The Long Sigh

The sliced watermelon left under a flash rain by fleeing picnickers had discarded its seeds through its inner swell and turned the pink of my grandmothers lips. And just as soon the pour started, it stopped.

Similarly with my mother, there were stories about the color of her lips. dusk—they would begin—of an unseasonably warm winter day where the crimson would push through the ensuing blue in pillowy cumuli.


Clear

I.

In the arena of unseen lines, the big ones say nation, atmospheric pressure, and today: a course to Pluto nine years long. In my glass, a meniscus. The ice raising it by swirls from what I can see. I know there’s more to it than that though I’ve only looked it up now: enthalpy of fusion, kilojoules, molecular disorder (liquid) and order (ice).

My parents’ breakfasting sport was a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern game of questions with Webster’s 9th and the Britannica. The answers fighting through mouthfulls of bran and fruit. He read the Los Angeles times, she, the Gray Lady. They lived in their newspaper’s corresponding city, seeing each other every two weeks. When separated, they spoke every night at 9pm Eastern Time. Etymology—from what I’ve heard—was always one of the topics of conversation as well as new words. My mother was a linguist by profession and, I’m convinced, by defense. My adolescent rows with her spurred through semantics: “What do you mean home?!? Your context and tone just then makes that word combative.” The v sound said with teeth near the end. It left her mouth sharpened. My mother wielded diction like nails on an orange, despite her voice sounding like a child’s. One day I walked in on her on the phone:

'No.'
'I don't know.'
'O.k.'

She hung up and went back to watching TV.

'Who was that?' I said.
'Telemarketer.'
'What did they say?'
'They wanted to know if my parents were home.' 

Apparently, this happened all the time. 

II.

People were taken in. people were charmed: the airline representative, the corner grocer, the florist. They would hang up the phone with her trill sinking in like warm milk before sleep. On my routine errands they would ask after her constantly; she rarely left the house. Her den, really. The lines of text nesting around her in chapters.

The rest of the house was an atrium above midtown Manhattan. The slanted Citicorp building refracted dawn’s first spill toward the Chrysler, the Empire State. 5am, 49 floors up makes for a bestilling city. Growing up, I would sit on the floor of her terrace and enumerate handy superpowers, design pulley systems, single rider aircrafts.

II.

New York to Chicago, flight 324. 1:34 pm ET

I’m one of those still in awe like a Cryogenian man just thawed from glaciation. 800 years of catch up means a large bird of molded thunder and lightening overhead; not fully understanding how I just came from where I just came from and now, infinitely so as to where I am.

Once I wanted to stop the plane from New York 35,000 ft up and stroll on cumulus until the Los Angeles grid pulled me down in grade school math terms: plus, minus, long division. Ditto crossing the pacific, the tiny plane icon on my seat screen was in the middle of the pixilated blue for 10 hours before finally arcing into Taiwan. This is how little I know about the mechanics of flight. 

IV.

At six the mechanics of flight involved a stool at me six years height, grubby floors and the subtropical heat one catalyst from river water. My grandmother would give me the stool for a plane and move me all day from dry floor to wet to dry as she went along, arms-deep in the cooling suds, escaping the climbing swelter.

My allotted surface area accommodated my habit of drawing dinosaurs poorly. So, I exchanged my butcher paper for a lined pad and started writing. One day I rewrote Wilde’s The Lonely Giant. My new orange crayon gripped at the nub and unreleased until it was whittled down. 12 pages, 32 stanzas uninterrupted. I had moved all throughout the house and did not notice it. I’ve dreamt of flying before and since, but it hadn’t been as easy a take to the air.

V. 

In fourth grade I found out that breathing was both a voluntary and involuntary action. I, of course, gave it the fridge-light try and vainly attempted to see the click from conscious to non. Silly. Still a mystery, like (from what I just read) hiccups. We know that babies can breath as much as 40 times per minute. Required of new respiration, I take it; all those chemical reactions that need oxygen to make a person from adorable plasma based toothpaste-squirt to gravity managing biped. The argon needs stirring; the skull has to close—all kinds of to doing.

I was going to say that I don’t remember the feeling of newborn vulnerability. But then again, I know it when I touch on it. More acute than distant memory smells and much harder to place or name or trace back when it shows itself. The bright bone of frailty is a rayless cloister of what you know of yourself, blighting white. I used to think if I knew myself down to the atom paths of every thing that comprised me at any given time, I could walk through walls. Which, in themselves, are as translucently molecular as I am.

