Category Archives: Art

Easter Egghead

Sometimes we don’t need reasons to be cruel, we just make them up.
Sometimes we fear the things that feel good. I get depressed before a
vacation even begins because I know it’ll be over. I’ve been on countless
planes and every one has landed. I get out and walk around under
sunglasses so nobody can see my tangerine eyes. I put on a beanie
when the weather turns mild. I’m a wild teenager in a grey suit.
I’ve been to Beirut in a dream, never ever wrote a poem I didn’t
at first see. I might be a touch crazy, but it’s a gentle touch.
I’m woozy because I am.

Sometimes I wish I was from Australia so I could dance upside down.
There’s an upside to everything, said somebody who’s never been on
the other side, the other rope, the letter carrier, carrying nothing but
an empty bag. Your lobotomy came up with nothing, you might as well
move to Japan. There’s a sandwich bag full of cat poop by the door.

Everything can burn if enough heat is applied to it. But these words I rinse away won’t catch fire in this spiraling drain. They are just notes from a lonely subway
violin. They’re just liquid Indians in the last tee pee, sometimes I wonder how you see me. Like a cartoon Sunday morning charcoal hiccup, come from down under with a thunderbolt, a smile wedge between teeth set at 68 degrees. Just like cool room temperature.

My art might be starving, but I’m eating better than ever. Two steaks a night. The mightiest of highest mistakes. My eyes are blue but you’ll never know, my room is lit by a scented candle from CVS. I try to write poetry but these days I can’t stay awake to realize that I don’t feel alright. My eyes are blue, but they never truly close. My heart is soft serve. My heart is also a porcupine.

The hesitation is what will kill us. I’ve been dead for three days. But I’m not Jesus so I’m not sure if I’m coming back. And I’ve already decorated the cave.

I had a flip phone once, a pager too. I got married to the West Coast.

Listening to that song you listened to so long ago. But still not singing along.

My favorite band.

And when they come to town you don’t even go to see them anymore.

There’s little to do in the hinterlands. The day I saw a clown car on the street was the best day of my life. They just kept getting out, one clown after another. Two clowns. Three clowns. I think I sat there in awe, like looking at a waterfall, and like a waterfall, a clown car got old fast too.

I sit in awe of everything, especially you, and how furious everything burns.

The Autumnal Apocalypse

There’s a half-frayed, frazzled wit,
an accumulated drift, washed-ashore,
dragonflies flying over a digital reef-
kind of life — we’re projectors of this flickering
clock… Are you shining like a thought possessed?
Ringing like a heart string plucked?

?

I swear sometimes I don’t watch where I’m going
until I’m already there. I can not look up for three minutes
through the canyons of L.A. All the time steering
diligently staring at a text bible emoji Sanskrit lullaby.
A neon pant split in a crosswalk sprint. I come to you.

!

The come-down voodoo masquerading as a scarlet stain.
I see stars and scars on sunsets and your bra on Sunset
Boulevard. I don’t blame you for grabbing
one of the shards. The blood charging
through your fingers. The middle ones extended
and lingers, like a photo of sea mist
on a 22 year-old’s Pinterest.

Call me California Joe. Corona in the silver can.
Blue sky natural tan hollow coconut brain game.
Call me if you can.

There is melody in the way the words wallow
like a woozy sailor anchored in sleepy hollow.
When my tongue speaks my charm leaks
and I’m along for the ride, help us all.
When the heimlich saves the heiress and slips your pocket
fifty dollars because she’s embarrassed and the moon
danced back like Michael Jack, that’s my fondest memory.

New shoes watching for puddles
bananas are really cheap —
there’s no point to that.
It’s just something I’ve noticed.
I got to watch where I step.

Filters and bandages and miscarriages.
Old Bay Seasoning. Des Moines, Iowa.
I stand on land not native to me.
I’m the son from space, pumpkin spice latte.

The Autumnal Apocalypse, I’m whispered
carelessly away on a bobbing apple breeze.
But still the falling leaf saved me,
my little tender tornado.
Avocado toast bitch
baby.

