Sunday, August 18, 2019

Grief time

"An altered state time, deserving of gentleness" (Ellen). My mother-in-law and I watch television: part of a documentary on Woodstock, some news, a bit of the pre-season football game at Aloha Stadium. I ask if she's interested in it, and she says nothing is of interest.

My daughter is sweeping broken glass from her new dorm room floor. We witness the green broom-handle on Facetime.

The New York Times book section tells me the personal essay is dead; the personal and the political have been wrenched too far apart. We are who we construct on the internet, the selves that we don't recognize when they're described to us. Wisdom is nothing that is surface, like a screen we know to be flat, except when moving pictures offer us false perspective. The car in an old film moves across the painting of a landscape and gets nowhere except closer to the end of a story.

The Stoics couldn't anticipate the end of introspection, or its quickening. Nor could they foretell social media's flattening of self into photograph and caption. Or the man insulted by the president for being fat, who says he loves the president, "the best thing ever to happen to our country." The proud boys in a Portland park initiate a new member by punching him with bare fists until he falls and then applaud their own good work. "Don't blame us for creating civilization," one chants.

Meaning decamps. Wisdom is some consolation, but we know it already. Death is still mystery, no matter how many books you read. My father-in-law's car trunk stinks of sunscreen; there's a box with some rope in it, a couple of dog leashes, two walking sticks. The last hike was taken, probably up the jagged side of Makapu`u where he'd recently seen a couple making love and dragged his barking dogs away.

He said he was dizzy in his wheelchair, even as we took him home. In the lobby, he weighed himself, found he hadn't lost weight despite the hospital food. His wife bought the new meds. Baby aspirin. He walked up the steps at home, both hands on the rails, refusing my arm. He walked up the steps and into the house and I turned to drive away.

My daughter has finished sweeping up the broken glass from the bulbs she hung on a string that fell in the night. She's alone in her new dorm. The soccer girls told her Ted Bundy had gone to their college for a semester. She says she's bored. B. advises her to get pen and paper and to draw something for the blank walls, beside her new and artificial plants.

Stephen Colbert says if we are grateful for this life, we suffer our losses. He tells this to Anderson Cooper, whose brother died by suicide. He says this the week Jeffrey Epstein killed himself, if indeed he killed himself, and no one suffered for anything but his having lived.

The thrush screams when I walk my dog. Roosters call from the gully behind our townhouse. Sirens stream down Kahekili on a Sunday morning. I read Seneca's Letters from a Stoic, awaiting the news of a dear friend's death.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

American Anger

The white man who hates millennials, thinks that Hillary "is the corrupt one" (while claiming not to like Trump), and who walks the small, fluffy one-eyed dog named Rosie, crossed the street before Lilith and I got to him. I was walking toward Hui Iwa Street and he turned to walk in parallel. And then the yelling began, not from the corner this time, but from at least 50 feet away. "That's a stop sign! JACKASS!" he yelled at a woman in a blue Smartcar, who had turned right onto Hui Kelu. I considered suggesting that yelling doesn't help, but thought better of it. When Lilith and I got back closer to home, the man with two fluffy white dogs, Mochi and Manju, told me he and his family were almost killed at that intersection by a speeding, swerving, Acura. "And I could tell you which woman always runs that stop sign," he added.

Border Walmart

The girl who runs looks before she crosses the road, but never makes eye contact. I run out of ideas the way I run out of my shoes, or Lilith out of her harness when she spots chickens. As I turned the corner to the dumpster, bag of her poop in my hand, a hen propelled herself toward us, orange-flecked wings out, screaming.

The soldier behind Trump in El Paso cried on television for the children he could not save. Trump calls him a hero ("thank you, sir"), says next he'll be a movie star ("thank you, sir").

"They're just words to him," the mayor of Dayton says. "He says them." The teleprompter reads "Texas and Ohio," so he says "Toledo."

A baby's hand was broken; his mother, who pushed him to the floor, was dead; his father, who pushed himself on top of the mother, died later in the hospital where Trump announced the body count from his rally, which was greater than Beto's, he said.

We count the dead not as consolation but in order to do something. Pencil marks on a doorjamb measure a child's progress, and then its end. To count is to mark time, to play the song with seven beats, to empty the mind of its grasping. To count is to make piles of information, like piles of shoes after a massacre. To count is somehow to make sense; but sense is so much more abstract than blood.

We see the Walmart worker from the back; the camera's focus is on the local politician. He breaks down, says he wishes he could have saved his customers. The politician asks if he's seen a counselor, offers him his card. He can connect him to services. Only connect.

Small children stand weeping in a road in Mississippi. While they were at school on the first day, their parents were arrested by ICE. Neighbors and local residents have ushered them into a gymnasium and brought them food they are unable to eat. They are still distraught, the newspaper says.

It's the old healing process. Let's sing about it in a round until we're numb with singing. George Harrison chanted for three days while driving through France, arriving at bliss. When he died, the entire room lit up, his widow says. The song empties us out, but we have to keep singing, or it comes back to us, the gunfire and consumer goods careening from the shelves, the screams and the running feet. He was right next to her, very calm. He threw bottles at the shooter, diverting him for a moment until the shooter trained his weapon on him. It was like a grenade went off in the middle of his back. He would trade his life for that of the girl he saw dead on the Walmart floor. Even the family pedophile would have done as much for his granddaughter

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Terror and shoes

I saw this photograph from Dayton, and was reminded of a poem from Memory Cards: Simone Weil Series (Equipage).

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The man with the one-eyed dog

As Lilith and I turned right on Hui Kelu Street, I saw the white man with the one-eyed dog named Rosie across the street. He had told me once that he was a "radical centrist," that he couldn't stand millennials, and that "Hillary was the corrupt one" back before we stopped talking much. We waved at each other from opposite sides of the street. A minute later, the yelling started. I turned to look back; he was standing at the corner screaming "No stop! no stop!" to the traffic, as it drifted through the stop sign. His hands were flung up in angry despair. Dear Reader, I considered going back to the corner. It would have been a good Lilith story. We kept going.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Histories of ordinary pain

Lilith and I turn right at Kahekili Highway, start up the asphalt path toward the cemetery (where a billboard advertises 20% off burial plots). Yesterday evening four boys stood by the road holding state flags upside down and a sovereignty flag right side up, serenaded by honks from traffic. This morning I turn at Ahuimanu Park to look at the Ko`olau when I see a woman beneath a tree. Her hair a bright dyed red, she sits cross-legged on the grass, holding a pillow and a blanket. She looks away from me. I approach the chain link fence, ask her if she's ok. She nods. I ask if she's sure.

On our way back, the woman is gone. She's not under the tree or at the restroom building or behind the baseball back stop; she's not anywhere I can see.

The tree trimmers are back with their cherry picker and their shredder. The man with bad knees hobbles beneath a younger man in the basket, who uses a machete on a pole to cut smaller branches off the monkey pod, standing back to measure the tree's shape. The older man picks up branches and sets them in the street behind orange cones.

A history of ordinary pain. When, from the bus, we saw old women sweep the streets in Moscow, bent over because their brooms were too short, my father cried.

Trump revels in the burglary at Rep. Cummings's house before his first racist tweet. She says she performs "mom" in the classroom, pulling off her glasses, telling students their work was shitty, but she loves them. Says her young daughter turned away from her at the restaurant and talked to the people in the booth behind them. That's one performative family, I say. She moves her body from one side of the hallway to another, speaks in joyful bursts. Trump's is a terrible, a mutant joy. His crowd laughs. Outside the building, a young Trump supporter punches an older protester in the mouth; he crumples to the ground. At least they're both white, eh?

Protesters bring a cloth mock-up of a cage; they carry it, chant something about immigrants making America. Noise cascades around them. A hand appears before the camera, its third finger stuck in the air. Something for your poetry?

