Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Painted Elephants

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

Fields and Children, village in Bharatpur

Yellow, Nimaj Bagh

I spent seventeen days in December traveling throughout the state of Rajasthan, in northwestern India. Originally ruled by the warrior caste known as Rajputs, this amazing land is home to both bustling cities and their majestic forts as well as great stretches of rural villages, fields and desert. I have never before been anywhere as photogenic. Unique and vibrant, the culture of Rajasthan and its people richly permeate the traveler's senses. Women, in vividly colored saris, stand out against the landscape, while men, though clothed in jeans and more western-wear, model great Rajasthani mustaches.

They paint their elephants. And cows. Please go here to see more photos.

I also remember that he watched her, curling his mustache.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Memory Gardens

Sometimes you come across something so appropriate to your current circumstance that it strikes you in such a way as to imprint itself on your mind. Something you must return to over and over again, in reference to all points of your life. Seconds ago I opened up my copy of the second issue of the St. Petersburg Review for some good reading while waiting for my friend, and decided to re-read the essay by Arkadii Dragomoschenko, entitled 'Memory Gardens'. I love Dragomoschenko's work, and have had a wonderful conversation with him this past summer, and so always enjoy reading whatever I can of his, for the first, second, or even third time. Though I had read it before, the opening of this essay had a particular effect on me now because of the events in my life in the past two weeks.
Sometimes a few encounters, no matter how long or intensive, in the end form something like a ghostly constellation that owes its linguistic content, the valence of its anticipations, its mutually substituting intentions - in a word, the laws of its existence - not so much to chronologically distributed facts or neuroleptic recollections of certain attendant, contextual circumstances as to the logic of an unforeseeable ("future") exchange of that which can be rightfully called "generative possibilities": they open to the imagination - but not all to the permanence of memory - in forms that are ungraspable yet anticipate unimaginable perfection.
In certain other regions of discourse, these possibilities are sometimes called "desire," which lends some vague value to the clarity of forestalling. The influence of such interactions is unpredictable. Sometimes such encounters happen in life.
Is it too much for me to hope that the confusing and absurd encounters I have had with one specific person in the past two weeks can come anywhere near this idea of an influential, generative, ghostly constellation of interactions?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out - by Richard Siken

Every morning the maple leaves.
Every morning another chapter where the hero shifts
from one foot to the other. Every morning the same big
and little words all spelling out desire, all spelling out
You will be alone always and then you will die.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Today there was

a fire, and a question still unanswered. I have been talking about it for a week. More.

At the market, I bought two sweet peppers, one red and one yellow, and a cucumber, green. I couldn't remember what else I wanted. I ate an orange for lunch, and drank afternoon tea. H. asked me about last night, and I told her it didn't happen. Therefore I don't know what I'm doing.

I have a greeting card I bought for myself years ago put up on the wall above my desk. It's a fantastical drawing of a tiny naked woman standing on shoulders, reaching into the ear of a head, holding an axe in her left hand and placing a chopped up log onto a pile.
It's all about fantasies and deadwood - chopping up useless thoughts...clearing room to dream.
I know that I have been dreaming recently, I just cannot remember about what.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Returned from an amazing concert by Ladytron, who's music you can listen to here. I reveled in the beating of the bass speakers that pounded notes into my body. One of the best concert's I've been to, and needless to say their recordings do not do these songs justice. Three years since their last album, the newest one entitled "Velocifero" is definitely their most accessible. With more streamlined lyrics and more flowing sounds rather than straight electronica, this album has been their most successful release yet. I must say, however, that I do love the incessant beats and words of their second album, "Light & Magic."

Maybe this is because I like thinking about light so much.

My persistent companion on all thoughts pertaining to light, I find myself again flipping through Elizabeth Block's "A Gesture Through Time." She writes:
Light races, especially in a digital era of fiber optics. You race at the speed of light. Though it moves through time, we only know its absence/distance/deferral from its object, the source of light. Light is not pure object. It is mere representation. Not the thing itself. The virtual memory of the memory, as OS X operating system becomes OS 9's parasite. Light becomes God of mediation. Light moves, light presents as if. Not is. But, no. Light is (in the twenty-first century): Artificial projection.
Lights behind the musicians, blue, red, white: light and magic. I sent this quote to E. yesterday because I couldn't think of anything else to email her. I also spent all of today sitting in front of a warm fire, tea in hand. I love the fire; I do not love this desire and ensuing confusion.

