Thursday, June 30, 2005


Vision. I spent four hours tonight building viewing booths for vision-testing machines that friends of mine have rigged with new images - juxtapositions of horses and the sea, red dots, blue dots, perception questions about poverty and priviledge both addressed obliquely through secret voices in your ears while viewing, then, as you move from machine to machine, textually appearing on the screens. My back is sore but it is worth it, to build something, even if so temporary, which will have some kind of direct affect on the thousand or so folk who will experience it. We will act as clinicians, guiding our "patients" into a booth, setting them up with the audio and visual, and be there to witness who-knows-what as they face an expected machine with unexpected contents. It's like the stick-your-hand-in-the-box-and-answer
-what-sort-of-animal-it-is game they offer as education married to fun at science centers.
Something which would both delight and annoy me if I weren't a "spectician", as those in lab coats have come to be called on this project. It will launch on the biggest art event day of the year in Madison, which is now reduced to thousand dollar booths selling wooden hearts made by people from far away states. So much for supporting local art. We'll show them...

And I feel I can talk about it here, this bizarre public/private space.

I worked on a film in college called Blindspot. I am obsessed with concepts of vision. Of what we see and don't see. Had a note on my hand all day to call my brother and I never did it. Finally at midnight, alone and quiet in my head, I called. Too late, of course, but I tried once I could really see it. All the things we don't see that affect us still. Endless to list. Fire trucks wisping after someone else's burns. The wind. Contents of books of which we only see the spines. All that we will never read in all languages but our own. Big, big pink elephant blindspots.

Worth a sliver or two and some Gorilla glue on the hands to confront just a few of them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The fresh laughter behind the cloud. Like a sea which is mourning, this week there are too many people offering me binoculars. The monsoon is finally here, the roads are flooded with water. Soft fingers in mine, experimenting with time, can we ever let the curtain rise? Those memories are blocked. Remembering has set them in the mould of a story. Stories have actors and plots and characters. Characters can only be vaguely related to you, share a street address. They can never share the fragility of reality.

So then these stories have become my only connection to you. And you refuse to re-connect.

Is soulful seeking the only way? Why am I obsessed with history? There is so much more. We need to value something which is not. To feel incomplete, to dream that tomorrow might be strange, irregular, surprising. But nothing is surprising.

Each moment has its own theory. Each theory its own rationale. Its own gunshot. Point Black.

"Each day, remember what you have given." I gave away my isolation today. I gave away my need to be angry. I, sit alone, obese and hungerless feeling more comfortable than I should, oblivious to my workload.

I will be writing articles for an American law website. Good fun, might be good money.

Between paying bills and flushing the toilet, I drive cautiously in the rain, trying to avoid all ditches, all rough-spots.

When people seem to be so kind, I allow myself to be a child - playing with my hair as if they were strands of wool, idle and warm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why so Tight?

Admired magazine today decided to collaborate with me and make me their poetry editor. A very big move. Amazing how I could feel everything open and close so fast, like breathing itself in a moment, the in-out-in-out of every single speck of karma that has and will transpire between me and other writers. I get to get credit, to read and read poetry, to write on others' work, and most esteemedly, to sollicit from some pretty high up names. This excites me beyond belief. Yet I got home tonight and I felt closed. Something can be so tight about home for me, away from the w i d e o p e n world. Preservation of my own time and space when others are around and so close. I lived alone for four years, and although I wouldn't wish to go back to that, it is hard to run full speed with a household sometimes. Or I make it hard, maybe. I think usually I just need silence (my personal favorite "space"), but when the cat goes crazy and the roommates are rushing out the door with updates, that doesn't usually come with much grace.

And yet it is all grace. Written word. Incontinence. What would make it *not* graceful?
My tightness, for one. Piles of to do and nothing loved for ten minutes can make me tired. Why do anything other than what I love, constantly? Consistently.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


My dog wants to elope with the monkeys. Jump over the roofs in the afternoon and get away.