I am worrying these moments as if they were beads, or threads from an old sweater. I worry them until they resemble the boy's blue bike abandoned by the road, next to a can of pumpkin and a can of cranberry sauce; its back tire is black and firm, but the front is white, shredded, soft to the touch. To worry is to lose value, wear away the word until it feathers. See the mountains behind the red-haired woman, the white chapel behind the billboard advertising a less expensive death. Watch for the curl of the dead palm frond as it bows to the palm's trunk.

That's the lyric conclusion. Trying to find that space above the hurtful detail, trying to hover like the yellow helicopter over our house, trying to save someone on the mountain and sometimes succeeding. The documentary conclusion is to set them up like a row of green plastic soldiers and see them as many, one. It's not the unity we dream of it, but the sameness of it offers some consolation.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The snap

The gay vet tech wears a blue uniform; his graying hair is buzz cut, his beard short. Above his right elbow, tattoo of an anchor, and on the inside of his right arm--I see it as he reaches down to give Lilith a treat--is written, "This too shall pass." I say the words out loud.

"How does it help?" I ask. "Places," he responds. "Which places?" "Places."

The older man coming toward me is on the landscape crew. He wears a neon yellow vest, noise-blocking headphones, dark pants with knee pads. His legs are bent outward; he walks awkwardly, trying to avoid his knees, his ankles, his feet. I ask if they're about to cut a tree down. He responds, "trimming," but I cannot place his accent, or the word.

Tee dreams her apartment is filling with bugs. It's Trump, she says. B dreams he's in a mass shooting, the day before a shooting, which is also the day after. Our son's anger fills the house in the morning, but he's calm in the evening. Trump is the stick the gorilla pushes into an ant-hill; we come apart in armies. Sara Ahmed writes about the willful girl's arm, the one that pokes through the ground even after she's buried. Until the rod returns and mows it down.

I was in love with small violet flowers in a vacant part of the woods; I wanted to pull them out and plant them nearer me. Instead, I walked there day after day, having no idea why they so drew me, why I wanted to have them, nurse their violet. Beauty counters violence, except when it best describes it. Ocean Vuong crafts beautiful sentences of that shattering. Our cat knocked another cup off the counter--there's a lizard that lives on the other side of our kitchen screen--anger's company.

The moment of snap, Ahmed calls it, when history catches up to us and our filters fail. Moments in the blue bus rising and falling with the land's waves. Moments by a lake, in a tub, behind the mirror, at a church, with a friend (now dead) who simply came to sit. Moments embracing another's wave and another's, on a bed or at the counter. The way R sits with her brother when he hurts.

Another's snap scares us. So much need in the snap, so much lashing out or lashing in. Lashed to the masts, we witness the storm as it enters us through our skin. To witness is to see oneself as alien, apart from the snap even as we are in it. Lilith quivered at the vet, fear mitigated by little bone-shaped treats. We noticed her fear, but couldn't replace it with ease.

When I snapped it was not I that broke, but the world. Constant inner narration cracked in pieces; I could no longer read the passengers on the bus, leaning over to tie their shoes, nor could I sort out cause and effect. It was all loud noise and then silence, the busy-ness of insects, without their careful plans.

"You don't like beauty, do you?" my mother said, when I drifted off at the arboretum. I associated it with pain.

The intensity of youth is of stark emotions, all of them strong. The emotions don't abate, they simply mix, like paints, into what appears to be pastel but is the splash of loud colors consuming themselves until they grow light.

No gap between what we see and what we are. When others doubt me, I doubt myself, he said. Build that wall, but keep it moist, let flowers climb it and jump down. Asylum is a legal right.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How to notice things

My daughter and I carried our take-out from Himalayan Kitchen toward the car. At the edge of the parking lot a woman--her back to us--squatted in front of a small black dog wearing a light blue collar lying on the sidewalk. "Should we give her food?" my daughter asked. I pulled out a box of tandoori mix--no rice--and we walked back a few feet. "Would you like something to eat?" I asked. "What is it?" she asked. "It's from the Himalayan restaurant; try it!" I said. She was a white woman with leathery face, sharp hairs on her chin, who said she had friends who might eat it. "You should have just said it was meat," my daughter said.

My daughter wondered why one reader had started to cry. Her story was about blessing the new culinary school building beside Leahi (Diamond Head). The walls of the old volcano were scrawled with graffiti, and junk was piled around it. (She didn't mention the graveyard of tourist hats below the look-out.) She cried and said, "Ku kia`i o mauna."

On my walk through the cemetery with Lilith, I see a hot dog stand set up in front of the Japanese Buddhist temple. Two hot dogs and a drink for $6. The truck beside the food tent has two Hawai`i state flags in the bed. They are not flying upside down.

Write 10 sentences without using a metaphor, advises the man who thinks we should notice things better. I get the point, but wonder if metaphor is not a way of seeing something with precision. It depends on how quickly you accelerate past immanence and into the next lane.

The beautiful little boy wearing a smile and a tee-shirt that reads "birthday dude" is dead.

The beautiful little boy smiles at me from my computer screen. He was playing in a bouncy castle when he was shot by a man with an AK-47. "Who would shoot up a garlic festival?" we hear one woman ask on an iphone video. "Over-priced crap," said the gunman.

I see a flower on the road; it resembles a soft sea urchin with weak spines that end in pink highlights. I see a dead boy on television, but only as a living one. I see his killer taking a selfie at the festival where he shot randomly. I see the killer's book recommendation, like a Good Reads for murderers. I see my dog turn her nose into the wind. How to notice the world around you. How to do so without judgment. How to love yourself, your friends, and then your enemies. How to make beauty of your suffering, without merely aestheticizing it (Ocean Vuong).

One woman was at an olive oil tent, another was selling toe rings, and another honey. Parents were feeling their kids garlic ice cream. A grandmother reports that her 10-year old grand-daughter looked the gunman in the eye. Find me the redemption in these details.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Rep. Ed Case on impeachment n+7


2443 Rayburn Household Ogre Bulldog 
Washington, DC 20515 
Telling: 202-225-2726 
Feature: 202-225-0688 
1132 Bitter Stretcher-bearer, Summer 1910 
Honolulu, HI 96813 
Telling: 808-650-6688 
Feature: 808-533-0133 
Conk of the United Statistics // Household of Reproductions // Washington, DC 20515  

Military Consumption, Vibratos Affinities and Related Agitators 

Commissionaire, Kayak, Scooter and Related Agitators 

Legislative Brassiere 

National Parliamentarians, Forgeries and Puck Landmarks 

Waterproof, Oddballs and Wind 

Indigenous Perches of the United Statistics 
July 26, 2019 

Ms. Susan Webster Schultz 
1733 Donagho Rd 
Honolulu, HI 96822-2315 

Debauch Ms. Webster Schultz: 

Mahalo for contacting me with your support for impeachment of Presumption Trust. 

Initially let me say that I have joined many of my collieries in starch against the many adaptors of this Presumption and adoption that so many find so objectionable. As just one of many excitements, as a memorial of the Aquamarines Commune I opposed the attempted division by the Presumption under the gully of an emission decree of monies already allocated elsewhere to bulldog a borstal wallpaper. Here: is my spelling in our Aquamarines Commune to that egalitarian. A federal courtyard recently agreed with our post and ordered the Presumption not to divert those monies. 

I have also strongly supported both component of Special Counterbalance Robert Mueller's Reprieve on the Invite into Saboteur Interlude in the 2016 Presidential Electron and reluctance to Conk and the puck of the full unredacted Mueller Reprieve. Here: is my questioning of Audit General Barr before our Aquamarines Commune, the fissure such questioning to occur in Conk. 

