Hi. My name is Sean. I am at AWP Chicago. This is art right here. I like to sit. You like to sit. This is SITTING. Can’t you tell? This is an “installation piece” titled MAN SITTING WITH BEER. I look shiny and stupid because I am shiny. And stupid.
I would now like to manifest you some AWP style preaching:
Above is a video of Jesus. I know Jesus. Jesus carries a megaphone and a bouncy spirit and a belt made of barbed wire. I bought the book of Jesus, he bought mine. We made beers vanish together. Jesus will disappear into the night. So will I. Anyone who knows me knows damn well I can disappear into the night with the best of them. I have Houdini bones. (I used to also hide in closets during parties, but I digress.) But this was before AWP. At AWP Jesus and I were lost to one another. Why? Life. A mathematical dilemma: people met in relation to people-to-meet carry the one over the prospect of TIME. So many people I didn’t see. They ask me, “Why didn’t we see each other?” I mention the math thing. How the hell did I miss Barry Graham? But I did. Does J.A. Tyler truly exist? Could I lightly touch his collarbone? Don’t ask me. Wanted to finally attack fermentation with Jamie Iredell. Wanted to throw things and destroy a room with Jamie Iredell. Did not. Did I continue to talk Kyle Minor into flash fiction? No. Sarah Rose Etter has a great name. Could I tell her that, to her face? Nope. I wrote about Matt Salesses, so why didn’t I see him? Where was Molly Gaudry? Maybe ill. Steve Himmer I know I saw for a handshake. Roxane Gay I met for a hug. Brian Oliu, we exchanged jackets. I did talk disc golf with Adam Robinson. We like disc golf. We do. OK, there were others that did and did not exist. Life is a snugly fit somersault. Did see Cathy Day! Did see Jac Jemc! Disc golf.
Anyway my point is:
I KNOW JESUS.
Stumble outside and birds are coughing up regret and rain off the roof in curls of lizard smoke and someone has run into my car, left a note, all of that jazz you see in books or something and then it happens to you and you’re all, “Damn, I’m going to go back inside.” Ah, you don’t need that car right now. What is a car? But a trick, a disease. And you pack another car with this flesh and that flesh and suddenly there bloom windmills. Look like metallic spiders from a nasty dream. Have you noticed that dreams rarely involve smell? When is the last time you tasted a dream? Windmills can show us something. I see that one is pointed that way, one the other; some spin, some sit silent and sullen. (Q: What is a windmill without wind? Answer: A writer not writing.)
I drive by and say, “We’re in the future now” and no one replies, because everyone is looking down into their handheld futures–beep, beep, whir–and so I face the road. I eat a duck’s bill of Pringles. You’re going to pass Gary, Indiana. It is going to smell like television and the bottom rim of a garbage can and pills for headaches, brainfevers, liveraches, heartaches, birth control, better orgasms, stomach trouble, sleeplessness and panic attacks, who carry neon cell phones, pagers, stethoscopes, bible verses, nail clippers, pepper spray, scrawled phone numbers, airline vodka and Virginia Woolf, recipes for Mai Tais and chicken korma and fancified mashed potatoes, photographs of dogs, lovers, husbands, girlfriends, fathers and mothers, of men in hats and foreign-looking women, of cats, roller coasters, antique toasters, sailboats, cruise ships, Sarasota beaches and African airports and maybe you’ll say, “Michael Jackson was born here,” and you’ll see the farts of factories, the smoke a deep white with pink–is that pink?–edgings…A bird shadows overhead and cuts a melancholy line across the highway or did someone spend their evening breaking into my phone and reading all the stranger’s text messages? What’s the difference? There’s things you want to be and things you don’t want to be, but then so much fucking space in-between. The head is a container for soup. (Mostly I wish I had seen Matt Bell. How could I not see Matt Bell? I wish I had seen Matt Bell and I wish I had seen Amelia Gray at AWP, but that’s my own damn fault, isn’t it?)
