(C)Lean Up After Yourself - Nine scenes in the film of life by D.M. Jerman

With the familiar young faces from my brownie troop, I went into my very first old-folks-home. Thru a maze of hallways, I walked into a room and placed the succulent I'd been given onto a long tray, and looked into the face of a woman I had no idea how to talk to. She was much older than even my own grandparents were at the time.

I left. I was pushed back in. I don't remember what we talked about from there. Only the blue light on her face from the single window, and afterward, the feeling as if something had just transpired for which yet I had no understanding.

Mother enters my room. I hear her coming up the steps to reprimand me for something. It's always something. I stand and wait for it. Incense is burning. She thinks I'm smoking pot. She tells my father this so they can gang up on me. Again.

Doing homework when my friends come to the door on a night when I didn't expect them. I grabbed my guitar and we headed for the tracks. We went deep into the pitch black tunnels and followed our echoes back out to the brisk air at the town limits. Kicking at gravel and beer cans and singing songs we'd just made up, and would never sing again. 

It was getting late. We were teenagers. We got back to his parents house before they did.

We were on the couch. The only light came from the hallway. In the fever of the night I was desperate to take off my shirt. Desperate to feel his skin against mine. I did. We did.

We stood in the parking garage's open lot a story up along the highway. The rush of cars against the tall buildings and all their lights. For a moment it was just the cold, and our city, and us.

He left. We were friends for a while in college. Just pals. We'd chat over cigarettes and TV. But when, at the end of the semester, I watched him walk down the dorm hallway and out of the south doors I knew I'd never see him again. And I didn't.

Then, deep into my twentieth summer and far away from home, I crept down to the lakefront. Naked, under the sleepaway camp stars, I got into a boat, and paddled silently to the middle of the water, where I stopped to watch the grasp of the arm of the galaxy.

One day, a long time after all this, I got on the train in the city, and suddenly as I looked around me, everyone seemed like a real-life rock star. I'm telling you. Hendrix and PJ Harvey. Nina Simone and some crusty Mick Jagger-type cat. I guess I wondered then who I was supposed to be.

R A N D O M #2.5 by D.M. Jerman

Last night the songs in the bar downstairs are antique and romantic. The DJ says last call. Everything is louder in the quiet after I've climbed out of your car and back up into my apartment.

I lay beside a drafty window watching light snow and listen to the street, and my stomach aches for more than one reason. I am not drunk at all, but can't close my eyes for long. I prepare my mind for an extended dream session featuring our bodies burning apart. Ripped by fusion.

Among days prior I have called your name aloud while masturbating, then come hard and fast.

I have flirted with you effortlessly in afternoon daydreams. Bittersweet things that can never happen. Not really.

Any follow thru on this throb discloses a fallout that would crumble the better half of my heart.

A stupid crush. I have a brainless crush on you...

I know better. And anyhow I've been here before. The flirt semi-satisfying, stilted... What is left to say into the cool open pool of your eyes like so much polished midnight. Lean into my ear and tell me something else. Anything. I love closeness and touch. Hide me in a place where it's safe to kiss me, but don't. Take me away from my breath that would form words that would give me away. Let me cry in a corner for some brand of relief that won't undo itself. I find myself hoping you'll text me one last time before the evening is out. So many messages in a conversation that never stops. There's an exhaustive pressure in this confession that flattens my gaze and makes me ill. Desire/allure/sensuality. They are my personal hubris. I hide them so well until I can't. I talk with my husband about all this and he is steady and good. His heart wide open and calming to me. Why lie? It feels good to say it. So many times things like this go unsaid, and maybe that's alright, because everything works out for the best in the end...

I know better. And anyhow I've been here before. The flirt semi-satisfying, stilted...

What is left to say into the cool open pool of your eyes like so much polished midnight. Lean into my ear and tell me something else. Anything. I love closeness and touch. Hide me in a place where it's safe to kiss me, but don't. Take me away from my breath that would form words that would give me away. Let me cry in a corner for some brand of relief that won't undo itself.

I find myself hoping you'll text me one last time before the evening is out. So many messages in a conversation that never stops.

There's an exhaustive pressure in this confession that flattens my gaze and makes me ill. Desire/allure/sensuality. They are my personal hubris. I hide them so well until I can't. I talk with my husband about all this and he is steady and good. His heart wide open and calming to me.

Why lie? It feels good to say it.
So many times things like this go unsaid, and maybe that's alright, because everything works out for the best in the end...

A long long while ago when looking for roommates I found a great house but knew I couldn't move in because I was immediately attracted to one of the men that lived there. If only life was full of more easily-dodgable bullets such as this. I wish you would get a girlfriend so I could just watch her be in love with you instead. It's not love but it could so easily be that it nearly makes me mad. Clichéd and embarassing. Let this all be a stroke to your ego, but know, even as I want to, I can't be social with you in good conscience anymore. To know if you felt the same way about me, in even a small way, this might give me some comfort (or perhaps the opposite?), but it would only be a reciprocated ego stroke. And then what? Any and all consequences yawn into unhappiness. So please. Forgive me.


A long long while ago when looking for roommates I found a great house but knew I couldn't move in because I was immediately attracted to one of the men that lived there. If only life was full of more easily-dodgable bullets such as this.

I wish you would get a girlfriend so I could just watch her be in love with you instead. It's not love but it could so easily be that it nearly makes me mad. Clichéd and embarassing.

Let this all be a stroke to your ego, but know, even as I want to, I can't be social with you in good conscience anymore. To know if you felt the same way about me, in even a small way, this might give me some comfort (or perhaps the opposite?), but it would only be a reciprocated ego stroke.

And then what?

Any and all consequences yawn into unhappiness.

So please. Forgive me.

Heave your intellect in a line toward the world as it is not but yet may be. by D.M. Jerman

I realized the other day while on the train inside a long stretch of subway tunnel, I was meditating.

My closed eyes focused on the slow churning sound of the wheels and tracks together. I felt my body go away, and just the sound and its persistence remained. It helps that there was some quiet. There weren’t a bunch of other people-centered background noise going on… but the point is, up until then, I’d thought about using transit as a meditative space, but I didn't think I could do it. That nearly all busses and trains- over-crowded, smelly, too hot or too cold and in-motion- would be just too much. For the most part, they are. Until they weren’t. Until they were perfect. Another thing to add to the list of things I'm glad I'm wrong about.

And when I came to- I had a little something extra. Something new about the world-

The whole magnificent world outside of bad moments.

It doesn’t matter if that old HE- a lover who became my enemy- has never physically been to my new home. I’ve psychically invited him there, damn near a hundred thousand times now, via my own dark thoughts.

Memories are something to be feared. If the devil exists it is in one form only: Fear.

My family went to church when I was small, but we weren’t religious, and I’m extremely thankful for that. In a nearly flippant way, when asked about my beliefs I refer to myself as an Agnostic Pantheist. This is in part deflection and in part a truth. These thoughts are like multiple minute gods- some acting in the name of good and some for evil. For me they exist and they poke, but they do not make up the sum total of my reality. That reality is changing. Is the constance of change. The lessons are old and new.

These ‘bad’ thoughts- replays of a seemingly endless series of events gone wrong and time wasted remade worse in the afterthoughts… they can melt away. They have to. They can become the tiny grains of sand they truly are amid the realization that the whole world was turning too, and still is. And back in each of those moments- someone died, and another someone was born, and someone else with a truer heart maybe had it worse.

How can I radiate love if I am periodically filled with so much disgust and frustration?

Can I turn this fierceness into positive coping and a force for righteous fearlessness? I must, or I die.

Make no mistake. So much of what we call ‘living’ is a total trap. My heart is shattered like a funhouse mirror and as flimsy a bi-polar’s rationale for not killing herself today.

Yet despite knowing this, a voice straight out of my jagged heart, as sure as a self-defense class says ‘YES.’ And it will take a renewed commitment to the practice of healing every single day. We are flowers opening and closing to the sun.

This is how you deal with the many forms of loss.

You go about your day. You do simple things. You do your best, which is a different kind of best every day.

You give yourself permission.

You close your eyes and breathe. You look at up the sky and remember the wide blue ceiling is there. Holding you careful and true, along with everything you love.

If you are careful you can view with objectivity these inner twists of fate: you can see those closest to you lead their beautiful lives thourally and independantly all on their own.

But zoom out even further. Go around the world. Remember that someone else was having an even worse day than you- how your heart is made bigger as it goes out to them. Whomever and wherever they are- these friends you haven’t met yet. These lovely souls you will never know. Some close. Some far.

Someone died. Someone was born.

The world spun on. And time pulled you thru. As it pulls us all, and keeps us.

"Don't Try." - Three Poems by D.M. Jerman

Exercise in Standpoint Theory-

 

I can't wait to go to bed with you.

Sword at my side.

 

On a holy day, all smoke is mine.

You keep the mirrors, but please share the wine.

 

What blue sky there is, I'll take too.

Then I'll love you.

 

Stupid questions come with a cover charge.

Coffee on a night just now revealing planets.

 

Too bad- screams come with a burn in the moment.

