Wednesday, November 28, 2007

home in the desert

word up.

alive and well and having an *awesome* time in Tucson, AZ.

no time to write. but all is good. very very good.

colour me happy under the widest sky i've ever known...

i may never leave.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

blonde ambition

my head's filled with a load of stuff right now all vying for attention. and in my heart too. i'm gonna be hanging out in London this weekend and plan to spend a good few hours at a cafe table scribbling so we shall resume normal outpourings of inner stories shortly...

in the meantime, here's the frivolous side of life...
something's changed round LB's personhood. it's behaving itself here thanks to having had on a cap but i got to hand it to peroxide. i can now do some wild stuff with my now much more textured locks.

here's me. with my buddy DF. who was quite delighted, as was i, that we are not just friends, but now friends who match. more fotos will follow displaying the magenta hidden in the platinum. and no doubt celebrating jude's birthday in an outrageously irresponsible fashion. here's hoping anyway.

love the one's your with...

Sunday, November 11, 2007


i'm sitting by the fire with Jude, both companionably typing on our laptops. listening to kristin hersh's beautiful confession of an album, Hips and Makers.
can't think of a better album to be listening to right now...


You can dander on over to jude's blog to see what we got up to last night. i'll be reflecting on that in the next day or two but, having just come back from ikon gathering ::Miracle:: at the black box, i'm gonna post what i wrote and read tonight...

i'm tired in the aftermath. it was an emotional evening.

i head to Arizona in about 10 days on behalf of ikon to explore and create with the Aldea community in Tuscon. so tonight we had an art sale to help cover the cost of getting us there. which given ikon's tiny purse was a huge expense. when we do what we do at greenbelt or folks read pete's book there is often an assumption we have something that might be called a budget. what we have is a threadbare shoestring. we get by on participants not claiming expenses. we struggle talking about money. we never ask for money. at least not for ourselves. so tonight, we asked, and miraculously some might say, the crowd raised more than enough to pay for the flights for me and pete and jonny and in return went home with jonny and jayne's paintings and photographs.

but that was only part of the emotion... the gathering was pretty amazing. it fell together and opened something up. every contribution had a different perspective to offer and left folks with a lot to think about...

needless to say, reading the following was a test of my mettle. but i guess this is what i do. now only if i could work out how to make it pay the bills. mining for the authentic is not lucrative done this way. but it was cathartic. and there's a value in my life to this kind of creation that i can't count... and it led to some meaning-filled connection with people i wish i could look in the eye more often... whom i wish i could do life better with, be closer to... let my walls down with more than i do...

this'll be a little rough as i wrote it to read aloud and so this is not a polished text for the page. there are little changes i made as i read, shifts in pace and stresses not seen here... so you'll have to forgive it's flaws. anyways, here it is.

this, for my sins, is what i do.


Within every life is a story.
This is a slice of mine....

I cannot tell you I believe in God.
Certainly not one who intervenes.

I prayed. I prayed. For strength. and courage. and will. For love.
And there was nothing.
And the more I prayed the more the things I prayed for died.
Until one day, Love died. And with it, god died. And I died with it.

I do not mean simply romantic love. Or familial love. Or platonic love. For sure, I lost those things. Not for the first time.
But Love itself.

I sent a message. It said,
“I have never felt less like living”.

I felt the ground beneath me disappear. every last vestige of hope I had evaporated... the final breaking. And with love and god, I died. Or at least, I was no longer living. I remember sending out a message and then the ground gave way beneath me and then the lights went out. And whatever I had been up to that point, when faced with the final unthinkable abandonment in a long list buried within me, whatever I had been was now nothing but a gaping wound emitting a silent scream without ceasing. And there I stayed. In that space I met with the eternal abandonment. an absence so profound I have no words to tell of it. A void swallowing me whole.