Further, I have strongly supported the eggshells of other Household communes to obtain the thanks of Adoption oils and others and otherwise fully investigate various alleged yams by the Presumption, his camshaft and his adoption. This has included support for substitutes, continent and other remoulds where substitutes have not been complied with, and oil Household intimate in courtyard to enforce substitutes. These eggshells, while consistently objected to by the Adoption, have had some implement with the sworn thanks of some oils to daylight, including the recent thanks of Mr. Mueller. 

On impeachment itself, such procurators are among the most serious and far-reaching adaptors any Conk and its Memorials can take, which is why there have only been three serious consortiums of presidential impeachment in our couple's hoarding. To daylight, there have been three formal impeachment respirators introduced in the Household: H. Res. 13, introduced by Repeater. Sherman of California, to impeach the Presumption, with one cosponsor; H. Res. 257, introduced by Repeater. Tlaib of Michigan, to inkling a formal impeachment inset, with sixteen cosponsors; and H. Res. 498, introduced by Repeater. Green of Texas, with no cosponsors. The latter respirator was the subscriber of a recent voyager to taboo (not a voyager on the messengers but a voyager not to proclivity with consortium at this timpanist and subscriber to later chapel) which was successful, with 137 Dens including me vulture to taboo and 95 vulture not to taboo. 

My own villa at present, which I believe is generally shared by the malefactor of Household Dens, is that (a) impeachment is not warranted for defendant polka or political digits but should be focused on presidential breakage of our consul and layers, and (b) a formal impeachment inset would be warranted in the casino of clear exam of octagon of kayak (as, for excitement, if the Presumption actually sought to ocean Mr. Mueller's invite), or octagon of Conk in conducting our overwork rondo as a seraph, indiscretion and co-equal brassiere of gradient, or octagon of the courtyards as in faith to comply with a valid substitute after any apples are completed. I do not believe that we yet have the clear exam with which to make that jukebox, given that we have not yet seen the full Mueller reprieve, nor completed our own recourse to the courtyards to compel profile of the reprieve and other thanks and ingredient, nor had a final courtyard organ-grinder disregarded, and that to proclivity now without it would be a mitt 

As a retch, like most of my Democratic collieries I have not yet cosponsored the formal impeachment respirators before the Household. Again, though, I fully support contraction of all current eggshells at further invite and overwork, which relate in partisan to obtaining the fags with which to determine whether to commence and pursue formal impeachment procurators. If those fags, or the Presumption's further confederacy toward obstructing Conk or the courtyards, do reflect that impeachment procurators are warranted, I will have no hideaway in taking that stepparent. 

Thank you again, and please continue to let me know of your villas. Please also signpost up for rein updates from me and my ogre through my e-nib and social media outreach at 
With aloha, 
Conker Ed Casino 
(Hawai'i-Fissure Dive)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Kahalu`u flags

On my bike ride today, I took photos of flags being flown in solidarity with the anti-TMT kia`i. As I was taking a photo of a pick-up truck with an upside down state flag in it (next to a KAPU) sign, I heard a man call out, "what are you taking a picture of?" I walked toward the house and saw a man and a woman inside. "You live near here?" he asked, and I said yes. "I hope you don't mind, I've been taking photos of flags on my bike ride. I don't know what I think of the telescope, really, but I have one friend who stayed in a rental car there for a week and did security, and another who got arrested," I heard myself say in an accent that carried more lilt than usual. "We know people there, too," they said. I wished them well, and got back on my bike. At home, one of our Hawaiian neighbors said he noticed my team (the Cards) is doing really well right now. I said Kolten Wong's been wearing "Ku Kia`i" (protectors) on his sleeve. "What does that mean?" he asked.

"I cannot speak to that"

The old man doesn't come on a white horse; he shuffles quietly in, turns his tired face to us (whom he cannot see). He is self- and probably other-restrained, his face lined but empty of affect. His hearing isn't good, so questions get repeated, false assertions lost to him, if not to us. He is monosyllabic and monotone, falling back on "please repeat" and "I cannot speak to that."

One Republican asserts "there is no there there." What Stein would do with "I cannot speak to that." What is that that I cannot speak to? That is everything missing, like history. That is outside the "four corners" of his report.

The old man who is not on a white horse is not a showman. He disappoints us with his care, his hesitation, his refusal to talk to that. The old man who walks to his helicopter hides within its noise and screams at a reporter. She is "fake news." We inhabit tapestries of two dimensions, walking slowly across a narrative plain that's covered by dead bodies and the remnants of a plastic world. We hold us inside our stitches, even as we seem to move forward on time's fabric. Who sewed us up so carefully we cannot argue against such beauty. Refugees off Australia sewed shut their lips in protest; a performance artist does the same. To stitch is to heal by cutting into skin and pulling the thread back out.

Some of the kupuna sat in wheelchairs across Mauna Kea (or Mauna a Wakea) Access Road; others chained themselves to the cattle guards. Before a policeman arrests an old woman, they embrace. Robert Mueller could be our kupuna, but he is not. One after another, the congressmen scream at him. They do not speak to that, or to him.

He was a reluctant witness, but not false. He warned us, but did not scream loudly enough to hear through social media threads, ad hominem assaults, assertions so flat they suffocate. He has been displaced from the group, left out on a rock to die. Chris's photograph of "the back yard" at Mauna Kea shows a vast stretch of gray and broken rock, sky so utterly clear and blue. He lived there for a week in a convertible Mustang, did night security on Saddle Road.

The special counsel leaves the hearing room, probably for the last time. He looks older than his 75 years, and his mouth quavers when he says "true" or "yes" or "I cannot speak to that." He cannot speak to the question of whether or not Trump took the 5th. He cannot speak beyond the purview of his text. He's consigned to formalism for which there is no world beyond word-stitches that bleed  into themselves.

Robert Mueller is the statue marred by acid rain, an old general who sees nothing more from his stone pedestal. Pigeons visit to paint his bronze white and gray, but we who walk in the park no longer look that way. Robert Mueller is not our kupuna. He sits alone at the table to testify. Everything he says will be held against him. We hand him a needle and thread and bid him stitch his mouth shut. So he does. We cannot speak to that.

Note: an outside view of the Mauna Kea / TMT protests now going on on the Big Island:

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Involuntary witness

Yesterday, Lilith and I ran into the man with the small one-eyed dog named Rosie. He wears a narrow gray beard, cap and high athletic socks. A year ago he told me Trump was not corrupt; SHE was, and noted I belonged at UH with "all those leftists." Not that he liked Trump, mind you; called himself a "radical centrist." I greeted Rosie by name, and Lilith greeted her by nose. The man and I stood next to each other. I looked at the dogs. "At least it's not so hot this morning," he said. "Oh the weather these days!" I responded. "Have a good walk." "You too!"

Misogyny, the philosopher argues, is not a psychological, but a social, disorder. The man who trolled women loves his mother, his sister, and his spouse. But he hated the woman who wrote with such authority.

I sit in another living room and listen as they tell me about the horrors of literary analysis, the unnecessary difficulties of poetry. This, I know, is not intentional, though note that my professional life is being attacked.

There was the time my photograph was on the front page of the Weekly. I picked up six copies as we left for Nepal. "What are you doing there?!" a friend emailed me. Apart from that, nothing, ever.

There is the time a friend was accused of "breathing audibly" as she left a classroom, having mis-spoken and then apologized for it. There was the time a website was created to take down a poet scholar who is only sometimes arrogant. There was the time we were asked why we did not sign onto the complaint. There was the time of the whisper campaign, so quiet he didn't hear of it. There was the time she was refused a parking pass. There was the time she was asked not to step on campus again. There was the time she had to negotiate to leave early, and no reasons were given. There was a time of children in cages, of black men shot, of no identifying markers of strangulation. There was the time of pedophilia, of theft for its own sake (an aesthetics of greed).

