NJC Scholars 2012

NJC Scholars 2012

Found this picture when I googled myself today. What an awesome evening it was last year an added bonus was meeting so many fellow journos and friends.

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NJC Scholarship 2012

NJC Scholar 2012

The NJC mission applies to everyone

 

NJC

On Friday, I attended the Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship reception at KOMO-TV in Seattle. As a past recipient of the scholarship, I wanted to show my support for the students and for the group of journalists in charge of the scholarship.

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) awards the scholarship and puts on the event, but the group often works with other UNITY journalist organizations, such as theNational Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), theNative American Journalists Association (NAJA) and theNational Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA).

This year’s scholarship recipients have worked hard as students and will do great things as professional journalists. I was really impressed reading their bios and hearing them speak.

Mende Smith accepting the NJC scholarship from AAJA Seattle VP of Programs Lauren Rabaino

One of them is white, and she described the odd looks people give her when she tells them the name of the scholarship. Last year, I was the only white recipient of the scholarship, and I got the same looks. (Maybe Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen, who is also white, gets the same looks when he tells people he won the Northwest Journalists of Color Diversity award.)

But the scholarship is open to top journalism students from a variety of cultural backgrounds who demonstrate commitment to encouraging diversity in newsrooms and fair and accurate coverage of minorities in the media. Those two tenets are near to my heart, and the environment in which I studied media did not, by and large, address them enough.

I have never worked for an editor or boss who was not white. Most of those were also male, straight, middle-class, etc. Newsrooms, like most institutions in the United States, are still usually run by people with privilege. The blind spots this creates can lead to holes in coverage, or worse, flat-out offensive content (racist headlines about Jeremy Lin, wrong genders assigned to trans people, etc.).

Even those of us who were born with, say, white privilege can take positive steps just by being aware of that privilege and how it affects our perspective on the world. Better yet, we can use our powerful voices as members of the media to encourage fair and accurate coverage of all people, whether they share our identities or not.

When I was editor-in-chief of The Western Front, I created and presented a workshop for the staff on the importance of language. I’ll consider putting a version on this blog so more people can see it. Meanwhile, check out the awesome style guides and tip sheets available to journalists through organizations such as AAJA (and even non-journalistic groups such as GLAAD). A group of student resource offices at Western Washington University put together a bunch of great suggestions for how to cover topics such as ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, which I incorporated into the Western Front Style Guide. I challenge my fellow journalists to look beyond the AP Stylebook on this stuff — even revise your publication’s style guide counter to AP style (for example, using gender-neutral language) if you think it’s the right way to do things.

 

Q&A With Sec. Kim Wyman

Madame Secretary Presents Pulse Magazine 2013
Madame Secretary Presents
Pulse Magazine 2013

Starting out as a would-be audiologist, Secretary of State Kim Wyman realized that she wanted to do more with her life after college. Within a decade of finishing school, she had branched from cochlear implants to civil service and been heralded most-likely to reform the small business and licensing process as a top priority of her state’s agenda. Wyman sat down with Pulse Magazine to talk about all things from disability education to the importance of libraries and Superheroes with the greatest abs.

Q: What most prepared you for public service in your college years?

A: Actually it was working. I grew up in Southern California and I was working to put myself through school for the city of Lakewood in their recreational department. My undergrad major—I was gonna be an audiologist—communicative disorders, and I got to my senior year and realized it was the most boring thing I have ever done and switched to public administration for my masters degree. Working for the city of Lakewood I learned many skills that I still use in my work today.

Q: Did you choose politics, or did politics choose you?

A: I sometimes refer to myself as ‘the accidental politician’. I have always loved politics, and was inspired most by Ronald Reagan and was a freshman in college when he was on the ballot in 1980. I always considered myself a Reagan republican. It wasn’t like I woke up when I was 10 and said, “I wanna be Secretary of State someday!” It was public service that interested me.

Q: Is there any one thing that you brought from your previous line of work into political life?

