Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moving Ahead in the World

Oh, hi there.  Didn't see you come in!

Well, we all know what's coming, so I'll get it out of the way: another apology for not posting The Wolf of Albright.   By all rights, I should be bowing my head in contrition.  Unfortunately, I feel pretty awesome right now, and feeling awesome does not precisely correspond with feeling contrite.  So there will be no contrition tonight, my friends.  Maybe next week!

Actually, my current emotional state is less close to "awesome" than it is to "utter panic."  As often happens when I'm not looking where I'm going, I have run headlong into a week that is overcrowded with deadlines and time sinks, circumstances for which I have no one to blame except myself.  And BP, I guess.  I can always blame BP.

To put it simply, I have to be out of this apartment by June 30th, and it has to be completely clean if I ever want to see even a fraction of my security deposit again.  A cursory glance at this place suggests I'll be needing a vacuum cleaner, a mop, and a lot of cleaning fluid.  Since my vacuum was stolen last summer (along with my television and my sense of personal security, two things I'll never see again) and I haven't so much as looked at a mop in years, I'll need to acquire them both at some point this week.  Once I do, it's down to the dirty business of making this place look halfway presentable.

But in the meantime, I have to compose a multi-disciplinary curriculum plan for a class that's due next Tuesday.   I have class until noon on Monday and Tuesday, which are also the days when I need to remove all of my possessions from this apartment and place them into the new one (as well as help my roommate do the same).  This necessarily means that the curriculum plan must be completed by Sunday, and therefore will consume the entirety of my weekend (the part of which isn't consumed by obsessive cleaning, that is).

And finally, my classmates have conspired to drag me into the forest from this Wednesday to Friday, where we will probably sleep in crude structures, build unwisely large campfires, become imprudently intoxicated, and end up being eaten by bears.  Although this outcome would relieve me of all my subsequent duties, with my luck I'll probably survive with only one or two limbs eaten by bears, thus relieving me of nothing and adding prosthetic maintenance to my list of responsibilities.

So while outwardly I display my typical attitude of detached cool and general awesomeness, inwardly my mind is all abuzzin' with a million schemes to escape my situation via every manner of vehicle, from freight train to zeppelin.  Somehow, I must combine these two aspects of my personality to produce an action plan which satisfies all the demands upon my time and leaves me happy, energized, and productively engaged in bettering myself.  Otherwise I will fail my class, be forcibly evicted and fined, and be ingested by a grizzly bear.

When choices are put like that, they aren't really choices at all.

So where does this leave The Wolf of Albright?  In the lurch, until at least next Wednesday, at which point I will be done with school for the summer and settling comfortably in my new digs.  I may even have a brand new writing desk, which will make the entire writing process more professional and ergonomic.  If I can justify it as a student/teacher-related expense, I may even be (partially) compensated for it.  That, my friends, is how you move ahead in the world.

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

Actually, as far as I've heard, the earthquakes that struck San Diego County this evening did not cause any walls to come tumbling down.  We Southern Californians build our walls with such eventualities in mind, because we are fully aware that Mother Nature has a serious grudge against us.  Los Angeles alone is enough to keep the planet awake at night, seething in anger at the city's endless effusion of smog and vacuous celebrity culture.  Frankly, if I were Mother Nature, I would have washed it away with a tidal wave decades ago, but she operates on a much larger time scale.  In the meantime, we'll just be patiently awaiting the next earthquake, or wildfire, or possible zombie virus plague.

Now, onto other business.  I'm a little busy at present, so the first installment of The Wolf of Albright won't be going up tonight, but rather some time later this week.  I mean, I suppose I could type it up tonight.  It would take me at least five hours that would be better spent sleeping (as I have class in the morning), but it's definitely within the realm of possibility.  I just refuse to, because my head hurts, and I'm sleepy, and it doesn't sound like a fun time.

I was also momentarily distracted this weekend from finishing the initial draft of the story by work on a new short story, which is much less ambitious in scope.  Even so, The Convention (as I call it) is a very personal story that I suddenly felt the urge to compose.  It's art in its most cathartic sense, so I don't expect very much from it in terms of amusing the public, but I like it, even in its early, incomplete form.  Nevertheless, I will finish The Wolf this week, and I think that one's going to come out quite well indeed.

