The House --
to logic, for distance --
is measured in wind
One Month of Observation
Selected text from One Month of Observation, a singular edition artist book with type by typewriter on tea stained paper, in a hand woven cover. I wrote every day for a month, and these are the edited results. The numbers refer to the day of the month each observation was recorded.
The clocks are all set an hour ahead to keep concerns away.
I am laying indulging in dangers. Free online shows, take out and the large mouth of the couch. It’s as though I have no legs, have forgotten how to stand and cook, and will never know again.
A: The morning was wrung with worry. It spread across my bed like sun and woke me in a thick sweat. I stuck a worry stone in my pocket- the kind you rub when you’re concerned and it’s supposed to calm you, but found that a watch already occupied it.
B: It is late November in Baltimore and I am wearing shorts. It feels as though the calendar has rolled back and tucked in on itself. Men are hooting about soda on the street and the sounds of car engines hit like waves on the pavement. I picture how Brooklyn must have looked in the eighties. My parents’ faces, stances, as they fell into New York and each other. How they raised us and forgot about themselves.
C: I am thrown about the patio with a summer sun across my vision and dead leaves all over the ground. 80 inches of snow and November sunning sessions suggest that the world will end in both fire and ice.
A: I think the landlord painted the stairs white because he wanted them to be spotted. I run with my coffee.
B: My desk, my couch, my chair, my floor are extra shelves and closet space.
Sometimes we project movies in our living room. We hang a sheet on the brick wall and keep it up with the door closed. I came home late and walked into a screening. My roommate was twisted with a man on the coach. I proceeded to my room underground and heard small taps above me . I saw them through the ceiling passionate and smiling, sat under my covers with a book and felt, even in spaces of silence, that first cursor to love, mixing in the room above me.
A: The cigarette is timeless. It’s a visible sign that someone is in deeper thought than logic, the kind that grabs binds and seeps without our say. We slip and ignore definite disaster for some kind of minute satisfaction. We are flawed but dealing, human.
B: The pizza box is brilliant when it first slips through the door. Our mouths dampen. Boomerang hands. And then the patio recycling bin, seven greasy boxes punched in.
A: Opportunities find us fraught with nerves, the endings extra delicate. We are constantly standing with our hair on its’ ends, our eyelids tied up, and mouths thin chattering. We retreat, scraping our front teeth on blacktop all the way home.
A: Some days the dryer runs slow. Other days you haven’t even gotten out of the shower and it’s done.
B: They say that every effort is worth it, but what about the non-efforts that make four days feel like ten.
We must live modestly until… we must always live modestly.
The empire state building is a flicker of red green and gold against the night sky. The city lights parade in bursts across the darkness and intersect with invisible objects that are commonly mistaken for open space.
Some days yield great progress and past night fall our eyes are still in our palms. We have forgotten rest.
A: The street lights hang like charm bracelets.
B: Two women in patterned winter sweaters are sitting in lawn chairs next to a pile of leaves. They are at the base of their driveway, probably reflecting on the holiday.
We never want what we have. We are running to a place we know not the name of. A destination that keeps changing. One we will never reach.
The rain came in bullets this morning. All my plans fell with them and I drew the morning to the afternoon, half in pajamas, half clothes from yesterday, with a spatula in my left hand.
It’s hot like an uncertain future, a big meal, and contact lenses of an incorrect prescription. I am sitting waiting in a room almost silent save some murmuring voices and clicking keys. There is an anxiety present, but it’s quiet, rising and bothersome like hot air, blowing up and around my face. There are tens of thousands of voices closed between covers and spines around me.
I see her walking toward me. She hasn’t in over a year. As she draws closer, she makes some movement I know she never would. So I forget the gesture and blur my vision, so I can still believe it’s her.
It’s a gradual deflation. The kind that itches and knocks until it surfaces in front of your eyes and you are staring at a wall. An hour later you are thinking of everything you could have accomplished. You sit and wait and stew in needle minutes, needle seconds, needle seconds.
Sounds are jabbing in all directions and solids dart above our heads in some gravitational miracle. They’re all taking charge. And in the chaos, there is a subtle solid spot made of some dense gem light. A pinhole promise of a world you’ll never want to leave. Nearly an apparation for it seems so simple and brainless. You complicate it with your breathing.
During the initial impact you have to hold onto whatever is around you. My hands were tied when it happened, putting groceries in the fridge– an apple crisp half a dozen eggs, three red peppers, two green, and an onion, so I held onto every sight and scent around me. The small details were like handles to keep my body from ruin.
The fluorescent lights hummed and exploded in some kind of bright flood. The dishwasher groaned, and the tile was cold under my feet and froze up through my legs into my face. His voice was lining apologies like dominos. My breathing was staggered and knocked them over. The front door shut.
And then there was my bed. I became very familiar with the arrangement in front of it - my desk stacked with papers, four pens, an owl ornament my brother brought back from Italy, the position of my favorite sweatshirt, its arm hanging over the edge of the desk, fishing at the mess below – shoes and paints, scattered remnants, a red heeled shoe and a deflated burgundy backpack. The wooden beams above my bed, stained dark almost black, and that portion of ceiling in the corner that was missed, a warm newer looking wood.
The first few days were a small year in which I could handle nothing larger than my full size bed. I took in small things at a time, small doses of reality, so as not to become too overwhelmed with the eternity that had recently broke over me. And so I admired the brick of my bedroom, the crannies that cradled a million subtle shades of polar green paint -a million other things to latch onto, to keep from falling through my bed, the basement floor, and out the underside of the earth.
