#TBT I Say Falling

IMG_1923
In between seconds, as the river rushed closer, illogically slow, the accountant counted. He counted his heartbeats, he counted the number of nights spent on the couch where he avoided the wife he no longer loved and, remembering his mother, he counted the hairs on her head after the chemo: one. He counted like he had always counted. Each item formed a brick that he then meticulously placed on the wall he had been building all his life. He did the usual roll call of events, from childhood till now, in the usual order.

 
Miraculously, about 10 feet from the water and having calculated every visceral detail of every memory, he ran out of things to count. It was then that, the first time in a long time, he realized he was no longer numb. The sensation that reminded him of a vacuum with cool air he couldn’t feel and of a sort of dull slowness had passed. He was faced with emotions like a warm ocean squall sending a wave of superficial self-awareness that threatened to overcome the wall of the man who refused to learn to swim.

 
Immediately his body felt heavy and his muscles seemed to detach themselves from his conscious control. As a slightly painful tingle which made him feel suddenly alienated from his walking corpse surged throughout his body every breath became an enormous undertaking. His labored breathing was soon coupled with thunderstorm of apprehension rumbling within the pit of his stomach. He was nearly crippled by the tonnage of guilt, anxiety, fear and anger of a life half lived. His breathing became a staccato cacophony as years of unprocessed emotion putting massive pressure on his underused tear ducts.

 
Yet he was too close to that sweet nothingness to cry. Instead he thought back coolly and perceptively on the string of endless possibilities that had led him to this seeming eternity of falling. He took comfort in the new endeavor, of categorizing already counted events. As the categories become clearer, and more numerous he channeled them towards the breach of his emotional damn. As a sense of familiar control returned so did his mnemonic acumen. With this his mind cleared, his heart vanished, the vacuum returned and he started counting again. He counted the events and calculated probabilities and explored several scenarios and hypotheticals until he had narrowed it down to one possibility. It was decision that would, in essence, stop him from falling. With only a few blissful milliseconds left, the accountant could now meticulously muse about that decision and the alternate universe it created.

 

Forty years ago to the day the accountant made what he thought was the most important decision in his life. That day the paint on the walls of the funeral parlor was pealing. The ebony walls had turned as gray as the mood and Death permeated through the walls like the 159 paint chips lying on the ground. His father, in a new $600 tux, new hairdo and brand new $120 glasses had never looked better. It seemed almost disrespectful to look so good at a funeral.

 
There were exactly 50 people surrounding him, enough that for a time the future accountant successfully forgot that it was his father’s funeral. The accountant continued to count, much like he does now, until everything was accounted for. The leaves on the fake plant, the pews, the cracks in the ceiling, the number of times the white haired women said “um”– every little detail noted. It was first time in his life since that counting began that he could remember it stopping so abruptly, having merely run out of road. It wasn’t until then that he cried.

 

“How did he die?” Everyone seemed to whisper at once.

“I think he had a heart attack” Replied one elderly man with a dubious connection to the deceased.

“At his age?”

“No, he was shot. I heard the gun blast myself.”

“You sure? I think I would have heard about that on the news.”

“They don’t report suicides on the news, Darline.” His mother said quietly and bitterly.

To the accountant, the voices were just tidbits of gossip coming from vague bickering shapes. The accountant remembered wanting to shut everyone up–by force if necessary–but that was not his mother’s way. She still played bridge with the woman she knew the accountant’s father had been sleeping with for years.

 
A slow moving worn down man with a face full of wrinkles (none of which were laugh lines) and thick horn-rimmed glasses walked down the main aisle of the death filled room. He had slow but powerful and fluid gait. He seemed like a man whose youthful vigor still clung around him unused. He stopped, periodically, to talk to some of his parishioners who were in attendance. It must have taken him fifteen minutes to walk to twenty yards from the entrance to the podium.

 

Once at the podium the Pastor the Unitarian Church of God John Ignatius, wise beyond his considerable years, preached.

