I used to show paintings at a Mexican Restaurant.
The perfect unplace
Climbing onto a ladder that vanishes into the fog.
Most episodes in every life are perfectly forgettable
And although “those were great years”
at this tonight intersection of Christmas and New Year
cold holiday amalgam of light and frost
Even by looking at the black snow in a parking lot
lights hang from balconies
—the best efforts of neighbors being creative—
Dirty ashtrays, crumbs
And, as the traffic drips in amber hues
I stand here in passing, looking out:
We bump into each other in an organic supermarket
At a city I think I still remember.
If you had to get by with a sack of rice a month
the conversations of old bohemian dinners emanate.
Cheap wine, surely, lots of it.
Yet carried out with great pretension,
lazily peeled-off beer labels
And, after comparing our waistlines,
and the tablecloth smelled of hash
And go on about our business
Speaking of parallel souls
In our kitchen’s Fourth International
Looking out the window with the comfort of a Turkish pipe,
Oops your youth has suddenly evaporated. Sorry.
Then, decades later, reminiscing,
we declare “those were great times”,
Close the subject
Pick our bags of seitan,
Sufism sauteed with Bachelard,
In this history-forsaken place.
Interesting that I can invoke all this through the weather.
Great expectations like a nude acrobat with giant metallic wings
With decidedly amateur plans
As if we had been Che and Fidel meeting for the first time,
smoking and dining, imagining a revolution.
And I admired how that grasped the essence of time and place.
Maybe because it all was as tenuous as this conjunction of elements,
With imagination, marketing, and perhaps unchecked self-love.
Art should never be that good,
But then again, it was an unfashionable time.
How would we know.
If you had to grasp your own times and places
Stealing condiments from the cafeteria
you would know what I mean.
Someone always passing out at the party.
Which maybe means I was never a there anywhere.
Someone like me must be walking home in the snow at 3am.
We are so fitting to our respective forgetfulnessessess.
I wish I had seen the best minds of my generation.
He made large heavy macho sculpture ‡ la Richard Serra.
Later he went back to Puerto Rico and never made art again.
We even forgot to take pictures.
To walk into some of those bars where those things happened,
We lived as if we had a grand soundtrack of our lives playing in the background.
Our Friend was thinking of starting a literary magazine.
(Hopes are wiped out when the things that were supposed to change remain the same)
Whateverhernamewas made a video using home movies
Building a Midwestern confessional epic of suburban boredom
Like me right now, perhaps.
She won some kind of award then.
We thought we were making history.
I guess we had to.
Someone hearing a drive by shooting in the background.
Was there something to it?
One of us now does community murals.
We thought Whatshisface was such a great artist.
I still don’t know if there was a there there
Or if my there could only be a there from here.
And Thereness happens only perhaps in a void to later be filled
Which I guess I don’t have.
Another joined the circus.
it is clear that
we dressed so unfashionably
and also that
geography is meant to be unmovable
so that we don’t see the dullness after the horizon.
I don’t say this in a cynical way. Don’t misunderstand me.
I suppose something always starts from believing in nowhere.
Its only that
I only remember that feeling of a play written by a real writer
To the point of rendering me obsolete.
The liberation of not thinking for others,
but to find oneself as the thought of another.
And perhaps we must have taken that to heart.
Another became a city official, creatively dressing cows,
and those which were supposed to remain the same change.
Immense hopes in microscopic universes.
Never Come Morning.
better not to have hoped.
Like in a greenhouse of nostalgia,
Green Jazz rooms are all that remains, but without us.
Someone must have sanitized them out of memories
As if they were not worth keeping even there.
By the way,
Our Friend was found dead one morning, four years ago.
Head lying on his keyboard.
Nurturing perennial student varieties
Still trying to get his magazine off the ground.
There are those who are going to hate these words.
They also are the ones who say that everyone is an artist.
But please don’t let me continue another twenty years like this,
Embellishing winters with imaginary summers.
I know some of you still talk about it,
And even extend those nights in remote places.
Like smiling flowers
I joined them once, it was nice
Before it felt like
Another is overweight and tenured.
Humble beginnings always become legendary
But when nothing led to nothing
Especially in thresholds like this, tonight,
Smelling of the same stale foggy phrases on the tablecloth
With no trace of gunpowder
Now I only wish
there had been something —anything—
to be destroyed by madness.
Arlington Heights, IL , 31 Dec. 2010