Posts tagged prose
By Bill Dixon
Recently, your guy lost a presidential election. I know, I know— total bummer. So, being the American patriot that you are, you have signed a petition compelling your state to secede from the United States.
So let me understand, your boyfriend wasn’t picked to be captain of the high school football team so now you’re going to quit the cheerleading squad in protest. Or maybe it’s more akin to your eighth birthday when you asked for that pony and instead your parents got you a puppy so you folded your arms with tears running down your cheeks as the rubber banded “Birthday Girl” hat atop your head surreptitiously inched from 12:00 to 3:00 with each stomp of your foot as you declared in one trembling breath that you had “the worst mommy and daddy ever! I don’t wanna have a burfday anymore!” Whatever the case may be, it’s very patriotic of you.
The irony is that a large portion of you who signed the petition— because you’re so tired of government spending—actually live in states completely subsidized by federal (evil) dollars.
States receiving the most federal funding per tax dollar paid:
1. New Mexico: $2.63
2. West Virginia: $2.57
3. Mississippi: $2.47
4. District of Colombia: $2.41
5. Hawaii: $2.38
6. Alabama: $2.03
7. Alaska: $1.93
8. Montana: $1.92
9. South Carolina: $1.92
10. Maine: $1.78
New Mexico, reigning king of “dude…can you spot me?”, should be careful about all this secession talk. With no army, no money, a 46% Hispanic population and sharing a border with a country that has a lot more of all the things I just mentioned, the name New Mexico would be eerily appropriate. You’ll be using the peso for currency before the next season of Storage Wars ends.
But most of your secession signatures— since last count, over 85,000—have come from the great state of Texas. This makes a little more sense. Texas is a big income state with a very distinct people and culture. If you don’t buy that, think about this: If you’re wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat in New York City, you’re wearing a costume. If you’re wearing the same thing in Texas, it’s Tuesday.
That being said, I think you should go for it. Seriously, maybe secession is the best thing for you. My only concern is how much work it’s going to be to remove all those uber patriotic “I love America” bumper stickers, laminates, car window graphics, tattoos, wallpaper, ceilingpaper, underwear, coffee mugs, coffins, diaphragms, heart stents, etc., from your everything. That’s going to be a long Sunday. Also, having Skee Ball Champion & Certified Manchild Rick Perry as your commander-in-chief should give you pause. But maybe you’re looking forward to your declaration of independence being signed in magic marker— different strokes.
No matter what happens, Mommy and Daddy want you to know we understand. You’ve made your point. You wanted a pony, you got a puppy, now you want to be homeless. We get it— Don’t Mess with Texas. But if I’m being honest, it feels more like “Come on guys, don’t mess with Texas. Seriously, they’re very emotional right now.” Now straighten your “Birthday Girl” hat and wipe the tears from your face because you look like a fucking idiot.
It’s so heartbreaking when you think about devastation.
In Breezy Point, a fire ripped through 100 homes, and as I watched old women and young children and even a newlywed couple sob into the camera lens, I listened to the echo of my ear drums. Sometimes, we are so preoccupied with our own problems that we forget millions of people per day are suffering from rape, displacement, fire damage, or abuse. It’s staggering to see the statistics.
This girl I know broke her foot trying to escape her home as it filled with rain water and ocean salt and debris. This guy I know watched New York City go dark with a soaking wet cigarette and his phone, alone. Another guy, a photographer, spent the night helping homeless people find shelter and snapping photographs of Coney Island seconds before it was almost destroyed. I huddled in the corner of a room while a tree fell on my parents house, helpless and without power.
And I wonder, honestly, who is worse off. At face value, probably the girl with the broken foot. But that was her summer house. Her own home is safe and sound, with only a broken lightbulb and an Aston Martin with a dent in it. Does that change your opinion? Or do you still feel the same?
The first job application I ever filled out was for Zabar’s on 80th and Broadway. I felt confident that I had it. The manager, a stout middle-aged man with boyish curls and bitten fingernails, had complimented me on my skirt and so I was given a clipboard and asked to take a seat to the right, not the left. I jotted down all of my information - name, age, address, martial status - with someone else’s chewed pen and blushed when I checked off NO on question 9. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? It was only a cheap lipstick and it was on sale for Christ’s sake.
10. Are you Hispanic or Latino? What is your race?
I paused. I thought about my mother’s tapas and my father leaning against the Berlin wall and how much my younger brother hated his name. ”They called me a habibi,” he once sobbed against my mother’s breast. I spoke Spanish, but grew up listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode. I was born just a couple of blocks down in St. Lukes, but so was my friend, Jason, and no one called him American - they called him black, so what was I and what did it matter?
