I’m pretty much into poetry that actually says something.


I don’t think that I read enough poetry to know what the ratios are, but I feel like, in my few forays into the genre, I’ve run across plenty of poetry that sounds pretty and doesn’t seem to be saying much.

There is of course also poetry that is saying something stupid.
We can see, at home, the handsome poets who write the obscure poems, scratching their scraggly heads, thinking silently underneath their thoughts, “I would rather spend all night assembling beautifully obscure lines of words than take the risk of saying something stupid right now.”
Fare thee well word masons. Know that as you step into the endless possibility of the blank slate, there is little hope of avoiding all the land mines of dumb things that you might utter.

I’ve made a pretty big fool of myself, more than a few times.

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Maybe someone out there can remember having been a witness.

I’m still at the point where I am trying to sort out whether I really am cool with it, or if I have just blocked the experience out so completely that I am not required to deal with the actual embarrassment of it anymore. Maybe the embarrassment is sitting in a canning jar under my appendix waiting for me to notice it. I think that the embarrassment, if it really exists down there, probably has this perspective of me: that I am pretty cool, but not quite as cool as I could be. The day that I will really be cool, is the day on which I will work up the nerve to open up the jar and check out whatever is fermenting inside of it. On the day that I am expansive enough to take on that challenge, the thing in the jar will perceive me as, like, strutting down the street with my collar up. The thing in the jar will ask me to write on its arm. The arm that it used to keep in the jar. Under the appendix.

Poetry: it seems like it’s best if you can stick to one metaphor.


I don’t write poetry at all.
Because I am afraid that it would sound stupid.
I think that songs are cheater’s poetry. The words in a song get to wear a big soft sweater of music. They hide significantly. People can love a song and never have paid much attention to the lyrics. In a poem, the words are all that the words are.

I wrote a poem in seventh grade. I think I wrote it while sitting at the dining room table. It was about my cat and her green eyes. I also wrote another one about what it felt like to hang out at my best friend’s house. It was something like,
(I am maybe almost blushing as I attempt to recall this)
“It’s good to have a place to go,
to listen to the Nylons sing happy songs…”
I really can’t remember the rest. I’ve thought of that poem lately, and how, actually, it’s a pretty cool relic from a time when I was trying to articulate something that felt heavy to me. Being at my best friend’s house provided a noticeable calm in my life, something that I was pretty desperate for. I am kind of impressed that I took the risk to write about that so clearly when I was so young. I am also still a little bit embarrassed.

The study of how to say what you mean. It is a massive undertaking.

I have been watching myself lately in my process of writing songs.
I decided two days ago that I don’t want to decide while I am writing a song whether or not I think the song is worth the energy. You know how you can shelve something because it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough? I decided that my standards don’t matter. It seems more worthwhile to keep the fires burning, to keep myself propelling forward with the momentum of just giving it a try.

I want to go bushwhacking into empty space, feeling free to make a big trail of mess behind me. The mess can be picked over later on to find the good parts. The wider the swath of attempt, the more we might find in there that really holds some value, right?

For some reason, I frequently thwart my course before it reaches the full potential impact. It sucks, because you can’t ever really figure out the shape of what you are trying to create if you continually cringe back in fear of a criticism to whatever it might become. We gotta make the shit before we clean it up.


I found a really good nugget among the debris the other day. One exactly true sentence among the lyrics of a new song that I wrote on Valentine’s Day. Every time my mouth comes back around to singing this part, I feel so good, like: “YES, I KNOW THIS. THIS IS HOW IT REALLY IS! FOR THE TIME THAT IT TAKES TO SING THESE WORDS, I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE I AM.”

Jona and I started recording it yesterday.
Get ready to sway: it’s a slow dance.

p.s. dear everyone, something has been very wrong with my email, but it works again, and this time for good, we think. There are some things going on with the pictures on this page that I don’t understand. And please excuse the generic bannerhead design up at the top. It’s ugly, and it’s temporary.
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March 16, 2006

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