chair in the living room looking out through four inches of daylight.
- Grandma had a piano. She told me she used to play music for the silent movies at theatres. She never really played anymore. One time I took her a John Lennon songbook and she sat down at the piano and played “imagine” magically, flawlessly. that was a really good time in my life.
- On one counter was a picture of ray foster, her son. He was in a football stance, in an old time uniform, probably in college. He looked dynamic and young.
Journal: A SERIOUS EXPERIMENT
4/27/11 — 4:40 PM— KFC— Seaside— Sunshine after work… Trying to go in a different direction I headed up Broadway and down Fremont, away from my ‘on the way home’ store and my spot in the woods (where I enjoyed many hours after work with my radio and a quart of beer and my thoughts).
I’ve been seriously considering stopping my drinking thing lately, mostly on account of my worsening health and other related problems.
…I’ve been suffering from chronic fatigue (and weakness) for awhile now.
…My muscles are shrinking and deteriorating (although I haven’t lost much weight)—I look skinnier.
…I have frequent nausea (every morning) and my “stomach” hurts alot. This is accompanied by
—Loss of appetite.
My hands are shaking/ trembling now—(although I did my usual good job at work)
…Sometimes lately my fingers have been seizing up like cramped outstraight at weird angles at work. I had fun working with the guys at Laguna Grande park today in the sunshine trimming trees and cleaning up. A G.A. spotted “the bread truck” parked at the end of the block on Alhambra so I went and got a Marie Callender’s frozen dinner for lunch, (Roast beef & mashed potatoes & greenbeans & carrots) and a sugary cinaman type roll with some kind of berry filling for break. It’s kind of hard to hold my food (fried chicken and a biscuit) with my hands shaking like this, I don’t know where this is leading… will it get worse? will it get better? I thought: maybe if I each I can have a treat after work instead of a beer and it will only cost as much as a couple of beers and I won’t be drinking and maybe I’ll get really full and I won’t feel as much like drinking (since it usually makes me feel kinda sick if I eat and drink at the same time).
I found a Korean 99 cents store on the way here and bought this notebook to write about this.
A very irritating cold wind has been coming up lately in the late afternoons and I’m thinking of taking a bus home and skipping my usual walk to the monterey bus plaza.
…I’ve been mostly always cold inside lately. (although its very warm here in this restaurant and my slightly sunburnt face feels hot now).
Well, I’m going to look for a bus stop. (5:30 PM)
The bus came right after I sat down (5:35 PM) Having bigger paper with longer lines makes me write different. Writing on a moving bus is hard.
We’re going by El Estero park —where I had another “on the way home spot” after stopping at the little neighborhood Korean Market in Monterey.
Now qwe are at MPC where Frankie (a G.A.) told me today they give away food and razors and deodorant and stuff by the student center. (by the library, cafeteria? what hours?)
So it’s been 12 hours since I work up that I havent had a beer today. Last beer I finished at 9 PM last night only drinking one quart all day yesterday, and about the same the day before, Monday, WHEN I REALLY FELT LIKE CRAP and I had NO POWER OR ENERGY and my brain was all scrambled and bad thoughts kept coming and EVERYTHING HURT, and
I WAS TRYING TO WORK.
Michael is “G.A. Baby!” Jerry’s friend.
Jerry’s other friend G.A. is Charlie who lives around the corner I think. (the guy who is joking a lot.)
6PM. At the bus plaza. People sitting around and standing around in the evening sun and long shadows mostly without speaking. Across the street is the little store with the east indian (?) guys where I would sometimes get a beer and bring it here to wait for the bus. Across the street the other way is PEET’S where they have really good expensive (2.00? same as a beer) coffee that used to get when I was drinking coffee. They have a nice patio outside where I could sit and drink coffee and smoke. It’s across the parking lot from Trader Joe’s, where I used to buy Bul Kogiu and other delicious foods and the building where they have A.A. meetings (like the one that just ended) that I used to attend when I was going to meetings.
Tomorrow is my shorter day at work.
On May Third I might have a date to work for Cam. I have to call her before then to make sure or make rearrangements.
The bus to P.G. is coming in 4 minutes.
The number 2 bus to P.G., leaving now, leaving now (6:15 PM)
This is my fourth and last bus of the day and I’m heading home.
