Thursday, July 31, 2014

We, the Coda

Jesse S. Mitchell

For those who have ears and choose words
And not mere sounds

We, the sea monsters.
We, white mice.
We, under the waves.
We, under the glass.
We, the gasoline drinkers
We, The Crystal Nights
We, the Nakba Days.
We, the trapdoor spiders.
We, the atlas of all the Earth.
We, the all the earth quake and shaking.
We, the tectonic plates.
Banging together.
We, the Rift Valley.
We, the sinus infection.
We, the vertigo.
We, the slow burn burning
We, the mass extinction passing.
We, Enkidu

(also, try not to imagine Gwendolyn Brooks at the St. Crispin's day speech. Thanks.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Angelfish Ink Stain

Jesse S. Mitchell

I have an angel fish shaped ink stain on my kitchen floor.  I stare at it every breakfast.  I sip coffee out of a tall plastic insulated cup and look down at it, swimming motionless on the hard linoleum floor.  It reminds me of Virginia Woolf.  Across the Atlantic, so many years ago, Bloomsbury group sitting on the edge of the channel.  You know, the British government at the time supplied Virginia and her husband, Leonard with two emergency cyanide tablets.  It was during the war and in the case that Britain’s best laid plans for ultimate self-defense failed and the Nazi overrun those Albion shores, it was decided that some folks like Ginny and Leonard had best quietly suicide rather than face the horrors of capture.  I call this good governance.   This is a place where I believe the European have surpassed us.   They are better at authority.  They seem to have a knack for it.   No matter what we try to do, in the areas of governing we always somewhat fail, maybe that is a good thing, a special thing, something unique that should be cherished.  Who am I to say?  Anyway, it doesn’t matter, the jury is still out on whether governance of any kind is even a good or proper thing.  So maybe it is better after all to fail at it.
The angel fish stain swims between my feet as I stand over it, watching it between my legs.  Like a giant groping downward at the imaginary movements.  It reminds me of Virginia Woolf.  Blown through a tube at one hundred miles a hour landing hard at the other end with scarcely a hairpin left in, groping at the trunks and roots of trees like the legs of giants, never seeing the canopy of beautiful petals, waxy and feathery above.  It reminds me of Virginia Woolf because of her ‘Mark on the Wall’ obviously.  It reminds me of that work because few things have made more of impact on my life or style than that unfinished novel.  I have it complete in a book collection of several of her unfinished novels.  She wrote a lot of fragmentary things.  I do too.  I imagine most people do.  Johnny Cash once said he only finished one out of every ten songs he started and he didn’t consider it a sign of being inconsistent but of being professional.  I’m not sure of that, I don’t know what it is a sign of or for.  What I do know is that it is monumentally easy to lose the passion ands taste for a thing.   The rickety clicking of your fingers sliding over hard cold keys brings all kinds of thoughts to a head, one being that most likely whatever you are working on then will lead only to rejection.  If it doesn’t lead to rejection but instead to acceptance, it will be an acceptance without pay or glory and whoever the lucky soul that did accept it will not promote it, either because they can’t, don’t know how, or simply won’t…if that isn’t the case and you do happen to find yourself in the loving arms of a big and wonderful publisher of some prominence…still only time will tell.  Few of us outlast the harsh ravages of time and the best of us still don’t like to think about what that means.  Say, you do manage as in the case of Wordsworth, to write some bloody  Daffodils, the best you can really hope for is two hundred and twenty years down the road being stuck in the pages of some old dog-eared textbook that smart-assed students kick down the highly illuminated tiled high school hallways, stuffed in lockers, forgotten, on the weekends used to clean and break up their weed, seeds collecting in the spine next to the scribbled dirty words and amateurish drawn penises.  It is not a pretty picture of the future, even for the best of us.   It is easy to lose a thing.  Especially in this world where so much simply flutters around.
The angel fish ink stain on my floor sets off a web of thoughts.  Lines and ropes that lead to other lines and ropes, ropes that lasso out and catch other thoughts and pull them crashing back into my mind, upsetting and rattling otherwise perfectly normal bemusing.  It reminds me of the looseness of my consciousness.  It reminds me of the very looseness of the hold I have on that consciousness.  It reminds me of the entire world, seas and seas of it but mostly and especially as I near the last sips of my coffee cup, it reminds me of the need to buy more bleach.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Jesse S. Mitchell

