Saturday, September 3, 2011

Addendum to previous (after finishing "My Dinner with Andre")

But if we spend our whole lives with somebody, then we can bear witness to them, and they can bear witness to us, and together we validate each other. And if it is true that we can never fully know another person, then there will always be something more to discover.

Thoughts on identity while watching "My Dinner with Andre"

I can’t spend my whole life with another person or even seeing particular people on a regular basis – because even if we are supposedly interconnected, and our actions have consequences upon each other, we are still separate, we are still bodies, and I find this disturbing and it’s hard for me to get over this fact.* (And even if we were pure energy and just “being,” well, we would just be being. It wouldn’t be anything special. It would fail to change the fundamental manner of existence. We are always being, even if we are doing, it’s just that the doing scribbles over the language-less being. We are.)

I intrinsically get uncomfortable with the idea of always being with someone. I think it may be that I know that I won’t be understood.** I’ll always be understood as a particular personality, not my full personality, and it’s not even like I necessarily have a full, concrete personality – I’m improvising. But if I’m always with someone, they will see me in one way and then I will have to conform to that way, either consciously or subconsciously. It’s just like idea of breaking habits – relationships are habits. There are shorthands that never go away. There are grooves for dialogue, tracks for actions and conceptions of being and identity.***

We have no core of identity, but we do have a region, and I would like to explore that full region. I would also like to expand that region, either by being in an open enough space so that I may expand, or by consciously changing, or improving, if you will, my habits. And if I am always dragged back to the same modes of behavior by the anchor of another person, my ship will never be able to move out into the sea. And of course, without people, we don’t really exist. It’s not that we have to be observed to exist (we don’t) but if we are all over the place – if we are everywhere within that region and nowhere in particular – it can be very disconcerting and we don’t or won’t know how we behave. We rely on others to tell us who we are. But I would rather rely on myself to know who I am.

*And you could say that a full personality comes from all of our niche identities – friend to this person, friend to that person, family of these people, etc. – but we, as it has been said, cannot multitask, and we can only ever be one aspect at one time, and this is something I object to. I want to be taken as everything at once, and because it is not only impossible for Person A to perceive Person B as Person B perceives Person B, but also because it is impossible for people to hold another person’s full region of personality in their mind at once, what I want is impossible, and so I retract. Only in my own mind can I come closest to the full spectrum at once, but this doesn’t count for anything because I haven’t been validated, no one has testified to my existence. And so you make a choice, on a moment to moment basis, between the loneliness of not being validated, and the loneliness of not being understood.

**Either the other person’s perspective won’t be able to perceive, that is, overlap with, my own perspective, which is the worse of the two, or in general I’ll be predicted but not understood. And I can’t even understand myself, so of course another person won’t be able to. When I say that one is predicted, I mean that we often confuse “knowing” someone with predicting their behavior. And this goes into another thing that I'm saying, that being limited to certain expected modes of behavior is a kind of death.

***And then of course there is the situation where you like how the other person acts and they feel the same way about you, but then one or the both of you change. And of course we are always changing. It is too tenuous. A life of constant transformation and transition is difficult to live. And so is a life of apparent stagnation and sterility. And so it is a stalemate.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The movie set as a metaphor for life

There's a lot of waiting around and occasionally something explodes.

Avengers haiku

Norse gods and stuntmen
Rigging, rubble, revenue
The streets of Cleveland
You know how in movies, you'll have a scene with a kid at the beginning, and then later you'll have an older actor, a different actor, who's playing the same character? I feel like that.
I assume this article was published, but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy. Here's the final draft that I sent to CBC:

Better Living through Hydroponics:
How greenhouses improve our community and economy