The masters are named for these truths- you know why.

 

We are stones near the sea,

And ever shall be.

 

--

Too Clever By Half-

 

By Hell and everywhere within

any redemptions made impossible

from the ingestion of too much

knowledge.

The dove turned snake in the urn.

 

Residue accumulated along this path

has put out the light. Has blinded

and accelerated decay.

The fawn turned rat in the urn.

 

Turned- wild and woolly, this

urn, once girl.

Augmented and heightened

a woe chronicle

reopening wounds.

 

Low, dry as a draft.

Turning the sun brown.

No mist across the stale map-

A log of empty caresses

itself too clever by half.

 

By Hell and everywhere within

residue accumulated along this path

turned wild and woolly- this low

dry as a draft.

An urn too clever by half.

 

--

‘Flaming Creatures’ - (after the film of the same name)

 

…Where forked associations hoo

into smolder-and-charred tonights

which beg to lack all else.

Colossal bouquets have perished

in the fevered lava’s flame

tumbling sanguine in the barking trance.

 

Awake after the orgy

and shed of loneliness

the tongue, renewed in its gravity

is slack, and on its own relieves nothing.

Night hums its last.

The intellect is pulled back in.

Called to pause and rest from its heights.

 

Time scours itself for new music

so the dance may resume.

No costume change required

while the lamp weaves high over flower-piled heads.

No rinsing this ripeness.

It is not used up.

It is getting used to itself.

 

New mates continue, of course.

Jostled and recorded by divine memory.

Its great body collecting light

in a furious mix of ray and direction.

There is no denying now the spinning.

The system’s willingness to hallucinate.

Look here- at that same point in the curve…

 

(repeat from beginning)

Dear Gus- by D.M. Jerman

Hard to believe its been 3 years since I visited you in Sao Paolo. So much has happened...

I rediscovered my diary from that time and enjoyed noticing a few things I didn't tell you about before:

 - -

All is well here. It's hot. Hottest summer in Sao Paolo ever. since they started measuring around 1950. Every time I get too warm I think about how I have to go back eventually to a frozen urban wasteland. The clouds gather in fluffy hard shapes over the afternoon. It will most likely rain a little every day. I camp the sun in one of the smoking sections of GRU (airport). This air and climate has thinned my blood. But making love in the cold when I return will thicken it up again appropriately. I still haven't checked the weather. A little longer to go with out being online. I walk down the far side of Augusta, past Consolacao, ducking into the shade and trying to connect to wifi with my stubborn telephone. To enjoy the sun, por favor!

Cucharachas the size of my stubby pinky finger amble drunkenly along sideways until they get crushed. They are big and few enough to deserve names, if I cared to name them. From the smallest to the most massive: Banyan-like trees with complex root structures and trunks sprout ridiculous and arching and beautiful. Along my walk I recall again the upcoming anniversary: Sao Paulo will be 460 anos this week. Any cause for celebration- Paulistanos are enjoying the full swing of summer. As I watch the news (JN and SP on Globo- gshow.com.br) this place becomes more and more interesting to me. From the 'ooo' and 'uh-oh' deep lip-puckered sounds of portuguese, to the fact that there is a whole lot that's about to happen here- Carnivale in a month. The world cup this summer and 2016 games in Rio. There is a buzz in the air. I think randomly of the foreign language instructors I had in college. 2 were decent and the others sucked horribly (Spanish and Italian.) But none of them every really tell you that to best learn a language, you must fly, nee flee, to the place that beckons you bend your tongue. For one thing, they seem to pronounce certain 'd's like 'j' and 't's like 'g's. I start reading "Tropic of Capricorn" and catch "nausea." I know I will be thinking about this place and missing it for a long time after I return home. Home- the cold, hard-as-rock working place. A place of no street vendors and strict rules of jackets and drama and too much drinking. I sigh. Something in me has cracked open and see it for the sad place it is- my own sad place in it.

Besides the heat the thing that makes this a real paradise for me, and easy on the eyes, is all the race mixing and the true melting-pot confluence of color. The guide book says it better than I can. I am happy to have the metric (converting F to C) practice, and one more week of summer- bought and paid for. The longer I stay in this place, the more comfortably surreal it becomes. A kid who looks like Jim Morrisson passes wearing a Jim Morrisson t-shirt. The air is powdered with the occasional delightful waft of pot smoke, and I meander in a grocery store, buying snacks and gifts and simply enjoying the foreignness of everything. Little adventures yield big results. Especially as hours are long and this place, despite its size, is highly walkable. I see some dudes holding hands here. And some fine dykey ladieez. It's all good. Everybody seems to get tatted up for any reason imaginable. So many kids with tattoos. I feel as if I almost fit in a little better since I have two mid-size visible ones. 'Leger & Franco & Leavitt & Gosling.' A girl walks by wearing this slogan on a cutoff T. The handsome faces pop into my mind- does she know? Or is she another of those increasing many who have Ramones t-shirts stuffed somewhere in their drawers?

I meet another photographer with whom I got in touch before arriving: Carol. I'm sorry you two didn't get to meet one another, but you both still have profiles on the same photography site. She is a gem and Chicago would love her. She'll be in the states by March for awhile, and maybe she'll never leave! I laughed when one of the first things out of her mouth was 'I hate Brasil'. She was so hot, flushed in the cheeks, from the midday walk to my hotel, bless her heart. She's dressed in PJs, two different tops and bottoms that clash, and has dorky glasses frames and one stretched earlobe and clearly doesnt give a fuk, and yet gives many fux about the right things. Her english is much better than she gives herself credit for, and our chat about music is refreshing. Turns out she's a huuuuuge Elvis fan!

I pull a ground score on a pack of Marlboros. I think I will have one now, and read some poetry. Flattered, even by a street solicitor, to be mistaken for a resident. I'm just an open person to talk to, really. "Night Power"- the stacks of an energy drink with an intense name in a convenience shop make me laugh. This along with a few storefronts leave me in stitches. Namely 'Thuty Shoes' and 'Qualy Copy.' Almost got lost coming off of Praca de Se, down into Liberdad this afternoon. But with a little hearty map reading I managed to make it past the ghetto while walking along a patch of highway only to run smack into lower Augusta again. Whew. In Praca Agua Branca, I drink from a coconut and listen to all the ruckus the cocks are making- calling forth and back thru the lattice and trellis. PEEP! PEEEEP! Bitchy Sparrows in Ibirapuera Park bicker a welcome on a Sunday. Naturally, the place is packed and I pop a squat in the shade and hydrate and take it all in for a moment. The music, the sculpture, the lagoon fountain with its angular dances. On the way here there are street performers at stoplights on Aveneda Brasil. Also, a man selling flowers. Brazilians are just trying to improve their station like everyone else in the world. They try hard and smile while doing it. And they love American music. "Knocking on heaven's door" sung at top volume with 2 saxophonists and one classical guitarist outside of my hotel lobby. Yet another lovely Sunday morning rendition around 4am by drunken youth as Rua Augusta stays hopping until the faintest blue, selling single cans of beer and thrashing the streets. Some choosing to pick a fight until the subway opens. And remarkably, for how much litter was present, the streets at Sunday noon are remarkably free of debris.

Fruit Shake Uva- a grape soft serve smoothie to balance me out. I was shaking from low blood sugar. Back in Parque Trinanon to cool off for a moment in the minor jungle. When I go in after the park (both art museums there are closed, as well as the Japanese pavillion- not however a total loss) I find the roof in the hotel lobby is leaking. Dripping blatantly onto a wide rug- darkening it. The next day the rug is gone and a bucket is out. I keep discarding magazines on the coffee table and there they sit- as dutiful an entertainment as Brazilian TV. The one channel I get is chock full of news and soap operas.

Gus and I shoot some pics on the abandoned 11th floor (rooftop/solarium) lounge with 2 saunas and a gym area. This poor hotel. What it was in its heyday I'll never know, Tho' it was good to take advantage of the last overcast light, and provided it stays open, we'll go up there again. I recall Gus saying "I want to win the lottery." It made me laugh. He is like most who want to win but don't want to play. The next afternoon rain sets in- another good thunderstorm. We work on the roof for a second time and Gus uses some lights and leaves the shutter open for a surreal effect- this after breaking his external flash! Not irreparably, tho'. He'll take it to the shop tomorrow. He's off to night work after we stuff our faces at an indian place where I have a mango lassi for the 1x in a thousand years, and he may be up early enough to call before I take off from the hotel for my standard walking adventure. Reading Vanity Fair over breakfast and observing again how Hotel Pan Americano is straight out of the 70s and falling the fuck apart. Loose toilets, poor A/C, grimy walls, a biology experiment for a pool (open and closed in what seems to be a haphazard way but I make good use of it.), shitty telephone, and now the internet switch seems to be a genuine bust. It could be annoying, but mostly it's endearing. My walk down Augusta to Feria Lima and back keeps me out in a hint of greasy rain, and is only as productive as it takes me past a beautiful eastern orthodox cathedral and a minor sculpture park. I can find an excuse to take a walk to any corner of this place at any time. A ferocious thunderstorm seizes town just as I seek early dinner in the shopping mall 2 streets over, and I wander the awesome bookstore, watching the deluge pass from high windows. Sure enough later it's on the news: a bus overturned in the flooding. More traffic, more weather. It'll all happen again tomorrow. On a random afternoon later on, Gus discusses Fernando Haddad- the people's mayor, and the role of the media as he sees it, and news in general here in SP- as we explore the rooftop of the Copan- a truly phenomenal 360 view in a building comprised of only 32 floors and yet is the largest residential complex in Brasil.

