The Process

Category: Poems

People and Dead Wine

All the directions are just to continue.  Veering is fancy.  Do we just
?  Continue for 17 miles.  Colder, now it’s warm.  And it’s white
out.  In the house, we talk about the winter season and the not having
people.  My fairy wine unicorn says a shitty restaurant in town serves grandma food.  The sausage
man says hauw dayer jshou eensult grondmazher layk zhat?  Grondmazher is vanderfahl.  Unicorn’s husband served us meatballs last night; he learned to cook from a mother who didn’t want him to burden a woman.  Grondmazher is vanderfahl.  And the unicorn had served her husband a tuna sandwich with two cabbage leaves, and he said, “you could kill a man like that.”  It’s all stories to say between rows of vines.  We’re looking

out.  The sudden chill will freeze the buds on the vines, and there may be no grapes this year.  My mother and I think on it and later in the day drink a bottle.  Will there be wine?  Maybe cider.  I think about the diaper smell of fermenting cider I once harbored in my room.  And then of the winery smelling like diapers, and it made me sad.   The sausage

man is yelling about zhe preezon ghard, his wife.  I cant evuhn fahrt weezhout hehr purmeesshun.  We are smirking.  We are laughing at all of this; we continue.

This Person

Earlier today, I got my sister to go to The Meat Hook with me in Williamsburg so that I could buy a beef tongue. I was surprised when she said yes, considering what a busy student she is.  She’s studying fashion at Parsons.  She told me about a project she was working on concerning modern style related to the new romantic.  She was considering interviewing me for the project, because I tend to dress like a manish lady or something.  Today I was wearing a David Bowie printed track jacket, red jeans, red socks, and crocodile loafers.  The sole of one of my shoes fell off as we walked into the store.

When we walked in the door, we both smiled at the cured meat smell.  So very particular and so very delicious, it is.  It reminded me of the way I feel calm when I’m bombarded by the smell of abundant and great cheese.  Which reminded me of the cheese shop I went to growing up, owned by a man named Rick.  The Ridgewood Cheese Shop, it was called, before it became a subset of a store called “Super Cellars”…

There was hunger involved when I wanted to learn about food most.  Self inflicted, wretched, diet-y hunger, like the kind that makes you loose your mind.  Of course, though, the hunger piqued my appreciation for the food and its nuances.  Which is why I loved visiting Rick.  Rick knew a shit ton about cheese.  He was a fucking obnoxious prick to those normal bitches who came in for whatever mild brie bullshit they needed for an unoffensive night at book club, but for me, he was a big, generous man willing to let me behind the counter to inspect the gooey, dank cheeses often unappreciated by the upper New Jersey clientele.  Of course, Rick could sell it anyway, because he always had some great, crowd-pleasing pairing of cracker, jam, and (insert cheese) or a truffled this or that for fancy motherfuckers.  He was a large dude who was seemingly tired of the people, but he did the work for the love of cheese.  And I saw him smile when he would tell me about something good.

Once, Rick told me that he would take a particular cheese–now I can’t remember which but I imagine it was point l’eveque brie or traditional French Muenster–and set it on top of his clock/radio while he listened to Jazz, his favorite genre of music.  After the radio warmed up from use, it rendered his cheese gooey and submissive for his eating privilege.  And I love that about him.  He was the id to my ego at the time and influenced some the way I roll in life now.   I believed we both hated the world but loved cheese and needed a chance to let life resolve our misgivings with humanity.

I bought some beef tongues at the shop, as well as some bread and pastrami.  Sydney and I tried the pastrami once outside the shop.  It was so fat-streaked, that I considered letting it warm on the heat of my thigh at home, a la Rick.  But it seemed wrong to do or something, all alone.  Sydney did the interview outside of someone’s apartment before we got back to the train, asking me about my aesthetic, inspiration, and why I like menswear.