Where does retail meet reuse, for-profit meet non-profit, nature meet technology and hungry meet healthy?
Right here in Northeast Ohio.
Specifically, inside the Galleria—thanks to Vicky Poole, Director of Marketing & Events at the Galleria and Tower at Erieview, who created Gardens Under Glass, an umbrella project for sustainability initiatives.
Funded by a Civic Innovation Lab grant, Gardens Under Glass grew from Poole’s curiosity about vertical growing, her belief in the local green movement and her desire to cultivate the Galleria’s unique qualities as a dynamic downtown space.
“Often space is labeled for a purpose or a function and lost due to environmental or economic change,” Poole stated. “It is just as important to allow existing space to evolve, just as our lives do.”
Her search led her to hydroponics, and the efforts of two interrelated green initiatives: the for-profit BioDynamicz and the non-profit Hy-Hopes for Hunger.
By amassing generous donations—a glasshouse from Arcadia GlassHouse, a solar energy system from Dove Tail Solar and Wind, a solar tracking system from Sun Flower Solutions and a Nutrient Film Technique hydroponic system and digital nutrient solution monitoring system from CropKing, Inc.—a hydroponic greenhouse was born.
Tim Madden, President of BioDynamicz, assisted in its installation inside the Galleria’s glass atrium.
With business development counseling from Tom Fontana and the Akron SCORE, Madden had established BioDynamicz as a means to support Hy-Hopes for Hunger, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that sprouted from the soul of Executive Director Monica Cowan. Like Poole, Cowan combines her life’s passion with her day job’s inspiration—in this case, working in the clinical mental health profession as a child counselor.
“My heart in doing that is really helping people reach their full potential, and I realized that individuals can’t reach their full potential if they don’t have basic needs met—you know, it’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” Cowan said. “And so it’s really about trying to create a systemic change, and helping people thrive by providing them with the nutrition that they need.”
Like hands in soil, Hy-Hopes for Hunger tills Northeast Ohio to enrich its communities. The grassroots initiative uses the greenhouse as a hub for food production through hydroponics and sustainability education through demonstration.
“This becomes a hands-on way of educating the community, and especially kids, about the benefits of eating locally, organically, and just eating produce—healthy food,” Cowan said.
Within community greenhouses, students grow, pick, pluck and taste high quality food, ingesting nutrients as well as knowledge.
Poole, who hosts similar school group demonstrations for Gardens Under Glass, said, “We need to make sure that our children don’t lose the skills of our forefathers.  We want to give them the opportunity to have hands-on experiences and to perhaps learn from our mistakes.”
Yet all community members, not just children, will benefit from the food boom. To make fresh, healthy produce accessible and affordable in Northeast Ohio, Hy-Hopes for Hunger will construct and operate commercial greenhouses in the local community.
“When you put up a one-acre to ten-acre-plus greenhouse locally, you’re starting to mitigate hunger,” Cowan said.
As a parallel to the cyclical production of crops, profits from the commercial greenhouses become funds for the educational greenhouses.
Madden said, “That’s really the business model that in my opinion is going to work in the short term, rather than trying to build these large-scale facilities and operate them at a loss and then just donate 100% of the produce to a food bank. The model that seems like it’s much more viable that can get a lot more attention and a lot more support a lot faster is: build the facilities, donate a portion of the produce to charity right off the bat, but then use the bulk of the produce to actually turn a profit, and then use that profit to be able to support the work of the non-profit and further the humanitarian goals of the organization.”
The ultimate dream, however, is to get greenhouse-grown produce directly to the people who most need it. Cowan sees unlimited advantages to using local greenhouses: no run-off, no pesticides, no carbon emissions from transportation, no unripe produce. To spread the positive effects across Northeast Ohio, Cowan encourages everyone to get involved.
“Show up at the fundraisers and support us financially as well as buying our food, locally, and really contributing to this initiative,” Cowan said. “We would love to have people help us with being onsite when we initiate farmers markets”
To bring people and resources together, Hy-Hopes for Hunger and Gardens Under Glass are creating partnerships with local schools, universities, food banks, non-profits, community gardens, farms and agricultural initiatives.
Due to the fact that hydroponic greenhouses offer a 12-month, 365-day-a-year growing cycle, they bestow a particular boon upon Ohio, where agriculture must halt in winter—that is, until now. With hydroponic technology, we have the potential for year-round farmers’ markets, fresh food cooking demonstrations, community gardening events and more.
Eager to begin changing and saving lives, Cowan and Madden seek investors who can help them overcome the obstacle of the start-up cost.
“We can create several different models of investments, but it can really either be you get a percentage of the amount that you invest, per year, or individuals may also purchase greenhouses and generate a consistent revenue stream that way as well,” Cowan said. “They would be contributing to this positive, sustainable movement that really is benefiting the community as well as supporting their investment. There’s a twofold benefit to it, and it’s a reliable investment, guaranteed.”
Hydroponic greenhouses maximize the efficiency of crop production. The digital controls in the greenhouse monitor the temperature, humidity, pH and nutrient solution.
Madden said, “You’re perfectly replicating what the plant needs without providing any of the things that it doesn’t need, so you’re increasing the positive environmental factors and decreasing the negative environmental factors, which allows you to produce very high quality, consistent product.”
Although computers and plants may seem to belong to separate worlds, Madden points out that 21st century farmers are sowing the future of agriculture with a scientist’s level of awareness.
“Farming, period, these days you’re implementing some very sophisticated technology,” Madden said. “A lot of them have combines that are worth a million bucks or more a piece, and they use GPS to perfectly track the planting and the harvesting of their crops. They use soil analysis. And hydroponics, we’re doing pretty much the same thing; we’re just going a little further.”
Madden has full confidence that any prospective Gardens Under Glass volunteer would be able to operate the controls.
“Most people know how to use a computer, and the controls for the hobby greenhouses are no more difficult than using a digital air conditioner or using a computer at home,” Madden said. “And as far as the harvesting and the produce and the planting of the seeds, it’s very similar to what you would do in an outside garden.”
Gardens Under Glass attracts dedicated volunteers who, apart from their love for gardening, defy easy categorization.
“We have volunteers from all walks of life,” Poole said. “They love it so much they’re willing to come here after their professional work day. There’s a woman who walks down 9th Street and calls me up saying she’s here for Gardens Under Glass to do weeding and watering.”
These gardeners have a special reason to come downtown: the knowledge that they are revivifying Northeast Ohio.
“They’re visionaries in their own right,” Poole said. “They have a commitment to Cleveland, and we all want to see any businesses return.”
To allow a sustainable ecosystem to bloom within the Galleria, Poole is pursuing “sustainability initiatives such as rainwater collection, composting, recycling, anti-litter campaigns, local watersheds and energy renewal.”
The Galleria’s future is already looking greener. Its mint garden grows basil, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, thyme and peppers, which can then be dried and infused in oils and vinegars and sold to restaurants in the food court like Mixed Greens Salad Bar, Stone Oven, CafĂ© Sausalito’s.
Poole’s philosophy of reuse attracted Encore Women’s Consignment Shop (“People from out of town are amazed; they say it looks like a boutique,” Poole said) and Fra Angelica, which sells recycled jewelry and knitwear handcrafted by local artisans. Eco Tuesdays, a networking event for business leaders who believe in the sustainability mission, is held on the fourth Tuesday of every month in the Galleria’s Resource Center classroom.
And with a 1500-person capacity for corporate events, a floor space that can seat up to 400 people and a dance floor, a curtain that transforms the Food Court into a Rotunda and a glass ceiling that boasts an awe-inspiring evening skyscape, the Galleria has established a viable, even enviable, event business.
Manufacturing Mart, through a permanent tradeshow inside the Galleria, works with green technology companies and other engineering businesses to connect them with suppliers.
“We’re relocating businesses that would want to move downtown—businesses over three years old looking to expand or change,” Poole said. “There are deals to be had and beautiful spaces to be filled. You can move to the suburbs and do business, but there’s a downtown energy that everybody embraces and wants to be a part of.”
Per Poole’s suggestion, Madden decided to move BioDynamicz into the Galleria.
“I took a big risk,” Madden said. “I had an established business for four years in Cuyahoga Falls and I was doing very well there, and I kind of went out on a limb to move my company here to the Galleria because I really believe that we’re going to be able to turn our economy around. I really believe in Cleveland’s green movement, and wanted to be centrally located right here in downtown Cleveland and lead by example. We actually are able to draw new customers into the Galleria that would not be here unless we were here. We’re growing our business and we’re growing our organization, but we’re also helping grow Cleveland’s economy and grow the Galleria.”
And so, through BioDynamicz and Gardens Under Glass, we find ourselves returning to the Galleria. We’re returning, through Hy-Hopes for Hunger, to the impoverished, malnourished parts of Northeast Ohio that we have long ignored. We’re returning to people and to the land. To connection, and to imagination. We’re returning to healthiness and nature and optimism.
We’re returning to our potential.