I am not very clear, why. But this tendency is infectious. When the monkeys come to our colony all the dogs exhibit enthusiasm and lust - whch is unmistakably earnest.

Wonder, what the monkeys will think?

Letting this Sunday show me different moods than the romantic high-stay in which everything is exclamation. I allowed myself to feel things day before and I was feeling slow, something near to a car stuck in a quagmire. I didn't shove everything under the carpet, I slept early, I allowed my shoulders to feel the exhaustion.


Feeling conscious of metaphor in a heightened way. Have resumed attempting normal something with a significant person in my life, the kind of situation I would have heretofore divorced long ago. I thought I had, in fact, internally, but you can't leave family like that. I still
can't tell, our insides torn to the same cut and jagged edges, and yet we don't fit together. I guess
it is a little like a bike wheel with treads and a sidewalk with grit - they can run on one another even without a smooth fit. I am hesistent to use the idea of slavery anywhere, but there's nothing like family to raise awareness to the way you use your feelings, and the way they use you. Beyond such situations of choice (which relationships frequently are, and this one certainly is), therein lies true slavery. Have been reading a lot lately about it - and the very light estimates of 25 million in the world who truly have no control over their circumstance. One girl, a domestic slave from 5-22, who has never even recognized seasons, days, in particular really has touched me. The ability of the human mind to take out any extra information, in favor of relief, in spite of survival.

So no. It's not slavery. The deeper I study my own ego, the more playful the games get. The more I find I can loosen exactly where I often tighten. The irony of freedom and what I have done with it for the last 28 years. Mockery of slavery inside my own head. My own ego confinements so craved, while a good portion of the world waits for us to notice them being held up.

This weeks reading: Disposable People by Kevin Bales

Thursday, June 16, 2005

For You, A Dream

Earnestly, not allowing the sun to come into my eyes, I try to transfix my eyes onto a brilliant dream for you. I have have often dreamed on your behalf - when you are busy thinking of nitty-gritty-slow-dance-steps. When you are thinking of getting away.

First, I want to set the stage in your mind. Your mind has fluoroscence, it has mint, it has honey colouring your grey cells into something brown. Your need to talk to me about everything you saw in the day - my need to be able to create, make my windows seem clean as studio walls - softlight waking me up every morning.

So we never sit with each other - entirely giving ourselves away. Everything is in a hurry, everything is before something else. Except when you are silent into another register, and I am silent after a good session of playing with lego, playing with lego, made of alphabets, joined into words.

Into your mind I would now plant a seed - the seed as sharp and as dazzling as a new born - as clam as a filament stuttering light away. Into your palm I would give the key to the other room. Into your eyes I would let this cool jet flow - take away all the dead cells. Into your feet I would allow music and rhythm - I would ask the wind to blow into your belly and let you be as strong as a stone wall protecting a temple inside.

You would have a pinpoint of awarness in your forehead, letting altitude crash into latitude and offer you a holiday of peace, loose change to spend and a slowly simmering bend of light to play with.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Frame. Brother.
How we shape one another.
Planning for my second solo show, Miksang photos ( for genre/philosophy information) of road construction, while in the midst of attempted reconstruction, half-hearted at best so far, of some relationship with blood. Blood thick water thick, but is what is between me and my friends as thin as politics? As thin as a nod at the War Room table, banter that covers deeper inclinations, declarations, and decisions? Surely the blood we make out of wine, out on the porch late at night, Latin American politics and persual of the right for free speech moment by moment, is as much a miracle as the accident of family birth. Or adoption, for instance. Certainly there is a thickness there that the old adage does not address.

