There was nothing he could do but carry it

There was nothing he could do but carry it
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90% of being a poet is just knowing what the names of the trees and the birds and the fish are where you live then looking at them and writing it all down. Which is why I'm never going to make it. I'm not learning all of that.

The other 10% is going through a bad divorce. That I could probably pull off.

I just read this interview from Borges at Eighty: Conversations which may or may not be related.

WILLIS BARNSTONE: To use Frost’s words, which path in the wood do we take? When you took the wrong roads in your life, could you tell us of the disasters or the good things that came as a result?

BORGES: You mean the wrong books I have written?

BARNSTONE: Yes, and the wrong women you have loved, the wrong days you have spent.

BORGES: Yes, but what can I do about it? All those things, the wrong women, the wrong actions, the wrong circumstances, all those are tools to the poet. A poet should think of all things as being given him, even misfortune. Misfortune, defeat, humiliation, failure, those are our tools. You don’t suppose that when you are happy you can produce anything. Happiness is its own aim. But we are given mistakes, we are given nightmares, almost nightly, and our task is to make them into poetry. And were I truly a poet I would feel that every moment of my life is poetic, every moment of my life is a kind of clay I have to model, I have to shape, to lick into poetry. So that I don’t think I should apologize for my mistakes. Those mistakes were given me by that very complex chain of causes and effects, or rather, unending effects and causes—we may not begin by the cause—in order that I might turn them into poetry. And I have a fine tool, the Spanish language, and I have of course the presents of English, the memory of Latin, and another language I greatly love, German. Now I’m studying Old English and doing my best to know something of Japanese, and I hope to go on and on. Of course I know that I am eighty. I hope I may die at any moment, but what can I do about it but to go on living and dreaming, since dreaming is my task? I have to be dreaming all the time, and then those dreams have to become words, and I have to tackle them and do my best or my worst with them. So I don’t think I should apologize for my mistakes...

Maybe that's my problem. I've never made a mistake.

My word what an extraordinary photo. I do not know what specific kind of horses those are. Pretty horsies I believe is the technical term. For all of them.

As it happens I have a bit about horses fighting in one of the stories in A Creature Wanting Form.

Years ago I told you I liked to look at pictures of horses fighting sometimes and you thought that was a weird thing to say and I said it had never occurred to me as long as I had lived for some reason that horses would fight each other but once I knew that they do it made me look at things differently. Horses mainly but also everything.

Standing back on their hind legs punching out wildly like that.

I thought we had just enlisted them all this time into our own aggression against their will. Maybe they learned it from us.

My book came out about one year ago now and did you know that you can read and even write about a book that isn't brand new? No one gives a shit! Books don't cease to exist beyond their one month release cycle. Movies too. Albums. Write about whatever whenever. You are free from the gravity of the traditional publicity cycle.

Sorry to do more self promo again but as this recent piece in the Guardian points out publishers aren't promoting their own authors anymore and you've got to spend thousands and thousands of dollars of your own money on a publicist these days to get any traction.

Cutting their own checks: authors seek help to plug their own books after cuts by publishers
Writers say investments in book promotion to augment publishers’ in-house staff are key to success
For authors, looking beyond your publisher for help promoting your work often comes at a steep cost. Book tours can cost $15,000, publicity campaigns up to $16,000, and marketing work up to $100 an hour – figures that can be considerable when compared to authors’ advances and distant promises of royalties.

I'm not doing that either.

Nevertheless I got excited when a friend sent me this photo the other day from the Strand in New York.

I posted that photo everywhere then shared this other piece from the book that people seemed to really love. I probably posted it in here before but who cares.

Sorry I lied about not knowing what the names of birds are. I wanted you to think I was insouciant.

Here's what some people said after I shared that. Is this weird to do? I don't care. No one else is gonna do it for me.

Oh also I have another book about halfway done so if you would like to talk about paying me to publish it let me know thank you. Can't wait to repeat this whole routine all over again.

I took this piece about pointless wedding spending by Rax King out from behind the paywall so you can read it for free now deadbeats.

You don’t have to do any of that
You don’t need to get married like a rich person

Still do subscribe if you can please I love to pay writers money to write things for you to read.

Facebook tells me that I wrote this piece three years ago today.

Everything America or Israel does is de facto legal
The relative evil of any given atrocity is evaluated in reverse by the character of the party committing it
I know it should not at this point but it nonetheless still surprises me how the United States insists upon maintaining the collective delusion of our of unassailable national virtue all the while continuing to be the most prolific exporter of violence around the globe. Any attempt to tell the truth about this very simple fact — that we and our apprentices in Israel are the authors of some of the most despicable war crimes in recent history — is cause for an apoplectic political meltdown. Especially when it comes from someone like Ilhan Omar (if you know what I mean.) And not just from the Republicans from whom you might expect this type of disingenuous bullshit but also from the Democrats from whom you also might expect this type of disingenuous bullshit. Cowards all.

