Notes for a Poem about the Stars

The stars were blurry when I looked at them without my glasses. I couldn’t see them but I knew they were there. The stars lit up the sky and gave direction. They were bright and dim and full of color and black holes. I looked at birth, brilliance, death, and memories.

Summer stars and winter stars were different, but the sky was consistent. Patience revealed the transition, like a very long blink. The sky was changing above us, but we were the ones moving, lying still and moving, lying under the stars, lying about the constellations to sound smart. We didn’t all see the sky the same way. A shooting star to one person is the death of another.

We made wishes and talked about the past while we watched it happen. There were dead stars, and living planets, moving meteorites and the earth turning beneath us. It was the last time we saw it all as it were.

It was sad and happy and unique and exciting, and it was ours. It was a perfect silence that lasted forever.


I wish to show some thanks to the writer
Just for bailing me out of such a incident.
After searching throughout the world
And meeting proposals which were not powerful,
I assumed my entire life was done. Living
Without the answers to the issues you have
Sorted out as a result of the website is a
Critical case, and the
Kind that might have
In a negative way
Damaged my entire career if I hadn’t
Discovered the website. Your personal skills and
Kindness in touching all the details was very helpful.
I’m not sure what I would’ve done if
I hadn’t discovered such a step like this.
I can also at this point relish my future.
Thanks for your time very much for your
Reliable and sensible help.
I won’t think
Twice to suggest your web blog to any
Individual who desires
Direction on this subject.

The thing in my way

One time I came across something rather interesting, shaped like a rock but not a rock at all, perhaps more of a boulder. I’m not quite sure. But I discovered it as if it hadn’t been discovered before. It was just sitting there all large and immoveable. I looked down at the ground and there were pathways around it, both to the left and to the right, and neither of the pathways went right up to it. It’s as if people had walked up, realized that something was in their way, and gone around it, like ants that came upon a leaf.

This is quite odd, I said to myself.

I was faced with a choice: which path do I take? Do I go to the left, where the path isn’t quite as worn so I can make a mark there? Or do I go right, where the path is well-defined and easy to navigate?

This quandary sat on my mind for quite some time. I tapped my chin and cocked my head left and right. I walked up to each path and inspected it as if some new piece of information would emerge. “Those tracks are deeper,” I said to no one. “And that grass is taller,” I said to nobody else. I walked back and forth between the two paths until eventually, I had worn a new path between the two existing ones.

“Well now I’m going around in circles!” I said, throwing my hands in the air.

Finally, desperate for a decision and wishing I had something to eat, I decided to turn back. I then realized that a long line of people had formed behind me.

“Hey, are you ever going to choose a path?” a gentleman asked.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “What’s the rush?”

“Well, we’re all waiting to see which way you go so we can follow you.”

Les silences gênés

We had coffee at Panera and she was late and I didn’t want to do it but my parents had set it up. She walked in, twenty years old, with blonde hair and a horse face and an overbite. I thought she looked like she was from Iowa, if that’s what people from Iowa looked like. We talked and it was nothing worth mentioning, talking and listening but mostly talking. She was negative about most things and complained about just as many and ignored all of my charm which quickly became plaintive words that revealed too much. She was nervous and contradicted herself and she liked romance novels and I don’t respect that genre. I told her I am a writer and I want to be a writer. I had to leave to go to a bookstore and it was the truth.

She said to let her know if I wanted to see her again and I smiled as if to say yes but I don’t want to see her again.

Awkward silences revisited

He felt dread about coffee at Panera, overwhelming dread. He sat at the table, sipped tepid coffee, waited for her to show up, hoped that her tardiness would give way to a no-show. His parents had set this up, a generous gesture for sure, but unneeded. The last bit of coffee lolled about in his cup as his date arrived and sat down. She was twenty years old, with blonde hair and a long face. Her top teeth protruded significantly over her bottom teeth; he wondered if this is what girls from Iowa looked like.

He sat there and tried to make conversation, but it went nowhere. She talked and didn’t listen. She was very negative and complained about her life, her job, everything. She ignored his charm, thoughts, and feelings. He told her he wanted to be a writer. “I like romance novels,” she said. He knew that there was no future between them: he has no respect for the romance genre.

There was a lull in the conversation. She looked at her watch and said, “Awkward silence.”

“I need to go,” he said. “I’m going to Half Price Books before they close.”

“Ok,” she said. “Text me if you want to get together again.”