I never got the job nor did I find his advances appealing and I sometimes wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that I left it empty. I chose nothing for question 10 and perhaps it was reason enough for him to think I wasn’t anything more than just a blow job behind his cluttered desk, but I walked out of there feeling more human than I ever had before. I wasn’t Hispanic. I wasn’t White. I wasn’t Black or anything in between. I was just sixteen.
Okay — Tyler Knott’s last post has over 1,000 notes. If this doesn’t get more than that, we know what’s wrong with this so-called Tumblr Writing Community. Wake the fuck up and make your voice known. We’re here. If you actually care about this, make it known. This is a numbers game — not for me, for you.
I pay attention to things, I do. And I actually don’t care how you feel about features: whether you love them or hate them, think they’re important or think they’re stupid, wish you had more or wish you had less. This isn’t about that.
This is about the fact that there are 27 tag editors of poetry and prose. That means each day we should be entertained with a maximum of 270 new features. Okay, sure, people have lives and aren’t always on tumblr to burn all their features. But there should be at least 100 or so features in any given day, which is less than half the maximum, but it is a duty of sorts for which there is no compensation beyond whatever delight you get from featuring someone, so I’m being lenient. Are there 100 features in a day? No. In point of fact, having reviewed the features over the past few days — there are seldom more than 12 or so — and 9 or 10 of them are mine.
There’s a reason I’m Top Editor, see — the party line is that the pieces I promote are those “most liked and reblogged” by tumblr users — but the reality is that the pieces I promote are basically the only ones there are.
I went through the past 30 features on poetry and prose. The past 30 features shouldn’t be the last 3 days or so, but they are. The reality is that the 30th feature, where I stopped, was dated October 18th. Within the past 30 poetry features, I’ve featured 24 of them — the other 6 pieces were promoted by one of 26 other editors. Prose is just as bad: I’ve featured 23 of the past 30 featured pieces. On any given day, I’m responsible for around 80% of the pieces featured under the poetry and prose tags.
There are thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of writing blogs on Tumblr. I’m not saying that every one of them is filled with feature-caliber work, whatever that may be — but Tumblr is doing that extensive writing community a disservice by maintaining inactive editors, some of whom have even deactivated (albeit improperly), despite that many active tumblr writers have directly indicated an interest in being a tag editor. There are many who would love to have the ability to share unknown writers with others — give them a chance. I’d love some competition.
I don’t know how to write down all the beautiful things in my head anymore. It’s like I exhaled them all and have suddenly forgotten how to breathe in.
I envy the wind
that embraces the flower
and makes it shake
but does not cling to it.
You still sit alone at the base of the only willow tree in the city, immersed in the world you’ve never quite learned how to deplete while everyone else hurries by, minds in briefcases and hearts in heels. Only you hold your soul in your hands, eyes shining with delight at the thought that it has remained in tacked over all these years.
When your autumn chilled fingers caress the pieces you’ve handed away so naively to people who always shook you off like rust, you knit yourself a scarf with your brows because this winter will be a merciless one. You’ve chipped yourself for every person who has come and sat beside you, under the weeping branches, to watch your fascination with the pacifically exquisite river.
The man with unnaturally warm hands kept a piece of you in the back pocket of his worn jeans, but you’ve never quite learned how to untie the sandbags from your larynx and hold on to the fleeting words that you know will clear away the cobwebs forming in the corners of his eyes. You aren’t certain if he’s lost you in between his travel though.
You left a corner of yourself in the coat’s breast pocket of a boy eleven stars away. Somehow, you always turn away in shame and flood the ravines of his beige cashmere sweater with your salty tears. You’re beautiful when you cry, where the last words you heard him speak. You wonder if he dropped you in the empty rabbit fields and never looked back.
You gifted the morsel of a girl a piece of yourself when she sat beside you and said, your words are louder than the screaming trees. She taught you how to read the bones of the murdered trees you use as paper, but you never realized she would walk into the river after she trampled merrily over your mind. Perhaps you’ve sunk to the bottom of the river with her body or you’re hung beside her in the stars. You’ll never know.
You’ll always sit alone at the base of the willow tree, eyes gazing over the New York skyline and the glimmering river, welcoming anyone who stops for a moment to sit with you. But somehow, you’ll quite never know how to be the selfish child on the playground.