The Fisherman

There is a river near where I live.

 

Without any fish.

In places, it almost looks possible.

 

So I made a fisherman.

And gave him dreams of the sea…

 The only problem is, I never made him a head.

Our Bodies Are Like Yellowstone Park, Perfumed and Daquiried Expressions Notwithstanding

The sun isn’t setting.  We’re spinning out of its sight. Outside the window a swarm of gnats buzz in a collective frenzy in its slanted high-yellow light, high up here on the second story, fifty feet above the city floor. There’s something beautiful and horrific about it at the same time.  

The cloud of gnats, the air conditioner units humming on the roof, and the traffic down below sailing by, I take it all in while punching the letters on the keyboard till they pop back at me with aggression, slapping me in my face, leaving imprints of vowels and garbled phrases on my cheek, so I can finally say, shout actually, ‘See, see! Writing is a contact sport!

The director calls for the actor who is somewhere offstage.

My keyboard is broken, or rather certain keys are. I can no longer do an equal sign. It might be because when I fall into my prose I hit the keyboard with tall, flourishing motions like a Carnegie Hall pianist, probably harder than they’re designed to take.  Time to send it to the keyboard graveyard.

You can tell what a person loves by the things he uses. And throws away. At one point in our lives, if we’re lucky, we are all loved. Used. And thrown away.

Like an air conditioner unit.

Like a potted plant.

From my loft I can look down on my living room, the dinning table three feet away from the couch, the clutter of furniture and gadgets, the pictures of my wife and I on vacation in wooden picture frames populating the walls; it’s the intestines of my life, the inner workings of my mind actualized in a seemingly normal living space. And my loft is even worse, the books everywhere, short stories, stapled and dogeared, stacked on a rickety set of shelves I found on the street with my friend Dwight, candle holders with macintosh red wax melted in the bottom, and collages born of mid-twenties angst, still revered in my mid-thirties ennui, just sitting on the carpet, or leaning against the wall; it’s even more clogged with physical manifestations of my soul’s frenzy than the living room.

I’m fifty pages into Infinite Jest and that’s a dreary prospect for a Friday night. My fingernails need clipping and the pizza gestating in my stomach into gassy spirits of bloated burps remind me that our bodies are organic things full of bile and decay, like a mini Yellowstone park, perfumed and daquiried expressions notwithstanding.  

The actor stands and takes his mark.

In a world of invasive marketing, “Intellectual Property”,  the M.C Escher-like corporate synergy that puts movie stars on fast food cups, the endless simulacrum of modern life ad nauseum… reproductions and remixes, remakes and tributes, Banksy artworks in museums… with technology and media raising an entire generation in a copy and paste, digitally-altered cultural fun house, how do you know when even your pain is yours? Or perhaps you’re just copying Elliot Smith, or downloading Jack Kerouac into your persona as you slide down the whorl of your own imagination… a Kafkaesque Chutes N’ Ladders plunge into “deep literature” and polemical diatribes against the sacred statues of the town square?

Although you see the tie dye flags flapping on the old Victorians and the Birkenstocks flopping down Haight St. there are no more hippies in San Francisco, they’re nothing but electric sheep dreaming of 1967, the age captured by audio recordings whose scratches and flaws slake a nostalgic yearning bred and branded into our psyches. The needle moves along the grooves as the record rotates and the room closes in inch by inch with every memorized and duplicated lyric. I click on Itunes and select shuffle and Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Nirvana comes on, a song recorded for a TV show.  I’m now listening to it off of a computer. It was first written almost 80 years ago by a dude in a shack, probably without even a rotary telephone.  And kids these days probably think Kurt Cobain is as old as Jim Morrison and when you think of Rock Music and the course of Humanity, he pretty much is. It’s all too disabling to think about on a Saturday night.

[Beat] The actor looks upset.