Seven Observations in Four Days
He started to get that fleeting feeling- the one where the mind escapes the information being presented, and goes off into some precarious space –all having to do with the person that is sitting a little closer than normal, the vent that is just loud enough to hear over the main activity of the room, or the chair that never seems to sit quite right.
The luxury of late afternoon commitments and a personal bathroom is gradual dressing or dressing in parts. Instead of catapulting from the bed to the stern outside world, the two are synthesized. Pajamas-to-presentable-attire is a journey of bodily preference rather than obligation. Everything should be like this.
Music with soft tambourines and strange guitars looped. Everything was cleared from the kitchen but a bucket of water. She was down on her hands and knees with a small handled sponge. The hardwood was colored warm like the desert, and worn dull in spaces of favorable motion.
The moon is a thin fingernail clipping.
I met my neighbor this afternoon. My roommates and I rang her doorbell, our hands full with flowers- mourning the sleep she lost the night prior. It’s supposed to be easier to plead forgiveness than to ask for permission.
She spoke of the former owner of our house, a big man who starved himself thin and disappeared inside behind a never-ending sheet of gospel music. One day it was replaced with a hammer. She assumed he was getting his life back together until she caught the smell of his rotting body through the brick.
Now I lay under three comforters and try to keep from guessing which beam his body dangled, from naming the maggots that took up home inside his carcass while his eyes were half eaten out.
The new pink layer under a blister that is revealed after it pops and peels back suggests something of our immortality - forever scraping and healing, these systems never die. Rather, always evolve into something new.
Certain moments seem pivotal when looked at in premeditation or retrospect, but when inside them we are subject to their pathetic inflation. We are standing with our backs sloped, and the inside of a plastic balloon thrown over our shoulders. How our minds select and magnify - how they mislead according to our desires.
The day is in its infancy, I can hear crickets outside my bedroom window.
It’s morning, and it feels as though a thousand hands have dropped their fingers like a comb from the ceiling to the floor. Bottles, boxes, cans and one black bag are sprawled across the hardwood.
A creamy moth twitches and throws gusts of air as a pin head spider harasses it and then retreats.
The lighting was strange. The sky ahead was an uninterrupted blue, but above casted over so that all objects of the daytime had a night base color about them. The evening idled, and one ovular cloud resembled a thumbprint.
The afternoon matched an exhale, a seamless breeze, a subtle car on the street. Windows stretched like jaws to the ceiling. The silence of a moving fan. The rustling of a raspy recording, breaking and building and breaking in the background.
It was a silent walk back to campus. My mind fostered conversation starters but my lips never parted. Not to ask you if my break in judgment had been pleasurable, or safe, or worth it. Only for an awkward goodbye.
Somewhere a wind chime was mumbling.
It was mother’s day five years ago when I came to you on your bitrthday. You laid on the couch with a cat at your ankles and a phone in your lap. Your hair was wet and it hung in loose curl clippings round your skull.
My nerves were like a clock whose hands are stuck - the second hand twitching.
There is a man standing at the edge of the sailboat pond. With a pole, he nudges the sailboats that get stuck. He is dressed in white like god and our good intentions.
It’s near closing. There’s the sip of weak coffee that’s been sitting in the warmer for hours. A mix of stories and filler talk dangles and there’s an innate sizzling, bubbling thick over the conversation.
A dim light flickers over a table in an empty restautrant. I pour my tired body over it, draped across the wood grain. The sugars sway while the salt and pepper embrace in a close waltz.
Four short stories:
One afternoon, the burden of the world and all its issues became too heavy and snapped poor Stanley’s back. It was a sickening sickness – the kind that is too big to become a burden to anyone, but nevertheless, on those unfortunate off days, when a strange wind settles in that has brought the perfect mixture of uncertainty, someone here or there will come down with the nasty sickness.
His bedroom was unnecessarily large, as was his house, and this afternoon brought him back to his bed. He dimmed the lights to simulate the evening at its darkest, and folded himself under a heavy comforter where he laid in the fetal position for the rest of the day.
Mila finally got her promotion. Her boss was wearing that hideous ornate mustard shirt with the mouths of its sleeves buckled tight at the wrists. He summoned her into his office with his signature quick yet direct eye. She grabbed hold of some papers on her desk, shuffled them anxiously, and managed a stance.
He shut the door behind her. The floor to ceiling windows were engulfing. His movements were gestural yet ironic like a pudgy classical Greek sculpture. He moved around the room, ranting about the dedication and enthusiasm she had for her field and how he wanted her closer to the heart of the company.
She stood struck stiff, with a clip on smile to hide her anxious eyes, while he drew so close their noses could have touched. He brought his hands to the valley of her chest and thrust his tongue into her mouth.
“Okay, great so you’ll start the new position on Monday,” he recounted indirectly, as he began reordering shuffled files on his desk. His pits were wet and heavy and the cloth below them hung like mud.
Late October exposed the ghost tree. It had been concealed all year long as a tree just like the others, but when it lost its leaves, its bark went with it, leaving the trunk a splotched chalky gradient.
Her roommate came home and declared he “was actually going to shit his pants,” walked straight to the bathroom and turned to silence. Minutes later, his current favorite song occupied the hall. The computer must have been unfolded on his lap, his pants at his ankles. She could see him sitting intently, his eyes fixed to the screen where some enlightening text gradually opened them wider and wider.