 

“Good evening. We are gathered here today to bid farewell to a loving father, dutiful son but never-the-less deeply flawed man. It is with a heavy heart that we say good-bye to a fellow soldier against evil who lost the final battle with himself. We all know that this final battle, this inner struggle with ourselves, is difficult. Yet the lord did not intend this battle to be fatal. He saved us through his grace and it is by this grace that we persevere. We give ourselves to the lord and receive everlasting life so in metaphoric death comes rebirth. When we give into ourselves, when we create our own timeline, there is no rebirth. As we consider this self-forsaken soul whose death strikes a foreign cord in all of us, we can only ask ourselves ‘how do I wish to die?’

 
The eulogy went on but the accountant stopped listening after the pastor asked that question. Thinking back on it now, there had been some more respectful eulogies in that church. Yet the accountant’s mother was angrier at her husband than sad at his premature death and she must have let Ignatius know. As a boy, all he could understand in those 132 words was the final question. Unfortunately the father idolizing accountant heard that question and decided on: falling.

 
Had the accountant thought of any other word at that precise moment it was possible, even likely, that he would not find himself standing on a bridge looking down yearning for nothingness—reaching for death’s embrace. But as it stands he was. He remembered, in a strained yet absent way, that usually he forgot about the moments he spent deliberating that question when he counted the worries to form the bricks for his wall. However, peering over the edge, his potentially falling children, souls struck by a receptive cord, flashed through his mind and he stepped back for the 40th time. Yet unlike the 39 times before he felt something about himself that he couldn’t grasp. He felt a strange almost ephemeral call to action. A call to start living. He felt a desire to reach out, to call his children whose phone numbers he had memorized. With that eerie yet profound feeling teetering on the rim in the recess of his mind he turned around, got into his car and drove home to the wife he might love again. As Paul got in that car without counting the steps he still found himself thinking: Maybe next year.

 

*Thanks to Quinn for helping with this revision of an old short story of mine

#TBT 2007’s Fermentation of Truth

In honor of Throw Back Thursday, which is now I thing I guess, I present to you a poem that celebrates the beauty of language and revels in the ways words form in our mouths and in our minds.

 

Fermentation of Truth

Muse
Let me roll down like water
Cascading on barren minds
Deserts of post-modern apathy
Let my words wind
Hugging the rolling tapestry
Of the thirsty rustic hills filled with sterile farms
Bread basket villages devoid of life
Salt sowed lands lapping my eloquence
Being cleansed by my mind traveling in liquid form
Like a triumphed wine
celebrating a shadowed victory 93 million miles from the light

Let us toast,
The truth, its vines tumbling, turning, twisting
Has returned to us at last
Traveling through man’s uncertainty
From the Eden of man’s disillusioned past

There Satan allowed society to strip it of its fruit
and Society let it be pressed under the numb
Melancholy masses of milling feet
Shuffling to work–
But at last it is allowed to trickle down through consciousness to this
Meager meandering of creative misgivings
The spoken word

So drink up
Take your fill of this sweet knowledge
This eternal truth that gets better with age
Fear not
Your contempt has not distilled its
Poetry or its Potency
It will still get you dunk

You’ll be hanging on my every word
Tripping over my mental obstacles
While your head spins
Trying in vain to chase this trail of contemplation
I’ll leave you in a drunk stupor
Too trashed to comb your thoughts
With your grandmother’s fine-toothed ivory
Preconceptions and imperfect paradigms

In the morning after you’ve vomited up your ignorance
And passed out, sprawled ungracefully
Over a rough, barely tangible
Concept of reality,
You’ll have a slight hangover–
And yes by slight I mean
You’ll head will feel like
Philosophy was beating inside of it
A caged metaphor for your inebriated reincarnation
But hopefully by then you’ll have forgotten last night

You’ll have forgotten your
False fears and fallacious philosophy
And only remember your empty stomach
And be hungry for knowledge

And maybe then you’ll stand up and walk to the night stand
Heads still spinning from last night
And you’ll pick up a pen and begin to write
Searching through the catacombs of your connotations
For truth
All the while planting a perfect seed
In the courtyard of your ever growing mind
A vine yard that will stretch
From your heart to your mind
And begin to slowly wrap itself around your soul

So open your eyes
Let lose your spirit
Unchain your shackled mind,
And drink up–
Take this little shot of truth
Wine of the fruit of knowledge
100 proof.

