Friday, March 29, 2013
Thursday, December 04, 2008
When Crates of Thebes wed the lovely Hipparchia, she threw her inheritance away.
Agree or disagree: Modern Art is a joke and has absolutely no value.
They made headlines in Athens when they walked together in the street.
Celebrity couples disgust you.
He is said to have been deformed, with a lame leg and hunched shoulders.
Love at first sight? Doesn’t exist.
He was nicknamed the Door-Opener for all the good will he inspired.
You think most charity organizations are cheating their benefactors.
Crates himself threw his fortune away to follow the Cynics’ ascetic credo.
You believe that apparently altruistic behavior is always a mask for self-interest.
Hipparchia is said to have fallen in love with Crates’ life and his teachings first.
And as far as you’re concerned, no one has one true soulmate.
There is something about the root of the word “cynic” that is worth looking up.
You are suspicious of anything proposed by a so-called expert.
Crates is supposed to have initiated his son into sex by taking him to a brothel.
If you need something done right, you know you need to do it yourself.
And he allowed his daughter a month’s trial marriage to potential suitors.
Working hard is for suckers.
Monday, September 29, 2008
In a year,
the king’s good son will bear his people
back into the current like a school of fish. Through
the gantlets of wrecking crews, up hill all the time
till we’re sweating with bitter vomit in our throats,
we’ll be giving thanks like a vibration in a magnetic
field, even in the final, burial-in-the-prison-camp
scenes. Most of our chain-gang disappeared years
ago, all the main characters gone, even the hangers-
on, the stunt doubles who loitered at the edges of
the night-time sets trawling for freebies—all hurried
away like ghosts, like wind through a dusty valley.
One old man still sat on a wooden box at the intersection
of the highways, playing a flute into the blasting traffic.
“He’s going to get hit by a car out there, or run his mouth
till somebody does something stupid to him. Do you want
to talk about funerals?” No. Well, they’re understood
to be coming, prophesied by the plague of squashed
toads circling out from the pools at the cool edge
of the desert, by our impulse to find their grave markers
and sing the memoriam. A camel stepped in among
the stones, silent black trumpets dangling from the
leather straps on his saddle, and finally my brother
showed up, on foot, his car and its bad clutch allegedly
bottomed out in the cul-de-sac behind the cemetery.
My brother had been the one to feed him his ensalata
negra, sauce packets, hop clover and crackers, anything
he could think of to keep him interested—in his mind,
good for nothing, a sprinkling of nutmeg. We decided
to let the grass around him grow back to seed, then
lurched back to my brother’s house like drunks, our
fields seeming to stretch before us like the jaws of an
alligator. We imagined ourselves swallowed, digested
by the rhizomes of swamp grasses, and within minutes
of our crawling up out of the cypress jungle, the first
of the old-town church ladies rang my brother’s bell.
She handed me a casserole spiced with some ancient,
unbearable vapor, and we smiled the best we could,
but another of them had already let herself into the
kitchen. She was reconstituting dried mushrooms
in a giant pot of water.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Man: In four months I will say I love you and you will not say it back.
Woman: Give me time.
Man: In a year we will move in together.
Woman: I will ask you to move the furniture so I can paint the walls a different white.
Man: You will cheat on me with a man who has a wife.
Woman: I will be sorry. You will forgive me.
Man: I will ask you to marry me.
Woman: I will say yes.
Man: You look the most beautiful when you say yes.
Woman: Will we have children?
Man: We will have children and they will make you heavy and tired.
Woman: They will look like you.
Man: Say yes again. When you say yes you look the most beautiful. Like an early tulip, thick with frost.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Derryl is fat. And not just fat, but fat. His drag race car loses its sproing the moment he sits inside it. Fat Boyz is what the other team calls him and his fat, but less-fat brothers. These engines hold so much oxygen they could totally blow apart the state. Bob drives now; his weight is ok by the car. They call that rival team Nigger Racers, except when the liberal, East Coast cousins come to visit. Don’t say nigger for awhile, the Fat Boyz’ father said, and don’t go giving me shit for grilling Toe Phew on the grill machine.
Derryl had a fat and beautiful wife. She was blond and she yelled hard at the Sunday races. She had fat plans to have fat kids and live happily, fat-ily, ever after, but then she got the cancer. She died fast and unfairly, meaning someone should have stopped it, because she yelled so hard on Sundays, because she called that team the Black Guy Racers, because she was the one who looked online to see what east coast liberal cousins liked to eat.