And I told her, my cigarette burning my lips to get the words out, “you’ll never have another chance to run away with someone who’s as wrong for you as I am.”
True love requires more than being in love.
It’s true, I’m afraid. Being in love is infatuation. It is a brightly coloured cacophony of flowers, whose fragrant feelings blind and confound. It is a melding of desire into physical form. It is two saplings who glimpse each other and stretch their blossom laden-branches towards one another in a desperate need to know connection.
True love is realising that when all your blossom has fallen to the ground and not even leaves hide your truths from one another, that you have somehow entwined your roots, and are one flourishing tree.
What a stupid, worthless age. At least at 21 I could buy beer, but I’d already been doing that for three years anyway (the benefits of being 6’ 1” and having a beard since age 17).
What do you do with 22? Nothing, legally speaking. It’s the first time since 11 that my age is a palindrome, so I guess that’s something. This would have been the age when I graduated from college, had I not taken time off after I realized that college, when you get right down to it, is pretty silly. This isn’t a knock at education by any means- put a bunch of twenty-somethings in an enclosed space with a burned-out professor and it’s not really a recipe for inspiring moments. More like paper after paper and then sex, maybe (usually not).
Come to think of it, I don’t even remember the last time I really did anything for my birthday. Something special, I mean, like a big party. Last year, I just got shitfaced drinking wine, and watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 until I fell asleep on my friend’s floor. I woke up hungover, had to go to class, and that’s when it hit me: birthdays are a celebration of aging.
We shouldn’t celebrate aging. Aging kills people, dagnabbit. We don’t pop the Champagne when someone steps on a rusty nail, do we? Can’t remember the last kegger I attended in celebration of a kidney infection, either.
Ah, but I’m just being silly. Birthdays are special, I guess, in the way that equipment is speical to MMO players. It changes your numbers, makes them bigger, more imposing, makes you look like you have more experience than you really do. I just don’t feel any different, physically anyway. I’ve always said that my mind ages faster than my body. I’m not saying I get smarter faster, I’m saying there are days when I think that by 25, I’ll be yelling at the neighbor kids to get the fuck off my lawn. What causes it? Frustration, I think. I don’t have direction- in my writing, in life in general. And racking up another year just makes me feel like I’ve missed the mark yet again. S.E. Hinton was published at 16. Alexander the Great conquered half the world when he was just a bit older than I am. And here is Devin Louis, the eldest Michelson boy, sitting at a laptop, drinking bad coffee, typing with two fingers very slowly because he never paid any attention to the typing lessons at school. Thinking, smoking, and worrying too much.
But I don’t want to depress anybody. After all, I was born on a Wednesday, and you know what they say about Wednesday’s child. You don’t? Oh, well allow me to tell you:
Wednesday’s child is full of woe. That’s in a poem about birthdays. All the other days got bright and sunny things, about how they are happy, or generous, but Wednesday gets totally fucked. Mother Goose, you’re a filthy whore.
So, I’m in a reflective mood, in case you couldn’t tell. I don’t even know why I’ve written this much, seeing as I’m really not all that interesting. I’ve already said too much, so to close, I’ll just say that I’m going to just…continue. That’s good. I’m just going to continue. Tomorrow, I’ll go to work (I need money), then later eat cake, then go to sleep, and then it’ll be just like it always is. I’ll be here, writing things, and sometimes people will read them. Who knows? Tomorrow may be the start of a great adventure.
Hopefully it’s to Japan. Have you tried octopus? It’s really good.
I love the desert. It calls out to me in ways that no other place does, maybe because I was born there. I would rather live there than two miles away from the ocean, and every time I go to visit I feel a calm kind of excitement. Endless beauty that tries so hard to live, and while some may see it as barren all I can do is see the perfection. Landscapes are more than just plants, its the way the rocks are formed, and how the ground seems to settle in waves. It’s purple wildflowers growing on steep mountainsides and even the black charred remains after a brush fire. Because after a couple years, it will look like nothing even burned.
Its the feeling of leaving a windowless air-conditioned hotel and feeling the dryness envelope you like a warm blanket and the air so thick you can taste it when you breathe. Its the hot winds that smell like fresh water and cigarette smoke. Pockets of civilization shining like stars against the blackness around it, and mountains that have never been conquered. Its the feeling of getting out of the city and into a place where you can look in one direction and not see anything, buildings, people, cars. Somewhere so wide and empty that you can see the rolling clouds of a thunderstorm from miles away, and actually see the sun sink behind the horizon. Somewhere where you can hear the simple acoustic guitar even when there isn’t music playing.
