I listen to ambient music, he says. I listen to the sounds around me, he retorts. I listen to whatever God tells me, he says. I listen to the fact of the matter, he snorts. I listen to the wind and the winding, he says, the wingdings and things. I continue to listen, continue and hope, and sign and drop my shoulders, and weep a little, he exhorts.
The soaring the rising
Color your lights in he says to me and it is not as if but maybe yes it is as if but not as if. The skin all around us breaks our falls. I cannot grasp this at all. But I do know this. I know this. When you speak directly to the heart of a truly insurmountain of a man, his immediate response never quite agrees.
Old to begin
It is not so easy to hit both “this sounds like” and “nothiing else before or since.” You can sing songs about Geddy Le and IKEA and wink wink your way into the hearts of hundreds. There are the songs that are a time for you and sometimes they are the song that told you as a kid to cut your hair and there is the one that told you as an older kid that sure, go ahead and...
Get It Together
It is the song of bouncing to the beat you know is true. It is the sound of cool as it schoooools over your mind’s fingertips, the stitter sitter stutter tutter of beats made words and words made bone and words bourne. It is the end of product, the end product, the mind blown. It is the right thing at the right time. It is right.
The belief in all things easy to remember. The understanding that comes with age, or a pint. I wonder if the reason why this all matters has to do with a complete disregard for others. You told me once that there was no more room for you. Bring forth another sort of tempest. Gauzy and just barely out of reach. It’s not enough to pig’s lipstick a slapdash lyric or poem or...
You're Outta Sight Since I'm Outta Here
And then the power went out on the laptop and then the lightning bugs made me wish they were spelled lightening bugs and then the feel of summer—all of the good, none of the humidawfulseat of the 90 degree 90 percent days—it all came back. Grab a High Life and hold on to your whole life. Hold on to whatever you can, really. Your eyes are burning but I’m not scared, he says, and...
You rode in on a horse
There’s just so much heartache, the kind that gets you with its earnestness, that makes you overlook clunker lines because you’re like, “yeah man, yeah, it’s gonna be okay, you play that piano for REAL.” I can remember you on stage and I can remember singing along and I can remember feeling good about just thinking that you all fucking rocked. Such a bonus, going for...
I'm sorry, man on the train who asked me about my...
I legitimately thought that you were getting off at Van Buren so I retreated to another seat, only to awkwardly realize that you weren’t leaving the train yet and so I was the guy who got shy when you said “is that that Chromebook? and then mumbled “yeah…it’s pretty cool…” and then retreated to the seat across the aisle and the window and then tried to say...
3 November 2011
My hoodie suggests a man younger than me. Portland breeds a feeling of younger-than-you-are, which creates crippling doubt and worry in the instance when you then move away. I say crippling because that’s the word that goes with doubt, but niggling or maybe ambushing would make more sense. I miss my old town. This is not a poem.
the languages of saints
She sings like the fire in her gut has spread to her balls. She begins to creak like a door that needs WD-40. She finds herself wondering what the fuck it all means. She can’t find another route to the grocery store. No matter how many roads she takes through the subdivision she ends up on Route 59. As it were. Don’t mistake calm for sanity. Sometimes freaking the fuck out makes the...
Think of cinnamon and long for you
When Suzanne first told me that she was that Suzanne, I didn’t believe her. And then she picked up the guitar I had lying around and started to sing “Caramel,” and in my own poetic way I thought it clever to say that the song described her voice, it always had defined her voice, this was how her voice could be said to sound. She laughed, slowly, and kept on playing. I could...
The way your mind should go alone
“It’s hard to breathe in foreign bedrooms” matt pond PA assures us, and we feel like he could mean touring but also just mean following a girl home. On this album I think maybe he figured he made a breakthrough—maybe this would be the time he’s feeling better. But he didn’t. Not to the total outsider just paying attention to the parts he gives us. Maybe we...
