In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


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Distance Dis-invited


Observing the world through the wrong end of the telescope 

again jitters me anxious. 

Everything appears near and far 

all at once, and yet, 

the horror bursts under my skin–like inverted leeches 

and the loud clown faces stretched wide 

like reflections in a round, polished door knob, 

gold, red, bleeding before my mind. 

Their insane grins rattle the dendrite bones .

 
The shouting matches pervasive from Twitter to the barroom 

to the soccer field to my inner universe, debating 

whether to sit or lie, kick or run, vote or march, rail or listen…

all at the same mad, ear-splitting volume, nerve-splintering. 

And yet, the glass distorts the all of everything–

the faces, voices, coughing, snarling and sweat–

keeps them remote though their breath cooks my calm, 

no matter whether in ear shot or scope range, 

targeting me and mine.

 
I witness the movie screen from miles away, 

despite the price of dislocation—death, 

a deadness like numb itchiness in sleeping limbs. 

It’s no good at all is all I’m trying to say. 

Nothing good can come from so far away, distance 

that does not create peace, 

does not create… 

Distance invited, procured and deliberate,

not fortresses defended.


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The Best of the Best (Ten today)


July 30, 2016
 

We are in Carlsbad, parked in a cool-shady spot near the beach, car lounging before the next game. The slogan of this soccer tournament boasts that only the best of the best walk through the gates to compete on their well-groomed fields. My daughter and her teammates deserve to be here…on some days. When they want to–her included—they are unstoppable. When they don’t, they’re not. 17 year olds are like that, I guess. They can taste freedom to make their own mistakes just at the other end of the table.
 
This daughter, like her older sister, I know so well and don’t know at all. Her cynical, critical eye is inherited. Her sensed, inarticulable experience of the world is inherited. Her logic, forethought, anxiety and perfectionism are inherited too. She’s more outer driven, while I’m more inner. I want to live up to my own standards. She needs a watcher, a fan and a stern stick behind her.
 
But I respect her. She knows what she wants, I trust, and will have to figure out from where her limitations come should she decide to exceed and conquer them. I give her words and a model. And while my older daughter allowed me to help her, push her to push herself, this one never has–not in the same way. They’re a study in people hood. How humans fulfill their cellular and cultural destinies–endlessly fascinating, the best of the best.


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Ten for Today: No Time


A brewing there is; it’s in the air, 

Something unknown, something

Unwarranted, not guaranteed but

Certain all the same, something 

Like tomorrows, which never

Ever come, at least not the way

We experience them in the thick

Of time, inside of it, surrounded

By it, time, that is, the same time

That convinces us that the present

Moment is all there isn’t, not 

Like there’s a day or so, or more

Ahead like a y intersects an x, at 

The axis, an infinite line projection

To somewhere, really nowhere

Except in the collective imagination

Of something coming and something

Going, as if it-they-we could do it,

Make time and space move us, move

Us toward that something’s arrival.

For it’s certainly coming, definitely

Here————————->.


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Ten for Today: Race, Myth and Dead Boy’s Birthday

July 26, 2016
 
Yesterday was Emmett Till’s birthday, his 76th had he not been brutally beaten and drowned by white men, when he was only 14. It was 1955, I believe, and he was visiting the South from his home in the North. His mother warned him to be careful. But he acted like a silly black 14 year old in a seriously white-colored-hating town in Mississippi, and got lynched.
 
Coincidentally today’s class assignment was John Edgar Wideman’s “Father Along”, which chronicles Emmett Till’s trial, the one which his mother, Mamie, attended to watch her dead son get lynched again as the jury acquitted her son’s murderers. Before the son, his father, Louis Till, was hanged for treason in Italy, a fact revealed to the jury, despite being classified information illegally released and improperly introduced in evidence.
 
In class, we discussed how race is myth and power that perpetuates the myth. Wideman claims that race will disappear when we stop talking about it, but not just talking, also seeing, stop accepting the lies of implanted cultural inheritances that segregate races in the minds of generations.
 
And then I glimpsed a small clip of the DNC today, the part when a group of black mothers banded together to grieve and fight for awareness–of guns and violence and black youth, the sons they lost to guns and violence. Trayvon Martin’s mother spoke. That’s who I caught speaking in the five minutes I was able to snatch at work in between customers.
 
I’m not sure one Presidency can change that, meaning America’s racism, America’s segregation in the minds of its people. Though those women, and many other people maintain hope that the nation will inch its way toward a racially free society. I do too.


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Ten–and 21–for today.


Working my way through the day 15 and 10 minutes at a time, I set the timer. It’s one of those days when sleep filled me, made me hopeful upon awakening, even after a pee trip and return to sleep, rare in itself (the going back to sleep part). An excited brain with a deadline is like a toad on crack. Reigning it in hard today.
 
