Tag Archives: Chinese

selections from In the Sierra: Mountain Writings by Kenneth Rexroth

The question is not
Does being have meaning,
But does meaning have being. Continue reading

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Jamaica

~ 0 ~
SFO in the early morning
MtVC
sleep
triple couple brunch date
SFO in the afternoon
work
packing
eating
yellow fever film
SFO late at night
Japanese, Mexican, American, or Chinese?

~ 1 ~
Hank Williams on the
turbulent red-eye
flashlights in the early morning
United Club at IAD
hella babies on the
flight to Jamaica
the first Jamaican woman to speak to/about me:
“it’s not fair. he’s not even using it,”
referencing my hair
all customs agents are the same stern
accosted by taxi drivers
one is hella chill so we go w him ($15)
he walks slow as hell
“we grow up w weed”
tried to sell me some but his guy is out
Caribic House
gentleman clerk
third floor balcony view of the sea
buy weed from souvenir shop ($20 for crap)
Pork Pit
buy weed from random vagrant (J$200 for crap)

~ 2 ~
breakfast at the Mocha Cafe
Knutsford Express to Negril
buy Blue Cheese from taxi driver ($5 for quality)
Yoga Centre
stroll and smoke along the beach
the German dude
yoga in the evening
shower and drinks
Alfred’s Ocean Palace
couple drinks and cricket at the Sunrise

~ 3 ~
smoothies and breakfast at the YC
chillin on the beach
spring rolls and papaya salad
Natalie naps / Americanah
drinks at One Love bar
curried conch w rice & peas at sweet spot

~ 4 ~
goodbye YC & Negril
KE to Kingston
wild winding ride east
the big city
the Spanish Court,
free rum punch on arrival
walking in the rain to
Devon House
coffee for her, coffee i-scream for me
walking in the lightening rain
Natalie goes chic in the city
divine Indian at Nirvanna

~ 5 ~
free breakfast: eggs, platanos, festival, bacon, fruit, coffee, water
taxi drive with a former yam farmer to
the National Gallery of Jamaica
walk through saturday downtown market
taxi to the grocery
Tashanna the angel
Natalie runs on the treadmill, i walk to KE
sunset swimming in the freezing infinity pool
hot bath w love
shower the hair
dress and small dinner
last home drink
up up up the hill to
dub club
smoky dub music in the clouds
danced
saw fireworks
and popcorn
and dancing
circles, circling back to a
champagne glass next to the drivers seat
flask of herb wine next to mine
slowly, slithering back to New Kingston
in the nighttime of a new day

~ 6 ~
free breakfast: kitchen sink omelet, fruit, coffee, water, festival, platanos, and a complimentary mimosa
walking to the banks, several failed withdrawals
packing up
waiting for Robert
red shirt, tan truck, big smile
cash out
ride up
the treehouse
the tour
the pool and trail
dinner at 6?
acki and shellfish, peas and rice, greens not calaloo
reading and drinking
scrabble in bed under the net
never ending music for a wake, then an end

~ 7 ~
wake up puffy eyed a little before 9
shirtless on the balcony
big rainbow across the sky
Chef says breakfast is on the way
coffee, scrambled eggs w veggies, fried plantains, breadfruit (looked like dry pineapple slices), slices of mango, a peeled orange, everything fresh, juicy, lovely
more coffee, Bobby and Chef smoking
prep
driving to Holywell
the waterfall hike
smoke at the falls
kiss on the hills
walk to David’s coffee plantation
the Chinese crew, little kids giggling and playing games, the two big dogs loafing and eyeing everyone, the coffee man deeply darkened by the sun yet profoundly lightened by endless cups of coffee
walking back home
Natalie’s forgotten R1: the run
gap cafe too fancy
walk thru the military yard
flask of clear rum, water, cheese puffs, and chocolates at the bubbles stop
walk home
cold shower (Ginger on drums)
wifi, soup, and dinner (more Fela)
seafish, fried carrots and greens, potato, yams, plantains
greasy spliff
drinks and reading