All I could do was say, “what exactly is the new romantic?”  “Oh, Boy George?  Mom says I look like him.”  I talked about how I seem to model parts of myself after the real Pocahontas, who, as I’ve come to learn, is often portrayed as more of a dyke-y Native American lady with some Spanish Inquisition style than a princess canoeing through the wild in a turquoise necklace.  And of course, that’s just based on drawings rather than pictures, which did not yet exist.  During this interview, I failed to mention my obsession with Peter Pan’s lost boys, but I talked about a lack of conviction on feeling gender-strong.  Having spent the first six-ish years of my life imitating male role models, I can’t assert with confidence loving and choosing womanhood.  I wanted to be Kocoum long before I wanted to be Pocahontas.  Sometimes I wonder why my nanny didn’t tell my mom I was a tiny lesbian or boy or why my mom didn’t think so.  And yet I find myself very blasé in the genital changing category.

Strange, how it’s all so related and unrelated.  It is so hard to separate what we want from what society expects from us.  Like wanting to be skinny but knowing that eating all the cheese is more fun.  Or wanting to dress like a boy while simultaneously being a girl who wants to have a boy’s body but also not be a boy.  And not turning into Boy George or David Bowie but rather retaining a self.  While braising a beef tongue for dinner.  This print is an ode to this thing, this being in a skin and thereby having to do something about it, such as talk.

Cups

She says now that we live together, we have too many cups between the two of us and that we need to pare down.  I say the Brady Bunch didn’t jettison their excess children when they joined up. She says it’s different because children are different from cups.  I don’t know; I like my cups.  A lot of the glasses are specific to traditional service of various beer styles, so I want them.    Some of them are dumb.  Like the printed pint glasses.  But you always need pint glasses, is the point.  She tells my mom what about the Kinky Boots souvenir cup from the theater.  Mom guffaws or does something that might be in the guffawing category.  I am judged.  I shift in my shoes thinking they’re right.  But I went to that show.  It happened to me.  And I paid like eighty-five dollars for a cocktail at intermission.  Their faces say I’m a fool for nostalgia but that they love me anyway but also will ultimately coerce me into abandoning the cup.  It is plastic, and I know that’s not right.  But I like it.

This morning, when I woke up for work, I moved my pillow to find my phone and turn off my alarm so as not to disturb.  My pillow brushed my favorite rocks glass off my nightstand onto the floor, where it shattered into many pieces.  It had a blue old-fashioned bicycle on it.  I don’t ride bikes, but I’ve made some good drinks in the glass, and it reminds me of cold, proper cocktails.  Well, that’s one down, then.  I really don’t mind it when my things are gone too much.  I just like them while they’re still there or I think I do.

I Spoke to this Strange Man

The other day on my way home from work.  I was walking.  He couldn’t find Pace University, and I directed him, even though I wasn’t really sure where it was.  Sadly, I had prompted him in the direction I was walking.  I said OK have a good day.  He said thank you but kept stride with me and asked me what I do in the area.  I said I live here, which made me think maybe that was a not great answer but then I realized this is Manhattan and I’m an adult and he doesn’t have candy or a car or anything good and is probably old enough to take down or outrun.  We have a conversation, which chips at me some.  His son is a freshman.  My siblings are sophomores in college.  We say things about things.  He has to turn right, which annoys me, because it takes a lot for me to talk to anyone, and I’m in the middle of a sentence.  I feel life is a rude thing.  But then I’m glad to stop talking again.

The next day, I go home on the bus.  A tiny Asian boy throws up bile on the floor, and as I’m sitting in a sideways seat, it slowly inches toward my shoes.  I watch it.  I don’t want to get bile on my shoes.  His mother is doing a bad job of wiping it up, because she is starting in the middle of the bile trail instead of at the front of it.  I feel this is unjust, so I don’t move my feet, because I don’t think my life should be impacted by this vomit.  It’s not mine.  It isn’t anyone’s I belong to.  And I win.  My stop precedes the impact, and I leave.

This One Day That Happened

It was the morning, and I woke up feeling bad.  Not bad bad, but a few steps to the side of right.  Some dream, it must have been.  She says, “what’s up,” and I say

“Nothing.”