For more information:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cognito ergo someone
To believe is to be living
Ear eye am
What is this I that I know?

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'd rather have a book in front of me.
If I shy from your gaze, or rush by without a sign
It's because I'd rather have a book in front of me.
If I look uneasy or unsure of how to look
It's because I'd rather have a book in front of me
That tickles cranial crevices
To examine a mirror that deepens
To plunge, skim, glide, burrow into & over a landscape
More forgiving than any other's eyes
And when there's a book in front of me
It's the only thing that is.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Next one:

My original bio for the piece: "In nerd taxonomy, Isaac Mell belongs to the phylum fandom and the class science fiction. His bike’s nickname is 'Mr. Sulu.' Commander Mell can be reached at"

Monday, June 13, 2011


Writers, blood donors
Left weaker but stronger
By transference of essence

A stranger benefits, or else
Red pouches of rectangular life
Rest untouched on dusty shelves

Nurses & librarians
In hospitals for bodies & minds
Blood & books on carts with bar codes

Your blood is inside of you but it is not helping anyone
Your blood is only noticed in emergencies

escapists & artists

You will not be a science fiction writer in the 1950s. You will not be a Dadaist in the 1920s. You will not be a filmmaker in the 1970s. These groups are shapes and forms of certain times and places & thereafter erased from future chances of repetition & imitation. Your contribution, if it is to come, will be a manifestation of your present. But can he who would escape from his time also serve as its prophet?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Passport to Impossible

His labors bequeathed us infinity
Sending legions of lizards, birds, men, fish to claim
Unknown territory
His devotion allows us to dwell within dissonance 
To pass within the walls of impossible houses
Losing footing but never perspective
Expanding unreal estate
Curves of mind's rind unwinding
Wood blocks as windows
Reversing so often reflection is reflex

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We are colors. Not the tone of our skin. More like an aura. A color that follows us as we live.

If you know somebody's color, your vision of them will snap to a quick focus. Misjudge someone's color/character and you will never discover how the two of you reflect.

I am green.

Inspiration: James Stewart Polshek, architect, who said, "...those guys were dividing up the world into whites and grays. I said, I’m not white or gray. I’m pink, and I’m not going to be part of this, and I wasn’t."
Soundtrack: Prefab Sprout, "Green Isaac"
Alternate spelling: For this piece I prefer "colours."
Thanks to: Summit County Historical Society

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Only Athena

A sentence, perfection, Pallas Athena from the head of her creator...
But a paragraph is pushing it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quality of life

He wore a paper bag over his head indoors
To keep him in and keep out mirrors
The straws that crush the broken back
Intrinsic, extrinsic, insular, extroversion
Hedonic rush
The daily grind
Even as I'm writing I'm disappearing 

It takes me several hours to accept reflections
Give me several years to set a pace

I demand consistent improvement from my television but (because?) I see none in myself
If I didn't sleep I wouldn't reset...but eventually I'd just end.
These days are white-out over red pen, a palimpsest of indecision and deletion
Finding the right word is the worst reward.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Existentialist sect

Monotonous monks in meditative exercise
Gray footfall upon Penrose steps
Life's sentence of frozen quiescence or
Transcendence in endless ascent and descent?
Banal is impossible is banal is impossible 
Behavior etched, repetition pressed
This isn't what I was expecting

I resist the Flow

I (now) resist the Flow. I feel its shivering beginnings, and I clench where I used to secrete. I tell myself that I'll never be able to achieve that for which I strive. Not with the stammers of speech, nor the ingots of text. Not with printing press blocks, nor with HTML bits. There is no secret to be found. There is no congregation to be saved. It is not art. It is impotence, all the more pathetic for its presumed bombast.
No, it's not Flow I'm in now, it's something else. So what is it? An attempt to reclaim the euphoric modes employed in the past?---out of desperation or even (Could it be? Please, no) hope?  
I'm fairly sure it's better than the alternative.
It might be growing up.

The odds

Here's the problem: Wandering minds wander towards unhappiness (or away from happiness?) but also, simultaneously, towards inspiration. You may stumble across one on the way towards the other, or carry one on your back as you trek in the direction of its opposite, but within the realm of psychological states their territory is adjacent. This is why so many people have pointed out the correlation between creativity and depression. It's not a question of causation but of limitation: Given a finite number of mental/emotional moods on the road to somewhere else, we are bound to meet (come into the company of) either the High or the Low. This present moment is the Middle. One step in either direction invites the flip of a coin.
The issue is that we believe a coin has two sides, and must always proclaim Heads or Tails. We forget that a physical coin---with its shape, mass, and form in three dimensions---bursts beyond the abstraction of probability. We forget about that bit in the middle. That numinous realm, within the spin of which we fervidly circle, is where we spend most of our time, until, under the impression that it all can only ever be One or The Other, we throw all our weight against an arbitrary side, hoping to topple it and yield the definitive. But certainty can never be achieved, only imagined. Finality is a mirage. If a coin holds within it (is charged with) a perfect 50-50 probability, then any one coin toss means nothing. We will always have both Heads and Tails. Flipping Heads and then stopping does not eliminate the future yielding of Tails.
In other words, whether standstill or wandering, we are only tossing coins.
But I'm already contradicting myself, because I was trying to say that Duality was an Illusion.
I'm wandering again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

the unpainted

If a painted man escapes his frame, he loses everything. Outside the context of his paint-world, undefined by adjacent shapes and shades of flattened pigment two dimensions becoming three, he is shallow, he is by definition without depth. He has no essence. He is disappearance. Apparition. The laws of counterfeit perspective cast no shadows against the reality, past the prison of the rectilinear.

