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Bob Schneider- Changing Your Mind

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The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization recommends when collecting evidence of his existence: “one should photograph each footprint individually. Place something common next to it, like a soda bottle or a pack of cigarettes to indicate size and dimension. Do your best to preserve the integrity of the scene. Try to photograph the prints in sequence, as they walked from where they were, to where they went.”

As with any myth or hoax, there will always be people who hunt for proof of its reality, swallowed as it may be in drifts of snow, or doctored by technology to suggest a thing far more important to any of us than the truth: what was, what could have been, the necessity of its lingering possibility.

Call us scientists. Call us seekers and fools. We’ll assert the existence of the Abominable Snowman by the glacier of ice melting like a crisis in the center of a puddle of water, the weight of Sasquatch sunk in the dirty depth of his footprint. He was here, but he melted. He was here, but he walked away. You just missed him.

But you emptied your pockets of their contents and scattered them around his print to prove how small they are. How close you were to him. You planted your soda bottle and your pack of cigarettes as proof of habits you’d quit, and you Photoshopped your own footsteps not hesitating toward the puddle. Your wish to remain theoretical is as apparent as the documentation of your attempts to be found and just as easily dismissed as a hoax. It’s better this way. To almost-exist is to be forgotten just enough to remain desired.

This way, you are frozen mid-step like a woman in a stained glass window affixed in a church wall. A sea snake licks at your bare feet which are pruned and blue. Your smile disappears into your right cheek, teeth coppery as flattened pennies on the curve of a railroad track through Missouri. This way, that red dress floats on the surface of the water, fluid around your neck and Elizabethan. This way, your head stays above water and the black hair slicked like seaweed around your face comes alive underwater in flocks like interrupted birds and shields your body. No one ever sees your nudity but someone out there claims to have proof, and he finds you everywhere.

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Jonsi- Hengilas

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For Adora

I am not supposed to drive her vehicle. It is supposed to wait in my parking spot. But the first thing I did when I was told she was gone was to run downstairs and sit inside her car, turn it on, and drive to the store. The second thing I did was to see the full, blue August moon rise through her window, her colored spiral of crystals catching its light while swinging from the rearview mirror. Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” comes on the radio, and I am startled by all this choreography having just been under the garish fluorescent lights of the store where people lined up to buy things their futures desired. She died thirty minutes before, and I cradle a bottle of heavy juice, and close in on the register wondering why no one else  is looking for her. Why they seem to revere Band-Aids and cough syrup. I wanted to shake them, these vertical things waiting in a ridiculous line, observant of  order, faith in next and not yet.  Where is she? Someone like her cannot vanish. When I parked the car back in its space, I locked the doors. The mirrors tucked themselves instinctively into its body.

On this day, in 1977, The Voyager II was launched by NASA to explore our solar system. A committee of scientists led by Carl Sagan included a message from earth in case extra-terrestrials ever found it. A gold-plated phonograph contained a variety of earthly sounds including a heartbeat, a mother’s kiss, wind, rain, surf, a chimpanzee, footsteps, the music of Bach and Mozart, the Chuck Berry song “Johnny Be Good,” spoken greetings in 55 of Earth’s languages, and laughter.

I have watched a woman, my boyfriend’s mother, live while dying for almost a year. Tonight, she took off. I am outside under the stars and the full moon with a fresh cocktail, not fluent enough in any of Earth’s fifty-five languages for the word nor equipped to navigate the empty space of goodbye. In the dark, cricket-haunted air, cars take respectful turns passing by on my otherwise busy street. It is late. An airplane flickers above a cloud, and it is unclear which one of them is trespassing. Nearby my seat, a small spider drops from a thread, and I decline to perceive this as a threat. All these lives tootle along as they do, but to me they hum, solemn and contemplative as a hymn.  Everything trespasses against everything. Time feels just as burglarized and stands frozen and caught guilty as an army of narrow, dumb pines who insist that they are acting on behalf of the forest.

Above our heads and gossiping about us, the old footsteps of a scientist tread the icy rings of Saturn. A  human heart thumps nearer to Pluto. Chuck Berry’s voice in zero gravity: Go, Johnny, go. Fifty-five hopeful voices greet the sore eye on Jupiter. A wave introduces water to the sands of Mars. Rain pours a sea on Neptune. Mozart flaunts his erratic temperament at ambivalent Mercury. A mother’s kiss bursts into supernova.

