Monthly Archives: July 2013

Sipping Seeds and Writing Rituals

Though the poetry post stood sentry, the only way in which it seemed to have been acknowledged in the past few weeks was by the strategic accumulation of trash strewn about it: abandoned couch cushions and deteriorating fliers read, “Will you go to Heaven when you die?”

I sat down with the space’s shabby and low to the ground wooden bench and summoned my notebook. After a few minutes, I clip a thick piece of stationary to the poetry post, along with the flowers of a purple pea plant. The night air, still and cool, seeps into my red woolen sweater. My silhouette, who is lither than I, sports a flowing short dress, and a pair of ass-kicking combat boots.

Walking away, my dry lips are all but glued together. The power of the pen, the inaudibility of my voice. A Siamese cat spots me, and bolts into the shadows. I watch its eyes glinting red, from where it hopes I will not take anymore note of it. My mind wanders to questions of the palate.

As I arrived at work today, there was just about one sip left of an Ethiopian brew on tap, before we spun the globe to Panama. It tasted of flower and berry, a full mouth sensation had me thinking of driftwood rolling up onto a beach in the surf. A co-worker tells me, “This is the first crop of the season…it’ll taste most floral now, less so later on. We’ll do a pour-over together soon.”

Think of the red berries of Coffea arabica trees growing somewhere in Ethiopia, still some remnants of white flowers that smell similar to jasmine. So odd that we must use one familiar plant to describe the same chemical from a less familiar location. If you think about it, and really think about it, our noses are fine tuned chemical detectors which we often fail to give credit to. I am told that the Panamanian coffee tastes of banana, since the coffee trees do not live far from banana plants down there. I think about the mycorrhizal connections which must be present. Fungi weaving resource networks between coffee and banana well beneath the surface of the earth. Allowing for one chemical compound to diffuse or be actively shuttled to neighboring plants that would never produce it otherwise, seeds pushing the foreign chemicals outwards into new spaces of the world they would never dream of traveling to.

And here I am, a barista with sensory and plant focused biochemical training. I have machines and contraptions in which to coax out the subtle nuances of a roast, and they are often quite inexact in my hands…sometimes the result might even appear to be uninspired. What if I were to perform an extraction with hot oil instead of water and pull out compounds which were fat soluble? [Notes of sleep deprivation; butter extracted coffee. What would it taste like?]

These are things which keep my mind active, the chemistry I must take into my own hands if I wish to learn.

I went on a “vacation” to Seattle for a day, to see what they do up there, and oh how it made me know more about the treasures I am working with where I already am.


Fireworks, Firing, and Fire

I did not plan on being here, this late in to the summer months. I was thinking I might be In any other town. I did not plan on being here more than a few passing minutes ago though, either. I am sitting in the brush on the side of a road, talking to two stranger’s children, and waiting for fireworks to explode. One girl proclaims “I found a triangle in the stars! Oh, I found another one!”

Her father responds, “Yes, any three stars can make a triangle.”

I consider asking her if they are isosceles, equilateral, or scalene triangles, but decide to spare her parents the trouble.

When the fireworks start, is when I have to check out. Still, from a distance, the flash bang is painful, stress, borderline spasms. I divert my eyes, think of being somewhere else. The high deserts maybe, coated in charcoal shading. Wearing a buckskin bra and wool pants, teamed up with someone in woodland camouflage, we are behind schedule…when the gun [hopefully] blanks go off it’s the perfect cover to move in to our target faster…but why should I think of that? There are waterfalls of flaming elements above me now. Clouds of ash floating to the south.

