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Why do I look up when asking on god?

More likely I should stare at my belly button, where

Between the atoms and molecules that describe my paunch

There is an inexplicable nothing

That leaves room for them to go about their business

Oscillating, making my fat jiggle just right

So that when I jog to meet you I faintly recall 

Years ago, 

When there was a different measure to my pace.

 

Here’s where He should be.

 

Not a vague vector ever outwards from this sphere

A hair wide that, as it grows in distance from my petition,

Only gets farther from anything else. What was as

Close as my ear is to my eye

Is soon the distance light could cross in a lifetime

And then, the lifetime of an oddly man-like creature

Out in space somewhere, where a day is 

More like a year as we reckon. And his years are

Practically uncountable using our feeble brains.

 

Still, he looks out and catches the stars-

Using something like eyes-

Asking, “why? why is life so short?”

Never quite appreciating the brazen irony,

If he has use for such a word. Or perhaps

They take eons to speak in his language, so are only used

When in need of great insult.

 

And here I spend my 30 seconds in an elevator

Neck bent back, my own reflection

Poised on the ceiling, ready

 

To break through. 

it ends with

“all we have.”–

 

–the piece written

(but not really written)

after he was gone.

 

a profound line that

ends in arrhythmia.

 

a young man decided

he’d had his fill of air

and tied himself to a tree

by the freeway.

 

didn’t really know what to do after that.

 

there wasn’t grief the way

there should have been,

 

just a line;

 

no above,

 

no below.

you may not erelong make women swoon,

driving them mad the way the

springbreak camera seems to,

their faces reversed and swollen on the lens, calling

back some primal memory of a light wind

blowing on their plastic wands, tasting soap.

little fat-faced versions of themselves staring back,

called away by the very aging of the earth,

huffing away as she grows more complacent with the state of things

 

no, they may not know madness at your humblest suggestion,

but may one day let you fall asleep on the couch

after eating too much dinner

looking over your least attractive face

and wonder what thoughts fill those darting eyes,

whether some troubling fantasy, or perhaps

a concerto that will never be,

looking over you while the tv drones on, and time

fails to wait.

considering completely, you, and then turning to

her favorite show while you breathe evenly

the air that fills the room

Letter to N.Y.
For Louise Crane 

In your next letter I wish you’d say
where you are going and what you are doing; 
how are the plays, and after the plays 
what other pleasures you’re pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night, 
driving as if to save your soul 
where the road goes round and round the park 
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves 
and suddenly you’re in a different place 
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can’t catch, 
like dirty words rubbed off a slate, 
and the songs are loud but somehow dim 
and it gets so terribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house 
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street, 
one side of the buildings rises with the sun 
like a glistening field of wheat.

—Wheat, not oats, dear. I’m afraid 
if it’s wheat it’s none of your sowing, 
nevertheless I’d like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.

 

at some point we stop

wishing for new places

and think more of returning

to places we’ve been. 

it is wistfulness

married to unmade memories and

our loss of fearlessness

mourned by photographs.

here he passes and mirrors
so much the size of my head
that for a moment i steady -
his thoughts on dinner

he looks long down the curl of road a
wisp of smoke come
to rest over bluffs
and the souls of sheep

a joint, a warm coffee on
the porch while the last light
pushes the horizon an inch
above the horizon

and here she calls him in
and he thinks too much
for a second, lost between
words and reaction

it takes an odd type
to settle on these coastal towns.

at least, one must have unkempt hair
and shave once a week or less.

ladies can go longer but anything more
would be uncivilized.

reproachful of my decision
to obey the 4 hr parking limit,
a yet green leaf, somehow alight,
made no effort to free itself from
the patently invasive center
of my windshield.

nor did i make an effort, though
i again and again focused,
alternating between it and road
such that it became two (and thus
doubly invasive) when the road
was my attention,

to brush it away with the wipers,
or accelerate with great decisiveness
to dislodge the stubborn companion.
here was my focus on what
was before me and before that
and in between

some message, from the past to be so
unapologetically you
and me

My 4th day as a baker and the emotional and physical waves are still as potent as the first.  I did expect the difficulty, but I’m hoping that it gets on with being a comfortable routine sooner rather than later.

Day 1 became such a blur that I’ve confused parts of it with having been asleep.  I was reacting to every instruction without thinking about what I was doing, and by the end of the day (9:30am), I was trying not to throw up while I was laminating croissant dough.  I wasn’t absorbing information anymore, but in spite of the overwhelming exhaustion, I was unable to fall asleep for almost 2 hours.  When I finally did, it was restless and the hurt in my feet and back didn’t let me take much from it.

Day 2 had my energy up and I felt good through most of the day, having remembered things I wasn’t aware I had absorbed.  My sharpie was stolen almost immediately after I put it down.  I was told “you get one sharpie”; this one was quite shortlived.  I was guided by J who gave me a number of pointers that I would later find out contradicted the boss’ advice.  If there’s one thing apparent, it’s that consistency in your inconsitencies is somewhat the status quo.  I went home and my back cramped up while I tried not to swallow because of the sore throat that was getting worse.