Come tumbling down the tree,
Come rolling off the leaves,
Come spilling out the dew,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harness (complete)

Jesse S. Mitchell

 Like elephant poachers, like slave traders, centipeding over the mountain’s back, steady-stampeding through the valleys and passes, the low places, the dry places.  Keep the cold behind you.   the sun comes dawning every morning for no good reason, except that it is good for optimism, for realism.  Keep that in mind.
Good for whatever you need, in the eye-strain, in the freezing rain, good for whatever, whatever…
Safety, whatever…
Like hallucination, like confusion, but like euphoria, hungry ghosts of oxygen starvation.  Marching sores, creeping cranial aches, sleep deprivations, ifriti hell from panic.
But scaffolding is just scaffolding
And that’s all this is, building materials, futurism.
Two planetary systems swinging around each other in gravitational thrall
But separately, and the communication is a bore.
And then the Prussian Junkers run up the bank.
And then the Maoist Peasants run up the bank.
And then the long haul trucker’s son runs up the bank.
Rapid fire grease guns run up the bank.
Spilling paint like catching fire like blood leeching like rune reading all over the twentieth century
Like drop cloth, cut whole cloth, stain-sense tarot carded rotating shadows, discerning.
Logical positivism or existentialism, nihilism or full on quantum mysticism?
Entangled, searching, a bit mechanical.
But scaffolding is just scaffolding.
And that’s what we are doing, punching holes in everything, pragmatism.

 A few miles above Tintern abbey
Fresh out of lucidity, ill-composed, hearts racing,
The grand inquisitor and I making circles around the world, orbits.
Obituary devils, last drops of water in the sink,
We fear no drain, no depletion, no bleeding away.
It is all fade.
Schizoid, histrionic, borderline, Hellenistic
Personality disorder.
Let’s go somewhere nice, trim my beard, shine my boots.  Look real good.
Load up on lorazepam, tanked to the gills, good little fishes.
And we will swim, we will swim around.
Making oblong orbits, orbits, orbits, egg-shaped.
Cracking. Breaking down, descending.
Spiraling around.
Harnessed in, a great big spin.
And all of it is fade.

And dear wunderkind, my baby genius mind, we can help each other, you and I
Be nothing, nothing at all
But the little words at the ends of long silent sentences
That drive the waves and deep cold froth
Born from foam like Aphrodite gold.
But it is all novelty, unrecognizable, and we will approach it slightly
Like contraband, on our toes
Because scapegoat, slit throat, or burning effigy
Leave a wake
Let’s just make it to the lifeboats
And from there terra nova, new rules, new millennium.
All parking garage as ziggurat
Traffic lights as runic stone
Unscripted fellatio as love
Unfiltered light as plague
Cure the blind, miraculous, cure the blind (of desiring sight).
Nouvelle vague bipedal-shot-glass-depression-stained-glass-mammalian
Tired-of-living-paradise, we will stand up on the beach.
Sunlight in our eyes.

But coming up for air is an evolutionary step,
A step up out of…
And l'ignorance
Is the muck, is the gunpowder.

And the back alleys labor their genocidal breath but the boulevards are so broad,
So calm, lulled straight away to sleep.
Like to dream.
Because it’s all Messerschmitt and Metternich while we are digging in our ditches.
And all Messier and Kepler as we finish with the dishes.
But one story by an Alighieri, one little heresy by a Galilei and that’s it, that’s how it all begins,
The bumper cars spark and the real carnivals start.

A ring around the neck,
But this is my knife,
This is my knife,
This is our resnick blade.

