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On Death

I’m wearing my dead brother’s shirt. I can’t remember ever seeing him wear it, but it was his, and now it’s mine. If you asked me what I get out of wearing this shirt, I’m not sure I could answer you. It’s just a shirt. It doesn’t hold anything that’s left of him: all that’s left of him are my memories, my family’s memories. Maybe that’s what ghosts are made of: memories and empty clothes and an over-active imagination. The funny thing about death is–and I mean funny-strange, not funny-ha-ha–the funny thing is that everyone always thinks about loss when they think about death. I used to think the same way too. Death means the loss of someone you love, and it’s something horrible, irrevocable and final, but there’s more. You never hear people talk about the things left behind, and I’m not talking about ghosts, unless that’s what you call t-shirts and memories and regret. Some things just stick around, long after the loss, and they haunt you.

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Wizard of Oz

The Magical Wizard of Oz

When I was little, my favorite book was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. We had this ratty orange paperback version — nothing special, I’m not even sure if it had the illustrations in it. I must have read that book 5 or 6 times myself during my childhood, and my sisters had all read it too. Its popularity in our household was clearly evident: my sister Jenny and I had drawn pictures on the blank pages at the beginning and end of the book, and the spine had been reinforced several times with masking tape.

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Spam Haiku No. 3 – found poetry

This is the third in a series of quasi-haiku found-poems gleaned from various spam emails I have received.

Notes for Performance:

  1. The title of the original spam serves as the title of the poem and should not be read as part of the spam haiku itself.
  2. The symbol [--] indicates a place where there was once a hyperlink in the original spam email. It should be read as a significant pause in the haiku, building tension and offering the performer a chance to make meaningful connections with the audience.
  3. Punctuation: all punctuation and typographical spacing has been left as it was in the original spam email. The performer can interpret these as he or she sees fit, using the time to gesticulate sorrowfully at the sky, or to grind ones teeth in anguish.

———- Spam Haiku: No. 3 ———–

Re:HelpMedicinesNow

evening nothing
March ,
[--] nature morning ,
each during

received 4/26/2010

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Interpretation and Significance: This spam haiku “Re:HelpMedicinesNow” reflects the Spammer’s views on what he/she perceives as the dangerous over-prescription of anti-depressants by medical providers for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). Probably.

A close-reading of the haiku leads us to understand the ironic nature of its title. The first line, “evening nothing” evokes the feeling of the long, hopeless descent into the season of depression — a depression that lasts not a single evening, but an entire winter, carrying on through “March,” which we see set apart in the second line, like a small beacon of hope. These two lines create a tension for the reader, who feels the inextricable agony of being trapped by the relentless onslaught of uncaring seasons.

The third line, however, is the turning point of the haiku. The line “[--] nature morning ,” shows the reader that there is hope for the future, there is a dawn, and it will come sometime after March, with the spring, unless you happen to live in Alaska, and then it won’t come until May, or even June. In which case you’re probably better off taking the Zoloft, sweetie***.

The final line, “each during” is an acknowledgment of the difficulty one might have in trying to work through such seasonal depression without the help of pharmaceuticals. However, if one remembers the lesson of the seasons, one might be able to remember that SAD, too, is only a seasonal affliction, and that if one were only to get over one’s self already and stop being such a pussy, one would be better off.

***disclaimer: the author of this blog would like to remind her readers that this is the spammer talking, not her, and that the haiku should not be used as a replacement for going to see an actual medical professional to help you with all those fucked up issues you’ve got going on in that brain of yours.

Spam Haiku No. 2 – found poetry

This is the second in a series of quasi-haiku found-poems gleaned from various spam emails I have received since beginning my job hunt more than a year and a half ago.

Notes for Performance:

  1. The title of the original spam serves as the title of the poem and should not be read as part of the spam haiku itself.
  2. The symbol [--] indicates a place where there was once a hyperlink in the original spam email. It should be read as a significant pause in the haiku, building tension and offering the performer a chance to make meaningful connections with the audience.
  3. Punctuation: all punctuation and typographical spacing has been left as it was in the original spam email. The performer can interpret these as he or she sees fit, using the time to gesticulate sorrowfully at the sky, or to grind ones teeth in anguish.

———- Spam Haiku: No. 2 ———–

RE:erectile pills buy here

open probable,
ocean [--] probable,
problem

received 4/2/2010

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Interpretation and Significance: This spam haiku “Re:erectile pills buy here″ reflects the Spammer’s views on Offshore Drilling. Probably.

The opening line “open probable,” almost exactly does not mirror one of President Obama’s election campaign statements that he supported a more modest approach offshore oil exploration and drilling than that of GOP candidate John McCain. Also, the choice of the word “probable” indicates the Spammer feels nervous about the prospect of this, suggesting the spammer has a strong environmentalist stance when it comes to the issue of natural resources.

The pattern repetition of the second line, with just a single word changed and the added tension afforded by the significant pause in between the two words serves to further build the tension that the Spammer feels over the prospect of the beautiful ocean floors being deflowered by the evil offshore oil derricks, which, of course, represent penises.