Photos: Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie, by Guus Krol on

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Tease

Dark red of screams and daylight sucked out of / Trying to escape
Surrounded by noise, screaming mouth sounds. A wine glass / lacking
A base. Calling my name and then / and then bodies pressed against windowpane
Something sharp that breaks / open mouth, closed face. She said it again.

I couldn't know your thoughts, I only wanted to close the space.
A terrible tease. Tormenting me.

Wine, champagne, people sitting in chairs. A fire, there was. Bad music, conversation somewhere between interesting and not, and interesting if I cared. Thinking about footsteps in snow, crossing the yard. New snow and crystals. And now, nothing more to say.

Friday, November 7, 2008

From Wednesday, on the Thames

I love cities. I love the noise of cities. I love the lull when traffic is stopped at a light and then the rush of sound when it all starts up again. I do not like sitting in a room for two hours waiting for my number to be called. But I do like the sound of the word 'clock'.

Today, I like fog. I don't always. I like the sometimes kiss of light mist as I walk along the river.

I like poetry. I like walking.
I like thinking about poetry as I walk in London.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Mark Rothko, Late Work

A long overdue reflection on the Rothko exhibit at the Tate Modern in London. This photograph of his painting does not do it justice; nor do these, but they're better and you can learn a little bit about the exhibit too.

Many of Mark Rothko's late works were composed in series, one stage or color haunting the frame. The Seagram Murals, commissioned in 1958 by the Four Seasons Restaurant in the Seagram building though never actually displayed there, loom over museum-goers from their placement high up on the very large walls. My notes tell of a framed penetration and the massiveness of invention. They must speak to each other - the paintings.

My favorite, though, were his black-form paintings composed in 1964. These are marked by Rothko's shift from the brilliant colors of his more well-known paintings from his earlier years, to this pervasive non-colour1. These paintings demand attention, for the longer you look, the more you are rewarded with the discovery of depth and layers underneath the surface. It is also important to note how Rothko had moved away from the soft edges of his earlier works to the straight edges of these works.
Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or a tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or a tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they say something. For me that is the very basis of painting. The abstraction is the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can only clarify in paint. -Georgia O'Keeffe
I agree.

While here, I thought of a woman walking into a painting. Not a landscape. Just color, a block of.

1. Black, a. literal. The proper word for a certain quality practically classed among colours, but consisting optically in the total absence of colour, due to the absence or total absorption of light, as its opposite white arises from the reflection of all the rays of light

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"Dear X,

You were in my dream last night. I was looking at you from behind and you were bent over doing something so that I could see that you had a tattoo on your lower back...The tattoo on your lower back was quite large. It was a still life - of sorts - a pitcher, fruits, vegetables, a half-filled glass, among other consumables. It was, in short, the view into a refrigerator. You know when you're kind of hungry but not really and you feel you want something but you don't have anything specific in mind and you just go to the fridge by some unstoppable compulsion and you open it up and stand there gazing, half conscious, not really looking, just wanting but not exactly wanting anything you're seeing? Well, exactly that was what you had tattooed above your ass...she's a genius, I thought. Extraordinarily inspired, I realized the only way to overcome the embarrassment of my old tattoos was to go out right then and there and get a new one. Then I woke up."
- Dexter Sinister

The first finding, a piece of paper containing this excerpt, picked up at the 2008 Whitney Biennial in April. I never read this paper when I picked it up, but obviously found the installation interesting enough to warrant taking something to remember it by. I have been thinking about getting a new tattoo not so recently (think: for at least a year). The more persistent feeling I have, however, is that I stand in the front of the refrigerator and there is something I want, something, I just don't know what, yet it is something very specific, and I don't know how to get it. This is my life.

"Although you are interested in the body, sensation, but you want to see how far sensation can be taken from the body itself -- the beloved, in these poems (unlike, say, your work last spring), more remote, the pain less acute, the separation more complete."
- Saskia Hamilton

The second finding, a short note on some poems I wrote between January 2008 and April 2008. A very acute, and on my own reflection, correct, observation. The pain is replaced by more pain, or less, or merely the difference between the two. The separation is enacted, rather than imagined, or projected. Separation of body. Separation of identity. Separation of thought.