We drink coffee and I look for the off feeling and don’t know it yet.  The kisses are good but outside my windshield at times, which annoys me, and she asks “what are you thinking about?”  My dog.  He was so good and sweet, and then he died.  I saw him die.  His sister died, too, and I miss her on the forefront, because she was most recent, but I go back for him, because of how he was and how it all happened.

“Nothing.”  We kiss more and more and it gets me outside myself some.  She knows how to unfurl the muscles and lay it all out on white, how it takes seismic roughing and brightness in the dark, and that’s how I bring myself into today, thank the lawd, as it goes.  The lawd.  lol.

We get in a car to bring things to Goodwill, because she is paring down.  I still can’t combine myself with these minutes, so I lay down on her lap…Jib had been laying on a vermillion towel in our backyard, and he was tired.  Finally, his tongue curled out of his mouth, like forced its way out, and he let out a low moan that sounded like Snoopy.  And then he shit a little and that was it, and he was so stiff.  It was liver cancer.  Later, I would run around my grandma’s yard with his little carbonized body in my fist, dropping some here and there, where he liked to roll and scratch his back in the crab grass…My eyes get teary, but as it happens when you’re on your side, all the crying comes out of the bottom eye, save the one tear on the top side, so she doesn’t know I’m doing it or gives me the dignity by not asking, which as we know makes it real and creates more crying.  I say something random about something my sister was doing at work to dam it up, and she says a joke about something else, and I laugh.  We get out to go to the store.

Everything second hand makes me nostalgic for people I used to know or never even knew, which makes me realize I’m just in it today and that it will just be a cloudy day parade.  We leave the store and go to a vintage poster store, and we look at Life magazines from the 1930’s.  I say, “Can you believe how irrelevant we will be in one hundred years,” and that makes me feel a bit bad but also relieved, and I already knew it, but it’s good to remember sometimes.  Scarlett O’Hara.  She doesn’t know about how people are riding around on single wheels with gyroscopes inside them right now, and we don’t know about the things that will come.  Like later that evening, after dinner, when we ramble into the sex store, I say, “they will laugh about strapping it on with a belt one day,” and we laugh about it, and I laugh because I turn around and she’s buzzed on cider and finger banging a pocket pussy with the clerk nearby watching, and it makes for a good scene.  I like a good scene, because mostly I just want everyone to laugh.

As we walk to the train, I think about his little ashes and it opens up the stomach a little, because it’s something that won’t leave me today, even though it was a good day.  And actually the better the day, the worse it is for the fact of the departure in store for all of it, but it’s so nice to hold hands, and we are going to watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show and drink red wine.

Legs, Hair, Sight

I touch her face long and think, make sure you know her nose bridge in case you go blind out of nowhere.  The thought is also to spend some time wearing eye patches in case one eye is lost, and I need to be prepared for the worst.  Nothing is wrong with my eyes, yet.  Just slight near-sightedness.  But you can never be too sure.  Then there were so many people on those stilt-y canes today, lacking feet or legs or whatever, and I will have to prepare for that in case, too.  It’s a feeling I’ve always had in my gut that someday I would have only one leg.  And then so many weaves in everyone’s hair around the city, and I should prepare to have one, too, in case my hair goes awry, and I can’t manage it properly anymore.  The idea is to be ready for anything, even if it means morphing into unrecognizable territory.

I think I’ll be least mad about the leg, since I’ve expected to lose it the longest.  Then the hair, which I like but don’t need, per se, and then the vision.  I would really prefer to go deaf than blind.  However, it’s beyond my control.  It’s a bit weird about missing my hair more than my legs, maybe.  I’m not so sure, actually, because hats.

And I Hated the Sand and I Hated the Sun

GRAND CENTRAL STATION AT 5 AM

Is where drunk people go to sit down without their shoes.  We were afraid we couldn’t get our tickets because the doors opened at 5:30, and our train was at 5:30.  It turns out you can enter at 5:20.

