Category Archives: Poetry
I’m nearing the end of the Haiku Mixtape project, so I thought that it would be a good idea if I put down the notes on each haiku. This idea came up partly as a way to see how an explanation would look like in writing, and as a way to show people how the sausage is made to those whose who are working on poetry of their own. I just wanna cover ten from the first eleven haiku ( I already deconstructed one in a previous post).
Ziggy Stardust – It took me a few weeks of figuring out what song would start the project. Any mixtape has to start strong, and I decided the late great David Bowie was the best choice.The inspiration primarily came from the image of Ziggy, of course, and part of the lyrics (“when the kids killed the man…”)
Austere – The Joy Formidable is a Welsh indie rock band. I heard about them years ago through an incredibly-ancient Idolator blog post, and I like that, despite their overall pop sound, they still had a kick to them. Hence why I ended it with the word roar.
Pearls Girl – I had some words to a longer free-verse poem inspired by this Underworld song – I never finished it, and I didn’t like it. I played around with it this time for the mixtape, and made this instead. I think I might go back to the original, who knows.
I Don’t Care (I Love It) – There’s a personal story to why I chose this song that I won’t get into unless we’re friends. The narrative in the haiku give a general idea of what happened, and added a bit of flair ( the smashing/crashed internal rhyme).
She’s Lost Control – Fun fact: Ian Curtis had epilepsy, which affected his dancing on-stage. This haiku goes straight to the point, to the lyrics, because, hey, I gotta deal with it too. And it would feel really cheap if I’d do it any other way.
Flight Of The Feathered Serpent – The imagery of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind and learning, is very cool. That was the sole inspiration of the haiku sprinkled with the sonic sprawl of the song.
Beetlebum – I saw Blur live with friends at Madison Square Garden that week. This is my favorite song by the band, and the lyrics just hit me. Used the word Britannia to do a syllabic extension to Britpop, so to speak.
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – The Halloween haiku, obviously. There is no way I won’t say no to a good goth song as my choice for this, my favorite of holidays. Imagery of people wearing black and vampires stuck in my head when I started the writing process.
Teenage Crime – I found this Adrian Lux song on Spotify, and I quite liked it. Nice simple house beat, a coy voice with sparse lyrics that fit. Brought out memories to a lot of old clubbing days that lasted ’til morning.
Her Fantasy – This one is slightly inspired by the music video and combined it with inspiration born from the lyrics in Dear’s baritone delivery. I also used the album cover for the mixtape background. After I finished it I spent a night of watching Kenneth Anger movies.
“You feel weak, but I still think
you’re the strongest man I’ve –“
it’s dark and I am sitting in bed,
three attacks in two hours
“You’re the bravest –“Shut up,
shut up. This is no daring here
this is primal survival, walking
in the woods of the city making
sure the cars don’t run me over.
“You can do this, you have me – “
no one is enough to fight this,
just me and the absence, anger
the desperation, and my tears
This is not genetic, there is no curse
tied to the ATCG worth passing on
to a child, in my future, I will hold
scared to death the seizure drops
The fluids show it is not cancer, no
panic then, you are healthy (sort of)
keep true to your smiles no matter
how you hide them, or slip away
Photosensitivity free, lucky for you
there is a light at the end of this
tunnel unlike for the rest, but recall
the absence, when it hits, breaks you
I walk out the building, hood up, monstrous
The homeless of the Tenderloin and I share
a certain shame and resiliency this morning
These streets know not the steps or pattern
of the brain waves hunted by the sensors
married to my head, held in holy bandage
There is no consummation – humiliation,
perhaps — but I want to lay in bed, alone
my head held high in hope of the sign
from on right-brain glitch to nodes,
the heavenly disconnect of my senses
to the tech – one cord, from monitor
to temporal lobe, temporary, lonely
The talismans are wrapped on
a string around my arm, wrist first,
penitent. Why did this happen?
What ties did I break that made
this condition my faith, my body
its sole temple and priest?