Finally, the Spammer ends the haiku with the significant single alliterative word: problem. As in, Houston, we’ve got a problem, and it’s offshore oil drilling. The word “problem” also hearkens back to the title of the poem: how the current reality of the erection of oil derricks for offshore drilling is a bitter pill to swallow, indeed. Our spammer appears to have lost all hope because the country appears to have bought into some kind idea that electrical cars are lame because you can’t hear them coming and you might run over blind people, which is totally not a non-sequitor.

Furthermore, the choice of using a single-worded final line indicates just how close the Spammer is to despair. He’s just way far much too full of despair to go on any further. He has to go cut himself now.

And that’s a problem.

Spam Haiku No. 1 – found poetry

This is the first in a series of quasi-haiku poetry I have created using found words from the various spam emails I have received in the last year.

Interesting side-note: I never before had received spam until I started signing up for online job-search sites … coincidence? I think not.

So, if spammers can capitalize on my needs, I can steal their words and turn them into something new … something beautiful …

Notes for Performance:

  1. The title of the original spam serves as the title of the poem and should not be read as part of the spam haiku itself.
  2. The symbol [--] indicates a place where there was once a hyperlink in the original spam email. It should be read as a significant pause in the haiku, building tension and offering the performer a chance to make meaningful connections with the audience.
  3. Punctuation: all punctuation and typographical spacing has been left as it was in the original spam email. The performer can interpret these as he or she sees fit, using the time to gesticulate sorrowfully at the sky, or to grind ones teeth in anguish.

———- Spam Haiku: No. 1 ———–

Re:#MEDICINES#098

difficult fish ‘
dollar [--] field ?
close .

received 4/18/2010

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Interpretation and Significance: This spam haiku “Re:#MEDICINES#098″ reflects the Spammer’s views on Health Care Reform in America. Probably.

Consider the number 098 as an allusion to the popular Jay-Z song “99 Problems” wherein he says:

“I’m from rags to ritches niggas I ain’t dumb
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one
Hit me”

The suggestion becomes that the Spammer has only 98 problems, which means that, for the spammer, neither the bitch, nor health-care is a problem: something that only an evil Socialist Canadian would boast. We must therefore assume this spam comes from Canada.

Or Nigeria.

The Spammer also appears to be belittling America and the “difficult fish” she is trying to land, i.e., health care reform, or perhaps the Spammer is suggesting something larger: something grander, like the ending of all illness and strife altogether, whereupon we might even interpret this spam haiku as a Utopia piece.

The significant pause, [--], in between the words “dollar” and “field” seems to suggest that the American government has a long way to go before the positive effects of health care reform will be felt.

Finally, the ambiguity of the final word “close” — which asks the performer to interpret it for his or herself: is it close as in “near,” or close as in ‘”to shut?” – is shrouded in mystery. To read it as the former suggests the benefits are, perhaps, nearer than originally anticipated. However, this goes against the loss and bitterness felt in the second line: “dollar [--] field.” Is the Spammer, then, trying to appeal to our sense of irony? To read the word close as “to shut,” however, lends a much more somber, nihilistic sense to the poem’s message: that Health Care Reform is, indeed, the beginning of the end of the American Way of Life, and that is a Very Bad Thing.

All told, it is difficult to fully understand the message of this spam haiku within one or two readings. Try reading it aloud to yourself five- or six-hundred times and tell me what you think!

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To the Young Dude I Let Cut in Front of Me at the Supermarket

Dear Young Dude,

I’m sorry I let you cut in front of me at the store. You see, I noticed you only had a can of soda in your hand, and I knew that my overladen basket of groceries would take a while to scan and bag. Also, I had my eye on that giant can of Diet Red Bull in the case near the register, and I thought that letting you go in front of me would give me time to get some of that delicious highly-caffeinated goodness. So I waved you ahead of me, only half noticing how you nervously avoided my eyes as you muttered your thanks.

So when I noticed you reaching for a package of condoms that they display right at eye level right at the register where everyone and god can see you reaching for them, I politely averted my gaze, while smiling secretly to myself knowing that some young person was going to be having some safe sex tonight.

It was because I felt so happy for you that what happened next was so painful to witness; it was the sort of thing that can scar a person for life. It really sucked that those condoms were hung on one of those flimsy plastic strips that never seem to work properly: either they cling to the tiny packages with the claws of an eagle, or they have a tendency to drop every single package at the barest touch of a hand.

And then, there’s the third situation, and I’m really sorry it happened to you.

Sometimes those plastic strips don’t even stay where they’re supposed to. Sometimes those plastic strips come completely off their hooks, clattering noisily to the floor, drawing attention, and spilling packages of condoms everywhere.

So, I’m really sorry, young dude. I didn’t know you were getting condoms … I didn’t know that you would suddenly be surrounded by Moms and their kids and surly looking older men who would all see you knock and entire display of Trojans to the floor of a busy supermarket at 5 p.m. on a Friday.