Precisely thirty-six years after all this which hovers our solar system was sent out, a new signal emits from the floor of my planet where the air has changed form as our presence makes room for an absence, where its soil has just recently been enriched, and where everything from it will grow infused by new ingredient. Fifty-five is an insufficient representation of all our languages, and that fact doesn’t begin to explore our differences. Laughter, however, is understood by our entire puddle. So in the event anyone out there should stumble upon our existence and want proof of our goodness, we submit new evidence. Adora’s laughter drops down from a thread of colorful crystals tied to the rearview mirror of our vehicle. Here, you see, we glance back in order to map forward. We have no word for goodbye.

Hello from Earth, with love.

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Sufjan Stevens- The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us

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How the Wasps Come In

 

I wrote this poem in the shower.

I wrote this poem when I realized the top of the window in the shower had dropped and made an insect entrance.

I wrote this poem days after meeting new wasps tapping at my kitchen window and wondering how they were getting in.

I wrote this poem after finding a dead one in the drain.

 

I wrote this poem while I was shaving my legs and hoping you might ask me to get on the plane with you.

I wrote this poem knowing that if I shaved, you wouldn’t take me.

 

I am writing this poem because someone told me to channel my energy into art, and I want him to feel helpful

like a child with a spoon smoothing a batter,

and to prove that I cannot cook metaphors right now.

This really happened. I can’t make a beige cake.

I am writing this poem  to put up a warning that says ‘Wet Paint’ on the door in order to keep me out.

I am  writing this poem so I don’t write this poem again.

This poem has stripes and a stinger and came in through in bathroom window.

The rest of this poem’s life beats against the kitchen panes

which I keep closed but with the blinds cocked like the eyebrow of an amateur detective mimicking instinct.

This poem is solved.

The insect has cuddled an elbow noodle and a lemon ride in a perforated grave.

I washed my hands over this poem. My hands smelled like radishes and foamed like a rabid prayer.

I am drying this poem with a white towel draped over the oven handle.

 

This is no longer a poem since I am no longer in the shower

where I wrote this naked while turning my slick hair into a knot

while water collected at my feet,

while I washed the places I can’t reach and discovered that freckle you worry about.

The whole time I was thinking about getting to paper,

frantic that I’d forget my own language

before I was dry, that after I’m dry I must moisturize,

how after that there is only a window

of time before my hair dries and needs an iron to tame it.

This is when this poem stopped being a poem

and became my routine.

You aren’t here to see that I washed my breakfast dish naked

and how this aroused another insect who began to launch its body against the window

at once begging and threatening me to love it by freeing it.

I left the dishes undone and went back to the bathroom where

I raked mascara over my eyelashes

and batted until I was blind.

 

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Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling- The Water

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Sinking has its own treasures, as you might imagine, if you don’t already know, and I hope you don’t. A boat sunk shimmers only because anything would under the pursuit of algae. Inside that ship blue dishes and yellow chairs still invite guests to dinner and serve only vegetables: moss and promises. It lies so still that life congregates around it and has a blue meeting about this object that seems unafraid of them, presents no signs of danger, and whose slow bubbles refute their religion which doesn’t believe in air, and then becomes their church. Long-nosed fish dart in and out the hole that sunk the whole thing, that hello-echo that opened a whole ear.  A claw from the sand reaches toward it, a better shell, and when it falls apart the crab learns to have faith in sideways. An eel slips freely inside its sockets. A predator discovers the home of all the creatures whose life depended on finding one. Over it, the ocean shrugs.

It is your fault that you can love someone only as long as the lifespan of her myth. It is mine that I can only love while I remain one. Whatever I was, my wings or scales or lungs have decayed and become a thing for divers: old plans frozen in time for slick people wearing masks and breathing from tanks who discover how much air matters. Think of every creature which doesn’t exist and how much they relied on air in order for no one to believe in them. That is how slim a sip I get.

I have loved you with the certainty of the freight on an unsinkable ship and with the blinking eye on the other end of the periscope on the lookout for icebergs. I have loved you also with the absurdity of chandeliers dangling over underwater tables. I have loved you amphibiously, with the legs of evolution and the scales of preservation. I alternated between those two things, and my heart became a beached shack set up for tourists who are hungry or want a souvenir just down from yours which offers the same fluorescent t-shirts. We advertise with competing banners flown in the wake of small planes off the coast toward those well-oiled people who either haven’t yet been burned or who think they can swim. I promise a free hermit crab with purchase. You offer a string of dissonant wind chimes made from their shells, and we make them choose a religion.