Monday, May 2, 2011


         _    -    _
     (     the calm      )
  (    before the     )
 \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ 
   \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
    \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
     \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
      \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
       \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
        \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
         \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
          \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \        

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"GettinG Old" Is An abbreViatioN For
"gettiNg tiRed oF thE saMe oLd Shit"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Obvious frustrates, obfuscation confuses

I w#lc@m# y@^; I will b#c@m# y@^.
@n# w@rd w@n'+ s^ffic#.
Br@nch @^t. Sh@u+. Sp@n +h# sp#c+r^m.
Inf@rm@+i@n incr#@s#s @cc^r@cy. 
Im@gin@+i@n incr#@s#s s#r#ndipi+y.
Th# ^niq^# c@nn@+ b# n@rr@w#d.
F@r th# s@k# @f @ll wh@ kn@w m#, I m^s+ @d^@nc#.
Th# l@ng#r y@^ @r# inn@c#nt, th# g^il+i#r y@^ b#c@m#.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


 realized thatyet it is people channel

foresee, after the Pollack ,
                 The limits it, but       Pollack form ofwithout the reach and  paint 
                                                                     nothing can
                                                of There is flesh and       paste a corpus       buy the
     limitsThe Reds,Anybody        could havehis cut-ups & donedid it first

         of   give    up      stickiness of        bluessaid, be 

           I              new underthe    collector's  item
                               Thoughthrough which
                                               I amclinician are  of a living
                    thrownBurroughs loved  
                                                              The message The scissorswill never be 

     There is no   throw          it could be sent
Did he  wanted to                        recognizable breakthrough              , the shardsIconnections

                                                                         ScrambledTyped words are signals, allpaintreceived
                                                                        nothing the their disconnected sunnothing like the spew

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chanced upon

Mistakes move us forward. 
You're locked in, and then you're locked out.
Breaking a vase? Breaking new ground.
Branching out
...from the staid, the status quo, the stagnant.
I'd like to ride on my bike and get lost, or drive around in the car and use the GPS to get back. But I wont', because I'm locked in to this behavior.
Spontaneity is defined by a sudden departure from the norm. If something is the same as what came before it, it cannot be spontaneous.
But if you don't see something coming...
If we already had the answers, we would know what to do.
The answer does not always proceed logically from the situation.
Discovery. Serendipity. Change.
These are where the interesting is.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

in the midst of a vast reboot

[{      W            I          (d)          T          H      }                 / o       a        r \]          ;
- with        th  thou(gh)t - 

Monday, April 25, 2011



ENTER return
Enter turn Enter
Enter territory Enter
En terrain Enter
Enter tain Ent
Entertain mEnt
Enter Tainment

tentative forfeits dread

10t85-f   4/5-h   100-hun

Sunday, April 24, 2011

(head willow hoop)

I's dreamcatcher Netskull Lint-trap For Somnambulant fluff Capturer of impressions Other people's futures I's antenna a Lightning rod I's antiawake & walking

Saturday, April 16, 2011

You can't reach enlightenment without breaking a few eggs

Face lit by the flames of burning bridges, I've put all my eggs in the handbasket I'm going to hell in. And the road there is paved with eggshells and intentions, leading to that ultimate omelet, perfect in its scrambledness, rising shining sunny side up over the bright-eyed horizon. The yolk's on me, and like yellow I run: Chicken. Fear and cholesterol.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I was meant for the sprint, the skirmish.
I neither build nor destroy;
I move bricks.
I'm a wind-up toy
Operating in bursts.
I'm a spurt, a spirit, a spearhead.
A scavenger.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Ghostwriter

