There’s this shitty thing that happens when you learn about the reality of racism, heterosexism and misogyny. You start to hear it from the mouths of your parents, grandparents, friends and siblings and you can’t ignore it anymore but you’ll see how many of them will ignore you when you speak out about it.
the flesh covers the bone and they put a mind in there and sometimes a soul, and the women break vases against the walls and the men drink too much and nobody finds the one but keep looking crawling in and out of beds. flesh covers the bone and the flesh searches for more than flesh.
— Alone with Everybody, Charles Bukowski
(It’s weird how I’ve gotten old enough to forget entire chunks of my life. I had this taped to my mirror for 2+ years and I completely forgot about that until now. Is my life just morphing into this series of experiences and routines that will be forgotten until I stumble across something one day and remember/reflect briefly? Ugh why I am having a crisis right now
In other news, my fourteen-year-old self was sort of morbid).
I can’t sleep again tonight and so my brain goes to all its indigo parts The parts I cannot keep alive when I’m trying to They squint and swallow in the daylight but at night I catch them off-guard
There are bugs eating my hungry stomach so I swallow a flashlight, switch it on, and they recede
Little flecks that move to my head, maybe
I wish I had a tape recorder for my brain I write poetry to fall asleep I wake up and it’s gone, so gone Most of the time it’s not worth it But usually I wish I knew what I said, what had made it enough, or okay, to sleep
Soul-mind loud and routine
It’s a little bit dumb but I wish I could remember my source of comfort in that moment right before I collapse to entities other than mine
(The women with the soft ghost nails combing my hair, checking for lice)
Look I don’t know who left the lights on in my head tonight and don’t worry, I will complain to maintenance because goddamnit, what a waste of energy.
When I try to write about sex, I think back to when I was just out of college and, handy with a makeup brush, took a job to make some extra money doing makeup on a gay-porn film set. On the second day, we filmed a three-way that took up most of the day. The actors struggled: one was hard, the others weren’t, then the others were and the first was not, and so on. After a few hours, the director sent us all out of the room and turned out the lights so the actors could work it out. This was before Viagra—you had to have an honest hard-on to shoot. We waited outside the dark room, the lights out, even the cameramen outside, waiting, until finally we heard the signal, and then the crew rushed back in to film. We turned on the lights.
The actors were made to pause, immediately. I had to touch them up.
They were panting, sweating like athletes. They’d rubbed off most of what I’d put on them. As they held their positions, I touched them up. I thought about how something had happened in the dark that we couldn’t see, an excitement that couldn’t be in the film. It was probably better than what we would film, more interesting.
It seems to me I am always in pursuit of that.
”—Alexander Chee, “Sex and Salter” excerpt from The Paris Review (2011)
I’m trying to figure out if I’ve grown or changed at all over this break. I know I still have two and a half weeks, but it’s mostly over and I’m going to Puerto Rico on Saturday so I won’t have much time to think about this toward the actual end of break. I should have changed somehow. I should have made at least one major decision about what I plan on doing in the near future. Except I haven’t and I haven’t done anything that’s really improved myself and I just feel very pathetic. Even my self-destruction has been subpar lately. I just sit around and do nothing. I masturbate way too much. Masturbation is vaguely reminiscent of Doritos for me. Like, it’s good at the time, sort of?, but it’s also not actually good. I just end up feeling sort of gross. It’s not like a female-sexuality-self-loathing thing, it’s just like an I-could-be-doing-better-things-with-my-time thing. It’s not like I have this massive sex drive, it’s just this thing that I always seem to do.
I should draw or paint or learn to play the guitar. Why am I not dong any of these things? I genuinely want to. I genuinely want to be better as a human but I don’t do anything and it’s sort of disgusting.
“I need my small, meaningless lies. I need all my self-created semi-truths. It’s the only way for me to keep exclusive parts of myself to myself. Believe me, I do not even perceive them as lies. It’s something different that keeps happening inside my head. At the same time, I long to tell you the truth about me, always. I want to share with you each important or unimportant detail and feel and fully embrace the very act of sharing. But it occurs to me that it’s the hardests of tasks; I hate it. I hate unveiling bits and pieces of anything permanent or temporary that resides in me. I loathe it with my heart. You can find more honesty in the smallest of my gestures rather in my words; my words are too impatient, too loose, too doomed in some way.”—Anaïs Nin, from “The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1”
“I wish I wrote the way I thought
With maddening hunger
I’d write to the point of suffocation
I’d write myself into nervous breakdowns
Manuscripts spiralling out like tentacles into abysmal nothing
And I’d write about you
a lot more
than I should”—Benedict Smith, “I Wish I Wrote The Way I Thought”
This is the kind of love my friends warned me about, back in high school when the strongest feelings I’d ever felt involved making the soccer team and a drunken hot tub night after prom. They warned me as they cried into their pillows and as we bought cranberry juice cocktail mix at the grocery store in the middle of the night, they warned me that there was a certain kind of love you wake up with one day, and find yourself covered in it, like chicken pox sores. And that once you recover, you’re immune. You’ll never get it again for the rest of your life.