Life Before The Revolution

Image For Life Before The Revolution

 

Booing Up When All Your Friends Are Lesbians…& You’re Not

 

 

Here it is…the moment [a few of] you have been waiting for. The debut of my play writing prowess…a comedy of queer proportions…the story my dating life as read by my friends…the hilarity that might could be the DC Queer DIY Punk Scene… one my favorite things I’ve ever created.

This play is a compilation of pieces of my life with the boring taken out, names changed and background slightly rewritten. Most of the dialogue is real. Some of the events happened. All of them could happen…at group house near you. I’m really proud of this play as it represents a lot of personal and artistic growth. Not only is is better writing but it is more honest writing. Some of the truths contained within might surprise people who haven’t talked to me in a while…if that is the case, I encourage you to ask about anything that surprised you.  I will probably write more about this play later and will post the script soon but for now…here is my first ever radio theater comedy podcast!

If you like the music [and really how could you not?] check of Spoonboy and Hot Hyms for more!

 

Strip

This latest poem is less a poem and more a audio art experience? The Poem is called strip or remover of difficulties or the things they ask you to strip away. It’s new, its different, it complex. Listen to it twice and let me know what you think!

Strip away the paint and the decorations and a house is a just a shelter.
A physical space for us to be protected from the elements.
Pieces of wood and steel and brick that allow us to live our lives.
That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.
You remember the first time they asked you to strip. They didn’t know what they were asking but your mother had taught you when to know. Your slave like hands slowly began to undo the braids on your head. You undid your history with each row you took out; rows of fertile hair where your identity grew unraveled. You reached your ash black hands towards your mouth and stripped away the taste of mother’s cooking. You used your degree to strip the pigment from your skin and hoped that it bruised white. The act of bleaching stung at first but you would get used to the feeling, you would tell your son that it’s what it feels like to successful. You knew what purpose you needed to serve and you had learned to serve it well.

Strip away the paint and ornaments and a car is just a vehicle.
An instrument to carry us from one place to another.
Pieces of steel and leather and rubber that allow us to live our lives.
That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

You remember the first time you asked her to strip for you. Neither of you knew what you were asking but she did it anyway. She stripped herself of her ideas first, letting them fall seductively to the floor. She removed her desires slowly, concealing enough of her wants to be mysterious. Her delicate and child-like fingers unlaced the rope that held her self-esteem together just like her mother taught her. Her movements were easy and provocative but unnatural. She stood in front of you, naked, left with only her tentative will to clothe her, ready to shrug it off if you asked. You wouldn’t learn to ask until college though. On the surface it felt right and you repressed the part of you that knew it was wrong. The act of repression stung at first like shaving the skin off your soul so that it could harden when it heals. Soon you would get used to that feeling; you would tell your son that it’s what it feels like to be a man. Her eyes ask you if she served her purpose well and you are unsure how to answer.

Strip away the flavor and the spices and food is just energy.
An organic fuel to give us sustenance.
Pieces of the vegetables and animals and minerals that allow us to live our lives.
That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

You remember the first time she asked you to strip for her. She didn’t know how much it would hurt. You pulled back the emotional curtain as she sat across from you. She watched in silence as you used the knife to strip off the mask, the temporary fix that, over the years, had been permanent. You ignored the bleeding and locked eyes with her, studying her reaction. She didn’t realize it hurt until you started crying. She rushed over to tell you that you could stop but you kept carving. Once the mask was off and the tears had washed away the blood she said you were beautiful. The act of accepting her love stung at first like your pulling off the scrabs of your scarred soul. Soon you would get used to feeling, you would tell your son that this is what is should feel like to be a man. You ask her if you served your purpose well and she answers:

Strip away the clothes and the history and a person is not just an animal.
We are more than the gold and cotton and paint that covers our flesh.
Pieces of the earth we use to enhance our beauty.
Our purpose is not to serve and so we cannot be judged by how well we do.