A wish is a smell. A wish is a scraped tongue. Something.
No, no, not her!!!
Gray, not Grey!! Lord help us. I would pay money to see Amelia Gray eating nachos with Amelia Grey, above.
Look at this video. How bizarre is this video? How endearing? How can you not want to read this person? But forget all of that. She can write like the screams of flowers. Can’t wait to read Threats!
Jeannie serves me meatloaf at the café.
Jeannie serves me spaghetti and meatballs at the café.
Jeannie serves me pork barbecue and french fries at the café.
Jeannie serves me breakfast tacos at the café.
Jeannie serves me fajitas at the café.
Jeannie serves me onion soup at the café.
Jeannie serves me quesadillas at the café.
Jeannie serves me chicken fried steak at the café.
Jeannie serves me grilled cheese sandwiches at the café.
Jeannie serves me steak and eggs at the café.
Jeannie serves me baked potato at the café.
Jeannie serves me tomato soup at the café.
Jeannie serves me pork chops at the café.
Jeannie serves me cheese crisp at the café.
Jeannie serves me ham and cheese at the café.
Jeannie serves me fish sandwiches at the café.
Jeannie serves me chicken salad at the café.
Jeannie serves me corn dogs at the café.
Jeannie serves me tamale pie at the café.
Jeannie serves me vegetable soup at the café.
Jeannie serves me macaroni at the café.
Jeannie serves me chili at the café.
Here’s one of my all-time Gray glows, if you want to read something. OK, enough Amelia Gray already. Sorry. I’m a fan.
“Never mess with Mr. In-between,” a screen writer told me over dry beer and saponaceous fries. We were in a fake Irish bar, that one connected to the hotel. A bunch of damn writers in a fake Irish bar. Can someone get me a guillotine martini, shaken not stirred?
“Well said,” I responded.”
“I’m about to give up,” he said. He was referring to screenwriting. He gotten very close a few years back, close enough to move out to L.A. and that had pulled a number on his skull-space. He had caught the odor, as they say.
I said, “Don’t give up,” but I don’t know if I felt it. There’s some truth to hope setting up all the pins. Dark ball of the future rattling near.
A bowling metaphor? WTF? A bowling flash:
The Honeycutt’s 30-year-old son Daniel is a contestant on Bowling For Dollars and all the neighbors have been invited to a party in their backyard. My mom is standing in the doorway of my bedroom picking her fingernails and waiting for me to put on my sneakers.
“I forgot it was this afternoon. And we have to go. The kid’s autistic for Chrissake,” she says.
So. I paid my tab by signing it to a room in the Hilton. Problem is I wasn’t staying in a room in the Hilton. That was a mistake. I later corrected the mistake. I said to the bartender, “That was in good faith, my error.” She said, “I never doubted you.” I don’t know; sometimes I feel OK. I keep thinking about buying beers and my money eventually winding up in the pocket of Paris Hilton. It makes me happy. Paris Hilton is so ridiculous as to be sublime.
My room was with my family and made of glass. Stones, stoned, a few thrown? AWP round-up thing here with a ton of writers.
They say don’t live in such places, but I don’t throw a lot of stones unless rather drunk. Later I can say, “Well, I was drunk.” It sometimes rebuilds walls, oddly. Still, I don’t throw many stones. Why would I? There’s very rarely a fault people have I don’t own a segment of myself, somewhere inside me. Trying to be decent, I guess, but it’s hard. There were actually only two people in the entire AWP I don’t care for. One, he was mean to me, professionally mean, several times. Fuck him. The other is a person from the past who treats people badly, in their hearts. That’s not right. So fuck her. But two isn’t bad, now is it? Ah, crows and chicken nuggets to it all, I suppose. Sometimes you think about how other people live, and maybe they think about you. You see things and they make your body itch. Words and lips and glass. What am I looking for? Anyway it’s a big-ass lake right across the glass, the sixth largest in the world (not the glass, the lake). There’s a lot of empty corner condos. I think it would be great to play Nerf basketball inside one of those. (My son has been REALLY getting into Nerf basketball and it makes me glow. Nerf basketball is such a good thing for the soul.) Look there! There’s a big-ass park where I think Oprah leaned on some white dude’s shoulder and cried when Obama had finally won and our nightmare seemed over (I emphasize seemed).