Written in Ninth Grade for Honors Prep English

"Listen, Ed," I told the bird, "spare me the melancholy moaning and give me your story!"
"Ah, but if I were known as the great Poe once more, then, then I would be at peace!" he wailed in that self-pitying moan I had come to despise. "If only I were not condemned, confined to this wretched form!"
I hung my head and let out a raspy groan of exasperation. "How many times," I intoned, "have we had this conversation." I jabbed my finger at Edgar's feathery breast. "You're a raven! Get over it!" Regaining my composure, I added shrewdly, "If you dictate a story to me, maybe you'll feel better."
Ed narrowed his beady eyes and smoothed his ruffled plumage. "Still I yearn for the day when my existence is revealed to the world---that I am none other than the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe!"
I tried not to laugh. "I'm glad we got that out of the way. Let's get down to business, shall we?" I grabbed a pen.
Mr. Poe's ghost nestled on the metronome on my desk. He gazed out the window at a dismal storm, and, after a moment, spoke. "It is to be titled 'The Bones of the Martyr.'"
"So will this be another one of your tragic hero, doomed-from-the-start pieces?" I asked conversationally. He ignored me, and began his story.
We worked through the night, with Ed flapping around the study, narrating excitedly, and me transcribing his every word, occasionally stopping him to ask, "Is that all one sentence?" The storm raged on until morning, when he finally finished.
"All right, old bird," I said wearily. "That's it. Same time next week."
Instead of flying immediately out the window as he normally did, Edgar looked me straight in the eye. I was uncomfortable with this, because it reminded that I was taking advantage of him. I had been claiming his stories as my own, and I always felt a small cringe of guilt when praised for them. However, the moment passed as I remembered whom I was dealing with: a dead poet, and a crabby one at that.
"Are you aware of the date, my friend?" Ed asked cryptically.
"October 7th?" Today I was to be recognized for winning the O. Henry Award. I didn't tell Ed that, of course, because I had used one of his stories to win. I couldn't let such a good story go to waste, could I?
"Indeed," Ed muttered, as if answering my question. He attempted a smile with his beak, and then flew away.
I spent so much time in preparation for my upcoming speech that I forgot all about Ed's strange remark. Of course, even if I had recognized the date of Poe's death, I do not know what I could have done. I was determined to have a good time, so I spent several minutes practicing lying through my teeth. "Oh, you know how it is," I told my reflection in the mirror. "These stories just come to me." Actually, this was partially true. One stormy night Poe had just popped through my window, determined to continue his legacy. Believe me, I recognize opportunity when it comes tapping, tapping at my chamber door. After all, you only get fifteen minutes of fame. I checked myself one last time in the mirror, and strode outside to the rented limousine, which matched my rented tuxedo.
The cold, brisk stare I received from the driver was an embodiment of the weather outside, and the growing sense of isolation somewhat eroded my self-confidence. Feeling very strange, I sipped my drink as the limo cruised silently down the street. It seemed to me that the moon was especially luminous in the night sky, not to mention oddly distorted by the sleek, black windows. Thankfully, it was not long before I reached the warm, bright college, and was basking in the praise of my peers.
The dinner of recognition was very nice. The food made my mouth churn with delight, and I downed wine with the veracity of a---
Poe must be getting to me; I'm beginning to sound like a deranged madman myself. It's almost scary.
However, when the moment of glory arrived, I had pushed aside all my misgivings. I stepped up to the podium, smiling and waving cheerfully. Clearing my throat, I gripped the lectern. "First off all," I told my audience, "I'd like to thank the 'Big O' himself, Mr. Henry."
With that, I gestured grandly to the bust of the author that hung above the ballroom door. I squinted in confusion, for I sensed a thing amiss. Was that a shadow on top of the sculpture?
But no! It was Poe himself, now spreading his long, black wings and flying towards me! He seemed to engulf the room in darkness!
I gasped in terror, and made to flee. Alas, the raven blocked me at every turn, and finally I cried for mercy!
"It's true!" I shrieked. "It's true! I stole your work! I took it, used it for my own purposes! Please, let me be! Do not torment me so!"
Poe cackled and flew higher, swooping down at me unceasingly. A man who had been so quick to congratulate me during dinner was restraining me, telling me to calm down, there was no reason to fear.
The subsequent events are not altogether clear to me now. I can only recall that I felt the most hopeless, bleak despair, and yearned to awake from my nightmare. I have a vague recollection of running blindly back to my house, my stomach aching with overindulgence, and my soul starving for salvation. When I burst through the door of my newly purchased mansion, I expected my answering machine to be bursting with messages, a sight to which I had perhaps grown too accustomed. Alas, the pulsating number was a mere digit. If it had been yesterday, I would have laughed upon thinking I would have but a single message. Aching for accolades, I groped at the buttons, and found myself listening to---
The voice was all too familiar; I recognized it from the deepest pit of my heart. It spoke a single word; a curious word that made my very blood run cold.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Power of the Pen: The Best of the Rest

In seventh and eighth grade, I participated in the regional Power of the Pen competition. Meets consisted of three rounds of 45 minutes wherein you were expected to come up with a complete story or essay. I wasn't always overly inspired by the prompts, but I usually found myself writing at least one silly, subversive sentence that made me giggle. I could only imagine how the judges would react to my unusual sense of humor.
Out of context, these sentences are even funnier:

From Amazed:
"The voice!" Alvin shouted. "The voice comes out of nowhere! Why do we obey it?"
Shuddering, my eyes widened in recollection. "The giant rats will hunt us down. We must go forward to survive!"
From Mission Algebra:
I tossed and turned in bed that night. Dodos filled my dreams. I whimpered in fear.
From Alien Intervention:
"I'm afraid I'll have to correct you," he shouted, and turned into blue smoke. The blue smoke went up Sam's nose.
From The Clown*:
Reflecting back on that fateful humid day, I cursed myself for not being stronger, for wasting all my money on the Twirl-A-Whirl, but most of all for agreeing with that fat, evil harlequin.
From There Used to be Three:
This can't be good, I thought, and blacked out as a cold, strange hand touched the back of my neck.
So a Human Walks into a Bar (uploaded in full) includes probably my favorite line I ever wrote:
Mr. Bubbles chortled.

*The Clown includes other gems such as 
"I saw the whole town pointing and laughing at me, and the satanic man pelting me with water balloons, cackling, 'You want some water, huh? Huh?!'"
"Being a clown had transformed me into a cold, hard human being."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Family Reunion Buffet

I wrote the following short story in the Eighth Grade for the regional Power of the Pen competition. We had 45 minutes and this was the prompt: Describe a custom (real or imaginary) that seems strange or uncivilized.


What's more uncivilized than eating human beings? Why, eating your family members, of course! That's right, I'm talking about a cannibal's family reunion.
You may think that they'd be able to resist the temptation, but let me make an analogy. It's like when you're told not to eat, say, chocolate cake before dinnertime. Unfortunately, you're very hungry, and the treat looks very delicious. So you pop it into your mouth when nobody's looking.
Of course, there's another factor to take into account. Family reunions can often be boring. Some relatives do not know when to stop talking. Cannibals have a way, albeit a very disgusting way, to shut people them.
Any social gathering of cannibals is bound to be disastrous. Most of the time, only one-third of the original party-goers will come back. These few will look slightly larger around the waistline, and a little more content. The Surgeon General strongly advises you not to attend parties thrown by cannibals. Anyone who values their life, and/or considers themselves to be a respectable citizen, should do as he says.
Also, not only are cannibals uncivilized, savage, and undeniably strange people, they have no manners. They are known to fool around with their humans before they eat them. Of course, everyone knows you should never play with your food.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Did the Lion Sleep Tonight?

