I fall in love everyday as I walk down the streets of this city.
I hold every gaze like my last nickel
Hoping one of these Mona Lisa eyes will follow me as I walk down Market.
Today, the sidewalk siren blared red lipstick and high-waisted shorts.
Part of me wanted to run up to her and say “Take me with you—
Wherever, you’re going I’ll come.”
But the other part of me wanted this driftwood damsel to float out with the tide,
To leave me without the words to taint a picture
So she may stay forever Vitruvian in my mind.
Cuz I’m no longer young enough to know everything.
Two decades have taught me how to find the shortest distance between two people,
How to slip my name in like a pickpocket,
And how to lock lips like a locksmith,
But getting better at kissing has not made my kisses better.
I can canvas hypotheticals on my pillow case,
Look for my reflection in a mosaic of girls faces,
Or in the spaces between these words,
But writing love poems has not made me a better lover.
And as much as I search for a five dollar bill within folds of denim,
These days I’m afraid that love, like a waffle,
Might never be quite be as good as the idea of it.
Cuz I tried it once, I did
I ordered a tall stack with the works.
And now I’m here, 3,000 miles away,
Looking at this urban buffet
Trying not to admit that I can
Still taste the syrup on the side of my mouth.
Boy was it sweet…
Those days when we only had eyes for each other
The sidewalk was our runway,
The city, our concrete jungle gym, and we got outside
10 minutes before everyone else.
But the recess bell rang
As it always does.
And although a heart mixed in with dirty laundry
Might turn everything pink,
Airing out our past
Has allowed me to come clean.
So tomorrow, when a held stare
Blows my way like urban tumbleweed
I will stop looking for your dimple in her cheek
Or a fleck your inflection.
Instead leave me with a blank page—
Just the wonder and excitement
Of my thirteen year old self
And we can take it
One hello at a time.
To most, chocolate chip cookies are little, in both size and importance. For me, however, chocolate chip cookies have easily been the biggest influence on my life. Other influences such as Matt Damon movies or my father pale in comparison to these slightly raised cakes laden with conical morsels of cacao. If influence is the power to produce an effect without apparent exertion of force, no other object has unknowingly consumed my attention or driven my actions quite like chocolate chip cookies. The sheer fact that I have had no cavities or early signs of diabetes after eating a chocolate chip cookie literally every day for the past ten years is proof enough of their supernatural qualities.
I’m often asked, “Simo, if you’re such a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, what is the best cookie out there?” The truth is that I don’t discriminate! After years of comparative cookie taste-test analysis (say that five times fast), I have concluded that chocolate-chip cookies are like Beatle’s songs—even the “bad” ones are pretty darn good. My loyalty to the chocolate-chip cookie goes beyond reason, much like the connections agencies hope to make with their clients’ brands.
Others ask, “Simo, are you worried that one day you might not be able to both eat a cookie every day and maintain a body suitable for swimsuit season?” To them I say, “The day I value the size of my gut more than the deliciousness of its contents, pigs will fly. They will retort, “But swine flu!” And to this I will respond, “Clever pun, but I stand by my original statement.” The true influence of chocolate chip cookies is the happiness they bring to my life. The joy of a warm gooey bite or the nostalgia induced by the smell of baking cookies filling a home can bring a smile to even the most Scrooge skeptics. From Famous Amos to my grandmother’s recipe, chocolate chip cookies will always be worth the calories in my book.
Chocolate chip cookies will forever serve as a reminder to stop, even for just a brief instant, to savor every bite. Especially now, in my ever-multitasking life, singular moments where I can pause to appreciate what I hold in my hands are increasingly rare. My daily chocolate chip cookie reminds me to be conscious of the present, mindful of everyday pleasures, and appreciative that my mother never had an affinity for oatmeal-raisin.
I have never written in a journal.
Never leather-bound my thoughts between padlocked pages
or left a cache of my writing, waiting like a crumpled prayer,
to be discovered at a later date.