I should get my pal Sarah Wells to write a poem titled OPRAH CRYING BEHIND MAN. One time I asked Sarah to write a poem about Jesus walking into a bar and she did it in like a day! She can write poetry on demand.
Is it sadness or happiness the day a U.S. president leaves office? Depends, I think. Must be some serious self-reflection. It seems to me you have so much blood on your hands. There should be a chart for each president: the amount of blood on their hands. Maybe there should be these giant laboratory beakers alongside the monuments in Washington, a beaker for each president, giant glass clear gleaming beakers–full of blood. Frothy rich red blood. Wars, drone assassinations, policies and programs for the poor, for health care, for bridges and roads, for…ah, it baffles the mind. But enough. Enough! The dog nudges its leash and dark birds swooping over highways all across America.
This video is sort of amazing. I found it over at THE DWARF, where AD Jameson was riffing on it. I listened and watched several times. It made me low and high.
Is below flash or prose poem? Don’t know or care. It’s easily the most devastating thing I’ve read in a good while. It speaks to the power of few words–a power I strongly exist in. It can be done:
A Story About the Body (Robert Hass)
The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she made amused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy,” and when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The radiance he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity – like music – withered very quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I could.” He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl – she must have swept them from the corners of her studio – was full of dead bees.
I brought venison chili
and my friends made venison chili nachos.
OK, one writer friend of mine seems so sedate, so off the rhythm I know. Finally someone tells me, “He has a new girlfriend.” Ah, got you. Went to readings (I write a smidgen about such matters here…) I gave readings about Velveeta and kind people came up after and said they really liked Velveeta. Thank you, kind people. Velveeta!
You were my birthday present; you came to the door–no one else was home. You said, “Let’s celebrate.” We dropped acid and went to the friend with the nocturnal monkey-like animal and made Velveeta for hours.
At the book fair I was given books and wine and bourbon. I’d turn around and someone would say “Here Sean” and I’d be holding one of those little plastic cups. John Wang (Juked is the shit, as you know) would say, “Hi, Sean, you want some wine?” and I’m all “Sure, John” then I spill the wine all over my jacket but neither one of us really care. A good friend let’s you spill wine. I like John, period. At readings, people bought me beer (thank you, Roses!). It’s pretty easy to get a drink, but, you know, it was my birthday on Friday and friends are friendly. The bartender liked Memphis and Velveeta and bought me drinks. I gave her a copy of my book. Seems a fair trade. Thank you, bartender. And then the day/night is all gauzy dice thrown across a felt made of tongues lapping. I’m OK with all of it, except for the swooping birds. WTF? 1. A fish with a head like a human, very expressive. (Found out later this was a hog fish. I don’t think it’s head looked like a hog. It looked like a monkey or a form of a monkey, a human.) 2. This video installation of a woman and a man repeating lines. The lines were like, “You like to shit. I like to shit. This is shitting.”
or “You’re a bad girl. I’m a bad girl. We are bad girls.”
It was odd and affecting. I felt a bit mesmerized and wanted to steal the thing and watch it inside my shed. I wanted to sit in my shed with a beer and my foot up on a raccoon trap and just watch the video for hours. I think love is a shed.
