|**LETTRS STAFF** Writer. Reader. Poet. PenPal? Possibly. Write me a letter and find out|
I can't quite believe how far the app has come in the last year! And now with purchaseable stamps, there's many more great things to come.
It's raining! It's raining! It's raining and the world is ending. I hope you remembered to pack your towel. Oh? You don't know where your towel is? Well then aren't you in for a surprise...Welcome to Night Vale.
Do any lettrists listen to the podcast "Welcome to Night Vale"? It's a wonderfully absurd radio show in the style of a community news broadcast, except set in a town where all conspiracies are real and everything is always terrible. It's awesome, and the show has done so well they've gone on world tours (seriously) and even published a book. I didn't stumble across it until about a year after it launched, but I always look forward to the new episodes.
Other podcasts of note: mos...
Another day, another letter~
As those on the East Coast of the US probably know, it's been a really odd December. It's unseasonably warm (thanks climate change!), and there's been almost no precipitation - rain or snow. It's hard to know how to feel: a single unusual year doesn't mean anything, but it's hard not to think it's actually part of a bigger picture. Even if climate change is real and continues to happen, it's not like New York is going to turn into Hawaii, even by the end of my lifetime.
I do wonder how it will affect the natural world though. I suppose there's a lot of hubbub about how rising oceans will shrink the total landmass and low-lying areas will be flooded, reducin...
It's not New York unless you're awkwardly carrying miscellaneous objects on the subway. It's a little comforting, really, to know you can do pretty much anything and still be lost in a sea of people. Just another stranger coming from who knows where going to who knows where...and here I am.
It's been a while, hasn't it? And yet, it feels like it's been no time at all.
As we stand at the cusp of the holidays, it's hard not to look forward to everything that comes with them! The second turkey of the year, more cranberry sauce and stuffing, and time with friends and family! Not to mention the hard-earned opportunity to travel to places new and old. Maybe it's the change of pace - everyday craziness replaced by a kind of contented boredom; or maybe it's the comfort of the warm and familiar. Either way, with just two weeks to Christmas the time can't pass quickly enough.
I think moving has brought out peculiar tendencies in me. Which isn't to say I wasn't strange before moving (I'm officially a Brooklynite!), but rather that I've discovered wonderful new things about myself. For example: I became really proactive about making random, small improvements to the apartment. Weatherstripping the doors, throwing up some curtains, applying frosted glass sheets to the window, getting a door sweep to block drafts...there's a real sense of pride to be hard from making improvements to one's circumstances, however minor they might seem. It also makes me feel like I have the remotest idea of how to manage a building (future preparation if I ever get a h...
Free Things Pt. 1
Recently in life, I have been happy enough to become acquainted with the magical, mysterious world of experiences provided by other people that are absolutely, entirely, unforgivably, FREE.
But who in their right mind would dedicate time and effort to creating something of value, and then giving it away? I could not tell you. Some gentle soul, far better in all respects than I, upon whom heaven will no doubt lay a cornucopia of blessings, and around whose head the sun will be bent into a blazing ring....
And perhaps that was a little excessive, but as someone who had the pleasure of attending the play Cymbeline, hosted by Shakespeare in the Park (not once, but twic...
Writing is such a curious thing. Poems especially - the way ideas flow through words, I think poems are the closest approximation to the mind. I could ramble about that in great length, but that is not the point of this letter.
The point is this: what is the source of the bubbles of poetry that float to the surface? Some of my letters recycle the same themes....the same ideas....the same words, even, if not emotions; and it makes me wonder if I've hit some kind of plateau. If weather and color are the extent of my imagination, then I am no poet. The entire world is a poem. I believe I've seen more than most; and yet, perhaps I must see more still.
I don't know if a theme has ever been the genesis of a letter for me before, but this one struck me especially. It reminds me of my favorite things: electric towers and freeways. I guess the train tracks make me think of them.
Why wires and freeways? They always struck me as a representation of largeness, not just of human achievement, but the world in general. They seem to stretch without beginning and without end for as far as you can run them, so that there is always more ahead. They are the oracles of horizons, change, distance, and the unknown; and also the emblem of human mastery of the same.
On a more lighthearted note, driving on freeways is a real pleasure. Not congested, infur...
This was going to be the rest of the poem from a previous letter, but I found I'd changed the meter in the second stanza to the point that it felt like something entirely separate.
I've whiled in Valhalla:
they kill the endless days
and no hint of autumn infiltrates
the nights they drink away
To Byzantium I've sailed
walked frozen artifice;
beyond the reach of time's assail
youth is hardly missed
Between the two, I'll take the third
where we, the mortals crawl
Summer, winter both tempered
by mellowing of fall
"what was it?"
"not the thing." the empty space between them. "the feeling. the distension of some emotion - some unseen aspect stretched and pulled until i could not bear it, could not bear it any more, or bear to have it happen again - that twisting thought that curls and writhes, that feeds on itself and of itself until it grows too fat to fit into its own mouth and so starves itself; the necessity of owning the thing, not just the idea of it, of keeping it safe and isolate and preserved, but in so doing changing the very nature of it until the feeling - it is always the feeling; never the thing - convolutes into some other image and the thing is reflected in some other tint and you won...
I ground myself in the axial tilt
swing with a season's perennial bloom
take my respite in the brumal wilt
and rise again with winter's swoon.
This was supposed to be the first stanza of a longer poem, but I found I liked it so much (and what came afterwards, not enough) to keep the whole thing together. Maybe I'll go back and write more to it, but for now I'm really happy I got just this much right.
A story of two roofs.