~ 8 ~
up a little earlier, round 830
coffee and breakfast on the taller balcony
acki and fish, breadfruit, fried plantains, papaya, orange
reading reading reading
the ride to Craighton
the $25 tour w Jerome
280,000 coffee plants—arabica not robusta—the latter 52% of the world coffee, the former 48%—though like the #1 most traded good (oil), the #2 (coffee) is often adulterated as there’s no standard nor authority—and Blue Mountain arabica is something special, with 70% of its sales going to wealthy Japanese—Jamaicans themselves drink instant coffee—unless they’re like Robert—usually Arabica ripens in 5-7 months, in Blue Mountains it takes 9-11—juicier, sweeter—Twyman and other north side farmers get less sun so their harvest is shorter
three cups of coffee after the lesson
walk to red light
bananas and coconut snack from the roadside rasta
walk from red light
Natalie loses her shades
hitching a ride w the 33 year old who spent 20 years living in Kingston before moving to London, comes back to visit family every xmas, warned us of the dangers of hitch hiking
eits cafe
walking up and a ride w David, bobby’s coz
walking to prince valley
glasses for a drink and phone
meeting, laughing, smoking w omero from Oakland and Tazia from near Kingston
drinks and dinner: beans, greens, and pumpkin rice, perfection
sunset
beer and adieu
reading, reading, hearts, reading

~ 9 ~
up a little earlier, around 815
Ovid on the balcony
coffee and breakfast in the usual spot
acki and fish, plantains, coco bread
packing up and paying
peace
dj dale down the mountain
bob Marley museum
best dinner (fried chicken, beef stew, pork stew, or curried goat?) plus rum
two wedding episodes of friends

~ 10 ~
coffee, toast, and fruit on the balcony
Mahogany Beach
food and drink on James (same menu)
crazy dance boat party TV
Turtle Beach
souvenir shopping i
drinks on James
moms restaurant (fish stew)

~ 11 ~
coffee, toast, and fruit on the balcony
souvenir shopping ii
passage to passage to India (naan, South Indian chicken, chicken tikka masala)
chilling at KE
KE to Mo Bay
El Greco, cocktail on arrival
cocktails and joint on the balcony (Half Pint)
bellboy escort to room, J$400
atm, the old walk
1/2 lb ribs at pork pit
the walk back
another round

~ 12 ~
up around 8
finished Herzog
breakfast: one American, one Jamaican (mine is fried fish, greens, small banana, yucca, dumpling, and Nat’s French toast)
old white retired everywhere
blacks go J, whites go A
down to the street, rum up
packing, Brilliant Corners, checking out
smoke on the cliff side
delayed flight
walk down to the park shade
bk fries
taxi to airport
lines, lines, food court, hearts
exit row flight
chaos at CLT Continue reading

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notes from my phone

how do I create
how does one scrawl the thoughts incessantly knocking on the othe side of the glass
pika Continue reading

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honey, he’s a friend of mine

four Mexican beers down the hatch and not a single BART train left to catch.

on the long bus and walk home, stoned inspiration strikes my skull. it’s already 0300, but nothing can stop me. up and down the stairs, skulking through the hallways, dragging black monolith speakers, assembling the altar, feeding cables electricity, executing my addled genius silent as a mouse.

i jerk off and pass out.

in the morning, i check my phone in a bleary panic. 0900. i fall back asleep for a couple minutes and then check my phone again. 1100.

blended black tea dressed with a teaspoon of orange blossom honey and the slightest splash of half and half. that’s real fancy talk for a little drug called caffeine. my roommate partakes, and the music starts. breakfast consists of defrosted hash browns, fried eggs, and pork so good it must’ve come from the devil’s factory. Xanthe and i clink our mimosa flutes and chow down while watching Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise take turns playing Thalia and Melpomene.

Cameron arrives looking hungover or depressed or both. i think nothing of it. the music goes on, the champagne flows. Ted is dead.

i never met Ted. i hug Cameron. i hold him. i don’t know what to say. i never met Ted even though Cameron insisted a hundred times that it needed to happen. i don’t know what to say. i wait for Cameron to say something, but he is stunned. he is a cauldron of emotion. i turn the music down or let it stop or something. i don’t know what to do or say. there is nothing to do or say. we drink.

the music returns. Cameron requests a dirge, so i let Entrance sing them Grim Reaper Blues. but i’m left by myself, so i scream and jump and play air guitar oblivious to the fact and consequence of death. i am dust.

