The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space. - Ranier Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Letter 30

Dear Josephine,

Although your birthday is not until November, your gift is being compiled. It has to do with the fictional place of Yoknapatawpha county -- those familial streets we've dis-assembled upon touching, dis-assembled again in remembering the burning of our soles. I intentionally did not use the phrase "familiar streets". They are more to us now than simply knowing.

Our correspondence is shifting - letters to poems to letters. Do not be alarmed. There is comfort here, in fiction, in mississippi. Rivers to be found, and all that nonsense.

I am going to drink a glass of wine and ruminate on the collection of words, on bears, on how to scavenge for newness.

For now,


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Letter 29

Dear Josephine,

Have you missed me? I have no decent excuse for my absence - in honesty I rarely thought of you. Is it easier to unveil these truths through the medium of letters? Then I don't have to shift my reactions to face your mecurial moods (denying is unbecoming, you've said).

Still, in these months of suspension I'm sure, you too, have forgotten my voice, how I compile letters to make words. In the face of tragedy we learn to keep breathing, in the face of absence we learn to re-write.

To update you on my life would be a crime, too much has unfolded in this time lapse, let's make another go, forget those months, say I went on a drinking binge and have just emerged.

Instead looking ahead I can tell you I've made solid plans for my future that involve London and academia. But this plan is a year away, and doesn't need to be extrapolated for conversation. Now, I plan to enjoy the humidity that has descended upon d.c., to enjoy this summertime, to enjoy this 24th year.

And to you, I promise only disjointed phrases and truths. As much as I am capable.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Letter 28

Dear Josephine,

Last night I dreamed I lived in France and met young men and women who understood me in glances, who dreamed too, and when I woke up reality was muted and boring.

I live in a constant circle of happiness and boredom and depression. This city dislikes me and I it, and right now I have a fever and the potential for strep throat and willingness for change.

Leave the bourbon at the store. I have no use for pleasantries or goodness or binges. For now, I'm revising texts and commissioning my future.

I think I'm ready for those dusty evenings. I think I'm ready to drive for hours and speak in riddles.

It's time for action.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Letter 27

Dear Josephine,

We are both in places labeled "Washington" on an map of the United States. Are you considering extending your travels to British Columbia? Yesterday I traced a line from the heart of the district to "Santo Domingo", romanticizing the journey (the paper map, my sandy fingertip).

Here, though, my life has contained bottling, leakage. Yesterday I cried three times over feelings of frustration, and inadequacy, and a sense of worth. I'm rarely emotional in seeing, in eyes that scratch.

I am stripping myself of this constant sadness. I am approaching life through numbers. It's no surprise my decision-making hinges on the pull of rationale and emotions, of being two tabs more an "F" than a "T".

My father called me recently and we talked. I wanted to say, "I miss the summer afternoons when you picked me up from camp and tennis practice, and we chewed neon bubblegum and listened to smokey robinson's testimonials ['outside, i'm masquerading. inside, my hope is fading.']." Father, I'm a marauder of concepts. Here, my loot is in these palms (outstretched). Look closely; can you see the gold dust?

And George was right:

"And as I think back over so many years
Love that's filled my ears
I got to thank you lord for giving us pure smokey
And anyone who hears - hears that voice so free
He really got a hold on me
And I thank you all for giving to us smokey - smokey."

And I guess this letter is a tribute to you -- how you shuffled across the stage, offered palms to women who didn't keep still; how I, sixteen and sparkling, shuffled too: "And oh, why do you wanna make me blue? After all, I've been good to you."

boy, i've been good to you.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Letter 26

Dearest Josephine,

You said: It seems our conversations lack the concrete.
I said: I do not understand what you mean.
You said: You always speak in riddles.
I said: We all speak in codes.
You said: For you -- morse code, or some other intangible, nearly obsolete language.
I said: Would you rather I told you -- today I went to the grocery store. I almost bought eggs but then I decided to buy tomatoes and pre-packaged beets.?
You said: Why did you not buy eggs.
I said: Because I did not want to buy cheese and bread.
You said: I'm framing this conversation.
I said: It's already been manipulated into a square.
You said: I want a rectangle - squares are too uniform.
I said: And two long lines and two short ones is not?
You said: Tell me about your evening.
I said: You're not asking the right questions.
You said: Tell me something that you fear.
I said: Intimacy.
You said: Tell me about your parent's divorce.
I said: Yes, now you understand.