And now I believe,
I believe in 16 sound.
I believe Yucca Flats, the beast of Yucca Flat.
I believe in St. Martins college.
I believe in lost aviators.
I believe in movie reels.
I believe in Bollywood bombs
I believe in Ford Mustang
I believe
I believe in blood spilt.
I believe in melody, like drifting humming.
 Because scaffolding is just scaffolding
And all of this is fade.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Brea, Ca (from 'Laramidia or The Last Soliloquy Of Hoarse Angeles')

Jesse S. Mitchell

And when our storming waves came crashing down on the cement shores of Brea, everything was lemon-yellow jaundice.  Overflowing with poison, backed up in the streets, toxin, the sky was a froth of clouds, nothing stirred, no release.  There were no bodies.  There were no people.  The well-to-do had left.  Gone.  Rats had flung themselves off the ships and into the painfully dusty desert harbors that surround.  Trying to avoid.  Trying to outrun and escape the inevitable.  But maybe not so inevitable, lord knows what money can buy, with all the excitement beside, the world is not so different.  Money can surely still buy sainthood somewhere.  Some place, these gilded souls probably still exist, still swagger, still live and breathe.
But not here.  Here, trees rustle over our heads as we climb out of the stopped truck, not even parked, just stopped, frozen, halted in the middle of a well-defined, well-financed streets.  Stores and strip malls with big watery eyes staring blankly back.  Traffic lights a wan, weak blinking.  Cyclopic glare, automated flickering.  
Paloma staring. Slowly craning her neck to take in every possible angle as she exited the truck. Her eyes red, raw, as red and raw as suspicion, as red and raw as hesitation.  Like the dawn beginning to come up, as calm as a haunt and as still as daybreak.
I opened my eyes big as well and took in everything.  Two tall swaying palm trees,  a fancy little three-tiered fountain, a short plaza, dark sliding-glass automatic doors.  Cold iron.  Hot sand.  Busted glass.
It is hard not to have memories.  Memories of human life, existence, the Crystal Palace, World’s Fairs, World Wars, immunizations, newspapers, space races.  It is hard to not get caught deep in the midst of that deluge, the way it consumes your mind.  Everything everywhere you look, ruins, headless statues, noseless Sphinxes, no secrets, Acropolises, just ugly old broken spines, just ugly old musty Doric columns stretched to heaven and now…and now threatening to fall.          
I look over the tops of the decapitated buildings, limestone, jimson dust waste funneling in the brisk busy air, I let my eyes go blurry and scan the high above clouds.  Armbone skinny thin, the horizon, naked, like the back of a knife.  The back edge of a very sharp and quick knife cutting, slicing into the sky.  And whatever light there is, and there is and it is diffused and obscure, is bleeding out of that very cut.  The wound purple, the blood light shine arterial.  Gold and grey and ultraviolet. Gleaming, streaming, silent, and strangely cold.
Strangely cold.  Cold. Cold.   And a wash comes over me, buckles me over inside, a deep sick sadness, a cocoon that surrounds.  The longer I think the deeper and thicker it gets.  It is hard to see through, a viscous liquid, a heavy fog.  I just want to stand still.  I just don’t want to move at all, or let a random thought invade my mind, nothing but complete silence and peace.  But that isn’t real.  It isn’t even really me.  It is getting stronger and stronger, harder and harder to shake.  It is disease.  Pure disease.  And I know eventually, I will die from it.   No matter how far I get.  No matter how hard I try.  The tide keeps rushing up on me.
But mostly, I am not sad.
This world…
This world is no enviable place to remain.
It is a web.  A great big spider web, easier and easier to get caught and tangled in, easier and easier to ignore and disregard.  More and more deadly and carnivorous with every passing thought, second, glance.
There is nearly nothing to do.
Brother slaps his hands against thighs, knocks the dust off, big swirling clouds plume up around him.  Makes him cough.  He squints his eyes.  His face a touch twisted, confused, holding hard to something, steely.  His arms dangle ashamed next to his body.  We are all three so skinny, so threadlike.
And then there was sunlight.
And it was radiant.
