Tuesday, September 27, 2022

48

I know, I know. I get distracted and come up with an excuse. I needed to clip my nails, didn’t I? The new year happens and is celebrated in scattered voices, all crunched down on the phone. In the quiet walk for a burrito, in the darkened alley passing someone else also speaking to some other place, our voices were pulled away. Fragmentation of the floor. What to do with the way it was always dissolving? To reach for the reaching, that ground which at times seems to be nothing more than a play of words, the belief in language, or a way of keeping the fear of falling at bay. In your apartment we talked about our changing beliefs in what an adequate goal for writing could be. No, writing won’t take it all down, but what, you asked, could we truly seek to do? Your goal, you explained, was to write one really good sentence. To be both concerned with it all and make one thing work right—or work beyond your grasp. I said that there has to be a reason to stay in this world, and that my struggle in articulation and its failures happens in that space. I’m infatuated with description and the possibility of what could be. A reason: to walk back down the thin line of steps before the sea, past the stones and the tree that leans toward the water. Each of my projects is an excuse to spend more time with the people I love. Everything is not endless. I want to be with you.

Friday, September 16, 2022

47

The thing that I’m after, it’s unspeakable. Every poem is the same poem because I can’t seem to say what I’m trying to. And because what I’m trying to say isn’t made in language and is only gestured to. I want to write to you about that opening, how it slips through my hands. The mouth that traces a word—how can description get there? To its own outside, the place behind the camera, the place made by being unuttered, by being unfilmed, the next-to-the-thing that somehow drops off, lips unopening. I mean the door that we make out of our two edges, the sometimes-possibility of sitting down to speak or carving out time for a short call, or not carving anything but calling anyway. I’m thinking of that movement, the silent question that marks a long series of beginnings. Exegesis of the outside. Before we begin, notice what’s already here: breath, a few little jars, the sound of pencil. How can we write about love without language itself being broken, unmoored? The point of love (and writing) is to be changed. 

46

Not processing, not wanting to—the little loading screen with the spinning bar that’s just a running in place, an imaginary to fill the time when what’s happening can’t yet be understood. Wheels turning and thousands of bits of information turned into nothing: an image on a screen. Dislocation here becomes a means of holding a sadness at bay, and the sadness of holding that (not reaching out in the arc of your reach) brings with it another weight. Last week it was 20-minute calzones, ice cream from the place across from the other place, baleadas twice in a row, and the tenderness of newly pierced ears. Not in that order, of course.

This week, I sat in my car and watched the sky. In the faded light, a flock of geese flew overhead, and with them, the possibility of everything, for a moment, being released. I had to take a photo to show you. I swiped to open the camera, but instead swiped to mute the volume on the music I’d forgotten was playing. Silence. The same gesture that asks for a pause. The same inability to hold what’s passing by. When I said that I loved you, it was a way of breaking something loose—a door opening to the wind of what isn’t yet known, and the possibility of hands. Who can ever get good at saying goodbyes? Even words yearn for a place without language.
 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

45

To explain the project is to undo it—but what if the project is itself an undoing? New sneakers with overly complicated shoelaces or frayed fabric with a thread hanging out, teasing a pull. In the undoing, I’m trying to find you again—a breeze or the memory of warm wind that keeps showing up the moment before a word is written. A pause. The project, at one point, was a series of letters, each reaching outward from a shared center: at once the ocean and the cliffs at its edge. Each letter fanned outward like the petals of a flower. To iterate implies progression—a means of getting closer or the lie of improvement. What I want is a breaking open, what Shira Erlichman calls, “crab walking.” Shifting the poem side to side, like how I learned to set up a shot when I was 17: put the camera somewhere, then move. Sweep the image around, become small, become bigger, become the you that would have started out two steps to the left. Then point the camera at the bridge and everyone’s commute. See how everything changes or nothing does. Perspective is an invention that must be remade continuously to maintain its hold. Attention, too. Ursula K. Le Guin: “Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

44

How much of love is walking to some edge and imagining another? When bell hooks talk about love as action, she does so to demystify what so many seek but are unable to name. Rather than an unplaceable feeling, love is locatable as an action of care.

Elizabeth Povinelli: Every location is unlocatable except as a focus of habituated attention.

If attention is what brings place into being, is it the same place that’s brought into being when me and you become we? Togetherness is made through an us and an outside. I mean, is it the same coming into focus that is predicated on a closing off? The vibrating edges of perception knocked out by a pair of thick framed glasses and what’s possible to speak of. Attention is the turning toward that’s also the turning away.

Simone Weil: Attention, taken to the highest degree, is prayer.

I’ve thought the same for writing, walking a page to say the same thing, hands working the plastic over and over to make something else out of the same breaking. Months ago there was an exercise to listen to the bird calls in your neighborhood. And when there’s nothing to hear, notice in the silence where the mind goes to.

To acknowledge that we all die, Ross Gay says, to acknowledge that we all die softens us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

43

or, to ask over dinner what love might be, expecting nothing.
is that even possible? holding no expectation
as a means of not being crushed by what is, to not be crushed,
keep running with those small blinders or a tamed horse.

before your reading, we spoke of a poetics of an open field,
how the shape of a word moves us somewhere, how far, how together
such a listening might create some somewhere.

less me, more you; less waiting, more wanting; more grasses, more mouths
wet with the morning; less mourning, more losing; less holding, more opening

a door; the the wooden doorstops it took months to buy
from the artist who kept apologizing and calling me angel.
the engraving reads: what words could keep the door open?

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

42

To stand at the edge of myself and not be afraid. But what is there to fear here? The splitting up of the self, a body into two—or really into the here and the not-there, the inside and the inside-somewhere-else. I’m being loose here, grasping at imaginary divisions. I’m trying, in naming the process, to send some little metallic ball down a little metallic chute toward a little metallic hole: like pinball but without all the dinging and flashing lights and counting score. Actually, keep the score because something should keep track—a ticking clock or a word count or the skin on the back of the hands.

Why go at all toward oblivion or speak to the beating body? Why make a project out of description-as-wind? To keep the space of waiting open / to expect another call / to reach, again, towards what never was but still, somehow, feels like a return. An opening, the coming into clarity of a certain pressure system, this always moving somewhere-else-motion of a question.

Lou, quoting someone or some song: “You don’t know who you are, it’s a question.” This says it all, sums up the entire project and names its central contradiction: the answer being a question again, an open field, a voice tracing a word. Drawing a line in the sand knowing full well the tide is still rising.

I’ve asked the ocean for so many answers, for a way through or a new language or possibility again. A call against a call. The same tumbling, unending response. The same answer, approached again and again in shadow. I’ve spent months spent trying to understand a line from Michael Palmer: “The answer was / the sun, the question”

48

I know, I know. I get distracted and come up with an excuse. I needed to clip my nails, didn’t I? The new year happens and is celebrated in ...