A woman whom I do not know told me recently that she found it courageous that I once said: Abby is pretending she knows what she is doing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Metal Alloys

An intermetallic compound: the process of connecting metal
to flesh: dotted line of a seam. Hammer, spike, a sharpened hook.
Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper; she is electrum,
silver and gold. An atom of a different shape.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Outside of Civilization

This is where I'm going:

Burning Man 2008

I have my tent, dust goggles, bandanna, camelbak, hopefully everything I need to survive in the middle of the desert for a week. Also my pens and of course notebook.

Don't really know what I'm doing, but what's the fun in always knowing?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Working. Or something like it.

Check out this entry I came across today, it's quite interesting:

"I Do Not Submit!" By Troubled Guest, M. R. Shamasneh

Sitting peacefully on the Oregon Coast, doing more thinking about writing than actual writing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Times, dates, Petersburg...

I am having trouble with days, dates, timing things. It has been a month since my last post. But this is not an accident; I have not wanted to admit that I am no longer in St. Petersburg! I have been to Israel and have returned to the United States since then.

I have been to Petersburg twice and still want to return. I do not speak Russian. I do not know what it is about that place: the city, the light, the language. Or maybe it is the incredible people I meet each time I go - though this could be more to do with the Summer Literary Seminars than with that city. But neither would be what it is without the other, for me. And I could not be what I am today without either, as well.

"The Collected Stories" - Amy Hempel
"I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems" - Mei Mei Berssenbrugge
"Crime and Punishment" - Fyodor Dostoevsky

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

[Untitled] 118

We shall meet again, in Petersburg,
as though we had buried the sun there,
and then we shall pronounce for the first time
the blessed word with no meaning.
In the Soviet night, in the velvet dark,
in the black velvet Void, the loved eyes
of blessed women are still singing,
flowers are blooming that will never die.

--Osip Mandelstam, tr. Clarence Brown and W.S. Merwin

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rain, Nevsky Prospekt

On her last night in St. Petersburg, she said to me "I have realized this is just a very lonely city."

And I agree with her.

I can't quite pinpoint it, but there's a pervasive loneliness. It could be the buildings, timeless in their decay, or the ridiculous number of brides that pass in front of the beautiful churches and gardens day after day that seem to be alone. Merely the idea of togetherness hinted at by the couples on the streets.

I'm also thinking of the constant weariness from the sleepless sun. Missing all the fantastic people that I only met two weeks ago but have come to know so well. Hoping to keep in touch.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Graffiti, etc.

St. Petersburg, Russia. Outside Mayakovsky Library

Inspired by K.'s wonderful photographs from last year, I came upon a photo-worthy tag of my own. A questioning glance.

Here in Petersburg, time doesn't exist and when you realize this, it is all gone. I have been here for more than a week now, and I will be leaving in 11 days. I am obsessed with the sun. Minimal amounts of sleep even amount in the most ridiculous dreams; witnessed seizures, seductions, murders in my head.

I have written. I have read. Workshop has been great. I went to Peterhoff Palace today and watched the fountains. This is something you should see.

I am trying to talk to this woman I met here. I have this feeling. I am afraid that I have talked about it too much so it has merely become a projection. But it persists. A desire to discuss the writing, my writing and her own. Hopefully this conversation will take place soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kazan Cathedral, no clouds

I am in St. Petersburg! I am sitting in "The Office" restaurant, enjoying free wi-fi and a beer! I am also distracted by memory, its insistence and lack.

It always comes with advantages and disadvantages. Though I still don't speak the language, I am familiar with the area and more confident in my ability to point and gesture for things than I was last year. I remember the cathedrals, the streets, the restaurants, the perpetual light. Beer at 2 in the afternoon, to be ingested as water...When I arrived yesterday I couldn't believe it when I looked at my watch and it was 11:30 pm, and still light!

But I miss the people - I miss everyone I met here and knew last year. I miss the workshop, the amazing poetry.

On my list (what I didn't get to do last year): Pushkin's house, St. Isaac's Cathedral, absinthe...
more to come...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blue lake, no clouds

Something to do with the sun and a Thursday that feels like a Saturday. "Up North" in Michiganian speak meaning a weekend in the upper half of the lower peninsula, on the north-west coast of the state that resembles a mitten. I am currently between Lake Charlevoix and Walloon Lake, the sky more blue than -

The Bear River Writer's Conference. An expectation of silence, noise from words heard only from the page. Sometimes I can't sleep because there are no traffic sounds. Oh, New York!

