this, that, and the Other

identity, alterity, and everything in between

Month: December, 2010

half-anniversary love poem

I thought I would process my two-and-a-half year relationship with my girlfriend by putting two image-events at war with one another. One making a moderately cliche comparison of a relationship like building something, in this case via etch-a-sketch, and the second a surreal experience I had as a young kid which I will let the poem present. I figured I would let the two events commune, both by revealing agreements and disagreements and having each image come to repose in a bizarre sort of asymmetric reconciliation (just like, egad!, relationships). Each image-event also is described from a few perspectives, revealing, hopefully, how relationships are often the stance you take towards them or the thing you name it (once one person decides to label the relationship as contentious it “is” contentious). Enough chit-chat. Enjoy.


half-anniversary love poem

the fine perimeter of two and a half years

of you, etched into my being less like

mystic runes or letters in red than

a childhood etch-a-sketch, awkward,

stale rouge, hands worn from snaking the

clouds to sun to stars and moon down

the top of the hatched roof-top to the boy

with his balloon scaling through clouds

and back down to the tiny terrier lapping up

puddles of muddy rain water, only to find

you need to shake the whole mess up because

the rain spilling out clouds into puddles looks a bit too

much like countless balloon strings stretching

out of frame to God-knows-where above;

a perimeter like countless balloon strings

torquing through the galactic spheres of

Dante which are somewhere off the page

of paradiso just outside the window collecting

into galactic puddles of bright blue; balloon

strings like rain falling from clouds like

balloons through space only to land in puddles

of clouds meant to look like muddy rain water;

a perimeter like two and a half years of cleaning

up balloon strings with no balloons attached

falling like insects through the sky into the

palms of our hands; like the perimeter of my

hands when I was a child holding two fallen insects

back to back in the heart of my palm, rain falling,

certain it was some double-headed mutant, when

my father came down the bright blue steps of our

stairs to the muddy puddle of rain I was sitting in

to ask me why I was holding two insects making love


christmas tide sutra

A little poem for the season and a true story at that. I was so going to buy the Upanishads but there was no way I was going to spend 20+ bucks on it. I suppose my and Border’s stinginess is why we would both make pretty bad Hindus.

christmas tide sutra

shopping for christmas presents

down the aisles of bubblegum wrapped

cds books of poe dead presidents and

rollyourownsushi home kits

looking for buddha in their pockets and

christ in their crucifix shaped rows

of romance and endless fiction

but looking (mostly) for the outlet

to plug my laptop to print the coupon

to buy the book at glorious half discount price and write

the sudden genius inspiration of poetry

on capital america in deep heart felt love songs

but the outlet (the seemingly only one) guarded

like a gargoyle by the woman in nike shoes

with macbook, physics homework

so right outside into noonday sun I walked empty handed

no book to quote in my non-poem slipping

slowly out of mind to poetic void which was to have

beautiful poetic end line enjambment stop:


all is full all is

full ohm.

peace peace


Why I’m Not a Carnivore

Arguments for or against vegetarianism/veganism tend to boil down to a Cartesian affirmation of animals-as-machines versus the PETA animals-are-our-friends jargon, the inclusion of animals into some common guild with us people. Neither of these are very intuitive to me although I can affirm each in part—animals are used as product, more often than not (but not exclusively) as meat-product, but also they express something of will, individuality, pleasure, and “freedom.”

Interestingly enough both arguments can be turned on there heads. For instance, we equally have the capacity for reification to meat-product. Both the cow and I share the capacity to be de-sexed, quarantined, pumped with corn product, and consumed by the masses (and, to be blunt, I would probably act a fair amount like a cow if in a cow’s situation, although perhaps such a hypothetical is too tautological to mean much). Likewise though me and the animal have a disparity of freedom—I am free to quarantine and eat the cow in a way the cow is not “free” to do to me for instance (I for one am terribly dissatisfied with such a line of argumentation, but that would be another post). Either argument essentially says, “hey, the animal is like such or can be used as such, therefore it is as such.” I am somewhat perturbed by either of these stances.

In short I think animals are animals. I think any interpretation of animals (whether as capital/value or anthropocentric) already presupposes a system of linguistic-speciest distinctions withdrawn from the animal. The animal cannot exist as my “friend” in the sense that my roommate whom I make espresso for and chat about Woody Allen with does—the animal is “absent” from language and human society.  S/He is not my “friend” save as animal-friend—not only can she not accept and reciprocate friendship as I give it, but she is wholly incapable of being available to it. She is in a different “world.” However, although the animal is not in human society and language it does not mean she is antithetical to it, it’s absence/nothingness. She is withdrawn from it. She is not available to it. However, the animal is available to things in an animal-ish way (compared to the machine which has no will or “availability”). Animals do animal things. Sometimes they eat this grass, sometimes that. They have monogamous, polygamous, homosexual, or unabashed libidinal sexual relations. Sometimes they’re celibate. They have pleasure and sometimes they don’t have pleasure.

