Monday, July 23, 2012

Poetry Digest: #2

From time to time, I hope to publish a collection of a few of my recent poems. I will refer to this series of posts as my "Poetry Digest". This is Poetry Digest #2.

This collection of my poems is a group of six pantoums. I've written each of them in the last few hours, actually. These six pantoums are listed here in the order I wrote them. I hope someone else enjoys my pantoums, and if by chance you're reading this, please don't hesitate to share your reactions.

Famous Charles

Scotch is not very hard,
One sip at a time.
All that burns, stops.
The smell lingers.

The spell lingers,
Even after the taste disappears
One day at a time.
I'll thirst again.

I'll quench my thirst:
My glass is half full,
Even after the scotch disappears.
Can't let my spirits down.

Can't let my spirits drown.
All that stops, burns.
My glass is half empty:
Scotch is not hard enough!

Lost Words

These aren't the words I'm looking for.
That phrase fled to another state:
An incomprehensible place,
Beyond all measures.

Behind all measures,
There is a standard convention.
That phase fled to another state:
There is only flux.

There is sometimes flux -
Please don't take my word for it.
There is a stranded convention,
Awaiting your breath of discovery.

Wading in your breath of discovery -
An inconceivable place -
Please take my words from me:
Those aren't the words I'm looking for.

Authorial Discontent

I'm breaking the fourth wall,
In sets of four lines.
Give me rules -
I'll break them all.

I'll fake them all -
Every hyperbolic word.
These sets of four lies
Deceive you now.

Receive me now!
You have no choice.
My hyperbolic world
Is your delight.

My delight is
Rules I give.
I have a voice,
When I'm breaking the fourth wall.

Against The Sun

I closed the blinds,
To glimpse Edward Hopper's sunset.
The idol and the heretic:
Conspiring until dawn.

Conspiring until drawn,
I bitterly resist sleep
To mock Edward Hopper's sunset
By a constant light I keep.

By a constant slight, I keep
Hemorrhaging darkness.
I bitterly insist sleep
Observe another time.

Preserve another time!
The idle heretic
Hemorrhages darkness,
And blinds the closed.


I am not a form.
I am not a principle.
I have no end.
I am only a beginning.

I am only a beginner.
I have no idea what I'm doing.
I have no principles,
Unless you tell me.

The less you tell me,
The more I'll learn on my own.
You have no idea what I've done.
Would you like to know?

Wouldn't you like to know?
You have no end,
The more you learn on your own.
That's how we form.

On Vine Dating

I have a profile.
Far too long.
Far too strange.
Still too hollow.

In the hollow,
There is a root:
For too long,
Growing in solitude.

As solitude grows,
Nourishing silence
Is a route there,
Away from trampled paths.

A way to trample paths
For two strange,
Silent, flourishing

Friday, July 20, 2012


My mother once told me that she sees the world much like I do, only that she can't imagine that there isn't "something out there".

A friend of mine told me yesterday that his life lately has been reverberating between depression caused by loneliness and a feeling of emptiness. During a conversation with the same friend, we agreed that individuals are often the product of their friends and their experiences. The interactions I have with my friends form a critical part of my personality, my values, and my character.

If I am without friends, then I am without scaffolding.

A former professor once gave my class an analogy: Alexander Calder was a famous sculptor, known for his mobiles. In a mobile, one object hangs at the top. A number of other options are attached one-by-one in a succession of linkages. The analogy to philosophy is that the object at the top in a mobile is the like the first premise of an argument or the first assumption in an ideology. Each premise or assumption in a philosophical idea is connected to its original ancestor, and a student of philosophy can't properly understand an idea without understanding its structure.

Perhaps one common thread from these experiences is the idea that society is a structure of people, and each individual person is somewhat responsible for developing his or her own structure of important people in their lives. So, a tempting question to ask is, what kind of structures is our society building?

In some ways, people are detached from each other more than ever. There are more alternatives for choosing parts of an identity or community, but the options available tend to be more superficial and less meaningful in terms of in-person relationships.

What does it mean to have a structure in life anymore? What does it mean to have a community? Besides my parents, I have little extended family that I can call very close. Even some of my close friendships seem to have a tenuous footing, and I have no other relationships. I live in a large city, surrounded by strangers. I have some powerful but alien-feeling tools at my disposal, but I'm not sure how I can bridge the gap.

The Internet is a great blessing to me. I can research different interests and try to find individuals or groups of people who enjoy some of the things that make me happy. Yet, many things I enjoy tend to be individual pursuits which are not readily experienced as a community. (Here, I note that the types of things that bring me pleasure are also expressions of the structures of my society.)

There is "something" out there, even if that something doesn't exist in the way my mother intended. There's a whole horde of people similar to my temperament and interests who could enjoy my company, but I will never meet most of them. I have given up belief in fate, but probability is a stranger master. It is humbling but perhaps self-indulgent to think this way.

When I was talking to my friend the other day who was complaining of loneliness and depression, he sought advice on how to develop a deeper friendship once he meets people. For that, I cannot help much. All I could tell him was that his chance of meeting people increased if he did things he loved. So that is what I will do. I will continue doing the things I love, and at least find a way to be happy through that.

So often, I think about my limitations and the limitations of my life, what I don't have, what I want to do yet haven't done. I need to staunch this overly negative apprehension before it dissolves my patience. I have some amazing blessings in my life (if someone like me can use a word like blessings, and I don't see why not), and I have a lot to give and create.