I survived this moment not because I wanted to live. Had I tried to physically end my life that would have been an affirmation that I existed.
Was “not dead”. Would have had to have made a choice. And I couldn’t even do that. In the void that sucked me down I let go. Gave myself up. And let the void to take me. I entered a place where there was no hope, no light, no time, no feeling other than grief. Raw ragged sharp mutilating grief like a hurricane flattening a house. A castle. A fortress. Every defense ripped to pieces.

The kind of terrible moment when lips move to whisper, “it is finished”.

I realise now I was a steel fortress. And to heal I perhaps had to become a gaping wound. And then to being a broken bowl. Some days I was fragments. Fragments shattered so hard they could no longer feel or see each other. Could not remember how they had ever held together. and I confess, I retreated again into a steel fortress. But there are gaps in the walls now. I am learning how to dismantle them piece by piece. This is what living is. Unlocking oneself. Daily acts of the risk we call trust. Replacing rivets and bolts and sheet metal with twig and twine and feathers. Learning how to bend so we won’t break.

You might think that ‘the event’ is the moment of breaking, the moment in which the walls and floor of my fortress collapsed into nothing.
But that’s not it. My life stopped. And the past and future were utterly changed forever. But, That’s not the event.

The event is the unseen moment. The i-know-not-what that pulled so that I came back. Saw myself from above lying on an unfamiliar bed. Heard the sound of a beloved’s tears and fears down a phone line that I would take my life for real this time. Surprised. to find I was still breathing. The event was the unknown invisible happening that drew me back into the world. I do not know where it came from. Do not know it’s source. But something happened somewhere in some fragile instant that I do not remember. Cannot name. but I cannot tell you I believe it came from me.

within this story there is a something that is more like a happening. An atom. A seed. A spark. An essence. An event. The push of a match to strike it.
I cannot name it. It is perhaps the something beyond naming. It is so small that it is far easier to believe it is not there at all. It is no thing.
But that no thing, that which is best known by it’s absence, it’s invisibility. Is this what gives rise to god, to hope, to love, to life itself?

It is here. Buried beneath every moment is an eternal moment. A now that does not cease. Hidden. Secret. Always out of reach.

I think I shall be digging forever in my story. Beneath my being there is a something.
I don’t know where it comes from. It is the jewel I cannot find. But I feel it. That something happened.

It is the gravitational pull that draws the hand out to touch the hem of a cloak.
It is the pull that draws the figure in death shrouds from the tomb.
It is the pull that draws my breath in and out in and out.
It is the nothing that happens before the hand lays on the mud upon the eyes.
Before the spit falls on the tongue.
Before the mouth says, rise and walk.
It is the pull that is forever drawing us back to this place.

I cannot tell you I believe in God.
But I believe in a something that is more like nothing. So fragile. So weak. So ungraspable. So unspeakable.

It was there in my mother’s womb.
It was there in her last breath.
It was there in the last goodbye when the back door closed one last time and I found myself alone.
It was in there in the valley of death when I gave up living.
When god no longer existed. When love no longer existed. When I no longer existed.
It was there when I found myself in that strange bed.
And if it can ever be found it is in a place beneath words.

There are no words I know to describe the place I entered, gave myself up to. I have been stumbling forward ever since. A colt on fragile limbs unsteady in the life that comes after. I am still here. From out of the darkness I am stepping forward.

And there are no words to describe the event.
But It is something like miracle.
It has to be.
Because I am standing here.
It pulls me as I stand in this space.

To testify.
To fragment the fortress I carry within me to deal with loss upon loss upon loss. To hope...

Perhaps that’s what miracle is... It is beyond me. It is beyond everything we can name.


i read from the exact same spot that i had watched Mark Koselek a week ago.
just before we opened the doors i climbed onto the stage and put my lips to the boards.

sacred ground. sacred space.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


this is for the lovely gail, she of all the W's. she requested reviews from her autumnal home in decatur. and what lovely wants, lovely gets. so here you are, lovely... my memories and musings from an incredible night...