Too often I write for the snaps,
for the grease of applause,
or the recognition of a stranger. But when no one is watching,
what weight do this empty words hold?
I have never loved—
never let someone’s wish list front-cut my own,
or looked at a girl, not with my eyes, but with my mind.
Too often, I’ve wanted girls to like me
more than I’ve wanted myself to like them,
wanted her eyes to be two fun house mirrors
to tell me I’m witty,
to tell me I’m skinny,
to tell me I’m worth something.
But, tonight is different.
I’ve spent three weeks now trying to write a poem for myself—
not a “good” poem
or a poem to be framed on a wall,
but a true poem.
And for three weeks now,
I’ve tried not to write a poem about you—
for the same reason my brother told me
he’d never have a girl in his profile picture,
and because you think my romance is full of shit anyways.
But I write because it lets me be selfish.
And for the first time in a long time,
my self-interest has buoyed itself to another.
I’ve seen myself rise when you rise,
fall when you fall,
and all I seem to want these days is
to do nothing with you.
Be a Sunday porch swing.
Lets dangle our legs from the edge of your roof
and go fishing for pennies on the sidewalk. We don’t have to make sense to get anywhere.
Our days pass like summer minutes—
at double time, but lingering like the last bite of a kiss.
Tonight, you lie asleep in my bed,
and I try to Sistine chapel your smile to my ceiling—
one dimple still rests under your left cheek
like the paint started running,
like your last bite of watermelon was slightly too big
and a little juice trickled down the side of your mouth.
And although I’m dripping for you on this stage,
I do the same when I’m alone.
You’re more than just a girl
I’m writing a poem about.
The paint isn’t drying;
The clock isn’t ticking.
We’re just two kids running on a treadmill,
admiring the scenery. Run at me blindfolded!
Tell me that your elbow itches!
Let me catch you.
Let me be the answering machine
for all your unimportant thoughts,
for all the days that it seems easier
to pull the covers over your head
and pretend like the snooze button
Let me push you!
Push me back!
I don’t need to be the only kid on this swing set.
I don’t need a muse for my restless legs.
You don’t need a shot in the arm for your endless days,
but it’s awful nice to have some company.
It’s awful nice to save the last bite of dessert
for someone you know is coming home.
I’m not saving this poem for you.
I’m saving it for me,
so I can Poloroid this moment,
tuck it under my pillow,
and bring it out when no one is watching.
I was created in the image of my maker.
I have his hair, his smile, and his taste in puns.
I do not, however, have his backhand.
I don’t have his overhead volley
Or his sense of when to come to the net.
I will never be better than him at tennis.
The first time I beat him in ping-pong,
Might have been my proudest achievement
Of my athletic career.
I knew he was trying his hardest.
But when it came to the hard court,
I was a few bald spots short of an Agassi.
Every time would start the same—
Rafael Racquet club Sunday morning.
We would get dressed like we were preparing for battle,
Nails done, hair done, everything did.
And every time it would end the same—
A thrown racquet, a few tears, and a “
I don’t care if I don’t bend my knees on my backhand, Dad.”
Then I would cannonball into the pool
And vow never to play tennis again.
I want to do things differently—
Follow in his footsteps only
once I know my stride.
But, I see the apple rolling back towards the tree
On days when I open my mouth,
And I hear his jokes, his tone, His I told you so’s
Surprise me like words I didn’t mean to say.
For all the times that he’s frustrated me.
When I’ve promised that I’d never give my son a curfew,
Or make him do SAT flashcards,
He is still the first person
I want to know when I’ve succeed.
I wonder if his glasses work like the windows of a train—
A faint reflection of himself staring back
As my life blurs by in the periphery.
Cuz my life sometimes feels like a
Choose your own adventure book
With his notes in the margin.
There is only one promise he has repeatedly made me.“
I’ll be alive until you’re children have children.”
He has engraved this assurance into my muscle memory—
As if I practiced it enough,
Like a second serve,
I could speak it into existence.
