This month, I was invited to read at the HUNDY, an event hosted by The Other Fabulous Reading Series, in which 100 poets will read over the course of 15 days at Wolfman Books. For this event, I chose to read excerpts from my Journals.
Home. to bike. to BART. to Daniel Goldstein’s studio where we climbed up and down ladders where we clamped wires from the rafters where the armature hung suspended until we cut it down and lowered it to the floor where we did all this while soft leftists spoke in midwestern accents on NPR through a solar-powered speaker in Bayview where the air is rotting until you get used to it and then again to bike. to BART. to bike. and home.
I only worked for two hours today, 1/4 of my paycheck went to transportation, 1/3 went to lunch, 1/10 to coffee. I return four hours later with $9.50.
left for work late. Kaylee pulled me to the front of the line at Farleys. ‘hey,’ she said, ‘what would you like?’ ‘Just a coffee,’ I said, ‘I have my own cup.’ I got out some cash. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ she said, waving away the gesture with her hand.
I walked out, picking through the contents of my bag. No BART card, no debit card, no ID. I stand on the sidewalk not unlocking my bike. The sky, overcast, reflected golden in the windows of the building across the street. A breeze licks the hair on my upper lip. Red cafe tables. Kaylee. Passing cars. Kaylee. I txt Daniel ‘how about if i come in tomorrow instead of today.’
Next door outside Anfilo, a man sweeps the sidewalk. the back of his shirt reads YA BASTA.
I am wondering, if this is a purely aesthetic project, what the politics of it are.
Elaine, performing Horsebladder at Woolsey
her heel pumping the carpet down and into back and from knees lurching forward the movement repeated a downward weight she pushes the ground farther with every gesture.
before the show Amy Berkowitz in a puff-paint dinosaur t-shirt, ‘Everyone asks if i made it,’ she said. ‘I didn’t. A child made it.’ And we loop into a conversation that we have had before, about the dress that the woman wore in Wild at Heart and about the trope of the manic pixie dream girl. ‘it was made before the trope, she’s wild and crazy, but what’s so great about that movie,’ Amy says, ‘is that she completely destroys his life.’
‘every disfigurement of the human,’ falls from the mouth of Michael Cross as smoke filters in through the open window in these, the final days of summer.
‘in hopes of genuine derivation,’ he says, ‘be moved.’
two nights ago encountered DB and B at the Ave. ‘How did you sneak past us,’ DB asks. He tells me he has prostate cancer. ‘Found out a month ago.’
Olive says that Deleuze says, “the proper way to read is to ass-fuck a text”
and when we looked up the quote on Joel’s phone it was slightly different from this, but we decided that we liked Olive’s Deleuze better than Deleuze’s Deleuze, and I wrote it down on this page.
or, as Bhanu Kapil said last month, quoting Petra Kuppers, ‘i am not interested in confession,” Bhanu/Petra says, “i am interested in discharge.’
in a letter to Divya Victor’s students, i write: to tear down the border that separates writer from reader, to inhabit a text so thoroughly that the very act of reading becomes an act of writing, recognized for the violence that it, ultimately, is.
Emily just walked out onto the porch with a white ceramic mug. Bright pink inside the lip. ‘Do you know whose mug this is?’ E asks Joel. “I don’t,” J says, “Why?” “I want to smash it,” E says. I ask E how come. Printed inside the mug in san serif letters, the phrase: IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. Emily looking into the mug, says, “It makes me feel depressed. Emily walks out to the top of the red concrete stairs, holds the mug out, then throws it to the ground. E looks at the wreckage, white shards on red concrete. “That was dumb,” E says and walks back inside. E returns carrying a broom in one hand, a rusted pan in the other, and sweeps the walkway clear.
haven’t written in weeks. $13 in my checking acct.
not enough to get to LA and back.
the sign on Juliana’s office door that read:
TURN SOFT AND LOVELY
EVERY TIME YOU HAVE THE CHANCE
after days in the streets and alternately on facebook, have paused for long enough to read Citizen by Claudia Rankine. detailed stripped down narratives of daily micro-aggressions, and, as in life, these accumulate into moments of rupture more easily recognized as racism. a tense ricochet between invisibility and hypervisibility, the inability to ever just be.
second day of dizziness
five days of riots since Darren Wilson was not indicted for the murder of Michael Brown.
this country’s usual occlusion of racist structures made starkly overt.
“don’t congratulate yourself,” ted says when i tell him how i had jumped through the police line. “don’t make a martyr your experience”—he’s right. we all just do what we need to. we all just do what we can’t not do. And when my white body runs from the police, it does not get shot.
woke curled around M in the soft white linen morning again to a soundtrack of breaking glass from the recycling center across the street. each of us wearing no shirt, just M’s briefs—powder blue, rust red. we wake slow big spoon small spoon big spoon and so on i press my nose deep into M’s chest hair and breathe through my mouth. M gets up, puts on a long pink robe, gets cookies from the kitchen, is being interviewed by KBOO, a Portland radio station, from the phone: a high pitched voice with a British accent, muted, and goes outside for a cigarette. i will go now and record the sound of breaking glass.
reading The New Jim Crow on the flight from Tucson to Las Vegas. With the plane descending, the white woman beside me asks about it. “The prison industrial complex,” I say, “Ferguson,” and “mass incarceration,” she seems interested. The white woman next to her also seems interested. Both say that they are definitely going to read it. The woman in the aisle seat leans in and lowers her voice to a whisper when she says “black people,” then brings her voice back to its usual volume to finish the sentence. She gives me her drink voucher. I already had one. I thank her. I see her once more in the women’s restroom. She says again that she is definitely going to read it. Again, I say thank you.
Boarding the connecting flight to Oakland. Empty middle seat between a black man and a black woman; I think of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, of her writing on the perpetually empty seat beside the black man on public transit. I sit down in the seat.
The woman has driven AC Transit buses in Oakland for 35 years. She asks if I am from Oakland. “No, I say, “Virginia. Just outside DC.” I ask if she wants a drink voucher, that I have an extra one. She does. He is wearing headphones, grey track pants, grey hoodie. I reach up to the comfort panel above me; i loosen an aperture and cool stale air streams against the palm of my hand.
I tire of my own dialogic realism. How much is not said in speaking.
We sit quietly in the context of our shared colonial history.
We arrive in Oakland.
Kristen has loaned me The Address Book by Sophie Calle. “It is on you to remember to return it,” she said this morning, leaning across the table, “I will not remind you.”