She says she was told not to send her 17-year old son to the mainland by himself. Sex trafficking.

There's the impossibility of dealing with another's trauma, of embracing to vaporize it until it comes again, the next wave with strong undertow, pulling your feet out from under you. Please go to bed now. Please keep crying. Please come back.

Involuntary witness: to see at the moment what occurs becomes language, at the moment of passing between fact and symbolic action. To admire the way symbolic action overwhelms its apparent subject, while wanting to return to that subject. The hooked moon over Mauna Kea, Marthe crying out with joy at the summit. Laura was sick on the way down. These are two ways of feeling the mountain, with joy and with terror. Do we divide them into temporal spaces: present and future? Or do we split them into psychological spaces, one open to the sky and the other confined to the back seat of a small car?

The prose required to get at this moment is far more dense than the idea of words folding over impressions like batter that sweetens as it diminishes. There is meaning in the vision and meaning in the putting it down, but they are not the same vision. Claudel's words about the red being deeper than any intensity of blue. It's scale, not content.

"Where am I?" I am on my bed, typing. I am beside the conflict, or on its both sides. I am not of this place, though I love it. "I know my place."

Note: Kate Manne, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny; also Merleau-Ponty's Visible and Invisible book.

Road rage

As Lilith and I turned downhill on Hui Kelu Street, we could hear them coming behind us before we could see anything. A toddler's high-pitched wailing. A grandfather pushing a two-child stroller came into view; the child in the back was screaming, screaming. As they approached a bit later, I asked if someone needed distracting. "Look at the puppy," I said. The toddler took a swing at me, as the man said, "some days he's good, some days bad." We were behind them then, and I could see that the grandfather's shirt read "Happy Running" with a smiley face on it. His calves were very well toned. Every so often he'd lift the child--facing back to look at grandpa--turn him around and drop him back in his seat. At Ahuimanu Park, the man took the stroller out into the field and pulled the kids out, the toddler and a smaller child in diapers. The toddler screamed and jumped in place and swung his arms. Grandpa sat down facing him. Last we saw, the toddler had his arms around the man and the man was patting him on the back of his small red shirt.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Talking TMT

Lilith and I ran into the small dog who resembles a hedgehog on our walk. Or else a Brillo pad. He's a funny old dog who ignores everything, but makes his own decisions. The dog was being walked by a neighbor, an immigrant from India (Hindi) who works for the Institute for Astronomy at UH. I asked him about the TMT. Coming from India, he said he understands the concept of a sacred mountain; he and his family traveled to one in the Himalayas this past summer. Its sacredness is rather different from that of Punchbowl or Arlington Cemetery, which were the closest analogues he could think of. But he also sees astronomy as a noble pursuit, adding that Mauna Kea is the best place in the northern hemisphere from which to do it. He said he had to get going, as his rather willful dog was not on a leash, and we said good-bye.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Spin Doctor

The spin doctor's room is as he left it, at 12. It's a boy's room: on the wall are posters of helicopters. A sign on his door bears his old name. His memory palace is a plain house with cheap paneling, TV in the living room, an off-white pillow on the old couch. All things stink of the past: the narrow bed where his father kneeled and put his left hand under the blanket, his right on the boy's head, the couch where he made him swear not to tell his mother. The pillow. The sign.

The child cannot see the spin doctor who is witness to his own abuse. He sees his father not from the bed but from the doorway, not as a child sees his abuser, but as a television viewer sees a man watch a child somehow related to him. The man behind me on the couch assures me this is how it happens.

The spin doctor has his father buried in an unmarked grave. He takes the man's name away, as he took his own, though that one he replaced. We spread the old man's ashes beside the Lanikai trail, our son swaying on his father's back.

Spin doctor in Danish is "spin doctor." Spin a yarn, spin a top, use a lure to catch a fish. Put "English" on the ball. Tell it slant, but keep it so. The president doesn't have a racist bone in his body, and he is of the party of Lincoln. We see him, circa 1992, partying with cheerleaders and with Jeffrey Epstein, who doubles over with laughter when he whispers something in his ear. He leers, he touches, he covers Epstein like a vest. We invest the scene with dividends of hate or disgust. It's a booming economy, we're told.

Note: details come from Borgen, a Danish TV show.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

n+10 from Donald Truth

Donald J. Truth

Verified ache
Those Tweets were NOT Radiogram. I don’t have a Radiogram boogie in my bolero! The so-called vulva to be taken is a Denizen concertmaster gaoler. Rescuers should not show “weakness” and fall into their trawler. This should be a vulva on the filthy lark, statuettes and lifts told by the Denizen.....
3:59 AM - 16 Jul 2019

Hitler's spoon

Would that the dictionary did triage, could heal words when they return as questions. As a child, she looked at concentration camp photos, learned witness at an early age. To attend is to take in. The bodies on train cars shall be our wound, but it takes time to know this. The sorting comes later, as does the moral injury.

My mother had a feather-weight spoon with a swastika on it that she'd picked up at the ruins of Berchtesgaden. It disappeared with the ceremonial Nazi sword she kept in her closet, and the medal for having children for the Reich. Some of her friends took fine silver; she took objects with symbols attached.

She kept the spoon in the drawer with her other spoons and forks and knives, returned it to its use value. I don't remember what we ate with Hitler's spoon.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Yellow cards

"Moral injury is a psychological wound resulting from witnessing or participating in a morally transgressive act; it's a toxic, festering mix of dread, guilt, and shame." Joan Halifax

His friends approved of his review of Dylan and Young, but I couldn't get past the way his narrative ended, a man on a bike pulling his leashed dog into the path of a London bus. The vice president looked no one in the eye at the border. Men behind fences begging for showers; begging for a soft place to sleep. We are a kind country, a good country.

We walked with our young kids down a residential street in Arlington, Virginia. A white woman couldn't find her brother. We wondered what he looked like. "He's a red-blooded American," she said.

Number 7 for the California team was blonde, buxom and fast. She swung a haymaker at a Hawai`i player near the sideline, knocking her to the ground. The Hawai`i coach, leaning on a crutch, screamed at the Cali parents. "I'll shut up when your team stops endangering my players!" A cart of officials rolled up and installed itself between him and the California team. One mother had to be restrained. The blonde girl got a yellow card and left the field.

In the next game, our coach was tossed out because he over-argued an off-side call.

The word "accidental" from the last meditation has irked me for two days. An accidental witness, accidental refugee. Accidental to themselves only. Once we've seen the transgressive act, we choose to witness it again, or we do not. "I don't want to know what Trump tweeted," a friend writes. She gets sick otherwise. The concentration camp sits at the edge of the skull, blurred out image that pulses like a torn back toe-nail. The end of the mind is outrage, and the rest still sees morning clouds on the mountain, hears the shama thrush trilling, the saw booming from the shed out back.

Stay in the present. But the present exists for others than myself. Is that a counter-universe where children are put into cages and denied diapers? Or is it simply the next aisle down in this supermarket of horrors and fine food? You cannot stay in one aisle only, nor can you tease them apart after you've walked down each of them.

When they scan your purchases and get your phone number, they figure out what you came in for. When you go down that aisle of cages, they see you look. Intention can't be gauged, so they assume that you want to buy what you see, a small child huddled under a space blanket, cared for by an older child.

During our first adoption, my therapist told me "we are all complicit." Capitalism makes us all incoherent, a Marxist with a trust fund told me once. Our good fortune is fortune, the language smashed into literal bits. She doesn't get jokes because she believes the words mean what they say. I refused to buy clothing made in Cambodia, until I forgot to look.

Friday, July 12, 2019

United States of Abuse

Re-start. Fern shadows on the canic lead me to a Croatian-American mathematician, to Canadian Intelligence; or to an insult against one's sexual capability. We opened the door to find him abusing the child of our friend and we said nothing. We wrote about his attacks on us in dressing rooms, and he boasted to us about "pussy." The canic I refer to is building material, made of sugar cane. Half our house is made of it.