I would like to write a book about writing some day. Although maybe I can pull together some kind of Charlie Kaufman-type magic shit and write a book about writing a book about writing. How many layers can we get back and still make sense? You know that scientific principle that says you can only have a certain amount of friends and then you lost track of who these people are? I bet our brains...
people (he's been before)
Elliott Smith lives in an attic off Elm now, surrounded by broken bottles and jokerless poker decks. He whines about the rain more than any one living near the Cascades should. He writes R&B songs for up-and-coming divas, now, under the pen name Quincy Spectre. His greatest enjoyment is not writing the songs, it is his seeing his clever pen name on the inside ring of each forty-five. He never...
It doesn't matter what you say
The Cure sending letters to Elise, Counting Crows hoping for a better year, REM nightswimming through countless college year crushes. Earliest “real” relationship, defined by sad bastard music. A young man in college can create an entire mythos around an absent love. There’s just so much time to wallow in the shit. Mix tapes sent, a few received. Hot, memorable clothingfumble...
When your song says “on a mountain,” you are saying something specific, and that thing is “I am a folk. I am a folksy person. I am in touch with couuuuntry,” where the syllable coun is drawn out, guttural, located at the bottom of your throat. You might bring in your listener with this mountain-centered thinking; you might kill his mood completely. Whatever you do, though,...
the king of carrot flowers
You can hear the need in his voice, not just the weed. Some might say his voice is reedy, which is a cultured critic’s way of saying that his singing is nasal and hard to take, unless you’re cultured enough to call it reedy. But you can hear, totally hear, the conviction in his singing. Conviction in the sense of convinced, a person convinced that the song he plays and way he sings and...
Used to you then
Feel this as an exhale brought by birds. Cause yourself to slow down enough to hear, really hear. Those people are incorrect, hearing and listening aren’t different in the way that they tell you it is. Hearing can sometimes be superior, don’t believe the hype. Church of forest dwellers celebrating the celebration. Clear voices cutting through all the noise, all signal. All signals,...
But I Can't Wait Another Minute
We had an old International Harvester, and I actually learned how to drive it. I can’t remember which letter the model we had was, but I loved the fact that there was a system of identification that simply was composed of letters. The sickle mower was a long, bladed, crazy thing that attached to the back and stuck out to the right, and we, well, I would drive back and forth and back and...
Let this one fly he says. Lost on your merry way he says. I wonder why Grandaddy wants to get back home. I wonder if this exploration of existing phrases meant something. I wonder if they just needed some words. or some more time that they didn’t get to write them.
Poster Children are a band that lasted for a long time and maybe that’s the good thing about being in a band with your brother and wife (or sister-in-law whatever the case may be). Just listen to “Drug I Need” and tell me that it’s not amazing. Tell me that it’s not the song that you wished you had written. It’s kinda perfect, not with a capital P, but just in...
i can't sleep anymore
The big showdown of the day was between a young kid and his nearly elderly uncle. Both had moves but the kid lost his concentration for good after losing his patience and temper a bit into the second match. If you cannot keep composure, you might not keep anything for long. If the mark of a good human being is the ability to imagine someone else’s situation, why do so many people think that...
Gertie might not like his feet
Basset boredom, long ears pinned back, voice whining, constant lament able to melt everyone. Houndy smell, feet akimbo, absolute happiness simply because you came home. I insist to you that these animals are regal, have charm and vitality and above all, a capacity to snuggle seldom seen. And yet you say, “Well, I’m more of a cat person.” I don’t pull up and shit ...
It's long overdue but now Philly is Slammin'
What do you do when you’re someone who loves to dance, just absolutely loves to dance, but there’s no one who plays what you dance to? Give me a 90’s night, with a bit of Brit Brit and the better Black Eyed Peas songs (no apologies, “Boom Boom Pow” is amazing, I am not joking), give me a bunch of people who know the words to “Rump Shaker” and...
