After Todd Haynes’s The Velvet Underground

Yea, and I rise—

no grapes,

no gripes—

each breath an act of love.

Blacula (1972). Rocky Horror (1975). El Planeta (2021).

To our list, add Lou, too — his story eerily lesson-like, and relates —

though different, certainly, in its affect.

Gay nightclub noise bands formed

to silence Lou’s committee in head.

Enter John Cale, ex-Welshman

Radio tuned to foreign broadcast.

Out pops

“European Son.”

Artists escape to

New York at midcentury’s end.

42nd Street

Andy’s Film School

60s culture.

15-20 movie houses:

Here comes

new channels.

Here comes

LaMonte Young.

Very high spiritual states.

Long sustained tones.

Study of drone.

And along comes

Lou’s Syracuse buddy

Delmore Schwartz.

Add, too,

Jack Smith, Tony Conrad.

The drone of Western capitalism:

By Dream Syndicate Dazzled

By Dream We Dream

PS I LOVE YOU

To catch an evening screening of you, I hike downtown.

Seeming Lovers

ahead of me.

The Lovers

sit side by side

whispering in the dark.

“‘Tis my new favorite movie!” I tell myself:

made with masks all the more thrilling.

Plants kick in and

I relax,

Chasing happiness by my side.

BKNY

Little Red Caboose navigates among subways, choo-choos into Brooklyn. Stares out at gasoline alleys. The experience of the railroad platform is indistinguishable from the sights and sounds of the roads that run parallel. Barber Shop. Live Music. Juicy Cajun Seafood. Once aboard my train, I sit beside a window clouded over with sap and soot. An automated voice announces stops as I begin P. Djèlí Clark’s Ring Shout. “This station is / Rockville Centre.” “This station is / Jamaica.” I stop in at Catland Books to purchase supplies, but it’s a small shop with limited stock, and the alignment of the place troubles me. Fat Tony sets the tone as I walk an hour and a half west to buy books at Unnameable, body drenched in sweat. Highlight of the day, though, is a leisurely, meandering, late-afternoon bike ride around Carroll Gardens and Red Hook with my brother. We pause before the waterfront, relaxing in the day’s fading light, Ellis Island visible in the distance.

Having a Coke With You

Inspired by José Esteban Muñoz’s reading of Frank O’Hara’s poem “Having a Coke With You,” I decide to include O’Hara’s Collected Poems in a bag of books that I carry north with me on my trip to New York. O’Hara is, after all, a defining figure of the New York School. His is a poetry of parties, acts, and encounters. A friend writes about him in her book. Words of hers capture my thoughts for a moment — nay, linger still, all these hours later, here in the future, among what has become of the words of he who is lost in the story. I imagine again the characters in the O’Hara poem, “drifting back and forth / between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.” If one’s attention is not to hold and be held by such things, one must actively turn away.

Sunday July 7, 2019

Laid out on a futon on a screened-in porch at my sister-in-law’s house in upstate New York, I sip a Belgian-style wit brewed locally with hints of lavender, children’s voices rising up from the park across the street. Origami birds hung with wire circle and converse beside a Japanese maple. My favorite moments are ones like these when, through modest experiments with sense and awareness, I’m able to reach out and investigate my surroundings. The books I’ve been reading these past few days all seem connected in accordance with what the Three Initiates refer to as “the Principle of Correspondence.” Brian C. Short’s New People of the Flat Earth, The Kybalion, even the movie Back to the Future, which my nephews watched for the first time last night: all of these works seem to resonate when properly aligned. The same can be said of these origami birds hanging by the window, their forked tails and black-and-white plumage resembling those of the frigatebirds I noticed last night flying in the sky above my sister’s back yard. The question now is: how might I utilize this principle in service of the good?

Saturday May 25, 2019

My phantom appetite reopens old wounds as I drive along the south shore of Long Island, a place of radical injustice, like a theme park dedicated to the triumph of Italian Fascism. The planet groans beneath the weight of Blue Lives Matter monster trucks as La Famiglia orders an assembly of scungilli for an air show. How am I to practice zazen amid these sites of trauma?