Francis got on the bus on the way home. We talk and laugh. I come home to find the house empty except for one hungry small-face snaggle tooth cat. I still haven’t had a beer all day. My eyeballs itch. Its amazing and scary. It feels really good when strong cravings are not making me miserable, and that shaking thing… So I can’t stop drinking for a little while then have a beer to feel better (or “normal”) and then stop drinking after that, because I won’t, and these weird feelings will just continue and I won’t really adjust to being sober— because it will take a long time and abstinence ro get my brain back in tune with sobriety and my brain chemicals rebalanced in a “normal” way. I think until then it will be a constant battle requiring constant vigilance.
NPR says: IT’S 7 O’CLOCK.
Sometimes when I have stopped drinking for awhile my brain signals get mixed up, for example I can’t tell if I need to take a shit or brush my teeth, and I almost put toothpaste on the toilet paper. There is this kind of confusion and mental chaos.
…there’s been blood in my shit later. (a couple of times enough to turn the bowl water red)
…my pee has turned a dark, murky orange color that sinks quickly to the bottom of the bowl in a concentrated way.
7:20 PM. The sun is getting ready to set. I opened some windows in here to let in some fresh air, the house was all closed up smelled funky.
I fed the cat. She sits on the kitchen table, satisfied, looking out the window. The only one that got mail today (2 letters!) was Anthony, who usually doesn’t get any. (John gets a lot of mail)
My eyes are itching really alot. Some kind of knowledgeable sounding people are discussing America and the Middle east in quiet voices on NPR. There was a G.A. today, Calvin, I think, who had a really BIG incessant voice, and when we were all packed in that truck I couldn’t wait to get out, even though what he was talking about was kind of interesting.
Drinking a warm cheap soda in the fading light.
Monday I had no strength, no energy.
Tuesday i worked vigorously.
Today I did even better I think.
I wonder if I’ll be able to sleep tonight.
WASTED DAZE WASTED YEARS MISSED CHANCES GOOD TIMES TURNED BAD BROKEN THINGS WASTED MONEY ANGRY DISAPPOINTED PEOPLE LOSS LOSS LOSS LOSS LOSS
…I keep getting more and more unmotivated.
…Doing simple things ( like laundry, or taking a shower, or cooking, or brushing my teeth, or making my bed…) become hard
…My depression and anxiety increases.
…My chronic physical pain increases.
…It gets harder and harder to face and interact with peoople, so I avoid more and more opportunities and become more and more isolated.
…I miss lots of possible job opportunities because I am not interacting with and meeting and talking with people. (Because I am intoxicated, or tired, or depressed, or too full of anxiety, or full of bad feelings about myself—feelings of worthlessness.
…My relationships with family members (and friends) have deteriorated or been lost.
…My financial dependence on other people causes me guilt and shame.
…My loneliness becomes almost unbearable at times.
…Blackouts, memory problems.
8 PM: Lost my hat and glasses. hard to find them without my glasses on. Searched the apartment. Found them. A poem on NPR. A positive review of Emmy Lou Harris and her new album.
ONE DAY AT A TIME…
ONE DAY AT A TIME…
ONE DAY AT A TIME…
ONE DAY AT A TIME…
I MADE IT!!
Bedtime. As soon as I get comfortable in bed the cat will cry at the door to go out.
“You’re stupid, stupid,” I tell her.
I went to the bank, got some money, went to the liquor store and got a quart nof cranberry cocktail (tasty pretty good, better than soda) and some smokes. Ate an orange.
I made it through one day! (so far.)
NOW IF I CAN SLEEP…?
So there are some good feelings from doing this, a lot of weirdness & discomfort and confusion, but some real good feelings too. My fingers are seizing up again, I never had that before. I hope it goes away. It hurts like cramps and I can’t make it stop right away. I’m gonna turn the radio off and try to sleep now. 9:45 PM.
4-28-11 6:45 AM— on the bus
Went to bed at 9:30. Laid there for at least 4 hours unable to sleep. I’m not sure what happened after that.
So I made it through one DAY without drinking. Big deal. Except:
I’ve been able to do that only a few times in my “adult” life. Few enough to count on one hand.
Except that this could be the necessary first step in a whole new phase of my life.
Except that it was difficult and painful and making me feel crazy inside.
Last day of G.A. work for this month. Frankie is the G.A. with long hair. Try to remember their names. Some of these guys have good information and experience. Some of them are fun people going through hard times.
The little seizures or cramps in my hands continued for awhile into the night but finally subsided. The muscles in my hands are still sore and tight and it feels like it could happen again. I’ll find out.
Today will be different if they let me off early. I will have MORE TIME to deal with my self and my addict-mind-insanity. I’m taking this notebook with me cuz it seems to help.
