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You want to know how I spend my time?
I walk the front lawn, pretending
To be weeding. You ought to know
I’m never weeding, on my knees, pulling
Clumps of clover from the flower beds: in fact
I’m looking for courage, for some evidence
My life will change, though
It takes forever, checking
Each clump for the symbolic
Leaf, and soon the summer is ending, already
The leaves turning, always the sick trees
Going first, the dying turning
Brilliant yellow, while a few dark birds perform
Their curfew of music. You want to see my hands?
As empty now as at the first note.
Or was the point always
To continue without a sign?
The trees in New England are sick and in desperate need of more doctors according to this story in the New York Times that followed two arborists around as they made their rounds. “I would never have anticipated how fast things are declining,” Melissa LeVangie the caretaker of the trees in her town said.
…The two spent a long time with a maple they estimated was about 150 years old. It had two species of decay fungi blooming on its trunk, but Melissa LeVangie had decided to not cut it down. “What I am doing is allowing it to have a slow death and have it be part of our community for as long as it can,” she said.
“It is important to cherish trees, even in their decline. They are our elders,” Bear LeVangie said.
…And they visited a young maple with red and yellow leaves. “People look at that and say ‘Oh look, fall is coming early, it is going to be a colorful fall!’ No. This is happening early because the trees are very stressed out,” said Bear LeVangie.
There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you’ve been living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.
You’ve stopped being here in the world.
You’re in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.
You’re not a creature in body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.
Then you’re in the world again.
At night, on the cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.
You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.
You see again how far away
every thing is from every other thing.
An eighty year old man was pushed to the ground and killed in a dispute over the wearing of masks in a bar in upstate New York according to the New York Times. “John J. Flynn, the Erie County district attorney, said he believed the confrontation between Mr. Sapienza and Mr. Lewinski — who apparently had exchanged terse words before the shove — was one of the first disputes over face coverings that had led to someone’s death in New York State.”
Rocco Sapienza died of blunt force trauma to the head after undergoing brain surgery. Donald Lewinski was arrested and charged with negligent homicide.
“These kinds of situations have continued to escalate, and this should cause everyone to pause and think twice now about how we as a society want to conduct ourselves during this pandemic,” Flynn said.
Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was—
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.
Donald Trump refused to tell Sean Hannity when he last tested negative for Covid-19 on Thursday night saying he planned to hold a rally in Florida on Saturday. “It’s incredible what’s going on,” he said. “I feel so good,” he said shortly before coughing and pausing to catch his breath in the middle of complaining about how the Clinton people “oscillated” his microphone during the debates four years ago. His voice flagging he went on to accuse the governor of Virginia of saying “we’ll execute the baby after the baby is born” and said the governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer who was recently the target of a kidnapping plot by right wing terrorists was complaining too much and not grateful enough that her would-be assailants were apprehended. The military will soon be delivering the miracle cure drugs he received himself to hospitals around the country for free he said before moving on to California. “California is gonna have to ration water,” he said. “You wanna know why? Because they send millions of gallons of water out to sea, out to the Pacific. Because they want to take care of certain little tiny fish, that aren't doing very well without water.”
Mike Pence’s refusal to answer a question about committing to a peaceful transition of power in the debate the other night was his best answer of the night he said.
In late autumn a young girl set fire to a field
of wheat. The autumn
had been very dry; the field
went up like tinder.
Afterward there was nothing left.
You walk through it, you see nothing.
There's nothing to pick up, to smell.
The horses don't understand it-
Where is the field, they seem to say.
The way you and I would say
where is home.
No one knows how to answer them.
There is nothing left;
you have to hope, for the farmer's sake,
the insurance will pay.
It is like losing a year of your life.
To what would you lose a year of your life?
Afterward, you go back to the old place—
all that remains is char: blackness and emptiness.
You think: how could I live here?
But it was different then,
even last summer. The earth behaved
as though nothing could go wrong with it.
One match was all it took.
But at the right time-it had to be the right time.
The field parched, dry—
the deadness in place already
so to speak.
A Brooklyn-based design company has raised over $233,000 — far more than the $15,000 they were hoping for — to produce action figures of Nancy Pelosi and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“These are imperfect times but still they could be worse,” they explain on their Kickstarter page. “Imagine a parallel universe where everything else is exactly the same, except there is no Nancy Pelosi to act as a check on power. Kind of terrifying, right? Pelosi has basically been leading the Resistance these last few years. She's the one person standing between us and unfettered lunacy; a tiny Atlas, bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders.”
“It's very possible that one day soon, Joe Biden will ride in to the White House atop a metaphorical white horse,” they go on. “That's very good news for the world but, when it happens, it will be on all of us to make sure that Nancy Pelosi gets her props too, and doesn't just fade into the long list of history's unsung heroes.”
Purple Bathing Suit
I like watching you garden
with your back to me in your purple bathing suit:
your back is my favorite part of you,
the part furthest away from your mouth.
You might give some thought to that mouth.
Also to the way you weed, breaking
the grass off at ground level
when you should pull it by the roots.
How many times do I have to tell you
how the grass spreads, your little
pile notwithstanding, in a dark mass which
by smoothing over the surface you have finally
fully obscured. Watching you
stare into space in the tidy
rows of the vegetable garden, ostensibly
working hard while actually
doing the worst job possible, I think
you are a small irritating purple thing
and I would like to see you walk off the face of the earth
because you are all that's wrong with my life
and I need you and I claim you.
This piece “Why Liberals Pretend They Have No Power” in The Atlantic by Luke Savage did a very succinct job of expressing something I often try to get across in here about the self-imposed learned uselessness of Democrats and how their hopeless thinking infects their supporters.
