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Chastised

December 2, 2008

I have been chastised by not one but two readers for not posting anything since a day before my birthday, which was Nov. 13. So I relent. I’ll post (most of) this from my recent work trip to Aruba and Curacao. Dig it. More TK.

It’s night in Aruba. I’m sitting out on my balcony, smoking. I just got back from the casino, where I gave back $135 of the casino’s money. Blackjack. It’ll get ya. Before the casino, we had dinner at the Marriott Resort’s Simply Fish restaurant, myself and the press trip group I’m with. It was a long, leisurely dinner. I was seated between Kara, one of the public relations hosts of the trip, and Jennifer, from Toronto—one of the journalists. Across from me was Carolyn, another journalist from Brooklyn, and John, the director of sales and marketing for the resort. John was from the English island of Jersey, and used to work for Marriott in Manhattan before coming to Aruba about eight months ago with his family. Down the table was the rest of our group—all women. There was Beth, from Nashville; Karen, from New Jersey; Hope, from Atlanta; Jodi, the owner of the PR company who arranged the trip; and Karen, another resort staff member.

These press trips are weird. When I find myself having fun, somehow a mental check comes in and I think but no, this isn’t real. We’re all just conversing and having fun because there’s nothing better to do. We wouldn’t be here and talking if we weren’t on this trip. And that’s true. But it’s also a negative way to think about things, and so I try to stop that mental check from occurring when I notice it’s happening. It’s like when I used to—or sometimes still do—walk down the street and am feeling good, unreasonably happy, and I realize that and then try to check myself, thinking, “Be careful. Easy there. The higher you feel, the further you have to fall.” What doom-y thinking. I do it less these days.

Off in the distance are four cruise ships; I can only see their lights, not their outlines, on the black sea which runs seamlessly into the black sky. No stars can be seen. Across from me is one of two time-share parts of the resort; six identical, well-lit stairwells on the outside of the building are stacked atop one another.

[REDACTED, BUT SUFFICE IT TO SAY THIS PART IS ABOUT A WOMAN, AND IN THAT WAY CONNECTS WITH WHAT FOLLOWS]

Six years ago, on the cross-country Green Tortoise trip I took, I was obsessed with S.

S. had a curly afro of brown hair and a cute snub nose. She’d gone to Dartmouth. Once she took too much acid at a party and hid in the corner all night long, thinking she was a squirrel. I hiked in Zion National Park with Scottish John and we discussed S., whether or not she felt what I felt and all sorts of bullshit.

I got really high among the prickly pears out in the desert with [REDACTED], one of the drivers, and then stumbled stoned through the dark, cool Carlsbad Caverns.

When I got home, I kept up with S., who lived in Brooklyn. We went on a couple dates and I spent the night once with her in her apartment, which wasn’t far from mine in Williamsburg. [REDACTED] Still, sometimes, in the neighborhood, I think I see her. I’m not sure if she’s still in the city. When I was coming home from San Francisco, after the Green Tortoise trip, I wrote a poem for her. Here it is:

[REDACTED]

Oh, the hell with it:

FIRST OFF LET ME SAY I’M SORRY FOR PUTTING YOU ON A PEDESTAL.

1. When I write, You,
in your tall skeepskin boots,

What I really mean to say
is your lighthouse look that illumines
like the green of lightning-bug glow;
no everyday electricity but rather
something more outside
of day-in, day-out laws like
socket, plug, cord, and bulb.

What I really mean to say is
me, deer, headlights,
only that’s a cliché –
but then again, so is love.

I was saying, then,
Your tall sheepskin boots –
No, wait;
The underwater octopus-ink explosion of your curls –
Hold, wait;
The butter dish of your brown shoulderblades,
the way your sleeping form,
tucked, curled,
could be that of the first woman
one hour before awakening
when whatever all this is began.

2. I slept by a tree. When I awoke,
I spoke to the animals; there was a raccoon,
and Raccoon said to me,
“Who are you?”
and I replied, “I do not know.”

Raccoon said, gesturing with mischevious paw,
“Go and find out, then. It’s possible
others will help you, even if only
by eye contact.”

And off Raccoon went.

3. Delusion, romance. Deluance, rolusion.
Deluromansionce. ‘Twas brillig.

4. Bringing it all back home:

I am on a plane. The cold medicine
has gone to my head, as has
the last two weeks
of no email, the red clay of the Valley of the Gods,
the looming silence of Carlsbad.
Alcohol and all the stars
fraught with meaning up above,
under the massive New Mexico night sky
where I laid out in the desert with you.

Which is all to say,
You are like one of those rare places in the world
where cylinders roll uphill
and compass-points won’t stay still,

and in your gaze I’m a magnet,
having deliciously lost its North Pole.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 3, 2008 4:29 pm

    cheers to whover those cats are that chastised you, man, cause these are some damn good words you’ve put together and down; love the internal dialogue bout the doom-y-ness, and s sounds like a mighty fine philly.

  2. Jake Freedom permalink
    December 3, 2008 11:24 pm

    I agree completely with Anonymoose.

    I remember you saying that your best work comes under pressure.

    Well WRITE DAMMIT.

    OR I WILL KEEL YOU.

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