Dead authors everywhere (thank God)…

death-of-the-authorAuthors are meant to be dead. Not just ‘die’ as if they every controlled their work product with intentions, authority, biography, and situation in life (go ahead, impress me with the German phrase, I dare you). Authors are meant to be dead – gone, unable to control, opine, correct, approve, and/or denounce the silliness of readers.

Roland Barthes didn’t kill authors, just the abstract category of ‘the author’ (and Barthes has both died and is dead – that’s according to Roland Barthes, I guess – Oh, the twisted irony of it all).

Dear Author
It has taken me all month to finish your novel,
the one about two friends who were once close
but for some unexplained reason are no longer,
living lives vaguely dependent on each other
in some mysterious, invisible cosmic fellowship
which you take six hundred pages to explain,
how once they finished the other’s thoughts,
liked the same ordinary, everyday things
which fill lives without reason or purpose
but define idiosyncrasies like dental records,
they both had a bad experience wisdom teeth,
girlfriends, tomatoes, an inability to finish things
like friendships until they meet again on a train,
airport bound and discover nothing’s changed,
just older and fatter and both flying to Houston
for the same trade show, one selling, one buying,
same hotel, both divorced, kids indifferent
and unimpressed by life, they should grab a bite,
catch-up, where has the time gone, etc.,
but they never see each other it turns out,
and that’s okay – that’s how you end the novel,
and the dust jacket is dotted with quotes
from famous authors, all filled with praise
about how this is the Great American Novel,
because this is America according to everyone.

I can say X is red
or X instead;
because what’s real
is what we steal
from authors dead
but well said,
both/and and lost
found with a cost
that I will pay
every single day
until words mean
not what they seem
to Dumpty’s many
egg’s a plenty
toppled from walls
ruining school halls
angering teachers
pleasing preachers
who always search
for sin’s church
of truth’s facts
but object acts
baffling thoughtless
fearful, cautious
realists all
of Adam’s fall
who hear a word
and jump stirred
by a fear of living
and God unforgiving.

Rhizomes and other ways of talking about life…

rh2Rhizomes are bunches of subterranean roots, and therefore a perfect way to talk about life.

As an alternative to architectural and design descriptions, the unruly, uncontrollable, and often hidden tendrils are a wonderful, low-powered way of telling stories of life (‘telling stories of life is’ a redundancy, but that’s a topic for another day).

While we aspire to reach for the stars,
stretching to the sun, everyone a clematis
it is the humble rhizome spreading
insidiously beneath the dirt, poking up
here and there, and there, and there
to glimpse the light, refresh just so briefly
to continue, submerged, intertwining and
crisscrossing invisibly that explains how
most of us survive on this spinning ball.

I have learned an important lesson
from failing to maintain my lawn
as others do, as others expect me to,
a tutorial of grass or the lack thereof,
those spots weeded but left lawnless
will fill in quickly in June’s temperament
with unsightly and stubborn weeds
of all variety, all hated vehemently
by all who police others yards
for the source of their own troubles;
I will forever be known as the one
who trusts rhizomes too much for evil
is quick to fill the void unless crowded
out itself by a cultivated fullness I lack.

I am no single I, with a way to be,
a mistimed life of aborted unity;
an art of artless bio-connection,
capillaries admitting to random dissection,
not refusing simple, linear totality
for there is no human generic generality,
no secret perfect, no particular book
making one wrong and another one look
for long live the multiple, the fulsome,
felling the arbor, loosing rhizome.

Life is the time in between paychecks…

Life’s a Stage

If life is a stage, then I am sitting in the audienceaaaa kalamazoo button
toward the back on the left side, wondering
when the intermission will begin and if
there will be enough time to go to the bathroom,
and maybe get something to eat at the concessions stand but the play
just keeps going and going without stop

and here I am, fidgeting and squirming
and praying for the end until I remember
this is life and I want to see what happens next.


Or Nothing

The ‘or’ has always been my downfall,
a cursed grammatical conjunction,
as futile to fight as city hall,
yet I refuse life with compunction.

When, if not now, should I proceed
in struggle, to wrestle and wage my war
against this coordinating alternative creed
of damnable choices between either/or.

I choose to begin each day, each task
with the forbidden ‘or’ of differentiation,
or, why not, instead make ‘or’ ask
Or else what? is the true temptation.

Or to be (or not), or to know, or to live,
the Bard knew that matter of life,
not the choice but the refusal we give
which carves out a place amidst the strife.

The’ or’ for me is an or, or nothing,
no remainder, as well as no choice
it lacks permission, it fails to be loving
it lacks praise, refusing to rejoice.

It’s in the in between, not the preference
that life is lived, that affection is found,
refusing the ‘or’ is to learn deference,
and finding indeterminacy is profound.