Lots of people see the deserts of California as just a place to vacation, or a place to pass through, but to me, its my favorite part of the trip.
I read you not only because of the ways that you and I are similar, but because of the ways that we are different. You may be seeing the world through the monocle of a misanthropist, the vision of a cynic, the canvas of a nihilist, or the pen of the doomsayer. I read you not because I agree but because you bustle and pulse and resonate, and you remind me that life does not only contain the opaque novelty of a rainbow but also the black onyx of the deep; and that light does not always mean a good thing, but that the dark balances my need for color and shadow.
I read you because your pain is part of me, because no matter what grimness you endure your beauty stands out; because I refuse to believe that life is a defeatist venture, that we die slowly as soon as we are born. Art defies death and death supports transcendence. I read you because to me you surpass. I read you because you respond differently to the same crescendo that fills me and vibrate differently in the same light that mantles. Heartbreak cannot exist without love. Hope cannot persist without suffering. Happiness cannot be appreciated without loss. I read you because I have room for your words, and space for the deluge of your disappointments. I have flexibility to take your defiance, ears to invoke your uncouth ponderings, and empathy for your loneliness.
I am reading you still because I love every tendril of your alien intensifications, because every word you write allows me to meditate on my own. You are awesome in the same ways that you are awful, and I desire every post that I have the chance to encounter. I yearn for the eloquence of your soul.
I will continue reading you because you have taught me devotion. I will not give up because you are as human as I am, and we are as human as we can go. We are divine in our humanity and romantic in our aversion. Animosity means dust here, and so does camaraderie. What matters is the way you make me nod, or smile, or sneer, or close my eyes going “fuck you, you are right” and “fuck you, you are wrong”. I read you not because I can compete, or that resentment is a drug, or that I think I am better. I read you because love is as unconditional as we let it, and love is a tattooed biker chick with purple hair, wielding that badass dagger-tip chain, and she is not a quitter.
I read you because no matter how trite you think you are, you are a masterpiece all the same.
My grandmother didn’t own too many books, but she taught me the most important thing about words.
“Careful not to swallow a seed or leaves will grow out of your ears and nose.”
I believed it. So when I accidentally swallowed a seed from my watermelon, I panicked. I remember running to the bathroom, locking the door behind me and stripping off all of my clothes before the mirror. Like trees, I waited for that synthetic season to come and induce a Spring from my bones. I had imagined that branches would begin to shift underneath my skin and sprout through every one of my body’s cavities, that my parents would eventually break down the door to find a willow tree. I waited. And waited. And waited in striped socks for more than an hour until the only changes were the goosebumps breaking the surface of my skin. There were no branches. There were no leaves. No bark. No tree. There was just the sowing of my grandmother’s words intended to raise fear in me.
At the tender age of nine, I knew more than what our teachers taught us about plants and seeds. I learned that they contained a promise and that if you watered it, whether with care or caution, it would grow into something. My grandmother didn’t read too many books because she was too poor to afford such a luxury, but she taught me the power of words with a watermelon seed. I’ll confess to having tried the same with you; nursing a quiet garden in your ear while you slept, desperately hoping to grow into every part of you.
i think we’re the same person just raveled in different skin and you’re full of this inconsistency like when you look to the floor after kissing me, but it mimics my stance after you grab my legs and pull me towards you.
i’ve been making the speech in my head for four goddamn days now:
i will push you away to get under your skin
until you love me and love me and love me-
until you want nothing but me because
i want all of you, like the aftermath of a flood
and the devastation that reflected in your eyes
when i averted my attention away from you.
you play it over again in your mind because
you fell in love with the comfort of sadness.
all the cracks and scars
that you try to shrug off as bad karma.
i’ve invented words describing beauty that explain all your freckles
but you can’t even look into the mirror without getting sick
you tell me i’m neurotic as hell but you can’t get my taste
out of your mouth or my smell out of your head
and you’re so happy that you found someone
who’s just as crazy as you are.
we whisper things to each other like-
“those people, they don’t mean shit” and “i know
you’ve already given most of yourself today but
i find myself begging to get my share.”
you speak to me as we lay in bed together with something close to panic:
there’s this gap
between my hands and i can’t pick anything up.
nothing will fill it, it leaves me empty and
soggy and my damn glass keeps on spilling
but there’s no one there to clean it up.
Remember the two hands rising up to touch the clouds? I think of that sometimes, as if it is us, as if the two towers are us and we both fell down. Separately, but together.