All I’m saying is animals should be treated like animals. This is not an ontological sketch to say what that is if one can say what that is. Whether that means animals should be raised with the capacity to express what they can in the way they can before being consumed and dispersed as capital-product or rather we should stroll hand in paw/hoof/wing down the street singing Kumbaya is not this post’s concern. Simply put, animals are animals—which is a tautological way of saying animals are. Whatever the hell that means. It just seems to me people should be more aware of what the is-ness of animals is: whether avoiding meat-consumption, buying free-range, praying in sobriety before each meal, or simply deciding not to spay or neuter their Scottish terrier. Animals are. Figure it out.

I want to be a sidewalk crack

Not entirely sure if the poem is to be further subjected to rounds of revisions but, as of now, this is how it stands. It’s pretty straightforward so I don’t think I need add anything–enjoy!


I want to be a sidewalk crack because

you probably wouldn’t see me (eyes corked

upward, foot forward along my face)


I want to be a sidewalk crack because

you’d never expect me to be anything

other than a sidewalk crack


I want to be a sidewalk crack because

I’d never be seen putting on a tie for a job

interview or speeding down the 5


spilling coffee over from head to toe

I want to be a sidewalk crack because

I’d never ask not to be a sidewalk


crack although it would be perfectly within

my rights—I want to be a sidewalk crack mostly

though because no one (myself underfoot least


of all) would pretend to be guilty when I

split slowly open my side for each new

foot gently into me breaking little by little

Wednesday Night Visions

Having been doing longer, extended, narrative poems I thought I should take a step back and deal with some smaller and more intimate forms (less Whitman, more Basho). Thus this set of poems dealing with midweek melancholia–boredom, isolation, and the insularity of self and body that result. No major metaphysical claims here, just pure, poetic presenting (pure meta-physic?… meh).


Wednesday Night Visions




just awake

on my purple loveseat:

on top of two books, one half-

inside the other




so little to say

or do or say this

evening, chatting

with old friends online,

horny as hell




heading back from the car

midweek, at night,

stepping on those worms

dried white from

morning sun




naked at the mirror

and feeling my breast—

what did you mean, Whitman?

what mean “electric”?




back from filling up

on gas, 2 buck cava, almond

milk, sugar-free pie:

odd smells in the refrigerator

and a sound

(from the back?)



“RJ in California” and a bit of a poetry lesson to boot

I think all poetry should speak for itself; however, sometimes we find uncanny poems or poems that take up a foreign world with them, whether that be historical (classic or epic poetry), pseudo-mythic (Blake), literally foreign (haiku, Baudelaire, etc), or simply embedded in a poetic tradition we are unfamiliar with. So, in the hopes that people we use this poem as a starting point to learn more (and in the process learn more about the poem) I thought I’d share a little of its historical roots and what I was thinking.

Famed Beat poet Allen Ginsberg wrote a fabulous little pseudo-ode to Walt Whitman entitled A Supermarket in California (read here or listen to him read it here). This poem is one of my favorites, contrasting Whitman’s pseudo-prophetic conceptions of America in Leaves of Grass with the America of the late 50s. Following this poem as a sort of poetic guideline, I decided to wright a similar ode to another one of my favorite poets (another Californian nonetheless) Robinson Jeffers, contrasting his depressing and isolationist depiction of 50s and 60s America with recent times. The poem, hopefully, takes an ironic (in the classical sense) approach to America, as did Jeffers–portraying ways in which the America of today is exactly what Jeffers predicted and yet not at all what he predicted. I suppose that’s the irony of prophecy, you first have to believe it prophecy before you can see it fulfilled. Anyhow, I was thinking of Jeffers’ later poems like The Continent’s End, the conclusion of my poem referring directly to his. Enough dilly-dally–hope you enjoy!


RJ in California


poor Jeffers, grown old and

dying in Carmel, late 1950’s,

a wife and daughter buried

among the first Tor stones,


a clean shaven, sharp jaw,

pale eyes that never say anything

nice about anyone, brow wrinkled

by the America of post-WWII


apocalyptic decadence:

John, if I could play the part

of Ginsberg and go with

you now down half dim


lit streets, past the bright

and silver hybrids and side-

walked sycamores to the corner

supermarket, walk with you


down aisles of produce,

vegan mayonnaise and

tofurky corn dogs, chatting

of Parmenides and avocado


and the oh so many undone

by death since your simpler

days of political genocide, villains

in black boots and mustaches;


would we waltz down aisles

of vine-ripened just-in-season

heirloom tomatoes, hand in

hand on such a late and lonely


night? would we drink from

recycled bottles of a worker

run factory past the scores of

clustered yellow cyclists and


middle-aged joggers toward

the tides at Carmel Bay? would

we look back on the bay as we

scale the steps at Hawk Tower,


seeing Charon polling no ferry

along Carmel State Beach, but

casually ticketing the parked cars

and putting out beach fires?