South Side

Re-posted with the correct link now. To be honest. I’m geeking out a bit. I’ve wanted to set this poem to music since the moment I wrote it. It has taken me 7 years to have to time, energy, software and knowledge to make this and it may be the coolest thing I have ever done. Please comment! Let me know what you think!

South-Side

The days are hot and
the nights cold
and Heaven is a long way away.

I’ve seen the shackled masses.
I’ve peered into the forlorn eyes of government projects,
And through shattered glass
seen shattered dreams deferred.
Dreams can’t run syrupy sweet
if the streets are full of gunfire,
and I’ve seen churches perforated
— Riddled—
with the south side boys choir’s serenade of bullets.

Seething with the rhythms ofyouthful energy
And vying for freedom;
I’ve seen the streets pulse with
Blood red and crack fuelled indignation.
I’ve seen misdirected,
misused,
And poverty abused youth
find family in red bandanas
And Fight the Power with gunfire.

The devil finds work for idle hands and a tech nine fits easily into a backpack.
Rumble young man rumble. Ya Mama goes to work and ya daddy goes to jail. Rumble young man rumble.

Half the city,
half naked,
sweating
and laughing the rolling laughter of youth,
died of starvation
quietly in steel mill.
Mourning;
Warsaw marched north with Dublin
and Freetown was left behind,
praying for a return that will never come.
But the diamonds,
the blood stained powder diamonds,
breathed fire into its black lungs.

For a few dollars
or a few minutes in a dark alley
all your troubles would fade away.
trickling down into the hands of a neighbor’s son
selling to eat and fighting to live.

The devil finds work for idle hands and a kilo fits easily into a backpack.
Rumble young man rumble. Ya Mama goes to work and ya daddy goes to jail. Rumble young man rumble.

These hands. These hands that built a city. These hands that tended the land and beat the steel. These hands that raised and lifted a nation are wasted: lying fallow, sterile with salt sowed into their wounds. Raw and bloodied they beat in vain on the bullet proof “windows of opportunity.” Tear streaked hands—wet from comforting the invisible abrasions of oppression in the invisible children of the invisible ghetto—that are strong but too tired to lift themselves up. Dejected , they find their only solace in shaking the condemned hands of Ida B. Wells.

The Devil finds work for idle hands and a life fits easily into a backpack.
Tremble old hands tremble. Ya daughter goes to work and ya son goes to jail. Tremble old hands tremble.

The streets cry, alone at night, after the city shuts down. The trampled streets whimper to themselves: the only ears that hear them. In their silence lie volumes spoken loudly but never heard.

“Where is the voice of that so called down-trodden mass” they ask.
“It is calling, always calling to you. Stop. Listen. Hear Me! I’m dying” they answer.
then Silence

The devil finds work for the darkest hands and half a city fits easily into a backpack. Rumble south-side rumble. Ya sisters go to work and ya brothers go the jail. Rumble south-side rumble.

The days are hot and
the nights cold
and Heaven is a long way away.

Their Culture Is Capital

As my art and writing has expanded in recent months I’ve gotten really into recording my poetry and setting it music I created on acid pro.  This is my first attempt at it with original words and original music. Though, the chorus is written by Pete Singer from his song “Little Boxes” as song in this youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mJSSHu3ocA .