To the forearm, and the threads
become tenuous, protective
to the shivers in a blind animism
where all my will would rather
stay with frayed elder strings
than unbound to the seizures
The bicep, where there rests icons
misused saints I used to pray to
but stopped – now, I whisper
small phrases to them as auras
move past the shoulder towards
a flux – divine, wicked, unknown
I will remain the man shaking violently
Even at 90 and the last flicker of light
When my daughter stops calling me
As I see my wife go into the ground
After I see my child’s eye for the first time
Before “I do” leaves my mouth in May
The last time I’m allowed to go to a festival
Tonight, writing this in fear of my future
Despite all the control and safety from pills
There is one maxim to learn, after all these battles
when I have hyperventilated into angel’s trumpets
refusing the touches of careful women saving me
from the midnight fear and morning complications
finally facing complexity, embracing my absence
until my body turns into the predictable maelstrom –
Yes, there is no particular ending to a seizure
The waking up, the consciousness resumes
and we are once again left in this universe
on fire, white hot or slowly burning lethargic
But we will not let the black and blues define
us, we will take the bruises and the pain
as signs that, yes, we are still here, fighting
the ghosts that refuse to let go of our brain
And we will push our bodies, just as they do,
until we become heavenly, orbiting, unlimited,
drifting with hope that we will meet each other
And I will finally remember all of our names
No rest for loud thoughts.
Stay up alone? No, savage
fits destroy my words
Roses and fire that prick
my fingers and arms
Sight is a luxury slipping
into my ruin on repeat
The ashes, I will not let
them choke me down
It does not have the right
to leave me here, alone
And nobody truly aware
that I am hurting inside,
dragged into a spiral
of thorns and flames
I feel but cannot see
Let’s go far away where the shivers won’t scare me,
my body reacts at the contact from phantom winds
I want to see the bay and the dark sky, the stolen
mix of highways and comfort in masking absence
This may be the only road I see out of this trip
where my world is lost when lights become auras
Triggers create threats, a stream of scattered havoc
springing out from the ether and breaks of emptiness
Triggers bring flames and flames on the walls my hands
are banging against – no burns, only wide-eyed fear
Triggers create memories, displays and a pageant
of frenzies I portray in front of you, my dear
Triggers sit tight, for they live inside and around me
watching for a time and place to grab my hands
There you are, taking off your dress, a smile
slight yet bit-lip enough it washes cautions
held every time you saw me fall into space
and caressed me in the post-seizure haze
This is the moment I hold you down, hard
onto the sheets and say “Fuck the fear.”
I have touched you there before and loved it
My thoughts, I shut down with a tongue –
a flurry of strokes and moans and I am free
But, in the sex and switched postions It returns.
The damn thing was hidden between the thrusts
and the command “Keep going, don’t stop,”
I follow the wrong gypsy, the cursed one
who puts her spell on me, the impossibility
of an orgasm when my body forgets its place
All these mind-fires burn what was the old me,
a blaze in the last bonfires of a cold beach
I see, in the inner effigy there is hope left
If I use the ocean – I see it there, the waves
of the new coast calling to me in a new tongue
What is there left to do but to lean back,
let it crash over me, wash the flames away
and ready my mind for the new self, waiting?
