Monday, December 12, 2011

What means the most to you?

Poetry, the miniature musings and exhalations of the soul that see no editor.

Friday, December 9, 2011

the poet acts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Status of Affairs

Franny Glass wonders (in third person) whether we've become advertisements of ourselves, billboards
drilling an image,
a sense of self purchased for the low, low price of a low cut sweater handwoven by tiny metal fingers,
into the pliable face of digital reality.
(One that smiles back,
two-way glass.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

if you only knew

if you could see 

the beauty
of your soul.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

a pittance of gold

I found this post, unpublished, in my queue from last February.

It's hard to make it as a writer: hard to make the deadlines, hard to make rent. Hard sometimes to stay inspired when it seems the only text that's worth a paycheck is a tag line for mayonnaise or pseudo-reality TV. The poems I bleed splatter beneath my ancient desk like condiments on a Coney Island sidewalk, colorful but utterly useless to the masses.

Of course that doesn't stop me from painting the walls of my mind African Violet or the color of geraniums. The seeming mistake is that I attempt a diet of neon and spice, refusing to accept such staples as advertising. I not only refuse, but feel as though I am screaming, "People listen! You cannot eat potato chips for dinner! They are hardly potatoes (no matter how beautifully packaged)! And what of broccoli? Asparagus and artichoke?"

Words harvested for advertising's sake might as well be made of gold compared to the pittance from lead scratchings that weigh the same as my soul.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Live for Love

As obsessed as I am with The Beatles' music, I have never spent much time researching the members' lives. Recently, however, I've had the chance at work to do some, and quickly realized that many of my favorite songs were penned by George Harrison ("Within You Without You," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "I Me Mine"). I started listening to his songs exclusively, and my George journey began.

He was famously embroiled in a love triangle with his wife Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton, resulting, sadly, in divorce. Such is life, one might easily say, especially when subscribed to a mindset of detachment. However, for at least literary reasons, I'd like to dissect the fact:

What power love has. It can transform us (for better or worse), inspire, cloud judgement, lock and free. Quixotic, relentless, powerful, it is no wonder those who preach detachment are quick to stress that (in so few words) love is not personal. In audience with a Buddhist monk, he explained it like this:
    You are to show respect to your mother and father, but they are not your mother and father. Now, do not tell them "you are not my mother and father," but [they have no special relationship with you, because all is illusion.]

In that way, one has no need to feel great pain when another harms him because it is never personal. It is the stuff of this illusion. When a lover leaves, "she" exercises a practice of man, which is less than real. There should be no exquisite pain, because you have no great attachments. To do so is then dangerous for obvious reasons: you grasp at that which you know does not exist fully. In a way, it would do good for all of us to think this way, Buddhist or not. Emotions give way to irrational thoughts quite often. Rage, helplessness, greed are all extremes that at their core, even in the smallest doses, are dangerous and beneficial to none.

I can easily look back onto my youth and recognize clearly that most of my mistakes were propelled by a lack of control of emotions. Emotions make us feel like victims;
"I am so sad because X has happened"
"I am angry due to _____"
"I am in love/happy because of..."

To be grateful or thankful seems less personal. One does not claim a special place in this world. One recognizes that, if anything, we share in all experiences. Great poetry works like this too. One does not attempt to write his story, but the story of man on a Tuesday.

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.
Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.
This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers

-"Late September"
Charles Simic

Monday, October 17, 2011

the interpreter of egos

It was like meeting a character in a book, one that you've come to know intimately. Conversations have been had while you're sitting in pajamas, bangs standing straight up, cold tea sipped between long passages of dialogue.

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the New Yorker Festival for two events, one of which was a panel discussion called "The Writer's Writer," with Jhumpa Lahiri, Nicole Krauss, and Jeffery Eugenides. I went because of Jhumpa. I've only read one of her books at this point (yes, I'm late to join most trends), but the collection of short stories that is Unaccustomed Earth  was enough for me to proclaim to passersby on the street, "she's amazing! My current favorite modern female writer!" and mean it.