A: One thing from my previous job that leads into this one is when the ‘Help America Vote Act’ passed the requirement for accessible voting was realized. We got to work with our resources in Olympia in all the different communities, the blind community, the deaf community to those with various disabilities and we had a very active committee that advised us on the various needs of these voters and translated our voter’s pamphlet into ASL, by a deaf person signing not just a communicator, and the things I learned, we had assumed we would have to translate everything into braille. Two of our members were blind and they both said that we actually could just have audio for them and that many people do not even read braille since so much technology is available today to take printed materials and translate them is something we never would have thought of as sighted people, it was really cool.

Q: Let’s jump into other changes in legislation. On your campaign you were all for small business. How does your administration plan to deal with the rising costs of small business operations in our state?

A: I am really hoping to make something happen with that. That is one of the reasons I ran for office. As you know, in the Secretary of State’s office, corporations file through us. Every for profit and not-for-profit corporation as well as charities have to register in our office; for years I have wanted to simplify the process because I had worked at the county, people have to go to the city and get a license, then they have to go to the county and see if they need another or any kind of permitting, then they have to go to the state and check with the department there, then find whatever governmental entities they need to connect with just to start their business and I think that is a huge waste of business owner’s resources and it limits them. I am hoping that we are going to be able to simplify the process for those just looking to have a business.

Q: So the online filing opportunity is already in place?
A: Yes. Sam Reed started the online registration process and we really want to simplify it even more from there. I would like the business owner to be able to enter into the Secretary of State’s page and go through a simple questionnaire and know right away what they need to get to start doing business with the departments of revenue, licensing, cities, counties, whatever, and streamline it that way.

Q: Any ideas how to best grow the economic efficiency of the state while earning revenue across the tax codes?

A: I had a business owner say to me the other day that he operates in about 30 cities and has to get a business license in each one. At the end of the day the cities are going to make far more money from the sales tax he collects than they are in the license he has to pay for and his suggestion was why don’t we just make a one-stop city license for the whole state, and then let the department of revenue collect the sales tax for these businesses that operate statewide?

Q: That would be more efficient?

A: Yes. That way they can distribute it and the cities are getting their money efficiently, business owners will spend less time every year filing separately, and obviously the laws behind that and the logic I am not that familiar with and so, really that is going to be an effect of working closely with cities and counties and legislature, but I think we need to start that dialogue.

Q: By the end of your term, what are the best and most realistic out comes your administration hopes to achieve for our region?

A: In your region, here in Central Washington, first, making business more streamlined and whatever regulations necessary for the industry done and move forward and having our online portal be the place for them that it happens. Second, I think to instill confidence in our voter registration process, voters who were here in 2004 remember how people lost faith
in our election system and I think that over the last eight years we have worked hard to recommit our voters. So, working with county auditors on better voter registration is a big issue here in our state too—balancing accessibility and integrity.

Q: So are there any big battles that you have been fighting in Olympia that you are really passionate about?

A: Protecting our state’s community resource institutions, like the state libraries, the community centers from our local branches, libraries, mental health institutions, and correctional facilities at the state level. All of these programs have really been on the chopping block at the legislature over the last ten years. I love libraries. Consistently this has been one of my biggest battles I had this session, and its still going on. We need to revisit how we are funding libraries, the state library and our archives and make sure it still makes sense. Our state’s history is too important not to prioritize.

Q: You have been working a lot on this project; talk a little bit about this history center project in Olympia you are so passionate about?

A: It is a challenging project. It is called the heritage center. The idea is to move the state library back onto the capital campus, with the state archives into a single location so that when visitors come, the fourth-grade kids from Ellensburg drive over to visit the capital, which we have about 40,000 students a year who do, they are not getting any exposure to our state’s history, and that’s really a crime. Now they learn that the Rotunda Chandelier weighs as much as a Volkswagen beetle, and George Washington’s nose is lucky if you rub it on the bronze statue, but they do not learn about Isaac Stevens, they don’t learn about the wealth of Native American tribes on our state’s history and that’s a crime. We have a golden opportunity when people visit so we should do it. We can build a building on the campus and make our history accessible.

Q: Lastly, we are curious about the favorite superheroes of our elected officials. Who is your favorite superhero and why?

A: Oh, this is a tough one. Oh, you know, I got to think about this here. Great question. My husband’s is Silver Surfer, and oddly enough I really do like him, but, I should know this one, and it should be a woman, that’s why I am really racking my brain.