As I’ve written in here before our military exploits are essentially the large scale version of how the police operate within America which makes sense because America itself is the self-styled cop of the world: incapable of addressing any situation without bungling in guns blazing sowing endless pointless destruction in our wake. One boot on an innocent’s face the other boot stomping firmly on our own dick.

While it’s bad enough that we cause so much suffering what’s worse is that then on top of that and also like cops we need to be big fucking pissing babies about it whenever anyone tries to call us out on our bullshit. Barbarians and martyrs at once. 


It was my [redacted] college reunion this weekend which I didn't go to. Instead me and a couple of buddies made plans to go out to some of our old college bars the night before which I also didn't go to.

It's the strangest thing though. For some reason all weekend people were posting a bunch of pictures of old people at the reunion on Facebook. Must be some sort of mix up.

We've been joking that his stroke must have severely changed his personality this whole time and then John Fetterman comes right out and says it: Brain damage made me conservative. My god it's so funny. My body stopped sending oxygen to my brain for a while and now I am a Republican.

Then on Sunday he and his wife were hospitalized after a car accident although apparently without serious injuries. Nonetheless please get ready to read my forthcoming TV pilot script about a politician experiencing traumatic brain injuries every few weeks and switching back and forth from right to left every time. His staff and opponents conking him on the head with a baseball bat when an important vote is coming up. The hacky gags practically write themselves: an intentional beanball at the Senate softball game, a paintball staff outing referencing the Kennedy assassination, the big emotional scene when his beleaguered loyal advisor gets in a heated argument with him and knowing he could punch him out to get what he wants instead refuses... for democracy.

God this shit is so funny too man.

Wow thank you!

As I wrote in here before you know I love to collect these sorts of things. This kind of rope-a-dope post is what’s known as The Liberal’s Prestige.

Too heavy a thing to carry around every day
It’s just a fad

Maj. Gen. William A. Anders died over the weekend and I guess going down in a plane you were piloting alone at the age of 90 is about as good a way as you can go for an astronaut.

Anders is perhaps best known for taking one of the most famous photos ever while aboard Apollo 8. I wrote about Earthrise on the occasion of its 50th anniversary a couple years back.

Suddenly Earth no longer seemed the center of the universe
Once they were a safe enough distance from Earth for further sightseeing, Anders perceived the glowing orb in the distance behind him, but the enormity of it didn’t register.

“That’s when I was thinking ‘that’s a pretty place down there,’” Anders said. It was “kind of like the classroom globe sitting on a teacher’s desk, but no country divisions. It was about 25,000 miles away where you could still recognize continents.”

After two to three orbits around the moon, he and the crew began shooting photographs.

“I don’t know who said it, maybe all of us said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that!’” Anders said.

“And up came the Earth. We had had no discussion on the ground, no briefing, no instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, ‘well it’s not on the flight plan,’ and the other two guys were yelling at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I floated a black and white over to Borman. I can’t remember what Lovell got. They were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away.”

I also just learned that my friend from online Scott Reubur who some of you may have also known as @firescotch has passed away at 41. He was a sweet and funny guy who liked lifting weights and loved his dog and had a fierce sense of justice.

Mourning a longtime online mutual who you didn't know very well personally is still such a strange feeling even after we've all been through it a number of times by now right? Instead of personal memories like an IRL friend would think of you go lol remember the time he BOFA'd Richard Dawkins?

Rest in peace man.

As you know I usually put out a big list of my favorites songs of the year every year in December. Being that the year is about halfway over now (?) I thought I'd take a quick stab at my favorites thus far. I don't suspect anything is going to overtake that Waxahatchee song though.

Follow along with this playlist where I stash the things I'm listening to over the year if you like.

What else... what else? Kind of a chaotic one today I know.

Here's some other shit to read.

Justice Alito Caught on Tape Discussing How Battle for America ‘Can’t Be Compromised’
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a new recording says the battle for America “can’t be compromised,” and that one political party will “win.”

Alright might as well bookend this one today with poetry. Here's a great one by one of the first poets I ever read that made me want to be one. To think that that was something that you could do with your life. Thanks a lot asshole.

Faint Music

by Robert Haas

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.

When everything broken is broken,   
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,   
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.

As in the story a friend told once about the time   
he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him.
Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash.   
He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,   
the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.
And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,”
that there was something faintly ridiculous about it.
No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch
he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass,   
scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp
along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word   
was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise
the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs,   
and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up   
on the girder like a child—the sun was going down
and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket   
he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing   
carefully, and drove home to an empty house.

There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties
hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed.   
A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick   
with rage and grief. He knew more or less
where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill.   
They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears   
in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,”   
she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights,   
a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay.   
“You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?”
“Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now,
“I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while—
Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall—
and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more,   
and go to sleep.
                        And he, he would play that scene
once only, once and a half, and tell himself
that he was going to carry it for a very long time
and that there was nothing he could do
but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened   
to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark
cracking and curling as the cold came up.

It’s not the story though, not the friend
leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,”
which is the part of stories one never quite believes.   
I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.