Up, the great gash in the air had opened, and you could see directly into heaven.  Deep inside the wound, visible, de sol, the sun had come out.
All of our existentialist appendages, exhausted, our senses, wasted, all philosophical inquiry was delayed.
Only living.
But nothing about life can make you live.  You just do or you just don’t.  That is truer now than ever.
But that is just that, no fire for speculation, no fuel for contemplation.
But the sun was out and it was bright and it was warm.  And it cast long black shadows in front of us.  Long, serpentine things, waving before us and slowly ivy-climbing the Santa Fe style fa├žade of the shipping center.  They flickered like flame on the sandy concrete as we moved, grew as we walked, likely turning everything to ash behind us, as it felt very much, we were the ember.
You have to imagine things differently.  You have to see the whole world differently when everything begins to crumble down.  And first you must see it all new in your mind, and then your eyes.  Spirit first.  Blood and tissues later.  Get it right, where it all starts anyway.  Suss it out.  Construct it.
And we are talking whole galaxies, whole histories.  A lot of energy.
Like, you have to see your whole life as a bubble.  A thin gauzy film wrapped around you almost as tight as it can be, a shroud, an embryonic sack, a skin.  A single fragile random thing, a boiling bubble raising up off the effervescent foam of all the motion churning. A thing that happens but only happens because all these other things are happening but none of that sea of energy could be happening if your thing hadn’t happened.  It is electrics. Fanatics.  Gesticulation.  Theatrics.
You have to notice the boil you are in, the fizz, but you have to also perceive the raising up, the drifting off.  Float away.
And now here we are, the fiery forward edge of blazing heat, so much seething, a delight to just simmer, whatever hell it is to always be burning.  Here we are, all wrapped up in this bubble heaving up through the air, like dryness, like dryness is death, lack of moisture, of fluidity is torture, so much movement, evaporation towards the sun.
Our shadows walking up the front of the deserted shopping mall.  Dark glass doors, mostly shattered, broken through, you could clearly see the blood.  Some still stood.  The ones that still stood could be moved and we opened them.  Stood at the opening for a few minutes.  The breeze coming out was cool.  The yawning open door was a chasm, an awful degenerate perforation, a pit, a spear-wound into the side of all the world.  We were reculant to go inside.  
But we went, we went like a seeping, as infection enters an open wound.  Slowly.  Stealing around the red edges, creeping in, burn-rushing around the corners, down the empty corridors.  Our eyes big.  Everywhere demon-sounds fluttered in the vast broad spaces, electricity-dead and echo-chambered, a soft breeze tunnel.  Bone-crunch hard rubbish under foot, all kinds of cast off, papers, cups, glass, viscera.  Banners still hung in the high rafters.  Trees in indoor containers still grew, unruly.  Birds nested in every nook and cranny, long desert snakes slither, dangerous, everywhere dangerous.  Mislaid steps and topple down, come crashing hard on the floor, your body bruised, or cut, watching our every move.
Never enough light.  Never enough room.  Labyrinthine.  Dungeon-faced terror, confusion, breathless, time- rending, flesh-scalding, eye-blackening.
Brother put his hands over his face.  He stopped in his tracks.  I stopped behind him, put my arm out to stop Paloma safely after me.  I watched him carefully.  He lowered his head.  I could tell he was getting very sick.  He shook his head and rubbed his hands over his face, roughly.  Stood back up, straight, began walking again.
“Anybody got a flashlight?” over his shoulder as we walked.
I shook my head, “Nothing, I got nothing.”
“Be a lot cooler if ya did.”
I nodded.  Looked over both shoulders warily.  So morbid.  In every angle, in every corner, something dead or dying, or a plastic symbol of something dead or dying, something from a bit before, something that should still be living, something alive and well,  but all gone now.  Morbid.  Morbid.  Moribund.   The wind coming through the cracked and broken windows sounded deep, low bass brass, some symphonic gutteral grumble.
And we never dared to look down.  Not too much.  What the fire hadn’t burnt and what the feral creatures hadn’t gnawed or taken away still remained.  Remains, still remained.  And to keep the spirit up is essential.   Can’t let anything get inside of you, tear away at you, can’t let anything slow you down, weaken.  If…
