October 23, 2009

SLIDE (Sentience Lures Idle Dreamers Eternally) [Part XV of my "Thinking in Acronyms" series]

In the morning my bed is crowded now. There is no room for me beside the spaces people left. I get evicted to the shower.

Foggy demons enter through the open bathroom window. They come to feed on my warmth, to suck every liquid drop from my naked body.

As their chill hits my skin I can feel them breaking me on the inside. Another cold is sure to grip me, but I don’t flinch. I want to test my strength. Come on, body, fight back!

The least I can do is take on myself and put all the rage to use. Maybe then I can shatter the invisible walls you say I build.

Always at arm’s length. The illusion of closeness carrying me safely across the waters. Grab my ankles, make me drown!

And, oh, of course, the rain of the ages! Never a day too late. My blackboard finally showing the solution, the crying sky rebels and washes the slate clean. The fleeting moment of clarity between vodka and vagary drenched in the common sea of ill-advised white lies.

I glimmer in the dark of night. You cannot meet me in the daytime. If all the days were made of night, I would be somewhere by now.

I kneel at the mess that I’ve made of the strings I attached to strangers’ hands. Some tethered and torn, most tangled and worn, I cry for the chances I’ve lost.

I take a leap of faith and crack my skull open on your shell. Now my mind is bleeding all over your freshly swept floor and sticks to the soles of your shoes. So at least you take something of me with you when you leave.

“We're all souls just trying to connect with someone, but we're all left searching on our own.”

September 7, 2009

MOVE (Mutual Obligation Validates Expectations) [Part XIV of my "Thinking in Acronyms" series]

Men outside my window are digging holes. Deeper and deeper, what are they looking for? I am thinking of joining them, following the Zen mantra to dig a hole and fill it up only when you have found your answer.

They take away my water, I wish more people would take from me.

Men inside the arena fight their battles of egos. Side by side and yet alone. The shine of the new soon wears off and I see them for who they are. Players in a game.

I strike a deal with myself every day, the pay-off is uncertain. I reward myself for not thinking about the future by indulging in the now. Let it roll up, like it always does.

Every morning I struggle for balance. The weight in the back shifts and if I don’t hold it in place, communications will break down. World in a rectangular case.

Oh, how the flood outside makes me rejoice! Without mercy the watery masses pour down, the wind whipping every drop into shape and sending it on a speedy journey down the road. The reckless thunder roaring in between the houses, no special effects necessary. And the lightning bathing the gruesome scene in ghostly white, while the man in the moon decided to extinguish his lantern.

For a second I am determined to run outside and spread my arms, letting the rain hit me with its might. Make me feel something other than this unrest.
Like always, I don’t move.

“Look at me, I’m made of wonderful. I’m all easy breath and steady walk, steady walking. But underneath I’m barely moving on.”

March 13, 2009

FADE (Fabricating Adequately Deceptive Embellishments) [Part XII of my "Thinking in Acronyms" series]

The hallway light is furious. With violent flickers it morses its complaint to the oblivious people passing underneath.

The city’s odor is ever-changing. Walking uphill I smell the burning candles on the birthday cakes of my childhood. A mixture of ashes, wax and frosting; there isn’t anything like it.
Tiny twisted towers of white and color, winding their way to the top only to get burned by the flame.

I teach myself variants of a language that was never mine to begin with.

Unsynchronized turning signals at in sync stop lights send my heart aflutter. Steady footing is rare to come by these days.

I constantly clean my windows and mirrors. Not because I want a better view, just because the glass cleaner smells like suntan lotion, a scent of better times.

I am undefined, indefinite. The jury’s still out on what my name should be.

The strings I wove around strangers’ hands to be carried out into the world are slowly wearing thinner now, my network disintegrating into distant thoughts and memories.
Soon I will be a fleeting thought on a summer’s day, of the bench we used to sit on, of the song we used to listen to, of the woods we shared our only kiss in.

A pool of sweat presents its potential to me. Twice already. Will the third time be the charm?

Don’t let me think now. Don’t let me separate truth from dreams.
Wake me gently, serve me tea and lie to me.