Not because of that. Who cares anyway? They call themselves the Nigger Racers and they call themselves the Fat Boyz Racers and they come together at the end and ooh and ahh into each others’ engines like they are in some sort of hot hot love. And who’s to say what should happen in Arizona?
KATE HILL CANTRILL
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
KEEP IT DOWN
Earlier today I was looking up information about hearing loss on the Internet. I’d had some ringing, and was worried. Heredity is one factor, I read. Exposure to loud noises another.
A horrible racket started right outside my window. I got up and peeked through the blinds to see several construction guys in hard hats ripping holes in my street, shattering the asphalt with jackhammers, and yelling instructions.
I opened the window and screamed at them to keep it down. Immediately, two burly guys in hard hats came over. They walked right up to my window and stared at me, eyes glinty as nickels.
“What’s the problem, pal?” they asked.
I wasn’t in the mood to mince words.
“Can you keep it down with your cement mixers and plinth drills and whatnot? I’m trying to do some work in here.”
This one guy’s chest was busting out of his wifebeater. He leaned over. “Look, I’m sure your beauty rest is real important,” he said in his accent, “but we’re working for the city out here.”
“Just keep it down, you fucking fucknuts,” I yelled, and slammed the window.
Most loss can be linked with damage to the cochlea. Hairs along the canal break or get bent, nerve cells degenerate. I could definitely hear a ringing.
Two minutes later the racket started up. I started pacing around. I stood at the window and watched them breaking up the street with abandon. I went to the closet, got a bat, and started smashing everything in my apartment. I put holes in the wall with the bat, smashed the glass in the picture frames, ripped out the upholstery from the furniture, and stuffed it into my mouth. I jumped in the middle of the living room, contorting my body in impossible ways, windmilling my arms and bending myself in half. Agggg! I yelled. Uhhhhggg! Then I collapsed on the floor in a twitching, broken heap.
I whimpered, “Keep it down.”
There was knock at the door. I thought it might be the construction guys come back to finish me off. I crawled down the hall on my hands and knees, bleeding from the face. When I opened the door I saw it was my friend Simon.
“What happened to you?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I said. “Everything’s great. Never better. Why do you ask?”
Simon looked at me and shook his head. “Every time it’s like this.” His voice was muffled.
“What?” I said. I went to the kitchen to get some grapes.
“How come you’re bent to one side like that?”
It was true: I was hunched over in a way that was positively inhuman. My shoulder was touching my hipbone. Jumping around had crimped my body in half. I made a claw of my fingers, scraped up grapes, and started popping them into my mouth. The ringing was much louder. I gave the grapes to Simon.
“Thanks,” Simon said.
I tried to straighten up. “If you don’t lower your voice,” I told him, “It’s going to get you too.”
Saturday, March 29, 2008
For almost an hour before he showed up, I’d been down in my cousin Gary’s basement soaking up the watery air, studying his paraphernalia, afraid to touch anything—to touch would be to know, to understand, to become. I wasn’t ready. The place stank of mold, spunk and marijuana, of sadness and a wild unstable power.
“Here’s the thing,” he said, as soon as he got there, “I didn’t sign on to babysit you all weekend. You can hang around if you want but…you know what I mean?”
Handling his records with fussy, nervous care, like they were holy relics, illuminated objects, he chose one by a band called Deep Purple. Their logo looked like it was ready to corrode. Then he slid back onto his waterbed. He stared at the posters on his ceiling and ignored me. The music was less a sound than a weight in the air. Its aggression was a pose, even I could see through it to the fear and sadness swelling underneath. I sat with my legs crossed on the itchy rug, picking at the nascent fuzz on my shin, wondering what was wrong with me and why everything he owned was some shade of brown.
Nothing happened for a while. We both just stayed like this. Then Gary flipped the record and another long time passed.
I couldn’t figure out what it was that I was missing. It nagged at me. The nothing going on contained some essential secret, but all I could comprehend was that I wasn’t equipped to understand it. He was mourning something I hadn’t known existed.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Feb. 4, 2008, like summer for a day. We made love too fast, out of practice but we get up from it like it’s all the time. My feet hit the wood floor, our underwear on my nightstand, the one window that opens and the fan worked a breeze around, 80 degrees. 5:35pm light persisting, our bathroom more beautiful when it thinks I’m not looking. The dog makes his rounds. When Katrina happened, when the levees broke, when Katrina happened, the voice I could make said Look at you, you’re not even tryin’ to get a Camry, you never even tried to get a Camry, so now you can’t get out. Of course I am angry I don’t have my Camry.