12:45 PM Jack in the Box—Seaside
—Beautiful sunny Morning—
Just got off work. Mark sent me to the mechanics shop this morning.
“I thought I’d give you an easy day today,” he said. I thanked him. Joel and Xavier were there. I cleaned the shop (it was still pretty clean from when I did it on Monday) and talked to Ray about his motorcycle and also to Stephanie , who tries to help me. Joel sent me clean the parking lot so I worked on that til lunch. Stephanie brought me a perfectly sized bandaid after looking through a bunch. (I bleed easily) These two junior bacon cheeseburgers taste all dried out and flavorless, not like beef at all. ($3.04) NOT RECOMMENDED. Worst burgers I’ve had in a long time. Think I’ll go sit at the City Center and have a smoke and a cherry cola.
12:20 PM— City Center Sun— breezy. Can’t go up to social services too soon, since I got off early I’m doing OTHER THINGS.
There is this sense of heightened awareness, clarity, sharpness, like things are connecting better—it is also uncomfortable—unlike my usual somewhat numb separate dulled out state.
MY COMFORT ZONE
It’s been a day and a half now, there are definitely good things about it—not drinking—but it is still uncomfortable and I keep wanting to slip back into the comfort of that beer buzz that I am so used to.
SO NOW I HAVE TO FIND OTHER THINGS TO DO.
—I would like to get a 25.00 phone card.
—I should get back into exercizing again.
—Can’t seem to think of much right now.
The twittering birdsongs sound nice. Their shadows cross on the bricks in the sunshine around me.
4:30 PM —
turned in my time card a little after 1 pm, (Ran into Charlie, the G.A., and Harvey, the G.A. with the big voice in the S.S. office) took buses home. the wind was bothering me and I felt tired, maybe from lack of sleep. So I ate a piece of chicken with some cranberry cocktail & laid down with NPR, slept at least an hour. Now I feel kind of hazy, not so awake. It’s warm and quiet in here just me and the cat. Gonna try to wake up and think of what to do.
Went to Rite-Aid, Savemart, and the thrift-shop (closing for the night.)
Ran into Norma in Save-Mart— felt composed and calm, didn’t freak out. Congratulated her on her win in the housing case, “a long battle.”
—BOUGHT: —22.00 in foodstuffs (food stamps)
—25.00 phone card
—4 cans of cat food.
…including a big jug of vegetable juice (like V-8)
and a bottle of cranberry/ pomegranate/ blueberry/ apple/ pear juice
and some Blue Cheese salad dressing.
Si I put the food away, fed the cat, ate some pork skins with juice, wrote in this notebook and now restless don’t know what to do.
“things to do”
10 PM: talked with Anthony and John. Stuck the stickers on the game board from Savemart. Drank some vegetable juice with some toast and a Cadbury Egg (from John, for Easter) I made it through this day, my second day. Tomorrow (and the days following) I have no work so I have to find things to do.
I’m supposed to write to Sesshu and call Cam, maybe work for her on the 3rd of May. maybe I can make or buy Alicia a birthday gift.
Maybe clean and organize my STUFF.
7:40 AM— sunshine, BLUE sky, breezy.
My nose just started bleeding. Watered the little tree, fed the cat.
Maybe I could clean this place up today—FOR SOMETHING TO DO. Really should be done. Can;t find anything here. What is all this stuff?
I was cleaning and organizing the house this morning, I was feeling kind of shaky and irritated, like i needed something I didn’t have. John got up and started doing Johnisms and I started yelling and going off and then I went and got a beer, and then I went and got another. I was thinking I have to learn to cope with those feelings I get without drinking, but I didn’t. I kept cleaning the house, 7 hours spent so far, still looks the same, but I know it’s better. John took off. I put some lentils on with ham and onions and that’s cooking. (Cleaned out my refrigerator shelf) then I tried to take a nap but my mind just kept going and finally I got up with a headache. This is still the experiment, this is part of it, I have to deal with this part too.
8:08 AM— bright sunshine coming through the window—waking up with a headache neckache bleary brain. Fed the cat, turned on NPR, poured out the last of a beer.
Last night Omar called from Tijuana, he sounded good, still working at the airport, invited me down. he said, “we can hang out with the prostitutes, get kidnapped and cut up into little pieces.” I told him I was kind of busy working on things lately.
Cooked some lentils with leftover ham, also boiled some chicken leg quarters and made some taco meat and chicken broth. I feel tired and somehow sad and like it’s hard to move.
I did write an e-mail to Sesshu yesterday.
Also cleaned out my refrigerator shelf.