Unease. Carol waits for that to pass. She waits for a lot of things. She considers. Carol contemplates Christ-like chrysanthemums. Creationism creates a cacophony of questions for Carol, but those questions carry no weight. Curious? She knows what she saw the time that she saw God. She knows Him should be capitalized, capsizing as the miracle was. Quick! Carol says. You can’t cooperate? Then...
I’m tired of thinking sometimes. All of this needing decisions and working with other people I sort of wish that I could shut it off but I’m never suicidal and don’t do drugs. Maybe that’s why I like music and dancing.
Always So Far Away
“El Caminos in the West,” you always sneak up on me. I forget how much joy you bring me! I forget how much you’re seriously the dope shit. I forget that you are one of those songs that uses some sort of xylophone to Great Effect. I feel like you sound like California and maybe The Dude. I love that you Use “Doo” as a Word, Liberally. I do not like that you are...
I’m biting my cuticles to bleeding messes again. I’m wearing a rubber band on my wrist to try and give me something else to fidget with. It isn’t working. It is not stretchy enough. It addresses my hand fidgets but not my mouth fidgets. I want to wear gloves every day in order to just. Stop. I want to have band aids on every finger. I want a mouthguard like NBA players have...
Life of Possibilities
I feel this music. I feel it in a way that maybe one of my west coast woo woo friends would describe as it vibrating the same as me, or something equally hokey-hippie to a midwestern kid who’s now an Oregonian adult. It’s like being in love in that your brain and body just *get it*, and that’s it. The bass and drums of “Face of the Earth” hit every single rhythmic...
Czar of the tumblrstator
I wonder if John Tesh has the NBA on NBC music (that he wrote) as his ringtone. I wonder (and hope) that NBC regrets not keeping the NBA contract. I wonder if anyone else misses Marv and Mike Fratello calling all the important games (I guess they are on TNT now? I don’t have cable). I wonder if there are many prose poems being written by people who want to finish up so they can watch the...
If you decide that you are going to an all weekend comedy festival, remember to wear shoes, carry your phone in your belt loops, and breathe. These things are so important to maximum enjoyment.
Shock/A lock/A shock/A lock.
No no, that’s not right She said. I know that Song was from the 90’s And I know I lost my virginity (Mix-tape- Making wise) Around that time. That’s all fine and good, I Thought. Except there’s No way she included “Whoomp (There it Is)” On a mix tape that is dated 1992. And there’s No way to correct her Either; no way to tell Her she’s wrong, because I love her. And she’s Beautiful, even when...
She finally broke me when she said she hated snow. What kinda person hates snow? I’d even be a tiny bit offended if she said she hated Snow, but snow? I spent 27 years in Illinois, some of those years spent in a place where I delivered newspapers in -30 degree temps, but snow still feels like life falling on top of me, like the frigid world is telling me, “hey, this is actually pretty cool right...
I should point out that I feel like I am reaaaaalllllly stretching the term “prose poetry” in a lot of these. This just comes out of what I am writing every day, though, and lately I haven’t been writing with many linebreaks.
They are getting paid for athleticism shortly out of high school, doing things with their bodies that most of us can only approximate. The great ones make more than most people imagine, at least based on the job that they do; even those that make an average amount probably take home an impressive amount of cash. It’s painful to watch the ones who just aren’t that good, but so amazing...
Have a cup of tea
Stars of the Lid still linger at the edge of my thoughts anytime sleep’s imminent, needed. I find it hard to explain how to tell the difference between good ambient music and bad, and I treasure the fact that sometimes, if I listen to it enough I can tell that I’m hearing a song that I know well. You tell someone that rough -ly eighty percent of music made every day sits on a hard drive in the...
What the world needs now
I often believe that the last thing we need is another white guy with a guitar. Maybe it was Cracker that did that to me. But I would guess the majority of the songwriters I’ve completely lost my mind about, in my life, started off as white guys with guitars. Maybe that explains the charm of the stripped down versions of albums—they remind me of me, in a room, just playing. And in...