“There are things that drift away, like our endless, numbered days.”

March 5, 2009

"Mayakovsky" by Frank O'Hara

This is one of the best poems ever written. It grows and matures and disappoints you and lifts you up again. It is full of life and full of sense. Enjoy.



My heart's aflutter!
I am standing in the bath tub
crying. Mother, mother
who am I? If he
will just come back once
and kiss me on the face
his coarse hair brush
my temple, it's throbbing!

then I can put on my clothes
I guess, and walk the streets.


I love you. I love you,
but I'm turning to my verses
and my heart is closing
like a fist.

Words! be
sick as I am sick, swoon,
roll back your eyes, a pool,

and I'll stare down
at my wounded beauty
which at best is only a talent
for poetry.

Cannot please, cannot charm or win
what a poet!
and the clear water is thick

with bloody blows on its head.
I embraced a cloud,
but when I soared
it rained.


That's funny! there's blood on my chest
oh yes, I've been carrying bricks
what a funny place to rupture!
and now it is raining on the ailanthus
as I step out onto the window ledge
the tracks below me are smoky and
glistening with a passion for running
I leap into the leaves, green like the sea


Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

by Frank O'Hara

February 9, 2009

"Meditations in an Emergency" by Frank O’Hara

"Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? O religious as if I were French?

Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days there’ll be nothing left with which to venture forth.

Why should I share you? Why don’t you get rid of someone else for a change?

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don’t I? I’m just like a pile of leaves.

However, I have never clogged myself with the praises of pastoral life, nor with nostalgia for an innocent past pf perverted acts in pastures. No. One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes – I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as it is and even they continue to pass. Do they know what they’re missing? Uh huh.

My eyes are vague blue, like the sky, and change all the time; they are indiscriminate but fleeting, entirely specific and disloyal, so that no one trusts me. I am always looking away. Or again at something after it has given me up. It makes me restless and that makes me unhappy, but I cannot keep them still. If only I had grey, green, black, brown, yellow eyes; I would stay at home and do something. It’s not that I’m curious. On the contrary, I am bored but it’s my duty to be attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above the earth. And lately, so great has their anxiety become, I can spare myself little sleep.

Now there is only one man I love to kiss when he is unshaven. Heterosexuality! you are inexorably approaching. (How discourage her?)

St. Serapion, I wrap myself in the robes of your whiteness which is like midnight in Dostoevsky. How am I to become a legend, my dear? I’ve tried love, but that hides you in the bosom of another and I am always springing forth from it like the lotus – the ecstasy of always bursting forth! (but one must not be distracted by it!) or like a hyacinth, “to keep the filth of life away”, yes, there, even in the heart, where the filth is pumped in and slanders and pollutes and determines. I will my will, though I may become famous for a mysterious vacancy in that department, that greenhouse.

Destroy yourself, if you don’t know!

It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you, beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It’s like a final chapter no one reads because the plot is over.

“Fanny Brown is run away – scampered off with a Cornet of Horse. I do love that little Minx, & hope She may be happy, tho’ She has vexed me by this Exploit a little too. – Poor silly Cecchina! or F:B: as we used to call her. – I wish She had a good Whipping and 10,000 pounds.” – Mrs. Thrale

I’ve got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my dirtiest suntans, I’ll be back, I’ll re.emerge, defeated, from the valley; you don’t want me to go where you go, so I go where you don’t want me to. It’s only afternoon, there’s a lot ahead. There won’t be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in the lock and the knob turns."

February 6, 2009

GLOOM (Gladly Leaving Open Offers Midway) [Part XII of my "Thinking in Acronyms" series]

Every step I walk down the road conjures up visions of disaster in my head. What if the next is a misstep, I fall, break my skull and lie dead in the street? I cannot seem to shake the cloud of doom that is my umbrella.

On my way back I hurry to cross the street while the green man gleams, I stumble and barely escape my nightmare.

The next morning in the shower: what if I slip? How long until they will know? How long until someone misses me?