Finally, today was graduation day at the U of O, and many of my friends have now joined me as official alumni of the best damned university in the Pacific Northwest (and beyond!).  Being the good friend that I am, I stood by my friend Alex's diploma ceremony for nearly two hours, and was rewarded for my troubles with an itchy sunburn.  Even so, it was nice to relive the experience I went through just a year ago, and remember that I'm not yet so far removed from the glorious days of yore.  I just want to wish my congratulations to all my friends who graduated this year, along with all those who graduated last year and have kept their heads above water, because Lord knows it isn't easy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Poetry Jam #4

Hey, guess what?  It's time to gather 'round again.

Around the time I started this website in the spring of 2009, I was writing a lot of poetry; more, in retrospect, than I actually remembered writing.  It must have been some sort of mania, because I ended up with more than I really wanted to deal with.  Back logs should never be allowed to grow this big.

I'll only be commenting on a few of these, because not all of them are honestly worth commenting on, and some are quite independent of context.  I don't even remember the context of some of them, so it's just as well.

Some of these poems are pretty good.  Some of them are not so good.  Some are pretty bad, or incomplete, and I won't bother posting them.  They'll have to sit in my binder until Kingdom Come, or at least until archaeologists dig up the remains of my effects and try to figure out just what the hell I was all about.  But I have a big handful of them in my hand now, so let's have a look at them, shall we?

The Answer

The answer is the truth,
The truth is all I have,
It doesn't matter what I think,
Who I am is what I do,
Or maybe I am backwards
And who I am is up to you

Do you hear what I am saying,
Am I still being too vague?
I am still much too unclear,
And this will surely end in tears,

I feel stuck within my years.

Maybe the answer isn't true,
And I must look for something new.

Untimed Regret

All I have done
And all that I will do
Is a dream that I cannot sleep my way through;
Though I hear the song,
I know I cannot sing
As I listen to hear the bell ring

Deep in my soul
In the heart of myself
I can feel the unreal tales that I tell;
When I fall asleep
Who knows what I will say?
As my spirit is carried away.


I can feel my mind start slipping away,
Can't wait another moment
Got to force it to stay,
Stimuli and caffeine keep me awake
Don't know how much longer
How much more can I take?

I can feel my brain beginning to die
I can see my eyes are losing their sight
Falling to the floor, can't put up a fight,
Hold me up, I'm barely alive.

Free Fall

I wish I could fall
For twenty miles,
Landing softly in a snow drift
In a valley by the sea.
And then I would sleep
For twenty days,
Waking gently in the springtime
In a valley by the sea.

The Gold Bug

The swirling schedules crash around me,
The gold bug torments me to death;
My swolen brain cries out for relief,
It tries to escape from my head

My sleeping schedule is defective,
It's wreaking mischief on my mind;
I concentrate on the invective
That dribbles forth from every sign,

The signs that tell me where to go
And where to pay and how much,
And tell me when I'm stepping out of line.

They'll find me tripping on the wire,
The gold bug chasing me around;
I'm falling fast into the fire,
Upwards from the stable ground.

An Old, Dear Friend

You and me, we've been together
But not for very long.
How long has it been since,

Can you remember?
Neither can I.

If circumstances had permitted
Or, if I had been less selfish
Maybe we'd have been together

And it wouldn't be this way?

Yes, can you forgive me?

It seems to be that way.

You and I, just like old times
But not for very long;
I must be going soon,


Impressions of a Lover

When you see me, do you see my eyes?
When they focus in the morning light
And they absorb your gentle form,
And to my mind deliver sight,
When they do this, do you see my eyes?

The light pours in through leaves and blinds
And reminds me of the jungle,
The colors seem different down here.
Your skin is soft, you seem resigned
To indulge my state of wonder,
The wonder of lying with you,

I hope you never go away,
I hope you stay in my room forever;
I hope we never, ever, ever, ever
See a sadder day than this.

Water Light

The waves of water flow across the glass,
Though which is which is hard to tell,
Or even if it can be said
That they exist at all

It's not for those of us to say who look
From one side of the glassy pane
What ripples cross the surface of
The brittle human brain

So question not appearances that seem
to contradict our common sense;
Our eyes are fooled by water light
That trickles down the lens.