I’m not sure how recently it became stressful, it does not really matter. The children give names to every shape and form that appears in the sky, “That one’s a sparkler, a galaxy, pluto!” I wonder if couples decide to have children once they realize they’re not being social enough…that they’ve not looked at the world in wonder…then again, perhaps they don’t decide. I think, if I had children they’d need someone else to take them to see fire works. I imagine them telling stories of hiding in a basement with their mother, under a blanket with a flashlight and some cans of food for a couple of days in late summer every year. Yes, if I had children, it would be unfortunate for them…

I ride my bicycle homeward, thinking of the crowds wandering the streets down town and wonder. Are there as many police officers as there were down there on May day? Probably not. Yet, during this week alone, a building was burnt down. Separately, someone else was stabbed, and their attacker was chased down by a mob and beaten and stabbed in the park down town.

I was dressed in a long black dress, fishnet stockings, combat boots, my torn up leather jacket, and a red scarf. Cruising down the hospital hill and approaching downtown, the density of patrol cars struck me as heavier than NYC. Block one, patrol car, block two several more. As I ride around the back of my destination, I spot a van full of officers in riot gear, waiting, bored. I lock up my bicycle, and wave as I walk by. Walking around to the bar, where I plan to meet my friends a wall of officers stands, encircling a small group of demonstrators. I hope no one messes up, shrug, and go inside because life must go on.

Notes on a Summer’s Evening

No. 1

The air says not a word. All about, it is laden with the water weight that comes with an atmospheric desire for rain. The air clings to my skin like a blanket in the summer time heat. I enjoy meditating, because in doing so, I suddenly do not need to fill the silence and absence. I dislike meditating, because then I must watch as the waves of recursion break on the shores of my everything.

No. 2

Palms sweat as they ache to know: what are we here to create if not shelter, if not fire, if not food or drink? What are we here to create? Or are we meant to grasp, to hold, and fumble with our abilities. Perhaps these appendages are instruments to be played in the communication of longing.

No. 3

I crack open a beer. The bottle opener is on my porch, it has been there for several days. It sits on a table next to Nietzsche’s Thus spoke Zarathustra. When I have nothing much to do, I read this and then stare off into the mountains. The beer tastes of light wheat, hops, lacking malt but rich in citrus and spices from the zingiber family. For many months I drank no alcohol, knowing that I could be drunk merely 8 ounces in. But now I know how calorie deprived this body is. How hungry and aching and longing this stomach has been. The excuses I have used to deprive it can not hold themselves up any longer, when I spend hours in a stupor after work-with an ache in the spot between my frontal and parietal lobes rather than doing something – anything – that I love I know it is time to begin feeding again. Yes, it is time again to eat, drink, and be merry.

No. 3.5

At work, a man points to a pastry and asks, “Is that a Madeline?”

“Yes, I say.”

“Have you ever read Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past?”

I think, many a good scholar has turned away from that. I think of the movie, Little Miss Sunshine and inwardly laugh. I shake my head… “It’s just a little bit too long for me. Have you?”

He admits to not having gotten very far, but then says, “I always think of it when I see Madelines. He spends the first 80 pages writing about Madelines.” I personally stumble to describe these pastries beyond 3 words. A customer gave me half of his the other day, when we started stocking them. “Spongy, cake like…” Perhaps I will read it so that I can better describe pastries. Perhaps if I ate a few more, I could say.

No. 4

I used to be a poet, but then the ball was rolling, and I thought for a split second I could be a scientist. Scientists describe what they observe. Poets observe what they describe. I am now maybe more facets of one shattered gem. In reality though, I am simply bored, and drinking a beer. My father once told me that he found it quite endearing that I could nurse a pint of beer over the course of an entire evening.

At one time, I had a bar I would go to every Wednesday. It was called “Bar on A,” and it was my type of place because it was a bar on A street. Pretty damn hard to forget where it was. Being a regular, the bartender learned a few things about me, the first was not to let me leave until I started writing. The second, was not to serve me a second drink unless someone else was buying. The third, was not to allow me a third unless that someone was talking about books: a lot. The staff looked out for me. I don’t miss it. One of my favorite lines to a poem was born there, but I do not miss that place at all. Today is Wednesday, I wish there were someone here to talk about books with. Perhaps, If I were to read some more books they will exist.