Quarta-feira. Another day. The sun blasts above a block-away building and into my window at 7:30. I miss a meeting with Gus by waiting in the wrong park- but 'tis never a wash. I find another park and finally Parca del Luz beside the Luz station in all its glory. Full of fountains and fantastic sculpture and quiet places out of the heat and... teeming with that feeling… a hangout for prostitutes? Gus comes to mind again, as I walk down a portion of his street back toward the hotel and pass a few "American" bars. "Las Jegas" being one. There are bordellos or "big houses" tucked in here and there, it seems. I am thrilled in an insipid way to find my favorite clove cigarettes. Samporena A Milds. There are newsstands everywhere called Bancas that distribute literature and smokes. I have a debate with myself about how many packs I will try to take with me. I wonder if they are as good as I remember. Gus and I drink Ibiripava beer and macha and eat ponchu-quejiou (cheese rolls) and in the meantime I chew gum to nurse away my appetite. Traveling broke is a good way to diet. No open container laws means pleanty of fun on the streets. Joints close up around 1 or 2a anyhow. "Blue Night Show"- a neon sign shines over a patch of Augusta as I open wide my screenless 8th floor window to dream out into the cool breeze of a Monday evening. I think there was a heat wave just before I got into town, and now the air is smoother, and more rain no doubt on the way. This place is truly lovely, and makes me love and miss my own city all the more.

Randomly, I find bidets in private bathrooms to be another fun euro-esque feature. But kind of hate it when fixtures aren't white or off-white. I'm the kind of person who monitors the condition of my excreta. Flavio, my concierge, objects when I try to tip him after getting my requisite pizza injection last night, it will be the last time I see him tho'. After these long conversations we've had across the desk, he admits to being gay because he thinks my asking him out for a drink means I'm after him. We have permanent wanderlust in common and I do genuinely hope to run into him in the states. He is so proud of his travels. Fruit and pizza of course have been more the subsistence here. Ate just the greasiest little cheeze thingy outside of Parca Republica, and I splurge on the airport bus service- a charter- not very proletarian of me, but nor really is drinking at the airport, and since I can't take these beers, they gotta go. My microSD card is full from pictures. My last roll of film is almost cashed. Anyway, the bus lets me stretch out. It can take as long as it likes in traffic while it affords me a last elevated view of this extensive filthy city sweating all across itself. I've just got enough cash to take the train when I get back to Chicago. And to think! Gosh, how rediculous to be stranded at your own airport. Too, my sunglasses broke, so of course that means it's time to go home. I sure could think of reasons to stay, but the best one would be my own bilingual love. My concupiscence is, despite my generally infrequent masturbatory habits, getting the best of me. In short: I'm horny.

One of my first days in the city was a Tuesday. Hot, but not too humid. The MASP is gratis then, so I go and it's all Parisian 19th c. artists and Lucian Freud's etchings on display. WAY up-my-alley. I start to thinking about how blessed, absolutely and truly I am, to be a model, to be an artist. To know artists, and to have a love and reverence for this amazing history and work. And that perhaps I shall never really want for anything because these feelings are being so deeply forged into my heart, and they- along with a profound humble gratitude- cause me to fortify my real legacy of personhood and responsible eldership. I am an adult and my heart beats and I live! And for this and more I sit in front of Van Gogh's Evening Walk and weep. I cry and cry from the heart and my tears make my soul clean. My truest luck is the gift of this understanding.

I BELIEVE... by D.M. Jerman

...that it is better to have more ideas than one can execute. To execute those select powerful few in a way that benefits others. To compare and discuss these benefits and all outstanding desires in a way that removes personal obstacles so that one can entertain more ideas...

...that being treated to a home cooked meal by friends who have been planning on having you over for a long time now, and everything is delicious and you wish you had more room in your stomach, and the music and the conversation is great and the cat wants attention from you and you wish you never had to leave... Bliss. Simple bliss.

...that when it comes to making art, there are myriad benefits to any approach. But when you get to make it with friends in the form of a sonic mess that requires very little cleanup. This is an extremely satisfying way to make time disappear.

...that quiche comes pretty darn close to being the world's most perfect food. Next to chocolate with coffee in it.

...that, perhaps even tho' it seems to be a poor strategy with mostly a negative result, approaching the process of submitting creative writing to journals who publish it by way of "throwing" any and everything at them, carefully of course, to see if it will "stick". Well. it's just kinda fun.

 

"For me, it's a mantra. A blessing. A reminder. A moment to moment affirmation of never forgetting to live my life in contrast with conformity as much as I can manage, embrace the myriad opportunities to create, laugh, and dance as often as I can manage. Not so much a case of arrested development but a refusal to accept that with age comes a dull and slowing march. Not getting along merely to go along."

-Editor D. R. Hall

facebook.com/literateape/

Because I remember what it was like to stand in the middle of the living room and open my arms wide and spin and spin and spin... by D.M. Jerman

NIGHT OUT 2025-

 

First the hot sunset. A real desert burner. Then thunder hiccuping like a sphincter deep in your gut.

Thick clouds, real in their gilt edges within the pale uniform of tired indigo washing out the sky beyond. That end-of-summer rain on approach. Fetid downpour ripe as a tramp. Slowly clearing.

Full evening takeover, then.

A hazy, half-fat moon. Over half. Gibbous waxing, wet as a jawbreaker worked over by a dog.

 

Before all this. Hard to believe now what those clouds looked like. Wide and peach-milk-pink. Spilled strawberry milkshake melted out on a lamp. Then atrophied blue gangrened deep thru. Corrupted simple under the sounds of bootsteps in blind alleyways.

 

The bar closed down after a good run and the team had themselves a long final party. They put on music the boss would never let them play with clientele in the place, and proceeded to destroy the ambiance with their bare hands. It would stand empty for a time after that.

 

Meanwhile- bass and smoke. Expletives, skateboards and some game on. More of everything than usual, especially sirens.

The city a bit of clamor and noise reeling amongst itself.

 

A ponderous night, drunk on new wind. Streetlamps courting miles of loneliness in all directions.

People can feel summer gasping its last and they want it gone, but they don’t either. It would be hard to make a false world and stay there while any windows are open and the whispered threat of more rain is riding the airy relentlessness.

However, a week prior is an example. Another place, courting the taxidermied reverb of memory.

 

Earlier, in the park made of late afternoon and bench and foliage in a neighborhood different from your own, a man stands in the shade of the garden not far from your spot and sings the same song aloud over and over. The book is good. You put it down to close your eyes. You are wearing heels. You are perhaps a half hour away from stopping at a new bar and killing more time before an art show.

Is it Friday? A day hazing over fast into the good long while of night. Both are so happy to have had themselves. To have been connected.

This was long after the rooftop days were over. Removed and exposed from the vantage of three or more stories.

 

Still stranded on a long road abandoned to cold on the saddest night of your life. These opposites were the same. They came before and after the dream-within-dream world of another bedroom.

Here you climb into the bed. Heavy covers lush and cool. You wake and find the envelope hidden under the pillow.

 

“Give this to the butler” says the fine paper with a black key etched to its opposite side. When he comes, you do. Then change into a red robe to follow the tall handsome butler silently out into the carpeted castle hallways and down. Down into a tearoom where you are expected. You greet and join your ancestors for light repast until the sun too goes down. Thru the prismatic glass all netted together with tall wrought iron spires, it turns into a polished cherry flame and winks out.

What do you do then? What do you say?

 

Come back now. Quit dreaming. It is Friday after all. The last of the last. Someone stumbled in to the place saying “I’m just here for the piano.”

Many hours later everyone made it home, altho’ the homes they made it to weren’t always theirs to start.

by D.M. Jerman

Hi Scott-

I hope you're still writing. I imagine you are. I'm a writer living in Chicago. Originally from western Pennsylvania. It's a whole lot of poetry with some short stories/flash fiction thrown in, for me.

I work in a mom-n-pop bookshop of all-used volumes in the Logan Square neighborhood; as you can imagine I get to read a lot. That's where I found your books.

What I love most about your fiction is the people. Sometimes the ones you remember the most are the ones you see for an instant or two, then they're gone forever. It's like they just swooped down to give you this one thing to remember. Then they're out of here.

I'm familiar with that part of WV where your head and heart are so much of the time. One time my car broke down on the side of 119 somewhere, (which runs north right past the house where I grew up in Home, PA) and I had to wait hours for my dad to come get me. In the meantime I was at the house of this family who had me for dinner and were such dears. They had 3 girls. The girls loved me and wanted to play and play and play. We played inside. We played outside. I was in my mid-twenties then. I was lucky. It was midsummer and I remember the light fading over their dusty back yard. I was exhausted and filthy and I remember going in having turkey and applesauce. Later I sent them a thank you note with a gift basket of fancy foods in small portions and nice packaging. You know, jellies and dips and crackers and stuff. The girls are all grown up. Maybe one of them still has the basket.