And I want to.
I want to listen to you.
And I want you to hear me listening.
Let me rally with you just a little bit longer
Before this game begins.
I want your guidance to be a lit streetlight,
But for me to know the back alleys
That didn’t exist when you were my age.
Cuz for all this rhetoric,
I still want you to teach me—
To teach me how you’ve made it this far
And maybe I’ll finally learn a proper backhand.
You probably write more poems in a week
than Justin Ching updates his twitter status.
So for a man who has never taken a poetry class,
I think it is quite clear you excel in your extracurriculars.
You once told me, we always lose the most valuable things in our days
in the most careless and effortless ways. Like to motherfucking graduation.
You told me if autumn is another metaphor,
it insists the most lovely things in this world are the ones leaving it.
I can’t tell you for how long
I’ve wanted to unlock your ribcage like a piano hood
because we all know your heart is the organ you think with.
It is apparent every time you grace the stage
and our stomach’s lynch a butterfly.
You told me the rinsing of hands will not remove fingerprints.
Impressions are earned. So as you graduate,
know that you have not just inscribed
your composition book with your words,
but you have inscribed yourself onto us.
You told me that art and pain have never been more intimate
than in a tattoo. Even though this group is not tatted to your forearm,
we all know it courses through the veins beneath.
As the winter loosens its grip on me,
I feel a spring uncoiling in my fingers.
You’ve changed us all for the better.
All of this must grow.
The revolving doors of Abercrombie and Fitch serve as sideways turbines
pushing out spray on prom queen dreams to the passersby.
Two shirtless male greeters, whose combined abs are probably greater
than the number of sit-ups I’ve done in my entire life,
stood guard as I went to buy you a holiday present.
I shopped like a one night stand with retail,
trying to get past the store’s overly revealing neckline
without anyone recognizing my face.
I contemplated briefly how a clothing store
could only have pictures of people wearing no clothing on the wall.
And then I walked out, like I walking out of an IMAX showing of The Notebook.
A few weeks later, I heard these same walking manikins
tried to recruit you to be an Abercrombie model,
walked up to you on the street and said
“you’re beautiful and exactly what we’re looking for.”
I sometimes wonder the first words I will say to your future husband.
I hope they’re something like, “if you break her heart, I will break you.”
But Katie, there are days I’m not sure if I stand tall by your side
Times where I don’t know
if I am your older sibling or you are mine.
How close I should stand, as I watch over your shoulder?
I don’t know if the shade of my shadow provides relief or just darkness.
Some days I worry, because I’ve heard stories of you running through boys,
hoping they can be the stationary for your splatter paint attention span.
And some days I see you wear skirts short enough so that their eyes can
Jackson Pollack your upper thighs. But, this is not why I’m writing you.
Because Katie, I’m confident that you’ll recognize
when the world gives you opportunities to hang your self esteem on a coat rack.
And it’s more than my fear of some boy treating you like a tissue.
It’s that there have been nights where I walked up to girls,
whose older brothers I didn’t know, and thought
“You’re beautiful and exactly what I’m looking for,”
hoped to slide into their life like the g in foreign.
You see, 20somethings treat bars like some sort of carnal carnival,
trading in 5 dollar cocktails for a night back at my place.
So maybe it’s guys like me that rip the clothes off Abercrombie models backs
and create a market for 6 inch heels and push up bras.
I’m scared that one day you’ll catch me treating a girl like a tissue
and say god bless you—my older brother can charm the prints off fingers,
but wouldn’t let you see him vulnerable if it was written on the palm of his hands.
Katie know this:
That these days, I have a lot fewer of those nights,
That these days, I try to notice the beauty of her being before the flaws of her façade,
That I hope soon, I’ll finally bring a girl home to meet you.
And know that if anyone treats you like anything less than the amazing woman that you are,
You tell them: I have an older brother who might not have washboard abs,
but he would facebook poke the living shit out of you.