Seven Sad Days

A piece of my life was taken from me
For seven sad days, and then it came back
And so I was forced to ask of myself
What I'd do if that piece of me passed,
Those seven sad days had been the last,
And that piece of my life had faded away
While I had been left with nothing.

To the River

Take me to the river, and don't make me wonder whether
You had hoped we could be something more,
Take me to the river, and let me know for sure

Take me to the river and let's settle this forever,
So I don't have to worry anymore;
Take me to the river, and let me know the score

Take me to the river and let's jump into the water,
Take me to the river, won't you please give me an answer?

Cemetery Sadness

I hurt my leg at Wounded Knee while
Falling from my family tree; as
I reflected on my face, you
Disappeared without a trace, my
Lovely graveyard etching.

Onward to Ennui

I'm wide awake with nothing to do
And nothing to watch but hands on the clock,
While feeling that I have something to prove
But nary a clue as to why or to what

Ennui, ennui, onward into revelry,
Reveling in motionless
Existence on the edge of doing
Nothing worthy of construing
As a worthwhile use of time
For a lazy or supine
Sort of person like myself;
The type who listens, seldom speaks
Except to blather on, would rather
Contradict than to improve
His sour mood.


I want to live my life again,
I'd like to fix mistakes I've made,
I would be closer to my friends
And I would watch the things I'd say,

If I had made a better choice
At least a hundred dozen times
I would have never lost my voice,
Nor have forgotten all my lines,

What more can I say?  I can't believe who I am today,
That't I'd say the things I've been known to say
Or grown in such an unfulfilling way
Is a disappointment at best,
And I know I could do better
With a chance to make things good
Oh, if only I could,

I'll have to live my adult life
With eighty awkward memories
And I will always be that child
Who never left his fantasies.

The Trilobite Song

The ancient song is much too long,
Though trilobites are all but gone;
They spend their days encased in rocks
Or spinning round like dervish tops;

For some exist, and here's the gist
Of those whom Evolution missed;
These trilobites still rule the globe
And waste their days in comfy coves;

They each awake at five past eight,
And then proceed to sleep too late;
They toss and turn in fitful rest
On sandy underwater beds;

At half past ten they rise again,
And venture out across the sand
To find a corner telephone
And interrupt the dial tone;

Now one and all proceed to call
The horseshoe crabs across the hall,
And pester them with silly pranks,
The kind the crabs are bound to hate;

Their breakfast is a spartan list:
Just detritus and ambergris,
(The latter is not there for food,
Only to set romantic moods);

They save it for their kitchen stores,
For trilobites are lovers born;
And so they tolerate the stink
(It's less romantic than they think),

They like the waves, and love to stay
In tidal pools at noon each day;
At one they go for minty tea
They brew from tasty, minty trees,

Each day at two they play ski-doo,
And sometimes play all afternoon,
Unless distracted by a round
Of "Kick the Fish" or Drunken Crowns;

As evening falls they one and all
Arrange to drink some cannonballs;
They set their sails for parts unseen,
But crash themselves in orange trees;

The trilobites spend sleepless nights
Awake beneath casino lights;
Where tokens drop in slot machines
All shaped like golden submarines;

They all lay down at four each night;
Returned to sleep, they huddle tight
Against the rocks and sand and sea,
And dream their incandescent dreams.


Many of these poems, particularly The Answer and Fatigue, revolve around a classical theme, namely "oh-my-God-I'm-about-to-graduate-from-college-help-me." Maybe that makes them less interesting?  Possibly, but it's the truth.  Not-college is a scary place, and it's enough to give a young poet the shivers.  Immature is of the same ilk, and is the kind of poem a twenty two-year-old has no business writing, but I think it turned out pretty well.

I'm not sure what the "gold bug" is.  It may have been a hallucination brought on by staring at U.S. history textbooks.  It may also have been an actual bug, attempting to eat my brain.  In any case, I think I fought it off.

An Old, Dear Friend and Impressions of a Lover were written over spring break, as I sat in my mom's house and contemplated the good old days.  I wrote two other poems there as well, which are absolutely, atrociously awful, and will never see the light of day if I have anything to say about it.  Water Light was written in my head shortly thereafter, as I drove from Portland to Eugene on my way back to school.  I was particularly proud of that one, so much so that I kept reciting it over and over so I wouldn't forget it by the time I got home to write it down.  Now?  Eh, it's alright.