I am reading "The Bishop's Daugher" by Honor Moore and making to-do lists. So much to do before Russia, before Israel, before Oregon, Nevada, New York. Oxford, England in October and disappearance from the known.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I am thinking too much. Or not thinking enough in the right ways. The ways I want to be thinking. I am writing short sentences and contemplating the rain.

It has been raining all day. Not a fun, thunderstorm downpour, but merely a thin mist as if the water does not know what it is supposed to be doing or where it is going, falling from the sky as it is. The air is cold.

I like Fridays. I like lifting weights and still being sore two days later. I like my spinning class and listening to long remixes of techno songs as I work out. I don't like feeling judged. I like thinking about what I will do next week when I have free time. I like thinking about the return of the sun.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Time, Time, Time

Written words as a substitute for sound, but I can't think of a substitute for time. At the Whitney Biennial, a video by Amie Siegel with a memorable frame: one car driving, a sticker in the bottom left corner of the back window: DDR.

In the video, an interview:
"How was life for you growing up?"
"It was good. I had no existential fears at all. Later, then, I feared for my existence."

A black box. A broken moment of perfection. Time again. Always time (not more of it, nor less, just the word in space).

Two nights ago, after a concert, a woman hitting on me on the uptown 2 train.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Matter of Sound

I was recently asked how I would describe my voice to someone who had never heard it. My response was which voice? My speaking voice or the internal voice that defines me? I would be at a loss to describe my speaking voice, because I never listen to myself speak. For all I know, I could sound like a two-pack-a-day, twenty-year-long smoker, though I've never smoked a cigarette in my life.

But that other voice is the one that most interests me. I would say it is a hurricane, but that might just be an avoidance of the actuality. I feel as if I am constantly in danger of slipping into the voice of someone else. How do I avoid doing so?

This is what I am trying to say: My lines write the melody, so please stop trying to cross over them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Definitions and Prepositions

Tasked to write an autobiographical essay about "secret spaces of childhood". This is an issue for me, as I do not have memories, or choose not to remember, these things. Perhaps as a consequence of this, I frequently experience the feeling of deja vu. An excursus into the Oxford English Dictionary provided the following:

Deja vu, An illusory feeling of having previously experienced a present situation; a form of paramnesia.

Paramnesia, Memory that is unreal, illusory, or distorted; spec. the phenomenon of deja vu, an instance of this. Also: loss of memory for the meaning of words.

This last sentence fascinated me immediately; sans punctuation but with the connector for it can be read two ways:
1. That one cannot remember what words mean, or
2. To indicate that the meaning of words is given at the cost of memory.


Memory like a void, or the bottom of the well where water seeps into ground. A black hole of experiences. An obsession with words in exchange for memories. Ambivalence towards a belief in the unconscious.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Slightness of sound and then its dissipation, inaudible mouth hissings. The woman said something about the representation of wholeness and my first thought was of the circle of a mouth, lips to form an O.

Even so, this mouth-circle is less a whole than a hole, and I have the distinct feeling that I am missing something important.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Intrigue, n.

:To excite the curiosity or interest of; to interest so as to puzzle or fascinate.

Mysteries like the hollowness of a womb. No one home.

A balancing act of lurid dreams and formidable conceptualizations.
I am waiting for some(one)thing.


Reading "Elders and Betters" by I. Compton-Burnett, first published in 1944. Examining the characterizations and positions of women, as conceived by a woman writer. I am seeking to understand dialogue, as I usually find myself entrenched in description.

In the beginning, in a move to a new house, a bag has gone missing:
"Well, does it matter so much?" said Anna. "It will follow by itself."
"Cook had it with her in the compartment, Miss Anna."
"You mean it had no address? Why did you not bring it in the cab?"
Jenney's eyes went from Anna to Ethel, as if to measure their mutual effect.
"We only brought what was needed for the night, Miss Anna," said Ethel, throwing some light on this.
"Did you leave the bag to speak for itself at the station?" said Esmond. "A label would have saved it the trouble."
Ethel met his eyes in silence.
"You must know what you did with it," said Anna.
"We thought it would come with the other luggage, Miss Anna."
"It would have been wiser and kinder of it," said Bernard.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Panel on Embodiment:

Interdisciplinary conversation on the subject (substance?) of the body. This is where everything gets a little tangled; how do we discuss the body as a material thing? What has happened to the substance, the subject?