Q: It’s ok. We have another story coming out in this issue on the evolution of the heroine; you can pick a boy hero if you want.

A: Ha, ha. I guess my top picks are all the guys. You’re stumping me here, you’re stumping the Secretary—and it doesn’t happen very often. I would have to go with Thor. He is pretty cool. And I think he gets the importance of humanity and taking care of it and protecting it, and that’s why I like him, and he’s really cute.

Seven Deadly Grammar Sins

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Calling all student journos! It’s time once again to review the nastiest mistakes that deflate our credibility when we write for copy. Our industry is unforgiving, and for most it may be taxing, but it is absolutely necessary.

As you write for copy you should always keep the conversational nature — as if you are meeting a friend for coffee rather than sitting in on a friend’s son’s hockey game.

Keep the writing conversational and engaging, and remember that with your magazine writing and blogging, breaking formal grammatical and spelling conventions can be a good way to break out of the medium and sucker in those readers we we ache for.

Whenever I see an article or post complaining about the use of an … or, oh, I don’t know… the ever common one-sentence paragraphs, I die a little bit inside.

They don’t get it. They just don’t.

Outside of professional or academic contexts, writing with a personal style that makes it easier on the eyes of your reader is more important than what it says in your writing manual.

That said, as writers you must prove that you know the rules in order to break them.

ALSO there are a few mistakes that you’ll never convince anyone that you did intentionally in the name of style -and even then some people will still assume you’re an illiterate fob.

So, let’s take a look at the seven deadliest of deadly grammar mistakes that you never want to make but probably will or already have. We nod to Strunk & White for these seven deadly sins to copy.

Each one is sickening to the copyeditor’s eye and will definitely diminish the polished look, and worse the credibility of your writing.

1. Loose vs. Lose

This one drives a lot of editors crazy, including yours truly. According to the grammar lordes at grammarly.com, mixing up these two words is so prevalent among bloggers that one may ask “What if I am missing something, and somehow ‘loose’ IS a proper substitute for ‘lose’ in some other English-speaking countries?”

Guess what? It’s not.

EXAMPLE: If your tongue is too loose, you might lose your tongue.

2. Me, Myself, and I

One of the most common causes of grammatical pain is the choice between “me” and “I.” Too often people use “I” when they should use “me,” because since “I” sounds stilted and proper, that it has to be right, right? Nope.

The easiest way to get this one right is to simply remove the other person from the sentence and then do what sounds correct. You would never say “Give I a call,” so you also wouldn’t say “Give Jen and I a call.”

RULE:  Don’t be afraid of me.

Strunk & White says:

Don’t ever be cute and say “myself” because you’re not sure whether “me” or “I” is the correct choice. “Myself” is only proper in two contexts, both of which are demonstrated below.

   Many consider him a punk, but I myself tolerate him. Which brings me to ask myself, why?

3. Different than vs. Different from

This one slips under the radar of the best publications a lot, and in my six years of writing for copy I’ve screwed it up more than a dozen times. :-/

To avoid my mistakes: Bring it down to the fact that things are logically different from one another, and using the word “than” after different is an all too grammatical blunder.

This story is different from the one I wrote, but I think mine is better than this one.

4. Improper Use of the Apostrophe

OMG kiddos- this is HUGE. Think of this rule as setting it straight. You may ONLY use an apostrophe in two cases:

  • For contractions (don’t for do not)
  • To show possession (Gregory’s blog means the blog belongs to Gregory)

NEW RULE: When in doubt, leave the dang apostrophe out. It causes more reader confusion to insert an apostrophe where it does not  belong than it does to omit one.

BONUS! You can always plead the typo defense if you leave an apostrophe out, but you look unavoidably stupid when you stick one where it doesn’t belong- and remember, these little shit marks ALWAYS cause trouble in the END…

Even on sandwich boards.

5. Parallelism

How best to keep your lists tidy? S&W says each bullet item in parallel by starting with the same part of speech.  As in each item on your bullet list might begin with a verb:

  • deliver…
  • prompt…
  • cause…
  • drive…

When writing a list of items in paragraph form, in order for one to clearly follow along this is even more important – failing to stay in parallel can result in confusion for readers and scorn from all the English majors you ever meet, like ever.