Shannon. Lizz. Nico. Neko? Niko? Nico. Chris. Mark. Natalie. old friends, newer friends, lovers, sometime-lovers, one-time-lovers, all-time-lovers, all family, all drunk fucks.

my cousin hops on the decks and starts slinging cocaine funk delivered straight from the Rick James estate. it is 1980something, the snares reverberate, and disillusion is making itself incredibly comfortable. you can hear it in their voices. you can hear JoJo and Cheri and Candi and Maxi and Prince Rogers and Trent and Dave and Martin and Joshua and Charles, they all sound so coked up and dead. death. there’s that grim reaper again. where the fuck is Cameron? sobbing on the edge of my bed, locked up in my bedroom. on and off the phone. who is he talking to? margarita. big beer. drinking, so much drinking.

let the Golden Age begin. bleego hops on the decks and sonically programs artificial intelligence. it’s weird. on tv, Ziggy Stardust says good night mere moments before a bunch of space cadet apes wake up in the middle of bone-dry Africa. ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space.

how many pop culture references can i make before my writing becomes as worthless as the tobacco in a swisher sweet?

as the sun sets, i continue force-feeding everyone pop muzik, and then suddenly turn the music down low on a couple of whacked out loops to ask nobody in particular how long i could leave the loops loopingly looping looping looping looping looping looping looping looping until we all went crazy. somebody said something. something drinking something. and so i blast Kylie Minogue for a swan song.

power everything off! with tons of friends still partying, i say a thousand goodbyes and then fly away. best way to end a house party.

K to the Castro, two double illy espressos, and my love and i are back in the game. first up: dinner and drinks for her sister’s 21st birthday. Abigail rolls in wearing a sash like she’s in a beauty pageant and a face guaranteed to win it. radiant beauty of a birthday girl, she flutters around her long table of friends chatting about nothing and deflecting as many fireballs as she can.

sushi sake sushi sake sushi sake sushi sake sushi. that’s five sushi for every letter in the word “sushi” and four sake for every letter in the word “sake.” words words words words words.

the several hundred dollar bill settled, the crew bubbles around Kim “Abi” Kardashian as we make our way up Market toward extensive tracts of heavily eroded, uncultivable land with little vegetation. just kidding, we went to badlands. i withdrew $60 only to spend $50 instantly at the club on three entries (Abi, Natalie, me), three drinks (adios motherfucker for Abi and whiskey for Natalie and me), and then three more drinks (long island ice teas for the three of us). obviously we had not been drinking enough yet.

goodbye Castro, hello Cameron. he wanted love. Ted is dead. to Oakland then. goodbye Natalie. she storms off in a drunk, silent fit. i shrug.

down down Market.

stumbling drunk ass fuck into It’s Tops Coffee Shop, completely deserted except for the token pretty white girl waitress in her stupid 50s pink waitress dress. i drunkenly foam at the mouth some incoherence that amounts to “may i please just have a cup of coffee?” to which she responds by swinging ’round the counter and pouring out dregs of mud from both pitchers—the caffeinated and non caffeinated. in between drunken swallows, i murmur some philosophical question at her, but she’s tired and wants to go home, and that’s exactly how she answers. i understand, down the rest of the mud, and fly out the door.

down down Market.

i convince a cabbie to drive me to Civic Center so i can catch the last train east. so aware, so alive, i bolt out the doors onto 12th St. in Oakland, drunkenly rushing up the escalator and eating shit, scraping my stomach and foot (i discover later). i look around to see how embarrassed i should feel, but the lady behind me wears a face that says, “i’m just tired and want to go home,” so i shrug, pick myself up, and bolt anew. i race the two and whatever miles to Cameron’s house with cool Miles jazz billowing from the phone in my front pocket; i’m like a man on the run in a black & white French New Wave film from the 60s.

at the house, hugs and laughter and death and comfort and… guess what? more drinking! because, i must repeat myself, again, obviously: we had not been drinking enough. fernet and coke and tequila and non-vegetarian Chinese food and Courtney on guitar and sleep.

in the drunken haze of morning, i squeeze Courtney’s boob and immediately pull my hand back while apologizing. she laugh. i don’t feel too good about it. but then i wash a household of dishes and sweep the floor while Cameron details the stove. and when i fail to find a dustpan, i simply crouch down, scoop the pile of dust and kitchen debris with my hands, and throw it away. Cameron laughs, calling it the most humble thing he’s seen in years. i feel good about it.

a few moments later, we’re suspended like the helicopter string quartet between peace, humility, suffering, and passion.