Jack, you are my chicken pox love. I know I’ve hardened like some form of toxic rock candy as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve come to the realization that I don’t want to be one of those adults moored in the tiny details, in stupidity. So many of them, like my parents, obsess over these meaningless, everyday things and let the greater things slip away. It’s not even that they let them slip away—it’s that they grow to believe the big things aren’t worth thinking or talking about. They live their lives in a cold, subconscious, soul-fear sort of way, too afraid of any real sensation.
Promise we will never be this way. That the big things we talk about will never be forgotten. We can realize when we’re being pretentious or absurd or overtly philosophical at random moments when we’re at Chick fil a or my cousin’s graduation party but let’s still talk about those things anyway. I think I would go crazy without them. Without you. And so I promise I will never grow immune. I will want you everyday, always. But it’s not even want—it’s something deeper than that, much grosser than that, it’s honesty, it’s connection, it’s intimacy, it’s feeling simultaneously tethered to the earth and untethered from it all because of one person. It’s just you. The way you talk and laugh and the way your butt looks in those jeans and the quiet half-smile you get when you’re playing your guitar and you’re doing it well or when we’re watching a movie in the theaters and you’re all focused and contemplative as the light from the screen plays across your face. You know I love movies but I can never fucking look away. You’re so beautiful it hurts to look at you.*
*Ten points if you know what this is from. Just kidding I am setting you up for failure—I know you never watched that box set.
“I’ve never liked the word “sexy.” In high school my friends tried it on as if it were a costume a few sizes too big. Before Valentine’s Day they made stealthy trips to Victoria’s Secret, in hopes that a shock of red or black lace under their well-mannered clothes would persuade them that they had wild sides waiting to be unleashed. The boys at our brother school ranked us according to “hotness,” and as offended as we were by their rampant objectification of us as women, there was not a girl among us who didn’t secretly long to be on their hot list. The boys even devoted a page in their yearbook to the girls they deemed worthy of pinup status… We knew the boys weren’t worthy of passing judgement on us. And yet we had spent our lives chasing approval. We had been trained to get A’s. We were good at taking tests. We abided by rules and honor codes. We underlined our books, made careful observations in the margins, aced our SATs. And so these sons of statesmen, uniformed in blue blazers—they pulled off their ties at the end of the school day and swung them around like weapons—became another jury for us to please. Before we walked across the Cathedral Close to play fans at the boys’ lacrosse games, we brushed our hair, glossed our lips. They wore helmets; they brandished their lacrosse sticks like Vikings.”—Elliott Holt, excerpt from You Are One of Them
This is the problem with a poem— It should be fragmented, sparse.
I am neither of those things; my stories, when I tell them, are long, poorly punctuated, people glance away.
I am full and finely detailed. A poem is meant to be a glimpse— an iceberg can be beautiful and powerful from above the water because we know how much more is underneath.
This is the problem with a poem— I cannot write it if I’m drunk, stoned, or half-asleep because if I did you could read my feelings like the lines of my palm.
This is obviously the last thing I would want.
This is the problem with a poem— it leads me straight into “your eyes” territory. Fucking Siberia.
This is the problem with a poem— I cannot give it away properly. Paintings, sculptures, a song played on the guitar— These are gifts you can give someone. The copies of the painting are not the same, are worth less, and the song can only be performed that way in that one moment.
A copy of a poem is the same. Of equal worth. And I am too narcissistic about my work to give you one I care about without saving the file first. As the years pass, I will probably read something about you at some stupid coffee house thing. I keep doing these gigs even though I sort of hate them.
I don’t hate them entirely though because I like the distance they provide. The more I read about you to strangers the more I know you will recede into the distance, the more you become little more than a captured moment in time. And the time is not even yours. It’s mine.
I only gain that power once the moments have passed, however.
For now, for now…when the moments are here or still coming I suppose you maintain a certain level of ownership. You know, copyright.
It’s hard for me to concede this. Because this is the problem with a poem— It’s a part of myself. And if I write one about you, you matter.