Usually I think I'm writing to answer question(s) I find myself asking. That ever happen to you? Like, if I put a few characters thru something, I'll gain some insight. It's a bit like playing dolly in the big-girl sense. If you have too many dollies tho', you want to add them all in. Sometimes that makes it complicated where it probably doesn't need to be.

I watched all the Holler Presents videos on Vimeo and they are so worth it. I hope you make more. My husband used to be a teacher and we watched the video about your Mom's last day at school and we cried. She is so good. And the pastor you interviewed. Good stories from good people who have a way of changing the world you don't see that often, because it's not flashy. But boy is it important.

Hope you're having a nice autumn out there. All the trees do here is turn yellow.

Sincerely, a fan.

Eighties Night Feels Like Halloween by D.M. Jerman

Eighties Night feels like Halloween. The dishwasher girl as Madonna. She swings her ass in fishnets around the dance floor busing tables. Hall and Oats are begging everyone to ”Say It Ain’t So.” Back in the kitchen two industrial fans push around air at 110 degrees.

Her boyfriend is serving kamikazes dressed like a zombie from Thriller. All his carefully orchestrated fake old blood trickling from his forehead to his cheek.

Later they take his motorcycle across downtown in a summer drizzle that seems so cold.

In the wet, the city is like a shining toy. Or a barricade flashing. Battery operated.

She gets in the shower with some wine. Breaking the slippery glass, she nudges the pieces into the drain with her toe.

He leans half naked into the railing of their 5th floor apt. Makeup off, contacts out, glasses on, bloodshot. His thick cigarette enduring soft drops plunging from the August black.

The bartender and the dishwasher. They go to bed early and make wishes into each other’s warm hair, into the three-paddle ceiling fan, out of their window that looks out to other windows.

Out on the street they left only moments ago, the light pollution makes the stars into squinted pinpricks. Anti-reflections of amber streetlight in a prostitute’s tar-dark eyes as she sits low in the passenger seat of a car that belongs to a man whose name she does not know.

The city is like an awkward teenage boy who wants a first kiss, or that same attention. The city is writing a letter to itself on itself. Each letter in the shape of a drop of rain. The littlest prayer for the certain hope that tomorrow keeps becoming today.

Halloween Story c. 2005 (For Aloma) by D.M. Jerman

For halloween last Jennifer was Rosie the Riveter. She took on the idea of keeping with a theme for all Halloweens to come. She would have her costumes represent 'Important Women thruout the Ages'. This year she got stuck somehow on wanting to be the Delphic Oracle. But only up until the time I told her she'd have to dress in an old sheet and carry a stool she could sit on while also holding a laurel sprig. Also she would have to “inhale” ethylene and pretend to go into a trance.

Within an hour, the new passion was "Godzilla". Godzilla went thru a gender change real fast as you might imagine.

Halloween was on a Thursday night. She had decided on Godzilla on Sunday. So there was lots and lots of time to build a costume out of slabs of cardboard and other things stapled together before being spraypainted forest and neon green.

She had decided to make maximum noise. She was going to strap tin cookware to her feet and mash around the neighborhood. Our 'hood wasn't that big to begin with. But it was a great tradition to trick-or-treat at the 7-Eleven and then leave an offering of your favorite candy at “Pumpkin Rock" which sat high on the hillside adjacent to the episcopal church graveyard and was, each year, painted like a Jack-o-Lantern.

The Jonesons kept up this tradition. An ancient couple that lived just beyond the church property, who served as its landscapers and security force all at once. They had a mean german shepard named Barry that they would dress up like a fuzzy white bunny for the holiday each year. The costume did somehow take the edge off the snarling, drooling animal.

Mary and Rayanne, our neighbors from a mile out, were going as a drug dealer and a unicorn respectively.

I laughed when Jen told me. Then I got puzzled. A drug dealer? Kind of sounds like a less-than-wholesome persona for a 10-year-old to be portraying...

Jen came back with "Man, her dad couldn't afford to buy her a costume, so he let her borrow his clothes." I couldn’t seem to break her of the habit of calling me “Man” instead of “Mom.”

But I had one of those gleaming moments where I realize again that my daughter is socially aware & tactful & that I am often a bumbling nut full of questions.

Jen and Mary are the same age. Rayanne is 7. They made a good match in the end, the pair of them: Mary thugged-out. Holding the hand of her sister, dressed in fuzzy purple with a big gold horn. She had been a unicorn last year, too.

The night of, a few hours before we dressed to leave, we planned our route.

I issued a challenge, as I do every October 31. This year was 100 pieces of candy. Averaging 2-3 pieces per house, I deemed that we were going to hit approximately 55 houses. At about a minute a house, it should take us one hour. Mary seemed very pleased.

Down Main street we ran into Benny Cho who was also in the 4th grade, dressed like a piece of popcorn. And Karen Motley, who had made herself into a creative rendition of the Empire State Building. They joined us, and I told them our last stop was Pumpkin Rock.

Rayanne had never been there before, she admitted. She couldn't hide her excitement.

Too, the littlest one was quick to compliment my costume. Even tho' she couldn't guess out just who I was. My answer:

"A character I watched in my Saturday morning cartoons growing up... Rainbow Brite!"

Obviously, I had dated myself. She had no frame of reference.

The kids had reached the challenge goal by about 42 houses, so I cut it short and we went up to the Jonesons for cider.

Jen, the female Godzilla, and Mary, the drug-dealing gangster, were hanging out and keeping it low key when they were together. I watched them hold hands and whisper. When I'd realized they'd gone up to the Pumpkin Rock by themselves, I waited a moment. Then followed. Rayanne was deep in conversation with Mrs. Joneson and managed to make friends with Barry.

Mary was crying. I let Godzilla tell me what was wrong.

"Her dad lost his job and she's afraid they're going to have to move out and be homeless. And that she might have to leave Rayanne."

"Why would they have to leave each other?"

"I don't know. She's really scared, tho'."

I moved over to Mary: "Everything will be alright baby. You'll see. Maybe while your dad finds a brand new job, you can stay with Jen and I for awhile."

Godzillas eyes lit up. 

I continued: “At least we could eat all our Halloween fare together and get fat!!"

Mary giggled and I squeezed her close. Her tears resolved and she wiped at the rest. We all smiled then, and howled at the moon as it arrived out from its veil of grey clouds.

The youth in these girls made all the possibilities in me glow with heedfulness. A likely lesson for Halloween.

"Bookstore Famous" by D.M. Jerman

A friday. Finally friends drop by. Book buying is tough but will get easier and I still get a bunch of great stuff and hope the boss is happy. The final stretch- 30 minutes, and a few customers hang around to kill time before a show at the theatre up the street. The day after I am interviewed by some adorable Mexican kids on school assignment about the neighborhood and whether or not I am safe in it, and I say yes I feel safe. Then a 'hood rat named Alfonso wanders in and tries to stick around and make friends. I drag him out of the store by going for a smoke. He finally drifts off when I’m not talkative. A filthy shirt and 2 hospital bracelets astride many bad tattoos don’t inspire much confidence in the guy. Monday- beautiful as a graveyard near a busy highway. As soft. As loud. I get in after limping my bike to the shop after a flat and shelve and shelve. Get hungry but don’t order food. At least not right away. Make a few sales before the window-wash guy trundles in asking for bucket water. I keep telling him to come back and wash on a day when the boss is here. I know why he does, and that's his thing, but part of me thinks it extraneous and I don’t want to have to pay him.

A friday. Finally friends drop by. Book buying is tough but will get easier and I still get a bunch of great stuff and hope the boss is happy. The final stretch- 30 minutes, and a few customers hang around to kill time before a show at the theatre up the street.

The day after I am interviewed by some adorable Mexican kids on school assignment about the neighborhood and whether or not I am safe in it, and I say yes I feel safe. Then a 'hood rat named Alfonso wanders in and tries to stick around and make friends. I drag him out of the store by going for a smoke. He finally drifts off when I’m not talkative. A filthy shirt and 2 hospital bracelets astride many bad tattoos don’t inspire much confidence in the guy.

Monday- beautiful as a graveyard near a busy highway. As soft. As loud.

I get in after limping my bike to the shop after a flat and shelve and shelve. Get hungry but don’t order food. At least not right away.

Make a few sales before the window-wash guy trundles in asking for bucket water. I keep telling him to come back and wash on a day when the boss is here. I know why he does, and that's his thing, but part of me thinks it extraneous and I don’t want to have to pay him.