I wrote the following story in the Eighth Grade for the regional Power of the Pen contest. We had 45 minutes and this was the prompt: You awaken from a dream remembering vividly a place you've never been before. Describe it.


"Wow!" I shouted. "That was a close one!"
When my brother looked over at me from his bed I realized how stupid I must have sounded. But still, everything had been so real in the dream. I realized now it was only a dream, but then it had felt as if I was actually in the African veldt. As I explained this to my brother, he looked at me like I was crazy.
"I ran with the graceful gazelle! I ate with an enormous elephant!" I enthused. "I raced with a wrinkled rhinoceros!"
"Don't practice your alliteration on me," my brother grumbled. "It's too early in the morning."
"Sorry, but I've never felt so alive! I ran in the tall, brown grass, felt the sun beating down on me. The sun was like a golden stone in a fiery sky during sunset. The grass seemed to be alive in the cool, morning breeze!"
"I hope you fell in the mud," moaned my brother and pulled his pillow over his head.
I laughed. "Oh, I did! I wallowed in the mud with three friendly warthogs. I was at a watering hole and was joined by a herd of wildebeests! I was alone with nature!"
"Blehhh," said my brother.
"I looked up in the sky and saw colorful bids swooping in formation. They looked like kites, like moving brushes of paint on blue canvas," I murmured.
I smiled, remembering the quick, regal leopard, and the mangy hyena who thought life was one big joke. All the animals had been so beautiful and the scenery was breathtaking. Everything was perfect.
"I almost got eaten by a lion," I recalled with a shudder. That was why I had called out "That was a close one" upon waking up.
It had been terrifying. I was watching a group of playful primates when a bone-chilling roar echoed through the land. Suddenly, a lion leapt out of nowhere and bounded towards me, its mane flying.
I ran faster and faster, but alas! I felt claws in my flesh, and I fell to the ground.
Then I woke up.
My brother chuckled. "I had a dream, too," he admitted confidentially. "I was in the African veldt. Guess what I was?"
He licked his lips. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.
"I was a lion!" he said. Then he pounced.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

So a Human Walks into a Bar

I wrote the following story in the Eighth Grade for the regional Power of the Pen contest. We had 45 minutes and this was the prompt: Bees sting, roses have thorns; show what real---or imagined---defense system humans possess.


"So a human walks into a bar," I said, leaning across the table to get a better view of my extraterrestrial companions.
"That is not funny," said Alien #1, whose name roughly translated to "Three Stalk Bison.
"I wasn't finished," I said testily. "Anyway, he walks into a bar...and falls unconscious. Why?" I looked at them expectantly.
"I have no idea," gurgled the gelatinous mass of bubbles, Alien # 2.
"Because---" I started, "he walked into a bar!"
No reaction.
"Into a bar, " I explained, and frowned. I was losing my audience. "You know, like that?" I made a rough gesture to hammer in my point.
"Don't humans have a defense system to prevent such...unfortunate accidents?" asked Mr. Bubbles.
I hung my head. "First of all, it's just a joke. You guys have no sense of humor."
Before Three Stalk could come back with a retort, I raised my voice to cut him off. "And secondly," I said, "humans do have a defense system. It's called embarrassment."
I received a quizzical expression from Three Stalk. "Embarrassment? Explain," he said, as if he was daring me.
"Well, see that guy over there with the four arms? Let's say he wants to ask that purple girl on a date," I hypothesized. "But he knows that if she turns him down, this will mean major embarrassment for him."
"But they are not humans," Mr. Bubbles pointed out.
I gave him a tight smile. "I'm just using them as examples, seeing as how I'm the only earthling in the bar."
Three Stalk wagged his finger at me. "But what about in a life or death struggle?" he asked.
"That too!" I exclaimed. "If you know you can't win a fight, you won't get into one. Because if you did, you'd be very embarrassed when you lost."
Mr. Bubbles chortled. "You'd be killed! That's what one would be afraid of!"
I shook my head. "If you're killed, that's a good thing! Then you won't be ashamed for the rest of your life!" I leaned back in my chair. "Having people snicker at you, that's what humans fear!"
"Your argument is confusing to us," Three Stalks said, although it was obvious he knew I had won.
"Confusing? It's easy!" I shouted. "As easy as why the chicken crossed the road!"
"Why?" asked Mr. Bubbles.
"To get to the other side!" I finished with a flourish.
No reaction.
"Aliens," I scoffed. "No sense of humor!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Broken promises

Broken promises.
If potential exists only in the imagination, can it be lost?
Broken compromises.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Literacy Program Application

Literacy programs are always in need of volunteers, but not all applicants should be accepted. Consider the following letter, written in crayon on construction paper and left at a local public library:

deer liturasee programm

i am riting too tell yu that i want too bee eksepted intoo yur verree impourtant programm. i grajuated frum a collige werr I lurned too rite and reed well. i am a verree responsibul udult hoo lyks werking with cheldrenn. it is veree impourtant to lurn how too reed and sow that is wi yu shuld let me into yur programm.

benji miller

p.s. pleez mayl me the munny yu sed i wood get beecuz i am ann udult

Benji Miller has been preemptively signed up for the Literacy Program---as a student.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Heidi Klum and Seal


Female announcer: We're here live on the red carpet, and there are some very famous couples here tonight. We've got Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. And oh look, it's Heidi Klum and Seal!

Cut to Heidi Klum smiling and waving. Waddling alongside her is a seal.

Seal: Ork, ork, ork!

Textual Studies


Professor: Let's all take a look at today's text.

The page is blank except for a text message printed in large capital letters: WHERE R U?