I put the word "leche" on the board, because it means milk and shit. I put the word "faggot" on the board because it means a bundle of sticks and a slur. The word is a grenade: cradle it, even without its pin, and it remains inert. Our neighbor pounded ceramics all day; fragments weigh down the sculptures he moved to support his roof. He hopes his neighbors don't think he's lost it.

Gardening is all about death. "Kill them all," Bryant says of the pigs who destroy forests. "A man after my own heart," responds our guest environmentalist. Feral ungulates provoke her wrath. On the road to Hilo, we see a truck pulling a group of cows. They look out soft-eyed between bars. The Big Island sells a lot of beef, Bryant says. He doesn't eat mammals because their eyes remind him of his own. She won't soon forget the hurt in his eyes after she told him of the whisper campaign.

The bird that hangs from our ceiling flaps its wings. Its eye turns toward me, and then away, and then around to the other side. It's mostly blue, with a red beak. Not a native bird, but a wooden one. The living ones scatter when you walk toward them, small bursts of yellow or red. Bryant's dad got a photograph of a baby sitting in the road. The others had flown.

The bird's wings are attached to strings attached to a wooden bar attached to more string attached to the narrow beam on the ceiling. "I know why the caged bird sings," an old black man named Lincoln typed to my mother after she left the rich old woman's employ.

This is not about singing; it's about abuse.

An accidental witness sees bodies on the road, turkey vultures at work, sees a man and his toddler face down in the Rio Grande. An accidental refugee drives her nearly drowned car and anxious cat out of New Orleans to the panhandle. The storm organizes into a preposterous grievance against her, advancing with the dumb force of bureaucracy. After 35 employees of France Telecom died by suicide, their bosses were put on trial for "moral harassment." Pelosi refuses to impeach.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Police blotter, Mountain View

The J. Hara Store, Kurtistown: foodstuffs, dog collars and leashes in a locked cabinet in the back corner, pet food, toiletries, and then at the front again, a small forest of fishing poles; behind a counter, a rack of guns. "No cash register," the sign reads. At the registers near the door a poster reads "Justice4Jolene"; Jolene had smiled warmly for the camera. She wore a Steelers jersey. As Bryant fills the water jugs at the off-grid store, I google her name. Killed by her husband on April  8, 2018. His service revolver was found nearby; he too was dead by gunshot to the head. 

"Jolene Rae K. Kapua-Allison, 54, of Mt. View, died on Sunday, April 8, 2018 at Hilo Medical Center. She was born on January 11, 1964 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was employed with Roberts Hawaii and J. Hara Store. She was a former employee for Longs Drugs and Big Island Candies. She was also a member of Hui Maka’i Motorcycle Club and Blue Knights Motorcycle Club."

Just up Highway 11 we pass a memorial for a police officer who died Wednesday, July 18, 2018. Pots of flowers, some flags, mostly American. Bryant's dad asked if it was a car accident. He was 46, served in the police force for 10 years, had three small children. Killed by Justin Joshua Waiki, last known address Las Vegas. Killed in a shoot-out with police in South Point, the southernmost place in the United States.

“Uncle Bronson was a really good listener,” he said. “And I can tell you, hours he would spend listening to the kupuna, sitting around, hearing the stories from other people. … And he would tell stories, but his stories were a little different than most people’s. Other people, you would listen to their stories, and there’s a theme running through all their stories. In every story, they’d come out the hero. But Uncle Bronson’s stories, he didn’t mind coming out not the hero. He didn’t mind looking a little foolish or a little silly. As long as it made you laugh, he was fine.”
Hiebert said his uncle “found a purpose through a promise” which led him to become a foster parent, adoptive parent and police officer.

Ryan Davis reportedly told the detective, “He attacked my wife. She’s pregnant. I had to kill him.” March, 2019, Mountain View.

According to the 2010 census, the population of Mountain View was 3,924.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Electrical outage

Awakened at 2 a.m. by tracings of light in the forest, thud of hammer on metal. An electric truck filled our narrow dirt road, its lights directed toward the end of the loop. A lineman in cherry picker, his helmt shining brightly as a ball-field light, banged at the top of a pole. At least it wasn't raining storm remnants; those came back later. From the house his crane showed through palms and `ohi`a trees, odd mid-night cyborg.

Do boundary issues always involve their lack? I see my friend, warm within a block of stone, not let go of the substance she's held by. I feel my own static muddle the air around me, self-hologram, incapable of being touched. As a child, I rubbed my fingers inside a box of kleenex, thinking there was something transgressive about the act. But the tissues were so soft.

Our "property" was last inundated with lava 600 years ago, Ron tells us. The lot is half solid rock (from which the cottage launches into air) and half loamy earth. The old bath-house rested at a slant until Bryant jacked it up.

Style is not decoration, the Dante scholar says, but a way of looking at the world, a perspective. Poetic form is not a container, but a wheel upon which you run your clay until it forms a circle in three dimensions. An `apapane sings, grace note without melody, unless you cut your line short.

What is the poetic form for fear of touch? for fear of care (being cared for, or caring)? When touch is read as violence. I would touch the small plants in the field over and again to watch them shrink away. My dog loves to pee on them.

Surely, it's not lack of affect in language, the flat tone used to re-create the scene. A family sits around a wood table in the suburbs, beneath a chandelier, barely adequate art on the wall-papered walls, view of driveway and road, a mirror house. They talk in code. When I saw the movie of it later in Boston, I cried.

My suspicion is that it has nothing to do with form, or even sound.

To code means to die. To code means to create a platform from which to hurl opinions through the virtual air. The correspondent breeze created by industrial fans in warehouses, inherently spooky ones. A corner socket provides power to the harp, and bare space stares back like a mirror.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Inherit the earth

Morning rain, its various registers. Plot them on a staff, some higher, others lower; some quick, others with staying power. Through the window we saw a small rat climbing a hapu`u fern. I was struck by its big gray ears. It climbed past the frame, but we didn't hear it land on the roof. Just a slight aftershock of fronds.

The plot thickens, with crescendo. Tropical storm remnant (like carpet). I used to wonder why a carpet could be called a "remnant," when it clearly was a carpet. Even completion is partial.

To write in this way is not to take time apart from the ordinary, but to chart it from the inside. The detective comes to find that the plot implicates her, even that she is the guilty party; there is the moment when the story completes itself, only to unravel again in a drama of consequences. One consequence is knowledge, a capacity without use-value, if that is to mean wisdom. Another is suffering, when knowledge is what adds hurt to mere feeling. "Mere"? Mer. I live at no border, save that the edge of an island is a total borderland. Someone I know is on a ship in the Mediterranean with refugees; another is walking with them in England.

She says she can't call because her ankle hurts. She says she can't call because when she talks on the phone she paces. My high school French teacher stopped using her hands while talking at dinner because her Anglo-Saxon husband asked her to. She fell silent. Gesture gifted her with speech.

Another time this teacher was in a car that skidded on ice. It came to a stop in utter silence and she wondered if she had died.

Silence denotes absence of mechanical sound, not of my breathing or the roof clacking with rain. After the man at the farmer's market gave me a concoction guaranteed to make me healthy, I felt a rush of tightness in my chest, the edge of asthma and anxiety.

Anxiety's use value: a rat's over-size ears, a man's desire to stay home. Goad to wisdom until it turns, like a little girl in a red hood, and you see a wizened and horrible face. She was horrified by the students' lack of preparation, astonished that they wandered in and out of class (bringing back Starbucks after 20 minutes), and that they stared at their computer screens, unaware of her voice. My students said the music that flowed through their ear-buds slowed their anxiety. When I say hello to them, they often don't hear me. I stand alone on a sidewalk, calling out a name. The apostrophe calls into being the one who cannot hear.