It seemed fancy to be sitting on a train in a straw hat and sunglasses on the way to Block Island for the weekend.  Like old time-y or some shit, but only if I was ignoring the brevity of the trip.  And the train itself, which was frigid and hard…but then to me, every train is the Polar Express if I need it to be or I’m going somewhere good.  And I had yogurt covered pretzels, so there was some scrappy luxury to be had.  My girlfriend, Bettina; my sister; and I all slept most of the way to the ferry, since we left at the ass-crack of dawn.  Once we got to the boat, we waited a bit on line behind some boring teenaged girls, and then we finally boarded.

I’m used to the normal ferry, since I spent my whole childhood getting my sea legs and learning not to throw up on it, but the newer, high speed boat we took was a new beast to surmount.  By the time we got to the island, I was feeling shitty and already tired of the day-tripper tourists everywhere.  Since I’ve always associated the ferry ride with “on my way to grandma’s house,” I’ve never really been able to relate to the people out on the deck getting drunk and ready for a day or weekend of revelry.  Anyway, my mom picked us up from the boat and brought us to my grandma’s.

MY GRANDMA

Is an artist and one of the nine-hundred-and-something year-round residents of the island.  Nothing is open in the winter on Block Island.  I have been in the winter.  What happens is five things:

  1. The ferry is extremely terrifying, and a woman on the boat has a parrot.
  2. I make dinner for my grandma and some of her island co-habitant friends.
  3. It’s so cold that my bread dough won’t rise.
  4. It turns out a lot of the co-habitants like scotch and water or soda.
  5. I’m so cold at night that I almost cry.

My grandma also has a cat named Rosalinda.

ROSALINDA

Is a Havana Brown cat named after a woman from Havana with beautiful eyes from Billy Joel’s song Rosalinda’s Eyes.  Rosalinda has a terrible temperament and quite entitled behavior, probably because she knows Billy Joel wrote a song about her.

BETTINA

Tried to play with Rosalinda, because she thinks she’s a cat whisperer, but Rosalinda doesn’t have time for the paparazzi, so she was rude.  Whatever.  We all got our bathing suits on and went to the beach.

I HATED THE SAND AND I HATED THE SUN

When I was a teen, because I was too cold to go in the water, because I was too skinny, because I never ate, and the sand felt gross, because it’s tiny rocks, and the sun reflected off my sternum and burned my chest from the inside.  Once, I almost passed out walking to the beach, and I had to sit down in a lounge chair by the water where I could just have the nothing, and the wet was containing the sand, and the wind was dispelling the sun, and I was unoppressed.  It all hurt, and I was so hungry, but I looked good in a bikini, and that meant something to some other iteration of myself.

This time visiting the beach was the inverse, and I loved it all.  Sand got all on my towel–the same towel I’d been bringing to the beach since I was a kid–a towel from some unknown dance studio.  I went swimming with my sister and her boyfriend, who I’d never met before.  His name is

WILL

And he admitted that later that night, when I was carrying a platter of boiled lobsters to the dinner table and fell holding the tray, that he was mostly concerned for the lobsters.  I had to agree that I felt the same.  Luckily, only one fell off the tray, because I knew I was going down the minute my foot teetered on that goddamn uneven stone step that lies in the pachysandra between the deck and the grass in grandma’s backyard.  I ate the man down, and I enthusiastically approved this new boyfriend.  This man with his priorities straight.

WE USE THIS OUTDOOR SHOWER

That my grandpa built a long time ago.  Someone replaced the wooden slats on the bottom of it, which made me glad, because I’ve peed in that shower so very many times growing up, amongst the spiders webbing in the corners, and after a while, maybe it was getting a bit much. I wasn’t going to shower that day, because there’s nothing like hair full of salt water to make a person look like they have a chance at babeliness.  But I’m glad I did, because as it happened, it was a heavy seaweed day in the ocean, and I found a bunch of seaweed in my cunt.  And that can be quite terrifying if you’re not expecting it.