As he walked out, he dreaded seeing her at church on Sunday. Maybe he just wouldn’t go.

Awkward silences are easy to remember

Coffee at Panera. She was late. He didn’t want to do it. It was a parental setup. She was 20. Blonde. Horse face with an overbite, he said. “She looks like she’s from Iowa.” Talking went nowhere. She’s very negative. She complains a lot. She didn’t respond to charm. He revealed emotional details. He wants to be a writer. She was nervous and contradicted herself. She reads romance novels. He doesn’t respect that genre.

He told her he had to leave to go to a bookstore. It was the truth. Text me if you want to hang out, she said. He doesn’t and he won’t.


Thoughts in Colors

When I was 17 I wrote an epic poem. It was about thirty pages long. I wrote it entirely in one sitting, with no edits whatsoever. I wrote it on an electric typewriter and I listened to Pearl Jam’s “Ten” on cassette over and over and over, nonstop, while I wrote the poem, clack-clacking each word. My stepfather had purchased the typewriter for resume-creation purposes, I think. I’ve always loved typewriters.

Now I use a computer, as you can see; several of them, in fact, with different purposes and intents one and many. I’ve been using computers to write stuff since, oh, the late 1980s (?), (a Commodore 64 with Electric Pencil or somesuch), but no power supply of my own so THAT was short-lived. The power supply I used belonged to a long-haired friend with thick tinted glasses and a hidden wealth that only those of us close enough to him discovered; my fondest memory of him, of course, is the visual of combing his hair over a typewriter such that his dander would fall into the keys, an act so vile and offensive to our typing teacher that my friend simply had to do it.

So yes, typewriters. I miss that sound. I miss that friend, and because I’m Funes the Memorious I can remember his name, how to get to his house, the details of his clothing and his car, precise conversations we had, but not the dates we had them.

I wrote that epic poem for an English class and I turned in the only copy of it, which my teacher mysteriously and predictably and promptly lost. “You should have made a copy,” she said, and my internal response was this is 1993, bitch. There ain’t no goddamn S3 yet, know what I’m saying?

I wrote that poem in a mobile home, and I want to say that the faux wood-paneled walls and overturned kerosene lamp (the victim of rough housing and such) were influences, but it was actually King Arthur, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Eddie Vedder.

When I was 17 I wrote an epic poem. It was about 20 years ago.


I don’t live in three dimensions, like you do. I can’t see things the way you see them. My world is flat, not in the pre-Magellan way, but in a more figurative sense. I am blind in my right eye, and I am thus unable to judge distance in the manner to which you are accustomed, which is to say that I can’t really do it at all. A foot is two feet is three yards to me.

You would not believe the things I see that you don’t.

There’s an entire universe that exists only in two dimensions, a universe in which everything must be extracted and investigated to determine its veracity. This is where artists’ ideas come from, where creativity is born, that odd place between “what was that?” and “it was nothing.” I’d really like it if you could come here but the thing is, unless you’re willing to poke out one of your eyes and live that way for twenty years or more, well, you’re out of luck. And even then, I can’t promise you could experience it, as I am not sure if it’s a place only unlocked for those of us who are here by no matter of choice.

It’s a series of lines and angles, curves and transforms, waves and parabolas, all that stuff you really want to understand but can only experience in pictures or math. The closest you’re going to get is a cubist painting; those are very imaginative representations of the less-than-three world. It’s all very technical, you see. Intersections and parallels may lack the beauty of your seascapes and sunsets, but they form the basis for everything.

Perhaps someday, someone who is more innovative than I, more creative than us, will find a way to represent this to you. Until then, close one of your eyes and turn your head to the side, and maybe you too will see the construction of all things.


And just like that, I’m taken back to the time when it rained frogs and I looked at the stars, threw a cell phone in the trash and wondered aloud in a parking lot. I had the same sense of wonder that I’ve had since before and ever after. They were the days of one long drive after another, a different route every day in a desperate attempt to shave minutes off a commute, only to get home a few minutes faster so I’d have a few extra minutes to hate life and search for something better.

Yes, those were the days.

I went to the same places over and over, and over and over I yearned for something different, yet I spent more time yearning for the same. So many times I’d drive home from my favorite places, and each time I’d tell a different story, a different version of a longer story, and I’d think about the end. Yes, the end, the great ending that every writer wants for his own whole life, the kind of end that only exists as endings.

And just like that, it fades.