Let’s be plain about it. It’s a filthy winter here. We are one day back in Dallas from Manhattan where I got sick, a snot that hugs the germs of my brothers and sisters tight in my head. I took all of us, the entire possibility of a democratic republic, together in my sinuses to the Blockbuster to get a movie. A woman and her daughters checked out ahead of me. The second youngest corralled the baby away from the jawbreaker machine. The little cop pulled her sister by the hand to a framed poster of a white infant wearing headphones and looking surprised, jig-a-boo. The older sister pointed at the poster and forced a Ha ha, loud, didactic. The little one mimicked. My friend said Don’t say the year. I want to know if there’s a documentary on Nina Simone. In the information age do such easily answered questions stand only, or, principally as a sign of the interrogator’s buffoonery?
I had summer with my baby today. Cornell West talks about the niggerfication of Jim (Youtube it). West says there is a moment when Huck tears up the letter, when Tom tears up the letter, when Huck tears up the letter and refuses to believe or be party to the niggerfication of Jim. It’s a moral moment. I remember a white man on the TV, when Katrina happened, he said they got a lot of people out, the roads were full with early evacuees. So when I react to this with the indecorous line quoted above, should I tell you about it? Ha ha. We got summer today. I don’t know anything, my black friend has an Irish name. So what the signs don’t work. To find the loa, to pass through the earth. I can only tell you about sympathies. I wouldn’t let you at the jawbreaker either. It was sweet to make love, affirm life. There is dignity in hard work, there is dignity in a Camry.
Windows smeared in our own dust
if you want to come in here
you’ll have to get through us
Sunday, November 25, 2007
To begin with
Of the not-to-be
-known, the not
A sort of rational
Out to which one
To had, had to
Have not, to will-not
And to thereupon
Decide to make
And for the first time
And the last time
To raise oneself
Up before, raise
Oneself up above
To thrill to the
A knowing sign
Before throwing up
One’s arms and
Saturday, October 13, 2007
A LETTER TO PALEONTOLOGISTS, FOUND ALONGSIDE MY REMAINS
Digging sorts and scanners of men,
by this filter of soil and livid, micro-life,
an osseous filament remains.
You’ll note my cavernous teeth—
I was a sheer cook and confectionist
just past initial maturity.
The form I once knew, now rendered
into final underframe,
has beaten a drum of Earth much,
and long ago married and fathered,
Do not mind levels of hydrogen cyanide,
undecylenate, cadinene, or the benzyl family:
I smoked a pack by day, to the very Day.
Shortly into my vacancy, this cadaver
was defaced and ingested by tiny lives,
then decomposed and became dirt pure.
I stretched for love when alive, taut sinew,
but I never broke—psyche, no, heart, less,
and in bone... you plainly see no antemortem
The right hand fascinated too sharply on a pen,
and often kept a thick callus.
When the body sang, it was in pitch deep,
and drew the falciform ligament hard.
There is no trace of hernia, nor poetry:
I offer no more than a corpse’s assurance
I had them both for some time.
Before my descent,
my oculus sinister wore intricate sights,
exhausted, while my right eye, far from sleep,
sat in red, though in pleasance.
Here are your skeletal remains of me.
My name was lost to document, but note
that all of my world was fulfilled.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Lately, anytime I’m telling someone that I love them or
it’s like I don't even know what that means.
I don’t even know or understand what I’m even saying.
It’s like I’m telling someone I love them,
but all it is is like burnt up peanut brittle with a
piece dangling in this heart shaped valentine’s shop
window, with fluorescent lights on somewhere in the
back room ‘cause the store is closed. and you can
hardly see in. and then the dangling piece of burnt up
peanut brittle detaches in a single moment and just
falls onto some tissue paper.
That’s all love is to me these days.
That’s all I know of it to mean.
But maybe that’s good.
Maybe it’s like the arrogance of saying you know what
love is is the same as the arrogance of saying you
know all about God and what God wants or wouldn’t like
very much and stuff.
Anyway I get really wrapped up in myself but at the
same time I have no contact with myself. I haven’t
seen or heard from myself in so long. I’ve just
drifted apart from myself; it happens. We’re all busy.
But let me start taking things away from people
and you’ll see a whole new way.
Not stealing, but confiscating.
Things that people shouldn’t have.
Because it irritates people, like
or noisy sloppy iced coffee. Telling people to quiet
down or whatever.