One of my friends said to me recently, “Almost all the pictures on your blog are of women. That’s how I knew you were at least partially gay.” I don’t really think that’s why though (why I have so many pictures of women, I mean), because I desire men so much more, so much more often. I think—well, just to preface this, I view my blog as something of a diary/journal. I’m always glad that other people read it and especially when they show they appreciate it or like it or whatever, but at the end of the day this is for me, this is about documenting, not just in my own words but in pictures and the words of others, who I am at this point in time. And right now, I think I’m much more focused on what type of person I’m going to become, what I’m interested in and what I want to emulate (professionally/artistically and morally and even aesthetically too) than what I desire. So I think that’s why.
“It’s that thing when you’re with someone and you love them and they know it and they love you and you know it but it’s a party and you’re both talking to other people and you’re laughing and shining and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes. But not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual, but because that is your person in this life and it’s funny and sad but only because this life will end and it’s this secret world that exists right there. In public. Unnoticed. That no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess.”—Frances Ha (2012)
I want to go back to Europe. Actually, not necessarily Europe, but that state of being, that constant traveling and constant obsession that each little thing I did and saw was an "experience" because I was somewhere foreign. I wish I could apply that sort of thinking I had during those two and half weeks to my everyday life always. It could make even eating fucking mcnuggets in the middle of the night seem poetic, just because it was distant, just because I was finally on my own physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, whatever. Just because I found control in that complete lack of control. Just because I like trains. And I like being somewhere new because it forces me to listen and really look around because I have nothing, really, to say.
I’m beginning to fall into a rhythm, my rhythm, and I’m not talking about these past two weeks of being home again and sort of hibernating underneath all the snow, but kind of some grander rhythm, one that is slower, more intense, and could go on for years. I am finally beginning to understand what I want and doing what it takes to get what I want. And I suppose that sounds self-absorbed and vaguely manipulative but that’s what I’ve learned this year. I’ve learned I can make things happen like I want them to a lot more than I used to think, and I’ve learned that if I maintain my rhythm, know who I am and constantly take stock of things, then even the bad things can begin to drip with positivity, everything a lesson to be learned eventually.
“I don’t give a shit what the world thinks. I was born a bitch, I was born a painter, I was born fucked. But I was happy in my way. You did not understand what I am. I am love. I am pleasure, I am essence, I am an idiot, I am an alcoholic, I am tenacious. I am; simply I am…You are a shit.”—Frida Kahlo, from an unsent letter to Diego Rivera
When I was a child, I used to like taking baths in the dark. I would fill up the tub, shut off the faucet and close the door. I would turn off the lights then take off my clothes. Everything’s visceral, in the dark. I would possess this sudden awareness of my hairless, bony body, all of its crevices. And I could descend into the lukewarm water and be nothing. It was so quiet. One time I left a rubber duck of my sister’s in there accidentally and brushed it with my foot. The squeak was like a scream. I jumped a million miles out of my body and hit my head on the faucet so hard it bled. I stared there for a while watching the black blood pool and stretch stringily with the movements of this water I could hardly see.
I was a weird kid. I could always look everything straight in the eyes, unflinchingly, like an elephant hunter in some Hemingway novel. My skin was freckled with dark matter and I was not afraid.
Poets like to write about losing things. Keys, pets, friends, their virginities. I think this is because loss—real loss—implies some greater dark that cannot be fixed. Conrad would say ‘impenetrable,’ Wallace would say ‘brutal,’ my parents would buy a nightlight and my friends at school would hand me a shot or a joint.
When I think about darkness, I don’t think about words to describe it. I’m not enough of a writer for that. But I also don’t think about possible solutions or distractions. I don’t know what I am enough of, then. What I am full of. When I was younger, I could sit in the bathtub and be comforted by the blackness that surrounded everything. Now it scares me like everything else does.
I want a camera or a video camera for my birthday so I can start taking pictures or recording documentaries or something. I want to do something new. I want to be nothing at something; empty of expectations (from both myself and other people). To just create and learn in this big clean white space.
In the distance I saw an old woman dressed in a heavy coat, holding a long pointed stick and dragging a large leather bag behind her. She was cleaning the gravesides. When she saw me, she began to shout at me in French. I begged her forgiveness for not speaking the language, yet I knew what she must be thinking. She looked at the grave, and at me, in disgust. All the pitiful treasures and the surrounding graffiti were to her nothing but desecration. She shook her head, muttering. I was amazed at her disregard for the torrential rain. Suddenly she turned and gruffly cried in English: “American! Why do you not honor your poets?”