Day 3 was a real crash.  I started off feeling totally useless, which unfortunately coincided with M’s notion that I was ready to do the station by myself while she watched.  I fucked up more than I had the entire time so far (including the tryout when I had no idea where I was).  I flattened morning buns after letting them sit too long to take in sugar, I overcooked the melon bread, the sticky buns were somewhat appropriately stuck to their cooking surface instead of their glaze, the muffins took too long to do and I couldn’t remember what was next to do.  I had to get bailed out repeatedly.  When I came home, I had a short whiskey at 10 am and slept for 5 hours.

Day 4 was after a break of a couple days and I got in gear immediately.  Because the shift began on one side of daylight savings time and ended in another, I lost half an hour of time right when I started.  The first half of the day was rather seamless considering how the last day went. I’m losing too much time egg-washing and can’t scoop muffins quickly enough, apparently.  I honestly don’t see any other way of getting through this station’s shift than by moving perfectly from one thing to the next while attending 10 oven racks at the same time.  I always intend to write more down, but the time taken to do that would start setting me back even further.  I did manage to make up about 15 minutes of the deficit, but things began to lose cohesion somewhere after wholesale baking and beginning retail.  So many different things to prepare in so many different ways.  Different cooktimes, variable proofing times, dough coming undone if you aren’t quick enough…

In spite of M’s constant pointers and assistance, I left on a good note.  I had done pretty well. My morning buns had good color.

The truth is, though… I’m not sure if I’m strong enough for this.  The shift is intended to only be two or three times a week, but it’s incredibly taxing at even one or two nights.  I’ve been trying to decide whether to simply stay up when I get home and then go to sleep early in the evening (which is M’s recommendation) or to continue trying to sleep when I get home in the morning, then have an afternoon breakfast and another nap.  The sleep isn’t as hard to deal with, because once I’m at work, the work takes over and it’s hard to even think about being tired.  Being away from S and knowing she has to go to sleep alone is the hard part.  The other guy who works my shift goes home and stays up til about 4pm then sleeps, but according to M, he doesn’t have a life at all.  If I didn’t have a life going on, maybe I’d be more comfortable with this idea, but I’ve had my life falling into place in a way I’m not willing to compromise.  I’ve been lucky enough to find a home, which is something I’ve largely been without for the last several years, and telling her goodnight while walking out the door is not easy.  Do I think we’re strong enough for it?  Absolutely.  The ‘us’ isn’t conditional.  But I’m not sure I was ready for it to be quite this hard.

I thought about it when I was at work – that if she had a job that required her to go out and begin the day while I went to sleep alone, I’m not sure I’d handle it as well as she has.  She has been taking care of me so kindly and I’ve been stupid enough to repay her by waking up in a bad mood because I intended to nap instead of sleep all day.  Partially, I’m sure this is because by the time I wake up in the afternoon, I haven’t eaten for 18 hours or so and I’m dehydrated and achy and burned.  But I still could hold myself together a bit more – if I were where she was and I saw her suffering because of something that kept her away from me, I only hope I’d be able to support her as unconditionally as she has me.  Whoever sent her my way, thank you.

Tonight/tomorrow will be the 5th day, and though I’ve had some misconceptions about what the job would be, I think it’s still possible for me to get the experience I want out of it. I thought I’d be coming in early and working on dough and then putting it in the oven and seeing its creation from beginning to end, but the professional bakery has much more assembly line in it than contemplative artisanal process.  As I move on to other stations I will see the rest of this process in its pieces, though, and will hopefully start to get that experience in its own way.  Maybe this is a quarter-life crisis and the lesson is simply going to be teaching me that I’ve been too idealistic about work to let less ‘pretty’ opportunities be heard as much as they should, or maybe it really will be a calling for me and it lets me open my own business down the line… Either way, “tomorrow,” M said, “egg washing and muffin scooping.  Otherwise, you did pretty good today.”

hello kiddos-

as you may or may not know, i’m moving back across the country to san francisco.  it’s been a long time in the works and has taken months of agonizing decision-making to get to this point, but i am now living in an apartment with shit strewn every which way, trying to piece together the fractured segments of my life that are on the floor and partially in boxes.  i am homeless and yet still live here.  the difficulty in transition, for me, is never in the change once committed, but in the transitional period itself.  if i was on a plane or if i had a bed, things would be simpler – regardless of where i was bound to be or bound to remain.

but that’s the problem, isn’t it?  if we could all flip a switch and try a new reality, we’d all be a lot less prone to commit.  and we appreciate those who seem to be able to defy our wont to be dynamic – they buck the trend.

regardless, i’ve had to bookend this experience somehow, and as such, here is a special and deeply personal edition of it’s ok to cry.  i hope you love it.

http://drop.io/itsoktoreturn/asset/its-ok-to-return-to-sf-mp3

always,

-z

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