terrestrial radio: ideas from morphology

portmanteau/combined words neologism (snowclones)
retronym ("B.C." also, retroactive continuity, retroactive nomenclature)
constrained writing
aptronym (lol lord brain. nominative determinism or 'iconicity')
calquing (vs. phono-semantic mapping)
linguistic siamese twins with and, or/nor (crash and burn, now or never. collocation)

monomyth (plot framework, timing)


what does it mean?

when the star-ships boil clouds up out of nothing,
they send down white fists of lightning
which knead the earth like the legs of a herd of elephants passing

inside the car, a dot on a surface street,
I can't do anything but watch as flying saucers press against the sky like faces by a window, thinking
fuck this
walk toward the highway,
picking gems from amid the broken glass,
combing necklaces from tangles of tubes, wire and hair
I bend and idly smooth the rubble on the road into a curving model driveway, looking up.
my fingers leave tire-trails in the dust.

in this dream, I take pictures with my phone, over and over
and each picture seems to fall out of the false night onto this tiny screen,
each more irrefutable than the last
where is he?
I ask
how will I find him, if this is the end of the world?

in every direction, the travelers cluster up in the sky
peeking down in packs between the tall buildings, which seem to cringe from them,
hysterical fingers clutching towards a fist,
listing like ships' masts, sinking,
homing in on a long sleep, coming to rest amid restless dreams
of raking the rubble into smoother and finer seams,
veins of lost things, faceless people running from a black cloud,
faces invisible from so high above,
from close up,
they fade into each other like the glass and concrete and bones.
make rubble, make gravel, become indistinguishable

and then, suddenly, the visitors withdraw -
secrets pressed back behind closed lips.
the black clouds pale to scars of white against a blue sky,
fade until only the pictures remain, but
the truth is written on our faces,

in my hands,
a cell phone, a length of a gold chain,
two blue stones of different colors,
a pearl,
a long shard of glass, stuck through with chicken wire,
a long cut across my palm, bleeding red over everything else.



Posted by Picasa

I could sit up there, Audubon aviary and preserve, Wellfleet, Mass.

Posted by Picasa

Gypsy juniper

Posted by Picasa

High tide

Posted by Picasa


the whole beach was bubbling like a jacuzzi
Posted by Picasa

Goddamn lens.

Posted by Picasa

And right then, the tide came in

Posted by Picasa

Bad start

Posted by Picasa

Show me your face, clean as the morning

Posted by Picasa

pollywogs and minnows and seawater

Posted by Picasa

Sun dogs II, Wellfleet, Mass.

Posted by Picasa

Sun dogs, Wellfleet, Mass.

Posted by Picasa

No frogs

Posted by Picasa

First of fall, Wellfleet, Mass.

Posted by Picasa

Elephant and lily

Posted by Picasa


doing some additional reading about prions...
i'm fascinated by the idea of a self-replicating nonliving object. as malleable and transformable as the name (protein/protean) suggests, a prion is nothing more than a malformed or mutated protein. yet, unlike a hot dog or a nice omelet, these agents remain communicable for decades, cannot be killed with formaldehyde, resist disinfection via bleach, and can be hereditary, infectious like a virus, or, famously, contracted via food like a bacteria or a poison.

despite this remarkable adaptability in propagation and expression, they're not even as 'alive' as a relic bit of DNA/RNA like a virus. consider this: if you acquired a condition like mad cow/Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Kuru or fatal familial insomnia, you would be suffering from gradual brain death caused by an abnormally folded protein that turned your brain tissue into a something like a honeycomb, almost cancerously remade itself, and was nearly impossible to denature, even out in the open, exposed to air, or rinsed in disinfectants, much less inside your brain.

FFI, the prion disease that most enthralls and horrifies me, is my kind of worst-nightmare medical condition. the condition is hereditary, expressing itself around early middle age. this means you have plenty of time to pass it on to your offspring before you ever figure out if you are a sufferer or carrier yourself. around this time, your body's self-regulating mechanisms begin to fail. you sweat profusely, suffer from paranoia, you lose your ability to sleep, and begin to suffer panic attacks as you remain awake day after day, and eventually simply fail ever
to fall asleep again. towards the end, speech fails you, and gradually, you descend into madness as your body is racked by convulsions and hallucinations before you finally die (generally three to five years after having first begun to detect symptoms in the first place.)

can you just imagine how lonely that must be? even quadriplegics can sleep... and you can forget about alcohol, ambien, or benadryl. apparently opiates and other sleep drops may make the condition worse, leaving sufferers delirious but unable to lose consciousness, plagued by disorientation, completely vulnerable.

