You sent me a picture of your coffee the other day.
A phrase, I noticed, had been printed on the cup:
Life is short, stay awake for it.
You know what gets me about these phrases printed on coffee cups? The fact that they put any two phrases together they feel like (algorithms for every feeling):
Children are small. You should overpower them.
Cancer is real. You might as well crush pigeons.
Then they ship them out to hundreds of thousands of people (algorithms also); and all of them are grammatically correct, the people and the phrases. Like I said, algorithms for what they feel like. But that doesn’t make it alright.
When I drive you to the airport, it is as if the world is suspended; it’s as if all the apparatuses, the processing mechanisms of perception are in suspension. You would never know this by looking at me –
I begin to construct phrases in my head according to a private algorithm:
Life is sad, you might as well have fun.
Life is fun, so be sure to be caffeinated.
I am a connoisseur of despair,
you mustn’t belong to me.
When I drive you to the airport we pass a billboard for Internet dating site that says:
life is short,
I feel lucky that your head is down digging for something in your purse.
Three things occur to me about this phrase that I do not share with you:
i. My apparatuses of perception were probably different before the Internet and Internet dating.
ii. I am an enumerator of phrases, someone who makes up new words and phrases.
iii. The only people who create new words and phrases are the people who suffer from emotional/intellectual sterility.
At home. A flabby burrito’s on the counter that you left. I try not to look at my own reflection. All my poems are tombstones now that you’ve read them, thought about reading them,
My bedroom is a sterile laboratory, vaulted like a church. I say the word ‘fuck’ into the room at a moderate volume. My voice resounds, shame upon shame.
I nearly catch sight of myself in the kitchen window. I turn away. Something occurs to me about this. A phrase comes back to me, another phrase I do not share with you:
I am an enumerator of phrases,
a flabby burrito is the opprobrium I deserve.
And all my poems look like hanker-chiefs that I want to blow my nose with.
All my poems look like butterflies wriggling on the wall; they don’t know that they don’t belong.