How do we return to the question of an ethically informed politics of substance? This substance is an anchor of certain formations of power. The question is of theorization; how to theorize various formations of bio-politics, sovereignty, etc. How do those theorizations help us to understand why the critique of the body was so important in the 1970s and 80s?

Discursive formations of the body. Or has the substance been abandoned?

Thinking in circles. Physical ellipses. The body as simply an imprint of discursive formations. Torture shatters the substance so that it is unable to do a politics anymore - except be shattered.


the gap.

Disassociation from the body. My body. Or yours.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Triolets and Turing Machines

If I write one line, it will repeat three times in the form. The second line will repeat twice.

These are the rules for writing a triolet: first, make sure the line can be repeated without becoming stagnant. Second, make sure the second line is interesting. Third, know where the repetitions fall.

I wanted to write a triolet, and so I did. Perhaps I will show you sometime.


Am currently reading Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing by Helene Cixous. When I described it to M. she aptly described it as one of those books where each sentence feels like an indisputable truth. I couldn't figure out why, though I had read more than 100 pages, each page seemed like I had read it only one page ago.

"I will talk about truth again, without which (without the word truth, without the mystery truth) there would be no writing. It is what writing wants. But it "(the truth)" is totally down below and a long way off. And all the people I love and whom I have mentioned [Writers: Clarice Lispector, Kafka, Ingeborg Bachmann, Tsvetaeva] are beings who are bent on directing their writing toward this truth-over-there, with unbelievable labor; they are fighting against the elements and principally against the innumerable immediate and exterior and interior enemies." -Helene Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing, 6

Only one of many passages I could quote, and only one of many passages I have taken deeply to heart. M. is away and I wish she was here so I could share this with her.

"Writing is learning to die. It's learning not to be afraid, in other words to live at the extremity of life, which is what the dead, death, give us." 10

I desire death, which is to say, I desire to write, and that is all.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Side Show

This weekend was filled with delicious sounds and exploding colors. On Thursday, M. played a magnificent concert at Holy Trinity Church on 65th and Central Park West. A Tuba and a Piano! The church yawned down on us, holding the notes in its mouth. My favorite was the Plog.

On Friday A. dragged me to Fuerzabruta! downtown. I did not want to go, but have since revised my initial opinion of the trek. What a spectacular onslaught of light and color! The show was perfectly disconnected and entertainingly distressing. I recommend it to everyone - think Cirque du Soleil on acid in a rave. I did not want it to end - I wish I could always exist in such a surreal state of expectational disturbance.

Tomorrow I am going to be between A & B, listening to Susan Stewart, Thomas Devaney, and Susan Briante. A perfect way to start a week.


A Mona Lisa
I should like to creep
Through the long brown grasses
That are your lashes;
I should like to poise
On the very brink
Of the leaf-brown pools
That are your shadowed eyes;
I should like to cleave
Without sound,
Their glimmering waters,
Their unrippled waters,
I should like to sink down
And down
And down
And down . . . .
And deeply drown.

Would I be more than a bubble breaking?
Or an ever-widening circle
Ceasing at the marge?
Would my white bones
Be the only white bones
Wavering back and forth, back and forth
In their depths?

-Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958)

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Here, there, and an ear.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A feeling of concavity and vacillation.

Between what, I do not yet know.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Meaning, or the time after a poetry reading

I am contemplating the dissolution of words

the spaces between lines solidifying into tactile objects -

employment of the five senses

Emptiness denoting thought, preoccupation
only when there is room in which to move:

there is not.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The North Wind

This pianist's fingernails
reach all the way to the floor
only the north wind knows his name
he doesn't play the piano anymore
doesn't eat
doesn't love
doesn't sleep

He is king

Down below the carpenter is nailing wood
when suddenly the piano sounds again
in the shadow of a huge frozen sun
the carpenter's beautiful daughter
is scrubbing the flagstones of the north wind
who alone knows
who alone knows how to love
the poets the
true poets

-Miltos Sachtouris, from "Poems (1945-1971)" translated by Karen Emmerich

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Letters and Nouns

Afraid and Alone both begin with the same letter, but they do not end the same.

Measuring worth against a teaspoon of sugar, so sweet, but the apparatus slips from my hands. Perhaps I should have used a cup? That too has the potential for falling, for spilling.

The control must have too much in common with the measured (we do share a name, we are both nouns).


Listening over and over to Sia, Breathe Me:

Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small
I'm needy
Warm me up
And breathe me