as a lifelong insomniac, i know there are few reliable cures for sleeplessness. my parents tell me that when i was a child, they were forced to put up fences to stop me tumbling down the long stairs that led down to our living room, as even toddler-'nessa apparently paced all night long. i remember many how many nights i spent huddled out on the low roof of our back den, rolled in a comforter, smoking, staring blearily up at the stars, as the sun rose to my right and picked the night threadbare, listening to the trains.

at least i knew this was a condition that went into remission pretty regularly. even now, twice the age i was in those days, i know i won't go
for more than a week or so on three or four hours' sleep a night before i fall over and lie comatose for seven or eight hours. imagine if it only ever grew worse, day by day. it's lonelier than hell keeping watch at four a.m, but what kind of agony would a person experience after weeks, months or even years without sleep?

so, i'm working for this pharmaceutical account, marketing a drug called NUVIGIL, which is indicated to treat excessive sleepiness due to apnea, shift work or narcolepsy. the idea is that you take the pill in the morning and experience 'improved wakefulness' throughout whatever your daytime or work period is. having read and reread the Important Safety Information more than just one or two dozen times, i must report that there are a number of truly worrying 'side effects' covered therein. one potential consequence of taking this stuff is merely the potential of erupting in a rash described as toxic epidermal necrolysis (that's poisonous skin death, in case you're feeling excessively sleepy.) another, far more chilling side effect, is disclaimed in a line i'll quote directly from the website's prescription information:
Persistent Sleepiness
Patients with abnormal levels of sleepiness who take NUVIGIL should be advised that their level of wakefulness may not return to normal.
Can you imagine the overwhelming sense of irony you'd experience if you took a medication to prevent you from falling asleep at work, only to find you couldn't manage to do it anywhere else, ever?


Woman transformed,
Woman clothed with the sun,
Woman crowned with stars,
-from the Titles of Mary

my saints,
my stars,
my will,
i want the wisdom to disbelieve, that deliberation,
i want the will to not forgive, and how i want to turn away,
to retire my little prayers, go forth and sin no more, nor want to
or better, perhaps, to have learned to doubt long ago
my friends,
my own good sense,
my word

when i consider all that i must not know
remind me to suspect
and when the benefit of a doubt might do,
remind me
of all i forgive or overlook,
every semaphore, each gesture, each suggestion,
the thousand moments of pause, each pain ascribed to accident,
the specific humiliations,
the blame i can't avoid
i am my own worst enemy, if not the only one.
i'm no child, not an innocent, but an idiot,
that one who never learns.
it's laziness, a refusal to accept what's plain to anyone with eyes to see
so show me how to be impermeable,
as hard as marble, that cold,
pure, shot through with darkness, a scatter of mica
but impervious,
breaking cleanly on the grain,
cut away to reveal the truth
and pure, apart,
nobody's glad fool

Mirror of justice,
Throne of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Shrine of the Spirit,
Vessel of selfless devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
-from the Litany of Loreto


shroud the body, hide it in the dark.
let the hair grow out, my nails grown long as knives,
my hands making masks over my eyes,
vines creep up, they roll the stones over in a shower of gravel,
to weave a cave,
bark over my calves, my knees, my back, my neck,
until i wear a shroud of grave.

but under the press of soil,
my hands hold a staff of jerusalem thorn.
there is a star at my brow.
i am in the warren of lost things.
beneath the bark and leaves, i am a sleeping thing.
i can regain my light.
tonight i travel among the roots of the trees.
i return, no more summoned than the birds.

still, do i long for bethany,
can i reclaim it?


i spent the weekend in pursuit of simple pleasures. friday night at mimi's and bateau hivre with adrian, yesterday, a marathon of enjoyable things: dumplings on mott street, a couple of hours picking things out at the bookstore, a new dress and a handbag, a movie set on a spaceship, with monsters, dinner with my new book at a new restaurant (pink wine, clams casino and strawberries zabaglione), karaoke. this morning i slept until eleven a.m. and then erik and i went out to queens and had a feast at sri pra phai. back home, we fell into the couch and plowed through the DVR for a while. no gym, no dance class, nothing the least bit virtuous. nothing terribly satisfying, except in being kind to myself.

i'm doing laundry now, and working on a funny idea i had for a poem. if i can get it right it ought to be silly. going to see if i can pull samples of words from various online sources and make an audiopoem out of links. it seems fitting that these little scraps of verse about longing should be played, word by word, in robot voices.

it's going to be a long week of late nights at work, a balm to my peace of mind, via the debtfreein'10 plan. i wish i liked the job more, but at this level of compensation i suppose i can put up with a lot. anyway, all the time otherwise wasted in meetings i used instead, and made a bunch of lists. things to look forward to, things to do, people i should catch up with. ...for a while there i was pretty happy just to look forward to the end of the day, so it was a little daunting to sit down and write out a list of things like "thanksgiving at home, thanksgiving in wellfleet" and "solo trip to caribbean" and "christmas in spain with christy murphy and family," "dinner with erik and his momz at Esca." it all seems so far away, and so passing. wasn't i just in wellfleet for thanksgiving? wish i could rewind.

on reflection, though, i am confronted with my undeniable good fortune. maybe i can't have everything i want, but i am independent, a modest success, a licensed diver, surrounded by loving friends, employed, healthy as a horse, not utterly unfortunate-looking, and of course i am lucky enough to be able to spend a day like yesterday, pleasantly indulging myself.

i guess i should make more lists.