 

They complained about the cold with a rare Chicagoan honesty. When the wind hits their faces and seeps through every orifice and pore to settle slowly into their bones they are broad shouldered and husky folk poets. So proud to be clear eyed and laughing. So proud to live where the freight-handlers daughter used to live. They walk slowly down Michigan avenue as one as if the hawk forces their crowd comfort into ubiquity. The city of big shoulders. The Big City that thinks it’s a small town as all the girls sing

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes made of ticky tacky,

Little boxes on the hillside,

Little boxes all the same.

They walk from Hancock to the Bean like the children of tortured writers conceived on benzodine trips whose parents told them not to do drugs after they filled their riddlen scripts. They step over the high homeless not recognizing that faraway look in their father’s eye’s because they may have been concieved in Vegas but daddy found God before they were born. They traded in riddlin for tea and found themselves unable to ask for a raise.  Being addicted to self-improvement means they have to exaggerate their flaws with cornucopias of neurosis and fat girls lose weight to come to terms with their arrogance.

The streets grin under their footsteps. You gave them your tired, weak and huddled masses yearning to be free and the streets melted them together. Michigan is asleep at 10 and by midnight it murmurs

There’s a green one and a pink one

And a blue one and a yellow one,

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

Past the Bean the steel and glass condos ooze the stench of potential ripening into through desperation and bar crawls until you wake up, hungover in parenthood. Young college students whitewash the mandarin they don’t understand with sheer bravado as the New Negroes wait for the train to get past Garfield where their city begins. The temporal anomaly that forces the races to avoid sitting next to each other rights itself after the loud mouth Uchicago students step off onto the platform humming:

And the people in the houses

All went to the university,

Where they were put in boxes

And they came out all the same,

And there’s doctors and lawyers,

And business executives,

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same.

The Southsiders lounge in the box cars like coal miners coming home from work. Like those coal miners they take cold showers to wash off the soot and cool themselves down in their tenements without central air. Yet after the showers they are still brown and black as the night and so they rub their paychecks on their skin hoping they change color. They pelt their children with cell phones and nike’s hoping that they bruise white enough to go to college.

And they all play on the golf course

And drink their martinis dry

And they all have pretty children

And the children go to school

And the children go to summer camp

And then to the university

Where they are put in boxes

And they come out all the same

After the train stops the city continues for miles. Bottles of broken dreams litter every street even as the smoke from crack in Englewood becomes the exhausts from Cadillacs in Beverly. This is the New Nation that the newspapers call Chiraq but from Hyde Park to Chatham former Irishmen sell suits to formers slaves. These former slaves, blind from malnutrition, sing work songs in their food desserts infused with the new culture of capital.

And the boys go into business

And marry and raise a family

In boxes made of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same

There’s a pink one and a green one

And a blue one and a yellow one

And they’re all made out of ticky tacky

And they all look just the same

Call For Help With Next Article On D.C. Affordable Housing

Priced-Out-DC-Cover

 

I’m looking to build on the issues touched on my post last week. I’m hoping to start a project that will consists of interviews about housing in D.C. As it stands now the project will have three parts. The first part is interviewing people active in some area of housing, race, culture or history that could give an overview of either the history of their field of D.C housing issues or the current state of D.C housing, the second part part would be collecting oral histories about housing in D.C with activist, developers, landlords, life-time residents, recent transplants etc to talk about what it is like to be resident of D.C from a housing perspective. The third part would be written articles tying the two together.

I’m still in the planning process and am hoping to find people willing to be interviewed twice. The initial interview would not be released but would be part of my background research. The second would take place after I personally have a grasp on the enough of the history to ask insightful questions. I have a few initial interviewees already but am hoping to get more. I am planning on getting the project hosted by an organization that is working on housing advocacy in D.C.

I’m also looking for connections to people who should be interviewed. If you no a college professor working on this, a long-time D.C resident or block club captain etc let me know. If you are interested in helping out please e-mail me at aarongoggans@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Strip

Objectified

Strip away the paint and the decorations and a house is a just a shelter.

A physical space for us to be protected from the elements.