We must catalogue these snippets. I see an island growing between the rectangle and the significance of parting.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Letter 25

Dear Josephine,

Yesterday was my half birthday. I have these celebrations to maintain a sense of self. Also birthdays are meant for living.

I feel myself slowly morphing again and this terrifies me as I am happy with this stagnant person. Lately I've been emotional and self-analyzing. Even silence has a deeper meaning.

Alfred Lord Tennyson said: "Come, my friends, 'tis not too late to seek a newer world." Here is the fear- am I not using time to seek out something greater? Four walls and billing codes confine me. I need to get a prescription for sleeping pills - or even over-the-counter - as I can't sleep anymore due to anxiety and all my dreams are work related. I think I've gotten 3 hours of sleep per evening for the past two weeks. I feel like a zombie.

In other news, I'm trying to find a babysitting or tutoring job. We will see how that pans out.

I don't know what else to write. I read "The Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles" by J. Winterson and loved it. She writes: "I keep telling the story again and though I find different exits, the walls never fall. My life is paced out - here and here and here - I can alter it's shape but I can't get beyond it. I tunnel through, seem to find a way out, but the exits lead nowhere. I'm back inside, leaning on the limits of myself."

yours in the theoretical,


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Letter 23

Dear Josephine,

This is the longest correspondence I've ever maintained. In honor of this, I have decided to write you a letter markedly less vague.

I've decided that I need to buckle down and plan my future rather than coasting through these twenties focused solely on work/apartment/family life. There is more to living than categories. I've started studying for the GREs; this is the most self-motivated/determined I've been since writing my thesis. I'm terrified of not meeting my goals. Does everything comes down to numbers?

And too, I'm terrified of the act of erasure. Tell me Josephine, did you ever learn to make construction paper (wo)men who clasp hands, who create a half-wreath of communal love/friendship? Sometimes I imagine that the violence of scissors disconnecting body from body parallels the act of removing a person from one's life. Yes, the paper congregation murmurs, thank you for our moments of joy and giving, we will retain this scar, this reminder of your absence.

The other day I thought about my father. You are right; this is a topic I conceal through silence. Two weeks ago I made a half-hearted attempt at reconciliation, because I'm not wading in lukewarm water anymore, because I'm tired of battered conversations and unnecessary resentment. I believe in forgiveness -- grudges are stunted trees that darken landscapes. Still: I haven't returned his phone call, don't know what we'll say to one another through the lines.

I've been craving reading and writing literary theory again. You only have to look at my shopping cart to see:

1. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain - Maryanne Wolf
2. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence - Esther Perel
3. Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature - Roberta S. Trites
4. On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life - Adam Phillips
5. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge Classics) - Judith Butler
6. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality - Anne Fausto-Sterling
7. Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideality in African American Men's Literature and Culture, 1775-1995 (A John Hope Franklin Center Book) - Maurice O. Wallace
8. Orientalism - Edward W. Said
9. All About Love: New Visions - bell hooks
10. Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory - Houston A. Baker Jr.


This past weekend I re-read papers I wrote in college. One paper was 27 pages discussing the cloaking power of the linguistic modifier "I" in relation to the creationary "self". I miss academia.

What else to tell you? This past year I meandered through cities (some real, some imaginary), practiced introspection, and felt trampled/muffled/rumpled. But now, the word is only: refreshing, refreshed, refreshment.