where the duller "attach bracket A to supporting upright B using bolt F and nut G" run-of-the-mill review
meets the meaning infused, freeflowing straight from the heart, fireside review:

so. imagine us. sitting there, only a few feet from the stage, front and centre. that's cazi, chris, jayne, willow. and me. paul the poet is at the next table and steve toner's behind us. the room is packed. and bar one eejit who was encouraged to leave after a few sshhh-ings (this was for talking loudly between songs!) everyone was there with the absolute intention of listening.

goes without saying, the guitarmanship from kozelek and his accompanying guitarist was stunning. a joy to watch. his voice fragile and sure. we could see every sinew in his hands. only the air and the microphone between us. the initmate air was full of anticipation and expectation. i've never been to a gig like it in belfast. and here we were in a room with a stage that's been so significant in our story of 2007. that experimental deconstructing delusioned stage. that cunt loving feminist stage. that jesus in an orange jumpsuit stage. our stage. and he was on it.

highlights for me:
a beautiful downturn take on San Geronimo.
Trucker's Atlas.
Rock and Roll Singer. almost unbearable. and i have no idea why.
Carry Me Ohio. had me bent double in my seat. sent shivers up my spine that weren't a result of the air conditioning unit above us. air conditioning. in november. in a venue with no heating. tsk.

at the end he tried to leave stage right through the black curtains. finding no way through he climbed down off the front of the stage, where, as the crowd applauded and called for more, he shuffled awkwardly and then turned and got back up again for an encore. he saw the humour in the awkwardness of the moment. and it seemed like a perfectly kozelek moment. a not-sure-where-to-put-yourself moment.

socially awkward when not at home. can't quite fit in or say the right thing when he tries to talk to the crowd. like he's carrying an inept heart on his sleeve. just can't pull off being cool. notices he can't see the room and you're not sure if that's a relief or a shame for him. or maybe both. maybe that's the point. and for a moments in each song he'd lose himself behind closed eyes and the microphone. and yet as each song closes he seems to come back up and perhaps realising he's gonna have to connect without music he just stops playing. brings the fade out to a sudden end. as if he doesn't know how to do anything but an awkward ending. and when he did connect with his eyes, as he spoke and i wondered if i shouldn't be regretting that chris's first place in the queue got us the best seats in the house, it was paralyzing. and i hoped he knew that as i pulled back beneath my cap while aiming at my best if fragile welcoming smile that i (like him?) find the world easier to face when it's in my peripheral vision. that looking another in the eye is daily unbearability. even beauty can be unbearable. it makes you want. and it reminds you of what you had and can't have.
it makes you feel.
when i think of kozelek i think of that adam duritz line, ...all the lovesick rejections that accompany the company i keep...

we know the open parts in us as if they are gaps in the walls in us. that hope and regret sometimes feel intertwined like lovers in us.

when he performs there's no doubt that this is the only thing he knows how to do. born to do.
he'd had dinner in an empty restaurant and wanted to know where he could hang out in this "sleepy" town. said he was tired at the end of the tour. wanted to sit in a dark corner and smoke some blow. but i imagined he wanted it to be the dark corner of a place with people, and life and awakeness. but exist in its peripheral vision. and let it be in his. not have to small talk with it. just melt into the edge of things. or maybe that's me. but it's that feeling, that's kozeleky to me. feeling the inside so much that dealing with the outside is like falling in slow motion on a banana skin...

so many kinds of music fill this world. there's music to fall asleep to, music to wake to. music to work and work out to. music to spin another to, to sway to, throw your hip to. music to throw your body 'cross the room to. to jump to, shimmy to. music to mourn to, cry to. music to remember and regret to, to eat, drink and commune to. to sing to. to drive and scream your lungs out to. to kiss to, fall in love to. make love to. fuck to. create to. birth to. part to. arrive to. desire to. hope and wish to.

and there's the music to be to. to dwell in and feel to. to reflect and imagine to.
and the music that reaches down like a tender fist inside of you. it's sacred. music to be religiously human to. to commit to. to be yourself to. to be nothing less than fucking real to.