I am not yet empty, though I am emptying and filling again. Whether I seek nature, writing, or laughter -- the cycle of isolation followed by joy is my constant guide. Life, like the telling of a joke, doesn't contain its satisfaction in the punchline, but spreads its infectious ironies through every set up and every staggering contradiction. Emptiness can be its own scaffolding.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Improv and Sex: Best Thing Ever

I've always suspected that people who have the skills to be very good at improv also share the skills required to be very good at sex.

First, what is improv, and how will developing improv skills improve your sex life?

Improv is the creation of organic scenes between different actors who have no previous ideas about where their interactions will take them.

While creating improv, it's foolhardy to think of a singular idea for a scene and then rule out any other ideas before you begin, because your relationship with the other character(s) will always determine the scene for you. Sticking to a preconceived plan in improv is almost always a bad idea.

In improv, listening to the other people in your scene and leaving yourself ready for adjustments is critical. The first and most important rule of improv is "always accept". You can't accept the ideas of other people if you aren't actively listening.

The best and most fun scenes in improv usually happen when the performers use their characters' relationships to riff off of each others' actions and collaboratively build adventures greater than the words or deeds that any individual performer could compose.

The best improv is sensitive to the needs of other people, completely unpredictable, and functions best as a collaborative exercise between equally and actively invested parties who give their full effort and consent to their scenes. Sound familiar?

Sex and improv are not very different. If you're not ready to agree with me that improv will help you markedly improve the quality of your sex life, at least you can agree that improv is one of the most fun things you can ever do with your pants on.

To demonstrate once and for all that improv and sex are fantastic bedfellows, let's bring this analogy to another level (even, to a climax): really awful sex can be quite similar to very bad improv.

When people talk over each other and none of the characters are able to agree on what direction their scene should's like two people who can't communicate effectively having bad to mediocre sex, with neither person getting what he or she really wants.

When one character makes all the decisions and takes all the initiative -- robbing the scene of any intrigue or comedic possibility whatsoever, because there's no elaboration in the relationships of the's like one-dimensional sex that may feel mechanical when at least one of the people having sex has no reason for enthusiasm or attachment.

When performers aren't willing to accept their instincts and overthink their interactions, denying the vitality and flexibility inherent to's like people who aren't willing to explore their sexual boundaries, and therefore keep doing the same things over and over again, and refuse to consider spicing up their sex life -- to the detriment of their partner and to their own satisfaction. (I should add here that respecting the appropriate boundaries of other people is also vital in improv - and listening to and observing the other people in your scene is the best way to know and respect those boundaries. Learning improv is an excellent way to discover how to safely explore your boundaries with people who will respect your decisions. The parallel to sex proclaims itself here.)

Practicing improv is a tremendous way to gain skills that also apply quite well to sex. Listening, consent, communication, flexibility, collaboration...improv will help you improv(e) each of those abilities dramatically, and developing all of those traits will help you gain more confidence and will make you a better, more caring partner...not only during sex, but in all phases of your life.

By the way, have I mentioned that I've been performing improv for over three years?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Disambiguation": A Poem In Two Parts

Disambiguation, Part One

I’m running. Split into 4 guys remaking Cool Runnings. Like the Epic Rap Battle of History.

I like history jokes. I don’t want to know what happens below your 38th parallel. There is no cease fire. The fire burns white hot.

I heard a TED Talk. As far as talking goes, it’s a fine medium of communication. Not that I would know lately.

Some woman with schizophrenia, mentioned her obsession with wordplay. That reminded me of a poem: I wanted to write yesterday. I’ve wanted to write every day. I’ve wanted every day. I’m overrun with wanting.

It’s why I’m still running. I have so much left to prove. Yet it is mathematically impossible, to divide by zero.

I take the remainder of my wants: the silence divides my wants...but I cannot continue. I cannot produce irrationality.

The answer is not infinite. The answer does not exist. I live without answers, even as I have every answer: a list of possible references and explanations.

I see everything and know nothing. I’m the epitome of my age: too little skill, too much meandering. Overstimulated and underexperienced, underqualified and overwrought.

I forsake knowledge. I forsake friendship. All I have is instant gratification.

Will I never learn? Will I always be this empty?

I am sorry. I am very sorry.


Disambiguation, Part Two

I shaved today. I saved face. I shaved my face. I cut myself, and my chin wouldn't stop bleeding.

If it bleeds, it leads. That's what my dad always said. That's what I told my friend Michael yesterday.

Yesterday I had not yet shaved. I saved that for today. Every day the blade of time grinds against the face of humanity.

The blade is a decade. If only I could get each decade spayed, the moments of my life could have stayed.

Judgment cannot be stayed. Justice is blind, but it must be paid. There is no karma, or if there is, it's delayed.

Delayed like the Metro and the bus. An omnibus. Everything slows. Distance only grows. Perhaps those are inextricably linked.

I've got to hit the links, but I can't play golf. I can't save Rolfe. I just watched The Sound of Music. How can you watch a sound?

Time is already at the pound, that's why it's spayed. Time's never made a sound. Therefore sound does not exist, yet somehow sound persists.

I saved time and sound today. I saved spacetime by shaving. Is this the expression I'm craving? Is this incoherent raving?

I'm caving in. Like Plato's Allegory of the Cave. What's shadow and what's real? What do I hide and what do I conceal? The answers refuse to congeal. The wound on my chin refuses to heal.

There's too much depth, I cannot feel. Too much death, but it's a wheel. I'm taking life for a spin, I'm finally caving in, but I'm short a tail-fin. Fin. As in, the end. What is my end? What is my design? What is my teleology? Perhaps my questions are a matter of psychology. I do not question that psychology matters, but I'd like to thank the woman from the TED Talk for an educating me phenomenally.