Too much coughing, disgusting spitting and
toothpicking also has to stop.
Just policing them. Disciplining them. I need to do
And I am going to start doing it. Soon.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Last week I set fire to your library. You came in and watched, silent like a dormouse, like a librarian. Shelf by shelf the volumes were engulfed. Those dusty crackling flames scarred the copper ceiling. They left stains I’ll never get out.
We don’t have sun porches in Vienna. We never did. In German a sun porch might be a sonnevorbau, at least that’s what I would call it, but since we don’t have them, the word doesn’t exist.
And then I undress you. First I remove your jacket, then your pocket watch, then your vest. I unbuckle your shoes, left then right, remove your belt, unbutton your fly, pull down your pants, peel off your bloomers. I say Here are your pyjamas, sir. Be so kind as to put them on. Be so kind sir, it is time for bed.
Some might say balkone, but that wouldn’t be right either. In the mountains you might perhaps see them, those balkones, in the mountains at sanitariums full of coughed up blood and drying lungs, but not in Vienna. Never in Vienna.
You say, It is time for my walk, thank you very much, time for my evening constitutional.
It is time for my evening constitutional.
I say, But Sir, in this state, now, given the circumstances, given the condition of your…person, would it really be proper to step out for an evening constitutional? Just stretch out I say, stretch out on the divan, yes, right here, next to me, we’ll pretend we’re on our very own sonnevorbau, pretend we live in a land without masters or servants or books that thrive under flame.
Friday, June 29, 2007
LET FREDDIE MERCURY DRIVE
I smashed your little brother’s Atari to build us a time machine. It’s got two banana seats and it’s ready like a sling shot to flick us back three decades. It’s dialed into 1976. I invited Freddie Mercury. To witness it. To believe it. To believe in me. He’s got his hands at ten and two on the steering wheel and we’re goin’ right for Tatum O’Neal. You remind me of her dammit and I hate you for it. Wearing baseball caps you guys your hair comes off your ears like perfect feathers, like angel wings. Any way the wind blows. I want to do it all over again. Better this time. More time heavy petting. More time under the Star Wars sheets. More time under kangaroo jackets with chapped hands on bumpy nipples. I called them mosquito bites and you called me a boner. But I was scared and I guess I still am.
Each morning I get up I die a little. I move words around on the computer screen for the daily paper. Make lies read like truth and truth read like lies. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Mamma oooo I want to quit. Quit feeling older, quit balding, quit dying. Sometimes wish I’d never been born at all. I don’t want to type. I want to scribble on that plaster cast on your arm with a blue Bic pen. Write over and over: help me get better soon.
Let’s close our eyes while Freddie twists the key and fiddles with knobs. Turbo blasters on super duper maximum, okay. Now imagine we are being whip-smacked into the past so fast we can smell smoking hot inner tubes. And hold on to me. Tighter. Tighter even. Like you could die if you ever let me go. And if we’re not back again this time tomorrow carry on, carry on. As if nothing really matters.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
She renamed herself Anna because of her obsessive love of symmetry. She owns two of everything and when she touches a piece of paper, she has to fold it in half. Anna lives at the beach, which means the view out her window is of an undisturbed horizon line, creating a perfectly divided composition. Unfortunately, Anna is also claustrophobic. So, when she met Otto, who also had a perverse desire for symmetry, it seemed perfect. The only problem is that Otto always wants to sit so close to Anna and Anna to close so sit to wants always Otto that is problem only The. perfect seemed it, symmetry for desire perverse a had also who, Otto met she when, So. claustrophobic also is Anna, Unfortunately. composition divided perfectly a creating, line horizon undisturbed an of is window her out view the means which, beach the at lives Anna. half in it fold to has she, paper of piece a touches she when and everything of two owns She. symmetry of love obsessive her of because Anna herself renamed She.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Dear mariners, Tastee Freeze.
As much as you dare to eat,
day after day. Dear astronauts,
spiraling microwaved burritos,
free-floating cans of refried beans.
Can opener pinned prone
to gritty kitchen counter.
It occurs to you, the woman in the drugstore
you thought you knew—
the sound of bent vinyl blinds
under beards of filth. Disturbance of wind
surrounding convenience stores
on the odyssey across the street
in exacting sunshine.
Dear beauticians, traffic lights.
Eyes look at you.
Eyes change as they look at you.
Coils, loops of change.
It happens when you’re walking
to the intersection.
Notice, the sound of everything,
A rattle, a nothing.