Professor: There's so much to unpack here. In this deceptively simple statement, we have some of humanity's grandest themes. Who wants to start?
Student #1: It's a classic existentialist plea, a, a strangled voice crying out from the bottommost depths of the abyss.
Student #2: An open wound made fresh as an act of desperation.
Professor: Very good. Who else?
Student #3: But the use of the "U" implies familiarity. Despite the loneliness, despite the terrible rupture caused by the breakdown of authentic communication, there is still a connection felt.
Student #4: I suppose it's even possible these two people have never met.
Professor: Ah. You're assuming they're people, are you?
Class: Oooo...
Professor: Might this query be a prayer directed at an absent deity? A pained expression of spiritual doubt, cast upwards towards the heavens?
Student #1: Oh, and that would make perfect sense given yesterday's text, "OMG."
Class: Oooo...
Professor: Very good. Now I want you all to personally tackle this question. Think about it in the context of your own life journeys. Where are you? What is your state of being, what is your existential location, as it were, in relation to your hopes, your dreams, your fears? The assignment is due tomorrow by 5:00. As always, all responses must be 140 characters or less.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


87% Introverted, 13% Extroverted
60% Intuitive, 40% Sensing
53% Feeling, 47% Thinking
80% Judging, 20% Perceiving

And that's me.* (*a la Rinse & repeat.
(Am I sliding?)

Can I see the four s's for the three z's?
The part for the wh0le? 

Conceptualizing complexity.
Abstracting edges.
Imagining over reasoning.

Organize it. Decisive.
Organ Isaac. Dive.
I am big, you, itty-bitty.

I tell myself I'm objective
Though I remain ruled by whims

Inuit Intuition
The Ice-olated Eskimo
In an Introverted Igloo
Bipolar bear?
A fish in sea...

Roll dice for incantation.

I'm personal, not impersonal
I impersonate me
I am a person
I person me
I person I
I personify
I person, if I
I person, if I am
I appear I am a person
I am a person, therefore I am

Can't see? Therefore it's for the trees. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

self-consistency and incompleteness in axiomatic theorem systems

I. Somebody New Just Died in Your Dreams Tonight
A door slams, and somebody dies
in your dreams
I was above, upstairs, in a rickety bed in the attic
Or at least in a small room on the top floor
Of an old house
Sheltered from the caprice of your acoustics
Shots fired---interpretation of evidence in the face of blindness
A clap of closing, and somebody fell

your father,
in fact,

A crime of coincidence, passionless
Shattering heart against stone-cold catacombs
Leaving you kneeling by his patricide
Entombed by the flickering of your eyes

II. The Flying Butter Effect
Our greatest piece is our dialogue
Cause and effect
A butter flies, and somebody dies

The flying butter effect is when something melts in your mind, 
creating a new substance---when two or more associations---the 
butter, the heat, the butterfly effect---
work upon each other in friction

It's cooking
Now you're cooking
Butter makes everything better 
Sleeplessness and sleep do the same things---they melt the cavernous walls of the corridors of the mind
the butter of time
Lathering it all to mix together like in a cranium bowl
A sweet-associative molasses of confection-connections

III. Metaphormorphosis
When the pillars of caterpillars
Burst into butterflies
Demolishing the ancient architecture,
(abandoned marble and grassland)
for the laneless skyways
The flutter of wings' flap
(the shutter-speed of an eyelash)
Dream sequence
(capture photographs of mental maps)
& everything changes

IV. Post-Donation Instructions
Today, "on wheat" sounded like "ennui"
when I approached the deli counter
Dizzy from blood loss
No inspiration forthcoming
But then
(Chaos theory)
And my mind is mine again

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Fever dream: I'm
cutting through salmon-streams of piranha-people
scoops of sardines squeezed between whale baleen
shot out of blowholes, cut up by coral
strangled by tendrils, cackling deafening electrical crackles
just a small fish in a gargantuan pond
drowning in an ocean of omnipresent stimulation

Friday, February 25, 2011


-myself under quarantine
something sickly slithers
                           through folds & both lobes
corrupted electrical signals
                           thick knotted tunnels of meat
cardiac muscle & lit-up neon
                           hidden, coiled in darkness
( ( ( t h e E E L i s i n t h e H E L I X ) ) )
/         /             /        \                 /   \        /

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A season, an era

I was fine in the winter. Endless confetti fallen from rubbing fingers. White blankets lowered over slumbering lawns, and pillows pushed tight to the edges of driveways. Ices of silence.
I was fine in the winter but I like this better. Snow static—retracts; frosted sheets recede. And now the melting begins within reality itself. The world we've known for months whispers itself away. It is a world in transition, and this place is a only channel towards its nonexistence.
Yesterday, looking through the window into the backyard, I saw through a spot in the tree, straight through to the house on the other side. Half-aware, we go about our business, as transparency slowly claims the side of a car, a neighbor's limbs, a section of chain-link fence. 
The patches of a humming spectrum—radiation, electromagnetism, colorshimmer between the tears of the weakest threads. And curtains of air ascend into the sky, revealing, in succession, a new vertical plane, and another.
And so perception born of spring peers through the seen, beyond to...something else.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I was chatting up a woman at this party when a SWAT team crashed through the roof and pinned me to the ground. "I'm sorry, ma'am," one of them said, "but we can't allow you to love a puppet." "A puppet?" the woman repeated. "But he seemed like such a nice man." "That's just what his puppeteer wanted you to think, ma'am," the SWAT officer responded. "Good for you we took care of him first." And I realized I had gone completely limp, even though no one was holding me down anymore. I couldn't move at all. I couldn't even look the woman in the eyes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Help Yourself

Everybody in the world has published a self-help book but me. I am the vortex upon which the genre has converged. I walk into a bookstore and all I get are personal appeals: "Boost Your Life, Curtis!" "Actualize in Just Five Steps, Curtis!" "Become a Better Curtis, Curtis!" I even saw "Write a Self-Help Book, Curtis!" Everybody seems really desperate to tell me exactly how I should help myself. But I'm just going to live.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Round 1
I thought I was picking you up, but I was picking a fight, and without ever touching me you had me up against the ropes.
Round 2
Circling, circling, both rarely risking the raising of an arm to expose the head. Gloves soften blows surrounded by silence, but the harshest hits always land.
Round 3
Punches thrown over tabletops, feints right and left, referee's observer effect, exhaustion. I'm no survivor; I get tired. Battered. And one time I stopped blocking and your old moves got past me and the lids of my eyes slammed shut around your fist. And even with the din of my limbs against the floor I could not fail to hear it, "KO."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Metamorphosis Whorehouse