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Tori Amos- Upside Down

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A woman like me should look both ways before crossing a street, but sleep in the center of her bed. A woman like me should be grateful, having had two great loves while most women thought to have wished for only one. Instead she is tired of her details, that training required by those who will not understand but will be tediously obedient at such odd orders. A woman like me employs many but once she loves, becomes a servant. A woman like me vacuums her home barefoot while weeping and doesn’t miss a crumb or her nomination. A woman like me should wash her lips but she lets them stain with the sediment off her wine. She should water her plant, but has let it wither. A woman like me comes around more than once, but believes she has embroidered the curtains of everyone she’s ever met and has determined their shadow and their light.

She should have a cat who climbs inside the drawer when it rains, but not attempt to comfort it. A woman like me has no idea how to comfort herself. She should cut off her hair and ask others pray for her crown.

She should listen to jazz during the day and not believe the saxophone’s claim regarding the desire to wander. She should play piano with all forty of her fingers. She should eat fruit by the half, tossing out the other tricked by a pit into ripening. She should spread herself under the sheets, her legs reaching for the coldest spot. A woman like me doesn’t roll over.

A woman like me has her heart sketched on a scroll of onion paper like a skyscraper drawn by an architect who has not yet learned what to do with a hammer, before he knows a thing about space, before he has fallen asleep and drooled all over it. A woman like me has already built the entire tower and painted it boredom color. She has stilted it even though it is near no ocean. She has climbed all its stairs and flung herself from the penthouse balcony, and she has peeled herself off the highway which roars like an artery with no destination.

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Graham Nash- Sleep Song

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At night, I banter with the zebra who has lost its bones and uses my bedroom ceiling to maintain its stripes through the blinds. The glass of water I’ve arranged in case I get thirsty sits in front of the digital clock, and I never drink from it; it has been poisoned like holy water by electric blue fingers: the smug tadpole tails of sevens, the top box of an eight, three resolving its psychic complex of being half of the eight like the twin of a stillborn. The zeros fill the cup and light up the room. I change my shape too. I am a ball. Then, I am a starfish who loves her space. I am a long smooth flute imagining which holes would make what sounds if some shadow were to come through the blinds and close them.

I still have things left to tell you, so I tell the whole room. Do you worry that death is black like sleep without dreaming, and still we are blind the whole time we are alive? Did you know that our bones will be called fossils one day? My foot has twenty-six fossils, for example. That foot sleeps. I think of our fossils when I’m not asleep, when I’m digging us back up, when I’m burying us, when I’m breathing into the mouth of the space that used to be between us and begging it to cough up the ocean.

I tell a story about us that never ends. We are protected by a red rope and a sign that says, “do not touch.” We are glued together. No one believes we really existed, but they marvel at the certainty imposed by our spines. Someone who has volunteered her time explains that we were discovered on the ceiling and it took a long time to put us together. “They had stripes,” she will tell a hive of pupils who have eyes that see in the dark. They imagine us having stripes. They dream we walked, that our bones didn’t need glue and stayed together by their own wet magic. These simple, stupid creatures were once awake and now with hollow sockets, they stare into each other. Skulls, the volunteer volunteers, referring to our time. Somewhere in water, you swim toward me in the shape of a three. I light up, half an eight.

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Nina Simone- The Twelfth of Never

Bothering me most is the idea that someone else might become acquainted with the ritual of your feet just before you put on socks.  Second to that is anyone else having my impatience while you hold a washed dish over the sink until it completely stops dripping before you will dry it. That impatience is my chore, a kitchen dance where the oven handle is misused as a barre.  Almost in tandem is the book-happiness before bed. I used to be suspicious that the chaotic warming of an orchestra before an performance was a manipulation to arouse the audience. Surely, I’ve thought, the players have long before made certain their instruments were in tune. But the sheet-rustle of your knees and heels and elbows and toes before you open a book and settle into the page have changed my mind. That sound is wild and omniscient: the undetectable nudge under geese just before the whole flock of them simultaneously spring from the water to midair. That sound is unheard like the prayer of atheists to their god who is green and buck-toothed, backwards as Mississippi with forty synonyms for mud but not a word for stuck.  Will she know you won’t have use for that word either?