Seven Sad Days is the first of two poems dedicated to my much-missed cousin, Kirk.  The second will have to wait for another day, as I like to keep these in as close to chronological order as I can; this one was obviously written in the spring.  I don't know whether it was adequate to the moment or not, but there it is.

Cemetery Sadness is a profoundly stupid poem, and Onward to Ennui is a profoundly stupid title.  Nevertheless, I like them both.  Cemetery in particular is kind of a private inside joke that no one else in the world will ever get, but I find to be too awesome to leave out.

Finally, I'd like to offer my sincere apologies to everyone for The Trilobite Song, the silliest piece of self-indulgence I will ever expose to the world.  It was born from a simple impulse: write a long-ish poem in a steady meter, and write it about trilobites.  It expresses a few simple ideas: that trilobites yet walk (crawl?  swim?) among us, eat ridiculous things, play ridiculous games, and have poor sleeping habits.  Also, they are apparently unaware that Ski-Doos are a brand of snowmobile, not watercraft.  In spite of this misunderstanding, they somehow make it work.  The world could benefit from a little more of the ingenuity, eccentricity, and joie de vivre of these noble arthropods.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It's the Time of the Season

Word on the street has it that we have now passed into the season of summer, per the seasonal governing body's regulation that summer is to begin following the festivities of Memorial Day.  A look at the outside world, however, tells me that something is clearly amiss.  Summer is supposed to be characterized by sunny weather, frolicking, and beach volleyball; I have seen none of these things for the past two weeks.  A casual observer (such as myself) would have no choice but to conclude that the Earth is now traveling backwards along its orbital path, and will be regressing through the seasons in a manner which is likely to disrupt ecosystems with untimely frost and flames, and lead mankind to its inevitable environmental Armageddon.

Being scientifically minded, on Tuesday I launched a weather balloon with strict instructions  to observe the stratosphere and return promptly with relevant statistics, measurements, and analyses of air currents and other climatological jibber-jabber.  In a clear example of of rank disobedience it has yet to return, and the mystery yet goes unsolved.

In other news, the website's greatest albatross has finally been cast off; I speak of course of the many installments of my European adventure, which are now recorded for posterity and need never be recorded again, so thoroughly have they been recorded.  The true purpose of the WFJ can now be resumed with no psychic resistance or guilt: to produce original literary content.  Along those lines, I am now well-prepared to continue.

At the end of this weekend I should have posted the fourth installment of the poetry jam series, which will include more poems than ever before, because my backlog is over a year old and getting a little ridiculous.  Once again, I make the usual caveats about my limited skill in verse and my pitifully loose grasp of the technical intricacies of rhyme and meter.

As for the following weeks, oh have I got a treat for you.  Monday the 14th should see the first installment of my new short feature, The Wolf of Albright, a horror tale in the Gothic style.  I am unsure how exactly to classify this story, as it is much longer than my typical short stories, but not quite long enough to be considered a novella (at least not yet; the composition remains ongoing).  In any event, it shall have to be broken up into three parts, for the sake of the reader's sanity and to artificially enhance the element of suspense via cliff-hangers.  That's how we do it in this business.

The Wolf is a bit of a departure for me, because it is fairly gruesome, and delves into some psychologically nasty stuff.  If it were a movie, it would surely deserve an R rating (though it probably would not receive one, as it has only the slightest hint of sex).  It would probably be a better movie than most modern horror flicks, because that standard has been set drearily low by the producers of schlock and nonsense.  The story is, in fact, a self-conscious homage to horror stories I have enjoyed over the years, with elements drawn from hither and thither to produce an unsettling whole.

Once The Wolf is done, I have a few pieces which cry out to me at night, begging for completion.  Chief among these is New St. Luces, which will have to come last if I am ever to turn these fragments into something enjoyable.  New St. Luces is a novella-length (perhaps even novel-length) undertaking, and will require a lot of time to forge into its final form.

And that's what's on the horizon.  I leave you now with some sand art and seasonally appropriate Vivaldi:

It's not exactly frolicking, but it'll do.