What if there’s a red-numbered digital clock counting down my days? Without me ever knowing about it. What if tomorrow is my last day and I haven’t made anything of this life? Is someone watching, who knows how soon I’ll end, and cringing at every second I waste?

Posthumously published works garner attention. Would my friends bother to send in my manuscripts?

The cold turns around and leaves us, soon rain will take its place. And for a while the cement hurts so much it turns white releasing the friend it held on to so long.

In bright sunshine I walk with bars of soap strapped to my soles upon an icy slope downhill. When my heel lifts, I can feel myself slipping, sometimes more, sometimes less. There is no safe footing anymore, the ground has betrayed me, but I lack wings to fly.

"The mountain's side was shining wild colors of my destiny."

February 3, 2009

Watching Super Bowl XLIII – Random Thoughts of a Cultural Outsider

Ever since my exchange year in Wisconsin almost a decade ago, I have been interested in American Football. I am interested in sports in general, I want to know the rules to all the games and understand what makes them special and interesting.
American Football is a special case though. We don’t get to see any of the games here in Germany and they canceled the NFL Europe a few years back. The only thing we get is the Super Bowl, at least in parts.
The Super Bowl is on in the middle of the night here. I don’t get to watch/have to watch any of the commercials, the broadcasting station is commercial-free for 90% of any day.
This year I only remembered the game was happening Monday and had to look up online who was playing. I didn’t have any off the bat sympathy for any team. But eventually I had to choose.
Here are my random thoughts and experiences watching Super Bowl XLIII as somewhat of a cultural outsider wanting in:

23:45* I get my snacks ready. Nachos, cheese dip, two kinds of muffins I baked, some chocolate and… well, I am lacking soda and I don’t like beer, so water has to do.

00:05 I am annoyed by the German TV showing news instead of the pre-game show. But then again, news are more important.

00:10 Finally we go live to Florida. Some German ex-NFL player, who has a close relationship to the Cardinals (I’ll find out his name later) is asked for his opinion. So is a German handball player, who lives in the States apparently now that he retired from active sport last year. He likes the Steelers.

00:12 They show a profile about Kurt Warner**. Such a shame that a man as good-looking and talented as him is such a religious nut-brain. But at least he seems a decent human being.

00:23 They show more reports, one about doping in the NFL. Apparently, so experts say, there is a lot of it, but no one really cares, because there are no independent people to really check what the athletes do. Who still believes ANY professional sport can do without doping? That’s like still believing in Santa Claus.

00:28 Jennifer Hudson sings the National Anthem and it’s great, because she has been through so much these past months. Also, she can totally sing. Awesomeness.

00:30 Kick-off. Here we go.

00:35 Some time into the first plays I wonder: why are running backs/tight ends such divas and extroverts (with long hair and what have you) and quarterbacks almost always white?

00:37 Watching the Cardinals’ defensive players show off their muscles for stopping a touchdown at the 1-yard-line, I think: “Football is such a sport for machos and show-offs and men who are overcompensating.” That may be unfair, but there is something about the cocky strut that irks me.

00:39 Roethlisberger** attempts the touchdown himself. Kudos, my man. Though it is challenged and….

00:42 The touchdown is no good. I am excited, but only for the sake of me wanting an upset win by the Cardinals. (To explain, my high school team in my one year in Wisconsin were also the Cardinals, other than that I have no relationship to Arizona, but you have to pick a team or it’s no fun.)

00:48 Troy Polamalo** from Pittsburgh is the epitome of that diva type I mentioned, even though he is on the defensive line (at least I think so). Those long curls are…well, inconvenient when playing sports is the least offensive I can come up with. You can’t even read the name on the back of his jersey!!!

00:50 An Australian punter on the Cardinals’ team makes them even more likable. I like Aussies.

00:51 $260 million intake just from the commercials, so the German commentators say. Sheesh. Just sheesh.

00:53 Roethlisberger has the plays jotted down on his wristband. Isn’t that cheating???

00:55 Larry Fitzgerald is more worried about his braids than the almost interception his teammate corner guard on the field just made.