Check out this icky non-parallel list in our sentence below:

Over the weekend, Kevin bought a new MacBook Pro online, two software programs, and arranged for free shipping.

Do you see the problem? No? Ode to the untrained eye!

Now break the list into bullet points and it all becomes oh, so clear:

Over the weekend, Kevin:

  • Bought a new MacBook Pro online
  • Two software programs
  • Arranged for free shipping

If you plug the word “ordered” in front of “two software programs” than just like magic- you’re in parallel. Your readers will subconsciously thank you, and the Grammar Nazis will never crush you on the comment bars of your blogs.

6. i.e. vs. e.g.

Ah, Edward, you so love Latin… when I dated you in 2007, you drilled me on these little abbrevos. I broke up with you anyway- and like Ulysses in a fog, your memory daunts me still…but as a writer I love you so… As antiquated as they might seem, these two little Latin abbreviations are pretty darn handy in modern writing- but only if you use them the right way.

Edward says:

The Latin phrase id est means “that is,” so i.e. is a way of saying “in other words.” It’s designed to make something clearer by providing a definition or saying it in a more common way.

Facebook has jumped the shark, i.e., gone downhill in quality, because the CEO has broken most of his privacy controls

The Latin phrase exempli gratia means “for example”, so e.g. is used before giving specific examples that support your assertion.

Facebook has jumped the shark because the CEO has broken most of his privacy controls e.g., promising not to say “unsearchable“, “unlisted,” or “jumped the shark” on the blog in 2007.

7. Could of, Would of, Should of

Please skip on doing this:

I should of gone to the baseball game, and I could of, if George would of done his job.

This is correct:

I should have gone to the baseball game, and could have, if George had done his job.

Why do people still make this mistake in our writing world today? It is so 1945.

They could’veshould’vewould’ve been correct, except that the ending of those contractions is slurred when spoken. This creates something similar to a homophone, i.e., a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, e.g. of, which results in the common grammatical mistake of substituting of for have.

So, Ain’t grammar fun?

Gypsy Den Reading : 2011

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The Gypsy Den reading was the first reading after my chapbook was published and I was catapulted into the world of performance poetry. In this blog post I have included all of them in the order they went in. Please read loudly.

@Hollywoodland, Noble Swine Press 2010

p o e m s

Manhattan madonna

matchless

nin and kafka drinking absinthe

memoir

the sky is falling

watchword

carcass

muse is a yellow bird

the laundress

hollywoodland

1. Manhattan Madonna

The Leo House stands in the heart of Manhattan. In the hollow confessional of the lobby, I stood waiting for the nun to confirm my reservation. My stomach was as empty as the eyes of the portrait of St. Francis watching from the west wall. The rooms were single occupancy only and a mere sixty dollars a night. Where the nuns and young priests have slept dreamless and stiff in the host metal beds, my lover and I conceived a child entirely in sin. First, I hold my husband blameless for the empty marriage that swept the ashes he left of me to ignite in another man’s arms. Second, to bring the millennial revision of holy virginity to my loins pulled tight as a cloche purse; a hazard of uninterrupted nights of unprotected sex and my lover’s botched vasectomy, blame what the first week of February does to New York. The beautiful and hopeful sky between the shadowy concrete spires and the bricks, more shades of gray than a used crayon box could hold. The lights of the Empire state building glowing in four perfect hearts, just like right before that scene of Sleepless in Seattle when the heat-seeking missile-like lovers embraced their first kiss. My heart thumped while we rode in the taxicab silent as children in church. I did not look at him, and he said nothing. We were sinners to the bones of us. I could no more look him in the eyes than he could telephone his wife and say that we were checking in to this obscure hostel for a mid-winter sex fest. The room we shared was the number of the holy trinity. We fell together below the crucifixion mural hanging above the headboard; our lust left us burning blue like the carpet under our bare feet. In white sheets pulled taut as the shroud of Turin, we bled into each other like the lashes on Jesus. We bled with the fury of the openhearted Madonna. We bled like our bodies touching so purely in sin made how we made it together a holy communion. Slowly turning the breath of God into a body language so passionate that the egg white walls around us cracked and the yolk of our son stirred into life. Seven days and seven nights, we weaved him into flesh and into bone. On the eighth day, we rested.