“this is the worst one,” he says, “the worst death. i like nothing about this one.”

he wants to cry so badly but has already sobbed so much and the sobbing had solved nothing. i fight back laughter because the minute leading before we’d been saying some really silly, funny things and just roaring laughing. the giggles honor not even death. Continue reading

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happy birthday

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The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

i didn’t plan on writing anything legible about my most recent trip to Seattle, but there’s one thing. i think it was 9/11, Tori, Mariah, Mark?, and i visited a garage sale a block away from Tori’s house on the way back from eating at a gyros place on the Ave (supporting the terrorists on the day we’re supposed to be burning moon and star effigies, i know, i know). i can never resist a garage sale, even when i’m trying to survive (drugs, food, and all) on less than $20/day, so i steered the crew the fifty feet toward the piles of old shitty books, old shitty furniture, and old shitty men selling their old shitty memories. one track mind as always, i went straight for the two boxes of books. it didn’t look very promising until i found this little gem:

that’s the Tao Te Ching (pronounced something like “dow-dey-jing”), a Chinese philosophical text written by Laozi around the sixth century BC. the book is divided into 81 brief chapters or sections, like this one, designed to illuminate to you, the ignorant hardheaded hallucinating human, the Way of the Tao, everything in the universe that comes before Time, fills the pockets in between Space, and can never be perceived, described, or even known. it can only be experienced. if you followed that link through, you get a pretty good idea of how cheesy this stuff could be. i don’t know, i guess ultimate Truth just sounds cheesy. even worse, the edition of this excellent Stephen Mitchell translation featured this charming little epigraph on the back cover: THE WISEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN, or something like that.

i would have bought the book no matter what, but i really wanted it because i trusted the translator. three years ago, a sophomore with an infinitely loving girlfriend, brilliant friends, and a room hoisted deep in a Tower, i had been working as the guy that scans books back into the campus library. bored the fuck out of such a tedious job, i’d sometimes crack open books that passed through my hands if they seemed interesting enough. i have no idea how much i knew about the Tao back then, but it was enough to make me read a few passages and then decide to take the book to my dorm, where it probably rested neglected for at least a few weeks. and then one night, those three friends and i swallowed some mysterious 2c-substance and wandered into the Pomona Farm at night. we explored space and mind, stole characteristic bamboo sticks, and later returned to my room equipped with new insights and weed to bring us down. i don’t know how it happened, but while we smoked, someone must have decided to read the Tao Te Ching. Micah fell in love with one so deeply that he began inscribing the ancient words on his robust stick in black sharpie. i knew i’d never forget that night and i’d absolutely never forget Laozi’s teachings.

so with Stephen Mitchell’s English attempt at Laozi safely in my hands in the U section of Seattle, i walked up to the garage salesman sitting in his lawn chair, waited patiently for him to finish his conversation with some buddies, and asked him, “how much for this?” “$1” “$1 for all the wisdom in the world? wow. well, how about 50 cents?” “that’s fine by me but i’m not going to be troubled with making any change, so if you got the 50 cents, sure.” so i handed him two quarters and the creature was mine.

it’s the only thing any of us bought there. after that, we walked straight home and, without even mentioning my purchase to anybody, i casually threw the book on the living room coffee table.

over the next couple days, it felt like i was the only one aware of the book’s existence and i was okay with that. after all, when the average (or sober) person cracks open that book, they (perhaps rightfully) have a good laugh at its seeming pretentiousness and silly vain attempt at infinite wisdom through eternal equivocations. so, with a free moment here while Tori fixed her hair and a bored moment there while stoned and without a care, i’d flip to a random pages, feast on a few lines of enlightenment, and set the book down in silence and humility.

oh but i forgot how quickly people under the influence of hallucinogens can find Laozi. my second to last day in Seattle, Tori, her friends, and i dropped acid and explored the Washington Park Arboretum. exhausted, mentally and physically, the trippers returned home to revel in the joy of couch and pipe in a scene reminiscent of that 2c trip three years ago. and that’s when David picked up the Tao Te Ching. i’m not quite sure what inspired him (boredom? social awkwardness? hunger for mindfuck?) but he never looked back. i reveled in his face as he couldn’t resist from smiling a million smiles at Laozi’s impeccable and timeless discourse.

when he handed me the book, i saw what he saw. the book is a tripper’s dream come true. though it’s certainly not a straightforward book of prose or poetry, it’s also not at all chaotic like a sea of words that you can read in any direction. there is certainly order, but it’s an order one can approach in an acidic state of mind. 81 pages, each numbered, serve as guide stones only, markers to remember should one want to return to a selected set of words. beyond that, one is free. one can flip to any page and begin reading from any line, and the words will flow like water. here’s my attempt at simulating the randomness:

Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.

The Master’s power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.

She who is centered in the Tao
can go where she wishes, without danger.
She perceives the universal harmony,
even amid great pain,
because she has found peace in her heart.

The Tao is ungraspable.
How can her mind be at one with it?
Because she doesn’t cling to ideas.

If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.

He teaches without a teaching,
so that people will have nothing to learn.

perhaps needless to say, my 50 cent purchase stayed in Seattle.

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