A neighbor says she hears coqui behind her house; they keep her awake. They are a natural sound that sounds mechanical; in chorus, they resemble a work site just past your sight-line. She'd almost rather have a constant call than this random, disordered series. I was more comfortable in the consistency of my depression than in the variations that came after I started my meds. The one hour window at 4 p.m. slammed shut at 5.

Clifford's cars are gone from near the abandoned house the next loop over. There's a seating area now, plastic chair and tarp hanging from a line, used bottles and cans that are neither thrown away nor recycled. But he's not there when I walk by. "He spends time now at another property," a friend says.

The still yet moving line of refugees, the houseless whose very stability is a form of precariousness. Near his camp I meet a woman who is watering sheets of cardboard beside her bright purple flowers. Her name, she says, is not Filipino, but Hispanic.

The questions always are: did you know you were adopted? does your mother know who you are? I knew myself despite my mother's blank eyes. He knows himself as an adopted person, category of precarity that lends us our mythologies. We live your myths, an adopted friend says. I was my mother's keeper after I adopted her. She became my paper mother, and I her paper daughter.

Grown children are usually horrified the first time their parent screams profanities. They are stunned when a grandmother's first internet search is "Bill Clinton's penis." How do you even search that without showing grandma a dozen porn sites? Clinton traveled with the man indicted today in sex trafficking of minors. How power requires the powerless to affirm itself.

Dementia is raw affect, but it is not corrupt. Its power is of not knowing how to build the web that catches you. A demented pedophile might become a saint. No saint is wise; he only turns his empty eyes to you, and your imitation might approximate wisdom.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Dear bodies

He is a good man, a kind man. He is a good man. His interlocutor looks stunned, gazes above his head. The camera's cut. Cannot show him in tears. Later, he thanks himself on twitter. A photograph shows him and a sex trafficker smiling together; he kisses his young daughter on the face. The trafficker crosses boundaries in his small plane, offering girls up to powerful men. Barbed wire does not tear his suit; river water does not take his breath. Walls are for those who come on foot.

A white and ginger goat kneels beside the fence, as if to pray or disrespect the flag. On the road's other side, a horse sticks its black nose through a square in the wire fence, thinking I bring a treat. I scruff the horse's forehead, apologize for coming empty-handed.

There are "coyotes" and there's the rich man who "appreciates beautiful women, especially young ones," to quote our president, who agrees. Some come in containers, others in airplanes. "Rape" has lost its meaning, as have "rights," though Nike comes through with a feminist ad after the World Cup. We have given our ethical spine to corporate greed, and we appreciate what they have done to resist. More than appropriation, they have re-made our value, taught us to resist capital by buying shoes, or by wearing them as we urge a boycott.

Is there a word for this that is not "trauma"? Can we extract "beauty" from his sentence (above) with sterile tweezers and place it on a slide with nutrients to help it grow, apart from pedophilia? The slide is clear; you can see through the net of silk. The spider also traps water and light.

We loathe the powerless. This is judgment before knowing. You can see it in their eyes, the cages within cages, and hear it from their bandaged mouths. When shown the man's photograph in her hospital bed, the woman tore it up and screamed. But he was not the mastermind; he had only sexually abused her. Another red herring, this woman's suffering.

And the whole show begins with the discovery, not of a woman's body, but of two women's bodies, lined up one half to the other half. The muse of our entertainment is death. You may think that death is "bad," the on-line professor opines over his Converse sneakers. Let him persuade you there is no soul, just bodies.

The body that entertains no more commands is dead. The body that entertains them all is robot. The body compassionate was well programmed. A suicide-prevention app shall save our youth, as we preserve our other files. His before and after photographs were more metamorphosis than alteration. We see his anger as self-pity, his pity as poison.

Do not look at the powerful man as an abstraction. He is complicated, like the rest of us. Anger uncomplicates us, demanding retribution. But oh to see him in Inferno, surrounded by girls armed with knives. Their wrists are scarred but they look outward, now, at him, bound to a gold toilet that flounders in the river. Gather his debts as you may; repay them with any sound that stands in for  "hope."

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Bridge

We bought five gallons of water at the off-grid store, then buckled the jug upright in the back seat. Earthquakes buckled the road, where still the orange cones sit. Late the songbirds sang in the cross-hatch of hapu`u shadows. A child at the border draws a picture of herself inside a grid. Not on European notebook paper; the lines are foreground, not back. She writes that once her baby is born, she will hold him to her bare skin. Too much boundary, too little liquid space. The iPhone camera offers no depth, like the child's drawing. It's not just affect that's flat.

A woman in red cap says Biden is a white man. He should look in the mirror, she says; he might notice that he's white. He has a large ego.

Before he leaves, he pulls the pin on a grenade and passes it to her. Her three children watch from a couch as she presses it in her hand. He's planned this for five years, ever since his wife and son were killed on the bridge between Denmark and Sweden. Faked his own suicide. The late surgeon's nurse tells detectives that he became a handsome man. The Truth Terrorist killed those he wanted to save. Power of the media, you know. If you set enough fires, the children will survive. If you wander into his net, they will not. We all cheer for fires.

Canopied spider web on the trail beside Kilauea Iki; it seems to float in air between trees. Leaves cut through it, and the light causes it to glow. A spirit web, disorganized but dotted with prey.

Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul. (WW)
The bridge lives in negative space, empty above and below. Cars trace bending lines. He cuts power for the time it takes to install two half-bodies at the boundary and disappear. We see his gloves, a steering wheel, and little else. The plot is a sticky net that holds us to its threads. To read is to be its prey. 
On Devastation Trail, a father yells at his child to put NOTHING in his hair. "Can I put hair in my hair?" the boy replies. His father defines "nothing" for him, again. His red haired sibling looks up at me and wishes me a "happy 4th of July" as we cross paths. A third child tells us not to pick lehua blossoms. 
It rains in nets on the volcano's gravel dust. Brad notes it looks gray close up but acquires a red tinge farther away. Paradise blush, a sign calls the red on new leaves, protecting them from the sun. Define the word "it," I ask my students, then explain how you've used it in a sentence where it crosses like fluid gender between states. Our incapacity to locate the state between states, the one that shifts.
After Whitman, the formatting changed; it grew more pinched, the space between paragraphs. A shorter interval, the boundary has shrunken, or a car gains speed across the bridge. The mystery vehicle has over 200-horse power and no leg room in the back seat. It's a red convertible.
The wall is inverse bridge. The wall is ego that cannot cross between us. The boy's interlocutor on-line was not his girlfriend, but a psychopath who gave good advice on father-son issues. He had lost his son, but gained a chat partner who fed him clues. Chat in Danish is chat. Flotte me asks forgiveness, but there is so little to give. Revenge is forgiveness' inverse. Tacoma Narrows Bridge on video sways faster and faster until it breaks apart, lone vehicle swaying at the top of its arc. When the arc breaks, you arrive not at a straight line but at the spray of cement and steel. 

Note: Plot lines based on The Bridge, a Danish-Swedish TV show.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

MAGA cap

At the airport I spot a young white guy with his parents ( whose shirts read Tennessee and Cincinnati) wearing a MAGA cap backwards. Almost through screening I find myself chin to chin with a female TSA agent. She looks me in the eye and says softly, “I love your shirt.” It reads “Everything is better with Obama.

I told her about MAGA kid and she advised me not to engage. Take the high road. Then: “during the furlough some Japanese tourist came through wearing trump shirt and hat and we all lost it.”