My friend actually filmed the video and then the museum peeps walked up and said, “Sir, don’t video the video.” One room we go into and it’s just white canvases, the entire room. OK. Sometimes I don’t get it. I’m OK with not getting it. 3. You can eat a Chicago veggie dog and that made me like life just a tad bit more than the seconds before I noticed. I went to the Alabama cocktail hour thing and the young writers were so nice to me and also I felt old. That’s OK. I’m OK with feeling old around all these eager writers. Hell, I was them once. The energy was good. I met Charlie again and I like Charlie. I met Jenn and who else? Oh, Doobie. And Pablo! Man, I miss Pablo. Professors Robin and Wendy and Martone–oh, oh, Martone–were there. You realize how much they meant to you back in the day. Back then it was like, “Professor. Whatever.” Now it’s like, “Wow, they really changed my life.” So that was very good, the Alabama cocktail party. Well until Martone tried to give me an Alabama “Roll Tide” pin. Umm…Go Vols? 4. On my birthday I got to see Caitlin Horrocks read. She is just a pro, and I think her debut collection has a range that is outright outstanding. I kept reading it and thinking, “Can she sustain this?” Yep. We are going to host her at BSU soon, and we are all the better. Here’s At the Zoo. Read it. 5. So this one poet is pretty dern Poet, I mean this shit is serious thing, etc. and John Jodzio gets up there and starts talking about shooting diamonds out his penis. Good to see you again, John. Then we went to a dive, the Rainbow Room, I think it was. It met the dive bar requirements:
The ceilings of dive bars are low. Most are constructed of fiberboard tile, sagging, mildewed, often stained into fascinating patterns: there Alaska, there the Milky Way, that one a cat caught in the elbow of a tumbling train. A minimum of three absent tiles. Black holes, missing teeth. Exposing asbestos-crusted beams, duct-taped pipes, electrical wiring that hums.
The ceiling of a dive bar descends as the hours pass. By midnight, everyone is hunched over, morphed into hobbled, squinting creatures. But not unhappy or alone. Slouched together.
Collapse is imminent.
One in the front, one in the back. For passageway, either is appropriate at any time.
Often painted red.
Concrete. Drainage hole optional. Washed once in mid-summer, with a garden hose.
Then we went dancing. Where? Down some alley and past a woman grilling sausages and weaved through some other grass alley/hipsters smoking thing down a basement OK. Danced with Madison Langston and Mike Young and Adam Robinson and Matt Mullins and Jimmy Chen. Did I forget someone? Sorry. It looked like:
My hero, Jimmy Chen. Definite highlight of AWP for me! Below is Jimmy on Guitar.
6. I went through a secret door, around a hallway, up 19 floors in an ancient elevator, past a workout center, laundry room, down another hallway, into a living room/pool room space something and there were writers, writers, writers, writers. Matt Mullins throwing down the saw, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Interview with Matt here. Matt and I keep thinking of ways to destroy his book. The obvious is chainsaw. Video coming soon, I feel. 7. So a couple pool sharks show up and my friend and I take them right down. One of the pool sharks has the shortest miniskirt I have seen on a human being. Thanks for the beer, sharks. 8. Mark Neely book is here! I’m reading it now and it be glow. I used to really like Neely’s stuff but now I sort of love it. I’ve had beers with Mark once, I think. I forget. 9. Run with Mark under The Bean mirror thing all round The “L” all around the Lake Michigan pier all around The Loop and wow a touristy run never seen this or that run makes miles flow by and running so like a dream-way a transportation and there goes a city rabbit crossing the street! An actual cottontail rabbit in the city. That’s a badass rabbit, I feel. 10. Eating with family and friends. Sushi. Roe. Salty roe. I suggest the South Coast sushi. Roe. 11. Someone handed me a T shirt that said, SEMIFINALIST. Ah, writer jokes. 12. Bought Elizabeth Ellen’s book. Looking forward to. Now that, that, that is an author photo!
Good to see EE and Aaron again.
13: Met XtX, I think. I’m still not certain there is an XtX…I’m cynical that way. Is she for real? Don’t know. Do you hear me, Andy Devine? 14. Boys girls women men, oh my. What else? I don’t know. Life is weird. I sold some discs the other day. I used to buy hundreds and hundreds of disc. It was an illness. I had to keep them all. I am maturing? It could be. I think so. Hey. I can let a few things go:
(they sold for $56, BTW)
Don’t video the video!!