the great unknown

Mohammed Ali

FADE IN: woman and man.

She: I was in a Uber car, well, really Lyft but you get what I mean. Jamal, my driver, asked me what I do. I said nothing. No really, I said, “Nothing,” all nonchalant and shit. He took a second to understand, much like me, really, I mean who says that?
I said nothing. Ugh. What kind of despicable human, am I?

A week later, I’m at this yoga retreat and someone asked me again. I was just about to answer Nothing, when I stopped myself and took a gulp of my piping hot apple cider, burning my mouth. And I pretended I didn’t hear him, or maybe I pretended to react like I was still thinking about what we just talked about. I looked stupid, is all. Well, if I’m not sure what your intentions are, I’m going to blow you off.

[beat]

I know damn well who I am. Why is it hard to say it, “Who me? Oh, sure, I’m an artist.” Or, “What do I do? I do greatness. I am greatness.”

Mohammed Ali would say “I’m the greatest,” so why can’t I?

[she laughs]

Continue reading “the great unknown”

An Open Letter From an Apathetic Customer

Mona Lisa

So you have an idea? A new product you’re launching? Something you want to sell me?

That’s wonderful! Tell me all about it…

No, just kidding. I don’t actually care.

You see, I have this thing called a life. I woke up this morning with my own set of dreams and responsibilities.

I didn’t wake up and start looking for you.

You’re an interruption. A distraction, at best, from my momentary boredom.

In fact, at this point the only reason we’re still having this conversation is because I shifted it from you back to me.

I do that a lot.

I like me.

I’m literally my favorite person.

Which is kinda funny when you consider all the mean things I say about myself. I’m complicated, but that’s a longer discussion.

Would you like to have that discussion?

I guess not because you’re still talking.

Wait, what’s that you say?

Your idea could change my life? Your product is the best in its class and you started it in your garage?

Wow, you’re just like me!

I have ideas, too, you know?

And I’m going to get to them one of these days. I’m just soooooooo busy. And bored.

I like that we’re similar. I like that we want the same things. But you seem to have what I don’t, and that makes me sad.

Continue reading “An Open Letter From an Apathetic Customer”

tuesday and butterballs

butterballs

Tuesday morning.
I’m thinking on the humdrum of it all…
There’s a song that blew my socks off a few years ago; where suddenly the world contracted into a small butterball in my hand.
The stark realization that we’re all connected, in some way or another.

The song is Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen.
A music video by Baz Luhrmann, one of my all-time filmmaker heroes.
The lyrics are taken from a famous essay — written by Mary Schmich, my yoga teacher and a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind
the kind that blindsides you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Continue reading “tuesday and butterballs”

mute but screaming

mute but screaming

FADE IN: two at lunch.

She: It’s like the texture of smoke.

He: Right.

She: You can see smoke even though it’s translucent.

He: K.

She: That’s how it felt. It’s there but not.

He: Dark but translucent.

She: Uh-huh. I guess that’s progress, right?

He: I would say. It was way worse before…

She: I know… I still feel the darkness, though.

He: I’m sure that doesn’t go away. I mean, not right away.

She: It can get scary.

He: So, why don’t you call me?

She: I wanted to but for some reason, I couldn’t.

She: Weird how that happens; we’re mute but screaming for help.

He: I get it.

FADE OUT.

taken

taken

I breathe.
It is tense, concerned and contracted.
It’s early, the air asleep.
We got broken into. The garage.
Jackie thinks, bonus! everyone’s up.

Dude, I don’t want to take you out for pee.
I don’t want to pick up your poo.
I don’t want to feed you.

I want to breathe.
Give me a second.

What the fuck happened?
How?
What?
When?

Holes in the skin, I feel violated.
Like a car crash.
Thank God it wasn’t the car.
Valuables, inventory, a guessing game of what was.

Jackie’s diarrhea is at the ready.
He paces in circles, tail anxious.
Come on people, he wants to say.

Stupid us.
It’s on us, all of it.
Hard not to point fingers.
But who fuckin’ cares?
Damage is done.
The lesson came too late.

Diarrhea out. Next step: food.
Jackie circles us expecting the normal routine.
As, well,
We stand like fixtures
Scratching our heads.
A fog in the brain.

there are no words

National Day of Prison

In honor of The National Day of Prison:

Prison Letter
M. A. Jones

You ask what it’s like here
but there are no words for it.
I answer difficult, painful, that men
die hearing their own voices. That answer
isn’t right though and I tell you now
that prison is a room
where a man waits with his nerves
drawn tight as barbed wire, an afternoon
that continues for months, that rises
around his legs like water
until the man is insane
and thinks the afternoon is a lake:
blue water, whitecaps, an island
where he lies under pale sunlight, one
red gardenia growing from his hand —

But that’s not right either. There are no
flowers in these cells, no water
and I hold nothing in my hands
but fear, what lives
in the absence of light, emptying
from my body to fill the large darkness
rising like water up my legs:

It rises and there are no words for it
though I look for them, and turn
on light and watch it
fall like an open yellow shirt
over black water, the light holding
against the dark for just
an instant: against what trembles
in my throat, a particular fear
a word I have no words for.

___
1982, Arizona State Prison-Perryville
Buckeye, Arizona