I watch the news like a nascar race,
waiting for a crash, to jolt me out of my ambivalence.
But tonight, I sit here watching cnn like the super bowl,
as chants of USA fill the streets like lamp posts.
Bin Laden is dead
and I wonder if I am at the peak or trough of my patriotism
Rejoicing in the bloodshed of a man I have learned to hate.
I am diminished
as we perpetuate this violence
and I drink apathy from my mug.
The mouths that chastised the animals celebrating in the streets of
Bagdad on September 12th
scream freedom at the top of their lungs in front of the white house;
does our reflection look too different from those that we condemn?
I say that I hate war.
I say that I support our troops.
I say that I am against violence,
but my nike boots are so far from the airforce.
It is too easy
To see war in the middle of the word backwards
To look away from a homeless verteran’s cardboard sign
To see 6 million as more of a concept than a number.
It is too easy to write pacifist poetry sharing a couch with the new york times,
to buy a no war for oil shirt from American apparel,
to criticize the military budget in my facebook status.
I have lived my life shedding responsibility
while some embrace it like a second hand coat.
Like my cousin Greg.
who traded a 6 figure job for a 6 year military contract,
a 9-5 for a 45,
a girlfriend for a commanding officer.
And as of yesterday he is stationed in Bagdad,
6,000 miles from this page
and a world away from my comprehension.
And now it is hard.
It is hard to double take at death reports
and harder to realize that it takes my upper middle class cousin
conspicuously missing from the annual holiday party
or two planes setting fire to my 10 year old birthday candles
for this war to actually hit home.
So now I am scared.
Scared that I know we’ll keep pumping out soldiers and gas until the
last one drops.
that in my life war does not exist
suffering is the 9th inning of a baseball game
and reconciliation is 5 minutes of skimming headlines on the internet.
War will always be a page length away from my pen.
My peace-seeking words rest on deaf paper.
Until I find an enemy greater than my apathy,
my conviction will never hold the fire,
the fire necessary to burn
or to resurrect.
We’re going to meet on a Tuesday
Sharing a glance over your friends shoulder
I’ll notice your lips part in front of your teeth
like salmon on rice
and I’ll slip my name in like a pickpocket
When we first kiss, well leave the air suspended
Like the last few moments before recess
And we’ll float home
like the bell just went off for summer vacation
A facebook stalk, dance floor makeout,
and a “I hope you got home alright” later
We’ll find ourselves on the roof of a tall building
or at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint
You’ll tell me about your affinity for Simon and Garfunkel, Paris, and
Cuz according to my friends I have a type, whatever
And right then I’ll convince myself that
The shortest distance between two points is a line from me to you
We’ll be grand
And I’ll wait for love to arrive
Like an empty elevator
That it could bring me
All the way up or
All the way down
But as the days go on,
I’ll try to put a magic 8 ball in your corner pocket to see our future
Start analyzing the space between when you respond to my text
Convinced that if I stare between the lines long enough something will appear
And I’ll see how easily we can split
Like a heart made of two hands
Because Iwas taught at an early to keep an arms distance
So as to not fall so far
But now I’m twenty something
And these training wheels below me look permanent
Revolutions of cookie cutter 4 month relationships
point to me as the only constant
So at night, as I canvas hypotheticals on my pillow case,
I ask myself
Why I’ve never been in love?