In a big ‘t’ intersection, the corridors all met, a center point, a lingering nexus.  We stopped.  And to our left was the vivid storefront of an abandoned arcade, we inched our way toward it, shuffling our feet.  We dared not go into the cave of it but stayed along the doorway, sat down whatever we had in our hands.  I took off the grey flannel jacket I was wearing and folded it neatly, sat it on the floor.
“There, sit on that,”  I said to Paloma and she slowly lowered herself down onto it.  I cleared a space with my feet and sat down next to her.  Brother scanned around and walked to the right of us, to a small boutique shop, jewelry or something.  It was elaborately decorated.  Without a word he reached up over the store doors, jumped up a bit and grabbed a strand of rope lights and pulled them down in a loud and frustrated yank.  They hit the floor in a loud crashing pool.  He ripped a certain intact section off the rest of the length, he struggled.
Paloma and I watched him.  No idea what he was up to.  He handed me the string he had wrenched free,
“Clear out the lights.”
I shook the rope and little LED bulbs came falling out, broken and otherwise, tiny filaments and wires, dust.  Brother looked around, hands on his sides.  He was looking for a maintenance closet, a door, anything.  He saw something up the way and started off toward it to check it out.  Satisfied, he returned and took the long plastic tube out of my hands,
“Stay here.”
I nodded.
Paloma looked over at me.  Her face was tired.  Crimson.  Saggy.      
“I think he is looking for a generator, a gas generator.  You know, to siphon from,”  I say to her.
She just looks at me.  Intent on the side of my face.  Scanning me all over.  Uncomfortable.
“It is weird for it to be so quiet here, huh?” casually
She continues to stare over my face, trying to read me, looking for signs of disease or abuse most likely.
Suddenly she speaks, “Have you always lived in Los Angeles?”
“Yep.” I nod, “born here, both of my parents are native too.  My Mother was from Tehrangeles.”
“So, you are Persian?”
“Yep, half,” nodding again.
“And your dad?”
“Hm, oh, yeah, native born too.  He lived all over though, all kinds of working class neighborhoods. His family, my family, came here after World War Two. From the south, the deep south, they had been sharecroppers before they moved. Slaves even before that, and before that, West Africans of some sort, I suppose, Yorubas or Fons or Ashantis… I don’t know.”
“Quite the combination.”
“Yep, only in America.  That’s what’s good about America, odd combinations, like barbecue chicken pizza and cool ranch chipotle anything.”
She seemed more at ease.  She stopped studying my face for danger.
A little left-hand tilt, a bit of the fuzz that hits the eye around the periphery, like a blurry photogaph.  Because that is what it all is anyway, an out-of-focus snapshot of a moment unfolding.
“You should try to rest.  You should try to get some sleep.”
Paloma agrees, she nods at me, and begins to stretch herself out on my jacket and puts her head against the faux stucco plaster wall. She closes her eyes, slowly, the lids close up tight and shut out all the light.
Brother came back, swaying, so cavalier.  Careless gait, a grin on his face, he had a red container in his left hand, you could smell the gasoline wafting up off of it.  In his right hand he had grungy bottle, he was drinking from it, probably whiskey, probably some kind of hard liquor he had found, pick up, along the way. He put the gas down at my feet, walked across the corridor, looking over his shoulder the whole time.  He sat down in the hallway across from me, under a tall tropical flowering tree in a fake plastic terra cotta container.  He took out a cigarette and lit it, took a swill from his bottle.  Pointed to Paloma with the cigarette smoldering in his fingers and said, “We can leave as soon as she is up.  I got some more gas.  We are gonna have to find some other place.”
I nodded.  There was no way we could stay here.  No way we could stay in Brea for long.
I watched as Hermano closed his eyes and began to sleep as well.  I took the still burning cigarette out of his hand and took a quick drag and stomped it out.
There was no way to stay put in Brea.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nero Astro-Fellah and the Stars (complete)

