Dear Holden Caulfield

First published by great weather for MEDIA

Dear Holden Caulfield,

I lived inside your manic mind briefly, though long enough to feel hung-over and raw. There are good things, which come out of having terrible long-term memory. I forget endings of books, beginnings too. You won’t find me quoting movies or historical dates. I have gaps in my memory that I’ve simply grown accustomed to. Sometimes it’s better to forget; then, everything feels like an unexpected surprise.

So when I recently reread The Catcher in the Rye for the tenth+ time, I smiled and reacted to Salinger’s words as though I hadn’t digested them before. Of course, this is just like winter, right? Our bodies have to readjust to plummeting temperatures as though we’ve never felt negative degree Fahrenheit before. Snow—at least the first fall—is like an enchanted repainting of our landscape. We bury ourselves in it and slide down its slick ice. We create three-piece men with carrot noses out of its ingredients.

Everything that has existed can still have elements of surprise and newness.

I convinced myself my fractured memory was a fault, something to be embarrassed about. However, it allows me to find thrills in reruns. Forgetfulness has become like a cure for ennui.

There is simplicity in The Catcher in the Rye. There are no explosions or surprises. It’s kind of like a Frank O’Hara poem. We’re brought into the head of someone referencing people we don’t know, yet suddenly want to care about. Walking around New York City during hours I usually sleep through listening to jazz, drinking too much and searching for ways to feel alive.

I spent most of December too afraid of my blank imagination to write. Instead, I listened. I cried. I ate too much. I searched for meaning in the frigid air at Coney Island. Actually, Holden Caulfield came with me that day. It was Christmas. I was alone by choice and felt completely emptied of any tangible, creative thoughts. My mind was terribly, terribly dark. So I went toward the water because that is where the answers are. I could barely look up because the wind was so fierce and cold, but I listened to the music of the Atlantic, inhaling the salty air merged with Holden Caulfield’s alcoholic exhales. I collected shells and bought some stale donuts. I realized that sometimes what we write doesn’t always come out at the time we need it to, or in the way we want it. Each word is a shallot. A tiny onion with so many layers, that you sometimes need to keep peeling before its quite right.

When I finished the last page of Salinger’s book, I felt sad to leave Holden. I liked being in his head. Although it was in those last words that I became closer to finding my own. To being ready to try again. To write.

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How to Celebrate Without Celebration

There is to be no tree. You pondered cutting one down or purchasing one hacked by another, but then you realized you live inside a box made of wood and there are bugs and wildlife living in your walls, so it’s kind of like one GIANT tree you are gasping inside. You hang tinsel and decorative lights on your limbs and call it enough.

There is to be no caroling or instrumental holiday songs, but you consider dancing to the beat of clocks ticking away in every room, not quite in synch but you like that they are autonomous (like you). You almost burn your tongue on the coffee, but it’s just not hot enough. So you imbibe and you putter and you contemplate how to be alone while the rain outside tries to wash away twelve months of disappoint.

There are no presents to open, so you close your eyes and grab a book off your shelf. Carefully, you place it onto the already-read newspaper and wrap it up. It is to be a surprise, though you hope it is poetry or you hope it is one you’ve forgotten to read or you hope the postal workers forgot it is a holiday and deliver anyway.

There will be no jolly, slightly overweight white man climbing down your chimney, as you do not have one and prefer to be alone anyway. You have no doorbell to be wrung and one needs to be quite agile to knock on your windows, so you do not wait to be visited. There is day-old soup on your stovetop and almost-stale ingredients in your fridge.

There will only be you, dressed in your evening sleepwear, a morning progressing into day then night on the other side of your windows. There will be lights to turn off or on, a radio full of static, outlets to plug things into and drawers to take things out of. Oh, and a mouse (or mice) somewhere in the nooks of where you live, expertly avoiding all traps, trying to bring you some holiday cheer.

How to Stay Informed

first published by great weather for MEDIA

 

Forget the headlines, translate the ink left weeping on your fingertips. It can be difficult to turn the page. They title it war as though it is different this time. You locate a run-on sentence on page nine, so you hitch a ride on one of its commas. They misspelled DEMOCRACY. Whose news is this, anyway? Afterwards, you search for an antonym for FREEDOM and all you see is red, white, blue. Just stop reading. Instead, walk outside and photograph everything that doesn’t move. You still need to stay informed, so you skip to the end and scoop out the middle. You ask the stranger beside you to read it to you. Coffee spills over the paragraphs and in the blur, you feel free again. But when it dries, your brain paralyzes from another re-run of violence.

Upcoming Performances

I’m excited to read some new work…….hope you can make it!

Tuesday, November 21st, I will be reading poems at BIG WORDS, ETC reading series at 61 Local located at 61 Bergen St in Brooklyn. The event is from 6-8pm. Celebrate some wonderful writers exploring the theme of 5 more minutes! 

Friday, December 1st,  I get to celebrate Three Rooms Press’s Prose! Poetry! Party! at Cornelia Street Cafe located at 29 Cornelia St. in NYC from 6-8pm. This event is $10, but it includes a drink. What a great line-up of writers including Meagan Brothers, David Lawton, Jane LeCroy, Karen Hildebrand, Jane Ormerod, Robert Gibbons, and more! Hosted by the marvelous Peter Carlaftes and Kat Georges.

Upcoming Performances!

My poetryband Hydrogen Junkbox featuring David Lawton, Zita Zenda, Starchilde and I will be performing on Friday, November 3rd at Cornelia Street Cafe from 6-8pm. It will be an evening of poetry and music. Come hear some of our new songs!!! The night will also be featuring Obsidian and Matthew Hupert. Plus….a limited open mic, so bring something to read if you dare! It is $10, which includes a drink.

Cornelia Street Cafe is located at 29 Cornelia St. in NYC. 

THEN…..join me the next day on Saturday, November 4th for a Brevitas reading at Parkside Lounge located at 318 E. Houston St. in NYC for a smorgasbord of poets reading short poems from 2-6pm. Two drink minimum (they have non-alcoholic beverages as well).