Edgewater Road

Its as if the drive lasts forever

at sunset, not quite warm enough to roll down the windows,
the radio set to traffic report, reporting traffic.
The driver, a cypher, the other passengers in first class,
and me,

me in the back.
Or maybe me in the trunk, in a bag, a suitcase, a photo album, tucked away in a book,
or in a sidecar, in parallel.

We could be passing, driving crazy -
we could take the high road,
up atop the Palisades, an escarpment that once seemed eternal
the Earth itself.
Now, half brought-down by real estate dealers,

brought down themselves by bankers.
Now just sores on the old stone, these pits and blasted lots are haunted by dreams of condos and co-ops,
by past lives with little herds of rabbits, yellow and white honeysuckle,
streaming unchecked down brown shoulders in braids, like aromatic hair.
Now they are old shoulders, the freckles are liver-spots.
Now the hair is coming loose at the roots, the rocks are falling.

I can't fall asleep, but I can't wake up.
We could be going somewhere, we could,
but maybe I am half-dreaming myself, only half-alive,
wishing for the lost past, or the inevitable future, the only thing that can't be interpreted, simply because it's the only thing that's certain to be.
Once upon a time, somebody loved me.



i mourn at the sushi bar.
these days, i prefer the reality game-shows from japan to the movies and the contests of physical strength, of obvious endurance, of clear failure or success. no subtitles

the woman in the center of the shot is casting about for someone to hug - she seems to want to pogo up and down, with her shattering smiles, for someone to celebrate with her, while the confetti faints down.

the audience shrieks, and the band plays with practiced relish.

a row of judges look on, each one a delicate, anime-faced doll.
i know that i am meant to envy them, to want to emulate their painless optimality, and i do.
their beauty is their reason to be there, and nothing more is required of them.

when i ask the waitress:
"what did she win?" the girl, she explains to me that she's just learned she will be married to the show's handsome bachelor of the week, that he is her prize.

in the audience, the camera finds a man who must be her father.
he looks like he wants to flee, perhaps to the restroom, but also he looks like someone for whom something painful has already been passed.

the groom extends a hand to his bride, who is trying to prevent herself from hiding her smile behind her hands, or behind a long scarf that winds and winds around her neck, as if she senses that when she sees this moment later, it will be a poison to her, a humiliation:

her shaming joy in this moment, with this man.

and still, what an expression as he takes her hand.
her face conveys a radioactive, superluminal, primal hope.

a moment's belief in this momentary dream. the confetti and the smiling judge-dolls, the handsome man who will pretend to be hers for a moment or two, or maybe not ever at all. it's a dream set in a nightmare, and it is hers to relive, to repeat over and over, captured by the audience, the viewers at home, maybe even her own television, set to auto-record.

i am sick for her plain joy, a memento mori to love, for all to see.

anyway, i eat alone, and i don't speak Japanese.
maybe the waitresses only want to fuck with me.
maybe there's something else to it that would stop me wanting to cover my face with my hands

right here at the sushi bar,
to rock forward and forward, like a drowner moving in time with with the waves,
walking out to sea.
isn't there always something?
if not, i think maybe there should be.

goodbye, martin macdonald. rest in peace.


it's early june in englewood and the evening is turning dark blue,
it's a graduation or a class reunion, something like that -
there's a tent with lights out on the fields.
all around us, people are walking towards each other with open arms,
bags are dropped into the grass.
the wind comes rippling down the hill,
smelling of duck pond, smelling of daffodils rotting under pine trees.

the school buildings are revealed,
as if my memory of them was burning away in the sight of them,
here before me.
the age of seventeen seems imminent.
the land is still the same, still a steepish slope, marked by the bowls of the playing fields,
the woods, the library and its circular drive,
where, in the center, the magnolia trees have grown up into a little grove,
now in bloom.

over the air comes the sound of little kids running and shouting,
glasses shivering against one another.
i can hear my mother.
behind me, the sun is going down in the valley, pale pink shading overhead to night.

if this were a movie, the camera would turn
around us slowly now,
grab this moment out of thin air and preserve it for the library of eternal times.
this is a dream, a memory, maybe a relic.
the world has gotten colder since then.
i wish i could show you the evening,
so real that you could feel the air on your skin,
so you could remember this with me.