The donut shop opens at 4am. You wonder how many poems Charles Bukowski could write in a night. Traffic on the 101 has a hypnotizing, mechanical lull, the whirling grind of our iron dreams. You listen to it whirl away and think about the fresh donuts they put out at 4am.

The year is 2008. The month is August. There is a video camera aimed at your face and a serious man imploring you to shout and an intern holding a boom mic just above your head with one hand so it bobs up and down erratically. He is scratching a mosquito bite on his lower back with his loose hand, the drawing of blood a timeless ballet of man and Pan’s wild things… the audience chortles with their necks snapped back like empty Pez dispensers.

“Stagg Chili is the thickest, meanest chili around!” The actor bellows the lines written down on the cue cards.

You wonder what you’re supposed to yell back, why you’re on top of this horse, why is there cacti everywhere? What is that bull doing in my living room? The commercial comes to a close and you find yourself with your blankets and your knick-knacks, and you think to yourself, it’s about high time you – not stoll, not gallop – but stampede to the kitchen to make a can of Stagg Chile©.

I’ve got 16 spray-painted Buddha statues for sale. 11 homemade crosses…

Sell it all. Copy it all. Steal it all.

When everything is art then art is everywhere.  

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE GOOD FOLKS AT ARTOFSTARVING™

L.A Earthquake: My Heart Stopped But Not For The Reasons You Think!

I was on the hinterland of sleep when the Earth started shaking my bed and I heard some glass breaking in the other room. My first thought was: I gotta save my TV!

You see, we recently bought a 42-inch LCD. That baby is precious.

I’m beginning to think there’s some sort of parataxic malignancy to being born in the 70’s!

Not a child of disco but a throwaway fuck, a backseat mistake commited to Steely Dan.

Beaten and punched before you ever came out…

Now you’re nodding along to Thom Yorke. The world spins like a disco ball but no one dances anymore. We lean on the walls and watch the party revolve. You witness trees become stale novels and ideas become t-shirts.

I sold my banjo on Ebay and now there’s no family music.

They raised the price on the washing machines so now I’m all out of quarters.

Got a haircut and now I can’t feel my heart.

The walls were rattling and glass was shattering and I remembered suddenly, the thought popping in my head like a champagne cork on New Year’s, there was a goddamn Earthquake happening!

It was my eighth or ninth quake and it wasn’t all that big, just a little ripple and shimmy, but my nails are frail and slid out of the holes in the plaster like a teenager trying not to cum. The picture frame broke and the artwork I made came crashing down to the carpet like a fading star. My army men surrendered to gravity, met their death in shag.

What a tragedy!

Our hearts are tectonic plates that crash and crack in the night… and when they get all entangled and set on fire bombs blast in holy lands. You can’t solve this crises by holding hands. But Buddha cries I know we can. I know we can.

I throw coffee down my neck, trying to wake up in the morning! I scratch the sleep from my dreams and clear the cobwebs.

Let’s hit the freeways. Drive your car into mine… the metallic kiss of accidents.

I think I broke my pinky finger and I don’t remember how… and that’s a true story, but everything else I’ve said is a lie.

I’m not starving, nor am I an artist. I am like you, just waiting for someone else to come and clean it up.

I am the phantom beating of a heart that stopped.

Have you ever thought about what’s in the water you drink? Have you ever thought about how you look to a glass of water? Probably like some hideous monster. Like some perfect snapshot…

Is that the picture you’re going to put on your book jacket?

Or the one by the train tracks in Wyoming? Holding a brown bottle of beer?

When you were 22, you had it all figured out; all written down, all colored-in!

I wrote the textbook on being 22… when I was 23.

Being 32 is much more of a kick in the pants…

Remember when people used to listen to the radio?

When phones hung on walls and not belt loops?

IN THIS STRANGE DREAM…

IN THIS STRANGE

DREAM OF MINE…

I AM A TISSUE-THROWING

TIGER THROWING TISSUE

AT MY TAMER

Not a Rough Alley

Seen on the streets of Los Angeles.

Submitted by the one and only Renita Jenkins.