On a side note, that quote is real. During a lunch break walk on 9th Avenue, I struck up a conversation with an older man around 60 who, it turned out, was also a writer. He smiled at me as I rounded a corner, and I returned the favor. "Where are you from?" he asked me, as way of introduction.

"All over, but Virginia mostly." (Yet another tangent: how do you answer this question if you haven't lived in a place for eight years, your childhood spent elsewhere, college and current address conflicting? I hate to say "all over," because it sounds like I am a nomad. I could just as factually say California. Perhaps I'll start rotating the answers and test which gets the best response.)

"Virginia? What do you do?" We were nearing the middle of the block.

"I am a writer." I was feeling bold that day.

"So am I. I just finished my book and submitted it to a publisher. Who is your favorite writer? Flannery O'Connor?"

I took that as a compliment. "Well, currently I'm in love with Jhumpa Lahiri. She's," (say it with me), "amazing! My current favorite modern female writer!"

Needless to say, when I read Lahiri was slated to talk, I signed up, spent two hours pounding on the keyboard, feverishly refreshing the Ticketmaster page, and told everyone I knew that within days I would have audience with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

The talk itself took place on a rainy Friday night in an auditorium that had been transformed into a kind of posh literary club; banquettes, lemon bars, and cocktail tables included. Led by the New Yorker's fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, the authors took their seats in directors' chairs across the stage. Nicole Krauss wore a striped red, white, and blue sweater with jeans. Jeffery Eugenides had perfected the L.A. author look with his dark goatee, causal tweed sports coat and relaxed posture. Jhumpa wore a black pantsuit with a copper sheen that glowed under the lights, her hair pulled back into a severe bun. She did not smile.

In fact, for most of the evening she wore a scowl. While Nicole and Jeffery indulged Deborah Treisman in discussion of the term a "writer's writer," Jhumpa gave off an air of annoyance. Although the night's topic did little to incite, Jeffery and Nicole took up the yolk with grace. (In fact, I was so worried with the lack of enthusiasm in the opening minutes, I thought they might agree that the subject was too meaningless to warrant discussion.) But they soldiered on; Nicole offered a long list of obscure authors who fell into the category of "a writer's writer," including Bruno Schulz, some of whose work went missing after WWII, and W.G. Sebald. These were writers whose work had not reached large audiences, not for lack of substance. Jeffery at least made the case that a writer's writer was one whose work could be broken down into single sentences that sustained a famished mind with mere morsels. Jhumpa equated the term to a notion that was particularly American. Outside of the U.S., she argued, figures and sales do not carry the same weight.

It was fascinating, seeing her in the flesh: unsmiling, nearly scowling, shooting down the topic of the panel within minutes of being introduced. She made little effort to conform and little to evolve. Perhaps the topic was flimsy, but it was clear there would be no compromising. Interestingly, many of her characters react to the world in the same way. However, I should be quick to note (like Nicole Krauss did during that night's panel), that an author is not his or her work. An author is the person behind the work, and the two should not be confused. If we as readers are to judge anything, it should be the work alone.

And I agree (although in the current setting, the contrary might be true in terms of marketing, with the surplus of meaningless celebrity endorsements, and mastheads with portraits.) One of my favorite lessons from undergrad: Kill Your Darlings. Do not hold on to lines or images simply because you love them. Love them, but do not immortalize them on the page. That night, I knocked down an idol, which is a dangerous thing to have.