Thursday… A buying day. And comedy night. What’s to be said about it? I stay late. It goes off. We are totally out of toilet paper and soap. The comedy nerds are sweet and gracious and drunk on PBR but they probably don’t wash their hands anyway. It’s slow before that. Before a rainstorm. I buy books from 5 people. I pay one guy 50 but his books are great and nobody seems to want store credit. A wound-up guy reads a bit of our humble sports section. A girl brings lots of Optic Never floppies and I catch up on those. I have a drink at home after I stay up until 2am. The days are sunny but it is hot out, and just because I can’t be at the beach on the dwindling days of summer doesn’t mean I mind being here. Yet books are filthy. The building is old and dusty. I wear comfortable clothes and don’t mind getting dirty in them. I change the chalkboard sign again. Find miscategorized things and little items tucked away in between musty pages. A regular stops in for a 3-hr sit. Great. This place was absolutely built for that. I find myself surprisingly satisfied and in a good mood while I’m in here among all walks who can get excited about something new bound between two covers. Something for someone else, or themselves, or for later. A simple service and old, but still relevant. I alphabetize. Many books by the same author are then alphabetized by title. I lift and twist and shelve and re-shelve. My wrists ache pleasantly along with my legs and back, just a little. When I need a break, I sit and read. This is glorious manual labor that I never have to take home with me. It is ideal work- retail as only I hoped it would or could be. I like it.

Thursday… A buying day. And comedy night.

What’s to be said about it? I stay late. It goes off. We are totally out of toilet paper and soap. The comedy nerds are sweet and gracious and drunk on PBR but they probably don’t wash their hands anyway. It’s slow before that. Before a rainstorm.

I buy books from 5 people. I pay one guy 50 but his books are great and nobody seems to want store credit.

A wound-up guy reads a bit of our humble sports section. A girl brings lots of Optic Never floppies and I catch up on those. I have a drink at home after I stay up until 2am.

The days are sunny but it is hot out, and just because I can’t be at the beach on the dwindling days of summer doesn’t mean I mind being here. Yet books are filthy. The building is old and dusty. I wear comfortable clothes and don’t mind getting dirty in them.

I change the chalkboard sign again. Find miscategorized things and little items tucked away in between musty pages. A regular stops in for a 3-hr sit. Great. This place was absolutely built for that.

I find myself surprisingly satisfied and in a good mood while I’m in here among all walks who can get excited about something new bound between two covers. Something for someone else, or themselves, or for later. A simple service and old, but still relevant.

I alphabetize. Many books by the same author are then alphabetized by title. I lift and twist and shelve and re-shelve. My wrists ache pleasantly along with my legs and back, just a little. When I need a break, I sit and read.

This is glorious manual labor that I never have to take home with me. It is ideal work- retail as only I hoped it would or could be. I like it.

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He's The Only 32 He'll Ever Be - Happy Birthday, Brother by D.M. Jerman


Haiku(s)
by CMJ


Peeking in I saw
Skin and sex raw beneath sheets
sigh! A sullen boy…




The things I wanted
accumulate into things
in a whirlwind.



Blasphemous sentence,
disowning your past belief.
Thank God for such words.



Her lips roistered up
and awake I am for them.
A kiss starts the day.




Collected inside
are clutterings of manmade
escapism trade.




The Catalina Panoramas - Poems/Photos by D.M. Jerman

Shiver to swat me like a fast fly. Got my ass but I’ll recover. Put away the old mania and its bored cognition. Wait for me to land, then go for the top. I have a plan that will steam your shirts. It takes the weak secret, makes a perfect binding for the mess. Wait, let me get hot before this comes off. Shout out to people feeling beautiful right now.


Good morning and luck. Let me reach for you in this light like where I once did. Vandalism and other expectant mothers go flocked of lower worlds while we play. And we’re not loose yet of skin or future abasements. Look whose hear claims form. Your voice a series of whispered triple sevens and mined in the dark seepage of a lung. Taking care to blanch bets.


Birthday kid. Put on your own candlelight. How much is that sorry in the window? It’s a wish to have a lovely effort. Electric samsara brings me to that place of peace. A little smile and a lean one way beside the blue. There there, their there. Pleasing and fervent and patient and fluffy. You’ll get one, though I don’t know now just how.

Anything helps. Even helplessness. Not always a blessing but scored with possible power. I don’t have an arm to think with. I’ve spared all the teeth too like change in the bowl or the bucket begging to be a better book or dogfood. Dish me out some sorry some other time. I’m here to look and tell all of it back to myself later.

So long new years wish or a blown kiss. I can taste the dirt in the thaw. Its a bus stop life and no one stops to pick up strangers any more. Much light lives in the quest for cracks. Do your boots a favor when you come on over and take them off. I wanted that house, didn’t you? The one we get our best years from. Squeezing the backyard tree until blood comes out. Maybe it’s your blood. Maybe it’s just your friends pouring beer on you to stop the fire. It's all you have.

Junk or jewels? Black falls over the wild and delicate light. Like a mane or a stepped-on blossom, I realize what it is my turn to retrieve. The cloak, the link, the soft shield in sanguine, the uninterpreted banquet. Greedy steps spill too early toward the afterlife. What now to hinge on the year? Just rest, and see. Met out for delicious capture is the artful wave of time.

Tired of your goddamn maniac kiss. Tired of fragmented juju sweeps near the butthole. I sit by the door and that’s my job. Hogging the whoopseydaisey. Leaking all over a perfectly fresh midnight. Clogging every drain with sadsack poetry. Oooh but you make me mad the way you talk and don’t give me any subtle perfections. Did you forget your passwords for the day or your money? You are like describing an eye from the side.

The heart never truly quits. Sparks from your ring out are punched holes in my combed corridor. Shadows at my window. Anomalies flowers lending me a deep laugh. Come here if you can come. Play shelter without strictness or surprise. I’ll grow more teeth and show you my rather-than. Sorry is not a warning.


I eat my sleep. So help me. Any knotted angel tests my upholstered basement mind. Can you fly into my neon quarter? Please, I need your will to demolish bad black loops. Will earthen November relinquish our gutted emeralds long enough for us to spitshine them back to a gin-soaked lustre? Tell me flayed folders hiss open sticking paper meat and remember our hearts at last.



The Tamborine Vs. The Screwdriver by D.M. Jerman

Every morning, if I'm not out of bed, my husband will leave me a sweet note.
The idea is, I don't see it until he's darted off to work and I am sitting down with the morning coffee.
I anticipate this little love-confection. Later in the morning, a message will come by the phone with still more morning greetings and wishes.

We plan dates and get excited for every month that passes leading up to the next. I never thought I would get here, and it has a very grown-up feeling to it. I think too that my dear husband also did not believe he would find himself again in a place where a(nother) marriage seemed like a good idea. I might not either if I got financially burned so badly by a previous partner's poor planning or ill-favored actions.

Back to the rainy bliss of Friday. A pale coffee and a still unmade bed. Jacket off my shoulders in the dark comedy of my apartment. All my stuff and my husband's stuff is here. And the big trucks go past, reminding me of where I grew up. Also that place is no here, but only that here and there have a few things in common.

Music is always good in that it takes the place of drugs.
I have no one in particular to write to at the moment. I have only to admit that I have exhausted all possibilities so new ones may now arise. Only the young-muse-dog/god will intuit when he is fit to receive me, and I him, if you know what I mean...

Meantime, the coffee is kicking in, and the temperature is dropping and I just checked the word of the day: Jeopardy. Sounds like a good start to a nervous condition.

Daydreams will always have the better symphonies, and occasionally you can get at them a little with your pen. The pen is mightier, after all. In this case the pen takes the form of the hyper and unmistakable staccato of the Olympia DeLuxe German-made typing machine. My own printing press of gutless glory.

I will wear a new dress tonight. There is no pressure to worry about tomorrow. It will arrive with all its peasant error like a black hair growing indecently from the nipple.

I do press myself in relief against the fear of being uprooted by the sandy soils of a soft life. Too many pillows and stubbornly beautiful conveniences. And permissions to engage in so much bad grammar- like an editing demiurge, threatening to become self-aware and ruin my carefully preserved bad batch of poems.

At the moment, the tamborine and the screwdriver are equally silent. The genius caffeine is causing my armpits to release a pleasant amount of distress due to elevated heart rates and nothing yet to sustain the belly. The stalwart soap-boat of the belly. Churning numb, incautious acids. Breeding a bile-wracked party of styleless core-driven sugar-grasping jeremiad.
Whatever, anyway... we are a happy couple of lucky maps.

Last night I had a dream that certainly came out of skydiving. It was a week that flew by and now it's Friday and I am typing for something to do. Perhaps just to wake me up a little and give me a sense of accomplishment.
The day instructs us all to be slaves to the waking life. We are fortunate enough to get to decide exactly what part of that life we are slaves to.
It's going to rain all day, and I sit here half-naked and expecting my period. Always better to get it than to not. The new meditation is leaving me giddy with inaction. From ‘Oblique Strategies’: "Do nothing for as long as possible." Causing the recall that, when it is time to finally take action, this prolonged and self-enforced care to think for a drawn-out possible will mean for your action to have that much more intent than ever before.

Blue Stocking in a Brown Study by D.M. Jerman



When you know you want to think, walk to the skate park. Take a bench and hit a cigarette.

3 kids with decks, 2 on bikes. No rollerblades. No other goofy trick machines.

