Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bismuth Subsalicylate (C7H5BiO4) and other thought.

Pepto Bismol
I read it's the only over-the-counter drug that will turn into a metallic slag if you torch it.

I've started taking a contemporary poetry class under Professor Scott Rudd. As a teacher, he's one of the most passionate, expressive, clarified professors that I've had yet. As a poet, he's still top-notch by my standards. Here's one of his pieces I found while digging up stuff about him.

As Flesh

There was news this evening

The model loved
gave birth and divorced

She returned to work the next day


Casualties near the Somme

into spectral photographs

of a broadcast

airing at night


Passing through
the curator’s arrangement

of skulls
crude tools
and serrated spearheads

all now still
specimens under glass

bits of ulna
in a drawer
out of sight


In the next booth
a man recounts his day
to a lost missionary

fingerprints blackening
a spoon

the odor of diesel
reaches my table

So yes, I'm looking at something very real and happening and it feels very good to be a part of it. And I've been latching onto everything that feels good to me lately, even though I know that's a very bad path to go down, because it's become increasingly difficult to maintain a neutral state lately. My mind has been standing still on the down escalator.

I got to a point yesterday in Scott's class where I realized that the only moments in these days that I actually wanted to keep were the times I spend with the people I love on Sunday, and the times I spend learning about my world from an understanding of the poets who came before me right there in his classroom. I think that narrows it down to about 10 hours a week where I actually want to be alive.

I saw an abstract painting the other day that looked like some bright colors (blue, yellow, red)  and a bottle of Pepto Bismol. I don't know if you can use Pepto Bismol instead of paint. It was really nauseating, and I had to sit down for a while.

There was a second poem that I had been writing when I was walking across the downtown area of Rochester at 2200 hours on the coldest night we've had so far this winter. The cold was opening something in me, even before I met Scott and I think might have even been more inspired than Two Dog Night, just in somewhat different way. Two Dog Night was inspired by everything I wrote about in the poem itself. That was more ruminating on an actual set of events than it was reaching for something more abstract inside myself. Like a Pepto Bismol painting. This one was inspired by the cold, and the city, and the happy. I want to remember where I was right then and finish it someday soon. Perhaps when my understanding of poetry is a bit more fleshed out.

When I was really young, I would drink Pepto Bismol when I felt like I had to throw up.

One last thing about poetry that I've been inspired by in my hours of complete sanity has been blackout poetry, or the idea of creative destruction. Basically it consists of vandalizing or censoring a written work of art, or even just a written work of work, and creating some sort of clear, raw meaning in the words you leave unmolested. Lines of poetry will emerge from the ruins you've created, if done right. I've seen quite a few examples of it being done right at this point, and want to find some time and energy for myself to try it out. I selected my canvases already; there's an old paperback copy of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut that I finished recently, and a long forgotten political philosophy book written right after the end of world war two (nuclear bombing) that I found for 10 cents in a bargain bin.

Pepto Bismol... abysmal
ok kids,
It's Word Association Time.

Pepto Bismol
I think of...cheerleaders(pep?) hell. You know. Thick, molten goo; an oozing medley of flesh and fire and screaming and damnation.
I think of children vomiting and sobbing and begging their parents to do something that those poor people can't actually do. Some form of comforting or rescue that just doesn't exist in this world. I think they're clutching their little burning bellies with their slimy fucking hands and understanding something about their world that probably hadn't ever occurred to them before.

I don't think I'm going to get any homework done tonight.

Monday, January 9, 2012


She lay herself down
naked back to the bed
one hand on her belly
the other on her heart.
It was busy organizing her blood
servicing every little piece
every last part
except for the state of her mind
which may have needed more than simple circulation
just this once.
She felt something burn there
a hot sloshing, pulsing,
just beneath the skin
inperfect synchronization with her brain
it confirmed her restless suspicions;
She was troubled as the waters of a liquid hell.
Her dying thought to the day
head left discarded and adequately oxygenated
on a reasonably soft pillow that night
was hard to discern, for sure.
we do have an idea
thanks to the nature of it's origins.
thanks to the nature of the ingested migraine
the gurgling circulation of nutrients
the stretching
the pressure, beyond imagination
(to understate, for the sake of clarity,
like a hand, pressed on her belly
and another to her heart)
even the bed itself
and the dreams she had of her own childhood
of a white dress
and a little white hat
memories of a cathedral
just big enough to hold a god
a cathedral who's sanctuary she never learned to appreciate much at the time
and would never experience again, I suppose
you know how children are.
not even in her new black dress
let alone any sort of hat.
if thoughts made small noises
instead of water and salt
and the living and the living had any sympathy to spare for the dead
that last thought
might have sounded something like this:

"Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine
you lucky bastards

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Two Dog Night

He asked his ghost with all the confidence in the world
"So what do you think about that, Jeff?"
That sly grin
I can only imagine that if Jeff was impressed, he tried not to show it.

The old man had walked into the barely florescent shelter of the bus stop
The uncompromising chill of that December night gathered us as strangers
Some of us wanderers were going home.
Some of us were sharing the night with ghosts instead.

He came too close and started smoking something comfortable.
Didn't notice me
or anyone else, for that matter.
I guess I wasn't so real to him and his world.
Just a shadow in a flickering florescent incandescence
That was fine with me.

But I noticed in the grey light
that the lines that defined his grinning face weren't so deep.
His wrinkles were almost flesh, but not quite. His voice
with all the tired cynicism of a sax whispering jazz,
was aged with his experience
but not the countless years it suggested.

I think that Jeff stood right where I was.
Joking and teasing and reminiscing
of the years he shared with his old friend.
The old man laughed.
The years when Jeff might have really stood right where I was.
The old man laughed.
He couldn't look his ghost in the eyes.

He continued to flaunt his success to his old friend.
"$25 bucks or what?"
He smiled and stared at his feet through the veined veil of a tired eye.

They weren't waiting for any bus.
After some time I suppose the ghost grew restless
and walked back out into the wind and snow.
The old man frowned.
It was going to be a much colder walk for him that it was for Jeff.
But he followed his friend, again.
They walked side by side into the two dog night.
Leaving the rest of us
strangers sharing a grey light.

I looked around at the masks and scarves
as if they might have known something that I didn't.
Judging by their faces
We had all been inconvenienced, somehow.