Pieces of wood and steel and brick that allow us to live our lives.

That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

 

You remember the first time they asked you to strip. They didn’t know what they were asking but your mother had taught you well. Your slave like hands slowly began to undo the braids on your head. You undid your history with each row you took out; rows of fertile hair where your identity grew unraveled.  You reached your ash black hands towards your mouth and stripped away your mother tongue. You used your degree to strip the pigment from your skin and hoped that it bruised white. The act of bleaching stung at first but you would get used to the feeling; you would tell your son that it’s what it feels like to successful. You knew what purpose you needed to serve and you had learned to serve it well.

 

Strip away the paint and ornaments and a car is just a vehicle.

An instrument to carry us from one place to another.

Pieces of steel and leather and rubber that allow us to live our lives.

That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

 

You remember the first time you asked her to strip for you. Neither of you knew what you were asking but you did it anyway. She stripped herself of her ideas first, letting them fall seductively to the floor. She removed all but her base desires slowly, concealing enough of her wants to be mysterious.  Her delicate, child-like fingers unlaced the rope that held her self-esteem together just like her mother taught her. Her movements were easy and provocative but unnatural.  She stood in front of you, naked, left with only her tentative will to clothe her, ready to shrug it off if you asked. On the surface it felt right and you repressed the part of you that knew it was wrong. The act of repression stung at first like shaving the skin off your soul so that it could harden when it heals. Soon you would get used to that feeling; you would tell your son that it’s what it feels like to be a man. Her eyes ask you if she served her purpose well and you are unsure how to answer.

 

Strip away the flavor and the spices and food is just energy.

An organic fuel to give us sustenance.

Pieces of the vegetables and animals and minerals that allow us to live our lives.

That is the purpose it serves and it can only be judged by how well it serves that purpose.

 

You remember the first time she asked you to strip for her. She didn’t know how much it would hurt. You pulled back the emotional curtain as she sat across from you. She watched in silence as you used the knife to strip off the mask, the temporary fix that, over the years, had been permanent. You ignored the bleeding and locked eyes with her, studying her reaction. She didn’t realize it hurt until you started crying. She rushed over to tell you that you could stop but you kept carving. Once the mask was off and the tears had washed away the blood she said you were beautiful. The act of accepting her love stung at first like your pulling off the scabs of your scarred soul. Soon you would get used to feeling, you would tell your son that this is what is should feel like to be a man. You ask her if you served your purpose well and she answers:

 

Strip away the clothes and the history and a person is not just an animal.

We are more than the gold and cotton and paint that covers our flesh.

More than what others force us to pretend to be.

Our purpose is to not to serve and so we cannot be judged by how well we do.

 

It’s Almost Time To Talk About Capitalism

I’ve written a lot about gender and dating in past couple months. I hope you have enjoyed reading it, I know that I have enjoyed writing it. In the past couple of weeks however, in between online dating and reading about how to be an ally, my insistently churning mind has turned to yet another issue: Capitalism. Whether it is how images of success and appeal are gendered and sold to the public or viewing displacement and gentrification as unavoidable and good, capitalism has been on my mind recently. I don’t hate Capitalism. I think it is a lot like Democracy. It is the worst system in human history, except for all the other ones. I think it is no more or less flawed of an idea than Communism. If you take Communism to the extreme you get the USSR and if you take Capitalism to the extreme you get robber barons and Banana Republics. Human suffering seems to equal under both systems. I’m saying that more people didn’t suffer in Communist Russia than McCarthy’s America. I’m saying that Communism gets free healthcare in Cuba and Capitalism got us slavery in America. Neither system is inherently evil and both are quite wonderful in theory.

So, in preparation for a few weeks spent writing on Capitalism, Alternative Economies and Consumerism I was hoping people could point me to some resources. I’d like interesting articles, essays, books or video’s about these issues if any one has any. I’ve been thinking a lot about the economy lately but I’d like to be a bit more informed.

 

capitalism-cartoonweb