Lettering

Dear Michael, Dear Jonathan, Dear Scott, Dear Laurie, Dear Lydia, Dear Sam; Dear Meghann, Dear Summer, Dear Tyler and Karl; Dear Edie, Dear Sara, Dear Mari; Dear Albert, Dear Paul, Dear Denise; Dear Tristan, Dear Aidan, Dear William; Dear Andy, Dear Pippin, Dear James; Dear Timothy, Dear Jada, Dear all of you who save my life from time to time, by being:

Perhaps I should not own a phone.  It’s Short Message Service, in my employ, allows a nearly ubiquitous, immediate reach of the text, from my thumbs.

Thank you for telling me about the exhibition, I have the retrospective tome near me even now, attempting to go in and near the two-dimensional images on paper.  It is not the same as being present to the sculptures and paintings, their ambience.  But now I know I could not move around them, nor touch them, I’d have only to use my eyes and very little of my body.

This obsession with connection.  Once I would have had to go to work unlinked to any of you for hours at a time.  Once my going home would mean your absence unless we arranged for sharing space and time.  Now I reach, I report, I ask and beg, and enter your lives like someone shoving a newspaper, pamphlet or flyer into your hands at will – without contact – propaganda blaring from speakerless speakers.

Your mails and email show deference and thought.  I am happy to have your works near at hand to consult and resort to time and again.  I see the care in the hand-writing, the pacing of thoughts, the reasoning reflection, the sense of your audience.  They lie about me on the floor, I can feel them, turn them, taste them if I wish.

Your phone makes a hum or a buzz.  An ejaculatory missive from Filbert again.  He’s lonely, he’s excited, he’s drunk.  He wants to share.  He needs to share.  He needs communique.  He wants connection.  He is not thinking of us, he suffers the duress of himself.  He spouts, he shouts, he slurs.  He insists he needs solitude and rest, needs quiet, less public.  At any hour, at all hours, these textual packets flow.

Perhaps I should not own a phone.

Where do the gaps that make the heart grow fonder bloom?  What is banal and what evental?

Thank you for your poem.  I will read it again and again.  Thank you for that clip of music, I repeat it throughout the days, when the mood demands an answer.  Thank you for your books, your artifacts, your gardens, your hands.  Thank you for your eye-contact (those of you I’ve sat or walked, camped or climbed with).  Thank you for the melodies of your particular voices.  Thank you for your hugs, your nourishing, your care.  Your listening.

I do remember the ground there, how it fell away desperately or rose violently into sky.  What the birds did.  Where the fire flowed.  Yes, the leaves.  Yes, the sleeping bags.  Here’s to the unknown trails, the stumbling, to whatever’s discovered.

I am sorry I flood your phones with less than thoughtful driveling – explosions of fear, anxiety, want.  Am I alone?  Am I alone?  Do I matter?  Does anyone want my voice?  Am I also missed?  But also love.  Yes, sometimes I merely wish to tell you the difference you make to being alive, that I feel you out there, somewhere…

Perhaps I should not own a phone.

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A Tenure & Promotion Dossier

To think.

To get done.

To be done.

To survive.

Get by.

Endure.

[what will feed and fuel us?

                                    how might we grow like errant plants?]

There is weight, great,

like words of Beckett,

terse and heavy

with ridiculous

mind

To go on.

In spite of.

Anyway.

[to round a bend, turn it in, be relieved

                                    to be accepted, acceptable, acknowledged.]

To count, to mean, to matter

Anyway.

Because

we happen

and go on…

[if I might vine, might drink the spoiled

                                    to live, to thrive, to weed]

To make the turn

into what grows

anyway, despite

out of joint, or time, or space,

terrorized

refusal

The flagrant

Remainder

Unmerited

Surplus

[as if we were another sort, not a same-seeded,

                                    same-growing, same-veined kind]

Even though at least one said:
“Everywhere

being is dancing”

and another

how alike are dancing and sex

And another

and another

the variety

the merited

surplus

 

We forgot.

Expectation

“Whether it makes any difference what you say – whether there is any point in it anyway; whether there is any point in saying anything anyway.”

– Rush Rhees, Wittgenstein & the possibility of discourse

It was the mystery that found us, all the unknown buried beneath and beyond.

She said to me, or rather she offered her hand, or rather we made eye contact, well, she greeted me and held out her hand and we looked at or into one another’s faces.  Just the surface of the ocean.  Seas and skies are larger than our imagining.

Say skin, language, thought, or feeling are flexible bordering insides and outsides, contained and beyond.  Something like that I thought, unknowingly.

He spoke to me, then hugged me, with an asking.  I couldn’t know the question, but I understood the words.  We seemed friendly and respectfully embraced, hesitant and expressive at once.  There’s a cliff at the end of the trail.  Sometimes I don’t remember.

Sharp curves on roads in mountainous terrain.  That sort of thing, voids that look empty but allow plummet.

And whether it makes any difference, she said.

Difference is made, apparently.

Mother used to tell me, what was it?  Her voices are clear, kind of, almost, but the words are lost in others.  Deep waves are like that, it seems; hard to follow or find, prominent and obvious while rocking the boat, regardless the size.  Clouds.  Wind makes little sense of skies.  Everything is out there.

Inside, it’s raining.

I was asked for a cigarette and large trees moved above rooftops.  She offered her hand the way he hugs me, my son playing music on the piano while a cat escapes and someone’s doing homework.  They say the ground goes deeply down beneath us, compiled by potential millennia.  Nobody knows, though we have tools to measure by.  Whatever those tools measure.

I remember first times.  Every time.  Only it’s perplexing that they’re exactly the same.

Does anything repeat?

Father got on me again about irresponsibilities, my dreaminess.  If only I’d been military I’d be disciplined.  Different.  She offered her hand plus an ankle, a hip, a breast, a womb.  I’d have values. The crook of a knee, a neckline.  Take responsibility.  He wanted it in my mouth – that feels best, he said.

What do I know?

Surfaces of oceans.

She stops and reads books.  I do.  There is music and a din of dialogue.  Raucous.  Discomfort.  Anxiety is familiar, always the first time again.

I am afraid.  Usually.  Deep water disturbs me.  No one knows.  Many are afraid of flying.

Crying is its own thing.  How is an ocean made?  I won’t succeed.

Whether it makes any difference – saying anything anyway.  Someone speaks at me.  Eyes meet.  A brush of lips.  A grasp of hand.  What is the question?  Skies and oceans.  Earth’s depths.  What do I understand?  Always ending begins, beginnings.  What ends.  What has no end?  It begins.  Again.  Always first times.  Nothing.

Her breath tastes good, inhaled.  His muscle.  Seawater burn.  Heartloss.  So much fresh air.  The turn is sharp.

Saying anything anyway: the point is whether, weather, difference…its repetition.

The how and why of her.  Of him.  Of it and other.

There I must have been when I saw her or felt it or once again the beginnings.  Once again the first time.  Always again.  Begin.  While ending.  While ends.

He said so – whether there is any point in saying anything.  He said what felt best when he hugged me, kindly.

She offered.  Someone asked for something.  Like surfaces on oceans.  Horizon lines.  The ground beneath our feet, beneath that.  Differences.  The above.  I cut my skin.