Jesse S. Mitchell

Nero Astro-Fellah and the Stars (the whole Megillah)

Ut sentias tramine

1. The Narrative 
Ink dark blooded, paper thin skinned,
Lets you see everything working from deep within.
Heart-pounding-eyes that pull the light straight by the root from the bone.
These hands are made of wood
These hands are made of stone.
So waylay the gentry, kick out-eviction the gentle, and cash out your bonds.
Sturdy make study and invest all your dimes and all your trouble times in the remote control neutron bombs.
These hands are made of wood.
These hands are made of stone.
And all the rest of this body is long long gone.
And the lung collapsing sound, terrible, is nothing, nothing, but sea chantey-ditty-dirge that beats the drums-empty-page purge.
Like spider web-sailors and beating winged flies sexual merge, clocks in cannibalistic, all spiritual or suicidal gone.
And everything else is gone
Is gone
Gone but the China syndrome, palindrome, Paladin-knightfall, reads backwards and sideways and maternity ward.  The howlers howl, the folk tale devils unwind, the bottles collect in the loam
And we make better use of our time.

2. The Pastoral 
 And all the slowly ghosts that turn lowly and in front of the sun and blot out dark blocks of disturbing light.
But who fears fluttering?  Who fears paganism but the pagan?
the old yellow moon. That’s who.  And me and you.
Terrified of sun up.
Too much to too few.  Champagne effervescing symphony of orchestral swelling, that sweeps clean over the hard red wheat, the fields baked starving in the sun.    wispy.  
The skull-and-crossbones breeze that falls, freezes and thrills the resolve, a’ tremble and a ‘quiver.
It is a reaper blade.
Glory shakes and entwined snakes that caduceus men flame and pitch, and so the medication is a success.
But it is the reaper blade that’ll take your shoulder from the plow, finally.
And this is why old rain drenched men keep their minds brimming with serious philosophical shit.
You get two words in this world when you are born.
This hand is life.
This hand is death.
And it is the reaper blade that’ll make them finally speak.

3. The Idyll
And a perestroika bloom will break red like dawn, with that old grinding Bolshevik kick, new tempo.
And the 1969-Parisian tractor batteries-battering rams, communal, will idle in the streets to contemplate
The greatest fears of famine.
Sein and Zeit, and Zeit, and Zeit, and total war.
Nothing, nothingness, oh nothing, nothingness.
So we will lay ourselves down on the soft mown grass and wait
And wait for the clouds to drop down atop of us,
And then out comes the old goji-faced (pansexual) hunger in full on raiment,
All messiah-bright and smackin’ asses, taking names, crucifuxin’, all empty geometry and sacrifussin’
But don’t dare misinterpret the same, the wild wind masses, the big cloud shapes.
It is tetragrammaton and evolutionary, all loose out of pocket energies.
And will divide out in our open hands all the atrophy and entropy and the potions of the chaos-breathing
That we cherish and build over us a canopy, a canopic glass, so the star lights do not perish, and will we burn away all the pariah words we so easily have uttered into the wasteless
Into the wasteless dark that surrounds around us and we will call it night, at our lacking…
Laying deep on the short shorn
The short shorn grasses in the calm and dream of no answers-not-ever and beautiful islands and curvy women.

4. The Refrain, how repetition begins
 and every ghost in Glasgow goes back to Egypt goes back to Nubia goes back to Gondwana.
(Have you ever been to India, They’ll ask.
I know my history of the world, you can reply)
Because to you,
In black and white old train stations, so much smoke as noir, and so much steam,
On Juan Trippe red-airliner upholstery, high above, with yellow brass fittings.
You know how to get around.  Cause  and effect.  Your reason is sound, like logic for milk, deep in the blood cells, a modern mammal.  Analytical.  And savage-brutal.
(And they will say, come on lads, guilt-trip the stumbling masses, all our anythings, we’re on our ways to heavens.)
So, we all live together, in the prefecture of joy, the very center of the universe, the hungry hungry eye, the burning sun of calm furnace Glasnost of massive orbital pull, the very face of passion.  The brightest thing visible, the most luminous glow known to our limited senses.   

5. The Ekphrasisic Coda 

First, the whole gestation process. Birth.
A couple of sunny days.
And then they wrap you in a shroud.
Bury you down deep under some shade tree.
But Yugoslavia is just a disco now, a restaurant, a brand of sour kraut.
If you remember it at all.
But memories are just lost thoughts, leaky thoughts, bleeding through thin paper, a grease stain.
A tip of the hat, a drop of rain in the big bay, an moment-ice cube frozen floating, bobbing up in down in your mind.
This is how you have to see the days,
The days

And just always melting away.