A good french friend once advised to change frames if the view loses its sepia lustre. Switching photos from shadow boxes to gold to black, I have had more than enough time to consider context, and watch myself pinhole even the best-intended love into severed connections. I cannot help, so much time spent on my personal arts, considering how this much be the larger frame politicians face the world with. Witnessing a lecture by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche last night, the former founder/leader of Shambhala International (, he spoke so much of fear. This was the base. This is the reason why most think Buddhists are dark in the USA. And yet there was such joy, just think, if at the base of all of our interactions, there is choice. Choice to nurture the wolf in sheeps' clothing, or to let it go. This is so far off the dynamic of the US' current politics that I can't even compare it. I certainly couldn't hope for *this* frame to change, to think that my "solution" is so simple. And yet, how could our leaders not see complexity as more engaging? Perhaps, after all, wrapped up in their own engagements, they like their frames just fine. As image-nation-less the ideals they frame are...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Babies Who Disappear Into Wall-paint

Little honey-coloured baby, his mother was unmarried. She takes him to Matruchayya in Nadiad. Matruchayya is an orphanage by a lake, operated by the church. All the orderlies are corrupt; everything costs money.

On Sunday when we believe we can't go to meet the baby, something changes. The baby's eyes open and see the stories written on the walls. Or, basically a logic is formed up in the clouds somewhere - to allow things to happen, against the best interests of the baby.

Theologize, romantisize a storm. An abandonment. That baby doesn't look at us anymore, she doesn't sleep peacefully in our arms anymore. We complained, she doesn't cry enough, she doesn't hold on to my finger, she doesn't shit enough. Happiness needs to have a perfect plan. We follow not our hearts but the reasonable approximations of the astrologers. No one would have advised me to marry beyond a difference of 14 years. The baby is sleeping, noisily condemning us - you search for playful children? she asks... and laughs.

All her photographs fall and break, all her cribs, cradles, lanterns, clothes fall out of the window. She retains a high pose of not speaking of remaining lost - someone had warned against introspection.

Our hands scarred everywhere we touched her, as if a gentle story is being criticized for its sound, non-synchronous music.

She is underweight, light as the breeze. Maybe she is susceptible to many more problems than we can hope to resolve. But for two weeks we thought of her, gave her a name. Then she has disappeared into the wall-paint.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Domestic global

The balance of Malleable/Stubborn. Anecdotes which are a portion of the larger picture, then taken as end result in themselves. We try to understand the world through a tiny portion but instead wind up tiling our entire mentality with that one image, repeat, repeat. A woman asked me today at work about my father. In fact we were discussing America's Father's Day, and it had not even crossed my mind to think about my own father, over 15 years dead now. This was uncommon. Then she asked a question I usually see coming: Are You Close To Your Father? And it was so funny to me how I used to be so offended that everyone's world was tiled with living parents, just as much as the socially aware parts of me hated assumptions about paternalism being safe. But now it is a point of rediscovery each time. Yes, I Was Close To My Father. He Is Dead Now. And yet it wasn't a repeat tile. Her reactions were standard. Mine weren't.

In the absence of a tradition of healthy relationships, we need to build newer, better ones, or we will still walk around with the spite in our blood. I have had an exceedingly difficult time doing this with family, but I am increasingly better doing this with friends. A real house helps.

A friend noted today that I am developing a Cohabited Mental Terrain with my housemate, filled with Exquisite Details of Domesticity. If only I could see such - have such, excitement, curiousity about politics. How is it even my place to have that about politics. Leaders are the ones who need it. Space. Laughter. Right when you are the closest to it, right when it is as personal as a dead father, to step away from the coffin and breathe. Because 15 years later can always be a Never Again if you want it to be. How we dis-count time. How it is working for us all the time, Even As We Sleep. How many times we wake up still hating, still angry, for what leaders have done or not done, for the neighbor who always mows 15 minutes before your alarm goes off, angry for a father who abandoned me. These are repeat videos we play again for their strength, for their solidarity. They isolate us from each other. Yet they are hit sellers.

Domestic. Global.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Chemical Inaction

The chemicals do not act, my mind remains inactive. I border on the hysterical. My wide cleaned up my room today - we were expecting visitors. There are traces of formality in here now.

With this heat, we are wandering around all afternoon in the outdoors, frustrated. My cap made of rayon definitely adds to a few drops of sweat. I have a two-month engagement now. Will be designing some communications for a group here. I had forgotten to wear my belt today - was pulling up my trousers in the middle of each sentence.