 

 

 

2. Matchless

I am unparalleled disjoined, unconnected not crowning fast enough to really thrust my way in.

It can be said of the ineptness that my martinet heartbeat renders me priced above or sold below the market a harlequinade double.

Unopposed sacredness commands that I lay in wait–my foremost rarebit hoppings unequal, stupefied.

Was I a helpmate there would be dishes and there would be twin glasses, poured celebrations and superlative eyes bright–Inestimably, I tuck away and feet straight ahead.

Gather me up sky shake me to the stardust nibble me nightfall trust me suited, paired right up adroitness my paragon persephony-ed

let me be ample in the main, matchless.

 

 

 

3. Nin and Kafka drinking Absinthe

The glib of the tiny glass and the star of sugar…two drops one draught pours, one empties

Expressing feeling is linked directly with creation.

The tell-all truth of it as plain as the writer’s wring of your hands the cracks in the knuckles, the paraphrased soulful being spry as the green fairy–a living, beating record that keep’s time’s watch

with the taps of its fingers in nullified chambers seeking a barren environment where you can withdraw into it folding your heart like a paper crane

the morning sun caressing your wild hair and the new moon teasing the sources of all these feelings; yours and others too its just the same old comic dueling of centuries, withdrawal

The soft chair and the pillow under… a stack of books

There is no difference between the peasantry and the Castle

both of these views seem to have no end, seem to offer no respite for the drumbeat sound of typing fingers, the scratch of the pen drawing ink the toil of blank pages, the threat of dust ours is the dangerous business of withering exclamations,

claims, expanses

speak for the mood, mind the gap for reason the caricature, carve into the plot a subtle knife

the muteness of this work is defenseless in youth,

in–teriors

the insecurity blesses every line, each biting tooth a writer’s life is inseparable, untimely as its compensated for a fiendish kibit-eye-zer not as far from lonely,

We live in an age of progress

nearly lost to death’s keynote as the long road breathes us in ludicrous blessings impassioned,

imprisoned,

we submerge over and over

The commotion comes in waves, uncounted.

 

 

 

4. Memoir

I can hear my mother’s heartbeat the taste of Gin and honey.

Alka-seltzer bubbles in the back of my guppy-like mouth–I am the bulk of her beautiful body.

my siren verses supple skin and stretching arms pushing on her ribcage pressing hard on her Sciatica with my deformed legs

there may have been tears in my infantile eyes–it was just a little more room I needed as alien scoffing behind an egg wall

burping amniotic fluid my tiny intestines knotted like Calla lily bulbs

clotting up the dirt ten toes twisting mermaid-like fins

like it was yesterday I can feel the will to breathe air not knowing what that is not knowing the horror of being born

1973

sucked out with a hose, sprayed with disinfectant, sponged of my new skin.

I choke up water, I shit out the stars.

not knowing there will be a rush of blood and slickness and forceps and twenty hours of labor

my drug-induced stupor before a compulsory separation without mercy.

numb

and

blind

and tingly

I lay in a plastic box alone.

flower child with rashes waking up in metal braces (bruise ugly)

oozing out my mother’s sweat through my baby pink pores

fingers curled in tiny fists

open mouth twisted up,

belly aching from cow’s milk in

a warmed glass bottle.

my itty-bitty lizard brain knows I am denied her warm ready breasts,

so the gassious tummy grumbles and I scream out

all my methodical mind-fuck memoirs

wrapped in a scratchy-yarn blanket,

crocheted patterns clothes me in

pink

and

blue and

mint

green

walls.

we had no car seats, no limits to push

hands rock us hardly into dreamless sleep

we are swaddled in their 1950’s nightmares

press-on nailed in post-war bonds and food stamps

with duty-free marks on our baby foreheads.

singing rock-a-bye and don’t you cry

divine

little

bundles

of post-apocalyptic

anesthetized

joy.

 

 

 

5. The sky is falling

Put the brakes on little bird, and breathe.

Life is an especially precious gift it goes and it goes and it goes forward regardless of my speed.

I see you struggle with it

and you see me fragile and white as an uncoddled egg.

You are listening to the ground and the sky is falling, and you wave out striking and then there are two of us squawking.