I am no longer young enough to know everything
So I believe half truths
That love bombs can drop with no threat to detonate
That love is still more than something a women gives and a man takes
That love is not something I’ll say just to hear in return
I’ll continue to hang on by a thread
to these thousand shining dreams like a disco ball
But the only realization that I’ve come to so far
is that I have always wanted girls to like me
more than I’ve wanted myself to like them
So maybe this is my adam’s apple,
that I use these words to fill my empty spaces
But I stay hopeful that I can find that love
like a five dollar bill resurfacing from folds of denim
So help me out
It’s almost Tuesday
This feels like some new age coming out of the closet kind of thing…I guess I’ll give some context. This used to be a place where I kept my writing just in case my computer crashed or we got nuked, but seeing as its now May 22nd and the world didn’t end, I figured I give this blog thing a try. I’ll warn you now, this isn’t going to be one of those places where I find cool shit in the world and act as the middle man because I don’t have good enough taste or near enough time to make that worth your while. Instead, I’m just gonna post my writing when I feel like it and you can read it if you want (or make fun of it or use it against me when I run for president). Now, I suppose I’ll give you a little context on who I am cuz I guess randos might stumble upon (yadig that interweb jargon?) my word vomit and wonder who I am. So I’ll start by saying in high school I was a jock.
In middle school I went through a brief musician phase, but for the most part for my whole life I’ve been a jock. In college I guess I’m a poet, I play ultimate Frisbee too, but they both sort of belong in the same hippie dippy Birkenstock, granola and armpit hair kind of category—I’d rather tell people that I’m a writer cuz a poet sounds like I possess some deep intellect and/or own a beret collection neither of which I have. Worse yet is to say that I’m a spoken word artist cuz that sounds like some sort of avant guard audience living vicariously through some hipsters nonsensical-inflection-and pregnant-pauses kind of art—oh I forgot snapping, hella snapping.
I guess poets craft is attempting to master the English language, which doesn’t make sense given my continual butchering of idioms and pronunciation (mind you it really is hard to pronounce “gubernatorial”), but don’t get me wrong this intro thing I’m writing isn’t supposed to be some sort of “I don’t fit in boxes” manifesto cuz I think boxes are convenient. Ya ya ya of course no one is gonna fit perfectly into a category blah blah. But there was a post in the Penn newspaper making fun of some kid who asks everyone “what scene they’re in.” Even though homie is really asking you to stereotype yourself, being jarringly blunt, and has a tinge of conceitedness in the tone, I actually do think it’s a good conversation starter.
I guess I like being a poet—people look at you like your more talented or smarter than them, which always makes you feel good—for me especially cuz I know I’m probably not and I think it’s funny. But I think talent is such a relative thing. If you think about it, everyone is better than you at something. Like I could prolly school Obama at ping pong. One day, Obama could come up to me and be like “dude you’re so awesome” after I hit a forehand slam past him or something. Or I could go up to Obama and be like “Yo Barack, creating all those jobs was totally boss.” I think the response ia the same in both scenarios—“thank you.”
Often when we receive compliments, I think we feel the need to throw one right back. I mean you know when one girl compliments the other one on her shoes, she has to rebut instantly with “I love your necklace.” It’s a vicious cycle. Anyways I just went on a little bit of a tangent. I was talking about being a poet. I started poetry for the same reason I do about anything in life, that is to get girls. But the reason I like poetry and spoken word in particular is because I like to feel. Feel sad, feel hopefully, feel like “damn I’m not the only one.” I think we all grow, enjoy, remember the most when we feel. All I can think of is that guy in Garden Sate that takes so many drugs that he’s numb, or Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting that preeptively puts up walls so nothing can ever get closest to your gut. But when I look back on my year so far the things I remember all have one thing in common. Its that elevator shaft feeling in your stomach—and when its over most the time you end up in the penthouse or in the basement. It’s watching that last pitch of the world series when I was sure Brian Wilson was going to blow it, getting on stage and knowing I didn’t have my poem memorized as well as I should have, making a move on a girl after a Costco supply of possibilities ran through my mind.
So this is the point in my free write where I decide whether I want to make this a college application essay, graduation speech, or angsty journal entry. But, I don’t feel like putting in the work to make a nice conclusion. So I’m gonna leave this journey with the parental clichés that I think I covered in this sunday afternoon free write: carpe diem, give thanks, take risks blah blah blah. I’m not really sure why you are still reading this or why I’m still writing for that matter—I guess I’m a poet. Enjoy…