On the way to the subway station this morning, a roof collapsed in the building across the street from me. The building is still under construction - and the workers seemed to be hauling material up to the second floor when it happened. There was a crumbling sound, and then a yell, and I caught a glimpse of a figure lying face up on a pile of rubble. I think he was probably mostly alright. I think I may just want that to be true.
Later, I saw a crane knocking down a roof in a building across the street from us. It was a sturdy roof - I must have paused for five or ten minutes to watch the claw tap holes in the cement.
I thought it was strange to see both thing...
When I chase unbidden thoughts
I lay my careful snares;
I find that they cannot be caught
unless taken unawares
So I will perambulate a bit
To let my mind relax
And when they least expect it
Is when I'll spring the trap
To catch one or more such fleeting things
requires utmost cunning
And so I'll offer poetry
until the thoughts return to me.
On Pandora, The Genetics of Music, and The Soul in the Machine
It's been a little more than a year since I came back to my Pandora account, and I must say - I am impressed. After months of dedicated pruning, my station has become reliable enough that I can honestly claim to be satisfied with it. If anything, I think it might be overspecialized : as a result of my vigilance in liking/disliking songs, I consistently get streaks of songs I like, which is oftentimes great but not especially useful for discovering new music. At this point, I'm almost hesitant to make a new station because I've grown so accustomed to my current one; and spending another several months sifting out the (many) song...
This past weekend and the cycle of another year in my life have made me reflect on chance and fate. It seems that the best plans go awry for the most trivial, unspectacular reasons - it's too windy to go skydiving and the trains are late so you can't go kayaking; the missed opportunities of moments that could-have-been whose legacy is their very lack significance....
Well, 23 may be the most disappointing year of my life; but 23 will be the best year of my life. Persistence is a key to every door.
Milk quietly spoils,
goes sour by the gallon
in the fecund heat
A brief haiku. I I think the theme lends the poem a little more imagery, even if it's not pleasant.
Do you sometimes think the universe secretly conspires to grant your wishes? Every now and then there will be something so random and utterly serendipitous will occur that it's difficult to believe life the product of simple chance. Of course, it's never something so useful as winning the lottery or finding an old painting of great value, but minor things - your favorite jeans on sale, or an unexpected delay on your commute that gives you more time to read.
Maybe those moments are just a matter of perspective; else, life being what you make of it.
On Unexpected Pleasures Pt. 2
Some time ago, I wrote a letter about finding an excellent restaurant somewhere in Harlem; and recently, I went through the same thing in Hoboken (I wonder if "h" is a lucky letter?).
Used bookshops are wonderful places. As tragic as it is to think authors make no money from secondhand sales, I'm beginning to believe there is no better place to discover new books. Major bookstores (Barnes & Noble, and, once upon a time, Borders) are certainly useful for finding what you already know you want, but when every section is neatly categorized and alphabetized there is little chance of stumbling across something you'd never know you needed. But in an incoherent ju...
The Pace of Things
Running until the world blurs
I lose myself in the pace of things
The tiny, varied grandeurs
Each swiftly passing moment brings
I pour into my life's painting
And yet, sometimes I run too fast
So every second slips
There's not paint enough to fill the cast
And still the canvas drips;
Those vivid tears a part of me
that stain the trodden floor
Become themselves a second art
I wonder which says more.
Perspective, and the Long Swim
Every now and then, life reminds us that we are fish, each of us in some habitat of measured boundaries and defined freedoms. Whether a trout driving against the current or jellyfish floating with it, we one day reach the edge of that enclosure, and are reminded of the limitation of our knowledge - the shallow water, the lethargic current, the aquarium glass. And maybe, at such times, we wonder at what must be beyond; but the narrowness of our experience constrains imagination, and our most wild surmise pales in the face of reality. It is only at some moment - the surge to catch some high-flying insect - that we catch a glimpse of an unexpected immensity: an ...
Colour Studies: White (I)
Pink, on white, on white.
Small blooms sprout
in the window-light.
The regular electric buzz
of incandescent bulbs
does not provide the nutrients
for the growth of plants
(Written as a joke for a friend)
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On some tree
hang human fruit:
Some cut at first bud;
Others pruned in the rot of old age.
And a few - those tragic few -
Plucked at the first show of spring,
their innocent weight
crushing the hand that carries them.
Sometimes when the burden of
everything that I carry
and everything I do not
becomes too much
I lay it down for a while
by the side of the road
and watch others struggle with theirs;
everything they carry
and everything they do not (can not).
On overcast days
I think of my youth
when peals of lightning
split swollen skies and I,
of that same flashing desire,
followed the storm.
In old age, now
I feel the burning -
long and slow -
that adds to what it consumes.
Once, while waiting for the subway, I saw a piece of plastic - the detritus of some anonymous villain - skitter, as if alive, across the platform and hurl itself onto the tracks. the woman next to me turned and remarked on that tragic semblance of life.
while perambulating the river shore with my father, we happened upon two birds. fragile things, one had perched with a mournful mien upon the corpse of the other, occasionally singing in pitiful cries. had they loved, in whatever way birds love? was there some nest growing cold for want of them, some egg that shivered as it froze? or was their love of another sort; or do they love at all? perhaps there is no sorrow in it...
I caught a glancing stream of light
and drank it hot, no sugar
A quick note on writing: First, I hope you, dear reader, will forgive an arrogant youth for imitating the more talented writers that preceded him; but, in the abstract, meandering way that I can, would like to make some small clarification all writers must and yet never should.
I am not my characters, my poems, or my stories (long or brief though they may be). I am a writer; which is to say, a liar, a cheat, and a fool. Unlike the thousands of honest and goodhearted people that lay their barefaced souls in their words, I take great pains to bury mine, to disguise it, and to render it so generally incomprehensible that you might read everything I have ever written and yet know less about me...