when i hear his voice and his hands i think of what it means to be human... to want to be safe... of the weight of being human... of wanting an elusive simplicity of emotion... so much of what he sings is about other places, other times... as if what is desired, wanted, loved, regretted is somewhere else... a catalogue of departures... as if joy exists in another room... real and remembered...but elsewhere... held at a distance... as if love is easier to deal with when it's gone... that loving is someone being your everything and to lose it is to lose everything... despair, loss, confusion are all sung of without the mask of metaphor... all straight up confessions of the void...

his music speak to life hard won. trust hard won. and defiance. survival. in living by telling. revealing the inner story with honesty that's so often uncomfortable but not being able to do it any other way... it's beautiful. he leaves me feeling an emotion that can't be pinned down... but the feeling is as deep as it is diffuse... these bittersweet recollections are a gift... honesty deserving an honest witnessing...

CARRY ME OHIO (mark kozelek; god forbid publishing (BMI))
sorry that
i could never love you back
i could never care enough
in these last days

her tears fell
on her pages
found me well on her words
i don't know what to do or say

wading through
warm canals and pools clear blue
Tuscarawas flow into
the great lake

back where the highway met dead tracks
ground that's now cement and glass
so far away

heal her soul
and carry her, my angel

green green youth
what about the sweetness we knew
what about what's good, what's true
from those days?

can't count
to all the lovers i've burned through
so why do i still burn for you?
i can't say

sorry that
i could never love you back
i could never care enough
in these last days

heal her soul
and carry her, my angel

sorry for

never going by your door
never feeling love like that

heal her soul
and carry her angel

children blessed
gather round the home she rests
so poor and cold in their midwest
moon and sun

flashes bringing on
my open eyes to lightning storm
the touch of mist felt soft, felt warm
on my face

graving dreams
a million miles ago you seem
the star that i just don't see

words long gone
lost on journeys we walked on
lost her voice is heard along
the way

sorry that
i could never love you back
i could never care enough
in these last days

heal her soul
and carry her, my angel


this post was written with the musical accompaniment of little drummer boy - live. available on Caldo Verde Records.
* from trucker's atlas. lyrics by Modest Mouse. 'covered' by Sun Kil Moon on Tiny Cities.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Carry Me , Ohio - Sun Kil Moon

'cause i'm feeling all kozeleky...

all telling from the inside

the week that's gone has been filled with music. and flu.

this week saw me bedridden, and watching lots of the wire and queer as folk(usa) from under my duvet for comfort.

the flu was sandwiched between two trips to the grand opera house as part of the belfast festival. the frames' show on monday was astounding and willow and i had amazing second row seats. we were blown away.

yesterday saw me getting a request with only an hour's notice to merch the duke's memorabilia at both the matinee and evening shows making for a long day into night. how could i say no to the man. willow came and helped out in the madness that followed the matinee for which i gave her my slot on the guest list. but the work came with the delicious treat of some reunions with band and crew and a surprise in the shape of iain archer, whom i didn't know was supporting on the evening show 'til i saw the running order for the day. i dandered backstage to stand in the dark calm of the wings to watch him play while on a break and i got to see a significant chunk of the duke too. both were awesome.

tonight marked my most anticipated night of the festival. mark kozelek played the black box. our little table was front and centre and nothing lay between us and him but no more than 8 feet of music filled air.
still trying to get rid of the cold in my head but i'm nestling in the place that only kozelek seems to know how to express. he was spellbinding. and beautiful.

next sunday i have to take to the same stage for ikon and i don't know what i can say to follow his authenticity...
it seems everything is in a state of ambiguity and uncertainty these days. i head to arizona for ikon in only a couple of weeks and before then i'm in london. and this was meant to be the quiet month after an October filled with family. and instead of creating a working timetable i've been lying on my back or bathing in the bliss of others' beauty...

there is something pulling at me. i feel i am in a place where significant choices are waiting to be made...there are things i want to create. i just need to work out how to make it happen...
*just* ... ha...if only it were that simple.

but then maybe it is. maybe i just need to leap...