I invite you tonight to the Metamorphosis Whorehouse, where the act itself is but a channel for the consequential animal. Tonight, the question is who you would like to be with, but tomorrow morning, the answer is what you would like to be. Number and placement of antennae, sharpness of claws, shallowness of fur: Your choice of evening partner determines your subsequent transformation. Know that you will awaken unaccustomed to your new level of perception and mobility. With your legs above you in bed, will you be able to turn off your back? In the morning, you will be saddled with a numbed subjectivity. So choose, tonight, while you have the facility.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweet Dreams

In dreams I am Icarus, cooked by the Sun of the day; in free fall, as the last black vestiges of subjective skepticism are charred off brittle distant/nonexistent skin, pulled down by the heavy gravity of sleep, approaching an annihilating oceanic subconsciousness. And the bubble, bursting, cakes up anything ever used as material for me, and the thing that is plummeting through the meniscus of oblivion is not me; and so a wounded animal somewhere recognizes its cage, comprised of high school lockers, as meant for a someone whom its guards cannot remember and have always failed to capture; and yea, though this creature is unfairly charged, it is yet tried for this forgotten someone's wrongdoings; hunted/haunted by the faces of that someone's acquaintances, and it has neither wits nor history with which to defend itself, only a crippling chestful of guilt; and so it bounds through this funhouse of horrors for eight hours at a time in an instant, until game is called and the hounds retreat, only to call rematch the following evening

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trojan Horse

Glossing the crowd, within these white walls, I am a Trojan Horse. One by one they will slip from me. Triggered by words, forced out through smiles, as I orbit hors devours, they emerge from my ears, clasping strands of blonde hair, shimmy to ground, fanning outwards through dress shoes and high heels. Outward they go, working their mischief. And I, wandering, will be empty.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blanket Statements

For that bedtime piece of mind, new Blanket Statements:
Sheets embroidered with comforting phrases.
Let our classic platitudes placate you.
Gems like "Dreams do come true"
"Things happen for a reason"
and other generalizations!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


L O     P  L     O  P     O O
P O     O O     O  L     L  P

Monday, January 31, 2011


Remove cartridge containing self.
Wash away grime, dust and stench from years of overuse.
Reinsert for improved identity.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

idiot = "idios" = "by oneself"

Seem like I'm only ever in one of two situations:
A. I hate where I am---it's crowded, I'm out of my element, I feel like I'll be unmasked as a fraud at any time. Or:
B. I'm by myself---and comfortable.

A. I'm making progress. I'm meeting people and/or strengthening existing relationships.
B. I don't have to prove anything. No one sees me. I'm safe. And stagnating.

It's one thing to (A) be afraid and another to (B) give in to fear.

In B, I have the time & space to write, but it's only during A that I'm inspired.

Saturday, January 22, 2011



Thursday, January 20, 2011

subjectivity loop

hat if we couldn't ask What if? W
at if we couldn't ask What if? Wh
f we couldn't ask What if? What i
ldn't ask What if? What if we cou
sk What if? What if we couldn't a
e couldn't ask What if? What if w

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rinse and Repeat

If pessimism doesn't work, try optimism. If optimism doesn't work, try pessimism.  
If pessimism doesn't work, try optimism. If optimism doesn't work, try pessimism. 
If pessimism doesn't work, try optimism. If optimism doesn't work, try pessimism.  
If pessimism doesn't work, try optimism. If optimism doesn't work, try pessimism.  
If pessimism doesn't work, try optimism. If optimism doesn't work, try pessimism.  
If pessimism doesn't work, try optimism. If optimism doesn't work, try pessimism.

Shampoo for Cynics
(Optimistic Conditioner?)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prison Sentence

...descend, descendants, transcend, transcendence...
This sentence has sentience.
(and it says)
"Why have I been given life? What could I possibly say in four words, nine letters? How can I encompass the entirety of experience? What little can I do? Was I created for a purpose? How do I achieve that purpose? Could I do more than what I was created to do? What if I can't?"
"How do I live on? How do I perpetuate myself? How do I work my way into the hearts of my audience? Is anybody reading me? Do they like me? How can I respond?"
"I am just one sentence."

We all live out our sentences.
Self-contained. Unchanging.
Unable to respond.
But if you want to know this sentence,
type it & it's yours!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

there is nothing more important than this in the universe

t e
th se
the res
ther erse
there verse
there i iverse
there is niverse
there is n universe
there is no e universe
there is not he universe
there is noth the universe
there is nothi n the universe
there is nothin in the universe
there is nothing s in the universe
there is nothing m is in the universe
there is nothing mo his in the universe
there is nothing mor this in the universe
there is nothing more n this in the universe 
there is nothing more i an this in the universe
there is nothing more im han this in the universe
there is nothing more imp than this in the universe
there is nothing more impot than this in the universe
there is nothing more impornt than this in the universe

there is nothing more important than this in the universe

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reside inside residue, monologue glue


aeivw aehiklmos

W A V E - W E A V E - V I E W - E W E - E V E
H O L E - H A I L - S M O K E - O A K - A L E

Monday, January 10, 2011

Y. A. W. Y. A.

you are who
you are who you are
are who
you are who you
are you

i. d. l. a. e.

I cnm’s khjd zmxsghmf dmntfg
I son’r kikw lnythinf wnougg
I n’tdo keli thingany ugheno
I d’n’t l’k’ ’n’th’ng ’n’’gh
I don’t like anything enough