00:58 Someone in an ESPN video I watched called it right: the most important match-up right now is the Cardinal Defense vs. Heath Miller. Damn, that guy catches everything thrown at him.

01:01 Looking at the score after the first quarter, I suddenly wonder how in high school we had games that ended 21-54. Maybe I just remember that wrong.

01:03 Also, I do think it’s a good idea to have the game in Florida. It’s not icy cold, it doesn’t rain. That makes for more fun for everyone. Compared to last year.

01:08 One big pile of men and it’s a touchdown. This game is so disorienting.

01:10 You can complain about the low scores in soccer all you want, you Americans, but at least you get 45 minutes of uninterrupted game play each half. All these breaks in football are ridiculous.

01:14 Damn, Matt Leinart is hot! Just standing at the sideline, listening to his iPod.

01:18 That Polamalo guy is on the defensive line of Pittsburgh, his hair is still ridiculous. Nice tumble he took there, flying ten yards into nothing.

01:20 What a pass by Warner! He had time, they guarded him well. And Boldin catches it and makes it to the 1-yard-line.

01:20 TOUCHDOWN!!! Wooot. The Cardinals worked their way down the field, playing a diversified game that was great to watch. The Steelers gave Warner too much time to check his options and pass. See, I know something about football.

01:31 Arizona’s Weston runs and runs and runs all the way back to the Pittsburgh 40. I knew Arizona had more to bring than some made it out. The Steelers were hyped, but the underdogs can draw from that. Remember the Giants last year?

01:33 What’s with the helmet with a black visor one of the players is wearing? Who does he think he is, Darth Vader?

01:35 The German commentators talk about the upcoming halftime show and Bruce Springsteen. Since I am neither a man, nor middle-aged, nor American, I can safely spend the halftime break in the bathroom and heating more cheese dip. Tom Petty was boring last year too. I think you have to be in the stadium to really enjoy these halftime things.

01:37 Michael Adams takes down a Steeler at their 10-yard-line after a punt and acts like he just performed a successful hemispherectomy, dancing and strutting and so on. It was just a tackle, Mickey!

01:41 Interception Cardinals. And the responsible linebacker is only a tad more modest than Michael Adams was before. Ah, supersized egos, gotta love ‘em!

01:43 One fan (named “Razor”, American much?) gives an interview for the German guy on the sidelines and says he spent $3000 on the trip, including tickets, hotel room and so on. That is just insane!!! The last game tickets were being sold for $3000 in the parking lot today. No game in the world is worth that kind of money! Especially not when you have such an amazing view from the TV screen.

01:47 I will refrain from commenting on Cheerleaders. They deserve a whole other category of mockery, not for lack of athletic ability (they have that), but for all the fake cheerfulness reminding me of an Energizer Bunny on X and Cocaine, combined with the added diminishing of the value of females by those uniforms. Oops, now I did comment.

01:49 18 seconds on the clock and 2 yards to another Cardinal touchdown! Never mind cheerleaders now.

01:50 Interception and a 98-yard run to a Pittsburgh touchdown??? But there’s a flag. The touchdown counts. What is going on? This is crazy. The longest interception return in a Super Bowl ever, marked at 100 yards.

01:55 More waiting for a decision. See why this is frustrating?

01:56 Well, time to pack out all those cheesy speeches for the locker room to motivate the Cardinals. I need to go get rid of the water in my bladder, but want to find out the name of that German ex-NFL guy giving his opinion.

01:57 It’s Tom Nütten. Look him up, I can’t be bothered. Is he qualified to say his piece? I’m off to the bathroom.

02:03 German TV shows more world news while the stage is being set up for Springsteen. Yes, in Germany we like to stay on top of things even in the middle of the night.

02:08 I eat a sweet pepper-feta muffin and check my email while Bruce sings a song I can’t identify. Sorry, I don’t like classic rock all that much.

02:16 A bit of catching up on celebrity sightings, the Heisman trophy and the exact location of Ossining, New York later I still can’t identify any song Springsteen sang. I bop my head along, but, eh, oh well. The fireworks are cool though. I am a bit of a pyromaniac.