Sorry dude. I hope you weren’t too embarrassed, and I hope you have the most fantastic safe sex of your entire life tonight.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Poems from the past: Leopard

This image reminds me of a poem I wrote a long time ago, must have been 1990?

===========

If I had a leopard
I’d take him for walks
In the park.

And no one would pester
Or bother or bug me
After dark.

And I would be happy
As free as could be;
I’d be proud.

For I would have no one,
Not no one to fear …
Except my leopard.

Poems from the Past: Clearly Stated

I used to write these goofy little brain-twister poems quite a bit. I thought I’d share one …

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Clearly Stated

What I am is here to be;
What I be is who I am,
And am is I — for where I be
Depends not on yourself, but me.

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Photograph by Lyubomir Bukov, please visit the site!! I borrowed the photo without permission, but am hoping linking to his site makes up for it …

Living With Sean is Hazardous to My Health

After a depressing day of applying for various jobs, I always enjoy stopping by the Etc. section of Craigslist. There, you can find all sorts of odd jobs and money-making opportunities. I’ve even found a few research-study opportunities, for example, I participated in two different research projects on jury selection: a few hours time and a couple questionnaires, and you walk out $50 richer. It’s sweet!! There’s ads wanting to hire dominatrix-trainees; there’s ads seeking out “healthy” heroin addicts. There’s ads offering 8 to 10 thousand dollars for egg-donors. Believe me, if I was younger, I would totally do it—but the cut-off age seems to be 29. Individual couples are even willing to pay more if you fit into a very specific demographic, e.g. Jewish heritage, both paternal and maternal, with a documented family history going back several generations … that kind of stuff.

So today I’m looking through the Etc. section and come upon this listing for a medical study: Been hit on the head? Knocked unconscious?

Hells yeah! I’ve been looking for a medical study for a long time: they pay BANK, like, upwards of $1,000. ! But sadly, I’ve not yet fit into any of their criteria. There were studies for depression—but you can’t already be on anti-depressants; studies for ADD, but you have to be younger than 17; studies for the effects of alcohol and common OTC drugs on certain reactions and behaviors, but you can’t be on hormonal birth-control; studies for restless-legs, but I haven’t had anything resembling an episode of that in half a year … grumble.

So anyway: I was all excited about the Been hit on the head? Knocked unconscious? study. For yes, I have been hit on the head and knocked unconscious not once, but three times in my life!! (Yes, this explains a lot, but back to the story). Once, when I was a baby, I was dropped on my head: I had hairline fractures and everything! They measured my skull to make sure my head wasn’t going to explode like an overripe tomato. The second time it happened I was five; it was a sledding accident, and I woke up draped over a fallen tree, like something out of a cartoon. Luckily, besides being a surefire means of child-destruction, that runner sled was a good medical conveyance which served to drag me home safely to Mom, the couch, and all the hot chocolate I could drink. The third time was at a birthday party and it also involved sleds. I was about 13, and we were sledding down a terrifically exciting but fraught with danger hill that doubled as my friend Darcy’s lawn. It was very steep, very short, and there were lots of trees to dodge around. Being already brain-damaged, apparently, I decided it would be a good idea to ride down this hill backward, with my friend Deanna up front. It happened very fast, I saw her bail off, and before I could react: BLAMMO. Me, meet tree. I woke up staring into the sky, surrounded by a circle of my friends’ faces. I remember thinking at the time that it looked very much like a shot from a movie. Then the pain hit. My mom was quickly called and I spent the next few days resting in bed, trying to sleep but continuously being jarred awake, re-living the crash over and over in my sleep.

So I opened the listing—Been Hit in the Head? Knocked Unconscious?—visions of BANK dancing in my oft-concussed head. I quickly scanned the requirements, eagerly looking for how much my well-dented noggin could bring me in:

Have you suffered from a blow to the head in the past 10 years?
Did you experience loss of consciousness or memory after being hit?
Did you experience excessive sleepiness?
Are you between the ages of 18-65?

If so you may qualify for a clinical research study of an investigational medication.

I was so excited I almost missed the end of the first requirement.

Almost.

“Dammit,” I said to Sean.

He looked up from his computer, “What?”

“There’s a clinical research study I thought I would qualify for, on head-injuries, but they have to have happened within the last ten years,” I said. “Crap, you know how many times I’ve been knocked out!”

“Does it say anything about how recent it can be?”

I was half ignoring him, reading the announcement over more closely. “Hmmm?”

“Does it say anything about how recent it can be?” I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, he’s reaching toward me with a book in his hand. “Hold still, shh-shh-shhh, hold still. This book is kind of small, I’ll probably have to hit you several times with it … no, no, no,” he says, soothingly, “… hoooold stiiiilllll.”

Does anybody have a helmet I can borrow? I have the feeling I should wear one for the next several weeks.

If you don’t hear from me, tell my mother that I love her very much.