I was very tired. All around me the messages written in chalk were dissolving like tears in the rain. Streams formed beneath the charms, cigarettes, guitar picks. petals of flowers left on the plot of earth above Jim Morrison floated like bits of Ophelia’s bouquet.
"Ehh!" she cried again.“Answer me, Amercaine. Why do you young people not honor your poets?”
“Je ne sai pas, madame,” I answered, bowing my head.
“Some of us are born rebellious…I remember passing shop windows with my mother and asking why people didn’t just kick them in. She explained that there were unspoken rules of social behavior, and that’s the way we coexist as people. I felt instantly confined by the notion that we are born into a world where everything was mapped out by those before us. I struggled to suppress destructive impulses and worked instead on creative ones. Still, the small rule-hating self within me did not die.”—Patti Smith, Just Kids
Blessedness is within us all It lies upon the long scaffold Patrols the vaporous hall In our pursuits, though still, we venture forth Hoping to grasp a handful of cloud and return Unscathed, cloud in hand. We encounter Space, fist, violin, or this — an immaculate face Of a boy, somewhat wild, smiling in the sun. He raises his hand, as if in carefree salute Shading eyes that contain the thread of God. Soon they will gather power, disenchantment They will reflect enlightenment, agony They will reveal the process of love They will, in an hour alone, shed tears. His mouth a circlet, a baptismal font Opening wide as the lips of a damsel Sounding the dizzying extremes. The relativity of vein, the hip of unrest For the sake of wing there is shoulder. For symmetry there is blade. He kneels, humiliates, he pierces her side. Offering spleen to the wolves of the forest. He races across the tiles, the human board. Virility, coquetry all a game — well played. Immersed in luminous disgrace, he lifts As a slave, a nymph, a fabulous hood As a rose, a thief of life, he will parade Nude crowned with leaves, immortal. He will sing of the body, his truth He will increase the shining neck Pluck airs toward our delight Of the waning The blossoming The violent charade But who will sing of him? Who will sing of his blessedness? The blameless eye, the radiant grin For he, his own messenger, is gone He has leapt through the orphic glass To wander eternally In search of perfection His blue ankles tattooed with stars.
All these new posts with lots of notes talking about everyone on this site constantly being offended have been bugging me. I feel like they’re this subtle effort to undermine Tumblr’s online feminist/social justice community, which is a damn shame because I think it is one of the greatest things this website has done. There are a huge number of teenage girls (and other people too, but mostly them) who have discovered feminism or learned how to be receptive to at least some of its ideas because of this website. That is so important. And to be honest, I think sometimes being offended by everything is that first step in viewing the world in a new, more enlightened way. I wish people would not trivialize that with all these stupid jokes. (…occasionally they’re funny. Usually not though).
Okay in the 70s and 80s it was cool not to wear bras all the time. Like if Diane Keaton or Meg Ryan is wearing a tank top or tshirt sometimes they just let ‘em go. Even if you can see their nipples. I feel like somewhere along the way this became unacceptable. I know in high school people would talk about the girls that didn’t wear bras and how weird it was. Thank god I’m not in high school anymore because fuck that. Bras for people with C-cups and smaller (like my lovely B’s) is just a stupid social construct….bullshit!!!
I apologize I am slightly drunk. This does not make any of this untrue. Also i am reading Just Kids and I feel like Patti Smith would be disappointed if she knew how often I wear a fucking bra. I feel like I’m betraying something. I hate how fucking put together girls are encouraged to be all the time. It’s dumb as nuts
Fuck that, it’s not a dichotomy. Let’s not act like mascara glues girls eyes so shut that they can’t read a word of Dickens or solve a trig problem. Let’s talk about how no boy has ever been asked if he’d rather get his Bachelor’s or get married; no boy has ever been told that he’s too handsome to run for office. So, why cover up my tits so you can take me seriously?
I am so good at turning my brain off, shutting it down like a computer, pulling out the power cord, erasing all the coding and going to sleep.
I always hate admitting this, but I used to have a therapist when I was younger. When I was going through all of that capital-s Shit. I was bogged down and stuff. And she was always remarkably impressed with my skills at repression, specifically when it comes to embarrassing childhood memories. I cannot remember a single one, I swear. And it’s not like they come up when I’m in certain situations. They traumatized me so much because I was so sensitive that they’re just wiped.
Anyway sometimes repression is good. It makes the bad things hurt less because you compartmentalize them and then one day you open the drawer you hid them in and they’ve disappeared. But I do the same thing with the good stuff, is the problem. I repress any feelings I could have that could matter. I don’t know why I’m so afraid when everyone else is so open. It’s almost stupid.
“Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.”—Paul Hawkens