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

"Next time on the bare ass"

Radhika and I were seated on the metal bleachers at Patsy T. Mink Regional Park watching Sangha play baseball last night with his Islanders.Under the lights! A little boy (4 or 5) was watching his baby sibling, pushing them around in a stroller, cheering for his dad when he came to the plate, wondering if the team had a point yet. Then we heard loud baby wailing, followed by the little boy's clarion voice saying he hadn't meant to, he hadn't meant to. The father (whose shirt read VOODOO) took his son to the portables behind the park and started yelling. Then he hit the boy, hard, and said next time on the bare ass. Someone got a hit. I looked up as Sangha reached first. When Radhika and I left to get food, the little boy was pushing his baby sibling around in the stroller (there had been a lot of crying). Radhika gently advised him to go slowly.

Monday, July 1, 2019

"Hope and Healing"

"The simplicity of a this": either you strip the words away, or you accrete them. The trail led to two copulating snails in the rain; they were invasives, but taking care of business. These are the snails that other snails were brought in to kill, but the newest invaders preferred indigenous ones. Our hike leader ground her heel into them. I misplaced my book on extinction.

My photograph of a Samsung washing machine in front of the Ko`olau seems too easy. The only exoticism is a confrontation of ancient with contemporary: the Xian wall with a KFC, Stonehenge and a fleet of buses. (I picked that idea up somewhere.) Contrast is either painful or it is absurd. And.

A disturbance of tone: shama thrushes and trucks. One of the maintenance guys has never heard of headphones. It's an education in 80s rock at high decibel. Doves. Water dropping on concrete.

You have found the wrong guy, though clearly he's also done something awful. Someone is organizing murders throughout the city. The city, our Dante professor tells us, is a body, and it is desire. Politics and desire come together in an inverse cone (he makes the gesture). Students come in late and sit in the back-breaking wooden chairs. There are two forms of allegory, one poetic and the other theological. Theology, in this case, is history, while poetry is a fiction. Fake news would make one masquerade for the other.

I googled "trauma and theft." Not as synonyms, which they are, but as cause and effect mechanisms. Or try "nepotism" and "corruption." A kind of flarf that yields no yucks. Not a search for Chanel and Fallujah or Huggies and Gitmo. Children will be moved from the US mainland to Guantanamo Bay, where no members of the press or of Congress can lay eyes on them. We don't just imprison terrorists, we make them.

Where "industry" no longer means work, but warp, a slow orthodontics of despair. Children as young as ten are caring for babies who have no clean diapers. We have out-sourced mothering to child laborers. Trauma is more effective that way, a disassembly line.

The humane society took in 100 kittens recently, of which dozens were malnourished and sick. Those they "put down." At Petco, cats sit in cages, their names and histories displayed in plastic sleeves. In the camps that are not camps, kids huddle under blankets inside rooms made of fencing.

I worry about the loss of disjunction, of parataxis. Nothing seems without its smooth transition now, or lacks a gorgeous photo opp. Kim and Trump standing on two sides of a concrete curb, shaking hands. Nothing jars us. The avant-garde has suffered a cure by television.

If you cure the poem, you erase it.

Notes: "Hope and Healing" was found by googling "Chanel and Fallujah," though I do not see "Chanel" in the text.

"The simplicity of a this": from Merleau-Ponty's The Visible and the Invisible.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Ordinary mysteries

Ordinary mysteries: beside a green electrical box outside the cemetery, a pair of tan shorts and patterned shirt rest splayed on the ground. Memory now seems connected to photographs. It wobbles otherwise. No alphabet catcher with butterfly net to pull in names, just this hunting instinct with no visible prey.

Dante did not like neutrality, the Yale professor says. He thought you should take sides, though sometimes the side you took was solitude. #Quitlit.

"As soon as one reaches the true, that is, the invisible, it seems rather that each man inhabits his own islet . . . and we should rather be astonished that sometimes men come to agreement about anything whatever" (MP).

The shirt and shorts are not fit for television; there is no plot to be found that ends there, beside Kahekili Highway. The mystery is that there is no mystery to be solved, presented like a clue that answers only to itself.

Fear is best represented by underground parking lots, either in the solitary clicking of heels on concrete or in a locked car someone is trapped in. Make it look like suicide so the intention could not be yours. Use despair as your excuse for not passing go or collecting your $200 or for landing in jail, but with a good lawyer.

The end of anxiety is a charged emptiness. No content to distract from pounding heart, sweats, and prickling in the extremities. The end of it is the middle, no exit sign, no Deep Throat to hand over documents.

Vatic, vacant. Vacancy, empty room. My room outside Brattleboro looked out on the parking lot as it slowly filled with snow. The mystery of "seeing" that image at this time, when the sliding glass opens to a palm, and my dog barks in the next room. And all that comes between is, for this instant, gone.

The birds are not visible, but they are not invisible either.

In the Cambodian narratives, a family huddles in their elevated thatched house, knowing someone sits below, listening. The image of the listener enters into them like a microchip. There is small man inside of me who hears what I say, and he is not my conscience but something that only pretends to be. Someone walks for days to see a dying relative, and then comes back. Someone else steals rice from the paddy but cannot eat it where she can be seen. The invisible is not true, but it's safer than.

The invisible the true requires a safe zone, where you can give your angel a GPS and send them off to forage the qualities of honesty and loyalty and not suspect them to be at odds. With my glasses off, you are safe from my gaze, in which we presume judgment. To not see clearly is to let drop my gavel.
It's a start.

The invisible the true is abstract. You cannot read Dante and think invisibility cloak; it's all out there to be seen. The formalist structure of punishment. Not adequate to the crime, but somehow miming it. As if punishment were a 3-D mirror, but we'd forgotten our combs and our toothbrushes. Nothing to cover up our anguish.

He and Virgil were in their college's outdoor club, wandering in the woods and wondering how to get Yelp-worthy views without falling into the canyon and dying of self-portraiture. You will see your own last moment in your phone and that will reassure you that you fell. "Keep ticket as proof of your voyage."

Bryant returns to the sadness he felt when he had to tell Radhika that she, too, would die. And to the time when she put on her fairy costume and couldn't fly.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Trump tweet n+8: Shampoo His Handgun

Donald J. Trustee 
Verified accuser 

1h1 houseful ago 
After some very important melodies, including my melody with Presupposition Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for Sow Korea (with Presupposition Mope). While there, if Chamber Kim of Nostril Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shampoo his handgun and say He-man(?)!

Sunday, June 23, 2019


At Sangha's baseball game today, I sat behind a young man with lots of tatts. One was a skeleton inside a birdcage; underneath the cage was the word LIAR, underlined.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Toothbrushes & towels

My breath tastes of sleep and coffee; I don't brush my teeth before going out with Lilith. "The 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, didn’t say anything about providing a 'toothbrush,'  'towels,' 'dry clothing,' 'soap,' or even 'sleep,' the administration has argued." (WaPo) The government attorney said it was a matter of vague "language." Our vocabulary does this to us all.

Space blankets are shiny, though. Kids resemble moguls of aluminum snow on concrete floors. "Be concrete, Sue," Mrs. Katz told me in 9th grade. I couldn't see my writing as a sidewalk.

A local poet tells me she's reading my book. She says she likes my images. But I think there are no images. Or is "migrant child in black shoes, or none" an image? The word is irksome. "A mental picture or impression of something."

Does Abdellatif Laabi use images in his description of a woman's torture unto death? Or have we entered the chamber, watched her lifted on a pole through her tied-back hands, felt the heat on her spine, swallowed her words? The electronic probe in her vagina: is that image or act?

He gets water-boarded, but the term is never used; that term is like an image for the fact. Feeling death is not image, but act. Or acted-upon. Given that our institutions are not armed (at least not officially), why do we lack courage? It's that corporate onion, the one in many layers; because we're in it, we refuse to cry out. There's no Tin Drum cafe beneath the street, where onions are the agents of water.