Hi, I am your lungs contracting at rates of complexity
per seconds, blinking faster, your words on remix
Ven aqui, compadre mio this won’t end ‘til you chill,
‘til you die, ‘til the shivers go away happy once they
ate away at all the quiet air you had left in the day
The zephyr came, blew the breeze into the flame,
the searing halo I cannot put out – it knows me,
how my wrist is held by the hands of petit mal dames
playing tricks, sprinkling embers on my ear and nape
The wind and the fire crown made me a wicker man
made from sticks of an origin that, had I known existed,
I would have thrown into the sea, along with my body,
but the omens never help – they always want a sacrifice
Too small, the pills fall away under the stove,
My stomach numb, it gnaws and churns
But all I feel are my knees scraping on the tiles,
My arm reaching – clean, dirty, depending on
How my skin reacts, or if my arm will light on fire
I sense them and let the panic subside
They are in my hands and I am safe for now
The slow damage is eating away at me already
The pills are on my desk now – they are already gone
An instruction manual –
First, let me go, you know
my struggle and need
no obstacle for the writhing
Second, when I am turned
to the side, hope to god
I remember I can make it
through the next few hours
Third, my heart is a knot
tightening from the absence –
I will loosen it, do not worry,
She will come eventually
There is no water here and I am still drowning,
sound of voices muffled in and out by the wake
I am passing through choppy consciousness
treading thoughts, barely, lying and floating
words between polite dinner and brief liquor
My lungs are filled with panic and swimming
to sure smiles and standing, what my legs
refuse to do, are meters away from rest
I fell on the subway on route to a party
chatting with a woman against a pole
The aura formed the swell in my head,
my body is surfing on the turns of the train
The idea of my location is irrelevant now,
the direction is a hope I do not pass out
She keeps talking, I stammer, I-
Here comes the EMTs
I sank and felt the mind blast
Maybe this would be the last,
Or not, who knows – the tank
Is empty, where I think, grow
fantasies and the average shrinks
This crash of faulty brain staggers,
A battle of flash fires on grey matter,
Home to silent pains while I assault the
Absence, until I tire, barely breathing
And then, seething, return to the fray
My sick head spills out the boundless ambitions in my dreams
face down, profound and abstract, a thousand years a second
shattered when I am awakened by your attacks. I need sleep,
take in Nyx’s breath and whirl in the night’s missing pieces.
I am not alone in the bed – the absence, the complexity
make a trio of nightmares and verges of night terrors
so predictable, I want to snuff them with all my pillows
but they leave, as always, lying to me they won’t come back.
I want my dreams unending, and to this day miss its haze.
I decided that, this year I would make the attempt of running the National Poetry Writing Month gauntlet. I have something that is helping the journey – my seizures.
Short story: I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder in early 2009. I have it under control luckily, but I do have the occasional bouts of absence seizures. When those started coming, sometimes I’d jot down whatever the hell my clearly messed-up brain was coming up with.
As the years have passed, I’ve decided that one day I would write those pieces into something larger. At its current incarnation, I am calling it The Absence Epic. I’ve posted the first week-plus’ worth of poems (0- 8) on Instagram, Tumblr, even the old DeviantArt daily. However, I decided it would be here where I would put the poems weekly. So, here is the first week. I have no idea where this will go, and how many of these will actually stay in their current forms.
In my dreams, forged from mother’s stories of that day,
I see pieces of the infinite, supernovae and flares,
Planets I did not know the names of at that time.
As a child, I gave them titles of my choosing.
Now, when I wake up, I know their true names,
Losing all memories of the ones I gave them.
I wish I could remember their names every morning.
I am litter on the floor, eyes open,
Bent, twisted turned as a crumpled can.
The only thing that holds me are drunks
called friends and freaked out passersby.
There is no stopping the absence,
the fear of staying asleep in my mind
forever with the memory of a mind on fire,
a pain deep, rending me comatose.
How do you give a voice to a silent rumble? Do you fall,
convulsing, attempt and hold it together, failing,
…stay here and grab my hand…
…this absence is all I have left.
This absence is all I can leave behind.