A slow Thursday afternoon. For a moment these children are completely in charge of their own destinies, and that is a kind of utopia.

The kind of day on which the sun shines so beautifully that even if you have problems, you could close your eyes and feel it's deep warmth and not care so much about them.

Sometimes you don't know what you even need or want to think about, you just know you need to think.

The sound of clack-clack-skurr and muffled punk rock from somebody's beat up boom box are just what you need to do it.

After the cigarette there's the lollipop.

Now you’re warm enough to take off that cardigan and get out your notebook and begin. Beginning anywhere feels good.

Being here to begin feels best.








The Morning Commute Portfolio by D.M. Jerman

 

I am up and out right when the thin rain turns to soft snow in the air. A transition witnessed by those lucky enough to be commuting while the sparrows are farting.

The still mostly-quiet streets reflected double in unfrozen puddles. It's like the inside of a snowglobe after awhile. Things always seem more festive and homey this time of year when the white stuff fluffs down out of the big blue nowhere. Should have worn the Santa cap today.

Under the bright lights of the bus innards, it looks to be even darker outside. My stomach flops about from late night pizza recall and one ibuprofen at 4am to stem a would-be hangover. Abstaining from coffee. Eager for tea.

Not a whiteout but close. The silent wipers going the whole way and Larry keeping the cab toasty. Everything in the suburbs is sugar dusted an inch save the roads. It is early on a whipped cream day.

Yesterday was sun and chill and my luck spotted a dollar on the ground which I used in the record store. There are plenty of things to feel lucky about from now on, and having you is the best one of them.

Love you this morning and every one hence.

In An April So Cruel- by D.M. Jerman


-
I'm in this train car, and it's full of rock stars.
PJ Harvey is in the seat by the emergency exit to the next car, pleased to be left alone to recross her legs and read her book, while Chris Cornell is swinging on the vertical railing closest to the doors, observing the neighborhood.
Wesley Willis is walking thru, trying to sell everybody a fake flower or three, while Lenny Kravitz and Kim Gordon seem to be engaged in an intense discussion mid-car over what may or may not be the best length of guitar neck, or guitar body, or string gage for that matter.
Jon Spencer gets on, then gets right off at the next stop. And on and on it goes. A ride of legends for ages.
-
The same punk rock girl I saw last week is riding the train. I am jealous of her look. Torn black tights and black low-top sneaks. Her hair is the color of day old dinosaur puke, and her ripped cutoff shorts are a grey-black that most fair-skinned and Scandinavian girls look great in.
I bet her name is Maura. Or Colleen. A feisty but feminine name that is like beauty. Staying nothing and everything at once. We are in the same car now. But I probably won't pay attention to where she gets off. I'll leave that to somebody else.
Did the hangover knock something loose? It usually does...
-
Currently unmoored in the reeling, catastrophic zoetrope of the world of love. How massive and beautiful and so unreal in power, scope, potential. To heal, to redeem, to master. I hang in its warm spectrum like a captive on a ship seeing land for the first time in years.
That anyone dare to summon the dark finality of the fall of man in the presence of a glow so righteous and significant is a perversity nigh unforgivable.
And then, the delicate afternoon puts the hair of the dog into my palm, and I am grown up inside time's wild promise.
-
I sat by and thought the thoughts while communing with today, which was tomorrow, which will soon be yesterday.
It's sounds and mid-day madness, not utterly steeped in frivolous actions, but mostly I sat and read and drank and thought. And the thinking was the act that brought me the greatest reward, even if it was just a loamy buzzing behind the eyes, or an unanswered meditation on a phrase surfacing again and leading me to a place of gratitude-laden reflection. No demand for a cross-examination or a too-industrious pass.
Questions form, then drop away in favor of memories. Memories are godsent, magnificent healers. I don't thank them enough.
-
It's the idea of taking my first trip to the city of Paris making me nervous in that way that causes your stomach to flip. Like you're about to do drugs. A drug. One that will fuck you up for a little while. Probably a good long while in a good way, and you've saved the afternoon for it, but you're still nervous.
But it’s just a place. For existing. Like any other. And sure, for doing too, but not necessarily doing, and not doing the hardest thing in the world, certainly. Which is something I don't necessarily want to do.
In other words: is traveling to Europe one step closer to motherhood? Yes. No. Maybe.
-

Sleepwalking Versaille by D.M. Jerman

...in this moment I am swollen like a tear... 

I rip the poster from the doorway. The show has come and gone. It went well. I managed to unlock a part of myself to do it. It is the best it could be, and I have passed one test and now, hopefully oddly, there will be others.

There is a man whom I see on the street in stark contrast to the beautiful people. He is not homeless or drunk, but in fact comfortably dressed in clean clothes. He drinks a cup of coffee when he isn't using a broom or sitting for a moment. He is very crippled. He is most likely someone's uncle. He has few teeth, but a big smile.

I didn't know what to make of him at first, and now I know he is safe, and someone is looking out for him.

 I am restless with the feeling that the day has already run away with everything and everyone important. The hazy light and cool air seems to put everyone into a motion capture. The fresh blue morning aliasing me and my collected intentions out to the coffee shop to write. I'd been threading to camp here some day and people watch until something better pulls me away. 

That day is today.

I'm reading a book so short and good that I will probably finish it in one pass.

Here there is a cappuccino and croissant and soft music and three female baristas who laugh and twitter on, and I think about flirting and my husband from the late night previous. His brown eyes sparkling with exhaustion in the bedside lamplight.

The bus arrives out the window to the right. It deposits and retrieves, and workers make their connections. There is a rush, then a lull, then a rush again. Waves.

Some of them have no way of knowing how love will transform their lives.

Perhaps this random summer day will afford them some idea.

I feel soft today. Adequately spent. Carbon-burnt as a sparkler. I'd almost wish the hours to rush and come to the place for alcohol and music again. I want to pass the time in the shade and still make a new friend.

The last tatters of croissant sit on my plate like badly arranged art. I don't wait very long to put down the pen when I can't think of something else to say.

And then I have a memory. The nature of their odd occurrence is a delightful mystery. I relish the recollections of the girl with the Peter-pan tattoo across her back. And a girl at the show last night who, in the edge-less shadows looked like an old friend. That familiar ramp, also new every time. A fresh topography of a one-piece collection leading to the next. A scent, a color, an emotion. The rising flavor sweetening or spurring the day, however briefly.

Striking polyphanous bells that triangulate an emotional position. Into a season of grateful existence.

I begin by taking the shortcut thru the park to get home. I write while walking. I begin by looking for things discarded by others which might be useful to me. I begin by trying to be open and gentle. The sun both invites and threatens this. In my life, the old and almost irreplaceable thing is preferred to the new and untainted. I could walk hours, or just sit in the garden and think of nothing where the birds bicker and jostle the tall greenery, and the sun is about to rise completely over the rear gate and suck up all the dew thru its straws of rays that will keep burning and searching.

I begin by taking the long way around.

Pen Pals in Love - 7 Letters by D.M. Jerman

Hey Sexy Lady-
So today is "Tropical Rain Forest" day here in Philly. It poured for about 25 minutes this morning and now it is cloudy and humid, and at odd intervals it opens up and pours again for a bit, and then stops. Huzzah!!
Apologies in advance if the letter is a bit short- no matter what I do, handwriting seems to strain my forearms and bad elbow. I feel like a rheumy old man in this weather. I can picture myself on a porch in a rocking chair yelling "Ethel!! Bring me some whiskey! My joints are acting up on me, gol-durnit!!" or some similar...
I'm working on a couple of cover letters and reading "Truman" by David McCullough. It's one of those 1000 page biographies that I love for the depth of info and historical perspective contained within, and hate, because I'm inclined to consume it unwholsomely and to the exclusion of all other activities. It seems odd to describe something as totally sweet as reading as unwholesome, but there it is.
I sat out on the back porch reading yesterday, wearing a white t-shirt. I read for about an hour, and absent mindedly scratched at my head and picked at my face and just kind of groomed myself for a while doing so, and after a bit I looked down at my shirt and it was just covered with bits of skin and hair and all sorts of biological detritus which I figured you would appreciate.
Also I had a vivid dream two nights ago about the devil AND zombies AND werewolves. It followed the classic horror set up- a bunch of people trapped someplace while zombies roam about outside- but the Devil, who was an inscrutable woman of Amazonia build, had kind of transported everyone there, and no one really knew what was going on. At one point I killed a zombie by pounding it into the carpet with a hammer until it disappeared.
Whenever somebody would escape, the werewolves would find them and bring them back inside. The Devil kept awkwardly seducing the men who seemed more curious about what would happen than excited to get it on with the Princess of Darkness. Of course, she was oddly proportioned.
---