No 5.

Yesterday I rode my bicycle around town. The wind pulled up my skirt and caressed my thighs as I rode. I dipped through a nature trail, and when I hit pavement again, learned that the wind had also untied my hair. The wind does as it pleases.


That is all for now.


Mama never said not to go mountain biking alone

On a map, I can not completely say where I went yesterday, but I know what turns I took, and that I loved every second of the ride. Every moment of tasting the salt streaming onto my lips was beauty. Inhaling the air bound pollen and spores, reminded me of the first day I rolled into this town, exhausted and crusty and lost, and how I was enchanted. Feeling the adrenaline pumping, and the solitary, reflective nature of the trail was no small gift.

It didn’t start out perfect…the trail was too soft for my bike to negotiate, and I spent a lot of time pushing the dead weight of my bicycle as I contemplated the merits of continuing. Alas, at a road junction, I came by a group of three trail riders decked head to toe in spandex, “Rocking the skinny tires, I see?”

“Yeah, They don’t seem to be all that good of an idea, but that’s what I have. Don’t know if my bike can handle much of this.”

“Eh, I’ve done skinny tires in some crazy places. You’ll be alright.” One said, and we parted ways.

Oddly enough, after that, the trail evened out, and my thought that all mountain bikers must be maniacs were allayed. I fell into the groove of riding up and down the dips and turns, I stopped wondering where I was going. And as I rode there were nagging thoughts, “Don’t forget you were a beginner just an hour ago. You should not be out here alone…well my parents only told me not to go hiking alone, they never said not to go mountain biking alone…” The trail pulled me through the forest, and I am not someone to protest reveling in the sun and shade dappled paths of the mountains.

Ultimately the question of physics came, is it more dangerous to fall from 15-30 feet or be launched off of your bike at who knows what speed into the brush? (Because it eventually seemed inevitable that a crash would happen.) I have fallen on my head from 15′ in one of my old sports, and that, though most people can avoid, will happen from time to time. I feel, like possibly, the bike could have about the same amount of risk involved. And, yes, upon my return, on that loose terrain I was scared of earlier I was breaking in a narrow curvy space. Something got caught, and I found that my body was hurtled off of it’s bike. First the arm shot out, better break the arm rather than the face. Then I corrected my outstretched arm into a roll, like taking a fall in Aikido…Oddly, I  stood up, unharmed. Well, I mean, It felt one hell of a lot better than falling on my head from 15′. The ground was soft, and I rode my bike back in to civilization sporting some fresh sweat and dirt!


Muscle pose. Check out the dirt I picked up!

A little Martin in the subways

There was a short stint in 2009 where I spent no less than 4 hours round trip commuting to and from work in a day. This included boarding 3 trains and a ferry as well as a healthy little walk to my pristine waterfront office. To get the most out of my transit time, I would pack my guitar and play it on the ferry. Since the train/ferry schedule was a bit off from my work schedule, I would sit  outside of the office and play guitar in the morning sunlight until it was time to to be at work.The security guard would pull me aside every few days and hand off a few of the poems he was preparing for publishing, because I seemed like the type of person who would appreciate it.

I met a lot of people because of my guitar, I didn’t even need to be playing it. While traveling on the subways, a lot of curious folk would ask if I was playing a gig later. Inevitably, I’d shake my head and then they would tell me a story about visiting the factory where my guitar was made, or how I could get a job in a foreign country teaching music, or ya know  whatever they wanted to talk about…it was always interesting (and I’m still in touch with some of the folks I met). Also, remarkable was the fact that so many people would assume I had a modicum of talent just because I was carrying a guitar.

I suppose in NYC, there is SO much talent, that you can’t afford to assume that strangers have none or aren’t going anywhere with what they do have. Perhaps, when you see a traveling musician or artist, it’s best to assume that they are the next big thing or are at the very least worth talking to. Why not grab that chance to say that yes, you really did know and support them before they were famous…