I HAD TO HAVE BLUEFISH

While I was there.  I wanted and needed it, and no one eats it in the civilized world except some people, so it’s nowhere to be found.  So we bought some on Sunday and made it for dinner.  We sat out at the same back picnic table as we had the night before with our lobster boil, and we had a feast.  Bettina and I made the fish with roasted cauliflower puree, aioli, charred lettuce, and green apple; we pickled the fattest, coral colored mussels and served them with grilled eggplant and scallions.  There was some garlic-y flatbread involved that everyone tore at with their hands despite its oiliness.  And we drank.  Gin cocktails that made everyone dumb.

MY MOM

Said, “Bettina’s name is Bettina.  And she’s tiny, and then she’s also TINY!”  And

MY GRANDMA

Said, “Yes, Bettina, tell us…how do you stay so tiny?”  The real answer is probably that I eat all the food, but I don’t remember what the given excuse was.

The rest of the night, we went dancing and drank giant cocktails in giant communal mugs and talked about reasons why our childhoods fucked up our psyches and how we all met each other and all the things you talk about when you drink a bowl of moscow mules.  Last call on the island is one, so afterwards, we took a cab home and raided the main house for foodstuffs.  Back at the cottage, I made cheddar and brioche grilled cheese, and we ate and drank whiskey and yelled at me about what kind of a person carries weed without anything to smoke it with, and I said I just wanted to have the option.  And we didn’t play any board games, which is nice, because it seems like a lot of couples do that together, and it hurts my heart to think about that, because I hate games.

The next day, we went home on the normal boat, which was nice, and we laid outside on the bow in the sun and bummed about how we didn’t have time to see the alpacas and llamas at the zoo this time.  But it was fine and we’d go back one day or put in our notice at work and go back right away and never be seen again, which is quite a jump from my old feelings about being on the island in all that sand and sun.

THE TRAIN HOME

Was ugly, and I drank a diet coke, and my skin hardened up as we approached the station, I guess.  But then we just went home and made matzoh ball soup, so that made me feel fine, I guess.  Actually, quite nice.

When the Legs Won’t Go and Shit Like That

When the legs won’t go, I lie
down to the warm cantaloupe air, nose
piqued and peaked and peeked at
the I-struck-juice after taking out the seeds, and the fruit leaves
its syrup, wipe chin, up to and including eyebrow.  And then
the toes that hover up over down, hot gravel toes, tendons glued
like Thetis is my bedspread, holding tight, leaving feeble, and
I think of nothing–which is the troubles–and the skin ripples up
to melon air because it’s the obvious thing, as I am here, noticing

it and her and down gravity, first just molecular
dance, then condensation to syrup and the way we adhere to it, breeze
over the ankle, tired tendon, but then there’s the perfume again, slow head,
Thetis let go, and shit like that.

And You Had Talked on the Phone

-Insomuch that the not having creates the want-

and want for what

unlike what can I want &

you had been a partially solved or a

substrate or a revisited variable, always revisited like marked

right wrong and that guilt and circumlocution.  Or just relax.  Undarwinlike

comes to mind or stop fire dissolves into the low visibility, low for fog

such thick vapor like anxious breathing could cloud up against

icy future and would make present-living instrument only or mayday

which allows for snap judgement.  As in the not-going-to-have and its

spawn, going to want, as it appears–as the need burns up white//

breaks fever// doused in, on.

No Ray

It’s not bad to have been periwinkle

all night, when all other is dead out of the body in the non-world or the

world, and some are missing and some are together, conscious of conscious or

unconscious, unspeakable actions to speak of or unactable spokens to act on…and

then the hunger, too, the hunger on me and how I’ve always

appreciated it for the clarity and desire like potential energy is

exciting in its many possibilities until it picks one.  And I have gone out

in a poof of dousing, as I have come to know it, or I have also had the pulling one

in which I am a fish almost always big enough until morning.  But the pinkness

is funny out the window now, reminds me of a time when I thought God was real and would have

spelled it with a dash, you know, the way a child is powder.  And I want to stay.  Less

egregious this idea of a day nap, now, maybe take it, maybe stay, maybe poof, maybe fish.  Close

eyes to the sound of “No!  No rray!  Sit up, you no ray, prease, no sreep now.”  Despite skeptical wake,

saffron air clear in nose opens eyes, stay, no ray, no sreep.