Tonight I'm thinking about writing and how the writing process relates to observing + experiencing things in the world around us.
I went to see Chuck Palahniuk read from his new book last night and stayed for a bit of the Q&A. As I was leaving, a girl asked him what he thought about going to writing school. Should she pay a lot of money to go learn about something that she may already have?
Palahniuk is tall and rangy, like a pair of wire-rim glasses (which he wears, incidentally) come to life. He smiles easily and seems to take an almost adolescent delight in swearing, as if the fact that he can curse in public is an exciting discovery.
He told us several stories about people he has met- the girl who had her first orgasm using her little sister's electric toothbrush as a vibrator. The guy who takes pictures of people who die in the booths at the sex shop where he works, etc. And when asked the writing school question, he hunched over the podium and thought for a minute, then grinned like the swearing adolescent again and said "I feel like it's important to experience things and fuck up a lot in order to tell good stories. It helps to spend years choosing your friends very poorly."
He went on for a while, and I liked his answer, because he got right to the point: the question shouldn't be "how am I going to write" but rather "what am I going to write about?"
I read a piece in the New Yorker today about Jonathan Franzen and his adolescence in the church fellowship, and I was really impressed with how well he conveyed the sense of his looking around and observing things that age. He seems to have held onto and distilled that observational power into a clear narrative voice, and I think that's really cool.
I notice myself looking around at things a lot, but not always observing them that intently, or not keeping track of my observations too intently. Is there anything that you do to practice capturing observations?
I had a dream last night that took place at a camp in the woods. Everything was very dry, and some people came to cut down a huge old pine tree. It had two main trunks that grew apart from one another in a V shape about 10 feet up the tree. One arm of the V still supported lots of green needles and living branches, but the other was clearly dying. When they cut down the tree down, the friction of the tree falling thru the air created enough electric charge to light it on fire, and when it hit the dry ground, the place ignited like a tinderbox. I was wearing a thick sweater that caught on fire, and I kept repeating to myself "Stop drop and roll, stop drop and roll."
I hit the ground and it felt soft under my shoulder, then I woke up.
I'm headed to Philly this weekend, and I may go to NY as my friend will be in "The Hamptons." Yes, he is also a member of a boat club. And yet- he is not a dick. It's like he plays this game to amuse himself.
Anyway, I'm going to take my camera and finish my roll of film, and then I will have some fresh pics to send you.
In the meantime, here is some graf of a monkey I found on the ground in Brooklyn near the brewery.
I love you! I'll write again this weekend with more about how I feel about you and I, and maybe a sonnet. You are the best.
---

Sunday night and I'm drinking coffee in the the no-tech coffeeshop. I came out here thinking they might have that wi-fi going, as the Milkboy was having a private party. Weak!
This one is out in Wayne, about a 20 min drive from my parent's place. I used to come out here a lot in high school with friends when we couldn't think of anything to do. Meanwhile the big city pulsed the same distance away in the opposite direction... and here we thought there was nothing to do...
I put soy milk in my coffee and it's doing that thing where it separates into little clusters and then converts around, and if you want that nice even brown coffee, you have to stir it before drinking.
It's actually kind of nice to end up in the no-tech place and not have that gaudy internet to distract me. Funny how it both increases and decreases productivity to have connectiveness.
Still, I was thinking while driving here that this area could use a dive coffeeshop. The kind that's cramped and dirty, and that stays open until 2am each night, and plays super-eclectic indie music and has battered old armchairs picked up off Craigslist, like that Sparky's place on 14th in DC.
There are so many colleges around here that you'd think there would naturally be a market, but they all seem to cater to the yuppie-type crowd.
I'm glad to have travelled a bit and had some life experiences that throw this place into contrast- and to have a rad-sexy companion to show me some of the ropes!
I think a lot of people here are busy playing at behaving old while they still have much youth left in them, and it would be a shame for that to burn off wholly unexamined.
A lady I work with, a psychologist, gave me copies of some poetry and essays of hers that have been published, and last night before bed I read one about death. I realized there in bed that I'd be pissed if I were killed in an accident or something dumb, and the pastor of my parents church tried to give a service or speak at a funeral about my life. I don't want that!
I think I'm going to write up some advanced directives because of this.
So I want to ask: if something happens and I die, will you scatter some of my ashes or speak at some kind of service about me? I haven't thought it through yet, but I know that I don't want that awful man trying to pretend like he knew the first thing about me, and then invoking the Jesus crap as a palliative for my mother and family.
I hope you enjoy the other stream-of-consciousness letter included here, and the beautiful portraits. I tried to find some quotes to write on them that matched the mood, but I couldn't. It's the kind of thing that I'd like to have memorized volumes of old British poetry for. Byron and Keats and Coleridge and those guys. So much to read and so many things to do. It's great when the world feels full of potential like this.
Kitten! I miss you! I hope you are catching some late-night sledding under the stars. Make a snow angel for me!
---

Lover-
Here I am sitting in DuPont circle with my back against a tree. I'm wearing a navy blue hoodie and olive green cargo pants with sneakers. There are two police cars parked in the circle to my left. And a couple sitting on the grass in the sun. I'm in the shade myself. On my way down here I passed a homeless man, and I rifled thru all the change in my pockets and gave him the nickels dimes and pennies, but I kept the quarters. For lunch I had a meatball sandwich and a root beer that went 'pop!' when I opened it, and its neck filled up with fog.
I spent a little while earlier flipping thru a magazine from Harvard. It was supposed to be edgy in a quasi-pornographic way. Full of fetishy pictures of boobs and butts and articles by women trying to be transgressive with their use of dirty words. They all aim low, tho. The magazine is pretty clearly pitched at other liberal-minded Harvard undergraduates who, even after being accept at that "most prestigious" of institutions, need to keep telling themselves that they are different (and better, by implication) than the world around them. There was only one decent piece of writing in the whole thing, at the very end, about the excitement and danger of being young. The rest was some variation on the "boys at Harvard won't ask me on a date" or "girls at Harvard are too busy studying to spend time with me" theme. Covering up for their lack of decent subject material with florid adjectives. I was surprised by how poor I found it to be, but then maybe I'm reading things into it that I want to see there.
A slew of pigeons are around me now, cooing. Any second now they are going to all launch themselves into the air and flap around to the other side of the circle.
This morning I walked up Connecticut Ave towards then past the Zoo, looking for interesting places to work and a public library. I passed a lot of nice apartment buildings and restaurants, but no libraries or internet cafes that I could use to find libraries. Eventually I got to one of those campuses of the University of D.C., and passed another Futons!! store. It was closed. Then I took the metro back to DuPont. Going past the Zoo I crossed Garfield St., which is where my college girlfriend Kaylie lived. I had been at that same intersection before, but coming from the opposite direction. Somehow this distinction was important to me, and even tho' I could see in my head the two of us walking down Garfield chatting and holding hands, I was detached from it. Not reliving it, just remembering. And that seemed important.
Then there is a great little tea shop on R st. just past the circle called Teaism, and I'm going to see if I can get a job there. Dan and I went there last night and I had some great mint tea, and it was a great way to spend part of the evening. I'm excited about it.
This afternoon I think I'm going to walk down New Hampshire Ave towards the mall and see if there's an interesting place I might like to work. It's a lovely day to walk and see things and I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm feeling pretty optimistic and hopeful about things here. There is energy and vibrancy that I feel like I can feed off of. And I'm excited to share it with you and write to you about it. I'm really happy that you are a part of my life.
I can see people playing chess from where I'm sitting, and I miss you.
---

Hey love-
Enclosed is a book that already traveled 3,000 miles in the same box to find me. It spent about 5 days out of the box, and now hopefully has found its way back across 2,500 of those miles to your hands. I really, really enjoyed reading it, so I hope you like it as well.
Enclosed is also a t-shirt of yours that I found while I was cleaning my room back in June. I held onto it because it reminded me a bit of the size of you, and how you smell, and the kind of cool stylin' threads that you've got. But a shirt for a shirt as they say, and I figured you might want it back so you can cut a super-sexy red streak across camp.
I'm very much pleased that you like my last letter. I'd be immensely turned on if you wrote one of a similar sort for me. I'm a bit turned on just thinking about you writing it. I'm sorry that I haven't sent more letters to you of late- I've been thinking a lot, but the thoughts are scattered all over the place, and when I try to get them down on paper, they seem to disappear from my head. But I'm trying.
It's raining. Real rain too- not just some little drizzle. It just started and the moisture is kicking up this amazing organic earthy-type of smell. We had a rain dance and banged on some drums a few minutes ago, so the kids are going to be really psyched that they called down the rains. Fun!
I miss holding you soft next to me so much. The way your lips press against mine, cool and firm and sweet- and how they feel between my teeth when nibbled. I catch myself sucking and chewing on my lower lip and thinking about your mouth, your eyes, the curve of your hips. This is when it is hardest for me to be apart from you. When I want the comfort of these things. Held in my hands, wrapped in my arms.
I miss you in the quiet spaces.
I love you.
---