This Friday night epiphany was a freeing one for a writer who, like so many others, I'm sure, compares herself against the gods of literature. It does matter what I am. In the words of Shakespeare
"Presume not that I am the thing I was." 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Plugged into this evening, snug like hips touching at 10:06 p.m., the A train barreling away from work towards sleep and a squeaking bed, blanket worn and perfectly fine tucked beneath a duvet. No one will see it and if the cousins come to stay we’ll switch it for the wool your mother gave us (too warm in the spring and at all times green. We don’t mind the spots that break the diagonal lines; proof that that the dog was once young. We were young, when we bought it. We were tired; we’d spent the whole day looking to fill time, our stomachs full with broth and not much else. It was Christmas. All of the world was on the street shopping for one another and we could only think of ourselves).  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Walking on 32nd Street this afternoon, between 8th and 9th Avenues,
"Yeah, she seems great. She's a nudist."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Other Life

Were we to meet
on the green, lush face of a mountain
scavenging for meaning and faced suddenly with a set of eyes
parallel to our plots of fenced-in quiet
how would you react?
                                  I would cry out,
a foreign and gutteral response that would, in its intensity,
scare even me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I was born too late

Acid-washed soul, dip-dyed, wrung and hung improperly. I swear, its too soon. to be reborn. Can I skip the now, go to After or Then?

I used to play dress-up for kings. Eat figs plump with possibility--an evening unraveling with satisfying clinks, flatware on porcelain, the slender arms of golden clocks sweeping fluidly 'round, never quite able to hug on the Next.

And I traveled, only to places I wanted to be.

Hid only from wind.

Carried with me only stories. I loved the color of things, of emotions. I loved black as I do blue, citrus and ruddy hues that burnt at the edges, transformed and revolved as the twist of a neck. Moving always, as time breathes, shallow but

impossibly deep, even in the most trivial of settings.

But the most ordinary, extraordinary. How easily we teach when learning. The universe exhaling, its rib cage shifting with a puff of déjà vu. Hasn't mama been here before? Am I not her, she me? We both wear blue and dance upon a cobalt highway found in the corridor of a rented cabin, the kind we always laughed about. 

King Louis of Vuitton, a god of sun, and reign and shoes.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

home to the city

I feel delicate as paper
when all I want to do
is disintegrate

turn into soil
and birth a ripe flower

the kind that could feed
the ravaged, shirtless man
lying flat on the corner.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

                                    -Robert Pinsky

Sunday, April 17, 2011

strike that, reverse

look at Damien's t-shirt
then look here
then over here,
then there,
then here

and finally, into your soul

The List

My college roommate and I used to play a game while riding bikes to class in the morning, where we’d assign a date to the weather. A perfectly balmy spring morning might win the title of April 22nd. With tequila froth flavoring from a Smith Street taqueria, today felt like Spring.  Cherry blossoms are bursting on all of the street corners, covering brownstone stairs with a snow of petals and filling the air with the scent of piss.

I realize that I’ve let this blog lay dormant for too long. To refer back to its beginning, a seeding of thought, I will indulge and honor Sir Kurt Vonnegut with a list. Craaack! With his hallowed name pressed against the cheek of this electric beast, thunder strikes! He must be pleased (though I am ashamed to note how few posts I’ve written in the two years hence, when he and I shared our first encounter here with a marching band outside my window). I’ll be bound to roofed structures tomorrow; lucky I am to have walked a small hydrangea thirteen blocks home today.

Alas, here we have all of the other tasks and endeavors that today brought forth list-worthy note:

- Pricing art is subjective. And often absurd. I came across a smattering of paintings in a local indie market from a very local artist. There were a few nice illustrations for $50, some simple paintings for around $200, and one brand name, 8x10 dedication to Damien Hirst that looked kind of like a simplified root structure…for 25 K. Casually mentioning the title of the painting (“Dedicated to Damien Hirst”) in the comfort of your own matchbox apartment: priceless $25,000.

- Records are still the way the way to go. $5 brand name wax, man!
- I get to use phrases like, “we’ll take the B-52 ” in all seriousness. But a bus will show up.
- At 26, I am still very much figuring out my childhood.

- Many women in New York wear scowls to accompany the latest look.
- I don’t visit The Invisible Dog enough.
- I want to learn French, and then move to France.

- I forgot to ask whether miniature lemon trees bear miniature lemons.
- Competition is so stiff, that a purveyor will try and sell you a hydrangea as you hold your recently acquired hydrangea. 
- The streets of Brooklyn are wings of a museum.

- Tulips close like lips to a cool pursuer.