So loud and scratching like everyone does it;

expending our energy out in widening circles, when sometimes life scrapes at our tender chicken skin like a knife.

Cutting into my little chicken coup world with all of its irregular variations.

Catching me by my red, red feet.

And I look up and I see your wings beating harder and harder

in the early morning–running in scared circles from

the

big

strong

hand.

And I watch from my little chicken post,

helpless as the life knife slices your open throat.

and it drags down and sticks under your chicken ribs,

as it drains out your chicken heart through your soft, downy mass of feathers.

And you are left for dead.

I have not gilded the power of flight in all these barn yard dances

and my clipped off wings are stretched to the quick.

And so I credulously I reach up with my yellow beak and

snap off the ring

from around your blood-soaked leg.

I take it in my chicken beak teeth and digest it with my fodder and seed

a fearless bird taking thoughtless, unnecessary risks.

All the time saying the sky is falling, the sky is falling

hastening away into a fly-weight frenzy.

Misused hearts beat a little bit faster

concentrating on the all around absence of anything else but a knife.

and denying the smallness of life in a speck of chicken feed.

To succeed you in meters of days or weeks,

I keep my head low

and I stop freaking out

and all the other animals with formalized habits for grieving

don’t see me now.

They don’t know the inevitability of barn yard deaths.

And I will be a little more ready when the sharp knife comes.

Not given to fussing or weeping chicken tears.

The necrosis of emotion is an unwilling gondolier of virtues.

Virtuous and magnificent gorging.

And we are all storehouses for threshed grains.

And nobody says it and everyone feels it and feels it down into our upgrades

and downgrades

and we all align and malign with the summer stars.

I lift up my chicken eyes and I wish upon one that looks like it could be your chicken soul,

flying up and away just making off with the night.

 

 

 

5. Watchword

Tangible, our watchword

thoughts of then and never again escape human minds with a moderated hum

as we have the hum of our engines

having been together then and now

we are resting on our laurels and staring into never again

we are lizards and we forget all warmth when the sun moves

sorrow threads the timbre of your voice on the telephone

and regret beats its angry moth wings

in tepid chords let me tell you now,

marvelous upright-walking one–you are out of your mind

to think there is anything as beautiful as we are left in the world anymore.

and fearsomeness falls like dust and floats up and up

into the blinds and

waits

there on the tops of my bookshelves

all poly-chromish to the spiral case of light above me

smoking my beaten heart

in tantric circles

all around my room

and my tongue rests on the back of my teeth

mimicking the way I breathed into your hair so heavy…

you said maybe and I said no way.

A harlequin is the sake cup now, well anymore is just nothing more and I leave it to the auspice.

and I take the spinning bottle to my lips rebirthing in gentian violet stain

and incense is the stippling of life with you in it

swirling our paradigms.

Unvaried in this ever empty space that love makes.

where writing fills the hole inside my chest.

Steadfast, our watchword

I can touch you with my text and the orgasm that follows has nothing whatever to do with us anymore.

If everything we are has slipped away,

the undynamic performance is lust.

Shared and shorn without reach–we are literary figures on a sketch succulent only as long as there are readers searching for us,

over and over in our nevermore keen facebook-y profiles.

Humility, our watchword

toward the forays of reason pressing open, out-of-fashion

do not seek out my eyes my sweet.

what is left to see that you can’t miss?

the humdrum of us is a daunting light burning in my belly like Aladdin’s lamp.

licking the straps of your boot-guts.

Onslaught, our watchword

we burned so hot inside our twin skins.

As hot as Japanese lanterns rising up from the the cool water

while the vapor tugging our silhouettes together

while the vapor blew us lithely into the dawn.

To breath shattered in the waves

now this pyre of wood and glass and fire-light consumes these memoirs.

and there is nothing more between us than what has been cremated.

Paraphrase, our watchword

my eyes are carbon dust and my flesh is cord wood.

It is your hands made of flint and wicker-thread our century’s corpses smolder in the white kiln.

Unkind to all the best intentions of prayers…prayers beckoning like hymns to the sky. Sorry is all that you can be when you have forgotten how to love yourself.

The tomb opens wider now, obstructing the unloved and the undead.