A few nights ago I walked up to Borders in order to get out of my house and away from the TV. I listened to the Futureheads being raucous as I walked. Remember how a little while ago I told you that I'd like to put together a CD of really driving rock music? I think that the Futureheads CD is basically that CD. Sometimes in the night I wake up with Futureheads music playing in my head. I think it has been playing in my dreams too. It reminds me of the first time that I had a dream about a particular rock climb- a hard 5.10 dihedral at Rumney that has a scary/amazing step-across. Mostly on THIN edges at the top of the corner... just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. I would wake up from the dream with the feeling of rock in front of me and air below me, and sometimes it is like that when I wake up with Futureheads music on my mind.
I got to the bookstore and the corporate managers had decreed that it was time for the Christmas music loop to be played over the loudspeakers, so I kept listening to The Futureheads to drown out the terrible schmaltz of corporate xmas rock.
I picked up a copy of Adbusters and sat in a chair listening to the thumping drumwork and had a visceral reading experience. I didn't retain any information from the articles- I couldn't tell you who wrote them or really what they were written about, substantially. Instead, through the hazy rock filter, I picked up packets of violent dissent and frustration with a culture that takes advantage of its citizens with money and selective information transfer via little electronic screens.
Usually, when I read or write or do school work, I try to clear out the background noise so that it is essentially neutral. Sometimes I'll write with classical music on in the background, but even that starts to distract me, so it was really interesting to read while pumping music directly into my brain. To read without regard for the retention of information makes the best ammunition in a debate, or in an argument, but in this situation the voice and tone seemed to be weapons of choice. When I finished reading, I felt both cynical and liberated. Less than optimistic about the true nature of things in the world today, but really glad and fortunate to know that I'm not being entirely hoodwinked by the those who would benefit most by me agreeing to become a docile consumer of mediated product-based culture.
When I visualize myself writing you letters, I am often smoking cigarettes. Somehow I've internalized the standard French New Wave cinema style young intellectual- thin, pensive, no time to waste finding food or funding it, or other such physical considerations. There's tension here, because the non-epistolary me is so very rooted in the physical functioning of this body. The urge to smoke, for me, is very much rooted in visual self-regard.
I want to because I want to see what I'd look like while doing it. All the more reason not to.
I've been picturing myself smoking more often since visiting you in D.C. and climbing out onto your roof thru the window. Something about that set up screams "Cigarettes! Wine!" to me. But I'm pretty sure that this vision has been placed there by TV and movies and other things that I've read and watched- another reason to stay skeptical about my own desires and intentions.
I dropped off some film today and caught myself thinking about the taking of photographs on the way out of the store. I was imagining that I was a famous photographer explaining my picture-taking philosophy to a student or interviewer or something, and I was saying that photography was important because it enables you to be mindful of your surroundings at any given moment in time. That when you stop and decide to photograph something, you really step into the present awareness of your visual surroundings for that moment, and that you could in theory consider a well chosen and exposed subject to be a quality picture not because it looks 'nice' but because it represents the valuable mindfulness that went into the taking of the picture. I'm sure that this is a fairly common belief among photographers, but I was glad to think it in a more or less spontaneous situation, because it's good to know these things: Why do I like taking pictures? Why do I like climbing rocks? Why should I try to find a job? If I'm ever a teacher, I hope my students end up asking the same questions of themselves as well as of the subject matter we're studying.
I hope you like the inclusions with this letter. I love you a lot and am continually excited by you. If the world devolved into anarchic chaos tomorrow and we were forced to leave our homes and not see each other again, I'd be more happy having known you than just about anyone else I've spent time with. In short, you are the best!
See you soon.
---

D-
Saturday night. I stop into this main line bar for a beer and to write this letter. Not as dark or smokey in here as I had hoped for, but the beer will do.
Last night I was up until 6am, almost dawn, and now I feel surly. Like my voice ought to rasp and rattle the way it does after breathing smokey air too long and drinking too much coffee. It was around 3:30 last night, sitting in the couch at Lydias house, and I look over at Alex and he's snorting coke off of his housekey. I thought we were winding down, but he was headed the other way. Go back to his place to crash, but he's inviting over some old friend to "catch up quietly." Hmm. Best if I leave and go home.
When I get there the outer back door is locked, and there's no key for that one, so I stand on the back porch and call my parents on the phone. Shit.
Backing up, last weekend I swing out of the yoga studio into the cold sun and onto the bus for NYC. Talk to you for a while on the phone and then catch a train, a little uptown, a little crosstown, stop in to see Caitlin at the clothing boutique where she works. No hug on the way in, but one on the way out. That weird ambiguity. Friends? How close? I want to cut out the bullshit and start with a big hug but in the moment I forget.
I pick up a grilled cheese for dinner and get myself a coffee at the corner store. Something about NYC makes me want to drink coffee, don't know what. I head out onto the train under the river, pop out in Williamsburg. Weird place- it looks run down and dirty, but there's all loads of expensive shit in the stores. Kind of an affected dirty.
I meet Niles- he's got a unabomber beard happening. We go out to dinner with his roommate and I give him advice about losing weight. Don't skip lunch, ever.
Kind of a bizarre conversation as he knocks back a burger and I dip his fries in mayo. i think the mayo at that place is homemade. It's really good.
We head back to Niles' place, meet Caitlin, head out. Niles brings his dog. First bar is like this one: nicer than it should be. Second bar has better music and a ping pong table. When I play Niles I take off my shirt but he wins anyway.
Drinks, talk. Natalie shows up. She and Niles take off. There are these other photographers there from Providence and they are trying to knock a ping pong ball into a broken wineglass, drunkenly. I'm done.
Caitlin and I take off, and they yell for last call as we walk out.
I curl up in her bed and we hold on. I don't know if she wants to kiss, but I'm asleep before I ask.
Sunday morning. Make pancakes. This takes until 1:30 or so. Lay about and read and wait for a nap that doesn't come. Then get antsy and want to run around before the sun sets.
We take a football out to a park and throw and run into the cold setting sunlight. Sounds of a nearby touch football game float towards us across the frozen ground. So beautiful I want to scream it out and sprint back and forth across the field. I think about what you said about all being connected to the stuff of the stars. I blow on my cold hands.
That night in bed Caitlin and I talk about language and decisions. It's so platonic right up to the moment we kiss, like it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been distracted. The kissing is better than it has been in the past. Practice makes... improvement. I guess. She is wet, and so I ask... She says I thought it was obvious. She's got a condom and I strap it on and penetrate her- first sex I've had in 2+ years that isn't with you. I have trouble following her signals and getting out of my own head. I think she needs her clit stimulated, but I can't seem to find it. I'm tired and I'm not going to come. She presses hard into my lower back and she's very strong and that feels good. It feels good too when she cups my whole side in her hand, fingers on my back, thumbs on my stomach. I stay on top for a while, then on the roll over the erection goes and we call it an evening. Neither of us comes. We wrap our limbs and this feels good, too. At some point I thank her and she says, I don't think anyone has ever said thank you before. Who have you been with?, I wonder. She's the fifth lover of my life.
In the morning I've got to hustle out. I've got the schedules in my head. Subway, bus, subway, walk, work. It should work out in theory but life's a little messier than that.
I make the 10 o'clock bus after three transfers, pushing my way past the aggressive Chinese ladies from the other bus companies.
I like those ladies- I'm glad that they bring that old-world commercial aggression to this country, where the transaction has become so ritualistically sanitized. Gimme the seediness any day. The bus leaves behind schedule, and then stops a bunch of times to drop passengers at random motels and restaurants along the way. This whole underground world of migrants and off-the-books living!
Sucks for me now, though, because I'm strapped for time. I need to catch the subway to Philly at 12:15 and it's 12:05 as we finally start up the long blue Ben Franklin Bridge. Nerves awake in my stomach, anticipation. I'll be embarrassed if I have to call in late. Then the driver misses the turn into the station. Shit! Now we have to go up an extra block, no, 2 blocks, on turn around, and I'm going to miss that train one choice: I get up, grab my stuff, ask to be let off at the red light, and run for 13th street. Feet echo on the concrete as I rumble down the stairs just as the train pulls in. YES! Thirty seconds later and I would have been screwed.
The doors close. I'm on my way.
I know I'll make it now. In the release from the nervous anticipation, I enter a beautiful state of flow and presence. The unlikeliness of it all. The transportation swapping. I feel like a marble in one of those toy gadgets, lifted up by a conveyor and then set loose down an incline into an obstacle course of turns and funnels and switches; or like the surface of the Earth is some enormous clockwork mechanism and I'm floating from piece to piece, changing arms as they snap together briefly before pulling apart again. I make the connection and then put on some Daft Punk for the walk uphill to the office. It sounds really good played loud directly into my ears, washing out my aural senses, and I walk fast up the cold empty street, and I'm right here, joyfully free in these five minutes. Somehow its all added up to this, stretching backward across the time of my living- the train, the subway, the bus. Caitlin and Niles and dirty NYC, yoga and Philly and you and me after a campfire, back and back, further and faster now, stars and planets in a telescope, a green field in New Hampshire, boats on a river and bikes in a driveway under hot sun. I feel like I'm a grain of sand falling thru the neck of an hourglass, suspended free in this moment...
Then I pass the pizza shop and realize I forgot about lunch. I guess I'll walk in and buy a slice...
So, back to this bar. Here's a thing about it. I ordered a beer and sat down. I went to take off my jacket but stopped halfway and put it back on. I'm not going to stay here very long.
I love you.