Selecting photos, explaining my objectives on long-distance. Near the bridge which takes me from East to West Ahmedabad, from being rooted in meaning to being uprooted from tradition, from a city to an enchroachment on farm-land, from concern to devious carelessness.

The rain is slated to start pouring on 20th. The government MSW (Master in Social Work) who is to inspect our house before the adoption goes through, is asking for Rs. 1,000 as a fee. Is it bribe ? How do we find out ?

Early morning - all morning I was excited about starting a new group blog, to trigger off a campaign for arts-policy-reform in India. And now its evening, all day dragging my ashes from thought to deed - searching for jokes in casual conversations, scratching the arms of hysteria, I am almost ready to break a few ceramic plates, just to hear something meaningless.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


editing work is lacking in some serious satisfaction. i always want the trick treat, the sudden deja vu of returning a re-envisioned revision. as if the perfect poem were written already but i just need dig back around the roots to give it back its life. no such luck. putting pressure on self doesn't help. not to be self-absorbed, but i can't help but think how universal this is. politics, in particular, the lack of space for one-to-one work, where we meet one another face-to-face, dream-to-dream and speak and listen. space. at an organizing conference this weekend past, i heard so many people say things that were intended to be said just to be said, not even heard. how does that work? can we even be responsible for that? where is room for that in communication? i don't condemn it, i am curious about it. at lunch at an indian buffet, a friend writing his thesis asked how the poetry career develops. he is a sociologist, and he mentioned that in order to edit his work with a clear and non-dreading mind, his partner suggested that he think of a canvas. of painting! it was a great analogy, very additive (instead of the subtractive we tend to accuse editing of being) and yet it made me laugh - to use another art outside his art in order to understand his art. we do it all the time.
i am doing it
right now
in fact.

tricky to be responsible for that. responsible art. responsible parents, partners, houses.

I can hijack !

Went for a short walk in the garden. The grass is nice - at night, a little moist. I did a few brisk rounds. Feel a bit less guilty that I am doing nothing about my gaining weight...

From where we walkin the garden, our flat is fully in view. Our worn-out curtains, my taped-out window... inside spaces. My mind is like a raw field - cracking up in longing and expectation. Displaced satisfaction, no ammount of blogging is going to make me feel good about the other work piling up. I have to understand that. Maybe. Maybe it is just fine - being ambigious and brutal.

The political scene in India is in another queer phase of confusion. Lal Krishna Advani is in trouble and controversy, because he chose to praise Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, who is a popular villian in India.

How can anyone vouch for anyone in history ? I am quite sure, heroes and villians in history could interchange spaces without much difference.

I am trying to view things without the hysterical mercury rising in my veins - letting drab traffic make rolly-polly pudding out of my mind. With a drab mind, memories seem to be tragic!

Nothing like spending a whole day sitting cross-legged reading a book about what babies aged 1-3 months like to do; to make you feel that nothing much can be said. Because small babies like to play and they like to play and they like to play.

hallway, childhood

since i bought my own house a year ago, i have flashed frequently and vividly on my own parents' house, now long repaired and sold since their deaths. last night, while meditating, i flashed on a section i had somehow heretofore missed: the hallway where our coats hung and the salt bucket stood defying all seasons. it was a wisconsin hall(way) - a slogged over winter mess, a muddy summer nightmare, worn old lino with a fake wood effect. i discovered, and quickly was shot down over, a love for tapdance on that hall floor, and when my brother stripped the old lino out and found beautiful wood underneath, the green walls simply had to go. orange highway slickers from cook county construction teams. slowly gathering plastic bag remains. coats from when i was a child: my mother's memory actively hung like a quilt not yet assembled in the form of my father's hat eight years after death, and my blue and purple favorite winter baby overdress in the middle of a sixteen-year-old summer. there were two doors - one at each end - never closed unless she was out of town and i surreptiously cleaned and scrubbed the worn floor and walls. a curtain we thought was natural til she died and it washed out to be white. orange trim. no light.