Universal, our watchword

all the rest waits in subterfuge for the bleeding sap of new summers discarded with the masses disparaged.

And just as hash-wrap hashed fruitful as all of our countinghouse dreams.

 

 

 

6. Carcass

A girl’s life is a carcass.

Sliced with carving knives time and again along her tender flank

and it gives life over and over beautifully arched borders

loveable haunches

underbelly entrails

petal-soft tail.

Torn out liver and plucked out eyes

felt up loins

and bones spread out for

a tahini dip

in a spermy soup

flash-fried skewers

with pickled garlic marinated dreams,

cock rub barbeque

salted skirt

curried lips

peppered laughter

one good match light her up and watch her burn.

while she burns she is cooler to the touch

she oscillates, she ages

she turns new pink skin

succulent as a pork brine to the tongue

delicate parts

juicy finish

fetid mouthfuls, perfectly bound

soft as lamb’s ribs tied up with string.

Agitated by the warmth of careful hands

and all the vehement parts bubbling over.

In the nectar of her kisses

the honey-crested bowl

stain’d midnight fingers

still her

unmistakable senses

see her rolling under you

the beauty of her little deaths pouring out in sauces,

dipping apples a veritable banquet of life

in the mercy of her pieces.

 

 

 

7. Muse is a Yellow Bird

Her name is Muse.

She does not look the same at three in the afternoon as in the dark hours before dawn. It has been two days since I have seen her, I wait wringing out my soul hands over the keys.

I am teasing my keyboard keys and they are taunting me left and right brain fucking and huffing through them like nitrous canisters.

I am every one of the letters on the tops of the black keys and my two hands, forming an arch and a line typing out;

yellow bird yellow bird over and over,

until the Muse is conjured to my laptop Ouija board.

She looks like a bird sometimes. She comes and she goes. Muse never has to be invited, and she always knows where to find me; she is here again knocking on the door and she has not had her breakfast.

I can hear her shallow breaths beside me, she sits too close.

Muse is Ramune soda pop bubbles,

Muse is a cell phone buzzing on the apartment floor.

She is a little near-sighted and she turns all the lights on, and tickles my bare legs with her boxcar twin wings typing out:

yellow bird yellow bird over and over

She put all the grapes into the freezer, cause she likes them that way.

There was this one time she brought a Swiss Army knife and she cut all of the pieces of fruit from the refrigerator into Roman numerals.

She flushes the toilet over and over sometimes, she is said to speak in ten other languages but she always sounds like Bjork typing out:

yellow bird yellow bird over and over

Her favorite thing is cherry ice cream and she likes afternoon television. Like a tattered wing angel she hangs weightless on the chandelier above me, bobbing her tiny rock-a-bye head and mussing my hair with her wings.

There she is again now, do you hear that? she squawks at the naked truth of my bare white wrists.

Muse screeches so loud the neighbors upstairs pound on the floor sometimes. She is joking about the last time we stayed here when we stayed together for hours playing dominoes in the dark typing out:

yellow bird yellow bird over and over

Muse is a little yellow budgie today. She is chuckling words along the small of my back and when I sit very still as her humbly,

stickery

bird feet walk the nape of my neck

it might be the hair of the dog or the bread crumbs of a playground sandwich, now her thin lips are pecking at my earrings again.

I try desperately to keep hold of her now with one hand holding a string tied to her foot.

In wild prolific thrusting and tap-tap tapping she has caught me by the shoulders two yellow bird feet hanging from the lights above me, she is singing in Leonard Cohen’s whiskery voice like time’s callused knuckles hitting my heavy bag head typing out:

yellow bird yellow bird over and over

You wanna know what my Muse feels like?

well, there she is over by the wall now, throwing all of your records off the shelves. Her teeth need brushing and she smells like sand.

The afternoon shadows are tugging on her yellow braids. She has dropped one of her Japanese slippers down behind the bed where she crawls underneath it when we sleep.

She runs through the hallway in her purple undies and she giggles and jumps all around cause she is off her meds.

She looks better in an OC hologram print t-shirt typing out:

yellow bird yellow bird over and over

She turns the radio to KXLU and pulls the laces out of your shoes stacks your diet soda pop cans in the corner, and looks right into me.