Please, let me leave it behind
I spin out, wheels without,
feet on the ground
with no direction
I feel the pins from within
rip through the epidermis
harder than the sound
I walk in haze, mind ablaze
but stumbling is better
than giving up to delirium
I met the complexity the follows me
Now that cold morning in Lima,
And it rested within me, patiently,
Waiting to be reborn, for decades
We did not shake hands, or kiss,
But I will tremble to its control
The maturing deformation,
The real pain? I feed it to this day,
As it is my new and everlasting muse –
Not the women, the anger, nor the drink,
Just the absence, and it will always be
At my side, eternal, until I blink into dust
No activation response for my senses
my head is taking in cold breaths –
I cannot allow
a breaking point –
but the chill seeps in
and under red storefront lights, I align
my shame with growing suffocation
I fear the sliver between
awareness and the great abandon
Within that crack lies a beast
that gnaws on my left arm, caressing
my head, anticipating a devouring
of my direction and spitting me out
into open neuroses, disintegrating me
I will fill that space between myself
and the crack, or the crumbling begins
I should make it my muse,
its touch moving my fingers,
writing in its trembling diction
of stammers and repetition,
the quiet chant of reticence,
the hymn of failed resistance,
the melody of sweet absence
ascendant where disorder lingers,
and scattered divisions that it chooses
No joy, just presence and memory,
a constant night breeding a will to drift
into the “what ifs” and “who’s to know”
that I am in persistent loss of control
and that my fears are fed powerfully
Instagram Chart Hits
So, while I have had small success with my Haiku Mixtape project on actual Tumblr, I found a curious change of events somewhere else. A few weeks ago I decided “why not post things about it on my Instagram account?” So I gave it a shot, starting with a post to the first mixtape:
Since then, I’ve gotten more likes on the latest haiku I’ve put up on my Instagram. The latest, which is inspired by The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” got more likes – the numbers are getting better.
Granted, some are music related given that the haiku are based on music, A lot of the attention comes from finding from good poets on Instagram. That is something that I found genuinely intriguing, this medium of visual poetry right at my hand whenever I wanted. Good examples are people like J.R. Williams, K.Towne Jr., and others.
Hooked me up to HaikuJAM
The best Instagram like I’ve received – the most important one, honestly – was from HaikuJAM. Now, HaikuJAM is an app that completely disrupts the idea of poetry writing with a simple idea. Each user is allowed one line of text for the stanza. That means three poets work on one haiku.
I’ve been big fan of user-generated content since I worked for a company that’s entire idea worked on it. Using that in conjunction with something I love is amazing to say the least. As of this writing I have been involved with 164 haiku, meaning I’ve written the equivalent of 54 haiku since I started last week.
And crowd-sourced poems
A lot of once-a-day haiku bloggers may have serious writer’s block, or quality output that veers towards the subpar. HaikuJAM gives any writer an addictive and creative sensation that easily breaks those obstacles in your poetic writing. If you have an idea for longer-form poem, perhaps the work you are developing with others on these jams can serve as an engine in their creation?
I’m considering this idea with previous long-form poem from long ago – not take the stanzas people and call them my own, mind you, but as new points of view that I hadn’t considered. I’m curious in the depths of knowledge I’ll gain from these people from around the world.
Saludo al coraje de los hombres de Puebla en esta dia,
But what I really want to do today
is go to Saint Helena and throw a party in Napoleon’s cell,
and just to piss his spirit off,
fly back to the States,
and throw an original Memorial Day in our Waterloo.
When I get tired, I’ll make the trip international,
go to Ethiopia, see the second coming of Haile Selassie,
have him lend me a few minutes to sit on his throne
as he puts Kublai Khan’s crown on my head
while Marx takes my oath of office with my hand over On the Origins of Species,
before I throw it at William Jennings Bryan’s head before his opening statement.
Once I become a one-day king,
I’ll send a package of loaded Iranian guns to Oliver North’s house
snitch on his ass and laugh with my friends
as the ATF arrests him on Fox News.
After the antics, go bar-hopping with Kierkegaard
in a free West Germany,
get arrested with Sacco and Vanzetti after too many drinks,
and if I get too rowdy, take a caning on the ass by Singaporean dancers.
I want to start a one-man riot in Greece
just to get an article written by Nellie Bly and Bryan Williams.
I want to rock out to a band with me on guitar,
Ian McCulloch and Adele on vocals,
Bill Ward on drums,
and have the album produced by Delia Derbyshire.
I want to take acting lessons from Roger Rees,
John Rhys-Davies, and Lance Henriksen
just so I can kick Henry Cavill out of his Superman gig.
And then, right before I go to sleep,
wave at Alan Shepard along con mi familia
as Mercury-Redstone 1 blinks its way across the night.
– Note: I just wrote this and cleaned it up five minutes before midnight West coast time while sober. Go me.