That was seventh grade. It was the same year I found John Talley’s lips by French kissing his chin and inching up. Find target, then close eyes. Got it. Oh god I still cringe every time I think back. His mom and high school cheerleader sister were waiting in the car. My grandmother was asleep in her pink pajamas just inside. The light on my stoop was out. He was right in front of me. I closed my eyes and knew exactly where I was going.

a to b

Space Phenomenon Imitates Art in Universe’s version of van Gogh Painting”

hubblesite image title


20,000 light years is far and, V838, not as descriptive as the universe painting.
so, there it is. nasa’s captionist implies the dutch painter as preexisting V838 Monocerotis, the eight hundred thirty eighth variable star of Monoceros. from what i’ve just read, it’s part of a constellation forming a unicorn; each star possesses greatly varying luminosity. it’s astral neighbors are wolves and a hunter. it’s loyal to the winter sky. it’s almost invisible.

it could be seen as cheeky, i suppose, if it were not accompanied by the downloadable wallpaper formats, giving the sofasize-art-speak tinge. to compare, the hubble photographs on display in the museum of science and industry have no lengthy titles. just the numbers. each photograph is backlit and enlarged, the telescopic stretch in parts where the picture’s a bit fuzzy. or maybe the image wasn’t meant to be that big. of course, a bed mite’s cough has more presence in this world than we would in that one so insufficiently pictured.

damn these screaming jesus events that sends one to porcelain. i am a sucker. two paragraphs about a picture of a star for fucksake. and a dying one at that. last week a sparrow was shot after knocking over 23,000 dominoes, a baby in india is born with his heart in his hand, first snow. a singing glacier was just discovered in antartica. and i’m at work reading harper’s, thinking four times is too much use of italics and saying that is just more palm on the syllabic johnson.

turns out, this is the mood i’m in.

space phe.no.me.non. like it occurred in something we actively know. math has since aqcuired imaginary numbers, figures that can explain what we don’t see. i could use all manners of genius from a precocious three yr old with glitter crayons to nanotechnology to create the perfect square—da vinci’s sextant to create it (hmm, 5 is a nice number) celestially. we know it will never match the one in my head. from mind to matter there’s the tower of babel dipped in honey, ascending for lightyears.

11.28.05

#star  #hubble  

inside, out

i was reading about a boy whose bleeding lip from sibling fisticuffs capitalized the ‘t’ in ‘things’ while still his brother tries to pound him with dad looking on. three times the buzzer rings before i finish the paragraph. the cops are downstairs. the second floor tenant’s attempts at trepanation with minor threat ripples throughout the building with bass like the advent of puerto rican independance day heralded indoors. somewhere between the plaster the guitars must have fell off. i think there was a fight with a girl. the last time, i was told, there was an ambulance and a concerned friend. i imagined bruises blooming on her like paper falling on spilt ink.

what can be heard through the floor from time to time is decanted to me as a benign list hashmarks can abridge: girlfriend, crying, slow song, screaming, sex. i used to live under a guy who supplied me with corresponding, precise adjectives for each item. either there wasn’t time enough for his floor to become my ceiling, or he pursued his life at a far less intimate decibel. who’s to say. one night he cried so hard he choked intermittently. there are lists you keep unmarked for years. there are one or two-item lists that you’ve swallowed as wivestale remedy—the mulchy silt waiting for a ripple to kick up. last night my friend was sent wide-eyed into 432am by his impending work day; each unfinished task hiccuped out in bullet points like ladybugs trailing elipses. then there are the really bad times, he says. yeah…i say.

on the third ring, the cops get in. soon the floor stops throttling. the boy touches his lip, the red spittling from his mouth the same sweet, sour as the ground his arms crumple against. it’s fall. he, his father and brother have been walking in the woods for hours. i’m alive, the boy says with staggered repetition, his constitution exploded in its sediments.

7.28.05

#writing  

safe

"across the indian ocean, watchful sri lankans remain suspicious of the sea." 
bbc photo caption, 3.29.05

all the fire escape plans needed to be redone for tornado today. i drew squares in which twelve residents and three employees will cluster. limbs a fuss of roots in the cubed inclement weather refuge, they’ll wonder how a bathroom could stand against a 200 mile an hour whirling eye.

maybe not.

in old reels of atom bomb drills, the cartoon girl under the table is saved from the *pow* blast, the paddle and ball boy assuaged the collision with a dictionary. anthracite lines angle each other by 45% and bisecting space into danger and non, danger and non and so on until the storm is shouldered onto the other part of the paper, where—if i was a sixteenth century english cartographer—i would write ‘here there be dragons.’


i’ve been lucky enough to be greeted with a bed full of people in total darkness, calling out my name to jump in the warm mesh. i’ve also been down in the ringing of my lone sheet-tangle. either way, there are rootless voices and no sleep. there hasn’t been much sleep before; its merits inconsistent at best with me. most always, my dreams are busy. i have an entire city (on land and underwater) mapped out because i’ve traversed it reoccuringly being chased by something quick and predatory. 

if i twitch while asleep it means i’ve tripped over something, i say to the bedmate/holder of my affections. then there’s the you’re crazy baby shaking head laugh. i’ve called myself crazy among many other things. so much novice selfnomenclature leads, ultimately, to everyone being bad on paper somehow. it’s a wonder how anyone finds each other, let alone get to a place where your lover blithely calling you crazy is a context-filled endearment of sarcasm, humility and comedy with the selfsame comfort as the bed you’re both about to get in, its pillows, the soft blanket that keeps the monsters out.

7.18.05

#writing  

first: a repository

moving the old writing blog to here. then, new writings if i can stomach it.