Also threw out all my music cassettes except for personal recordings with Tim and the other guys, Alicia, Zeus, like that.
Threw away a microwave oven, a toaster, a coffee maker, a whole bunch of stuff.
Cleaning went really slow, finding out what is where, where it goes. Still have a long way way to go.
—the pile by the computer.
—the cupboard shelf under the microwave.
—the carport stuff.
8:52 AM —checked my e-mail, Sesshu wrote and said he’s been really busy talking about writing at lectures & things & hasn’t been doing much writing. He said somebody might want to publish ATOMIK AZTEX in France!
Drinking a warm generic Dr. Pepper and trying to wake up. Probably feel better if I take a shower. The cat is happy laid out on the kitchen table in the sun.
DOING OTHER THINGS
This big cleaning project is happening because I quit drinking. If I would have been drinking it wouldnt have happened. One time I quit drinking and got the idea to get a computer, so I got my first computer. “Doing other things.” Ideas come. Somehow things come together, things connect when I am sober. And lots more gets done. It’s ghard to get sober and stay that way. It’s hard to GET sober. Lots of times it would seem impossible for me to stop drinking, mostly most of the time. But now I did stop for 2 days on my own and I didn’t have any seizures and I should take advantage of this time because it is here now and if I lose it I might not find it again anytime soon. it’s a GET SOBER window.
9:30 —a bowl of lentils, tastes good.
It’s really quiet around here now, no trucks roaring and rumbling outside in the alley, no workers banging stuff around out there, no skateboarders yelling and cussing and slamming their boards around, no voices, no doors slamming, no people going up and down the stairs, John sleeping & Anthony took off early, very quiet…
So I am starting again—shaky, headache, nervous, doubtful, lonely in my solitary pursuit of this thing…
—-Maybe I should go to meetings. (meet some other people who are doing this too)
10:30— took a shower, cravings attempting to take over my brain. Tried to tighten the toilet seat but I started shaking too much. Better start with something easier, like smoking a cigarette.
Fried chicken smell of the past when Los Angeles was a blast of car horn, beer, particulate, urine in the corners—”Hey, Dad, we’re talking about you!”—Parking lots spilled into Beaudry, Temple, Beverly, First—the streets emptied into bars, puddled in street lights necklacing avenues and boulevards all the way to the surf. Eyes shining, faces flushed with ecstasy, that five minute summary of five years. Who were you then? How did it happen? The city cooked the night. The ocean breathed. Little fish died like eyelids. They swam through your dreams, fishes and eyelids, like cars streaming the 5 freeway, and when you awoke, the fishes and eyelids desiccated, hanging in salty bags all the way from the South Pacific to Ranch 99 Market. I saw everyone who was nothing like you, but the time reference was off. Faces flipped like cards. You felt forgotten. Women made beautiful babies with the industry of cars, ships, planes. Crashes occurred. Indexes of leftover lives collated with indices of plywood partitions, statistical margins, self-delusion with a rasp of crows. They were missing you but would forget all about it. Give us this day, this day of petroleum. The historical moment aligned like cans on shelves of family markets throughout Southern Calif. Rusty pile of cans in a desertscape, the way a horny toad gives you the eye. All the wild motion of sky goes on and on. We go on, coated in the particulate, in lungs and tears, our tongues and cavities, wear buildings like worn-out ideologies, wear worn-out ideologies like sunshine divided into columns. Fried chicken smell of summer afternoons, summer nights all winter long. Fried chicken smell of dad’s ghost, the one he shadowed wherever he walked. Fried chicken smell of downtown L.A. SRO hotel hallways, murphy beds, Bunker Hill. I was talking to you. Whatever you had said drew a finger across it, left this smudge pointing the direction you’d gone.
3 stars fall on Sand Creek
3 stars fall on San Gabriel Mission
Selected Poems of Pier Paolo Pasolini
Jayne Cortez on Mp3
Selected Poems by Frank Stanford
3 stars fall on Juárez
3 stars fall on Ayotzinapa
agave blooming, agave dying
17 year old killed in the crosswalk, Highland Park
lights of the San Gabriel Valley, lights atop Mt Wilson
3 stars fall on Deer Creek
3 stars fall on Hells Canyon
Marina found a scorpion in her bag before leaving AZ
she left it on the counter in a jar
3 stars fall on Los Angeles
3 stars fall
they walked among you, you stones.
these walked among you, you lonely trails.
they walked among you, dim plains.
these walked among you, down long shores.
they walked among you, misty trees.
these walked among you, cities of forgetting.
they walked among you, fallen petals.