I also drank a bit last night–a Stone on draft at happy hour. P and I went to dinner before the concert. His Christmas 2015 present finally arrived in a college stadium 80 miles from home–Twenty One Pilots, his favorite band these days. Or one of them. Having tapped into his on again off again creative piano playing and composing mojo lately, he was particularly ready to enjoy the show. And he did, dancing the night away.
 
I, on the other hand (not as familiar with the band), was glad to have had the beer and mushroom flatbread before the show, washed down with a cool glass of water out on that breezy terrace to the immaculate, tinged-with-class-and-hipness restaurant. A compromised restaurant between haute cuisine and bistro fare, I was satiated. The cool beer and water helped when the stadium filled with hopping, singing, dancing, screaming and hugging mostly-younger-than-I fans turned stifling.
 
Two young women standing/swaying in front of me in the row ahead turned to me like they would to an older adult, like their mom’s or grandma’s friend, and mouthed the question with slightly furrowed brows, “Do you have water?” My slow shaking head side to side, the response, they sadly looked away. I was holding up well for two reasons: beer and water chaser before the show, and sitting down while the crowd stood. It’s called conservation, like the camel-hood I procured decades ago.
 
That’s right security dude checking us for contraband at the stadium entrance, who asked me sarcastically, which song was my favorite of this 20-something band, I’m old–and savvy. And, while you were busy busting my chops, I was smiling and smuggling by.
 

Image: Twenty one Pilots/mtv


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At the Corner: Ten for Today

I don’t know why I bite. I practice keeping my distance, detaching from all the crap around me, only to self-sabotage in weaker moments. Quixotic behavior, fighting windmills, I collapse, fall into the delusion that cyberspace is real, people on Facebook are real. They are not. They are as solitary as I am, poking at keys to create effect. There are no people in cyberspace, just ones and zeros. I know this, and yet…
 
Going out to dinner with my housemates, dad and partner, that is real. Though the restaurant was too noisy to facilitate conversation, we know what we want to say–and the food is always good there at our corner joint called, “The Corner.” Upon seating, the waiter, who knows us by name, delivered a cellophane wrapped wine glass we left there a month before. They knew it was ours, and the bartender brought it to our table upon seeing us. Even though we have never sat at the bar, the guy recognized us for our frequent patronage.
 
That’s real life–in the flesh.
 
To feel the pulse of America and predict the outcome of this upcoming election, I need to get out of cyberspace, off my computer, and walk among real breathing human beings, who can look me in the eye and tell me who they are and what they want. Only posers–personas–hide on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all the other social media sites created for production, the creation of false spaces, rooms, and people who perform pieces of their lives, oh so convincingly.

 

Image: around the corner


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At the Wine Bar


We decided our favorite coffee is wine on this sweaty hot summer late afternoon. The temps rose to about 88 degrees even here at the beach. So we met at a wine bar by the water instead of our usual siesta hour coffee place. I enjoyed a Patson Hall Chardonnay, chilled, and she a Central Valley Pinot Noir, whose name I forgot. Cheers, clink, and she was off. First the job, politics, and then her current “person of interest.”

Her:  I like a guy who talks me up dirty. Just gets me going, like when D***** says, “Gonna pump sum jiz in you” right before he cums. I want to scream, “Go, go, go for it, fucker!!” And her voice does get loud.

I wince, probably visibly. I mused how I’m more of a Nike kind of girl. Don’t announce. Just do it.

Her: I must have some sort of oral fixation that I get off on sex talk like that, his mouth clenched in urgency, coughing out, “Here it cums, baby.” Makes the finale all the more spectacular. I should have been an actress, not a business major. It all seems so meta sexual, you know, like acting out sex inside the sex act. You know what I mean?

I nod. Honestly I did. Like sex in front of a mirror. The self-consciousness of the act as act. The wine buzz would not let me fall into the full possibilities of sex, mirrors, and performance. I shook it off, silently.

Her: I mean when T** and I were seeing each other, he was the quiet church mouse type. He performed all right, but I never could gauge the decibels of his pleasure like I can with D*****.  I can coordinate my own orgasm much easier with the verbal cues. 

The church mouse visual stuck in my mind, I just then remembered the guy who shushed me during sex. We had been dating for a few months; it wasn’t the first time we were going at it. But he all of the sudden unquestionably shushed me, like I was making too much noise. The only thing missing was the hand covering my mouth.

We were at a hotel. He had kids, a divorce, too soon, all of that. And what? He didn’t want to disturb other hotel guests? I wasn’t screaming, that’s for sure. He was a serviceable lover but not scream-worthy. I was stunned, totally thrown off. I didn’t even question why or how or what. But afterward, I became hyper aware of the sounds I would have made had I not stifled them before they came out. I couldn’t cum.

It wasn’t long after that we broke up. I’m not sure if it was because of that. We just didn’t have enough gelling to get over the breach. 

The server came by just then. “Yes, I’ll have another. Same.”

 
Image: the Purple Passport