Minor, minor, minor, Major.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the sea sponge

train bellowing heard from 6th floor vantage
point in the night
when any sound
a signal.

the way lyrics, tidbits from some Los Angeles thought,

seep into this form
cropping up behind eyelids and memory boards
like palm trees in a rural American town,
the type plastic-wrapped in winter

cut too short for summer. irregular
and increasingly common. (these walls porous, an embarassment.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011


were we to bury the wordly body a U.S. demagogue
we'd lay the mass in a Swarovski-lined coffin lodged in a redwood sarcophagus
small as a thimble considering the immensity
of His sins.

oh, to be but a man.
to say "U.S." with such little conviction: the color of a flag, patterened kilt,
the detours our grandfathers took--none matter, and yet

Friday, February 4, 2011

the epiphany

Some weeks ago I had an experience that doesn't sound like it should have been life-changing; I went to a hair salon. It wasn’t packaged in a Lower East Side tenement-turned-beauty parlor, or amidst the next we-swear-its up-and-coming pocket in Brooklyn. It was on Fifth Avenue in The Plaza Hotel: the Warren-Tricomi Salon.

I remember exactly what I was wearing, a key in my mind that usually signifies some noteworthy occasion. At the 8th grade Christmas dance I wore a silky brown miniskirt with an off-white angora sweater and flip-flops (cringe), a pale blue kimono from Melrose Avenue to my 23rd birthday, and high-waisted silk pants with espadrilles and an opaque black top to the first fashion show I shot. In my closet I have the perfect black 1950s dress to wear to the offices of Vogue. But on that particular day I donned a shearling coat, long black velvet skirt, a Chanel-inspired green woven jacket and a terribly vintage—but very cute—grey felt hat. Eloise could have gotten away with the outfit, were she 25 and dealing with a pauper’s budget. I rode the train that morning to work reading a Bazaar Special Runway Report, and took my time with a profile of Linda Fargo, the senior Vice President of Bergdorf Goodman and front row Fashion Week staple. The day had started typically enough. I checked my email and followed up on a lead for a TimeOut New York article. By seven that night I was waltzing through gilded marble hallways and up red velvet steps.

When I met stylist Edward Tricomi, the subject of my TONY writeup, I first mistook him for a bell boy in his bandleader garb, then as the reincarnated spirit of Mick Jagger before realizing besides that being impossible, none other than Linda Fargo was sitting in the chair he beckoned me to visit. How could it be that the subject of my morning meditation should be sitting in front of me less than 8 hours later? It was then that the epiphany occurred: You have no idea what adventures are in store each day. Because of this, you must be prepared.

But how? I was right to have read up on Edward and the salon before embarking on the interview. If there’s a journalist that wouldn’t have I hope we never meet. As for the Linda connection, I believe it was both chance and fate, two words I believe stand for the same thing. The cosmos aligned and our three planets converged simply because the time and the universe had moved in such a way. Though Edward and I hit it off during the ensuing hour-long interview, I doubt Linda registered my name in the seven minutes it took for her to get her platinum silver hair trimmed. This epiphany wasn’t a celebrity encounter, far from it: I simply hadn’t noticed I was barreling though space during the past few months filled with endless work days and quick weekends with the typical distractions of a New York twenty-something (where do we eat? Can I make rent if I buy these boots? Why is the library waiting list for The Corrections so long? Shouldn’t they have extra copies?) The evening was proof.

It’s not to say I don’t try to slow down and refocus amidst the bombardment of everyday life. What I was reminded of was the glorious nature of chance. I had been moving towards that moment my whole life, since the days I’d spent writing poetry in a collaged journal and clipping cerulean and lime Narciso Rodriguez creations from the first fashion magazine my mother ever gave me (it was, coincidentally, Bazaar). The runway recaps I wrote though college, first in the student newspaper then in a local weekly paper garnered experience and research that made my transition to New York an easy one. But along the way, with all my plans and dreams and aspirations I forgot to budget for surprise, which of course needs only a seam to permeate.