I’m also bothered by the opposite of this: the idea of a person sitting beside you who doesn’t marvel at the shine of your fingernails poised over a laptop, most of which belong to fingers who don’t participate in typing. A woman who sits beside you deaf or somehow else able to hear anything over the loudness with which you eat soup. Or worse, hears it and complains. Or worse, you stop eating soup like that. What if she doesn’t solve crossword puzzles as well as I do, utilizing the black squares and the margins and you have no reason to lean over the armrest between airplane seats because she has filled in all the white squares on her own. Maybe she knows the names of all the explorers but not how to be one of them? Or the distinction between an isthmus and an island, but not which one you are?  What if no one but me ever knows that if you love a book enough you won’t finish it?  And what if that is the only way I will ever know you love me, and the last word I am is a contraction I said but didn’t mean in case you, for example, don’t.

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James Blake- A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover)

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If I was looking for proof of us, our fingerprints would be on nothing. If they marked the skin of a tomato, we’d have cut it up and reduced it to juice for a sauce. If they were once on the window on the twelfth floor of that hotel room, housekeeping would have wiped them, and anyway it would have been only my palms splayed there. Your hands would have been on the square bones of my hips, those open windows. If they were on wine glasses we abandoned for each other, you’d have rinsed that evidence by morning while I cooked your peculiar eggs, a skill I learned quickly in order to demonstrate a case one wants to make but would prefer to keep circumstantial. If my fingerprints were on your body, you’d wash them even if I were in the same bath. Our crime is the absence of clues.

If we were looking for proof of us, we wouldn’t find a hair, though mine fall everywhere, stopping up your drains and dropping on your floors the thin map lines of a terrain that has a history of many names. I wipe them away best as I can, you know, so after I’m gone, I can meet you again without having just been seen in the sink.

If I were looking for footprints, I’d find none except where a certain pair of shoes has pocked your hardwoods all the way to the fireplace where I crouched to get warm, all the way to the piano where I plunked out the same three half-songs swearing I can finish if only I had the sheet music, all the way to that yellow chair  I imagined was a wild horse who would buck me off for leaning too far back, the chair I pretend I discovered and tamed, but eventually came to respect the rules of its balance. Then there are the places we can merely speculate I removed my shoes to confess: I’m staying.

If I had studied your case more diligently, I’d have known that the solution was the mystery, which is not the same as erasing a chalk outline the trapezoid shape of someone who clearly fell but insists she landed on her feet. If I’d not been so concerned with the accusation, I’d have left my fingerprints all over everything and hidden my hands. I’d have clogged your drains until the bath was as deep and unfathomable as the ocean. I’d have burned your eggs, unobservant of your customs, so that you would doubt my allegiance. I’d leave a trail of lipstick and hairpins like bread crumbs but I’d not wish for you to follow me. I’d expect you to keep them sealed and stored in case I came back and you could offer evidence that I left. Then I would pour them out as proof that I didn’t.

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The Low Anthem- Oh My God Charlie Darwin

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I dislike people as a general rule. People are things ahead of you in line, stealing the cab you hailed, shoving past you, inflicting their neuroses upon you like black magic. I think most people dislike other people. It’s why we misuse car horns, our elbows and wear sunglasses in the shade. It’s also why people consider New York City to be the greatest city in the world. Everyone is bothered, and everyone suspects that they are bothering everyone else. There is a peace about that understanding, as there is in any understanding. Keep moving or be moved.

Sometimes when in a crowd I pretend I love everyone. I take in a deep breath and exhale like it’s a good spell. It hurts really bad like sunburn, or like not having skin at all. I played this game Friday night. Oh, it was a crowded and loud swirling soup of the worst chaos.  While I was still pretending that I loved everyone, the bartender pointed at me; I nodded over to the guy next to me and said, “he was here first.” Turns out, we were drinking the same potion. We knocked our plastic cups together. For that second, our only second, he was a member of my tribe. He offered a familiar gesture that acknowledged that I’m reasonable concerning the notion of fair.  I looked down from the balcony where the people had been shoving each other to see the stage.  If they were ever shoving–a hypothesis I now recant–they were now engaging in an act of using allotted space cooperatively in response to a shared stimulus. They were dancing.

Afterward, out on the street, a girl put her hands on the cab we had hailed. Her tribe got in a street fight with our tribe, and she shoved me. Then a civil war broke out in my tribe. Too much potion.

The next morning the sun was too bright, and I needed to walk. I couldn’t even think about my game. People were mass. There is a place in Union Square that I imagine belongs to me. I hated a slow man shuffling into the intersection while talking quietly into his wrist. I made up a mean story about him, a spaceship, and inadequate mental health care. Once he was out of my way, I saw that he was comforting  a green bird perched on his arm. Still, people were things buying young trees in pots and bottles of fresh cider, local honey and wine. People had short dogs that I almost stepped on. People were holding hands and taking up too much horizontal space. People were rising up on me like they were on escalators while I was trying to get down. Keep moving or be moved, I thought.