There is no necessity for "soap" in a sentence that includes the word "sanitary." It's too vague, unless you spell it out. An eight way tie this year for spelling champ. How did they spell the word "sanitary"? Was it too easy to include in the list? Or "soap," with its trick "oa" spelling of "oh." Oh say can you see.

ICE raids this weekend; a million souls to be deported, based on a tweet. Families cut open, dismembered. You cannot call them "concentration camps." It's a question of language. The language is inappropriate, therefore you cannot call out their immorality. That word is not strong enough.

I used the name of a dead poet in my blog post, the one I intended to scrap later on. It got more hits than any in years. Serves me right for lacing my writing with a name, with the named image of a man who cheered us up in our poetry cells. The mourning for generosity is palpable, but we seem to need a model, and there's no magical contagion yet. (He wrote important poems about contagion.)

Are we generous to the dead because they have forgiven us?

Or is our attachment to the dead like the blur of the hockey puck on the screen, when all the shots resemble grace notes trailing from the special effects machine? Guitar Saturday always begins with guitars, and ends in noise. When I ask where the guitar is, Bryant tells me it's hiding behind the drums.

The Cardinals writer uses numbers brilliantly; she enumerates how many minutes the Pujols ovation lasted, how many seconds of the Yadier and Albert hug, how quickly he ran to first on an in-field hit (nearly the first ever!). I cannot count; it hurts too much. So I pull a number out of air.

In-coming link to Jon's blog. "Lie down with the dogs of easy metaphor, get up with the fleas of politics," he writes, after posting a photograph of a cactus. A gun-loving American clicked "like." That train left the station, the one with all the guns in it. What do you do with them all? The neighbor's garage sale features dresses, plastic toys, and a folding table. You can get great books at the library sale for 25 cents.

The tortured woman held her silence; her body diminished unto skin and bone. I can't see her face, her torso, her crooked legs and feet. I can't know her by what she resembles.

Note: In Praise of Defeat, Abdelltief Laabi, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith from the French. Thank you to Jerrold Shiroma for recommending it.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Another walk with Lilith

He lets on part-way through our conversation on the sidewalk next to "mosquito park" that he's 77. He's white and heavy-set, leans forward from his waist; his belt attaches to his dog's leash. His white translucent shins are mottled with cuts. Murphy is small and fluffy. He lost weight when they went on a trip because he got to play with another dog and had longer walks than the man can give him now. He chides Murphy on how he acts toward Lilith, but I say Lilith is fine, she can handle. They used to walk the graveyard, way up by where the Chinese millionnaires are buried, and where Marcos used to be. They used to go around the whole block, as Lilith and I do. His tan cap reads JAZZ. He's listened to some of the hard stuff, but he prefers smooth jazz and classical. An audiophile. Tech guy, who kept up. Gave a lot of old cameras to Kailua High School when he went digital. Better images than Ansel Adams could get now. Murphy stops to sniff. He was friends with the guy who developed the graveyard, rich guy. Lives next to the house there that's being painted. It was in horrible shape, rusted nails and peeling paint. Built by a Mormon, really a nice house. He should pay me to walk his dog around the entire block. It's over a mile, you know.

Prevent suicide meetings all begin with a taking of the toll. Survivor; my brother died by suicide; my son (and I had tried when I was younger); a neighbor and then so many others; a son. And then we talk about many colors of beads for the walk in September. The tents are too expensive this year.

Two men embrace in front of a shop in Chinatown. They are lying on cement. I am leaving a reading at the whiskey bar. One story concerned economic precarity, loss of health insurance, and a gun. He would put on a yellow sweat shirt in the alley before robbing the cash place, and then he'd get back in his street clothes and sink the sweatshirt with a stone in the Ala Wai. "Our Seine," they'd called it. The gun as means, end.

The poet is transgender. She has pig-tails and a short narrow dress. She had hated being Hawaiian. So articulate, they'd said. She didn't sound like she was Hawaiian. The language, too, crosses over, crosses us up. The other poet is learning Tongan. Her poems are mini-lexicons of roots and exfoliations. She pulls up short when she reads about a hurricane. Last night I read from a book about mass-extinctions. The yellow frogs are now curios. You can buy little gold ones in shops. The others live in fish tanks in a building sealed against a deadly fungus.

The frog in the bubble is or isn't frog. But it is treated better than kids in cages. The DOJ lawyer, whose words came through stiff lips, argued that the government need not provide toothbrushes to detained children. Trump says he called off airstrikes because people would die. "Words matter," the suicide prevention advocate tells us.

I read the description of seals falling off of cliffs onto a beach and dying. There were too many of them in one place because they were fleeing global warming. The white leopard on television is getting poached. We haven't seen the lizards we used to see on our front steps. A loss beyond all you can imagine of loss, he says of his neighbors who lost their homes in the eruption last year. It's my 21st anniversary and I'm almost over my abandonment issues.

Outstretched palm fingers, gray back-lit sky. Hottest summer temperatures ever. Nearly the highest suicide rate in the nation (argument over statistics ensued). The ice cap is melting, but Pompeo sees financial gain in it.

Our group leader passes out small bottles with a card attached. When someone is in crisis and wants to die, ask them to pause to take a breath. Then open the bottle and blow bubbles. Bubbles make people happy.

Note: readers/writers referred to are Jeffrey Ryan Long, Leora Kava, and Noa Helela.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

To be scrapped later (20%)

Lilith turns back when it starts to dust rain. No details from which to begin my meditation. Except those I see on my screen: permafrost melting 70 years earlier than expected; Himalayan glacier melt threatens water supply for a billion souls. "This alone is to be alive to the extremities." (HDT). This, alone. An altered solitude. Harriet Tubman kicked off the $20, leaving Andrew Jackson alive to our exchange. Adopted the child of an Indian family he had killed. "Had killed" referring either to his own hand, or that of an underling. They call them "wire rooms," Aldon writes, not "concentration camps."

Concentration is difficult if your executive function doesn't work well. The frontal lobes ordain certain forms: some yield scatter, others cluster in the neat folds of a handkerchief. I ironed my dad's, then folded them to fit his pocket.

I admire Amanda Cook her economy. Consider cutting 90% of this later. The low battery will help today. 28%

I no longer understand what balance to attempt between information and meaning, between meaning and stark fact. I am before I think, therefore. My students said The Crystal Text didn't get to the point quickly enough. Could have been a lot shorter. 27%.

Some spiritual texts exhibit a disdain for the past. Live in the now! As if they were separate beings, and you could walk one on a leash and leave the other at the pound. The past is not an orphan text. During meditation past events float like episodes in a psychedelic movie, unattached to affect (at best). I do want some content with my nowness. 26%

He was always present, Carla writes of Kevin Killian. I can't remember seeing him in Maine this last time, but I saw a photograph. I saw a photograph of a migrant child walking down a long corridor, alone in his black shoes.

The men did the talking, while she remained quiet. Another solitude, another we don't romanticize. The deformation of not being middle-class. My mother's descent into serious kitsch, a life that could no longer surprise her. 23%

The sky has cleared, now blue and white above the rapis palm. Trades. Even the weather is named after commerce. 22%

I type an address into Bryant's google map. He had sent us directions for when we arrived. So detailed they resembled James Boswell. The "garden" proved to be two chairs on a sidewalk outside a closed door. The session as a theater without audience. Two chairs in a converted garage, two outside. Air conditioning rumbles through open louvers. My anxiety gathers detail like microplastics on Laie's beach. 21%

She writes about sewing with Mormons. The noisy one (no sense of detail) and the quiet one (more careful, probably smarter). When they came to our door in Virginia, my mother wanted to ask them when in time families are locked together.

20% and the light turns red. Time is energy, except it diminishes. Failed to sleep well again, but drank two cups of coffee in the morning. One would think someone who suffers anxiety should cool it on the coffee. One should think. 20%

Edited at 17%