“Liberalism in the Trump era has thus become a kind of strange pantomime act in which elite politicians deploy the rhetoric of imminent threats and national emergency only to behave like hapless passengers trapped aboard a sinking ship,” he writes. “Although it has certainly found its most potent expression in Washington, this posture of feigned powerlessness has gradually come to infect the broader culture and ideology of American liberalism as a whole.”
Elsewhere Facebook has announced that it will temporarily suspend running political ads which is good news buuuuuuuuut… not until after the November 3 election so… thanks guys? In other news I’m getting clean and getting my shit together tomorrow just as soon as I finish this bag… unless you have some leftover too.
Dana Snitzky who runs the lovely literary newsletter The End of the World Review put together a lengthy list of scary books to read during ~~the spooky month~~ which you should definitely peruse if you’re looking for something.
She recommended I start with this one above and I ripped through it in two nights the first of which gave me the most vivid nightmares I’ve had in a long time one of those nightmares where someone keeps arriving at the foot of your bedroom door and you can’t see who they are or discern what it is they want but you know it’s nothing good and so you try to scream and try to roust yourself from bed but you cannot and so you wait helplessly for your fate to arrive for whatever it is they are here to do with you to be over with.
I’d suggest if you’re interested not reading anything about the book before you start. For the the first half I couldn’t tell if I was reading a very old book or one that did a good job of making itself seem like a very old book and the experience was all the more haunting for that. Eventually I looked it up and [light thematic spoilers] it started to read a bit more didactic and sincere Christian moralizing allegory than I would have prefered but it remained chilling and disgusting in all the ways you would want such a book to be nonetheless.
Hans, the husband of the unfortunate woman, had kept his promise all too well. Slowly he had made his way, stopping to contemplate every field, gazing after every bird, watching as the fish in the brook leapt up to catch little flies before the storm. Then he would lurch forward and pick up his pace, at times even breaking into a run; there was something in him that drove him forward, that made his hair stand on end: It was his conscience telling him what a father deserved who betrayed his wife and child, it was the love he still bore for his wife and the fruit of his loins. But then something else held him back, something stronger than the first thing: his fear of men, his fear of the devil, and his love of all the devil could take from him. Then he walked more slowly again, slowly as a man walking his last road to the gallows. And perhaps he really was walking toward the place where his life would end; many walk their last roads without knowing it, and if they did, how differently they might walk there.
I’ve shared some of their music in here a few times but if you’ve never listened before the new Touché Amoré record Lament is out today and it is in a shocking twist very good imo.
Dan Ozzi did one of his patented Rank Your Records interviews with the band’s Jeremy Bolm this week which you can find here.
I especially appreciated this exchange about their previous gorgeous album Stage Four which was largely about Bolm’s mother passing.
Like you were saying before, when you write a record about death, which is so universal, I imagine people want to talk to you about that and connect to somebody.
Yeah. A lot. And if it’s not in person, it’s through DMs, it’s through tweets, all of that stuff. There’s such an amount of guilt on myself for hating having those interactions. It’s a really landmine way of feeling, where it’s like... I cannot stand that I have to deal with this—that I have to deal with people continuously bombarding me with the saddest shit I’ve ever heard in my entire life. But I get why they’re doing it. I’d do the same shit in their position. I was a kid, I get it. But I also have 40-year-olds coming to me about this. Death becomes a lot more prominent when you’re older. I remember when I first played the record for [Drug Church singer] Pat Kindlon, he was like, “Well, you just completely dissociated yourself from your young audience. No 17-year-old is gonna be headwalking to this song.” And he was absolutely right. All of a sudden, we were being accepted by old hardcore guys who wouldn’t fuck with us before.
But I just don’t know how to put into words my feelings about it. It’s like, I’m having a good night, I just played a show and had a good time, I’m hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in a while because we’re in fucking Minneapolis, and I’m walking through the venue and on my way someone will pull me aside and tell me their dad just died. It’s a punch in the fucking gut. I panic and don’t know how to respond to that. Do you say thank you? Thank you is clearly not the response. But then you realize that a lot of times, they’re not looking for a response, they just want to share that with you. I don’t think I thought a lot in my youth, talking to singers in bands, about what that does to them. That was the conversation I was willing to have on this new record. It felt good to at least get off my chest.
The Drowned Children
You see, they have no judgment.
So it is natural that they should drown,
first the ice taking them in
and then, all winter, their wool scarves
floating behind them as they sink
until at last they are quiet.
And the pond lifts them in its manifold dark arms.
But death must come to them differently,
so close to the beginning.
As though they had always been
blind and weightless. Therefore
the rest is dreamed, the lamp,
the good white cloth that covered the table,
And yet they hear the names they used
like lures slipping over the pond:
What are you waiting for
come home, come home, lost
in the waters, blue and permanent.
Yesterday I went to swim laps for the first time since March 12 or so whenever it was my last normal(ish) day was. It was in a rundown recreation center in a town nearby our new home and I wasn’t entirely sure it was a good idea but I am by now fully and finally overcome by this anchoring to home and increasingly called to recklessness and in any case they have you reserve a lane by hour ($10 a pop come on man) and you can look up when none of the other lanes have been reserved so you can basically make sure you are the only one there which for most of the time I indeed was.
I used to feel a certain different type of lonely swimming laps in my teeming overcrowded old pool but having a silent public pool to yourself is unsettling it feels like you’ve made a wrong turn of sorts which most of the time I indeed believe I have.