Eight hare krishna monks had folded their bodies on a blanket and were chanting with drums and tingshas.  A man wearing blue jeans and a saxophone stood by them and played jazz along with their hare ramas. They were from very different tribes, but there was only space for one noise. Imagine it, if you can, a sad sax working with happy monks, the discipline of monks cheering along the renegade of jazz. I stopped moving. I took off my sunglasses so I could hear them better. I needed a moment so desperately that I almost mistook reality for desire. I almost made up bad stories about cults and upside down hats meant for heads but beg for dollars instead. I almost forgot about pretend-love because nothing will make you feel so alone as letting yourself believe for a minute that you aren’t, and it hurts like sunburn–getting that close (or whatever word is so opposite to distance that space isn’t even implied) to light (or whatever word is so opposite to existence that you or I don’t even apply.) People captured the moment with cellphone cameras. Their hands raised up in the air like submarine periscopes so their future eyes could spy on the event without the threat of  having actually been there–the far left jazz player blowing at the ground to the monk at the right with the bells and his smile directed at the sky. Their whole human span, a crowd raised up their machines.  I just got really badly sunburned, and I wasn’t even trying to love everyone.

The slow man and the green bird strolled by like familiar aliens. The bird had a white ribbon tied from her foot to his finger.  She opened her wingspan full length but she didn’t try to fly anywhere.

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From the album, Oh My God Charlie Darwin: Oh My God Charlie Darwin - The Low Anthem

 

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John Prine- Hello in There

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There is a woman who never had pets or children but she owns three brooms. Each broom serves a purpose. One solves the leaves in the fall and the pollen in the spring. One solves the grains of rice and the kitchen crumbs. And one keeps everything else out, things try to follow her in on her shoe soles and bits of wrapping she’s picked off the mouthwash, the dish soap, the juice–those proofs that no one else has touched the content of things.

There is this woman who has never petted her dog because she hasn’t the need for a dog. Petting a dog opens the dog. She has never had a lover. The body preserves itself, but a dent to the heart, that aluminum can of cream of childhood soup, can cause paralysis.

She tries to take as few breaths as possible. Trees recklessly emit oxygen. They’re always taking the carbon dioxide we grant by snoring away. So she daren’t sigh over a thought as it is misuse, a steal for a nearby tree. She does not allow anything to make her gasp. Once she took a city walk that lead to an underpass where someone had graffitied that last line from an e e cummings poem: for life is not a paragraph and death i think is no parenthesis. She sneaked a little extra air. She always liked cummings; he seemed to understand that capital letters and punctuation were inefficient seals.  But she caught herself. It wasn’t a full gasp, just the hollow event that suggests a gasp before the claws grasp the rim of the can. She had vowed not to give her air, her ethics dictated that she also oughtn’t take too much of it (no matter how altered she was at the suggestion that she wasn’t suspended in the silk of parenthesis.)

One broom, the one that solves the leaves and the yellow dust, ushered the projectile masturbation of her neighbor’s oak right into the center of her yard and made it have sex. She didn’t notice it for two years: a frail fawn, knobby-kneed, trusting the partners both under the seal of grass and beyond the seal of blue sky which asserts that the earth its own thing and not star-struck. You’d expect, now knowing more of herself than she does but understanding her commitment, that she’d chop it down like an invading weed, but she didn’t. She watched it for a length of time if time could be measured in wide miles and not the ironed clock-pleats of minutes. She watched it for stretches. It reached as tall as the eye of a spiderweb outside the lower right window pane. She watched through the woven fly before and after it was devoured. The spider dismantled her structure, or perhaps it just disappeared on its own. After a burying snow and its depletion, the tree was as tall as the top pane of glass.  She also cooked soup and soaped her hair, rinsed the suds, mopped linoleum, left a check at Christmas for the postman, went to the bathroom, scratched a bite, called a plumber, deposited checks and bought noodles. In other words, she wasn’t watching the tree, or observing herself observing the tree or observing herself overlooking a web. But soon she had to crane her neck. Then she had to squint to see its tip. All this nonsense had accumulated around it, droppings and moltings and movings on of its own doing, so she swept it away at the base until its trunk was flush with the grass. She beat down the ivy crawling toward its throat, batted away a woodpecker attempting to break its seal.

 

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