Right the wrongs
I wonder if we could talk about belief for a moment. Tell me about the time that you believed you could control the weather and I’ll tell you about believing my dog could talk. Look around and say that you can see shapes of things to come. Tell me that the best way to create a rainbow is to encourage people to believe in sprites. Convince me that I will never hurt myself as long as I am...
When you think about it too hard, you realize that most of the people you know spend just as much time worried about everything as you do. Except, actually, when you think too hard about it, you have no idea what people are doing. Maybe everyone else really does smile most of the time and maybe they don’t actually end up at home wondering if they are ever going to amount to anything. When...
How did this come to pass?
I come back to this album like coming back to a great book, or better still, visiting a coffee shop in that neighborhood where you don’t live anymore or maybe never did, yet this one place just fit. Or maybe there’s no metaphor, because any good music fan knows that here are just these albums that you can name right way when someone asks you for that list of the ones that you come back...
Through all the crannies and the nooks
So much of what I write isn’t, but this part really is a journal: I’ve been thinking about what she said about every day of my life being so very nervous. It’s important when someone knows you that well to hear what they say to you. It’s important to listen and not be the one talking all the time. Another true fact to me: I love her arms. I love when she scrolls on her...
It makes no difference to me
We pull in to the campground nearest the Lucy and Snoopy rocks, and try to find a spot near some sort of tree. She always pitches tents near trees because she says she’d rather be connected to the earth with something other than a metal stake shoved into it, piercing the crust. Dust gets into everything here, and even the nighttime desert heat blasts enough that the inside of a tent just...
You're everybody's satellite
1. Adam Duritz was 32 years old when they released their second album. There’s something so heartening about that. 2. I encoded this album on 11/10/03 with iTunes 4.0.1. iTunes 10.2.1 tells me that the album came out in 1996. I would have guessed 1997, actually, but then it makes sense, since Let’s Face it was 1997. It’s strange when albums that flipped you over start...
I once worked at a job in a pretty small office where my boss let me listen to whatever I liked, on speakers, while I worked. It was right around when Kid A came out. One day she walked down the echoing hallway towards our office and my speakers. As soon as she crossed the threshold she asked, “is that church music?”
When Johnny realized he couldn’t read, he picked up a guitar instead. These were days when touring musician could be a legit, if not stable, occupation, before access to everything improved and ruined everything. A poet told us the other night that his generation, the post-avant, responds out instead of responding to. He said he was in high school in 1994 so I suppose that makes me a...
I could make a short film of this
I could make a short film out of this. It’s a diner and you are looking finer. I could make a short film out of ths and it would involve a lot of long shots, and some nerds noticing when you bend over, and then you come to talk to them and they drop the glass of water that they are holding. I could make a short film out of this and the film would examine capitalist theory and how it works...
On no longer notknowing
I still don’t understand how I can like one ambient artist and not the next. I am not sure if perhaps Eno broke me into thinking that Eno-type stuff is great and new agey somehow is something different or what. But I do love the fact that when this kind of music vibrates the right way, I feel lighter, more connected. I remember as a child when the musician visiting our classroom told us...
Springtime and you know that this means sundresses soon. Sundress weather is like the weather of Katy Perry bouncing on SNL dressed in an Elmo costume with glasses on, pretty much fulfilling the wet dreams of at least three nerd groups. Poll some nerds and they will all agree: sundress season beats baseball, suntime later in the day, barbecues, and the whole rest. And if you, dear liberal and...
You're no longer here
Breathe. Breathe like you can’t breathe ever again. Breathe because someday you won’t. Breathe because you like how the word sounds, how it doesn’t really sound like what you are doing although it sort of encompasses the sound of it. Breathe because even you know that this thing, this thing that bothers you, that thing is not real at all, that thing simply distracts you from the...
Stake out your position
“If you really want to conjure up a ghost/Cultivate a space for the things that hurt the most/Rake the sands until they surface/blind their tiny eyes.” —The Mountain Goats, “Outer Scorpion Squadron” Every single one of us wounded, every single one of us guided by some sort of power or thought or delusion or incision. It’s so easy to picture those...