02:19 Look how ordered and quickly the people leave the field after Bruce is done. They are organized over there, dayum.

02:25 You know what the problem with Tom Nütten offering his opinion is? He has been living in America for so long, he is beginning to forget his native language of German. His syntax is all off, he searches for words all the time and the result is only barely coherent or informative.

02:34 I am pondering the fitness/endurance of a football player vs. a soccer player, who has to constantly run up and down a 100-meter long field for forty-five minutes straight and then for another forty-five after a fifteen minute break. Who would have the longer breath?

02:41 They fax still pictures of plays from upstairs in the stadium down to the coaches so they can analyze what happens within minutes of the play? That is insane! How much money, manpower and coordination all that takes. It’s just sport after all.

02:46 What do three misshaped stars have to do with steel anyway?

02:48 The guy who caught the last pass, Ward, is already off the field again even though Pittsburgh is still on the offense. Does anyone keep track of this? Did it ever happen that there were too many players on the field when a play started? It’s such a chaos down there.

02:54 Field goal is taken back because of a foul. First down Steelers. The Cardinals are losing it for themselves. More than 80 yards penalty against them already. No wonder they are behind.

02:59 Why is it called a quarterback anyway? Why isn’t he an eighthback or a thirdback or simply a thrower or passer?

03:03 It’s getting late, my brain gets slow. I think less, I just watch the Cardinal misery slowing unfolding. These past four years I have bet on the wrong team. If there is a surefire way to make money, bet on the team I am not backing and you’ll have it in the bank.

03:12 What’s with the yellow towels? Been wondering this from the start. Yellow I get, a team color probably. But towels? Would a t-shirt do? Anything yellow?

03:16 William Gay is quite gay, i.e. happy celebrating his tackle. Do you think he would come and hunt me down if I actually called him gay? Football seems an ideal breeding ground for homophobia.

03:26 I was considering turning the lights off and just dozing for the rest of the game. The Cardinals touchdown forces me to stay awake. There’s still a chance and once you pick your loyalties, you gotta come through for your team, so I am staying up.

03:36 Finally Warner shows what he is made of. Precise passes that reach their target.

03:37 And yet again a penalty makes it all count for nothing.

03:44 Finally a penalty that works for the Cardinals. I have no idea what a “Safety” is, but it is worth two points.

03:35 The nice commentators explain to me what a “Safety” is. Boy, I have a long way to go until I finally understand this game fully. Although I really want to, I am a sports fanatic.

03:47 TOUCHDOWN!!! I scream “Run, run, run!” so loud I probably woke my mom and my neighbor, but I don’t care! I suffered for so long with all them penalties and finally the Cardinals come through. Tough birds.

03:52 There are so many positions on a football field, I can’t tell them all apart. Safety, halfback, fullback, linebacker, tight end, wide receiver, running back, punter, quarterback… You really gotta grow up with this game to grasp its scope. Much like soccer, I tell you.

03:57 I don’t think the Cardinals can hold the Steelers within the 10-yard zone yet again with 49 seconds to go. The Steelers are gonna score and win. Told you I can pick the losers.

04:02 Told ya. The touchdown stands. I prepare for bed, taking away the nachos, their smell bothered me a while ago already anyway.

04:06 Fifteen seconds on the clock. Hail Mary anyone?

04:17 Do I have to watch them get the trophy? Does anyone know how many Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks were from the Midwest? Seems to me many of them are “homegrown” on the fields of Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin and so on. Am I wrong?

04:23 It consoles me that at least the youngest coach ever wins the Super Bowl and he is black as well. And Obama likes the Steelers, so maybe this is good for the general mood of the American nation.

P.S.: The Super Bowl coverage was followed by footage of the prettiest railroad routes of Germany, which is filmed by a camera in the driver cabin and has no narration or anything. Can you get more anticlimactic?

*Times are GMT+1 and in the widely popular European 24-h format. (All times below 12 are a.m.).

**I apologize for any misspellings of names. I did my best to catch them, but couldn’t be bothered to look them all up. There are simply too many players on each team.