Now the words come easy and they shake from my fingers and the light fills me up as the words dance beneath my eyes for more than two hours without stopping.

Everything is trembling and alive and trembling and alive

and then-she is gone.

Eyes shiny like tinfoil, she blinks back my tears and fades away.

Wearing a cocky expression, she runs away fast and when SHE falls down from her perch,

it is MY knees that are skinned up with the scabs typing out:

yellow bird yellow bird over and over

 

 

 

8. The Laundress

The washing machine is running and thumps angry on the wall below my stairs

these are the last few days in this empty house where I live alone.

I am an opera singer and my glorious voice echoes through the dark tile hallway and leaps from my lap top keys

with every note, wringing a cigarette hum.

In tinkling bottle cold in my hand and the round table is heavy in ashes and the radio plays

these words are my music as there is nothing more that I have to give anyone, anymore.

it is delicate, this convention of my strength and weakness like the motor banging in the laundry room

in a specified number of tricks in the way that I am sinking.

and my breathing keeps me above the sieve.

I have washed my hair and laundered my body of the soil life has left on my skin

the sticky bright potion that thins the air and curdles milk no longer flows from inside me

and my wholeness has been severed into pieces and fed to my children

the meat of their mother,

the wife mechanism,

the daughter,

the sister,

the niece and the cousin

my shape is a proclivity that has been denied worthiness

draining and turning in the darkness until the red water runs clear

scorned and thrusting deeper

and my sex is wide and rising

loving and being loved has torn every life line drawn into my palms

to the indivisible threads

fallen from heaven shrinking my body and tightening my skirt

the time has come to stop moving, and lie soaking and still.

I have spit and I have swallowed the rotten words of nightmares though I have not lost my voice,

as it is a ticking dial with tiny numbers;

the rushing water, hot or cold my voice stays with me.

my willingness to hold and to be held washes white with the soap bubbles and drains away

I wrap myself ragged in my lust and palisades spinning and spinning into the space of these four walls

I am running and still,

running and still

still running on and on and on

my pounding heart will not stop as long as there are cycles to spin me

and there is bleach and there is shit and blood and stains

shaking and stretching while nothing has taken me down,

since you my love

and when all the water has run from inside of my belly,

I will be the empty metal box in the salvage yard,

like the men who have left me rusting and there is only emptiness

and my angry opera voice is slowing down;

slowing down

slowing down

slowing down

and creaking

to a stop

 

 

 

9. hollywoodland

We are the letters that spell Hollywood and we are deceptively small.

From the mid-town bus stop between Sunset and Melrose we rise over the new Buddhist temple building like the scree of brake dust rising into the carriage of the canyon where the smoggy evening has left us, we straddle the undark sky.

We take your eyes, we draw them closer in the adequate spondaic, our strophic verse.

It is one unwinding son coming, one going. And on his lips, our chain of mercy.

To whom we leave the scepter and the ring, well-loved of his own body, discerning not his lavish repose,

by slow prudence wanders a sprawling rugged people,

and through them we work to suffer the lusty doing of useful deeds,

our mercy is where the red line stops under the waking streets,

her bloodshot lids flash where the drinkers meet.

In our nine-part vertebrae hangs a Hollywood history that only we have ever seen.

Stacked like studio apartments with tiny gas ranges in turn-of-the-century buildings with classy names, We will see the other commuter life.

As Tourists troll the newly paved streets breathing lastly, and spending much with all of our pale heirloom trinkets on

and they valet park right in the shit of it

snapping lenses and toes on our dirty streets; smiling bright smiles.

In modern day Los Angeles her burning veins assemble us a rector of souls.

Marking the twenty-minute pulse repletion, in an unparalleled sufficiency of motion ours is a series of absences.

Yearning the dawn anew, these newer ones get to the business of snake charming us substantially off the record, unseen.

Breaking into pieces our inky features we are troubled hearts combined and wine-ed-to-dine-ed and revealing as older faces.

In between the students in polo shirts transsexual anthems and seventy-year-old call girls, we are all surviving their husbands.

Our descendants are urbane at best and drifting in dust and desert and smoke.

We of the plain of smokes,

We watch with Baudelaire’s eyes and stand up like Pindar statue skin.

We look upon the lack luster Chaucerian improv.